The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)
Nuremberg, war crimes, crimes against humanity

The Trial of German Major War Criminals

Sitting at Nuremberg, Germany
20th June to 1st July 1946

One Hundred and Sixty-Third Day: Tuesday, 25th June, 1946
(Part 2 of 11)

[Page 154]

Q. Do you know anything at all about the fact

THE PRESIDENT: I did not understand that answer. As I got it, "The buildings, in part, were put at the disposal of German universities which had been closed by the Czechs."

[Page 155]

THE WITNESS: In Prague. In Prague was the oldest German university; it had been closed by the Czechs after the last war, and after the establishing of the Protectorate, it was reopened; and, as far as I know, some of the equipment and buildings were used for this German University.



Q. Do you know anything else about the removal of scientific equipment, collections, works of art, and so forth?

A. The only case about which I have any knowledge concerns the removal of historically valuable old Gobelins from the Maltese Palais in Prague. These were removed by a member of the Foreign Office in Berlin, allegedly by order of the Chief of Protocol, and this was done at night, secretly, and without my knowledge or the knowledge of my officials. As soon as I learned of this, I contacted the Foreign Office, and I requested immediate restoration. Whether restoration was made, I do not know; that was only in 1941, and meanwhile I had left Prague.

Q. May I here -

A. I knew nothing about other incidents. Apart from that, I specifically prohibited the removal of works of art from the Protectorate to the Reich.

DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: In this connection, I should like to submit an extract from the interrogation of the former Secretary of State, Frank, dated 10th June, 1945. This is No. 154 of my Document Book 5, and I should like to ask the Tribunal to take notice of this statement.


Q. What happened to the works of art and the furniture, which were Czech State property, and with which the Czernin Palace in Prague, which you used as your official residence, was furnished?

A. This house was the former official residence of the Czech Foreign Minister, and the valuable furniture belonged to the Czech State. Since there was no inventory of any sort of these items, before moving in, in the autumn of 1938, I called in the Czech director of the castle administration and the Czech art historian, Professor Strecki, and I had a very exact inventory taken. One copy of this inventory was left in my office and another one was deposited with the administration of the castle. After I left Prague, in the autumn of 1941, I had a record made through my former caretaker, and again in the presence of a representative of the castle administration, Professor Strecki, that the articles which were mentioned in the inventory were actually still there.

THE PRESIDENT: I do not think we need details of the inventory, but there is one thing I should like to ask. The translation came through to me that the inventory was made in the autumn of 1938. Was that right?

THE WITNESS: Nineteen-thirty-nine. I only wanted to mention that, naturally, I did not take any of these articles.


Q. Another point raised by the Czech indictment deals with the confiscation of the so-called Masaryk houses in various cities and with the destruction of Masaryk monuments and monuments erected to other personalities famous in Czech history. What do you know about that?

A. While I was in office, some of these Masaryk houses were closed by the police because they were centres of agitation against Germany. The destruction or the removal of the Masaryk or other Czech national monuments I had specifically prohibited. Apart from that, I expressly permitted the laying of wreaths at the grave of Masaryk at Lanyl, which Frank had prohibited, and it actually took place on a large scale.

Q. It is further asserted that the Czech literature was suppressed and muzzled to a large extent.

[Page 156]

A. The printing and dissemination of Czech anti-German literature was prohibited, of course, just as was the further dissemination of English and French works in the entire Reich during the war. Apart from that, all this material was treated according to the direct orders of the Propaganda Ministry. However, while I was in office, there were still many Czech book stores and book publishing concerns which published books by Czech authors in large numbers and disseminated them. The selection of Czech books of every type in the book stores was considerably larger than that of German books.

Q. Could you say anything about the suppression of Czech cultural life, of theatres, cinemas and so forth, to which the prosecution refers?

A. There was no question at all of a limitation of the cultural autonomy of the Czechs, apart from the university problem. In Prague, a great number of Czech plays were continually running, especially pure Czech opera, and several theatres were always open. On the other hand, there was only one permanent German theatre open. As to music, the well-known Czech Philharmonic Orchestra at Prague played Czech music primarily, and was absolutely independent regarding its programmes.

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Ludinghausen, we do not need details. The defendant says that theatres and cinemas were allowed and there was only one German theatre. We do not want any further details about it.

DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: Very well, Mr. President. I only asked about these matters because they are rather extensively dealt with in the Indictment.


Q. And what about the film industry, Herr von Neurath?

A. The same applied to that industry. It was even especially active.

Q. Now, I should like to turn to the alleged suppression of religious freedom, of which you are being accused in the Czech indictment. The Czech indictment speaks of a wave of persecution which inundated the Churches and which started immediately when the German troops marched in to occupy the country. What about that?

A. A planned persecution of the Churches was quite out of the question. The population was quite free as concerns public worship, and I certainly would not have tolerated any restrictions along this line. The former Under Secretary of State, von Burgsdorf, has testified to that point here already. It may be true that in individual cases, pilgrimages or certain religious processions were prohibited by the police, even though I personally do not remember it clearly. But that only took place because certain pilgrimages, consisting of many thousands of people, were exploited as political demonstrations at which anti-German speeches were made. At any rate, that had actually occurred several times, and it had been brought to my knowledge.

It is true that a number of clerics were arrested in connection with the action at the beginning of the war which we have already mentioned here. But these arrests did not take place because the men were clerics, but because they were active political opponents or people who were political suspects. In cases of this kind, I made special efforts to have these people released.

My personal connections with the Archbishop of Prague were absolutely correct and amicable. He and the Archbishop of Olmutz specifically thanked me for my intervention on behalf of the Church, as I remember distinctly. I prevented any measure against the public worship of the Jews. Every synagogue was open to the time I left in the autumn of 1941.

Q. In connection with the last point, I should like to put one more question about the position of Jews in the Protectorate. What can you tell us about it?

A. The legal position of the Jews had to be co-ordinated with the position of the Jews in the Reich, according to instructions from Berlin. The directives with regard to this had been sent to me in April of 1939. Through all sorts of inquiries addressed to Berlin, I tried and succeeded in not having the laws put into

[Page 157]

effect until June, 1939, so as to give the Jews the opportunity to prepare themselves for the imminent introduction of these laws.

The so-called "Nuremberg Laws" were introduced into the Protectorate, too, at that time. Thereby, the Jews were removed from public life and from leading positions in the economic life. However, arrests on a large scale did not take place. There were also no excesses against Jews, except in a few single instances. The camp at Theresienstadt was not erected until long after my term of office, and I prevented the establishment of other concentration camps in the Protectorate, too.

Q. The Czech prosecution accuses you of personally carrying through measures harmful to the Jews. They maintain that, first of all, you charged the Czech Government, that is to say, the autonomous government, with the carrying through of the anti-Jewish laws, and that when President Elias refused to do so, you personally took the necessary steps.

A. As I said just now, the introduction of the anti-Jewish laws came about on Hitler's direct order, respectively through the competent authorities in Berlin. The representation ...

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. von Ludinghausen, why do you want to go over all this again? The defendant has given the evidence that he succeeded in putting off the laws until June, 1939, and that then the Nuremberg laws were introduced. He has given us the various qualifications which he said he made, and then you read him the Czech report and try to get him to go over it all again, it seems to me. It is now quarter past eleven.

DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: All right, then, I shall consider the first question sufficiently answered and we shall not deal with the matter of confiscation either.


Q. The Czech prosecution further accuses you of the dissolution of the organizations of the YMCA and YWCA, and the confiscation of their property in favour of German organizations.

A. I must admit that I do not recall these confiscations at all. If this dissolution and confiscation took place before I left, it must have been a police measure only.

Q. The Czech prosecution further mentions the destruction of Czech economic life and the systematic plundering of Czech raw material stocks, and accuses you in that regard. What are the facts about that?

A. With the establishment of the Protectorate, the Czech economy almost automatically was incorporated into the total German economy. The export trade, for which Czech industries had worked to a considerable degree, was done away with for the duration of the war, that is to say, it was transformed into an export to the Reich.

The Czech heavy industries, especially the Skoda Works and the arms industry as direct war industries, were taken over to supplement German armaments production by the Trustee for the Four-Year Plan.

At the beginning, I tried especially to avoid selling out of the Protectorate, which would have been hard on the population. An effective means for that purpose was the maintenance of the customs frontier which existed between Czechoslovakia and Germany. After heated conflicts with the Berlin Economic Department, I succeeded in having the customs frontier maintained up to October, 1940, for another year and a half, though it had already been rescinded on 16th March, 1939.

I believe I am also accused of having been responsible for the removal of raw materials and the like. In that connection I should like to say that the office of the Trustee for the Four-Year Plan was the only authority which could take such measures.

DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: In this connection I should like to refer to the decree which has already been submitted, the decree dated 16th March, 1939 No. 144 of my Document Book 5. In this decree, I should like to call special attention to Articles 9 and 10.

[Page 158]


Q. You are further charged with and accused of the fact that the currency ratio of Czech kronen to marks was established as ten to one, for in this way the buying out of Czechoslovakian goods was said to have been favoured. Are you responsible for the establishing of this ratio?

A. No. In the decree of 16th March, 1939, dealing with the establishment of the Protectorate - a decree in the drafting of which I did not take part in any way - it was already stipulated that the rate of exchange would be determined by the Reich Government. As far as I know, the same ratio was the customary one at the Stock Exchange and in trade before the incorporation of the Sudetenland into the Reich as well as afterwards. An official rate had to be determined, of course, and this was done through the decree issued try the authorities in Berlin.

DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: In connection with the decree dated 16th March, 1939, which was just mentioned, and which is to be found under No. 144 of my Document Book 5, I should like to call your attention especially to Article 10 which sets forth:

"The ratio of the two currencies, the Czechoslovakian and the German, to each other, will be determined by the Reich Government."

Q. The Czech report further accuses you of the fact that railway rails allegedly were removed and taken to Germany. Do you know anything about this matter?

A. I know nothing about this matter, and I consider it a complete misrepresentation of the facts. I only know that in the year 1940 there were negotiations between the German Reich railways and the Czech railways concerning the hire of railway cars and of engines. But the stipulation in this case was that this rolling stock could be spared by the transport system in the Protectorate. Apart from that, the railways in the Protectorate were not under my supervision, but they were directly subordinate to the Ministry of Transport in Berlin.

DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: I should like to refer to Article 8 of the decree which I have just mentioned, a decree which is found under No. 144 of my Document Book 5.

Q. It is further asserted that the Reich Commissioner at the Prague National Bank stopped all payments abroad and confiscated all stocks of gold and of foreign currencies of the National Bank.

Did you have anything to do with this matter?

A. I had nothing at all to do with these matters. The Reich Commissioner for the Prague National Bank was appointed directly by the Reichsbank in Berlin, by the Ministry of Finance, and he got his orders from them.

Q. The Czech prosecution maintains further that you are to be blamed, or are to be made co-responsible, for the alleged confiscation of the Czech banks and industrial undertakings by the German economy.

A. The German banks, and to an extent the German industries as well, had a real interest in getting a firm foothold in the economic life of the Protectorate. However, this was something which applied long before the establishment of the Protectorate. Therefore, it was not strange that the major German banks in particular used the opportunity to acquire Czech stocks and securities, and in this way the controlling interest in two Czech banks together with their industrial holdings were transferred to German hands in a manner which was economically quite correct.

I believe the Union Bank is mentioned in the Czech report, a bank which was taken over by the Deutsche Bank, and I know in this case, quite by chance, that the initiative did not originate with the German side, but rather with the Czech Union Bank itself.

But neither I nor my agencies tried to foster this development in any way. Apart from that, all these enterprises had Czech general directors and in very few

[Page 159]

cases were German officials incorporated. By far the largest part of all industrial enterprises remained purely Czech as before.

Q. What was the situation with regard to the alleged coercive measures which the prosecution maintains were used against Czech agriculture? Can you tell us something about this and about your attitude and the measures you took?

A. This chapter belongs to the whole scheme of plans, by the Party and SS, relative to Germanisation, which have already been mentioned. The instrument of this German settlement policy was to be the Czech Land Office (Bodenamt), which, in itself, was a Czech office, and was a survival of the former Czech agrarian reform period. Himmler, first of all, assigned the Land Office to an SS Fuehrer as its provisional leader.

THE PRESIDENT: The Tribunal does not want to know all the details about this. The Czech report apparently alleges coercion in agriculture. The defendant says that it was due, if any, to the Party and the SS, and he had nothing to do with it.

What is the object of giving us all these details about the history of agriculture in Czechoslovakia? You must realize the Tribunal -

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