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 9 of 11)

[SIR DAVID MAXWELL FYFE continues his cross examination of Constantin von Neurath]

[Page 186]

Q. Did you believe a word that Hitler said on 12th March? Did you still believe a word that Hitler said that day?

A. Yes, still - at that time.

Q. I thought von Fritsch was a friend of yours; was he not?

A. Who?

Q. Colonel-General von Fritsch; he was a friend of yours?

A. Yes, indeed.

Q. You did not believe that he had been guilty of homosexuality, did you?

A. No, never.

Q. Well, did they not - did you not know that he had been subject in January, 1938, to a framed-up charge?

THE PRESIDENT: Will you please answer instead of shaking your head.

THE WITNESS: Yes, I knew that, of course, and I learned of it and the fact that this charge was a fabrication of the Gestapo, at least in my opinion, but not of Hitler.


Q. Well, did you not know that those - these unsavoury matters concerning Field-Marshal von Blomberg and Colonel- General von Fritsch had been faked up by members of the Nazi gang, who were your colleagues in the Government?

A. Yes. The details were unknown to me, of course.

Q. You see, you remember that at the time of Munich, when you came back to the field . came back into activity for some time, President Benes did appeal to this German- Czechoslovak Arbitration Convention and Hitler brushed the appeal aside. Do you remember that? In September, 1938?

A. No; that I do not know, for at the time I was not in office any longer and I did not know of these matters at all. I do not know about that.

Q. You do not know? Of course, it was in the German Press and every other Press that he appealed to this Convention and Hitler refused to listen; but you say that you honestly believed on 12th March that Hitler would stand by that Arbitration Treaty; that is what you said?

A. Yes, I had no misgivings.

SIR DAVID MAXWELL FYFE: My Lord, that might be a convenient moment to break off.

(A recess was taken.)


Q. Defendant, you spoke yesterday with regard to the memorandum of Lieutenant-General Frederici. Do you remember in that memorandum he referred to a memorandum of yours on how to deal with Czechoslovakia?

Well, now, I would like you just to look at Document 3859, so that the Tribunal can see your attitude towards the Czechs from your own words.

SIR DAVID MAXWELL FYFE: My Lord, that is at Page 107 of Document Book 12-A.

[Page 187]

Q. (continuing): I will read first your letter to Lammers of 31st August, 1940.

SIR DAVID MAXWELL FYFE: My Lord, that will be Exhibit GB 520.

Q. (continuing): You say:

"Dear Herr Lammers: Enclosed I send you the memorandum, which I mentioned in advance in my letter of 13th July, 1940, about the question of the future organization of the Bohemian-Moravian country. I enclose another memorandum on the same question, which my Secretary of State K. H. Frank has drawn up independently of me and which, in its train of thoughts, leads to the same result" - I ask you to note the next words - "and with which I fully agree. Please present both memoranda to the Fuehrer and arrange a date for a personal interview for myself and State Secretary Frank. As I have heard from a private source that individual Party and other offices intend to submit proposals to the Fuehrer for separating various parts of the Protectorate under my authority, without my knowing these projects in detail, I should be grateful to you if you would arrange the date for my interview early enough for me, as the competent Reich Protector and one who understands the Czech problem, to have an opportunity, together with my State Secretary, to place our opinions before the Fuehrer before all sorts of plans are suggested to him by other people."
Now, I would just like to take what I hope will be the gist of your own memorandum. If you will turn it over - this is your memorandum. Take the first paragraph, Section I:
"Any considerations about the future organization of Bohemia and Moravia must be based on the goal which is to be laid down for that territory from a national-political (staatspolitisch) and ethnic-political (volkspolitisch) point of view.

From a national-political standpoint there can be but one aim: total incorporation into the Greater German Reich; from an ethnic-political standpoint to fill this territory with Germans."

And then, if you go on to Section 2, in the middle of paragraph 2, you will find a sub-paragraph beginning ...

SIR DAVID MAXWELL FYFE: My Lord, it is the top of Page 109, your Lordship's copy.

Q. (continuing): "These 7.2 million Czechs, of whom 3.4 millions live in towns and communities of over 2,000 inhabitants and 3.8 millions in communities of under 2,000 and in the country, are led and influenced by an intelligentsia which is unduly puffed up in proportion to the size of the country. This part of the population also tried, after the alteration of the constitutional situation of this area, more or less openly to sabotage or at any rate postpone necessary measures which were intended to fit the circumstances of the country to the new state of affairs. The remaining part of the population, small craftsmen, peasants and workmen, adapted themselves better to the new conditions."
Then, if you go on to Paragraph 3, you say:
"But it would be a fatal mistake to conclude from this that the Government and population behaved in this correct manner because they had inwardly accepted the loss of their independent state, and their incorporation into Greater Germany. The Germans continue to be looked upon as unwelcome intruders and there is a widespread longing for a return to the old state of affairs, even if the people do not express it openly.

By and large, the population submit to the new conditions, but they only do so because they either have the necessary rational insight or else because they fear the consequences of disobedience. They certainly do not do so from conviction. This will be the state of affairs for some time to come." "But - "

[Page 188]

Go on to section 3:
" - as things are like that, a decision will have to be taken as to what is to be done with the Czech people in order to attain the objective of incorporating the country and filling it with Germans as quickly and as thoroughly as possible.

The most radical and theoretically complete solution of the problem would be to evacuate all Czechs completely from this country and replace them by Germans."

Then you say that that is not possible because there are not sufficient Germans to fill the country immediately.

Then, if you go on to paragraph 2, to the second half, you say ...

SIR DAVID MAXWELL FYFE: My Lord, that is the last six lines of Page 110.

Q. (continuing): "It will, where the Czechs are concerned, rather be a case on the one hand, of keeping those Czechs who are suitable for Germanisation by individual selective breeding, while, on the other hand, expelling those who are not useful from a racial standpoint or are enemies of the Reich, that is, the intelligentsia which has developed in the last twenty years. If we use such a procedure, Germanisation can be carried out successfully."
Now, defendant, you know that in the Indictment in this trial we are charging you and your fellow-defendants with, among many other things, genocide, which we say is the extermination of racial and national groups, or, as it has been put in the well-known book of Professor Lemkin: "a co-ordinated plan of different actions aiming at the destruction of essential foundations of the life of national groups with the aim of annihilating the groups themselves." What you wanted to do was to get rid of the teachers and writers and singers of Czechoslovakia, whom you call the intelligentsia, the people who would hand down the history and traditions of the Czech people to other generations. These were the people that you wanted to destroy by what you say in that memorandum, were they not?

A. Not quite. Here there are -

Q. But just before you answer, what did you mean by saying, in the last passage that I read to you:

"expelling those who are not useful from a racial standpoint or are enemies of the Reich; that is, the intelligentsia which has developed during the last twenty years."
Did you mean what you said? Were you speaking the truth when you said it was necessary to expel the intelligentsia?

A. To that I can only say one thing, yes and no. First of all, I should like to say that from this report it becomes apparent that the memorandum was written by Frank. I joined my name to it, and this was on 31st August, 1940. The memorandum which I ... the memorandum which is referred to in the Frederici report is from a ... is dated later, I think, although I do not know off-hand.

Q. I think you will find ... I will give you, in a moment, the letter from Siemke, who transmits Hitler's view, and I think you will find that it is this memorandum that Hitler is dealing with. I will show you Frank's memorandum in a moment. I am suggesting to you now that, as you said to Lammers, you enclosed your own and another memorandum. I will read you the essential part of the other one, which is the memorandum of Karl Hermann Frank, in a moment. But this is a -

A. They are both by Frank.

Q. I will show it ... No, but look at your own letter of 31st August: "Enclosed I send you the memorandum," and you go on: "I enclose another memorandum ... which my State Secretary K. H. Frank has drawn up independently of me ... with which I fully agree." I am suggesting to you that you know that this is your memorandum, referred to in the Frederici document

[Page 189]

SIR DAVID MAXWELL FYFE: My Lord, that is Page 131 of Document Book 12.

Q. (continuing): - where General Frederici says: "After ample deliberation the Reich Protector expressed his view about the various plans in a memorandum." I am suggesting to you that this is your memorandum which you sent on to Lammers for submission to the Fuehrer. Are you saying - are you really going to tell the Tribunal that this is not your memorandum?

A. No, I do not want to say that at all. At the moment I really do not know any longer. I did not write it, but I agreed with its contents. The letter to Lammers says so.

Q. Well, now, if you agreed with its contents, what else did you mean by saying that you would have to expel the intelligentsia, except that you were going to break down the Czechs as a national entity and expel the people who would keep going that history and tradition and language? Is that not why you wanted to expel the intelligentsia?

A. I never mentioned the word "destroy," but said that the intelligentsia -

Q. I said "expel" -

A. I see.

Q. - which is your own word.

A. The intelligentsia class was the greatest obstacle to co- operation between Germans and Czechs. For that reason, if we wanted to achieve this co-operation, and that was still the aim of our policy, then this intelligentsia had to be reduced in some way and in particular their influence had to be diminished, and that was the meaning of my explanation.

Q. Yes, you said to achieve your policy, but by achieving your policy you mean to destroy the Czech people as a national entity with their own language, history and traditions, and assimilate them into the Greater German Reich. That was your policy, was it not?

A. My policy was, first of all, to assimilate the Czechs, as far as possible. But in the final analysis that could not have been achieved for generations. The first thing to do was to bring about co-operation so as to have peace and order.

Q. Well, now, before - before I put to you the memorandum of Frank, with which you entirely agree, would you look at paragraph 7 of your own memorandum.

SIR DAVID MAXWELL FYFE: My Lord, it is Page 113 of Document Book 12 A.

Q. (continuing): In Section 7 you say:

"If one considers the gigantic tasks facing the German nation after a victorious war, the necessity for a careful and rational utilization of Germans will be apparent to everyone. There are so many tasks that have to be tackled at once and simultaneously that a careful, well-thought-out utilization of the Germans who are suitable for carrying out these tasks is necessary.

The Greater German Reich will have to make use of the help of foreigners on a large scale in all spheres, and must confine itself to appointing Germans to the key positions and to taking over the reins of public administration where the interests of the Reich make it absolutely necessary."

You were, in this memorandum, blue-printing the plans for dealing with the Czechs after the war on the basis of the German victory, that is, that they should disappear as a nation and become assimilated to the German Reich. Was that not what was in your mind?

A. To make the Czechs disappear as a nation was altogether impossible. That was not possible at all. But they were to incorporate themselves more closely into the Reich, and that is what I mean by the word "assimilate."

Moreover, it is also stated in this memorandum - earlier, much earlier - that from the racial point of view - if you want to use that unpleasant expression - there was an extraordinarily large number of Germans within Czechoslovakia.

[Page 190]

Q. Well, now, just turn over and see how the ... your State Secretary's memorandum with which you entirely agree, how that runs.

SIR DAVID MAXWELL FYFE: My Lord, your Lordship will find the beginning of that is Enclosure 2 on Page 115.

Q. (continuing): The State Secretary states his problem. He says, in the second sentence:

"The question as to whether the Protectorate, with a Reich Protector as its head, is suitable for settling the Czech problem and should therefore be retained or whether it should now give place to some other form of government is being raised by various people and is the cause of this memorandum. It will briefly:
(a) indicate the nature of the Czech problem;
(b) analyse the present way in which it is being dealt with;
(c) examine the proposed alterations from the point of view of their suitability, and finally
(d) express an independent opinion on the whole question."
Well, now, I would like you just to look at your State Secretary's independent opinion with which you entirely agree.

THE PRESIDENT: Ought you not to read the last two lines?

SIR DAVID MAXWELL FYFE: Oh, yes, my Lord, I am sorry.

"On a correct decision depends the solution of the Czech problem. We thus bear the responsibility for centuries to come."
Now, my Lord, Frank's own opinion starts on 121 - Page 121 in Section D of the memorandum, and he begins by saying:
"The aim of Reich policy in Bohemia and Moravia must be the complete Germanisation of area and people. In order to attain this, there are two possibilities:

I. The total evacuation of the Czechs from Bohemia and Moravia to a territory outside the Reich and the settlement of Germans in the freed territory or

II. If one leaves the majority of the Czechs in Bohemia and Moravia the simultaneous application of a great variety of methods working towards Germanisation, in accordance with plan X.

Such a Germanisation provides for:

1. The changing of the nationality of racially suitable Czechs;

2. The expulsion of racially unassimilable Czechs and of the intelligentsia who are enemies of the Reich, or 'special treatment' for these and all destructive elements;

3. The re-colonising of the territory thus freed with fresh German blood."

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