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-Fourth Day: Wednesday, 26th June, 1946
(Part 4 of 10)

[Mr. Justice Biddle continues his examination of Constantin von Neurath]

[Page 213]

Q. Now, I have only one other question. You recognized, did you not, that Himmler would use methods of which you would not approve: is that right?

A. Yes, but only gradually, that could not have been foreseen from the beginning.

Q. That is just what I wanted to know. When did you first realize that? When did you first begin, so far as you can remember, to realize what sort of man Himmler was?

A. That was very difficult to recognize, because Himmler had two faces, he was a perfect Janus, one could not see immediately what his real thoughts were at all.

Q. I am not asking you what he was like. If you would just try to remember, you certainly realised that at some time. Did you know it in 1937? You knew it in 1937 or 1938? Certainly in 1938, did you not?

A. Probably in 1938, but it is hard for me to give a date at the moment.

Q. I do not want a specific date. My point is that you knew it before you went to the Protectorate; you knew what Himmler was before you want to the Protectorate, of course? There is no question about that, is there?

A. Yes, certainly I did.



Q. Defendant, will you tell us please, did you ever express yourself openly against the policy of the Hitlerite Government?

A. I am sorry, but the translation was not good.

[Page 214]

Q. In your explanation, made before the Tribunal, you stated that you were not in agreement with the policy of Hitler's Government, either on separate questions or taken as a whole, as well. Is that true?

A. Yes.

Q. Did you ever express yourself openly with a statement of your disagreement with Hitler's policy?

A. I did so more than once.

Q. In what manner was it, then? I am asking you about your public statements, was it either in the Press or while addressing any meeting?

A. No. It was no longer possible to have it appear in the Press, or to hold a meeting. It was quite out of the question. I could only speak to Hitler personally or, at the beginning, in the Cabinet, in protest against this policy. There was no freedom of the Press any longer, any more than in Russia. In the same way no meeting was possible. Consequently ...

Q. I am not asking you about Russia; I am asking you about your expressing your views. In other words, you never expressed them. And in that way, nobody in Germany could know, or did know, about the fact that you were not in agreement with the policy on the part of Hitler's Government?

A. I always expressed myself quite unmistakably about it, but not in articles, nor in meetings, either; but otherwise, I always expressed myself clearly about it.

Q. Yes, but only in your tete-a-tete with Hitler, only personally to Hitler. You mentioned it only to Hitler personally?

A. No; I tell you I said that to everyone who would listen, but I could not do so in public meetings, in speeches, or in articles.

Q. And you remained a member of the Government in spite of the fact that you were not in agreement with the Government's policy; is that so?

A. Yes, for that very reason.

Q. In order to counteract his policy?

A. Yes.

Q. Do you know the results of such counteracting?

A. I did not understand that.

Q. What were the results of your counteracting Hitler's Government's policy?

A. Well, I am not in a position to give the details on that.

Q. In particular, as to the question of aggression, were you against the joining of Germany and Austria?

A. Yes.

Q. The German Government joined Austria to Germany, is that so?

A. I believe it has been clearly expressed here that at the last moment Hitler did that.

Q. You were against the seizing of Czechoslovakia?

A. Yes.

Q. And the German Government seized Czechoslovakia?

A. I was no longer a member of the Government at that time.

Q. But as a statesman, whose opinion should have been considered, you, of course, expressed your opinion against it, did you not?

A. Always.

Q. You were against the attack on Poland?

A. Yes.

Q. And in spite of that Germany did attack Poland.

A. I repeat, I was no longer a member of the Government. I learned of it only at the last moment.

Q. You were against the attack on U.S.S.R.?

A. Yes, indeed; I always wanted the exact opposite. I wanted co-operation with the Soviet Union, I said that as early as 19 -

Q. And still Germany attacked the Soviet Union?

A. Yes.

[Page 215]

Q. Judging from your explanation, Hitler must have known about your political opposition and your disagreement with his policy, is it correct?

A. He knew that very well, for I resigned in 1938 for that reason.

Q. Yes. And you know how Hitler made short work of his political opposition?

A. In the Reich, yes.

Q. And so far as you were concerned, in spite of the fact that you considered yourself as being in opposition, nothing happened; that is true, is it not?

A. I did not understand.

Q. So far as you were concerned, in spite of the fact that you considered yourself to be a member of the opposition, nothing happened?

A. No, but I always expected something would.

Q. And could you not tell us whether Sir Nevile Henderson, in his book, The Failure of a Mission, expressed the facts concerning you personally correctly or not? Do you consider that Sir Nevile Henderson expressed the facts correctly concerning you personally; did he express them correctly?

A. I must admit frankly, I read this book by Sir Nevile Henderson only once, three or four years ago. I cannot remember now what he said about me. I heard excerpts from it here once or twice, but I cannot say what he wrote about me.

Q. But you claim that you are familiar enough with the excerpts presented by your defence counsel in his document book?

A. Yes.

Q. Now, for instance, that which is expressed in his excerpts so far as you are concerned, is it correct or not?

A. I assume so, yes.

Q. That is to say, it is correct. And is it quite correct what he writes in reference to your membership in the Party? He writes that "Baron von Neurath himself remained in the regime of Hindenburg, and he was not a member of the Nazi Party."

A. Yes, I believe I have said so repeatedly here in the last few days.

Q. And farther on he informs us that "he (Neurath) became a member of the Party later."

A. I have already explained how that happened. In 1937 I received a Golden Party Badge without my ...

Q. Yes, we have heard that before, but is it true or not that you became a member of the Nazi Party later, as Sir Nevile Henderson states?

A. No, I ...

Q. This particular part is not correct then?

A. I received the Golden Party Badge with Hitler's statement that this involved no obligations towards the Party.

Q. We have heard this already. That means that in Sir Nevile Henderson's statements, not everything is true as far as your person is concerned?

A. I do not know. With the best intentions I cannot remember what Sir Nevile Henderson wrote about me.

Q. The last question I have is in regard to your memorandum. I did not quite understand the explanation which was given by you to Sir David, and later to your defence counsel. Now, in forwarding Frank's memorandum, in the letter addressed to Lammers, you wrote that you considered this memorandum absolutely correct. Is that true?

A. Yes, that is true. I should also like to tell you the reasons. This memorandum -

Q. You already explained the reasons before. I just wanted to establish the fact that you really wrote this.

A. Up to now I have not told the reason why I wrote this to Lammers. The reason why I wrote to Lammers to this effect was that he was the one who submitted this memorandum to the Fuehrer. So I had to write to the same effect.

[Page 216]


Q. There are two subjects I want to ask you about and the first relates to the letter that you wrote on 31st August, 1940. That is the letter which General Nikitchenko has just referred to; you remember that?

A. Yes, indeed.

Q. And you remember that you said in that letter that you fully agreed with the memorandum which your Secretary of State Frank had drawn up independently of you. He said that "Germanisation provides for the changing of the nationality of racially suitable Czechs; and secondly, 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." My question is: What did you understand by "special treatment"?

A. Well, as far as I read this extract at all at the time, I had in no way ever thought of the term "special treatment" as it has become known here during the trial. I was certainly not at all in agreement with this attitude of Frank as represented in the report, and I only had the intention of frustrating this whole affair, in order to side- track it. The content of these reports was only intended to present this to Hitler in his own language, or in the language of Himmler and others, in order to dissuade him from it later on.

Q. Was it not misleading to write to Herr Lammers with the view that it should be put forward to Hitler, saying that you fully agreed with the memorandum with which you did not agree?

A. Mr. President, as things were, I could not write to Lammers. I did not intend to carry out anything which is written in there, but since Lammers was presenting this to Hitler, I first had to tell him I agreed with it. Afterwards I reported to Hitler and gave him an explanation in a personal conference during the meeting with Frank and Guertner which has been mentioned here.

Q. Then your answer is that you do not know what was meant by "special treatment"?

A. No, in any case I did not know at the time.

Q. Now, there is one other question that I should like to put to you. You remember when you were called on the 11th March, 1938, at the time of the Anschluss with Austria, and you wrote the letter of the 12th March, 1938, in answer to the memorandum which you received from the British Government through Sir Nevile Henderson. You knew Sir Nevile Henderson quite well, did you not?

A. Yes.

Q. And in that letter you said this

"It is untrue that the Reich used forceful pressure to bring about this development; and the assertion, which was spread later by the former Chancellor, that the German Government had presented the Federal President with a conditional ultimatum, is pure invention. According to the ultimatum, he had to appoint a proposed candidate as Chancellor and form a Cabinet conforming to the proposals of the German Government, otherwise the invasion of Austria by German troops was threatened."
And then you go on to say what you allege was the truth of the matter. You know now, do you not, that your statements in that letter were entirely untrue?

A. That did not come through.

Q. Have you heard any part of the question that I was putting to you?

A. Unfortunately not.

Q. It is a pity that you did not say so earlier. Do you remember 11th March, 1938, and being called in to represent the Foreign Office, and you have told me just now that you knew Sir Nevile Henderson quite well?

A. Yes.

Q. And you remember the letter which you wrote on 12th March, 1938?

A. Yes.

[Page 217]

Q. And you admitted to Sir David Maxwell Fyfe that the statements in that letter were untrue?

A. Untrue, yes; not entirely. They are presented incorrectly.

Q. What steps did you take to find out whether or not they were true?

A. I did not learn of the incorrectness of this presentation until much later.

Q. That is not an answer to my question. I said: What steps did you take to find out whether the statement was correct?

A. The statement which Hitler gave me I first simply presumed to be true. I certainly could not check up on it in any way.

Q. Why should you assume it to be true when it was in contradiction of what the British Government had stated?

A. I had no other knowledge of the events which had occurred, and therefore could only say what I knew.

Q. You had the letter, the protest from the British Government, had you not?

A. Yes.

Q. You knew Sir Nevile Henderson perfectly well?

A. Yes.

Q. And you then wrote this letter contradicting the statements which had been made on behalf of the British Government, that is right, is it not?

A. Yes.

Q. And you took no steps to check the facts which had been stated to you by Hitler? Will you answer that, please?

A. Yes. Your Lordship, how was I to do that? There was no one else who knew about it. It was only what Hitler had commissioned me to tell the Foreign Office. The draft of this note was drawn up by the Foreign Office according to the information which I had received from Hitler. I had no other chance to clear this up.

Q. There were all the other persons who were concerned with the matter whom you could have communicated with, but your statement is that you did nothing?

A. I can only repeat that I had no opportunity to procure any other information. Likewise, no one knew about it except Hitler.

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