IMT Judgment against Joachim von Ribbentrop

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IMT Judgment against Joachim von Ribbentrop

Post by David Thompson » 21 Jun 2003 19:03

On 30 Sept 1946 the International Military Tribunal (IMT) convicted von Ribbentrop of all four counts of the indictment -- conspiracy, crimes against peace, war crimes, and crimes against humanity. The tribunal sentenced von Ribbentrop to death by hanging, and he was executed at Nuernberg on 16 Oct 1946. Here is the IMT judgment convicting von Ribbentrop:

"Ribbentrop is indicted under all four Counts. He joined the Nazi Party in 1932. By 1933 he had been made foreign policy adviser to Hitler, and in the same year the representative of the Nazi Party on foreign policy. In 1934 he was appointed Delegate for Disarmament Questions and in 1935 Minister Plenipotentiary at Large, a capacity in which he negotiated the Anglo-German Naval Agreement in 1935 and the Anti-Comintern Pact in 1936. On 11 August 1936 he was appointed Ambassador to England. On 4 February 1938, he succeeded Von Neurath as Reich Minister for Foreign Affairs as part of the general reshuffle which accompanied the dismissal of Von Fritsch and Von Blomberg.

Crimes against Peace

Ribbentrop, was not present at the Hossbach conference held on 5 November 1937, but on 2 January 1938, while still Ambassador to England, he sent a memorandum to Hitler indicating his opinion that a change in the status quo in the East in the German sense could only be carried out by force and suggesting methods to prevent England and France from intervening in a European war fought to bring about such a change. When Ribbentrop, became Foreign Minister, Hitler told him that Germany still had four problems to solve: Austria, Sudetenland, Memel, and Danzig, and mentioned the possibility of "some sort of a show-down" or "military settlement" for their solution.

On 12 February 1938, Ribbentrop attended the conference between Hitler and Schuschnigg at which Hitler, by threats of invasion, forced Schuschnigg to grant a series of concessions designed to strengthen the Nazis in Austria, including the appointment of Seyss-Inquart as Minister of Security and Interior, with control over the Police. Ribbentrop was in London when the occupation of Austria was actually carried out and, on the basis of information supplied him by Goering, informed the British Government that Germany had not presented Austria with an ultimatum, but had intervened in Austria only to prevent civil war. On 13 March 1938, Ribbentrop signed the law incorporating Austria into the German Reich.

Ribbentrop participated in the aggressive plans against Czechoslovakia. Beginning in March 1938, he was in close touch with the Sudeten German Party and gave them instructions which had the effect of keeping the Sudeten German question a live issue which might serve as an excuse for the attack which Germany was planning against Czechoslovakia. In August 1938 he participated in a conference for the purpose of obtaining Hungarian support in the event of a war with Czechoslovakia. After the Munich Pact he continued to bring diplomatic pressure with the object of occupying the remainder of Czechoslovakia. He was instrumental in inducing the Slovaks to proclaim their independence. He was present at the conference of 14 and 15 March 1939, at which Hitler, by threats of invasion, compelled President Hacha to consent to the German occupation of Czechoslovakia. After the German troops had marched in, Ribbentrop signed the law establishing a protectorate over Bohemia and Moravia.

Ribbentrop played a particularly significant role in the diplomatic activity which led up to the attack on Poland. He participated in a conference held on 12 August 1939 for the purpose of obtaining Italian support if the attack should lead to a general European war. Ribbentrop discussed the German demands with respect to Danzig and the Polish Corridor with the British Ambassador in the period from 25 August to 30 August 1939, when he knew that the German plans to attack Poland had merely been temporarily postponed in an attempt to induce the British to abandon their guarantee to the Poles. The way in which he carried out these discussions makes it clear that he did not enter into them in good faith in an attempt to reach a settlement of the difficulties between Germany and Poland.

Ribbentrop was advised in advance of the attack on Norway and Denmark and of the attack on the Low Countries and prepared the official Foreign Office memoranda attempting to justify these aggressive actions.

Ribbentrop attended the conference on 20 January 1941, at which Hitler and Mussolini discussed the proposed attack on Greece, and the conference in January 1941, at which Hitler obtained from Antonescu permission for German troops to go through Romania for this attack. On 25 March 1941, when Yugoslavia adhered to the Axis Tri-Partite Pact, Ribbentrop had assured Yugoslavia that Germany would respect its sovereignty and territorial integrity. On 27 March 1941 he attended the meeting, held after the coup d'etatin Yugoslavia, at which plans were made to carry out Hitler's announced intention to destroy Yugoslavia.

Von Ribbentrop attended a conference in May 1941 with Hitler and Antonescu relating to Romanian participation in the attack on the U.S.S.R. He also consulted with Rosenberg in the preliminary planning for the political exploitation of Soviet territories and in July 1941, after the outbreak of war, urged Japan to attack the Soviet Union.

War Crimes and Crimes against Humanity

Ribbentrop participated in a meeting of 6 June 1944, at which it was agreed to start a program under which Allied aviators carrying out machine gun attacks should be lynched. In December 1944 Ribbentrop was informed of the plans to murder one of the French generals held as a prisoner of war and directed his subordinates to see that the details were worked out in such a way as to prevent its detection by the protecting powers.

Ribbentrop is also responsible for War Crimes and Crimes against Humanity because of his activities with respect to occupied countries and Axis satellites. The top German official in both Denmark and Vichy France was a Foreign Office representative, and Ribbentrop is therefore responsible for the general economic and political policies put into effect in the occupation of these countries. He urged the Italians to adopt a ruthless occupation policy in Yugoslavia and Greece.

He played an important part in Hitler's "final solution" of the Jewish question. In September 1942 he ordered the German diplomatic representatives accredited to various Axis satellites to hasten the deportation of Jews to the East. In June 1942 the German Ambassador to Vichy requested Laval to turn over 50,000 Jews for deportation to the East. On 25 February 1943, Ribbentrop protested to Mussolini against Italian slowness in deporting Jews from the Italian occupation zone of France. On 17 April 1943, he took part in a conference between Hitler and Horthy on the deportation of Jews from Hungary and informed Horthy that the "Jews must either be exterminated or taken to concentration camps." At the same conference Hitler had likened the Jews to "tuberculosis bacilli" and said if they did not work they were to be shot.

Ribbentrop's defense to the charges made against him is that Hitler made all the important decisions, and that he was such a great admirer and faithful follower of Hitler that he never questioned Hitler's repeated assertions that he wanted peace or the truth of the reasons that Hitler gave in explaining aggressive action. The Tribunal does not consider this explanation to be true. Ribbentrop participated in all of the Nazi aggressions from the occupation of Austria to the invasion of the Soviet Union. Although he was personally concerned with the diplomatic rather than the military aspect of these actions, his diplomatic efforts were so closely connected with war that he could not have remained unaware of the aggressive nature of Hitler's actions.

In the administration of territories over which Germany acquired control by illegal invasion, Ribbentrop also assisted in carrying out criminal policies, particularly those involving the extermination of the Jews. There is abundant evidence, moreover, that Ribbentrop was in complete sympathy with all the main tenets of the National Socialist creed, and that his collaboration with Hitler and with other defendants in the commission of Crimes against Peace, War Crimes and Crimes against Humanity was whole-hearted. It was because Hitler's policy and plans coincided with his own ideas that Ribbentrop served him so willingly to the end."

The Avalon Project at the Yale Law School: Nuremberg Trial Proceedings Vol. 22 - Tuesday, 1 October 1946, pps. 529-32; at:
http://www.yale.edu/lawweb/avalon/imt/proc/10-01-46.htm

demonio
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Post by demonio » 22 Jun 2003 06:06

WOW. So he went down on all four. Do you think a foreign minister should be tried David ?

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Post by David Thompson » 22 Jun 2003 06:22

demonio -- You asked: "Do you think a foreign minister should be tried David?"

That depends on what they do. I don't have a problem with the trial or sentence of this one. Here's a nice official portrait of him, c. 1938:
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Post by demonio » 22 Jun 2003 06:49

That's a good portrait.

I know he deserved a big serving of justice but some of the things in the judgement make him look like a messenger boy bearing bad news. Example Was he just carrying Hitlers word or making his own murderous policies or perhaps both.

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Post by David Thompson » 22 Jun 2003 16:37

demonio -- When a fellow knows that there is a plan to murder people, and fully knowing that, continues to participate in the plan (even as a "messenger boy"), he's called a "conspirator." When the plan is successful and results in the planned murders, that fellow is called an "accomplice" or "accessory." From a legal point of view, since he knowingly helped carry out the plot, he's just as responsible for the murders as the other participants in the plan.

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Rommel8
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Post by Rommel8 » 22 Jun 2003 22:05

Thanks david for the information

but even though, I think he was forced to do this, or face the consequences like others who went against hitler.

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Post by demonio » 23 Jun 2003 00:52

Thats understandable. One can see how easy it is to find yourself on the other side of the law. But had Hitler lived and faced trial, he could have taken responsiblility and perhaps half of the nuremberg dock would have got only a complicity charge and might not have hung. I'm not saying whether they deserved to or not.

So what of coerision ? Or is it more a case of be a yes man lest you loose your position or worse end up shot dead yourself ?

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Post by David Thompson » 23 Jun 2003 01:06

Rommel8 and demonio -- When honorable men holding state office are asked or told to commit crimes, they resign.

As for being forced to act, even von Ribbentrop, testifying in his own defense and after Hitler was dead, never claimed that he was coerced to help murder people.

Why are you imagining excuses for this criminal's acts?

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Post by David Thompson » 23 Jun 2003 03:52

demonio -- You said: "So what of coerision ? Or is it more a case of be a yes man lest you loose your position or worse end up shot dead yourself ?"

Interestingly enough, while checking and formatting von Ribbentrop's testimony so I could post it, I ran across this exchange (IMT Proceedings, vol. 10):

"THE PRESIDENT: Do any of the other prosecutors wish to ask questions of the defendant? Colonel Amen, the Tribunal hopes that you are not going over ground which has already been gone over.
COL. AMEN: Most certainly not, Sir.
[Turning to the defendant.] You speak English pretty well, Ribbentrop?
VON RIBBENTROP: I spoke it well in the past and I think I speak it passably well today.
COL. AMEN: Almost as well as you speak German?
VON RIBBENTROP: No, I would not say that, but in the past I spoke it nearly as well as German, although I have naturally forgotten a great deal in the course of the years and now it is more difficult for me.
COL. AMEN: Do you know what is meant by a "yes man" in English?
VON RIBBENTROP: A "yes man" -- per se. A man who says "yes" even when he himself -- it is somewhat difficult to define.

415
2 April 46

In any case, I do not know what you mean by it in English. In German I should define him as a man who obeys orders and is obedient and loyal.
COL. AMEN: And, as a matter of fact, you were a "yes man" for Hitler, isn't that correct?
VON RIBBENTROP: I was always loyal to Hitler, carried through his orders, differed frequently in opinion from him, had serious disputes with him, repeatedly tendered my resignation, but when Hitler gave an order, I always carried out his instructions in accordance with the principles of our authoritarian state.
COL. AMEN: Now, you were interrogated frequently by me, were you not, before this Trial?
VON RIBBENTROP: Yes, once or twice, I believe.
COL. AMEN: Now, I am going to read to you certain questions and answers which were given in the course of these interrogations, and simply ask you to tell the Tribunal whether or not you made the answers that I read to you. That question can be answered "yes" or "no"; do you understand?
VON RIBBENTROP: Yes.
COL. AMEN: "I have been a loyal man to the Fuehrer to his last days. I have never gone back on him. I have been a loyal man to his last days, last hours, and I did not always agree with everything. On the contrary, I sometimes had very divergent views, but I promised to him in 1941 that I would keep faith in him. I gave him my word of honor that I would not get him into any difficulties."
Is that correct?
VON RIBBENTROP: Yes, that according to my recollection is correct. I did not see the document and I did not sign anything, but as far as I can remember, that is correct.
COL. AMEN: Well, what did you mean by saying that you would not get him into any difficulties?
VON RIBBENTROP: I saw in Adolf Hitler the symbol of Germany and the only man who could win this war for Germany, and therefore I did not want to create any difficulties for him, and remained faithful to him until the end.
COL. AMEN: Well, what you really meant was that you were never going to cross him, and you promised him that in 1941, isn't that true?
VON RIBBENTROP: I would never cause him any difficulties, yes, I did say that. He often found me a rather difficult subordinate, and that is when I told him that I would not cause him any difficulties.

416
2 April 46

COL. AMEN: In 1941 you told him that no matter whether you differed with his opinion in the future, you would never press the point, isn't that true? [There was no response.] "Yes" or "no"?
VON RIBBENTROP: No, not quite that, but...
COL. AMEN: Well, approximately that, is that right?
VON RIBBENTROP: No, it cannot be put that way. I only meant, if I may explain it this way, that I would never cause him any difficulties; if a serious divergence of opinion should ever arise, I would just withhold my own view. That was what I meant.
COL. AMEN: Well, you gave him your word of honor to that effect, isn't that true?
VON RIBBENTROP: Yes, that is correct, yes.
COL. AMEN: And at that time you had talked about resigning, isn't that correct?
VON RIBBENTROP: Yes, that is also true, yes.
COL. AMEN: And that made the Fuehrer lose his temper and become ill, correct?
VON RIBBENTROP: Yes. "RP" [urpy, nauseous?] is not the correct expression, but he became very excited at that time. I should prefer not to mention the details.
COL. AMEN: Well, he said it was injuring his health, isn't that correct, and told you to stop arguing with him about any of these questions and do what he told you to do? Right?
VON RIBBENTROP: I do not wish to say anything more about the personal reasons, nor do I believe that these are matters which could be of any interest here. Those would be personal matters between the Fuehrer and myself.
COL. AMEN: Well, I am not interested in that. I am interested only in ascertaining if it is not a fact, and if you did not swear under oath, that on that occasion you swore to Hitler that you would never express or press any divergent views to anything which he desired. Is that not correct?
VON RIBBENTROP: No, no! That is absolutely untrue, the interpretation is false. I told the Fuehrer that I would never create any difficulties for him. After 1941 I had many divergencies with him, and even at that time I always voiced my own opinions.
COL. AMEN: Well, Ribbentrop, whatever divergent views you had you were never able to put any of them into effect after 1941, were you? "Yes" or "no."
VON RIBBENTROP: I did not understand the question. Please repeat it.

417
2 April 46

COL. AMEN: I say, no matter how divergent your views were, or what views you expressed to the Fuehrer on any of these questions after 1941, your suggestions being contrary to the Fuehrer's were never put into effect. Isn't that correct? You always eventually did what the Fuehrer told you to do and what he wished, regardless of your own views.
VON RIBBENTROP: You are putting two questions to me. To the first I must reply that it is not correct that Hitler never accepted suggestions from me. Question Number 2, however, is correct. I can answer it by saying that if Hitler at any time expressed an opinion to me and issued an order, I carried the order through as was natural in our country.
COL. AMEN: In other words, eventually you always said "yes", isn't that correct?
VON RIBBENTROP: I carried out his order, yes."

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Post by demonio » 23 Jun 2003 05:32

Thats interesting David.

Thanks

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