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PRESIDENT: Dr. Horn, you said you were going to call the Defendant Von Ribbentrop. We have not got the documents here, and you must do as you said.
DR. HORN: Then I request to be given permission to examine the defendant as a witness.
[The Defendant Von Ribbentrop took the stand.]
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THE PRESIDENT: Will you say your full name?
JOACHIM VON RIBBENTROP (Defendant): Joachim Von Ribbentrop.
THE PRESIDENT: Will you repeat this oath after me: "I swear by God -- the Almighty and Omniscient -- that I will speak the pure truth -- and will withhold and add nothing."
[The defendant repeated the oath in German.]
THE PRESIDENT: You may sit down.
DR. HORN: Please give the Tribunal a brief explanatory report about the most important points of your life.
VON RIBBENTROP: I was born on 30 April 1893 at Wesel. I came from an old family of soldiers. My mother came from the country. I went to school at Kassel and Metz in Alsace-Lorraine. There, in Alsace-Lorraine, I had my first contact with the domain of French culture; and at that time we learned to love that country dearly.
In 1908 my father resigned from active military service. The reason was that there were differences at that time connected with the person of the Kaiser. My father already had a strong interest in foreign politics and also social interests, and I had a great veneration for him.
At that time we moved to Switzerland and after living there for about one year I went to London as a young man, and there, for about one year, I studied, mainly languages. It was then that I had my first impression of London and of the greatness of the British Empire.
After about one year, in 1910, I went to Canada. Originally I wanted to go to the German colonies, but then I went to America instead. I wanted to see the world. I remained in Canada for several years, approximately two years as a worker, a plate layer on the railroad, and later on I turned to the bank and building trade.
In 1914 the first World War caught me in Canada. Like all Germans at the time we had only one thought -- "Every man is needed at home and how can we help the homeland?" Then I traveled, to New York, and finally in September 1914, after some difficulties, I arrived in Germany. After serving at the front, for approximately 4 years, and after I had been wounded, I was sent to Constantinople, to Turkey, where I witnessed the collapse of Germany in the first World War. Then I had my first impression of the dreadful consequences of a lost war. The Ambassador at that time, Count Bernstorff, and the later Ambassador, Dr. Dieckhoff, were the representatives of the Reich in Turkey. They were summoned to Berlin in order to take advantage of Count Bernstorff's connections with President
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Wilson and to see -- it was the hope of all of us -- that on the strength of these Points perhaps a peace could be achieved and with it reconciliations. After some difficulties, in March 1919, I came to Berlin and I became adjutant of the then General Von Seeckt for the peace delegation at Versailles. Subsequently, when the Treaty of Versailles came, I read that document in one night and it was my impression that no government in the world could possibly sign such a document. That was my first impression of foreign policy at home. In 1919 I resigned from the Armed Forces as a first lieutenant, and I turned to the profession of a businessman. Through these business contacts, I came to know particularly England and France rather intimately during the following years. Several contacts with politicians were already established at that time. I tried to help my own country by voicing my views against Versailles. At first it was very difficult but already in the years 1919, 1920, and 1921, I found a certain amount of understanding in those countries, in my own modest way. Then, it was approximately since the years 1929 or 1930, I saw that Germany after seeming prosperity during the years 1926, 1927, and 1928 was exposed to a sudden economic upheaval and that matters went downhill very fast. During the year 1931 and 1932, one noticed as a business man, which I was at the time, that in practice the consequences of Versailles were such that German economic life was becoming more and more prostrate. Then I looked around. At that time, I was closely attached to the German People's Party and I saw how the parties became always more and more numerous in Germany. I remember that in the end we had something like 30 parties or more in Germany, that unemployment was growing steadily, and that the government was losing the confidence of the people more and more. From these years I clearly recollect the efforts made by the then Chancellor Bruning, which were doubtlessly meant sincerely and honestly but which nevertheless had no success.
Other governments came, that is well known. They, too, had no success. The export trade in Germany no longer paid for itself. The gold reserves of the Reichsbank dwindled, there was tax evasion, and no confidence at all in the measures introduced by the government. That, roughly, was the picture which I saw in Germany in the year 1930 and 1931. 1 saw then how strikes increased, how discontented the people were, and how more and more demonstrations took place on the streets and conditions became more and more chaotic.
I do not think that I am exaggerating if I say that the picture which presented itself in the years 1930, 1931, and 1932, particularly
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1932, in Germany was not unlike the symptoms of civil war. For me as a German -- and I think I have always been a patriot like many other Germans -- it made a frightful impression. Actually I was not very close to the political world, but during those years I realized that something had to be done and that everyone, wherever he might be, would have to help or assist to create a national front on a broad basis which would once more have the confidence of men and particularly of the large working masses of the people. At the same time, I was aware that most of the men who were responsible for Versailles had not intended this -- I am sure of it -- but it was a fact which I believe no one can deny today. I have already mentioned the disappointment I experienced as a young officer through personal contacts, in particular, with the German Ambassador at that time, Dieckhoff, who is a distant relative of mine or relative by marriage, the disappointment which in fact we all experienced in the German Armed Forces, among the German people, and in government circles naturally even more -- that these Points of Wilson had been so quickly abandoned. I do not propose to make a propaganda speech here. I merely want to represent the facts soberly as I experienced them at the time. There is no doubt that the defenselessness of the German people at that time led to the fact that unfortunately a tendency was maintained among our enemies not toward conciliation but toward hatred or revenge. I am convinced that this was certainly not the intention of Wilson, at that time President of the United States, and I myself believe that in later years, he suffered because of it. At any rate that was my first contact with German politics.
This Versailles now became...
But it is known that even the severe stipulations of Versailles as we experienced them, from the closest personal observation, were not adhered to as is well known. That, too, is perhaps a consequence, an after-effect of a war, in which men drifted in a certain direction and just could not or would not adhere to certain things. It is known that the stipulations of Versailles were not observed then either territorially speaking or in other very important points. May I mention that one of the most important questions -- territorial questions -- at that time was Upper Silesia and particularly Memel, that small territory.
The events which took place made a deep impression on me personally. Upper Silesia particularly, because I had many personal ties there,and because none of us could understand that even those severe stipulations of Versailles were not observed. It is a question of minorities which also played a very important part. Later I shall have to refer to this point more in detail, particularly in connection with the Polish crisis. But light from the beginning, German minorities, as is known, suffered very
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hard times. At that time it was again Upper Silesia particularly, and those territories which were involved and suffering under that problem, under that treatment. Further, the question of disarmament was naturally one of the most important points of Versailles. And that, too, has already been referred to in this courtroom. Therefore I do not want to go into detail.
At any rate, it was the denial of equality in all these spheres, the denial of equal rights, which made me decide that year to take a greater part in politics. I would like to say here quite openly that at that time I often talked to French and British friends, and of course it was already a well-known fact, even then -- after 1930 the NSDAP received over 100 seats in the Reichstag -- that here the natural will of the German people broke through to resist this treatment, which after all meant nothing more than that they wanted to live. At the time these friends of mine spoke to me about Adolf Hitler, whom I did not know at the time, they asked me, "What sort of a man is Adolf Hitler? What will come of it? What is it?" I said to them frankly at that time, "Give Germany a chance and you will not have Adolf Hitler. Do not give her a chance, and Adolf Hitler will come into power."
That was approximately in 1930 or 1931. Germany was not given the chance, so on 30 January 1933 he came -- the National Socialists seized power.
DR. HORN: How and when did you come to know Adolf Hitler?
VON RIBBENTROP: I saw Adolf Hitler for the first time on 13 August 1932 at the Berghof. Since about 1930 or 1931 I had known Count Helldorf in Berlin, whose name as a National Socialist is known. He was a regimental comrade of mine in my squadron, and we went through 4 years of war together. Through him I became acquainted with National Socialism in Berlin for the first time. I had asked him at that time to arrange a meeting with Hitler for me. He did so that time, as far as I remember, through the mediation of Herr Rohm. I visited Adolf Hitler and had a long discussion with him at that time, that is to say, Adolf Hitler explained his ideas on the situation in the summer of 1932 to me. I then saw him again in 1933 -- that has already been described here by Party Member Goering -- at my house at Dahlem which I placed at their disposal so that I, on my part, should do everything possible to create a national front. Adolf Hitler made a considerable impression on me even then. I noticed particularly his blue eyes in his generally dark appearance, and then, perhaps as outstanding, his detached, I should say reserved -- not unapproachable, but reserved -- nature, and the manner in which he expressed his thoughts. These thoughts and statements always had something final and definite
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about them, and they appeared to come from his innermost self. I had the impression that I was facing a man who knew what he wanted and who had an unshakable will and who was a very strong personality. I can summarize by saying that I left that meeting with Hitler convinced that this man, if anyone, could save Germany from these great difficulties and that distress which existed at the time. I need not go further into detail about the events of that January. But I would like to tell about one episode which happened in my house in Dahlem when the question arose whether Hitler was to become Reich Chancellor or not. I know that at that time, I believe, he was offered the Vice Chancellorship and I heard with what enormous strength and conviction -- if you like, also brutality and hardness -- he could state his opinion when he believed that obstacles might appear which could lead to the rehabilitation and rescue of his people.
DR. HORN: Did you believe in the possibility of a revision of the Versailles Treaty by means of mutual understanding?
VON RIBBENTROP: I must say that the numerous business trips which in the years of 1920 to 1932 took me abroad proved to me how endlessly difficult it was or would have to be under the system which then existed to bring about a revision of the Versailles Treaty by means of negotiations. In spite of that, I felt how from year to year the circles grew in England and France which were convinced that somehow Germany would have to be helped. During those years, I established many contacts with men of the business world, of public life, of art and science, particularly in universities in England and France. I learned thereby to understand the attitude of the English and the French. I want to say now that even shortly after Versailles it was my conviction that a change of that treaty could be carried out only through an understanding with France and Britain. I also believed that only in this way could the international situation be improved and the very considerable causes of conflict existing everywhere as consequences of the first World War be removed. It was clear, therefore, that only by means of an understanding with the Western Powers, with England and France, would a revision of Versailles be possible. Even then, I had the distinct feeling that only through such an understanding could a permament peace in Europe really be preserved. We young officers had experienced too much at that time. And I am thinking of the Free Corps men in Silesia and all those things in the Baltic, et cetera. I should like to add, and say it quite openly, that right from the beginning, from the first day in which I saw and read the Versailles Treaty, I, as a German, felt it to be my duty to oppose it and to try
to do everything so that a better treaty could take its place. It was precisely Hitler's
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opposition to Versailles that first brought me together with him and the National Socialist Party.
DR. HORN: Did you attempt to tell Hitler your views regarding this?
THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Horn, it is 5 o'clock and the Tribunal thinks they had better adjourn now.
[The Tribunal adjourned until 29 March 1946 at 1000 hours.]
Nuremberg Trial Proceedings Vol. 10
Friday, 29 March 1946
THE PRESIDENT: Before the examination of the Defendant Von Ribbentrop goes on, the Tribunal desires me to draw the attention of Dr. Horn and of the Defendant Von Ribbentrop to what the Tribunal has said during the last few days. In the first place, the Tribunal said this: The Tribunal has allowed the Defendant Goering, who has given the evidence first of the defendants and who has proclaimed himself to be responsible as the second leader of Nazi Germany, to give his evidence without any interruption whatever, and he has covered the whole history of the Nazi regime from its inception to the defeat of Germany. The Tribunal does not propose to allow any of the other defendants to go over the same ground in their evidence except insofar as is necessary for their own defense.
Secondly, the Tribunal ruled that evidence as to the injustice of the Versailles Treaty or whether it was made under duress is inadmissible. Thirdly, though this is not an order of the Tribunal, I must point out that the Tribunal has been informed on many occasions of the view of the defendants and some of their witnesses that the Treaty of Versailles was unjust and therefore any evidence upon that point, apart from its being inadmissible, is cumulative, and, the Tribunal will not hear it for that reason.
And lastly, the Tribunal wishes me to point out to Dr. Horn that it is the duty of counsel to examine their witnesses and not to leave them simply to make speeches, and if they are giving evidence which counsel knows is inadmissible according to the rulings of the Tribunal it is the duty of counsel to stop the witness. That is all.
Dr. Seidl, if you are going to refer to Gaus' affidavit the Tribunal will not deal with that matter now, it will be dealt with after the Defendant Von Ribbentrop has given evidence.
DR. SEIDL: Mr. President, I agreed with Dr. Horn, Counsel for the Defendant Ribbentrop ...
THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Seidl, I do not care whether you spoke to Dr. Horn or not or
what arrangement you may have made with
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Dr. Horn; it is not convenient for the Tribunal to hear Dr. Gaus' evidence at the present moment; they want to go on with Ribbentrop's evidence. [Turning to the defendant.]
DR. HORN: Yesterday at the end you were speaking about your political impressions in England and France. In connection with that I should like to put the following question: Did you make efforts to tell Hitler of your views on French and British politics at that time?
VON RIBBENTROP: Yes, after 30 January 1933 1 saw Hitler repeatedly and of course told him about the impressions which I gathered on my frequent travels, particularly to England and France.
DR. HORN: What was Hitler's attitude toward France and England at that time?
VON RIBBENTROP: Hitler's attitude was as follows: He saw in France an enemy of Germany because of the entire policy which France had pursued with regard to Germany since the end of World War I, and especially because of the position which she took on questions of equality of rights. This attitude of Hitler's found expression at the time in his book Mein Kampf.
I knew France well, since for a number of years I had had connections there. At that time I told the Fuehrer a great deal about France. It interested him, and I noticed that he showed an increasing interest in French matters in the year 1933. Then I brought him together with a number of Frenchmen, and I believe some of these visits, and perhaps also some of my descriptions of the attitude taken by many Frenchmen, and all of French culture ...
DR. HORN: What Frenchmen were they?
VON RIBBENTROP: There were a number of French economists, there were journalists and also some politicians. These reports interested the Fuehrer, and gradually he got the impression that there were, after all, men in France who were not averse to the idea of an understanding with Germany.
Above all I acquainted the Fuehrer with an argument which sprang from my deepest conviction and my years of experience. It was a great wish of the Fuehrer, as is well known, to come to a definitive friendship and agreement with England. At first the Fuehrer treated this idea as something apart from Franco-German politics. I believe that at that time I succeeded in convincing the Fuehrer that an understanding with England would be possible only by way of an understanding with France as well. That made, as I still remember very clearly from some of our conversations, a strong impression on him. He told me then that I should continue
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this purely personal course of mine for bringing about an understanding between Germany and France and that I should continue to report to him about these things.
DR. HORN: Then you became Hitler's foreign political advisor, not the Party advisor? How was that?
VON RIBBENTROP: I have already said that I reported to Hitler about my travel experiences. These impressions which I brought from England and France were of interest to him, and, without any special conferences or discussions being arranged, I was often received by Hitler. I spoke with him repeatedly and in that way it came about of itself that, apart from the official channels, he acknowledged my co-operation and my advice as to what I had seen and heard in foreign countries.
Of course, he was particularly interested in all questions concerning England. I told him about public opinion and personalities and introduced to him, besides Frenchmen, a number of Englishmen with whom he could exchange ideas outside the official channels, something which he loved to do.
DR. HORN: In what did your personal co-operation in the efforts made by Hitler to come to an agreement with France in the years 1933 to 1935 consist?
VON RIBBENTROP: At that time the solution of the Saar question was one of the first problems up for discussion. I tried through my own private channels to make it clear to the French in Paris that a reasonable and quiet solution of the Saar question in the spirit of the plebiscite, as laid down in the Versailles Treaty, would be a good omen for the relations between the two countries. I spoke with a number of people during those years in Paris and also made the first contact with members of the French Cabinet. I might mention that I had conversations with the then French President Dournergue, with the Foreign Minister Barthou, who was later assassinated, with M. Laval, and especially with M. Daladier.
I remember that in connection with the Saar question in particular I met with considerable understanding on the part of the latter. Then somewhat later I noticed during the visits of Frenchmen to Hitler that it was always mentioned, "Yes, but there is Mein Kampf and your policy toward France is contained in that book." I tried to get the Fuehrer to bring out an official revision of this passage of Mein Kampf. The Fuehrer said, however -- and I remember the exact words -- that he was determined through his policy, as put into practice, to prove to the world that he had changed his view in this respect: Things once written down could not be changed, they were a historical fact, and his former attitude
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toward France had been caused by France's attitude toward Germany at that time.
But one could now turn over a new leaf in the history of the two countries. Then I asked Adolf Hitler to receive a French journalist, in order that possibly by a public statement this revision of the view expressed in his book Mein Kampf could be made known to the world.
He agreed to this and then received a French journalist and gave him an interview in 1933. 1 do not recall the exact date. I believe this article appeared in Le Matin and created a great deal of excitement. I was very glad, for thereby a large. step toward an understanding with France had been taken. Then I contemplated what could further be done and how, from this simple public article, one could work up to a direct contact between French and German statesmen.
DR. HORN: At that time were you not contemplating the means for bringing Hitler and Daladier together? What practical efforts did you make?
VON RIBBENTROP: I was just going to come to that. At that time Daladier was the French Premier. I had several conversations with him and suggested to him that he meet Adolf Hitler so that quite frankly, man to man, they could carry on a discussion and see whether Franco-German relations could not be put on an entirely new basis. M. Daladier was quite taken by this idea. I reported this to Hitler and Hitler was ready to meet M. Daladier.
The meeting place was to be in the German Odenwald and was already agreed upon.
I went to Paris to make the last arrangements with Daladier.
MR. DODD: If Your Honor pleases, I am reluctant to interfere in any respect with this examination of this defendant, but my colleagues and I feel that this particular part of the examination is quite immaterial and in any event much too detailed and that we will never get along here. If counsel would abide by the instruction of the Court given this morning, we could move along much more directly and much more quickly.
THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Horn, the Tribunal thinks that the objection is really well founded. The defendant is dealing with a period between 1933 and 1935 and the efforts which he made for good relations with France. Well now, that is very remote from any question which we have to decide in this case, and therefore to deal with it in this detail seems to the Tribunal a waste of time.
DR. HORN: Then I will put other questions, which concern his direct co-operation.
What caused Hitler to appoint you Plenipotentiary for Disarmament?
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VON RIBBENTROP: I believe I was appointed Commissioner for Disarmament in the year -- in March or April. The reason was as follows:
Hitler was of the opinion that there should be equality of armament. He believed that this would be possible only through negotiations with France and England. That was also my point of view. Because of my efforts to establish good relations between Germany and England, since this was the earnest wish of the Fuehrer, I was at that time in London and there was able to make contacts with men influential in English politics.
It was mainly the contact with Lord Baldwin. I spoke to Lord Baldwin and the then Prime Minister, Macdonald, about the German desire for equality and found that these ministers had an open ear. As the result of a long conversation which I had with the Lord Chancellor of that time, the present Lord Baldwin -- the latter, I believe on 1 December 1933, made a speech in the House of Commons, in which he pointed out that one should meet Germany, halfway. Armament equality had been promised and therefore it would have to be reached somehow. For this purpose there were three possibilities: One would be, that Germany arm up to the level of the other powers, and that was not desired; the second possibility, that the others would disarm to the level of Germany, and that could not be carried out; and therefore one would have to meet halfway and permit Germany a limited rearmament and the other countries for their part would have to disarm. Adolf Hitler was very happy then about this attitude, for he considered it a practicable way of carrying through equality for Germany. Unfortunately it was not at all possible in the ensuing course of events to put into practice these good and reasonable ideas and statements made by Baldwin. Adolf Hitler therefore took the view that within the system now prevailing in the world it was apparently impossible to attain, by means of negotiations, armament equality -- equality of rights -- for Germany.
THE PRESIDENT: Wait. The interpreter isn't hearing you clearly. Could you put the microphone a little bit more in front of you? And would you repeat the last few sentences you said?
VON RIBBENTROP: Adolf Hitler saw that unfortunately, within the international system prevailing at that time, the good ideas of Lord Baldwin could not be carried out by means of negotiations.
DR.HORN: What practicable steps in limitation of armament did you obtain in London?
VON RIBBENTROP: It is known that Adolf Hitler, that means Germany, left the
League of Nations and the Disarmament Conference because it was impossible to
carry through the German
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desires by way of negotiations. Hitler therefore saw no other possibility, except to achieve this aim through the efforts of the German people themselves. He knew and, of course, realized that a risk was involved, but after the experiences of the preceding few years no other means remained, so that then Germany started to rearm independently.
[Dr. Horn attempted to interrupt.]
VON RIBBENTROP: I should like to finish my answer to your question. As a practical result of this, the following happened: In the course of the year 1934 there came about a closer contact between the German and the British Governments. There followed visits by British statesmen to Berlin, by Sir John Simon and Mr. Eden, and during these visits the suggestion was brought up as to whether it would not be possible to come to an agreement or an understanding at least as far as naval matters were concerned.
Hitler was very much interested in this idea and in the course of the negotiations between the British and the German Governments it was agreed that I should be sent to London to attempt to come to a naval agreement with the British Government.
It is not necessary for me to go into details of the pact which actually materialized. Hitler himself had said from the beginning that, in order to come to a final understanding with England, one would have to acknowledge the absolute naval supremacy of Great Britain once and for all. It was he who suggested the naval ratio of 100 to 35, which was an entirely different ratio from that which was negotiated between Germany and England before 1914. After relatively short negotiations this naval agreement was then concluded in London. It was very important for future Anglo-German relations, and at that time it represented the first practical result of an actual armament limitation.
DR. HORN: At that time did France agree to this rearmament and what were your personal efforts in this step?
VON RIBBENTROP: I might say in advance that Hitler and I were extremely happy about this pact. I know, it was then styled once by certain circles, to use an English expression, an "eyewash." I can say here from my own personal experience that I have never seen Adolf Hitler so happy as at the moment when I was able to tell him personally, in Hamburg, of the conclusion of this agreement.
DR. HORN: And what was France's attitude to this pact?
VON RIBBENTROP: With France the situation was, of course, a little difficult. I had already noticed this while the negotiations
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were taking place, for one had deviated from the armament limitation of the Versailles Treaty. Then I myself proposed to the gentlemen of the Foreign Office -- I can mention their names, they were Sir Robert Craigie in particular and also Little, who was then a British Admiral -- that I would go to France so that I also could utilize my relations with French statesmen and make clear to them the usefulness of this agreement for a future German-Anglo-French understanding.
I should like to point out something here. In this courtroom, sometime ago, a film was shown in which a speech I made for the newsreels of that time, at the conclusion of this naval agreement, was presented as proof of the duplicity of German diplomacy. At that time I purposely made this speech in London in order to record and to declare before the whole world that this did not concern merely one-sided British-German matters, but that it was the wish of Hitler -- and also the spirit of the naval agreement -- to bring about a general limitation of armament, and that this naval pact was also designed to improve finally the relations between France and Germany. This wish was real and sincere. I then went to France, spoke with French statesmen and, I believe, did help to some extent so that this first step in the limitation of armaments was considered a reasonable measure by manv Frenchmen in view of the fact that in the long run equality of rights could not be withheld from the German people.
DR. HORN: Then you were appointed Ambassador to London. What led to this appointment?
VON RIBBENTROP: That came about as follows: In the time following the naval agreement, which was hailed with joy by the widest circles in England, I made great efforts to bring Lord Baldwin and the Fuehrer together, and I should like to mention here that the preliminary arrangements for this meeting had already been made by a friend of Lord Baldwin, a Mr. Jones. The Fuehrer had agreed to fly to Chequers to meet Lord Baldwin, but unfortunately Lord Baldwin declined at the last minute. What led to his declining, I do not know, but there is no doubt that certain forces in England at the time did not wish this German-British understanding.
Then in 1936, when the German Ambassador Von Hoesch died, I said to myself, that on behalf of Germany one should make one last supreme effort to come to a good understanding with England. I might mention in this connection, that at that time I had already been appointed State Secretary of the Foreign Office by Hitler and had asked him personally that that appointment be cancelled and that I be sent to London as Ambassador.
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The following may have led to this decision of Hitler's. Hitler had a very definite conception of England's balance of power theory, but my view perhaps deviated somewhat from his. My conviction was that England would always continue to support her old balance of power theory, whereas Hitler was of the opinion that this theory of balance of power was obsolete, and that from now on, England should tolerate, that is, should welcome a much stronger Germany in view of the changed situation in Europe, and in view of Russia's development of strength. In order to give the Fuehrer a definite and clear picture of how matters actually stood in England-that was at any rate one of the reasons why the Fuehrer sent me to England. Another reason was that at that time we hoped, through relations with the still very extensive circles in England which were friendly to Germany and supported a German-English friendship, to make the relations between the two countries friendly and perhaps even to reach a permanent agreement. Hitler's goal was finally and always the German-English pact.
DR. HORN: In what way was your ambassadorial activity hampered in England?
VON RIBBENTROP: I should like to say first that I was repeatedly in England in the 1930's, mainly from 1935 to 1936, and, acting on instructions from the Fuehrer, I sounded out the opinions there on the subject of a German-British pact. The basis of this pact is known. It was to make the naval ratio of 100 to 35 permanent. Secondly the integrity of the so-called Low Countries, Belgium and Holland, and also France was to be guaranteed by the two countries forever and -- this was the Fuehrer's idea -- Germany should recognize the British Empire and should be ready to stand up, if necessary even with the help of her own power, for the preservation and maintenance of the British Empire; and England, in return, should recognize Germany as a strong power in Europe. It has already been said, and I should like to repeat, that these efforts in the 1930's unfortunately did not lead to any results. It was one of the Fuehrer's deepest disappointments -- and I must mention that here, for it is very important for the further course of events -- that this pact upon which he had placed such very great hopes and which he had regarded as the cornerstone of his foreign policy did not materialize in these years. What the forces were which prevented its materializing I cannot say, because I do not know. In any case we got no further.
I came back to this question several times while I was Ambassador in London and discussed it with circles friendly to Germany. And I must say that there also were many Englishmen who had a very positive attitude towards this idea.
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DR. HORN: Did you also meet with any attitude that was negative?
VON RIBBENTROP: There was naturally a strong element in England which did not look favorably upon this pact or this idea of close relations with Germany, because of considerations of principle and perhaps because of traditional considerations of British policy against definite obligations of this kind. I should like to mention here briefly, even though this goes back to the year 1936, that during the Olympic Games in the year 1936 I tried to win the very influential British politician, the present Lord Vansittart, to this idea. I had at that time a very long discussion of several hours' duration with him in Berlin. Adolf Hitler also received him and likewise spoke with him about the same subject. Lord Vansittart, even though our personal relations were good, showed a certain reserve.
In the year 1937, when I was in London, I saw that two clearly different trends were gradually forming in England; the one trend was very much in favor of promoting good relations with Germany; the second trend did not wish such close relations.
There were -- I believe that I do not need to mention names, for they are well known -- those gentlemen who did not wish such close relations with Germany, Mr. Winston Churchill, who was later Prime Minister, and others. I then made strenuous efforts in London in order to promote this idea but other events occurred which made my activity there most difficult. There was first of all, the Spanish policy. It is well known that civil war raged in Spain at that time and that in London the so-called Nonintervention Commission was meeting. I therefore, as Ambassador to the Court of St. James, had a difficult task. On the one hand, with all means at my disposal, I wished to further German-English friendship and to bring about the, German-English pact, but on the other hand, I had to carry out the instructions of my government in regard to the Nonintervention, Commission and Spain. These instructions, however, were often in direct opposition to certain aims of British policy. Therefore it came about that this sort of League of Nations which the Nonintervention Commission represented at that time, and of which I was the authorized German member, prejudiced the chief aim with which Adolf Hitler had sent me to London.
But I have to say here -- if I may and am supposed to explain that period openly in the interest of the case -- that it was not only the policy regarding Spain, but that in these years, 1937 until the beginning of 1938, that section which did not want a pact with Germany, doubtless made itself constantly more evident in England; and that, today, is a historical fact. Why? The answer is very simple,
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very clear. These circles regarded a Germany strengthened by National Socialism as a factor which might disturb the traditional British balance of power theory and policy on the Continent.
I am convinced that Adolf Hitler at that time had no intention at all of undertaking on his part anything against England, but that he had sent me to London with the most ardent wish for really reaching an understanding with England. From London I reported to the Fuehrer about the situation. And before this Tribunal now I wish to clarify one point, a point which has been brought up very frequently and which is relevant to my own defense. It has often been asserted that I reported to the Fuehrer from England that England was degenerate and would perhaps not fight. I may and must establish the fact here, that from the beginning I reported exactly the opposite to the Fuehrer. I informed the Fuehrer that in my opinion the English ruling class and the English people had a definitely heroic attitude and that this nation was ready at any time to fight to the utmost for the existence of its empire. Later, in the course of the war and after a conference with the Fuehrer, I once discussed this subject in public, in a speech made in 1941.
Summarizing the situation in London in the years 1937 and 1938, while I was ambassador, I can at least say that I was fully cognizant of the fact that it would be very difficult to conclude a pact with England. But even so, and this I always reported, all efforts would have to be made to come by means of a peaceful settlement to an understanding with England as a decisive factor in German policy, that is, to create such a relation between the development of German power and the British basic tendencies and views on foreign policy that these two factors would not conflict.
DR. HORN: During the time you were ambassador you concluded the so-called Anti-Comintern Pact with Japan. How was it that just you, the ambassador, concluded that pact?
VON RIBBENTROP: I should like to make the preliminary remark that in 1938 I was appointed Foreign Minister on 4 February. On 4 February I was in Berlin. The Fuehrer called me and informed me that he had appointed me Foreign Minister. After that -- I am not sure, are you talking of the Three Power Pact?
DR. HORN: No, you have misunderstood me. During your activity as ambassador you concluded the Anti-Comintern Pact in 1936, which in 1937 was joined by Italy and later on by Spain, as well as other countries. How was it that you, as ambassador, concluded this pact?
VON RIBBENTROP: Adolf Hitler at that time considered the ideological difference between Germany, that is, National Socialism
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and communism actually one of the decisive factors of his policy. Therefore, the question arose as to how a way could be found at all to win over other countries to counter communistic tendencies. The problem, therefore, was an ideological one. In the year 1933, I believe, Hitler discussed with me for the first time, the question of whether a closer contact with Japan could be established in some form or other. I replied that I personally had certain connections with Japanese persons and would establish contact. When I did so it came to light that Japan had the same anti-Comintern attitude as Germany. Out of these conversations of the years 1933, 1934, 1935, I believe, the idea gradually crystallized that one might make these common efforts the subject of a pact. I believe it was one of my assistants who had the idea of concluding the Anti-Comintern Pact. I presented this idea to the Fuehrer and the Fuehrer approved of it. However, since it was, so to speak, an ideological question, he did not wish at that time that it be done through the official channels of German politics and therefore he instructed me to prepare this pact which then was concluded in my office in Berlin, as I believe, in the course of the year 1936.
DR. HORN: If I understand you correctly, this pact was concluded by you because you were the head of the Bureau Ribbentrop?
VON RIBBENTROP: That is correct. The Bureau Ribbentrop consisted chiefly of me and just a few aides. But it is correct to say that the Fuehrer wished that I conclude this pact because he did not wish to give it an official air.
DR. HORN: Did this pact have aims of practical policy or only ideological aims?
VON RIBBENTROP: It is certain that this pact, on principle, I should say, had an ideological aim. It was meant to oppose the work of the Comintern in the various countries at that time. But naturally it also contained a, political element. This political element was anti-Russian at the time, since Moscow was the representative of the Comintern. idea. Therefore, the Fuehrer and I had a notion that through this pact a certain balance or counterbalance against the Russian efforts or against Russia was being created in a political sense as well, because Russia was at odds with Germany in respect to ideology and also, of course, to politics.
THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Horn, do you and the defendant really think it is necessary to take as long as the defendant has taken to tell us why he, as an ambassador in London, was called upon to sign the Anti-Comintern Pact?
DR. HORN: It is very difficult for me to hear Your Honor.
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THE PRESIDENT: What I asked you was whether you and the defendant think it necessary for the defendant to make such a long speech in answer to your question, why he, as ambassador in London, was employed to sign the Anti-Comintern Pact. He has spoken for at least 5 minutes about it.
DR. HORN: On 4 February 1938, you were made Foreign Minister. What were the reasons for this appointment?
VON RIBBENTROP: I have already said that on 4 February 1938 I was in Berlin. The Fuehrer called me and informed me that, because of a shift in various higher positions, he was going to appoint a new Foreign Minister, also that he had appointed the then Foreign Minister Von Neurath, President of the Secret Cabinet Council. I replied to the Fuehrer that I, of course, would be glad to accept this appointment.
DR. HORN: On this occasion you also received a high rank in the SS? The Prosecution have asserted that this rank was not purely honorary. Is that true?
VON RIBBENTROP: I must correct this point, I believe. I had received a rank in the SS prior to this time and I do not recall whether it was on the occasion of this appointment or later on that I became SS Gruppenfuehrer. The Fuehrer bestowed on me the rank and the uniform of an SS Gruppenfuehrer. That was a position, which formerly in the Army used to be known as a rank a la suite. It happened that I agreed definitely with the SS idea at that time. My relations with Himmler were also quite good at the time. I considered the SS idea at that time the possible basis for producing and creating an idealistic class of leaders, somewhat like that existing in England, and such as emerged symbolically through the heroism of our Waffen-SS during the war. Later on, it is true, my attitude towards Himmler changed. But the Fuehrer bestowed this rank on me because he wished that within the Party and at the Party meetings, I should wear the Party uniform and have a Party rank.
May I at this time state briefly my attitude toward the Party. Yesterday or the day before yesterday, I believe, the question was raised as to whether I was a true National Socialist. I do not claim to be competent to judge this question.
It is a fact that it was only in later years that I joined Adolf Hitler. I did not pay very much attention to the National Socialist doctrines and program nor to the racial theories, with which I was not very familiar. I was not anti-Semitic, nor did I fully understand the church question, although I had left the church a long time ago. I had my own inner reasons for doing so, reasons connected with the early 20's and the development of the church in Germany in
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those years. However, I believe that I have always been a good Christian. What drew me to the Party, as I recognized at the time, was the fact that the Party wanted a strong, flourishing, and socialistic Germany. That was what I wanted too. For that reason, in the year 1932, I did, after thorough deliberation, become a member of the NSDAP.
DR. HORN: Had you put your services at the disposal of the Party before that date, as the Prosecution assert, namely, from 1930 on?
VON RIBBENTROP: It was in 1930 when in the large Reichstag election National Socialism obtained more than 100 seats in the German Reichstag. I set forth yesterday, and perhaps do not need to go into detail any more, what conditions in Germany were at that time. However, during the years 1930, 1931 and 1932 I gradually came nearer to the Party. Then from 1932 on -- I believe I entered the Party in August 1932 -- from that moment on until the end of this war I devoted my entire strength to National Socialist Germany and exhausted my strength in so doing. I wish to profess frankly before this Tribunal and before the world that I have always endeavored to be a good National Socialist and that I was proud of the fact that I belonged to a little group of men, idealists, who did not want anything else but to re-establish Germany's prestige in the world.
DR. HORN: What foreign political problems did Hitler describe to you as requiring solution, when you took office? What directives did he give you for the conduct of foreign policy?
VON RIBBENTROP: When I took office, the Fuehrer said relatively little to me. He said only that Germany had now assumed a new position, that Germany had once more joined the circle of nations having equal rights and that it was clear that in the future certain problems would also still have to be solved. In particular, I recall that he pointed out four problems which, sooner or later, would have to be solved. He emphasized that such problems could be solved only with a strong Wehrmacht, not by using it, but through its mere existence, because a country which was not strongly armed could practice no foreign policy whatsoever, but rather such a country operated, so to speak, in a vacuum as we had experienced during the past years. He said we would have to achieve clear-cut relations with our neighbors. The four problems he enumerated were, first of all, Austria; then he mentioned a solution of the Sudeten questions, of the question of the tiny Memel district and of the Danzig and the Corridor question, all problems which would have to be solved in one way or another. It would be my duty, he said, to assist him diplomatically in this task. From this moment
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on I did my best to assist the Fuehrer in the preparation of some solution of these problems in a way agreeable to Germany.
DR. HORN: Shortly after your appointment you ...
THE PRESIDENT: I believe this would be a good time to break off.
[A recess was taken.]
DR. HORN:Which course did German foreign policy take after you were appointed Foreign Minister?
VON RIBBENTROP: First I tried to get an over-all picture of the pending affairs of the Foreign Office and of the situation. German foreign policy, as I said before, had reached a certain stage, that is, Germany had regained prestige in the eyes of the world, and the future task would be to solve in some way or other the important and vital problems created in Europe by the Versailles Treaty. This was all the more necessary since, by way of example, ethnic questions always were material for conflict, that is, contained possibilities for conflict dangerous to a peaceful development in Europe. During the period following I familiarized myself with the affairs of the ministry. That was at first not easy, as I was dealing with altogether new men. I should like to mention here that Hitler's attitude towards the Foreign Office was not always positive and, in continuing the efforts of Minister Von Neurath, my predecessor, I considered it my most important task to bring the Foreign Office closer to Hitler and to bridge the two spheres of ideas. It was clear to me from the very beginning, after I took over the ministry, that I would be working, so to speak, in the shadow of a titan and that I would have to impose on myself certain limitations, that is to say, that I would not be in a position, one might almost say, to conduct the foreign policy as it is done by other foreign ministers, who are responsible to a parliamentary system or a parliament. The commanding personality of the Fuehrer naturally dominated the foreign policy as well. He occupied himself with all its details. It went like this more or less: I reported to him and forwarded to him important foreign policy reports through a liaison man, and Hitler in turn gave me definite orders as to what views I should take in regard to problems of foreign policy, et cetera.
In the course of these conversations the problem of Austria crystallized as the first and most important problem which had to be brought to some solution or other. Austria had always been a matter very close to the Fuehrer's heart, because he was himself a native of Austria and naturally, with Germany's power growing,
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the efforts already long in existence for bringing Germany and Austria more closely together became even more pronounced. At that time I did not yet know very much about this problem, since Hitler himself handled this problem for the most part.
DR. HORN: When you took over your office, or later, did you get to know the minutes of a conference of 5 November 1937 which has become known here under the name of the Hossbach document?
VON RIBBENTROP: I did not know this document, which has been mentioned here in various connections. I saw it here for the first time.
DR. HORN: Did Hitler ever say anything to you which conforms to the contents of this document?
VON RIBBENTROP: I do not recall all the details of the contents of this document, but it was the Fuehrer's practice to speak very little at all about his aims and intentions and his attitude in matters of principle. At any rate, this was his practice in dealing with me. He did say that Germany had to solve certain problems in Europe, as I said before, and that for this reason it was necessary to be strong. He also mentioned the possibility that this might lead to disagreements, but he said to me nothing more specific about this. On the contrary, he always emphasized to me that it was his desire to solve by diplomatic means these problems in Europe which had to be solved and that, once he had solved these problems, he had the intention of creating an ideal social state of the people and that the Germany he would then create would be a model modern social state with all the new edifices to which he attached special value. In other words, to me he did casually admit the possibility of an armed conflict, but he always said it was his unalterable aim, and that it had always been and was his intention, to achieve this solution of the "impossibility of Versailles," as he sometimes called it, in a peaceful way.
DR. HORN: Shortly after your appointment as Foreign Minister you were called by Hitler to Berchtesgaden to the conference with Schuschnigg. What was discussed there and what was your role in these conferences?
VON RIBBENTROP: Hitler informed me -- I recall this was on 12 February 1938 -- that he was going to meet Federal Chancellor Schuschnigg at the Obersalzberg. I do not remember the details. I see from my notes that this was on 12 February.
One thing I know is that he told me that the solution to be achieved was that, in some form or other, the German National Socialists in Austria must be given assistance. Difficulties of all sorts had arisen there, the details of which I no longer recall, At any rate, I believe, there were a great many National Socialists in jail, and, as a consequence
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of the natural efforts of these Austrian people to bring about a closer contact with the Reich, this Austrian problem threatened to become a really serious problem between Germany and Austria.
Adolf Hitler told me at the time that I should be present in the Berghof. Later it was said, and I have heard it said here, that Adolf Hitler once declared that he intended to fight for the right for these 6 million Germans to decide their own fate under all circumstances during the year 1938. 1 do not recall that he said so but it is very well possible that he did say so. On the occasion of Schuschnigg's reception I was at the Obersalzberg. Hitler received Schuschnigg alone and had a long conversation with him. The details of this conversation are not known to me because I was not present. I recall that Schuschnigg saw me after this conversation and that I in turn had a long conversation with him.
DR. HORN: Did you at that time put Schuschnigg under political pressure, as the Prosecution asserts?
VON RIBBENTROP: No, that is not true. I remember very clearly my conversation with Schuschnigg, whereas the other details of what was going on at the Obersalzberg are not so clear in my memory, since I was not present at either the first or the second meeting between Schuschnigg and Hitler. My discussion with Schuschnigg proceeded in a very amicable fashion. I felt that Schuschnigg obviously was very greatly impressed by the Fuehrer and the Fuehrer's personality. I wish to say first that I do not know exactly the details of what Hitler wanted to achieve or discuss with Schuschnigg, so that on this subject matter I could say to him very little, or rather nothing. Our discussion therefore was confined to more general subjects. I told Schuschnigg that in my opinion these two countries must come into closer contact and that perhaps it was his historical task to assist in this and to co-operate; that the fact was undeniable that both nations were German, and two such German nations could not forever be separated by artificial barriers.
DR. HORN: Was it already at this conference that a recision of the German-Austrian Treaty of 1936 was discussed?
VON RIBBENTROP: I did not discuss this point with Schuschnigg and I believe that the Fuehrer did not do so either in any way because according to what Schuschnigg told me the Fuehrer had told him that certain measures would have to be carried out in Austria in order to eliminate the reasons for conflict between the two countries. That is what I understood him to say without remembering any details. As I said, my discussion with him was very amicable, and I might mention that, when I suggested to Schuschnigg that the two countries would have to get into closer contact, Schuschnigg showed an altogether positive attitude towards this idea so that, to
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a certain extent, I was even surprised by his positive attitude at that time. There can be no talk of any pressure exerted on Schuschnigg during our discussion. However, the Fuehrer's discussion with him, I believe, was conducted in very clear language, because the Fuehrer wanted to reach some improvement in relations in order to solve the problems between the two countries, and to achieve this it was necessary for the two statesmen to reveal their thoughts openly. I have heard here, and I think this is from an entry in General Jodl's diary, that heavy political and military pressure was exerted. I believe I can testify here that I knew nothing of any military or strong political pressure at this meeting between Schuschnigg and Hitler. I may reiterate that I am sure that the Fuehrer used clear and frank language with Schuschnigg, but I certainly did not notice any pressure of a military or a political kind, or anything in the nature of an ultimatum. Also I assume that General Jodl's remark -- I do not believe he was present -- is a diary entry based on hearsay. I should like to add that at that time -- and I have also stated this to several persons who were with me and also to the Fuehrer -- had an altogether positive and pleasant impression of Schuschnigg's personality. Schuschnigg even said that the two countries, and I remember these words exactly, were bound together by fate and that he would have to assist in some way in bringing these two countries closer together. There was no mention in this discussion of an Anschluss or any such thing. Whether the Fuehrer mentioned that, I do not know, but I do not believe so.
DR. HORN: At that time, or shortly after, did Hitler mention to you that he wished to deviate from the German-Austrian Treaty of 1936 and find some other solution?
VON RIBBENTROP: Hitler did not discuss this matter with me. If at all, I spoke very little with him about the Austrian problems. This may sound surprising, but it can be understood from the fact that it was only on 4 February that I took over the Foreign Office and that I first had to get familiar with all the problems. The Austrian problem was anyway, as I already said, a problem which was always dealt with by Hitler himself and which consequently wasi so to speak, merely taken note of in the Foreign Ministry, whereas it was directed by him personally. I know and I remember that the then Ambassador Von Papen also had the right to report directly to Hitler and that the Foreign Office received copies of these reports. These reports, I believe, were presented directly to Hitler by the Reich Chancellery, so that the problem was anchored rather in the Reich Chancellery than in the Foreign Office.
DR. HORN: You then went back to London in order to give up your post as ambassador. What did you hear in London regarding the development of the Austrian question?
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VON RIBBENTROP: I may say the following in this connection: I myself had always the idea that the Austrian problem should be solved by bringing about a treaty, a customs and currency union, between the two countries, since I personally believed that this was the most natural and the easiest way to bring about a close connection between the two countries. I might perhaps remind you at this point, that this idea of a currency union, or at least a customs union, was nothing new and had already been pursued by the governments before Hitler; it did not materialize at that time, I believe, because of the veto of the Allied powers. But it was a long-cherished wish of both countries. I might first answer your question concerning London. According to my notes, I went to London on 8 March. As I have already mentioned, I happened to be in Berlin for the celebration of the seizure of power on 30 January, I believe, and then was appointed Foreign Minister on 4 February. Because of this appointment I did not have the opportunity to take official leave in London. On 8 March 1938 I went to London. Before resigning my post I had a short conversation with Hitler, primarily about English matters. I remember that he remarked on this occasion that the Austrian problem beyond a doubt was progressing very nicely in line with the arrangements agreed upon with Schuschnigg at Berchtesgaden. I wish to add that I did not know all the details of the agreements but I still remember a small detail about which we sent an inquiry to the Reich Chancellery only a few weeks later for the information of our specialist on the Austrian question.
After I arrived in London, I believe it was in the afternoon, I happened to hear over the radio in the embassy building a speech made by the then Federal Chancellor Schuschnigg in Innsbruck or in Graz I believe. I must say this speech took me very much by surprise. To go into details would take too long. Nor do I remember all the details. I do know that the entire manner, and, as it seemed to me, also the tone of this speech, was such that I immediately had the impression
that the Fuehrer would not tolerate this, and that the entire speech, without any doubt, contradicted at least the spirit of the agreements made with the Fuehrer at the Obersalzberg. As I said, I was convinced that Adolf Hitler would do something about it; and I should like to say quite openly before this Tribunal that it appeared quite in order to me that the question be solved in some way or other, I mean, that one would have to speak to Schuschnigg very frankly, to prevent matters leading to a catastrophe, perhaps even a European catastrophe. Then, on the next morning, I had a long discussion with Lord Halifax. Lord Halifax had also received reports from Austria, and I tried, without knowing the situation fully, to explain to him that it was better to solve this problem now in one form or another, and that this would be precisely in the interests of the German-English efforts
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toward friendly relations; that in the long run the assumption would prove false that the friendship between Germany and England, as striven for by both countries, could be broken up by such a problem. Lord Halifax was not alarmed by the situation and told me, as far as I remember, that I should still have an opportunity to discuss these matters with the British Prime Minister Chamberlain at the breakfast which was to follow. After this I had breakfast with the then Prime Minister Chamberlain; during or after this breakfast I had a long conversation with Chamberlain. During this conversation Mr. Chamberlain again emphasized his desire to reach an understanding with Germany. I was extremely happy to hear this and told him that I was firmly convinced that this was also the Fuehrer's attitude. He gave me a special message for the Fuehrer that this was his desire and that he would do everything he could in this direction. Shortly after this conversation telegrams arrived from Austria, from Vienna, I believe from the Minister or the British Consul. Mr. Chamberlain and Lord Halifax asked me to come to their office. I believe the breakfast took place at 10 Downing Street and I went then to their office in order to discuss these telegrams. I told them that of course I had no precise reports; then the news of an ultimatum came, and later of the entry of German troops. We arranged that I should try to contact my government and that Lord Halifax would come to see me in the German Embassy in the afternoon to discuss these things further. I wish to emphasize that Mr. Chamberlain on this occasion also took a very composed and, it seemed to me, very sensible attitude towards the Austrian question. In the afternoon Lord Halifax visited me and we had a long talk. In the meantime the entry of German troops had become known. I should like to emphasize the fact that this talk with Lord Halifax was very amicable and that at the end of it I invited the English Foreign Minister to pay Germany another visit. He accepted with the remark that he would be glad to come and perhaps another exhibition of hunting trophies could be arranged.
DR. HORN: On the next morning you had a telephone conversation with the Defendant Goering. This telephone conversation has been put in evidence by the Prosecution, with the assertion that it is a proof of your double-crossing policy. What about that?
VON RIBBENTROP: That is not true. Reich Marshal Goering has already testified that this was a diplomatic conversation, and diplomatic conversations are carried on all over the world in the same way. But I may say that through this telephone conversation I learned for the first time of the details of the events in Austria. Without going into details I heard, first of all, that this vote without doubt was not in accordance with the true will of the Austrian people, and a number of other points which Goering asked me to
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mention in my conversations with the British ministers. But I should like to say that actually such conversations did not take place because I had already taken leave of the official English circles. In fact, I did not have any further talks after my conversation with Goering; just a few hours after this conversation I left London and went to Berlin and later to Vienna.
I might say that first I flew to Karinhall to visit Goering and talked to him and found him just as happy about the Anschluss -- that is, not about the Anschluss but about the whole Austrian development as I myself was. We all were happy. Then I flew, I believe, on the same day, to Vienna and arrived there at about the same time as Adolf Hitler. In the meantime I heard about the Anschluss and it was only in Vienna that I learned that the idea of the Anschluss had definitely not occurred to Hitler until his drive through Austria. I believe it was prompted by a demonstration in Linz and then he decided very quickly, I think, to accomplish the Anschluss.
DR. HORN: What problem did Hitler mention to you as the next one which you should solve following the Anschluss?
VON RIBBENTROP: The next problem which Hitler outlined to me on 4 February was the problem of the Sudeten Germans. This problem, however, was not a problem posed by Hitler or the Foreign Office or any office, it was a de facto problem that existed of itself. I believe it was the American prosecutor who said here that with the dissolution of Czechoslovakia a chapter ended which was one of the saddest in the history of nations, namely the oppression and destruction of the small Czechoslovak nation. I should like to state the following from my own knowledge of these matters.
One may speak in this sense of a Czechoslovak State but not of a Czechoslovak nation, because it was'a state of different nationalities, a state which comprised the most varied national groups. I mention, besides Czechs, only Germans, Hungarians, Poles, Ruthenians, Carpatho-Ukrainians, Slovaks, et cetera.
This shows that quite heterogeneous elements had been welded together in 1919 to form the state. It is certain, and probably a historical fact, that the efforts of the different nationalities within the artificially welded state were divergent to a certain extent and that the Czechs, following their own tendencies, tried to surround these nationalities with a strong ring, I should like to say, with an iron ring. This produced pressure as pressure always created counterpressure, counterpressure from the various nationalities of this state, and it is evident that a strong Germany, a Germany of National Socialism at that time, exerted a strong power of attraction on all the national segments in Europe; or, at any rate, on those living close to the German border and partly, I might say, on the others as well. So it came about that the German minorities in the Sudetenland, who, since 1919, had been
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constantly exposed to a considerable pressure on the part of Prague now were subjected to still greater pressure. I do not believe I have to go into details, but I can say from my own knowledge, and even from my own discussions while I was ambassador in London, that the question of the Sudetenland was very clearly understood by the Foreign Office in London and that it was precisely England that very often before 1938 had supported certain interests of the Sudeten Germans in co-operation with Konrad Henlein.
After the seizure of power by Adolf Hitler the suppression of these German minorities undoubtedly increased. I should also like to point out, and I know this from having read the files of the Foreign Office at the time, that the League of Nations' Committee for Minorities had a tremendous amount of documents on the Sudeten Germans and the great impediments encountered by the Germans in practicing and living their own cultural life.
I do not believe it is too much to say that the manner in which the Sudetenland was treated by Prague was, even in the opinion of the competent and unprejudiced authorities of the League of Nations, in no way in accord with the provisions of the League of Nations regarding minorities. I myself thought it was absolutely necessary to reach some solution in order that this problem might not become a matter of conflict, whereby again, as-in the case of Austria, all Europe would be stirred up. I should like to emphasize that the Foreign Office and I always endeavored, from the very beginning, to solve the Sudeten German problem by way of diplomatic negotiations with the main signatory powers of Versailles. And I might add that it was my personal conviction, which I also expressed to Hitler, that with sufficient time on hand and appropriate action, the Germany that we had in 1938 could solve this problem in a diplomatic, that is, peaceful way.
The Prosecution have charged me with having stirred up unrest and discord in Czechoslovakia by illegal means and thereby with having consciously helped to bring about the outbreak of this crisis. I do not deny in any way that between the Sudeten German Party and the NSDAP there had been connections for a long time which aimed at taking care of the Sudeten-German interests. Nor do I wish to deny, for example, what was mentioned here, that the Sudeten German Party was supported with certain funds from the Reich. I might even say, and I believe the Czechoslovak Government will confirm this, that that was an open secret which was well known in Prague. However, it is not correct to say that anything was done on the part of the Foreign Office and by me to direct these efforts in such a way that a really serious problem might arise. I do not want to go into further detail, but I should like to mention one more point. Documents have been mentioned about arrests of Czech
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nationals in Germany as reprisals for Czech treatment of Sudeten Germans. To that I can say merely that these were measures which can be understood and explained only in view of the situation at that time, but which were not brought about by us in the Foreign Office in order to make the situation more critical. On the contrary, in the further course of events, I attempted through the legation in Prague as well as through efforts of the gentlemen of my office to restrain the activities of the Sudeten German Party. I believe that this has to some extent been proved clearly by the documents which have been made known here. I do not have thesg documents before me, so I cannot deal with them in greater detail; but I believe that perhaps the Defense have the opportunity to make these matters clear in detail.
DR. HORN: What brought about the critical situation in summer?
VON RIBBENTROP: It is natural and has always been the case that such a nationality has its own dynamics. This question of the split of German groups bordering on Germany was often referred to by us in the Foreign Office as "the sinister problem," that is a problem which could not be solved in a way compatible with the interests of foreign policy. We had to deal here not with letters and paragraphs but with living people who had laws and dynamics of their own. Therefore the Sudeten German Party naturally strove for greater and greater independence; it cannot be denied that a number of influential leaders, at least at that time, demanded absolute autonomy, if not the possibility of joining the Reich. This is perfectly clear, and that was also the goal of the Sudeten German Party. For the Foreign Office and German foreign policy, as well as for Hitler, of course, manifold difficulties arose because of this. As I said before, I tried to get the foreign policy affairs under control. At the time I received Konrad Henlein -- I believe once or twice, I do not remember exactly -- and asked him not to do anything, as far as Prague was concerned, in the pursuit of his political goals that might put German foreign policy into a state of emergency. This was perhaps not always so easy for Henlein either, and I know that the leaders of the Sudeten German Party could naturally approach and be received by other offices of the Reich; also Adolf Hitler himself, who was interested in this problem, occasionally received these leaders. The crisis, or rather the whole situation, developed more and more critically, because on the one hand the Sudeten Germans insisted on their demands in Prague more and more openly and stubbornly and because the Czechs, the Government in Prague, opposed these demands, which resulted in excesses, arrests and so on. Thus the situation became even more critical. At that time I often spoke with the Czech Minister. I asked him to meet the
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demands of the Sudeten Germans for autonomy and all their demands to the furthest extent possible. However, matters developed in such a way that the attitude displayed by Prague became more stubborn, and so did the attitude of the Sudeten Germans.
DR. HORN: What brought about Chamberlain's visit? What were the reasons for this visit and for the role played by you on that occasion?
VON RIBBENTROP: I should like to interpolate here that in the summer of 1938 the situation was driving more and more toward a crisis. Ambassador Sir Nevile Henderson in Berlin, with whom I had often discussed this problem and who was making efforts on his part to bridge matters, undoubtedly made continuous reports to his government. I do not know exactly today, but I believe that it was through his initiative that Lord Runciman went to Prague. Runciman undoubtedly went to Prague in good faith and tried to get a clear picture of the situation. He also rendered an opinion which, as far as I recall, was to the effect -- I do not remember the wording -- that the right to exercise self-determination, immediate self-determination, should not be denied the Sudetenland. Thus, I believe, this opinion was favorable for the Sudeten Germans. Nevertheless, the crisis was there. I do not remember exactly what the date was, but I Pelieve it happened that through Ambassador Henderson, Chamberlain got in touch with the Reich Government. In this way Chamberlain's visit to the Fuehrer at the Obersalzberg came about during the first half of September. Regarding this visit, there is not very much to be said. The Fuehrer spoke alone with Chamberlain on that occasion. I do know, however, and we all felt it, that the visit took place in an altogether good and pleasant atmosphere. As far as I remember the Fuehrer told me that he had told Chamberlain frankly that the demand of the Sudeten Germans for self-determination and freedom in some form or other would have to be met now. Chamberlain, I believe -- and this was the substance of that conference -- replied that he would inform the British Cabinet of these wishes of the German Government and that he would then make further statements.
DR. HORN: How did the second visit of Chamberlain to Godesberg come about afterwards?
VON REBBENTROP: As far as I recall, matters did not progress satisfactorily. The situation in the Sudetenland became more difficult and threatened to develop into a very serious crisis, not only within Czechoslovakia but also between Germany and Czechoslovakia, and thereby into a European crisis. The result was that Chamberlain once more took the initiative and thus his visit to Godesberg came about; I believe this was in the middle of September or during the second half of September.
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DR. HORN: How, then, was the Sudeten German question solved, and what was your part in this solution?
VON RIBBENTROP: May I first report about Godesberg? In view of the crisis which had developed, Hitler informed Mr. Chamberlain at Godesberg that now he had to have a solution of this question under all circumstances. I might emphasize that I knew nothing regarding details of a military nature at that time, but I do know that the Fuehrer concerned himself with the possibility that this problem might have to be solved by military power. He told Mr. Chamberlain at Godesberg that a solution of the Sudeten German problem would have to be found as rapidly as possible. Mr. Chamberlain was of the opinion that it would be difficult to win Prague over so quickly to a solution, and finally things broke down altogether at the conference. Adolf Hitler then personally dictated a memorandum which he or I was to give to Mr. Chamberlain. Then Sir Horace Wilson, a friend of Mr. Chamberlain, visited me, a man who deserves much credit in bridging disagreements. I succeeded in arranging for another meeting in the evening.
During this meeting, which started in a rather cool atmosphere, the Fuehrer received a report of Czechoslovakia's mobilization. This was a most deplorable circumstance since Hitler, just at this moment, resented that very strongly, and both he and Mr. Chamberlain wanted to break off the conference. This happened, I believe, exactly at the moment when the interpreter was about to read the Fuehrer's memorandum containing a proposal for the solution of the Sudeten German problem. By a remark and a short conversation with Hitler and then with Chamberlain, I succeeded in straightening matters out. Negotiations were resumed, and after a few hours of negotiations the result was that Mr. Chamberlain told the Fuehrer he could see now that something had to be done and that he was ready, on his part, to submit this memorandum to the British Cabinet. I believe he also said that he would suggest to the British Cabinet, that is to say, to his ministerial colleagues, that compliance with this memorandum be recommended to Prague. The memorandum contained as a solution, in general outlines, the annexation of the Sudetenland by the Reich. I believe, the Fuehrer expressed his desire in the memorandum that, in view of the critical situation there, it would be advisable that this be carried out, if possible, within a definite period of time -- I believe, by 1 October, that was within 10 days or two weeks. Mr. Chamberlain then departed and a few days passed. The crisis did not improve but rather became worse. I remember that very well. Then, during the last part of September, I do not have the date here, the French Ambassador came and said that he had good news about the Sudeten German question. Later on the British Ambassador also called. At the same time -- Reich
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Marshal Goering has already testified to this -- Italy wanted to take part in the solution of the crisis acting on a wish made known to Goering by Mussolini and offered to mediate. Then came Mussolini's proposal that a conference be held which proposal was accepted by England, France, and Germany. The French Ambassador, and later on the British Ambassador, saw the Fuehrer and outlined on a map the approximate solution which apparently was being proposed by France, England, and Italy as a solution of the Sudeten problem. I still remember that the Fuehrer in the first place stated to the French Ambassador that this proposal was not satisfactory, whereupon the French Ambassador declared that of course further discussions should be held regarding this question and the question of where Germans really were living and how far the Sudetenland extended; all these questions could still be discussed in detail. Anyway, as far the French Government was concerned -- and I believe, Sir Nevile Henderson used similar words later at his reception by the Fuehrer -- the Fuehrer could be assured that the British as well as the French intended to contribute to the solution of this problem in conformity with the German view. Then came the Munich conference. I take it I need not go into the details of this conference; I should like only to describe briefly the results of it. The Fuehrer explained to the statesmen, with the aid of a map, the necessity, as he saw it, of annexing a particular part of the Sudetenland to the German Reich to reach final satisfaction. A discussion arose; Mussolini, the Italian Chief of Government, agreed in general with Hitler's ideas. The English Prime Minister made at first certain reservations and also mentioned that perhaps the details might be discussed with the Czechs, with Prague. Daladier, the French Minister, said, as far as I recall, that he thought that since this problem had already been broached, the four great powers should make a decision here and now. In the end this opinion was shared by all the four statesmen; as a result the Munich Agreement was drawn up providing that the Sudetenland should be annexed to Germany as outlined on the maps that were on hand. The Fuehrer was very pleased and happy about this solution, and, with regard to other versions of this matter which I have heard during the Trial here, I should like to emphasize here once more particularly that I also was happy. We all were extremely happy that in this way in this form the matter had been solved.
THE PRESIDENT: We will adjourn until 10 minutes past 2.
[The Tribunal recessed until 1410 hours.]
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THE PRESIDENT: The Tribunal will sit tomorrow morning from 10 o'clock until 1 in open session. And now before going on, Dr. Horn, the Tribunal wish me to say that they think that entirely too much time is being taken up by the defendant in detailed accounts of negotiations which led up to an agreement which is a matter of history and which is perfectly well known to everybody. That is not the case which the defendant has to meet; what the defendant has to meet is not the making of agreements which are perfectly well known, but the breach of those agreements by Germany and any part which he may have played in the breach of those agreements. It is very important that the time of this Tribunal should not be taken up by unnecessary details of that sort.
DR. HORN: What foreign political reaction did the Munich Agreement have?
VON RIBBENTROP: The Munich Agreement is well known. Its contents were the following: Germany and England should never again wage war; the naval agreement on the ratio of 100 to 35 was to be permanent and, in important matters, consultations were to be resorted to. Through this agreement the atmosphere between Germany and England was undoubtedly cleared up to a certain degree. It was to be expected that the success of this pact would lead to a final understanding. The disappointment was great when, a few days after Munich, rearmament at any cost was announced in England. Then England started on a policy of alliance and close relationship with France. In November 1938 trade policy measures were taken against Germany, and in December 1938 the British Colonial Secretary made a speech in which a "no" was put to anv revision of the colonial question. Contact with the United States of America was also established. Our reports of that period, as I remember them, showed an increased -- I should like to say -- stiffening of the English attitude toward Germany; and the impression was created in Germany of a policy which practically aimed at the encirclement of Germany.
DR. HORN: You are accused by the Prosecution of having contributed to the separation of Slovakia from Czechoslovakia in violation of international law. What part did you take in the Slovakian declaration of independence?
VON RIBBENTROP: There is no doubt that there were relations between Slovakians and quite a number of members of the National Socialist German Workers Party.
These tendencies naturally were known to the Foreign Office, and it would be wrong to say that we in any way did not welcome them. But it is not correct to say that
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the autonomy was demanded or forced by us in any way. I remember that Dr. Tiso proclaimed this autonomy; and the Prague Government, under the influence of Munich, also recognized the autonomy. What the situation was like at the time after Munich can be seen from the fact that all minorities of Czechoslovakia wanted autonomy and independence. Shortly thereafter the Carpatho-Ukrainians declared their independence and others as well had similar aspirations. In the Munich Agreement, I should like to add, there was a clause according to which Germany and Italy were to give Czechoslovakia a guarantee; but a declaration to this effect was not made. The reason for that was that Poland, after the Munich Agreement, sent an ultimatum to Czechoslovakia, and on her own initiative, severed the Polish minorities and occupied these areas. The Hungarians also wanted autonomy, or rather, incorporation of Hungarian areas; and certain areas of Czechoslovakia were thereupon given to Hungary by the Vienna decision. The situation in Czechoslovakia, however, was not yet clear and also remained difficult during the following period. Then the Slovak, Tuka, approached us. He wanted to win Germany's approval for Slovakia's independence. The Fuehrer received Tuka at that time and, after a few interludes, the final result was the declaration of independence of Slovakia made by Tiso on 13 March. The Prosecution have submitted a document in which I am alleged to have said, during the conversation which took place between the Fuehrer and Tiso, that it was only a matter of hours, not of days, that Slovakia would have to come to a decision. However, this was to be understood to mean that at that time preparations for an invasion had been made by Hungary in order to occupy Carpatho-Ukrainia as well as some other regions of Slovakia. We wanted to prevent a war between Slovakia and Hungary or between Czechoslovakia and Hungary; Hitler was greatly concerned about it, and therefore he gladly complied with Tiso's desire. Later, after the declaration of Slovakia's independence by the Slovak parliament, he complied with Tiso's request and took over the protection of Slovakia.
DR. HORN: What brought about Hacha's visit to Berlin on 14 March 1939?
VON RIBBENTROP: Events in Slovakia had their repercussions, of course, and chiefly very strong excesses against racial Germans in the area of Prague, Brunn, Iglau, et cetera, were reported to Hitler. Many fugitives came into the old Reich. In the winter of 1938-39 I repeatedly attempted to discuss these matters with the Prague Government. Hitler was convinced that a development was being initiated in Prague which could not be tolerated by the German Reich. It was the attitude of the press and the influential government circles in Prague.
The Fuehrer also wished that the
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Czech nation should reduce her military power, but this was refused by Prague. During these months I tried repeatedly to maintain good German relations with Prague. In particular I spoke frequently with Chvalkovsky, the Czechoslovakian Foreign Minister. In the middle of March, Chvalkovsky, the Czechoslovakian Foreign Minister, turned to our German representative in Prague to find out whether Hitler would give Hacha the opportunity of a personal interview. I reported this to the Fuehrer and the Fuehrer agreed to receive Hacha; however, he told me that he wished to deal with this matter personally. To that effect I had an exchange of telegrams with Prague: A reserved attitude should be taken in Prague but Hacha should be told that the Fuehrer would receive him. At this point I should like to mention briefly that the Foreign Office and I myself did not know anything at this date of impending military events. We learned about these things only shortly before they happened. Before the arrival of Hacha I asked the Fuehrer whether a treaty was to be prepared. The Fuehrer answered, as I recall distinctly, that he had the intention of going far beyond that. After the arrival of Hacha in Berlin I visited him at once and he told me he wanted to place the fate of the Czech State in the Fuehrer's hands. I reported this to the Fuehrer and the Fuehrer instructed me to draft an agreement. The draft was submitted to him and corrected later on, as I remember. Hacha was then received by the Fuehrer and the results of this conference, as far as I know, are already known here and have been submitted in documentary form so that I do not need to go into it.
I know that Adolf Hitler at that time spoke pointedly to Hacha and told him that he intended to occupy Czechoslovakia. It concerned old historic territory which he intended to take under his protection. The Czechs were to have complete autonomy and their own way of living, and he believed that the decision which was being made on that day would result in great benefit for the Czech people. While Hacha talked to the Fuehrer, or rather afterwards -- I was present at the Fuehrer's conference with Hacha -- I had, a long discussion with the Foreign Minister Chvalkovsky. He adopted our point of view fairly readily and I asked him to influence Hacha so that the Fuehrer's decision and the whole action might be carried out without bloodshed.
I believe it was the deep impression made on him first of all by the Fuehrer and then by what Adolf Hitler had told him which caused Hacha to get in touch by telephone with his Government in Prague and also, I believe, with the Chief of the General Staff. I do not know this exactly. He obtained the approval of his Government to sign the agreement which I mentioned at the beginning. This
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agreement was then signed by Hitler, Hacha, and both the Foreign Ministers, that is by myself also. Then Hacha, as I recall, gave instructions that the German Army should be received cordially and, as far as I know, the march into and the occupation of Czechoslovakia, that is Bohemia and Moravia, was completed without serious incident of any kind.
After the occupation I went to Prague with the Fuehrer. After the occupation, or maybe it was in Prague, the Fuehrer gave me in the morning a proclamation in which the countries of Bohemia and Moravia were declared to be a protectorate of the Reich. I read out this proclamation in Prague which, I may say, was somewhat a surprise to me. No protest of any sort was made as far as I recall, and I believe I might mention that the occupation of Bohemia and Moravia, which the Fuehrer considered necessary in the ultimate interest of the Reich, took place for historical and economic reasons and above all for reasons of security for the German Reich. I believe that Goering has given the details.
DR. HORN: What did the European situation look like to you at the time of the occupation of the remainder of Czechoslovakia?
VON RIBBENTROP: I might say that after the proclamation at Prague I had a lengthy discussion with the Fuehrer. I pointed out to the Fuehrer that this occupation, of course, would have considerable repercussions in British-French circles. In this connection I should like to point out that in England those circles which had turned against Germany had grown larger and were led by important persons. In this connection I should like to come back to or mention briefly one incident which took place while I was still Ambassador in London, when Mr. Winston Churchill paid me a visit at the Embassy. Mr. Winston Churchill was not in the government at that time, and I believe he was not leader of the opposition -- it has already been discussed -- but he was one of the most outstanding personalities in England. I was especially interested in arranging a meeting between him and Adolf Hitler and therefore had asked him to come to see me at the Embassy. We had a conversation which lasted several hours and the details of which I recall exactly. I believe it would go too far to relate all the details of this conversation. But whereas important men like Lord Vansittart in 1936 ...
THE PRESIDENT: Documents with reference to Mr. Winston Churchill at this time when he was not a member of the government have already been ruled by the Tribunal to be irrelevant and what he said and such a conversation as this appears to the Tribunal to be absolutely irrelevant and the Tribunal will not hear it.
VON RIBBENTROP: I have already said that I called the Fuehrer's attention to the British reaction. Adolf Hitler explained to me the
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necessity of the occupation of Bohemia and Moravia, especially on historic and strategic grounds. I remember that in this connection he quoted especially the former French Minister of Aviation, Pierre Cot, who had called Bohemia and Moravia, that is Czechoslovakia, the "airplane carrier" against Germany. I believe it was Reich Marshal Goering who already mentioned that at that time we received intelligence reports of Russian pilots or Russian missions being on Czech airdromes.
Hitler said to me, and I remember these words distinctly, that he could not tolerate an inimical Czech thorn in the German flesh. One could get along well enough with the Czechs, but it was necessary for Germany to have in her hands the protection of these countries. He mentioned Soviet Russia, allied with Czechoslovakia, as a factor of inestimable power. When I mentioned England and her reaction he said that England was in no position to take over the protection of the Germans in Czechoslovakia. Furthermore, the structure of the Czechoslovakian State had disintegrated and Slovakia had become independent. Therefore he thought it was necessary in the interest of future German-English relations that the countries of Bohemia and Moravia should come into a close contact with the Reich. A protectorate seemed to him to be the appropriate form. Adolf Hitler said that while this question was utterly unimportant to England it was absolutely vital for Germany. This becomes evident if one glances at the map -- this is what he literally said. Besides, he said, he was unable to see how this solution could disturb the co-operation which was being striven for between Germany and England. Hitler pointed out that England -- by chance I still remember the figure had about 600 dominions, protectorates, and colonies and therefore should understand that such problems have to be solved. I told Adolf Hitler about the difficulties which might confront Mr. Chamberlain personally because of this action on the part of Germany, that England might consider this an increase of Germany's power and so on; but the Fuehrer explained the whole question with the reasons I have mentioned before. The English reaction at first, in the person of Mr. Chamberlain in the House of Commons, was rather a positive one. He said it was not a violation of the Munich Agreement and the British Government was not bound by any obligation. The Czechoslovakian State had disintegrated and the guarantee which England had said she would give had not come into effect, or rather the obligations of the guarantee did not apply under the circumstances.
I might say that all of us were glad that this attitude was taken in England. I believe it was 2 or 3 days later when Mr. Chamberlain in Birmingham...
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THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Horn, what have we got to do with the reactions in England unless they took the form of a note? I do not see what it has to do with it. What we want to know is the part that the Defendant Ribbentrop played in the breach of the Munich Agreement.
DR. HORN: The Defendant Von Ribbentrop is accused of having participated in a conspiracy when he was Foreign Minister, and it is charged that his foreign policy contributed to the bringing about of aggressive war. If the Defendant Von Ribbentrop wishes and is allowed to defend himself against these charges then he must be permitted to describe the circumstances as he saw them and the motives behind his actions. I am putting only such questions to the defendant in this case as have reference to his forming certain opinions.
THE PRESIDENT: Well, I don't think you asked him any question about it. He was just ...
DR. HORN: It is not coming through quite audibly.
THE PRESIDENT: What I said was, I did not think you asked him any questions as to the reactions in England.
THE INTERPRETER: The channels seem to be disturbed in some way. I think they are getting more than one language.
THE PRESIDENT: The Tribunal had better adjourn, I think.
[A recess was taken.]
THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Horn, what I was attempting to say to you when the system broke down was that it seems to the Tribunal that the defendant ought to be able to keep his evidence within stricter limits and not to go into so much detail, and that, with regard to the reactions, the political reactions in England, they are not relevant in themselves, and that the bearing which they may have upon the case is really remote.
DR. HORN: What caused Hitler to commission you, in October 1938, to enter into negotiations with Poland?
VON RIBBENTROP: There had always been the minority problem in Poland, which had caused great difficulties. Despite the agreement of 1934, this situation had not changed. In the year 1938 the "de-Germanization" measures against German minorities were continued by Poland. Hitler wished to reach some clear settlement with Poland, as well as with other countries. Therefore he charged me, I believe during October 1938, to discuss with the Polish ambassador a final clarification of the problems existing between Germany and Poland.
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DR. HORN: Besides the minority problem, what other problems were involved?
VON RIBBENTROP: There were two questions: One, the minority problem, was the most burning one; the second problem was the question of Danzig and the Corridor, that is to say, of a connection with East Prussia.
DR. HORN: What was Hitler's and your attitude toward the Danzig and Corridor questions?
VON RIBBENTROP: It is clear that these two questions were the problems that had caused the greatest difficulties since Versailles. Hitler had to solve these problems sooner or later one way or another. I shared this point of view. Danzig was exposed to continual pressure by the Poles; they wanted to "Polandize" Danzig more and more and by October of 1938 from 800,000 to a million Germans, I believe, had been expelled from the Corridor or had returned to Germany.
DR. HORN: How did the Polish Ambassador take your suggestions in October 1938?
VON RIBBENTROP: The Polish Ambassador was reticent at first. He did not commit himself, nor could he do so. I naturally approached him with the problem in such a way that he could discuss it at ease with his government, and did not request, so to speak, a definitive answer from him. He said that of course he saw certain difficulties with reference to Danzig, and also a corridor to East Prussia was a question which required much consideration. He was very reticent, and the discussion ended with his promise to communicate my statements, made on behalf of the German Government, to his government, and to give me an answer in the near future.
DR. HORN: How did your second discussion with Ambassador Lipski on 17 November 1938 end?
VON RIBBENTROP: On 17 November 1938 Lipski came to see me and declared that the problem involved considerable difficulties and that the Danzig question in particular was very difficult in view of Poland's entire attitude. DR. HORN: Did you then, on Hitler's order, submit the request to Lipski to take up direct negotiations with Foreign Minister Beck?
VON RIBBENTROP: I invited Foreign Minister Beck to Berlin.
DR. HORN: When did Foreign Minister Beck come to Berchtesgaden?
VON RIBBENTROP: Unfortunately, Minister Beck did not come to Berlin; he went to London.
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DR. HORN: You misunderstood my question. When did Foreign Minister Beck come to Berchtesgaden?
VON RIBBENTROP: Hitler had said that he wanted to speak with Mr. Beck personally about this problem. Thereupon Mr. Beck came; I do not know the date exactly...
DR. HORN: It was the beginning of January, on 5 January.
VON RIBBENTROP: ... to Berchtesgaden and had a long talk with Adolf Hitler.
DR. HORN: What was the result of this talk?
VON RIBBENTROP: I was present at that conversation. The result was that Adolf Hitler informed Beck, once more in detail, of his desire for good German-Polish relations. He said that a completely new solution would have to be found in regard to Danzig, and that a corridor to East Prussia should not give rise to insurmountable difficulties. During this conversation Mr. Beck was rather receptive. He told the Fuehrer that naturally the question of Danzig was difficult because of the mouth of the Vistula, but he would think the problem over in all its details. He did not at all refuse to discuss this problem, but rather he pointed out the difficulties which, due to the Polish attitude, confronted a solution of the problem.
DR. HORN: Is it true that Beck was, as a matter of principle, willing to negotiate and therefore invited you, at the end of January, to make a visit to Warsaw?
VON RIBBENTROP: One cannot put it quite that way. After the meeting at Berchtesgaden with the Fuehrer, I had another lengthy conversation with Beck in Munich. During this conversation Beck explained to me again that the problem was very difficult, but that he would do everything he could; he would speak to his governmental colleagues, and one would have to find a solution of some kind. On this occasion we agreed that I would pay him a return visit in Warsaw. During this visit we also spoke about the minority question, about Danzig and the Corridor. During this conversation the matter did not progress either; Mr. Beck rather repeated the arguments why it was difficult. I told him that it was simply impossible to leave this problem, the way it was between Germany and Poland. I pointed out the great difficulties encountered by the German minorities and the undignified sititation, as I should like to put it, that is, the always undignified difficulties confronting Germans who wanted to travel to East Prussia. Beck promised to help in the minority question, and also to re-examine the other questions. Then, on the following day, I spoke briefly with Marshal Smygly-Rydz, but this conversation did not lead to anything.
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DR. HORN: At that time did you ask Beck to pay another visit to Berlin, and did this visit take place, or did Beck decide on a different course?
VON RIBBENTROP: What happened was that I invited Foreign Minister Beck to Berlin, because his first visit was not an official one. Unfortunately, however, Beck did not come to Berlin, but, as I have already said, he went to London.
DR. HORN: What was the effect of his visit to London on the subsequent negotiations?
VON RIBBENTROP: The effect of this London visit was a complete surprise to us. Minister Lipski, I believe it was on 21 March, yes, it was, suddenly handed us a memorandum.
DR. HORN: Let me interrupt you. On 21 March you had previously another conversation with Lipski regarding the partition of Czechoslovakia and the problems arising from the establishment of the Protectorate?
VON RIBBENTROP: That may be true, in that case I meant 26.
DR. HORN: Yes.
VON RIBBENTROP: That is right; on the 21st I had a talk with Lipski, that is true, and in this talk Lipski expressed certain doubts concerning Slovakia and the protection afforded by Germany. He expressed the wish that between Hungary and Poland, two countries which had always had close relations with each other, a, direct, common boundary might be established and asked whether or not this would be possible. He also inquired indirectly whether the protection afforded to Slovakia was directed in any way against Poland. I assured Mr. Beck that neither Hitler nor anybody else had been motivated by the slightest intention of acting against Poland when the protection was promised. It was merely a measure to point out to Hungary that the territorial questions were now settled. However, I believe I told Mr. Lipski to look forward to such a link being established via the Carpatho-Ukraine.
DR. HORN: Is it true that consultations were initiated between Poland and the British Government, the French Government and the Russian Government about 20 March?
VON RIBBENTROP: Yes, that is right. These consultations, as far as I recall, go back to a suggestion made by Lord Simon. A common declaration was to be made with regard to Poland. But Poland did not regard this as satisfactory, and made it clear in London that this solution was out of the question for Poland.
DR. HORN: Is it true that Poland worked toward a concrete alliance with England and France?
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VON RIBBENTROP: There can be no doubt, and it is a historical fact that Poland strove for an alliance with England.
DR. HORN: When did the German Government find out that Poland had been promised support by England and France?
VON RIBBENTROP: That became known, I cannot tell you the date precisely, but it was, at any rate, during the latter part of March. Anyway, I know, and we all were convinced of what, I believe, is an established fact today, that these relations taken up during the latter part of March between Warsaw and London determined the answer which was, to our surprise, communicated to us by memorandum on 26 March, I believe.
DR. HORN: Is it correct that this memorandum stated that a further pursuit of German aims regarding a change in the Danzig and Corridor questions would mean war as far as Poland was concerned?
VON RIBBENTROP: Yes, that is correct. That was a great surprise to us. I know that I read the memorandum, and for a moment I simply could not believe that such an answer had been given, when one considers that for months we had tried to find a solution, which -- and I wish to emphasize this -- only Adolf Hitler, at that time, with his great authority over the German people could bring about and be responsible for.
I do not want to get lost in details, but I do want to say that the Danzig and Corridor problem, since 1919, had been considered by statesman of great authority the problem with which somehow the revision of Versailles would have to start. I should like to remind you of the statement by Marshal Foch and other statements by Winston Churchill, who also elaborated on this subject, as well as by Clemenceau, et cetera. All these statesmen were undoubtedly of the opinion that a territorial revision of this Corridor would really have to be undertaken. But Hitler, for his part, wanted to make it an over-all settlement and reach an understanding with Poland on the basis of his putting up with the Corridor and taking only Danzig back into the Reich, whereby Poland was to be afforded a very generous solution in the economic field. That, in other words, was the basis of the proposals which I had been working on for 4 to 5 months on Hitler's order. All the greater was our surprise when, suddenly, the other side declared that a further pursuit of these plans and solutions, which we regarded as very generous, would mean war. I informed Hitler of this, and I remember very well that Hitler received it very calmly.
DR. HORN: Is it correct that on the following day you stated to the Polish Ambassador that the memorandum of 26 March 1939 could not serve as the basis for a solution?
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VON RIBBENTROP: That is true. I just said that Hitler received this harsh and serious message of the Polish Ambassador very calmly. He said, however, that I should tell the Polish Ambassador that of course no solution could be found on this basis. There should be no talk of war.
DR. HORN: Is it true that thereupon, on 6 April 1939, the Polish Foreign Minister Beck traveled to London and returned with a temporary agreement of mutual assistance between Poland, England, and France?
VON RIBBENTROP: Yes, that is correct.
DR. HORN: What was the German reaction to this pact of mutual assistance?
VON RIBBENTROP: The German reaction here I might refer to Hitler's Reichstag speech in which he stated his attitude toward this whole problem. We felt this pact of mutual assistance between Poland and England to be not in agreement with the German-Polish pact of 1934, for in the 1934 pact any application of force was excluded between Germany and Poland. By the new pact concluded between Poland and England without previous consultation with Germany, Poland had bound herself for example, to attack Germany in case of any conflict between Germany and England. I know that Adolf Hitler felt that it was also not in conformity with the agreements between him and Mr. Chamberlain in Munich, namely, the elimination of any resort to force between Germany and England, regardless of what might happen.
DR. HORN: Is it true that Germany then sent through you a memorandum to Poland on 28 April by which the German-Polish declaration of 1934 was rescinded?
VON RIBBENTROP: That is true. It was, I believe, on the same day as the Reichstag speech of the Fuehrer. This memorandum stated more or less what I have just summarized here, that the pact was not in agreement with the treaty of 1934 and that Germany regarded this treaty as no longer valid.
DR. HORN: Is it true that as a consequence of this memorandum German-Polish relations became more tense and that new difficulties arose in the minority question?
VON RIBBENTROP: Yes, that is true. During the preceding period negotiations had been pending in order to put the minority problem on a new basis. I still remember that no progress was made. That was already the case before 28 May, and after 28 May the situation of the German minority became even more difficult. In particular the Polish association for the Western Territories was very active at that time and persecution of Germans and their expulsion from hearth and home was the order of the day. I know
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that just during the months following 28 May, that is to say, in the summer of 1939, the so-called refugee reception camps for German refugees from Poland showed a tremendous influx.
DR. HORN: How did you and Hitler react to the British-French declarations of guarantee to Romania and Greece, and later on Turkey?
VON RIBBENTROP: These declarations could be interpreted by the German policy only as meaning that England was initiating a systematic policy of alliances in Europe which was hostile to Germany. That was Hitler's opinion and also mine.
DR. HORN: Is it true that these declarations of guarantee and Roosevelt's message of 14 April 1939 were then, on 22 May 1939, followed by the German-Italian pact of alliance? And what were the reasons for this pact?
VON RIBBENTROP: It is known that between Germany and Italy friendly relations had naturally existed for a long time; and when the European situation became more acute these relations were, at Mussolini's suggestion, intensified and a pact of alliance, which was discussed first by Count Ciano and me in Milan, was drawn up and provisionally signed on the order of the Government heads. This was an answer to the efforts of English-French policy.
DR. HORN: Is it correct that the crisis with Poland became acute through the fact that on 6 August in Danzig a dispute with the customs inspectors took place by which Germany was forced to take a stand?
VON RIBBENTROP: Yes, that is so. A quarrel had arisen between the Polish representative and the Senate of the City of Danzig. The Polish representative had sent a note to the President of the Senate informing him that certain customs officers of the Senate wanted to disobey Polish regulations. This information proved later to be false, was answered by the Senate, and led to a sharp exchange of notes between the Senate and the Polish representative. On Hitler's order I told the State Secretary of the Foreign Office to lodge appropriate protests with the Polish Government.
DR. HORN: Is it true that Weizsacker, the then State Secretary, on 15 August called the English and French Ambassadors in order to inform both these ambassadors in detail of the seriousness of the situation?
VON RIBBENTROP: Yes, that is true. He did that on my order.
DR. HORN: On 18 August was Ambassador Henderson again asked to see your State Secretary because the situation was becoming more acute in Poland and Danzig?
VON RIBBENTROP: Yes. A conversation took place a few days later between the English Ambassador and the State Secretary. The
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State Secretary explained to him in very clear words the great seriousness of the situation and told him that things were taking a very serious turn.
DR. HORN: Is it true that in this phase of the crisis you made up your mind, on the basis of a suggestion made to you, to initiate negotiations with Russia, and what were your reasons for doing that?
VON RIBBENTROP: Negotiations with Russia had already started sometime previously. Marshal Stalin, in March 1939, delivered a speech in which he made certain hints of his desire to have better relations with Germany. I had submitted this speech to Adolf Hitler and asked him whether we should not try to find out whether this suggestion had something real behind it. Hitler was at first reluctant, but later on he became more receptive to this idea. Negotiations for a commercial treaty were under way, and during these negotiations, with the Fuehrer's permission, I took soundings in Moscow as to the possibility of a definite bridge between National Socialism and Bolshevism and whether the interests of the two countries could not at least be made to harmonize.
DR. HORN: How did the relations taken up by the Soviet Russian commercial agency in Berlin with your Minister Schnurre develop?
VON RIBBENTROP: The negotiations of Minister Schnurre gave me within a relatively short period of time a picture from which I could gather that Stalin had meant this speech in earnest. Then an exchange of telegrams took place with Moscow which, in the middle of August, led to Hitler's sending a telegram to Stalin, whereupon Stalin in answer to this telegram invited a plenipotentiary to Moscow. The aim in view, which had been prepared diplomatically, was the conclusion of a non-aggression pact between the two countries.
DR. HORN: Is it true that you were sent to Moscow as plenipotentiary?
VON RIBBENTROP: Yes, that is known.
DR. HORN: When did you fly to Moscow, and what negotiations did you carry on there?
VON RIBBENTROP: On the evening of 22 August I arrived in Moscow. The reception given me by Stalin and Molotov was very friendly. We had at first a 2-hour conversation. During this conversation the entire complex of Russo-German relations was discussed. The result was, first, the mutual will of both countries to put their relations on a completely new basis. This was to be expressed in a pact of non-aggression. Secondly, the spheres of interests of the two countries were to be defined; this was done by a secret supplementary protocol.
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DR. HORN: Which cases were dealt with in this secret supplementary protocol? What were its contents and what the political bases?
VON RIBBENTROP: I should like to say, first of all, that this secret protocol has been spoken about several times here in this Court. I talked very frankly during the negotiations with Stalin and Molotov, and the Russian gentlemen also used plain language with me. I described Hitler's desire that the two countries should reach a definitive agreement, and, of course, I also spoke of the critical situation in Europe. I told the Russian gentlemen that Germany would do everything to settle the situation in Poland and to settle the difficulties peacefully in order to reach a friendly agreement despite everything. However, I left no doubt that the situation was serious and that it was possible that an armed conflict might break out. That was clear anyway. For both statesmen, Stalin as well as Hitler, it was a question of territories which both countries had lost after an unfortunate war. It is, therefore, wrong to look at these things from any other point of view. And just as Adolf Hitler was of the opinion which I expressed in Moscow, that in some form or other this problem would have to be solved, so also the Russian side saw clearly that this was the case.
We then discussed what should be done on the part of the Germans and on the part of the Russians in the case of an armed conflict. A line of demarcation was agreed upon, as is known, in order that in the event of intolerable Polish provocation, or in the event of war, there should be a boundary, so that the German and Russian interests in the Polish theater could and would not collide. The well-known line was agreed upon along the line of the Rivers Vistula, San, and Bug in Polish territory. And it was agreed that in the case of conflict the territories lying to the west of these rivers would be the German sphere of interest, and those to the east would be the Russian sphere of interest. It is known that later, after the outbreak of the war, these zones were occupied on the one side by Germany and on the other side by Russian troops. I may repeat that at that time I had the impression, both from Hitler and Stalin, that the territories -- that these Polish territories and also the other territories which had been marked off in these spheres of interest, about which I shall speak shortly -- that these were territories which both countries had lost after an unfortunate war. And both statesmen undoubtedly held the opinion that if these territories -- if, I should like to say, the last chance for a reasonable solution of this problem was exhausted -- there was certainly a justification for Adolf Hitler to incorporate these territories into the German Reich by some other procedure.
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Over and above that, it is also known that other spheres of interest were defined with reference to Finland, the Baltic States, and Bessarabia. This was a great settlement of the interest of two great powers providing for a peaceful solution as well as for solution by war.
DR. HORN: Is it correct that these negotiations were drawn up specifically only in the event that, on the basis of the non-aggression pact and the political settlement between Russia and Germany, it might not be possible to settle the Polish question diplomatically?
VON RIBBENTROP: Please repeat the question.
DR. HORN: Is it correct that it was clearly stated that this solution was designed only to provide for the event that, despite the Pact of Non-aggression with Russia, the Polish conflict might not be solved by diplomatic means and that the treaty was to become effective only in this case?
VON RIBBENTROP: Yes, that is so. I stated at that time that on the German side everything would be attempted to solve the problem in a diplomatic and peaceful way.
DR. HORN: Did Russia promise you diplomatic assistance or benevolent neutrality in connection with this solution?
VON RIBBENTROP: It could be seen from the Pact of Nonaggression and from all the conferences in Moscow that this was so. It was perfectly clear, and we were convinced of it, that if, due to the Polish attitude, a war broke out, Russia would assume a friendly attitude towards us.
DR. HORN: When did you fly back from Moscow, and what sort of situation did you find in Berlin?
VON RIBBENTROP: The Pact of Non-aggression with the Soviet Union was concluded on the 23rd. On the 24th I flew back to Germany. I had thought at first that I would fly to the Fuehrer, to the Berghof in Berchtesgaden, but during the flight or prior to it -- I do not know exactly -- I was asked to come to Berlin. We flew to Berlin, and there I informed Hitler of the Moscow agreements. The situation which I found there was undoubtedly very tense. On the next day I noticed this particularly.
DR. HORN: To what circumstances was this aggravation of the German-Polish situation to be attributed?
VON RIBBENTROP: In the middle of August all sorts of things had happened which, as I should like to put it, charged the atmosphere with electricity: frontier incidents, difficulties between Danzig and Poland. On the one hand, Germany was accused of sending arms to Danzig, and, on the other hand, we accused the Poles of taking military measures in Danzig, and so on.
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DR. HORN: Is it true that on your return from Moscow to Berlin, you were informed of the signing of the British-Polish Pact of Guarantee and what was your reaction and that of Hitler to this?
VON RIBBENTROP: That was on 25 August. On 25 August I was informed about the conversation which the Fuehrer had had with Ambassador Henderson during my absence from Germany, I believe at Berchtesgaden on 22 August. This was a very serious conversation. Henderson had brought over a letter from the British Prime Minister which stated clearly that a war between Germany and Poland would draw England into the picture.
Then, early on the 25th I -- the Fuehrer then answered this letter, I believe on the same day -- and the answer was couched so as to mean that at the moment a solution by diplomatic meam could not be expected. I discussed with the Fuehrer on the 25th this exchange of letters and asked him to consider this question once more and suggested that one more attempt might be made with reference to England. This was 25 August, a very eventful day. In the morning a communication came from the Italian Government, according to which Italy, in the case of a conflict over Poland, would not stand at Germany's side. The Fuehrer decided then to receive Ambassador Henderson once more in the course of that day. This meeting took place at about noon of the 25th. I was present. The Fuehrer went into details and asked Henderson once more to bear in mind his urgent desire to reach an understanding with England. He described to him the very difficult situation with Poland and asked him, I believe, to take a plane and fly back to England in order to discuss this whole situation once more with the British Government. Ambassador Henderson agreed to this and I sent him, I believe in the course of the afternoon, a memo or a note verbale in which the Fuehrer put in writing his ideas for such an understanding, or rather what he had said during the meeting, so that the ambassador would be able to inform his government correctly.
DR. HORN: Is it correct that after the British-Polish Pact of Guarantee became known, you asked Hitler to stop the military measures which had been started in Germany?
VON RIBBENTROP: Yes, that is so. I was just about to relate that. During the course of the afternoon -- I heard in the course of the day that certain military measures were being taken and thenin the afternoon I received, I believe, a Reuters dispatch, at any rate it was a press dispatch -- saying that the Polish-British Pact of Alliance had been ratified in London. I believe there was even a note appended that the Polish Ambassador Raczynski had been sick but had nevertheless suddenly given his signature in the Foreign Office.
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DR. HORN: Was this treaty signed before or after it was known that Italy refused to sign the Italian mobilization?
VON RIBBENTROP: This treaty was undoubtedly concluded afterwards. Of course, I do not know the hour and the day, but I believe it must have been on the afternoon of 25 August, and Italy's refusal had already reached us by noon; I believe in other words, it had undoubtedly been definitively decided in Rome in the morning or on the day before. At any rate, I can deduce this from another fact. Perhaps I might, however, answer your other question first, namely, what I did upon receipt of this news.
DR. HORN: Yes.
VON RIBBENTROP: When I received this press dispatch, of which I was informed once more when I came to the Chancellery, I went immediately to Hitler and asked him to. stop at once the military measures, whatever they were -- I was not familiar with military matters in detail -- and I told him that it was perfectly clear that this meant war with England and that England could never disavow her signature. The Fuehrer reflected only a short while and then he said that was true and immediately called his military adjutant, and I believe it was Field Marshal Keitel who came, in order to call together the generals and stop the military measures which had been started. On this occasion he made a remark that we had received two pieces of bad news on one day. That was Italy and this news, and I thought it was possible that the report about Italy's attitude had become known in London immediately, whereupon the final ratification of this pact had taken place. I still remember this remark of the Fuehrer's very distinctly.
DR. HORN: Did you and Hitler, on this day, make efforts with Henderson to settle the conflict, and what were your proposals?
VON RIBBENTROP: I have already stated that the Fuehrer, I believe it was in the early afternoon, saw Henderson on the 25th and told him that he still had the intention of reaching some final understanding with England. The question of Danzig and the Corridor would have to be solved in some way and he wanted to approach England with a comprehensive offer which was not contained in the note verbale, in order to settle these things with England on a perfectly regular basis.
DR. HORN: Is it true that Hitler then put an airplane at Henderson's disposal so that the latter could submit these proposals to his government at once and request his government to make their promised mediation effective in regard to Poland?
VON RIBBENTROP: Yes, that is true. I know that Henderson -- I believe it was on the next day, the 26th -- flew to London in a German airplane. I do not know the details, but I know that the
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Fuehrer said during the meeting, "Take an airplane immediately and fly to your government."
DR. HORN: What results did Ambassador Henderson bring back to Berlin on 28 August?
VON RIBBENTROP: I should like to say in this connection, that in view of the critical situation between Poland and Germany, which, of course, was also known to the British Ambassador, Hitler expressed to me a certain disappointment that the British Ambassador had not returned more quickly with his answer, for the atmosphere was charged with electricity on that day. On the 28th, Henderson then had another discussion with the Fuehrer. I was also present. The answer brought back by Sir Nevile Henderson from London appeared at first not very satisfactory to the Fuehrer. It contained various points which seemed unclear to the Fuehrer. But the main point was that England announced her readiness for a wholesale solution of the existing problems between Germany and England, on the condition that the German-Polish question could be brought to a peaceful solution. In the discussion Adolf Hitler told Sir Neville Henderson that he would examine the note and would then ask him to come back. Then he ...
DR. HORN: Is it true that in this memorandum England suggested that Germany take up direct negotiations with Poland?
VON RIBBENTROP: That is true. One of the points in the note -- I intended to go into that -- was that the English suggested that German-Polish direct negotiations would be the most appropriate way to reach a solution and, secondly, that such negotiations should take place as soon as possible, because England had to admit that the situation was very tense because of the frontier incidents and in every respect. Furthermore the note stated that no matter what solution might be found -- I believe this was in the note -- it should be guaranteed by the great powers.
DR. HORN: Did England offer a mediator to forward to Poland German proposals for direct negotiations?
VON RIBBENTROP: Yes, that is right.
DR. HORN: What were these German proposals like, which on 29 August 1939, were given by Hitler to Henderson in answer to Henderson's memorandum?
VON RIBBENTROP: The situation was this: On the 29th Adolf Hitler again received the British Ambassador and on this occasion told him that he was ready to take up the English suggestion of the 28th, that is to say, that despite the great tension and despite the Polish attitude, which he resented so profoundly, he was prepared to
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offer his hand once more for a peaceful solution of the German-Polish problems, as suggested in the British note of the 28th.
DR. HORN: What were the reasons for including in this German proposal a request that a Polish plenipotentiary be sent by 30 August?
VON RIBBENTROP: In Adolf Hitler's communication to Ambassador Henderson for the British Government it was stated that the German Government, in view of the tense situation, would immediately set about working out proposals for a solution of the Danzig and Corridor problems. The German Government hoped to be in a position to have these proposals available by the time a Polish negotiator arrived who was expected during the course of 30 August.
DR. HORN: Is it correct that Hitler included this condition or this request to send a plenipotentiary within 24 hours because he was afraid that a conflict might arise due to the fact that the mobilized armies of the two countries faced each other?
VON RIBBENTROP: That is absolutely true. I might say that during the meeting on the 29th Ambassador Henderson, as I recall, asked the Fuehrer whether this was an ultimatum. The Fuehrer answered "No," that that was not an ultimatum, but rather, I believe he said, a practical proposal or a proposal arising from the situation, or something of that sort. I should like to repeat that it was a fact that the situation near the frontiers of Danzig and the Corridor during the last days of August looked, one might say, as if the guns would go off on their own unless something was done rather soon. That was the reason for the relatively short respite which was made a condition by the Fuehrer. He feared that if more time were allowed, matters would drag out and danger of war not decrease but rather increase.
DR. HORN: Is it true that, despite this information given to Ambassador Henderson, the answer of the British Government called this proposal unreasonable?
VON RIBBENTROP: I know of the British reaction from several documents that I saw later. The first reaction came during my discussion with Henderson on 30 August.
DR. HORN: Is it true that on 30 August you received a confidential communication regarding Poland's total mobilization?
VON RIBBENTROP: That is true. On the 30th Hitler awaited word from the Polish negotiator. This, however, did not come, but, I believe, on the evening of the 30th the news arrived that Poland had ordered, although not announced, general mobilization. I believe it was not announced until the next morning. This, of course, further aggravated the situation enormously.
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DR. HORN: Is it true that the British Government then practically withdrew their offer to mediate by suggesting that Germany take immediate and direct steps to prepare negotiations between Germany and Poland?
VON RIBBENTROP: You mean on the 30th?
DR. HORN: Yes, on the 30th.
VON RIBBENTROP: That is so. As I said before, we had been waiting on the 30th, but the Polish negotiator had not arrived. In the meantime, Hitler had prepared the proposals which he wanted to hand to a Polish negotiator who, as he had expressly promised Sir Nevile Henderson, would be able to negotiate with Germany on the basis of complete equality. Not until shortly before midnight, or at least in the late evening, a call came through saying that the British Ambassador wanted to transmit a communication from his government. This meeting, I believe, was then postponed once more; at any rate at midnight on 30 August the well-known conversation between Henderson and me took place. DR. HORN: You heard yesterday Minister Schmidt's description of this meeting. Do you have anything to add to his description of it?
VON RIBBENTROP: I should like to add the following about this conversation. It is perfectly clear that at that moment all of us were nervous, that is true. The British Ambassador was nervous and so was I. I should like to and must mention here the fact that the British Ambassador had had on the day before a minor scene with the Fuehrer which might have ended seriously. I succeeded in changing the subject. Therefore, there was also a certain tension between the British Ambassador and myself. However, I intentionally received the British Ambassador composedly and calmly, and accepted his communication. I hoped that this communication would, In the last moment, contain his announcement of a Polish negotiator.
However, this did not happen. Rather, Sir Nevile Henderson told me:
1. That his government could not recommend this mode of procedure, despite the tense situation, which had been aggravated still more by the Polish total mobilization; rather the British Government recommended that the German Government use diplomatic channels;
2. That, if the German Government would submit the same proposals to the British Government, the British Government would be ready to exert their influence in Warsaw in order to find a solution, as far as these suggestions appeared to be reasonable. In view of the whole situation this was a very difficult answer because, as I said, the situation was extremely tense and the Fuehrer had been waiting
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since the day before for a Polish emissary. I, in turn, feared also that the guns would go off by themselves unless a solution or something else came quickly, as I have said. I then read to Henderson the proposals given to me by the Fuehrer. I should like to state here once more under oath that the Fuehrer had expressly forbidden me to let these proposals out of my hands. He told me that I might communicate to the British Ambassador only the substance of them, if I thought it advisable. I did a little more than that; I read all the proposals, from the beginning to the end, to the British Ambassador. I did this because I still hoped that the British Government wanted to exert their influence in Warsaw and assist in a solution. But here too I must state frankly that from my talk with the British Ambassador on 30 August, from his whole attitude, which Minister Schmidt also described to a certain extent yesterday, as well as from the substance of the communication of the British Government, I got the impression that England at this moment was not quite prepared to live up to the situation and, let us say, to do her utmost to bring about a peaceful solution.
DR. HORN: What did the German Government do after the contents of the note were made known to Ambassador Henderson?
VON RIBBENT'ROP: After my conversation with the British Ambassador I reported to the Fuehrer. I told him it had been a serious conversation. I told him also that in pursuance of his instructions I had not handed the memorandum to Sir Nevile Henderson despite the latter's request. But I had the impression that the situation was serious and I was convinced that the British guarantee to Poland was in force. That had been my very definite impression from this conversation. Then, in the course of the 31st the Fuehrer waited the whole day to see whether or not some sort of Polish negotiator would come or whether a new communication would come from the British Government. We have heard here about Reich Marshal Goering's intervention, how he informed Mr. Dahlerus of the contents of this note in every detail. There can thus be no doubt that during the course of that night, at the latest in the morning of the 31st the precise proposals of the Reich Govermnent were in the hands of both the London Government and the Warsaw Government. On the 31st the Fuehrer waited the whole day and I am convinced, and I want to state it very clearly here, that he hoped that something would be done by England. Then in the course of the 31st the Polish Ambassador came to see me. But it is known that he had no authority to do anything, to enter into negotiations or even to receive proposals of any sort. I do not know whether the Fuehrer would have authorized me on the 31st to hand proposals of this sort to him, but I think it is possible. But the Polish Ambassador was not authorized to receive them, as he expressly told me.
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I might point out briefly that regarding the attitude in Warsaw the witness Dahlerus has already given additional testimony.
DR. HORN: It is correct that England did not forward the German proposals to Warsaw until the evening of 31 August?
VON RIBBENTROP: Please repeat the question.
DR. HORN: Is it correct that the German proposals which had been submitted by you on the preceding evening of the 30th to Ambassador Sir Nevile Henderson were not forwarded to Warsaw until the evening of 31 August?
VON RIBBENTROP: You mean from London?
DR. HORN: From London?
VON RIBBENTROP: That I cannot tell you precisely, but that can undoubtedly be verified from official documents.
DR. HORN: What considerations then led to the final decision to take military action against Poland?
VON RIBBENTROP: I cannot tell you the details of this. I know only that the Fuehrer -- that the proposals which I had read to the British Ambassador in the night of the 30th were published by broadcast, as I believe, on the evening of the 31st. The reaction of the Warsaw radio, I remember this reaction exactly, was unfortunately such as to sound like a veritable battle cry in answer to the German proposals which, as I heard, had been characterized by Henderson as reasonable. I believe they were characterized by the Polish radio as an insolence, and the Germans were spoken of as Huns or the like. I still remember that. At any rate, shortly after the announcement of these proposals a very sharp negative answer came from Warsaw. I assume that it was the answer which persuaded the Fuehrer in the night of the 31st to issue the order to march. I, for my part, can say only that I went to the Reich Chancellery, and the Fuehrer told me that he had given the order and that nothing else could be done now, or something to this effect, and that things were now in motion. Thereupon I said to the Fuehrer merely, "I wish you good luck."
I might also mention that the outbreak of these hostilities was the end of years of efforts on the part of Adolf Hitler to bring about friendship with England.
DR. HORN: Did Mussolini make another proposal of mediation and how did this proposal turn out?
VON RIBBENTROP: Yes, that is true. On 3 September, in the morning, such a proposal of mediation arrived in Berlin stating that Mussolini was still in a position to bring the Polish question in some way before the forum of a conference, and that he would do so if the German Government agreed rapidly. It was said at the same
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time that the French Government had already approved this proposal. Germany also immediately agreed. But a few days later -- I cannot now state the time precisely -- it was reported that, in a speech I believe, by the British Foreign Minister Halifax in the House of Commons or in some other British declaration, this proposal had been turned down by London.
DR. HORN: Do you know whether France also turned down this proposal?
VON RIBBENTROP: I have already said that we received along with the proposal, I believe through the Italian Government, the information that the French Government either was in favor of the suggestion or had already accepted it.
DR. HORN: Did you see any possibilities for peace after the conclusion of the Polish campaign and were they pursued?
VON RIBBENTROP: After the conclusion of the Polish campaign I had some lengthy conversations with Adolf Hitler. The situation was then such that beyond a doubt there was a certain lack of enthusiasm for this whole war on the part of the French. During these weeks military people occasionally used the expression "potato war in the West." Hitler, as far as I can judge from everything that he told me, was not interested in bringing the war in the West to a decision, and I believe this was true of all of us members of the Government. I should like to remind you of the speech made by Reich Marshal Goering to this effect at that time. Hitler then made a speech in Danzig, and I believe later somewhere else, perhaps in the Reichstag, I believe in the Reichstag, in which he twice told England and France in unmistakable language that he was still ready to open negotiations at any time. We tried to find out also very cautiously by listening to diplomatic circles what the mood was in the enemy capitals. But the public replies to Adolf Hitler's speeches clearly demonstrated that there could be no thought of peace.
DR. HORN: What did you do from then on to prevent the war from becoming more extended?
VON RIBBENTROP: It was, I should like to say, my most ardent endeavor; after the end of the Polish campaign to attempt to localize the war, that is, to prevent the war from spreading in Europe. However, I soon was to find out that once a war has broken out, politics are not always the only or rather not at all, the decisive factor in such matters, and that in such cases the so-called timetables of general staffs start to function. Everybody wants to outdo everybody else.
Our diplomatic efforts were undoubtedly everywhere, in Scandinavia as well as in the Balkans and elsewhere, against an extension of the war. Nevertheless, the war did take that course. I should like to state that according to my conversations with Adolf
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Hitler, and I am also convinced that the German military men were of the same opinion, Hitler wished in no way to extend the war anywhere.
DR. HORN: Is it correct that you received information which pointed to the intention of the Western Powers to invade the Ruhr?
VON RIBBENTROP: Yes, that is true. We received numerous reports all the time. Our intelligence service was such that we had a great many channels doing intelligence work. All of these channels led to the Fuehrer. The Foreign Office had relatively little intelligence service, but relied rather an official diplomatic channels. But we too received reports and news at that time which undoubtedly allowed inferences to be drawn. We in the Foreign Office also received reports implying that the Western Powers had the intention of advancing into the Ruhr area at the first appropriate opportunity. The situation in the West was such that the West Wall was a very strong military barrier against France and this naturally gave rise to the idea that such an attack might come through neutral territory, such as Belgium and Holland.
THE PRESIDENT: How much longer will you take, Dr. Horn?
DR. HORN: I believe an hour to an hour and a half, Your Lordship.
THE PRESIDENT: Well, the Tribunal has listened with great patience to a very great deal of detail. All I can say is that this exaggerated going into detail does not do the defendant's case any good in my opinion. We will adjourn now. [The Tribunal adjourned until 30 March 1946 at 1000 hours.]
Nuremberg Trial Proceedings Vol. 10
Saturday, 30 March 1946
MARSHAL: May it please the Tribunal, the Defendant Doenitz is absent from Court this morning.
THE PRESIDENT: Yes, Dr. Horn.
DR. HORN: On 16 February 1923 a conference of ambassadors transferred to Lithuania the sovereignty over the territory of Memel, which had already been annexed in 1923 by a surprise attack by Lithuanian troops. What caused Hitler to issue these directives for the reintegration of the Memel territory in 1939?
VON RIBBENTROP: The small territory of Memel, being the land mentioned in our National anthem, was always very dear to the hearts of the entire German people. The military facts are well known. It was placed under the control of the Allied Powers after the World War I and was later seized and occupied by Lithuanian soldiers by a coup de main. The country itself is ancient German territory, and it was natural that it should wish to become a part of Germany once more. As early as 1938, the Fuehrer referred to this problem in my presence as one which would have to be solved sooner or later. In the spring of 1939 negotiations were begun with the Lithuanian Government. These negotiations resulted in a meeting between Urbisk, the Lithuanian Foreign Minister, and myself, and an agreement was signed, by means of which the Memel territory was once more to become part of the Reich. That was in March 1939. I do not need to describe the sufferings which this region has had to endure in the past years. At any rate it was quite in accordance with the principle of the self-determination of peoples, that the will of the people of Memel was granted in 1939, and all that the agreement did, was to restore a perfectly natural state of affairs and one which would have had in any case to be established sooner or later.
DR. HORN: It was followed half a year later by the war with Poland. What, in your opinion, were the decisive causes which brought about this war?
VON RIBBENTROP: I gave evidence in this matter yesterday. The decisive factor was the English guarantee extended to Poland. I do not need to elaborate this point. This guarantee, combined
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with the Polish mentality, made it impossible for us to negotiate with the Poles or to come to an understanding with them. As for the actual outbreak of war, the following reasons for it can be given:
1. There is no doubt...
MR. DODD: If Your Honor please, I generalized this morning and I repeat my assertion of yesterday that I am most reluctant to interfere here with this examination. But as the witness has said himself, we did go all through this yesterday, we have heard this whole story already in the occasion of yesterday afternoon's session. My point is that the witness himself, before going into his answer, stated that he had already given the causes for the war, yesterday afternoon, and I quite agree. I think it is entirely unnecessary for him to go over it again today. I might add parenthetically that we had some great doubt about the relevancy or the materiality of it even on yesterday's occasion, but surely we do not have to hear him again.
THE PRESIDENT: What do you say to that, Dr. Horn?
DR. HORN: I would like to say that the former German Minister for Foreign Affairs, who is accused of being co-responsible for a war of aggression, might perhaps say a few words about the decisive causes, which according to him led to this war. The defendant of course, should not repeat what he said yesterday. I want him to give only some details on points to which he referred in only a general way yesterday, and it will not take up very much of the Tribunal's time.
THE PRESIDENT: Very well, Dr. Horn, provided, of course, that he does not go over the identical ground that he went over yesterday.
DR. HORN: Please tell us very briefly the facts that determined your attitude.
VON RIBBENTROP: There are just a few brief facts that I would like to mention, and they concern only the events of these last 2 days:
First of all, there is no doubt that on 30 and 31 August, England was well aware of the extreme tension of the situation. This fact was communicated to Hitler in a letter, and Hitler said that the decision must be made and a way of solving the problem found, with all possible speed. This was Chamberlain's letter to Hitler.
Secondly: England knew that the proposals made by Germany were reasonable, for we know that England was in possession of these proposals in the night of 30 to 31 August. Ambassador Henderson himself declared that these proposals were reasonable.
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Thirdly: It would have been possible, therefore, on 30 or 31 August, to give a hint to Warsaw and tell the Poles to begin some sort of negotiations with us. This could have been done in three different ways: Polish negotiator could have flown to Berlin, which would have been, as the Fuehrer said, a matter of an hour to an hour and a half; or, a meeting could have been arranged between the foreign ministers or the heads of the states to take place on the frontiers; or else, Ambassador Lipski could simply have been instructed at least to receive the German proposals. If these instructions had been given, the crisis would have been averted and diplomatic negotiations could have been initiated. England herself, had she wished to do so, could have sent her ambassador to represent her at the negotiations, which action, after what had gone before, would undoubtedly have been regarded very favorably by Germany. This, however, did not take place, and, as I gather from documents which I saw for the first time here, nothing was done during this period to alleviate this very-tense situation. Chauvinism is natural to the Poles; and we know from Ambassador Henderson's own words and from the testimony of Mr. Dahlerus that Ambassador Lipski used very strong language illustrative of Polish mentality. Because Poland was very well aware that she would, in all circumstances, have the assistance of England and France, she assumed an attitude which made war inevitable to all intents and purposes. I believe that these facts really are of some importance for the historical view of that entire period. I would like to add that I personally regretted this turn of events. All my work of 25 years was destroyed by this war; and up to the last minute I made every possible effort to avert this war. I believe that even Ambassador Henderson's documents prove that I did make these attempts. I told Adolf Hitler that it was Chamberlain's most ardent desire to have good relations with Germany and to reach an agreement with her; and I even sqnt a special messenger to the Embassy to see Henderson, to tell him how earnestly the Fuehrer desired this, and to do everything in his power to make this desire of Adolf Hitler's clear to his government.
DR. HORN: Denmark and Norway were occupied in April 1940. You had concluded a non-aggression pact with Denmark on 31 May 1939 and on the basis of these facts you are accused by the Prosecution of perfidious diplomacy. When and in what way did you receive knowledge of the inuninent occupation of Denmark and Norway?
VON RIBBENTROP: It had always been the Fuehrer's wish and mine to keep Scandinavia neutral. In accordance with Adolf Hitler's policy, I did my best to prevent the war from spreading.
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One day in April 1940 Hitler summoned me to the Chancellery. He told me that he had received reports stating that the British were on the point of occupying Norway, or of landing troops there. He had therefore decided to occupy Norway and Denmark on the morning of the day after next. That was the first I heard of it. I was amazed; and the Fuehrer then showed me the documentary evidence which he had received through his intelligence service. He ordered me to prepare notes at once, informing the Norwegian and the Danish governments that German troops were about to march in. I reminded the Fuehrer that we had a non-aggression pact with Denmark and that Norway was a neutral country, and told him that reports received from our Legation at Oslo did not indicate any landing. When the documents were shown to me, however, I realized how grave the situation was and that these reports had to be taken seriously.
The next day along with my assistants, I prepared diplomatic notes to be sent by plane to Oslo and Copenhagen on 8 April. On: that day we worked day and night in order to finish these notes. The Fuehrer had given orders that these notes were to arrive shortly before the German occupation. The order was executed. The occupation of Denmark was completed without trouble, as far as I know. I believe that hardly a shot was fired. As soon as we had occupied the country, we negotiated with the Danish Government, under Stauning, and made agreements so that everything should go on without disturbances and as far as possible in a friendly atmosphere. Denmark's integrity was fully guaranteed, and matters went on, even in the later stages, in a comparatively quiet and orderly way. The situation was rather different in Norway. Resistance had developed. We tried to keep the King of Norway in the country and to induce him to stay there. We negotiated with him but we had no success. He went north, I believe, to Narvik; and so there was no longer any possibility of negotiating with Norway. Norway was occupied, as you.know, and a civil administration established. After this date, Norway was no longer any concern of the Foreign Office; but one thing I should like to add: that the Fuehrer told me repeatedly that the measures he had taken were extremely necessary, and that documents found after the landing of British troops in Norway, and published at a later date, showed that the occupation of these countries and the landing in Norway had doubtlessly been planned for a long time by England.
Frequent allusions have been made in the course of this Trial to the great sufferings of the Norwegian and Danish peoples. I personally am of the opinion that whatever one may think of the
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German occupation, for all intents and purposes it prevented Scandinavia from becoming a theater of war, and I believe, that in that way the Norwegian and Danish peoples were spared untold suffering. If war had broken out between Germany and the Scandinavian countries, these people would have been exposed to much greater suffering and privation.
DR. HORN: Did you have anything to do with Quisling before the occupation of Norway?
VON RIBBENTROP: I must explain that the name of Quisling became known only at a much later date. Before the occupation of Norway his name meant nothing to me. It is true that Herr Rosenberg contacted me with a view to assisting pro-German Scandinavians within the frame of the former Nordic Movement (Nordische Bewegung) and that was a perfectly natural thing to do. At that period, we also provided funds for newspapers, propaganda, and also for political activities in Norway.
At these discussions, I remember this distinctly, no mention was ever made of any seizing of political power through certain circles in Norway, or of military operations.
DR. HORN: What influence did the Foreign Office have in Denmark after the occupation of the country?
VON RIBBENTROP: After the occupation of Denmark the Foreign Office was represented by a minister at the Danish Court. Later, because of certain events -- I believe it would take too long to enumerate them -- the Danish Government resigned and a Reich Plenipotentiary was appointed. There was also a Military Commander in Denmark and later on a Higher SS and Police Leader. The activities of the minister of the Danish Court were those of an ordinary and very influential minister, who tried to straighten out all the difficulties which might naturally arise during an occupation; and later on the function of the Reich Plenipotentiary, according to my instructions, was to treat Denmark, not as an enemy of Germany, but as a friend. This was always guiding principle in Denmark and even at a much later period, when more serious difficulties arose as a result of the intensified warfare, there was really complete quiet and calm in Denmark throughout the long years of war and we were very well satisfied with conditions there.
Later, because of the activities of enemy agents against our measures, et cetera, things took a more rigorous turn; the Reich Plenipotentiary always had instructions from me not to aggravate things but to straighten them out and to work on the continuation of good relations between the Danes and the Germans. His task was not always an easy one; but on the whole, I believe, he did his work satisfactorily.
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DR. HORN: Since when and how did you receive reports about the intention of the Franco-British General Staff to include Belgium and Holland in their theater of operations?
VON RIBBENTROP: Great importance has obviously been attached to this question during the proceedings here as well. The situation was as follows: In 1937, Germany declared that she had made an agreement with Belgium in which Germany undertook to respect Belgium's strict neutrality on condition that Belgium on her part would maintain her neutrality.
After the Polish campaign the Fuehrer told me on several occasions that, according to his intelligence reports, the enemy intended to cross Dutch and Belgian territory to attack the Ruhr. We also sometimes received reports of this kind; these were of a less concrete nature.
In any event, Adolf Hitler believed that an attack on the Ruhr district, which was Germany's most vital area, was a possibility that had to be reckoned with at all times. I had a good many discussions with the Fuehrer about that time, regarding the importance of Belgian neutrality for the world in general; but I knew, too, that we were involved in a struggle, a hard struggle of larger dimensions where completely different standards would have to be applied. In the course of events, in the spring of 1940, our intelligence reports about an attack of this kind became more and more concrete, and I may mention that documents belonging to the French General Staff, et cetera, which were found later and published by the German Foreign Office, proved conclusively that the reports which Germany had received were absolutely true and that an attack on the Ruhr area had actually been repeatedly considered by the enemies of Germany, that is, by those who were her enemies at the time.
In this connection I would like to call attention to a document concerning a meeting between Prime Minister Chamberlain and M. Daladier in Paris, at which Mr. Chamberlain suggested an attack for the destruction of the vitally important industrial areas of the Ruhr through the so-called "chimneys" of Holland and Belgium. I believe this document is here and has been granted to the Defense. The situation before the offensive in the West on which the Fuehrer had decided was therefore such that an attack by the enemy through these great areas had to be expected at any time. For this reason he decided to attack across this area, across these two neutral territories, and I believe that after the attack -- the military authorities will confirm this -- further documents were found and facts established, which as far as I remember, showed that the closest co-operation had existed between the Belgian and I believe also the Dutch General Staffs, and the British and French General Staffs.
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Of course it is always a very grave matter in such a war to violate the neutrality of a country, and you must not think that we dismissed it, so to speak, with a wave of the hand. It cost me many a sleepless night and I would like to remind you that the same questions arose on the other side and other statesmen also discussed them at the time. I remind you of a statement to the effect that "one got tired of thinking of the rights of neutrals"; and this assertion was made by the eminent British statesman, Winston Churchill.
DR. HORN: What caused Germany to violate the integrity of Luxembourg?
VON RIBBENTROP: Luxembourg was in much the same situation as Belgium and Holland. It is a very small country, and obviously in a war on the scale of this one the armies cannot suddenly bypass one particular country. But I would like to point out just one thing in connection with Luxembourg: The summer before, that is during the summer of 1939, we had started negotiations with France and Luxembourg with a view to making perfectly definite pacts of neutrality to be established by treaties. At first, the negotiations seemed to be going very well; but they were suddenly broken off by both France and Luxembourg. At the time we did not understand the reason for this, but I know that when I reported it to the Fuehrer, it made him a little distrustful as to the motives that may have been of importance on the other side. We never knew the exact reason.
DR. HORN: How far was the German Foreign Office able to exert its influence in France after the partial occupation of the country?
VON RIBBENTROP: After the occupation or partial occupation of France, although we were not yet at peace with France and there was therefore really no reason to resume diplomatic relations, as only an armistice had been declared, the Fuehrer, at my request, appointed an ambassador to the Vichy Government. I was especially anxious for this to be done because it had always been my aim to come to a closer co-operation with France. I would like to emphasize the fact that I resumed my efforts in this direction immediately after the victory and the armistice. I have -- the Fuehrer readily agreed to this and also initiated the so-called Montoire policy at my request, by meeting Marshal Petain at Montoire after a meeting with General Franco. I was present at this meeting. I believe I may say in the interests of historical truth that Adolf Hitler's treatment of the head of the defeated French nation is probably unexampled and must be described as chivalrous. There cannot be many parallel cases in history.
Adolf Hitler immediately made proposals to Marshal Petain for a closer collaboration between
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Germany and France, but Marshal Petain, even at the very first meeting, adopted an attitude of marked reserve towards the victor, so that, to my great personal regret this first meeting came to an end somewhat more quickly than I had really hoped it would. In spite of this, we continued to try to carry out a systematic policy of conciliation and even of close collaboration with France. Our lack of success was probably due to the natural attitude of France and the will of influential circles. Germany did not fail to make every effort.
DR. HORN: What influence did you yourself, and the German Foreign Office have on conditions in Belgium after the occupation?
VON RIBBENTROP: We had no influence whatsoever on conditions in Belgium or in Holland. The Fuehrer set up military and civilian administrations, and the Foreign Office had no further connection with them, beyond being represented by a liaison officer who, in practice, had nothing or almost nothing to do. I would like to add that it was rather different in France, inasmuch as we were naturally in a position to exercise a certain amount of influence on the Vichy Government through our ambassador. I did so, for instance, in matters of finance.
We have heard here in court a good deal about the activities of Herr Henimen. I should just like to say that, no matter how his powers may have been defined, I appointed him for the express purpose of preventing inflation and the collapse of the French currency. That was the special mission entrusted to Hemmen. Even if France was no longer willing to co-operate politically with Germany, she was undoubtedly of economic importance to us; and I wanted to keep her on a sound basis and to preserve her system of finance. That was the real reason for Herr Hemmen's mission.
DR. HORN: What plans did Hitler have with regard to his foreign policy after the conclusion of the campaign in the West?
VON RIBBENTROP: After the conclusion of the campaign in the West, I discussed future developments with the Fuehrer at his headquarters. I asked him what his further intentions were with regard. to England. The Fuehrer and I proposed at the time, whether we had not better make another attempt with England. The Fuehrer seemed to have had the same idea and was delighted with my proposal for making a fresh peace offer or attempting to make peace with England. I asked the Fuehrer whether I should draft such a treaty for this case. The Fuehrer spontaneously replied: "No, that will not be necessary, I will do that myself, that is, there is no need to do it at all."
He said, word for word: "If England is ready for peace, there are only four points to be settled. Above all, after Dunkirk, I do not want England in any circumstances to suffer a loss of prestige,
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so under no circumstances do I want a peace which would involve that."
With regard to the contents of such a treaty, he enumerated four points:
1. Germany is ready to recognize in all respects the existence of the British Empire.
2. England must, therefore, acknowledge Germany to be the greatest continental power, if only because of the size of her population.
3. He said, "I want England to return the German colonies. I would be satisfied with one or two of them, because of the raw materials."
4. He said that he wanted a permanent alliance with England for life and death.
DR. HORN: Is it correct that at the end of 1939, you heard from Hitler that conferences had taken place between the Greek and French General Staffs and that French officers had been sent to Greece?
VON RIBBENTROP: Yes, that is correct. It came within the scope of the Fuehrer's policy for preventing the war from spreading, as entrusted to me, that I should keep a sharp watch on these things and, of course, especially on the Balkans;
Adolf Hitler wished in all circumstances to keep the Balkans out of the war. As for Greece the situation was as follows: Greece had accepted a British guarantee. Also, there were close links between Yugoslavia and England and, especially, France. Through the Fuehrer's intelligence service and through military channels we repeatedly heard about staff conferences between Athens, Belgrade, London and Paris, which were supposed to be taking place. About that time I summoned the Greek Minister on several occasions and drew his attention to these things. I asked him to be very careful, and told him that Germany had no intention of taking any steps against the Greek people, who had always been very much liked in Germany.
However, further intelligence reports came in to the effect that Britain had been given permission to establish naval bases in Greece. I believe -- and all this led up to the intervention of Italy, which we did not desire at all -- I believe Reich Marshal Goering has already discussed this topic. It was impossible to prevent this intervention, for when we arrived in Florence -- I was with Adolf Hitler at the time-for his conference with Mussolini, it was too late and Mussolini said: "We are on the march."
The Fuehrer was very much upset and depressed when he heard this news. We then had to do everything in our power so that the war between Greece and Italy might at least be prevented from
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spreading. Yugoslav policy was naturally the decisive factor here. I tried in every possible way to establish closer links with Yugoslavia and to win her over to the Tripartite Pact which had already been concluded then. It was difficult at first, but with the help of the Regent Prince Paul and the Zvetkovitch Government, we finally succeeded in inducing Yugoslavia to join the Tripartite Pact. We knew very well, however, that there was strong opposition in Belgrade to the adhesion of Yugoslavia to the Tripartite Pact and to any kind of closer connection with Germany. In Vienna at the time the Fuehrer said that the signing of the Tripartite Pact seemed like a funeral to him.
All the same, we were very much surprised when -- I think it was 2 or 3 days after the conclusion of this pact -- the government was overthrown by General Simovic's coup and a new government was set up which certainly could not be described as friendly to Germany.
Reports came from Belgrade concerning close collaboration with the British General Staff. I believe American observers in this field are informed on the point, and during the last few months I have heard from English sources that British elements had played a part in this coup. That was quite natural, for we were at war.
All these events caused the Fuehrer to intervene in the Balkans, first of all, to help Italy, whom the courageous resistance of the Greeks had forced into a very difficult position in Albania; and secondly, to prevent a possible attack from the north on the part of Yugoslavia, which might have made the Italian situation still more serious or even brought about a crushing defeat for our Italian ally.
Those were the military and strategic factors which induced the Fuehrer to intervene and to conduct the campaign against Greece and Yugoslavia. DR. HORN: If I understood you correctly, Greece put bases on her territory at the disposal of the British Navy before the Italian attack in October 1940, in spite of the fact that she had declared her neutrality. Is that correct?
VON RIBBENTROP: That was the substance of the military reports which I received.
DR. HORN: In September 1939, General Gamelin, then French Commander-in-Chief, approved the project for an Allied landing at Salonika. When did Germany receive knowledge of this intention?
VON RIBBENTROP: We first learned the exact details from the files of the French General Staff on the outbreak of war. But I know that from the very beginning all the reports which the Fuehrer received from the various intelligence branches of the Reich caused
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him to fear the possibility that a new front might be built up at any moment in Salonika as had happened in the first World War, and that would mean a considerable dispersal of the German forces.
DR. HORN: In September 1939 you made a second trip to Moscow. What was the reason for this visit and what was discussed there?
VON RIBBENTROP: My second visit to Moscow was made necessary by the ending of the Polish campaign. I flew to Moscow toward the end of September, and this time I received an especially cordial reception. The situation then was such that we had to create clear conditions in the Polish territory. Soviet troops had occupied the eastern regions of Poland, and we had occupied the western parts up to the line of demarcation previously agreed upon. Now we had to fix a definite line of demarcation. We were also anxious to strengthen our ties with the Soviet Union and to establish cordial relations with them.
An agreement was reached in Moscow, fixing a definite line in Poland, and an economic treaty to put economic relations on an entirely new basis was envisaged. A comprehensive treaty regulating the exchange of raw materials was envisaged and later on concluded. At the same time this pact was politically amplified into a treaty of friendship, as is well known. One question remained, about the territory of Lithuania. For the sake of establishing particularly trustful relations between Moscow and Berlin, the Fuehrer renounced influence over Lithuania, and gave Russia predominance in Lithuania by this second treaty, so that there was now a clear understanding between Germany and Soviet Russia with respect to territorial claims as well.
DR. HORN: Is it correct that on 15 June 1940, after the delivery of an ultimatum, the Russians occupied the whole of Lithuania, including the part which was still German, without notifying the Reich government?
VON RIBBENTROP: There was no special agreement concerning this, but it is well known that these areas were actually occupied.
DR. HORN: What further Russian measures caused Hitler anxiety as to Russia's attitude and intentions?
VON RIBBENTROP: Various things made the Fuehrer a little sceptical about the Russian attitude. One was the occupation of the Baltic States, which I have just mentioned. Another was the occupation of Bessarabia and North Bukovina after the French campaign and of which we were simply informed without any previous consultation. The King of Romania asked us for advice at that time. The Fuehrer, out of loyalty to the Soviet pact, advised the King of Romania to accept the Russian demands and to evacuate Bessarabia.
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In addition, the war with Finland in 1940 caused a certain uneasiness in Germany, among the German people who had strong sympathies for the Finns. The Fuehrer felt himself bound to take this into account to some extent. There were two other points to consider. One was that the Fuehrer received a report on certain communist propaganda in German factories which alleged that the Russian trade delegation was the center of this propaganda. Above all, we heard of military preparations being made by Russia. I know after the French campaign he spoke to me about this matter on several occasions and said that approximately 20 German divisions had been concentrated near the East Prussian border; and that very large forces -- I happen to remember the number, I think about 30 army corps -- were said to be concentrated in Bessarabia. The Fuehrer was perturbed by these reports and asked me to watch the situation closely. He even said that in all probability the 1939 Pact had been concluded for the sole purpose of being able to dictate economic and political conditions to us. In any case, he now proposed to take countermeasures. I pointed out the danger of preventive wars to the Fuehrer, but the Fuehrer said that German-Italian interests must come first in all circumstances, if necessary. I said I hoped that matters would not go so far and that, at all events, we should make every effort through diplomatic channels to avoid this.
DR. HORN: In November, from 12 to 14 November 1940 to be exact, the Russian Foreign Commissar Molotov visited Berlin. On whose initiative did this visit take place and what was the subject under discussion?
VON RIBBENTROP: The conferences with Molotov at Berlin concerned the following subjects: I might interpolate that when we were trying to effect a settlement with Russia through diplomatic channels, I wrote a letter to Marshal Stalin, with the Fuehrer's permission, in the late autumn of 1940 and invited Mr. Molotov to come to Berlin. This invitation was accepted, and Russo-German relations were discussed in their entirety during a conversation between the Fuehrer and Mr. Molotov. I was present at this discussion. Mr. Molotov first discussed with the Fuehrer Russo-German relations in general and then went on to mention Finland and the Balkans. He said that Russia had vital interests in Finland. He said that when the delimitation of zones of influence had been settled, it had been agreed that Finland should be included in the Russian sphere of influence. The Fuehrer replied that Germany also had extensive interests in Finland, especially with regard to nickel, and furthermore, it should not be forgotten that the entire German people sympathized with the Finns. He would therefore ask Mr. Molotov to compromise on this question. This topic was brought up on several occasions.
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With regard to the Balkans, Mr. Molotov said that he wanted a non-aggression pact with Bulgaria, and generally closer ties with Bulgaria. He also thought of establishing bases there. The Fuehrer replied, or rather asked, whether Bulgaria had approached Molotov in the matter, but that apparently was not the case. The Fuehrer then said that he could not express any opinion on this question until he had discussed it with Mussolini, who was his ally and who was naturally interested in the Balkans too.
Various other points were also discussed, but no final settlement was reached at this discussion. The discussion rather proceeded on lines which seemed to me not those best calculated to lead to a bridging of all contrasts. As soon as the meeting was over, I requested the Fuehrer to authorize me to take up again the discussions with Mr. Molotov and asked him if he would consent to my discussing with Mr. Molotov the possibility of Russia's joining the Tripartite Pact. That was one of our aims at the time. The Fuehrer agreed to this and I had another long discussion with the Russian Foreign Commissar. In this conversation the same topics were discussed. Mr. Molotov alluded to Russia's vital interest in Finland; he also referred to Russia's deep interest in Bulgaria, the kinship between the Russian and the Bulgarian people, and her interest in other Balkan countries. It was finally agreed that on his return to Moscow he should speak to Stalin and try to arrive at some solution of the question. I proposed that they join the Tripartite Pact and further proposed that I should discuss with the Fuehrer the various points which had been raised. Perhaps we could still find a way out. The general result of this conversation was that Molotov went back to Moscow with the intention of clearing up through the embassies the differences still existing between us.
THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Horn, surely, as these negotiations did not eventuate in any agreement, they are very remote from anything we are considering. You are not suggesting that any agreements were come to, are you?
DR. HORN: No. I wanted to prove only that Germany made efforts to prevent the conflict with Russia.
THE PRESIDENT: There was no question of a conflict with Russia in any of these negotiations.
DR. HORN: It is evident from all the efforts made by Germany, and from Ribbentrop's testimony, that they wanted to eliminate as far as possible any differences which might lead to a conflict between Germany and Russia. As regards a deliberate -- the Prosecution assert that the pact with Russia was made with the intention of violating it and attacking Russia, that it was intended to attack Russia all along. I want to prove with this evidence that this was not the case.
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THE PRESIDENT: It seems to me to be very remote, indeed. It only goes to show that Ribbentrop entered into certain negotiations with Russia which had no result. That is all. You may go on, Dr. Horn.
DR. HORN: In one of your previous answers you spoke of troop concentrations on the East Prussian border mentioning 20 German divisions. I assume that that was just a lapsus linguae on your part.
VON RIBBENTROP: I meant to say Russian divisions. The Fuehrer, I know, mentioned this many times. He said, I believe, that we had only one division in the whole of East Prussia.
DR. HORN: Was not the occupation of Balkan territory by the Russians the reason for your discussion with Molotov?
VON RIBBENTROP: I did not quite understand the question. Please repeat it.
DR. HORN: Was not the Russian occupation of territory in the Balkans and also in the Baltic States the reason for inviting Molotov to Berlin?
VON RIBBENTROP: In the Balkans, no; for there were no Russian occupation zones there. But it did apply to Bessarabia which is not a Balkan country in the strictest sense of the term. It was the occupation of Bessarabia, which took place with surprising speed, and that of Northern Bukovina, which had not been agreed to fall within the Russian sphere of influence in the discussions at Moscow -- and which was, as the Fuehrer said at the time, really an old Austrian crown land -- and the occupation of the Baltic territories. It is true that this caused the Fuehrer a certain amount of anxiety.
DR. HORN: Is it correct that in the summer of 1940 you and Hitler were informed that a Franco-British military commission was in Moscow?
VON RIBBENTROP: Yes -- no. What was the date, please?
DR. HORN: The summer of 1940; that is, after June 1940?
VON RIBBENTROP: Yes, that is correct. Such reports came in continually, but I cannot say now how far that was correct for the summer of 1940. When I arrived in Moscow in 1939, I found French and English military commissions there, with instructions from the British and French governments to conclude a military alliance between Russia, England, and France. This was part of the policy which the Fuehrer described as "British encirclement policy" in his speech to the Reichstag, I think on 28 May, and which Mr. Churchill in 1936 in the embassy had made quite evident to me.
DR. HORN: Is it correct that at these conferences between ...
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SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: My Lord, I am trying very hard to follow this. I wonder if I could be helped? Did the witness refer to 1940? 1 wanted to get it clear whether it was 1940 or 1939. It makes a big difference.
THE PRESIDENT: Do you mean about an English mission? 1940, I believe.
VON RIBBENTROP: I was going to reply to that. I have already said that I am not quite sure about 1940; 1 said only that these reports existed. I know, however, that this mission was there in 1939.
DR. HORN: During Molotov's visit to Berlin in the year 1940, was any allusion made to the fact that Russia was not satisfied with the last Russo-Finnish peace treaty and that she intended to annex the whole of Finland.
VON RIBBENTROP: It was not as definite as that, but it was clear from her attitude that Russia considered Finland as her sphere of influence. What measures Russia intended to take there is not in my power to say.
DR. HORN: On 5 April 1941 a Russian-Yugoslav Non-aggression and Friendship Pact was concluded. What was the effect of this conclusion upon Germany?
VON RIBBENTROP: This seemed to the Fuehrer to confirm the fact that Russia had deviated from the 1939 policy. He considered it an affront, to use his own words, for he said that he had concluded a pact with the other government and Russia only a short time afterwards had concluded a pact with the government which was definitely hostile to Germany.
DR. HORN: Is it true that Hitler thereupon forbade you to take any further diplomatic steps in connection with Russia?
VON RIBBENTROP: That is correct. I told the Fuehrer at the time that we must now make even more determined efforts to come to an understanding about Russia's attitude, He said that would be useless and he did not think it would change the Russian attitude.
DR. HORN: What were the causes which led to the outbreak of the conflict with Russia?
VON RIBBENTROP: I must say this here: In the winter of 1940-41 the Fuehrer was confronted with the following situation. I think it is most important to make this clear.
England was not prepared to make peace. The attitude of the United States of America and of Russia was therefore of decisive importance to the Fuehrer. He told me the following about this -- I had a very lengthy discussion with him on the subject and asked him to give me clearly defined diplomatic directives. He said that
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Japan's attitude was not absolutely secure for Germany; although we had concluded the Tripartite Pact, there were very strong oppositional elements at work in Japan and we could not know what position Japan would take; Italy had proved to be a very weak ally in the Greek campaign. Germany might, therefore, have to stand entirely alone.
After that, he spoke of the American attitude. He said that he had always wanted to have good relations with the United States, but that in spite of extreme reserve, the United States had grown steadily more hostile to Germany. The Tripartite Pact had been concluded with a view to keeping the United States out of the war, as it was our wish and our belief that in that way those circles in the United States which were working for peace and for good relations with Germany could be strengthened. We were not successful in this, however, as the attitude of the United States was not favorable to Germany after the conclusion of the Tripartite Pact. The Fuehrer's basic idea, and mine, namely, that if the United States did enter the war in Europe, they would have to reckon with a war on two fronts and therefore would prefer not to intervene, was not realized. Now the further question of Russia's attitude came up and in this connection the Fuehrer made the following statement: We have a friendship pact with Russia. But Russia has assumed the attitude which we have just been discussing and which causes me a certain amount of concern. We do not know, therefore, what to expect from that side. More and more troop movements were reported; he had himself taken military countermeasures, the exact nature of which was, and still is, unknown to me. However, his great anxiety was that Russia on the one hand and the United States and Britain on the other, might proceed against Germany. On the one hand, therefore, he had to reckon with an attack by Russia and on the other hand with a joint attack by the United States and England, that is to say with large-scale landings in the West. All these considerations finally caused the Fuehrer to take preventive measures, to start a preventive war against Russia on his own initiative.
DR. HORN: What actual political reasons were there for the Tripartite Pact?
VON RIBBENTROP: The Tripartite Pact was concluded, I believe, in September 1940. The situation was as I have just described it, that is to say, the Fuehrer was alarmed that the United States might sooner or later enter the war. For this reason I wanted to do all I could, in the field of diplomacy, to strengthen Germany's position. I thought we had Italy as an ally, but Italy showed herself to be a weak ally.
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As we could not win France over to our side, the only friend apart from the Balkan States was Japan. In the summer of 1940 we therefore tried to achieve closer collaboration with Japan. Japan was trying to do the same with us and that led to the signing of the pact. The aim, or substance, of this pact was a political, military, and economic alliance. There is no doubt, however, that it was intended as a defensive alliance; and we considered it as such from the start. By that I mean that it was intended in the first place to keep the United States out of the war; and I hoped that a combination of this kind might enable us to make peace with England after all. The pact itself was not based on any plan for aggression or world domination, as has often been asserted. That is not true; its purpose was, as I have just said, to arrive at a combination which would enable Germany to introduce a new order in Europe and would also allow Japan to reach a solution acceptable to her in East Asia, especially in regard to the Chinese problem.
That was what I had in mind when I negotiated and signed the pact. The situation was not unfavorable; the pact might possibly keep the United States neutral and isolate England so that we might all the same arrive at a compromise peace, a possibility of which we never lost sight during the whole course of the war, and for which we worked steadily.
DR. HORN: What effect, according to the embassy reports which reached you, did the Anschluss of Austria and the Munich Agreement have on the United States?
VON RIBBENTROP: There is no doubt that the occupation of Austria and the Munich Agreement produced a much more unfavorable feeling towards Germany in the United States.
DR. HORN: In November 1938 the American Ambassador at Berlin was recalled to Washington to report to his government, and the normal diplomatic relations with Germany were thus broken off. According to your observations, what were the reasons for this measure?
VON RIBBENTROP: We never really found out the details, and we very much regretted it, as it forced us to recall our own Ambassador in Washington, at least to call him bark to make a report. It is, however, evident that this measure was determined by the whole attitude of the United States. Many incidents took place about that time which gradually convinced the Fuehrer that sooner or later they would bring the United States into the war against us.
Permit me to mention a few examples. President Roosevelt's attitude was defined for the first time in the "quarantine speech" which he made in 1937. The press then started an energetic campaign. After the ambassador was recalled the situation grew more
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critical and the effect began to make itself felt in every sphere of German-American relations.
I believe that many documents dealing with the subject have been published in the meantime and that a number of these have been submitted by the Defense, dealing, for instance, with the attitude adopted by certain United States diplomats at the time of the Polish crisis; the cash-and-carry clause was then introduced which could benefit only Germany's enemies; the ceding of destroyers to England; the so-called Lend-Lease Bill later on; and in other fields the further advance of the United States towards Europe: The occupation of Greenland, Iceland, on the African Continent, et cetera; the aid given to Soviet Russia after the outbreak of this war. All these measures strengthened the Fuehrer's conviction that sooner or later he would certainly have to reckon with a war against America. There is no doubt that the Fuehrer did not, in the first instance, want such a war; and I may say that I myself, as I think you will see from many of the documents submitted by the Prosecution, again and again did everything I could, in the diplomatic field, to keep the United States out of this war.
DR. HORN: In the summer of 1941 President Roosevelt gave his so-called "firing order" to the American Fleet in order to protect transports carrying armaments to England. How did Hitler and German diplomacy react to this order?
VON RIBBENTROP: It was a very regrettable event for us. I am not competent to deal with technical details but I remember exactly that Hitler was greatly excited about this order. I believe it was in a speech at some meeting -- probably at Munich, but I do not remember exactly -- that he replied to this speech and issued a warning in answer to the announcement. I happen to remember the form which his reply took, because at the time I thought it rather odd. He said that America had given the order to fire on German ships. "I gave no order to fire but I ordered that the fire be returned"; I believe that is the way he expressed it.
Documentary evidence of these events reached us in the diplomatic service, but the Navy is better informed on the subject than I am. After that, I believe, there were protests and publications about the measures which made the German attitude plain; I cannot give you exact details of these protests without referring to the documents themselves.
DR. HORN: Did Japan notify Germany in advance of her attack on Pearl Harbor?
VON RIBBENTROP: No, she did not. At the time I tried to induce Japan to attack Singapore, because it was impossible to make peace with England and I did not know what military measures
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we could take to achieve this end. In any case, the Fuehrer directed me to do everything I could in the diplomatic field to weaken England's position and thus achieve peace. We believed that this could best be done through an attack by Japan on England's strong position in East Asia. For that reason I tried to induce Japan, at that time, to attack Singapore.
After the outbreak of the Russo-German war, I also tried to make Japan attack Russia, for I thought that in this way the war could be ended most speedily. Japan, however, did not do that. She did the -- she did neither of the things we wanted her to do, but instead, she did a third. She attacked the United States at Pearl Harbor. This attack came as a complete surprise to us. We had considered the possibility of Japan's attacking Singapore, that is England, or perhaps Hong Kong, but we never considered an attack on the United States as being to our advantage. We knew that in the case of an attack on England, there was a possibility that the United States might intervene; that was a question which, naturally, we had often considered. We hoped very much, however, that this would not happen and that America would not intervene. The first news I received of the attack on Pearl Harbor was through the Berlin press, and then from the Japanese Ambassador Oshima. I should like to say under oath that all other reports, versions, or documentary evidence are entirely false. I would like to go even further to state that the attack came as a surprise even to the Japanese Ambassador -- at least he told me that.
DR. HORN: Does Your Lordship wish for a recess now?
THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Horn, how much longer are you going to take?
DR. HORN: Not much more, Your Honor. I should say 15 or 20 minutes.
THE PRESIDENT: Very well, we will recess for 10 minutes.
[A recess was taken.]
DR. HORN: What considerations caused Hitler and you to enter the war against the United States on the side of Japan?
VON RIBBENTROP: When the news of Pearl Harbor came, the Fuehrer had to make a decision. The text of the Tripartite Pact bound us to assist Japan only in case of an attack against Japan herself. I went to see the Fuehrer, explained the legal aspect of the situation and told him that, although we welcomed a new ally against England, it meant we had a new opponent to deal with as well, or would have one to deal with if we declared war on the United States.
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The Fuehrer then decided that the United States had already fired upon our ships and thereby had practically created a state of war; that it was therefore only a question of form, or, at least, that this official state of war might supervene at any moment, as a result of an incident; and that in the long run it was impossible that this state of affairs in the Atlantic continue without a German-American war.
He then instructed me to draft a note -- which he subsequently altered -- and to hand the American Ambassador his papers.
DR. HORN: How did the Foreign Office co-operate with Germany's allies during the war?
VON RIBBENTROP: We naturally had close co-operation with Italy. By that I mean that in the further course of war, we were forced to all intents and purposes to take charge of all military operations there ourselves, or, at least, to take joint charge of them.
Co-operation with Japan was very difficult, for the simple reason that we could communicate with the Japanese Government only by air. We had contact with them from time to time through U-boats, but there was no co-ordinated military or political plan of campaign. I believe that on this point General Marshall's view is correct, namely, that there was no close strategic co-operation or planning of any kind; and, really, there was not any.
DR. HORN: How was co-operation with Italy?
VON RIBBENTROP: As I have just said, we naturally had very close co-operation with Italy, but difficulties arose through the many heterogeneous influences at work; and Italy proved herself, right from the start, to be a very weak ally in every respect.
DR. HORN: Why, in the course of the Russian campaign, did you suggest to Hitler the conclusion of separate peace agreements?
VON RIBBENTROP: A certain atmosphere of confidence between the Soviet Government and ourselves had been created at Moscow, between Stalin, Molotov and myself, and also extending to the Fuehrer. For instance, the Fuehrer told me that he had confidence in Stalin, whom he considered one of the really great men of history, and whose creation of the Red Army he thought a tremendous achievement; but that one could never tell what might happen. The power of the Soviets had grown and developed enormously. It was very difficult to know how to deal with Russia and make an agreement with her again. I myself always tried, through diplomatic and other channels, to maintain contact to a certain extent, because I still believed and hoped that some sort of peace could be made which would relieve Germany in the East and allow her to concentrate her forces in the West and even lead, perhaps, to a general peace. With this in view, I proposed to the Fuehrer, for the first time, in the
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winter of 1942, it was before Stalingrad, that an agreement should be reached with Russia. I did that after the Anglo-American landing in Africa which caused me great misgivings. Adolf Hitler -- I met him in the train at Bamberg -- most emphatically rejected the idea of any such peace or peace feelers, because he thought that if it became known, it would be liable to create a spirit of defeatism, et cetera. I had suggested to him at the time that we should negotiate peace with Russia on a very moderate basis.
Secondly, in 1943, I again advised the Fuehrer in a lengthy, written exposition, to seek such a peace. I think it was after the collapse of Italy. The Fuehrer was at that time open to consider such a peace; and he drafted a possible mutual line of demarcation which might be adopted, and said that he would let me know definitely on the following day. Next day, however, I did not receive any authorization or directive from him. I think that the Fuehrer probably felt that it was impossible to heal the breach between National Socialism and communism and that such a peace would be no more than an armistice. I made one or two further attempts but the Fuehrer held the view that a decisive military success must be achieved first, and only after that could we start negotiations, otherwise the negotiations would be useless. If I were asked to express an opinion as to whether such negotiations would have been likely to succeed, I would say that I think it very doubtful. I believe that, considering the strong stand taken by our opponents, especially England, even since the beginning of the war, there was never any real chance of Germany's attaining peace; and that holds good for both the East and the West. And I am convinced that with the formulation at Casablanca of the demand for unconditional surrender, the possibility ceased entirely to exist. J base my opinion not on purely abstract considerations, but on continuous feelers, made through indirect channels, often unidentifiable as such, by the other side, and which expressed the opinion of important personalities with a guiding influence on policy in those countries. They were determined to fight it out to the bitter end. I think the Fuehrer was right when he said that such negotiations would serve no purpose.
DR. HORN: To come to a different subject, the witness Lahousen has testified here that in September 1939 a conversation took place in Hitler's private. train at which you were also present, and which dealt with the instigation of a rebellion in the Polish Ukraine. What led to this conversation and what part did you play in the discussion?
VON RIBBENTROP: I remember that in the course of the Polish campaign Admiral Canaris, who was at the time Chief of the Wehrmacht Counterintelligence Service, came to see me, as he sometimes
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did when he was making a short personal visit. I was in my compartment on the Fuehrer's train at the time. I do not remember that the witness Lahousen was present; I had the impression when I saw Herr Lahousen here that I had never seen him before. Canaris came to me from time to time to tell me about his activities in the Intelligence and other fields. He did so on this occasion; and I believe it was he who told me that he had set all his agents to fomenting a revolt among the Ukrainian and other minorities in the rear of the Polish Army, He certainly received no instructions or directives from me, as was alleged here -- and cannot have received any, for these two reasons:
1. The German Foreign Minister was never in a position to give any directives to a military authority.
2. At the beginning of the Polish campaign, the German Foreign Office was not at all concerned with the question of the Ukraine, and similar questions -- or at any rate I myself was not. I was not even sufficiently well acquainted with the details to be able to give directives.
DR. HORN: The Prosecution have submitted a circular issued by the Foreign Office ...
VON RIBBENTROP: May I say something more about this? The witness Lahousen has alleged that I said that houses were to be burned down or villages were to be burned down and the Jews were to be killed. I would like to state categorically that I never said such a thing.
Canaris was with me in my car at that time, and it is possible, although I do not remember it exactly, that I may have seen him going out later on. Apparently he received instructions which originated with the Fuehrer as to the attitude he was to take in Poland with regard to the Ukrainian and other questions. There is no sense in the statement ascribed to me, because especially in the Ukraine -- the Ukrainian villages -- those were Ukrainians living in them, and they were not our enemies but our friends; it would have been completely senseless for me to say that these villages should be burned down. Secondly, as regards killing the Jews, I can only say that this would have been entirely contrary to my inner conviction and that the killing of the Jews never entered the mind of anybody at that time. I may say, in short, that all this is absolutely untrue. I have never given instructions of this kind, nor could I have done so, nor even a general indication on those lines. May I add that I remember that Herr Lahousen himself was not quite convinced that I had made this statement; at least, that was my impression.
DR. HORN: Have you anything to say about the Foreign Office circular submitted by the Prosecution and bearing the title: "The Jewish question as a factor in foreign politics in the year 1938"?
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VON RIBBENTROP: I saw this circular here for the first time. Here are the facts:
There was a section in the Foreign Office which was concerned with Party matters and questions of ideology. That department undoubtedly co-operated with the competent departments of the Party. That was not the Foreign Office itself. I saw the circular here. It seems to me that it is on the same lines as most of the circulars issued at the time for the information and training of officials, and so on. It even might possibly have gone through my office, but I think that the fact that it was signed by a section chief and not by myself or by the state secretary, should prove that I did not consider the circular very important even if I did see it. Even if it did go through my office or pass me in some other way, I certainly did not read it because in principle I did not read such long documents, but asked my assistants to give me a short summary of the contents. I may add that I received hundreds of letters in the course of the day's work, some of which were read to me, and also circulars and decrees which I signed, and many of which I did not acquaint myself with. I wish to state, however, that if one of my officials signed the circular it goes without saying that I assume full responsibility for it.
DR. HORN: The Prosecution have several times spoken of the Geneva Convention. Your name was frequently mentioned in this connection also. What was your attitude toward the Geneva Convention?
VON RIBBENTROP: I believe, and many people will and could confirm it, that from -the beginning of the war the Foreign Office and I have always supported the Geneva Convention in every way. I should like to add that the military authorities always showed much understanding for these things -- at least, for the affairs I had to deal with. If, later on, this no longer held good in every respect, it was due to the rigors of war, and possibly to the harshness of the Fuehrer.
As to the terror-fliers, I must state that in 1943 and 1944 the English and American air raids gradually became a terrible threat to Germany. I saw this for the first time in Hamburg, and I remember this event because I was with the Fuehrer at the time and I described to him the terrifying impression I had received. I do not believe that anyone who has not experienced such a raid and its results can imagine what it means. It is evident that we Germans, and especially Adolf Hitler, continually sought means to master this menace.
I must also mention the terrible attack on Dresden, and I would like to ask the Tribunal's permission to name a witness, the former Danish Minister Richard, who was there during the attack and described it to me 2 days later. It was, therefore, self-evident that
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the problem of terror-fliers had to be solved somehow by the Fuehrer. This was in contrast to our view insofar as we wanted to find a solution which would not infringe upon the Geneva Convention, or at least a solution which could be publicly proclaimed to our enemies. My department was not directly concerned with the question, for we had nothing to do with defense problems which were taken care of by the military authorities, the police and those responsible for home policy. But we were indirectly concerned where the matter was affected by the Geneva Convention, and my point of view, which I frequently expressed, was that if any steps were taken an official proclamation should be published, giving a definition of a terror-flier, and stating that these terror-fliers convicted or airmen suspected of an attack upon the civilian population would be tried by courts-martial. Geneva would then be officially notified of this measure or preparatory measure and then the enemy would be informed through the protecting powers. Fliers found guilty of deliberate terrorist raids by the courts-martial would be sentenced; if not, they would revert to the normal status of prisoners of war. But this was never carried out in practice. It was not a suggestion by me but an idea which I expressed to Hitler in the course of conversations on one or two occasions and which was not put into practice because, in practice, it was impossible to find a definition for these raids. I believe some mention was also made of a conference supposed to have taken place in Klessheim during which I was said to have proposed or supported farther-reaching measures. I remember quite clearly that this conference did not take place. I do not believe, or at least, I do not remember, that I ever discussed this question at that time with Himmler, with whom I was not at that time on good terms, or Goering, whom I did not see very often. I believe that it is possible that the subject was brought up in a conversation during an official visit to Klessheim, as often happened, with the Fuehrer, but that I do not know any more, I do know one thing that if allusion is made to a more thorough-going proposal emanating from me it can refer only to the following: At the time we were anxious to arrive at a clear definition of these attacks by terror-fliers and in the course of discussion various suggestions were made for the definition of certain categories of attacks, such as machine-gunning from the air, as terror attacks. It is possible that this note, or whatever it was, came into being in this way: That the person in question knew my views, that is, the person trying to find a practical solution -- if one was arrived at -- to agree officially with the Geneva Convention or could, at least, have been officially discussed with Geneva.
Another document has also been submitted in this connection. I believe it was a suggestion for an expert opinion on this question by the Foreign Office. I do not remember exactly how this expert opinion came to be given, whether it was done on my orders or
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whether it was the result of a discussion with the Wehrmacht authorities concerned, who wanted to know the opinion of the Foreign Office. All I know is that the Wehrmacht always attached great importance to an exact knowledge of our opinion with regard to the Geneva Convention. I remember that expert opinion, however, and that I have seen it. I am now said to have approved it. It would take too long to go into details, but that is not correct. I remember that I submitted that expert opinion to the Fuehrer as being a very important matter which I could not deal with alone. I think that the Fuehrer -- or I remember rather exactly, that the Fuehrer dismissed it as nonsense at the time, so this expert opinion was not well received by the Fuehrer. In the further course of events all we heard, because we were only concerned indirectly, was that no order of any sort was issued by the Fuehrer or any Wehrmacht authority, because the Wehrmacht shared our very views on this subject. Admittedly, I do not know that in detail; but I can say with absolute certainty that since this question of defense against terror-fliers was under consideration, and afterwards, not a single case of lynching came to my ears. I did not hear that this had happened until I was here.
DR. HORN: The other day witness Dahlerus was brought here. How long have you known Dahlerus?
VON RIBBENTROP: I believe that I saw Dahlerus here for the first time. Of course, it is possible that I may have seen him once from a distance or possibly in the Reich Chancellery during one of his apparently frequent visits to the Fuehrer. But I do not remember him, and when I saw him here I had the impression that I had never seen him before.
DR. HORN: Were you in a position to exercise influence regarding planes for visitors to the Reich Government?
VON RIBBENTROP: No, I had no such influence.
DR. HORN: One more question on a different subject. What real estate was at your disposal in your official capacity as Foreign Minister?
VON RIBBENTROP: The other day the British Prosecutor declared that, to begin with, I had one house and later on I had six. I want to clear this matter up for the Court. After losing my entire fortune in America, I became quite wealthy again through my own work. As such, and in other ways, too, I had certain possibilities and I also had funds through relatives, through my wife. I built a house in Berlin-Dahlem, in 1922-23 and bought several lots there. We lived there for many years. Futhermore, in 1934 -- I want to emphasize the fact that this had nothing to do with my political activities, because at the time I had only just started them -- I bought
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a small house and estate called Sonnenburg, near Berlin, with some funds which my wife inherited, I think, and from funds of my own.
The other -- or I should say rather that since that time I have not acquired a square yard of property in Germany or anywhere else. The other houses mentioned by the British Prosecutor, that is, the so-called Schloss Fuschl, this became known because various foreign statesmen were received there during the war. That is not really a castle but a tower, an old hunting tower of the Archbishops of Salzburg. The Fuehrer had put it at my disposal to have a roof over my head when I was at Obersalzberg, because he did not want me to stay in the hotel, which was always very crowded, and I had to bring my staff with me. Fuschl was never my personal property, but was a so-called Foreign Office establishment, which belonged exclusively to the state and was kept up by the state. I knew the former owners of this castle or tower only by name and, therefore, I cannot give any information about them. I only heard that this building was confiscated by the Reich Government, along with other property belonging to political opponents in Austria.
The second house mentioned here was, I think, a house in Slovakia. There was also a question of a third house in Sudetenland, which was alleged to be the property of a Count Czernin. I believe I can explain this also. Here are the facts: The Fuehrer had given me permission to arrange hunting parties to which I could invite foreign statesmen for the purpose of more informal talks. I was also a hunter, so the Foreign Office, that is to say the Reich Government, had leased ground from some of the farmers in Sudetenland for hunting purposes, along with a suitably impressive house. I believe they were rented for only a couple of years; they were not even purchased. The same thing was done in the case of a hunting ground in Slovakia. I do not think that this was our property at all. The Slovak Government placed it at our disposal for a few days every year, to shoot deer. It was a hunting lodge in which I once or twice spent 2 or 3 days, but it has nothing to do with my own property.
Another place was mentioned, a house called Tanneck. I may mention that I have never even seen this house, situated, I believe, in the Rhineland. According to the description which I have received, it is a small house occupied by a man responsible for looking after several horses. I had formerly served in the cavalry and was interested in horses which had been purchased in France by the State, from the well-known racing stable owner, the Aga Khan in Normandy, as they would otherwise have been ruined. I should like to emphasize the fact that full compensation -- I always paid particular attention to this -- was paid for the horses, as I think the Aga Khan will gladly confirm. They were brought to Germany with the
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Fuehrer's full consent, although he was not greatly interested in horses; but he understood my point of view. These horses were later to be put in the stud farm Grabitz, which belonged to the Reich Government.
If the Tribunal permits, I would like to say that, as far as my personal affairs are concerned, my Defense Counsel will present the necessary testimony. I gave instructions at that time that I did not want to have a single Reichsmark more at the end of my term of office than I had at the beginning, with the exception of two gifts which I received from the Fuehrer, but most of which, or at least part of which, I believe, has since been spent by the State for my official expenses.
DR. HORN: One last question: During your activities, in regard to foreign policy, did you see any possibility of realizing prospects of revision which had been conceded to Germany but which had not materialized?
VON RIBBENTROP: That was precisely the great problem out of which, in the final analysis, this war developed. As Adolf Hitler often told me, he wanted to build up an ideal social state in Europe after the solution of the problems which he had recognized as vital. He wanted to erect buildings, et cetera; that was his aim. Now, the realization of these aims defined as vital by the Fuehrer was greatly hampered by the petrified political system, which had been established in Europe and the world in general.
We, the Fuehrer, and then I myself on his order -- so I believe I can be the chief witness -- always tried to solve these problems through diplomatic and peaceful channels. I brooded many nights over the League of Nations -- day and night over Paragraph 19 of the Covenant of the League of Nations, but the difficulty was that the Fuehrer was not in a position, or was convinced that it was simply impossible to obtain results through negotiation -- at least, without having strong armed forces to back him up. The mistake was, I believe, that, although Paragraph 19 was a very good paragraph of the Covenant of the League of Nations, and one which we all would have been very willing to sign and follow or one which we did sign and would have followed, no means of putting it into practice existed. That gradually created a situation in which the powers, and that is quite natural, who wanted to retain this state of petrifaction, as I might call it, or status quo, opposed any steps taken by Germany, which of course, caused reaction on the part of the Fuehrer, until finally it reached the point, the very tragic point, where this great war began over a question like Danzig and the Corridor, which could have been solved comparatively easy.
DR. HORN: I have no more questions.
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THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Horn, I do not think it would be possible to go any further with the examination of the witness today, but the Tribunal would welcome your assistance and the assistance of the Prosecution with reference to your documents, if you could tell us what the position is with reference to your documents, and if the Prosecution could tell us how far they have been able to see these documents since they have been translated and how far they have been able to make up their minds as to what documents they wish to object to and what documents they are prepared to admit as being offered in evidence before us. Could you tell us what the position is with reference to these documents; how many of your documents have been translated?
DR. HORN: A gentleman from the British Prosecution told me this morning that the English Document Book will be ready on Monday and that I can discuss with him the question of what documents will be admitted. He also told me that the British Prosecution would arrange everything with the other delegations of the Prosecution, so that on Tuesday I should be in a position to submit the remaining documents and, I believe, this could be done in 2 or 3 hours. I want to submit these documents in groups and do not wish to read too much from them, but only explain to the Tribunal my reason for asking them to take judicial notice of these documents.
THE PRESIDENT: You said, did you not, it would take you no longer than 2 or 3 hours to explain the documents after you had come to the arrangement with the Prosecution?
DR. HORN: Yes.
THE PRESIDENT: And have you any other witnesses to call besides the defendant?
DR. HORN: No. I would like only to submit an affidavit by a witness requested by me, Counsellor of Legation Gottfriedsen, dealing with the personal financial circumstances of the Defendant Von Ribbentrop, former Minister for Foreign Affairs. Gottfriedsen was the Foreign Office official whose task was to look after the official income of the Foreign Minister and who is also very wen acquainted with his private financial affairs. He can give information about the personal and official estates belonging to the Foreign Minister and the Foreign Ministry. I have embodied this information in the form of a few questions in an affidavit. If the Prosecution have no objection to this affidavit, I could dispense with the calling of the witness, Gottfriedsen. However, if the Prosecution want him to appear, then I would question him on the contents of the affidavit.
I have no other witnesses for the Defendant Von Ribbentrop. When all my documents will have been presented, the case for the Defense will be concluded.
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THE PRESIDENT: Would the Prosecution tell us their view on this?
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: My Lord, as far as the British Prosecution is concerned, we have now had six document books, I think, taking us up to Number 214, roughly two-thirds of the documents which Dr. Horn wishes to tender, and we have been able to go through up to Number 191. I made out a list -- I could hand one to the Court and give Dr. Horn another one -- of those documents that we object to, which are very briefly set out. I should think we object to something like 70 or 80, between the Numbers 45 and 191, maybe a little more. The Soviet Delegation are, I think, in a position to tender their objections, which are practically entirely in accord with ours, though they were prepared separately. M. Champetier de Ribes has at least two batches of documents to which he wishes to make objections. I think I may say that Mr. Dodd is more or less leaving this point to me and will act in accordance with the British Delegation's view on the point. So that is the position. It probably would be convenient if I handed in a very outlined list of objections which I have up to date.
THE PRESIDENT: The Tribunal would like to know, Sir David, what the position of the Prosecution is about the translation of the documents. You remember that the Tribunal did make an order that the Prosecution should object to documents, if possible, before they were translated, so as to avoid unnecessary translations, and in the event of any disagreement between the Prosecution and the Defense any matter should be referred to the Tribunal. It was thought that there were a great number of documents on which agreement could be achieved in that way, and the labor and time taken up in translating would be obviated.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Yes. The difficulty we have been in over these documents, is that we did our best to try to formulate our view on the index, but it is a very difficult matter to form a view when you get a short description of only a line and a half about a document. But it might be that that would be the most practical way of doing it, despite its difficulty. If the
Prosecution were given an index with as good a description as possible of the document, the Prosecution then formulated their objections on the index, and the Tribunal heard any outstanding differences before the documents were translated, I should think -- I am afraid I can put it only tentatively -- it would be worth a trial. Otherwise, you would get a terrible blockage in the Translation Division of the Tribunal by a vast number of documents, such as we have had in this case, to which ultimately we are going to make fun and numerous objections, but that holds up the translation of all the documents belonging to the subsequent proceedings. So I should be
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prepared -- and I think my colleagues would support me -- in making a trial, if the Tribunal thought it could be done, to hand in an objection on a list of documents and see if we could in that way arrive at the results which would obviate the necessity of translating them all.
THE PRESIDENT: Would it be of assistance to the Prosecution, supposing the defendants' counsel were to give them the entire documents in German with also a full index in English, and then the Prosecution, or some member of the Prosecution who is familiar with German, could go through the documents in German and the Prosecution can then make up their minds in that way? Would that be an assistance to the Prosecution? They would have not only the index to inform them as to what was the nature of the documents, but they would have the documents in German.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: I think that would be a great help, especially if he underlined the more material passages.
THE PRESIDENT: Then, with the co-operation of the defendants' counsel, some measure of agreement might be arrived at as to what were the necessary documents to lay before the Tribunal.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Yes, I think that could be done, My Lord.
THE PRESIDENT: Well, then, Sir David, with reference to the immediate future, on Monday, of course, some of the defendants' counsel may wish to ask questions of the Defendant Ribbentrop and then the Prosecution may wish to cross-examine him, and that, I suppose, might possibly take all Monday.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: I think that is highly probable, My Lord.
THE PRESIDENT: Under those circumstances, if the scheme which Dr. Horn has outlined is carried out, there would not necessarily be any delay at all because by Tuesday morning his documents would have been all examined by the Prosecution and the objections to them would have been put in, and he could then go through, as he says, in 2 or 3 hours, the documents which remain for the consideration of the Tribunal.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: I respectfully agree, My Lord.
THE PRESIDENT: Then the Tribunal would like to know what the position is with reference to the next defendant. It may be that on Tuesday after the midday adjournment the case of Defendant Keitel would come on. Now, are his documents in order? As far as I remember, most of his documents are documents which have already been put in evidence.
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SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: A great many.
THE PRESIDENT: Is that not so?
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Perhaps Dr. Nelte could help us.
THE PRESIDENT: If he would, yes.
DR. NELTE: Mr. President, I am ready to begin at any time. The documents have been presented and affidavits were already presented to the Prosecution last week. I am waiting only for the Prosecution to decide as to the relevancy of those documents which the defendant has submitted as his own statements and which are to be submitted in order to shorten the examination.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: I have not had the chance of going through them myself but, as a matter of principle, we have always been quite prepared that a statement should be read so long as the witness is there to be cross-examined. If the Tribunal has no objection, there will be none from the Prosecution on that procedure.
THE PRESIDENT: Yes, the Tribunal has no objection at all to that method of presenting written documents, provided the Prosecution does not object to them, and, therefore, no cross examination is necessary. Could Dr.Nelte tell us whether the documents which he wishes to present, insofar as they have not already been put in evidence, have been translated yet?
DR. NELTE: They all were sent to the translation office and the last two documents were sent 3 days ago. I assume, therefore, that the delegations of the Prosecution have, in the meantime, received the translations.
THE PRESIDENT: Have you received them, Sir David?
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: No, My Lord, we have not received them.
DR. NELTE: Perhaps they have not been distributed yet. Several or about two-thirds of the documents were translated into French and English about two weeks ago and are ready. I subsequently also sent these documents to the Russian Delegation so that they could be translated into Russian.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: I am told, My Lord, from General Mitchell, that the documents are translated. They have not yet been distributed.
THE PRESIDENT: Then there ought to be no cause for delay in connection with the Defendant Keitel's case.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: My Lord, I do not think so.
DR. NELTE: No.
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THE PRESIDENT: Then, does the same apply to the Defendant Kaltenbrunner, who is the next one? Dr. Kauffmann, are your documents yet translated?
DR. KAUFFMANN: Mr. President, I have only a very few affidavits and there is no doubt that they will be in the hands of the Prosecution in due time.
THE PRESIDENT: One moment. So that you will be quite ready to go on then?
DR. KAUFFMANN: Yes, after Keitel, Mr. President.
THE PRESIDENT: Yes, after Keitel, very well. Sir David, then you will present to us the objections which you are making to Dr. Horn's documents, and the Soviet Prosecutor will present his objections.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Yes, I shall hand them in as far as I have gone, if I may, at once.
THE PRESIDENT: Yes, and M. Champetier de Ribes, so far as he has any.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: If My Lordship please, yes.
THE PRESIDENT: Very well, the Tribunal will adjourn.
[The Tribunal adjourned until 1 April 1946 at 1000 hours.]
Nuremberg Trial Proceedings Vol. 10
Monday, 1 April 1946
[The Defendant Von Ribbentrop resumed the stand.]
THE PRESIDENT: Have any of the defendants' counsel any questions they want to put to the defendant?
DR. SEIDL: Yes, Your Honor. Witness, the preamble to the secret pact concluded between Germany and the Soviet Union on 23 August 1939 is worded more or less as follows:
"In view of the present tension between Germany and Poland, the following is agreed upon in case of a conflict..."
Do you recall whether the preamble had approximately that wording?
VON RIBBENTROP: I do not recall the exact wording, but it is approximately correct.
DR. SEIDL: Is it correct that the chief of the legal department of the Foreign Office, Ambassador Dr. Gaus, participated as legal adviser in the negotiations in Moscow on 23 August 1939 and drafted the treaty?
VON RIBBENTROP: Ambassador Gaus participated partly in the negotiations and drafted the agreements with me.
DR. SEIDL: I shall now read an extract from the statement by Ambassador Gaus and ask you a few questions in connection with it.
THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Seidl, what document are you going to read?
DR. SEIDL: I shall read from Paragraph 3 of the statement made by Dr. Gaus and in connection with it ask a few questions of the witness, because some points concerning this pact do not seem to have been sufficiently clarified as yet.
THE PRESIDENT: Yes, General Rudenko?
GEN. RUDENKO: I do not know, Mr. President, what relation these questions have with the Defendant Hess, who is defended by Dr. Seidl, or with the Defendant Frank. I do not wish to discuss this affidavit, as I attach no importance whatsoever to it. I wish only to draw the attention of the Tribunal to the fact that we are not investigating the problems connected with the policy of the Allied
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nations, but are investigating the charges against the major German war criminals; and such questions on the part of the Defense Counsel is an attempt to divert the attention of the Tribunal from the issues we are investigating. I therefore think it proper that questions of this kind should be rejected as not relevant.
[There was a pause in the proceedings while the Judges conferred.]
THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Seidl, you may ask the questions.
DR. SEIDL: Gaus stated, under Paragraph 3 of his affidavit:
"The plane of the Reich Foreign Minister whom I had to accompany as legal adviser in the intended negotiations arrived in Moscow at noon on 23 August 1939. On the afternoon of the same day the first conversation between Herr Von Ribbentrop and Mr. Stalin took place at which, on the German side, besides the Reich Foreign Minister, only Embassy Counsellor Hilger, as interpreter, and perhaps also Ambassador Count Schulenburg, but not myself, were present. "The Reich Foreign Minister returned very satisfied from this long conference and indicated that it was as good as certain that it would result in the conclusion of the agreements desired on the part of Germany. The continuation of the conference at which the documents to be signed were to be discussed and completed, was scheduled for later in the evening. At this second conference I participated personally and so did Ambassador Count Schulenburg and Embassy Counsellor Hilger. On the Russian side the negotiations were conducted by Messrs. Stalin and Molotov, whose interpreter was Mr. Pavlov. An agreement on the text of the SovietGerman Non-aggression Pact was reached quickly and without difficulties.
"Herr Von Ribbentrop himself had inserted in the preamble to the agreement which I had drafted a rather far-reaching phrase concerning the formation of friendly German-Soviet relations to which Mr. Stalin objected with the remark that the Soviet Government could not suddenly present to the public German-Soviet assurances of friendship after they had been covered with pails of manure by the Nazi Government for 6 years. Thereupon this phrase in the preamble was deleted or rather changed.
"Besides the Non-aggression Pact there were negotiations for quite some time on a separate secret document, which according to my recollection was called a 'secret agreement' or 'secret additional agreement' and the terms of which were aimed at a demarcation of the mutual spheres of interest in the European territories situated between the two countries.
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Whether the expression 'spheres of interest' or other such expressions were used therein, I do not recall. In the document, Germany declared herself politically disinterested in Latvia, Estonia and Finland but considered Lithuania to be part of her sphere of influence.
"Regarding the political disinterest of Germany in the two Baltic countries mentioned, controversy arose when the Reich Foreign Minister, in accordance with his instructions, wanted to have a certain part of the Baltic territory exempted from this political disinterest; this, however, was rejected on the part of the Soviets, especially on account of the ice-free ports in this territory.
"Because of this point, which apparently had already been discussed in Ribbentrop's first conversation, the Foreign Minister had put in a call to Hitler which came through only during the second discussion, and during which, in direct conversation with Hitler, he was authorized to accept the Soviet standpoint. A demarcation line was laid down for the Polish territory. I cannot remember whether it was drafted on a map which was to be attached to the document or only described in the document. Moreover, an agreement was reached in regard to Poland, stating approximately that the two powers would act in mutual agreement in the final settlement of questions concerning this country. It could, however, be possible that this last agreement regarding Poland was reached only when the change of the secret agreement mentioned later in Paragraph 5 was made.
"Regarding the Balkan States, it was confirmed that Germany had only economic interests there. The Non-aggression Pact and the secret agreement were signed rather late that same evening."
Witness, in the affidavit of Gaus, a pact is mentioned whereby the two powers agree to act in mutual agreement with regard to the final settlement of the questions concerning Poland. Had such an agreement already been reached on 23 August 1939?
VON RIBBENTROP: Yes, that is true. At that time the serious German-Polish crisis was acute, and it goes without saying that this question was thoroughly discussed. I should like to emphasize that there was not the slightest doubt in either Stalin's or Hitler's mind that, if the negotiations with Poland came to naught, the territories that had been taken from the two great powers by force of arms could also be retaken by force of arms. In keeping with this understanding, the eastern territories were occupied by Soviet troops and the western territories by German troops after victory. There is no doubt that Stalin can never accuse Germany of an aggression or
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of an aggressive war for her action in Poland. If it is considered an aggression, then both sides are guilty of it.
DR. SEIDL: Was the demarcation line in this secret agreement described merely in writing or was it drawn on a map attached to the agreement?
VON RIBBENTROP: The line of demarcation was roughly drawn on a map. It ran along the Rivers Rysia, Bug, Narew, and San. These rivers I remember. That was the line of demarcation that was to be adhered to in case of an armed conflict with Poland.
DR. SEIDL: Is it correct that on the basis of that agreement, not Germany but Soviet Russia received the greater part of Poland?
VON RIBBENTROP: I do not know the exact proportions, but, at any rate, the agreement was that the territories east of these rivers were to go to Soviet Russia and the territories west of these rivers were to be occupied by German troops, while the organization of this territory as intended by Germany was still an open question and had not yet been discussed by Hitler and myself. Then, later the Government General was formed when the regions lost by Germany after World War I were incorporated into Germany.
DR. SEIDL: Now, something else. You stated last Friday that you wanted Russia to join in the Tripartite Pact. Why did that fail?
VON RIBBENTROP: That failed because of Russian demands. The Russian demands concerned -- I should perhaps say first that I had agreed with M. Molotov in Berlin to conduct further negotiations through diplomatic channels. I wanted to influence the Fuehrer regarding the demands already made by Molotov in Berlin in order that some sort of an agreement or compromise might be arrived at. Then Schulenburg sent us a report from Moscow with the Russian demands. In this report was, first of all, the renewed demand for Finland. To this the Fuehrer, as is well known, told Molotov that he did not wish that after the winter campaign of 1940 another war should break out in the North. Now the demand for Finland was raised again, and we assumed that it would mean the occupation of Finland. It was difficult since it was a demand which the Fuehrer had already turned down.
Another demand of the Russians was that of the Balkans and Bulgaria. Russia, as is well known, wanted bases there and wished to enter into close relations with Bulgaria. The Bulgarian Government, with whom we got in touch, did not want this. Moreover, this Russian penetration of the Balkans was for both the Fuehrer and Mussolini a difficult question because of our economic interests there: grain, oil, and so on. But above all it was the will of the Bulgarian Government themselves, which was against this penetration.
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Then, thirdly, there was the demand of the Russians for outlets to the sea and military bases on the Dardanelles; and then the request which Molotov had already expressed to me in Berlin, to secure somehow at least an interest in the outlets of the Baltic Sea. M. Molotov himself told me at that time that Russia naturally was also very much interested in the Skagerrak and Kattegat. At that time I discussed these demands and requests fully with the Fuehrer. The Fuehrer said we would have to get in touch with Mussolini, who was very much interested in some of these demands. This took place, but neither the demands for the Balkans nor the demands for the Dardanelles met with the approval from Mussolini. As far as Bulgaria is concerned I have already stated that she did not want it either; and with regard to Finland, neither Finland nor the Fuehrer wanted to accede to the demands of the Soviet Union.
Negotiations were then carried on for many months. I recall that upon receipt of a telegram from Moscow in December 1940 I had another long conversation with the Fuehrer. I had an idea that, if we could bring about a compromise between the Russian demands and the wishes of the various parties concerned, a coalition could be formed which would be so strong that it would eventually induce England to remain at peace.
THE PRESIDENT: What is this all an answer to? What was your question that this is supposed to be an answer to?
DR. SEIDL: In essence he has already answered the question.
THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Seidl, if he has answered the question you should stop him.
DR. SEIDL: Very well. I now come to another question: What was Adolf Hitler's opinion regarding the military strength of Russia?
VON RIBBENTROP: Adolf Hitler once said to me -- he expressed himself thus -- and this was when he became worried about what was taking place in Russia in the way of preparations against Germany: "We do not know of course what is concealed behind this gate, if some day we should really be forced to kick it open." From this and other statements which the Fuehrer made at this time I concluded that, on the basis of reports about Russia, he suffered great anxiety about the strength and the possible display of might by the Soviet Union.
DR. SEIDL: My next question: What circumstances induced Hitler to anticipate the threatening danger of an offensive by the Soviet Union?
VON RIBBENTROP: This was as follows ...
THE PRESIDENT: Hasn't this been dealt with extensively and exhaustively by the Defendant Goering? You are here as counsel for Hess.
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DR. SEIDL: If the Tribunal is of the opinion that this has been dealt with exhaustively, I shall withdraw the question.
THE PRESIDENT: Before you sit down, Dr. Seidl, you were putting Gaus' affidavit to the defendant, I suppose with the intention that he should say that the affidavit was true; is that right?
DR. SEIDL: Yes.
THE PRESIDENT: You didn't put to him Paragraph 4 of the affidavit at all, did you?
DR. SEIDL: I read only Paragraph 3 of the affidavit. I did not read Paragraph 1, 2, 4, and 5 in order to save time.
THE PRESIDENT: The answer to my question was, "yes," that you did not put it.
Should you not put the end of Paragraph 4 to him, which reads in this way:
"The Reich Foreign Minister regulated his words in such a manner that he let a warlike conflict of Germany with Poland appear not as a matter already finally decided upon but only as an imminent possibility. No statements which could have included the approval or encouragement for such a conflict were made by the Soviet statesmen on this point. Rather the Soviet representatives limited themselves in this respect simply to taking cognizance of the explanations of the German representatives."
Is that correct?
DR. SEIDL: That is correct.
THE PRESIDENT: I am asking the witness. Is that correct?
VON RIBBENTROP: I may say the following to this. When I went to Moscow no final decision had been reached by the Fuehrer...
THE PRESIDENT: Well, couldn't you answer the question directly? I asked you whether the statement in the affidavit was correct or not. You can explain afterwards.
VON RIBBENTROP: Not quite correct, Mr. President.
THE PRESIDENT: Now you can explain.
VON RIBBENTROP: It is not correct insofar as at that time the decision to attack Poland had in no way been made by the Fuehrer. There is, however, no doubt that it became perfectly clear during the discussions in Moscow that there was at any time the possibility of such a conflict, if the last effort at negotiations failed.
THE PRESIDENT: Well, what is the difference between that and what I have just read to you? What I read to you was this:
"The Reich Foreign Minister regulated his words in such a manner that he let a warlike conflict of Germany with Poland
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appear not as a matter already finally decided upon but only as an imminent possibility."
I should have thought your explanation was exactly the same as that. That's all.
DR. SEIDL: Mr. President, may I mention something briefly in this connection? This witness Gaus was present only at the second conference. He was, however, not present at the long conference which took place previously between the witness Ribbentrop on the one hand and Molotov and Stalin on the other hand. At these conferences only Embassy Counsellor Hilger was present and I ask the Tribunal to call witness Hilger, who has, in view of the importance of this point, already been granted me.
THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Seidl, as you know, you can make any application in writing for calling any witness that you like; and also the Tribunal wishes me to say that if the Prosecution wish to have the witness Gaus here for a cross-examination they may do so.
DR. SEIDL: Then I should like to put in as Hess Exhibit Number 16 (Document Number Hess-16) the sworn affidavit of Ambassador Gaus.
THE PRESIDENT: Yes, certainly.
MR. DODD: May it please the Tribunal, as far as I understand, there is some slight danger of the witness Gaus being removed from Nuremberg. I would like to state at this time that we would like to have him retained here for long enough time for possible cross examination.
THE PRESIDENT: Very well.
Do any other members of the defendants' counsel want to ask questions?
DR. NELTE: The Defendant Keitel states that in the auturnn of 1940, when the idea of a war with Russia was discussed by Hitler, he went to Fuschl in order to talk to you about this question. He believed that you too had misgivings about it. Do you recall that Keitel at the end of August or at the beginning of September was in Fuschl?
VON RIBBENTROP: Yes, that is correct. He did visit me at that time.
DR. NELTE: Do you recall that Keitel at that time stated to you his opinion about the probably imminent war?
VON RIBBENTROP: Yes, that is correct. He spoke of that at the time. I believe he said that the Fuehrer had discussed it with him.
DR. NELTE: What I am driving at is this: Keitel states that he spoke with you about a memorandum he intended to submit to Hitler
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which referred to the considerations which were to be taken into account in case of war with Soviet Russia.
VON RIBBENTROP: That is correct. Field Marshal Keitel told me at that time that he intended to submit a memorandum to Hitler, and he expressed his misgivings concerning a possible conflict between the Soviet Union and Germany.
DR. NELTE: Did you have the impression that Field Marshal Keitel was opposed to the war at that time?
VON RIBBENTROP: Yes, that is correct. I had absolutely that impression.
DR. NELTE: Is it true that he, as a result of this discussion, asked you to support his point of view with Hitler?
VON RIBBENTROP: Yes, that is correct, and I told him at that time that I would do so, that I would speak to Hitler, and he ought to do the same.
DR. NELTE: Another question, regarding the escape of the French General Giraud. Is it true that Keitel, when the French General Giraud escaped from Kbnigstein, asked you to take steps with the French Government to bring about the voluntary return of General Giraud?
VON RIBBENTROP: Yes, that is right. At that time he asked me whether it would not be possible, by way of negotiations with the French Government, to induce Giraud to return to imprisonment in some way or other.
DR. NELTE: Did a meeting then take place with General Giraud in occupied France through the intervention of Ambassador Abetz?
VON RIBBENTROP: Yes, such a meeting took place. I believe Ambassador Abetz met Giraud, who, as I recall, appeared in the company of M. Laval. The Ambassador did everything he could in order to induce the General to return, but finally did not succeed. The General was promised safe conduct for this meeting and upon its conclusion the General and Laval left.
DR. NELTE: The Prosecution has submitted an order, the subject of which was the branding of Soviet prisoners of war. The Defendant Keitel is held responsible for this order. He states that he spoke with you about this question at headquarters located at the time in Vinnitza; that he had to do it because all questions pertaining to prisoners of war also concerned the department for international law of the Foreign Office. Do you recall that in this connection Keitel asked you whether there were any objections from the point of view of international law to this branding which Hitler wished.
VON RIBBENTROP: The situation was this: I heard about the intention of marking prisoners of war and went to headquarters to
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speak with Keitel about this matter because it was my opinion that the marking of prisoners in such a way was out of the question. Keitel shared my opinion; and, so far as I recall, I believe he gave later orders that this intended form of marking was not to be used.
DR. NELTE: I have no further question.
FLOTTENRICHTER OTTO KRANZBUHLER (Counsel for Defendant Doenitz): Witness, when did you make the acquaintance of Admiral Doenitz?
VON RIBBENTROP: I made his acquaintance after he was appointed Commander-in-Chief of the Navy.
FLOTTENRICHTER KRANZBUHLER: That was in 1943?
VON RIBBENTROP: I believe so.
FLOTTENRICHTER KRANZBUHLER: Did Admiral Doenitz before or after this time exert or try to exert any influence on German foreign policy?
VON RIBBENTROP: I have never heard that Admiral Doenitz tried to exert any influence on German foreign policy.
FLOTTENRICHTER KRANZBUHLER: Do you recall Marshal Antonescu's visit to the Fuehrer headquarters on 27 February 1944?
VON RIBBENTROP: I do recall the visit but not the date. Marshal Antonescu used to visit the Fuehrer frequently. I should say every six months or so; I believe you said at the beginning of 1944?
FLOTTENRICHTER KRANZBUHLER: Yes, on 27 February 1944.
VON RIBBENTROP: Yes, I think it is correct that he visited the Fuehrer at the beginning of 1944.
FLOTTENRICHTER KRANZBUHLER: Do you recall whether Antonescu, at that time, attended the discussion of the military situation, as guest?
VON RIBBENTROP: I am quite certain, because this was usually the case when Antonescu came to see the Fuehrer. The Fuehrer always explained the military situation to him, that is, he invited him to the so-called noon discussion of the military situation. I do not recall exactly now, but there can be no doubt that Marshal Antonescu attended the discussion of the military situation in February.
FLOTTENRICHTER KRANZBUHLER: Besides the military discussions were there also political discussions with Antonescu?
VON RIBBENTROP: Yes, every visit with Marshal Antonescu began by the Fuehrer's withdrawing either with the Marshal alone or sometimes also with me, but mostly with the Marshal alone, because he was the chief of state; a long detailed political discussion would ensue, to which I was generally called in later.
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FLOTTENRICHTER KRANZBUHLER: Did Admiral Doenitz take part in these political discussions?
VON RIBBENTROP: Certainly not, because the Fuehrer seldom invited military leaders to these political discussions with Marshal Antonescu. Later however, he did occasionally, but I do not recall that Admiral Doenitz took part in a discussion with Antonescu.
FLOTTENRICHTER KRANZBUHLER: I have no further questions.
DR. WALTER SIEMERS (Counsel for Defendant Raeder): Witness, the Prosecution have submitted a document concerning a discussion between you and the Japanese Foreign Minister Matsuoka on 29 March 1941. The document carries the Document Number 1877-PS, and is Exhibit Number USA-152. A part of this document was read into the record by the Prosecution, and on Page 1007 of the German transcript (Volume III, Page 379) can be found among other things, the following passage which concerns Grossadmiral Raeder:
"Next, the RAM (Foreign Minister) turned again to the Singapore question. In view of the fears expressed by the Japanese of possible attacks by submarines based in the Philippines, and of the intervention of the English Mediterranean and Home Fleets, he had again discussed the situation with Grossadmiral Raeder. The latter had stated that the British Navy during this year would have its hands so full in English home waters and in the Mediterranean that it would not be able to send even a single ship to the Far East. Grossadmiral Raeder had described the United States submarines as so poor that Japan need not bother about them at all."
Witness, as the Defendant Raeder clearly remembers, you, as Foreign Minister, never spoke with him about strategic matters regarding Japan or even about the worth or worthlessness of American submarines. I should be obliged to you if you could clarify this point, whether there might be some confusion as to the person involved in this discussion.
VON RIBBENTROP: That is altogether possible. I do not recall that I ever spoke with Admiral Raeder about German-Japanese strategy. The fact was that we had only very loose connections with Japan on these questions. If at that time I said to Matsuoka what is written there, it is quite possible that I quoted the Fuehrer that he had said it to me. Naturally I could not have said it on my own initiative, because I did not know about it. I know that the Fuehrer spoke to me frequently about such points particularly with regard to Japan It is possible therefore that this did not originate with
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Admiral Raeder but the Fuehrer. I do not know who made this note. Is it a ...
DR. SIEMERS: The document is entitled, "Notes on the conference between the Reir-h Foreign Minister and the Japanese Foreign Minister, Matsuoka... "
VON RIBBENTROP: I have seen that here. It is possible that the Fuehrer said that to me. In fact, I consider that probable. It is possible that some mistake was made in the note; that I do not know.
DR. SIEMERS: Witness, did you inform the Defendant Raeder of such political discussions as you had with Matsuoka or Oshima?
VON RIBBENTROP: No, that was not the case.
DR. SIEMERS: Did you ever speak with Grossadmiral Raeder about other political questions or have him present at political negotiations?
VON RIBBENTROP: No, that was not our practice. Generally, the Fuehrer kept military and political matters strictly separate, so that I, as Foreign Minister, never had an opportunity to discuss military or strategic matters at my office; but when questions of foreign policy were to be discussed, this took place at the Fuehrer headquarters, but as I have seen from documents which I read for the first time here, matters were kept separate even there. In other words, if such discussions took place at all, a fact which I cannot recall at the moment, it could have been only at the Fuehrer headquarters.
DR. SIEMERS: Thank you.
DR. LATERNSER: Witness, the State Secretary of the Foreign Office, Steengracht, who was heard here as a witness, answered in the negative my question as to whether the high military leaders were regularly informed by him about current political matters. Now I ask whether you, as Foreign Minister, informed high military leaders about political matters?
VON RIBBENTROP: No, I must answer this question in the same way as I answered the previous one. That was not our practice. All political and military matters were dealt with exclusively by the Fuehrer. The Fuehrer told me what I had to do in the diplomatic and political field, and he told the military men what they had to do militarily. I was occasionally, but very seldom, informed about military matters by the Fuehrer, and whatever the military men had to know about political matters they never learned from me; but if they learned at all, it was from the Fuehrer.
DR. LATERNSER: I have no further questions.
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HERR GEORG BOHM (Counsel for SA): Witness, did you have an order or an instruction according to which you were to inform the SA leaders of the development and treatment of foreign political matters?
VON RIBBENTROP: The SA? No. There was no such order, and I had no such instructions.
HERR BOHM: Did the SA leadership have any influence on foreign policy at all?
VON RIBBENTROP: No.
HERR BOHM: And now I should like to ask a question for my colleague Dr. Sauter who is ill: Were you in 1943 witness to a conversation between Hitler and Himmler, in which the question was discussed as to whether Von Schirach, who was then Reichsleiter, should be summoned before the Volksgericht (People's Court)?
VON RIBBENTROP: Yes, that is correct.
HERR BOHM: What consequences would such a trial before the Volksgericht have had for Schirach?
VON RIBBENTROP: I cannot say exactly, of course. I do not know the details of this matter. I only know that Himmler, in my presence, made the suggestion to the Fuehrer that Schirach should be brought and tried before the Volksgericht for some reason or other. I do not know the details. I was not interested in them. I said to the Fuehrer that this, in my opinion, would make a very bad impression from the point of view of foreign policy and I know that Himmler received no answer from the Fuehrer; at any rate, he did not give the order. What consequences that would have had I cannot say, but when such a suggestion came from Himmler, the consequences were very serious.
HERR BOHM: How is it that you were witness to this conversation and how did you react to it?
VON RIBBENTROP: It was purely accidental; I have just stated that I told the Fuehrer as well as Himmler that it would make a very bad impression.
HERR BOHM: I have no further questions.
THE PRESIDENT: Are there any other questions on behalf of the defendants' counsel?
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Witness, when you began to advise Hitler on matters of foreign policy in 1933, were you familiar with the League of Nations declaration of 1927?
VON RIBBENTROP: I do not know which declaration you mean.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Don't you remember the League of Nations declaration of 1927?
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VON RIBBENTROP: The League of Nations has made many declarations. Please tell me which one you mean?
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: It made a rather important one about aggressive war in 1927, didn't it?
VON RIBBENTROP: I do not know this declaration in detail, but it is clear that the League of Nations, like everyone, was against an aggressive war, and at that time Germany was a member of the League of Nations.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Germany was a member, and the preamble of the declaration was:
"Being convinced that a war of aggression would never serve as a means of settling international disputes, and is in consequence an international crime... "
Were you familiar with that when you ...
VON RIBBENTROP: Not in detail, no.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: It was rather an important matter to be familiar with if you were going to advise Hitler, who was then Chancellor, on foreign policy, wasn't it?
VON RIBBENTROP: This declaration was certainly important, and corresponded exactly with my attitude at that time. But subsequent events have proved that the League of Nations was not in a position to save Germany from chaos.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Did you continue to hold that as your own view?
VON RIBBENTROP: I did not understand the question.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Did you continue to hold the expression of opinion I have quoted to you from the preamble as your own view?
VON RIBBENTROP: That was as such my fundamental attitude, but on the other hand I was of the opinion that Germany should be given help in some way.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: So I gathered. Now, apart from that, if you were not familiar in detail with that resolution, were you familiar in detail with the Kellogg-Briand Pact?
VON RIBBENTROP: Yes, I was familiar with it.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Did you agree with the view expressed in the preamble and in the pact that there should be a renunciation of war as an instrument of national policy?
VON RIBBENTROP: Yes,
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: I just want you to tell us how you carried that out. Let's take the first example. Are you telling
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this Tribunal that, as far as you know, no pressure or threats were made to Herr Von Schuschnigg?
VON RIBBENTROP: Do you mean in the discussions with Hitler at the Obersalzberg?
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Yes, on the 12th of February.
VON RIBBENTROP: At this discussion...
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Witness, answer the question first, and then you can give your explanation. Are you saying that no pressure or threats were put to Herr Von Schuschnigg on the 12th of February? Answer that "yes" or "no", and we will go into the explanation later.
VON RIBBENTROP: Not exactly, no. I believe that the dominating personality of the Fuehrer and the arguments that he presented made such an impression on Schuschnigg that he finally agreed to Hitler's proposals.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Now, let's just look into that.
VON RIBBENTROP: May I continue? I personally had a conversation at that time with Herr Schuschnigg after his first talk with Adolf Hitler, in which his reaction to the first conference became very clear to me. This reaction was one of being deeply impressed by Hitler's personality and by the arguments which Hitler submitted to him. Schuschnigg told me in this conversation, which was extremely cordial, that he too -- and I believe these were his words -- regarded it as a historical mission to bring the two peoples closer together.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Who were present, at the Berghof -- I don't say in the room, but in the building or about? Were there present Hitler, yourself, the Defendant Von Papen, the Defendant Keitel, General Sperrle, and General Von Reichenau?
VON RIBBENTROP: I think that is correct, yes.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: And on the morning of the 12th, I think that Hitler and Von Schuschnigg were together for about 2 hours before lunch in the morning, isn't that so?
VON RIBBENTROP: I do not recall the time exactly. Anyway, they had a long conversation, that is correct.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: And then, after lunch, Von Schuschnigg was allowed to have a short conversation with his own Foreign Minister, Guido Schmidt, isn't that so?
VON RIBBENTROP: I do not know exactly, but it is possible.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Then, after that, Von Schuschnigg and Guido Schmidt were called before you and the Defendant Von Papen, isn't that right?
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VON RIBBENTROP: I do not remember that. I do not think so.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Don't you remember that? Just think again.
VON RIBBENTROP: Do you mean -- then I believe I did not understand the question.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Then I will put it again. After a conversation that Schuschnigg had with Guido Schmidt, he and Schmidt came before you and the Defendant Von Papen and they had a conversation with you, which I will put to you in a moment. Now, isn't it right that you and Von Papen saw Von Schuschnigg and Guido Schmidt?
VON RIBBENTROP: No, I do not believe so. I do not believe that is true.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Don't you remember exhibiting to Von Schuschnigg a typewritten draft containing the demands made on Von Schuschnigg? Now, just think.
VON RIBBENTROP: That is absolutely possible. Hitler had dictated a memorandum, and it is possible that I gave it to Schuschnigg. I am not sure of the details now.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: What was the subject of that memorandum?
VON RIBBENTROP: That I do not know; and in order to explain my ignorance about the entire conference I would like to state that at this time I was not at all informed about the Austrian problem because Hitler had handled these matters personally and I had become Foreign Minister only a few days before.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: If you hand someone a memorandum, at an occasion which you have described to him as a historic meeting, presumably you can give the Tribunal at any rate an outline of what the memorandum contained. What were the points in the memorandum?
VON RIBBENTROP: Curiously enough, I really do not remember that in detail. This meeting was one between the Fuehrer and Schuschnigg, and everything that was done and agreed upon there was either dictated by the Fuehrer himself or was suggested to the Fuehrer by someone else. I did not know the details. I only knew that it was primarily a question of bringing about better relations between Germany and Austria. Since many National Socialists had been arrested in Austria the relations between the two countries had been greatly troubled.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Well, if I remind you, perhaps, it will bring it back. Were not they the three points for the reorganization of the Austrian Cabinet, including:
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The appointment of the Defendant Seyss-Inquart to the Ministry of Security in the Interior; second, a general political amnesty of Nazis convicted of crimes; and thirdly, a declaration of equal rights for Austrian National Socialists and the taking of them into the Fatherland Front?
Are these the points that you were putting to Von Schuschnigg?
VON RIBBENTROP: I do not remember exactly now but that may be about correct. At that time that corresponded with the vague notion and knowledge I had about Austrian affairs.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: And did you tell Von Schuschnigg that Hitler had informed you that these demands which you were offering were the final demands of the Fuehrer and that Hitler was not prepared to discuss them?
VON RIBBENTROP: I do not recall that, but it is possible that I told Von Schuschnigg something to that effect but at the moment I do not remember.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Did you say, "You must accept the whole of these demands?"
VON RIBBENTROP: No, I do not think so, I did not say that. I exerted no pressure whatsoever on Schuschnigg, for I still remember that this conversation which lasted about an hour to an hour and a half was confined to generalities and to personal matters and that I gained from this conversation a very favorable impression of Schuschnigg's personality, which fact I even mentioned to my staff later on. I put no pressure on Schuschnigg.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: You told us that before, and I am suggesting to you that at this conversation you were trying to get Schuschnigg to sign the document containing these terms which you agree that you may have had. I want you to remember the answer'and remind you of that.
Don't you remember Herr Von Schuschnigg turning to the Defendant Von Papen and saying, "Now, you told me that I would not be confronted with any demands if I came to Berchtesgaden," and Herr Von Papen apologizing and saying, "That is so. I did not know you were going to be confronted with these demands."
Don't you remember that?
VON RIBBENTROP: No, I do not remember that. That canno be quite right.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: We will just see. Do you remember Von Schuschnigg being called back to speak to Hitler again and Guido Schmidt remaining with you to make some alterations in the document which you were putting?
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VON RIBBENTROP: It is quite possible that changes were made; it is conceivable.
I do not remember the details, though.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: But did you hear that in this second conversation with Hitler, Hitler telling Schuschnigg that he must comply with these demands within 3 days?
VON RIBBENTROP: No, I am hearing that for the first time today. I did not know that. I was not present at the second conversation.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Just be a little careful before you say you have heard that for the first time today, because in a moment I will show you some documents. Are you sure you did not hear that Hitler told Schuschnigg that he must comply within 3 days, or Hitler would order the march into Austria?
VON RIBBENTROP: I consider that to be out of the question.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: If he had said that, you will agree that that would be the heaviest military and political pressure? There could be no other heavier pressure than suggesting a march into Austria, could there?
VON RIBBENTROP: In view of the tense situation that existed between the two countries at that time, that, of course, would have been a pressure. But one thing must be taken for granted; and that is, that under no circumstances would it have been possible in the long run to find any solution between the two countries if there were no closer contact, and from the beginning -- I should like to state this here -- it was always my view that the two countries should form some sort of close alliance, and I visualized a customs and currency union ...
SIR DAVID MAXWELIFYFE: You've given that view about three times. Let us come back to this interview which I am putting back to you, that took place on the 12th of February. Don't you know that Schuschnigg said: "I am only the Bundeskanzler. I have to refer to President Miklas, and I can sign this protocol only subject to reference to President Miklas."
VON RIBBENTROP: No, I do not remember that any more in detail.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Don't you remember Hitler opening the door and calling Keitel?
VON RIBBENTROP: No; I only learned here that this is supposed to have happened. I have no knowledge whatsoever about that. I heard about it here for the first time.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: You know it is true, don't you?
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VON RIBBENTROP: I do not know. I heard about it here for the first time.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Don't you remember Keitel's going in to speak to Hitler?
VON RIBBENTROP: I have already said that I did not hear about that. I do not know, I cannot say.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Do you know that Von Schuschnigg signed this document on the condition that within 3 days these demands would be fulfilled, otherwise Germany would march into Austria?
VON RIBBENTROP: No, I did not know that.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: I think it would be convenient if the witness had the German Document Book in front of him. I tried to get most of the pages agreeing.
THE PRESIDENT: Sir David, perhaps this would be a good time to break off.
[A recess was taken.]
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Witness, will you look first at the Defendant Jodl's diary, the entry of the 13th of February, it is the Ribbentrop Document Book, Page 9, Exhibit Number USA-72, Document Number 1780-PS. The entry is as follows:
"In the afternoon General K." -- that is Keitel -- "asks Admiral C." -- that is Admiral Canaris -- "and myself to come to his apartment. He tells us that the Fuehrer's order is to the effect that military pressure by shamming military action should be kept up until the 15th. Proposals for these deceptive maneuvers are drafted and submitted to the Fuehrer by telephone for approval."
You were suggesting on Friday that the Defendant Jodl had go hold of some rumors or gossip thdt were going around the Berghof. That rumor or gossip was a definite order from his superior officer, General Keitel, wasn't it?
VON RIBBENTROP: I know absolutely nothing about military measures, therefore I cannot pass judgment on the value of this entry. The Fuehrer did not inform me about any milita measures regarding Austria.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Are you telling the Tribunal you were there, that you were taking part, handling the document and that Hitler never said a word to you about what he was arranging with the Defendant Keitel, who was also there?
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VON RIBBENTROP: That is correct.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Well now, just look at the next entry for the 14th of
"At 2:40 o'clock the agreement of the Fuehrer arrives. Canaris went to Munich to the Counterintelligence Office (Abwehrstelle VII) and initiated the different measures. The effect was quick and strong. In Austria the impression is created that Germany is undertaking serious military preparation." Are you telling this Tribunal that you know nothing about either these military measures or the effect on Austria?
VON RIBBENTROP: I did not know anything about the military measures, but I consider it quite possible that the Fuehrer, in order to put more stress on his wishes, caused something to be done in this field...
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: But, Witness, just a moment!
VON RIBBENTROP: ... and that may have contributed in the end to the solution of the problem.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Yes, I quite agree. That is just why I am putting it to you that it did contribute. But surely you as Foreign Minister of the Reich, with all the channels available to a foreign minister, knew something about the effect in Austria, which General Jodl was remarking, that "the effect was quick and strong." -- the impression was "created that Germany is undertaking serious military preparations." Are you telling the Tribunal, on your oath, that you knew nothing about the effect in Austria?
VON RIBBENTROP: I would like to point out again that. I did not know anything about military measures and, if I had known, I would not have the slightest reason not to say here that it was not so. It is a fact, however, that in the days before and after the conversations between the Fuehrer and Schuschnigg, I was so busy taking over the Foreign Office that I treated the Austrian problem, at that time, merely as a secondary matter in foreign policy. I did not play a leading role in the handling of the Austrian problem...
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: We know you said that before, that you were engaged in the Foreign Office, and my question was perfectly clear -- my question was: Are you telling this Tribunal that you did not know anything about the effect in Austria -- you, as Foreign Minister of the Reich? Now answer the question. Did you or did you not know of the effect in Austria?
VON RIBBENTROP: I did not know anything about that effect, and I did not observe it in detail either.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: I see, that is your story and you want that to be taken as a criterion, a touchstone of whether or not
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you are telling the truth; that you, as Foreign Minister of the Reich, say that you knew nothing about the effect in Austria of the measures taken by Keitel on the Fuehrer's orders? Is that your final answer?
VON RIBBENTROP: To that I can tell you again quite precisely, I learned from the Fuehrer when I went to London a little later, and that is absolutely the first thing I remember about the entire Austrian affair, that matters in Austria were working, out more or less as agreed upon in the conversations in Berchtesgaden. I did not make any particular observations in detail at that time, so far as I remember. It is possible that this or that detail slipped my memory in the meantime, for many years have passed since then.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Just look at the next two entries in Jodl's diary:
"15 February. In the evening, an official announcement about the positive results of the conference at Obersalzberg was issued."
"16 February. Changes in the Austrian Governinent, and the general political, amnesty."
Do you remember my putting to you what Herr Von Schuschnigg signed, and the condition was made that the matters would come into effect within 3 days; within 3 days there was a conference about the effects and the changes were announced in Austria in accordance with the note that you had put to Schuschnigg. You can see that that is clear, isn't it -- 3 days -- you still say...
VON RIBBENTROP: Of these 3 days, as I have told you already, I know nothing; but it was a matter of course that this meeting would have some results in the way of appeasing.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: You call it "appeasing"? Is that your considered view to the Tribunal, that assuming that the Defendant Jodl is telling the truth or assuming that the Defendant Keitel said that to him, as General Jodl was saying, that these military preparations should be put in hand, isn't that the most severe political and military pressure that could be put on the chancellor of another state?
VON RIBBENTROP: If one considers the problem from a higher viewpoint, no; I have a different opinion. Here was a problem which might possibly have led to war, to a European war; and I believe, and I also said that later to Lord Halifax in London, that it was better to solve this problem than to allow it to become a permanent sore spot on the body of Europe.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: I don't want to put words in your mouth. Do you mean by the last answer, that it was better
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that political and military pressure should be put on Schuschnigg, so long as the problem was solved? Is that your view?
VON RIBBENTROP: I did not get that question. May I ask you to repeat it?
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: My question was: Is it your view that it was better that political and military pressure should be put on Herr Von Schuschnigg if by that means the problem was solved?
VON RIBBENTROP: If by that means, a worse complication, that is to say a war was actually avoided, I ponsider that was the better way.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Just tell me, why did you and your friends keep Schuschnigg in prison for 7 years?
VON RIBBENTROP: I do not know, at any rate, I believe Schuschnigg -- I do not know the details -- must at that time have done something which was against the State or the interests of the State. But if you say "prison", I know only from my own recollection that the Fuehrer said and emphasized several times that Schuschnigg should be treated particularly well and decently and that he was not in a prison but lodged in a house and also, I believe, that his wife was with him. I cannot, however, say more on the subject from my own experience and from my own observation.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: You mean "prison." I will substitute for it "Buchenwald" and "Dachau". He was at both Buchenwald and Dachau. Do you think he was enjoying himself there?
VON RIBBENTROP: I only heard here that Herr Schuschnigg was in a concentration camp; I did not know before.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Just make a change, just try to answer my question. Why did you and your friends keep Schuschnigg in prison for 7 years?
VON RIBBENTROP: I cannot say anything on that point. I can only say and repeat, that, according to what I heard at that time, he was not in prison but confined in a villa and had all the comforts possible. That is what I heard to that time and I was glad about it because, as I have said already, I liked him.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: There is one thing he did not have, Witness, he did not have the opportunity of giving his account as to what had happened at Berchtesgaden or of his side of the Anschluss to anyone for these 7 years, did he? That is quite obvious with all you say, that he was very comfortable at Buchenwald and Dachau, wherever he was, but comfortable or not, he didn't get the chance of putting his side of the happenings to the world, did he?
VON RIBBENTROP: That I could not judge.
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SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: You couldn't judge? You know perfectly well, don't you, that Herr Von Schuschnigg was not allowed to publish his account of anything while he was under restraint for these 7 years? Don't you know that quite well?
VON RIBBENTROP: That may be assumed...
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Now...
VON RIBBENTROP: It may have been in the interests of the State, however.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Well, that is your view of it. We will pass to another subject.
I am going to ask you a few questions now about your share in the dealing with Czechoslovakia. Will you agree with me, that in March of 1938, the Foreign Office, that is, you, through your ambassador in Prague, took over control of the activities of the Sudeten Deutsche Party under Konrad Henlein?
VON RIBBENTROP: I am sorry but that is not correct. May I explain...
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Before you explain, I think you might save time if you look at the document book on Page 20 in your book, it is Page 31 in the English book, and listen while I refer you to a letter from your ambassador.
VON RIBBENTROP: Which number, please?
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Page 20. It is a letter from your ambassador in Prague to the Foreign Office.
If I may explain to the Tribunal, it is not the defendant's document book, it is the Prosecution's book. I will see, hereafter, that it is correct. [Turning to the defendant]: Now, this letter from your ambassador to the Foreign Office ...
VON RIBBENTROP: Yes, I know about that letter. May I ...
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Just let me refer you to Paragraph 1. 1 refer you also to Paragraph 3, so you need not be worried that I shall miss it.
"The line of German Foreign policy, as transmitted by the German Legation, is exclusively decisive for the policy and tactics of the Sudeten German Party. My" -- that is, your ambassador -- "directives are to be complied with implicitly."
"Public speeches and the press will be co-ordinated uniformly with my approval. The editorial staff of Zeit is to be improved."
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"Party leadership abandons the former intransigent line which,. in the end, might lead to political complications, and adopts the line of gradual promotion of Sudeten German interests. The objectives are to be set in every case with my participation and to be promoted by parallel diplomatic action." (Document Number 3060-PS)
Having read that, don't you agree with me -- what I put to you a moment ago -- that the activities of the Sudeten German Party were to take place according to the directives?
VON RIBBENTROP: May I state an opinion on that now?
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: I would like the answer to that question first, and I am sure the Tribunal well let you make an explanation. It is perfectly easy to answer that question "yes" or "no". Isn't it right that that letter shows that the Sudeten German Party was acting under your directives; isn't that right?
VON RIBBENTROP: No.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Why not?
VON RIBBENTROP: I would like to explain. This letter in itself is a crowning proof of the fact that things were quite to the contrary. Between the Sudeten German Party and many agencies in the Reich, connections had been established; this was quite natural, because there was a very strong movement among the Sudeten Germans which was striving for closer connection with the Reich, especially after Adolf Hitler had come to power. These tendencies were beginning to impair the relations between Germany and Czechoslovakia and this very letter bears proof of the fact that I attempted gradually to put these uncontrolled connections, which existed between the Sudeten Germans and the Reich, in some way under control.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: That is not what I am asking you, Witness. What I put to you, and I put it to you three times, I think, quite clearly: Does this letter show that that Party, the Sudeten German Party, was from that time acting under your directions? Are you still denying that?
VON RIBBENTROP: Yes, I deny that emphatically. The case is just the opposite. This letter indicates an attempt to direct the German-Czech relations, which had become very difficult due to the natural desire of the Sudeten Germans to establish closer relations with the German people, into right and sensible channels, which however, shortly after this letter, unfortunately failed.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Now, if you deny what I have put to you, what is meant when your ambassador writes to the Foreign Office and, says that the line of German policy, as transmitted
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by the German Legation, is exclusively decisive for policy and tactics of the Sudeten German Party? What does that mean if it doesn't mean what you have said -- that the Party was acting under your direction? What else can it mean if it doesn't mean that?
VON RIBBENTROP: It means exactly what I have said, that the legation should try to induce the leadership of the Sudeten Germans to adopt a sensible program, so that the illegal tendencies which were existent should not lead to difficulties in German-Czech relations. That was at that time the purport of the conversation with the legation in Prague and that is quite clearly expressed by this letter.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Let us see what this sensible program which you were suggesting was. The next day, on the 17th of March, Konrad Henlein writes to you and suggests a personal talk; and if you will turn over to Page 26 of the German document book -- Page 33 of the English -- you will find the note of the personal talk which you had at the Foreign Office on the 29th of March with Henlein, Karl Hermann Frank, and two other gentlemen whose names are not so well known. (Document Number 2788-PS, Exhibit Number USA-95) I only want you to look at four sentences in that, after the first one: "The Reichsminister started out by emphasizing the necessity to keep the conference, which had been scheduled, strictly a secret."
And then you refer to the meeting that the Fuehrer had had with Konrad Henlein the afternoon before. I just want you to have that in mind., Now, if you will look down the page, after the "l" and "2", there is a paragraph which begins "The Foreign Minister", and the second sentence is:
"It is essential to propose a maximum program which as its final aim grants full freedom to the Sudeten Germans. It appears dangerous to be satisfied prematurely with promises of the Czechoslovakian Government, which, on the one hand, would give the impression abroad that a solution has been found and, on the other hand, would only partially satisfy the Sudeten Germans." Then, if you will look one sentence further on, after some uncomplimentary remarks about Benes, it says:
"The aim of the negotiations to be carried on by the Sudeten German Party with the Czechoslovakian Government would finally be to avoid entry into the government" -- Observe the next words -- "by the extension and gradual specification of the demands to be made."
And then you make the position of the Reich Cabinet clear:
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"The Reich Cabinet" -- the next sentence but one -- "itself must refuse to appear towards the government in Prague or towards London and Paris as the advocate" -- note the next words -- "or pacemaker of the Sudeten German demands."
The policy which I suggest to you was now to direct the activities of the Sudeten Germans. They were to avoid agreement with the Czechoslovak Government, avoid participation in the Czechoslovak Government, and the Reich Cabinet in its turn would avoid acting as mediator in the matter; in other words, Witness, that you, through your influence on the Sudeten Germans, were taking every step and doing your utmost to see that no agreement could be reached on the difficulties or the minority problem. Isn't that right? Isn't that what you were telling them at that interview?
VON RIBBENTROP: No, that is not so.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Give your explanation. What would you say these words meant?
VON RIBBENTROP: I summoned Konrad Henlein at that time, and believe it was the only time, or perhaps I saw him once more; unfortunately, only once or twice, in order to enjoin him, too, to work for a peaceful development of the Sudeten German problem. The demands of the Sudeten Germans were already far-reaching at that time. They wanted to return to the Reich. That was more or less tacit or was expressed. It seemed to me a solution which was dangerous and which had to be stopped in some way or another because otherwise it might lead to a war. Henlein finally came to see me then, but I wish to point out in advance that it was the only time, I believe, that I discussed the matter thoroughly with Henlein, and soon afterwards I lost control of the matter. The entire Sudeten German problem, that is, what is contained in this letter and about which there can be no doubt, is:
Firstly, that I wanted to bring the efforts of the Sudeten Germans to a peaceful development so that we could support it diplomatically also, which seemed to me absolutely justified.
And secondly, that in this way we should avoid the sudden development of a situation which, by acts of terror or other wild incidents, would lead to a German-Czech and European crisis.
Those were at that time the reasons why I summoned Henlein. Now, as to the various sentences which the Prosecutor has read, it is clear that the Sudeten German Party had at that time very far-reaching demands. Naturally, they wanted Adolf Hitler to send an ultimatum to Prague saying "You must do that, and that is final," and that is what they would have preferred.
We did not want that, of course. We wanted a quiet, peaceful development and solution of these things. Therefore, I discussed
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with Henlein at that time the way in which the Sudeten German Party was to proceed in order to put through their demands gradually. The demands which I had in mind at that time were demands for a far-reaching cultural autonomy, and possibly autonomy in other fields too.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: If you were thinking of cultural and social autonomy, why were you telling these gentlemen not to come to an agreement with the Prague Govermnent?
VON RIBBENTROP: I could not specify that now. That may have been for tactical considerations. I assume that Konrad Henlein made such a suggestion and that I agreed with it. Naturally I did not know the problem too well in detail and this note must be -- I presume that what happened was that Henlein himself merely explained his program -- the details are not contained here -- and that I agreed to it more or less. Therefore, I assume that at that time it seemed perhaps advisable to Henlein for tactical reasons not to enter into the government and assume responsibilities at that moment, but rather to try first to proceed with the matter in a different way.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: That was the 29th of March, and you have told the Tribunal a moment ago about your anxiety for peace. You very soon knew that there wasn't going to be any question of relying on peaceful measures, didn't you? Can you remember? Just try and apply yourself to it, because you have obviously been applying your mind to this. Can you remember when Hitler disclosed to you that he was making the military preparations for occupying Czechoslovakia that autumn?
VON RIBBENTROP: Adolf Hitler spoke very little to me about military matters. I do not remember such a disclosure, but I know of course that the Fuehrer was determined to solve this problem at a fixed time; and according to the experiences which Germany had had in past years, it was for him a matter of course that to do this he was obliged, I might say, to take some sort of military measures in order to put more pressure on his demands.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Let me help you about that. Turn on to Page 31 of your document book. It is Page 37 of the English Document Book. (Document Number 2360-PS, Exhibit GB-134)
VON RIBBENTROP: Page 31?
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Page 31 of your document book, yes. It is a quotation from Hitler's speech in January 1939, but it happens to make clear this point. You see he says -- have you got it, Witness?
VON RIBBENTROP: Yes, I have it.
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SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE:
"On the basis of this unbearable provocation, which was still further emphasized by truly infamous persecution and terrorizing of our Germans there, I have now decided to solve the Sudeten German question in a final and radical manner. On 28 May I gave:
"1. The order for the preparation of military steps against this State" -- that is Czechoslovakia -- "to be completed by 2 October.
"2. I ordered the intensive and speedy completion of our line of fortifications in the West." (Document Number 2360-PS) I want to remind you of that, because there was a meeting on the 28th of May, and that is Hitler's own account of it. Put in another way, he said, "It is my absolute will that Czechoslovakia should disappear from the map." And then he made clear the other thing about the defensive front in the West. Now, do you remember that meeting, the 28th of May?
VON RIBBENTROP: I have here, I believe, seen the document about it. I do not recall the meeting.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Well, if -- I think Captain Fritz Wiedemann was still adjutant of the Fuehrer at that time; it was before he went abroad -- he says you were there, would you deny it?
VON RIBBENTROP: I have seen that, but I believe that is an error by Herr Wiedemann.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: But you think you weren't there?
VON RIBBENTROP: I am inclined to believe that it is an error. At any rate I do not remember that meeting. I could not say for sure. Generally I was not drawn into military affairs, but in this case I cannot say for sure. But I knew that it was common talk that the Fuehrer, in the course of the year 1938, became more and more determined to assure the rights, as he put it, of the Sudeten Germans;
I knew that he had made certain military preparations for that purpose, but I did not know in what form and to what extent.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Just to put your point of view fairly -- I don't want to put anything more into it -- you knew that military preparations were being made, but you did not know the details of what we know now as "Fall Grun."
VON RIBBENTROP: No, I did not know any details; I never heard about them, but I knew that during the last weeks and months of the crisis ...
DR. HORN: Mr. President, I object to this question. I believe I may, in order to save time, just point out that the entire Sudeten German policy was sanctioned by the four great powers, England,
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France, Italy, and Germany, and by the Munich Agreement which determined this policy. Therefore, I do not see that in this respect there can be a violation of International Law.
THE PRESIDENT: The Tribunal thinks the question is perfectly proper.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Now, at the time you knew enough to discuss the possible course of the possible war with the foreign personalities. Would you look on to Page 34, that is Page 40 of the English book. These are the notes of a discussion with the Italian Ambassador. I do not know which of your officials it took place with, but I want you to look at where it says in a handwritten note "only for the Reichsminister."
"Attolico further remarked that we had indeed revealed unmistakably to the Italians our intentions against the Czechs. Also, as to the date he had information so far that he might go on leave for perhaps 2 months, but certainly not later than..." (Document Number 2800-PS)
If you look at the date you will see it is the 18th of July, and 2 months from the 18th of July would be the 18th of September. Then if you will look, a month later there is a note, I think signed by yourself, on the 27th of August:
"Attolico paid me a visit. He had received another written instruction from Mussolini, asking that Germany communicate in time the probable date of action against Czechoslovakia. Mussolini asked for such notification, as Attolico assured me, in order: 'to be able to take in due time the necessary measures on the French frontier.'
"Note: I replied to Ambassador Attolico, just as on his former demarche, that I could not give him any date, that, however, in any case Mussolini would be the first one to be informed of any decision." (Document Number 2792-PS) So that it is quite clear, isn't it, that you knew that the general German preparations for an attack on Czechoslovakia were under way but the date had not been fixed beyond the general directive of Hitler, that it was to be ready by the beginning of October. That was the position in July and August, wasn't it?
VON RIBBENTROP: In August, 27 August, there was, of course, already a sort of crisis between Germany and Czechoslovakia about that problem; and it is quite clear that during that time there was some alarm as to the final outcome. And apparently, according to this document, I said to the Italian Ambassador that in case crisis developed into a military action, Mussolini would, of course, be notified in advance.
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SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: And Mussolini would be ready to make a demonstration on the French frontier in order to help forward your military plans; is that right?
VON RIBBENTROP: That is in this document, but I do not know anything about it.
Perhaps Attolico said that; if it says so here he must have said it.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Now, just turn over to about the same time, Pages 36 to 38, Pages 41 to 43 of the English book. I do not want to take up time in reading it all, but that is the account of the meeting which you had with the Hungarian Ministers Imredy and Kanya. And I should be very glad if, in the interest of time, you would try to answer the general question.
Weren't you trying in your discussions with Imredy and Kanya to get the Hungarians to be prepared to attack Czechoslovakia, should war eventuate?
VON RIBBENTROP: I am not very familiar with the contents of this document. May I read it first, please?
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: I will just read to you ...
VON RIBBENTROP: I may perhaps be able to answer it from recollection. I do not know exactly what the document says, but my recollection is, that at that time a crisis was impending. It is quite natural, if an armed conflict about the Sudeten German problem was within the realm of possibility, that Germany should then establish some sort of contact with neighboring states. That is a matter of course, but I believe ...
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: But you went a little beyond contacting them, didn't you? The document says at the end of the sixth paragraph, "Von Ribbentrop repeated that whoever desires revision must exploit the good opportunity and participate." (Document Number 2796-PS)
That is a bit beyond contacting people. What you are saying to the Hungarians is: "If you want the revision of your boundaries, you have to come into the war with us." It is quite clear, isn't it, Witness, that is what you were saying, that is what you were trying to do?
VON RIBBENTROP: That is exactly in line with what I just said. I do not know if that expression was used, but, at any rate, it is clear that at that time, I remember, I told these gentlemen that the possibility of a conflict was present and that in such a case it would be advisable if we reached an agreement regarding our interests. I would like to mention that Hungary, during all the preceding years, considered it one of the hardest conditions of the peace treaty that these territories in the north had been separated from her and naturally she was very much interested in the agreement.
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SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: You were very much interested in offering them revision. Just look at the last two paragraphs. It is headed "The 25th." It should be Page 38 of your document book. It begins -- the very end of this statement:
"Concerning Hungary's military preparedness for participation in case of a German-Czech conflict, Von Kanya mentioned several days ago that his country would need a period of one or two years in order to develop adequately the armed strength of Hungary. During today's conversation, Von Kanya corrected this remark and said that Hungary's military situation was much better; his country would be ready, as far as armaments were concerned, to take part in the conflict by 1 October of this year." (Document Number 2797-PS) You see that? What I am putting to you, Witness, is this: That your position was perfectly clear. First of all, you get the Sudeten Germans under your control. Then you learned from Hitler that there were military preparations. Then you get the Italians in line. Then you get the Hungarians in line. You are getting everyone ready for aggression against Czechoslovakia. That is what I am putting to you. I want you to be quite clear about it, to be under no misapprehension. Now, look, what ...
VON RIBBENTROP: May I answer to that?
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Yes, certainly, if you like.
VON RIBBENTROP: I said once before that the Sudeten German Party was unfortunately not under my control. Moreover, it is and was my view that it was the fundamental right of the Sudeten Germans, according to the law of the sovereign rights of peoples which had been proclaimed in 1919, to decide themselves where they wanted to belong.
When Adolf Hitler came, this pressure to join the Reich became very strong:
Adolf Hitler was determined to solve this problem, either by diplomatic means or, if it had to be, by other means. That was obvious, and became more so to me. At any rate, I personal1v did everything to try to solve the problem diplomatically. On the other hand, however, in order to bring about a situation such as eventually led to Munich, I naturally tried my utmost to surround Germany with friends in order to make our position as strong as possible in the face of such a problem.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: You knew perfectly well, did you not, that the Fall Grun and Hitler's military plans envisaged the conquest of the whole of Czechoslovakia? You knew that, didn't you?
VON RIBBENTROP: No, I did not know that. As far as the Sudeten-German problem is concerned, the British Government themselves concluded the agreement at Munich by which the entire
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problem was solved in the way I always strove to achieve it by German diplomacy.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Witness, I am not going to argue politics with you on any point. I only remind you of this: That the Fall Grun and Hitler's plans on this matter had been known to His Majesty's Government only since the end of the war, when it came into our possession as a captured document. What I asked you was you say that as the Foreign Minister of the Reich, you did not know of these military plans, that the conquest of the whole Czechoslovakia was envisaged? You say that? You want the Tribunal to believe that?
VON RIBBENTROP: I repeat again that I read about Fall Grun and the conception of Fall Grun here for the first time in the documents. I did not know that term before, nor was I interested. That the Fuehrer envisaged a more far-reaching solution became, of course, clear to me later in the course of the subsequent developments and by the establishment of the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Just a moment. We will get to that in a moment. I just want you to look at the final act of preparation which you were doing, and I am suggesting for this clear aggression; if you will look at Page 45 in the book in front of you, you will see a note from the Foreign, Office to the Embassy in Prague.
"Please inform Deputy Kundt, at Konrad Henlein's request, to get into touch with the Slovaks at once and induce them to start their demands for autonomy tomorrow." (Document Number 2858-PS)
That was your office's further act, wasn't it, in order to make things difficult for the Government in Prague? You were getting your friends to induce -- to use your own word -- the Slovaks to start an advance for autonomy, is that right? Is that what your office was doing?
VON RIBBENTROP: This is, beyond doubt, a telegram from the Foreign Office. I do no longer recall the details, but according to the contents, Henlein apparently approached us to send a telegram because Henlein was apparently of the opinion, at that time, that he should put the demands for autonomy to the Prague Government. How that came about, I could not say in detail today. I would like to emphasize again that Conrad Henlein's activity -- I say, unfortunately, and I said so before -- was far beyond my control. I saw Henlein only once or twice during that entire time.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: I am not going to take you through all the details. You understand what I'm suggesting to you, that your office was now taking one of its last steps, because this was in the middle of the crisis, on the 19th of September, trying to weaken the Czech Government by inducing demands of autonomy
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from the Slovaks. You said that you were only passing on Henlein's wishes. If you like to leave it at that, I shall not trouble you further. Besides, you suggested -- I come on to what took place in the spring and ask you one or two questions about that. In the spring Hitler was out and you acquiesced in his wishes, without -- I was going to say swallowing, but I want to choose my language carefully -- to obtain the adherence of Bohemia and Moravia to the Reich and to make Slovakia separate from Bohemia and Moravia. Now, just look on to Page 65 of the book in front of you. That is a telegram in secret code from the Foreign Office, from yourself in fact, to the Embassy in Prague. "With reference to telephone instructions given by Kordt today, in case you should get any written communications from President Hacha, please do not make any written or verbal comments or take any other action but pass them on here by ciphered telegrams. Moreover, I must ask you and the other members of the legation to make a point of not being available during the next few days if the Czech Government wants to communicate with you." (Document Number 2815-PS) Why were you so anxious that your ambassador should not carry out these ordinary functions and form a channel of communication with the Czech Government?
VON RIBBENTROP: That happened as follows. I remember verv well. That had the following reasons: The Foreign Minister of Czechoslovakia, Chvalkovsky, on one of these days, it must have been the same day, approached the envoy in Prague, saying that President Hacha wished to speak to the Fuehrer. I had reported that to the Fuehrer, and the Fuehrer had agreed to receive the Czechoslovakian Prime Minister or the Czechoslovakian President. The Fuehrer said, at the same time, that he wished to conduct these negotiations himself and that he did not wish anybody else, even the legation, to interfere in any way. That, according to my recollection, was the reason for this telegram. No one was to undertake anything in Prague; whatever was done would be done by the Fuehrer personally. I wish to point out that also at that time signs of an impending crisis between Prague and ourselves became apparent. The visit of President Hacha or his desire to see the Fuehrer can be explained as being the result of this situation in general.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Well, now, I would like to remind you what you and the Fuehrer were doing on that day. You will find that if you look at Page 66, which is 71 of the English book.
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You were having a conference, you and the Fuehrer, with Meissner and the Defendant Keitel and Dietrich and Keppler; and you were having the conference with the Slovaks, with M. Tiso. Do you remember that conference?
VON RIBBENTROP: Yes, I remember that conference very well.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Well, then, I will ask you a general question and perhaps without putting the details to you. What Hitler and you were doing at that conference was saying this to the Slovaks: "If you do not declare your independence of Prague, we shall leave you to the tender mercies of Hungary." Isn't that in a sentence a fair summary of what Hitler and you were saying at that conference?
VON RIBBENTROP: That is correct to a certain degree. But I would like to add a further statement to that. The situation at the time was as follows, and one has to look at it from a political point of view: The Hungarians were highly dissatisfied and they wanted to regain the territories which they had lost by the peace treaty and today form a part of Czechoslovakia, that is the Slovak part of Czechoslovakia. There were, therefore, constantly great differences between Pressburg (Bratislava) and Budapest and, chiefly, also between Prague and Budapest. The outbreak of an armed conflict could be expected at any time; at least half a dozen times we were given to understand by the Hungarian Government that this could not go on forever; that they must have their revision in one way or the other. The situation was such that for quite some time very strong movements for independence existed among the Slovaks. We were approached on this matter quite frequently, at first by Tuka and later by Tiso. In this conference described here, the situation was that the Fuehrer, who knew for weeks of the endeavors of the Slovaks to become independent, finally received Tiso, later President of the State, and told him that now, of course -- I believe he told him during this conversation -- that he was not interested in the question for its own sake. But if anything should happen at all, then the Slovaks must proclaim their independence as quickly as possible. There is no doubt that at the time we expected an action by Hungary. It is, however, correct ...
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: You can see how very anxious the Slovaks seemed to be for independence and what action Hitler and yourself were taking to secure it, if you try to find it, it will probably be at Page 67; it is at the end of a paragraph beginning, "Now he has permitted Minister Tiso to come here... "
And just below the middle of that paragraph, Hitler is reported as saying that he would not tolerate that internal instability and he had for that reason permitted Tiso to come in order to hear his
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decision. It was not a question of days but of hours. He stated at that time that, if Slovakia wished to make herself independent, he would support this endeavor and even guarantee it; he would stand by his words so long as Slovakia would make it clear that she wished for independence. If she hesitated or did not wish to dissolve the connection with Prague, he would leave the destiny of Slovakia to the mercy of the events for which he was no longer responsible. Then in the next paragraph he asks you if you had anything to say and you are reported as saying (Document Number 2802-PS, Exhibit USA-117):
"The Reich Foreign Minister also emphasized for his part the view that in this case a decision was a question of hours and not of days. He showed Hitler a message he had just received which reported Hungarian troop movements on the Slovak frontier. The Fuehrer read this report and mentioned it to Tiso and expressed his hope that Slovakia would soon come to a clear decision." Are you denying, Witness, that Hitler and you were putting the strongest possible pressure you could on the Slovaks to dissolve connections with Prague and so leave the Czechs standing alone to meet your pressure on Hacha which was coming in a couple of days?
VON RIBBENTROP: No, that is not correct. Very strong pressure was not used. There is no doubt that on the part of Hungary -- and my remark refers to the possibility of war-like developments with the Hungarians -- but wishes for independence had for a long time been conveyed to us again and again by the Slovaks. It is possible that, at the time, as the document shows, Tiso was hesitating, because after all it was an important step. But in view of the wish of the Fuehrer, which must have been obvious by then, to solve the question of Bohemia and Moravia in one way or another, it was in the interest of the Fuehrer to do his part to bring about the independence of Slovakia.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: One point. This is my last question before I come to the interview with President Hacha. Don't you remember that 2 days before Herr Burckel -- that is in my recollection -- Herr Burckel and another Austrian National Socialist, the Defendant Seyss-Inquart and a number of German officers, at about 10 in the evening of Saturday, the 11th of March, went into a Cabinet meeting at Bratislava and told the soi-disant Slovak Government that they should proclaim the independence of Slovakia? Don't you know that? It was reported by our consul.
VON RIBBENTROP: I do not recall it in detail, but I believe that something of the kind took place but I do not know exactly what it
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was. I believe that it was directed by the Fuehrer. I had, I believe, less to do with that. I no longer recall that exactly.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: I will deal very shortly ...
THE PRESIDENT: Sir David, it is a quarter to 1 now. We had better adjourn until 2.
[The Tribunal recessed until 1400 hours.]
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SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Witness, you were present at the interview between President Hacha and Hitler on 15 March 1939, were you not?
VON RIBBENTROP: Yes, I was present.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Do you remember Hitler's saying at that interview that he had given the order for German troops to march into Czechoslovakia, and that at 6 o'clock in the morning the German Army would invade Czechoslovakia from all sides?
VON RIBBENTROP: I do not recall the exact words, but I know that Hitler told Hacha that he would occupy the countries of Bohemia and Moravia.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Do you remember his saying what I put to you, that he had given the order for German troops to march into Czechoslovakia?
VON RIBBENTROP: Yes, that is what I just said.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Do you remember the Defendant Goering, as he told the Tribunal, telling President Hacha that he would order the German Air Forces to bomb Prague?
VON RIBBENTROP: I cannot say anything about that in detail, because at that discussion I was not ...
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: I am not asking you for a detailed statement; I am asking you if you remember what I should suppose was a rather remarkable statement, that the Defendant Goering said to President Hacha that he would order the German Air Force to bomb Prague if Czech resistance was not called off. Do you remember that?
VON RIBBENTROP: No, I do not know that; I was not present.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: You were there during the whole interview, were you not?
VON RIBBENTROP: No, I was not. If the British Prosecutor will give me a chance I shall explain how it was.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: I want you to answer my question at the moment. You say you do not remember that. At any rate, if the Defendant Goering said that he said it, would you accept that it happened?
VON RIBBENTROP: If Goering says so, then it must, of course, be true. I have merely stated that I was not present during that conference between President Hacha and the then Reich Marshal Goering.
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SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Do you remember Hitler saying that within 2 days the Czech Army would not exist any more?
VON RIBBENTROP: I do not recall that in detail, no; it was a very long conference.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Do you remember Hitler saying that at 6 o'clock the troops would march in? He was almost ashamed to say that there was one German division to each Czech battalion.
VON RIBBENTROP: It is possible that something like that was said. However, I do not remember the details.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: If these things were said, will you agree with me that the most intolerable pressure was put on President Hacha?
VON RIBBENTROP: Undoubtedly Hitler used very clear language. However, to that I must add that President Hacha, on his part, had come to Berlin in order to find a solution, together with Hitler. He was surprised that troops were to march into Czechoslovakia. That I know, and I remember it exactly. But he agreed to it eventually and then contacted his government and his chief of staff, so that there would be no hostile reception for the German troops. He then concluded with Hitler, with the Czech Foreign Minister and me, the agreement which I had drafted.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Will you agree with me that that agreement was obtained through a threat of aggressive action by the German Army and Air Force?
VON RIBBENTROP: It is certain, since the Fuehrer told President Hacha that the German Army would march in, that naturally, this instrument was written under that impression. That is correct.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Don't you think you could answer one of my question directly? I will ask it again. Will you agree with me that that document was obtained by the most intolerable pressure and threat of aggression? That is a simple question. Do you agree?
VON RIBBENTROP: In that way, no.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: What further pressure could you put on the head of a country except to threaten him that your army would march in, in overwhelming strength, and your Air Force would bomb his capital?
VON RIBBENTROP: War, for instance.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: What is that but war? Do you not consider it war that the Army would march in with a proportion of a division over a battalion, and that the Air Force would bomb Prague?
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VON RIBBENTROP: President Hacha had told the Fuehrer, that he would place the fate of his country in the Fuehrer's hands, and the Fuehrer had...
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: I want you to answer my question. My question is a perfectly simple one, and I want your answer to it. You have told us that that agreement was obtained after these threats were made.
VON RIBBENTROP: No, I did not say that.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Yes, that is what you said a moment ago.
VON RIBBENTROP: No.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: I put to you that that agreement was obtained by threat of war. Is that not so?
VON RIBBENTROP: I believe that this threat is incomparably lighter than the threats under which Germany stood for years through the Versailles Treaty and its sanctions.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Well, leaving whatever it is comparatively, will you now answer my question? Do you agree that that agreement was obtained by threat of war?
VON RIBBENTROP: It was obtained under a pressure, that is under the pressure of the march into Prague; there is no doubt about that. However, the decisive point of the whole matter was that the Fuehrer explained to President Hacha the reasons why he had to do this, and eventually Hacha agreed fully, after he had consulted his government and his general staff and heard their opinion. However, it is absolutely correct that the Fuehrer was resolved to solve this question under any circumstances. The reason was, that the Fuehrer was of the opinion that in the remainder of Czechoslovakia there was a conspiracy against the German Reich; Reich Marshal Goering had already stated that Russian commissions were said to have been at Czech airdromes. Consequently the Fuehrer acted as he did because he believed that it was necessary in the highest interest and for the protection of the German Reich. I might draw a comparison: For instance, President Roosevelt declared an interest in the Western Hemisphere; England has extended her interest over the entire globe. I think, that the interest which the Fuehrer showed in the remainder of Czechoslovakia was, as such, not unreasonable for a great power; about the methods one may think as one pleases. At any rate one thing is certain, and that is that these countries were occupied without a single drop of blood being shed.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: They were occupied without a single drop of blood being shed because you had threatened to march in overwhelming strength and to bomb Prague if they didn't agree, isn't that so?
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VON RIBBENTROP: No, not because we had threatened with superiority, but because we had agreed beforehand that the Germans could march in unimpeded.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: I put it to you again, that the agreement was obtained, however, by your threatening to march in and threatening to bomb Prague, was it not?
VON RIBBENTROP: I have already told you once that it was not so, but that the Fuehrer had talked to President Hacha about it and told him that he would march in. The conversation between President Hacha and Goering is not known to me. President Hacha signed the agreement after he had consulted his government and his general staff in Prague by telephone. There is no doubt that the personality of the Fuehrer, his reasoning, and finally the announced entry of the German troops induced President Hacha to sign the agreement.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Don't you remember -- would you mind standing up, General, for a second? [A Czechoslovakian Army officer arose.] Don't you remember that General Ecer asked you some questions once, this general from Czechoslovakia?
VON RIBBENTROP: Yes, certainly.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Did you say to him that you thought that this action on the 15th of March was contrary to the declaration of Hitler given to Chamberlain but, in fact, that Hitler saw in the occupation a vital necessity for Germany?
VON RIBBENTROP: Yes, that is correct. I was wrong in the first point; I will admit that openly; I remembered it afterward. In the Munich Agreement between Hitler and Chamberlain nothing like that is contained. It was not intended as a violation of that agreement. In the second place, I think I stated that Hitler believed he had to act that way in the interest of his country.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Now, I just want you to tell us one or two general things about your views with regard to Great Britain. Is it correct that when you went to London as Ambassador of the Reich you thought there was very little chance of an agreement, in fact that it was a hundred-to-one chance of getting an understanding with Great Britain?
VON RIBBENTROP: When I asked the Fuehrer to send me to London personally ...
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Here is a simple question I am asking you: Is it right th4t when you went to London as Ambassador you thought there was very little chance of an understanding with England, in fact, that the chance was a hundred-to-one?
VON RIBBENTROP: Yes, the chances were not good.
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SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: These, as you know, are your own words...
VON RIBBENTROP: I would like to add something.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: First answer my question. These are your own words, aren't they, that the chance was a hundred-to-one? Do you remember saying that?
VON RIBBENTROP: A hundred-to-one? I do not remember that, but I want to add something. I told Hitler that the chance was very small; and I also told him that I would try everything to bring about an Anglo-German understanding in spite of the odds.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Now, when you left England did you believe that war was inevitable? When you left England, when you ceased being ambassador, did you believe that war was unavoidable?
VON RIBBENTROP: No, I was not of the opinion that it was inevitable, but that, considering the developments which were taking place in England, a possibility of war existed, of that I was convinced.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: I want you to be careful about this. Did you say that you didn't think war was unavoidable when you left England?
VON RIBBENTROP: I can neither say that it was unavoidable nor that it was avoidable; at any rate, it was clear to me that with the development of the policy towards Germany which was taking place in England, an armed conflict might lie in the realm of possibility.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Now, look at page 211-E of the document book; English book, 170.
VON RIBBENTROP: Did you say 211?
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Have you got that?
VON RIBBENTROP: Yes, I have.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Now will you look at the second paragraph? It reads like this:
"He, the RAM (Reich Foreign Minister), had been more than skeptical even on his arrival in London and had considered the chances for an understanding as a hundred-to-one. The warmongers' clique in England had won the upper hand. When he (the RAM) left England, war was unavoidable." (Document Number 1834-PS) Is that what you said to Ambassador Oshima?
VON RIBBENTROP: I do not know whether I said exactly that; at any rate, that is diplomatic language, Mr. Prosecutor, and it is quite possible that we at that time, as a result of the situation, in
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consultation with the Japanese ambassador, considered it opportune to express it that way. At any rate, that is not the important point; the important thing is that as I remember, when I left England a certainty and inevitability of war did not exist. Whether in later years I said this or that has no bearing on what I said when I left London. I do not think that there is the least bit of evidence for that. Perhaps I tried to draw him into the war against England and therefore used forceful language.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: As you said "no," just look at Document Number TC-75, Exhibit GB-28, and at your conclusions that are to be drawn. You will see it at the end under Number 5, "Therefore, conclusions to be drawn by us..." It is about the end of the third page:
"5) Therefore, conclusions to be drawn by us:
"1) Outwardly further understanding with England while profecting the interest of our friends;
"2) Formation, under great secrecy but with all persistence, of a coalition against England, that is, in practice a tightening of our friendship with Italy and Japan, also the winning over of all nations whose interests conform with ours, directly or indirectly; close and confidential co-operation of the diplomats of the three great powers towards this purpose."
And the last sentence:
"Every day on which -- no matter what tactical interludes of rapprochement towards us are attempted -- our political considerations are not guided fundamentally by the thought of England as our most dangerous adversary, would be a gain for our enemies."
Why did you tell the Tribunal a minute ago that you had not advised the Fuehrer that there should be outward friendly relations and in actuality a coalition against her?
VON RIBBENTROP: I do not know what kind of a document that is at all. May I see it?
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: It is signed by yourself on the 2d of January 1938. It is your own report to the Fuehrer.
VON RIBBENTROP: Yes, that is quite correct as such; that is the conclusive statement: Only thus can we, some day, come to an agreement or to a conflict with England. The situation at that time was clearly this, that England was resisting the German wishes for a revision which the Fuehrer had declared vital and that only through a strong diplomatic coalition did it seem possible to induce England, by diplomatic and not by bellicose means.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: You probably told him what was untrue?
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VON RIBBENTROP: I do not know, and I also do not know whether the details have been recorded accurately. It is a long record; I do not know where it comes from.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: It is your own record of the meeting, from captured German documents.
VON RIBBENTROP: That is quite possible, but many things are said in diplomacy every word of which is not weighed carefully. At any rate, the truth is that when I left London there was no certainty that the war was inevitable, but there is no doubt that I was skeptical when I left London and did not know in what direction things would be drifting, particularly on account of the very strong pro-war party in England.
THE PRESIDENT: Defendant, will you speak a little bit more slowly?
VON RIBBENTROP: Yes, Sir.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Now, when you left England, was it not your view that the German policy should be pretended friendliness toward England and actual formation of a coalition against her?
VON RIBBENTROP: Put this way, that is not correct. It was clear to me, when I became Foreign Minister, that the realization of the German desires in Europe was difficult and that it was principally England who opposed them. I had tried for years, by order of the Fuehrer, to achieve these things by means of a friendly understanding with England.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: I want you now to answer my question: Did you advise the Fuehrer that the proper policy was pretended friendliness with England and in actuality the formation of a coalition against her? Did you or did you not?
VON RIBBENTROP: No, that is not the right way of putting it to agree to these German aspirations. That without doubt, was the situation.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: I want to know, Witness, why you told the Tribunal 5 minutes ago that you had not advised Hitler in the sense in which I put to you?
VON RIBBENTROP: Which advice do you mean?
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Outwardly an understanding with England and formation under great secrecy of a coalition against her. I put that to you twice and you denied it, I want to know why you did deny it.
VON RIBBENTROP: I said quite clearly that England was resisting the German requests and that therefore, if Germany wanted
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to realize these aspirations, she could do nothing but find friends and bring England with the help of those friends to the conference table so that England would yield to these aspirations by diplomatic means. That was my task at that time.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Now I want you to direct your attention to the relations with Poland. I will give you the opportunity of answering a question generally, and I hope in that way we may save time.
Will you agree that up to the Munich Agreement, the speeches of all German statesmen were full of the most profound affection and respect for Poland? Do you agree with that?
VON RIBBENTROP: Yes.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: What was the purpose of what is shown in the Foreign Office memorandum of 26 August 1938? I will give you the page number, Page 107 of your document book. I want you to look at it. I think it is the fourth paragraph, beginning, "This method of approach towards Czechoslovakia..."; and you may take it from me that the method of approach was putting forward the idea that you and Hitler wanted the return of all Germans to the Reich. I put it quite fairly and objectively. That is what preceded it. I want you to look at that paragraph.
VON RIBBENTROP: Which paragraph do you mean? I did not hear.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: The fourth, "This method of approach towards Czechoslovakia..." it begins. The fourth on my copy.
VON RIBBENTROP: I have not found it yet. Paragraph 5, yes, I have it.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE:
"This method of approach towards Czechoslovakia is to be recommended also because of our relationship with Poland. The turning away of Germany from the boundary question of the southeast and her changeover to those of the east and northeast must inevitably put the Poles on the alert. After the liquidation of the Czechoslovakian question, it will be generally assumed that Poland will be the next in turn; but the later this assumption becomes a factor in international politics, the better." (Document Number TC-76) Does that correctly set out the endeavors of German foreign policy at that time?
VON RIBBENTROP: Undoubtedly no, for, first of all, I do not know what kind of a document it is. It has apparently been prepared
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by some official in the Foreign Office where sometimes such theoretical treatises were prepared and may have come to me through the State Secretary. However, I do not remember having read it. Whether it reached me, I cannot tell you at the moment; but it is possible that such thoughts prevailed among some of our officials. That is quite possible.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: I see. Now, if you do not agree, would you look at Page 110, on which you will find extracts from Hitler's Reichstag speech on 26 September 1938. 1 am sorry. I said Reichstag; I meant Sportpalast.
VON RIBBENTROP: Sportpalast, yes.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: At the end of this extract the Fuehrer is quoted as saying with regard to Poland, after a tribute to Marshal Pilsudski:
"We are all convinced that this agreement will bring lasting pacification. We realize that here are two peoples who must live together and neither of whom can do away with the other. A people of 33 millions will always strive for an outlet to the sea. A way to understanding, then, had to be found. It has been found, and it will be continually extended further. Certainly, things were difficult for this area. The nationalities and small groups frequently quarreled among themselves, but the decisive facttis that the two Governments and all reasonable and clear-sighted persons among the two peoples and in the two countries possess the firm will and determination to improve their relations. This is a real work of peace, of more value than all of the idle talk at the League of Nations Palace in Geneva." (Document Number TC-73, Number 42)
Do you think that is an honest statement of opinion?
VON RIBBENTROP: Yes, I believe that that was definitely the Fuehrer's view at the time.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: And so at that time all the questions of the treatment of minorities in Poland were very unimportant; is that so?
VON RIBBENTROP: No, they were not unimportant. They were a latent and even difficult point between Poland and ourselves, and the purpose of that particular kind of statement by the Fuehrer was to overcome it. I am so familiar with the problem of the minorities in Poland because I watched it for personal reasons for many years. From the time I took over the Foreign Ministry, there were again and again the greatest difficulties which, however, were always settled on our part in the most generous way.
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SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: At any rate you have agreed with me that the speeches at that time -- and you say quite honestly -- were full of praise and affection for the Poles; is that right?
VON RIBBENTROP: Yes, we were hoping that thereby we could bring the German minority problem, in particular, to a satisfactory and sensible solution. That had been our policy since 1934.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Well, now, immediately after Munich you first raised the question of Danzig with M. Lipski, I think, in October, around 21 October. VON RIBBENTROP: Right, 28 October.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: 28 October. And the Poles had replied on the 31st; it may have reached you a day later through M. Lipski, suggesting the making of a bilateral agreement between Germany and Poland, but saying the return of Danzig to the Reich would lead to a conflict. I put it quite generally. I just wanted to remind you of the tenor of the reply. Do you remember?
VON RIBBENTROP: According to my recollection it was not quite like that. The Fuehrer had charged me -- it was on 28 October, to be exact -- to request Ambassador Lipski to come to Berchtesgaden. His order was given because the Fuehrer in particular, perhaps as a sequel to the speech in the Sportpalast, but that I do not remember, wanted to bring about a clarification of the relations with all his neighbors. He wanted that now particularly with respect to Poland. He instructed me, therefore, to discuss with Ambassador Lipski the question of Danzig and the question of a connection between the Reich and East Prussia. I asked Ambassador Lipski to come and see me, and stated these wishes in a very friendly atmosphere. Ambassador Lipski was very reserved; he stated that after all Danzig was not a simple problem but that he would discuss the question with his government. I asked him to do so soon and inform me of the outcome. That was the beginning of the negotiations with Poland.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Well, now, if you will turn -- I do not want to stop you, but I want to get on quickly over this matter -- if you will turn to Page 114, you will find the minutes of M. Beck's conversation with Hitler on 5 January. I just want to draw your attention to the last paragraph, where, after M. Beck had said that the Danzig question was a very difficult problem:
"In answer to this the Chancellor stated that to solve this problem it would be necessary to try to find something quite new, some new formula, for which he used the term 'Korperschaft,' which on the one hand would safeguard the interest of the German population and on the other hand the Polish interest.
In addition the Chancellor declared that the Minister
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could be quite at ease; there would be no fait accompli in Danzig and nothing would be done to render difficult the situation of the Polish Government." (Document TC-73, Number 48)
Do you see that, before I ask you the question?
VON RIBBENTROP: Yes, I have read that.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Just look at the summary of your own conversation with M. Beck on the next day. It is Page 115, at the beginning of the paragraph, the second paragraph. You will see that, after M. Beck had mentioned the Danzig question, you said, "In answer, Herr Von Ribbentrop once more emphasized that Germany was not seeking any violent solution." (Document TC-73, Number 49). That was almost word for word what Hitler had said the day before; do you see that? VON RIBBENTROP: Yes.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Now, turn back to Page 113. (Document Number C-137, Exhibit GB-33) These are the Defendant Keitel's orders to -- or rather, to put it exactly -- the Defendant Keitel's transmission of the Fuehrer's order with regard to Danzig. It is dated 24 November. That was some 6 weeks before, and it is supplementary to an order of 21 October, and you see what it says:
"Apart from the three contingencies mentioned hi the instructions of 21 October, preparations are also to be made to enable the Free State of Danzig to be occupied by German troops by surprise. ('4. Occupation of Danzig'). "The preparations will be made on the following basis. The condition is a coup de main occupation of Danzig, exploiting a politically favorable situation, not. a war against Poland." (Document Number C-137)
Did you know of these instructions?
VON RIBBENTROP: No, I did not know that. This is the first time that I have seen that order or whatever it may be. May I add something?
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Not for the moment. Hitler must have known of the order, mustn't he? It is an order of the Fuehrer?
VON RIBBENTROP: Yes, of course, and therefore I assume -- that is what I wanted to add -- that the British Prosecution are aware that political matters and military matters are in this case two completely different conceptions. There is no doubt that the Fuehrer, in view of the permanent difficulties in Danzig and the Corridor; had given military orders of some kind -- just in case -- and I can
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well imagine that it is one of these orders. I see it today for the first time.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Supposing that you had known of the orders, Witness, would you still have said on the 5th of January that Germany was not seeking a fait accompli or a violent solution? If you had known of that order would you still have said it?
VON RIBBENTROP: If I had known this order and considering it an order of the General Staff for possible cases, as I am compelled to do, then I would still continue to have the same opinion. I think it is part of the General Staff's duty to take into consideration all possible eventualities and prepare for them in principle. In the final analysis that has nothing to do with politics.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Nothing to do with politics to. have a cut-and-dried plan how the Free State of Danzig is to be occupied by German troops by surprise when you are telling the Poles that you won't have a fait accompli? That is your idea of how matters should be carried on? If it is I will leave it.
VON RIBBENTROP: No, I must rather add that I know that the Fuehrer was alarmed for a long time, particularly during 1939, lest a sudden Polish attack take place against Danzig; so that to me, I am not a military man, it appears quite natural to make some preparations for all such problems and possibilities. But, of course, I cannot judge the details of these orders.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Now, when did you learn that Hitler was determined to attack Poland?
VON RIBBENTROP: That Hitler contemplated a military action against Poland, I learned for the first time, as I remember, in August 1939. That, of course, he had made certain military preparations in advance to meet any eventuality becomes clear from this order regarding Danzig. But I definitely did not learn about this order, and I do not recollect now in detail whether I received at that time any military communication. I do remember that I knew virtually nothing about it.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Do you tell the Tribunal that you did not know in May that Hitler's real view was that Danzig was not the subject of the dispute at all, but that his real object was the acquisition of Lebensraum in the East?
VON RIBBENTROP: No, I did not know it in that sense. The Fuehrer talked sometimes about living space, that is right, but I did not know that he had the intention to attack Poland.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Well now, just look at Page 117, or it may be 118, of your document. On Page 117 you will find the
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minutes of the conference on the 23rd day of May 1939 at the new Reich Chancellery.
VON RIBBENTROP: Did you say 117?
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: 117. 1 want you to look at it. It may be on Page 118, and it begins with the following words:
"Danzig is not the subject of the dispute at all; it is a question of expanding our Lebensraum in the East and of securing our food supplies and of the settlement of the Baltic problem. Food supplies can be expected only from thinly populated areas. Added to the natural fertility, the German, through cultivation, will enormously increase the surplus. There is no other possibility for Europe." (Document Number L-79)
Are you telling the Tribunal that Hitler never explained that view to you?
VON RIBBENTROP: It may be strange to say so, but I should like to say first that it looks as though I was not present during this conference. That was a military conference, and the Fuehrer used to hold these military conferences quite separately from the political conferences. The Fuehrer did now and then mention that we had to have Lebensraum; but I knew nothing, and he never told me anything at that time, that is in May 1939, of an intention to attack Poland. Yes, I think this was kept back deliberately, as had been done in other cases, because he always wanted his diplomats to stand wholeheartedly for a diplomatic solution and to bring it about.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: You mean to say that Hitler was deliberately keeping you in the dark as to his real aims; that Danzig was not the subject of dispute and what he really wanted was Lebensraum; is that your story?
VON RIBBENTROP: Yes, I assume that he did that deliberately because ...
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Well now, just look at the very short paragraph a little further on where he says:
"There is no question of sparing Poland, and we are left with no alternative but to attack Poland at the first suitable opportunity. We cannot expect a repetition of the Czech affair. There will be fighting. The task is to isolate Poland."
Do you tell the Tribunal that he never said that to his Foreign Minister?
VON RIBBENTROP: I did not quite understand that question.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: It is a perfectly simple one. Do you tell the Tribunal that Hitler never mentioned what I have just read from his speech, that there is to be no question of sparing Poland, that you had to attack Poland at the first opportunity, and
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your task was to isolate Poland? Are you telling the Tribunal that Hitler never mentioned that to his Foreign Minister, who would have the practical conduct of foreign policy?
VON RIBBENTROP: No, he did not do that at that time; but, according to my recollection, only much later, in the summer of 1939. At that time he did say that he was resolved -- and he said literally -- to solve the problem one way or another.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: And do you say that you didn't know in May that Hitler wanted war?
VON RIBBENTROP: That he wanted what?
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: You didn't know in May that Hitler wanted war?
VON RIBBENTROP: No, I was not convinced of that at all.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: It is quite clear from the document that he did want war, isn't it?
VON RIBBENTROP: This document, no doubt, shows the intention of an action against Poland, but I know that Hitler often used strong language to his military men, that is, he spoke as though he had the firm intention of attacking a certain country in some way, but whether he actually would have carried it out later politically is an entirely different question. I know that he repeatedly told me that one had to talk with military men as if war was about to break out here or there on the next day.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Now, I want to ask you about another point. You said on Friday that you had never expressed the view that Great Britain would stay out of war and would fail to honor her guarantee to Poland. Do you remember saying that?
VON RIBBENTROP: Yes.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Is that true?
VON RIBBENTROP: Yes.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Well now, I would just like you to look at one or two other documents. Do you remember on the 29th of April 1939 receiving the Hungarian Prime Minister and the Foreign Minister at 3:30 in the afternoon?
VON RIBBENTROP: No, I do not remember that.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Well, we have the minutes of your meeting signed by Von Erdmannsdorff, I think. Did you say this to the Hungarian Prime Minister and Foreign Minister:
"The Reich Foreign Minister added that it was his firm conviction that, no matter what happened in Europe, no French or English soldier would attack Germany. Our relations with Poland were gloomy at the moment."
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Did you say that?
VON RIBBENTROP: I do not think I ever said that. I consider that impossible.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Well, if you got a copy ...
VON RIBBENTROP: May I perhaps have a look at the document?
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Yes, certainly, with pleasure. This will become Exhibit GB-289, Document D-737.
VON RIBBENTROP: I cannot, of course, tell you now in detail that I said at that time, but it may be possible that there was an effort at that time to reassure the Hungarians who were probably concerned about the Polish problem; that is absolutely possible. But I hardly believe that I said anything like this. However, it is certain that the Fuehrer knew, and I had told the Fuehrer that England would inarch to the aid of Poland.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: If you are a little doubtful would you look at Document Number D-738, which will be Exhibit GB-290. Apparently you saw these gentlemen again 2 days later. Just look at the last sentence of that:
"He (the Reich Foreign Minister) pointed out again that Poland presented no military problem for us. In case of a military clash the British would coldly leave the Poles in the lurch."
That is quite straight speaking, isn't it, "The British would coldly leave the Poles in the lurch"?
VON RIBBENTROP: I do not know on just what page that is.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: It is Paragraph 7, and it is the report of the 1st of May, the last sentence of my quotation. It is signed by a gentlemen called Von Erdmannsdorff; it appears above his signature. The words I am asking you about are, "In case of a military clash the British would coldly leave the Poles in the lurch."
VON RIBBENTROP: Is that on Page 8 or where? On what page, if I may ask?
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: My heading is Paragraph 7. It begins:
"The Reich Foreign Minister then returned to our attitude towards the Polish question and pointed out that the Polish attitude had aroused great bitterness."
VON RIBBENTROP: It is perfectly conceivable that I said something like that, and if it has been said it was done in order not to alarm the Hungarians and to keep them on our side. It is quite clear that that is nothing but diplomatic talk.
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SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Don't you think there is any requirement to tell the truth in a political conversation?
VON RIBBENTROP: That was not the point; the point was to bring about a situation which made it possible to solve this and the Polish question in a diplomatic way. If I were to tell the Hungarians today, and this applies to the Italians also, that England would assist Poland and that a great war would result, then this would create a diplomatic situation which would make it impossible to solve the problem at all. There is no doubt that during the entire time I had to use very strong language, just as the Fuehrer had always ordered, for if his own Foreign Minister had hinted at other possibilities, it would naturally have been very difficult, and I venture to say, it would have meant that this would, in any case, have led to war. But we wanted to create a strong German position so that we could solve this problem peacefully. I may add that the Hungarians were somewhat worried with regard to the German policy, and that the Fuehrer had told me from the start to use particularly clear and strong language on these subjects. I used that kind of language also quite frequently to my own diplomats for the same reasons.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: You want us to assume that you were telling lies to the Hungarians but you are telling the truth to this Tribunal. That is what it comes to shortly, isn't it? That is what you want us to understand -- that you were telling lies to the Hungarians but you are telling the truth to this Tribunal. That is what you want us to understand isn't it?
VON RIBBENTROP: I do not know whether one can talk of lies in this case, Mr. Prosecutor. This is a question of diplomacy; and if we wanted to create a strong position, then of course we could not go beating about the bush. Consider what the impression would have been if the German Foreign Minister had spoken as if at the slightest German step the whole world would attack Germany! The Fuehrer used frequently such strong language and expected me to do the same. I want to emphasize again that often I had to use such language, even to my own Foreign Office, so that there was no misunderstanding. If the Fuehrer was determined on the solution of a problem, no matter what the circumstances, even at the risk of war if it had to be, our only chance to succeed was to adopt a firm stand, for had we failed to do that, war would have been inevitable.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Well now, I want you to have in mind what Count Ciano says that you said to him on, I think the 11th or 12th of August, just before your meeting at, I think it was at Salzburg, with you and Hitler. You remember that according to Count Ciano's diary he said that he asked you, "What do you want, the Corridor or Danzig?" and that you looked at him and said, "Not any more; we want war." Do you remember that?
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VON RIBBENTROP: Yes, that is absolutely untrue. I told Count Ciano at that time, this is on the same line, "the Fuehrer is determined to solve the Polish problem one way or another." This was what the Fuehrer had instructed me to say. That I am supposed to have said "we want war" is absurd for the simple reason that, it is clear to every diplomat, those things are just not said, not even to the very best and most trusted ally, but most certainly not to Count Ciano.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: I should just like you to look at a report of the subsequent conversation that you had with Mussolini and Count Ciano not very long after, on the 10th of March 1940, that is, about 9 months later. If you look at Document Number 2835-PS, which will become Exhibit GB-291, and if you will turn to, I think it is Page 18 or 19 ...
VON RIBBENTROP: You mean Page 18?
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: I remind you again, a conversation between you and Mussolini and Ciano on the 10th of March 1940. It begins by saying:
"The Reich Foreign Minister recalled that he actually had stated in Salzburg to Count Ciano that he did not believe that England and France would assist Poland without further questions, but that at all times he had reckoned with the possibility of intervention by the Western Powers. He was glad now about the course of events, because, first of all, it had always been clear that the clash would have to come sooner or later and that it was inevitable." And then you go on to say that it would be a good thing to finish the conflict in the lifetime of the Fuehrer.
VON RIBBENTROP: Yes, that was after the outbreak of war; is that it?
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Yes. What I am putting to you are these words:
"He was glad now about the course of events, because, first of all, it had always been clear that the clash would have to come sooner or later and that it was inevitable."
And if you will look at where it says "secondly"...
VON RIBBENTROP: May I reply to that?
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Yes; but what I am suggesting to you is that that shows perfectly clearly that Count Ciano is right, and that you were very glad that the war had come, because you thought this was an appropriate time for it to happen.
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VON RIBBENTROP: No, I do not agree. On the contrary, it says here also "that at all times he had reckoned with the possibility of intervention by the Western Powers." It says so here quite clearly.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: But it is the second part that I am putting to you. I pass from that point about British intervention. I say, "he was glad now about the course of events," and if you will look down at the paragraph where it says "secondly," so that you will have it in mind, the third line says:
"Secondly, at the moment when England introduced general conscription it was clear that the ratio of war strength would not develop in the long run in favor of Germany and Italy."
VON RIBBENTROP: May I ask where it says that?
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: A few lines further down. The word "secondly" is underlined, isn't it?
VON RIBBENTROP: No, it is not here. Yes, I have it.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: "Secondly, at the moment when England introduced general conscription... " It is about 10 lines further on.
VON RIBBENTROP: Yes, what does the British Prosecutor try to prove with that; I do not quite understand?
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: I want you to look at the next sentence before you answer my question.
"This, along with the other things, was decisive for the Fuehrer's decision to solve the Polish question, even under the danger of intervention by the Western Powers. The deciding fact was, however, that a great power could not take certain things lying down."
What I am saying...
VON RIBBENTROP: Yes, that appears correct to me.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: And that was your view at the time and the view that you declared afterwards as being your view, that you were determined that you would solve the Polish question even if it meant war? Count Ciano was perfectly right in saying that you wanted war. That is what I am putting to you.
VON RIBBENTROP: No; that is not correct. I told Count Ciano at the time at
Berchtesgaden that the Fuehrer was determined to solve the problem one way or another. It was necessary to put it in that way because the Fuehrer was convinced that whatever became known to Rome would go to London and Paris at once. He wanted therefore to have clear language used so that Italy would be on our side diplomatically. If the Fuehrer or myself had said that the Fuehrer was not so determined to solve that problem, then it would have
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been without doubt passed on immediately. But since the Fuehrer was determined to solve the problem, if necessary by war if it could not be solved any other way, this would have meant war, which explains the clear and firm diplomatic attitude which I had to adopt at that time in Salzburg. But I do not know in what way this is contradictory to what is being said here.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: I want you to pass on to the last week in August and take that again very shortly, because there is a lot of ground to cover. You agreed in your evidence that on the 25th of August the Fuehrer called off the attack which was designed for the morning of the 26th. You remember that? I just want you to have the dates in mind.
VON RIBBENTROP: I know that date very well.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: You were here in court the day Dahlerus gave his evidence, were you not?
VON RIBBENTROP: Yes, I was here.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: And let me remind you of the date, that on the evening of the 24th the Defendant Goering asked Herr Dahlerus to go to London the next morning to carry forward a preliminary outline of what the Fuehrer was going to say to Sir Nevile Henderson on the 25th. So you remember that was his evidence? And on the 25th, at 1:30 ...
VON RIBBENTROP: I do not recall the dates exactly, but I suppose they are correct.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: I know these dates pretty well, and the Tribunal will correct me if I am wrong, but I am giving them as I have looked them up. That was the night of the 24th; Dahlerus left on the morning of the 25th, and then at 1:30 on the 25th -- you said about noon, I am not quarreling with you for a matter of minutes -- midday on the 25th the Fuehrer saw Sir Nevile Henderson...
VON RIBBENTROP: Yes, that is right.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: And gave him what is called a note verbale, that is, an inquiry in general terms.
VON RIBBENTROP: No, it was given to him in the evening. At noon he had only talked to him and in the evening I had Minister Schmidt take the note verbale to him, I think that is the way it was, with a special message in which I asked him again to impress upon his Government how serious the Fuehrer was about this message or offer. I think that is contained in the British Blue Book.
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SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Whenever you gave him the actual note, Herr Hitler told him the general view in the oral conversation which he had with Sir Nevile in the middle of the day?
VON RIBBENTROP: Yes, that is right.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: And the actual calling off of the attack on the morning of the 26th, as you have said, was not done until you had had the message from Signor Mussolini at about 3 o'clock, and the news that the Anglo-Polish formal agreement was going to be signed that evening about 4 o'clock. That is what you have said.
Now, the first point that I am putting to you is this: That at the time that Herr Dahlerus was sent, and the time of this note, when the words were spoken by the Fuehrer to Sir Nevile Henderson, it was the German intention to attack on the morning of the 26th; and what I suggest is that both the message to Herr Dahlerus and the words which were spoken to Sir Nevile Henderson were simply designed in order to trouble the British Government, in the hop e that it might have some effect on them withdrawing from their aid to Poland; isn't that right?
VON RIBBENTROP: Do you want me to answer that?
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Certainly; I am asking you.
VON RIBBENTROP: The situation is that I am not familiar with the message of Dahlerus, I cannot say anything about it. Regarding the meeting between Hitler and Sir Nevile Henderson, I can say that I read the correspondence between Mr. Chamberlain and Hitler in the morning, I think it was dated the 22d, and somehow had arrived at a sort of deadlock. I talked to the Fuehrer afterwards, about whether or not another attempt should be made in order to arrive at some kind of a solution with England. Subsequently, towards noon, I think it was 1 or 2 o'clock, the Fuehrer met Sir Nevile Henderson in my presence and told him he should take a plane and fly to London in order to talk to the British Government as soon as possible. After the solution of the Polish problem he intended to approach England again with a comprehensive offer. He gave, I believe, a rough outline of the offer already in the note verbale; but I do not recall that exactly. Then Sir Nevile Henderson flew to London. While the Fuehrer was having that conversation, military measures were under way. I learned of that during the day, because Mussolini's refusal had arrived, I believe, not at 3 o'clock, but earlier in the course of the morning or at noon. Then at 4 or 5 in the afternoon I heard about the ratification of the Polish-British agreement. I went to the Fuehrer immediately and suggested to him to withdraw the military measures; and he did so after short deliberation. There is no doubt that in the meantime certain military
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measures had been taken. Just how far they went I regret not to be able to say. But when the Fuehrer sent that offer, that note verbale to England I was convinced and under the impression that if England would respond to it in some way, it would not come to an armed conflict, and that in this case the military measures which, I believe, were automatically put in effect, would somehow have been stopped later on. But I cannot say anything about that in detail. I recollect only one thing, and that is that when I received the note verbale from the Fuehrer, which I think was in the afternoon or in the evening, these measures had already either been stopped or were, at any rate, in the process of being stopped. I cannot give it to you in chronological order at the moment. For that I have to have the pertinent documents which, unfortunately, are not at my disposal here. But one thing is certain, the offer of the Fuehrer to England was made in order to try once again to come to a solution of the Polish problem. When I saw the note verbale I even asked him, "How about the Polish solution?" and I still recollect that he said, "We will now send that note to the British, and if they respond to it then we can still see what to do, there will still be time."
At any rate, I believe, the military measures had either been stopped when the note was submitted, or they were stopped shortly after.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Now, you were not present at the meeting of the Fuehrer and his generals on the 22d of August, but you must have heard many times the account of it read out since this Trial started. You remember the Fuehrer is reported, according to minutes, to have said:
"I shall use propagandistic reasons for starting the war; never mind whether it be plausible or not. The victor shall not be asked later on whether he told the truth or not. In starting and making the war, not the right is what matters but victory." (Document Number 1014-PS).
That is what was said at Obersalzberg. Has Hitler ever said anything like that to you?
VON RIBBENTROP: Did you say the 27th?
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: On the 22d. What I am asking you is, has Hitler said anything similar to that to you?
VON RIBBENTROP: No, at the meeting on the 22d, I was not present; I think I was on my way to Moscow.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: I said you were not present. That is why I put it in that way. Has he ever said anything similar to you? You say "no." Well, now, I want you to come to the 29th.
VON RIBBENTROP: May I say something about that?
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SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: No; if you say that he has not said it to you, I am not going to pursue it, because we must not waste too much time on each of these details. I want you to come to the 29th of August when you saw Sir Nevile Henderson, and while accepting, with some reservations, the idea of direct negotiation with Poland, you said that it must be a condition of that negotiation that the Poles should send a plenipotentiary by the next day, by the 30th. You remember that?
VON RIBBENTROP: Yes, well, it was like this ...
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: I really do not want to stop you, but I do want to keep it short on this point.
VON RIBBENTROP: In that case I must say "no". May I make a statement?
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: I am sorry, because this is only preliminary. I thought it was common ground that you saw Sir Nevile on the 29th, that you put a number of terms. One of the terms was that a Polish plenipotentiary should be present by the 30th. If you don't agree with that, please tell me if I am wrong, because it is my recollection of all documents.
VON RIBBENTROP: Yes, that is correct.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Now, on the 30th you have told us that your reason for not giving a copy of the terms to Sir Nevile was, first, because Hitler had ordered you not to give a copy. And I think your reason given at the time was that the Polish plenipotentiary had not arrived, and therefore it was no good giving a copy of the terms. That's right, isn't it?
VON RIBBENTROP: Yes, that is correct.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Now, these terms that were given, that were read out by you, were not ready on the 29th, because in your communication demanding a plenipotentiary you said if he came on the 30th you would have the terms ready by that time. So may I take it that these terms were drawn up by Hitler with the heip of the Foreign Office between the 29th and the 30th? VON RIBBENTROP: He dictated them personally. I think there were 16 points, if I remember rightly.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Now, did you really expect after the treatment of Von Schuschnigg, of Tiso, of Hacha, that the Poles would be willing to send a fly into the spider's parlor?
VON RIBBENTROP: We certainly counted on it and hoped for it. I think that a hint from the British Government would have sufficed to bring that envoy to Berlin.
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SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE-: And what you hoped was to put the Poles in this dilemma, that either these terms would stand as a propagandistic cause for the war, to use Hitler's phrase -- or else you would be able, by putting pressure on the Polish plenipotentiary, to do exactly what you had done before with Schuschnigg and Tiso and Hacha, and get a surrender from the Poles. Wasn't that what was in your mind?
VON RIBBENTROP: No, the situation was different. I must say, that on the 29th the Fuehrer told the British Ambassador that he would draft these conditions or this agreement and by the time of the arrival of the Polish Plenipotentiary, would make them also available to the British Government -- or he hoped that this would be possible, I think that is what he said. Sir Nevile Henderson took note of that, and I must repeat that the Fuehrer, after the British reply had been received on the 28th, once more, and in spite of the extremely tense situation between Poland and Germany, agreed to that kind of negotiation. The decisive thing in these crucial days of the 30th and 31st is, therefore, the following: The Fuehrer had drafted these conditions, England knew that the possibility of arriving at a solution existed. All during the 30th of August we heard nothing from England, at least nothing definite. Only at midnight, I think, did the British Ambassador report for this discussion. In the meantime, I must mention that at 7 o'clock in the evening news of the general mobilization in Poland had been received, which excited the Fuehrer extremely. Through that, the situation had become extraordinarily acute. I still remember exactly the situation at the Chancellery where almost hourly reports were received about incidents, streams of refugees, and so forth. It was an atmosphere heavily charged with electricity. The Fuehrer waited all through the 30th; no definite answer arrived. Then, at midnight of the 30th, that conversation took place. The course of that conversation has already been described here by me and also by a witness, the interpreter Schmidt. I did more then than I was allowed to do, in that I had read the entire contents to Sir Nevile Henderson. I was hoping that England perhaps might do something yet. The Fuehrer had told Sir Nevile Henderson that a Polish plenipotentiary would be treated on equal terms. Therefore, there was the possibility of meeting, somewhere at an appointed place, or, that someone would come to Berlin, or that the Polish Ambassador Lipski would be given the necessary authority. Those were the possibilities. I would even like to go further. It was merely necessary, during the 30th or the 31st, until late that night, or the next morning when the march began, for the Polish Ambassador Lipski to have authority at least to receive in his hands the German proposals. Had this been done, the diplomatic negotiations would in any case have been under way and thus the crisis would have been averted, at least for the time being.
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I also believe, and I have said so before, that there would have been no objections. I believe the Fuehrer would have welcomed, if the British Ambassador had intervened. The basis for the negotiations, I have also mentioned this here before, was called reasonable by Sir Nevile Henderson personady. One hint from the British Government during the 30th or 31st, and negotiations would have been in course on the basis of these reasonable proposals of the Fuehrer, termed reasonable even by the British themselves. It would have caused no embarrassment to the Poles, and I believe that on the basis of these reasonable proposals, which were absolutely in accord with the Covenant of the League of Nations, which provided for a plebiscite in the Corridor area, a solution, perfectly acceptable for Poland, would have been possible.
THE PRESIDENT: The Tribunal will adjourn now for 10 minutes.
[A recess was taken.]
THE PRESIDENT: Defendant, the Tribunal desire me to say that they think that your answers and your explanations are too long, too argumentative, and too repetitive, and they are upon matters which have been gone over and over again before the Tribunal, so they would therefore ask you to try to keep your answers as short as possible.
VON RIBBENTROP: Yes.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Did I understand you correctly, Witness, on Friday, that you didn't know about the connection between Quisling and the Defendant Rosenberg in the spring and summer of 1939? It was well before the war, in the spring and summer, before June of 1939?
VON RIBBENTROP: Yes, that is correct. I knew that Rosenberg had friends in Norway and that the name of Quisling was mentioned, but this name meant nothing to me at that time. On the request of the Fuehrer, at that time I gave Rosenberg certain amountg of money for his friends in Norway, for newspapers, propaganda, and similar purposes.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: You didn't know, as I understand your testimony, that some of Quisling's men had been in a schooling camp in Germany in August of 1939, before the war?
VON RIBBENTROP: No I do not remember that. I learned of it here through a document. But I do not recall having known anything about it. At any rate, if I knew anything about it, I did not know any of the details.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Did you know that the Germans living in Norway had been used to enlarge and extend the
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staff of the various German official agencies, the legation and the consulates, soon after the beginning of the war?
VON RIBBENTROP: No, I do not remember that at the moment, at all. At that time I probably never did learn correctly about that, if that was the case.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL- FYFE: It is the quotation from the Yearbook of the NSDAP. All I want to know at the moment is whether or not you knew about that. If you say you did not...
VON RIBBENTROP: No, I do not know and cannot say a thing about it, I'm afraid...
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Did you know at the time, in December 1939, that Quisling had two interviews with Hitler on the 16th and 18th of December?
VON RIBBENTROP: No, I did not know that either. What was the date, may I ask?
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: 16th and 18th December 1939, through the Defendant Raeder.
VON RIBBENTROP: No, I knew nothing of these interviews, according to my recollection.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: So that practically the first matter that you knew about in regard to Norway was, first, when you got the letter from Raeder, dated the 3rd of April?
VON RIBBENTROP: No, I believe that was a letter from Keitel. I believe this is a misunderstanding.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: I beg your pardon. It is a mistake of mine. I am sorry.
Do you remember a letter from Keitel, where he says:
"The military occupation of Denmark and Norway had been, by command of the Fuehrer, long in preparation by the High Command of the Wehrmacht. The High Command of the Wehrmacht had therefore ample time to deal with all questions connected with the carrying out of this operation."
So really, Witness -- I may perhaps be able to shorten the matter -- you are really not a very good person to ask about the earlier preparations with regard to Norway, because you weren't in on these earlier discussions with Quisling and with Raeder and Hitler. Is that right? If so, I will leave the subject.
VON RIBBENTROP: No, I was not in on these discussions. But I should like to clarify one thing briefly: that I received this letter -- why, I do not know -- only some days later. The first intimation of the intention to occupy Norway, due to the anticipated landing of the British, I received about 36 hours ahead of time
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from the Fuehrer. The letter was probably longer under way than it should have been. I saw it only afterwards.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Then I shall not occupy time, because there is a good deal to cover, and I will take you straight to the question of the Low Countries. You have heard me read, and probably other people read, more than once, the statement of Hitler's on the 22d of August 1939:
"Another possibility is the violation of Dutch, Belgian, and Swiss neutrality. I have no doubt that all these states, as well as Scandinavia, will defend their neutrality by all available means. England and France will not violate the neutrality of these countries." (Document Number 798-PS) That is what Hitler said on the 22d of August. You weren't there, and I ask you again if he expressed the same opinion to you?
VON RIBBENTROP: No, he did not.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Did you know that from a very early date, on the 7th of October 1939, an army group order was given that Army Group B is to make all preparations, according to special orders, for immediate invasion of Dutch and Belgian territory if the political situation so demands. Did you know of that order on the 7th of October?
VON RIBBENTROP: No; I believe I have seen it here; I did not know it before.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: And did you know that on the 9th of October Hitler issued a directive:
"A longer delay would not only result in the abandonment of Belgian, and perhaps also of Dutch neutrality in favor of the Western Powers, but would also serve to strengthen the military power of our enemies to an increasing degree, and would lessen the confidence of neutral states in final German victory. Preparations should be made for offensive action on the northern flank of the Western Front, crossing the area of Luxembourg, Belgium, and Holland. This attack must be carried out as soon and as forcibly as possible." (Document Number C-62)
Did you know that Hitler issued that directive on the 9th of October?
VON RIBBENTROP: No, I did not know that.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: So that as far as you were concerned you are telling the Tribunal that Hitler gave his assurance, the many assurances, in August and October, without telling his Foreign Minister that on the 7th and 9th of October, he had given the directive for the attack on the Low Countries, that he did not
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tell you about his order or his directive for his attack on the Low Countries?
Are you sure of that?
VON RIBBENTROP: I am pretty sure of that, otherwise I should recall it. I know one thing, that such ideas, as to whether or not an offensive should be assumed in the West, after the Polish Campaign, had occasionally been discussed, but I never heard about any orders.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: I see. If you say that is the state of your knowledge, we will pass on to something about which you did know a little bit more. Do you remember the meeting of Hitler and yourself with Ciano at Obersalzberg on the 12th of August 1939?
VON RIBBENTROP: Yes, I saw the document, the minutes, about it, here.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Well, then, I want you just to look at that document, and it is on Page 181. 1 want you to follow while I read one passage, which should be about 182. It is on my second page and it is a paragraph which begins, "As Poland makes it clear by her whole attitude that in case of conflict..."
VON RIBBENTROP: I have not found it yet.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Well, if you look for that "As Poland makes it clear by her whole attitude..."
VON RIBBENTROP: On Page 2?
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: It should be on Page 2, on my Page 2. It may be further on in yours.
VON RIBBENTROP: Is that the beginning of the paragraph?
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Yes. "As Poland makes it clear..." It is two paragraphs on from a single line that says at the point "Count Ciano, showed signs of..."
VON RIBBENTROP: I have found it, yes.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Would you look at the next sentence: "Generally speaking..." This is the next sentence but one:
"Generally speaking, it would be best to liquidate the pseudo-neutrals one after the other. This could be done fairly easily if one Axis partner protected the rear of the other, who was just finishing off one of the uncertain neutrals, and vice versa. For Italy, Yugoslavia was to be considered such an uncertain neutral. At the visit of Prince Regent Paul, he, (the Fuehrer) had suggested, particularly in consideration of Italy, that Prince Paul clarify his political attitude towards the Axis by a gesture. He had thought of a closer connection
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with the Axis, and Yugoslavia's leaving the League of Nations. Prince Paul had agreed to the latter. Recently the Prince Regent had been in London and sought reassurance of the Western Powers. The same thing was repeated that had happened in the case of Gafencu, who had also been very reasonable during his visit to Germany, and had denied any interest in the aims of the Western democracies." (Document Number 1871-PS)
Now, that was Hitler's formulation of his policy, and may I take it that that was the policy which you were assisting to carry out, to liquidate the pseudo-neutrals one after the other, and include among these pseudo-neutrals Yugoslavia?
VON RIBBENTROP: No, that is not to be misunderstood in that way. I must state the following in this connection. The situation was this at that time: Hitler wanted under all circumstances to keep Italy on our side. Italy was always a very unreliable partner. For that reason the Fuehrer spoke at that time in a way designed to tell Italy, so to speak, that, if it came to difficulties with Yugoslavia, he would support Italy. It can be understood only from the situation which was this: Germany, with Italy's assistance, had already peacefully carried out some of her revisions in Europe, except for Danzig and the Corridor, in which Mussolini supported Hitler. I remember the situation.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: That is quite a long explanation. But it is not an explanation of the words I put to you which is the important thing. "It would be best to liquidate uncertain neutrals one after the other." Are you denying that that was your policy, to liquidate uncertain neutrals?
VON RIBBENTROP: No, it was not that. That cannot be taken so literally, for in diplomatic discussions -- and I do not think it is different in other countries -- many things are said sometimes ...
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: I want to...
VON RIBBENTROP: This was the question of Yugoslavia.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: This had always been Mussolini's view, hadn't it, that the Balkans should be attacked at the earliest possible opportunity? VON RIBBENTROP: That I do not know.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Well, would you look at Document 2818-PS. My Lord, this will be Exhibit GB-292. Remember this is the secret additional protocol to the Friendship and Alliance Pact between Germany and Italy made on the 22d of May 1939, and appended to it there are some comments by Mussolini on the 30th of May 1939. Do you see?
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VON RIBBENTROP: What page?
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Well, I just wanted you to look at two passages. Do you see where the comments by Mussolini begin? Under the Pact itself, do you see the comment by Mussolini?
VON RIBBENTROP: Yes, here it is.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Well now, Number I says:
"The war between the plutocratic and, therefore, selfishly conservative nations and the densely populated and poor nations is inevitable. One must prepare in the light of this situation."
Now, if you will turn to Paragraph 7, you will see Mussolini is hoping that the war will be postponed, and he is saying what should happen if the war comes; he says that:
"The war which the great democracies are preparing is a war of exhaustion. One must therefore start with the worst premise, which contains 100 percent probability. The Axis will get nothing more from the rest of the world. This assumption is hard, but the strategic positions reached by the Axis diminish considerably the vicissitude and the danger of a war of exhaustion. For this purpose one must take the whole Danube and Balkan area immediately after the very first hours of the war. One will not be satisfied with declarations of neutrality but must occupy the territories and use them for the procurement of necessary food and industrial war supplies."
Do you see that?
VON RIBBENTROP: Yes, I have it.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Don't you agree that it was Mussolini's view that the Balkans should be attacked at the earliest possible moment?
VON RIBBENTROP: They are utterances of Mussolini which I see here for the first time. I did not know them.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Now, I want you to come to the remarks of Hitler which you have seen considerably more than once. You remember, after the Simovic coup d'etat on the 26th of March, there was a meeting, a conference with Hitler, where he announced his policy:
"The Fuehrer is determined, without waiting for possible loyalty declarations of the new government, to make all preparations in order to destroy Yugoslavia militarily and as a state. With regard to foreign policy neither will diplomatic inquiries be made nor ultimatums presented. Assurances of the Yugoslav Government, which cannot be trusted in any case in the future, will be taken note of. The attack will
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start as soon as the means and troops available for it are ready." (Document Number 1746-PS)
Do you remember Hitler's saying that on the 27th of March?
VON RIBBENTROP: I do not remember that. Could I perhaps see the document?
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Don't you remember it? It has been read many times in this court, Hitler's statement.
VON RIBBENTROP: Yes, I remember it, not the individual words, but in general.
SIR DAVID MAXWELTFYFE: Do you remember that was the sense of it, and I read his words. Now, that was the policy...
VON RIBBENTROP: I do not know what you mean by "the sense of it."
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Well, I'll put it to you now. What I mean is this, that it was your policy to attack Yugoslavia without asking them for assurances, without any diplomatic action of any kind. You decided to attack Yugoslavia and to bomb Belgrade. Isn't that right?
VON RIBBENTROP: No, it was entirely different; and I ask to be permitted to explain the actual state of the case.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: I want your explanation of these points which I have specifically read and mentioned to you. "No diplomatic inquiries will be made." Why did you decide, or why did Hitler decide, and you help, to attack Yugoslavia without making any diplomatic inquiries, without giving the new government any chance to give you assurances? Why did you do it?
VON RIBBENTROP: Because the new government had been formed mainly by England, as one of the British interrogation officers himself, in the course of the preliminary hearings, admitted to me. Therefore it was perfectly clear to the Fuehrer, when the Simovic Putsch was carried out, that the enemies of Germany at that time stood behind Simovic's government and that it mobilized the army -- this information had been received -- in order to attack the Italian army from the rear. It was not my policy, for I was called into the conference of which you are speaking only later, I believe, and at that time Hitler categorically announced his position without being contradicted by anyone. I ask you to question the military men about that. I was present, and had a serious encounter with the Fuehrer.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Did you think it right to attack this country without any diplomatic measures being taken at all, to cause military destruction, to use Hitler's words, "with unmerciful harshness" and to destroy the capital of Belgrade by waves of
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bomber attacks? Did you think that was right? I ask you a simple question: Did you think it was right?
VON RIBBENTROP: I cannot answer this question either "yes" or "no," as you want it, without giving an explanation.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Then you need not answer it. If you cannot answer that question "yes" or "no," you need no answer it at all. And you come on to the next point, which is the question of Russia. Now, as far as I could understand you statement, you said that Hitler had decided to attack the Soviet Union after Mr. Molotov's visit to Berlin on, I think, the 12th o November of 1940.
VON RIBBENTROP: I did not say that, because I did not know it.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Well, as I understood it, one of the reasons which you were giving as a justification, for the attack on the Soviet Union was what was said by Mr. Molotov during hi visit of November 1940. Isn't that what you said?
VON RIBBENTROP: That was one of the reasons that cause the Fuehrer concern. I did not know anything about an attack a that time.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: You know that the Defend Jodl says that even during the Western campaign, that is, May and June 1940, Hitler had told him that he had made a fundament decision to take steps against this danger, that is, the Soviet Union "the moment our military position made it at all possible." Did you know that?
VON RIBBENTROP: I learned that first now here in Nuremberg.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: That is Document L-172, US 34, Jodl's lecture. And did you know that on the 14th of August 1940 General Thoma was informed during a conference with Goering that the Fuehrer desired punctual deliveries to the Russians only until the spring of 1941; that "later on we would have no further interest in completely satisfying the Russian demands." Did you know that?
VON RIBBENTROP: No, I did not.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: And did you know that in November of 1940, General Thoma and State Secretaries Korner, Neumann, Becker, and General Von Hannecken were informed by Goering of the action planned in the East? Did you know that?
VON RIBBENTROP: No, I did not know that either.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: You know now, don't you, that a long time before any of the matters raised in Molotov's visit
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came up for discussion, Hitler had determined to attack the Soviet Union?
VON RIBBENTROP: No, I did not know that at all. I knew that Hitler had apprehensions but I knew nothing about an attack. I was not informed about military preparations, because these matters were always dealt with separately.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Even on 18 December, when Hitler issued the directive Number 21 on "Barbarossa," he told you nothing about it?
VON RIBBENTROP: Yes, because just in December, as I happen to remember exactly, I had another long talk with the Milirer in order to obtain his consent to win the Soviet Union as a partner to the Three-Power Pact, and to make it a four-power pact. Hitler was not altogether enthusiastic about this idea, as I noticed; but he told me, "We have already made this and that together; perhaps we will succeed with this too." These were his words. That was in December. I believe there is also an affidavit about that from a witness, which the Defense is going to present.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Do you understand what you are saying? This is after the Defendant Goering had announced it to General Thoma and these under-secretaries, after the directive had actually gone out for Barbarossa, that Hitler let you suggest that you should try to get the Soviet Union to join the Tripartite Pact, without ever telling you that he had his orders out for the attack on the Soviet Union. Do you really expect anyone to believe that?
VON RIBBENTROP: I did not quite understand the question.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: The question was, do you really expect anyone to believe that after it had been announced time and again that the Reich was going to attack the Soviet Union, and after the actual directive had gone out for the attack, that Hitler let you tell him that you were thinking of asking them to join the Tripartite Pact? Is that your evidence?
VON RIBBENTROP: Yes, that is exactly the way it was. I suggested this to Hitler again in December, and received his consent for further negotiations. I knew nothing in December of an aggressive war against the Soviet Union.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: And it was quite clear that, as far as your department was concerned, you were getting the most favorable reports about the Soviet Union and about the unlikeliness of the Soviet Union making any incursion into political affairs inimical to Germany? Is that right, so far as your reports from your own ambassador and your own people in Russia were concerned?
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VON RIBBENTROP: Reports of this sort came from the embassy in Moscow. I submitted them repeatedly, or rather always, to the Fuehrer but his answer was that the diplomats and military attache in Moscow were the worst informed men in the world. That was his answer.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: But that was your honest view based on your own information, that there was no danger from Russia, that Russia was keeping honestly to the agreement that she had made with you. That was your honest view, was it not?
VON RIBBENTROP: No, I did not say that. I said those were the reports from the diplomats, which we received from Moscow.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Didn't you believe them? Didn't you believe your own staff yourself?
VON RIBBENTROP: I was very skeptical myself as to whether these reports were reliable, because the Fuehrer, who received reports, had reports of an altogether different nature and the political attitude also pointed in a different direction.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: At any rate, in the spring of 1941, your office joined in the preparations for the attack on the Soviet Union, did it not?
VON RIBBENTROP: I do not know precisely when, but in the spring things came to a head and there must have been conferences between some offices that dealt with the possibility of a conflict with the Soviet Union. However, I do not recall details about that any more.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: I see. Again, I do not want to occupy too much time over it, but it is right, is it not, that in April of 1941 you were co-operating with Rosenberg's office in preparing for the taking over of Eastern territories, and, on the 18th of May, you issued a memorandum with regard to the preparation of the naval campaign?
VON RIBBENTROP: So far as the preparations with Rosenberg are concerned, that is in error. I spoke, according to my recollection about this matter to Rosenberg only after the outbreak of war. So far as that Navy memorandum is concerned, I saw that document here; I had not known of it previously. I believe it is an expert opinion on international law about matters which might arise in connection with a war in the Baltic Sea. Such expert opinion was doubtless submitted.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: It says, "The Foreign Office has prepared, for use in Barbarossa, the attached draft of a declaration of operational zones." Don't you remember anything about that?
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VON RIBBENTROP: No, I believe that did not reach me at all at that time. That was acted upon by another office. Of course I am responsible for everything that happens in my ministry.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Wasn't Ambassador Ritter the liaison officer between your office and the Wehrmacht?
VON RIBBENTROP: Yes, that is right.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Now, again, I want you to help me about one or two other matters. You have told us that you negotiated the Anti-Comintern Pact back in 1936; and, of course, at that time the Anti-Comintern Pact -- and I think you said so yourself -- was directed against the Soviet Union. That is so, isn't it?
VON RIBBENTROP: Yes, it was more an ideological pact, which, of course, had certain political implications. That is right.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: And that was extended by the Tripartite Pact of the 27th of September 1940? That was an extension of the first pact, was it not?
VON RIBBENTROP: It had in itself nothing to do with the first pact, because this one was a purely political, economic, and military pact.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Well now, the fact is -- and I think I can take this quite shortly -- that you were urging Japan to enter the war quite early in March of 1941, weren't you.
VON RIBBENTROP: That could be; at that time for an attack on England.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Yes. I am taking it shortly, because you have given your explanation. You say you were at war with England, and therefore you were entitled to see an ally in the Japanese. That is your point, is it not?
VON RIBBENTROP: I do not believe that I did anything other than what other diplomats would do, for instance, what those of Great Britain have done in America, and later in Russia.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: I am not going to put any points to you on that actual fact; but it did occur to you quite early, didn't it, that if Japan came into the war, then it was a possibility that the United States might be brought in very shortly after? And you agreed, in April of 1941, that if the coming in of Japan produced the fact that Japan would be involved with the United States, you would be prepared to fight the United States too. That is right isn't it?
VON RIBBENTROP: No, that is not correct. I believe I did everything I could, until the day of Pearl Harbor, to keep America out of the war. I believe also that that is proved by many documents that I have seen here for the first time.
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SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Well now, since you said that, I would like you to look at the Document 352 of your book, at Page 204 of the English document book.
VON RIBBENTROP: Yes, I know this document; I have read it here already.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Well, that was a week before Pearl Harbor, on the 29th of November; and according to the Japanese Ambassador, you are saying this to him -- if you look at Paragraph 1:
"Ribbentrop: 'It is essential that Japan effect the New Order in East Asia without losing this opportunity. There never has been, and probably never will be, a time when closer co-operation under the Tripartite Pact is so important. If Japan hesitates at this time and Germany goes ahead and establishes her European New Order, all the military might of Britain and the United States will be concentrated against Japan. As the Fuehrer Hitler said today, there are fundamental differences in the very right to exist between Germany and Japan, and the United States. We have received advice to the effect that there is practically no hope of the Japanese-United States negotiations being concluded successfully, because of the fact that the United States is putting up a stiff front.
"'If this is indeed the fact of the case, and if Japan reaches a decision to fight Britain and the United States, I am confident that that will not only be to the interest of Germany and Japan jointly, but would bring about favorable results for Japan herself."' (Document D-656)
Do you still say, in view of that document and that statement that you made to the Japanese Ambassador, that you were trying to prevent war with the United States? I suggest to you that you were doing everything to encourage Japan to go to war with the United States.
VON RIBBENTROP: I must contradict you there, Mr. Prosecutor; that is not true. I do not know this document, nor do I know where it comes from. At any rate, under no circumstances did I express it that way; and I regret that all the other documents which prove that I tried again and again to keep the United States out of the war, have not yet been read here. I have seen this document here and I have been pondering all the time as to how this passage would have gotten into the document. All the other documents, I believe a dozen or a dozen and a half, which have been presented here prove clearly my wish to keep America out of the war. I can prove that for years I had made
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efforts in all fields, despite the intransigent attitude of the United States, not to undertake anything against America. I can explain this only as follows:
The Japanese Ambassador earnestly desired that his country should take some action and I know he sent many telegrams to Tokyo in order to get Japan to participate in the war, particularly against Singapore. I can only presume that this is perhaps, if I may say so, an incorrect interpretation of this conference. I ask you to give the Defense an opportunity to submit all the other documents up to this date, which will prove the exact opposite of what is laid down in this one paragraph.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Well, this is the official report to the Government of the Japanese Ambassador. You say that he is wrong when he says that you told him -- he gives your exact words -- that you were comforted that it would not only be in the interest of Germany and Japan jointly but would bring about favorable results for Japan herself.
Well, just look at the next document, if you deny that one, on Page 356. This is another report of the Japanese Ambassador and he said, the day after Pearl Harbor:
"At 1 o'clock ... I called on Foreign Minister Ribbentrop and told him our wish was to have Germany and Italy issue formal declarations of war on America at once. Ribbentrop replied that Hitler was then in the midst of a conference at general headquarters, discussing how the formalities of declaring war could be carried out, so as to make a good impression on the German people, and that he would transmit your wish to him at once and do whatever he was able to have it carried out properly."
Now, look at the last three lines:
"At that time Ribbentrop told me that on the morning of the 8th, Hitler issued orders to the entire German Navy to attack American ships whenever and wherever they might meet them." (Document Number D-657) That was 3 days before the declaration of war. You say that that report of the Japanese Ambassador is also wrong?
VON RIBBENTROP: I believe that it is an error.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: What is wrong about it?
VON RIBBENTROP: I believe it is an error. That was after the attack on Pearl Harbor?
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Exactly, the day after Pearl Harbor.
VON RIBBENTROP: That was an order of Adolf Hitler's to attack America who, as everyone knows, had been attacking our ships for months. This is an altogether different affair.
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SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: When you say "attacking German ships," do you mean defending themselves against German submarines?
VON RIBBENTROP: No, so far as I know, some months earlier, I cannot tell you the exact date; but it was a long time before Pearl Harbor, we had delivered an official protest to the United States, in which we pointed out, in the case of the two ships Greer and Kerne, that these two boats had pursued German submarines and had thrown depth charges at them. I believe the Secretary of the Navy Knox admitted this openly in a press conference. I mentioned yesterday that Hitler said in his speech in Munich that he did not give the order to shoot or to attack American vessels but he had given the order to fire back if they fired first.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: What I want to know from you is this: Did you approve of the policy of ordering the entire German Navy to attack American ships whenever and wherever they might meet them 3 days before war was declared? Did you approve of that?
VON RIBBENTROP: I cannot say anything about that now, because I do not remember it and do not even know the document.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Now, I want to ask you about another point. Do you remember that the ...
VON RIBBENTROP: It would have been understandable, that I must add.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: You have given your answer. Do you remember, in June 1944, that there was a conference about which we have heard evidence, regarding the shooting of what is known as "terror-fliers"?
Now, just listen to this question and try to answer it directly, if you would. Is it correct, as is stated in the report, that you wished to include among terror-fliers every type of terror attack on the German civilian population, that is, including bombing attacks on cities? Is it right that you wished to include the airmen engaged in attacks on German cities as terror-fliers? VON RIBBENTROP: No, it is not true like that.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Well, look at Page 391. This is a report signed by General Warlimont on the conference on the 6th of June, and in the fourth line -- well, let me read it. It says:
"Obergruppenfuehrer Kaltenbrunner informed the deputy chief of the Operations Staff in Klessheim on the afternoon of the 6th that a conference on this question had been held shortly before, between the Reich Marshal, the Reich Foreign
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Minister, and Reichsfuehrer SS. Contrary to the original suggestion made by Ribbentrop, who wished to include every type of terror attack on the German civilian population, that is, also bombing attacks on cities, it was agreed at the above conference that only attacks carried out with aircraft armament should be considered as criminal actions in that sense." (Document Number 135-PS)
Do you say that Kaltenbrunner was wrong when he said that you wished to include every type of attack?
VON RIBBENTROP: Yesterday I answered this question at length. I do not know whether I should refer to this point again. I dealt with this point, I think, very exhaustively. If you wish, I can repeat it now.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Well I do not want you to repeat it. I want you to answer my question. Do you say that Kaltenbrunner was wrong when he said at this conference that you wished to include those who were engaged in bombing of cities?
VON RIIBBENTROP: That is not so. First of all, so far as I remember, this conference never took place; and, secondly, I stated my attitude perfectly clearly yesterday, how I wished to treat terror-fliers.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Well, answer my question.
VON RIBBENTROP: No, that is not true as you have stated it.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: I see. Then answer this question. Did you approve that those you called "terror-fliers" were to be left to be lynched by the population or handed over to the SS?
VON RIBBENTROP: No, that was not my attitude.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Well, now, would you look on Page 393, Page 214 of the English? This, as you know, is a memorandum from the Foreign Office; and it is stated on Page 396 that General Warlimont states that Ambassador Ritter has advised us by telephone that the Minister for Foreign Affairs has approved this &aft (Document 740-PS). The draft deals with the two actions in Paragraph 1, that of lynching, and the draft says, "The German authorities are not directly responsible, since death occurred before a German official intervened" (Document 728-PS).
Do you agree with that view? Is that your view of the lynching of fliers?
VON RIBBENTROP: No, that is not my view. I explained that yesterday quite exhaustively and stated what my attitude was toward this document. This document is an expert opinion of the Foreign Office, which was submitted to me. I do not know how it originated, upon my order or upon a statement of the military
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authorities. I did not approve this expert opinion as it is submitted to me here, but I did send it to the Fuehrer and asked him to decide about it. The Fuehrer then called this document "nonsense," I believe, and therewith this expert opinion of the Foreign Office was rejected and did not come into effect.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: So that, with regard to this, you say that when Warlimont says that Ambassador Ritter advised the Wehrmacht by telephone on 29 June that you approved the draft, that either Warlimont is not speaking the truth or Ritter is not speaking the truth?
VON RIBBENTROP: At any rate, it is not true, because it can be seen from another document which I have also seen here that this document was sent to the Fuehrer and that I said there that the Fuehrer must approve it. I did see also another document regarding it. That is also my recollection of the matter.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Well, then, if you referred to the Fuehrer's view, let us just have a look at what that was. Have a look at Document 3780-PS, which will be GB-293, which is an account of a meeting that you and Hitler had with Oshima on the 27th of May 1944. It is on Page 11, Lines 9 to 12. Do you remember in your presence Hitler advising Oshima that the Japanese should hang, not shoot, every American terror pilot, that the Americans will think it over before making such attacks? Did you agree with that view?
VON RIBBENTROP: No, I do not agree with that view. If that is in this document, that is not my meaning, not my opinion.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: I see. Well, now ...
VON RIBBENTROP: I do not even know where what you said here is in the document.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: You will find it on Page 11, Lines 9 to 12. VON RIBBENTROP: No, I do not remember that, but I can only say that this attitude of Hitler's as it appears in this document was brought about by the terrible results of the air attacks at that time.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: I heard all that before. I asked you whether you agreed or not; you said "no." I want you now to deal with another point.
VON RIBBENTROP: I want to say something further, however, regarding this point because it is of decisive importance.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: You will say that to learned Counsel after you have answered my question on this. I want you now to direct your attention to Stalag Luft III. You may have heard me asking a number of witnesses a certain number of
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questions about it. These were the 50 British airmen who were murdered by the SS after they escaped. Do you know that? Do you know what I am talking about?
VON RIBBENTROP: Yes, I do.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: You remember that my colleague, Mr. Eden, made a strong statement in the House of Commons, saying that these men had been murdered and that Great Britain would exact justice upon the murderers? Do you remember that, in June of 1944?
VON RIBBENTROP: I heard of this through the speech made by Mr. Eden in the House of Commons, yes.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: And do you remember that the Reich Government issued a statement saying that, in a communication by the Reich Government conveyed to the British via Switzerland, this unqualifiable charge of the British Foreign Minister had been sharply refuted, that being issued in July 1944? Do you remember that being issued?
VON RIBBENTROP: No, I do not remember it. I remember only the following: That at that time we received evidence of what had happened and that it was communicated to us in a note from the protecting powers. That is all I know about it.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: That is what I wanted to ask you: Did you know at the time that this statement was issued -- did you know that these officers had been murdered in cold blood?
VON RIBBENTROP: No, I did not. I heard that these men had been shot while trying to escape. At that time, to be sure, we did have the impression that everything was not in order, I know that. I remember that.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Let me take it in two stages. Who told you the lie that these men had been shot trying to escape? Who informed you of that lie?
VON RIBBENTROP: I do not remember in detail. At that time we received the documentation from the competent authorities and a memorandum was forwarded to the Swiss Government.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: From whom did you get your documentation which contained that lie? Did you get it from Himmler or Goering?
VON RIBBENTROP: I do not know.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Then you told us, I think, that you had a good idea that things were not all right, hadn't you?
VON RIBBENTROP: Yes.
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SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Thank you. Now, I want you to tell us a word about your connection with the SS. You are not suggesting, are you, at this stage that you were merely an honorary member of the SS? It has been suggested by your counsel, and I am sure it must have been on some misunderstanding of information, that you were merely an honorary member of the SS. That is not the case, is it?
VON RIBBENTROP: That is no misunderstanding. This is exactly how it was: I received the SS uniform from Adolf Hitler. I did not serve in the SS, but as ambassador and later as Foreign Minister it was customary to have a rank of some sort and I had received the rank of SS Fuehrer.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: I put it to you that that is entirely untrue, that you joined the SS by application before you became ambassador-at-large in May 1933, isn't that right?
VON RIBBENTROP: I know that. At any rate I always belonged to the SS.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: You said just now it was honorary, because Hitler wanted you to have a uniform. I am putting it to you; you applied to join the SS in May 1933, in the ordinary way. Did you?
VON RIBBENTROP: Of course, one had to make an application; but the fact was this, that I occasionally went around in a grey greatcoat and thereupon Hitler said I must wear a uniform. I do not remember when that was. It must have been 1933. As ambassador I received a higher rank, as Foreign Minister I received a still higher one.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: And in May 1933, after you made application, you joined the SS in the not too high rank of Standartenfuehrer, didn't you?
VON RIBBENTROP: Yes, that could be.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: And you became an Oberfuehrer only on the 20th of April 1935, a Brigadefuehrer on 18 June 1935, and Gruppenfuehrer on the 13th of September 1936 -- that was after you became an ambassador -- and Obergruppenfuehrer on the 20th of April 1940. Before you were made an ambassador you had been in the SS for 3 years and you had received promotion in the ordinary way, when you did your work with the SS, isn't that so? VON RIBBENTROP: Without ever taking any steps or doing anything myself in the SS, yes, that is correct.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Just look. It is Document D-744(a), Exhibit GB-294. The correspondence is 744(b). You may
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take it; you need not go through it in detail. That is your application, with all the particulars. I just want to ask you one or two things about it. You asked to join, did you not, the "Totenkopf," the Death's-Head Division of the SS?
VON RIBBENTROP: No, that cannot be true.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Don't you remember getting a special Deaths-Head ring and dagger from Himmler for your services? Don't you?
VON RIBBENTROP: No, I do not remember. I never belonged to a Death's-Head Division. You were just talking about a Death's Head Division, were you not?
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: A Death's-Head Division.
VON RIBBENTROP: No, that is not so. If it says so here, it is not true. But I think that I at one time received a so-called dagger, like all SS Fuehrer. That is correct.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: And the ring, too. Here is a letter dated the 5th of November 1935, to the Personnel Office of the Reichsfuehrer SS: "In reply to your question I have to inform you that Brigadefuehrer Von Ribbentrop's ring size is 17. Heil Hitler," (signed) (Adjutant) "Thorner." Do you remember getting that?
VON RIBBENTROP: I believe that everyone received such a ring but I do not remember precisely. No doubt it is true.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: And you took, didn't you, continuous interest in the SS from 1933 up to well into the war? I think your correspondence with Himmler goes on to well into 1941 or 1942.
VON RIBBENTROP: Yes, that is quite possible, that is certainly correct. Of course, we had a great deal to do with the SS in all fields. That is quite clear.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: You had, and especially in the field of concentration camps, hadn't you? Are you saying that you did not know that concentration camps were being carried on in an enormous scale?
VON RIBBENTROP: No, I knew nothing about that.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: I want you to look around for the moment. [A map behind the witness box was uncovered.] That is an enlargement of the exhibits put in by the French Prosecution and these red spots are concentration camps. Now, I would just like you to look at it. We will see now one of the reasons for the location of your various residences. There, one north of Berlin, Sonnenburg. Do you see roughly where that is on that map?
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VON RIBBENTROP: Sonnenburg is 1 hour's auto ride from Berlin.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: North of Berlin?
VON RIBBENTROP: No, east of Berlin.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Let us take another house. You are quite near it yourself, your schloss or tower at Fuschl. That is quite near the border; just over the border, and very near it, the group of camps which existed around Mauthausen. Do you see them, just above your right hand? Do you see the group of camps, the Mauthausen group?
VON RIBBENTROP: I should like to state on my oath that I heard the name of "Mauthausen" for the first time in Nuremberg.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Let us take another of the places. You say you did not go there very often, but you used to ...
VON RIBBENTROP: I believe I can make this much more brief for you. I can say that I heard of only two concentration camps until I came here -- no it was three: Dachau, Oranienburg, and Theresienstadt. All the other names I heard here for the first time. The Theresienstadt camp was an old people's home for Jews, and I believe was visited a few times by the International Red Cross. I never heard previously of all the other camps. I wish to make that quite clear.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Do you know that near Mauthausen there were 33 camps at various places, within a comparatively short distance, and 45 camps as to which the commandant did not give the names because there were so many of them, and in the 33 camps there were over 100,000 internees? Are you telling the Tribunal that in all your journeys to Fuschl you never heard of the camps at Mauthausen, where 100,000 people were shut up?
VON RIBBENTROP: That was entirely unknown to me, and I can produce dozens of witnesses who can testify to that. Dozens.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: I do not care how many witnesses you produce. I ask you to look at that map again. You were a responsible minister in the Government of that country from the 4th of February 1938 till the defeat of Germany in May 1945, a period of 7 and a quarter years. Are you telling the Tribunal that anyone could be a responsible minister in that country where these hundreds of concentration camps existed and not know anything about them except two?
VON RIBBENTROP: It may be amazing but it is 100 percent true.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: I suggest to you that it is not only amazing, but that it is so incredible that it must be false. How could you be ignorant of these camps? Did you never see Himmler?
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VON RIBBENTROP: No, I never saw him about these things. Never. These things were kept absolutely secret and we heard here, for the very first time, what went on in them. Nobody knew anything about them. That may sound astounding but I am positively convinced that the gentlemen in the dock also knew nothing about all that was going on.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: We will hear from them in their turn. Did you know that at Auschwitz alone ...
VON RIBBENTROP: I heard the name Auschwitz here for the first time.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: And the German official of Auschwitz has sworn an affidavit that 4 million people were put to death in the camp. Are you telling the Tribunal that that happened without your knowing anything about it?
VON RIBBENTROP: That was entirely unknown to me. I can state that here on my oath.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Well, now, there is one other subject, which I would like you to deal with; and here, fortunately, I am in the position of assisting your memory with some documents. It is a question of the partisans. I want you to look at a few documents, three documents, with regard to that.
THE PRESIDENT: Will you be able to finish tonight?
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Yes, I shall, if Your Lordship will allow me 5 minutes.
That is what I have been trying to do.
[Turning to the defendant.] Do you agree that you were in favor of the harshest treatment of people in the occupied countries?
VON RIBBENTROP: I did not understand. Could you repeat the question?
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: My question is, would it be a fair way of expressing your point of view to say that you were in favor of the harshest treatment of --
I will put it first of all -- of partisans?
VON RIBBENTROP: I do not know whether I ever expressed myself about the treatment of partisans, I do not recall having done so. In any case, I was against it.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: All right, look at Document D-735, which will be Exhibit GB-295. That is a discussion between you and Count Ciano in the presence of Meld Marshal Keitel and Marshal Cavallero in the Fuehrer's headquarters after breakfast on the 19th of December 1942. Now, if you will look at Page 2, you will see that there is a passage where Field Marshal Keitel told the Italian gentlemen that:
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"The Croatian area was to be cleaned up by German and Italian troops working in co-operation; and this while it was still winter, in view of the strong British influence in this area. The Fuehrer explained that the Serbian conspirators were to be burned out, and that no soft methods were to be used in doing this. Field Marshal Keitel here interjected that every village in which partisans were found had to be burned down. Continuing, the Reich Foreign Minister declared that Roatta must not leave the third zone, but must on the contrary advance, and this in the closest collaboration with the German troops. In this connection Field Marshal Keitel requested the Italian gentlemen not to regard the utilization of Croatian troops to help in this cleaning up operation as a favoring of the Croatians. The Reich Foreign Minister stated in this connection that the Poglavnik to whom he had spoken very clearly, was 100 percent ready to come to an agreement with Italy." Did that represent your view, that "the Serbian conspirators should be burned out"?
VON RIBBENTROP: Please?
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Did that represent your view, that "the Serbian conspirators should be burned out"?
VON RIBBENTROP: I do not know that expression. At any rate it is certain that they should have been locked up.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: What it means is that their villages should be razed to the ground by fire.
VON RIBBENTROP: Where did I say that? I do not believe I said that.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: That is the Fuehrer's point of view. Was it your point of view?
VON RIBBENTROP: The Fuehrer took a very harsh attitude on these questions, and I know that occasionally harsh orders had to be issued also from other offices, including the military. It was a struggle for life and death. One should not forget that it was war.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Are you denying...
VON RIBBENTROP: At any rate, I do not see where I said anything about partisans, that is...
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: You say that is not your point of view? Is that what you are saying? That is not your point of view? Are you saying that it is not your point of view as to the way to treat them? Do not look at the next document. Tell me, is that your point of view?
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VON RIBBENTROP: Please repeat the question that you want me to answer.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Do you say that you were not in favor of harsh treatment of partisans?
VON RIBBENTROP: I am of the opinion that the partisans who attack the troops in the rear should be treated harshly. Yes, I am of that opinion, I believe everyone in the Army is of that opinion, and every politician.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Including women and children?
VON RIBBENTROP: No, by no means.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Just look at that, if you deny this attitude to women and children. Look at the document, Number D-741.
My Lord, that will be Document D-741; this will be GB-296. [Turning to the defendant.] Will you look at the end of that. That is a conference between you and Ambassador Alfieri in Berlin on 21 February 1943. The last paragraph says:
"Continuing, the Reich Foreign Minister emphasized that the conditions which Roatta's policy had helped to produce in Croatia were causing the Fuehrer great concern. It was appreciated on the German side that Roatta wished to spare Italian blood, but it was believed that he was, as it were, trying to drive out Satan with Beelzebub by this policy. These partisan gangs had to be exterminated, including men, women, and children, as their further existence imperiled the lives of German and Italian men, women, and children." Do you still say that you did not want harsh treatment of women and children?
VON RIBBENTROP: What page is that on?
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: It is on Pages 10 to 13. It is the last paragraph of my translation.
"These partisan gangs had to be exterminated, including men, women and children, as their further existence imperiled the lives of German and Italian men, women, and children."
VON RIBBENTROP: If I did say that at any time, it must have been under great excitement. In any case, it does not correspond to my opinion which I have proved by my other acts during the war. I cannot say anything else at the moment.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: I will just show you one of your other acts, which will be the final one, if the Tribunal will bear with me. It is Document D-740, which will be GB-297. This is a memorandum of the conversation between the Reich Foreign
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Minister and Secretary of State Bastianini in the presence of Ambassadors Von Mackensen and Alfieri at Klessheim castle on the afternoon of the 8th of April 1943. If you will look at the beginning, I think you were discussing some strike in Italy. You say:
"The Reich Foreign Minister's supposition that this strike had perhaps been instigated by British agents was energetically contested by Bastianini. There were Italian communists who were still in Italy and who received their orders from Moscow. The Reich Foreign Minister replied that, in such a case, only merciless action would remedy."
And then, after a statement with regard to the information, you say:
"He (the Reich Foreign Minister) did not want to discuss Italy but rather the occupied territories, where it had been shown that one would not get anywhere with soft methods or in the endeavor to reach an agreement. The Reich Foreign Minister then explained his views by a comparison between Denmark and Norway. In Norway brutal measures had been taken which had evoked lively protests, particularly in Sweden."
And then you go on, and after a certain criticism of Dr. Best...
VON RIBBENTROP: I cannot find it; what page is it on, please?
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: The paragraph begins: "The Reich Foreign Minister's supposition that this strike has perhaps been instigated by British agents..."
VON RIBBENTROP: Yes, here it is.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Well, you see what I have put to you. You say:
"Only merciless action would be any good. In Norway brutal measures had been taken."
And at the beginning of the next paragraph:
"In Greece, too, brutal action would have to be taken if the Greeks should sense a change for the better. He was of the opinion that the demobilized Greek Army should be deported from Greece with lightning speed, and that the Greeks should be shown in an iron manner who was master in the country. Hard methods of this kind were necessary if one was waging a war against Stalin, which was not a gentleman's war but a brutal war of extermination."
And then, with regard to France, after some statement about the French you say:
"Coming back to Greece, the Reich Foreign Minister once again stressed the necessity of taking severe measures."
And in the third line of the next paragraph:
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"The Fuehrer would have to take radical measures in the occupied territories to mobilize the local labor potential in order that the American armament potential might be equaled."
Do you agree? Does that fairly express your view, that you wanted the most severe measures taken in occupied territories in order to mobilize labor to increase the Reich war potential?
VON RIBBENTROP: I can say the following in regard to this document. I know that at that time...
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Well, you can say that, but you can answer my question first. Do these views express your view that...
VON RIBBENTROP: No.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: ... severe measures should be taken with foreign labor and with people in occupied territories. Does that document express your view?
VON RIBBENTROP: No, it does not.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Then why did you say it? Why did you say these things?
VON RIBBENTROP: Because at that time, on the commission of the Fuehrer, I had to keep the Italians' noses to the grindstone, since there was complete chaos in some of the areas and the Italians always attempted to cause complete confusion in the rear areas of the German Army by some of the measures they took there. That is why I occasionally had to speak very harshly with the Italians. I recall that very distinctly. At that time the Italians were fighting together with the Chetniks partly against German troops; it was complete chaos there and for this reason I often used rather earnest and harsh language with the diplomats -- perhaps an exaggerated language. But things actually looked quite different afterwards.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: It was not a bit exaggeration, was it, in both Norway and Greece? You were taking the most brutal measures against the occupied countries.
VON RIBBENTROP: No, that is not so. We had absolutely nothing to say in Norway; we always tried to do things differently. And in Denmark we did everything to reduce these harsh measures, which were in part necessary, because of the paratroopers and so forth, and tried not to have them carried out.
I think it can be proved, from a number of other documents, that I and the Foreign Office always worked toward compromise in the various occupied countries. I do not believe that it is quite fair and correct to take only one or two such statements from the innumerable documents where occasionally I did use harsh words. It is certain that in the course of 6 years of war harsh language
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must be used from time to time. I may remind you that foreign statesmen also used harsh language regarding the treatment of Germany. But I am sure they did not mean it that way.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Tell me this: Every time today when you have been confronted with a document which attributes to you some harsh language or the opposite of what you have said here you say that on that occasion you were telling a diplomatic lie. Is that what it comes to? Thank you very much.
THE PRESIDENT: Sir David, do you have all these documents in evidence?
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Yes, My Lord.
[The Tribunal adjourned until 2 April 1946 at 1000 hours.]
Nuremberg Trial Proceedings Vol. 10
Tuesday, 2 April 1946
[The Defendant Von Ribbentrop resumed the stand.]
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: My Lord, Your Lordship will have noticed that I did not deal with the question of Jews. That will now be taken up by my learned friend, M. Faure, of the French Delegation.
DR. KAUFFMANN: Mr. President, may I say a few words on an important question? A map was discussed here yesterday, the map which is now visible in court. From that map the Prosecution conclude that a large number of concentration camps were distributed all over Germany. The defendants are contradicting this statement as energetically as possible. In the treatment of my case, the case of the Defendant Kaltenbrunner, I hope to adduce evidence to the effect that only a very few of the red spots on this map are accurate. I wish to make this statement here and now, in order that the impression does not arise over again, in the subsequent cases, that this map is a correct one.
THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Kauffmann, this is only a reproduction of what has already been put in evidence.
DR. KAUFFMANN: Yes, but I am at liberty to adduce proof to the contrary.
THE PRESIDENT: Of course you are, but it is not necessary for you to say so now. The fact that the evidence was put in by the Prosecution at an earlier date, of course, gives you every opportunity to answer it, but not to answer it at this moment.
M. FAURE: Defendant, as Minister for Foreign Affairs, you were the chief of the diplomatic personnel, were you not?
VON RIBBENTROP: Yes.
M. FAURE: The personnel followed your instructions, did they not?
VON RIBBENTROP: Yes.
M. FAURE: You declared yesterday that you were responsible for the acts of your subordinates?
VON RIBBENTROP: Yes.
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M. FAURE: Would you tell me if Dr. Best, Plenipotentiary for Denmark, was a member of your Ministry?
VON RIBBENTROP: Yes.
M. FAURE: Dr. Best told you, did he not, that Hitler had given an order to assassinate Danes when there were acts of sabotage?
VON RIBBENTROP: May I ask you to repeat the question?
M. FAURE: According to the documents that have been produced before the Tribunal, Dr. Best saw you on 30 December 1943 and told you that Hitler had given the order to assassinate Danes when there were acts of sabotage in Denmark; is that so?
VON RIBBENTROP: Yes, that was to be done against saboteurs. Hitler had ordered it.
M. FAURE: The order, according to the terms employed by Dr. Best in the document, was to "execute persons, terrorists or nonterrorists, without trial." Can that not be considered as assassination?
VON RIBBENTROP: From the beginning I strongly opposed these measures, and so did Dr. Best. We went so far as to.
M. FAURE: Defendant, I am not trying to say that you were pleased with this state of affairs. I am merely asking you if you were informed thereof. Is that correct?
VON RIBBENTROP: Yes, the Fuehrer wanted that. I do not know the details.
M. FAURE: But I am not asking for details.
VON RIBBENTROP: And what was ordered afterwards I do not know because, so far as I am aware, it did not go through us, but through another department.
M. FAURE: I note that you actually were informed of the Fuehrer's order given that day to permit assassination. You therefore considered it normal to belong to a government, the head of which was a murderer.
VON RIBBENTROP: No, the exact opposite is true here, the exact opposite ...
M. FAURE: All right, all right, just answer, please.
VON RIBBENTROP: ... for I told him that I had taken my stand and that I held divergent views. The Fuehrer was most dissatisfied with Dr. Best and had the matter handled through other channels, since Dr. Best was against it and so was I.
M. FAURE: I am merely asking you to answer my question very briefly. You can give details through your counsel later.
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With regard to Denmark, there was action against the Jews in that country in order to deport them. Did you have anything to do with that?
VON RIBBENTROP: I cannot tell you anything about matters relating to the Jews in Denmark, since I know nothing.
M. FAURE: Did you never hear anything about it?
VON RIBBENTROP: I remember that I discussed the fact with Best, that this question was of no significance in Denmark. He was therefore not proposing to do anything in particular about the Jewish question there, and I declared myself in complete agreement with him.
M. FAURE: I ask that you be shown Document 2375-PS. This document has not yet been submitted to the Tribunal. I would like to submit it under French Exhibit Number RF-1503. I would like to read with you the second paragraph of this document. It is an affidavit from Mildner, a colonel of the police in Denmark. "As commander, I was subordinate to the Reich Plenipotentiary, Dr. Best. Since I was opposed to the persecution of the Jews, on principle and for practical reasons, I asked Dr. Best to give me the reasons for the measures that were ordered.
"Dr. Best declared to me that the Reich Foreign Minister, Ribbentrop, obviously knew Hitler's intention to exterminate the Jews in Europe. He had furnished Hitler with a report about the Jewish problem in Denmark and proposed to deport the Jews from Denmark.
"Dr. Best declared furthermore that Ribbentrop was afraid of being held responsible in case the Jews remained in Denmark.
"Dr. Best was now compelled to carry out the measures that were proposed to Hitler by Ribbentrop.
"From the discussion with Dr. Best I gathered that he must have had a discussion or a telephone conversation with Ribbentrop." You read that, did you not?
VON RIBBENTROP: What is written in this document is pure fantasy. It is not true.
M. FAURE: Very well; I ask then that you be shown Document 3688-PS, which I wish to deposit under the French Exhibit Number RF-1502. It is a note of 24 September 1942, signed by Luther, and addressed to his collaborators. I should like to read with you the first two paragraphs of that document.
"The Minister for Foreign Affairs has instructed me today by telephone to expedite as much as possible the evacuation of the Jews from different countries in Europe, since it is
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certain that the Jews stir up feelings against us everywhere and must be held responsible for acts of sabotage and outrages.
"After a short report on the evacuation of Jews at present in process in Slovakia, Croatia, Romania, and the occupied territories, the Minister for Foreign Affairs has ordered us now to approach the Bulgarian, Hungarian, and Danish Governments with the aim of getting the evacuation started in these countries."
I suggest that this second document confirms the first as regards your participation in the deportation of Jews in Denmark. Do you agree?
VON RIBBENTROP: It was the Fuehrer's plan, at the time, to deport the Jews from Europe to North Africa, and Madagascar was also mentioned in this connection. He ordered me to approach various governments with a view to encouraging the emigration of the Jews, if possible, and to remove all Jews from important government posts. I issued instructions to the Foreign Office accordingly, and, if I remember rightly, certain governments were approached several times to that effect. It was the question of the Jewish emigration to certain parts of North Africa; that is true. May I return to this affidavit? This sworn affidavit is pure fantasy of Colonel Mildner's and is absolutely untrue.
M. FAURE: But, in any case, you admit...
VON RIBBENTROP: Dr. Best once discussed the Jewish question with me, and he said that as far as Denmark was concerned, the question was of no particular importance, since there were not many Jews left there. I explained to him that he would have to let matters take their own course there. That is the truth.
M. FAURE: You admit, nevertheless, that this document signed by Luther is correct, and that you did give the order to evacuate the Jews of Denmark? It is in the letter.
VON RIBBENTROP: No, not in Denmark. I do not even know this document of Luther's. This is the first time I have seen it.
M. FAURE: Please, simply answer my questions; otherwise we shall waste a lot of time. In your opinion, both these documents are incorrect, you said so; let us pass on.
The German Embassy in Paris ...
VON RIBBENTROP: No, I did not say so. That is incorrect. I said that I did not know Luther's document. It is, however, true that the Fuehrer gave me instructions to tell the Foreign Office to approach certain foreign governments with a view to solving the Jewish problem by removing the Jews from government positions and, wherever possible, to favor Jewish emigration.
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M. FAURE: The German Embassy in Paris was under your orders, was it not?
VON RIBBENTROP: The German Embassy in Paris, that is, the Ambassador to the Vichy Government, naturally received orders from me.
M. FAURE: French Document RP-1061 has already been read to the Tribunal and in this document you defined the functions of Ambassador Abetz. It is 3614-PS. In this document, which has already been read to you twice here, I would remind you that you commissioned Abetz to put in a safe place the public and private art treasures, particularly those belonging to Jews, on the basis of special instructions mentioned here. Abetz executed this mission by pillaging art collections in France.
VON RIBBENTROP: It is not true.
M. FAURE: I would ask that you be shown Document 3766-PS, which has not yet been produced, and to which I should like to give the French Exhibit Number RF-1505. I will go over merely a few lines of this document with you. It is a report from the military administration, which was distributed in 700 copies. It is entitled: "Report on the Removal of French Works of Art by the German Embassy and the Einsatzstab Rosenberg in France."
If you will look at Page 3, you will see that the title in the margin is very significant: "German Embassy: Attempt to remove paintings from the Louvre." Page 4, I will read the first sentence at the top of the page ...
VON RIBBENTROP: When may I refer to the individual points? Not at all, or here and now?
M. FAURE: When I ask you a question you will answer. I am reading a passage to you:
"Ambassador Abetz, disregarding the prohibition pronounced by the military administration, undertook to send to Germany a series of works of art from the Louvre which had been placed in safety."
Were you informed of this?
VON RIBBENTROP: I declare that this is absolutely untrue. Not a single work of art was taken out of the Louvre by Ambassador Abetz. That would have been contrary to the express orders of the Fuehrer, who had strictly forbidden it. The report is incorrect.
May I mention that on one occasion the French Government wanted to present me with a work of art from the Louvre, a painting by Boucher. I returned this picture to the Louvre. I do not possess anything, and the Foreign Office never even saw a single work of art, from the Louvre.
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M. FAURE: You state that this report is incorrect?
THE PRESIDENT: What is this report you are putting to him?
M. FAURE: It is Document 3766-PS.
THE PRESIDENT: Yes, I know, but what is this document?
M. FAURE: It is a report from the German military administration, which is in the American documents in the PS series. The Tribunal received a general affidavit referring thereto.
THE PRESIDENT: Captured documents?
M. FAURE: Yes, captured documents. I indicate to the Tribunal that this captured report contains numerous other passages relating to the actions of Abetz, but as the defendant declares that the report is inexact as regards one of its passages, I shall not continue reading the document, in order to save time. In addition ...
VON RIBBENTROP: But this is not a captured document, not a report.
M. FAURE: Please answer my questions. We are not going to carry on this controversy. Your counsel can interrogate you later on.
DR. HORN: I must ask your permission to inquire into the nature of the documents submitted to the defendant. If it is stated that it is a captured report and then that it is not a captured report, the matters should be put right, here and immediately.
M. FAURE: I have already indicated that this document belongs to the PS series of captured documents. The Tribunal has a large number of such documents and I do not think that their authenticity will be disputed.
[Turning to the defendant.] I would now like to ask you the following question: ...
THE PRESIDENT: Are you going to ask further questions upon this document?
M. FAURE: No, Mr. President.
[Turning to the defendant.] Apart from the questions of art treasures, Abetz also dealt with the question of the treatment of Jews in general, did he not?
VON RIBBENTROP: Abetz had no order. As far as I know he also had nothing to do with the Jewish question. This question was handled by other departments.
M. FAURE: Is it not true that in October 1940 Abetz communicated with you with a view to settling the situation of Jews of German or Austrian descent who were residing in France?
VON RIBBENTROP: I do not know; it did not interest me.
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M. FAURE: I would like to show you Document EC-265, which I wish to submit as French Document RF-1504. It is a telegram from Abetz dated 1 October 1940. 1 will read merely the first and last sentences:
"The solution of the Jewish problem in the occupied territory of France requires, besides other measures, a regulation as soon as possible of the citizenship status of the Reich German Jews who were living here at the beginning of the war..."
And the last sentence:
"The measures proposed above are to be considered as merely the first step toward the solution of the entire problem. I reserve the right to make other proposals."
VON RIBBENTROP: May I have time to read the telegram first?
THE PRESIDENT: That is a little too fast.
M. FAURE: Yes.
VON RIBBENTROP: So far as I can see, this telegram apparently deals with the fact that Austrian and German Jews are to be repatriated to Austria and Germany from France. I do not know that. This is the first time I have seen this telegram, and I can give no information about it. It probably represents one of the routine measures dealt with by the Foreign Office in the course of the day's work, but which were not submitted to me; and apart from that, these matters were individually dealt with by other departments, not by us.
M. FAURE: If you will look on the left-hand side of the telegram, you will see the distribution list. There were 19, including you, were there not? You were Number 2.
VON RIBBENTROP: I should like to inform the French prosecutor that every day four, five, six, or eight hundred such documents and telegrams reached my office, of which only 1 or 2 percent were submitted to me.
M. FAURE: Apart from the question ...
VON RIBBENTROP: In any case I know nothing about this telegram.
M. FAURE: Apart from the question of Jews of Austrian and German origin, your colleagues and subordinates in the Embassy also dealt with the question of the French Jews. Now, before asking you this question, I should like to read out to you two sentences from a document which was submitted to the Tribunal as French Document Number RF-1207. It is a report from Dannecker, who was responsible for solving the Jewish problem in France. Dannecker concluded his report as follows:
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"In this connection, I cannot speak of this matter without mentioning the genuinely friendly support which our work received from the German Ambassador Abetz, his representative, the envoy Schleier, and SS Sturmbannfuehrer and Counsellor of Legation Dr. Zeitschel. I should like to add that the Embassy in Paris has, on its own initiative, placed quite larger sums at the disposal of the branch in charge of the Jewish question, for the financing of the Anti-Jewish Institute, and that it, will continue to do so in future." Therefore, according to these documents, Abetz, Schleier, and Zeitschel worked together.
THE PRESIDENT: Mr. Faure, we do not know where you are reading from.
M. FAURE: Mr. President, this document was not given to you in this folder because it has already been submitted to the Tribunal. I merely wished to read two sentences from it.
THE PRESIDENT: All right.
M. FAURE: It is evident therefore, from this document, that three officials of the German Embassy, Abetz, Schleier, and Zeitschel, collaborated with Dannecker in the settlement of Jewish affairs. That is shown by the document, is it not?
VON RIBBENTROP: Am I supposed to answer that? Is it a question?
M. FAURE: It is a question.
VON RIBBENTROP: To that question I must answer "naturally." They certainly collaborated to some extent in the Jewish question in France; that is perfectly clear. But I can also add that the French Prosecution surely is informed that Ambassador Abetz was not only instructed by me, but also acted on his own initiative in always attempting to reach some kind of conciliatory settlement of this question. It goes without saying that the Embassy was involved, one way or the other, in this sphere of action. And it also goes without saying that I must assume responsibility for anything done by the gentlemen in the Embassy, and I should like to repeat that my instructions as well as the activities of Ambassador Abetz were always in the opposite direction. It is quite clear that the basic anti-Semitic tendency and policy of the German Government spread over all the departments and naturally, in any sphere -- I mean, every Government office somehow or other came into contact with these matters. Our task in the Foreign Office -- which could be proved in thousands of cases if the documents would be submitted was to act as an intermediary in this sphere. I might say, we often had to do things in accordance with this anti-Semitic policy, but
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we always endeavored to prevent these measures and to reach some kind of conciliatory settlement. In fact, the German Embassy was not responsible for any anti-Semitic measures of any description in France.
M. FAURE: I would like to draw your attention to another document, Number RF-1210, a French document which is a second report from Dannecker of 22 February 1942, Page 3 of the document, Page 2 of the German text.
VON RIBBENTROP: I should like to say here and now that I do not even know who Dannecker is. Perhaps you can give me some information on that subject.
M. FAURE: I informed you that Dannecker was the person responsible for Jewish affairs in France. As a matter of fact, these documents were submitted a long time ago to the Tribunal and communicated to the Defense. At Page 3 of the document, which is Page 2 of the German, there is a paragraph entitled, "Actions," from which I read one sentence: "Up to the present, three large-scale operations have been undertaken against the Jews in Paris." Now, if you will look at the last page of the document, the last paragraph but one, we read as follows:
"Since the middle of 1941 there has been a conference every Tuesday in which the following services participate:... I, II, and III, military commands, administrative, police, and economic sections; IV, German Embassy, Paris; V, Einsatzstab Westen of Reichsleiter Rosenberg.
"The result of the conference is that -- with very few exceptions naturally called for by outsiders -- the anti-Jewish policy is being brought into one common line in the occupied territory."
This document clearly shows, does it not, that your collaborators were in agreement with the anti-Jewish policy in the occupied territories and that this policy included the arrest of Jews?
VON RIBBENTROP: May I reply to this statement? According to my information, in this case, as so often happened in such cases, the German ambassadors could have served as the branch offices. They might have joined in with a view to guiding matters into peaceful channels.
M. FAURE: I ask that you be shown French Document RF-1220, which is a letter from the German Embassy of 27 June 1942, addressed to the head of the Security Police and the SD in France. Before asking you a question I would like to read with you the first two paragraphs of this letter:
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"Following my interview with Hauptsturmfuehrer Dannecker on the date of 27 June, during which he indicated that he required that 60,000 Jews from the unoccupied zone be deported to the East as soon as possible, and that on the basis of notes sent by the Commissioner General for Jewish Questions, Darquier de Pellepoix, under any circumstances something had to be done for this, I reported the matter to Ambassador Abetz and Minister Rahn immediately after the discussion. The latter is to confer with President Laval this afternoon, and he has promised me that he will speak to him at once about the handing over of these 50,000 Jews; also he will insist that Darquier de Pellepoix be given complete freedom of action according to the laws already promulgated, and that the credits which have been promised to him be handed to him immediately."
Now, I should like to ask you a question. I ask you to answer as briefly as possible: Were you aware of this demarche for the handing over of these 50,000 Jews?
VON RIBBENTROP: No, I was not; I heard about it here for the first time, when this document was, I believe, read out once before.
M. FAURE: If your collaborators Abetz, Rahn, and Zeitschel took such action on this subject without informing you, was it not because they thought they were acting in accordance with your general directives?
VON RIBBENTROP: No, I do not think so; they worked very independently in Paris, but I should like to repeat once again that I am assuming responsibility for everything that these gentlemen have done. I make a point of emphasizing this fact. I did not, however, know anything about the proposed measure against the 60,000 Jews. And I do not even know whether it was ever put into effect, and in what manner these gentlemen had implicated themselves in the matter. The letter does not make it clear. I know only one thing, and that is that my general instructions were to tread cautiously in such matters and, if possible, to bridge difficulties according to my own basic concepts and not to do anything to force matters but, on the contrary, to smooth them over. I can say no more on the subject.
M. FAURE: During the interrogation of your witness Steengracht, the British Prosecution produced a document, 3319-PS, under the British Exhibit Number GB-287. I should like to refer to this document for one question only.
In this document there is an account of a meeting, or a congress, at which were present all the reporters on Jewish questions from the various diplomatic missions in Europe. This congress was held
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on 3 and 4 April 1944 in Krummhubel. It was organized by Schleier. This was read the other day. You knew about this congress, I suppose?
VON RIBBENTROP: No, this is the first time I have heard about it. What congress was that? I have never heard that such a congress ever took place. What kind of congress was it supposed to be?
M. FAURE: This document has already been submitted; it was a congress held...
VON RIBBENTROP: I know only about one congress which I asked the Fuehrer not to hold. That I do know. But I know nothing at all about a congress which did take place. Please give more detailed information on the subject.
M. FAURE: The document was handed over to the Tribunal, and I would like to ask you one question. You testified that you were unaware of this meeting at which 31 persons, most of whom belonged to the diplomatic service, were present. I will inform you that during this meeting Embassy Counsellor Von Thadden made a declaration which was reported in the following terms:
"The speaker explained the reasons why the Zionist solution of Palestine and similar alternative solutions must be rejected and why the Jews must be expatriated into the Eastern territories."
I suggest that this declaration made by an embassy counsellor in the presence of 31 people belonging to your service voiced your own attitude on these matters.
VON RIBBENTROP: Yes, but I do not know in the very least what you mean. May I, to begin with, please have some information on the matter with which we are dealing? I do not understand it at all. I have told you once before that I know nothing about any congress except the one which I countermanded. That was an international congress which was to have been held. I know nothing of a congress of diplomats. Would you kindly place the document in question at my disposal in order that I may make my reply?
M. FAURE: I do not intend to show you this document. I read one sentence contained in this document, and I am merely asking you if this phrase represents your opinion or not. Answer "Yes" or "no".
VON RIBBENTROP: Then I must request you to repeat the sentence. I wish to confirm again, however, that no congress took place; it is not true.
DR. HORN: Mr. President, I object to that question, if the opportunity is not afforded the defendant to give a truthful answer.
THE PRESIDENT: The Tribunal thinks the question was proper.
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M. FAURE: I ask you whether this sentence which I have read out to you corresponded to your opinion.
VON RIBBENTROP: May I ask you to repeat the sentence. I did not understand it correctly.
"The speaker explained the reasons why the Zionist solution of Palestine and similar alternative solutions must be rejected and why the Jews must be expatriated to the Eastern territories."
Was that your thesis?
VON RIBBENTROP: No, it was not.
M. FAURE: Was your attention drawn to the fact that the Italian authorities in France protected the Jews against persecution by Germans?
VON RIBBENTROP: Yes. I recollect that there was something of the kind but I no longer remember exactly.
M. FAURE: Did you approach the Italian Government on this subject?
VON RIBBENTROP: I recollect that on one occasion I spoke either to Mussolini or to Count Ciano about certain acts of sabotage, espionage, or something of that kind which had occurred in France and against which one would have to be on the alert, and in this connection, I believe, the Jewish problem was also discussed.
M. FAURE: I ask that you be shown Document D-734, which I would like to submit as French Exhibit Number RF-1501. This note is headed:
"Account of a conference between the Reich Foreign Minister and the Duce in the Palazzo Venezia in the presence of Ambassadors Von Mackensen and Alfieri and the State Secretary Bastianini on the 25th of February 1943." I would like to read with you the second paragraph on this page. "Further, the Reich Foreign Minister dealt with the Jewish question. The Duce was aware that Germany had taken a radical position with regard to the treatment of the Jews.. As a result of the development of the war in Russia she had come to an even greater clarification of this question. All Jews had been transported from Germany and from the territories occupied by her to reservations in the East. He, the Reich Foreign Minister, knew that this measure was described as cruel, particularly by enemies, but it was necessary in order to be able to carry the war through to a successful conclusion."
I shall not read the following paragraph, but the fourth:
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"France also had taken measures against the Jews which were extremely useful. They were only temporary, because here, too, final solution would be the deportation of the Jews to the East. He, the Reich Foreign Minister, knew that in Italian military circles, and occasionally among German military people too, the Jewish problem was not sufficiently appreciated. It was only in this way that he could understand an order of the Comando Supremo which, in the Italian occupation zone of France had canceled measures taken against the Jews by the French authorities acting under German influence. The Duce contested the accuracy of this report and traced it back to the French tactics of causing dissension between Germany and Italy."
Now I shall ask you a question: A short while ago you told us that you wanted to make all the Jews emigrate to Madagascar. Is Madagascar in the Eastern reservations mentioned in the document?
VON RIBBENTROP: About what? I have not understood.
M. FAURE: You were talking in this document of deporting Jews to the reservations in the Eastern territories, and a short while ago you spoke to us of settling the Jews in Madagascar. Is Madagascar meant here?
VON RIBBENTROP: No, that was the Fuehrer's plan. This document refers to the fact that a large-scale espionage system had been discovered, I believe, in France. The Fuehrer sent me while I was on a journey to Italy and told me to speak to Mussolini and see to it that in cases of Jews involved in these acts of sabotage and espionage, the Italian Government or the Italian Army did not intervene to prevent this measure. Also I should like to state definitely that I knew, and it was also the Fuehrer's plan, that the European Jews were to be resettled on a large scale either in Madagascar, North Africa, or in reservations in the East. This was generally known in Germany. That is all that we are concerned with here, and I also knew that some very unpleasant things had occurred at that time and that the Fuehrer was convinced that all of them could be attributed to Jewish organizations in the south of France, I believe. I now recollect very well that at the time I discussed the matter with Mussolini and begged him to adopt suitable measures since these Jews were furnishing all the information to the English and American Intelligence Services. At least that was the information which the Fuehrer was constantly receiving.
M. FAURE: You said, did you not, that all Jews were to be deported to the Eastern reservations? Is that correct? Please reply "yes" or "no".
VON RIBBENTROP: Whether I was in favor of it?
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M. FAURE: Germany deported all the Jews from German territory and territories occupied by her to Eastern reservations. That is true, is it not?
VON RIBBENTROP: I do not know the contents of the document in detail. I do not know what I myself said in detail. But at any rate I knew that the Fuehrer had ordered that the Jews of the occupied territories in Europe were to be transported to reservations in the East and resettled there. That I did know. The carrying out of these measures, however, was not my task as Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Foreign Office, but I did know that it was the Fuehrer's wish. In this connection, I remember that I received an order from him to discuss the matter with the Italian Government so that they too would introduce corresponding measures regarding the Jewish problem. That applied to other countries as well, where we had to send telegrams quite frequently, so that these countries should solve the Jewish question.
THE PRESIDENT: M. Faure, did you read to the witness the second paragraph beginning: "Further, the Reich Foreign Minister dealt with the Jewish question... "?
M. FAURE: Yes, Mr. President, the second paragraph. That is the paragraph which I have just been reading.
THE PRESIDENT: Well, you read the third one, but I did not know you read the second one too. You read the second one too, did you? Very well.
M. FAURE: Yes, I read it as well, Mr. President.
THE PRESIDENT: The document is a new document, is it not?
M. FAURE: Yes, Mr. President, it is a document which I would like to submit under the Exhibit Number RF-1501. It belongs to the "D" series; it is D-734 of the British document books.
THE PRESIDENT: Has the defendant said whether he admit, that it is a substantially accurate account of the conversation?
VON RIBBENTROP: I can no longer say for certain, Mr. President; what I did say at the time, I know only, and gather, from this document, from these words, that the Jews were spreading news from British and American sources. I can remember that at that time a large espionage and sabotage organization was in existence, and that this organization was causing a great deal of trouble in France, and that the Fuehrer ordered me to discuss the matter with Mussolini since the Italians were opposing certain measures we had introduced in France. I spoke to Mussolini and told him that the Fuehrer was of the opinion that, where this question was concerned, we should have to come to a definite understanding.
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THE PRESIDENT: I think, Defendant, you have already told us that. The question that I asked was whether you agreed that it was a substantially accurate account of the conversation.
VON RIBBENTROP: I consider that in certain points the report is incorrect, but fundamentally the position was as I have just explained it.
M. FAURE: Now, you also spoke about this question with Horthy, did you not?
VON RIBBENTROP: Yes. I had to confer several times with the Hungarian Government so as to persuade them to do something about the Jewish problem. The Fuehrer was extremely insistent on this point. I therefore discussed the question repeatedly with the Hungarian Ambassador and the question was primarily to centralize the Jews somehow or other in some part of Budapest, I think it was slightly outside Budapest or in -- as a matter of fact, I do not know Budapest very well -- in any case, it was somewhere in Budapest itself. That was the first point. And the second point dealt with the removal of the Jews from influential Government posts, since it had been proved that Jewish influence in these departments was sufficiently authoritative to bring Hungary to a separate peace.
M. FAURE: The document relating to your conversation or one of the conversations which you had with Horthy has already been produced. It was that of 17 April 1943. It is Document D-736, which was submitted as GB-283. During the interrogation of your witness, Schmidt, the British prosecutor asked this witness if he admitted having compiled this account, and this was confirmed by Schmidt. This note bears the following remark at the bottom of the first paragraph: "The Foreign Minister declared that the Jews were either to be exterminated or sent to concentration camps. There was no other solution." You did say that, did you not?
VON RIBBENTROP: I definitely did not say it in those words. But I would like to reply as follows:
It was apparently an account prepared by "Minister" Schmidt, as was his habit, some days after a long discussion between the Fuehrer and Horthy. I have already said that the Fuehrer had repeatedly charged me to talk to Horthy, to the Hungarian Government, to the Ambassador, in order to reach a solution of the Jewish question. At the time when Horthy visited the Fuehrer the Fuehrer emphasized the question to him in a very irritable manner, and I remember perfectly that subsequent to this discussion I talked the matter over with "Minister" Schmidt, saying that I, strictly speaking, had not quite understood the Fuehrer.
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The remark mentioned was definitely not made in this way. M. Horthy had apparently said that he could not, after all, beat the Jews to death. It is possible, since there would have been no question of that in any case, that in this connection I did endeavor to persuade Horthy to do something or other at once about the Jewish question in Budapest, namely, that he should undertake now the centralization which the Fuehrer had already wished to carry out for a long time. My objection or my interpolation may have referred to this question. I must add that the situation, at that time, was as follows: We had been receiving repeated indications from Himmler, to the effect that Himmler wished to handle the Jewish situation in Hungary himself. I did not want this, since, one way or another, it would probably have created political difficulties abroad.
Consequently, acting on the wish of the Fuehrer, who was extremely obstinate on this subject, I, as is known, repeatedly attempted to smooth matters over and, at the same time, pin the Hungarians down to do something about it in any case. Therefore, if, from a long conversation, some remark has been extracted and summarized in brief, and contains some such statement, it certainly does not mean that I wished the Jews to be beaten to death. It was 100 percent contrary to my personal convictions.
M. FAURE: I do not understand whether you answered my question or not. I will have to ask you again. Is the report correct, or is it not correct?
VON RIBBENTROP: No, in this form it cannot be correct. These are notes. I personally have never seen these notes before; otherwise I should have said at once that this is nonsense and liable to misconstruction. I did not see these notes before; I saw them for the first time in Nuremberg.
I can say only one thing which may possibly have occurred. I might have said ... well yes, "the Jews cannot be exterminated or beaten to death, so, please do something in order that the Fuehrer will be satisfied at long last, and centralize the Jews."
That was our aim, at that time at any rate. We did not want to render the situation more acute, but we were trying to do something in Hungary so that no other department could take the matter in hand, thereby creating political difficulties abroad for the Foreign Office.
M. FAURE: You knew at that time that many Jews had been deported. That may be gathered from your explanations.
THE PRESIDENT: Just one moment, please. Are you passing from this document?
M. FAURE: I was continuing to speak of it in more general terms.
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THE PRESIDENT: You are passing from it, did you say?
M. FAURE: Yes.
THE PRESIDENT: Well, Defendant, the Tribunal would like to know whether you did, say to the Regent Horthy that Jews ought to be taken to concentration camps.
VON RIBBENTROP: I consider it possible that such may have been the case, for we had, at that time, received an order that a concentration camp was to be installed near Budapest or else that the Jews should be centralized there, and the Fuehrer had instructed me a long time before to discuss with the Hungarians a possible solution of the Jewish question. This solution should consist of two points. One was the removal of the Jews from important government positions and two, since there were so many Jews in Budapest, to centralize the Jews in certain quarters of Budapest.
THE PRESIDENT: I understand your suggestion to be that this document is inaccurate.
VON RIBBENTROP: Yes, it is not accurate. The way I should like to put it, Mr. President, is that when reading the document, it would appear from this document that I considered it possible or desirable to beat the Jews to death. That is perfectly untrue but what I did say here and what I emphasized later on could be understood to mean only that I wished something to be done in Hungary to solve the Jewish problem, so that other departments should not interfere in the matter. For the Fuehrer often spoke to me about it, very seriously indeed, saying that the Jewish problem in Hungary must be solved now ...
THE PRESIDENT: You have told us that, I think, already. What I wanted to ask you was this: Are you suggesting that Schmidt, who drew up this memorandum, invented the last few sentences, beginning with the words:
"If the Jews there did not want to work they would be shot. If they could not work they would have to perish. They had to be treated like tuberculosis bacilli with which a healthy body may become infected. This was not cruel if one remembered that innocent creatures of nature, such as hares or deer, have to be killed so that no harm is caused by them. Why should the beasts who wanted to bring us Bolshevism be shown more leniency? Nations which did not rid themselves of Jews perished. One of the most famous examples of this was the downfall of a people who once were so proud, the Persians, who now lead a pitiful existence as Armenians."
Are you suggesting that Schmidt invented those sentences or imagined them?
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VON RIBBENTROP: Mr., President, I should like to add that I myself was very grieved by these words of the Fuehrer, and I did not quite understand them. But perhaps this attitude can be understood only if we remember that the Fuehrer believed that the Jews had caused this war, and that he had gradually developed a very fanatical hatred for them.
I remember too that later on, after this conference, I discussed with the interpreter Sdimidt and the two gentlemen the fact that this was the first time the Fuehrer had used expressions in connection with the Jewish problem which I could no longer understand. These words were certainly not invented by Schmidt. The Fuehrer did express himself in some such way at that time. That is true.
THE PRESIDENT: Yes, M. Faure.
M. FAURE: It appears from his document that you thought there were concentration camps in Hungary and yet you said yesterday that you did not know there were any in Germany. Is that not so?
VON RIBBENTROP: I did not know that there were any concentration camps in Hungary, but I did say that the Fuehrer had instructed me to ask Horthy to ask the Hungarian Government to concentrate the Jews in Budapest, in certain parts of the city of Budapest. As to concentration camps in Germany, I already spoke yesterday about my knowledge of that subject.
M. FAURE: You admitted that you knew Hitler's policy to deport all Jews and you admitted that insofar as you were competent as Minister for Foreign Affairs, you assisted this policy, did you not? That is right, is it not?
VON RIBBENTROP: As his faithful follower I adhered to the Fuehrer's orders even in this field, but I always did my utmost to alleviate the situation as far as possible. This can be stated and proved by many witnesses. Even in 1943 I submitted a comprehensive memorandum to the Fuehrer in which I urged him to alter the Jewish policy completely. I could also quote many other examples. M. FAURE: If I understand your testimony rightly, you were morally opposed to this persecution of Jews, but you did help to carry them out, is that not so? VON RIBBENTROP: I repeatedly said at the very beginning of my examination, that in that sense I have never been anti-Semitic. But I was a faithful follower of Adolf Hitler.
M. FAURE: Apart from the Jewish question, you dealt with arrests of French people, did you not?
VON RIBBENTROP: The arrests of Frenchmen ...
M. FAURE: Yes. Did you or did you not give orders to arrest Frenchmen?
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VON RIBBENTROP: It is quite possible that this was so. Quite possible.
M. FAURE: Can you be more precise on that subject?
VON RIBBENTROP: No, I cannot, for the moment, remember any details. In any case I know that Frenchmen were arrested. Just how far this depended on us, at that time, I do not know. It was, I think, in 1944, shortly before the invasion that the Fuehrer issued an order to the effect that a large number of important French members of the resistance movement were to be arrested on the spot, and I believe that we were advised accordingly. It is also possible that we co-operated in this action to a certain extent, but I cannot remember any details.
It was a question of arresting those elements who would kindle the flame of the Resistance Movement in the event of an invasion, and would attack the German armies in the rear. But I cannot give you anymore particulars now.
M. FAURE: I ask that you be shown a document which will be submitted as Exhibit Number RF-1506 (Document Number RF-1506). It is an affidavit by Dr. H. Knochen. I shall read some passages from this document.
"At the end of 1943 -- it must have been in December -- there was a conference at the Foreign Office on arrests to be made in France. As I was in Berlin, I was also summoned to it. Present at this conference were: The Foreign Minister Von Ribbentrop; the State Secretary Von Steengracht; Ambassador Abetz; another member of the Foreign Office, whose name I do not know; the Chief of the SIPO and the SD, Dr. Kaltenbrunner; the Higher SS and Police Leader in France, Oberg; and representing the Military Commander-in-Chief was his Chief of Staff Colonel Kossmann, if my memory serves me right.
"The Minister stated the following: The Fuehrer expects in France more attention to be paid in the future than hitherto. The enemy force must not be allowed to increase. Therefore all German services will have to carry out their duties more meticulously."
I omit the next paragraph. Then we read the following:
"He sees arising danger, in the event of invasion, of those prominent Frenchmen who do not wish to collaborate with Germany, and who are secretly active against her. They might constitute a danger to the troops. These dangerous elements should be sought out in business circles, university centers, in certain military and political circles, and all classes of society connected with them. He believes that it will be
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necessary to strike an immediate blow against these people. He suggests that they number easily 2,000 people or more. At a moment when it is necessary to defend Europe against her enemy, there is no reason why we should shrink from taking preventive measures of this kind in France. As to the practical means of putting this into effect, the Minister stated, Ambassador Abetz will have to take up this matter immediately and draw up a list in collaboration with the German services in order to take account of all the questions that arise out of this matter."
I end the quotation here. Do you admit the accuracy of this document?
VON RIBBENTROP: Yes, I distinctly remember that discussion. This was a Fuehrer order to the effect that immediate action be taken -- I have just spoken about this -- in view of the pending invasion, to arrest an potentially dafterous elements who could fan the flame of resistance in the rear of the German armies. I considered this a perfectly comprehensible measure which any Government, with the welfare of the troops at heart, would have made.
I then held this conference. The Fuehrer expected a far greater wave of arrests, but only a comparatively small number, I believe, were arrested then. Subsequently we had comparatively little to do with the actual arrests; they were carried out by the police.
But it is perfectly clear that this conference did take place at the time indicated and that we did what had to be done at the moment, as proposed, namely, the arrest of those elements which might have been-dangerous in case of an invasion. That is quite true.
M. FAURE: I have no further questions.
THE PRESIDENT: The Tribunal will adjourn.
[A recess was taken.]
THE PRESIDENT: There are two things that I want to say. One of them relates to the Prosecution and one of them relates to the Defense. It is desired that the Prosecution should furnish documents to the interpreters when they are going to use documents in the course of examination or cross-examination. Documents need not necessarily be in the language which the interpreter is going to use, but there must be some document in some language, one of the languages, placed before the interpreters in order to assist.
The other point is that I am told that the defendants' counsel are not getting their documents ready for the Translation Division in
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anything like the 2 weeks beforehand which was specified by the Tribunal. The Tribunal, it is true, said that the documents must be furnished to the Tribunal or the Translation Division 2 weeks ahead, if possible. Those words "if possible" are being treated too lightly and the documents, I am told, are sometimes coming in as late as 48 hours before the case of the particular defendant is to be taken. That is not sufficient and it will lead to delay. That is all.
MR. DODD: May it please the Tribunal, in the course of the cross-examination of this defendant by the French Prosecution, reference was made to Document 3766-PS and I understood Dr. Horn to say that that document was not a captured document. That was my understanding of his statement. I am not altogether sure that that was what he said when he approached the microphone. So that the record will be perfectly clear, I now wish to inform the Tribunal that it is a captured document and I do not know upon what basis Dr. Horn made that assertion.
THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Horn.
DR. HORN: Mr. President, I have not, so far, had any opportunity-it has been stated that we are dealing with a captured document, and I have had no opportunity of checking the matter beforehand. It said on the top of this document that it was a USA exhibit, Document Number 3766-PS, and I had no opportunity of checking this on its arrival. I have therefore requested that this fact be kindly established by the French Prosecution. That was my sole objection. I did not deny that it was a captured document; I was merely unable to prove it.
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.
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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.
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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" 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.
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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.
COL. AMEN: Now, I am going to read you some more of your testimony:
"He" -- referring to the Fuehrer -- "considered me his closest collaborator. We had a very serious conversation then, and when I wanted to go away, I promised it to him and I have kept it to the last moment. It was sometimes very difficult, I can assure you, to keep this promise, and today I am sorry that I gave it. Perhaps it would have been better if I had not given it. It put me from then on in the position that I could not talk to Hitler, in very serious and important moments of this war, in the way in which I would have liked to, and in which, perhaps, I might have been able to talk to him after this conversation in 1941.
"I must explain all this to you. If you do not know the background of these things you might think perhaps that as Foreign Minister during these last years I would like to say more about this. Perhaps I might say one could give some more information about this, but I want to be and remain loyal to this man, even after his death, as far as I can possibly do it, But I reserve the right to prove to posterity that I kept my promise and also the right to show the role which I have played in the whole of this drama." Did you or did you not make those statements under oath to me?
VON RIBBENTROP: They are ...
COL. AMEN: "Yes" or "no"?
VON RIBBENTROP: Here again we have two questions. To question Number 1, I would say that I know nothing at all. To the second question, I answer "no." I certainly never testified under oath to that. I was put on oath only twice, but that is not relevant
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here. The statement is not verbatim and must have been wrongly translated. It is correct that I said that I was loyal to the Fuehrer and that I further said that I had many arguments with him, that we were not always of the same opinion, and that is the essence of my statement. That is correct.
COL. AMEN: I asked you only one question, and I ask you again to answer it "yes" or "no." Did you or did you not make those statements in the exact language that I just read them to you?
THE PRESIDENT: I think, Colonel Amen, he really did answer that, because he said it is not verbatim.
COL. AMEN: But it is verbatim.
THE PRESIDENT: That is a matter of opinion. He says it is not verbatim.
COL. AMEN: Well, very good, Your Lordship.
[Turning to the defendant.] In any event, you can see that you stated the substance of what I just read to you; correct?
VON RIBBENTROP: As I have just said, yes.
COL. AMEN: As a matter of fact, Ribbentrop, you testified and gave this particular testimony in English, did you not?
VON RIBBENTROP: I have often spoken English at interrogations, that is quite true, but whether it was precisely this statement which was made in English, I do not know. In any case, I repeat, these statements on both points are to be understood that way; that is how they were meant.
COL. AMEN: And when you gave your testimony in English, that was at your own request, was it not?
VON RIBBENTROP: No, that is not correct.
COL. AMEN: At whose request?
VON RIBBENTROP: That I do not know. I believe it just happened that way; I cannot remember. I believe I spoke English mostly, and German a few times. Most of the time, however, I spoke English.
COL. AMEN: Now, I am going to read you a little more of your testimony and ask you the same question, which I hope you will answer "yes" or "no," namely: Did you give this testimony in the course of the interrogation:
"Question: 'Do you feel that you have an obligation to the German people to set forth historically not only the good things, but the bad things, for their education in the future?'
"Answer: 'That is a terribly difficult question to answer.'
"Question: 'Does that counterbalance the loyalty you feel towards the Fuehrer?'
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"Answer: 'I do not want to stand before the German people as being disloyal to the Fuehrer.'"
Did you make those statements?
VON RIBBENTROP: Yes, that is quite possible, though I can no longer remember very exactly. But that is quite possible. So much has been said in the course of the last few months, and then too, from a physical point of view, I have, as you know, not been quite up to the mark, so that I just cannot remember every single word.
COL. AMEN: All right. Now see if you recall having made these statements:
"I always told the Fuehrer openly my view if he wanted to hear it, but I kept myself entirely back from all decisions, but if the Fuehrer once had decided, I, according to my attitude toward the Fuehrer, blindly carried out his orders and acted in the sense of his decision. In a few decisive foreign political points, I tried to give my opinion more forcefully. This was in the Polish crisis and also in the Russian question, because I considered this absolutely important and necessary, but from 1941 I had but very little weight and it was difficult to bring an opinion through with the Fuehrer."
Do you recall having made those statements? "Yes," or "no," please.
VON RIBBENTROP: That is more or less true. Yes, I practically remember it.
THE PRESIDENT: Colonel Amen, the Tribunal has already heard a very long cross-examination of the defendant, and they think that this is not adding very much to what they have already heard. The defendant has given very similar evidence already.
COL. AMEN: Very good, Sir. I will pass to another subject. [Turning to the defendant.] You have testified that there was a sharp line of demarcation between the political and the military situations. Correct?
VON RIBBENTROP: Between -- I did not understand that.
COL. AMEN: You have testified that there was always a sharp line of demarcation between the political and the military elements.
VON RIBBENTROP: Yes. The Fuehrer always differentiated rather strongly between these two elements; that is correct.
COL. AMEN: And that information belonging to the military was kept exclusively for the military and not made available to your office, for example? Is that correct?
VON RIBBENTROP: I heard little of military matters and plans; yes, that is correct.
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COL. AMEN: And that the contrary was also true, that the information which you obtained was not made available to the military; is that correct?
VON RIBBENTROP: That I am in no position to judge, but I would assume so, since I do not know what information the military received from the Fuehrer.
COL. AMEN: Well, you told us that the Fuehrer's entire plan was to keep those political and military channels separate each from the other. Correct?
VON RIBBENTROP: Yes, in general he kept them very severely apart. I have already said so several times. That is why I have only just now had cognizance of many military, documents for the first time. That was perfectly in keeping with the Fuehrer's decrees on secrecy, that no one department should know more than was absolutely essential.
COL. AMEN: Now, as a matter of fact that was not true at all; was it, Ribbentrop?
VON RIBBENTROP: I have already given you my answer.
COL. AMEN: As a matter of fact you had secret agents out who were working jointly in foreign countries for your office, for the Army, and for the Navy; isn't that true?
VON RIBBENTROP: No, that is incorrect.
COL. AMEN: You are quite sure of that?
VON RIBBENTROP: Yes, I am certain of that.
COL. AMEN: And you are swearing to that?
VON RIBBENTROP: You mean agents who did something, who...
COL. AMEN: Who were out obtaining information for your office, for the Army, and for the Navy at the same, jointly?
VON RIBBENTROP: I consider that highly improbable. It is, of course, possible that somehow or other, some man may have worked for different departments, but this was definitely not done on an organized scale. The organization -- we maintained a very small intelligence service abroad -- and the intelligence services of the other departments of the Reich generally worked, as far as I was informed, completely apart from ours. It is possible that here and there some person or other would work for other, for different departments. That is quite conceivable. For instance, some person or other in our legations, as was customary at the English, American, Russian, and other legations, who had dug themselves in as consular assistants or some other kind of assistants, and carried out intelligence work for some organization or other.
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COL. AMEN: So you want to change the answer you made a moment ago; is that right?
VON RIBBENTROP: No, I do not wish to change it at all. Fundamentally, as an organized routine matter, I never introduced any of the secret agents who worked for the different departments abroad. It is, however, conceivable that the department of the Foreign Office dealing with such matters may have appointed somebody. It was, however, a fairly insignificant affair. Today I say "unfortunately." It is quite possible that other agents from this department, working for other departments, for Counterintelligence or the SD, et cetera, were correlated. Later on we even -- I should like to add the following: I had pronounced differences of opinion with Himmler, over the intelligence services abroad, and it was only through the good offices of the Defendant Kaltenbrunner that I obtained an agreement to the effect that certain items of information would be placed at my disposal. But later this agreement was not honored. I think it was practically ineffective, because it was already too late. That, I believe, was in 1944.
COL. AMEN: Will you look at Document Number 3817-PS, please? Will you first tell the Tribunal who Albrecht Haushofer was, please?
VON RIBBENTROP: Albrecht Haushofer was a former collaborator of mine and was a man who, yes, who dealt with German minority questions. Could I perhaps read the letter first? Is it a letter from Haushofer? It is not signed.
COL. AMEN: Yes, it is. Have you finished reading?
VON RIBBENTROP: No, not quite, not yet. Shall I read the others too, or only the first letter?
COL. AMEN: We shall get to the other letters in a moment. I am trying to make this as short as we possibly can. Does that letter refresh your recollection that Haushofer was out in the Orient investigating various matters and making reports to you as early as 1937?
VON RIBBENTROP: At the moment I cannot recall that Haushofer was in Tokio, but it is conceivable, it is possible that such was the case.
COL. AMEN: Well, the letter is addressed to you and it encloses a report, does it not?
VON RIBBENTROP: Isn't this a letter from Count Durckheim? Isn't there some misunderstanding? But if you say this was written by Haushofer, then it is conceivable that he was in Tokio; it is possible. I am not acquainted with the details. I sent Count Durckheim to Tokio at that time but it is possible that Haushofer was there too. To be candid, I have, at present, forgotten all about it.
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DR. HORN: Mr. President, I have just seen that this letter is not fully dated and is unsigned but I hear from Colonel Amen it was allegedly written in 1937. In 1937 Ribbentrop was not yet Foreign Minister. He was appointed Foreign Minister only on 4 February 1938.
COL. AMEN: It has the date on it -- 3 October -- and it was captured with Haushofer's documents.
VON RIBBENTROP: But I consider it quite probable that this letter is from Haushofer, although, to be quite candid, I no longer remember exactly that he had been to Tokio in 1937.
COL. AMEN: Well, now ...
VON RIBBENTROP: He was a collaborator who worked with us in the early years but later dealt more with German minority questions, so that I lost track of him in recent years.
COL. AMEN: I will just pass along through this document. You will find the next document is dated 15 April 1937, requesting reimbursement and funds for this trip.
VON RIBBENTROP: Yes.
COL. AMEN: And then passing to the next document, you will find a letter to the Deputy of the Fuehrer, Hess, saying:
"I am using the courier to send you also personally a short report which is going to Ribbentrop at the same time. It contains as briefly as possible a summary of what I could observe and hear over here in 4 weeks." Do you see that?
VON RIBBENTROP: Yes, I see the letter. Yes, yes!
COL. AMEN: Then you will pass on to the next letter, dated 1 September 1937, addressed to yourself.
VON RIBBENTROP: Yes.
COL. AMEN: Enclosing a report covering the first 4 weeks.
VON RIBBENTROP: Yes, I have it before me.
COL. AMEN: Now, we will pass the report over just for the moment and you will come to a letter dated 17 December 1937.
THE PRESIDENT: Colonel Amen, the Tribunal thinks this is very far from the matters which they have really got to consider.
COL. AMEN: Very good, Sir. It seems to me that this indicates very clearly that copies of the same report which is included here were being sent simultaneously to the Army, to the Navy -- that went to Raeder -- and one to the Army and to Ribbentrop.
THE PRESIDENT: Yes, it is true that the witness first answer was that they did not have joint agents but he subsequently qualified that and said they might sometimes have had joint agents.
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COL. AMEN: That is right, Sir. If you think he has conceded that point ...
I should like to put this in as Exhibit USA-790.
VON RIBBENTROP: Yes, but may I be allowed to say that we are not, in this case, dealing with an agent. Herr Haushofer was a free collaborator of ours, interested in politics in general, and in the question of the German minorities in particular. If he was in Tokio, at that time, and he doubtless was there, although it has slipped my memory, then I must have told him to speak to several persons over there and report to me. He apparently, as I have only just gathered from this letter, either because he liked to be busy or for some other reason unknown to me, or because he knew the other gentlemen, placed these reports at the disposal of these other gentlemen, on his own initiative. But he certainly was no agent sent out by different departments. I think the only person who knew him well was Rudolf Hess; otherwise, I believe, he knew nobody at all. I fear I am not giving you quite the right ideas; he was a private tourist, who submitted his impressions.
COL. AMEN: Now, I believe you have told the Tribunal that you were not very close to Himmler; is that right?
VON RIBBENTROP: I have always said that my relations with Himmler were good during the first few years, but I regret to say that in the latter years I was not on good terms with him. I naturally -- it was not very noticeable to the outside world -- but I do not wish to discuss this matter in detail. Many things have already been said about it and there were serious and violent divergencies, due to many reasons...
COL. AMEN: I do not care what the divergencies were. In what years did you get along closely with him?
VON RIBBENTROP: I did not understand your question.
COL. AMEN: In what years were you close to him?
VON RIBBENTROP: The first divergencies between Himmler and myself arose, I believe, in 1941, over Romania and difficulties in Romania. These divergencies were smoothed over, and naturally to all outward appearances we had to work together as before, and we often exchanged letters on our respective birthdays and on other occasions. But later on relations were not very good. The final break came in 1941. Formerly I had been on good terms with him and also shared his opinion for the creation of a leadership class, at which he was aiming.
COL. AMEN: And you had at least 50 social appointments with Himmler in 1940 and 1941?
VON RIBBENTROP: How many?
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COL. AMEN: Fifty?
VON RIBBENTROP: Fifty? No, that certainly could not have been the case. Perhaps five or thereabouts, I cannot say for certain. But after 1941 relations between us were more strained, and later they were not very good. Others, I believe, have already testified to that effect.
COL. AMEN: Well, I do not want to take any more time, except ...
THE. PRESIDENT: Are you dealing with social appointments between Ribbentrop or something other?
COL. AMEN: Yes.
THE PRESIDENT: Is that a matter which the Tribunal has to go into?
COL. AMEN: Well, I expect, Sir, that any person that has as many appointments as are indicated by these books certainly has discussed with Himmler the matter of concentration camps and the entire matters which Himmler was exclusively handling. He has told the Tribunal that he had never heard anything about concentration,camps from Himmler.
VON RIBBENTROP: I wish to repeat my statement that at no time did Himmler discuss this matter with me. As for our 50 meetings, I do not know, we may have met frequently, despite everything, but I cannot remember 50 meetings. Possibly five or ten, I do not know. I do not believe it to be of vital importance since it is not a decisive factor. Of course we had to work together in various fields and this collaboration was mostly very difficult.
COL. AMEN: Well, there were many business appointments which you had with him also, were there not? Just take a look at this sheet of entries from Himmler's appointment book and tell me whether that conforms to your ...
THE PRESIDENT: Colonel Amen, the Tribunal does not want this matter gone into any further.
COL. AMEN: Very good, Sir, but these were business appointments as distinguished from social. There are no further questions.
GEN. RUDENKO: Defendant Ribbentrop, during the last sessions of the Tribunal you explained in great detail the bases of German foreign policy. I should like to ask you a few comprehensive questions and request you to answer these questions laconically in terms of "yes" or "no." Do you consider the Anschluss as an act of German aggression? Please answer this.
VON RIBBENTROP: Austria?
GEN. RUDENKO: Yes.
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VON RIBBENTROP: No, it was no aggression. It was the accomplishment of a purpose.
GEN. RUDENKO: I must request you ...
VON RIBBENTROP: But I presume I can say a few sentences at least, after saying "yes," or must I never say anything else but "yes" and "no"?
GEN. RUDENKO: I must beg you to answer my questions. You have replied far too extensively. I would like you to summarize your replies, precisely by saying "yes" or "no."
VON RIBBENTROP: That depends on my state of health. I must ask you to forgive me.
GEN. RUDENKO: I understand.
VON RIBBENTROP: I do not consider the Anschluss as an act of aggression, that is "no." I consider it the realization of the mutual purpose of both nations involved. They had always wished to be together and the government before Adolf Hitler had already striven for it.
GEN. RUDENKO: I ask you once more: Please answer "yes" or "no." Do you consider that the Anschluss was not an act of German aggression? Do you consider ...
THE PRESIDENT: General Rudenko, he gave you a categorical answer to that; that it was not an aggression.
GEN. RUDENKO: Yes, I understand, Mr. President.
THE PRESIDENT: And we have already ruled that the witnesses are not to be confined to answering "yes" or "no." They must answer "yes" or "no" first, and then make a short explanation if they want to. But, anyhow, with reference to this question, he has answered it categorically.
GEN. RUDENKO: The second question: Do you consider the seizure of Czechoslovakia as an act of aggression by Germany?
VON RIBBENTROP: No, it was no aggression in that sense, but a union in accordance with the right of self-determination of nations, as laid down in 1919 by the President of the United States, Wilson. The annexation of the Sudetenland was sanctioned by an agreement of four great powers in Munich.
GEN. RUDENKO: You evidently have not understood my question. I asked you whether you considered the seizure of Czechoslovakia, of the whole of Czechoslovakia, as an act of aggression by Germany?
VON RIBBENTROP: No, it was not an act of aggression by Germany. I consider, according to the words of the Fuehrer, and
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I believe he was right, that it was a necessity resulting from Germany's geographical position. This position meant that the remaining part of Czechoslovakia, the part which still existed, could always be used as a kind of aircraft-carrier for attacks against Germany. The Fuehrer therefore considered himself obliged to occupy the territory of Bohemia and Moravia, in order to protect the German Reich against air attack-the air journey from Prague to Berlin took only half an hour. The Fuehrer told me at the time that in view of the fact that United States had declared the entire Western Hemisphere as its particular sphere of interest, that Russia was a powerful country with gigantic territories, and that England embraced the entire globe, Germany would be perfectly justified in considering so small a space as her own sphere of interest.
GEN. RUDENKO: Do you consider the attack on Poland as an act of aggression by Germany?
VON RIBBENTROP: No. I must again say "no." The attack on Poland was rendered inevitable by the attitude of the other powers. It might have been possible to find a peaceful solution to the German demands, and I think the Fuehrer would have trodden this path of peace, had the other powers taken this path with him. As matters stood, the situation had become so tense that Germany could no longer accept it as it was, and as a great power Germany could not tolerate Polish provocations any further. That is how this war arose. I am convinced that primarily the Fuehrer was never interested in conquering Poland.
GEN. RUDENKO: Do you consider the attack on Denmark as an act of aggression by Germany?
VON RIBBENTROP: No, the "invasion" of Denmark, as it is called, was, according to the Fuehrer's words and explanation, a purely preventive measure adopted against imminent landings of British fighting forces. How authentic our information was is proved by the fact that only a few days later English and German troops were engaged in battle in Norway. That means that it was proved that these English troops had been ready for a long time for fighting in Norway, and it came out from the documents discovered later on and published at the time, and from orders issued, that the English landing in Scandinavia had been prepared down to the smallest detail. The Fuehrer therefore thought that by seizing Scandinavia, he would prevent it from becoming another theater of war. I do not therefore think that the invasion of Denmark can be considered as an act of aggression.
GEN. RUDENKO: And you do not consider this attack on Norway as an act of aggression on the part of Germany either?
VON RIBBENTROP: We have just been talking about Norway. I was talking about Norway and Denmark, a combined action.
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GEN. RUDENKO: Together with Denmark. All right, it was a simultaneous action. Do you consider the attack on Belgium, Holland, and Luxembourg as an act of aggression on the part of Germany?
VON RIBBENTROP: That is the same question. I must again say "no," but I would like to add an explanation.
GEN.RUDENKO: Just a moment. I would like you to give shorter replies because you explain the basic questions far too extensively. You deny that this was an act of aggression on the part of Germany?
VON RIBBENTROP: The Russian Prosecutor will understand that we are dealing with very important questions, which are not easily explained in a sentence, especially since we did not have the opportunity to explain the matter in detail. I shall be quite brief.
GEN. RUDENKO: I quite appreciate that you have already been answering questions of this nature for 3 days running.
VON RIBBENTROP: I shall now be very brief. After the Polish campaign military considerations proved to be the decisive factors. The Fuehrer did not wish the war to spread. As for Holland, Belgium, and France, it was France who declared war on Germany and not we who declared war on France. We therefore had to prepare for an attack from this direction as well. The Fuehrer told me at the time that such an attack on the Ruhr area was to be expected, and documents discovered at a later date have proved to the world at large beyond a shadow of doubt that this information was perfectly authentic. The Fuehrer therefore decided to adopt preventive measures in this case as well and not to wait for an attack on the heart of Germany, but to attack first. And so the timetable of the German General Staff was put into practice.
GEN. RUDENKO: Do you consider the attack on Greece as an act of aggression on the part of Germany?
VON RIBBENTROP: The attack on Greece and Yugoslavia by Germany has already been discussed. I do not believe I need give any further details on this point. That is here ...
GEN. RUDENKO: I also do not think it is necessary to give detailed replies. I ask whether you consider the attack on Greece as an act of aggression on the part of Germany? Answer "yes" or "no."
VON RIBBENTROP: No, and I consider that the measures adopted in Yugoslavia and the measures taken by Greece in granting bases, et cetera, to the enemies of Germany justified the intervention of Adolf Hitler, so that here too one cannot speak of aggressive action in this sense. It was quite clear that British troops were
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about to land in Greece, since they had already landed in Crete and the Peloponnesus, and that the uprising in Yugoslavia by the enemies of Germany, in agreement with the enemies of Germany, as I mentioned yesterday, had been encouraged with the intent of launching an attack against Germany from that country. The documents of the French General Staff discovered later in France showed only too clearly that a landing in Salonika had been planned ...
GEN. RUDENKO: Witness Ribbentrop, you have already spoken about that in much detail. You explained it yesterday at great length. Now will you please answer "yes" or "no" to my last question: Do you, or do you not consider the attack on the Soviet Union as an act of aggression on the part of Germany?
VON RIBBENTROP: It was no aggression in the literal sense of the word, but ...
GEN. RUDENKO: You say that in the literal sense of the word it was not an act of aggression. Then in what sense of the word was it an aggression?
THE PRESIDENT: You must let him answer.
VON RIBBENTROP: May I offer a few words of explanation? I must be allowed to say something.
GEN. RUDENKO: You...
VON RIBBENTROP: The concept of "aggression" is a very complicated concept, which even today the world at large cannot readily define. That is a point I should like to emphasize first. We are here dealing, undeniably, with a preventive intervention, with a war of prevention. That is quite certain, for attack we did. There is no denying it. I had hoped that matters with the Soviet Union could have been settled differently, diplomatically, and I did everything I could in this direction. But the information received and all the political acts of the Soviet Union in 1940 and 1941 until the outbreak of war, persuaded the Fuehrer, as he repeatedly told me, that sooner or later the so-called East-West pincers would be applied to Germany, that is, that in the East, Russia with her immense war potential, and in the West, England and the United States, were pushing steadily towards Europe with the purpose of making a large-scale landing. It was the Fuehrer's great worry that this would happen. Moreover, the Fuehrer informed me that close collaboration existed between the General Staffs of London and Moscow. This I do not know; I personally received no such news. But the reports and information which I received from the Fuehrer were of an extremely concrete nature. At any rate, he feared that, one day, Germany, faced with this political situation, would be threatened with catastrophe and he wished to prevent the collapse of Germany and the destruction of the balance of power in Europe.
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GEN. RUDENKO: In your testimony you have frequently stated that, in the pursuit of peaceful objectives, you considered it essential to solve a number of decisive questions through diplomatic channels. Now this testimony is obviously arrant hypocrisy since you admitted just now that all these acts of aggression on the part of Germany were justified.
VON RIBBENTROP: I did not mean to say that; I said only that we were not dealing with an act of aggression, Mr. Prosecutor, and explained how this war came to pass and how it developed. I also explained how I had always done everything in my power to prevent the war at its outbreak during the Polish crisis. Beyond the precincts of this Tribunal, history will prove the truth of my words and show how I always endeavored to localize the war and prevent it from spreading. That, I believe, will also be established. Therefore, in conclusion I should like to say once more that the outbreak of war was caused by circumstances which, at long last, were no longer in Hitler's hands. He could act only in the way he did, and when the war spread ever further all his decisions were principally prompted by considerations of a military nature, and he acted solely in the highest interests of his people.
GEN. RUDENKO: That is clear. Now I beg you to answer the following questions:
I understand that you have submitted to the Tribunal a document, Number 311, written by yourself, which is an appreciation of Hitler entitled the "Personality of the Fuehrer." You wrote that document not so very long ago. I am not going to quote from it, since you doubtlessly remember it, as you wrote it a very short time ago.
VON RIBBENTROP: No, I am not quite sure what document that is. May I look at it?
GEN. RUDENKO: This document was submitted by you to your own defense counsel, as Exhibit Number 311, and submitted to the Tribunal by your attorney. On Page 5 there...
VON RIBBENTROP: Will you be kind enough to give a copy of this document?
GEN. RUDENKO: It is Document Number 311.
THE PRESIDENT: It cannot have been submitted to the Tribunal as 111, without anything more. What is it, 111-PS or 111?
GEN. RUDENKO: Mr. President, this is a document of the Defense submitted as Ribbentrop-311. We have only a Russian translation here, which came to us together with a German document book. I presume that the document book has been submitted to the Tribunal.
THE PRESIDENT: It is R-111 -- it is Ribbentrop-111, you mean. It is not 111; it is Ribbentrop-111.
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GEN. RUDENKO: Mr. President, this is Document 311.
THE PRESIDENT: Yes, I've got it now. It is in Document Book Number 9.
GEN. RUDENKO: May I continue, Mr. President?
THE PRESIDENT: Yes.
GEN. RUDENKO: On Page 5 of the document, your appreciation of Hitler, you state, "After the victory over Poland and in the West, under an influence which I mainly ascribe to Himmler, Hitler's plans were extended, that is, in the direction of establishing German hegemony in Europe." Do you remember the passage of the document you wrote yourself, Defendant Ribbentrop?
VON RIBBENTROP: May I see this document? I do not know it.
GEN. RUDENKO: Mr. President, I would like to ask counsel for Defendant Ribbentrop to submit this document to his client.
DR. HORN: Mr. President, we are dealing here with...
THE PRESIDENT: Wait a minute.
Dr. Horn, the Tribunal is inclined to think that this document is quite irrelevant. It is apparently a document prepared by the Defendant Ribbentrop, upon the personality of the Fuehrer. I do not know when it was prepared, but it seems to us to be irrelevant.
DR. HORN: Yes, Mr. President, I too am of the opinion that it is irrelevant. I included this document only in case the defendant did not have an opportunity to speak in greater detail of his relation to Hitler. Since he has had that opportunity I should like to withdraw the document.
THE PRESIDENT: General Rudenko, the Tribunal consider the document quite irrelevant.
GEN. RUDENKO: Mr. President, this document was presented by the defense counsel in the Document Book. It was written by the Defendant Ribbentrop in the course of this Trial. All the prosecutors considered it admissible since this document, this appreciation, presented by the Defendant Ribbentrop, would justify us in asking a large number of questions. But if the Tribunal considers that it really is quite irrelevant to the case, I shall, of course, refrain from quoting it.
THE PRESIDENT: We have not yet had an opportunity of ruling on the admissibility of these documents. It is the first time we have seen them this morning. We all consider this document irrelevant.
GEN. RUDENKO: I understand, Mr. President.
[Turning to the defendant.] I should like to put a few questions with regard to German aggression against Yugoslavia. I should
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like you to acquaint yourself with Document 1195-PS. This document is entitled "Preliminary Directives for the Partition of Yugoslavia." I invite your attention to Paragraph 4 of the first section of the document. It states: "The Fuehrer has, in connection with the partition of Yugoslavia..." Have you found the place?
VON RIBBENTROP: Can you tell me, please, on what page it is?
GEN. RUDENKO: Page 1, Paragraph 4: "In connection with the partition of Yugoslavia, the Fuehrer has issued the following instructions..."
VON RIBBENTROP: I must have the wrong document.
GEN. RUDENKO: Document 1195-PS.
VON RIBBENTROP: Ah, yes. The beginning.
GEN. RUDENKO: I begin again:
"In connection with the partition of Yugoslavia, the Fuehrer has issued the following instructions:
"The transfer of territories occupied by the Italians is being prepared for by a letter of the, Fuehrer to the Duce and will be carried out by detailed directive of the Foreign Office."
Have you found the place?
VON RIBBENTROP: No, I do not see the place.
GEN. RUDENKO: Page 1, Paragraph 4, beginning with the words: "The Fuehrer..." Do you have it?
VON RIBBENTROP: Yes.
GEN. RUDENKO: I have already read this paragraph into the record.
VON RIBBENTROP: it begins: "In connection with the partition of Yugoslavia, the Fuehrer has issued the following instructions." That is how the document begins. May I ask -- now what passage are you quoting?
GEN. RUDENKO: It ends with the following words: "... will be carried out according to a detailed directive of the Foreign Office." And then reference is made to a teletype from the Quartermaster General of the OKH.
VON RIBBENTROP: There must be some mistake. It is not mentioned here.
GEN. RUDENKO: Probably you did not find it in the document.
THE PRESIDENT: General Rudenko, it is 12:45 now. Perhaps this would be a good time to adjourn.
[The Tribunal recessed until 1400 hours.]
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GEN. RUDENKO: Defendant Ribbentrop, have you acquainted yourself with the contents of the document?
VON RIBBENTROP: Yes, I have.
GEN. RUDENKO: Have you acquainted yourself with the entire document or with Paragraph 4 only?
VON RIBBENTROP: I have read Paragraph 1 of which you spoke previously.
GEN. RUDENKO: Did you find the passage referring to the plenary powers of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs regarding the partition of the territory of Yugoslavia?
VON RIBBENTROP: Yes, it says in my document that the surrender of the territory occupied by the Italians is to be prepared by a letter from the Fuehrer to the Duce and put into effect on further instructions from the Foreign Office.
GEN. RUDENKO: That is correct. That is precisely the passage which I had in view, that is, Section 2 of this document, which is headed "The Delimitation of the Frontiers." It is stated there -- Section 2, Page 2 of the Document -- it is stated:
"As far as the delimitation of the frontiers was not in the foregoing Section I, this is done in agreement with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs ...."
VON RIBBENTROP: Yes, I see that.
GEN. RUDENKO: I have only one question to ask in this connection. May I assume that this document defines the part played by the Ministry for Foreign Affairs in the partition of Yugoslav territory? Is this correct?
VON RIBBENTROP: That appears from the fact that the Foreign Office was to take part in fixing the other frontiers, in addition to those defined here, the main lines of which were probably, already, fairly clear. That is correct.
GEN. RUDENKO: This is quite evident. I should like to put two more questions to you concerning Yugoslavia.
On 4 June 1941 -- this no longer refers to the previous document - a conference was held in the German Legation, presided over by the German Minister in Zagreb, Siegfried Kasche, at which it was decided forcibly to evacuate the Slovenes to Croatia and Serbia and the Serbs from Croatia into Serbia. This decision results from a telegram from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Number 389, dated 31 May 1941. Do you know about these measures?
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VON RIBBENTROP: No, I must say that I do not know them, but perhaps I may read through them.
GEN. RUDENKO: Please do.
VON RIBBENTROP: I recollect that resettlement was undertaken there but I do not know the details.
GEN. RUDENKO: It goes without saying that it must be very difficult for you to remember all the details at the present time. But you do remember that such deportations did actually take place and precisely in accordance with the directives of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs?
VON RIBBENTROP: Yes. It states here that the Fuehrer had approved a resettlement program, but I do not know the details. At any rate, we undoubtedly had something to do with it, for this meeting definitely took place in the Foreign Office; that is certain. Unfortunately I cannot add any details since I am not informed.
GEN. RUDENKO: I understand you. There is one more question in this connection.
This was a compulsory resettlement of the population?
VON RIBBENTROP: I do not know; I cannot say. No.
GEN. RUDENKO: You do not know? All right. And now the last question in connection with Yugoslavia: After Germany's attack on Yugoslavia about 200 employees of the Yugoslav Foreign Office attempted to leave for Switzerland. They were arrested; and then, in spite of protests addressed to your Ministry, they were forcibly taken to Belgrade whence many of them were sent to concentration camps and there died. Why did you not take the measures which you were obliged to take after such a glaring breach of diplomatic immunity?
VON RIBBENTROP: I must say that at the moment I cannot recollect it at all; but, as far as I know, instructions have always followed the principle that diplomats must be treated as diplomats and sent back to their own countries. If it did not happen in this case, I do not know why it was not done. However you yourself say that they were sent to Belgrade. That, at any rate, is certainly in accordance with my instructions. Why or whether they were later interned in Belgrade, I must say I do not know. I do not think we had anything to do with that.
GEN. RUDENKO: You do not know that they were interned in concentration camps?
VON RIBBENTROP: No, I did not know that.
GEN. RUDENKO: Very well. Now for a further series of questions. Who, beside Hitler, signed the decree regarding the Sudetenland of 21 November 1938? Can you remember?
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VON RIBBENTROP: I do not know to which order you are referring. May I look through it? I see that I am one of those who signed it. This is the law regarding the reincorporation of the Sudetenland into the Reich.
GEN. RUDENKO: You remember that you actually signed this decree?
VON RIBBENTROP: No doubt. If it says so here, then it must certainly have been so. At the moment, of course, I do not remember it exactly.
GEN. RUDENKO: That is evident. Who, beside Hitler, signed the decree regarding the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia, of 16 March 1939, which by its very nature destroyed any remaining vestige of the sovereignty of the Czechoslovakian Republic?
VON RIBBENTROP: I believe that I was one of those who signed that one, too. At least so I assume. Yes, I see that I signed it; here it is.
THE PRESIDENT: General Rudenko, surely all these documents speak for themselves.
The defendant has not challenged his signature upon these documents.
GEN. RUDENKO: I understand, Mr. President. I only want to remind the defendant.
Since he appears to forget I simply present the documents to him. [Turning to the defendant.] You also signed the decree of 12 October 1939 regarding the occupation of the Polish territories. Do you remember that?
VON RIBBENTROP: 12 October '39? No, I do not remember it. I signed a great many things during those years but I cannot remember them in detail.
GEN. RUDENKO: This is the decree dated 12 October.
THE PRESIDENT: General Rudenko, if he does not dispute his signature, why should you waste time in putting these documents to him? His signature is on the document. He does not dispute it. This is a mere waste of time.
GEN. RUDENKO: Yes, Mr. President. Then I have only one more question in this connection. - [Turning to the defendant.] Your signature also appears on the decree of 18 May 1940, regarding the annexation by Germany of the Belgian territories, Eupen and Malmedy.
I put these questions so that I may conclude with the following question. Am I right in stating that each time the Hitler Government was attempting to lend the appearance of legality to their
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territorial annexation by a decree, this decree invariably bore the signature of the Reich Minister Ribbentrop?
VON RIBBENTROP: I believe not. If any territorial changes were undertaken, it was the Fuehrer who ordered them; and, as is probably evident from these documents, the various ministers who were in any way concerned then countersigned the Fuehrer's order or the laws decreed by the Fuehrer, and, of course, I probably countersigned most of these orders myself.
GEN. RUDENKO: That is clear. Now, I should like you to acquaint yourself with the document already submitted in evidence to the Tribunal as Exhibit Number USSR-120 (Document Number USSR-120). It is your agreement with Himmler for the organization of intelligence work. It is an extensive document and I should like you to acquaint yourself with Subparagraph 6 of this document.
VON RIBBENTROP: I beg your pardon. This is a different document. This concerns the intelligence service. You spoke of slave labor, but this concerns the intelligence service.
GEN. RUDENKO: This has been incorrectly translated to you. I was not speaking about slave labor; I was speaking about intelligence work. Please refer to Subparagraph 6 of this document. It is an extensive document and the time of the Tribunal should not be taken up unduly. It is stated here, and I quote:
"The Ministry of Foreign Affairs gives every possible assistance to the Secret intelligence service. The Minister of Foreign Affairs, as far as this is compatible with the requirements of foreign policy, will install certain members of the intelligence service in the diplomatic missions."
I want to omit one long paragraph and will read the final paragraph:
"The responsible member of the intelligence service must keep the head of the mission informed on all important aspects of secret intelligence service activities in the country in question."
You did sign such an agreement? Is that true?
VON RIBBENTROP: Yes.
GEN. RUDENKO: We are therefore forced to the conclusion that the foreign organization of the German Ministry for Foreign Affairs was actually engaged in espionage work?
VON RIBBENTROP: No, you cannot really say that, for the following reasons:
I mentioned once before this morning in the course of the examination that there were differences of opinion between Himmler and myself in regard to the intelligence service abroad. Thanks to the
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efforts of the Defendant Kaltenbrunner, that agreement was eventually signed. We planned to co-operate, and I do not deny that we intended to work intelligence service personnel into the Foreign Office organization. This, however, was not put into practice. The agreement could not become effective because it was concluded so late that the end of the war intervened. I think the date of the conclusion of this agreement, which is lacking in this copy, must have been 1944 or even 1945. Thus, there was no actual co-operation. Such co-operation was, however, planned; and I was particularly interested in it. There had been all sorts of differences and I wanted to end them and put matters on a more uniform basis. That was the reason. In any case, I think that is part of the procedure which all countries had to employ abroad. I do not think it is anything unusual.
GEN. RUDENKO: I am not asking you your opinion. I was only interested in this document; it is true that you did sign such an agreement. You replied in the affirmative. I am not asking you further questions about this document.
VON RIBBENTROP: Yes. I replied in the affirmative -- yes.
GEN. RUDENKO: I wanted to know this only. I have another document from this series. Do you remember a letter of the Defendant Kaltenbrunner in which he asked for one million Tomans for bribery in Iran?
VON RIBBENTROP: One million ... ? What is that? I did not hear it; please repeat it. I did not hear the word very well ...
GEN. RUDENKO: One million Tomans. Tomans are Iranian currency. I should like you to acquaint yourself with this document; it is a short one.
VON RIBBENTROP: May I see it, please?
GEN. RUDENKO: Of course.
VON RIBBENTROP: Yes. I recollect the matter, and I think certain funds were placed at their disposal.
GEN. RUDENKO: The money was placed at Kaltenbrunner's disposal?
VON RIBBENTROP: I do not know the details, but I believe I did give instructions to the Foreign Office at the time that financial support should be given in this matter. That is correct.
GEN.RUDENKO: It was precisely that point which interested me. The document speaks for itself.
I now proceed to the following series of questions.
You have testified that in August or September 1940 in the Schloss Fuschl, you met the Defendant Keitel to discuss a memorandum on
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the possibility of an attack by Germany on the Soviet Union. Consequently, nearly one year prior to that attack on the Soviet Union, you were already informed of the plans for this attack, were you not?
VON RIBBENTROP: No, that is not correct. The Defendant Keitel was with me at the time at Fuschl, and on that occasion he told me that the Fuehrer had certain misgivings regarding Russia and could not leave the possibility of an armed conflict out of his calculations. He said that, for his part, he had prepared a memorandum which he proposed to discuss with the Fuehrer. He had doubts as to the wisdom of any conflict of that kind in the East, and he asked me at the time if I would also use my influence with the Fuehrer in that direction. I agreed to do so. But an attack or plans for an attack were not discussed; I might say that all this was a discussion more from a General Staff point of view. He made no mention to me of anything more concrete.
GEN. RUDENKO: I do not want to detain the attention of the Tribunal on this question, because it has already been sufficiently investigated. But I want to ask you in this connection the following question: You replied to Keitel during this conversation that you would express your opinion regarding the war with the U.S.S.R. to Hitler. Did you have a conversation with Hitler on that subject?
VON RIBBENTROP: I discussed the subject several times with Hitler, and on this occasion I spoke of the danger of preventive wars to him. Hitler told me of his misgivings, which I have already mentioned here.
GEN. RUDENKO: Yes, you have testified in that sense. Tell me, did you know that the so-called "Green File" of the Defendant Goering, containing directives for the plunder and exploitation of the temporarily occupied territories of the Soviet Union was prepared a long time prior to the attack on the Soviet Union? Did you know this?
VON RIBBENTROP: No, I did not know that. I heard the term "Green File" here for the first time.
GEN. RUDENKO: All right -- you did not know the name. And when did you learn about the contents? The contents of this file?
VON RIBBENTROP: Neither the file nor the name.
GEN. RUDENKO: You did not know. All right. You knew that already before the war directives were drafted for the extermination of the peaceful Soviet population?
VON RIBBENTROP: No, I did not know that either.
GEN. RUDENKO: And when did you know about that?
VON RIBBENTROP: I heard nothing at all about such plans.
GEN. RUDENKO: And the directives?
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VON RIBBENTROP: Regarding the preparation of such plans ...
GEN. RUDENKO: And regarding the directives concerning jurisdiction in the Barbarossa region? You evidently did know about that?
VON RIBBENTROP: Regarding what? I did not understand that.
GEN. RUDtNKO: Regarding jurisdiction in the Barbarossa region. It is a supplement to Plan Barbarossa.
VON RIBBENTROP: No, I must say that I have never occupied myself personally with that subject. It might be possible that some department in my office did have a hand in it somewhere; but as far as I remember I, myself, was never concerned with the subject of jurisdiction; for after the outbreak of the conflict with the Soviet Union the Foreign Office had nothing more to do with these territories.
GEN. RUDENKO: I should like you to take cognizance of a telegram which you addressed on 10 July 1941, at 1451 hours, to the German Ambassador in Tokio. We are submitting this document, Number 2896-PS, to the Tribunal as Exhibit Number USSR-446. You must remember this telegram.
VON RIBBENTROP: To whom is it addressed? It does not say here.
GEN. RUDENKO: To the German Ambassador in Tokio. Do you remember?
VON RIBBENTROP: Oh, Tokio, yes.
GEN. RUDENKO: You apparently remember it. I must ask you to pay attention to the words on Page 4 at the end of this document. They are underlined in pencil for the sake of convenience. Have you found the passage? I shall read only that part into the record.
VON RIBBENTROP: Which part are you referring to? The last page?
GEN. RUDENKO: It is on Page 4. It is underlined.
VON RIBBENTROP: Yes, I have found it now.
GEN. RUDENKO: I am going to read this passage into the record. "I request you to use every means in your power to influence Matsuoka, in the way I have indicated, so that Japan will declare war on Russia as soon as possible; for the sooner this happens, the better it will be. It must still be our natural aim to shake hands with Japan on the Trans-Siberian railway before the winter. With the collapse of Russia the position of the countries participating in the Three Power Pact will be so strong that the collapse of England or the complete annihilation of the British Isles will be only a question of time."
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Have you found this passage?
VON RIBBENTROP: Yes, I have the passage; yes.
GEN. RUDENKO: What is it? Is it one of your efforts to localize the war?
VON RIBBENTROP: I did not understand that last question?
GEN. RUDENKO: I say, is this one of your efforts to localize the war?
VON RIBBENTROP: The war against Russia had started, and I tried at the time -- the Fuehrer held the same view -- to get Japan into the war against Russia in order to end the war with Russia as soon as possible. That was the meaning of that telegram.
GEN. RUDENKO: This was not only the policy of the Fuehrer; it was also your policy as the then Minister for Foreign Affairs?
VON RIBBENTROP: Yes, yes.
GEN. RUDENKO: I have a few more questions to ask. You state that you never heard a thing about the cruelties perpetrated in the concentration camps?
VON RIBBENTROP: Yes, that is correct.
GEN. RUDENKO: During the war you, as Minister of Foreign Affairs, studied the foreign press and the foreign newspapers. Did you know what the foreign press was saying?
VON RIBBENTROP: No, that is true only up to a certain point. I had so much to read and so much work to do every day that, on principle, I received only the foreign political news selected for me from the foreign press. Thus, during the whole of the war I never had any news from abroad about the concentration camps, until one day your armies, that is, the Soviet Russian armies, captured the camp at Maidanek in Poland.
On that occasion news came from our embassies and I asked for press news, et cetera, to be submitted to me. How I took these news releases to the Fuehrer and what resulted from that has already been discussed here. Before that I knew nothing about any atrocities or any measures taken in the concentration camps.
GEN. RUDENKO: Did you know about the notes of the Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Soviet Union, Molotov, concerning the atrocities committed by the German fascists in the temporarily occupied territories of the Soviet Union, the deportation into slavery of the people of the Soviet, the pillaging?
VON RIBBENTROP: I think that note reached me somehow through diplomatic channels. I am not quite sure how; it may have come through news agencies.
However, I do remember that at the
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time -- I believe there were even several notes -- at any rate I remember one of these notes which I submitted to the Fuehrer. But since the beginning of the Russo-German war we could not carry out any action. in these territories, and we had no influence there. Therefore, I am not informed about details.
GEN. RUDENKO: I was primarily interested in one fundamental fact, namely, that you were aware of the notes from the Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Soviet Union. Tell me, please, do you know that millions of citizens were driven into slavery to Germany?
VON RIBBENTROP: No, I do not know that.
GEN. RUDENKO: You do not know! And that those citizens were used as slaves in Germany -- you were not aware of that?
VON RIBBENTROP: No. According to what I heard, all these foreign workers are supposed to have been well treated in Germany. I think it is possible, of course, that other things might have happened, too; but on the whole, I believe that a good deal was done to treat these workers well. I know that on occasion departments of the Foreign Office co-operated in these matters with a view to preventing those possible things. Generally speaking, however, we had no influence in that sphere, as we were excluded from Eastern questions.
GEN. RUDENKO: Why were you informed that foreign laborers were treated well and why were you not informed that they were being treated as slaves?
VON RIBBENTROP: I do not think that this is correct. We in the Foreign Office -- in the case of the French, for instance, and quite a number of other foreign workers -- co-operated in getting musicians, et cetera, from France for them. We advised on questions concerning their welfare. And I know that the German Labor Front did everything in its power, at least with regard to the sector which we could view to some extent, to treat the workers well, to preserve their willingness to work, and to make their leisure pleasant. I know, at least, that those of its efforts in which we co-operated were on these lines.
GEN. RUDENKO: Well, I now present a penultimate group of questions in connection with the activities of the "Ribbentrop Battalion." I must now request you to read the testimony of SS Obersturmbannfuehrer Norman Paul Forster. This document is submitted as Exhibit Number USSR-445 (Document Number USSR-445). Please pay particular attention to Page 3 of Forster's testimony. This passage is underlined. It is stated there:
"When in that same month, August 1941, I reported to the address given to me in Berlin, I learned that I had been transferred to Special Command SS of the Ministry of Foreign
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Affairs. A member of the Foreign Ministry, Baron von Kunsberg, was at the head of the SS Special Command... In this command there were about 80 to 100 men altogether and 300 or 400 men were added later. The special command was later rechristened the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Battalion 'z.b.V.' (for special employment).
"I was received by Baron von Kunsberg in a building belonging to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, where the Sonderkommando was quartered. He explained to me that the Sonderkommando was created on instructions from the Reich Minister of Foreign Affairs Von Ribbentrop. According to Von Ribbentrop's instructions, our Sonderkommando was to move forward with the front line troops in occupied territory in orderto protect the cultural treasures -- museums, archives, scientific institutions, art galleries, and so forth -- from ruin and destruction by the German soldiers, to confiscate them and transport them to Germany."
Here I omit a few lines and then:
"On the evening of 5 August 1941, in the presence of Nietsch, Paulsen, Krallat, Remerssen, Lieben, and others, Von Kunsberg informed us of Von Ribbentrop's verbal order according to which all scientific institutions, libraries, palaces, et cetera, in Russia were to be thoroughly 'combed out' and everything of definite value was to be carried off."
Did you find that passage in the document?
VON RIBBENTROP: Yes. Shall I answer?
GEN. RUDENKO: I should like you first of all to reply to my question, reading as follows: You know that such a battalion of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs existed, and that in accordance with your directives, it was especially concerned -- as is stated in this document -- with the preservation of cultural treasures? Please reply to this question.
VON RIBBENTROP: It is quite incorrect as it appears in this document. I cannot acknowledge it in any way and I must object to it. The following is correct:
This Herr Von Kunsberg is a man who was appointed, with a few assistants, long before the Russian campaign with the idea even at that time of confiscating in France documents, important documents, which might be found there and which might be of importance or value to us. Any order which -- at the same time, I may say, he had orders to see to it that there should be no unnecessary destruction of art treasures, et cetera. In no circumstances did he receive from me orders to transport these things to Germany or to
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steal any of them. I do not know how this statement came to be made; but in this form it is certainly not correct.
GEN. RUDENKO: You have protested against a great many of the documents here. That does not mean that they are incorrect. I am not going to quote from this testimony any further. I shall now refer to a document; it is a letter from the Defendant Goering addressed to the Defendant Rosenberg. It has already been submitted to the Tribunal under Document Number 1985-PS. I shall here quote Paragraph 2 of the document. It has already been submitted, so I shall read this letter addressed by Goering to Rosenberg into the record. He writes:
"After all the fuss and bother I very much welcomed the fact that an office was finally set up to collect these things, although I must point out that still other offices refer here to authority received from the Fuehrer, especially the Reich Minister of Foreign Affairs, who sent a circular to an the organizations several months ago, stating amongst other things, that he had been given authority in the occupied territories for the preservation of cultural treasures."
We can assume that the Defendant Goering is better acquainted with the circumstances anent the preservation of art treasures. Don't you remember those things at all?
VON RIBBENTROP: I do not know how this letter from Reich Marshal Goering came to be written. I do not know, but if there is any mention in it of authorities or anything of that kind, that could only refer to the fact that these art treasures were secured in these territories. I have already stated here that during the war neither I myself nor the Foreign Office confiscated or claimed any art treasures whatsoever, whether for my personal use or for our use. It is possible that these art treasures were temporarily placed in safekeeping. Certainly none of them passed into our possession. Therefore it might be a misunderstanding in this letter because I remember clearly that at that time we were dealing with the safekeeping of art treasures. In France, for instance, at that time robberies were beginning to be committed in private houses and art galleries, et cetera; and I still remember asking the Wehrmacht to provide guards to keep a watch on these art treasures, et cetera. At any rate we in the Foreign Office never saw any of these works of art ourselves.
GEN. RUDENKO: I think we had better not go too deeply into details. I should like to ask another question in this connection. Don't you think that the term "safekeeping of art treasures in the occupied territories" actually concealed the looting of art treasures?
VON RIBBENTROP: We certainly never intended that; and I have never given any
order to that effect. I should like to state
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that here, emphatically. Perhaps I may add that when I heard that Kunsberg had suddenly assembled such a large staff, I immediately ordered the dissolution of his entire battalion -- it was not a battalion; that is badly expressed -- at any rate, its immediate dissolution; and I think I even remember dismissing him from the Foreign Office, because he did not do what I wanted. I think he was removed from his office.
GEN. RUDENKO: Very well. I am closing my interrogation. You were Minister of Foreign Affairs of the fascist Germans from 4 February 1938. Your appointment to this post coincided with the initial period, when Hitler had launched on a series of acts involving a foreign policy which in the end led to the World War. The question arises: Why did Hitler appoint you his Minister of Foreign Affairs just before embarking on a wide program of aggression? Don't you consider that he thought you were the most suitable man for the purpose, a man with whom he could never have any differences of opinion?
VON RIBBENTROP: I cannot tell you anything about Adolf Hitler's thoughts. He did not tell me about them. He knew that I was his faithful assistant, that I shared his view that we must have a strong Germany, and that I had to get these things done through diplomatic and peaceful channels. I cannot say more. What ideas he may have had, I do not know.
GEN. RUDENKO: Here is my last question. How can you explain the fact that even now, when the entire panorama of the bloody crimes of the Hitler regime has been unfolded before your eyes, when you fully realize the complete crash of that Hitlerite policy which has brought you to the dock -- how can we explain that you are still defending this regime; and, furthermore, that you are still praising Hitler and that you are still declaring that the leading criminal clique consisted of a group of idealists? How can you explain that?
THE PRESIDENT: That seems to be a number of questions in one, and I do not think it is a proper question to put to the witness.
GEN. RUDENKO: I thought that this was only one question which summarizes everything.
[Turning to the defendant.] Will you answer please, Defendant Ribbentrop?
THE PRESIDENT: I told you, General Rudenko, that the Tribunal does not think it a proper question to put.
GEN. RUDENKO: I have no further questions.
THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Horn, do you want to re-examine?
DR. HORN: I have no further questions to put to the defendant, Mr. President.
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THE PRESIDENT: Then the defendant can return to his seat.