4000bce - 399
400 - 1399
1400 - 1499
1500 - 1599
1600 - 1699
1700 - 1799
1800 - 1899
1900 - 1999
DR. HORN: In accordance with the request of the Tribunal, I am now presenting in groups the documents not yet named, as follows:
First of all, the group concerning the Polish question. In my document book, you will find a document, Ribbentrop Exhibit Number 200 (Document Number Ribbentrop-200) which I am submitting to the Tribunal for judicial notice. In this document, Prime Minister Chamberlain, in a letter to Hitler dated 22 August 1939, defines his attitude regarding the basis for conflict between Germany and Poland. In this connection he emphasizes the question of minorities as one of the main causes of the conflict. As proof of the fact that this minority question already played an important part when the Polish State came into being, I refer to the document, Ribbentrop Exhibit Number 72 (Document Number Ribbentrop-72), which I submit to the Tribunal for judicial notice. This contains observations by the German Peace Delegation on the peace conditions.
In a further document -- Ribbentrop Exhibit Number 74 (Document Number Ribbentrop-74), which I submit to the Tribunal for judicial notice -- the President of the Supreme Council of the Allied and Associated Powers, Clemenceau, once again draws the attention of the Polish Prime Minister, Paderewski, to this problem. May I offer as proof ...
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: My Lord, I want to explain the position of the Prosecution.
We have not yet received these documents, and therefore we are in the position that we have been able to make only a tentative selection of those to which we object. All this book of documents has been objected to as far as we know. I want only to make it clear that we are admitting, without protest, the course taken by Dr. Horn on the basis which Your Lordship announced yesterday, that he is putting them in en bloc, subject to our right to object formally when we have the documents.
Therefore it is only right that we must preserve our position, because I have arranged, and all my colleagues agree, that there should be objections to a number of these documents on our present state of knowledge.
28 March 46
DR. HORN: May I ask Your Lordship to hear me for a moment?
THE PRESIDENT: Do you want to say something? Were you going to add something to what Sir David had said?
DR. HORN: In view of the objections raised by the Prosecution I request that a general ruling be made now as to whether the Defense have to submit to disadvantages arising out of technical deficiencies and for which they are not responsible, and whether our already limited presentation of evidence shall be made practically impossible by our being unable to discuss even in a general way, documentary material with the Prosecution and the Tribunal.
May I ask, therefore, that the presentation of documents in their shortened form, as requested by the Tribunal yesterday, be postponed until the document books are available.
THE PRESIDENT: The difficulty seems entirely to arise from the fact that your document books are not ready. That is what causes the difficulty. If the document books had been ready and had been submitted to the Prosecution, the Prosecution would be in a position to object to them. That is the reason why Sir David is objecting in this provisional form. But if you have witnesses whom you are going to call, why do you not call them while your books are being got ready? That seems to the Tribunal to be the obvious course.
Call your witnesses and then we can have the documents introduced at a later stage, when we can see them. That is the only reasonable course and why you do not adopt it I do not know.
DR. HORN: An officer of the Translation Division informed me recently, that he is not in a position, with the personnel at his disposal, to catch up with translations. That is the cause of the trouble and it is beyond my control. I submitted the documents in good time for translation.
THE PRESIDENT: That was not the point I was dealing with. Perhaps the interpretation did not come through correctly.
What I said was that if you have witnesses whom you propose to call, why do you not call them now?
DR. HORN: I had intended to call the witnesses in the course of my presentation of documents and in accordance with the groups of questions on which witnesses could make statements.
THE PRESIDENT: No doubt you had, but as your documents are not here to be presented to the Court, then you must get on, and the only way to get on with your case is to call your witnesses.
DR. HORN: In that case, may I ask for 5 minutes so that I can have a short conversation with a woman witness and then I shall call her?
28 March 46
THE PRESIDENT: Certainly. Wait one moment.
Yes, Mr. Dodd?
MR. DODD: If Your Honor pleases, I would not begrudge any counsel 5 minutes. This woman witness has been here for a long time. She stood outside all day yesterday. I think Dr. Horn has talked to her before. He has had ample opportunity to confer with her. He knew he was going to call her; he asked this Court for permission to call her. I think we are faced here with almost a one-man filibuster at this time.
THE PRESIDENT: The Tribunal rules that the witness must be called at once.
DR. HORN: In that case I wish to have Fraulein Blank called as a witness.
[The witness Blank took the stand.]
THE PRESIDENT: Will you tell me your name?
MARGARETE BLANK (Witness): My name is Margarete Blank.
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 witness repeated the oath in German.]
THE PRESIDENT: You may sit down if you wish.
DR. HORN: When did you first meet Herr Von Ribbentrop?
FRAULEIN BLANK: I met him at the beginning of November 1934 in Berlin, when he was delegate for disarmament questions.
DR. HORN: When did you become secretary of the former Foreign Minister Von Ribbentrop?
FRAULEIN BLANK: On 1 November 1934 I was engaged as secretary in the Ribbentrop office. His personal secretary gave notice and, as her successor did not turn up, Von Ribbentrop asked me whether I was willing to take the post. I said "yes" and became his personal secretary on 1 February 1935.
DR. HORN: What was Von Ribbentrop's attitude towards Hitler?
FRAULEIN BLANK: As far as I can judge Herr Von Ribbentrop always showed the greatest admiration and veneration for Adolf Hitler. To enjoy the Fuehrer's confidence, to justify it by his conduct and work was his chief aim, to which he devoted all his efforts. To achieve this aim no sacrifice was too great. In carrying out the tasks set him by the Fuehrer he showed utter disregard for his own person. When speaking of Hitler to his subordinates he did so with the greatest admiration. Appreciation of his services by the Fuehrer, as for instance the award of the Golden Party Badge of Honor, the
28 March 46
recognition of his accomplishments in a Reichstag speech, a letter on the occasion of his fiftieth birthday, full of appreciation and praise, meant to him the highest recompense for his unlimited devotion.
DR. HORN: Is it true that Ribbentrop adhered to Hitler's views even if he himself was of a different opinion?
FRAULEIN BLANK: What I just said shows that in cases of differences of opinion between himself and the Fuehrer, Herr Von Ribbentrop subordinated his own opinion to that of the Fuehrer. Once a decision had been made by Adolf Hitler there was no more criticism afterwards. Before his subordinates Herr Von Ribbentrop presented the Fuehrer's views as if they were his own. If the Fuehrer expressed his will, it was always equivalent to a military order.
DR. HORN: To what do you attribute this attitude?
FRAULEIN BLANK: I attribute it first of all to Ribbentrop's view that the Fuehrer was the only person capable of making the right political decisions.
Secondly, I attribute it to the fact that Herr Von Ribbentrop, as the son of an officer and as a former officer himself, having taken the oath of allegiance to the Fuehrer, felt himself bound in loyalty and considered himself a soldier, so to say, who had to carry out orders given him, and not to criticize or change them.
DR. HORN: Do you know anything about Ribbentrop having tendered his resignation several times?
FRAULEIN BLANK: Yes, that happened several times. But about such personal matters Ribbentrop would not speak to his subordinates. I remember only the resignation handed in by him in 1941. I assume that this resignation, as well as the later ones, was tendered by a handwritten letter. The reason for this resignation lay in differences with other departments as to competency; in view of their encroachments upon the competence of the Foreign Office, Herr Von Ribbentrop felt he could no longer take responsibility for the Reich's foreign policy.
DR. HORN: What was the result of these offers to resign?
FRAULEIN BLANK: They were turned down.
DR. HORN: Were you with Von Ribbentrop while he was Ambassador in England?
FRAULEIN BLANK: Yes.
DR. HORN: Is it true that Ribbentrop over a number of years worked for close alliance between Germany and England?
FRAULEIN BLANK: Yes. For this reason Von Ribbentrop, in the summer of 1936, asked the Fuehrer to send him as ambassador to
28 March 46
England. The Naval Agreement of 1935 was only a first step. Subsequently an air pact was contemplated, but, for reasons unknown to me, was not concluded.
DR. HORN: Do you know anything about Von Ribbentrop's views on the British theory of balance of power on the continent?
FRAULEIN BLANK: From numerous statements by Ribbentrop I know he was of the opinion that England still adhered to her traditional balance of power policy. In this his ideas were opposed to those of the Fuehrer, who was of the opinion that with the development of Russia a factor had arisen in the East which necessitated a revision of the old balance of power policy -- in other words, that England had a vital interest in the steadily increasing strength of Germany. From Ribbentrop's attitude it could be inferred that he expected that in the Polish crisis the English guarantee for Poland would be honored.
DR. HORN: What political aims did Von Ribbentrop want to achieve by the conclusion of the Tripartite Pact?
FRAULEIN BLANK: The Tripartite Pact was to be a pact for the limitation of war.
DR. HORN: Do you know whether Ribbentrop endeavored to keep America out of the war?
FRAULEIN BLANK: Yes, the Tripartite Pact was signed with this end in view.
DR. HORN: And now another set of questions. What was Herr Von Ribbentrop's attitude in church questions?
FRAULEIN BLANK: As far as I can judge, his attitude in church questions was very tolerant.
To my knowledge, he left the Church already in the twenties, but in this respect he exercised no pressure or influence on his personnel or, rather, he did not bother about it at all. His tolerance went even so far that in 1935 he let his two eldest children have their wish and rejoin the Church. His tolerance in personal questions of religion was in line with his political attitude towards the Church. In this connection I remember Von Ribbentrop's sending the Fuehrer a fundamental memorandum in which he advocated a tolerant church policy. In the winter of 1944 he received Bishop Heckel to discuss church matters with him. On the occasion of a journey to Rome in 1941 or 1942, he paid a long visit to the Pope.
DR. HORN: Was Ribbentrop of an introspective and secluded character, or was he not?
FRAULEIN BLANK: Yes, although I was his personal secretary for 10 years, I hardly ever saw him in a communicative mood. His
23 March 46
time and thoughts were so completely occupied by his work, to which he devoted himself wholeheartedly, that there was no room for anything private. Apart from his wife and children there was nobody with whom Von Ribbentrop was on terms of close friendship. This, however, did not prevent him from having the welfare of his subordinates at heart and from showing them generosity, particularly in time of need.
DR. HORN: Is it true that you often felt that there were certain differences of opinion between Ribbentrop and Hitler?
FRAULEIN BLANK: Yes. True to his attitude, which I mentioned before, Von Ribbentrop never discussed such differences with his subordinates, but I do remember distinctly that there were times when such differences surely did exist. At such times the Fuehrer refused for weeks to receive Herr Von Ribbentrop. Ribbentrop suffered physically and mentally under such a state of affairs.
DR. HORN: Was Ribbentrop independent in the attainment of the goals of his foreign policy, or was he bound by orders and directives of the Fuehrer?
FRAULEIN BLANK: Ribbentrop often used the phrase that he was only the minister responsible for carrying out the Fuehrer's foreign policy. By this he meant that, in formulating his policy, he was not independent. In addition, even in carrying out the directives given him by the Fuehrer, he was to a large extent bound by instructions from Hitler. Thus, for instance, the daily reports of a purely informative nature transmitted by the liaison officer, Ambassador Hewel, between the Minister for Foreign Affairs and the Fuehrer were often accompanied by requests for the Fuehrer's decision on individual questions and by draft telegrams containing instructions to the heads of missions abroad.
DR. HORN: Did Ribbentrop suffer by the fact that, although he was responsible for foreign policy, he was not allowed to direct it?
FRAULEIN BLANK: He never complained about it in my presence, but I had the feeling that he did suffer.
DR. HORN: What was Hitler's attitude toward the Foreign Office?
FRAULEIN BLANK: The Fuehrer saw in the Foreign Office a body of ossified red-tape civil servants, more or less untouched by National Socialism. I gathered from men of his entourage, that he often made fun of the Foreign Office. He considered it to be the home of reaction and defeatism.
DR. HORN: In what way did Ribbentrop try to bring the Foreign Office closer to Hitler?
FRAULEIN BLANK: When taking over the Foreign Office in February 1938, Herr Von Ribbentrop intended to carry out a
28 March 46
thorough reshuffle of the entire German diplomatic service. He also intended to make basic changes in the training of young diplomats. These plans did not go beyond the initial stage because of the war. In the course of the war they were taken up again when the, question of new blood for the Foreign Office became acute. Ribbentrop's anxiety to counteract the Fuehrer's animosity towards the Foreign Office led him to fill some of the posts of heads of missions abroad, not with professional diplomats, but with tried SA and SS leaders.
DR. HORN: What were Ribbentrop's views and intentions regarding Russia?
FRAULEIN BLANK: His intentions regarding Russia were shown by the Non-aggression Pact of August 1939, and the Trade Agreement of September 1939.
DR. HORN: Do you know that, in addition to the Non-aggression Pact and the Trade Agreement, a further agreement was concluded in Moscow?
FRAULEIN BLANK: Yes, there was an additional secret agreement.
GEN. RUDENKO: Your Honors! It appears to me that the witness, who has been called to attend the present sitting of the Tribunal is, by the very nature of her position as secretary to the former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ribbentrop, able to testify only to the personality of the defendant, to his way of life, to the reticence or frankness of his character, and so forth. But the witness is quite incompetent to pass an opinion on matters pertaining to agreements, foreign policy, et cetera. In this sense I consider the questions of the Defense absolutely inadmissible and request that they be withdrawn.
THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Horn, that is the same matter that is raised, is it not, upon the affidavit of Dr. Gaus? I mean, you said that. you were going to produce an affidavit of Dr. Gaus which dealt with a secret agreement between -- can't you hear me? I beg your pardon. I ought, to have said that Dr. Seidl was going to produce an affidavit of Dr. Gaus with reference to this alleged agreement. That is right, is it not?
DR. HORN: I assume so, yes.
THE PRESIDENT: The Soviet Prosecutor objected to that agreement being referred to until the affidavit should be admitted, until it had been seen. Well, now, is the agreement in writing?
DR. HORN: No.
THE PRESIDENT: Is the alleged agreement between the Soviet Government and Germany in writing?
28 March 46
DR. HORN: Yes. It was put down in writing, but I am not in possession of a copy of the agreement, and I should therefore like to ask the Tribunal, in case the decision depends on the affidavit of Ambassador Gaus, to allow me to obtain, at the appropriate time, an affidavit from Fraulein Blank who saw the original. Would Your Lordship be agreeable to that?
THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Seidl, have you a copy of the agreement itself?
DR. SEIDL: Mr. President, there are only two copies of agreement. One copy was left in Moscow on 23 August 1930. The other copy was taken to Berlin by Von Ribbentrop. According to an announcement in the press all the archives of the Foreign Office were confiscated by the Soviet troops. May I, therefore, request that the Soviet Government or the Soviet Delegation be asked to submit to the Tribunal the original of the agreement?
THE PRESIDENT: I asked you a question, Dr. Seidl. I did not ask you for an argument. I asked you whether you have a copy of that agreement available.
DR. SEIDL: I, myself, am not in possession of a copy of the agreement. The affidavit of Ambassador Gaus only states the contents of the secret agreement. He was able to give the contents of the secret agreement because he drafted it. The secret agreement, as drafted by Ambassador Gaus, was signed by Foreign Commissar Molotov and Herr Von Ribbentrop. That is all I have to say.
THE PRESIDENT: Yes, General Rudenko?
GEN. RUDENKO: Mr. President, I wish to make the following statement: With regard to what was mentioned. here by Defense Counsel Seidl, about the agreement allegedly seized by Soviet troops in connection with the capture of the archives of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs -- that is, the agreement concluded in Moscow in August 1939 -- I would draw the attention of the Defense Counsel, to the newspaper in which this agreement, the German Soviet Nonaggression Pact of 23 August 1939, was published. That is a known fact.
Insofar as other agreements are concerned, the Soviet Prosecution considers that Dr. Seidl's application for the incorporation into the record of affidavits by Friedrich Gaus should be denied, and for the following reasons:
Gaus' testimony on this pact and on the history immediately preceding the conclusion of the German-Soviet pact is irrelevant. The presentation of such affidavits, which, moreover, do not shed a true light on events, can be looked upon only as an act of provocation. This is clearly borne out by the fact that Ribbentrop, himself
28 March 46
repudiated this witness even though his affidavits describe Ribbentrop's activities, even though Defense Counsel for Hess has accepted testimonies from this witness and applied for their incorporation into the record, despite the fact that they contain no reference to Hess. On the strength of these considerations, of these circumstances, I request the Tribunal to reject the request made by Defense Counsel Seidl and to consider the question submitted by Defense Counsel Horn as being irrelevant to the matter under our consideration.
THE PRESIDENT: Yes, Dr. Seidl? Do you want to say something?
DR. SEIDL: May I add something? The translation of what the Soviet Prosecutor has just said has come through incompletely. I could not make out whether General Rudenko wanted to deny altogether that such an agreement was concluded or whether he wanted only to state that the contents of this secret agreement are not relevant.
In the first case, I repeat my application that the Soviet Foreign Commissar Molotov be called and interrogated before this Tribunal; in the latter case, I ask to be given the opportunity here and now to submit to the Tribunal my points regarding the relevance of this secret agreement.
THE PRESIDENT: At the moment we are considering an objection to the evidence of this witness, so we won't trouble with that.
The Tribunal will adjourn for a few moments.
[A recess was taken.]
THE PRESIDENT: The Tribunal desires to point out to Counsel for the Defense, that there was no mention of this alleged treaty in his application for evidence to be given by the witness now in the witness box, but as the matter has now been raised the Tribunal rules that the witness may be questioned upon the matter.
DR. HORN: [To the witness.] You were speaking about the secret agreement. How did you come to know about the conclusion of this agreement?
THE PRESIDENT: I am told that what I said was wrongly translated into the Russian language. At any rate, I don't know whether it was rightly translated into the German language; but what I said was that the witness may be questioned, not that the witness may not be questioned. Is that clear to you?
DR. HORN: Thank you. I understood the question correctly.
[Turning to the witness.] Taking up your previous statement about the secret agreement I should like to ask you how you came to know about the conclusion of this agreement?
28 March 46
FRAULEIN BLANK: Owing to illness, I could not accompany Von Ribbentrop on his two trips to Russia. I was also absent when the preparatory work for the agreements was being done. I learned of the existence of this secret agreement through a special sealed envelope which, according to instructions, was filed separately and bore an inscription something like "German-Russian secret or additional agreement."
DR. HORN: You were also responsible for filing separately these secret matters? Is this correct?
FRAULEIN BLANK: Yes.
DR. HORN: I should like to turn now to another group of questions. Did Von Ribbentrop endeavor to keep the pact with Russia in any case?
FRAULEIN BLANK: Having signed the Gernian-Russian pacts, Von Ribbentrop was, of course, interested in their being kept. Moreover, he realized fully the great danger a German-Russian war would mean for Germany; accordingly he informed and warned the Fuehrer. For this very purpose, as far as I recall, Embassy Counsellor Hilger from Moscow and Ambassador Schnurre were called to Berchtesgaden to report. Also, in the spring of 1941 Ambassador Count von der Schulenburg was again ordered to report, to back up and to corroborate and reinforce Herr Von Ribbentrop's -warnings to the Fuehrer.
DR. HORN: Do you know whether Von Ribbentrop was informed beforehand of Hitler's intent to attach Austria to the Reich?
FRAULEIN BLANK: At the time of the German march into Austria, Ambassador Von Ribbentrop, who in February had been appointed Foreign Minister, was in London on his farewell visit. There he heard to his surprise of the Anschluss of Austria. He himself had had a different idea of a solution of the Austria question, namely an economic union.
DR. HORN: Do you know whether Von Ribbentrop made repeated efforts to end the war by diplomatic methods?
FRAULEIN BLANK: Yes. One of his moves was to send Minister Professor Berber to Switzerland in the winter of 1943-1944. Later on these moves were intensified by sending Herr Von Schmieden to Bern and Dr. Hesse to Stockholm. As the Fuehrer had not given official authority to initiate negotiations, it was possible only to try to find out on what conditions discussions might be opened between Germany and the Allies. Similar missions were entrusted to the German Charge d'Affaires in Madrid, Minister Von Bibra, Consul General Mollhausen in Lisbon, and the Ambassador to the Vatican, Von Weizsacker. A former member of the
28 March 46
Office Ribbentrop living in Madrid was instructed to make a similar attempt with the British Government.
On 20 April Von Ribbentrop dictated to me a detailed memorandum for the Fuehrer in which he asked for official authorization to initiate negotiations. I do not know the outcome of this request because I left Berlin.
DR. HORN: In the course of your duties did you get to know what Hitler's basic attitude to this question was?
FRAULEIN BLANK: From what I heard from men of his entourage I know that the Fuehrer did not expect much of it, or that he would have been in favor of initiating negotiations only at a time of military successes. If and when, however, there were military successes, he was likewise against diplomatic initiative. As to the mission of Dr. Hesse -- after its failure, he, it was disclosed by an indiscretion, remarked that he had not expected much of it anyway.
DR. HORN: Just one more question: Is it correct that Von Ribbentrop, was notified of the impending invasion of Norway and Denmark only a very short time before this action?
FRAULEIN BLANK: Yes, just a few days previously.
DR. HORN: Have you heard anything to the effect that Von Ribbentrop was of the opinion England would fight for Poland?
FRAULEIN BLANK: Yes. In line with his view that England would adhere to the old balance of power policy, he was of the opinion that England would honor her guarantee to Poland.
DR.HORN: I have no further questions to put to this witness.
TEE PRESIDENT: Do any of the defendants' counsel wish to ask any questions of this witness? [There was no response.] Do the Prosecution?
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: My Lord, the Prosecution have very carefully considered this matter. They hope that the Tribunal will not hold it against them that they accept everything that this witness says, but they feel that all the matters could be more conveniently put to the defendant, himself, and therefore they do not intend to cross-examine.
THE PRESIDENT: The witness may retire.
[The witness left the stand.]
DR. SEIDL: Mr. President, the Tribunal has permitted the question concerning the secret agreement to be put to the witness. The witness knew only of the existence of this agreement, not its contents.
May I please be told whether the admission of this question to the witness is to be considered as implying the decision by the Tribunal on the admissibility of Ambassador Gaus' affidavit, and
28 March 46
whether I might now be given the opportunity of reading an excerpt from this affidavit?
THE PRESIDENT: Has the affidavit been submitted to the Prosecution?
DR. SEIDL: Last Monday -- that is, 3 days ago -- I submitted six copies of the affidavit to the Translation Division or to Lieutenant Schrader of the Defendants' Information Center. I assume that in the meantime, since 3 days have elapsed, the Prosecution have received a copy.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: My Lord, the Prosecution have not received the copies. I have not seen the affidavit yet. Neither has my friend Mr. Dodd, nor have my other colleagues, General Rudenko, or M. Champetier de Ribes.
THE PRESIDENT: Then I think we had better wait until the document is in the hands of the Prosecution, then it can be considered.
DR. SEIDL: Mr. President, I believe that I did everything in my power to furnish the Prosecution with the affidavit. I have no influence on the General Secretary's business, and I should be obliged if the Tribunal would assist in this matter.
THE PRESIDENT: Nobody has said that you have done anything wrong about it, Dr. Seidl.
Yes, Dr. Horn.
DR. HORN: As my next witness I should like to call Minister Paul Schmidt.
[The witness Schmidt took the stand.]
THE PRESIDENT: Will you tell me your name?
DR. PAUL OTTO SCHMIDT (Witness): Schmidt is my name.
THE PRESIDENT: Your full name?
SCHMIDT: Dr. Paul Otto Schmidt.
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 witness repeated the oath in German.]
DR. HORN: Witness, you took part in some of the decisive discussions between the British Ambassador, Sir Nevile Henderson, and members of the Reich Government before the outbreak of war. Is it correct that you were present at the conference on 30 August 1939 between the Defendant Von Ribbentrop and the British Ambassador?
[There was a pause in proceedings.]
THE PRESIDENT: The Tribunal will adjourn until a quarter to 2.
[The Tribunal recessed until 1345 hours.]
28 March 46
DR. HORN: Witness, is it correct that you were present at the conference on 30 August 1939 between the Defendant Von Ribbentrop and the British Ambassador, Sir Nevile Henderson?
SCHMIDT: Yes, that is correct.
DR. HORN: Where did that conference take place?
SCHMIDT: It took place in the office of the Minister for Foreign Affairs in the Foreign Office in Berlin.
DR. HORN: In what capacity did you take part in that conference?
SCHMIDT: I took part in that conference as interpreter and recorder.
DR. HORN: Since when had you been employed in this capacity in the Foreign Office and for whom did you work?
SCHMIDT: I had been working in the Foreign Office as interpreter for conferences since 1923, and in this capacity I interpreted for all foreign ministers, from Stresemann to Von Ribbentrop, as well as for a number of German Reich Chancellors such as Hermann Muller, Marx, Bruning, Hitler, and for other cabinet members and delegates who represented Germany at international conferences. In other words, I participated as interpreter in all international conferences at which Germany was represented since 1923.
DR. HORN: Did you have the opportunity to act as interpreter during the discussion between Ribbentrop and Sir Nevile Henderson?
SCHMIDT: No, I did not have that opportunity as the discussion was conducted in German.
DR. HORN: Was Ambassador Henderson able to speak German fluently?
SCHMIDT: Ambassador Henderson's knowledge of German was rather good, but not perfect. Hence it could happen that in moments of excitement he did not quite understand certain points, as is proved by an incident which occurred during the conference just mentioned; and it was not always easy for him to express himself in German; but when speaking to Germans he usually preferred to conduct these discussions in German.
DR. HORN: In the course of the conference Herr Von Ribbentrop read out to Henderson a memorandum containing the German proposals for a settlement of the questions pending between Germany and Poland. And now I am asking you, Witness, did Henderson ask you during that discussion to translate to him the contents of the memorandum Ribbentrop, had read out?
SCHMIDT: No, he did not do that.
28 March 46
DR. HORN: Did you get the impression from his attitude that Sir Nevile Henderson had fully understood the contents of the memorandum?
SCHMIDT: That is, of course, very hard to say. You cannot tell what goes on inside a person's mind, but I doubt whether he understood the document in all its details.
DR. HORN: Did Ribbentrop, when he read out the document to Sir Nevile Henderson, give him any explanations?
SCHMIDT: Yes, while reading out the document the Foreign Minister now and then commented to Henderson about some points which might not have been quite clear.
DR. HORN: Did Sir Nevile Henderson himself ask for such explanations?
SCHMIDT: No, Sir Nevile Henderson sat and listened to the document being read out and the comments which were made.
DR. HORN: What atmosphere prevailed during that conference?
SCHMIDT: The atmosphere during that conference was, I think I can say, somewhat charged with electricity. Both participants were extremely nervous. Henderson was very uneasy; and never before, and perhaps only once afterwards, have I seen the Foreign Minister so nervous as he was during that conference. An incident which occurred during the first part of the discussion can perhaps serve to illustrate the atmosphere. The matter under discussion was the specifying of all the points Germany had against Poland and her government, and the Foreign Minister had done that in all details and concluded with the words: "So you see, Sir Nevile Henderson, the situation is damned serious." When Sir Nevile Henderson heard those words, "damned serious" he started up, half raised himself and pointing a warning finger at the Foreign Minister said: "You have just said 'damned.' That is not the language of a statesman in so serious a situation."
THE PRESIDENT: To what charge in the Indictment is this relevant?
DR. HORN: To the point in the Indictment that on 30 August 1939, Von Ribbentrop read out the memorandum, the decisive memorandum, so quickly that Ambassador Sir Nevile Henderson was not able to grasp its contents and transmit it to his government and have it forwarded to the Polish Government in order to continue negotiations between Germany and Poland. England at that time had offered her good offices as intermediary between both governments. Germany on the basis ...
THE PRESIDENT: Which passage of the Indictment are you referring to? You may be right, I do not know. I only want to know which passage in the Indictment you are referring to.
28 March 46
DR. HORN: I am referring to the preparation of, that is, to the failure to prevent aggressive war for which Ribbentrop is indicted as a co-conspirator.
THE PRESIDENT: That is on Page 9, is it not, from (F) 4? There is nothing about the way in which this document was handed over to Sir Nevile Henderson. Presumably you have got the Indictment. Where is it in the Indictment?
DR. HORN: It has been presented by the Prosecution and it has also been presented in the House of Commons where Chamberlain insisted that Ribbentrop had read it out so rapidly that it was impossible to grasp the contents and transmit them through diplomatic channels, which England had expressly offered to do. Thus the Defendant Von Ribbentrop is directly indicted for having prevented this last chance of further negotiations with Poland. The statement of the witness will prove that the Defendant Von Ribbentrop cannot be charged with this.
THE PRESIDENT: Well, Dr. Horn, you made the point that it was read in that way. There is no charge about it in the Indictment at all. It may be that the Prosecution referred to it in the course of the history. You have made the point, surely it is not necessary to go on at length about it.
DR. HORN: In that case may I proceed?
[Turning to the witness.] Then you had the impression that both these statesmen were extremely agitated?
SCHMIDT: Yes, I did have that impression.
DR. HORN: To what causes do you attribute this agitation?
SCHMIDT: To the tension which prevailed during the negotiations, to the numerous conferences which had taken place almost without interruption during the preceding days and which had made considerable demands upon the nerves of all participants.
DR. HORN: Is it correct that Von Ribbentrop, as Sir Nevile Henderson maintains in his book, said in the worst possible language that he would never ask the Polish Ambassador to call on him?
SCHMIDT: That I cannot remember. The Foreign Minister merely said that he could receive the Polish Ambassador for negotiations or discussions only if he came to him with the necessary authority to negotiate.
DR. HORN: Ambassador Lipski did not have that authority?
SCHMIDT: He answered a question respecting this, put to him by the Foreign Minister when Ambassador Lipski was with him with an emphatic "no." He said he had no authority.
DR. HORN: Thereupon, Ribbentrop declared to Sir Nevile Henderson that he could not receive the ambassador, is that right?
28 March 46
SCHMIDT: No. I was speaking about a conference which the Foreign Minister had with the Polish Ambassador in the course of which the latter was asked whether he had authority to negotiate. To this he replied "no," whereupon the Foreign Minister said that in this case naturally no conversation could take place.
DR. HORN: Then Von Ribbentrop did not hand the memorandum which we mentioned previously to Sir Nevile Henderson. Did you have the impression that Ribbentrop did not submit the text of the ultimatum to Ambassador Sir Nevile Henderson because he did not wish to or because he was not allowed to do so?
SCHMIDT: It is difficult for me to give a clear-cut answer to this question as I was not present at the preliminary discussions which Hitler doubtless had with the Foreign Minister regarding that point before the conference with the British Ambassador. I, therefore, have to rely on the impressions I got during the conference with the British Ambassador; and from these I can draw my conclusions as to the instructions Hitler may have given the Foreign Minister for this conference. In this connection I can say the following:
When Henderson requested that the document containing the German proposals be submitted to him, the Foreign Minister said: "No, I cannot give you the document." These are the words he used. This of course was a somewhat unusual procedure because normally Sir Nevile Henderson had the right to expect that a document which had just been read out would be handed to him. I myself was rather surprised at the Foreign Minister's answer and looked up because I thought I had misunderstood. I looked at the Foreign Minister and heard him say for the second time: "I cannot give you the document." But I saw that this matter caused him some discomfort and that he must have been aware of the rather difficult position in which he found himself by this answer, because an uneasy smile played on his lips when he said in a quiet voice to Sir Nevile Henderson these words, "I cannot give you the document." Then I looked at Sir Nevile Henderson as I of course expected him to ask me to translate the document, but this request was not forthcoming. I looked at Henderson rather invitingly, since I wanted to translate the document, knowing how extraordinarily important a quick and complete transmission of its contents to the British Government was. If I had been asked to translate I would have done so quite slowly, almost at dictation speed, in order to enable the British Ambassador in this roundabout way to take down not merely the general outline of the German proposal but all its details and transmit them to his Government. But Sir Nevile Henderson did not react even to my glance so that the discussion soon came to an end and events took their course.
28 March 46
DR. HORN: Did you, on the morning of 3 September 1939, receive the British ultimatum to the German Government?
SCHMIDT: Yes, that is correct.
DR. HORN: To whom did you submit this ultimatum?
SCHMIDT: On the morning of the 3rd, at about 2 or 3 o'clock, the British Embassy telephoned the Reich Chancellery, where I was still present with the Foreign Minister in order to be available for possible conferences, to give the information that the British Ambassador had received instructions from his government, according to which, at exactly 9 o'clock, he was to make an important announcement on behalf of the British Government to the Foreign Minister. He therefore asked to be received by Herr Von Ribbentrop at that time. He was given the reply that Ribbentrop himself would not be available but that a member of the Foreign Office, namely I, would be authorized to receive the British Government's announcement from the British Ambassador on his behalf. Thus it happened that at 9 o'clock in the morning I received the British Ambassador in Ribbentrop's office. When I asked him to be seated Henderson refused and while still standing he read to me the well-known ultimatum of the British Government to the German Government, according to which, unless certain conditions were fulfilled by Germany, the British Government would consider themselves at war with Germany at 11 o'clock that morning.
After we had exchanged a few words of farewell, I took the document to the Reich Chancellery.
DR. HORN: To whom did you submit this document there?
SCHMIDT: In the Reich Chancellery I gave it to Hitler, that is to say, I found Hitler in his office in conference with the Foreign Minister and I translated the document into German for him. When I had completed my translation, there was at first silence.
DR. HORN: Was Hitler alone in the room?
SCHMIDT: No as I said before, he was in his office with the Foreign Minister. And when I had completed my translation, both gentlemen were absolutely silent for about a minute. I could clearly see that this development did not suit them at all. For a while Hitler sat in his chair deep in thought and stared somewhat worriedly into space. Then he broke the silence with a rather abrupt question to the Foreign Minister, saying, "What shall we do now?" Thereupon they began to discuss the next diplomatic steps to be taken, whether this or that ambassador should be called, et cetera. I, of course, left the room since I had nothing more to do. When I entered the anteroom, I found assembled there -- or rather I had already seen on my way in -- some Cabinet members and higher officials, to whose
28 March 46
questioning looks -- they knew I had seen the British Ambassador -- I had said only that there would be no second Munich. When I came out again, I saw by their anxious faces that my remark had been correctly interpreted. When I then told them that I had just handed a British ultimatum to Hitler, a heavy silence fell on the room. The faces suddenly grew rather serious. I still remember that Goering, for instance, who was standing in front of me, turned round to me and said, "If we lose this war, then God help us." Goebbels was standing in a comer by himself and had a very serious, not to say depressed, expression. This depressing atmosphere prevailed over all those present, and it naturally lives in my memory as something most remarkable for the frame of mind prevailing in the anteroom of the Reich Chancellery on the first day of the war.
DR. HORN: So you did not have the impression, then, that these men expected a declaration of war?
SCHMIDT: No, I did not have that impression.
DR. HORN: Witness, were you in a position to observe how Ribbentrop reacted to the news of Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor?
SCHMIDT: I had no direct opportunity, but in the Foreign Office it was generally known that the news of Pearl Harbor took the Foreign Minister, as indeed the whole Foreign Office, completely by surprise. This impression was confirmed by what a member of the Press Department told me. The Press Department had a listening station for radio news and the official on duty had instructions to inform the Foreign Minister personally of important news at once. When the first news of Pearl Harbor was received by the listening station of the Press Department, the official on duty considered it of sufficient importance to report it to his chief, that is to say, the head of the Press Department, who in turn was to pass it on to the Foreign Minister. He was, however -- so I was told -- rather harshly rebuffed by the Foreign Minister who said it must be an invention of the press or a canard, and he did not wish our Press Department to disturb him with such stories. After that, a second and third message about Pearl Harbor was received, I think a Reuters report had also been received by the listening station; and the head of the Press Department then again plucked up courage and, in spite of the order not to disturb the Foreign Minister, he once more gave him this news.
THE PRESIDENT: This evidence seems to be utterly uninteresting and irrelevant to the Tribunal.
DR. HORN: Von Ribbentrop is accused also of having prepared aggressive war against the United States of America.
THE PRESIDENT: What you were telling was the reactions of the press. What have we got to do with the reactions of the press?
28 March 46
DR. HORN: The witness described Von Ribbentrop's reaction to the attack on Pearl Harbor. Von Ribbentrop did not know that the Japanese were about to attack Pearl Harbor or that they were about to attack America at all. Neither was there such an agreement between Japan and Germany. It is therefore not correct that Ribbentrop prepared an aggressive war against the United States of America. That is ...
THE PRESIDENT: You were talking about the press. I am not saying that you ought not to ask him whether the Foreign Minister knew nothing about the attack upon Pearl Harbor. That was not what I said. What I said was that the Tribunal was not interested and thought it was irrelevant for you to go into the reactions of the press.
DR. HORN: Witness, you were present at the negotiations regarding the Naval Agreement with England. Can you tell us how those negotiations proceeded, and whether Von Ribbentrop was sincere, and what aims he pursued?
SCHMIDT: These negotiations, at which I was also present as interpreter, went perfectly smoothly after some difficulties had been overcome. The aims which the Foreign Minister ...
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: My Lord, as I understand it, this is the Naval Agreement of 1935. In my recollection -- I am just trying to check it -- that was one of the matters which we discussed on the application for witnesses, and the Tribunal ruled against going into the negotiations antecedent to the conclusion of that treaty. It came up on application for witnesses. One or two witnesses who were going to give the negotiations were asked for and, I think, to deal with this exact point which Dr. Horn put in his last question, namely, the state of mind of the Defendant Ribbentrop. I found one or two -- there is Lord Monsell, for example, who was on the list of witnesses -- who were denied by the Court, and a number of German ones were denied on the same point. My Lord, it is in the Tribunal's statement of the 26th of February; and Your Lordship will see, on Page 2, 1 think, certainly the witness Monsell, who happens to be the one most familiar to myself; but I am sure there were other witnesses, too. I know that we discussed this point quite fully on the application for witnesses.
THE PRESIDENT: Who were the others, Sir David?
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: I have a list of witnesses who were refused. There is Admiral Schuster...
THE PRESIDENT: Yes, he is one.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: ... who was relevant on this question as to who initiated the treaty. And then there is Sir Robert Craigie, Number 24. There is Lord Monsell...
THE PRESIDENT: He was refused.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: These are on the same points, Number 25.
THE PRESIDENT: Yes.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Yes, My Lord, I think these are the three.
THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Horn, what do you say to this? Those three witnesses -- Schuster, Craigie, and Monsell -- who as alleged by you were to give evidence on this 1935 treaty, were all refused. As to the witness you are now examining, no such reference was contained regarding him in the application. He was asked for only as an interpreter in the Foreign Office.
DR. HORN: I was under the impression that these other three witnesses had been refused because they were cumulative and I was not going to question the witness on the Naval Agreement but I merely want to ask him about the attitude shown by Ribbentrop when the agreement was concluded and afterwards in order to prove to the Tribunal that Von Ribbentrop was not, in any case at that time, deliberately working towards an aggressive war, nor was he participating in a conspiracy to initiate a war of aggression, at least not at that time. And I wish to prove further that this agreement was not "eyewash" as the aforementioned British Ambassador, Sir Nevile Henderson, put it.
THE PRESIDENT: Your application with reference to Ambassador Craigie was this: The witness can give evidence that in 1935 Ribbentrop approached England with a proposal that the Naval Treaty should be signed and Ribbentrop's initiative brought about an agreement by France to this treaty which involved the Treaty of Versailles. Thus the treaty has come into effect.
Is it not in connection with that, that you were going to ask this witness questions?
DR. HORN: No.
THE PRESIDENT: If you have nothing about the Naval treaty of 1935, then you can go on.
DR. HORN: Witness, in 1944, you were present at a conference between Horthy and Hitler at Klessheim, in which Von Ribbentrop also took part and during which the solution of the Jewish question in Hungary was discussed. What did Von Ribbentrop, say to you about this question?
SCHMIDT: During this conference there had been a certain difficulty, when Hitler insisted that Horthy should proceed more energetically in the Jewish question, and Horthy answered with
28 March 46
some heat, "But what am I supposed to do? Shall I perhaps beat the Jews to death?" -- Whereupon there was rather a lull, and the Foreign Minister then turned to Horthy and said, "Yes, there are only two possibilities -- either that, or to intern the Jews." Afterwards he said to me -- and this was rather exceptional -- that Hitler's demands in this connection might have gone a bit too far.
DR. HORN: On 25 August 1939, you took part in a conference between Hitler, Henderson, and Ribbentrop, at which Ribbentrop and Hitler once more expressed their wish to come to an agreement with Poland, using Britain as intermediary. Is it correct that Ribbentrop then sent you with a draft note on this conference to Henderson at the Embassy to ask him to back this proposal as far as possible and to try to put it through? Is that correct?
SCHMIDT: Yes, that is so.
DR. HORN: May I submit to the Tribunal a copy of this telegram from Sir Nevile Henderson to Lord Halifax? (Document Number TC-72, Number 69.)
[Turning to the witness.] Is it correct, Witness, that on 28 August 1939, Herr Von Ribbentrop in a further discussion with Sir Nevile Henderson again stressed that an agreement between Germany and Britain after a settlement of the Polish question was Chamberlain's greatest wish, as the British Prime Minister had stated to Ribbentrop and that Von Ribbentrop then repeated this to Henderson? Is that true?
SCHMIDT: Yes, that is true.
DR. HORN: May I submit to the Tribunal the memorandum in question as an exhibit?
THE PRESIDENT: You offer a copy of that in evidence, do you?
DR. HORN: I request the Tribunal to take judicial notice of the document.
THE PRESIDENT: What number?
DR. HORN: The one number has already been submitted by the Prosecution. It bears the Document Number TC-72 and another number, and the second number has also been submitted by the Prosecution. I submit it again to the Tribunal because I have referred to it just now. (Document Number TC-72, Number 75).
Witness, one last question: In your extensive experience as an interpreter, you had much opportunity to observe Hitler in contact with foreigners. What impression, according to your observations, did Hitler make on foreign statesmen?
SCHMIDT: Naturally, it is not quite so easy to answer this question, as one cannot look into the hearts and minds of other
28 March 46
people. But as an observer one can naturally draw certain conclusions from the attitude ...
THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Horn, the Tribunal does not think really that this is a matter which is relevant, the effect that Hitler's demeanor had on foreign statesmen. It does not influence us in the least.
DR. HORN: Then I withdraw my question. I have no further questions to put to the witness.
THE PRESIDENT: Are there any other defendants' counsel who wish to ask questions?
DR. OTTO STAHMER (Counsel for Defendant Goering): Witness, were you present at a conversation which, about one year before the outbreak of war, took place between Lord Londonderry and Field Marshal Goering at Karinhall?
SCHMIDT: Yes, I was present at this conversation.
DR. STAHMER: Describe briefly to the Tribunal the substance of this conversation.
SCHMIDT: After so long a time I cannot, of course, remember the details, but I recall merely that the subject of conversation was the Anglo-German rapprochement, or rather the elimination of any points of dispute between Germany and England, and that in addition, of course, quite a number of technical questions regarding aviation and the air force were dealt with. I have always remembered very clearly one particular remark made by Goering in the course of this conversation, when at the end of adiscussion which was to prove how desirable it was that Germany and England be friendly and avoid conflicts, he said the following:
"If our two countries should be involved in a war against each other, then there will naturally be a victor and a vanquished, but the victor in this bitter conflict will in the moment of victory have just enough strength left to strike the last blow at the defeated and will then fall to the ground himself gravely wounded and for this reason alone our two countries should get along with each other without conflict and without war."
DR. STAHMER: Did you take part in the negotiations in Munich in the autumn of 1938?
SCHMIDT: Yes, I did take part in these negotiations.
DR. STAHMER: Was the then Field Marshal Goering also present?
SCHMIDT: During the first part he was not present, but later when the circle of those present became larger he likewise took part.
DR. STAHMER: In what way did he participate in the negotiations?
28 March 46
SCHMIDT: He intervened only in individual questions of lesser importance. However, he did take part in a way which showed that through his intervention he wanted to remove insofar as possible, any difficulties arising from certain technical points which might hamper the progress of the negotiations. In other words, he was anxious that the Munich negotiations should not collapse over such technical points of procedure, which played an important role in the second part of the negotiations.
DR. STAHMER: Were you present at a conversation which took place in the autumn of 1937 between Lord Halifax and the then Field Marshal Goering and followed a conference between Lord Halifax and Hitler at the Berghof?
SCHMIDT: Yes, I was present.
DR. STAHMER: What course did this conversation take? Briefly, please.
SCHMIDT: First I must say that at the Obersalzberg the conversation with Lord Halifax had taken a very unsatisfactory turn. The two partners could in no way come to an understanding, but in the conversation with Goering the atmosphere improved. The same points were dealt with as at Obersalzberg, the subjects which were in the foreground at the time, namely, the Anschluss, the Sudeten question, and finally the questions of the Polish Corridor and Danzig. At Obersalzberg Hitler had treated these matters rather uncompromisingly, and he had demanded more or less that a solution as he conceived it be accepted by England, whereas Goering in his discussions always attached importance to the fact or always stressed that his idea was a peaceful solution, that is to say, a solution through negotiation, and that everything should be done in this direction, and that he also believed that such a solution could be reached for all three questions if the negotiations were properly conducted.
DR. STAHMER: I have no further questions.
DR. LATERNSER: Witness, you were present at numerous political conferences of Hitler's. Did you notice on such occasions that high military leaders tried to influence him to enlarge German territory in a peaceful way or by war?
SCHMIDT: No, no such efforts on the part of the military came to my notice, because at political negotiations the military representatives were for the most part not present at the beginning when the large problems were dealt with and they were called in only when purely military problems were discussed; and then, of course, they stated their opinion only on purely military questions and did not speak on any political matters.
28 March 46
DR. LATERNSER: Then I have one more question: On the occasion of such discussions, did you find that high military leaders were anxious to exert political influence upon the Reich Government?
SCHMIDT: No, I did not find that, and you could not have found it, since they were hardly ever present.
DR. LATERNSER: I have no further questions.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Witness, I want you first of all to tell the Tribunal quite shortly the general background of your views. Do you remember on 28 November making an affidavit at Oberursel; do you remember?
SCHMIDT: I cannot remember the date clearly, but I do remember that I made an affidavit.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Would you look at it. [Handing the document to the witness.] Paragraph 1 sets out your experience, the number of conferences, et cetera.
My Lord, I ought to have said that this document is Document Number 3308-PS and will be Exhibit GB-288.
[Turning to the witness.] Then, in Paragraph 2 you give the basis of your experience. Would you follow it while I read:
"Whatever success and position I have enjoyed in the Foreign Office I owe to the fact that I made it my business at all times to possess thorough familiarity with the subject matter under discussion, and I endeavored to achieve intimate knowledge of the mentality of Hitler and the other leaders. Throughout the Hitler Regime I constantly endeavored to keep myself apprised as to what was going on in the Foreign Office and in related organizations, and I enjoyed such a position that it was possible to have ready access to key officials and to key personnel in their offices."
And then, if you will look at the third paragraph, which gives your impression from that basis of the objectives of the foreign policy:
"The general objectives of the Nazi leadership were apparent from the start, namely, the domination of the European Continent, to be achieved, first, by the incorporation of all German-speaking groups in the Reich, and secondly, by territorial expansion under the slogan of 'Lebensraum.' The execution of these basic objectives, however, seemed to be characterized by improvisation. Each succeeding step apparently was carried out as each new situation arose, but all consistent with the ultimate objectives mentioned above."
Is that right, Herr Schmidt? Does that express your views?
28 March 46
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Now, before I go on to deal with particular matters, I want you to develop your impressions a little further. You have told us that you acted under or with every foreign minister since Herr Stresemann. Did you notice a considerable difference between the style of living of the Nazi ministers and those who had preceded them?
SCHMIDT: As far as the style of living is concerned, there were certain differences, yes.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Let us take the Defendant Ribbentrop. Before the Defendant Ribbentrop went into politics, had he one house in Berlin-Dahlem? I think Lenze-Allee 19. Was that his possession?
SCHMIDT: Yes, that is correct.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Now, when he was Foreign Minister, had he six houses? Let me remind you and take them one by one. You can tell me if I am right. There was a house in Sonnenburg, somewhere near Berlin, with an estate of 750 hectares, and a private golf course. That was one, was it not?
SCHMIDT: I knew that there was a house at Sonnenburg, but I did not know how large it was.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Then there was one at Tanneck bei Duren, near Aachen, a house that he used for horse breeding?
SCHMIDT: I did not know about that house.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: And then there was one near Kitzbuhl, that he used for chamois hunting?
SCHMIDT: That is not known to me in detail.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Not in detail, but its existence was known?
SCHMIDT: I consider that it is not at all improbable that the house existed, but I have not heard any details about it.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Then, of course, there was the Schloss Fuschl; that is in Austria, is it not?
SCHMIDT: Near Salzburg, yes.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Near Salzburg, yes. That was taken over as a state residence. I will ask you about the circumstances a little later.
Then there was a Slovakian hunting estate called "Pustepole," was there not?
SCHMIDT: The name is familiar to me, and I know that Herr Von Ribbentrop sometimes went hunting there, but I know nothing regarding the proprietorship.
28 March 46
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Then he also used a hunting lodge, near Podersan, that had been that of Count Czernin, near Podersan, in Bohemia, in the Sudetenland?
SCHMIDT: There was a hunting house or something similar, I do not know the name, where receptions took place, as for instance, that given for Count Ciano. But I think it had a different name.
SIR DAVID M)AXWELL-FYFE: That is the one where Ciano visited. That is the one I was indicating to you. I think I am right that it previously belonged to Count Czernin.
Tell me, was the salary fixed for Reich Ministers?
SCHMIDT: I did not understand the question.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Let me put it quite clearly. Was a salary -- that is, a fixed annual remuneration -- appointed for Reich Ministers?
SCHMIDT: Yes, that is quite right.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: How much was that?
SCHMIDT: That I cannot say.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: That was kept secret?
SCIU/BDT: That is not the reason that I cannot give you any information. I was not at all interested in how large a salary the Reich Foreign Minister received.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: You do not know?
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: If you say that you do not know, that is good enough for me. I think, perhaps, you can answer this question. Had any previous Reich Foreign Minister been able to run six country houses and estates of various sizes on his salary, anyone that you had worked with?
SCHMIDT: Whether he could have done it I cannot say, but he did not do it.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: He did not. We will leave it there for a moment.
Now, I want you to apply your mind to May 1939. That is about four months before the war, when the Polish question was just coming up. I mean, it was getting to be quite a serious question. Do you remember what I think they call in the German Foreign Office a conduite de langage that was issued by Ribbentrop about that time and put out by Baron Von Weizsacker?
SCHMIDT: No, I do not know that, or at any rate I should say that I cannot remember it.
28 March 46
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-YYFE: Let me try to remind you, to see if this draws it to your recollection:
"The Polish problem will be solved by Hitler in 48 hours; the Western Powers will be unable to give any assistance to Poland; the British Empire is doomed within the next 10 years; France will bleed to death if she tries to intervene."
Do you remember a conduite de langage to that effect issued by the Foreign Minister?
SCHMIDT: I cannot remember a conduite de langage of that kind. It appears to me rather to resemble a conduite de langage for propaganda purposes.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Do you not remember that Von Ribbentrop issued instructions that no official of the Foreign Office was to issue any different views?
SCHMIDT: That is right, that one was to adhere to those conduites de langage.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: And do you remember what he told Baron Von Weizsacker to say would happen to anyone who expressed different views?
SCHMIDT: No, I do not recollect that, but I can imagine that severe penalties would have been threatened to such a person. But I do not remember the actual case.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Do you not remember that he said they would be shot by him personally?
SCHMIDT: That such a statement may have been made by him on some occasion when he was angry, I consider perfectly possible, but I do not believe that it was meant seriously.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: What I thought you might remember -- I just suggest it to you -- was the distress and difficulty that Baron Von Weizsacker had in deciding how he was to say it to the official conference at the Foreign Office. Do you not remember that?
SCHMIDT: At that time I had not yet been admitted to the morning conferences. I was not present at that time so I cannot tell you anything about it, but I can imagine that the State Secretary may have had quite some trouble in translating that statement into official language.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-YYFE: Well, now, I want to deal quite shortly with the points that have been put to you about August 1939. I only want to get the facts quite clear.
Do you remember that you were with Hitler at the time that he was expecting the reactions of the Western Powers to the Soviet treaty?
28 March 46
SCHMIDT: No, I was attached to the delegation in Moscow and therefore not with Hitler.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: So did you come back with the Defendant Ribbentrop on the 24th?
SCHMIDT: Yes, but I remained in Berlin and did not go to Berchtesgaden.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: I see. Well, now you remember that Hitler saw Sir Nevile Henderson at 1:30 on the 25th and gave him what has been called a note verbale? Do you remember that?
SCHMIDT: I think that I was not present at that conference, because just at that time I was in Moscow. It must be possible to establish the date. I was not present at a conference between Hitler and the British Ambassador which took place on the Obersalzberg during the time of our Moscow journey. I think that is the conference to which you are referring.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: This is the day after the defendant came back from Moscow.
SCHMIDT: No, I remained in Berlin. I was not up there.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: I just want to remind you of the day. If you were not present, I will pass from it; but were you present when Signor Attolico, the Italian Ambassador, produced a communication from Mussolini?
SER DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: You were there?
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: That is the day I am asking you about. Do you remember that a communication came from Signor Attolico that afternoon that the Italian Army and Air Force were not in a condition to go to war?
SCHMIDT: Yes, indeed.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: I want you to try to help me because it is rather important as to the time. Was that not about 3 o'clock in the afternoon?
SCHMIDT: That could be so; but with the many conferences which took place at the time, the question of hours and dates is naturally a bit confused.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: And do you remember the news that the Anglo-Polish Treaty would be signed that evening coming through about 4 o'clock?
SCHMIDT: Yes, I remember that.
28 March 46
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: And do you remember about 4 o'clock M. Coulondre, the French Ambassador, having an interview with Hitler?
SCHMIDT: Yes, I remember that.
SIR DAV1D MAXWELL-FTFE: Now, were you aware that on that day the orders for an attack on Poland the next morning were countermanded?
SCHMIDT: I remember that military orders had been withdrawn, but just what orders these were I naturally never learned.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: I would not ask you about that, Herr Schmidt, but you knew that orders had been countermanded. I wondered if you could help me on this point: Was not the countermanding of the orders at 6:15 -- 1815 hours -- after the interview with the French Ambassador, M. Coulondre, was not that the time when they were countermanded?
SCHMIDT: I cannot recall whether that was the time.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: And equally could you help the Tribunal on this point: Were they not issued about 2 o'clock -- 1400 hours -- after the interview with Sir Nevile Henderson? Do you know that?
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: I see. You cannot help us on that point.
Well, now. I am not going to take time about the interview on the night of the 30-31 August between Sir Nevile Henderson and the Defendant Ribbentrop, except to ask you this: You have told us that the Defendant Ribbentrop was very excited; when he read these terms over, did he raise his voice at times, shouting?
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: How did he show his nervousness, then?
SCHMIDT: It manifested itself during some incidents which I mentioned before, which had occurred during the conversation; previously during those incidents the nervousness became apparent, but not during the reading of the document.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: I see, but you remember and were very much astounded at the time at the refusal to hand over the vital document to the British Ambassador?
SCHMIDT: Yes, certainly.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Well, I want to see if you can help us with one or two other incidents. It has been suggested by a witness that we heard yesterday that the Defendant Ribbentrop
28 March 46
knew very little about concentration camps. I want to make it clear that was suggested. I think perhaps you can help us on one or two inhabitants of concentration camps that he knew about. Do you remember a man called Martin Luther? Not the religious gentleman but a contemporary?
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Do you remember that the Defendant Ribbentrop brought him into his office, the Bureau Ribbentrop, in 1936?
SCHMIDT: I am not sure about the year, but I do know that he got his job through the Bureau.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Yes. I think it was not received with great joy by the older members of the German Foreign Office.
SCHMIDT: No, certainly not.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-YYFE: There had been some trouble about a small matter of 4,000 Reichsmark that Mr. Luther had had to deal with in the past?
SCHMIDT: Yes. We learned about that afterwards.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: He was taken into the Foreign Office and received rapid promotion to counsellor, that is to say minister, and under secretary of state, did he not?
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: And then, do you remember that in 1943 he had a quarrel with the Defendant Ribbentrop?
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: And he sent to Himmler -- I think he did it through Lieutenant Buttner -- suggesting that Ribbentrop's state of mind was not such that he ought to continue as Foreign Secretary, and suggesting that Werner Best, I believe it was, should be appointed. Do you remember that?
SCHMIDT: Yes, I remember that; but I did not know that he suggested Werner Best as successor.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: At any rate, he suggested that Ribbentrop should go. I think he was quite blunt about it. I believe he suggested that his mental powers were no longer up to it.
SCHMIDT: I did not see the report. I only heard rumors about it.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: In consequence of that, of course, after an interview with Ribbentrop, Ribbentrop had Luther put in a concentration camp, did he not?
SCHMIDT: I do not know whether that happened on Ribbentrop's initiative, or whether it came from some other source, but it was
23 March 46
said among us in the office that Luther had landed in a concentration camp.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Yes. Well, the sequence of events was that Luther had this disagreement with Ribbentrop and shortly afterwards he appeared in a concentration camp. And not only did he go into a concentration camp, but is it not correct that even the SS asked that he should come out of the concentration camp, and Ribbentrop would not agree to it?
SCHMIDT: That I cannot say, because the whole matter was, of course, treated rather confidentially in the office by Herr Von Ribbentrop and the members of the old Foreign Office, of whom I was one, did not have his confidence to such an extent that they were informed of all such details. In other words, I heard about the whole Luther affair only by way of rumor, through special channels -- actually through prohibited channels -- so that I cannot therefore give you any authentic information but I can repeat only what I have heard unofficially.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: I am sure you desire to be absolutely frank with the Tribunal, and the point I am putting to you is that everyone in the Foreign Office knew that Luther had landed in a concentration camp and, quite clearly, the Defendant Ribbentrop knew that he had landed in a concentration camp. That is right, is it not?
SCHMIDT: Yes, certainly.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Well now, let us just take one other incident relating to this if I may comment as to his extraordinary innocence about concentration camps.
You remember two unfortunate peoplecalled Herr and Frau Von Remitz, to whom the Schloss Fuschl used to belong? I think the name is either Remitz or Raenitz. Do you remember?
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Well, the Schloss Fuschl -- would you tell me how it is pronounced?
SCHMIDT: Well, regarding these matters I am so little ...
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: No, I want you to tell me how it is pronounced.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Thank you.
The Schloss Fuschl used to belong to the people that I have just mentioned. Frau Von Remitz was a sister of August Thyssen, was she not?
28 March 46
SCHMIDT: I cannot say anything about that, since all these questions refer to the private household of Herr Von Ribbentrop and I had nothing to do with that. My connections with him were purely official and limited at that to routine matters and the important political interpretation affairs in the Foreign Office. I only heard about the other matters, and naturally not in such a way that I could make any authentic statements about them.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Well, I will ask you only one question. After the Schloss had become the property, or at any rate had come to the use of the Foreign Minister, did not Herr Von Remitz spend several years in a concentration camp, where he ultimately died? You knew that, did you not?
SCHMIDT: I knew it as a rumor; I was told that it had happened in that way.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: And did he not hear of other stories stronger than these, that came out of concentration camps?
SCHMIDT: I do not believe that any authentic reports were made there regarding conditions because naturally, particularly in front of the Foreign Office, it was treated as taboo by these people who were responsible for concentration camps, since we were in any case regarded as not quite reliable and as not belonging to them. Such matters were of course diligently covered up and concealed from us. Therefore, any concrete details never became known to us at all.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: But you knew, did you not, even in the Foreign Office, that there were a large number of concentration camps in which a vast number of people were shut up?
SCHMIDT: We knew that, but our source of information was mostly the foreign press, which we read, of course; and the foreign radio reports which appeared on our table, translated, every morning.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: So that if you knew it from the foreign press and the foreign radio, whoever else in that dock did not know about concentration camps, the Defendant Ribbentrop, as Foreign Minister, did know. Is that not right?
SCHMIDT: I would like to put it this way: Of course, he had access to that foreign news material. Just how he evaluated it, whether he considered it true or completely false, or exaggerated, naturally I cannot say. Of course he also received the reports as such, but as reports from abroad and, during the war, as reports from hostile countries.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Doctor, I will not pursue that further at the moment. I want you just to tell me this: You have
28 March 46
given us your account of the interview between Hitler and the Defendant Ribbentrop, and Horthy when the question of the Jews was discussed, on the 17th of April 1943. I just wanted on record that your account is based on the fact that you actually made the minutes; the minutes are signed by you.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: I want to pass to another point. From 1943 to 1945 were you still going to Hitler's headquarters for occasional interpreting and attending of meetings and the like?
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: For example -- I do not know if you can remember it, but I am sure you will try -- on the 27th of February 1944, do you remember a visit of Marshal Antonescu?
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Were you present at that?
SCHMIDT: I remember I was always present during all the visits of Antonescu, since the discussion could not take place any other way. Regarding the date I cannot tell you anything exact at the moment.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: It was actually the 27th of February. I wanted to try and fix it by an incident which might remind you of it, that Antonescu was there. Now, do you remember on that occasion that the Defendant Doenitz was present?
SCHMIDT: It ispossible, but I have no exact recollection. It is quite possible that he was present during the military discussions.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: The Exhibit, My Lord, is GB-207, and it is dealt with on Page 2705 of the shorthand notes (Volume V, Page 249). The document was originally Number D-648.
[Turning to the witness.] I want you to tell the Tribunal about the general governmental setup. There has been considerable evidence given before the Tribunal that the Reichsregierung, as such, did not meet after the beginning of the war. Several people have told us that. Instead of a cabinet meeting, was it not a fact that the Government of Germany was carried on by these constant meetings at Hitler's headquarters?
SCHMIDT: I consider it possible, but naturally I have no exact knowledge, since I never took part in such internal conferences. I went to headquarters only whenever I had to accompany a foreigner there.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: You came only when there was a foreign visitor, but you know that these meetings were continuously taking place and that the Defendant Goering, the Defendant
28 March 46
SCHMIDT: I do not know, of course, whether you can describe that conference as a meeting.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: I did not mean to play with words with you at all. I used the word only to describe what was happening. If you prefer to call it a conference, I am willing to do that.
SCHMIDT: I admit that on occasions conferences with Hitler took place or could have taken place, while these people you have just named were present at the headquarters.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: I think you agree with me, do you not, that as far as one can find any organism or organization through which the government of the Reich was being carried on, it was this succession of meetings or conferences at Hitler's headquarters; is that not so?
SCHMIDT: Well, I do not know whether you can regard that as governmental activity, because if I drew a parallel with the conferences at which I was present with these foreign gentlemen, then you will find that the person who spoke and who pushed through decisions was Hitler alone. If it was the same at those conferences, then you could call it a government discussion; but it was only a one-man government. The others were there only as an audience or to be questioned regarding individual points. That is how I imagine it, but I was not present.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: I quite appreciate your point, but these were the occasions at which each service and each department and each organization -- like the SS through the ReichsFuehrer SS, Himmler -- put its point of view and put the facts before Hitler on which decisions were come to, were they not? And that is what happened for the last 2 years of the war.
SCHMIDT: One could have drawn that conclusion from the presence of those people, yes, but as I say it could of course have been that there was only a sort of taking of orders at headquarters. Both possibilities exist, but which is applicable I cannot say.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: At any rate, I think you will agree with this, will you not, Herr Schmidt, that there was no other place at which the government of Germany took place except that?
SCHMIDT: Yes. That is right.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Would you be good enough to look at your affidavit? I will just read the rest of it. It is quite short, but I want it to be on the record. Paragraph 4:
28 March 46
"The attempted Putsch in Austria and the murder of Dollfuss on 25 July 1934 seriously disturbed the career personnel of the Foreign Office, because these events discredited Germany in the eyes of the world. It was common knowledge that the Putsch had been engineered by the Party, and the fact that the attempted Putsch followed so closely on the heels of the blood purge within Germany could not help but suggest the similarity of Nazi methods both in foreign and domestic policy. This concern over the repercussions of the attempted Putsch was soon heightened by a recognition of the fact that these episodes were of influence in leading to the Franco-Soviet Consultative Pact of 5 December 1934, a defensive arrangement, which was not heeded as a warning by the Nazis.
"5. The announcement in March of the establishment of a German Air Force and of the reintroduction of conscription was followed on 2 May 1935 by the conclusion of a mutual assistance pact between France and the Soviet Union. The career personnel of the Foreign Office regarded this as a further very serious warning as to the potential consequences of German foreign policy, but the Nazi leaders only stiffened their attitude towards the Western Powers, declaring that they were not going to be intimidated. At this time, the career officials at least expressed their reservations to the Foreign Minister, Neurath. I do not know whether or not Neurath in turn related these expressions of concern to Hitler.
"6. The re-entry of the German military forces into the Rhineland was preceded by Nazi diplomatic preparation in February. A German communique of 21 February 1936 reaffirmed that the French-Soviet Pact of Mutual Assistance was incompatible with the Locarno Treaties and the Covenant of the League. On the same day Hitler argued in an interview that no real grounds existed for conflict between Germany and France. Considered against the background statements in Mein Kampf, offensive to France, the circumstances were such as to suggest that the stage was being set for justifying some future act. I do not know how far in advance the march into the Rhineland was decided upon. I personally knew about it and discussed it approximately 2 or 3 weeks before it occurred. Considerable fear had been expressed, particularly in military circles, concerning the risks of this undertaking. Similar fears were felt by many in the Foreign Office. It was common knowledge in the Foreign Office, however, that Neurath was the only person in government circles, consulted by Hitler, who felt confident that the Rhineland could be remilitarized without armed opposition from Britain and France. Neurath's
28 March 46
position throughout this period was one which would induce Hitler to have more faith in Neurath than in the general run of 'old school' diplomats whom Hitler tended to hold in disrespect."
Then there is a paragraph about the sanctions in Italy which I do not think is a relevant matter before the Tribunal; and then, in Paragraph 8, I will go on:
"Plans for annexation of Austria were a part of the Nazi program from the beginning. Italian opposition after the murder of Dollfuss temporarily forced a more careful approach to this problem, but the application of sanctions against Italy by the League, plus the rapid increase of German military strength, made safer the resumption of the Austrian program. When Goering visited Rome early in 1937 he declared that union of Austria and Germany was inevitable and could be expected sooner or later. Mussolini, hearing these words in German, remained silent, and protested only mildly when I translated them into French. The consummation of the Anschluss was essentially a Party matter, in which Von Papen's role was to preserve smooth diplomatic relations on the surface while the Party used moredevious ways of preparing conditions for the expected move. The speech delivered by Papen on 18 Feb. 1938, following the Berchtesgaden meeting, interpreted the Berchtesgaden agreement as the first step towards the establishment of a Central European Commonwealth under the leadership of Germany. This was generally recognized in the Foreign Office as a clear prophecy of a Greater Germany which would embrace Austria."
The final paragraph says these matters are true and that you have made this affidavit voluntarily and without compulsion. That is right, is it not, Herr Schmidt? Now, just one more point and then I have finished with you. It is correct, is it not, that in his period as Foreign Minister the Defendant Ribbentrop brought a number of people who had rank in the SS, or, in the old days in the SA into the Foreign Office and made them part of the staff?
SCHMIDT: Yes. Principally they were members of his so-called Bureau -- that is to say, his former organization. They were taken into the Office, not all, but some of them.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Thank you.
THE PRESIDENT: Does any other prosecutor want to crossexamine? Dr. Horn, do you want to re-examine?
DR. HORN: I have no further questions to put to this witness.
THE PRESIDENT: The witness may retire.
28 March 46
DR. MARTIN LOFFLER (Counsel for the SA): Mr. President, I have just one question to ask the witness.
THE PRESIDENT: Keep the witness.
DR. LOFFLER: May I have your permission to put one question to the witness?
THE PRESIDENT: Would you say whom you are appearing for?
DR. LOFFLER: Dr. Loffler, Defense Counsel for the SA.
[Turning to the witness.] Witness, you were as a rule, personally present during the visit of highly placed foreign statesmen. Were you also present during the visit of statesmen during the Olympic Games of 1936?
DR. LOFFLER: Did any one of the foreign statesmen express the wish to inspect the German institutions and the establishments set up by the National Socialists -- in particular in the social sphere -- before or after 1936?
SCHMIDT: Whether any such wishes were expressed during the Olympic Games I cannot remember at the moment; but that such wishes were expressed and that they were fulfilled becomes clear from a number of facts -- for instance, from Lloyd George's visit to the Obersalzberg and, later on, his inspection of social institutions in Germany; from the visit of a number of interested foreign persons who, in my opinion, took a very lively interest in the social institutions in Germany.
DR. LOFFLER: You were present personally during these inspections. Do you remember an inspection during which you were present?
SCHMIDT: Mostly I was not present at these inspections. I only recollect that, for instance, the Labor Front had an organization which was called "Joy and Work" and that was an international organization which held a great annual congress at Hamburg, during which I often acted as interpreter.
DR. LOFFLER: Do you know anything about the impressions made by these institutions on foreign statesmen?
SCHMIDT: The social institutions, as far as I know, always made quite a favorable impression.
DR. LOFFLER: Do you remember the visit of the Prince of Wales to Germany?
SCHMIDT: Yes. I acted as interpreter there.
THE PRESIDENT: What has this got to do with the charges in the Indictment? Dr. Loffler, your duty was to ask any question you
28 March 46
have got at the same time as the other defense counsels. I asked you whether you had any questions to ask. You said "no," or you indicated that you had not. You now get up and say you have one question to ask and you have asked about -- I don't know how many you are going to ask, but they are all, in the opinion of the Tribunal, I think, irrelevant.
DR. LOFFLER: Mr. President, the questions which I am putting are caused by the cross-examination by Sir David. Sir David has mentioned the SA, and I want to put a corresponding counterquestion to the witness, and apart from that ...
THE PRESIDENT: Sir David had not asked any question as to the social conditions of Germany, and he did not ask any questions about the Olympic Games of 1936. In any event, you are not the right person to re-examine.
DR. LOFFLER: Mr. President, the questions which I have put are important, because, through those visits which were made here and through the statements made by the foreign statesmen afterwards, a number of our members got the impression that the important statesmen abroad were giving their recognition to the leaders of National Socialism. And that is of quite decisive importance in the question of the guilt or innocence of millions of Germans whom I represent here, since these millions of Germans regarded the attitude of those foreign statesmen as authoritative. It is therefore not irrelevant, but for us, in fact, decisive, and he is the only witness who can really make an authentic report about it. However, I am finished with my questions about the Olympic Games and I have only two more questions to ask. I ask you to permit me to put these because Sir David ...
THE PRESIDENT: The Tribunal thinks that the questions you are putting do not arise out of the cross-examination and are entirely irrelevant, and they will not hear any further questions from you.
DR. KUBUSCHOK: In connection...
THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Kubuschok, as you know perfectly well, this is not the time to put questions on behalf of Von Papen. You have had your opportunity, and you have not done it.
DR. KUBUSCHOK: Mr. President, I merely propose to rectify some words which were probably incorrectly repeated through translation, since I did not receive copies of the affidavit. I heard that in that affidavit a speech of Von Papen of 8 or 18 February 1938 was mentioned ...
THE PRESIDENT: Very well, if that is correct, you can correct anything in the translation you want to.
28 March 46
DR. KUBUSCHOK: I would like to mention that the names "Hitler" and "Papen" were mentioned here just now. I heard "Papen" in the translation, but Papen never made such a speech, and any conclusions drawn about Papen from that speech are incorrect.
THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Kubuschok, you will receive the affidavit. You will have an opportunity to look at the affidavit.
DR. KUBUSCHOK: I shall look at the affidavit, and, if necessary, apply in writing to have it rectified.
THE PRESIDENT: Yes. If there is any mistake in the affidavit it must be corrected.
DR. KUBUSCHOK: It really says "Papen" in the text, but that is completely wrong since he has never made such a speech. On Page 4 of the text it says "The speech delivered by Papen."
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: My Lord, that is what the affidavit said. Learned counsel says it is completely wrong; he did not make a speech. But with the greatest respect to the learned counsel, I must suggest, if he wants to refute the affidavit, he will have the opportunity of recalling Von Papen and giving evidence then.
DR. KUBUSCHOK: Mr. President, in this case would it not be of value to put the one short question to the witness as to whether he really meant Papen?
THE PRESIDENT: Very well; put the question to the witness.
DR. KUBUSCHOK: Wlitness, do you think that you said that Papen made a speech on 18 February 1938? Where was this speech supposed to have been made?
SCHMIDT: That, in my opinion, is a mistake which may have crept in when I made the affidavit; because if the speech was not made -- at any rate, at the moment I no longer remember such a speech as I described in that affidavit. It is, therefore, perfectly possible that a mistake crept in. And perhaps that mistake is excusable if you consider that this affidavit was submitted to me at a time when I was rather seriously ill in bed in a hospital. It can very well have happened that upon reading through the affidavit I did not notice the mistake and I really consider it to be a mistake.
DR. KUBUSCHOK: That makes the actual fact established and the conclusions drawn from it unnecessary?
SCHMIDT: After what I have said, yes. I cannot remember the speech, and I think it can be traced to a mistake on my part and I attribute it to the circumstances under which I signed the document; I was seriously ill at the time.
28 March 46
THE PRESIDENT: Yes, Dr. Horn.
The witness can now retire.
[The witness left the stand.]
DR. HORN: May I once more ask the Tribunal whether it can be ascertained if the translations of the documents will be available by tomorrow morning. I would like to base the further presentation of evidence on them. If I have translations in the morning, then I would begin now to examine the Defendant Von Ribbentrop as a witness. If translations cannot be completed by tomorrow morning, then I would ask the Tribunal to allow me to submit my documents now.
THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Horn, this Trial has been going on for many months, and it is taking a very much longer time than anybody anticipated, at any rate longer than any member of the Tribunal anticipated, and they cannot have it put off any longer. You must go on. Have you got any further witnesses to call?
DR. HORN: No, I have no further witnesses, Mr. President.
THE PRESIDENT: Are you not going to call the Defendant Von Ribbentrop?
DR. HORN: Yes.
THE PRESIDENT: Why can you not put him in the box now?
DR. HORN: I can examine him, but I asked the President whether I can have the assistance of the Tribunal, whether I can have the documents by tomorrow morning. Then I would start now to examine the Defendant as a witness and submit the documents when the Prosecution have their documents too and can raise their objections here at the same time.
THE PRESIDENT: Well, as soon as the documents are translated, you shall have them, of course. We have sent out to find out whether they will be available by tomorrow morning, but we have got 35 minutes now before 5 o'clock. We want to occupy the time.
DR. HORN: Very well, Mr. President. In that case I shall examine the Defendant as witness now.
THE PRESIDENT: Will you go on please, Dr. Horn?
DR. HORN: Yes. In that case I shall continue to present the documents.
THE 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.]
28 March 46
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
28 March 46
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
28 March 46
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 enermes 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
28 March 46
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 REBBENTROP: 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
28 March 46
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
28 March 46
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.]