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THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Von Ludinghausen, the Tribunal sees that you have a supplementary request for an additional witness, Ambassador Francois-Poncet; is that so? And for some additional documents?
DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: Yes, Mr. President. May I, with reference to the application for M. Francois-Poncet, make the following remarks. The Ambassador, Francois-Poncet, has in the meantime replied to the summons which he received and I got this letter 2 days ago through the French Delegation, though only a copy thereof. The French Prosecution, however, have promised me that the original will be submitted to the Tribunal and they, as well as the British Delegation, have no objections to its being used. Therefore, the application for the interrogation of the witness . ..
THE PRESIDENT: The letter being used, you mean?
DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: The calling and examination of the witness is therefore unnecessary, likewise this application of mine.
THE PRESIDENT: That seems a convenient course to the Tribunal, subject, of course, to any question of relevance in the actual subject matter of the letter.
Now, as to the documents which you are asking for, does the Prosecution object to those or not?
DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: Yes, in two cases, which I have already crossed off. The two documents which I also wanted to submit and which have been objected to by the Prosecution I eliminated, and they are no longer in my document books.
THE PRESIDENT: On the document before me the Prosecution appears to have objected to three of them. I do not know whether that is true or not.
DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: Two, Numbers 93 and 101 from my document books-they have been objected to and I have dropped them.
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THE PRESIDENT: Yes, I beg your pardon, I was wrong. Well then, you have dropped them; that is all right. You may continue, please.
DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: Mr. President, may I first of ail say that up to now the translations have been completed only for Document Book Number 1. That book is already available. The others, however, are not yet ready. I should nevertheless like to be permitted first of all to cite the documents from the document books
in connection with the respective questions, giving their numbers and short descriptions and also possibly quoting short passages from them, so that the context may remain intact and we may be saved the trouble of submitting the documents again after they have been translated, which after all would be a waste of time.
THE PRESIDENT: Do you mean to use the documents before you have called the defendant?
DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: No, no, in the course of the examination.
THE PRESIDENT: Yes-then you propose to call the defendant?
DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: Yes.
[The Defendant Von Neurath took the stand.]
THE PRESIDENT: Will you state your name, please?
CONSTANTIN VON NEURATH (Defendant): Constantin von Neurath.
THE PRESIDENT: Will you repeat this oath after me: I swear by God-the Almighty and Omniscient-that I win speak the pure truth-and will withhold and add nothing.
[The defendant repeated the oaths]
THE PRESIDENT: You may sit down.
DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: Herr Von Neurath, will you please give us a brief account of your family background, your education at home, and your schooling?
VON NEURATH: I was born on 2 February 1873. On my father's side I come from an old family of civil servants. My grandfather, my great-grandfather, and my great-great-grandfather were Ministers of Justice and Foreign "Affairs in Wurttemberg. On my mother's side I come from a noble Swabian family whose ancestors were mostly officers in the Imperial Austrian Army.
Until my twelfth year I was brought up in the country in extreme simplicity, with particular emphasis laid on the duty of truthfulness, responsibility, patriotism, and a Christian way of life, along with Christian tolerance of other religions.
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DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: Later you took your school certificate examination and went to the university. Where and when?
VON NEURATH: After having graduated from high school I studied law in Tubingen and Berlin and there passed the two state law examinations.
DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: After your examinations, what official positions did you hold up until the moment when you were appointed Reich Foreign Minister?
VON NEURATH: In 1901 I entered the Foreign Service of the Reich. First of all, I worked at the central office in Berlin, and then in 1903 I was assigned to the consulate general in London. From there I returned to the Foreign Office in Berlin and I worked there in all the departments of that office. In 1914...
THE PRESIDENT: When?
VON NEURATH: 1914.
THE PRESIDENT: Do you mean you were in London for 11 years?
VON NEURATH: Nearly, yes. Then I was sent to Constantinople as an Embassy Counsellor. At the end of 1916 I retired from the diplomatic service because of disagreement with the policy of Reich Chancellor Von Bethmann-Hollweg. Then I became the head of the Cabinet of the King of Wurttemberg until the revolution at the end of 1918.
In February 1919 the Social Democrat People's Commissioner, Ebert, requested me to return to the diplomatic service. I did so, with the reservation that I might keep my own political opinions, and then became Minister to Denmark, where my principal task was to handle the differences we had with Denmark over the solaced Schleswig question.
In December 1921 I became Ambassador to Rome, with the Italian Government, where I remained until 1930. There I experienced the Fascist revolution, with its bloody events and results. At the outset I had sharp arguments with Mussolini, which gradually, however, developed into a relationship of confidence on his part toward me.
During the first World War I was a captain in a grenadier regiment, and in December 1914 I was decorated, for bravery in action, with the Iron Cross, First Class. I was wounded, and then returned to my post in Constantinople.
DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: What is your attitude toward the Church and religion?
VON NEURATH: As I have already told you, I was educated as a Christian, and at all times I have considered the Christian
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Church and Christian morality the foundation of the State. Therefore I tried again and again to persuade Hitler not to allow the anticlerical attitude of certain groups in the Party to become effective. In the case of excesses committed by Party organizations and individuals against the Church and the monasteries and so on I have always intervened, insofar as I was able.
DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: Mr. President, in this connection I should like to quote from the affidavit given by Provincial Bishop Wurm in Stuttgart. This affidavit is Number Neurath-1 in my Document Book 1. I quote:
"I became acquainted with Herr Von Neurath at the time of the Church struggle. I thought that I could turn to him as a man from the same province and as a descendant of a family which was friendly toward the Protestant Church. His father was a member of the Protestant provincial synod. I was not disappointed in this confidence. He received me frequently and often arranged conferences for me with other members of the Reich Cabinet. In particular he assisted me in the autumn of 1934, together with Minister of the Interior Dr. Frick and Reich Minister of Justice Dr. Gurtner, when I had been removed from my office and interned in my apartment because of illegal interventions on the part of Reich Bishop Ludwig Muller as a result of my resistance to the domination of the Church by the German Christians. He, obtained my release from detention and my reinstatement by the State as Bishop. He also brought about a discussion in the Reich Chancellery, the result of which was a repeal of the illegal legislation on the part of the Reich Bishop. Also during later periods of the Church struggle I always found a friendly reception and full understanding on his part for the concerns of the Church."
I should also like to refer to an affidavit which appears under Number Neurath-2 in my document book. It is an affidavit from an old and intimate friend of the defendant, the lawyer and notary Manfred Zimmerman of Berlin. I should like to quote just a brief passage from this affidavit.
THE PRESIDENT: I do not think it is necessary to read all of it. The Tribunal will, of course, consider it.
DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: Very well, but I had attached importance to it because this second document comes from a man who has known the defendant very closely for 40 years. I was interested, for that reason, in quoting, besides the declaration of Bishop Wurm, a statement by a man who knows his daily life. However, Mr. President, if you believe that it is not necessary for me to read it here, then I shall only refer to it.
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THE PRESIDENT: You need not read it at all, but you can draw our attention to the most material passages.
DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: Mr. President, the passage which I was going to quote is on Page 5 of that affidavit, under Paragraph 5. It begins: "Constantin von Neurath, according to his family, education, and development, is a man of sound character in every respect . . ."
Then I can dispense with that.
I should like to present a statement from Pastor Roller and the Mayor of Enzweihingen. This is the community in which Von Neurath resides. This is Number Neurath-24 in my Document Book 1.
Herr Von Neurath, what, in this connection, was your attitude toward the Jewish problem?
VON NEURATH: I have never been anti-Semitic. My Christian and humanitarian convictions prevented that. A repression of the undue Jewish influence in all spheres of public and cultural life, as it had developed after the first World War in Germany, however, I regarded as desirable. But I opposed all measures of violence against the Jews as well as propaganda against the Jews; I considered the entire racial policy of the National Socialist Party wrong, and for that reason I fought against it.
After the Jewish laws had been put in force, I opposed their being carried out and kept non-Aryan members of the Foreign Office as long as was possible. Not until after the Party had obtained the decision regarding the appointment of civil servants did I have to confine myself to defending individual persons. I enabled several of them to emigrate.
The so-called racial law was drawn up by a racial fanatic in the Party, and was passed in Nuremberg in spite of my emphatic protest.
DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: In this connection I should like to refer to and read a short sentence from an affidavit by the former Ambassador Dr. Curt Prufer. This document is Number Neurath-4 in my document book. Ambassador Pruler was Ministerial Director in the Foreign Office when Von Neurath was Foreign Minister. I should like to quote briefly concerning his attitude toward officials of different faiths.
THE PRESIDENT: Will you give us the page?
DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: It is Page 9 of the German.
THE PRESIDENT: Yes, and our Page 21?
DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: Yes.
"Neurath in many cases intervened in behalf of officials of the Foreign Office who, because of their race, their religion, or
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their former membership in other parties, were objected to by the National Socialists. Thus, until Hindenburg's death, and as long as Neurath still had sole power in all questions relating to civil servants, a number of officials of Jewish or mixed blood remained in their positions. In fact, there were even some promotions of such officials.
"Not until after Hindenburg's death, when the Reich Ministers as well as other department chiefs were deprived of the final decision in all questions relating to civil servants by a decree of the Fuehrer, and this power was transferred to the Deputy of the Fuehrer, did the radicalism of the Party penetrate this sector too, and then, particularly after Neurath's resignation, it assumed increasingly harsh forms."
THE PRESIDENT: Which answer was that?
DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: That was the affidavit of the former Ambassador Dr. Curt Prufer.
THE PRESIDENT: Yes, I know that. I wanted to know which answer it was.
DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: I see, Number 4. It is an affidavit, it is not a questionnaire in this sense. ,
THE PRESIDENT: It is paragraphed in our copy, at any rate.
DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: Number 18; it is the answer to Question 18.
May I also draw your attention to an affidavit by Baroness Hitter of Munich. Baroness Hitter is a distant relative of the defendant. She is the widow of the former Bavarian Ambassador to the Holy See. She has known Von Neurath for many years and is very familiar with his way of thinking.
This is Number Neurath-3 in my Document Book 1, and I should like to quote from Page 3, just one short passage:
"The same tolerant attitude which he had toward Christian denominations he also had toward the Jewish question. Therefore he rejected Hitler's racial policy as a matter of principle. In practice he also succeeded in preventing any elimination of Jews under his jurisdiction until the year 1937.
"Furthermore, he helped all persons who were close to him professionally or personally, and who had been affected by the legislation concerning Jews, insofar as he was able, in order to protect them from financial and other disadvantages."
Herr Von Neurath, what was your attitude toward Hitler's anti-Jewish tendencies and measures?
VON NEURATH: In them I saw an anti-Semitism which was not altogether rare in the German people, but had had no practical
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effects. I protested to Hitler against all excesses of which I knew, and not simply for foreign political reasons. I begged him, in particular, to restrain Goebbels and Himmler.
DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: In connection with this matter I should like to interpose a question. What did you know about the activities and excesses committed by the Gestapo, the SA, and the SS?
In this connection I should like to put to you the testimony of the witness Gisevius, who was examined here some time ago. He said:
"Beyond that, I submitted to one of the closest associates of the Foreign Minister at that time,"-that was you-"Ambassador Von Bulow-Schwante, the Chief of Protocol, as much material as I possibly could and, according to the information which Bulow-Schwante gave me, he submitted that material repeatedly."
This is material supposed to refer to excesses, particularly against foreigners, of course.
VON NEURATH: The statement by this witness Gisevius that my Chief of Protocol would generally have had to inform me about the activities of the Gestapo is a thoroughly wrong conclusion. Officially, through complaints from ambassadors and ministers, I heard of brawls and also of arrests by the Police and the SA, but I knew nothing about the general official institutions of the Gestapo and its activities.
In every case which became known to me I demanded, above all, that the Minister of the Interior, the Chief of the Police, and the Gestapo give me an explanation and punish the persons guilty.
DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: What did you know or what did you learn about concentration camps? When did you first hear of this institution at all, and when and from whom did you hear of the conditions which prevailed in these camps?
VON NEURATH: The institution of the so-called concentration camps was known to me from the Boer War. The existence of such camps in Germany became known to me in 1934 or 1935 when two officials of my office, among them the Chief of Protocol mentioned by Herr Gisevius, were suddenly arrested. When I investigated their whereabouts, I discovered that they had been removed to a so-called concentration camp. I sent for Himmler and Heydrich and remonstrated with them, which resulted in a very heated argument. I complained at once to Hitler, and these two officials were released. I then asked them how they had been treated, and both of them agreed in saying that, apart from the lack of freedom, the treatment had not been bad.
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The concentration camp to which they had been taken was the camp at Oranienburg. Later on I learned of the existence of a camp at Dachau, and in 1939 I also heard of Buchenwald, because the Czech students who had been arrested by Himmler were taken there.
The extent of the concentration camps as it has become known here, and in particular the treatment of the prisoners and the existence of the extermination camps, are things which I learned about for the first time here in Nuremberg.
DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: By whom and when were you appointed Reich Foreign Minister, and how did that appointment come about?
VON NEURATH: I was appointed Foreign Minister on 2 June 1932 by Reich President Von Hindenburg. Already in 1929, after Stresemann's death, Hindenburg had wanted to appoint me Foreign Minister. At that time I refused, because in view of the party conditions existing in the Reichstag in those days I saw no possibility for a stable foreign policy. I was not a member of any of the 30 or so parties, so that I would not have been able to have found any kind of support in the Reichstag of those days.
Hindenburg, however, obtained my promise that I would answer his call if the fatherland should find itself in an emergency.
DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: In this connection may I quote the telegram in which the Foreign Office informed Herr Von Neurath of the fact that the Reich President desired that he should take a leading position in the Government at this time. This is a copy of the telegram which was transmitted to him by telephone, Number 6 in my document book:
"For the Ambassador personally, to be deciphered by himself.
"Berlin, 31 May 1932."
It was addressed to London.
"The Reich President requests you, in view of your former promise, to take over the Foreign Ministry in the presidential cabinet now being formed, which will be made up of rightwing personalities free from political party allegiance and will be supported not so much by the Reichstag as by the authority of the Reich President. The Reich President addresses an urgent appeal to you not to refuse your services to the fatherland in this difficult hour. Should you not be able to give an affirmative answer immediately I ask you to return at once."
It is signed by Bulow, who was at that time the State Secretary of the Foreign Office.
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I also draw your attention to a copy of the letter from the chief of the Political Affairs Department of the Foreign Office about Neurath's appointment to the post of Reich Foreign Minister, a letter which had been written to a friend of his, Ambassador Rumelin, at the time. The writer of this letter, Ministerial Director Dr. Kopke, will confirm the correctness of the letter, in his examination before this Tribunal, that is to say, the fact that this is the carbon copy of the original addressed to Ambassador Rumelin.
I believe, therefore, that at this moment I need not read the document. The document is Number Neurath-8 in my document book.
[Turning to the defendant.] Did you light-heartedly decide to answer Von Hindenburg's call and take over that difficult post, doubly difficult as it was in those days?
VON NEURATH: No, not at all. I was not the least bit keen on taking over the post of Foreign Minister at that time. I liked my post as Ambassador in London, enjoyed good relations there with the Government and the Royal Family, and I was hoping, therefore, that I could continue to be of service to both countries, Great Britain and Germany. I could not simply overlook Hindenburg's appeal, but even then I did not decide until after I had had a lengthy personal discussion with him in which I stated my own aims and ideas regarding German foreign policy and in which I assured myself of his support of a peaceful development and the means of attaining equality for Germany, the strengthening of her position in the council of nations and the regaining of sovereignty over German national territory.
DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: May I in this connection refer to the affidavit of former Ambassador Prufer, which I have already cited and which is Number Neurath-4 in my document book. I should like to quote from this document, Paragraph 7, which refers to the appointment of the defendant by Hindenburg. In my German text this is Page 27.
"In the circles of the higher officials of the Foreign Office it was a well-known fact that when Hindenburg appointed Hitler Reich Chancellor he practically attached the condition that Neurath should remain in office as Foreign Minister. Baron Neurath in no way pushed himself into this office when he assumed it in 1932. On the contrary, as early as 1929, when Hindenburg had asked him to accept the post as Minister, he had declined on the grounds that, not being a member of a party and thus being without party support, he could not consider himself suited to take over a Ministry in a State ruled according to the parliamentary principle. It was not
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until 1932, when Reich President Von Hindenburg, whom he especially revered, formed his first so-called Presidential Cabinet that Neurath dropped his misgivings and entered this Cabinet as Foreign Minister."
What was your judgment of the internal situation at the time?
VON NEURATH: The development of party relations in 1932 had come to such a head that I was of the opinion that there were only two possibilities: Either there would have to be some participation of the National Socialist Party, which had grown strong in numbers, in the Government; or, should this demand be turned down, there would be civil war.
The details regarding the formation of the Government in 1933 and Hitler's coming to power have been thoroughly described by the Defendant Von Papen.
DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: What was your own judgment of, and your attitude toward Hitler, toward National Socialism in general and National Socialist ideas and, in particular, toward the Party?
VON NEURATH: I did not know Hitler personally. I despised the methods of the Party during its struggle for power in the State; its ideas were not known to me in detail. Some of them, particularly in the socialist sphere, seemed good to me; others I considered revolutionary phenomena which would be gradually worn away in the manner I had observed during the German revolution in 1918, and later during the Fascist revolution in Italy as well. On the whole, however, I was not in sympathy with them; in any case, in those days I considered that a decisive role played by Hitler and the National Socialist Party in German politics, or Hitler's solo leadership of German politics, was wrong and not in the interest of Germany, especially not in the interest of German foreign policy.
DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: May I in this connection quote another passage from the afore-mentioned affidavit of Ambassador Prufer, Number Neurath-4 in my document book on Page 28. It is interesting insofar as Prufer was an official in the defendant's Ministry:
"Baron von Neurath was not a National Socialist. By reason of his origin and tradition he was decidedly opposed to the National Socialist doctrine, insofar as it contained radical and violent principles. This aversion, which he did not attempt to conceal, was particularly directed toward excesses by branches of the Party against people with different views, especially against the Jews and persons of partly Jewish ancestry; beyond that it was directed against the general interference of the National Socialist Party in every vital
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expression of the German people and State; in other words, against the claim to totalitarianism, the Fuehrer Principle, in short, against dictatorship. During the years 1936 to 1938, when in my capacity as head of the budget and personnel section I saw him very frequently, Freiherr von Neurath told me, and others in my presence, in unmistakable terms how much the increasingly extreme tendency in German internal and foreign policy filled him with anxiety and disgust."
Mr. President, may I also ask the Tribunal to take judicial notice of the questionnaire of Count Schwerin von Krosigk, the former Reich Minister of Finance, which is Number Neurath-25 in my document book.
Now, proceeding to your foreign political ideas, thoughts, and principles, what was your attitude toward the Treaty of Versailles and the League of Nations?
VON NEURATH: It is in the senseless and impossible provisions of the Versailles Treaty, by which the economic system of the entire world was brought into a state of disorder, that the roots of National Socialism and with it the causes of the second World War are to be found. By combining this Treaty with the League of Nations and by making the League of Nations to a certain extent the guardian of the provisions of this Treaty' its original purpose, namely, of creating understanding among the nations and preserving the peace, became illusory. To be sure, the statute allowed for the possibility of revision. But the League of Nations Assembly made no use of this possibility. After the United States had withdrawn from participation, and Russia, and later Japan also, stood outside this so-called League of Nations, it consisted in the large majority only of a collection of interested parties desiring to maintain the status quo, which had been created precisely by the Treaty of Versailles. Instead of removing the tensions which appeared again and again in the-course of time, it was the aim of this assembly not to alter the existing state of affairs at all. That a great and honor-loving nation, discriminated against as it was by the Versailles Treaty, could not stand for this for any length of time was something which any farsighted statesman could recognize. And it was not only in Germany that it was pointed out again and again that this must lead to an evil end; but in Geneva, the playground of eloquent and vain politicians, this fell upon deaf ears.
DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: It is undeniably a historic fact that German foreign policy under all governments preceding Hitler's had aimed at bringing about a change in the Treaty of Versailles, though exclusively by peaceful means. Was this policy also that of Hindenburg, or would Hindenburg perhaps have been disposed to choose another solution, a solution by violence and war?
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VON NEURATH: No, in no case; not even if Germany had had the military means for that purpose. He told me again and again that a new war would have to be avoided at all costs.
DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: Mr. President, may I draw your attention to, and ask you to take judicial, notice of, an extract from a speech made by Count Bernstorff, who was Germany's representative in the League of Nations, on 25 September 1928. It is Number Neurath-34 of my Document Book 2. The translation, however, is not yet available. It will be submitted, I hope, on Monday. I also refer to, and beg you to take judicial notice of, an extract from the speech of former Reich Chancellor Bruning in Kiel on 19 May 1931, which is Number Neurath-36 in my Document Book 2. Also to an extract from the speech made by former Reich Foreign Minister Curtius, the successor and friend of Reich Chancellor Stresemann who had died shortly before, to the League of Nations Assembly.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: My Lord, I was telling Herr Von Ludinghausen that I have got Volume II. I do not know if the Tribunal have the English translation.
THE PRESIDENT: No, I do not think we have. Sir David, have the Prosecution agreed to relevancy, the admissibility of these documents?
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: My Lord, we are not going to make an objection to such short references as have been given so far. Your Lordship will appreciate that I have already stated the position of the Prosecution with regard to the Treaty of Versailles, but as long as it is kept within reasonable bounds as a matter of introduction, I am not taking any formal objection.
THE PRESIDENT: Herr Von Ludinghausen, the Tribunal has ruled out of evidence a variety of documents which are alleged to show the injustice of the Treaty of Versailles; as the Prosecution have adopted the attitude which they have, the Tribunal will regard these as mere historical documents, but the matter is really irrelevant. The only question is whether the defendants have attempted to overturn the Treaty of Versailles by force. We are not concerned with the justice or injustice.
DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: No, Mr. President, I did not submit the document in order to criticize the Versailles Treaty. I merely wanted to establish the fact that previous governments, too, had pursued with peaceful means the same aims which my client later pursued as Reich Foreign Minister, so that under his direction, therefore, there was no change whatsoever in the nature and aims of German foreign policy with reference to the Western Powers. That was the reason, and not criticism as such.
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THE PRESIDENT: I know, Dr. Von Ludinghausen, but all the evidence that the defendant has been giving in the last few minutes was criticism of the injustice of the Treaty of Versailles.
DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: Yes, that was his general introduction, but I was only trying to prove the continuity of policy.
[Turning to the defendant.] What were your own views regarding the continuation of the foreign policy of the Reich with reference to the question which we have just dealt with?
VON NEURATH: It was my view that the solution of the various political problems could be achieved only by peaceful means and step by step. Complete equality for Germany in all fields, in the military field therefore as well, and also the restoration of sovereignty in the entire territory of the Reich and the elimination of any discrimination were prerequisite conditions. But to achieve this was primarily the first task of German foreign policy.
DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: Mr. President, in this connection I should once more like to refer you to the affidavit by Ambassador Pruler, which is Number Neurath-4 in my document book, and I should like, with the permission of the Tribunal, to quote from this, in order to support the statements just made by the defendant, a part of Paragraph 12:
"Neurath's policy was one of international understanding and peace. This policy was not inconsistent with the fact that Herr Von Neurath also strove for a revision of the severe provisions of the Versailles Treaty. However, he wanted to bring this about exclusively by negotiation and in no case by force. All utterances and directives of his which I as his coworker ever heard or saw moved in this direction. The fact that Baron Neurath considered himself a defender of the peace is perhaps best illustrated by a statement he made when leaving the Foreign Office. He declared at that time to a small group of his colleagues that now war could probably no longer be avoided. He presumably meant by this that now foreign policy would be transferred from his hands into those of reckless persons."
Herr Von Neurath, then you agreed entirely with Hindenburg in absolutely rejecting any use of force for the purpose of achieving this objective, the revision of the Treaty of Versailles; and you considered the attainment of this goal possible and were a determined opponent of any belligerent developments, which you considered the greatest possible misfortune, not only for Germany but for the entire world?
VON NEURATH: Yes. Germany and the whole world were still in the midst of the serious economic crisis which had been caused by
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the regulations of the Treaty of Versailles. Any new development of belligerency, therefore, could lead only to a great disaster.
DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: On 2 June 1932, a few days after you had entered your new office as Foreign Minister, the meeting of the so-called Reparations Conference began in Lausanne, and you and the new Reich Chancellor, Von Papen, participated.. Will you tell us very briefly what the purpose of that conference was?
VON NEURATH: The reparations imposed by the Treaty of Versailles, which had never been definitely fixed, were now formally to be settled completely, that is, the final sum was to be decided on. This purpose was accomplished.
DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: At the same time, was there not a meeting of the Disarmament Conference at Geneva?
VON NEURATH: Yes, at almost the same time these negotiations were also taking place.
DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: Mr. President, in this connection, for the purpose of general understanding, I should like to point out that the institution of the Disarmament Conference goes back to a resolution passed by the League of Nations on 25 September 1928, in which the close connection between international security, that is to say, peace among all the European States, and the limitation of armament was emphasized. In this connection, I should like to refer to the text of the resolution passed by the League of Nations, which is Number Neurath-33 in my document book. That is on Page 90 of Document Book 2.
[Turning to the defendant.] Can you give us a brief account of the course of these disarmament negotiations?
VON NEURATH: Well, naturally it is very difficult to give a short account. The Disarmament Conference had been created by the League of Nations for the purpose of bringing about the disarmament of all nations, which was provided for in Article 8 as an equivalent for the German disarmament which had already been carried out by 1927. The negotiations during this Disarmament Conference were, however, suspended after a short time, despite the objections of the German representatives. The preceding negotiations and this adjournment made it quite clear, even at that time, that those states which had not disarmed were not prepared to carry through their own disarmament in accordance with the standards and methods applied to Germany's previous disarmament. This fact made it impossible for Germany to accept a resolution which had been proposed to the Disarmament Conference at this time, and the German representative therefore received instructions to declare that Germany would not participate in the work of the
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Disarmament Conference as long as Germany's equal right to equal participation in the results of the conference was not recognized.
THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Von Ludinghausen, shall we adjourn now?
DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: Yes, Mr. President.
[A recess was taken.]
DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: Mr. President, in regard to the question just put and answered, I should like to refer to several documents and ask you to take official notice of them. I am submitting, or have submitted in my Document Book 2, excerpts from the German memorandum of 29 August 1932, in Document Number Neurath-40; excerpts from an interview of Von Neurath with the representative of the Wolff Telegraph Bureau, the official news bureau of the German Reich, in Document Number Neurath-41 of Document Book 2; excerpts from a statement by Herr Von Neurath to the representatives of the German press on 30 September 1932, in Document Number Neurath-45 of Document Book 2; an excerpt from a letter of the defendant to the President of the Disarmament Conference, Number Neurath-43 of Document Book 2; and finally, I should like to refer to a speech by the German representative at the Disarmament Conference in Geneva, which is Number Neurath-39 in my document book which shows the development of the views and attitude of the defendant, and thereby that of German policy, toward the disarmament negotiations which were resumed on the 16th at the Disarmament Conference.
Herr Von Neurath, in the documents submitted above you emphasize that the disarmament question must be solved exclusively by peaceful means, and that no violence of any kind should be used. Did this tendency, as expressed here, actually correspond to your conviction, and did it represent the guiding principle, and indeed the exclusive guiding principle, of your policy?
VON NEURATH: Yes. During the whole period when I was Reich Foreign Minister no means were used which were not internationally customary and permissible.
DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: On the 16th the negotiations in the Disarmament Conference were to begin again. What was the result of this meeting of the Disarmament Conference?
VON NEURATH: England finally suggested a-at first the Disarmament Conference accomplished nothing; but later there resulted the so-called Five-Power Declaration in December 1932, which had been suggested by England. This declaration recognized Germany's claim to equal rights and to the elimination of those
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provisions of the Versailles Treaty which discriminated against Germany.
After this declaration, which was made by the war powers and later by the Disarmament Conference or the Council of the League of Nations itself, Germany's equal rights were recognized for all time. Therefore, Germany could assert her right to renounce Part V of the Versailles Treaty by referring to the obligation of general disarmament undertaken by the signatory powers. This Five-Power Declaration provided the necessary condition for Germany's taking part in the deliberations of the Disarmament Conference once more.
DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: Mr. President, I should like to refer to the text of the Five-Power Declaration of 11 December 1932. It is Number Neurath-47a in my Document Book 2. I should also like to refer to an article by the defendant in the Heimatdienst on this recognition of equal rights for Germany. The text is in Number Neurath-48 of my Document Book 2. That was prior to the seizure of power.
[Turning to the defendant.] Now, in January 1933 Hitler was appointed Reich Chancellor; and thus there came about the so-called seizure of power by the NSDAP. Did you participate in any form whatsoever in this seizure of power and in Hitler's appointment as Reich Chancellor?
VON NEURATH: No, I had no part in any stage of the negotiations regarding the appointment of Hitler as Reich Chancellor. No one, not even the Reich President, and certainly no party leader, asked me for my opinion. I had no close relations with any of the party leaders, especially not with the leaders of the National Socialist Party. With regard to this Goering and Papen have testified with absolute correctness.
DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: What feelings did you yourself have on this question of Hitler's appointment as Reich Chancellor, in other words, on the question of the seizure of power by the Party?
VON NEURATH: I had serious misgivings, but, as I said at the beginning, in view of the party situation and the impossibility of forming a government against the National Socialists I saw no other possibility unless one wanted to start a civil war, about the outcome of which there could be no doubt in view of the overwhelming number of Hitler's followers.
DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: In view of your attitude as you have just expressed it, for what reason did you remain Reich Foreign Minister in the newly-formed Hitler Government?
VON NEURATH: At the urgent desire of Hindenburg.
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DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: I should like- in this connection to refer to the affidavit of Baroness Hitter, Number Neurath-3 in my Document Book 1, which has already been mentioned, and with the permission of the Court I should like to read a short passage from it:
"When in 1933 a new Government was formed, with Hitler as Reich Chancellor, Hindenburg required from Hitler the condition that Neurath should remain as Foreign Minister. Accordingly Hindenburg asked Neurath to stay, and Neurath complied with Hindenburg's wish in accordance with his previous promise. I know that in the course of time Neurath frequently had serious misgivings, but that he was of the opinion that it was his patriotic duty to remain.
"In this connection I recall the especially fitting comparison of a large rock which by its position right in the middle of the river can decrease the force of the raging current, while on the shore it would remain without influence. He frequently declared, 'When the Germans often wonder why I am co-operating with this Government, they are always thinking only of the prevailing deficiencies, without appreciating how much additional disaster I am still able to prevent. They forget what strength it takes to advance alone through the wall of "Myrmidons".. .' "
By that Baroness van Ritter means the close circle surrounding Hitler-to advance through this to Hitler.
[Turning to the defendant.] Do you know for what reasons Hindenburg wanted you to remain, that is, to enter Hitler's Cabinet as Foreign Minister?
VON NEURATH: To secure the continuation of a peaceful foreign policy, and to prevent Hitler from taking the rash steps which were so possible in view of his impulsive nature; in one word, to act as a brake.
DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: Did not Hindenburg make it an actual condition for Hitler's appointment as Reich Chancellor that you should ~ remain as Foreign Minister, that is, enter Hitler's Cabinet?
VON NEURATH: Yes, he told me so later.
DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: In this connection, I should like to refer to the affidavit of former Ambassador Curt Prufer, Number Neurath-4 in my document book, and I should like to read a short excerpt from it: "Since Hindenburg was a conservative, his basic political attitude..."
THE PRESIDENT: What page is that?
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DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: Page 27, Exhibit Number 4.
"Since Hindenburg was a conservative, his political attitude was probably about the same as that of Baron Neurath. There was no doubt in the mind of anybody who was even slightly aware of the conditions that Hindenburg himself, in vesting power in Hitler, did this reluctantly and only under the heavy pressure of domestic political developments. If under such circumstances he insisted, and actually made it a condition, that Baron Neurath, his former foreign political adviser, should remain in office, this undoubtedly was due to the fact that he wanted to assure himself of at least one steady pillar for foreign policy, that is, for peace, in the midst of the seething new forces which certainly appeared sinister and displeasing to him personally."
Did you talk to Hindenburg about this, and did you tell him of your reluctance, your misgivings, about joining the Hitler Cabinet?
VON NEURATH: Yes, I did not leave him in any doubt about that.
DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: What did Hindenburg answer?
VON NEURATH: He told me that I would have to make this sacrifice, else he would no longer have a single quiet hour; that Hitler had not yet had any experience whatsoever in matters of foreign policy.
DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: Was it only then and for this reason that you decided to join Hitler's Cabinet?
VON NEURATH: Yes. The British prosecutor, Sir David, in the session of 1 March of this year, declared that by joining Hitler's Cabinet I had sold my honor and reputation. I refrain from commenting further on this most serious insult.
DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: Mr. President, I should like in this connection to quote a sentence from the Diary of Ambassador Dodd 1933-37 which is Number Neurath-13 in my document book. I should like to quote the entry under 6 April 1934, on Page 100; that is Page 55 of the German text, which reads as follows. It is a remark of Dodd's which refers to Herr Von Neurath:
"I am sorry for these clear-headed Germans who know world affairs very well and who must work for their country and yet submit to the ignorance and autocracy of Hitler and his followers."
In these talks with Hindenburg did you promise him that you would remain in the Cabinet as long as it would be at all possible for you to guide the foreign political course in a peaceful direction
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and avoid warlike developments, even if at some future time Hindenburg should die?
VON NEURATH: Yes. He repeatedly expressed that wish to me.
DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: This was, no doubt, the reason why you remained in office after the death of Hindenburg?
VON NEURATH: Yes. But also because in the meantime I had discovered that Hitler, because of his excitable temperament, often let himself be carried away to take rash steps and in this way could endanger peace. On many occasions, however, I had also learned by experience that in such cases he would listen to my objections.
DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: The Prosecution, as you are aware, has particularly charged you with entering and remaining in Hitler's Cabinet as Foreign Minister, above all, with remaining in the Cabinet after Hindenburg's death.
VON NEURATH: How they can reproach me for that is completely inexplicable to me. I never belonged to a party; I never swore allegiance to party programs, and I never swore any allegiance to party leaders either. I served under the Imperial Government, was asked to re-enter the diplomatic service by the Socialist Government under Ebert, and was appointed Minister and Ambassador by it. I have served under Democratic, Liberal, and Conservative governments. Without identifying myself with their various programs, and often in opposition to the party government of the time, I have pursued only the interests of my fatherland in co-operation with the other powers.
There was no reason for me not to attempt to do the same under Hitler and the National Socialist Party. One could put opposition opinions into effect with any prospect of success only from the inside as a member of the Government. Freedom of speech and the use of the press were forbidden in Germany, or at least made difficult. Personal freedom was endangered. Moreover, it is not greatly different in other countries; I mean by that participation in the governments of various parties, and I might cite the example of Reynaud, or of Lord Vansittart, whom I know well and who was in the English Foreign Office as an influential State Secretary under conservative as well as labor governments.
DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: But, after 30 June 1934 and the bloody events of that time, why did you still remain in the Government? Why did you not resign at that time? You know that the Prosecution has reproached other defendants with remaining in the Government under these circumstances.
VON NEURATH: Aside from the fact that from the description which Hitler gave of the events of the Rohm Putsch at that time
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I had to conclude that it had been a serious revolt, I have known a number of revolutions from my own experience, for example, the Russian revolution and, as I already said, the Fascist revolution in Rome, and I have seen that in such revolutions innocent people very often have to suffer. In addition I adapted myself entirely to Hindenburg's attitude; even if I had wanted to resign he would never have let me do so.
As an illustration that I had to acknowledge the seriousness of this revolt and the truth of Hitler's description of it, I should like to mention briefly that on this day, 30 June, a brother of the Emperor of Japan was in Berlin and I had to invite him to dinner. Generaloberst Von Fritsch was also present at this dinner and a number of other high officers and officials of the Foreign Office. The Prince did not make his appearance at the dinner; that is, he came an hour late. When I asked for the reason I learned that my house had also been surrounded by the SA and the Prince had been prevented by them from entering my house. A few days later Generaloberst Von Fritsch, after he had described the events on the military side, asked me whether I knew that he himself, and I as well, had been on Herr Rohm's list. Thus this revolt was not quite as harmless as was described here, I believe, by the witness Gisevius.
DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: Before you decided to enter the Hitler Cabinet, did you talk to Hitler himself about the principles and the line of foreign policy which you intended to pursue?
VON NEURATH: Yes, in detail. I explained to him that only by way of negotiation and by a policy conforming to the international situation could we achieve our ends. This would demand patience. Hitler seemed to understand this at the time, and I had the same impression during the following years, too. I am convinced that he at that time entirely approved the continuation of this policy and honestly meant it. He repeatedly emphasized that he knew what war was like and did not want to experience another one.
DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: I should like once more to refer to the affidavit of Ambassador Prufer, Number Neurath-4 in my Document Book 1, and, with the permission of the Court I should like to quote the following:
"Neurath's policy was one of international understanding and peace..."-That is Page 29-"This policy was not consistent with the fact that Herr Von Neurath also strove for a revision of the severe provisions of the Versailles Treaty. However, he wanted to bring this about exclusively by negotiation, in no case by force."
Then on the same page...
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THE PRESIDENT: Have you not read this already?
DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: Yes. I want now to read a passage following this:
"I am certain that Freiherr von Neurath, as well as other career officials in the Foreign Office, had no concrete knowledge of any possible plans for violence on Hitler's part. On the contrary, during the first years after the change of government one generally lent credence to the oft-repeated declaration of peaceful intentions by the National Socialist leaders. I am even of the opinion that the latter themselves, during the first years, did not want to bring about a war. Rather was it believed and hoped in the highest circles of the Party, to which Neurath did not belong at all, that it would be possible to continue winning cheap laurels without war through the hitherto successfully practiced tactics of bluff and sudden surprise. It was not until later that the megalomania arising from the belief in their own luck and their own infallibility and invincibility, which had assumed mystic proportions caused by unrestrained sycophancy, led Hitler and his immediate entourage to include war among their instruments of political power. We, the officials of the foreign service, and with us Baron von Neurath, our chief, became aware of this development only gradually and as outsiders. Until about the beginning of 1936 only a very few officials had been admitted into the Party which, for its part, treated the staff of the Foreign Office, including the recently admitted members, with suspicion and distrust."
THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Von Ludinghausen, is this not really all argument? You are reading at great length.
DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: I have already finished, Mr. President.
[Turning to the defendant.] Did you yourself see in the Party program of the National Socialists any intention or desire to break with other powers?
VON NEURATH: No. Contrary to the allegations of the Prosecution, which do not gain in accuracy by repetition, I cannot possibly detect any intention to resort to armed hostilities in the event of failure to reach these aims, and from Hitler's various statements I know that he himself at that time, that is, at the beginning of his term of Government, had no such intentions. He wanted as close an understanding as possible with England, and a stable, peaceful relationship with France, which would remove the ancient enmity of the two peoples. The latter, he told me, was the special reason
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for his publicly declaring after the Saar plebiscite that he was renouncing once and for all any attempts to regain Alsace.
DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: The Prosecution charges in particular that from the following sentences of the Party program you must have known that the Nazis were pursuing aggressive foreign political ends and that they thus were aiming at war from the very beginning. It reads:
"We demand the union of all Germans in a Greater Germany on the basis of the right of nations to self-determination. We demand equal rights for the German people in respect to other nations, the repeal of the Treaty of Versailles, and the Treaty of St. Germain."
Will you please comment on this?
VON NEURATH: Even today I fail to detect any aggressive spirit in these sentences which have just been quoted. The right of self-determination is a basic condition in the modern state, recognized by international law. It was also the basis, theoretically at least, of the Treaty of Versailles, and on the same basis the plebiscites were carried out in the border areas. The union of all Germans on the basis of this recognized principle was therefore an absolutely permissible political postulate, as far as international law and foreign policy are concerned.
The removal of the discriminatory terms of the Treaty of Versailles by changing the terms of the Treaty was the essential aim of German foreign policy, as also of all bourgeois and Social Democrat governments which preceded the National Socialists. I cannot see how one can deduce any aggressive intention if a people strives to free itself from the burdens of a treaty which it feels to be unjust, provided that this is done by peaceful means.
And I should like to add that this was the foreign policy which I represented until the moment, at the end of 1937, when I had to realize that Hitler was also considering war a means in his policy. Before, as stated above, there had never been any mention of that.
DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: What was the effect of Hitler's seizure of power in Germany on foreign countries?
VON NEURATH: A perceptible tension and distrust of the new Government was the immediate result. The antagonism was unmistakable. It was especially clear to me at the World Economic Conference in 1933 in London, where I had an opportunity to talk to many old friends and members of other delegations and to inform myself definitely of this change of feeling. The practical effect of this feeling was greater caution in all negotiations, including the session of the Disarmament Conference which was just reopening.
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DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: Mr. President, I should like to refer in this connection to a letter which is Number Neurath-11 in my document book. It is a report by Herr Von Neurath to Reich President Von Hindenburg from the London Conference. It is dated 19 June 1933. I shall quote only a very short passage: "Unfortunately I have to state that the impressions I received here are most alarming."
THE PRESIDENT: What page is that?
DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: Page 47.
THE PRESIDENT: Yes, go on.
DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: "In view of the reports of the chiefs of our foreign missions I was prepared for many bad manifestations, many gloomy events, and disturbing opinions on the part of foreign countries. Nevertheless, despite all my apprehensions, I had hopes that much of this would perhaps be only transitory, that much could straighten itself out. However, my apprehensions proved more justified than my hopes. I hardly recognized London again. I found a mood there, first in the English world and then in international circles, which showed a retrogression in the political and psychological attitude toward Germany which cannot be taken seriously enough."
Now further negotiations were held in the main committee of the Disarmament Conference in the winter of 1933-34. Can you briefly describe the course of these negotiations? It is important in view of later events.
VON NEURATH: A French plan of 14 November 1932 was the basis of the negotiations at that time. This plan' surprisingly enough, provided for the transformation of professional armies into armies with a short period of service, for according to the opinion presented by the French representative at that time only armies with a short period of service could be considered defensive armies, while standing armies consisting of professional soldiers would have an offensive character.
This point of view on the part of France was completely new and was not only exactly the opposite of France's previous point of view, but it was also a change from the provisions laid down in the Versailles Treaty for the disarmament of Germany. This meant for Germany-at whom it was obviously aimed-the elimination of its standing army of 100,000 men. In addition, by this new plan France let it be seen that she herself did not want to disarm. A statement by the French representative, Paul-Boncour, in the session of 8 February 1933 confirmed this.
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France also maintained the same point of view in the subsequent discussions about the so-called working program presented by England on 30 January 1933 by means of which England wanted to speed up the negotiations of the conference. This attempt to expedite the negotiations, which aimed at adjusting the diverging tendencies of the various powers, failed because of the stubborn attitude of France. A change in the program was then made in an attempt to get over these difficulties, whereby the question of army strength was first discussed.
DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: In this connection I should like to submit, and ask the Court to take judicial notice of, Document Number 49 in my Document Book 2. It contains excerpts from the English working program of 30 January 1933, and also from my Documents Numbers 46 and 47, which are likewise in Document Book 2. They contain excerpts from the French plan for the unification of continental European army systems. Finally, Number 47 of my Document Book 2 contains excerpts from the speech by Herr Von Neurath at the session of the League of Nations Assembly on 7 December 1932, which describes the negotiations up to that time.
What was the attitude of the Disarmament Conference on the question of the treatment of disarmament as such, that is, the reduction of army strength?
VON NEURATH: To discuss this I must refer to notes to a great extent, because it is not possible to keep all these details, motions, and formulations in one's head. The subject matter goes into detail so much that I can only do it by means of notes.
THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Von Ludinghausen, we have been the whole morning at this, and we haven't yet really got up to 1933. The Tribunal thinks this is being done in far too great detail. As I have already pointed out, a great deal of it is an attempt to show that the Treaty of Versailles was unjust, which is irrelevant.
DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: Mr. President, if I may say the following, I do not wish to show the injustice of the Versailles Treaty; but I must...
THE PRESIDENT: Well, Dr. Von Ludinghausen, will you kindly get on? As I say, we think you are going into it in far too great detail.
DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: Very well.
What happened now, Herr Von Neurath, in order to get the negotiations going again? On 16 March the British Prime Minister submitted a new plan...
THE PRESIDENT: We have nothing to do with the disarmament program.
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DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: Mr. President, I must nevertheless show what the entire background and mood were, in order to explain more exactly the motives for our withdrawal from the League of Nations, with which we have been reproached; for Germany's withdrawal followed in the fall of 1933...
THE PRESIDENT: There is nothing against Von Neurath in having influenced Germany to resign from the League of Nations, is there?
DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: Yes, there is. I can explain the withdrawal from the League of Nations only on the basis of the preceding events. I cannot say in three words that this and that was the reason; rather must I explain how gradually a certain atmosphere came about, and what the circumstances were which left no other choice to the German Government except to leave the Disarmament Conference and the League of Nations, for these factors explain the decision of the German Government to rearm. In history and in politics decisions and actions are always the consequence of what went before them. In the development of these political conditions we are indeed concerned with a period of development extending over several years, not with a spontaneous event or a spontaneous decision. In the case of a military order, to be sure, I cannot say that this order came about through orders of the other side; rather must I describe. . .
THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Von Ludinghausen, we do not need all this argument. We only desire you to get on. I am pointing out to you that you have been nearly the whole of the morning, and we have not yet got up to 1933.
VON NEURATH: Mr. President, I shall try to be very brief in coming to this period of time, the withdrawal from the League of Nations and the Disarmament Conference.
The negotiations, as I said, dragged on the whole year, into the summer of 1933. In the fall there was again a Disarmament Conference session in which the same subject was more or less debated over again. Well, the result of this conference was that disarmament was definitely refused by the Western Powers and that was the reason why we then first of all withdrew from the Disarmament Conference, since we considered useful work there no longer possible. Following this, we also withdrew from the League of Nations, since we had witnessed its failure in the most widely different fields.
And so, quite briefly, that brings us up to the point which caused us to withdraw from the League of Nations. The reasons which caused us to do so at that time I have discussed explicitly in a speech which my defense counsel can perhaps submit.
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DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: What date do you mean, Herr Von Neurath?
VON NEURATH: October 1933-16 October, a speech to the foreign press. In this speech I said that the withdrawal from the Disarmament Conference and the League of Nations by no means meant that Germany refused to take part in any negotiations or discussions, especially with the Western Powers.
DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: Mr. President, this speech is the excerpt on Page 59 in my document book. Since it is essentially the same thing that Herr Von Neurath has just stated, except that it is in more detail, I am prepared to forego reading the actual excerpt, as I had intended to do.
In this connection I must call attention to the documents which I have submitted for this entire period of time which we have rather skipped over, so that they will at least provide a picture of how things had gradually come to a head by the middle of October. In this connection I should like to refer to Document Neurath-56, a speech by Herr Von Neurath to the foreign press; then Hitler's appeal to the German people, Number Neurath-58; to the document just quoted, Number Neurath-59; to the German memorandum on the question of armament and equal rights of 18 December 1933, Document Neurath-61; Number Neurath-62, an interview with Herr Von Neurath by the Berlin representative of The New York Times on 29 December 1933; the German answer to the French memorandum of 1 January 1934, Number Neurath-64 in my Document Book 3; the German memorandum of 13 March 1934, Number Neurath-67; the speech of the President of the Disarmament Conference,
Sir Nevile Henderson, of 10 April 1934, Number Neurath-68; and finally, the aide-memoire of the Reich Government to the British Disarmament memorandum of 16 April, Number Neurath-69.
I have just been informed that I gave the wrong first name. That was Arthur Henderson.
[Turning to the defendant.] In the middle of April 1934 a very important event occurred. Will you comment on this; for this declaration, this note, caused a complete volte-face, a change in European politics.
VON NEURATH: This was a French note which was addressed to the British Government as an answer to a British inquiry and to a German memorandum of 13 March 1934, which had dealt with the continuation of the negotiations. The details are contained in this speech to the Berlin press which has just been cited. With this French note, however, the efforts to come to a settlement in the disarmament question again failed because of the French Government's "no."
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DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: I should like to refer to various documents on this, which I have submitted in my Document Book 3; Number Neurath-66, an excerpt from a speech by the Belgian Premier, Count Broqueville, of March 1934; an excerpt from the diary of Ambassador Dodd, Number Neurath-63; then Number Neurath-70, an excerpt from the note of the French Government, which was just mentioned, to the British Government on 17 April 1934; the speech of Foreign Minister Von Neurath, the defendant, to representatives of the Berlin press, in which he commented on this French note, Number Neurath-74 in my document book; finally, an excerpt from the speech of the American delegate at the Disarmament Conference, Norman Davis, of 29 May 1934. In these the sudden change in European politics which I have just alluded to...
THE PRESIDENT: Did you give the number of that?
DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: The last one, Mr. President?
THE PRESIDENT: Yes.
DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: Number Neurath-76.
THE PRESIDENT: Yes; go on.
VON NEURATH: I think that before I answer this question, I might perhaps comment on something else. The Prosecution showed me a speech by Hitler on 23 September 1939 to the commanders of the Army, in which he speaks of the political and organizational measures which preceded the war.
THE PRESIDENT: You say that was on 23 September?
VON NEURATH: 23 September 1939. The Prosecution sees in the mention of the withdrawal from the League of Nations and the Disarmament Conference a sign of aggressive intentions which were already in existence at that time, and reproaches me with this.
As I have repeatedly emphasized, up to 1937 there had never been any talk at any time of any aggressive intentions or preparations for a war of aggression. The speech mentioned by the Prosecution was made by Hitler 6 years after these events and 18 months after my resignation as Foreign Minister. It is clear that to a man like Hitler these events, at such a moment, after the victorious termination of the Polish war, appeared different from what they had actually been. These events, however, cannot be judged afterwards, that is, before the date of the speech, any more than German foreign policy can be judged today, but they must be regarded from the point of view prevailing at the time at which they took place.
And now in answer to your question: In my opinion the reasons lie, first of all, more or less in the fact that the course of the
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preceding diplomatic negotiations had shown that England and Italy no longer stood unconditionally behind France and were no longer willing to support France's strictly antagonistic attitude toward the question of equal rights for Germany. The same point of view was held by the neutral states-Denmark, Spain, Norway, Sweden, and Switzerland-in a note addressed to the Disarmament Conference on 14 April 1934. Therefore, at the time France apparently feared being isolated and thus falling into the danger of not being able to maintain her refusal to undergo any form of disarmament. I myself commented in detail on this attitude on the part of France, from the German point of view, in my aforementioned speech to the German press on 27 April 1934, I believe.
DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: What were the further consequences of this French note of 17 April, as far as the attitude of French foreign policy was concerned?
VON NEURATH: Just a few days after this note the French Foreign Minister, M. Louis Barthou, undertook a trip to the East, to Warsaw and Prague. As was soon apparent, the purpose of this trip to Poland and Czechoslovakia was to prepare the ground for a resumption of diplomatic relations between these countries, and the other countries of the so-called "Little Entente," and, the Soviet Union and thus to smooth the way for the inclusion of Russia as a participant in European politics.
Barthou's efforts were successful. Poland as well as Czechoslovakia and Romania resumed diplomatic relations with Russia. On a second trip Barthou was able to get the agreement of all the states of the Little Entente to the Eastern pact proposed by France and Russia.
DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: Were not negotiations undertaken at the same time for an Eastern pact which later also proved to be an instrument directed against Germany?
VON NEURATH: Yes. I just mentioned it. An Eastern pact was worked out and presented which we would have accepted, as far as the basic principle was concerned, but which then came to naught because we were supposed to undertake obligations which we could not keep, namely an obligation to give aid in all cases of conflict which might arise among the Eastern nations. We were in no position to do this, and thus the Eastern pact came to naught.
DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: May I, in connection with the statements just made, refer to three documents in my Document Book 3; Number Neurath-72, an official communiqué on- 24 April 1934 about the Warsaw discussions of the French Foreign Minister; Number Neurath-73, an official communiqué about the Prague discussions of the French Foreign Minister on 27 April 1934; and
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an excerpt from a speech of the French Foreign Minister of 30 May 1934, Number Neurath-77.
What was your further policy after the rather abrupt breaking off of negotiations caused by this French note?
VON NEURATH: We tried first of all by means of negotiations with the individual powers to bring about permanent and real peace on the basis of the practical recognition of our equal rights and general understanding with all peoples. I had given the German missions abroad the task of carrying on talks to this effect with the respective governments.
In order to get negotiations going again, Hitler had decided to accept an invitation from Mussolini for a friendly talk in Venice. The purpose of this meeting, as Mussolini later said, was to attempt to disperse the clouds which were darkening the political horizon of Europe.
A few days after his return from Venice Hitler made an important speech in which he reaffirmed Germany's desire for peace.
DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: Mr. President, I should like in this connection to refer to my Document Number Neurath-80 in Document Book 3, which is an excerpt from this Hitler speech in Gera on 17 June 1934-only the part of interest from the foreign political point of view, of course.
Would you like to break off now, Mr. President?
THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Von Ludinghausen, the Tribunal hopes that on Monday, when you continue, you will be able to deal in less detail with this political history, which, of course, is very well known to everyone who has lived through it, and particularly to the Tribunal who have heard it all gone into before here.
DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: I shall endeavor to do so, Mr. President.
[The Tribunal adjourned until 24 June 1946 at 1000 hours.]