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[The Defendant Von Neurath resumed the stand.]
DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: Herr Von Neurath, I have been told, and I also heard it on the radio, that yesterday apparently a mistake arose, possibly due to poor translation, regarding your activity from 1903 to 1914. Perhaps you can repeat it, for I believe that the Court also misunderstood your statement.
VON NEURATH: It probably concerns my stay in London. From 1903 to 1907 I was in London, and after that I was in the Foreign Office in Berlin.
DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: Then we will continue the presentation of your policy as Foreign Minister. I should like to ask the following questions:
In the fact that during your period of office as Foreign Minister, in the spring of 1935, general rearmament was begun, compulsory military service was reintroduced, and the Luftwaffe was created, the Prosecution sees proof of your guilt in the alleged conspiracy against peace. Will you comment on this?
VON NEURATH: First, I should like to emphasize that there was no question of war plans in Germany in this year and in the following years. I am also perfectly convinced that at that time neither Hitler nor his entourage had any aggressive plans, or even considered any aggressive plans, for that would not have been possible without my knowing about it.
Rearmament as such involves no threat to peace unless it is decided to use the newly made weapons for purposes other than defense. There was no such decision and no such preparation at that time. The same charge of preparations for aggressive war could be held against all the neighboring states of Germany, who were rearming in precisely...
THE PRESIDENT: One moment. Dr. Von Ludinghausen, this is argument, not evidence.
DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: Mr. President, I must hear how things appeared to him. Decisions for action can only be excused if I explain...
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THE PRESIDENT: No, we are not prepared to hear argument in the course of evidence. It is evidence for him to say that there were no plans made at that time for offensive action, but it is argument to say that rearmament does not necessarily involve offensive action. We do not desire to hear argument at this stage.
DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: Yes.
Then please answer the question once more, whether there were in fact no plans to use the weapons created by rearmament for any aggressive purposes or for other violent action?
VON NEURATH: That is what I just said. I do not believe I need repeat it.
DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: What reasons were there, what facts, which made the situation of Germany appear particularly perilous?
VON NEURATH: At that time Germany could not help feeling she was encircled by her highly armed neighbors. Russia and France had concluded a mutual assistance pact which could only be called a military alliance. It was immediately followed by a similar treaty between Russia and Czechoslovakia. According to her own statements, Russia had increased the peacetime strength of her army by more than half. How strong it actually was could not be ascertained. In France, under the leadership of Petain, efforts were being made to strengthen the Army considerably. Already in 1934 Czechoslovakia had introduced 2-year military service. On 1 March 1935 France issued a new defense law, which also increased the period of military service. This whole development, which had come about in a few months, could only be considered as an immediate threat. Germany could no longer be a defenseless and inactive spectator. In view of these facts the decision which Hitler then made to reintroduce compulsory military service and gradually to build up an army of 36 divisions was not an act which seriously threatened the neighboring countries bound together by alliances.
DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: Mr. President, in this connection I should like to ask you to take judicial notice of the following documents in my document book:
Number 87, a document on the entry of the Soviet Union into the League of Nations of 18 September 1934, in Document Book 3. Number 89, also in Document Book 3, is a statement of the reporter of the Army Committee of the French Chamber, of 23 November 1931, on the entente with Russia. Number 91, in Document Book 3, is the Russian-French Protocol to the Eastern Pact negotiations of 5 December 1934.
M. DEBENEST: Mr. President, I should like to say that Document 89 has not been submitted to us as yet. Therefore, it has not
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been possible to examine this document and to say whether or not this document is relevant.
THE PRESIDENT: When you get the book you will have the right to object to the document, if necessary. Dr. Von Ludinghausen is only telling us what documents he contends support the evidence which has just been given, that is all. He is offering these documents in evidence, and as soon as you get the book and can scrutinize the document, you will have the opportunity of making an objection to its admissibility.
M. DEBENEST: That is exactly the point, Mr. President. I wished to reserve for myself the right to do that.
THE PRESIDENT: Yes, we agree with you.
DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: Then comes Document 92, in Document Book 3, the call to the Army made by the President of the Czechoslovakian Republic on 28 December 1934.
In Document Book 3, Number 96 is the French Government declaration of 15 March 1935.
In Document Book 3, Number 79 is a report of the Czech Minister in Paris, Osusky, of 15 June 1934.
Document 101 is the Franco-Russian Mutual Assistance Pact of 2 May 1935.
Document 94 is an excerpt from the speech of the French President, Flandin, to the French Chamber on 5 February 1935.
I ask you to take judicial notice of these documents.
[Turning to the defendant.] Was Germany's decision to rearm intended to mean that she would discontinue all further co-operation in international efforts to limit general rearmament?
VON NEURATH: No, by no means. An English inquiry as to whether Germany would be ready to continue to participate in general disarmament negotiations in the same manner and to the same extent as laid down in the so-called London Communiqué of February 1935 was immediately answered in the affirmative. On 18 March-that is, 2 days after the introduction of military service-the Embassy in London was instructed to resume negotiations and, in particular, to suggest an agreement to limit the strength of the Navy.
In May 1935 Hitler made a speech to the Reichstag, in which he expounded a concrete German plan for peace. He emphasized particularly the German will for peace, and again declared himself willing to co-operate in any system of international agreements for the maintenance of peace, even collective agreements. The only condition he made, and this he had always done, was the recognition of Germany's equal rights. He also declared himself willing to
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rejoin the League of Nations. By so doing he wanted to prove that Germany, in spite of the conclusion of military alliances which she felt to be a threat, and our own rearmament, continued to desire peace.
DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: I wish to ask the Tribunal to take judicial notice of the following documents in my Document Book 3:
Number 95, answer of the Reich Government of 15 February 1935, to the so-called London Communiqué.
Number 97, an excerpt from the appeal of the Reich Government of 16 March 1935, for the reintroduction of the German military service.
Number 98 is the communiqué of 26 March 1935 on the talks of the British Foreign Minister, Sir John Simon, and the Lord Privy Seal, Mr. Eden, with the Reich Government.
Number 102 is the communiqué of 15 May 1935 on the speech of Foreign Minister Laval in Moscow.
Number 104, Hitler's speech of 21 May 1935 on the Russian-French Pact.
Number 105, the note of the Reich Government of 25 May 1935 to the signatory powers of the Locarno Treaty.
[Turning to the defendant.] Did the German efforts and willingness to negotiate have any success?
VON NEURATH: Yes; they led to the conclusion Of the first and only agreement to limit armaments which was actually put into effect on the basis of the German proposals by the signing of the Anglo-German Naval Agreement in June 1935. Of course, I would have preferred it if the negotiations with all countries concerning proposals for armament limitation had been successful. Nevertheless, this agreement between only two states was warmly welcomed by us as the first step in this direction. We know that at least England held aloof from the decision of the League of Nations stating that Germany had broken the Versailles Treaty by rearming. The German step was thus recognized as justified.
DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: In this connection I should like to ask the Court to take judicial notice of two documents from my Document Book 3:
Document Number 106 is a statement by the First Lord of the Admiralty, Sir Bolton Eyres-Monsell, over the British radio on 19 June 1935.
The second is Document Number 119, an excerpt from the statement of the Parliamentary Secretary of the Admiralty, Mr. Shakespeare, in the House of Commons on the occasion of the ratification of the London Naval Agreement on 20 July 1936.
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[Turning to the defendant.] Was German activity in the direction of disarmament limited to the German-English Naval Agreement?
VON NEURATH: No; our willingness to co-operate in a positive way for the limitation of armaments, which had been declared by us on many occasions, also found expression in the negotiations for disarmament in the air. Right from the outset, as early as 1933, Hitler had stressed the importance of this point for the maintenance of peace. Germany was ready to accept any limitation, and even the complete abolition of air armament, if it was done on a reciprocal basis. But only England reacted to such suggestions. The difficulty was to persuade France to participate in the negotiations. She did this only after 3 months through the efforts of England. But France stipulated conditions which made it practically impossible for these negotiations to succeed.
Apart from a general agreement embracing all European states, special bilateral agreements were to be permitted. In addition, the continuation of negotiations on air armament was to be made dependent on negotiations concerning the Eastern Pact. Germany could not participate in this Eastern Pact, since she would have had to assume military obligations whose consequences could not be foreseen.
Owing to this and the outbreak of the Italian-Abyssinian war, which brought the differences among the Western Powers into the open, the negotiations came to a standstill.
DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: One year later, in March 1936, the Rhineland was reoccupied by German troops. The Prosecution see in this a breach of the Locarno Treaty and further proof of your coresponsibility in the alleged conspiracy against peace. Will you please comment on this?
VON NEURATH: This assertion is completely untrue. There was no decision or plan to wage aggressive war any more than there had been the year before. The restoration of full sovereignty in all parts of the Reich had no military, but only political significance.
The occupation of the Rhineland was carried out with only one division and this fact alone shows that it had only a purely symbolic character. It was clear that a great and industrious people would not tolerate forever such a drastic limitation of its sovereignty as had been imposed by the Versailles Treaty. It was simply a dynamic development which the leaders of German foreign policy could not oppose.
DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: Did the reoccupation of the Rhineland take place according to a plan which had been made some time beforehand, or was the decision spontaneous?
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VON NEURATH: It was one of those sudden decisions of Hitler which was to be carried out within a few days.
DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: What were the events which led to this immediate decision?
VON NEURATH: On 16 January 1936, the French Foreign Minister, M. Laval, announced that after his return from Geneva he would present the Russian-French Pact to the French Chamber for ratification. The fact that Hitler, in an interview with M. de Jouvenel, the correspondent of the reputable French paper Paris Midi, while pointing out the dangers of this pact, once again held out his hand to France in an attempt to bring about an honorable and permanent understanding between the two peoples, was of no avail. I had previously discussed this interview in detail with Hitler, and I received the definite impression that he was absolutely serious in his desire for a permanent reconciliation of the two peoples. But this attempt also was in vain. The strong opposition to the pact from large portions of the French people, under the leadership of the Union Nationale des Combattants, and in Parliament itself could not prevent the French Government from ratifying the pact. The voting took place on 27 February 1936 in the French Chamber.
DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: I should like to ask the Court to take note of the following two documents from my Document Book 4: The first is Number 108, Hitler's interview with the correspondent of Paris Midi, M. de Jouvenel, of 21 February 1936. The second is Number 107, an excerpt from the speech of the Deputy Montigny in the French Chamber on 13 February 1936.
On 7 March 1936, by way of answer to the ratification of this treaty, the German troops marched into the demilitarized Rhineland zone. What considerations caused the German Government to take this very serious step? In view of the hostile attitude of the French, there was a danger that this time the Western Powers would not be satisfied with paper protests and resolutions by the League of Nations, but would proceed by force of arms against this one-sided . . .
THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Von Ludinghausen, is this a question or a statement?
DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: It is a question. I should like to know the attitude of the Government at that time. If I may make a comment, I must hear these explanations on the grounds for the decisions taken at that time from the defendant himself, for when in my final address...
THE PRESIDENT: You were stating a number of facts. It is not for you to state facts. It is your duty to ask the witness.
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DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: I did not want to state facts. I wanted to know from the witness what considerations led to the decision.
[Turning to the defendant.] Will you please describe to us what factors entered into your consideration at that time?
VON NEURATH: In my previous answers I have already stated why we saw in the Franco-Russian Pact and in France's whole attitude a most serious threat. This accumulation of power in French hands through the various mutual assistance pacts could be directed only against Germany. There was no other country in the world at which it could be directed. In the event of hostilities-a possibility which, in view of the whole situation, any responsible government would have to reckon with-the western border of Germany was completely open owing to the demilitarization of the Rhineland. This was not only a discriminating provision of the Versailles Treaty, but also one which threatened Germany's security most. However, it had become obsolete through the decision of 11 December 1932 by the Five Powers in Geneva.
THE PRESIDENT: DR. VON Ludinghausen, the Tribunal thinks this is all argument. If there are any facts as to what the German Government did at the time, after the French and Russian Pact and before the entry into the Rhineland, the witness can give these facts, but this is mere argument and the Tribunal is well aware of the argument. It does not require them to be restated, and certainly not to be restated in the course of the evidence.
DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: Mr. President, I merely wanted to avoid that when later in my final speech I refer to this point, the objection might be made that these are my opinions. I want to show . . .
THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Von Ludinghausen, that is quite a wrong conception. We are now hearing evidence. When we hear. you we shall be hearing arguments and we shall be prepared to hear any argument from you.
DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: Yes, but I want to avoid it being said these are my arguments. These arguments come from the defendant.
THE PRESIDENT: I am pointing out to you that it is the function of counsel to argue and it is the function of the Tribunal to listen to argument. It is not the function of the Tribunal to listen to argument in the course of evidence.
DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: Very well.
VON NEURATH: Perhaps I may make one statement. In the course of the winter of 1936, we had learned through our military
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intelligence service that the French General Staff already had a military plan for invading Germany. This invasion was to take place through the Rhineland and along the so-called Main River line toward Czechoslovakia in order to join the Russian ally.
DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: On the basis of what the President just said, I shall dispense with the evidence, or rather with your considerations, and reserve for myself the right to bring this up in my final speech. I should like to ask just one more question. Did the decision to reoccupy the Rhineland constitute any aggressive intention for the moment or later on?
VON NEURATH: No, none whatever. The reoccupation, as can be seen from my statements, had a purely defensive character and was not intended to have any other purpose. The occupation by such a weak force as a single division made it clear that it was a purely symbolic act. It has been testified to here by the military- the witness Milch, for example-that the Luftwaffe had no part whatever and had learned of the action only 2 or 3 days before. That there were no aggressive plans for the future is shown by the fact that the German Government, at the suggestion of England, on 12 March 1936 undertook, until such time as an understanding had been reached with the Western Powers, particularly with France, not to increase the garrisons in the Rhineland and not to move the troops any closer to the border than they were already, on condition, however, that France would do the same. France did not want to accept this offer. Then, in the memorandum of 7 March 1936 addressed to the signatory powers of Locarno, which the Prosecution has already submitted here, Germany not only made definite suggestions for an agreement with France, Belgium, and the other Locarno Powers, but also declared her willingness to sign a general Air Pact to avoid the danger of sudden air raids, and in addition to join the League of Nations again. In a speech to the Reichstag on 7 March 1936 Hitler explained to the world the reasons for the reoccupation of the Rhineland. This speech, as well as the memorandum, I had discussed beforehand with Hitler, and I can only repeat that I did not have the slightest suspicion that Hitler was not honest or that he was trying to conceal his real intentions which tended toward war. Even today I have the firm conviction that at that time Hitler was not thinking of war. I need not emphasize that any such intention was far from my own thoughts. On the contrary, I considered the restoration of sovereignty throughout the Reich a step toward peace and understanding.
THE PRESIDENT: Let us get on. Dr. Von Ludinghausen, you are allowing the defendant to make long, long speeches. That is not the object of evidence.
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DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: I should like to submit various documents in this connection and ask the Court to take judicial notice of the following documents in my Document Book 4. First, Number 109, memorandum of 7 March 1936 from the Reich Government to the signatory powers of the Locarno Treaty; Number 112, the official statement of the German Reich Government on 12 March 1936, and Number 113, the communication from the German Ambassador in London to the British Foreign Minister Mr. Eden, on 12 March 1936; and Number 116, a memorandum dated 3 January 1936 sent by the German Government to the British Government through the Ambassador Extraordinary in London, Herr Von Ribbentrop.
[Turning to the defendant.] What were the consequences of the reoccupation of the Rhineland as far as foreign policy was concerned?
VON NEURATH: In consideration of the wishes of the President of the Court, I will not comment on this question.
DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: What did the Western Powers do? Did they take any political or diplomatic steps?
VON NEURATH: Foreign Minister Eden said in the House of Commons that Germany's procedure did not constitute any threat and promised to give careful considerations to the German peace proposals.
DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: I should like to submit and ask the Court to take judicial notice of the following documents in my Document Book 4: Number 125, excerpts from a speech by the American Under Secretary of State, Mr. Sumner Welles, on the Versailles Treaty and Europe, of 7 July 1937; Document Number 120, excerpt from the decree of the People's Commissars of Russia on the reduction of the age for military service; and Number 117, a report from the Czechoslovakian Minister in The Hague dated 21 April 1936.
Herr Von Neurath, did you or the Foreign Office forego any further steps and attempts toward a peaceful understanding with the other European powers, or did they continue?
VON NEURATH: These efforts were continued. The next opportunity was provided by our relations with Austria. The development of these relations since 1933 has already been described in detail before the Court; but I should like especially to stress the fact that in our relations with Austria my views remained unchanged from start to finish, that is, I wanted a close economic connection, such as a customs union, between the two countries and a foreign policy run on common lines on the basis of state treaties and close contact between the two Governments, but whatever happened I wanted to see the full independence of Austria guaranteed. For
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that reason I was always a determined opponent of any interference in the internal political affairs of Austria, and I was against any support being given to the Austrian National Socialists by the German National Socialists in the fight of the former against Dollfuss and Schuschnigg; and I constantly urged Hitler to take the same line. I need not repeat that I sharply condemned the murder of Dollfuss from the moral as well as the political point of view and that the Foreign Office under my direction had nothing whatever to do with this murder, as the Prosecution recently asserted. But that Hitler too had absolutely nothing to do with the murder, I can confirm from various statements which he made to me. The deed was carried out by Austrian National Socialists, some of whom were much more radical than the Germans. This attitude of mine is best proved by the fact that when shortly after the murder of Dollfuss the German Minister in Vienna, Herr Rieth, without my knowledge demanded of the Austrian Government safe conduct to Germany for several persons involved in the murder, I at once recalled him from Vienna and dismissed him from the Foreign Service. I myself, as well as a number of other ministers, also opposed the travel embargo imposed on Austria by Germany.
But I did welcome the efforts for an understanding with Austria, which started in 1935 and were carried through with success by Herr Von Papen, and I always tried to influence Hitler to bring this about. As to Von Papen's actions in Vienna during this time, I was only imperfectly informed, as Herr Von Papen was not subordinate to me and received his orders directly from Hitler. It was only during this Trial that I learned about the series of letters which Von Papen wrote to Hitler.
DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: I should like to quote two passages; one is from a letter from Herr Von Neurath to the head of the political section of the Foreign Office dated 28 June 1934, Number 84 in my Document Book 3, Page 227, which says in regard to conditions at that time:
"The development of events in Austria cannot be foreseen. It appears to me, however, that the acute danger..."
THE PRESIDENT: You are going a little bit too fast. You did not observe the light. Go on.
DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: "The development of events in Austria cannot be foreseen. It appears to me, however, that the acute danger has been averted due to rapid action. We should act with great reserve now and to this end I spoke to the Reich Chancellor yesterday. I found complete understanding."
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Then I should like to quote a passage from the affidavit of Bishop Wurm, already submitted by me as Number 1 in my Document Book 1, on Page 3. It says:
"I remember especially his"-Herr Von Neurath's-"severe condemnation of the occurrences in Vienna during which Chancellor Dollfuss was murdered, and of the person used by Hitler during the agitation in Austria."
Then, in this connection, I should like to refer to a document which Herr Seyss-Inquart, or his defense counsel, has already submitted under Number Seyss-Inquart-32, which is an interview of the State Chancellor, Dr. Renner, of 3 April 1938. As a precaution, I have included it once more in my Document Book 4, under Number 130.
Herr Von Neurath, you know that the charge is made against you that on 11 July 1936 a treaty was made between Germany and Austria in the course of these negotiations by Von Papen, and that this treaty, which has been discussed here in detail, was concluded with intent to deceive, that is, with the purpose of lulling Austria into a sense of security and preparing for her future incorporation into the Reich. Will you please comment on this point?
VON NEURATH: This assertion is absolutely untrue. In effect I honestly and gladly welcomed this treaty. It corresponded to my point of view in every respect. I saw therein the best means of clearing up the unnatural dissensions, and for that reason I did everything I could to bring it about. The assertion of the Prosecution has been disproved by the statements of the former Austrian Foreign Minister, Dr. Guido Schmidt. I found satisfaction in the fact that the treaty had a special significance as regards foreign policy. By this treaty, in which the Reich clearly recognized Austrian independence, the German-Austrian differences, which were of danger to peace in Europe, were removed.
DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: Mr. President, in this connection I submit the agreement between Germany and Austria of 11 July 1936 under Number 118 in Document Book 4, and I ask the Court to take judicial notice of it.
Herr Von Neurath, apart from clearing up the Austrian question in the years before 1937, you also carried on negotiations with eastern European states. In the affidavit of the American Consul General Mr. Messersmith, which the Prosecution has submitted as USA-68, 2385-PS, it is asserted that the purpose of these negotiations was to get these southeastern states to acquiesce in the destruction and splitting up of Czechoslovakia contemplated by Germany, and even to take an active part in it. For this purpose, in the course of these negotiations, you are even supposed to have promised
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these states, or got others to promise them, that they would receive parts of Czechoslovakia and even Austrian territory as a reward. Will you please component on this?
VON NEURATH: These assertions of Mr. Messersmith are pure invention and a figment of the imagination from beginning to end. There is not one word of truth in them. I can only describe this affidavit as fantastical. It is not even true that he was, as he says, a close friend of mine. I met Mr. Messersmith a few times at large gatherings, but I avoided discussing politics with him, because I knew that in his reports and other statements about talks which he had had with diplomats he repeated things in a way which did not always correspond to the truth. It is significant that incidentally this affidavit contains hardly any accurate indications of the sources he employed.
My negotiations with the southeastern countries, as well as my personal trips to their capitals, in reality had the sole purpose of strengthening the existing economic relations and promoting mutual trade and exchange of goods. In addition, I wanted to gain information about the political situation in the Balkans, which is always difficult to grasp.
DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: In my Document Book 2, under Number 30, Page 87, I have a short excerpt from another affidavit of Mr. Messersmith, dated 29 August 1945. The Prosecution has already submitted it as Exhibit USA-750, Document Number 2386-PS, in another connection. I should like to quote one passage from this excerpt. It is on Page 87 of my Document Book 2, and reads:
"Dog the years 1933 and 1934 the Nazi Government left the German Foreign Office for the most part in charge of conservative officials of the old school. Generally speaking, this situation continued throughout the period during which Baron Von Neurath was Foreign Minister. After Von Ribbentrop became chief of the Foreign Of lice, the situation gradually changed as regards the political officials. During Von Neurath's incumbency, the German Foreign Office had not been brought into line with Nazi ideology, and Von Neurath and his assistants can hardly be blamed for acts of German foreign policy during this period, though his continuation in office may appear to indicate his agreement with National Socialist aims. In defense of these activities Von Neurath might easily adduce reasons of patriotic motives."
Then, in regard to these trips and the policy of the defendant in the Southeast, I am submitting the three communiqués on Von Neurath's visit to Belgrade, Sofia, and Budapest in June 1937 under Numbers 122, 123, and 124 in my Document Book 4. I ask the Court to take judicial notice of them.
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Herr Von Neurath, the Prosecution is using your speech of 29 August 1937, made in Stuttgart at a demonstration of Germans living abroad, to bring a charge against you, inasmuch as it sees in one of your remarks the aggressive intentions of your policy. It quotes the following words which you are alleged to have used in your speech:
"The unity of the heroic national will created by National Socialism in its unparalleled elan has made possible a foreign policy by which the terms of the Versailles Dictate are exploded, freedom to arm is regained, and sovereignty is restored throughout the state. We are again masters in our own house, and we have created the power to remain so in the future. In our foreign political actions we have taken nothing from anyone. From the words and deeds of Hitler the world should see that he has no aggressive desires."
I should like to point out that these sentences can be understood only if taken with their context. I should like to ask the permission of the Court to state briefly what the context is. This excerpt from the speech is submitted by me in Document Book 4, Number 126. I quote:
"We have again become masters in our own house. We have created the means to remain so...."
THE PRESIDENT: You have just read that. You have read it once.
DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: Yes. I should like to read the sentence in between.
THE PRESIDENT: You may read anything which is relevant and which was omitted, of course.
DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: The quotation that I am submitting reads:
"But this attitude of the new German Reich is in reality the strongest bulwark for safeguarding peace, and will always prove itself as such in a world in turmoil. Just because we have recognized the danger of certain destructive tendencies which are attempting to assert themselves in Europe, we are not looking for differences between countries and peoples, but are trying to find connecting links. We are not thinking of political isolation. We want political co-operation between governments, a co-operation which, if it is to be successful, cannot be based on theoretical ideas of collectivity, but on living reality, and which must devote itself to the concrete tasks of the present. We can state with satisfaction that in pursuing such a realistic peace policy, we are working hand in hand with our friend Italy.
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This justifies the hope that we may also reach a friendly understanding with other governments regarding important questions of foreign policy."
Do you, Herr Von Neurath, wish to add any comment to this?
THE PRESIDENT: I think this is a convenient time to break off
[A recess was taken.]
DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: Herr Von Neurath, just before the recess I confronted you with a quotation from your speech of 29 August 1937 and I asked you whether you wished to make any statement.
VON NEURATH: I should think this statement shows exactly the opposite of what the Prosecution is trying to make out. The peaceful character of my speech could hardly have been brought out in a more convincing way.
DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: As proof for their assertion that your whole policy could be summarized as the breaking of a treaty, the Prosecution adduces further from the following sentences in a speech made by you before the Academy for German Law on 30 October 1937, when you said; and I quote:
"Realizing these fundamental facts, the Reich Cabinet was always in favor of handling each concrete international problem by the methods which are appropriate, and was against merging it unnecessarily with other problems and thus complicating matters, and insofar as problems exist between two powers only, of choosing the way for an immediate understanding between these two powers. We are in a position to state that these methods have proved to be good ones, not only in the interests of Germany, but also in the general interests."
What is your comment on this?
VON NEURATH: First of all this quotation is torn completely from its context. The entire speech was a presentation of the reasons why I, representing Germany's policy, considered the conclusion of bilateral agreements to work better in the interests of peace than the so-called collective agreements, and only from this angle can the passage just quoted be understood. Therefore, I would ask that you quote the passage with its context.
DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: This speech of Herr Von Neurath on the League of Nations and international law, which he delivered on 30 October 1937 before the Academy of German Law, will be
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found under Number 128 of my Document Book 4. With the permission of the Tribunal I should like to quote this particular passage in its entirety and we shall see that the passage selected by the Prosecution has not the meaning which the Prosecution has given it. It says here:
"I am convinced that the same or similar considerations will also arise in other cases where it is intended to set up a schematic structure, such as an absolutely mutual system of assistance for a more or less large group of states. Such projects, even in favorable cases, namely, when intended to be an equal guarantee by all participants, will only remain as a piece of paper..."
THE PRESIDENT: Is it not sufficient to refer to the document? The defendant has just said that the speech contained the reasons why he considered bilateral rather than-general agreements possible. He said that. The document appears to confirm that. Could you not refer to the document without reading the words?
DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: I read it because it was torn from its context and I believed that I would be permitted to quote the context as well. However, if the Tribunal wish to read the matter I shall not continue quoting it.
THE PRESIDENT: It does not seem to me to add to it. It is just the words which the defendant has quoted the substance of.
DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: I omitted one sentence as I thought it was superfluous. But it may be seen from the context. If the Tribunal prefers to read the entire speech with reference to my quotations, then, of course, I shall be satisfied.
Herr Von Neurath, under Number L-150, USA-65, the Prosecution have submitted a note by Mr. Bullitt, who was American Ambassador in Paris at that time, regarding a discussion he had with you in May 1936, and the Prosecution adduced, on Page 8 of the English trial brief, that as Foreign Minister you participated in the planning of aggressive war against Austria and Czechoslovakia.
Will you please comment on this document which is known to you, and on this accusation which is leveled against you?
VON NEURATH: At first the occupation of the Rhineland had naturally created unrest in the cabinets and public opinion and among the signatory powers of the Treaty of Versailles. This applied especially to France and Czechoslovakia. Therefore it was natural, if a reasonable German foreign policy was to be conducted, to allow this unrest to die down, so as to convince the world that Germany was not pursuing aggressive plans, but only wanted to restore full sovereignty in the Reich. The erection of fortifications
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was to serve only to decrease the temptation to our highly armed neighbors to march at any time they saw fit into German territory, lying there unprotected. Despite all the negotiations and efforts, it had not been possible to get them to observe the disarmament clause in the Treaty of Versailles.
As I have already said, France and Czechoslovakia especially, instead of disarming, continued to arm, and by concluding agreements with Soviet Russia increased their military superiority.
In my discussion with Mr. Bullitt I attempted to bring all this out when I said that we would not start any further diplomatic actions for the time being. By making any military attack more difficult I hoped to get France and Czechoslovakia to change their policy, which was hostile to Germany, and to create better relations with both these countries in the interests of peace. These hopes and views which I held can be seen clearly in the last part of Mr. Bullitt's report-and with this Mr. Bullitt was in full agreement.
As to the remark about British policy on Page 2, Paragraph 2 of this report, at that time Great Britain was trying to prevent a rapprochement between Germany and Italy, with whom her relations were strained to a breaking-point because of the Abyssinian question.
The Foreign Of lice thought the rapprochement could be prevented by making it known that it would no longer oppose the Anschluss between Germany and Austria. At that time Mussolini was still entirely opposed to the Anschluss. The realization of this specious intention on the part of Britain was one of the motives for the conclusion of the German-Austrian Agreement of 11 July 1936. The British statement which I had hinted at and expected was forthcoming in November 1937 on the occasion of the visit of Lord Halifax to Berlin. Lord Halifax told me at that time-and I took care to make a note of his statement, which I quote in English word for word:
"People in England would never understand why they should go to war only because two German countries wish to unite."
But at the same time, the Foreign Office, in a directive to the British Minister in Vienna, the wording of which is now well known, called upon the Austrian Government to offer stubborn resistance to the Anschluss, and promised every support.
The Bullitt report also shows that I said that Hitler's greatest wish was a real understanding with France. Apart from that I also told Mr. Bullitt-and he himself states that right from the beginning-that the German Government would do everything to prevent an uprising of the National Socialists in Austria.
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DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: I ask the Tribunal to take special notice of these notes of Mr. Bullitt, so that we can save time by not quoting this paragraph. This is Document Book 1, Neurath Document Number 15, Page 60, last paragraph.
What was your own personal attitude and opinion. about the policy to be pursued by Germany with reference to Czechoslovakia?
VON NEURATH: Czech policy towards us was always characterized by a profound mistrust. This was to be explained partly by the geographical position of the country between Germany and Austria, and partly by the diversity of nationalities within the country. These were swayed by strong feelings. The country's being drawn into the Franco-Russian military and friendship pact did not contribute to the establishment of closer relations between Germany and Czechoslovakia.
As Reich Foreign Minister I always worked to improve political relations. I also tried to strengthen our economic connections, which were of manifest importance. In so doing I no more thought of using force, or of military occupation, than I did in our relations with all the other neighboring states.
DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: What was your attitude to the Sudeten-German question?
VON NEURATH: I have to be a little more explicit in this case.
The Germans living in the Sudetenland as a compact group had been given the assurance, at the peace negotiations in 1919 when they were attached to the Czechoslovak State, that they would be given autonomy on the model of the Swiss Confederation, as expressly stated by Mr. Lloyd George in the House of Commons in 1940. The Sudeten-German delegation at that time, as well as Austria, had demanded an Anschluss with the Reich.
The promise of autonomy was not kept by the Czech Government. Instead of autonomy, there was a vehement policy of "Czechification." The Germans were forbidden to use their own German language in the courts, as well as in their dealings with administrative authorities, et cetera, under threat of punishment.
THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Von Ludinghausen, can not the defendant go on to the time with which we have to deal, namely, 1938, and tell us what his policy was then, without telling us all these facts beforehand about 1919?
DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: I just wanted to show the background for his later policy. However, if the Tribunal thinks that this is unnecessary, because it is well known, then I shall be satisfied with the testimony which has already been given.
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Herr Von Neurath, what were your official and personal relations with Hitler during your time as Foreign Minister?
VON NEURATH: From the personal point of view I had no close connection of any kind with Hitler. I did not belong to his close circle either. In the beginning I had frequent discussions with him concerning foreign policy and on the whole found him open to my arguments. However, in the course of time this changed when other organizations, especially the Party, began to concern themselves with foreign policy and came to Hitler with their plans and their ideas. This applied especially to the so-called Ribbentrop Bureau. Ribbentrop became more and more a personal adviser of Hitler in matters of foreign policy, and gained more and more influence. It was often difficult to dissuade Hitler from proposals which had been submitted to him through these channels. German foreign policy was to a certain extent going two different ways. Not only in Berlin but also in its offices abroad the Foreign Office had constantly to contend with difficulties caused by the working methods and the sources of information of this Ribbentrop Bureau. I personally was always opposed to the Party exercising any influence on foreign policy. I was especially opposed to Ribbentrop's direct handling of important questions and his official interference in matters of foreign policy in cases where they had not been removed from my control. For that reason I handed in my resignation several times, and for a time I succeeded in getting Hitler to dispense with Ribbentrop's meddlesome methods which he had hitherto supported.
DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: In this connection I should like to submit, and have the Tribunal take judicial notice of, an extract from an article in the American periodical Time dated 10 April 1933, Number 9 of my Document Book 1, Page 44. I should also like to refer . . .
THE PRESIDENT: The Tribunal does not think that mere newspaper reports or comments are in the nature of evidence.
DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: In addition, I have submitted in my Document Book 1, under Number 17, an extract from the well-known book by Henderson, the former British Ambassador in Berlin, Failure of a Mission, and I ask the Tribunal to take judicial notice of it so that I shall not have to read it, paying special attention to Paragraph 2, Page 69.
THE PRESIDENT: The Tribunal rules that this document-the article from Time-may be admitted, but it is not necessary to refer to it.
DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: Thank you. This is Document Number 9, Mr. President.
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THE PRESIDENT: Yes, I know it is Document Number 9. I say it may be admitted.
DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: Thank you.
Finally, I should like to submit and call the attention of the Tribunal to Document Number 16 which is a communication addressed by Defendant Von Neurath to Hitler, dated 27 July 1936, requesting to be relieved of his post because of the intended appointment of Herr Von Ribbentrop as State Secretary. It is not necessary to read this document, but I should like to call the Tribunal's attention not only to the contents, but also to the mode of address and the ending. Hitler is addressed only as "Esteemed Reich Chancellor,'' and the ending is "Yours very respectfully."
I mention this because the Prosecution has often made the accusation that flowery phrases were used in addressing letters to Hitler which exceeded ordinary courtesy. Herr Von Neurath has never done so.
I also call your attention to Document 14, which will be found in my Document Book 1. That is also an offer to resign, dated 25 October 1935, and I ask the Tribunal to take judicial notice of this document as well.
Herr Von Neurath, apart from your official policy, were there not other offices which took independent action, which signed treaties, in which you had no part?
VON NEURATH: Yes. That was the case, for instance, in the so called Berlin-Rome-Tokyo policy. Hitler pursued this plan stubbornly, and Ribbentrop supported him in this. I rejected this policy, as I considered it detrimental and in some ways fantastic, and I refused to allow my staff to carry this through. Ribbentrop therefore, in his capacity as Ambassador with a special mission, carried on these negotiations independently, and on Hitler's instructions concluded the so-called Anti-Comintern Pact. Hence this pact bore Ribbentrop's signature and not my own, even though I was still Foreign Minister at that time and in the ordinary way would have had to sign the pact.
DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: We now come to the change in policy. Herr Von Neurath, when did you realize that Hitler's foreign policy plans, above all the achieving of equal rights for Germany, went beyond peaceful means, and that the waging of wars and the use of violence began to be considered as a possibility?
VON NEURATH: I realized it for the first time when I heard Hitler's speech to the Commanders-in-Chief of the Armed Forces on 5 November 1937, which has been mentioned here frequently, and at which I was present. It is true that the notes on the contents of this speech, as we have seen from the Hossbach minutes, were made
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from memory 5 days later as an excerpt from a speech which lasted 2 or 3 hours.
Although the plans set forth by Hitler in that long speech had no concrete form, and various possibilities were envisaged, it was quite obvious to me that the whole tendency of his plans was of an aggressive nature. I was extremely upset at Hitler's speech, because it knocked the bottom out of the whole foreign policy which I had consistently pursued-the policy of employing only peaceful means. It was evident that I could not assume responsibility for such a policy.
DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: In connection with this I should like to refer to the affidavit of Baroness Hitter already mentioned by me as Number 3 in Document Book 1. From this affidavit I should like to quote a paragraph under Figure 17 of my document book, a paragraph which seems to me to be so important that I should like to ask the Tribunal to grant me permission to quote this paragraph. I quote:
"When for the first time Herr Von Neurath recognized from Hitler's statement on 5 November 1937 that the latter wanted to achieve his political aims by the use of force toward the neighboring states, he was so severely shaken that he suffered several heart attacks.
"He discussed this with us in detail on the occasion of his visit on New Year's Day 1938, and we saw that this had affected him both physically and spiritually. Above all, he was very upset because meanwhile Hitler had refused to receive him and in these circumstances he could not see how Hitler was to be dissuaded from his plans, which he severely condemned. He often said 'It is horrible to play the part of Cassandra.' He categorically declared that on no account could he support this policy, and that he would face the issue. He did not falter in this decision when on 2 February 1938, on the occasion of his sixty-fifth birthday, Hitler told him that he could not do without him as Foreign Minister. He told us about this the same evening in a telephone conversation when we sent him birthday greetings."
What did you do when this speech forced you to realize these things?
VON NEURATH: About 2 days after this speech I went to see General Von Fritsch, who had also been present on the occasion of this speech; and together with him and the Chief of the General Staff, Beck, I discussed what could be done to get Hitler to change his ideas. We agreed that first of all General Von Fritsch, who was due to report to Hitler during the next few days, should explain to
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him all the military considerations which made this policy inadvisable. Then I intended to explain the political reasons to him.
Unfortunately Hitler left for the Obersalzberg soon afterward and could not or did not wish to receive me before his departure. I could not see Hitler until 14 or 15 January. On that occasion I tried to show him that his policy would lead to a world war, and that I would have no part in it. Many of his plans could be realized by peaceful means, even if the process was slower. He answered that he could not wait any longer. I called his attention to the danger of war and to the serious warnings of the generals. I reminded him of his speech to the Reichstag in 1933 in which he himself had declared every new war to be sheer madness, and so forth. When despite all my arguments he still held to his opinions, I told him that he would have to find another Foreign Minister, and that I would not be an accessory to such a policy. At first Hitler refused to accept my resignation, but I insisted, and on 4 February he granted my release without further comment.
DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: Did you have the impression, Herr Von Neurath, that Hitler decided to grant your release with reluctance, or that by your request to be allowed to resign you met his wishes halfway?
VON NEURATH: I believe the latter was the case. I believe Hitler had been wanting this for some time...
THE PRESIDENT: That is not evidence. You cannot say what you think another man thought.
DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: Then, simultaneously with your resignation as Foreign Minister, you were made president of the newly instituted Secret Cabinet Council. What did that appointment mean?
VON NEURATH: As the witness Goering has already stated here, the Secret Cabinet Council was set up for the sole purpose of masking the reorientation in foreign policy and the changes on the military side. Several witnesses have testified to the fact that the Secret Cabinet Council never convened. I might add that in actual practice it would not have been able to function, for after my resignation on 4 February I was cut off from all access to news concerning foreign policy.
DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: Now, after your resignation as Foreign Minister you kept your title as Reich Minister. But were you still a member of the Reich Cabinet or not?
VON NEURATH: No. Apart from the fact that as far as I know the Reich Cabinet no longer functioned, because there were no longer any sessions of the Reich Cabinet, the title "Reich Minister"
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was just a title of form, which was not connected with any activity or with any Government department. Unlike the members of the Reich Government, I did not receive any legislative bills for signature.
DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: The Prosecution states that in March of 1938 you represented Ribbentrop as Foreign Minister during his absence and they adduce this from an entry in the diary of General Jodl which says, "Neurath in the meantime is taking over the Foreign Office." Will you please comment on this?
VON NEURATH: After my resignation on 4 February I was quite out of touch with my former colleagues and I withdrew completely. However, I still remained in Berlin. On 11 March 1938, late in the afternoon, Hitler suddenly rang me up in my apartment and asked me to come and see him. In the anteroom' I met, besides Herr Von Papen, General Von Brauchitsch and a number of other high officials and officers of his immediate entourage. Goering was also in the room with Hitler when I came in. Hitler told me that the Anschluss with Austria was a fact, and that German troops would cross the border during the night of the 11th and 12th. When I raised the question whether that had to be, Hitler told me the reason why he did not wish to wait any longer. He asked me what the Foreign Office should do, as the Foreign Minister was absent and in London at the time. I told him quite clearly that we would probably receive protests to which a reply would have to be sent. Apart from that we on our part should make a statement to the powers. There should be no formal negotiations. I also told him that the Foreign Minister should be immediately recalled from London. Goering opposed this. Finally Hitler asked me to tell the State Secretary of the Foreign Office what he had just told me, so that the Foreign Office would know what was happening.
On 12 March, in the morning, I did as Hitler had instructed me, and passed on his description of events to the State Secretary, who was the official representative of Ribbentrop. Goering was appointed by Hitler to be his deputy during the time he was absent. On 12 March I personally told the former about the letter addressed to me by the British Ambassador containing the British protest against the occupation of Austria. I told him that the Foreign Office would submit a note of reply.
When the draft of this note had been prepared I told Goering about the contents of the note over the telephone. Goering as Hitler's deputy asked me to sign the reply in his stead, since the British Ambassador's letter had been addressed to me. Goering has already stated this as a witness here in this courtroom; hence the phrase in this letter which says "in the name of the Reich Government."
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I repeatedly asked Goering to have Ribbentrop recalled from London and to keep him informed. From the telephone conversation between Goering and Ribbentrop, which has already been mentioned here, it appears that Goering did this. The explanation why the British note was addressed to me I learned only here through the testimony of Goering, when he said that on the evening of the 11th he himself had told the British Ambassador that he, Goering, was representing Hitler during his absence and that Hitler had asked me to advise him, if need be, on matters of foreign policy.
The entry ire Jodl's diary, about which I heard only here in this Court, and which, strangely enough, is dated 10 March-a time when I had not even put in an appearance-can probably be attributed to the fact that somebody had seen me on 11 March in the Reich Chancellery. In any case, I was not active in any other way as Ribbentrop's deputy.
DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: Also you did not use stationery with the heading "Foreign Office," or the signature of the Foreign Of lice.
VON NEURATH: The fact that I used stationery with the heading "President of the Secret Cabinet Council," which I found in a room of the Chancellery, and which was the only indication that this legendary institution actually existed, also proves that I did not represent the Foreign Office or the Foreign Minister, otherwise I would have used Foreign Office stationery.
DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: You answered the note of the British Ambassador on 12 March by the letter just described. The Prosecution reproaches you, asserting that the reasons given by you in this letter and the description of events in Austria which preceded the entry into the country, are not correct. As I assume the Tribunal is familiar with the passages which form the subject of this accusation, I think it is not necessary to quote them. You also know these passages and I should like to have your opinion.
VON NEURATH: The accusation that the contents of this reply are parry incorrect is quite true. This is explained by the fact that I had no other information except Hitler's communications and the note is based on these communications. This is the information which I had transmitted to the Foreign Office, which was completely ignorant of the events. That was the basis of the draft.
I should like to add that the incidents which led to the Austrian Anschluss were never planned during my period of office, and nothing of the kind was ever mentioned. Hitler never had any definite foreign policy plans at all, rather did he take decisions very suddenly and immediately translated them into action, so that even his closest associate had knowledge of them only a few days
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in advance. The expression "Austrian Anschluss," as it is used here and generally, does not express that which actually happened later, which was in fact the incorporation of Austria. It is this incorporation of Austria that we are now concerned with. This incorporation of Austria was conceived by Hitler at the very last moment, in Linz, as the troops were marching in. A further proof that the plan for invasion had not been made in advance is the fact that Hitler a few days earlier had sent his Foreign Minister to London to clear up some diplomatic formalities.
DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: In this connection, I should like to refer to an excerpt from the book by Sir Revile Henderson, Failure of a Mission, which has already been mentioned. This excerpt is Number 129 in my Document Book 4. I ask the Tribunal to take judicial notice of this document.
During the Austrian crisis, on 12 March, the day after the marching-in, you made a statement to the Czechoslovakian Minister in Berlin regarding the measures taken in respect to Austria, and their effects on Czechoslovakia. According to a report made by Dr. Mastny, the Czechoslovakian Minister in Berlin, about this discussion, you declared that the German Government did not intend to take any steps against Czechoslovakia, but to uphold the arbitration treaty concluded in the twenties with Czechoslovakia. Will you please comment on this report, which is known to you and which is to be found under Number 141 in my Document Book 5.
VON NEURATH: It is quite correct that on 12 March I made the said statement to M. Mastny. Only the reason for the conversation and its gist were somewhat different from the way he has described it. On 12 March Ministerial Director Von Weizsacker telephoned me at my home, telling me that the Czechoslovakian Minister Mastny was with him and wanted to know whether he could see me sometime during the course of the day. I asked M. Mastny to come to my apartment during the afternoon. M. Mastny asked me whether I believed that Hitler, after the Austrian Anschluss, would now undertake something against Czechoslovakia as well. I replied that he could set his mind at rest, that Hitler had told me on the previous evening, in reply to my suggestion that the Austrian Anschluss might create unrest in Czechoslovakia, that he had no thoughts of undertaking anything against Czechoslovakia. Mastny then asked me whether Germany still considered herself bound by the agreement concluded in 1925. On the strength of the answer given to me by Hitler I was able to confirm this with a clear conscience. Hitler had added in this connection that he believed the relations with Czechoslovakia would even improve considerably. The settlement of the Austrian Anschluss was after all a domestic affair.
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M. Mastny's report states that I spoke on Hitler's instructions. However, that is not true. I merely referred to my discussion with Hitler which was fresh in my mind. When M. Mastny in this report stresses the fact that I spoke as the president of the Secret Cabinet Council, he may have been using a manner of speech in order to give more weight to his report.
DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: The Prosecution alleges a certain divergence between the statement made by you and the plans as expounded by Hitler in November 1937 and accuses you, asserting that you knew very well what these plans were' of being somewhat credulous when you made that reassuring statement to Mastny.
VON NEURATH: In this discussion Hitler talked about war plans only in a general way. There was no talk about an aggressive plan against Czechoslovakia. Hitler said that if events led to a war, Czechoslovakia and Austria would have to be occupied first so that our right flank be kept free. The form of this or any other attack on Czechoslovakia, and whether there would be any conflict at all in the East, was doubtful and open to discussion.
In effect, the Sudetenland, which strategically held the key position of the Czech defense, was subsequently ceded in a peaceful manner by agreement with the Western Powers. Concrete plans for a war against Czechoslovakia, as General Jodl has testified, were not given to the General Staff for elaboration until the end of May 1938. I learned for the first time here about the existence of these plans. For the rest, when Hitler told me that he would undertake nothing against Czechoslovakia, I could not but believe that this was his real intention; in other words, that he had relinquished his plans for alternative action as set forth on 5 November 1937.
That is all I can say about the Czechoslovakian question.
THE PRESIDENT: Shall we break off?
[The Tribunal recessed until 1400 hours.]
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DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: Herr Von Neurath, in the Indictment there is mention of a conference of 28 May 1938 at which Hitler, Von Ribbentrop, Goering, and the Commanders-in-Chief of the Armed Forces branches were present, at which it is asserted in the affidavit of Herr Wiedemann that you also attended.
VON NEURATH: I cannot at all remember any such conference, nor the statement of Hitler which was mentioned by Wiedemann. Moreover, Keitel, Ribbentrop, Goering, and Raeder knew nothing of this conference. Perhaps it is a mistake or it is being confused with the conference mentioned by Schmundt of 22 or 28 April 1938, but I was not present at this conference; I was not in Berlin at all.
DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: After your resignation, you had withdrawn completely to private life. In the Sudeten crisis, in the autumn of 1938, did you take an active part and advocate a peaceful policy?
VON NEURATH: Yes. After my dismissal in February 1938 I lived on my estate. On about 26 September I received a telephone call from one of my former ministerial colleagues informing me that Hitler had instructed the Armed Forces to be ready to march by 28 September. Apparently he wanted to solve the Sudeten question by force. I was asked to come to Berlin immediately and attempt to dissuade Hitler from this intention.
During the night I went to Berlin. After my arrival I inquired at the Foreign Office about the situation and reported to Hitler that I was there. I was sent away. Nevertheless, on the 28th I went to the Reich Chancellery and there I met Hitler's entire entourage ready to march. I inquired for Hitler and was told that he was in his room, but would receive no one. Nevertheless, I went to the door and entered Hitler's room. When he saw me he asked, in a harsh voice: "What do you want here?" I answered that I wanted to point out to him the consequences of his intended step. I explained to him that he would bring on a European war, and probably a world war, if he were to march into Czechoslovakia while negotiations were still in progress on the Sudeten problem; that Czechoslovakia would doubtless resist and that it would not be an easy struggle, and in any case it would involve France and England and Poland. I told him that it would be a crime he could never answer for to shed so much blood unless all possibilities of peaceful settlement had been exhausted. I knew that Mr. Chamberlain was prepared to come to an agreement and that he was also prepared to induce the Czechs to turn over the Sudetenland if that could prevent war.
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THE PRESIDENT: How did you know that Mr. Chamberlain would be willing to come?
VON NEURATH: Because I had met the British Ambassador on the street.
THE PRESIDENT: Go on.
VON NEURATH: Hitler refused to consider such a conference. During our talk, however, Goering had appeared and he supported me in my efforts to persuade Hitler to have a conference. Finally Hitler agreed, if I could bring Chamberlain, Daladier, and Mussolini to Berlin by the next day. Since that was impossible for Mussolini, I suggested Munich as the place for negotiations. I immediately established contact with the British and French Ambassadors, who severe both on their way to see Hitler. Hitler himself telephoned directly to Mussolini, and by 6 o'clock the promises and answers had been received.
DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: I should like to ask the Court to take judicial notice of Document Number 20 in my Document Book 1, Page 72b, an excerpt from the book by Ambassador Henderson, Failure of a Mission.
[Turning to the defendant.] Did you personally take part in the Munich Conference which then took place?
VON NEURATH: Yes. In view of Hitler's irritated frame of mind, I was concerned about the course of the conference and I told him that I considered it expedient that I should go to Munich too, since I knew the foreign representatives personally and for that reason could serve as mediator. When he agreed, Goering invited me to come along in his special train. Later, in the course of the long session, I frequently talked to the three persons and to Hitler and tried to mediate in the differences which arose.
Mr. Chamberlain, at the end of this discussion, asked me to arrange a talk with the Fuehrer alone, without Ribbentrop, on the next day, since he would like to make a new suggestion. The Fuehrer did not want to at first, but finally I persuaded him. At this talk, a "consultation agreement" was reached between England and Germany, which France later joined. Chamberlain, who was staying at the same hotel as I was, showed me this agreement with great joy after the talk, and I also was glad to see it. I hoped that Anglo-German relations, which had suffered in the Godesberg and Berchtesgaden meetings, might be brought back to normal by this agreement and that the way would be opened for further conferences. As in the summer of 1937, Chamberlain invited me to visit him in England. I immediately told him that I did not believe that Hitler, who had forbidden me to go to England in the summer of 1937, would now give his approval, especially since I was no longer Foreign Minister.
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In January 1938 the British Ambassador repeated the invitation, but I had to tell him that I had had no opportunity of obtaining Hitler's approval.
DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: Mr. President, in this connection I should like to submit Document 21 in my document book. It is a letter of the French Ambassador at that time, Francois-Poncet, dated 18 October 1938, a few weeks after the Munich Conference. I should like to quote only two sentences from it.
"But of the two of us it is I who have contracted the greater debt of gratitude. I have always had from you, even at the most delicate moments, the most kind, the most considerate and the most confident reception. You made a difficult task easy for me. I shall never forget what I owe you."
Mr. President, at this point I should like to submit a letter from the Ambassador Poncet, which was received only a few days ago and which I mentioned with the same request at the beginning of my case. I asked that the French Ambassador be called as a witness, and in answer to this a letter from the Ambassador of 7 June was addressed to the French Prosecution, of which I received a copy through the General Secretary's of lice last week-I believe Thursday or Friday.
In spite of the fact that this letter is not in the prescribed form of an affidavit but is a private letter to the Prosecution, I would ask that you accept it as if it were in the form of an affidavit. The original of this letter is in the possession of the French Prosecution, and the French Prosecution has promised to submit the original on the request of the Court. I take the liberty to submit the certified copy.
THE PRESIDENT: The original document should be presented to the Court now, or as soon as it conveniently can be.
DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: The day before yesterday I talked to a member of the French Prosecution who said they did not have it here at the moment. I do not know where they have it. Therefore, I ask that it be submitted; otherwise I would already have submitted it.
THE PRESIDENT: Very well, but it must be submitted as soon as possible.
DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: Yes.
THE PRESIDENT: You wish to offer it in evidence, do you?
DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: Yes.
THE PRESIDENT: What number is it?
DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: 162.
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THE PRESIDENT: There is no objection, I take it?
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: No objection, My Lord.
DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: This letter reads, if I may quote at least one brief passage:
"He"-that is Herr Von Neurath-`'never aggravated the incidents; on the contrary, he always sought a personal and peaceful solution. He made every effort to facilitate the task of the foreign diplomats in the German capital. They, like myself, were grateful to him. I do not doubt that he often pointed out to Hitler the dangers to which he was exposing Germany by the excesses of his regime, and that he let him hear the voice of prudence and moderation."
Now I come to another subject, and I should like to present the following:
The documents presented by the Prosecution show that during your period in office as Reich Foreign Minister, a representative of the Foreign Of lice took part in sessions of the Reich Defense Council, and by the Reich Defense Law of 1938, you, as president of the Secret Cabinet, were a member of this Reich Defense Council.
Will you comment on this?
VON NEURATH: Neither as Reich Foreign Minister nor as president of the Secret Cabinet did I have anything to do with the
affairs of the Reich Defense Council. I never took part in any session or talk. As has been stated here, all ministries from the time before 1933 had so-called Reich defense experts who were to deal with interministerial questions resulting from possible mobilization in case of a defensive war. As Dr. Schacht has already testified, the Reich Defense Council of 1935 was nothing but the legalization of a committee which had existed before 1933.
DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: In the existence of such a committee or council for the defense of the Reich, did you see signs of preparation for a war of aggression?
VON NEURATH: No, in no way. The designation already indicates that it had to do with preparations for the defense of the Reich against attack, and not preparations for attack. Moreover, I know that in France, as well as in England, such arrangements had existed for a long time.
DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: Mr. President, I should like to submit :Document 78, which is on Page 213 of my Document Book 3. It is an excerpt from a statement made by the French War Minister, Petain, on 6 June 1934 before the Army Commission of the French Chamber, which mentions the necessity of a defense council or committee.
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THE PRESIDENT: Just wait a minute. The Tribunal doesn't think that any evidence that other countries had other organizations is really relevant to this case.
DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: The Prosecution asserts that Hitler awarded you more honors than some of the Nazi leaders themselves, and concludes that you were especially close to Hitler. Will you please comment on this.
VON NEURATH: That is a rather remarkable assumption. It was clear that, being the oldest minister who had served the State for over 40 years, Hitler could not overlook me in awarding honors and honorary titles, but they were limited to what is customary for incumbents of high State positions.
DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: I should like to name the individual awards on which a charge is made against you. You held the Order of the German Eagle and the War Merit Cross First Class.
VON NEURATH: Yes. The Order of the German Eagle was founded in 1937 and was to be awarded only to foreigners. It would however have had no great value abroad but would have been considered more a type of special order, such as a colonial order, if no German had held it. For that reason in my capacity as Foreign Minister, immediately when the order was founded, Hitler awarded me the Grand Cross of the order and thus also heightened the value of this order...
THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Von Ludinghausen, is it not sufficient for the defendant to have said that it was usual to give these titles? It is not necessary for us to investigate the particular merits of the particular order, is it? It seems to me to be very remote.
DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: Mr. President, I mentioned it only because the Prosecution also brought it out especially.
The further charge is made by the Prosecution that on 30 January 1937, in that well-known Cabinet meeting, you received the golden Party insignia from Hitler and thus became a member of the Nazi Party. What about that?
VON NEURATH: As to the way in which this was awarded, Herr Schacht as well as Raeder have testified here. I was not a member of any party. Between 1933 and 1937 I had several times been requested to join the Party but had refused. My attitude toward the Party was generally known. For that reason I was repeatedly attacked by the Party. I believe that the reason why I- why this insignia was awarded on 30 January 1937 to various members of the Cabinet, and also to generals who were not allowed to become members of the Party at all, I believe that has been described in enough detail and that I need not go into it again.
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DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: Then, surprisingly, Hitler also made you an honorary Obergruppenfuehrer of the SS.
VON NEURATH: Yes, that was a complete surprise to me. In September 1937 Mussolini had announced his visit to Germany. For some days just before this visit I was not in Berlin. When I returned in the morning I found my tailor at the entrance of my house with the uniform of an SS Gruppenfuehrer. I asked him what that meant. He told me the Reich Chancellery had instructed him to make me a uniform immediately. I then went to Hitler and asked him why he had done this. He said he wanted all the people who were to be present at the reception of Mussolini to be in uniform. I told him that was not very agreeable to me and I had to explain that in no case would I be subordinate to Himmler and I did not want to have anything to do with the SS. Hitler assured me solemnly that this would not be asked of me and' that I need have no obligation to the SS; and this actually did not happen. Moreover, I had no power to issue orders, and my later appointment as Obergruppenfuehrer was apparently done in the course of general promotions without any special emphasis.
DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: Did you wear this uniform at all?
VON NEURATH: Only twice as far as I can recall; at the reception of Mussolini and then when in 1938 I was sent to Ankara for the funeral of Kemal Pasha. On official occasions I always wore the uniform of a civil servant without any insignia, which had been designed in the meantime.
DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: On your seventieth birthday, on 2 February 1943, you received congratulations and other expressions of appreciation of your person and your activities from various sources. You were congratulated, among others, by Hitler and you received, besides, a check for 250,000 marks. Will you please tell us what was the significance of this donation, if one may call it that.
VON NEURATH: The American prosecutor recently mentioned this gift. Only he forgot to add that I refused it. The events were as follows:
On the day of my seventieth birthday, in the morning, an envoy of Hitler called on me and brought me a congratulatory letter from Hitler and an oil painting by a young German painter, showing an Italian landscape. The letter contained a check for 250,000 marks. I was painfully surprised and immediately told the envoy that I considered this so-called donation an insult, that I was not a lackey whom one paid with a tip, and that he should take the check back with him. He said he was not authorized to do so. The next morning I went to the Reich Finance Minister to give him the check
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for the Reich treasury. He said that for formal reasons-I believe because the check was on a special account of Hitler's-he could not accept it. At his advice I turned the check over to the Reich Credit Association to a special account and informed the competent finance office in writing. I never touched one penny of this sum. The painting, the value of which was not especially great, I did not refuse, because it was entirely within the limits of a normal birthday gift and sending it back would have been considered a deliberate insult.
DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: Mr. President, I ask permission in this connection, to submit two letters of the Reich Credit Association, which I received from them on Saturday upon my request. They contain confirmation that this sum of 250,000 marks in its full extent, plus the interest which has accumulated, is still today in a special account with the Reich Credit Association. This is proof that Herr Von Neurath did not, in fact, withdraw a penny of this so-called donation, or use it in any other way.
THE PRESIDENT: Will you give us the number of it?
DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: 160 and 161. Mr. President, in my haste I have only been able to have the English translation made in my office. The French and Russian translations will be given to the French and the Russian Prosecution in the next few days. As I have said, I received it myself only on Saturday afternoon.
The further charge is made against you that in the conservative circles of Germany you worked as a sort of member of a Fifth Column to induce them to reconcile themselves with and agree to the National Socialist regime, because the fact that you remained in the Government would be considered an example by them. What have you to say about that?
VON NEURATH: That statement is nonsense, because it was known throughout Germany and abroad that I was no National Socialist, but rather that I combated National Socialist excesses against the Church and the Jews and that, in addition, I obstructed any policy which endangered peace. This was clearly shown by my dismissal in February 1938, and the fact that the general consternation about this was not publicly expressed in the German press was simply because there was no press available for this. It is therefore completely absurd that these conservative circles could have assumed that I was with all my heart with the Nazis, as the Indictment says. Other countries knew this just as well and saw in me an obstacle to Nazi policy. That I was not regarded as a blind adherent to Nazi theories, as is stated in the Indictment, is best known to the foreign diplomats in Berlin, since they could observe my constant struggle against the Party from close at hand.
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DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: I should like to submit in this connection an excerpt from the magazine Archiv, of 1937, and an excerpt from an article in the Pester Lloyd, containing the speech which the doyen of the Berlin Diplomatic Corps made in the name of the whole Diplomatic Corps to Herr Von Neurath on his sixty-fifth birthday on 2 February 1938. Both documents are contained in my Document Book 4, Number 127, and in Document Book 1, Number 18.
With this I have finished the part dealing with foreign politics, and the personal points in the charge against Herr Von Neurath. Now I come to the second aspect of the charge, your activity as Reich Protector for Bohemia and Moravia.
After the settlement of the Sudeten crisis you had withdrawn completely from political life; is that true?
VON NEURATH: Yes. I was very rarely in Berlin. For the most part I was on my estate in Wurttemberg or in the mountains.
DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: In September 1939, were you in Berlin, and did you have any knowledge of Hitler's plans for an invasion of Czechoslovakia?
VON NEURATH: You mean in the late winter of 1939?
DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: In the late winter, yes.
VON NEURATH: No, I had kept aloof. The differences between Germany, Czechoslovakia...
THE PRESIDENT: September 1939?
DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: That was my mistake. I meant in the late winter.
THE PRESIDENT: Of 1938, you mean?
DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: 1939.
VON NEURATH: 1938-1939.
The differences between us and Czechoslovakia on the treatment of the Sudeten Germans by the Czechs had been solved by the separation of the Sudetenland. The way to friendly co-operation was paved. One of the focal points of danger for the peace of Europe had been eliminated.
DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: Then there came the famous dispute between Hitler and the President of the Czechoslovakian Republic, Hacha, in the night of 14 to 15 March 1939 in Berlin. This conference has already been discussed here. I do not believe I need go into it in much detail. Anyhow you know of it.
I should like to ask you, did you know of these events as described, particularly as given in Document Number 2798-PS?
VON NEURATH: No, I did not know of them. I learned of them only much later. I only learned here of the notes of Herr Hewel,
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but after I learned of these events I disapproved strongly, and I would not have taken office as Reich Protector under any circumstances if I had known of these things at the time. I was completely surprised by the events in March 1939. I no longer received any foreign political information, as I have already said. I was dependent upon the radio and the newspapers. The preparation for attack on Czechoslovakia in 1938 I considered to have been eliminated after the Munich Agreement.
I learned of Hacha's visit to Berlin, like every other German, by radio and newspapers the next morning. The official statement of the taking-over of protection of the remainder of Czechoslovakia seemed not improbable to me after Slovakia had become independent, and after I learned that the Czech Foreign Minister, Chvalkovsky, in the course of the winter 1938-39 had said in Berlin that Czechoslovakia's former policy must be completely changed and that closer connections would have to be sought with Germany. However, I was concerned about how the signatory powers of Munich would react to this development, which was in contravention of the agreement which had been reached in Munich. My first question to Hitler, when I went to Vienna at his request, was whether England and France had been informed beforehand and had given their approval. When he said no, that that was quite unnecessary, and that the Czech Government itself had asked us to take over the protection, I immediately realized how dangerous the situation was, and said so to Hitler.
However, at the time I still believed that it had, in fact, been a free decision of the Czech Government. Hitler's request that I should take the post of Reich Protector was a complete surprise to me, the more so since I had discovered that he had very much taken amiss my spontaneous intervention in September 1938, which led to the Munich conference. I had misgivings about taking the of lice, which I also expressed to Hitler. I realized that an invasion of Czechoslovakia would, at the very least, strongly offend the signatory powers of the Munich Agreement, even if Hacha had asked for protection of his own accord; and it was also clear to me that any aggravation of the situation through bad treatment of the Czechs would bring about an immediate danger of war. The patience of England and France must surely be exhausted. I mentioned this to Hitler, too. Hitler's answer was that that was precisely the reason why he was asking me to take over the post-to show that he did not wish to carry on a policy hostile to Czechoslovakia. I was generally known abroad as a peaceful and moderate man, and he would give me the most extensive powers to oppose all excesses, especially by the Sudeten German element. When I still hesitated and said that I did not know conditions in Czechoslovakia and that
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I was not an administrator, Hitler said that I should try it, that it could be changed at any time. He gave me two experienced men who knew the conditions. I did not realize at the time that the fact that the Police and the SS were not subordinate to any higher authority, already a practice then, would make it impossible for me to prevent the rule by force of Himmler and his agencies.
But I cannot refrain from pointing out that great responsibility for further developments lies with the other powers, especially the signatory powers of Munich. Instead of making protest on paper, I had expected that they would at least recall their ambassadors. Then, perhaps, the tension might have increased for the moment, but the German people would have realized how serious the situation was, and Hitler would have avoided taking further aggressive steps and the war could have been prevented.
DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: The charge is made that you took this office so that by misuse of your humane and diplomatic reputation the impression could be given to the world that the Czechs were to be treated moderately, while the contrary was to be the case. Will you comment briefly on this point?
VON NEURATH: That is absolutely wrong. Hitler said that I was to attempt to reconcile the Czechs to the new conditions and to keep from excesses the German population which was filled with hatred by the years of struggle over nationality and measures of suppression.
DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: What assurances did Hitler give you with regard to your office?
VON NEURATH: He assured me that he would support me in every way and at all times in my work of settling the national conflicts justly and winning over the Czechs by a conciliatory and moderate policy. In particular, he would protect my administration from all attacks by political radicals, above all by the SS and Police and Sudeten Germans; I had pointed out this danger particularly.
DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: Were you convinced at that time that, in making these assurances of humane treatment for the Czechs, Hitler was serious and honest?
VON NEURATH: Yes, I definitely had that impression.
DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: Then you believed that he would abide by the assurances he gave you?
VON NEURATH: Yes.
DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: At that time did you know of any plans or even intention with regard to forcible Germanization of the Czechs?
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VON NEURATH: No, that was completely unknown to me. I would have considered that such nonsense that I would not have believed that anyone could have such an idea.
DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: Do you still believe that Hitler's assurances and expressed intentions at that time were meant honestly, and that they were only made illusory through further
VON NEURATH: Yes, they were certainly meant honestly at that time.
DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: In this connection I should like to refer to a document in my Document Book 5, under Number 142, which contains an excerpt from Henderson's Failure of a Mission. I should like to ask the Court to take judicial notice of that.
[Turning to the defendant.] In connection with that period, the conclusion of the German-Slovakian Treaty of March 1939 concerning the independence of Slovakia is charged against you by the Prosecution.
Did you have anything at all to do with drawing up this treaty or with declaring Slovakia autonomous?
VON NEURATH: No. I learned of the declaration of autonomy for Slovakia and of all these events only after they had been made public.
DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: What were the principles of your program for your administration in Prague?
VON NEURATH: It was quite clear to me that reconciliation of the Czech people with the newly created conditions could be brought about only gradually, by sparing their national feelings as far as possible, and without radical measures. Under more favorable circumstances that would have taken several generations. I therefore attempted a gradual adjustment and a diminishing of the previously hostile policies.
DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: In this connection I should like to refer to Document 143 in my Document Book 5. This is a reproduction of an article which Herr Von Neurath published about the aims of his administration in Prague in the Europaische Revue at the end of March 1939. I ask the Court to take judicial notice of this.
This article shows quite clearly with what intentions and with what tendencies Herr Von Neurath took up his office at that time. I ask the Tribunal to take judicial notice of it.
What were the conditions which you found in Prague when you took over your office in April?
VON NEURATH: The Czechs were generally disillusioned by the conduct of their former allies in the autumn of 1938. To a large
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extent they seemed ready to be loyal and to co-operate. However, the influence of anti-Czech and Sudeten-German circles, supported by Himmler and the SS, was considerable. This influence was personified especially in the Sudeten leader Karl Hermann Frank, who had been appointed my State Secretary at Himmler's instigation. I had the greatest difficulty with him from the very beginning, because he favored a completely different policy toward the Czechs.
The office of the Reich Protector was still being built up. The head of the administration was an experienced administration official, State Secretary Von Burgsdorff, who was examined here. Under him were the various departments, which were built up directly by the Berlin ministries.
In the provincial administration German "Oberlandrate" were appointed as supervisory officers for each Czech district. They were appointed by the Reich Ministry of the Interior.
DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: To whom were the Police subordinate?
VON NEURATH: The police force was completely independent of my office. It was directly under the Reichsfuehrer SS and Chief of the German Police; that is to say, Himmler. '
Himmler appointed my own State Secretary Frank as Higher SS
and Police Chief, who thus had a double position. Under Frank, in turn, was the commander of the Security Police. All police measures were ordered by Frank or directly by Himmler and the Reich Security Main Office without a request for my approval, without my even having been informed previously. From this fact resulted most of the difficulties with which I constantly had to struggle in Prague.
DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: The treatment of the position of the Police in a Czechoslovakian report under Number USSR-60, which was submitted by the Prosecution, presents the matter in a somewhat different light. Do you adhere to the description which you have just given?
VON NEURATH: Yes, absolutely.
DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: You were informed of police measures only afterward, but were not asked for your approval beforehand?
VON NEURATH: Yes, and I was informed afterward only sporadically. I frequently learned only from the Czech Government, or through private persons, of incidents which I was not informed about by the Police even afterward; then I had to inquire of Frank.
DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: Mr. President, I refer in this connection to the decree of 1 September 1939, which I have submitted verbatim as Number 149 in my Document Book 5, and I should like
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to point out the following: This order is divided into two completely separate sections. Part I concerns the building up of the administration of the Reich Protector; and Part II, completely separated therefrom, deals with the establishment of the German Security Police, which is-directly under the Reichsfuehrer SS and Chief of the German Police. Already this external form of the order, this ostentatious separation of the two administrative branches, if I may express it in that way, proves that the Police and the police power were only under Himmler or under his Berlin authorities. This already emphasized the fact that the Reich Protector could exert no influence on them. This is the great tragedy of Herr Von Neurath's activities as Reich Protector. Matters are automatically charged against him for which he never can and never did take the responsibility. The Prosecution refers particularly to Paragraph 13 in this order, which mentions administrative measures according to which the Reich Protector, and the Reichsfuehrer SS in agreement with the former, can take administrative measures necessary for the maintenance of security and public order in the Protectorate even beyond the limits determined for this purpose.
What does this mean?
VON NEURATH: I do not know what this order means by "administrative measures." It seems to me to be a very general order, presumably referring to the issuing of general instructions. At any rate, as long as I was in Prague, neither I nor the Reichsfuehrer SS made any use of this power. Arrests were all made without informing me previously, on the basis of Paragraph 11 of the order which has just been read, and which does not in any way subordinate the Police in the Protectorate to me.
DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: Did Hitler not assure you, in Vienna, that you were to have full executive powers in the Protectorate, and that that would include the Police?
VON NEURATH: No; I have already mentioned that.
DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: Did you attempt to change this situation and to obtain from Hitler control over the Police, or at least exert influence over the Police?
VON NEURATH: Yes. I repeatedly made representations to Hitler in connection with the recurring violations and excesses of the Police. He promised me repeatedly that he would investigate these circumstances, but nothing was changed. The influence of Himmler, who considered the Police throughout the Reich to be his own domain, was too powerful.
DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: The Czechoslovakian report on which the Indictment is based, in addition to the Police Chief, also holds the Reich Protector until September 1941-that is you-
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responsible for the terror acts of the Gestapo. On the basis of the statements which you have just made, do you assume such responsibility to any extent?
VON NEURATH: No. I must deny it very emphatically. I have already explained what the real circumstances were, that I had no influence whatever.
DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: I should like to quote two or three sentences in this connection from Document 153 in my Document Book 5, which consist of minutes from the examination of former State Secretary Frank by the Czechoslovakian delegation on 30 May 1945. These minutes from Frank's testimony say:
"Neither the Reich Protector nor I myself was responsible for the actions of the Police. The highest responsibility was with Heinrich Himmler as Chief of the German Police. The Gestapo received its instructions directly from Berlin, either from Hitler himself or from the Reich Security Main Office."
By your presence in Prague could you actually do anything in practice to modify at least the worst measures inflicted by the Police or the Gestapo, or to minimize the most severe effects afterward? Will you please describe how you intervened and how you attempted to influence Frank in these matters?
VON NEURATH: I received continual requests from President Hacha, the Czech Government, and private persons. My office was for the most part busy working on these cases. I had every request presented to me personally, and in all cases in which intervention was at all justified, I had Frank or the commander of the Security Police report to me and tried to influence them in favor of releasing the arrested person. It was, however, an incessant struggle with Frank and the Police, although it was successful in many cases. In the course of time many hundreds of persons who had been arrested were released at my instigation. In addition many sentences were mitigated with respect to postal communication, sending of food, and so forth.
DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: Soon after you took of lice did you not prevent the arrest and subjection to so-called atonement measures of the members of the families remaining in Prague of the Ministers Netschas and Feierabend, who had fled abroad?
VON NEURATH: Yes, that is right. Frank had ordered the arrest of the members of the families of these two ministers. When I learned about it I induced him to desist from taking this step.
DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: Mr. President, may I make a suggestion to break off now, because this section is finished and I come now to individual questions?
[A recess was taken.]
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DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: Now, first of all, I should like to refer to individual police measures for which you have been held responsible to a greater or lesser degree by the Prosecution. Were there many arrests of Czechoslovak nationals already in the summer of 1939?
VON NEURATH: No; the activity of the Police in the summer of 1939 was slight, and I hoped that it would be possible to restrict these police measures increasingly.
DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: The Czechoslovakian Indictment, under USSR-60, in Appendix Number 6, Supplement 1, submits a proclamation which you, as Reich Protector, issued in August 1939, that is, just prior to the outbreak of the war. This is a proclamation which was to serve as a warning to the people of the Protectorate against acts of sabotage. I shall have this proclamation submitted to you at this point.
I should like you to comment on it. This appendix is attached to the Document USSR-60 as Appendix 1. The proclamation, which I have just had given to the defendant, reads as follows-if I may, with the permission of the Tribunal, read the most important part: "1.) Each act of sabotage against the interests of the Greater German Reich, against German administration in the Protectorate, and against the German Wehrmacht will be prosecuted with unrelenting harshness, and will be punished most severely.
"2.) By sabotage as described in Paragraph 1, is meant all disturbances of the public and economic life, particularly the damaging of essential installations such as railroads, telephones, and so forth, lines of communication, waterworks, electrical works, gas works, and factories, as well as the hoarding of consumer goods, raising of prices, and the spreading of rumors by word or in writing.
"3.) The population must observe all special directives of the organs of the Reich working in the Protectorate such as have been published or such as will be published in the future. Refusal to obey or acting against any organs of the Reich will be considered as sabotage and punished accordingly. Responsibility for all acts of sabotage will be placed not only on the person who is committing the act, but rather on the entire Czechoslovakian population.
"I expect under all circumstances that the Czechoslovakian population, through a loyal, peaceful, and quiet demeanor, will prove themselves worthy of the autonomy which the Fuehrer has guaranteed to the countries of Bohemia and Moravia"
Will you please comment on this?
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VON NEURATH: I cannot imagine from what point of view the release of this public warning against sabotage can be used as the basis of an accusation against me. At this period of the greatest political tension, it was to be feared that radical elements would exploit the situation in order to commit acts of sabotage which could damage public services. In my opinion, this would not have been tolerated in any state at such a time without severe punishment. Through this warning we wanted to try to eliminate all incentives for committing acts of sabotage. Moreover, as far as I recall, this warning had the desired effect and practically no acts of sabotage actually took place. Besides, the threat of special punishment is not contained in this warning at all, but it refers only to provisions for severe punishment which already existed.
DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: Shortly after the publication of this proclamation the war broke out. What was your attitude toward this war?
VON NEURATH: I considered this war the greatest piece of stupidity, for on the basis of my knowledge of British psychology and politics, I was convinced that England would keep her promise to Poland, and that therewith the war against England and France would also commence, in which the United States, with its tremendous production capacity, would stand behind these powers. That was clear to me from all the statements made by President Roosevelt before the beginning of the war. I also rejected and condemned the rather reckless beginning of this war because of my ethical convictions and my ideology.
DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: For what reasons did you remain in your office instead of resigning?
VON NEURATH: I told myself that during the war, on the one hand, the Czechs would try, if not to throw off German rule, at least to disturb, either openly or secretly, through uprisings, sabotage, et cetera, the military measures of the Armed Forces taken in the Protectorate and that on the other hand due to this the severest measures would be taken against the population on the part of Germany, which would cause the Police, above all the Gestapo, to proceed with all kinds of terrorist acts. Through my remaining in office I wanted to prevent both of these things, and I also wanted to prevent a harsher treatment of the Czech population by the policy of conciliation and compromise which I followed.
To lay down my office at a moment like that would have been desertion. But, on the other hand, I believed that in a war in which the existence of the German people was at stake I could not, as a German-which I am, with full devotion-refuse my services and my knowledge. After all, it was not a question of Hitler or the Nazi regime, but rather of my people and their existence.
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DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: Therefore, by remaining in office you did not wish to indicate your approval of this war, which was brought about by Hitler?
VON NEURATH: Never. For it was an accomplished fact, to which I had not contributed; and I told Hitler my attitude and my opinion about the insanity of the war quite clearly. But I would have considered myself a traitor to the German and Czech peoples if, in this hour of need, I had abandoned the difficult task which I had undertaken for the benefit and welfare of both peoples, as long as I could even in a restricted measure live up to my task. I do not believe that any decent person would have acted differently, for, above all, and beyond personal wishes, there is one's duty to one's own people.
DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: On the day of the outbreak of the war, in the Protectorate as well as everywhere in the Reich, so-called preventive measures were taken in the form of numerous arrests, involving at any rate more than a thousand persons, especially representatives of the intelligentsia insofar as they were considered politically unreliable.
Were you advised of these arrests in advance, as should have been done according to Paragraph 11 of the order of 1 September 1939, which has been quoted earlier?
VON NEURATH: No, not even afterward. I learned of these arrests through President Hacha.
DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: What did you have done then?
VON NEURATH: First of all, I had Frank come to me and remonstrated with him. He said that he had not been informed either, and that this was a general police preventive measure.
DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: Which came directly from Berlin?
VON NEURATH: Yes which Himmler had ordered the Gestapo and SD to take.
DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: Did you now try to have the people liberated who had been arrested, and who had for the most part been taken into the Reich?
VON NEURATH: Yes. I constantly exerted pressure on Frank, and on Himmler and Heydrich in Berlin, to that end.
DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: And how successful were your efforts?
VON NEURATH: Hundreds of these people who had been arrested-whose names I had to get from, the Czechs with great difficulty as the German Police refused to give me these names- were released in the course of time.
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DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: On 28 October 1939 public demonstrations occurred in Prague for the first time on the occasion of the Czech Independence Day. On this occasion, some of the demonstrators and some policemen were either killed or injured, for the Police took rather strong measures against the people demonstrating.
Regarding these police measures before, during, and after this demonstration, did you have knowledge of them and did you endorse them?
VON NEURATH: At that time I was not in Prague, and only on 29 October did Frank inform me over the telephone about the unrest. The details I did not learn until I returned on 30 or 31 October. I told Frank that through his personal interference on the streets and through the use of the SS he had intensified the tumult instead of leaving the restoration of order to the Czech police.
DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: Frank sent a report dealing with these cases of unrest to Berlin, which he mentioned when he was interrogated by the Czech delegation on 5 May 1945.
I have submitted an excerpt from the record of this interrogation which will be found in my Document Book 5 under Number 152. I should like to quote a few sentences from this report:
"This was the first time that the population demonstrated publicly and that these slogans"-that were mentioned earlier-"were heard in the open. This matter was therefore taken seriously, and I personally reported to Berlin about all incidents. I should like to say that I was an eyewitness to these demonstrations and that I had the impression that they were of a dangerous nature. In the report which I sent to Berlin I stated specifically that these were the first demonstrations, and that, therefore, special importance was to be attached to them Since they took place in the open street. I asked for directives which I received immediately from the Fuehrer's headquarters. These directives were sent from Berlin direct to the Security Police and I received knowledge of their contents. The entire program was carried through directly by the Police."
Did you have knowledge of this report of Frank's, and the measures which are mentioned therein, before it was sent off, or afterward?
VON NEURATH: No. This report was completely unknown to me until now in Nuremberg; but Frank always reported directly to Berlin. Apart from that, I was never of the opinion that this demonstration, which was carried on mostly by young people, should be considered especially important or that it should necessitate special police measures.
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DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: At the funeral on 15 November of one of the students who was killed on 28 October there were fresh demonstrations in Prague, in the course of which numerous students were shot, others arrested, and the universities closed. What do you know about these incidents?
VON NEURATH: When this student, Opletal, who was injured in the fracas, died of his wounds, the Police, in order to prevent new demonstrations, prohibited the participation of students at the funeral, which was to take place on 15 November. Despite this, crowds collected, and when the Police attempted to disperse them, renewed demonstrations and shootings resulted. When this was reported to Hitler by Frank, Hitler was greatly enraged and called me, Frank, and the Military Plenipotentiary, General Friderici, to a conference to be held in Berlin. Hitler had also asked the Czech Minister, Chvalkovsky, the former Foreign Minister, to be present at this conference. Hitler was in a rage. I tried to calm him, but despite that he made serious charges against the Czech Minister and gave him instructions to tell the Czech Government that if such events should recur he would take the most severe measures against the people who were disturbing the peace and, furthermore, that he would hold the entire Czech Government liable. The language used by Hitler was quite uncontrolled and the proceeding was extremely distressing to us who were listening. After the Czech Minister had left, we stayed with Hitler for a few minutes longer. He asked me how long I would remain in Berlin and I told him 1 to 2 days. Then we were asked to dinner, but there was no further discussion about these incidents. Hitler asked State Secretary Frank to come back later. Hitler said no word about the shooting of the leaders of the demonstration or taking the students to concentration camps; neither did he mention the closing of the universities.
When, toward evening, I asked after the pilot of my airplane in order to give him instructions, I was told at the airport that he had flown back to Prague in my airplane together with Frank. The following day I returned to Prague by train and only then did I learn that Hitler had decreed the closing of all Czech universities for 3 years, the arrest of some 1,200 students and their transfer to a concentration camp, as well as the shooting of the ringleaders of the demonstration. At the same time a proclamation, which was signed with my name, was submitted to me in which these orders were announced which had been published in the press and had been posted publicly. I had Frank summoned immediately and challenged him with these unheard-of things which had taken place without my knowledge. He referred to a specific decree of Hitler's. I had not even seen this proclamation. My name had been affixed to it illegally by Frank. Even as my deputy, he was not justified in
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doing this; but later, through an official in my office, I learned that Frank often misused my name in this way. If I had had any advance knowledge of these decrees of Hitler-and, of course, he had the opportunity to reach me by telephone in Berlin-I would naturally have objected to these decrees and at that time would have asked to resign.
Immediately I tried to have these students released. I tried with Hitler personally and tried going to Himmler, and gradually most of them were released, I believe more than 800 in all, the last of their number being released in the summer of 1941.
Shortly after this incident, when I was again present in Berlin, I complained bitterly to Hitler about his conduct toward me. He evaded an answer, as far as I recall, but he promised me that the students would be released very soon and that the Czech universities would be reopened after 1 year. Neither of these promises did he keep.
DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: I should like to read to you the answer of Legation Counsellor Von Holleben, who at that time participated in the Protectorate Government, to Question 21 of his interrogatory of 18 May 1946. This interrogatory may be found under Number 158 in my Document Book 5. The answer of Herr Von Holleben reads as follows:
"The student riots of October and November 1939 were a turning point in the history of the Protectorate. I cannot give you a chronological repetition of the events from memory. However, I can state the following: The manifestations which took place on 28 October 1939, on the occasion of the twentieth anniversary of the constitution of the Czechoslovak State, in Prague and Brno, mainly by the academic youth, were to be expected. Therefore, Herr Von Neurath, previous to 28 October 1939, issued orders to ignore them quietly as far as possible and only to interfere when they assumed the character of a serious danger to public peace and safety. Because of noncompliance with this order the greater part, if not the whole of the disaster resulted. Immediately after the conference with Hitler Frank returned to Prague. The office of the Reich Protector, who himself was still in Berlin, had only received knowledge of the measures taken against the students on 15 and 16 November on the following morning, partly through the numerous appeals which the members of the families of the arrested students made at the office of Herr Von Neurath. In my opinion Herr Von Neurath did not learn of these sanctions against students until after they had taken place. I personally did not report this matter to him, and I cannot tell you just who did report to Von Neurath
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on this matter. It is my firm conviction that the proclamation in question, addressed to the Czech people, was given out without the knowledge of Herr Von Neurath, and through misuse of his name. I remember distinctly that because of this he had heated arguments with Frank. At that time he remained in office, for he believed that by remaining he could prevent much more disaster. He considered the closing of the universities an unwarranted) intervention in the life of the Czech people. He tried with all the means at his disposal to have the Czech university teachers and students, who had been taken to German concentration camps, liberated subsequently, and until such liberation, to have them accommodated in special sections."
In this connection, I should also like to submit to the Tribunal an affidavit which I just received a few days ago from the secretary of Herr Von Neurath at that time, Fraulein Irene Friedrich. This is dated 6 June 1946, and from it we can see quite clearly that at the time this announcement was issued and published, Herr Von Neurath had not yet returned from Berlin, and therefore that it was quite impossible for Herr Von Neurath to have had knowledge of this proclamation.
I should like to ask the Tribunal to take judicial notice of this affidavit.
I should also like to refer. . .
THE PRESIDENT: What is the number of the affidavit?
DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: Number 159, Mr. President. I should like to refer further to a document of the Czech Prosecution: Appendix 5 of Supplement Number 1, a memorandum of Herr Von Neurath dated 26 March 1940 which has been submitted. This deals with the discussion with President Hacha regarding the arrested students and also shows that Herr Von Neurath tried, and kept on trying, to have these students released.
THE PRESIDENT: Did you give us the number for that? You said Document Book 5.
DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: No, that is attached to the Czech report, USSR-60, and is not in my document book. I was only referring to that.
Apart from these two actions which were decreed by Hitler personally, did other arrests take place on a rather large scale during the time of your office?
VON NEURATH: No, but single instances of arrest did take place recurrently, and I continually intervened anew to have them investigated and perhaps rescinded, at the suggestion of the Czech Government and private people.
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DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: Now I should like to read a few more sentences from the document of the Czech Prosecution, USSR-60, to be found on Page 59 of the English text. I quote:
"Immediately after the occupation representatives of the 'Sokol' (Falcon) athletic association, which had 1 million members, joined a movement for the liberation of the country; this included the underground movement at home and the movement abroad. The idea of the 'Sokol' united the army members abroad and gave strength and enthusiasm even in the hardest time. This was true at home to an even larger extent. The Gestapo was aware of this danger, and therefore proceeded with the utmost severity. In the beginning, their measures were moderate, but when they realized the firm resolve of the 'Sokols,' they began to use force. The first arrests took place on the day of the occupation of Czechoslovakia, and a further large number of arrests on 1 September 1939. Then extensive arrests of single individuals and of organizations followed."
Will you please comment on this.
VON NEURATH: The "Sokol" was the most dangerous organization hostile to the State in the Protectorate. The extent of its activity can be seen especially from the sentences of the Czech Indictment which have just been read. It was taken for granted that machinations of this kind could not be tolerated, especially in war, and the report itself characterizes the first police measures as "still moderate." I am convinced that in no other country would such intrigues (underground movements) have been treated any differently. In such cases of undoubted high treason or cases of sabotage, I could not possibly intervene for the people responsible, and moreover, the Czech Government quite understood this.
DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: The Czech report further mentions shootings under martial law. Did such shootings occur during your period of office?
VON NEURATH: No, apart from the case of the nine students which has already been mentioned I know of no shootings under martial law during my time in office.
DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: Did Frank, aside from his disastrous activity as Higher SS and Police Leader, as your State Secretary try to use his influence in the policy and administration of the Protectorate, and did you work closely with him in that respect?
VON NEURATH: Frank represented one-sided, radical German interests. That was the old Sudeten-German hatred of the Czechs. I repeatedly curbed these tendencies, but as my representative he, in practice, took part in the general policy and in the administration.
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DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: What was your personal relationship to Frank?
VON NEURATH: From the very beginning it was bad because of the fact that he was so radical, and beyond that, I quite soon realized that very frequently he did not tell me the truth.
DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: What was your personal and official relationship to President Hacha and to the Czech Government?
VON NEURATH: In general, good. The Czech Government at that time was convinced of the fact that my intentions for fair and lust treatment of the Czech population were quite sincere, and that I did everything within my power to realize my intentions. On the other hand, I fully understood and recognized in every respect the efforts of the Czech Government to represent primarily the interests of the people. As to my personal relationship to President Hacha, I might go so far as to say it was very good. I always tried to facilitate Mr. Hacha's difficult task as far as I could, for I knew that he, too, through his assumption of the post of President and through his remaining in office was making a great personal sacrifice. He and the members of the Government were always invited to all occasions which did not have a purely German character, and were treated with distinction in accordance with their rank.
DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: What was the manner of work of your office in Prague? Were you quite independent in your work or were you in your office bound by directives from Berlin?
VON NEURATH: My answer in this respect is a rather tedious matter. The fundamentals of policy and the administration of the departments were determined in Berlin as far as they applied to the Protectorate, that is, by Hitler himself or by department ministers. My field was the supervision of the execution and application of these principles as they applied to the Protectorate, always considering the special circumstances which arose from the ethical, cultural, and economic structure of the country. Obviously, above all in war, the Protectorate, which was situated in the center of the Reich, could not be treated as an independent unit but had to be incorporated into the general pattern. As I have already stated, the various branches of my authority had been established by the central offices in Berlin. The officials of these branches, therefore, from the beginning, had certain practical connections with their parent ministries, even though they were later subordinate to me. The individual heads of the branches received their directives in regard to specific problems direct from their department ministries in Berlin. Then those directives were submitted to Under State Secretary Von Burgsdorff, who was the head of the administration,
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or, if they were very fundamental matters, also to me. The carrying out of these measures in the Protectorate was in that way discussed, and subsequently settled with the Czech Minister. Thus were established the decrees and basic directives which were signed by me or by my deputy. Frequently these dealt with the introduction of legal or administrative measures which already existed in the Reich, or which were newly issued in the Reich. Apart from that, a series of directives applying to the Protectorate were issued directly by the competent Berlin ministries. The Reich Minister of the Interior had been designated as the so-called central agency for the release of these Reich directives.
DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: Mr. President, in this connection I should like to refer to the following documents to be found in my Document Book 5: Documents Number 145, a decree from the Fuehrer and Reich Chancellor dealing with the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia, supplementing the decree of 22 March 1939; Number 146, extracts from basic regulations applying to the Protectorate, dealing with commercial transactions with the Protectorate, dated 28 March 1939; Number 147, a directive as to the administration of criminal justice in the Protectorate, dated 14 April 1939; Number 148, a directive dealing with statutory law in the Protectorate, dated 7 June 1939; and I should like to refer to a document which has already been submitted, Number 149, the regulation dealing with the structure of the administration and the German Security Police. In this connection I should like to remark that all these directives were signed, not by the Reich Protector, but rather by the competent Reich department minister, and sometimes also by Reich Marshal Goering as Chairman of the Reich Defense Council. The legal basis for the authority of the Protector is the decree by the Fuehrer and Reich Chancellor in regard to the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia dated 16 March 1939, signed by Hitler, Frick . . .
THE PRESIDENT: Will you ask the defendant to clear up what his concern was with these decrees of the Reichsfuehrer and of the Defendant Goering.
DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: No, Mr. President, I wanted to show that he had nothing to do with these matters but that he was obliged to carry them out. According to the decree which put him in office it was his duty to supervise these measures, which were issued by agencies in the Reich. That was what I wanted to prove, that all these directives did not originate with him, but rather with the Reichsfuehrer.
THE PRESIDENT: Is that right, Defendant?
VON NEURATH: Yes. I should like to remark that I was chiefly concerned with seeing that these matters were duly published in
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the Protectorate, and then having my agencies supervise their execution.
DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: How far did the autonomy of the Protectorate reach in all these decisions?
VON NEURATH: The extent of autonomy was not clearly defined. Basically the Protectorate was autonomous, and it was administered by its own Czech authorities and Czech of finials. But in the course of time considerable restrictions were placed on this state of autonomy, as was provided for in the decree which you have just read. The introduction of these restrictions was regarded as practical by the Reich Government and resulted, in part, from general tendencies toward centralization in Berlin, but it was also necessitated to a large extent by the general political development in view of the war and of the so-called totalization of the war effort. I constantly objected to these restrictions insofar as in my opinion they did not correspond with the vital needs of the Protectorate and of its people.
DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: Mr. President, in this connection I should like to refer to Article 3 of the order which has already been quoted, a decree issued by the Fuehrer and Reich Chancellor dealing with the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia; Number 144 of my Document Book 5. This reads:
"1.) The Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia is autonomous and administers itself.
"2.) Its sovereign rights as a Protectorate are exercised on the basis of the political, military, and economic interests of the Reich.
"3.) These sovereign rights are upheld by its own organizations, its own authorities, and with its own officials."
How about the Armed Forces offices in the Protectorate? Were you connected with them?
VON NEURATH: No, they were subordinate to a special Plenipotentiary of the Armed Forces who was to keep me advised about the basic military questions.
DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: Now, I should like to turn to specific points which are mentioned in the Czech report, USSR-60, and of which you are accused;
To which extent were you competent for administering criminal justice in the Protectorate? Specifically, did you have to confirm death sentences against the Czechs?
VON NEURATH: The criminal justice of the German courts was under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Justice in Berlin. The Czech courts were not under my jurisdiction at all. I was concerned only
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with decisions in cases of appeals for clemency against verdicts of German courts in the Protectorate, which were submitted to me by the President of the Provincial Court of Appeal (Oberlandesgericht).
These, in special cases, might also apply to Czechs. However, they did not concern political crimes. Political proceedings against Czechs were, as far as I recall, handled by the Peoples' Court (Volksgerichtshof) in Berlin, insofar as they dealt with high treason. As far as I know, in these proceedings against Czechs the same basic principles were applied as against Germans.
DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: Did you have the right to grant pardon when the Peoples' Court gave decisions against Czechs?
VON NEURATH: No, I had no possibility of influence, and I did not have the right to pardon.
DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: In your time did you know anything about the activity of special courts in the Protectorate?
VON NEURATH: No, I cannot recall that special courts were active during the time I was there. In my opinion, this could apply only to German courts for the prosecution of specific offenses, for example, violations of radio regulations; such courts were established at the beginning of the war in the Reich. However, these courts were not under my jurisdiction, but directly subordinate to the
Reich Minister of Justice. He appointed the judges, gave them their directives, and the judges reported directly to him. I had no opportunity of using influence in any way.
DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: Regarding the activity of these special courts, I should like to quote one sentence from the Czech report, USSR-60. This may be found on Page 106 of the German text and Page 92 of the English text. It deals with orders and decrees that were to be applied by these special courts. I quote:
"A large number of these orders and decrees violate principles that all civilized countries consider irrevocable."
Is that report correct?
VON NEURATH: Yes, in this case I agree entirely with the Czech Prosecution report. But I should imagine that in the latest developments this principle has been considerably attenuated even among civilized peoples.
DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: Now I should like to know something about the alleged plans dealing with the Germanization of the areas in the Protectorate inhabited by Czechs. You said previously that, when you assumed office, you knew nothing about such plans. Who later revealed the pattern of these plans to you?
VON NEURATH: These plans in part originated with Sudeten-German circles, but in the main they could be traced back to the
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organizations of Himmler and also to suggestions on the part of the Gauleiter of Lower Danube.
DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: In regard to this problem of alleged efforts at Germanization, I should like to read to you a report to the OKW dated 15 October 1940 by the Armed Forces Plenipotentiary General in the Protectorate, General Friderici. This is the document which has been submitted by the Prosecution under Document Number 862-PS, Exhibit Number USA-313; and it is concerned with statements about basic policy pursued in the Protectorate, which State Secretary Frank made in an official discussion with your office. In this document Frank mentions a memorandum in which, after careful investigation, the Reich Protector had defined his attitude toward the various plans of numerous offices. He mentions three possibilities of solution to the question of the possible Germanization of the Czech territory. You probably know this document and I do not believe that it is necessary for me to read it. What do you know about this memorandum? Did you compose it yourself? Tell us what you have to say about it.
VON NEURATH: The memorandum refers to the proposals which I just mentioned on the part of various Party offices for the possible resettlement of the Czechs. I objected to this plan from the very beginning as being quite absurd and incapable of execution. Frank, who agreed with me on this point, therefore at my direction drew up this memorandum which you have just mentioned, in which the radical measures of the SS and of the Party were rejected and in which the so-called gradual assimilation was considered as the only possible solution of this problem. In this way I wanted to postpone the matter and thwart the plans of the SS. Since these plans for resettlement had already been put by Himmler before the Fuehrer, I required a rather stringent directive from the latter in order to quash them. However, for tactical reasons I had to make some sort of proposal: Hence, that of the policy of assimilation, because with this suggestion the matter was in practice postponed. In order to forestall countermeasures by the SS and Himmler, I reported to the Fuehrer personally about the matter and asked him to issue a stringent directive, which he did. Thus the matter was buried and was not taken up again. The sentence found in this memorandum to the effect that ". . . Germanization would have to be carried out for a number of years by the office of the Reich Protector..." means specifically that the SS could no longer interfere in this matter. The Reich Protector alone was to be the competent authority, and the Reich Protector did nothing. Moreover, the statement of General Friderici, who was equally opposed to radical fantasy, to the effect that ". . .as far as the Armed Forces were concerned there would be no important consequences, since
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he had always adhered to this concept..." goes to show the same. If after this report Frank said that ". . . the elements which were working contrary to the intended Germanization would have to be handled roughly and would have to be eliminated..." these were merely his words and the type of language that was used in speeches of that kind. Actually, as I have said, nothing further was done to assimilate the people.
DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: Mr. President, I now ask your permission to quote a few sentences from the affidavit that we have mentioned, which was made by Baroness Ritter, Number 3 in my Document Book 1. They are found on Page 18. It says there:
"With regard to the plans for the Germanization, that is, the gradual assimilation, of the Czechs, Neurath stated as follows in a letter:
" 'Quite aside from the sensible point of view, the people who are simply to be resettled arouse pity in one's soul. However, I believe I have discovered a way now to prevent the disaster. Time won is everything won, and frequently to postpone a thing is to do away with it!' "
Mr. President, if it is permissible for me to make a suggestion, I would ask that we stop now, since the problem of Germanization is now completed.
THE PRESIDENT: How long do you think you are going to be? You have already been a day and a half.
DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: Mr. President, the Indictment contained in the Czech report is not well substantiated and not very concrete, so that I must mention each individual point contained therein. I have approximately 20 more questions.
THE PRESIDENT: How long do you think it will take?
DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: One hour.
THE PRESIDENT: Well, the Tribunal will expect you to conclude in an hour.
DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: I hope so, Mr. President.
THE PRESIDENT: The Tribunal will adjourn now.
[The Tribunal adjourned until 25 June 1946 at 1000 hours.]