The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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Last-Modified: 1999/12/10

Q. Will you describe this conversation somewhat more exactly
in detail.

A. Hitler began, in his usual way, to describe German policy
to me at length. That lasted about twenty minutes, and I
thought that my visit would not prove useful. When he
inveighed against the English and England, I interrupted him
and stated that I had worked in Great Britain, as a
labourer, as an engineer, and as a manager of industrial
enterprises, that I knew the English people well, and that I
could not agree with his statements. A long discussion
resulted. He asked many questions about England and the
English people. Thereafter, he began to explain to me how
well equipped the German fighting forces were. Then he
seemed very excited, walked up and down the room, and in the
end got himself into a very agitated condition and told me
that, if it came to a war, he would build U-boats, U-boats,
and more U-boats. He seemed really to speak as though he was
not aware that there was still somebody in the room. After a
while he shouted that he would build aeroplanes, aeroplanes
and still more aeroplanes, and that he would win the war.
After a while he calmed down again and talked again about
England and said, "Herr Dahlerus, tell me please, why I have
not been able to arrive at an agreement with the British
Government. You seem really to know England so well. Perhaps
you can solve the riddle for me?" I hesitated at first, but
then I told him that, with my intimate knowledge of the
English people, I was personally of the opinion that their
lack of confidence in him and his Government was the reason.

The conversation continued. He gave me a long report on his
discussions on Friday with Henderson, and finally he asked
me to go to London at once and explain his viewpoint. I
refused, naturally, and told him that I could not go there
as an emissary of Germany. If, however, the British
Government expressed the wish that I should come, I would,
of course, be prepared to do this. The condition was such,
however, that I must know definitely what conditions and
proposals he had to make. We spent an hour and a half,
during which he explained the various points in greater
detail than he had been able to do with Henderson.

Q. What proposals were you specifically to make?

  A. In condensed form, they were as follows:
  
  (1) Germany wanted an agreement or an alliance with
  England.
  
  (2) England was to help Germany in the annexation of
  Danzig and the
  Corridor.
  
                                                  [Page 215]
  
  (3) Germany gave the assurance that it would guarantee
  Poland's boundaries.
  
  (4) An agreement should be reached on Germany's colonies.
  
  (5) Adequate guarantees should be given for the treatment
  of the German minorities.
  
  (6) Germany gave its word to defend the British Empire
  with the German Wehrmacht wherever it should be attacked.

Q. Mr. Dahlerus, regarding point two, was not Poland there
assured of a free harbour in Danzig? You may want to add
something as to what assurance Poland was to receive. That
was point two.

A. Yes. This was, of course, only an outline. These
proposals were naturally far more extensive.

Q. Is it correct that Poland was to receive a free harbour
in Danzig, that it was to receive a corridor to Gdynia,
according to the proposals?

A. That was what Hitler said.

Q. Yes, thank you. What was the further course of the
conversation?

A. I left on a special plane the next morning, after I had
got in touch with London. I met Mr. Chamberlain, Lord
Halifax, Sir Horace Wilson, and Sir Alexander Cadogan.

Q. This was on 27th August, was it not?

A. On 27th August, yes.

Q. Where?

A. In No. 10, Downing Street.

Q. What transpired in this conference with Lord Halifax and
Mr. Chamberlain?

A. We discussed in full detail the proposals I had brought.
On certain points, as is seen from the British Blue Book,
these proposals were not the same as those made to
Henderson. I therefore suggested to the British Government
that, if they had full confidence in me as an intermediary,
they should tell me how far they could accept the proposals
and how far not. I should go back to Berlin the same day and
discuss the English views with Hitler and Goering. They
should keep Henderson in London until Monday so that the
answer could be given after they had been informed how
Hitler regarded the English standpoint.

Q. Did you also have a conference that day with Sir
Alexander Cadogan?

A. After the meeting with the members of the Government that
I have mentioned, I had a long conversation with Cadogan.

Q. Did you receive certain proposals from him?

A. Yes.

Q. What were they?

A. I must say that the English made the greatest effort to
deal in a fair and peaceful way with the various points.
Naturally, point six, the offer to defend the British
Empire, was rejected. Similarly, they did not want to have
any discussion on the colonies while Germany was not
demobilised. With regard to the Polish boundaries, they
wanted these boundaries to be guaranteed by five Great
Powers: Russia, Germany, England, France and Italy.

In reference to the Corridor, they proposed that
negotiations with Poland be undertaken immediately.

In reference to the first point, England was willing in
principle to come to an agreement with Germany.

Q. Did you then return to Germany with these proposals?

A. Yes; after I had telephoned Berlin. As the English
Government had promised to send Henderson back the same day,
I obtained confirmation from Berlin that they were agreeable
to Henderson's returning only on Monday. I left that same
evening and shortly before midnight was back in Berlin.

Q. Did you have a conversation there with Goering?

A. I met Goering about 11.30 on Sunday evening and told him
the results.

                                                  [Page 216]

Q. Can you describe that conversation somewhat more in
detail?

A. He did not consider the reply very favourable. I told
him, however, that in view of the events of the past year he
could hardly expect the English to be satisfied with the
guarantees of Poland's boundaries by Germany only. In
reference to the colonial question, I made it clear to him
that any British Government that tried to force this point
in Parliament as long as Germany's forces were mobilised
would be overthrown at once.

In reference to the sixth point, I tried to make it clear to
him that England, or the British Empire, preferred to worry
themselves about their own affairs. Finally, he said that it
would probably be better if he talked with Hitler alone. He
went immediately to the Reich Chancellery and I went to my
hotel. At about I o'clock Monday morning I received a
telephone call and heard that Hitler would accept the
English standpoint provided that the reply expected from
Henderson on the next day was, in general, what I had said.

Q. Did you then, that same night, go to the British Embassy?

A. Yes. I went straight to the British Embassy and gave Sir
Ogilvy Forbes a report of the results of my conversation
with Goering and he cabled to London at once.

Q. Did you inform Goering of the content of this
conversation that you had with Forbes?

A. Of course I acted quite openly, and therefore I told
Goering what I planned to do. The German Government knew
indeed that I would have this conversation with Forbes.

Q. When did you see Goering again then?

A. I saw him again on Monday, the 28th, in the morning at
his headquarters.

Q. It must have been Tuesday morning, was it not?

A. No, Monday morning. It was Monday morning, the 28th.

Q. What was said during this conversation with Goering?

A. In general, we discussed the situation. He seemed to be
satisfied that Forbes had cabled London.

Q. Did you visit Forbes again then?
A. Yes, I saw Forbes later. But that was of no significance
any more.

Q. And you met Goering again on Tuesday, did you not, on
Tuesday morning?

A. Well, the most important development was that on Tuesday
morning, at 1.15 - that is, shortly after midnight on the
29th - I received a telephone call from the Reich
Chancellery, made at Goering's request by Lieutenant-Colonel
Konrad. He told me that Henderson had submitted his reply in
writing, that it was highly satisfactory, and there was
every hope that the threat of a war was past.

I met Goering again then and he told me that he was highly
pleased that the matter had developed so well.

Q. Did he not make a statement of this kind: "We shall have
peace, peace is assured" ?

A. Yes. He said something similar to that.

Q. Then sometime on 29th August you were called up again by
Goering, were you not? What occasioned this?

A. I was in my hotel late in the evening, about 10.30.
Forbes called me up and said he had to see me at once. He
came to my hotel and said that Henderson and Hitler had had
a meeting on Tuesday evening which had taken a very
unsatisfactory course. They had parted after a big quarrel.
He asked me what I could suggest under these circumstances.

During our conversation I was contacted by phone by Goering
and he asked me to come to his house immediately. He told me
the same story and seemed very upset about the development.
He showed me the German reply to the British note and went
through it point by point. He tried to explain to me the
reasons for the content of this note. Finally he told me I
should go back to

                                                  [Page 217]

London again immediately, and make every effort to explain
this unfortunate incident to the British Government. He
concluded then by saying that Hitler was busy, and that he
was working out a proposal for Poland which would probably
be ready the next day.

After a telephonic talk with Sir Kingsley Wood, the Air
Minister, about another visit to England, I left again by
plane on Wednesday morning at 5 o'clock. Immediately after
my arrival in London I met the same members of the British
Government.

Q. Who were they?

A. The same officials, Mr. Chamberlain, Lord Halifax, Sir
Horace Wilson, Sir Alexander Cadogan.

Q. What was said in this discussion?

A. It was obvious that by that time the British Government
had become highly mistrustful, and rather inclined to assume
that whatever efforts they might make, nothing would now
prevent Hitler from declaring war on Poland. The British
Government had made the greatest effort. They had expressed
the wish through their Ambassador in Warsaw that the Polish
Government should exert the greatest effort to avoid any
frontier incidents. They explained to me at the same time
that it was hardly fair to expect the Polish Government to
send delegates to Berlin to negotiate, after it was known
what experience other countries had had in the past years
when they had been in Berlin on similar missions.

I telephoned Berlin, and was put through to Goering, in
order to persuade him to arrange a meeting of the delegates
outside of Germany. He merely said, however, that this was
impossible, that Hitler was in Berlin and the meeting would
have to take place in Berlin.

It was said, too, that proposals had been made to Poland and
that the members of the British Government viewed these
proposals with the greatest suspicion. The entire Polish
Government would meet in the afternoon, and would cable the
result of this session to Berlin. In the meantime I returned
to Berlin.

Q. When did you meet Goering there?

A. I met Goering -

THE PRESIDENT: Can you not make this a little bit shorter,
Dr. Stahmer.

DR. STAHMER: I believe this testimony is quite short,
considering that it deals with the essential circumstances
leading to war. However, I think that we will not take much
more of the Tribunal's time.

THE PRESIDENT: Mr. Dahlerus, the Tribunal wish you to come
to the crucial matter as soon as possible.

THE WITNESS: I met Goering shortly after midnight on
Wednesday, and he told me the nature of the proposals made
to Poland. He showed me the note. I called up Forbes to give
him this information. He then told me that Ribbentrop had
refused to give him the note after he had read it through
quickly. I went to Goering immediately and told him it was
impossible to treat the Ambassador of an Empire like Great
Britain in this way. I suggested to him that he should allow
me to telephone Forbes and give Forbes the content of the
note on the telephone. I did this at about 1 o'clock on
Thursday morning.

DR. STAHMER:

Q. Did Goering not emphasise that he was taking a great
responsibility on himself in giving you this permission?

A. Yes, Goering emphasised that he was doing this on his own
responsibility.

Q. Did you then on the next morning go to the British
Embassy in order to convince yourself as to whether your
telephonic communication had been understood correctly?

A. Yes, I saw Henderson on Thursday morning the 31st, at 10
o'clock, discussed the note with him, and he requested me
then to go at once to the Polish Ambassador, Herr Lipski,
and give him a copy.

                                                  [Page 218]

Q. Was that done?

A. He sent Forbes with me to Lipski, and I read the note to
Lipski, but he did not seem to grasp its content. I,
therefore, left the room, dictated a note to the secretary,
and handed it to him. In the meantime, Lipski stated to
Forbes that he would not be interested in discussing this
note with the German Government.

Q. Would you reconstruct this conversation as far as you are
able? It seems to me particularly important.

A. He said that he had no reason to negotiate with the
German Government. If it came to war between Poland and
Germany, he knew - since he had lived five and a half years
in Germany - that a revolution would break out in Germany
and that they would march on Berlin.

Q. Did you then inform London of your conversation by
telephone?

A. I telephoned at once from the British Embassy and
informed Sir Horace Wilson of the conference that we had
had.

Q. Was there then another discussion in the afternoon with
Goering?

A. I saw Goering at 1 o'clock in the afternoon. He received
then a copy of the cablegram from the Polish Government to
Lipski, to the effect that Lipski should not, without
special instruction from Warsaw, negotiate with the German
Government. It was obvious that the Poles under those
circumstances were afraid to take any action. The German
Government was, however, much disturbed at this telegram.


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