The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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Last-Modified: 2000/06/23

Q. Well now, you knew very well that Hitler was worried from
the point of view of foreign opinion as to publicity being
given to the effect of a break between you and him, did you

You knew that the support, after the blood purge, of an
ex-chancellor of the German Reich and, as you have told us,
a Catholic of old family with a great position amongst the
Catholic population-the support of someone of that kind
would be of great value to him after this blood purge which
had caused foreign opinion to be very disturbed, did you
not? You knew that?

A. No, it seems clear from this letter that I constantly
asked Herr Hitler to ascertain why action had been taken in
this manner against my associates and me. He was to explain
this to the world.

                                                  [Page 342]

Q. Herr von Papen, if you, as an ex-chancellor of the Reich
and, as you said yourself, one of the leading Catholic
laymen of Germany, an ex-officer of the Imperial Army, had
said at that time "I am not going to be associated with
murder, cold-blooded murder as an instrument of policy," you
might at some risk to yourself have brought down the whole
of this rotten regime, might you not?

A. That is possible, but had I said it publicly, then quite
probably I would have disappeared somewhere just as my
associates did. And, apart from that, the world knew from my
resignation that I did not identify myself with this affair.

Q. Just let us see what you were writing. If you look at
Document 717, which will become Exhibit GB 500, that
emphasises the importance that Hitler was attaching to your
adherence. If you will look at the second paragraph - I will
read it; it is quite short. You say:

"I hope you have received my letter of yesterday and that
you received it in the spirit in which it was intended.

  "Today I ask you, for personal reasons, to excuse me from
  participating in the session of the Reichstag. Yesterday
  you were, indeed, of the opinion that my staying away
  might create the impression that there was disagreement
  between us. But this impression can surely not arise if
  in your statements you refer to the case of the
  vice-chancellery in the way in which you promised me you
  "During all these days I have behaved with the greatest
  possible reserve towards the outside world and have shown
  myself as little as possible, and you will surely
  understand my not wanting to appear in public again until
  every shadow has been removed from me.
  "I have also asked the Party chairman to excuse my

Who is the Party chairman? Is that the chairman of the Nazi

A. No, I believe the chairman of the Party vas Dr. Frick.

Q. It was the Government Party, was it?

A. Yes. The letter shows that I requested Hitler to give
before the Reichstag an account of the actions undertaken
against me and my associates.

Q. You wanted a statement saying that you had never swerved
from your loyalty towards him; that is what you wanted, was
it not?

A. No, I wanted -

Q. Well, if you disagree with that, look at Document 718,
which will become Exhibit GB 501, and see what you say the
next day:

  "Most honoured Chancellor: After your great speech last
  night to the nation and the world giving the account of
  the internal developments which led up to 30th June, I
  feel a desire to shake your hand, as I did on 30th
  January, 1933, and to thank you for all you have given
  anew to the German nation by crushing the intended second
  revolution and by announcing irrevocable and
  statesmanlike principles.
  Painful, tragic circumstances have prevented me for the
  first time since 30th January from appearing at your
  side. You yourself excused me and showed understanding
  for the fact that a vice-chancellor cannot take his seat
  on the ministerial bench as long as he finds himself
  subjected to special treatment. (My confiscated files
  have still not been returned to me, in spite of Goering's
  and your own orders.)
  Your statements clearly show to history that any
  suspicion of a connection between my person and these
  treasonable practices was an intentional defamation and
  calumniation. I thank you for stating this."

Then, after saying that people are still believing it, in
the penultimate paragraph you say:

  "I should, therefore, be grateful if you could soon find
  the occasion to point out positively that up to today" -
  that was 14th July - "I have loyally stood by and fought
  for you, your leadership, and your work for Germany."

                                                  [Page 343]

Now, defendant, do you deny what I put to you a moment ago -
that all you wanted was your loyalty to the regime to be
made clear to thy world? It was not worrying you at all that
von Schleicher and his wife and von Bose and Jung and all
these other people had been murdered by the government of
the Reich; otherwise, why did you write a letter like that?

A. I wrote this letter, as the letter itself shows, because
I was still being accused of having agreed to the attempts
on the lives of Goebbels and Goering and of various other
conspiracies. That is the reason why it was important to me
to have Chancellor Hitler state that I was not involved in
any conspiracies against him in connection with the various
actions of this revolt. Of course, first of all I deal in
this letter with my position and the position of my
associates. The restoration of General von Schleicher's
honour was the task of the army, and not my task.

Q. Yes, I will come to that when we deal with the army, but
at the moment, you see, what I am putting to you is this:
That even after you knew that your own friends had been
murdered, to say nothing of your old colleagues, you again
and again protested your loyalty and emphasized the fact
that you had always worked and co-operated with Hitler in
all his work. Was that honest? Are the statements contained
in these letters honest, or do you say they were just lies
in order to protect yourself?

A. No, I wrote thus because the entire action against me,
Himmler's attempt to murder me, the fact that I was
arrested, were all based on the supposition that I had
participated in a conspiracy against Hitler's government. It
had therefore to be clarified that, as long as I was a
member of this government, I had acted toward it with
absolute loyalty. That is the reason why I was asking for
this clarification.

Q. Do you remember your learned counsel, on your
instructions, putting an interrogatory to Baron von Lersner?
It is Number 2(a) on Page 212 of Defence Document Book 3.
Question 2(a).

  "Did the defendant von Papen continue to hope to change
  Hitler's policy to his own way of thinking by
  impregnating it with conservative ideas, until the
  murders taking place on 30th June, 1934, and Hitler's
  justification of them had convinced him that his efforts
  and his hope had been in vain?"

And Baron von Lersner, not unnaturally, answers "Yes" to
that question.

THE PRESIDENT: Which question was that?

SIR DAVID MAXWELL FYFE: 2(a) on Page 212.

THE PRESIDENT: It is not in our copy.



SIR DAVID MAXWELL FYFE: I am so sorry. It is my fault
entirely. It is rather blurred, and I thought it was an "a."
I am greatly obliged. I read the question correctly but as


Q. Does that correctly express your point of view - "until
the murders taking place on 30th June, 1934, and Hitler's
justification of them had convinced him" - that is you -
that your efforts and your hopes had been in vain? Do you
agree with that? It is an interrogatory put by your own
learned counsel.

A. Yes, I agree with that.

Q. If that is your view, why did you write these letters
expressing this fulsome admiration of Hitler?

A. What I wished to express in the interrogatory or, rather,
what I wanted Herr Lersner to be asked was the following: Is
it correct -

Q. The answer the witness expects is in his question. It is
one of the best examples of a leading question I have ever
seen. You say that your interrogatory expresses your view,
do you not?

                                                  [Page 344]

A. I might say that if I were of this opinion, that with the
30th of June it became apparent that further co-operation
with Hitler was no longer possible and that, therefore, the
coalition programme which had been agreed upon between us
had collapsed -

Q. You say again that you have an unchanged loyalty and
admiration and that you have co-operated:

   "I remain loyally devoted to you and to your work for
   our Germany."

If your view is put in that interrogatory, that the
foundations of your faith had been shaken, why do you write
that you remain loyally devoted to Hitler's work for

A. I have already told you and the Tribunal I hoped that, in
spite of the collapse of the interior situation, Hitler
would at least in the field of foreign policy pursue a
reasonable course. He was there; we could not remove him. We
had to reckon with Hitler and his government. All the
members continued to co-operate; I was the only one who
resigned. All these letters with which you are trying to
prove I am insincere or that I am not truthful, or, as you
really put it, that I am a liar or a deceiver, cannot deny
to the world the fact that I resigned at that time.

Q. And you took another job within eleven days. Eleven days
after the last letter you had taken the job of representing
this - well, I will not say a gang of murderers - this
government, which had adopted murder as an instrument of
policy, as plenipotentiary to Austria, within eleven days of
your last letter.

Let us just see whether the murder motif did not come into
that. Did you think that Hitler had been behind the July
putsch in Austria which had resulted in the murder of
Chancellor Dollfuss?

A. I knew that Herr Habicht, who had been appointed by
Hitler to lead the Austrian Party, at any rate, had some
connection with this affair. That Herr Hitler himself had
approved of this act, that was not known to me.

Q. Well, did you think that the German Foreign Office had
been behind the July putsch?

A. The German Foreign Office, in my opinion, had nothing at
all to do with the July putsch.

Q. Did you think that Dr. Rieth - if I have his name; yes,
Rieth, the German Ambassador in Vienna - did you think that
he had been behind the putsch?

A. No, I knew only that Dr. Rieth had negotiated with the
Austrian Government.

Q. You did not know that Hitler had been behind it. You deny
that the German Foreign Office had been behind it. You did
not know that Dr. Rieth had been behind it. Just look at
Page 96 of Document Book IIA, Pages 79 and 80 of the German

Sergeant Major, it is at the foot of Page 79.

This is a report, your report a year later. I am taking it
slightly out of time because of a passage where you
recapitulate the facts, and if you will look at the
paragraph - I think it is the last paragraph on Page 79 in
the German text.

SIR DAVID MAXWELL FYFE: My Lord, it is just before the last
paragraph on Page 96 in the Document Book IIA.


   Q. " The hope that the personal conversations between
   the Fuehrer and Reich Chancellor and the Head of the
   Italian State at Stresa would lead to a settlement of
   German-Italian differences has been changed into the
   exact opposite by the threatening attitude taken up by
   Mussolini because of the assassination of his friend
   Dollfuss and by the partial mobilization of Italian
   troops on the Brenner. It became apparent that the
   attempt to re-establish normal and friendly relations by
   sending me to Vienna was not immediately possible after
   what had just happened. Mistrust of the forcible methods
   of the Austrian NSDAP" - now look at the next words -
   "influenced - as became more and more apparent from the
   trials which were held - by leading

                                                  [Page 345]

  Reich-German persons, was too strong. The impression
  caused by the terrorist methods and the death of the
  Federal Chancellor was too lasting in the widest

Now, defendant, tell the Tribunal, who were the leading
German personalities to whom you were referring as
supporting the putsch in July 1934 and the murder of
Dollfuss? Who were they?

A. By no means the former German Ambassador to Vienna, Herr
Rieth, but only Herr Habicht and the persons subordinate to
him, who, at the time, were running the Austrian Nazi policy
under Hitler's orders.

But I might point out that it says in this sentence that
mistrust of the methods of force employed by the Austrian
Nazis had become more and more apparent from the trials
held, and that is something which we discovered a year later
and not at the time when I was given the task.

Q. What I want to know is this. My question was: Who were
the leading German personalities? You are not going to tell
the Tribunal that Habicht, who was a liaison man with the
NSDAP in Austria, was a leading Reich-German personality.
Who were they? You are not going to say that Austrian Nazis
were leading Reich-German personalities. Who were they? Who
were the leading Reich-German personalities that you were
talking about?

A. The leading personality was, no doubt, Herr Habicht. But
this letter was written to tell Hitler: "Here, look what you
have done."

Q. Do you seriously want the Tribunal to understand this as
a statement on which they will judge your veracity, that by
a leading Reich-German personality you mean Herr Habicht,
and you have no one else in mind although you use the
plural? Is that what you want the Tribunal to understand? I
do not know if you remember, defendant just think of it
before you answer - but General Glaise-Horstenau could not
even remember Habicht's name when he was giving his

You cannot seriously mean that you meant a liaison agent
with the Austrian NSDAP when you referred to prominent
Reich-German personalities. Surely you can do better than

Think again, and tell the Tribunal whom you had in mind.

A. Mr. Prosecutor, Herr Habicht was not an agent. Herr
Habicht had been appointed by Hitler as the leader of the
Party in Austria, so I am surely justified in calling him a
leading personality. If Herr Hitler himself had knowledge of
these matters at that time, then when reading my letter he
would know at what I was hinting.

Q. Even if I were to allow you Herr Habicht, which I
certainly never would, he is only one man. Who were the
others? You referred to Reich-German personalities. Who were
the other people who had been behind this putsch and this

A. Quite frankly I have to tell you that, after the twelve
or fifteen years which have passed since then, I can no
longer remember which people I might have had in mind when I
wrote that. At any rate, the purpose of the letter was - and
you will appreciate this - to tell Hitler that the methods
which had been employed were doing much more damage and were
much more incredible than we were aware of at the time.

Q. Well, I will accept it. We will go on from the point that
you knew there were some unspecified, prominent Reich-German
personalities who had been behind the murder of Dollfuss.

Now, advancing from that, let us consider what you say with
regard to Mr. Messersmith. As I understand it, you deny - if
I may say so, with some vigour - what Mr. Messersmith says
regarding you. Therefore, let us just look at what he says
and see how much of it you can seriously suggest is not

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