The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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Q. But did you know, in May, 1934, that the German
Government was going in for systematic and virulent
anti-Semitism, did you not know that?

A. Anti-Semitic propaganda, I know mainly from Herr
Goebbels's speeches.

Q. Yes; well, let us pass to something a little more
concrete. Had you any reason for disliking General von
Schleicher or General von Bredow?

A. No.

Q. What was the effect on your mind of these two gentlemen
and Frau von Schleicher being killed in the blood purge of
36th June, 1934?

A. I hardly need to answer that. Of course, I was repulsed
by it, that is clear; but then I told you the other day that
unfortunately, in the case of such a revolt, innocent people
always have to suffer as well.

Q. I see. But just let us get it clear. You told the
Tribunal the other day that you thought - and had some
reason for thinking - that there was a movement in the SA,
that is, a movement led by Roehm and Ernst, and I suppose
people that you would consider undesirable of that sort;
what reason had you to suppose that General von Schleicher
and General von Bredow had been in a conspiracy, if any?

A. I had no reason at all, and I do not believe today that
they were plotting.

Q. Did you hear at the same time about the unfortunate way
in which Herr von Papen kept on losing secretaries? You
remember, you know.

A. Yes.

Q. Do you know that Herr von Bose and Jung were killed, and
von Tschirsky and two other gentlemen were arrested? Did you
hear about that?

A. Yes, I did, through Herr von Papen.

Q. And did you regard the blood purge of 30th June as just
another element in the necessary cleaning up of public life?

A. To the extent that it included all the outrages and
murders of innocent people, most certainly not.

Q. Why did you continue in a government that was using
murder as an instrument of political action?

A. I have already told you twice that in the case of such
revolutions such mishaps cannot be avoided, most
unfortunately.

Q. I see. Well, now, let us take just another of your 1934
experiences. You knew about the terroristic acts that were
going on in Austria in May and June of 1934, did you not;
and by "terroristic acts" - do not let us have any doubt
about it - what I mean is the blowing up of Austrian public
utilities and railways and things like that. I mean
dynamite. I do not mean anything vague. You knew that such
acts were going on in Austria in May and June, 1934, did you
not?

                                                  [Page 169]

A. Yes, I heard about it, and I always opposed that sort of
thing, because I knew that it was done by Nazis, and let me
say once more, mostly by Austrian Nazis.

Q. What position did Herr Koepke have in your Ministry on
31st May, 1934?

A. He was the Ministerial Director.

Q. Ministerial Director: quite a responsible position, was
it not?

A. Yes.

Q. Do you remember Herr Koepke reporting to you on 31st May,
1934, on a visit of Baron von Wachter?

A. No, I cannot remember that.

Q. Well, just think; Baron von Wachter was one of the
leaders of the putsch against Dollfuss six weeks later, on
25th July. Do you not remember Herr Koepke making a report
to you and you passing it on to Hitler?

A. No, I cannot remember that.

Q. Let us refresh your memory if you do not remember it.
Would you look at Document 868-D? It will become Exhibit GB
515. Just look at it. I will read it over, but just look at
the signatories carefully and if you will be good enough to
look at the top, I think you will find, on the original,
there are your own initials, and on the left-hand side there
is a note: "The Reich Chancellor has been informed 6/6."
That is on 6th June. That is initialled "L" by Lammers, Dr.
Lammers. Then there is a note below that: "From the Reich
Chancellor on 6th June," also initialled "Lammers" I think.
And on the other side you will see there is a note which is
certainly initialled "Lammers." It reads: "Habicht is coming
today ... L 6/6." And this memorandum comes back from the
Reich Chancellor to the Foreign Office on the same day. Now
just let us see what report you were getting from Austria
and passing on to Hitler. We will omit, unless you want it
particularly, a description of Baron von Wachter's fresh,
youthful appearance in Paragraph 1; but it goes on to say:

   "His statements were obviously made in full
   consciousness of serious responsibility. His estimation
   of the affairs and personalities that came under review
   was clear and definite. Herr von Wachter drew up for me,
   too, a picture of the situation in Austria which was, in
   some of its colours, even darker and more serious than
   it had appeared to us here up till now.  The extremist
   tendencies of the National Socialists in Austria were
   constantly on the increase. Terrorist acts were
   multiplying. Irrespective of who actually undertook the
   demolitions and other terrorist acts in individual
   cases, each such act provoked a new wave of extremism
   and further desperate acts. As Herr von Wachter
   repeatedly and sadly stressed, uniformity of leadership
   was lacking. The SA did what it wanted and what it, for
   its part, considered necessary. The political leadership
   at the same time introduced measures which sometimes
   meant the exact opposite. Thus, the great terrorist
   action, as the result of which the railway lines leading
   to Vienna were blown up, was by no means committed by
   Marxists, but by the Austrian SA, and indeed against the
   wishes of the political leadership which, as he - von
   Wachter - believed, did not participate in any way
   either in the act or its preparation. Such is the
   picture as a whole. In detail, in individual provinces
   and districts, the confusion was, if possible, even
   greater."

Then he says that the main seat of unrest is Carinthia where
conditions were worst. And then he says:

  "Herr von Wachter thought that here improvements must be
  introduced most speedily, by means of the centralisation
  of all forces active in the interests of National
  Socialism both in Austria itself and outside Austria.
  Personal questions should play no part here. The decisive
  word in this connection could, of course, be given only
  by the Fuehrer himself. He, Wachter, was in complete
  agreement with Herr Habicht on all these matters. As far
  as

                                                  [Page 170]

  he knew, Herr Habicht had already succeeded in having a
  brief conversation with the Reich Chancellor today."

Now just let us pause there for a moment. Herr Habicht was
appointed about that time Press Attache at the German
Embassy in Vienna. The appointment of Herr Habicht as Press
Attache would be done either by you or with your approval,
would it not? It was under your department?

A. Today I no longer know if Herr Habicht ... Herr Habicht
was the National Socialist leader (Landesleiter) for Austria
in Munich, and whether he went to Vienna as Press Attache I
do not know.

Q. Well, you can take it that he went to Vienna as Press
Attache at this time, at the end of May, 1934, and what I am
asking you is, was it not either at your order or with your
approval that he was given a post which gave him diplomatic
immunity in the middle of his plottings?

A. If Herr Habicht was really there this happened neither
with my knowledge nor with my approval, but presumably it
was arranged by the Ministry of Propaganda, to whom these
Press men were subordinate.

Q. Well, you will agree with me, defendant, that this is not
a very pleasant document; it does not describe a very
pleasant state of affairs. Let me remind you, this came from
your Ministerial Director to you, and went on to the Fuehrer
and came back from Dr. Lammers with a note: "Habicht is
coming today." Surely as ...

A. To the Fuehrer?

Q. Yes, yes.

A. Mr. Prosecutor, I want to point out to you that here only
the Austrian National Socialists are being discussed. With
them I had nothing at all to do.

Q. What I am pointing out to you is that the document, this
Foreign Office document goes to the Reich Chancellery; it
comes back on 6th June with a note from Dr. Lammers saying:
"Habicht is coming today." You must have known all about
Habicht on 6th June. It is mentioned in this report.

A. Not at all. I have this note from Lammers which means
that Habicht was coming to see the Reich Chancellor. And
this report from my Ministerial Director I immediately
passed on to the Reich Chancellor to show him what the
conditions were in Austria. That was the reason.

Q. But you remember Herr von Papen giving evidence a few
days ago, and when I asked him who were the leading Reich
German personalities who influenced the putsch in Austria in
July, 1934, he thought for a long time, and the only leading
Reich German personality that he could remember as
influencing the putsch was this very Herr Habicht?

A. Yes.

Q. Well, then, what I am putting to you is that you knew
very well, on 6th June, 1934, that Herr Habicht, this
leading Reich personality, according to the defendant von
Papen, was organising revolution in Austria, did you not?

A. Whatever makes you suppose a thing like that? Herr
Habicht never came to see me. He went to see the Reich
Chancellor.

Q. You saw this report. This is a report of your Ministerial
Director. I have just read what von Wachter thought.

A. There is not one word about Herr Habicht in it.

Q. Yes, I just read that to you. May I remind you: "The
decisive word in this connection could of course be given
only by the Fuehrer himself. He, Wachter, was in complete
agreement with Herr Habicht on all these matters."

In other words, what Wachter is putting to the Foreign
Office were the views of Habicht no less than himself.

A. Yes, that is certainly in there. Well, all these
terrorist acts and all these disturbances which are
described in this document were brought to the attention of
the Reich Chancellor by myself.

                                                  [Page 171]

Q. Well, now, just look at what the report says at the foot
of the page: "But when nothing happened in the meantime, and
the counter-measures of the Austrian Government grew more
brutal and severe from day to day, the radical elements made
themselves felt once more, and came forward with the
statement that the Chancellor had issued his order only for
tactical reasons, and was inwardly in agreement with every
firm act of opposition and had in view, as his own political
aim, merely the weakening of Dollfuss's hateful system,
though in a way which should be as unobtrusive as possible
to the outside world. They are now working with this
argument."

Listen to the next bit, his suggestion to you, the nearest
warning of trouble which any Foreign Minister ever heard of:

  "One constantly stumbles on this idea during discussions
  and it is secretly spreading. A change must be made soon
  and a uniform leadership created. Otherwise, as Herr yon
  Wachter said at the end of his impressive description, a
  disaster may occur any day which would have the worst
  possible consequences in foreign policy, not only for
  Austria alone, but above all for Germany herself."

And then, dramatically, in the middle of the conversation,
Herr yon Wachter receives a telephone message that he had
better not go back to Vienna or he will be arrested on his
arrival; and within six weeks he had started the putsch and
Chancellor Dollfuss had been shot. Do you remember now? Did
you not appreciate, at the beginning of June, 1934, that
there was the greatest danger of an uprising and trouble in
Austria?

A. Yes, quite definitely so. That is the very reason why I
sent the report to the Chancellor. I could not interfere in
Austria.

Q. Perhaps you can tell me, concerning the question to which
the defendant yon Papen was unable to give a clear answer,
who, in your opinion, were the other prominent Reich German
personalities who were behind the Dollfuss putsch in
Austria? You say you were not. Who, in your opinion, were
these personalities that Herr yon Papen mentions as being
behind the Dollfuss putsch?

A. I know absolutely none. I only know Habicht, and him I
knew only as a person against whom I protested to Hitler
because of his inflammatory actions. Apart from him I did
not know any Reich Germans. The others were all Austrian
National Socialists who have been mentioned innumerable
times during the trial, but whom I did not know.

Q. I am not mentioning them. I am mentioning the defendant
yon Papen's prominent Reich German personalities and I am
trying very hard to find out who they were. Are you taking
the same line, that the only one you can remember is the
Press Attache, Herr Habicht? Is that all you can help the
Tribunal in this matter?

A. I have already said, and that will have to suffice, I do
not know anyone.

Q. Is it your opinion that your Minister, Dr. Rieth, knew
nothing about this, despite what Mr. Messersmith says on
that point? Do you think Dr. Rieth knew nothing about the
putsch?

A. I cannot tell you to what extent Herr Rieth was informed.
You know, however, that he acted so ostentatiously later on
that I recalled him right away. Apart from that, I always
forbade the Ambassadors to meddle in such matters.

Q. You have not any doubt in your own mind that Dr. Rieth
knew all about the impending putsch, have you?

A. Oh, yes, I have considerable doubts that he knew all
about it. I do not believe so because his whole character
was not at all like that.

Q. Well, now, at any rate, you know on 25th July that the
Austrian Nazis had made this putsch and had murdered
Dollfuss?

A. That is not exactly a secret.

Q. No, I know it. A lot of these things were not secret.
What I am interested in was your knowledge - when you found
out -

A. Afterwards, yes.

                                                  [Page 172]

Q. But didn't that give you any qualms about remaining in a
government which had extended its policy of murder from at
home to abroad, through the Party elements in Austria?

A. If I were responsible for every single murderer, for
every single German murderer who was active abroad, then I
would have had a lot of work to do, would I not?

Q. You knew, Herr von Neurath - and I shall remind you how
in a moment - you knew that the Austrian NSDAP was in close
touch with and acting under the orders of Hitler all the
time when Hitler was head of your Government; you knew that
perfectly well, did you not?

A. He was the chief of the NSDAP. It is quite natural that
they were collaborating with him.

Q. Yes. Now there is just one other point -

A. Yes. I want to tell you another thing: I continuously
remonstrated with Hitler, together with Herr von Papen,
about the fact that this Herr Habicht was doing the things
he was.

Q. We will take that up in a moment. I just want to get one
point of fact. Does this accord with your recollection: I
have been through all the reports of the defendant von Papen
and apart from three personal reports, two dealing with Herr
von Tschirschky and one dealing with abuse of Hitler, which
is of no political significance, we have twenty-eight
reports. Nineteen of these reports are marked as being
copies to the Foreign Office. Is that in accord with your
recollection, that three out of four of Herr von Papen's
reports would come to you to be seen by you?

A. That I cannot tell you at this late date.

Q. You are quite right, Herr von Neurath. You would not know
how many went to you, but you say you saw a considerable
number of Herr von Papen's reports. I think there were
nineteen; I am sure you can take it that they are marked,
nineteen are marked: "Passed to the Foreign Office."

A. I do believe you, yes, but the question is how many were
submitted to me, for I did not receive every individual
report from every Ambassador or Minister abroad. Otherwise,
I would have been drowned in paper.

Q. I quite agree, but what I asked you was, did you receive
these from Herr von Papen, who was supposed to be in a
rather special position dealing with a very difficult
problem? Did you receive a considerable number of reports
from Herr von Papen to Hitler as passed to you?

A. I can only tell you that I received some reports but
certainly not all. I cannot tell you more than that today.

SIR DAVID MAXWELL FYFE: My Lord, perhaps this would be a
convenient time to break off.

THE PRESIDENT: We will adjourn at this time.


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