The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Shofar FTP Archive File: imt/tgmwc/judgment/j-regime-conspiracy.02

Archive/File: imt/ tgmwc/judgment/j-regime-conspiracy.02
Last-Modified: 1997/09/11

                           of the
               International Military Tribunal
                           For The
             Trial of German Major War Criminals

               His Majesty's Stationery Office

                                                   [Page 14]


Evidence from captured documents has revealed that Hitler
held four secret meetings to which the Tribunal proposes to
make special reference because of the light they shed upon
the question of the common plan and aggressive war.

These meetings took place on the 5th of November, 1937, 23rd
May, 1939, the 22nd of August, 1939, and the 23rd of
November, 1939.

At these meetings important declarations were made by Hitler
as to his purposes, which are quite unmistakable in their

The documents which record what took place at these meetings
have been subject to some criticism at the hands of
defending Counsel.

Their essential authenticity is not denied, but it is said,
for example, that they do not purpose to be verbatim
transcripts of the speeches they record, that the document
dealing with the meeting on 5th November, 1937, was dated
five days after the meeting had taken place, and that the
two documents dealing with the meeting of 22nd August, 1939
differ from one another, and are unsigned.

Making the fullest allowance for criticism of this kind, the
Tribunal is of opinion that the documents are documents of
the highest value, and that their authenticity and
substantial truth are established.

They are obviously careful records of the events they
describe, and they have been preserved as such in the
archives of the German Government, from whose custody they
were captured. Such documents could never be dismissed as
inventions, nor even as inaccurate or distorted; they
plainly record events which actually took place.

                                                   [Page 15]
It will perhaps be useful to deal first of all with the
meeting of 23rd November, 1939, when Hitler called his
Supreme Commanders together. A record was made of what was
said, by one of those present. At the date of the meeting,
Austria and Czechoslovakia had been incorporated into the
German Reich, Poland had been conquered by the German
Armies, and the war with Great Britain and France was still
in its static phase. The moment was opportune for a review
of past events. Hitler informed the Commanders that the
purpose of the Conference was to give them an idea of the
world of his thoughts, and to tell them his decision. He
thereupon reviewed his political task since 1919, and
referred to the secession of Germany from the League of
Nations, the denunciation of the Disarmament Conference, the
order for re-armament, the introduction of compulsory armed
service, the occupation of the Rhineland, the seizure of
Austria, and the action against Czechoslovakia. He stated:

     "One year later, Austria came; this step also was
     considered doubtful. It brought about a
     considerable reinforcement of the Reich. The next
     step was Bohemia, Moravia, and Poland. This step
     also was not possible to accomplish in one
     campaign. First of all, the western fortification
     had to be finished. It was not possible to reach
     the goal in one effort. It was clear to me from
     the first moment that I could not be satisfied
     with the Sudeten German territory. That was only a
     partial solution. The decision to march into
     Bohemia was made. Then followed the erection of
     the Protectorate and with that the basis for the
     action against Poland was laid, but I wasn't quite
     clear at that time whether I should start first
     against the East and then in the West or vice
     versa .. Basically I did not organize the Armed
     Forces in order not to strike. The decision to
     strike was always in me. Earlier or later I wanted
     to solve the problem. Under pressure it was
     decided that the East was to be attacked first."

This address, reviewing past events and re-affirming the
aggressive intentions present from the beginning, puts
beyond any question of doubt the character of the actions
against Austria and Czechoslovakia, and the war against

For they had all been accomplished according to plan; and
the nature of that plan must now be examined in a little
more detail. At the meeting of the 23rd November, 1939,
Hitler was looking back to things accomplished; at the
earlier meetings now to be considered, he was looking
forward, and revealing his plans to his confederates. The
comparison is instructive.

The meeting held at the Reich Chancellery in Berlin on the
5th November, 1937, was attended by Lieutenant Colonel
Hoszbach, Hitler's personal adjutant, who compiled a long
note of the proceedings, which he dated the 10th November,
1937,  and signed.

The persons present were Hitler, and the Defendants Goering,
von Neurath, and Raeder, in their capacities as Commander-in-
Chief of the Luftwaffe, Reich Foreign Minister, and
Commander-in-Chief of the Navy respectively, General von
Blomberg, Minister of War, and General von Fritsch, the
Commander-in-Chief of the Army.

Hitler began by saying that the subject of the conference
was of such high importance that in other States it would
have taken place before the Cabinet. He went on to say that
the subject matter of his speech was the result of his
detailed deliberations, and of his experiences during his
four and a half years

                                                   [Page 16]

of Government. He requested that the statements he was about
to make should be looked upon in the case of his death as
his last will and testament. Hitler's main theme was the
problem of living space, and he discussed various possible
solutions, only to set them aside. He then said that the
seizure of living space on the continent of Europe was
therefore necessary, expressing himself in these words:

     "It is not a case of conquering people but of
     conquering agriculturally useful space. It would
     also be more to the purpose to seek raw material
     producing territory in Europe directly adjoining
     the Reich and not overseas, and this solution
     would have to be brought into effect for one or
     two generations .. The history of all times --
     Roman Empire, British Empire -- has proved that
     every space expansion can only be effected by
     breaking resistance and taking risks. Even
     setbacks are unavoidable: neither formerly nor
     today has space been found without an owner; the
     attacker always comes up against the proprietor."

He concluded with this observation:

     "The question for Germany is where the greatest
     possible conquest could be made at the lowest

Nothing could indicate more plainly the aggressive
intentions of Hitler, and the events which soon followed
showed the reality of his purpose. It is impossible to
accept the contention that Hitler did not actually mean war;
for after pointing out that Germany might expect the
opposition of England and France, and analyzing the strength
and the weakness of those powers in particular situations,
he continued:

     "The German question can be solved only by way of
     force, and this is never without risk .. If we
     place the decision to apply force with risk at the
     head of the following expositions, then we are
     left to reply to the questions 'when' and 'how'.
     In this regard we have to decide upon three
     different cases."

The first of these three cases set forth a hypothetical
international situation, in which he would take action not
later than 1943 to 1945, saying:

     "If the Fuehrer is still living then it will be
     his irrevocable decision to solve the German space
     problem not later than 1943 to 1945. The necessity
     for action before 1943 to 1945 will come under
     consideration in Cases 2 and 3."

The second and third cases to which Hitler referred show the
plain intention to seize Austria and Czechoslovakia, and in
this connection Hitler said:

     "For the improvement of our military-political
     position, it must be our first aim in every case
     of entanglement by war to conquer Czechoslovakia
     and Austria simultaneously in order to remove any
     threat from the flanks in case of a possible
     advance westwards."

He further added:

     "The annexation of the two States to Germany
     militarily and politically would constitute a
     considerable relief, owing to shorter and better
     frontiers, the freeing of fighting personnel for
     other purposes, and the possibility of
     reconstituting new armies up to a strength of
     about twelve divisions."

This decision to seize Austria and Czechoslovakia was
discussed in some detail; the action was to be taken as soon
as a favorable opportunity presented itself.

                                                   [Page 17]

The military strength which Germany had been building up
since 1933, was now to be directed at the two specific
countries, Austria and Czechoslovakia.

The Defendant Goering testified that he did not believe at
that time that Hitler actually meant to attack Austria and
Czechoslovakia, and that the purpose of the conference was
only to put pressure on von Fritsch to speed up the re-
armament of the Army.

The Defendant Raeder testified that neither he, nor von
Fritsch, nor von Blomberg, believed that Hitler actually
meant war, a conviction which the Defendant Raeder claims
that he held up to 22nd August, 1939. The basis of this
conviction was his hope that Hitler would obtain a
"political solution" of Germany's problems. But all that
this means, when examined, is the belief that Germany's
position would be so good, and Germany's armed might so
overwhelming that the territory desired could be obtained
without fighting for it. It must be remembered too that
Hitler's declared intention with regard to Austria was
actually carried out within a little over four months from
the date of the meeting, and within less than a year the
first portion of Czechoslovakia was absorbed, and Bohemia
and Moravia a few months later. If any doubts had existed in
the minds of any of his hearers in November, 1937, after
March of 1939 there could no longer be any question that
Hitler was in deadly earnest in his decision to resort to
war. The Tribunal is satisfied that Lieutenant Colonel
Hoszbach's account of the meeting is substantially correct,
and that those present knew that Austria and Czechoslovakia
would be annexed by Germany at the first possible

The PRESIDENT: The Tribunal will now adjourn for ten

(A recess was taken.)

The PRESIDENT: I will now ask M. Donnedieu de Vabres to
continue the reading of the judgment.


Home ·  Site Map ·  What's New? ·  Search Nizkor

© The Nizkor Project, 1991-2012

This site is intended for educational purposes to teach about the Holocaust and to combat hatred. Any statements or excerpts found on this site are for educational purposes only.

As part of these educational purposes, Nizkor may include on this website materials, such as excerpts from the writings of racists and antisemites. Far from approving these writings, Nizkor condemns them and provides them so that its readers can learn the nature and extent of hate and antisemitic discourse. Nizkor urges the readers of these pages to condemn racist and hate speech in all of its forms and manifestations.