The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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Last-Modified: 1999/09/12

I now interpolate, if the Tribunal please, to note the
significance of that language of Adolf Hitler to the
President of a supposed sovereign State and its Prime
Minister, having in his presence General Field Marshal
Goering, the Commander of the Air Force, and General Keitel.
Continuing the quotation -

   "Thus it is that the die was cast on the past Sunday. I
   sent for the Hungarian Ambassador and told him that I
   was withdrawing my hands from this country. We were now
   confronted with this fact. He had given the order to the
   German troops to march into Czechoslovakia and to
   incorporate Czechoslovakia into the German Reich. He
   wanted to give Czechoslovakia fullest autonomy and a
   life of her own to a larger extent than she ever had
   enjoyed during Austrian rule. Germany's attitude towards
   Czechoslovakia would be determined tomorrow and the day
   after tomorrow and depended on the attitude of the
   Czechoslovakian people and the Czechoslovakian military
   towards the German troops. He no longer trusts the
   government. He believed in the honesty and
   straightforwardness of Hacha and Chvalkowsky, but
   doubted that the Government would be able to assert
   itself in the entire nation. The German Army had already
   started out today, and at one barracks where resistance
   was offered, it was ruthlessly broken; another barracks
   had given in at the deployment of heavy artillery.
   
   At six o'clock in the morning the German Army would
   invade Czechoslovakia from all sides and the German Air
   Force would occupy the Czech airfields. There existed
   two possibilities. The first one was that the invasion
   of the German troops would lead to a battle. In this
   case the resistance would be broken by all means with
   physical force. The other possibility was that the
   invasion of the German troops would be tolerated. In
   that case it would be easy for the Fuehrer to give
   Czechoslovakia, in the new organisation of Czech life, a
   generous life of her own autonomy, and a certain
   national liberty.

                                                   [Page 99]
   
   We were witnessing at the moment a great historical
   turning-point. He would not like to torture and de-
   nationalise the Czechs. He also did not do all that
   because of hatred but in order to protect Germany. If
   Czechoslovakia in the fall of last year would not have
   yielded" - I suppose that is a bad translation for "had
   not yielded" -"the Czech people would have been
   exterminated. Nobody could have prevented him from doing-
   that. It was his will that the Czech people should live
   a full national life and he believed firmly that a way
   could be found which would make far-reaching concessions
   to the Czech desires. If fighting should break out
   tomorrow, the pressure would result in counter-pressure.
   One would annihilate another and it would then not be
   possible any more for him to give the promised
   alleviations. Within two days the Czech Army would not
   exist any more. Of course, Germans would also be killed
   and this would result in a hatred which would force him"
   - that is, Hitler - "because of his instinct of self-
   preservation, not to grant autonomy any more. The world
   would not move a muscle. He felt pity for the Czech
   people when he was reading the foreign Press. It would
   leave the impression on him which could be summarised in
   a German proverb: 'The Moor has done his duty, the Moor
   may go'.
   
   That was the state of affairs. There existed two trends
   in Germany, a harder one which did not want any
   concessions and wished in memory to the past that
   Czechoslovakia would be conquered with blood, and
   another one, the attitude of which corresponded with the
   suggestions which he had just mentioned.
   
   That was the reason why he had asked Hacha to come
   there. This invitation was the last good deed which he
   could do for the Czech people. If it should come to a
   fight, the bloodshed would also force us to hate. But
   the visit of Hacha could perhaps prevent the extreme.
   Perhaps it would contribute to finding a form of
   construction which would be more far-reaching for
   Czechoslovakia than she could ever have hoped for in the
   old Austria. His aim was only to create the necessary
   security for the German people.
   
   The hours went past. At 6 o'clock the troops would march
   in. He was almost ashamed to say that there was one
   German division to each Czech battalion. The military
   action was no small one, but planned with all
   generosity. He would advise him" - that is, Adolf Hitler
   would advise Paul Hacha - "now to retire with
   Chvalkowsky in order to discuss what should be done."

In his reply to this long harangue, Hacha, according to the
German minutes, said that he agreed that resistance would be
useless. He expressed doubt that he would be able to issue
the necessary orders to the Czech Army in the four hours
left to him, before the German Army crossed the Czech
border. He asked if the object of the invasion was to disarm
the Czech Army. If so, he indicated that might possibly be
arranged. Hitler replied that his decision was final; that
it was well known what a decision of the Fuehrer meant. He
turned to the circle of Nazi conspirators surrounding him,
for their support, and you will remember that the defendants
Goering, Ribbentrop and Keitel were all present. The only
possibility of disarming the Czech Army, Hitler said, was by
the intervention of the German Army.

I read now one paragraph from Page 4 of the English version
of the

                                                  [Page 100]

German minutes of this infamous meeting. It is the next to
the last paragraph on Page 4.

   "The Fuehrer states that his decision was irrevocable.
   It was well known what a decision of the Fuehrer meant.
   He did not see any other possibility for disarmament and
   asked the other gentlemen" - that is, including Goering,
   Ribbentrop, and Keitel - "whether they shared his
   opinion, a question which was answered in the
   affirmative. The only possibility of disarming the Czech
   Army was by the German Army".

At this sad point Hacha and Chvalkowsky retired from the
room.

I now offer in evidence Document 2861-PS, an excerpt from
the official British War Blue Book, at Page 24, and I offer
it as Exhibit USA 119. This is an official document of the
British Government, of which the Tribunal will take judicial
notice under the provisions of Article 21 of the Charter.
The part from which I read is a dispatch from the British
Ambassador, Neville Henderson, describing a conversation
with the defendant Goering, in which the events of this
early morning meeting are set forth.

   "From: Neville Henderson. To: Viscount Halifax. Berlin,
   28th May, 1939. My Lord: I paid a short visit to Field
   Marshal Goering at Karinhall yesterday."

Then I skip two paragraphs and begin reading with paragraph
four. I am sorry, I think I had better read all of those
paragraphs.

   "Field Marshal Goering, who had obviously just been
   talking to someone else on the subject, began by
   inveighing against the attitude which was being adopted
   in England towards everything German and particularly in
   respect of the gold held there on behalf of the National
   Bank of Czechoslovakia. Before, however, I had had time
   to reply, he was called to the telephone and on his
   return did not revert to this specific question. He
   complained, instead, of British hostility in general, of
   our political and economic encirclement of Germany, and
   the activities of what he described as the war party in
   England ..
   
   I told the Field Marshal that before speaking of British
   hostility, he must understand why the undoubted change
   of feeling, in England towards Germany had taken place.
   As he knew quite well, the basis of all the discussions
   between Mr. Chamberlain and Herr Hitler last year had
   been to the effect that, once the Sudetens were allowed
   to enter the Reich, Germany would leave the Czechs alone
   and would do nothing to interfere with their
   independence. Herr Hitler had given a definite assurance
   to that effect in his letter to the Prime Minister of
   the 27th September. By yielding to the advice of his
   'wild men' and deliberately annexing Bohemia and
   Moravia, Herr Hitler had not only broken his word to Mr.
   Chamberlain but had infringed the whole principle of
   self-determination on which the Munich agreement rested.
   
   At this point, the Field Marshal interrupted me with a
   description of President Hacha's visit to Berlin. I told
   Field Marshal Goering that it was not possible to talk
   of free will when I understood that he himself had
   threatened to bombard Prague with his aeroplanes, if
   Doctor Hacha refused to sign. The Field Marshal did not
   deny the fact but explained how the point had arisen.
   According to him, Doctor Hacha had from the first been
   prepared to sign everything but had said that
   constitutionally he could not do so without reference
   first to Prague. After considerable difficulty,
   telephonic communication with Prague was
   
                                                  [Page 101]
   
   obtained and the Czech Government had agreed, while
   adding that they could not guarantee that one Czech
   battalion at least would not fire on German troops. It
   was, he said, only at that stage that he had warned
   Doctor Hacha that, if German lives were lost, he would
   bombard Prague. The Field Marshal also repeated, in
   reply to some comment of mine, the story that the
   advance occupation of Vitkovice had been effected solely
   in order to forestall the Poles who, he said, were known
   to have the intention of seizing this valuable area at
   the first opportunity."

I also invite the attention of the Tribunal and the judicial
notice of the Tribunal, to dispatch No. 77, in the French
Official Yellow Book, at Page 7 of the book, identified as
our Document 2943-PS, appearing in the document book under
that number, and I ask that it be given an identifying
number Exhibit USA 114. This is a dispatch from M.
Coulondre, the French Ambassador, and it gives another well-
informed version of this same midnight meeting. The account,
which I shall present to the Court, of the remainder of this
meeting is drawn from these two sources, the British Blue
Book and the French Yellow Book. I think the Court may be
interested to read somewhat further at large in those two
books, which furnish a great deal of the background of all
of these matters.

When President Hacha left the conference room in the Reich
Chancellery, he was in such a state of exhaustion that he
needed medical attention from a physician who was
conveniently on hand for that purpose, a German physician.
When the two Czechs returned to the room, the Nazi
conspirators again told them of the power and invincibility
of the Wehrmacht. They reminded them that in three hours, at
six in the morning --

THE PRESIDENT: You are not reading?

MR. ALDERMAN: I am not reading, I am summarising.

THE PRESIDENT: Go on.

MR. ALDERMAN: They reminded him that in three hours - at six
in the morning - the German Army would cross the border. The
defendant Goering boasted of what the Wehrmacht would do if
the Czech forces dared to resist the invading Germans.

If German lives were lost, defendant Goering said, his
Luftwaffe would blast half of Prague into ruins in two hours
and that, he said, would be only the beginning.

Under this threat of imminent and merciless attack by land
and air, the aged President of Czechoslovakia, at four-
thirty in the morning, signed the document with which the
Nazi conspirators confronted him and which they had already
had prepared. This Document is TC-49, the declaration of
15th  March, 1939, one of the series of documents which will
be presented by the British Prosecutor, and from it I quote
this, on the assumption that it will subsequently be
introduced:

   "The President of the Czechoslovakian State entrusts
   with entire confidence the destiny of the Czech people
   and the Czech country to the hands of the Fuehrer of the
   German Reich" - really a rendezvous with destiny.

While the Nazi officials were threatening and intimidating
the representatives of the Czech Government, the Wehrmacht
had in some areas already crossed the Czech border.

                                                  [Page 102]

I offer in evidence Document 2860-PS, another excerpt from
the British Blue Book, of which I ask the Court to take
judicial notice. This is a speech by Lord Halifax, the
Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, from which I quote
one passage. This is Document 2860-PS, which I have already
offered and had identified:

   "It is to be observed" - and the fact is surely not
   without significance - "that the towns of Maehrisch-
   Ostrau and Vitkovice were actually, occupied by German
   S.S. detachments on the evening of the 14th March, while
   the President and the Foreign Minister of Czechoslovakia
   were still on their way to Berlin and before any
   discussion had taken place."

At dawn on March 15th, German troops poured into
Czechoslovakia from all sides. Hitler issued an order of the
day to the Armed Forces and a proclamation to the German
people, which stated distinctly "Czechoslovakia has ceased
to exist."

On the following day, in contravention of Article 81 of the
Treaty of Versailles, Czechoslovakia was formally
incorporated into the German Reich under the name of "The
Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia." The decree is Document
TC-51, another of the documents which the British delegation
will present to the Tribunal later in this week. It was
signed in Prague on 16th March, 1939, by Hitler, Lammers and
the defendants Frick and von Ribbentrop.

I should like to quote the first sentence of this decree.
"The Bohemian and Moravian countries belonged for a
millennium to the Lebensraum 'living space' of the German
people." The remainder of the decree sets forth in bleak
detail the extent to which Czechoslovakia henceforth would
be subjected to Germany. A German Protector was to be
appointed by the German Fuehrer for the so-called
"Protectorate," the defendant von Neurath. God deliver us
from such protectors!! The German Government assumed charge
of their foreign affairs and of their customs and of their
excise. It was specified that German garrisons and military
establishments would be maintained in the Protectorate. At
the same time the extremist leaders in Slovakia who, at
German Nazi insistence, had done so much to undermine the
Czech State found that the independence of their week-old
State was itself in effect qualified.

I offer in evidence Document 1439-PS as Exhibit USA - I need
not offer that. I think it is a decree in the
Reichsgesetzblatt, of which I ask the Tribunal to take
judicial notice, and it is identified as our Document 1439-
PS. It appears at Page 606, 1939, Reichsgesetzblatt, Part
Il.

The covering declaration is signed by the defendant
Ribbentrop, Minister of Foreign Affairs; and then there is a
heading: "Treaty of Protection to be extended by the German
Reich to the State of Slovakia."

   "The German Government and the Slovakian Government have
   agreed, after the Slovakian State has placed itself
   under the protection of the German Reich, to regulate by
   treaty the consequences resulting from this fact. For
   this purpose, the undersigned representatives of the two
   Governments have agreed on the following provisions:
   
   Article 1. The German Reich undertakes to protect the
   political independence of the State of Slovakia and the
   integrity of its territory.
   
   Article 2. For the purpose of making effective the
   protection undertaken by the German Reich, the German
   Armed Forces shall have the right, at all times, to
   construct military installations and to keep them

                                                  [Page 103]

   garrisoned in the strength they deem necessary, in an
   area delimited on its Western side by the frontiers of
   the State of Slovakia, and on its Eastern side by a line
   formed by the Eastern rims of the Lower Carpathians, the
   White Carpathians, and the Javernik Mountains."

Then I skip.

   "The Government of Slovakia will organise its military
   forces in close agreement with the German Armed Forces."

I also offer in evidence Document 2793-PS.

THE PRESIDENT: Would not that be a convenient time to break
off? I understand, too, that it would be for the convenience
of the defence counsel if the Tribunal adjourn for an hour
and a quarter rather than for an hour at midday, and
accordingly, the Tribunal will retire at 12.45 and sit again
at 2 o'clock.

(A recess was taken.)

MR. ALDERMAN: May it please the Tribunal, this secret
protocol between Germany and Slovakia provided for close
economic and financial collaboration between them. Mineral
resources and sub-soil rights were placed at the disposal of
the German Government.

I offer in evidence Document 2793-PS, Exhibit USA 120, and
from it I read paragraph 3:

   "Investigation, development and utilisation of the
   Slovak natural resources. In this respect the basic
   principle is that, in so far as they are not needed to
   meet Slovakia's own requirements, they should be placed
   in the first place at Germany's disposal. The entire
   soil research" - Bodenforschung is the German word -
   "will be placed under the Reich Agency for soil-
   research." That is the Reichsstelle fur Bodenforschung.
   "The Government of the Slovak State will soon start an
   investigation to determine whether the present owners of
   concessions and privileges have fulfilled the industrial
   obligations prescribed by law, and it will cancel
   concessions and privileges in cases where these duties
   have been neglected."

In their private conversations the Nazi conspirators gave
abundant evidence that they considered Slovakia a mere
puppet State-in effect a German possession.


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