The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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Last-Modified: 1999/09/13


They could not possibly bombard or destroy any place where
there happened to be Germans living. Warsaw, Rotterdam,
England, London, - I wonder whether any sentiments of that
kind were held in consideration in regard to those places.

   "Ciano asked how soon, according to the Fuehrer's view,
   the Danzig question must be settled. The Fuehrer
   answered that this settlement must be made one way or
   another by the end of August. To the question of Ciano
   as to what solution the Fuehrer proposed, Hitler
   answered that Poland must give up political control of
   Danzig, but that Polish economic interests would
   obviously be preserved and that Polish general behaviour
   must contribute to a general lessening of the tension.
   He doubted whether Poland was ready to accept this
   solution since, up to the present, the German proposals
   had been refused. The Fuehrer had made this proposal
   personally to Beck, on his visit to Obersalzberg. They
   were extremely favourable to Poland. In return for the
   political surrender of Danzig, under a complete
   guarantee of Polish interests, and the establishment of
   a connection between East Prussia and the Reich, Germany
   would have given a frontier guarantee, a 25-year pact of
   friendship, and the participation of Poland in influence
   over Slovakia. Beck had received the proposal with the
   remark that he was willing to examine it. The plain
   refusal of it came only as a result of English
   intervention. The general Polish aims could be seen
   clearly from the Press. They wanted the whole of East
   Prussia, and even proposed to advance to Berlin."

That was something quite different.

The meeting was held over that night, and it continued on
the following day.

It will be seen, on Page 7, in the middle of the page:-

   "The Fuehrer had therefore come to two definite
   conclusions:-
   
   (1) in the event of any further provocation, he would
   immediately attack;
   
   (2) if Poland did not clearly and plainly state her
   political intention, she must be forced to do so."

I go to the last line on that page:-

   "As matters now stand, Germany and Italy would simply
   not exist further in the world through the lack of
   space; not only was there no more space, but existing
   space was completely blockaded by its present
   possessors; they sat like misers with their heaps of
   gold, and deluded themselves about their riches. The
   Western Democracies were dominated by the desire to rule
   the world and would not regard Germany and Italy as
   their class. This psychological element of contempt was
   perhaps the worst thing about the whole business. It
   could only be settled by a life and death struggle,
   which the two Axis partners could meet more easily
   because their interests did not clash on any point.
   
   The Mediterranean was obviously the most ancient domain
   for which Italy had a claim to predominance. The Duce
   himself had summed up the position to him in the words
   that Italy was already the dominant power in the
   Mediterranean. On the other hand, the Fuehrer said that
   
                                                  [Page 153]
   
   Germany must take the old German road Eastwards and that
   this road was also desirable for economic reasons, and
   that Italy had geographical and historical claims to
   permanency in the Mediterranean. Bismarck had recognised
   it and had said as much in his well-known letter to
   Manzini. The interests of Germany and Italy went in
   quite different directions and there never could be a
   conflict between them.
   
   Ribbentrop added that if the two problems mentioned in
   yesterday's conversations were settled, Italy and
   Germany would have their backs free for work against the
   West. The Fuehrer said that Poland must be struck down
   so that for 50 years" - there appears to have been a
   query raised in the translation - "for so many years she
   would be incapable of fighting. In such a case, matters
   in the West could be settled.
   
   Ciano thanked the Fuehrer for his extremely clear
   explanation of the situation. He had, on his side,
   nothing to add and would give the Duce full details. He
   asked for more definite information on one point, in
   order that the Duce might have all the facts before him.
   The Duce might indeed have to make no decision because
   the Fuehrer believed that the conflict with Poland could
   be localised on the basis of long experience. He - Ciano
   - quite saw that so far the Fuehrer had always been
   right in his judgement of the position. If, however,
   Mussolini had no decision to make, he had to take
   certain measures of precaution, and therefore Ciano
   would put the following questions.
   
   The Fuehrer had mentioned two conditions under which he
   would take Poland (1) if Poland were guilty of serious
   provocation, and (2) if Poland did not make her
   political position clear. The first of these conditions
   depended on the decision of the Fuehrer, and German
   reaction could follow in a moment. The second condition
   required certain decisions as to time. Ciano therefore
   asked what was the date by which Poland must have
   satisfied Germany about her political condition. He
   realised that this date depended upon climatic
   conditions.
   
   The Fuehrer answered that the decision of Poland must be
   made clear at the latest by the end of August. Since,
   however, the decisive part of military operations
   against Poland could be carried out within a period of
   14 days, and the final liquidation would need only
   another four weeks, it could be finished at the end of
   September or the beginning of October. These could be
   regarded as the dates. It followed, therefore, that the
   last date on which he could begin to take action was the
   end of August.
   
   Finally, the Fuehrer assured Ciano that since his youth
   he had favoured German-Italian co-operation, and that no
   other view was expressed in his books. He had always
   thought that Germany and Italy were naturally suited for
   collaboration, since there were no conflicts of interest
   between them. He was personally fortunate to live at a
   time in which, apart from himself, there was one other
   statesman who would stand out great and unique in
   history; that he could be this man's friend was for him
   a matter of great personal satisfaction, and if the hour
   of common battle struck he would always be found on the
   side of the Duce."

THE PRESIDENT: We might adjourn now for ten minutes.

(A recess was taken.)

                                                  [Page 154]

LIEUTENANT-COLONEL GRIFFITH-JONES: If the Tribunal please, I
never actually put that last document that I was referring
to in as an exhibit. It is Document TC-77, which becomes
Exhibit GB 48.

Having referred the Tribunal to those documents showing that
the military preparations were throughout the whole period
in hand and nearing their completion, I would refer to one
letter from the defendant Funk, showing that at the same
time the economists had not been idle. It is a letter dated
26th August, 1939, in which Funk is writing to his Fuehrer.
He says:-

   "My Fuehrer
   
   I thank you sincerely and heartily for your most
   friendly and kind wishes on the occasion of my birthday.
   How happy and how grateful to you we ought to be for
   being granted the favour of experiencing these
   overwhelmingly great and world-changing times, and
   taking part in the mighty events of these days.
   
   The information given to me by Field Marshal Goering,
   that you, my Fuehrer, yesterday evening approved in
   principle the measures prepared by me for financing the
   war, and for shaping the relationship between wages and
   prices, and for carrying through emergency sacrifices,
   made me deeply happy. I hereby report to you, with all
   respect, that I have succeeded by means of precautions
   taken during the last few months, in making the
   Reichsbank internally so strong and externally so
   unassailable, that even the most serious shocks in the
   international money and credit market cannot affect us
   in the least. In the meantime, I have quite
   inconspicuously changed into gold all the assets of the
   Reichsbank and of the whole of the German economy abroad
   which it was possible to lay hands on. Under the
   proposals, I have prepared for a ruthless elimination of
   all consumption which is not of vital importance, and of
   all public expenditure and public works which are not of
   importance for the war effort. We will be in a position
   to cope with all demands on finance and economy, without
   any serious shocks. I have considered it my duty as the
   general plenipotentiary for economy appointed by you to
   make this report and solemn promise to you, my Fuehrer.
   
   Heil my Fuehrer (signed) Walter Funk."

That Document is PS-699, and it goes in as Exhibit GB 49.

It is difficult in view of that letter to see how the
defendant Funk can say that he did not know of the
preparations and of the intentions of the German Government
to wage war.

I come now to the speech which Hitler made on 22nd August at
Obersalzberg to his commanders-in-chief. By the end of the
third week of August, preparations were complete. That
speech has already been read to the Tribunal. I would,
perhaps, ask the Tribunal's patience if I quoted literally
half a dozen lines so as to carry the story on in sequence.

On the first page of PS-1014, which is already Exhibit US
30, the fourth line:

   "Everybody shall have to make a point of it that wt were
   determined from the beginning to fight the Western
   powers."

The second paragraph:

   "Destruction of Poland is in the foreground. The aim is
   the elimination of living forces, not the arrival at a
   certain line. Even if
   
                                                  [Page 155]
   
   war should break out in the West, the destruction of
   Poland shall be the primary objective."

Again, the famous sentence in the third paragraph:

   "I shall give a propagandistic cause for starting the
   war-never mind whether it be plausible or not. The
   victor shall not be asked later on whether we told the
   truth or not. In starting and making a war, not the
   'Recht' is what matters, but victory."

We are going to see only too clearly how that propagandistic
cause, which already had been put in hand, was brought to
its climax.

I turn to the next page, the third paragraph:

   "It was clear to me that a conflict with Poland had to
   come sooner or later. I had already made this decision
   in the spring, but I thought that I would first turn
   against the West in a few years, and only afterwards
   against the East."

I refer to these passages again particularly to emphasise
the intention of the Nazi Government, not only to conquer
Poland, but ultimately, in any event, to wage aggressive war
against the Western Democracies.

I refer lastly to the last page, a passage which becomes
more and more significant as we continue the story of the
last few days. I quote from the fourth paragraph:

   "We need not be afraid of a blockade. The East will
   supply us with grain, cattle, coal, lead and zinc. It is
   a big aim, which demands great efforts. I am only afraid
   that at the last minute some 'Schweinehund' will make a
   proposal for mediation.
   
   The political aim is set farther. A beginning has been
   made for the destruction of England's hegemony. The same
   is open for the soldier, after I have made the political
   preparations."

And, again, the very last line becomes significant later:

   "Goering answers with thanks to the Fuehrer and the
   assurance that the Armed Forces will do their duty."

We pass from the military-economic preparations and his
exhortations to his generals to see how he was developing
the position in the diplomatic and political field.

On 23rd August, 1939, the Danzig Senate passed a decree
whereby Gauleiter Forster was appointed head of the State of
the Free City of Danzig, a position which did not exist
under the statute setting up the constitution of the Free
City. I put in the next document, which is taken from the
British Blue Book, only as evidence of that event, an event
that was, of course, aimed at stirring up the feeling in the
Free City at that time. That is TC-72, Number 62, which
becomes Exhibit GB 50.

At the same time, frontier incidents were being manufactured
by the Nazi Government with the aid of the S.S. The Tribunal
has already heard by evidence of General Lahousen the other
day in which he referred to the provision of Polish uniforms
to the S.S. Forces for these purposes, so that dead Poles
could be found lying about the German side of the frontier.
I refer the Tribunal now to three short reports which
corroborate the evidence that that gentleman came and gave
before you, and they are found in the British Blue Book.
They are reports from the British Ambassador in Warsaw.

The first of them, TC-72, Number 53, which becomes Exhibit
GB 51, is dated 26th August.

                                                  [Page 156]

   "A series of incidents again occurred yesterday on
   German frontier. Polish patrol met a party of Germans
   one kilometre from the East Prussian frontier near
   Pelta. Germans opened fire. Polish patrol replied,
   killing leader, whose body is being returned. German
   bands also crossed Silesian frontier near Szczygle,
   twice near Rybnik and twice elsewhere, firing shots and
   attacking blockhouses and customs posts with machine
   guns and hand grenades. Poles have protested vigorously
   to Berlin.
   
   Gazeta Polska, an inspired leader today, says these are
   more than incidents. They are clearly prepared acts of
   aggression of para-military disciplined detachments,
   supplied with regular army's weapons; in one case it was
   a regular army detachment. Attacks more or less
   continuous.
   
   These incidents did not cause Poland to forsake calm and
   strong attitude of defence. Facts spoke for themselves
   and acts of aggression came from German side. This was
   the best answer to the ravings of German Press.
   
   Ministry for Foreign Affairs state uniformed German
   detachment has since shot Pole across frontier and
   wounded another."

I pass to the next report, TC-72, Number 54, which becomes
Exhibit GB 52- It is dated the same date, 26th August.

   "Ministry for Foreign Affairs categorically deny story
   recounted by Hitler to the French Ambassador, that
   twenty-four Germans were recently killed at Lodz and
   eight at Bielsko. The story is without any foundation
   whatever."

And lastly, TC-72, Number 55, which becomes Exhibit GB 53,
the report of the next day, 27th August.

   "So far as I can judge, German allegations of mass ill-
   treatment of German minority by Polish authorities are
   gross exaggeration, if not complete falsification.
   
   2. There is no sign of any loss of control of situation
   by Polish civil authorities. Warsaw, and so far as I can
   ascertain, the rest of Poland is still completely calm.
   
   3. Such allegations are reminiscent of Nazi propaganda
   methods regarding Czechoslovakia last year.
   
   4. In any case it is purely and simply deliberate German
   provocation in accordance with fixed policy that has
   since March" - since the date when the rest of
   Czechoslovakia was seized and they were ready to go
   against Poland - "that has since March exacerbated
   feeling between the two nationalities. I suppose this
   has been done with the object (a) creating war spirit in
   Germany, (b) impressing public opinion abroad, (c)
   provoking either defeatism or apparent aggression in
   Poland.
   
   5. It has signally failed to achieve either of the two
   latter objects.
   
   6. It is noteworthy that Danzig was hardly mentioned by
   Herr Hitler.
   
   7. German treatment of Czech Jews and Polish minority is
   apparently negligible factor compared with alleged
   sufferings of Germans in Poland where, be it noted, they
   do not amount to more than 10 per cent of the population
   in any commune.
   
   8. In the face of these facts it can hardly be doubted
   that, if Herr Hitler decides on war, it is for the sole
   purpose of destroying Polish independence.
   
                                                  [Page 157]
   
   
   9. I shall lose no opportunity of impressing on Minister
   for Foreign Affairs necessity of doing everything
   possible to prove that Hitler's allegations regarding
   German minority are false."


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