The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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I think it is unnecessary to read any more of that letter,
as I have already indicated to the Tribunal. The answer was
Hitler's order to his Armed Forces to invade Poland on the
following morning.

That Document is TC-72, Number 124, which becomes Exhibit GB
59.

I put in evidence also the next Document, TC-72, Number 126,
which becomes Exhibit GB 60. This is the reply to that
letter from the President of the Polish Republic, in which
he accepts the offer to settle the differences by any of the
peaceful methods suggested.

                                                  [Page 163]

On 25th August, no reply having been received from the
German Government, President Roosevelt wrote again:-

   "I have this hour received from the President of Poland
   a reply to the message which I addressed to your
   Excellency and to him last night."

The text of the Polish reply is then set out.

   "Your Excellency has repeatedly publicly stated that the
   aims and objects sought by the German Reich were just
   and reasonable.
   
   In his reply to my message the President of Poland has
   made it plain that the Polish Government is willing,
   upon the basis set forth in my message, to agree to
   solve the controversy which has arisen between the
   Republic of Poland and the German Reich, by direct
   negotiation or the process of conciliation.
   
   Countless human lives can yet be saved, and hope may
   still be restored that the nations of the modern world
   may even now construct the foundation for a peaceful and
   happier relationship, if you and the Government of the
   German Reich will agree to the pacific means of
   settlement accepted by the Government of Poland. All the
   world prays that Germany, too, will accept."

But, my Lord, Germany would not accept, nor would they
accept the appeals by the Pope which appear in the next
document.

I am sorry - the President of Poland's reply TC-72, Number
127, becomes Exhibit GB 61.

They would not agree to those proposals, nor would they pay
heed to the Pope's appeal, which is TC-72, Number 139, on
the same date, the 24th August, and which becomes Exhibit GB
62. I do not think it is necessary to read that. It is an
appeal in similar terms. And there is yet a further appeal
from the Pope on the 31st August, TC-72, Number 4, which
becomes Exhibit GB 63. It is 141; I beg your pardon. It is
TC-72, Number 141. I think the printing is wrong in the
Tribunal's translation:-

   "The Pope is unwilling to abandon hope that pending
   negotiations may lead to a just pacific solution, such
   as the whole world continues to pray for."

I think it is unnecessary to read the remainder of that. If
the Pope had realised that those negotiations, to which he
referred as the "pending negotiations", in the last days of
August, which we are about to deal with now, were completely
bogus negotiations, bogus in so far as Germany was
concerned, and put forward, as indeed they were, and as I
hope to illustrate to the Tribunal in a moment, simply as an
endeavour to dissuade England, either by threat or by bribe,
from meeting her obligations to Poland, then, perhaps, he
would have saved himself the trouble of ever addressing that
last appeal.

It will be seen quite clearly that those final German
offers, to which I now turn, were no offers in the accepted
sense of the word at all; that there was never any intention
behind them of entering into discussions, negotiation,
arbitration, or any other form of peaceful settlement with
Poland. They were just an attempt to make it rather easier
to seize and conquer Poland than appeared likely if England
and France observed the obligations that they had
undertaken.

Perhaps I might, before dealing with the documents,
summarise in a word those last negotiations.

                                                  [Page 164]

On the 22nd August, as we have seen, the German-Soviet Pact
was signed. On the 24th August, Hitler ordered his armies to
march the following morning. After those orders had been
given, the news apparently reached the German Government
that the British and Polish Governments had actually signed
a formal pact of non-aggression and of mutual assistance. Up
to that time, it will be remembered, the position was that
the Prime Minister had made a statement in the House and a
joint communique had been issued - I think on the 6th April-
that they would in fact assist one another if either were
attacked; but no formal agreement had been signed.

Now, on the 24th August, after those orders had been given
by Hitler, the news came that such a formal document had
been signed, and the invasion was postponed for the sole
purpose of making one last effort to keep England and France
out of the war - not to end the war, not to cancel the war,
but to keep them out.

And to do that, on the 25th August, having postponed the
invasion, Hitler issued a verbal communique to Sir Neville
Henderson which, as the Tribunal will see, was a mixture of
bribe and threat, with which he hoped to persuade England to
keep out.

On the 28th August, Sir Neville Henderson handed to Hitler
the British Government's reply to that communique. That
reply stressed that the difference ought to be settled by
agreement. The British Government put forward the view that
Danzig should be guaranteed, and, indeed, any agreement come
to should be guaranteed by other powers, a view which, of
course, in any event would have been quite unacceptable to
the German Reich.

As I say, one really need not consider what would have been
acceptable and not acceptable, because once it had been made
clear - as indeed it was in that British Government's reply
of the 28th August - that England would not be prevented
from assisting Poland in the event of German aggression, the
German Government really had no concern with further
negotiations, but were concerned only to afford themselves
some kind of justification and to prevent themselves
appearing too blatantly to turn down all the appeals to
reason that were being put forward.

On the 29th August, in the evening at 7.15 p.m., Hitler
handed to Sir Neville Henderson the German Government's
answer to the British Government's reply of the 28th. And
here again, in this document, it is quite clear that the
whole object of it was to put forward something which was
quite unacceptable. He agrees to enter into direct
conversations as suggested by the British Government, but he
demanded that those conversations must be based upon the
return of Danzig to the Reich, and also of the whole of the
Corridor.

It will be remembered that hitherto, even when he alleged
that Poland had renounced the 1934 agreement, even then he
had put forward as his demands the return of Danzig alone,
and the arrangement for an extraterritorial autobahn and
railroad running through the Corridor to East Prussia. That
was unacceptable then. To make quite certain, he now demands
the whole of the Corridor, no question of an autobahn or
railway. The whole thing must become German.

Even so, to make doubly certain that the offer would not be
accepted, he says "On those terms I am prepared to enter
into discussion, but to do so, as the matter is urgent, I
expect a plenipotentiary with full powers from the

                                                  [Page 165]

Polish Government to be here in Berlin by midnight tomorrow
night, the 30th
August."

This offer was made at 7.15 p.m. on the evening of the 29th.
That offer had to be transmitted, first, to London; and from
London to Warsaw; and from Warsaw the Polish Government had
to give authority to their Ambassador in Berlin. So that the
timing made it quite impossible to get authority to their
Ambassador in Berlin, by midnight, the following night. It
allowed them no kind of opportunity for discussing the
matters at all. As Sir Neville Henderson described it, the
offer amounted to an ultimatum.

At midnight, on the 30th August, at the time by which the
Polish plenipotentiary was expected to arrive, Sir Neville
Henderson saw Ribbentrop, and I shall read to you the
account of that interview, in which Sir Neville Henderson
handed a further message to Ribbentrop, in reply to the
message that had been handed to him the previous evening,
and at which Ribbentrop read out in German a two or three
page document which purported to be the German proposal to
be discussed at the meeting between them and the Polish
Government. He read it out quickly in German. He refused to
hand a copy of it to the British Ambassador. He passed no
copy of it at all to the Polish Ambassador; so that there
was no kind of possible chance of the Poles ever having
before them the proposals which Germany was so graciously
and magnanimously offering to discuss.

On the following day, the 31st August, M. Lipski saw
Ribbentrop and could get no further than to be asked whether
he came with full powers. When he did not - when he said he
did not come with full powers, Ribbentrop said that he would
put the position before the Fuehrer. But, in actual fact, it
was much too late to put any position to the Fuehrer by that
time, because on the 31st August - I am afraid I am unable
to give you the exact time - but on the 31st August, Hitler
had already issued his Directive No. 1 for the conduct of
the war, in which he laid down H-hour as being a quarter to
five the following morning, the 1st September. And on the
evening of the 31st August, at 9 o'clock, the German radio
published, broadcast, the proposals which Ribbentrop had
read out to Sir Neville Henderson the night before, saying
that these were the proposals which had been made for
discussion, but that as no Polish Plenipotentiary had
arrived to discuss them, the German Government assumed that
they were turned down. That broadcast, at 9 o'clock on the
evening of the 31st August, was the first that the Poles had
ever heard of the proposals, and was the first, in fact,
that the British Government or its representatives in Berlin
knew about them, other than what had been heard when
Ribbentrop had read them out and refused to give a written
copy, on the evening of the 30th.

After that broadcast, at 9.15, perhaps when the broadcast
was proceeding a copy of those proposals was handed to Sir
Neville Henderson, for the first time.

Having thus summarised for the convenience, I hope, of the
Tribunal, the timing of events during that last week, I
would ask the Tribunal to refer briefly to the remaining
documents in that document book.

I first put in evidence an extract from the interrogation of
the defendant Goering, which was taken on the 29th August,
1945.

DR. STAHMER (Counsel for defendant Goering): As defence
counsel for the defendant Goering, I object to the use of
the document just announced,

                                                  [Page 166]

which is an extract of testimony given by the defendant
Goering who is here in Court. An opportunity is given to
call on him as a witness, at any moment.

THE PRESIDENT: Is that your objection?

DR. STAHMER: Yes, Sir.

THE PRESIDENT: The Tribunal does not understand the ground
of
your objection, in view of Article 15 C and Article 16 B of
the Charter. Article 15 C provides that the Chief
Prosecutors shall undertake, among others, the duty of the
preliminary examination of all necessary witnesses and of
the defendants; and Article 16 provides that in order to
ensure fair trial for the defendants, the following
procedure shall be followed:
B-During any preliminary examination of a defendant, he
shall have the right to give any explanation relevant to the
charges made against him; C-A preliminary examination of a
defendant shall be conducted in, or translated into, a
language which the defendant understands. Those provisions
of the Charter, in the opinion of the Tribunal, show that
the defendants may be interrogated and that their
interrogations may be put in evidence.

DR. STAHMER: I was prompted by the idea that whenever it is
possible in connection with the taking of evidence - to call
a witness who is present, that in that instance
interrogation of the witness is preferable, because the
evidence thus obtained is stronger.

THE PRESIDENT: You certainly have the opportunity of
summoning the defendant for whom you appear to give evidence
himself, but that has nothing to do with the admissibility
of his interrogation - his preliminary examination.

LIEUTENANT-COLONEL GRIFFITH-JONES: This extract is TC-90,
which I put in as Exhibit GB 64. I quote from the middle of
the first answer. It is at the end of the 7th line.

The defendant Goering says there: "On the day when England
gave her official guarantee to Poland, the Fuehrer called me
on the telephone and told me that he had stopped the planned
invasion of Poland, I asked him then whether this was just
temporary, or for good. He said 'No, I will have to see
whether we can eliminate British intervention'".

THE PRESIDENT: Ought you not read the question before the
answer?

LIEUTENANT-COLONEL GRIFFITH-JONES: I go back to the
question;

   "When the negotiations of the Polish Foreign Minister in
   London brought about the Anglo-Polish Treaty, at the end
   of March or the beginning of April, was it not fairly
   obvious that a peaceful solution was impossible?

   A. 'Yes, it seemed impossible after my conviction.'"

I think that must be a bad translation - "according to my
conviction".

THE PRESIDENT: Yes.

LIEUTENANT-COLONEL GRIFFITH-JONES:

   But not according to the convictions of the Fuehrer.
   When it was mentioned to the Fuehrer that England had
   given her guarantee to Poland, he said that England was
   also guaranteeing Roumania, but then, when the Russians
   took Bessarabia, nothing happened; and this made a big
   impression on him. I made a mistake here. At this time
   Poland only had the promise of a guarantee. The
   guarantee itself was given only shortly before the
   beginning of the war. "On the day when England gave her
   official guarantee to Poland, the Fuehrer called me on
   the telephone and told me that he had stopped the
   planned invasion of Poland. I asked him then whether
   this was just temporary, or for good. He said, 'No, I
   will have to see whether we can eliminate British inter-
   
                                                  [Page 167]
   
   vention.' So, then I asked him, 'Do you think that it
   will be any different within four or five days ?' At
   this same time - I do not know whether you know about
   that, Colonel - I was in connection with Lord Halifax by
   a special courier, outside the regular diplomatic
   channels, to do everything to stop war with England.
   After the guarantee, I thought an English declaration of
   war inevitable. I had already told him in the spring of
   1939, after occupying Czechoslovakia, that from now on,
   if he tried to solve the Polish question, he would have
   to count on the enmity of England. That was in 1939,
   after the Protectorate.
   
   Q. Is it not a fact that preparations for the campaign
   against Poland were
   Originally supposed to have been completed by the end of
   August, 1939?
   
   A. Yes.
   
   Q. And that the final issuance of the order for the
   campaign against Poland came some time between the 15th
   and 20th August, 1939, after the signing of the treaty
   with Soviet Russia? - The dates obviously are wrong
   there.
   
   A. Yes, that is true.
   
   Q. Is it not also a fact that the start of the campaign
   was ordered for the 25th August, but on the 24th August,
   in the afternoon, it was postponed until September 1st,
   in order to await the results of new diplomatic
   manoeuvres with the English Ambassador?
   
   A. Yes."

My only comment upon that document is in respect to the
second paragraph, where Goering is purporting not to want
war with England. The Court will remember how it was
Goering, after the famous speech on the 22nd August to his
commanders-in-chief, who got up and thanked the Fuehrer for
his exhortation and assured him that the armed forces would
play their part.

I omit the next document in the document book, which carries
the matter little further, and we go on to Hitler's verbal
communique, as it is called in the British Blue Book, which
he handed to Sir Neville Henderson on the 25th August, after
he had heard of the signing of the Anglo-Polish agreement,
and in an endeavour to keep England from meeting her
obligations. He states, in the first paragraph, after
hearing the British Ambassador, that he is anxious to make
one more effort to save war. In the second paragraph, he
asserts again that Poland's provocations were unbearable,
and I quote Paragraph 2:-

   "Germany was in all circumstances determined to abolish
   these Macedonian conditions on her Eastern frontier and,
   what is more, to do so in the interests of quiet and
   order, and also in the interests of European peace.
   
   The problem of Danzig and the Corridor must be solved.
   The British Prime Minister had made a speech which was
   not in the least calculated to induce any change in the
   German attitude. At the most, the result of this speech
   could be a bloody and incalculable war, between Germany
   and Poland."

THE PRESIDENT: (interposing) And England.

LIEUTENANT-COLONEL GRIFFITH-JONES: I beg your pardon -

   "and England. Such a war would be bloodier than that of
   1914 to 1918. In contrast to the last war, Germany would
   no longer have to fight on two fronts." One sees the
   threats - veiled threats - appearing in this paragraph.
   "Agreement with Russia was unconditional, and signified
   a change in the foreign
   
                                                  [Page 168]
   
   policy of the Reich which would last a very long time.
   Russia and Germany would never again take up arms
   against each other. Apart from this, the agreements
   reached with Russia would also render Germany secure
   economically for the longest possible period of war.
   
   The Fuehrer had always wanted Anglo-German
   understanding. War between England and Germany could at
   best bring some profit to Germany, but none at all to
   England."


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