The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Shofar FTP Archive File: imt/tgmwc/tgmwc-09/tgmwc-09-81.08

Archive/File: imt/tgmwc/tgmwc-09/tgmwc-09-81.08
Last-Modified: 1999/12/7

Q. What was your attitude toward the Memel, Danzig and
Polish Corridor question?

A. My attitude was always clean and unequivocal. It was that
Danzig and the Free State, as purely German territory,
should at some date in the near future return to Germany. On
the other hand, we certainly recognised that Poland should
have access to the sea and also a port. Consequently, our
first thought was always that the Free State and Danzig
should be returned to us and that through the Polish
Corridor there should be a German traffic lane. That was the
very small and most modest demand which for a long time was
considered absolutely necessary and seemed to us quite

Q. Another conference with the Fuehrer took place on 23rd
November, 1939. The record of that conference is Document
789-PS, which was presented to the Tribunal. I ask you to
look at this document and then to tell me briefly what your
attitude toward the subject of this conference is.

A. About that I can be comparatively brief. This is an
address before the Commanders-in-Chief of those formations
and armies which were made ready for the attack in the West
after Poland's defeat. After the end of the Polish campaign,
the Fuehrer wanted under all circumstances - and that was
perfectly correct - to transfer the troops in the late
autumn and carry out the blow against France, so that in the
autumn and winter of 1939 the end of this operation could
still be achieved. What prevented him was the weather, since
without using the Air Force he could not carry out this
operation, particularly the penetration of the Maginot Line
at Sedan. He needed good flying weather for at least four or
five days before the beginning of the attack. Merely because
such weather was denied him week after week, the matter
dragged on into the winter and was eventually postponed
until the beginning of the following spring.

But this was at a time when he still believed that he could
carry it through. Therefore he called the Commanders-in-
Chief together and informed them as to the orders for
attack. It was one of those speeches that he customarily
made in such cases. Naturally, since the Fuehrer was not
only a military man but above all a politician, it always
happened that these military speeches, which a soldier would
have confined exclusively to the military-strategical field,
were always to a large extent filled with references to his
political views and his political tendencies or intentions.
It must never be forgotten that he gave such speeches not
only as the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, but also
as the head of the German State; and that is why so
frequently there was such a strong political cast even to
his military speeches.

But no General was asked what his opinions were or whether
he approved of the principal tendencies of the policy or
not. At such meetings he was not even asked whether he
approved of the military plan or not; that happened at
another time. If a matter was concluded and he had discussed
purely strategical-tactical matters with the single
commanders, there came a summary, also strongly political in
cast, in which the concluding thoughts of the Fuehrer were
presented to the Generals. And if - this I emphasise since
it has often played a role here - if a General had been able
to say, "My Fuehrer, I consider your statements wrong and I
am not in accord with the agreements we have made," or "This
is not a policy of which we can approve," it would have
defied understanding. Not because that particular General
would have been shot; but I would have doubted the sanity of
that man, because how does one imagine that a State can be
led if, during a war or before a war which the political
leaders have decided upon, whether wrongly or rightly, the
individual General could vote whether he was going to fight
or not, whether his army corps was going to stay at home or
not, or could say, "I must first ask my division";

                                                  [Page 114]

perhaps one of them would go along and the other stay at
home. That privilege in this case would have to be afforded
the ordinary soldier, too. Perhaps this would be the way to
avoid wars in the future, if one asks every soldier whether
he wants to go home or not. Possibly, but not in a "Fuehrer"
State. This I should like to emphasise, that in every State
of the world the military formula is clearly defined. When
there is a war or when the State leadership decides upon
war, then the military leaders receive their military tasks.
In respect to these, they can take a stand, can make
proposals as to whether they want to press the attack on the
left or the right or in the centre. But whether they thereby
march through a neutral State or not is not the business of
the military leadership. That is entirely the responsibility
of the political leadership of the State. Therefore, there
could be no possibility that a general discussion as to
right or wrong would ensue; rather the Generals had already
received their orders. The Commander-in-Chief had decided
and, therefore, there was nothing left for a soldier to
discuss; and that refers to a Field-Marshal as well as to
the ordinary soldier.

Q. A Fuehrer decree of 7th October, 1939, bears your
signature. In this decree Himmler is given the task of
Germanising. This decree is presented as Document 686-PS.
Please look at this and say what the significance of this
decree is?

A. This decree of 7th October, 1939, was issued after the
Polish campaign had ended. Poland at that time had been
conquered and the Polish State as such had ceased to exist.
I draw your attention to the note of the then People's
Commissar for Foreign Affairs in Russia, Molotov, who
defines his attitude as follows: The injustice which Germany
had felt, when in the Treaty of Versailles German provinces
were detached and given over to Poland, had been compensated
for by the victory of weapons. It was therefore a matter of
course for us that that part of Poland which, until 1918,
had been German was again given back, that is, returned to
Germany. But in that territory, in the course of years, more
than one million Germans who had formerly lived there, had
property there, particularly farms, agricultural property,
etc., had been thrown out, expelled and dispossessed. That
is quite clear from numerous complaints which in the course
of the years after 1919 had been made to the League of
Nations about this matter; and a study of all these
complaints and of all the events which had been reported
there, which must still be in the archives at Geneva, will
prove to what an enormous extent the Polonising of these
German territories was carried out. This Fuehrer decree of
7th October, 1939, aimed to put an end to that and to make
these territories German once more, that is, that those
farms and possessions from which Germans had been driven
should once more come into the hands of Germans. The fact
that this task was given to Himmler did not meet with my
full agreement; but at the moment that is not of decisive
importance. He was given this task not in his capacity as
Chief of the Police, but, as is known, he was always
particularly and keenly interested in the question of the
new development of the German individual, and therefore this
office "German Folkdom," or whatever it was called - just a
moment, it is immaterial anyway - therefore Himmler was
given this task. The Fuehrer issued the law. I naturally
also signed, since I was the Chairman of the Ministerial
Council at the time, and then it was also signed by the
Chief of the Chancellery, Lammers. These signatures are a
matter of course. I take a positive stand to this; it was
quite in accord with my views, that where the Germans had
been driven out, they should return to these German
territories, but I want to draw your attention to the fact
that this, properly said, is a question of former German

Q. You mean the occupied Western Polish Provinces?

A. Yes. The Government, for instance, was not established
for purposes of Germanisation. If Germans later were settled
there - and I am not certain of

                                                  [Page 115]

that - then that was not done on the basis of this decree.
You asked about my attitude to the Memel question. I believe
I have emphasised my views about Danzig and the Polish
Corridor. Memel was a comparatively small matter. In Memel,
according to the Treaty of Versailles of the League of
Nations, there was to be a plebiscite. Shortly before that
the Lithuanians occupied Memel and the Memel territory. In
order to prevent the plebiscite Lithuania incorporated Memel
and thereby produced a fait accompli. Complaints of the
German Government at that time naturally were as futile as
all previous complaints to the League of Nations. What the
Lithuanians had done was regretted, it was considered false
and wrong, but nothing could be said or done about going
through with the plebiscite. After the Lithuanians, in
violation of all agreement, had occupied Memel, it was
naturally our absolute national right to rectify this
encroachment and to occupy Memel ourselves.

Q. On 19th October, 1939, you published a decree which
ordered the removal of economic goods from Poland. This
decree has been presented in Document EC-410. I should like
you to explain this decree.

A. This is a decree which represents general instructions as
to what economic procedure should be adopted in all the
Polish territory occupied by us. It regulates the seizure
and administration of property of the Polish State within
the territories occupied by German troops, money and credit
matters, the taking of economic measures, the preparation
for a settlement with foreign creditors which would become
necessary, etc. Confiscation could be carried out only by
the Trustee Office East, etc. It is not so much the removal
of economic goods. That was also not so. On the contrary,
even in the Government General, the economy in existence
there, naturally that economy which could be used for
purposes of war at this time, was strengthened and extended.
That economy which was not absolutely essential was cut down
just as in the rest of Germany and in all other States in
the event of war. As far as those raw materials are
concerned which were available and were important for the
conduct of the war, such as steel or copper or tin, it was
my view, or, to put it better, my intention, that these raw
materials should be converted into manufactured products
there, where they could most quickly be used. If the
locality and its transportation facilities permitted it,
then they should remain there and be used for manufacture.
If it was not possible to use them for manufacture there,
then I would of course not let raw materials of importance
for the war lie there, but would have them brought to
wherever they could most quickly be used to serve the needs
of the war. That is, in general, what this decree says. That
was my basic attitude and my basic instruction. The object
was the quickest possible and most purposeful use for
manufacture wherever possible.

Q. On 19th November, 1945, a Dr. Cajetan Muhlmann made an
affidavit, which has been presented by the prosecution under
Document 3042-PS. In this it says - three short sentences:
  "I was the Special Deputy of the Governor General of
  Poland, Hans Frank, for the safeguarding of art treasures
  in the Government General from October, 1939, to
  September, 1943. This task was given to me by Goering in
  his capacity as the Chairman of the Committee for Reich
  Defence. I confirm that it was the official policy of the
  Governor General Hans Frank to take into custody all
  important works of art which belonged to Polish public
  institutions, private collections and the Church. I
  confirm that the works of art mentioned were actually
  confiscated and I am aware that, in the event of a German
  victory, they would not have remained in Poland but would
  have been used to complete German art holdings."

A. In effect I had nothing directly to do with the
safeguarding of art treasures in Poland, absolutely nothing
in my capacity as Chairman of the Ministerial Council.
However, Muhlmann, whom I knew, did come to see me and told

                                                  [Page 116]

me that he was too busy himself with the safeguarding of art
treasures there. It was my view that these art treasures
should be safeguarded during the war, regardless of what was
to be done with them, so that no destruction would be
possible, whether through fire, bombing or otherwise. I want
to emphasise immediately - I shall refer to this matter
again later in connection with France - that nothing was
taken from these art treasures for my so-called collection.
I mention that just incidentally. That these art treasures
were actually safeguarded is correct, and was also intended,
partly, for the reason that the owners were not there.
Whenever the owners were there, however - I remember the
Count Potosky, for instance - the art collections were left
where they were. The Fuehrer had not yet finally decided
what was to be done with these art treasures. He had given
an order - and I communicated that by letter to Muhlmann and
also, as far as I remember, to Frank - that these art
treasures were for the time being to be brought to
Konigsberg. Four pictures were to be taken to the safety
"Bunker" or the safety room of the German Museum in Berlin
or to the Kaiser Friederich Museum in Berlin. The Durer
drawings in Lemberg also played a role here. In this
connection I want to mention them in advance, since the
Indictment has already concerned itself with them. The Durer
drawings in Lemberg were not confiscated by us at that time,
because Lemberg had become Russian. Not until the march
against Russia were these drawings - as far as I can
remember from Muhlmann's story - rescued from the burning
city during the battle by a Polish professor, who had hidden
them from the Russians until that time, and then given over
to him. They were the drawings he brought when he visited
me; and, although I am usually very interested in such
things, I did not even have time to look at them at leisure,
since I was on my way to the Fuehrer at the moment; I took
them along with me and, as Muhlmann has, I believe,
confirmed, delivered them there immediately. Where they went
after that I do not know. I believe I have now answered the
question about the Polish art treasures. Apart from that
there is still the Veit Stoss altar, which was originally
made here in Nuremberg, a purely German work; and the
Fuehrer wished that this altar should come to the German
Museum here in Nuremberg - with that I personally had
nothing to do. I merely know of that. What was intended to
be done with it finally had not yet been announced. But it
is certain that it also - negotiations in regard to it -
would have played a part when peace was concluded.

Q. What connection did you have with Quisling?

A. I met Quisling for the first time long after the
occupation of Norway, for the first and only time. He was in
Berlin, visited me, and we had a short, unimportant
conversation. Before that - that is, before the outbreak of
war - a man of his, whom I did not know personally, sent a
letter to me, which has been shown to me, but which I myself
cannot remember, since such letters according to our
practice were hardly ever submitted to me - that is
immaterial. In that letter he spoke in Quisling's name to
the effect that we should give financial support to
Quisling's movement and he gave an account to what an extent
political money contributions, on the one side from Russia -
the Communist Party there - and on the other from England,
were flowing into the funds of the Opposition. Later on
someone talked to me about whether, by way of coal
deliveries, some sort of contribution could be given
Quisling. I took the stand that, because of the foreign
exchange situation and other factors, we naturally could not
compete with the Russian or English money contributions.
Those offices should be consulted who could judge whether it
was expedient to give the Quisling movement financial
support or not; if they answered in the affirmative, then it
would be perfectly clear to me that Quisling should receive
money. The amount concerned, which I also would have given,
was very much higher than the amount which was, I believe,
paid later on by the Fuehrer by way of the Foreign Office.

                                                  [Page 117]

I never thought it much of such small money contributions;
if one was going to give, then one should give properly, so
that an end could really be gained thereby. From the last
World War I had experience enough in connection with the
money which went to the Roumanian Parliament, but which was
unfortunately too little. On the basis of these experiences
it was my advice that we should give properly. Apart from
this, as I said, I did not become acquainted with Quisling
until much later and had a very unimportant conversation
with him, which I forget.

Q. What was your attitude towards the Norway project?

A. The Norwegian project surprised me rather, since,
strangely enough, I had not been informed of this for a
rather long time. The Fuehrer went very far in his basic
decree, which I already mentioned at the beginning, and did
not call in the Air Force until very late. But since the
most important part of this undertaking fell to the Air
Force, I expressed my views in regard to this in
unmistakable, unfriendly fashion. From a military point of
view I took an entirely positive stand to this undertaking
as such, since as Commander-in-Chief of the Air Force, quite
independent of political considerations, I had first of all
to think exclusively of strategic considerations. That it
would considerably improve my position as far as the Air
Force was concerned, if my squadron could operate against
England from Norwegian bases, was self-evident and would be
self-evident for any prudent military expert. From the
strategic point of view I, as Supreme Commander-in-Chief of
the Air Force, could take only an entirely positive stand to
this undertaking. My objection was merely that I had been
informed too late and, secondly, that the plans did not seem
quite correct to me.

Q. Was Hitler afraid of complications with Sweden because of
this occupation?

A. Yes, not because of occupation by German forces as such;
but when we, that is, the Fuehrer, decided to occupy Norway,
we already had considerable and detailed information
regarding the intended occupation by the English and French,
which was later also confirmed by the papers of the English
and French General Staff which we captured. In this
connection we likewise knew that there was the intention not
merely of occupying Norway, but, above all, the cutting off
of Swedish ore deliveries to Germany by way of Narvik, and
over and above that of intervening on the side of Finland in
the Russian-Finnish conflict which was still going at the
time. The Fuehrer feared that Sweden would yield entirely to
English pressure, that is, under the pretext of coming to
Finland's aid, would march through, and that thereby an
entire cutting off of the Swedish iron ore basin and the ore
deliveries to us would follow. I took a very heavy
responsibility upon myself at that time by assuring Hitler
that I knew Sweden and its people and its King so well that
I was certain that whoever might want to exert pressure on
Sweden, whether we or another Power, Sweden under all
circumstances would defend its neutrality with arms against
anyone who tried to violate it, regardless of what reasons
there might be for this violation. I said that I personally
and consciously would guarantee there was no need for our
anxiety in regard to this matter. Therewith the question was

THE PRESIDENT: We will adjourn now.

(The Tribunal adjourned until 15th March, 1946, at 10.00 hours.)

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.