The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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Q. What were the reasons for and what was your attitude
regarding Germany's withdrawal from the League of Nations?

A. The withdrawal from the League of Nations was a question
on which there could be many differences of opinion. I
myself was in favour of remaining in the League of Nations,
and I remember that on the day before Hitler decided on this
step, I myself travelled to Munich in an effort to persuade
him to remain a member of the League. I was of the opinion
that we would have gained much by remaining in the League,
where we had many good connections dating from the time of
Stresemann. Nevertheless, if we left the League it was
perhaps a tactical question in so far as we might then hope
that direct negotiations with the major Powers would be more
promising. Besides, Herr von Neurath's discussion with
Ambassador Bullitt, which is Document L-150, shows - Herr
von Neurath says in that document that Germany had proposed
a reorganised League of Nations, which she would rejoin.

DR. KUBUSCHOK: I refer to Lersner's interrogatory, Document
93. In question No. 5, the witness speaks of von Papen's
journey to Munich; this is Page 213, Document 93.

Mr. President, I come now to a rather more lengthy question;
may I ask therefore whether this would be a suitable moment
for a recess?

THE PRESIDENT: We will adjourn.

(A recess was taken until 1400 hours.)



DR. KUBUSCHOK: Before the recess, I was questioned about the
documents on the governmental proclamation of 1st March,
1933, and of 23rd March, 1933 Excerpts from the governmental
proclamation of 1st March, 1933, are contained in Document
12, Page 53. This is only a short extract. I shall submit
the proclamation in its entirety later.

The proclamation of 23rd March, 1933, in Document 12, Pages
56 to 58, has been submitted, also in extract form. This
proclamation has already been submitted in full under
Exhibit USA 568.

Q. On 2nd November, 1933, in a speech in Essen, you stated
your opinion in connection with the forthcoming plebiscite
on the withdrawal from the League of Nations, and that you
approved of the Government's policy. The prosecution has
drawn conclusions from this speech which are unfavourable to

What reasons caused you to make this speech at that time?

A. Our withdrawal from the League of Nations was an
extraordinarily important decision of foreign policy. We
wished to emphasize to the world that this withdrawal was
not to be construed as a change in our methods of foreign
policy. Therefore, Hindenburg and Hitler in public
statements emphasized that the German people should decide
by means of a plebiscite the question of whether a
withdrawal from the League of Nations would be in the
exclusive interests of peace and our equality of rights.

DR. KUBUSCHOK: I should like to refer to Document 60, Page
167, and Documents 61 and 62, on Pages 147 to 152 of the
Document Book. These are the statements made by Hitler, by
the Reich Government, and by Hindenburg, in

                                                  [Page 292]

which is emphasized that there was no change in objective
attitude but only a change in methods for obtaining the


Q. At that time you were Reich Commissioner for the return
of the Saar. What policy did you follow in connection with
the Saar question?

A. As far as the Saar question was concerned, I always
worked on the basis of a friendly understanding with France,
and with a view to finding a solution for the Saar problem
without recourse to a plebiscite. Our reasons for not
wanting this plebiscite were not in any way self-interested,
for the plebiscite was at all times certain to be in favour
of Germany. My proposal was rather a sacrifice willingly
made in the interest of understanding; and at the same time,
I proposed that France should receive compensation to the
amount of 900 million francs for the return of the Saar
mines. And I should like to repeat that even after our
withdrawal from the League of Nations, my commissioner for
Saar affairs, Freiherr von Lersner, always negotiated with
representatives of the League of Nations in attempts to
obtain a friendly settlement of the Saar problem. In the
summer of 1934, my commissioner negotiated with the French
Foreign Minister Bardout on this question.

DR. KUBUSCHOK: I should like to refer to Document 59, Page
145. This document contains the published comments of the
witness with regard to the Saar problem. Freiherr von
Lersner, in his interrogatory (Document 93, Page 212) in
reply to question 3 defined his attitude on this question of
the Saar.

Q. Were there any signs that, after leaving the League of
Nations, this expressed peaceful policy was just a policy of
expediency and that a policy of aggression was being planned
for the more remote future?

A. Not at all. Leaving the League of Nations was for us
simply a change in method. And at that time we were
conducting direct negotiations with the major Powers. The
fact that we were pursuing a policy of peace was something I
emphasized in many public statements. And in this connection
I should like to refer to Document 56, which will be
submitted by my counsel.


Document 56, Page 44, contains a speech made by the witness
at Kottbus on 21st January, 1934. I ask the Tribunal to take
judicial notice of this document.

Q. Did you know of any rearmament measures which might have
led to the expectation of an aggressive policy in the

A. It seems to me that the proceedings so far conducted
before this Tribunal have shown clearly that the actual
rearmament did not begin until much later. If Hitler, in
fact, did take steps to rearm in 1933 or 1934, then he
discussed these measures personally with the Defence
Minister and the Air Minister. In any event, I was never
concerned with such measures. Apart from that, it has
already been ascertained here that this much-talked-of Reich
Defence Committee; in 1933 and 1934, was purely a committee
of experts under the direction of a lieutenant-colonel.

Q. A short time ago you mentioned the safeguards created
when the Hitler Government was formed, in order to minimise
the influence of the Party. How did Hitler's position and
the influence of the NSDAP develop in the course of the year
1933 and at the beginning of 1934?

A. A confidential relationship gradually developed between
Hitler and Hindenburg.

This led to the end of the joint report, which was agreed
upon at that time. The influence exerted by Hitler on
Reichswehrminister Blomberg was a very decisive factor in
this development. Even at that time, in 1933, Hitler tried
to exert a decisive influence on the army. He wanted to have
the then General von Hammerstein removed and replaced by
General von Reichenau, who at that time passed for a friend
of the Party. At that time I persuaded the Reich President
not to grant Hitler's wish in this connection and advised
him to take General von Fritsch.

                                                  [Page 293]

Another reason for this development was the incorporation of
the "Stahlhelm," that is, a Rightist conservative group,
with the SA of the NSDAP. Then there were new cabinet
members who were selected from the Party. Hugenberg, the
leader of the conservative Right, left the cabinet and the
two important ministries which he filled, the Ministries of
Economics and Agriculture, were occupied by National
Socialists. A decisive psychological factor, as I have
already mentioned, was the election results of 5th March.
For the governments of all the Under had National Socialist
majorities, and these local governments exerted constant
pressure on Hitler. Hitler, owing to the growing strength of
his Party, became more and more independent and thus changed
in an ever increasing degree from a coalition partner ready
for compromise into an autocrat intolerant of compromise.

Q. I should like to refer to the affidavit of the former
Minister Hugenberg, Document 88, Pages 196 to 198 in the
Document Book. I should further like to refer to Document
13, Pages 59 to 61 in the Document Book, an affidavit by Dr.
Conrad Josten.

On what was your position as Vice-Chancellor based?

A. As Vice-Chancellor it was intended that I should be the
Reich Chancellor's deputy, but without a department of my
own. It very soon became apparent that the position of
deputy was quite impossible, as Hitler dealt with every
question himself. The fact that I had no department of my
own weakened my position, for this position was now based
upon nothing but the confidence of Hindenburg, a confidence
which decreased proportionately with the growth of Hitler's

Q. What was the constitutional basis of Hitler's position in
the cabinet?

A. The position of the Reich Chancellor in the cabinet is
constitutionally provided for in Article 56 of the
Constitution of the Reich. This article says:

  "The Reich Chancellor will lay down the general
  principles of policy and will be responsible for them to
  the Reichstag. If the policy of a department's minister
  is not in accordance with these principles laid down by
  the Reich Chancellor, no decision will be made by the
  cabinet on a majority ruling, but the Reich Chancellor
  alone will decide the point in question. " And under
  Article 58 of the Constitution, it says: "The Reich
  Chancellor cannot be outvoted by the cabinet in cases
  where his policy is opposed."

DR. KUBUSCHOK: In connection with this question which has so
far been incorrectly submitted in the evidence taken, I
should like to refer to the leading commentary on the Weimar
Constitution by Gerhard Anschutz, Document 22, Pages 80 and
81 of the Document Book.

I should like to refer to Page 81, Note (4) to Article 56.
This note states clearly that if differences of opinion
should arise as to the application of the basic principles
of the policy, the Reich Chancellor alone will decide, and
that in these basic problems, no vote will be taken and no
majority decision made by the cabinet.


Q. What conclusions did you think must be drawn from this
development of affairs?

A. In the middle of the year 1934 the internal tension in
Germany grew more and more serious. The situation was such
that the concessions, which we as partners of the coalition
had made, did not lead to any definite internal agreement
but were considered by the Party as being only the beginning
of a new revolutionary movement. This was quite obviously a
divergence from the coalition pact concluded on 30th
January. The many objections which I made in the cabinet had
no success. Then, since there was no possibility in the
cabinet of forcing the Reich Chancellor to change his
policy, as we have just shown from the Constitution, the
only possibilities left were a resignation or a public
statement. If I resigned, I should no longer be in a
position to speak. Therefore, I decided to speak at once,
and publicly, and I decided to appeal on principle in this
matter to the German people. If, as the prosecution asserts,
I had been an opportunist, I would have kept silent and
remained in office, or I would have accepted another office.

                                                  [Page 294]

now I decided to put my case before the public and to
shoulder all the consequences that might follow.

Q. On 17th June, 1934, you made that speech at Marburg. What
did you expect to accomplish with this speech?

A. In this speech I brought up for discussion and placed
before Hitler for decision all those points which were
essential for the maintenance of a reasonable policy in
Germany. In this speech I opposed the demand of a certain
group or party for a revolutionary or national monopoly. I
opposed the coercion and abuse of others. I opposed
anti-Christian endeavours and totalitarian encroachment on
religious domain. I opposed the suppression of all
criticism. I opposed the abuse and regimentation of the
spirit. I opposed violation of fundamental rights;
inequality before the law, and the Byzantine principles
followed by the Party. It was clear to me that if I
succeeded, even at one point only, in piercing the Nazi
ring, we could force order into the system and restore, for
instance, freedom of thought and speech.

DR. KUBUSCHOK: This speech may be found in Document 11, Page
40. The prosecution has already stressed its significance.
First of all, I may say that the English text contains a
misprint. The date is not 7th July, as appears in the
translation, but 17th June. Because of the basic
significance of this speech, the critical nature of which is
unique in German history since 1933, I am going to read a
few passages from it.

I am starting at Page 41, about the middle of the page:

  "We know that rumours and whispering propaganda must be
  brought out from the darkness where they have taken
  refuge. Frank and manly discussion is better for the
  German people than, for instance, a muzzled Press,
  described by the Minister for Propaganda as no longer
  having a face. This deficiency undoubtedly exists. The
  function of the Press should be to inform the government
  where deficiencies have crept in, where corruption has
  settled down, where grave mistakes have been committed,
  where incapable men are in the wrong places, where
  offences are committed against the spirit of the German
  Revolution. An anonymous or secret information service,
  however well organized it may be, can never be a
  satisfactory substitute for a free and untramelled Press.
  For the newspaper editor is responsible to the law and to
  his conscience, whereas anonymous news sources are not
  subject to control and are exposed to the danger of
  Byzantinism. When, therefore, the proper organs of public
  opinion do not shed sufficient light into the mysterious
  darkness, which at present seems to have fallen upon the
  German public, the statesman himself must intervene and
  call matters by their right names."

Then on Page 42, just below the middle of the page:

  "It is a matter of historical truth that the necessity
  for a fundamental change of system was recognized and
  urged even by those who shunned the path of revolution
  through an organized party. A claim for nationalist
  monopoly by a limited group, therefore, seems to be an
  exaggerated one .... "

And now Page 43, a sentence from approximately the middle of
the page:

  "All of life cannot be organized; otherwise it becomes
  mechanised. The State is organization; life is growth."

And on Page 45, just a little beyond the centre of the page:

  "Domination by a single party replacing the majority
  party system, which rightly has disappeared, appears to
  me historically as a transitional stage, justified only
  as long as the safeguarding of the new political change
  is necessary and until the new process of personal
  selection begins to function."

As to the religious question, the witness states his view on
Page 46, near the middle of the page:

  "But one should not confuse the religious State which is
  based upon an active belief in God with a secular State
  in which earthly values replace such belief and are given
  religious honours."

                                                  [Page 295]
Then, about five lines following:

  "Certainly, the outward respect for religious belief is
  an improvement on the disrespectful attitude produced by
  a degenerate rationalism. But we should not forget that
  real religion means being bound to God and not to
  substitutes such as have been introduced into the
  consciousness of nations, especially by Karl Marx's
  materialistic conception of history. If wide circles of
  people, from this same viewpoint of the totalitarian
  State and the complete amalgamation of the nation, demand
  a uniform religious foundation, they should not forget
  that we should be happy to have such a foundation in the
  Christian faith."

Then, the third last line on this page:

  "It is my conviction that the Christian doctrine clearly
  represents the religious form of all Occidental thinking
  and that, with the re-awakening of religious forces, the
  German people also will be permeated anew by the
  Christian spirit, a spirit the profundity of which is
  almost forgotten by a humanity that has lived through the
  nineteenth century. A struggle is coming for the decision
  as to whether the new Reich of the Germans will be
  Christian or is to be lost in sectarianism and
  half-religious materialism."

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