The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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Q. But according to Mr. Dahlerus, he says:

  "During our conversation, Goering described how he had
  been summoned to Hitler immediately after Henderson's
  departure, how Hitler, Goering and Ribbentrop had
  discussed the conference that had taken place with
  Henderson, and how satisfied all three of them were with
  the result. In this connection, Hitler had turned to
  Ribbentrop and said mockingly, 'Do you still believe that
  Dahlerus is a British agent?' Somewhat acidly Ribbentrop
  replied that perhaps it was not the case."

You say that is not true, either?

A. Herr Dahlerus is describing the events without having
been present. From that description, too, it becomes clear
that I arrived after Henderson had left. The description is
a little colourful. Ribbentrop had no idea about what I was
negotiating with Dahlerus, and the Fuehrer did not inform
him about these negotiations either. He merely knew that I
used Dahlerus as a negotiator, and he was, of course,
opposed to him, because he, as Foreign Minister, was against
any other channels being used.

Q. That was exactly the point, you know, that I put to you
about seven minutes ago, that Ribbentrop did know you were
using Dahlerus, so I will leave it.

A. No, I beg your pardon. I still say - please do not
distort my words - that Ribbentrop did not know what I was
negotiating with Dahlerus about, and that he had not even
heard of it through the Fuehrer.

Q. You said "distort my words." I especially did not say to
you that he knew what you were negotiating about. I said to
you that he knew you were using Dahlerus and that, you
agree, is right. I limited it to that, did I not, and that
is right, is it not?

A. He did not know that I was carrying on negotiations with
England through Dahlerus at that time, nor did he know about
the flights.

Q. Well now, I want you just to help me on one or two other
matters.

You remember that in January and October, 1937, the German
Government gave the strongest assurances as to the
inviolability and neutrality of Belgium and Holland. Do you
remember that?

A. I do not remember it in detail, but it has been mentioned
here in Court.

Q. And do you remember that on 25th August, 1938, the Air
Staff put in a memorandum on the assumption that France and
Great Britain - no, that France would declare war in case of
"Fall Grun," and that Great Britain would come in? Do you
remember that? It is Document 375-PS, Exhibit USA 84. I want
you to have it generally in mind because I am going to put a
passage to you.

A. May I ask whether the signature is Wolter? W - o - l - t
- e - r?

                                                  [Page 303]

Q. I will let you know. Yes, that is right.

A. In that case I remember the document exactly. It has been
given to me here.

Q. That is right. I want to recall your recollection to one
sentence only:

  "Belgium and the Netherlands in German hands represent an
  extraordinary advantage in the prosecution of the air war
  against Great Britain as well as against France.
  Therefore, it is held to be essential to obtain the
  opinion of the Army as to the conditions under which an
  occupation of this area could be carried out, and how
  long it would take."

Do you remember that? It is pretty obvious air strategy, but
you remember it?

A. That is absolutely correct. This is the main job of a
captain on the General Staff, 5th Department, who,
naturally, when making his report, has to propose the best
arguments.

Q. Then, after that, on 28th April, 1939, you remember that
Hitler said that he had given binding declarations to a
number of States and this applied to Holland and Belgium? I
think that was the time when he made a speech in the
Reichstag and mentioned a number of small States as well,
but he said it, included Holland and Belgium.

A. Yes. Well, of course it has been mentioned quite a lot in
here.

Q. Yes; now, do you remember that on 23rd May, in the
document that I have already put to you, at the meeting at
the Reichs Chancellery, Hitler said this, "The Dutch and
Belgian air bases must be occupied by armed forces.
Declarations of neutrality must be ignored."

Do you remember saying that?

A. It says so in the document, yes.

Q. And, on 22nd August, 1939, in the speech to the
Commanders-in-Chief, which is Document 798-PS, Exhibit USA
29, he said:

  "Another possibility is the violation of Dutch, Belgian
  and Swiss neutrality. I have no doubt that all these
  States, as well as Scandinavia, will defend their
  neutrality by all available means. England and France
  will not violate the neutrality of these countries."

Do you remember him saying that?

A. You can see for yourself from those words how often the
Fuehrer changed his plan, so that even the plan he had in
May was not at all final.

Q. They are perfectly consistent in my estimation. He is
saying that they must be occupied; that declarations of
neutrality must be ignored, and he is emphasising that by
saying that England and France will not violate the
neutrality, and so it is perfectly easy for Germany to do
it.

A. No, what he means to say is that we on our part would not
find it necessary to do so either. I merely want to point
out that political situations always turn out to be
different, and that at these interrogations and this trial
we must regard the political background of the world as a
whole.

Q. That was on the 22nd. You have agreed as to what was
said. Immediately after that, on the 26th, four days later,
Hitler gave another assurance. Do you remember that just
before the war he gave another assurance?

A. Yes.

Q. And on 6th October, 1939, he gave a further assurance and
on 7th October, the day after that last assurance, the
order, which is Document 2329-PS (Exhibit GB 105) was
issued.

  "Army Group B has to make all preparations according to
  special orders for immediate invasion of Dutch and
  Belgian territory, if the political situation so
  demands."

                                                  [Page 304]

And on 9th October there is a directive from Hitler:

  "Preparations should be made for offensive action on the
  Northern flank of the Western front crossing the area of
  Luxembourg, Belgium and Holland. This attack must be
  carried out as soon and as forcibly as possible."

Is it not quite clear from that that all along you knew, as
Hitler stated on 22nd August, that England and France would
not violate the neutrality of the Low Countries and you were
prepared to violate them whenever it suited your strategical
and tactical interests? Is not that quite clear?

A. Not entirely. If the political situation made it
necessary and if in the meantime the British view of the
neutrality of Holland and Belgium had been obtained.

Q. You say not entirely. That is as near agreement with me
as you are probably prepared to go.

Now I want to ask you quite briefly again about Yugoslavia.
You remember that you have told us in your evidence in chief
that Germany, before the beginning of the war, had the very
best relations with the Yugoslav people and that you
yourself had contributed to it. I am putting it quite
briefly.

A. That is correct.

Q. And that was emphasised, if you will remember, on 1st
June, 1939, by a speech of Hitler at a dinner with Prince
Paul.

A. Yes.

Q. Now, eighty days after that, on 12th August, 1939, the
defendant Ribbentrop, Hitler and Ciano had a meeting, and
just let me recall to you what Hitler said at that meeting
to Count Ciano.

"Generally speaking - "

A. I beg your pardon, what is the number of the document?

Q. I am sorry, it was my fault - TC-77 (GB 48). It is the
memorandum of a conversation between Hitler, Ribbentrop and
Ciano at Obersalzberg on 12th August.

A. I merely wanted to know if this was from Ciano's Diary?
That is important for me.

Q. Oh no, not from Ciano's Diary, it is a memorandum. This
is the official report.

  "Generally speaking, the best thing to happen would be
  for the neutrals to be liquidated one after the other.
  This process could be carried out more easily if on every
  occasion one partner of the Axis covered the other while
  it was dealing with an uncertain neutral. Italy might
  well regard Yugoslavia as a neutral of this kind."

That was rather inconsistent with your statement as to the
good intentions towards Yugoslavia and the Fuehrer's
statement to Prince Paul, was it not?

A. I should like to read through that once more and in
detail and see in which connection that statement was made.
As it is presented now it certainly would not fit into my
statement.

Q. You know I do not want to stop you unnecessarily in any
way, but that document has been read at least twice during
the trial, and any further matter perhaps you will consider.
But you will agree, unless I have wrenched it out of its
context (and I hope I have not), that is quite inconsistent
with friendly intentions, is it not?

A. As I said, it does not agree with them.

Q. Now, it was fifty-six days after that, on 6th October,
that Hitler gave an assurance to Yugoslavia, and he said:

  "Immediately after the completion of the Anschluss I
  informed Yugoslavia that from now on the frontier with
  this country would also be an unalterable one, and that
  we only desired to live in peace and friendship with her.

                                                  [Page 305]

Then again in March, 1941, after Yugoslavia joined the
Tripartite Pact, the German Government announced that it
confirmed its determination to respect the sovereignty and
territorial integrity of Yugoslavia at all times.

Now, after that of course, as I have always said when you
dealt with this, there was the Simovic Putsch in Yugoslavia.
But I think you said quite frankly in your evidence that
Hitler and yourself never took the trouble, or thought of
taking the trouble, to inquire whether the Simovic
Government would preserve its neutrality or not. That is
right, is it not?

A. I did not say that. We were convinced that they were
using these declarations in order to mislead us. We knew
that this putsch was first of all directed from Moscow, and,
as we learned later, that it had been financially supported
to a considerable extent by Britain. From that we recognised
the hostile intentions as shown by the mobilisation of the
Yugoslav Army, which made the matter quite clear, and we did
not want to be deceived by the Simovic declarations.

Q. Well, I would like to say one word about the mobilisation
in a moment. But on 27th March, that was two days after the
signing of the pact I have just referred to, there was a
conference in Berlin of Hitler with the German High Command,
at which you were present. Do you remember the Fuehrer
saying:

  "The Fuehrer is determined, without waiting for possible
  declarations of loyalty by the new Government, to make
  all preparations in order to destroy Yugoslavia
  militarily and as a national unit. No diplomatic
  inquiries will be made nor ultimatums presented.
  Assurances of the Yugoslav Government, which cannot be
  trusted anyhow in the future, will be taken note of. The
  attack will start as soon as means and troops suitable
  for it are ready. Politically it is especially important
  that the blow against Yugoslavia be carried out with
  unmerciful harshness, and that the military destruction
  be done in a lightning-like undertaking. The plan assumes
  that we speed up schedules of all preparations and use
  such strong forces that the Yugoslav collapse will take
  place within the shortest possible time"?

It was not a very friendly intention toward Yugoslavia to
have no diplomatic negotiations, not give them the chance of
assurance or coming to terms with you, and to strike with
unmerciful harshness, was it?

A. I have just said that after the Simovic Putsch we were
completely clear about the situation, and that the
declarations of neutrality on the part of Yugoslavia could
only be regarded as a camouflage and deception. After the
putsch Yugoslavia definitely formed part of the hostile
front, and it was therefore obvious that we, too, should
carry out deceptive moves and attack as quickly as possible,
since our forces at that time were relatively weak.

Q. You realised, of course, that you, said that General
Simovic was inspired by Moscow. I am not going to argue that
point with you at all. But I do point out to you that this
was three months before you were at war with the Soviet
Union. You realise that, do you?

A. Yes, that is correct. It was exactly the Simovic Putsch
which removed the Fuehrer's last doubts - that Russia's
attitude towards Germany had become hostile. This putsch was
the very reason which caused him to decide to take the
quickest possible counter-measures against this danger.
Secondly ...

Q. Just one moment. Do you know that it appears in the
documents quite clearly that the attack on the Soviet Union
was postponed for six weeks because of this trouble in the
Balkans? That is quite inconsistent with what you are saying
now, is it not?

A. No. If you will read again my statement on that point,
you win see I said that a number of moves on the part of
Russia caused the Fuehrer to order preparations for
invasion, but that he still withheld the final decision on
invasion,

                                                  [Page 306]

and that after the Simovic Putsch this decision was made.
From the strategic situation it follows that the military
execution of this political decision was delayed by the
Yugoslav campaign.

Q. I want to ask you one other question about Yugoslavia.

You remember your evidence that the attack on Belgrade was
due to the fact that the War Office and a number of other
important military organisations; were located there? I am
trying to summarise it, but that was the effect of your
evidence, was it not?

A. Yes.

Q. Now, do you remember how it was put in Hitler's order
which I have just been reading to you?
  
  "The main task of the Air Force is to start as early as
  possible with the destruction of the Yugoslav Air Force
  ground installations."

Now, I ask you to note the next word - "and" -

  "and to destroy the capital of Belgrade in attacks by
  waves. Besides, the Air Force has to support the Army."

I put it to you that that order makes clear that the attack
on Belgrade was just another of your exhibitions of terror
attacks in order to attempt to subdue a population that
would have difficulty in resisting them.

A. No, that is not correct. The population of Belgrade did
defend itself. Belgrade was the centre of military
installations to a greater extent than the capital of any
other country, and I would like to draw your attention to
this.

Q. Well, now, I am going to pass from that matter to one or
two points on which you gave evidence - I think at the
instance of counsel for the Organisations. You remember you
gave evidence, in answer to Dr. Babel, about the Waffen
S.S.? Do you remember that - a few days ago?

A. Yes.


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