The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: Mr. President, in regard to the
question just put and answered, I should like to refer to
various documents and ask you to take judicial notice of
them. I am submitting and have submitted, in my Document
Book 2, excerpts from the German memorandum of 29th August,
1932, in Document 40; excerpts from an interview of von
Neurath with the representative of the Wolf Telegraph
Bureau, the official German news agency of the German Reich,
in Document 41 of Document Book 2; excerpts from a statement
by Herr von Neurath to the representatives of the German
Press on 30th September, 1932, in Document 45 of my Document
Book 2; an excerpt from a letter of the defendant to the
President of the Disarmament Conference, No. 43 of my
Document Book 2; and finally, I should like to refer to a
speech by the German representative in Geneva at the
Disarmament Conference, which is No. 39 in my document book,
which shows the development of the views and attitude of the
defendant and thereby that of German policy towards the
disarmament negotiations which were called again on 16th
June at the Disarmament Conference.

BY DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN:

Q. Herr von Neurath, in the documents just submitted you
emphasized that the disarmament question must be solved
exclusively by peaceful means, and that no violence of any
kind should be used. Did this tendency expressed here
actually correspond to your conviction and did it represent
the guiding line, and indeed the exclusive guiding line, of
your policy?

A. Yes. During the whole period when I was Reich Foreign
Minister no means were used which were not customary and
internationally permissible.

Q. On the 16th, the negotiations in the Disarmament
Conference were to begin again. What was the result of this
meeting of the Disarmament Conference?

                                                  [Page 105]

A. England finally suggested a ... At first the Disarmament
Conference accomplished nothing; but later there was the so-
called Five-Power Declaration in December, 1932, which had
been suggested by England. This declaration recognized
Germany's claim to equal rights and to the elimination of
those provisions of the Versailles Treaty which
discriminated against Germany.

After this declaration, which was recognized by the five
powers and later by the Disarmament Conference or the
Council of the League of Nations itself, Germany's equal
rights were recognized for all time. Therefore, Germany
could make use of its right not to adhere to Part 5 of the
Versailles Treaty with reference to the obligation of
general disarmament undertaken by the signatory powers. This
Five-Power Declaration provided the necessary condition for
Germany taking part in the deliberations of the Disarmament
Conference once more.

DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: Mr. President, I should like to refer
to the text of the Five-Power Declaration of 11th December,
1932. It is No. 47A in my Document Book 2. I should also
like to refer to an article by the defendant in Heimatdienst
(Home Service) on this recognition of equal rights for
Germany. The text is in No. 48 of my Document Book 2. That
was at the time before the seizure of power.

Q. Now, in January, 1933, Hitler was appointed Reich
Chancellor and thus there came about the so-called seizure
of power by the NSDAP. Did you participate in any form
whatsoever in this seizure of power and in Hitler's
appointment as Reich Chancellor?

A. No, I had no part in any stage of the negotiations
regarding the appointment of Hitler as Reich Chancellor. No
one, not even the Reich President, and certainly no party
leader, asked me for my opinion. I had no close relations
with any of the party leaders, especially not with the
leaders of the National Socialist Party. In regard to this
Goering and Papen have testified with absolute correctness.

Q. What feelings did you yourself have on this question of
Hitler's appointment as Reich Chancellor, in other words, on
the question of the seizure of power by the Party?

A. I had serious misgivings, but, as I said at the
beginning, in view of the party situation and the
impossibility of forming a government against the National
Socialists, I saw no other possibility unless one wanted to
start a civil war, about the outcome of which there could be
no doubt in view of the overwhelming number of Hitler's
followers.

Q. In view of your attitude as you have just expressed it,
for what reason did you remain Reich Foreign Minister in the
newly formed Hitler Government?

A. At the urgent desire of Hindenburg.

DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: I should like in this connection to
refer to the affidavit of Baroness Ritter, No. 3 in my
Document Book 1, which has already been mentioned, and with
the permission of the Tribunal I should like to read a short
passage from it:

  "When in the year 1933 a new government was formed with
  Hitler as Reich Chancellor, Hindenburg imposed on Hitler
  the condition that Neurath should remain as Foreign
  Minister. Hindenburg therefore asked Neurath to stay, and
  Neurath complied with Hindenburg's wish in accordance
  with his previous promise. I know that in the course of
  time Neurath frequently had serious misgivings but was of
  the opinion that it was his patriotic duty to remain. In
  this connection I recall the especially fitting
  comparison of a large rock which by its position right in
  the middle of the river can decrease the force of the
  raging currents, while on the shore it would remain
  without influence. He frequently declared, 'If the
  Germans often wonder why I am co-operating with this
  government, then they always think only of the bad
  conditions without appreciating how much additional
  disaster I am still

                                                  [Page 106]

  able to prevent. They forget what strength it takes to
  advance alone through a wall of myrmidons.'"

- by that Baroness von Ritter means the close circle
surrounding Hitler - to advance through that to Hitler.

BY DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN:

Q. Do you know for what reasons Hindenburg wanted you to
remain, that is, to enter Hitler's Cabinet as Foreign
Minister?

A. To secure the continuation of a peaceful foreign policy
and to prevent Hitler from taking the rash steps which were
so possible in view of his impulsive nature; in fact to act
as a brake.

Q. Did not Hindenburg make it an actual condition for
Hitler's appointment as Reich Chancellor that you should
remain as Foreign Minister, that is, enter Hitler's Cabinet?

A. Yes, he told me so later.

DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: In this connection, I should like to
refer to the affidavit of former Ambassador Kurt Pruefer,
No. 4 in my document book, and I should like to read a short
excerpt from it.

  "Since Hindenburg was a conservative, his basic political
  attitude ..."

THE PRESIDENT: What page is that?

DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: Page 27, Exhibit 4.

  "Since Hindenburg was a conservative, his basic political
  attitude was probably about the same as that of Baron
  Neurath. There was no doubt in the mind of anybody who
  was even slightly aware of the conditions, that
  Hindenburg himself, in vesting power in Hitler, did this
  reluctantly and only under the heavy pressure of domestic
  political developments. If, under such circumstances, he
  insisted and actually made it a condition that Baron
  Neurath, his former foreign political adviser, should
  remain in office, this undoubtedly was due to the fact
  that he wanted to assure himself of at least one steady
  pillar for foreign policy, that is, for peace, in the
  midst of the seething new forces which surely appeared
  sinister and displeasing to him personally."

BY DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN:

Q. Did you talk to Hindenburg about this, and did you tell
him of your reluctance, your misgivings about joining the
Hitler Cabinet?

A. Yes, I did not leave him in any doubt about that.

Q. What did Hindenburg answer?

A. He told me that I would have to make this sacrifice; or
else he would no longer have a single quiet hour; that
Hitler had not yet had any experience whatsoever in matters
of foreign policy.

Q. Was it only then and for this reason that you decided to
join Hitler's Cabinet?

A. Yes. The British Prosecutor, Sir David, in the session of
1st March of this year, declared that by joining Hitler's
Cabinet I had sold my honour and reputation. I refrain from
commenting further on this most serious insult.

DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: Mr. President, I should like in this
connection to quote a sentence from the Diary of Ambassador
Dodd 1933/37, which is No. 13 in my document book.

I should like to quote the entry under 6th April, 1934, on
Page loo; that is Page 55 of the German text, which reads as
follows. It is a remark of Dodd's which refers to Herr von
Neurath:

  "I am sorry for these clear-headed Germans who know world
  affairs very well and who must work for their country and
  yet submit to the ignorance and autocracy of Hitler and
  his followers."

                                                  [Page 107]

BY DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN:

Q. In these talks with Hindenburg did you promise him that
you would remain in the Cabinet as long as it would be at
all possible for you to guide the foreign political course
in peaceful directions and avoid warlike developments, even
if at some future time Hindenburg should die?

A. Yes. He repeatedly expressed that wish to me.

Q. This was, no doubt, the reason why you remained in office
after the death of Hindenburg?

A. Yes. But also because in the meantime I had discovered
that Hitler, because of his excitable temperament, often let
himself be carried away to rash steps and in this way could
endanger the peace. On many occasions, however, I had also
learned by experience that in such cases he would listen to
my objections.

Q. The prosecution, as indeed you know, has particularly
charged you with entering and remaining in Hitler's Cabinet
as Foreign Minister, above all, with remaining in the
Cabinet after Hindenburg's death.

A. How they can reproach me for that is completely
inexplicable to me. I never belonged to a party; I never
swore allegiance to party programmes, and I never swore any
allegiance to the party leaders either. I served under the
Imperial Government, was asked to re-enter the diplomatic
service by the Socialist Government under Ebert, and
appointed Minister and Ambassador by it. I have served under
Democratic, Liberal and Conservative governments. Without
identifying myself with their various programmes, and often
in opposition to the party government of the time, I have
pursued only the interests of my Fatherland in co-operation
with the other powers.

There was no reason for me not to attempt to do the same
under Hitler and the National Socialist Party. One could put
oppositionist opinions into effect with any prospect of
success only from the inside as a member of the Government.
Freedom of speech and the use of the Press were forbidden in
Germany, or at least made difficult. Personal freedom was
endangered.

Moreover, it is not greatly different in other countries; I
mean by that, participation in the governments of various
parties. I might cite the example of Reynaud or of Lord
Vansittart, whom I know well and who was in the English
Foreign Office as an influential State Secretary under
Conservative as well as Labour governments.

Q. But, after 30th June, 1934, and the bloody events of that
time, why did you still remain in the Government? Why did
you not resign at that time? You know that the prosecution
has reproached other defendants with remaining in the
Government under these circumstances.

A. Apart from the fact that from the description which
Hitler gave of the events of the Roehm Putsch at that time I
had to conclude that it had been a serious revolt; I have
known a number of revolutions from my own experience, for
example, the Russian revolution and, as I already said, the
Fascist revolution in Rome, and I have seen that in such
revolutions innocent people very often have to suffer. In
addition I adapted myself entirely to Hindenburg's attitude;
even if I wanted to resign he would never have let me do so.

As an illustration that I had to acknowledge the seriousness
of this revolt and the truth of Hitler's description of it,
I should like to mention briefly that on this day, 30th
June, a brother of the Emperor of Japan was in Berlin and I
had to invite him to dinner. General von Fritsch was also
present at this dinner and a number of other high officers
and officials of the Foreign Office. The prince did not make
his appearance at the dinner, or rather, he came an hour
late. When I asked for the reason I learned that my house
had also been surrounded by the SA and the prince had been
prevented by them from entering. A few days later General
von Fritsch, after he had described the events on the
military side, asked me whether I knew that he himself and I
as well had been on Herr Roehm's list.

Thus this revolt was not quite as harmless as was described
here, I believe, by the witness Gisevius.

                                                  [Page 108]

Q. Before you decided to enter the Hitler Cabinet did you
talk to Hitler himself about the principles and the line of
foreign policy which you intended to pursue?

A. Yes, in detail. I explained to him that only by way of
negotiation and a policy conforming to the international
situation could we achieve our ends. This would demand
patience. Hitler also seemed to understand this at the time
and I had the same impression during the following years,
too. I am convinced that he at that time entirely approved
the continuation of this policy and honestly meant it. He
repeatedly emphasized that he knew what war was like and did
not want to experience another one.

DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: I should like once more to refer to
the affidavit of Ambassador Pruefer, No. 4 in my Document
Book I, and, with the permission of the Tribunal, I should
like to quote the following:

  "Neurath's policy was one of international understanding
  and peace." - That is Page 29 - "This policy was not
  inconsistent with the fact that Herr von Neurath also
  strove for a revision of the severe provisions of the
  Versailles Treaty, seeing that he wanted to bring this
  about exclusively by negotiation, in no case by force."

Then on the same page ...

THE PRESIDENT: Have you not read this already?

DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: Yes. I want now to read a passage
following this:

  "I am certain that Freiherr von Neurath, as well as other
  career officials in the Foreign Office, had no concrete
  knowledge of any possible plans for violence on Hitler's
  part. On the contrary, during the first years after the
  change of government one generally lent credence to the
  oft-repeated declaration of peaceful intentions by the
  National Socialist leaders. I am even of the opinion that
  the latter themselves, during the first years, did not
  want to bring about a war. Rather it was believed, and
  hoped, in the highest circles of the Party, to which
  Neurath did not belong at all, that it would be possible
  to continue winning cheap laurels without war through the
  hitherto successfully practised tactics of bluff and
  sudden surprise. It was not until later that the
  megalomania arising from the belief in their own luck and
  their own infallibility and invincibility, which
  unlimited flattery had made almost mystical, led Hitler
  and his immediate entourage to include war among their
  instruments of political power. We, the officials of the
  Foreign Service, and with us Baron von Neurath, our
  chief, became aware of this development only gradually,
  as outsiders. Until about the beginning of 1936 only a
  very few officials had been admitted into the Party
  which, for its part, treated the staff of the office,
  including the recently admitted members, with suspicion
  and distrust."

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. von Ludinghausen, is not this really all
argument? You are reading at great length.

DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: I have finished, Mr. President.

BY DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN:

Q. Did you yourself see in the Party programme of the
National Socialists any intention or desire to break with
other powers?

A. No. Contrary to the allegations of the prosecution, which
do not gain in truthfulness by repetition, I could not, even
if I had wanted to, have seen any intention to resort to
armed hostilities in the event of failure to reach our aims,
and from Hitler's various statements I know that he himself
at that time, that is, at the beginning of his term of
government, had no such intentions. He wanted as close an
understanding as possible with England and a stable,
peaceful relationship with France which would remove the
ancient enmity of the two peoples. The latter, he told me,
was the special reason for his publicly declaring after the
Saar plebiscite that he was renouncing once and for all any
attempts to regain Alsace.

                                                  [Page 109]

Q. The prosecution charges in particular that from the
following sentences of the Party programme you must have
known that the Nazis were pursuing aggressive foreign
political ends and that they thus were aiming at war from
the very beginning. It reads:

  "We demand the union of all Germans in a Greater Germany,
  on the basis of the right of nations to self-
  determination. We demand equal rights for the German
  people in respect to other nations, the repeal of the
  Treaty of Versailles and the Treaty of St. Germain."

Will you please comment on this?

A. Even today I cannot, even if I want to, see any
aggressive spirit in these sentences which have just been
quoted. The right of self-determination is a basic condition
in the modern State, recognized by International Law. It was
also the basis, theoretically at least, of the Treaty of
Versailles, and on this basis the plebiscites were carried
out in the border areas. The union of all Germans on the
basis of this recognized principle was therefore an
absolutely permissible political postulate as far as
International Law and foreign policy are concerned.

The removal of the discriminative provisions of the Treaty
of Versailles by changing its terms was the essential aim of
German foreign policy, as well as of all governments which
preceded the National Socialists, bourgeois and Social
Democratic governments. I cannot see how one can deduce any
aggressive intention if a people strives to free itself from
the burdens of a treaty which it feels to be unjust,
provided that this is done by peaceful means.

I should like to add that this was the foreign policy which
I represented until the moment at the end of 1937 when I had
to realize that Hitler also considered war as a means in his
policy. Before, as stated above, there had never been any
question of that.


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