The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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THE PRESIDENT: The Tribunal makes the following order:

With reference to the case of the SS, the five witnesses,
Brill, von Eberstein, Hinderfeld, Reinicke and Hausser are
allowed.

Rode may be called to be cross-examined before the
Commissioners.

Interrogatories may be administered to Rauschning, but they
must be administered immediately and they will only be
considered if they are received before the case is closed.
Further extracts from Rauschning's book, which has been
referred to, may be submitted to the Tribunal.

With reference to the case of the SD, the two witnesses
applied for, Hoppner and Rosser, are allowed.

The two witnesses applied for by the Gestapo, Best and
Hoffmann, are allowed.

With reference to the application on behalf of the Reich
Cabinet, the witness named must be called before the
Commission.

                                                  [Page 298]

With reference to the General Staff and High Command,
General von Mannstein and two others will be allowed. If it
is desired that General von Brauchitsch should be one of the
two, he must be called before the Commission and it is
necessary that these matters should be decided by counsel
for the defendant organization at once.

With reference to the political leaders, the defendants'
counsel must select five out of the witnesses applied for
and those five will be allowed.

That is all.

I call on Dr. von Ludinghausen.

DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: May it please the Tribunal: Yesterday
I attempted to show the weighty and compelling reasons why
the leaders of the German State had to decide to reinstate
Germany's armed sovereignty.

But even before taking this decision Germany had waited for
the outcome of the negotiations for a general agreement on
disarmament, which the British Government had opened again
with the so-called London communique of February 3rd, 1935,
and in which Germany, faithful as always in its foreign
policy to the principle of peace, had at once agreed to
participate. Germany was prepared to wait even longer, until
one could see whether or not these new negotiations were
promising to succeed, but before the negotiations had really
begun, the French Government, on 1st March, 1935, suddenly
brought out a new defence bill concerning prolongation of
military service, and almost simultaneously the British
Government published its White Paper which has already been
mentioned. In view of these two documents, the German
Government had no alternative: it had to take the measure
which I have described, otherwise it would have betrayed its
own people.

The effect of these German Treasures on the Western Powers
was a varied one. England and Italy, it is true, at once
protested against them as an alleged unilateral cancellation
of international treaties, but they did not by any means
exclude the possibility of continued negotiations, and the
British note of protest explicitly inquired whether the
German Government was ready to conduct further negotiations
of the nature and extent provided in the London communique.
This inquiry was immediately answered in the affirmative by
the defendant von Neurath; the reply was contained in the
German communique of 18th March, 1935, Document Book III,
No. 98, and the then British Foreign Secretary Eden went to
Berlin at the end of March, 1935, for conversations about
the possibilities of an agreement on the naval question.

In this connection, I particularly want to draw attention to
the testimony of the witness, Ambassador Dr. Diekhoff, who
was heard here. Only in France, as a consequence of her
attitude that only the League of Nations was entitled to
solve collectively the problems of disarmament and,
therefore, of peace, only France considered it necessary to
submit the measures taken by Germany to the League of
Nations, on 20th March, 1935, and to induce the League to
establish that Germany had committed a violation of a duty
incumbent on all nations, the duty of carrying out
obligations. It goes without saying that the German
Government, in a note of April 20th, 1935, refused to accept
the renewed discrimination contained in this resolution of
the League of Nations. However, neither this resolution, nor
the signing, on 2nd May, 1935, of the aforementioned Franco-
Russian Treaty of Assistance, nor the Russian-Czechoslovak
Treaty of Assistance which supplemented it, prevented
Germany from continuing her very active efforts for an
agreement with the Western Powers.

On 21st May, 1935, Hitler, in the German Reichstag,
proclaimed a new peace programme, in which he again
stressed, in the strongest and most far-reaching manner
possible, his own and the German people's irrevocable will
for peace, and his readiness to participate in any system,
even of collective security, which would guarantee European
peace, and to re-enter the League of Nations, provided that
Germany's equality of rights was acknowledged, and to apply
to the rearmament of the German Wehrmacht any restrictions
which the other powers might also

                                                  [Page 299]

adopt. This speech of Hitler's and the diplomatic
discussions with other powers, initiated at the same time,
had the promising result that the well-known Naval Agreement
of 18th June, 1935, establishing a fixed ratio of the
respective naval forces was concluded between England and
Germany.

This Anglo-German agreement is of the greatest importance in
two respects. On the one hand, from a diplomatic point of
view, it constitutes no more and no less than the de facto
acknowledgement on the part of England of German armed
sovereignty, the negation of the League of Nations
resolution and, therefore, of the French point of view, and
England's acknowledgement and approval of the German act
which had been stigmatised by the League of Nations as a
treaty violation For the first time, therefore, Germany's
equality of rights was recognized not only de jure, but also
de facto by one of the Western Powers, and by one of the
most important. On the other hand, this agreement proves
irrefutably from the point of view of this trial that the
prosecution's contention, that Germany's rearmament was an
act of preparation for Hitler's future wars of aggression,
is incorrect. On the contrary, this Naval Agreement shows
quite clearly that German foreign policy at that time, while
it was still conducted by my client, had no warlike
intentions of any sort; not to speak of plans, and that the
reinstatement of German armed sovereignty was not under any
circumstances an indication of warlike intentions, but an
obviously defensive measure and nothing else. Would a
statesman who harbours warlike intentions or plans
voluntarily consent to a restriction of his armaments,
moreover, to the extent provided by the Naval Agreement, and
thus endanger the successful execution of his intentions and
plans? Even the most malevolent person cannot earnestly
maintain that the naval power granted Germany by this
agreement was even remotely sufficient for a war of
aggression; that has been clearly established by the
evidence in this trial. Through this agreement Hitler
actually deprived himself of the possibility of creating a
navy sufficiently powerful to wage a war of aggression. It
is clear that any considerable transgression of the agreed
ratio of the two navies, which, as things were, could under
no circumstances and by no means have been kept secret,
would beyond doubt have induced England immediately either
to increase her own navy accordingly, or to obstruct this
German intention by force, as she had the power to do at any
time. From whatever point of view one may look at this Naval
Agreement, nothing can alter the fact that it was and is an
unshakeable proof of the absolute honesty and sincerity of
the repeated declarations of Germany's will for peace, an
irrefutable proof against the presence of any, even the most
secret warlike designs or plans of German foreign policy
and, therefore, of its leader, the defendant von Neurath.

In France this Naval Agreement met with general opposition.
It was regarded as an arbitrary act on the part of England,
a departure from the common line which still found
expression in the resolution of the League of Nations, a
departure, moreover, which was bound to interfere with
French plans. So France was very reluctant and negative in
her attitude towards the negotiations which England had
begun with the aim of concluding a general air pact, and
which ran parallel with the negotiations for the Naval
Agreement. Hitler's speech of 21st May, 1935, had also been
a cause for these negotiations, because in it, Hitler,
referring to the London communique, had also offered to take
part in an agreement for the limitation of air armament, and
the German Government, taking up the English suggestion,
actually presented a draft for such an air pact on 29th May,
1935. But talks of nearly three months' duration between the
English and French Governments were necessary before England
succeeded in inducing France to consent even to participate
in these negotiations. This consent, however, was in reality
not a consent at all because, among other things, it was
dependent on the condition that the negotiations for this
air pact must keep pace with the negotiations for the
Eastern Treaty, and since this treaty had at that time to be
rejected by Germany for reasons of her own security, as has
already been mentioned, it was clear that the French
condition would block the way to successful negotiations
from the very beginning.

                                                 [Page  300]

When the Soviet-sponsored Comintern congress met in Moscow
on 25th July, 31935, and it became quite clear that the
Comintern's aim was world-revolution, Germany's opposition -
as will be understood - only stiffened.

It could not be surprising that on the 16th September, 1935,
the defendant von Neurath informed the English Ambassador
that the German Foreign Office did not consider that an
answer to the memorandum of the British Government of 5th
August, 1935, would be opportune; that was the memorandum
which had demanded answers to a number of French questions
hardly connected with the air pact. Besides, the conflict
between Italy and Abyssinia had already cast its shadows,
which alone were sufficient to suspend further negotiations
for the air pact. For how could a political agreement
between the five powers of the Locarno Treaty be possible -
and the German Foreign Office very rightly pointed this out
- if co-operation between these powers was in a state of
dissolution and if some of these powers were even facing
each other with armed forces. On 7th September, 1935, as is
known, the British Home Fleet set out for the Mediterranean,
and negotiations between England and France for the
application of sanctions against Italy were in full swing.
On 3rd October, 1935, war broke out between Italy and
Abyssinia.

German foreign policy succeeded in keeping out of the events
which now followed in Africa and the efforts of the powers
to apply sanctions against Italy. But nevertheless these
events proved of importance for German foreign policy;
because they prepared, and especially the question of
sanctions prepared a new constellation of powers, which on
the one hand led to a closer union between England and
France and the adoption by England of France's point of
view, and on the other hand, brought Germany, again defamed
by the resolution of the League of Nations of 17th April,
1935, naturally closer together with Italy, who was also
defamed by the sanctions applied against her.

These sanctions at the same time, logically enough, resulted
in the dissolution of the Locarno Treaty, for it was quite
impossible to consider a treaty as still justified in its
existence if its participants were opposed to one another in
such a hostile way that the danger of warlike actions was
always present.

The efforts of the French Government, already begun in its
note of 10th September, 1935, to involve and draw England
also into the net of its pacts and their obligations,
clearly showed the tendency of French policy, and only
confirmed German statesmen in their conviction that France
was consistently following its policy of encirclement which
was regarded as a menace to Germany. But Germany's leaders
and the defendant von Neurath were still reluctant to draw
the consequences from this state of affairs and to take the
absolutely essential step for the most primitive needs of
Germany's security. German foreign policy, in its
unshakeable desire for peace and its readiness to negotiate,
was still hoping that an agreement could be reached, that
France would abandon its course, and that a really honest
and sincere understanding with France could be reached. This
hope, however, was soon to prove a delusion. On 16th
January, 1936, the French Foreign Minister Laval announced
that, after his return from Geneva, at the beginning of
February, he would ask the French Parliament to ratify the
pact of assistance concluded with Russia. And at about the
same time the defendant won Neurath heard from reliable
sources that the French General Staff had worked out
military plans for an attack on Germany, providing for the
advance of French troops from the Rhineland along the line
of the river Main, and for a link with the Russian Armies
through Czechoslovakia. This proved, even to the most načve,
the offensive character of the Franco-Russian pact, and
there was even less room for doubt, if one took into
consideration the negotiations which took place inside and
outside the French Chamber before the ratification of the
Pact. For even in France, opposition to this pact,
specifically on account of its offensive character, was not
small. The French veterans of the first world war headed the
opposition: The Union Nationale des Combatants declared, in
a resolution of 8th February, 1936, that this pact contained
more certainties of war than possibilities of peace. And

                                                  [Page 301]

the speech of deputy Montigny, in the French Chamber, on
13th February, 1936, was a single flaming protest; this is
contained in my Document Book IV, No. 107. The pact,
Montigny said, only widened the breach between France and
Germany, and Germany must more than ever gain the impression
that she is being encircled, if a party dependent on Moscow,
like the Communist Party, followed the policy of Delcasse,
the policy of revenge and the policy of the former Russo-
French pact; the greatest danger of war would arise, if
France were to convey the impression that she enjoyed the
secret protection of Moscow. Even the German Government made
a last attempt to dissuade France from ratifying the pact.
In the interview which he gave to Bertrand de Jouvenell, the
correspondent of the French newspaper Paris Midi, on 21st
February, 1936 - Document Book IV, No. 108 - Hitler once
again held out his hand to the French people for an
understanding, for lasting peace and for friendship; "I want
to prove to my people", Hitler said, "that the idea of
hereditary enmity between France and Germany is a
nonsensical idea." And in that interview, Hitler once and
for all disposed of the continual references to his book
Mein Kampf, which were being made at that time just as much
as today in this courtroom, when he said: "When I wrote this
book I was in prison. At that time French troops occupied
the Ruhr, it was a moment of greatest tension. Yes, we were
enemies, and I stood by my country as I was bound to do,
just as I stood by my country against yours, when I spent
four and a half years in the trenches. I should despise
myself if in the event of a conflict I had not considered
myself a German first and foremost. But today there is no
longer any reason for a conflict. You would like me to
correct my book, as a writer would do. But I am not a
writer, I am a politician. I make my corrections in my
foreign policy which is directed towards an understanding
with France. If I achieve this German-French understanding,
it will be a worth-while correction." In the same interview,
however, Hitler drew attention quite clearly to the
inevitable consequences of the Franco-Russian pact: "My
personal efforts for such an understanding will never cease.
But this more than regrettable pact would, in fact, create a
new situation. Are you not conscious, France, of what you
are doing? You are allowing yourself to be drawn into the
diplomatic game of a power which is only interested in
causing confusion among the great European nations, a state
of affairs from which this power alone will derive an
advantage. One must not lose sight of the fact that Soviet
Russia is a political factor with an explosive revolutionary
idea and gigantic armaments."

He concluded the interview by emphasizing again that France
could, if she wanted, end this alleged German danger for
good, because the German people had complete confidence in
him, its leader, and he, the leader, desired friendship with
France. That Hitler was honest and sincere in these
declarations has been proved by the evidence of the trial.

But it was all in vain. The French Government could no
longer be moved to abandon its rigid attitude, and on 27th
February, 1936, the French Chamber in spite of all warnings
voted to ratify the pact.

The die was cast. On 7th March, 1936, German troops again
marched into their old garrisons in the Rhineland Zone,
demilitarised until then; the German Reich restored its full
sovereignty over the entire territory of the Reich; the last
of the barriers of the Versailles Treaty restricting this
full sovereignty had fallen.

This reinstatement of the full sovereignty of the Reich over
the Rhineland, however, was of importance for a reason
which, from the standpoint of existence of the German State
and nation, by far surpassed the political and prestige
significance of this step, and which was also the sole and
therefore the more pressing cause for the grave decision of
the German Government. This reason was the security of the
Reich. As long as the Rhineland was demilitarised, not only
one of the most valuable and most important provinces but
the Reich itself, and especially its life source, the Ruhr
territory, was defenceless against any military attack from
the West. The only protection for Germany against this
terrible latent danger

                                                  [Page 302]

was the Locarno Treaty of 1925, which was guaranteed by
Great Britain and Italy, and in which France and Belgium, on
the one hand, and Germany on the other hand, undertook not
to wage war against each other.

Therefore, for the German Reich, if it was in future to
accept the vulnerability of its western frontier in the form
of a demilitarised Rhineland, it was a matter of life and
death that the protection which this treaty afforded should
not be falsified. But the meaning of this treaty and its
essence, the protection of Germany, were, in fact, falsified
at the moment when the political conditions and
constellations, which had existed at the time of the
conclusion of the treaty, changed fundamentally.

When the Locarno Treaty was concluded, political conditions
in Europe, and also in Germany, were governed and determined
solely by the four powers, England, France, Italy and
Germany, acting in unison. And, therefore, the men who made
the Locarno Treaty for Germany could legitimately rely on
the faithfulness to this treaty of France and Belgium as
sufficient protection. These circumstances, however, ceased
to exist and therefore the meaning and essence of this
treaty, and with it the conditions for the protection of
Germany, were bound to change and be falsified, when France
altered this political relationship in Europe fundamentally
by concluding her pact of assistance with Russia, and
thereby creating a situation which frustrated the aim and
purpose of the Locarno Treaty, namely, to give Germany
protection against the permanent danger arising from the
demilitarisation of the Rhineland.

The political constellation of Europe had been completely
changed, indeed reversed, by this pact, because the world's
greatest military power, which was moreover at that time
openly revolutionary-minded, had now entered the political
arena. In the face of the obscure situation in the East,
amply filled with the seeds of a conflict, the pact could
easily result in the possibility of France, in view of her
obligations towards Russia, being drawn into a war against
Germany, and attacking Germany who might be involved in a
conflict in the East.


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