The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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                                                  [Page 136]

                   FOURTEENTH DAY

            THURSDAY, 6th DECEMBER, 1945

THE PRESIDENT: The Tribunal has received an urgent request
from the defendants' Counsel that the trial should be
adjourned at Christmas for a period of three weeks. The
Tribunal is aware of the many interests which must be
considered in a trial of this complexity and magnitude, and,
as the trial must inevitably last for a considerable time,
the Tribunal considers that it is not only in the interest
of the defendants and their counsel but of every one
concerned in the trial that there should be a recess. On the
whole it seems best to take that recess at Christmas rather
than at a later date when the prosecution's case has been
completed. The Tribunal will therefore rise for the
Christmas week and over the 1st January. It will not sit
after the session on Thursday, 20th December, and will sit
again on Wednesday, 2nd January.

MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: I should like, in justice to my staff,
to note the American objection to the adjournment for the
benefit of the defendants.

LIEUTENANT-COLONEL GRIFFITH-JONES: May it please the
Tribunal, the Tribunal will return to Part 3 of that
document book, in which I included the documents relating to
the earlier discussions between the German and Polish
Government on the question of Danzig. Those discussions, the
Tribunal will remember, started almost immediately after the
Munich crisis in September, 1938, and started, in the first
place, as cautious and friendly discussions until the
remainder of Czechoslovakia had finally been seized in March
of the following year.

I would refer the Tribunal to the first document in that
part, TC-73, No. 44. That is a document, taken from the
Official Polish White Book, which I put in as Exhibit GB
27(a). It gives an account of a luncheon which took place at
the Grand Hotel, Berchtesgaden, on the 2Sth October, where
Ribbentrop saw M. Lipski, the Polish Ambassador to Germany:

   "In a conversation of the 24th October, over a luncheon
   at the Grand Hotel, Berchtesgaden, at which M. Hewel was
   present, von Ribbentrop put forward a proposal for a
   general settlement of issues (Gesamtlosung) between
   Poland and Germany. This included the reunion of Danzig
   with the Reich, while Poland would be assured the
   retention of railway and economic facilities there.
   Poland would agree to the building of an extra-
   territorial motor road and a railway line across
   Pomorze. In exchange, von Ribbentrop mentioned the
   possibility of an extension of the Polish-German
   Agreement by twenty-five years, and a guarantee of
   Polish-German frontiers."

I do not think I need read the following lines. I go to the
last but one paragraph:
   
   "Finally, I said to M. Lipski that I wished to warn von
   Ribbentrop that I could see no possibility of an
   agreement involving the reunion
   
                                                  [Page 137]
   
   of the Free City with the Reich. I concluded by
   promising to communicate the substance of this
   conversation to you."

I would emphasise the submission of the prosecution as to
this part of the case, and that is that the whole question
of Danzig was indeed, as Hitler himself said, no question at
all. Danzig was raised simply as an excuse, a so-called
justification, not for the seizure of Danzig, but for the
invasion and seizure of the whole of Poland, and we see it
starting now. As we progress with the story it will become
ever more apparent that that is what the Nazi Government
were really aiming at, only providing themselves with some
kind of crisis which would produce some kind of
justification for walking into the rest of Poland.

I turn to the next document. It is again a document taken
from the Polish White Book, TC-73, No. 45, which will be
Exhibit GB 27(b). TC-73 will be the Polish White Book, which
I shall put in later. That document sets out the
instructions that M. Beck, the Polish Foreign Minister, gave
to M. Lipski to hand to the German Government, in reply to
the suggestion put forward by Ribbentrop at Berchtesgaden on
the 24th October. I need not read the first page. The
history of Polish-German relationship is set out, and the
needs of Poland in respect of Danzig are emphasised. I turn
to the second page of that exhibit, to Paragraph 6:

   "In the circumstances, in the understanding of the
   Polish Government, the Danzig question is governed by
   two factors: the right of the German population of the
   city and the surrounding villages to freedom of life and
   development; and the fact that in all matters
   appertaining to the Free City as a port it is connected
   with Poland. Apart from the national character of the
   majority of the population, everything in Danzig is
   definitely bound up with Poland."

It then sets out the guarantees to Poland under the existing
statute, and I pass to Paragraph 7:

   "Taking all the foregoing factors into consideration,
   and desiring to achieve the stabilisation of relations
   by way of a friendly understanding with the Government
   of the German Reich, the Polish Government proposes the
   replacement of the League of Nations guarantee, and its
   prerogatives, by a bilateral Polish-German Agreement.
   This Agreement should guarantee the existence of the
   Free City of Danzig so as to assure freedom of national
   and cultural life to its German majority, and also
   should guarantee all Polish rights. Notwithstanding the
   complications involved in such a system, the Polish
   Government must state that any other solution, and in
   particular any attempt to incorporate the Free City into
   the Reich, must inevitably lead to a conflict. This
   would not only take the form of local difficulties, but
   also would suspend all possibility of Polish-German
   understanding in all its aspects."

And then finally in Paragraph 8:

   "In face of the weight and cogency of these questions, I
   am ready to have final conversations personally with the
   governing circles of the Reich. I deem it necessary,
   however, that you should first present the principles to
   which we adhere, so that my eventual contact should not
   end in a breakdown, which would be dangerous for the
   future."

The first stage in those negotiations had been entirely
successful from the German point of view. They had put
forward a proposal, the return of the City of Danzig to the
Reich, which they might well have known would have

                                                  [Page 138]

been unacceptable. It was unacceptable, and the Polish
Government had warned the Nazi Government that it would be.
They had offered to enter into negotiations, but they had
not agreed, which is exactly what the German Government had
hoped. They had not agreed to the return of Danzig to the
Reich. The first stage in producing the crisis had been
accomplished.

Shortly afterwards, within a week or so of that taking
place, after the Polish Government had offered to enter into
discussions with the German Government, we find another top
secret order, issued by the Supreme Command of the Armed
Forces, signed by the defendant Keitel. It goes to the
O.K.H., O.K.M., and O.K.W. and it is headed "The First
Supplement to the Instruction dated the 21st October, 1938":-

   "The Fuehrer has ordered:
   
   Apart from the three contingencies mentioned in the
   instructions of 21st October, 1938, preparations are
   also to be made to enable the Free State of Danzig to be
   occupied by German troops by surprise.
   
   The preparations will be made on the following basis:
   
   Condition is a quasi-revolutionary occupation of Danzig,
   exploiting a politically favourable situation, not a war
   against Poland."

We remember, of course, that at that moment the remainder of
Czechoslovakia had not been seized and therefore they were
not ready to go to war with Poland. That document does show
how the German Government answered the proposal to enter
into discussions. That is C-137 and will become GB 33

On the 5th January, 1939, M. Beck had a conversation with
Hitler. It is unnecessary to read the first part of that
document, which is the next in the Tribunal's book, TC73, No-
48, which will become Exhibit GB 34. In the first part of
that conversation, of which that document is an account,
Hitler offers to answer any questions. He says he has always
followed the policy laid down by the 1934 agreement. He
discusses the Danzig question and emphasises that, in the
German view, it must sooner or later return to Germany. I
quote the last but one paragraph of that page:

   "M. Beck replied that the Danzig question was a very
   difficult problem. He added that in the Chancellor's
   suggestion he did not see any equivalent for Poland, and
   that the whole Polish opinion, and not only people
   thinking politically, but the widest spheres of Polish
   society, were particularly sensitive on this matter.
   
   In answer to this the Chancellor stated that to solve
   this problem it would be necessary to try to find
   something quite new, some new form, for which he used
   the term 'Korperschaft', which on the one hand would
   safeguard the interests of the German population, and on
   the other the Polish interests. In addition, the
   Chancellor declared that the Minister could be quite at
   ease, there would be no faits accomplis in Danzig, and
   nothing would be done to render difficult the situation
   of the Polish Government."

The Tribunal will remember that in the very last document we
looked at, on the 24th November, orders had already been
received, or issued, for preparations to be made for the
occupation of Danzig by surprise; yet here he is assuring
the Polish Minister that there is to be no fait accompli and
he can be quite at his ease.

                                                  [Page 139]

I turn to the next step, Document TC-73, No. 49, which will
become Exhibit GB 35, a conversation between M. Beck and
Ribbentrop, on the day after the one to which I have just
referred between Beck and Hitler.

   "M. Beck asked Ribbentrop -"

THE PRESIDENT: Did you draw attention to the fact that the
last conversation took place in the presence of the
defendant Ribbentrop?

LIEUTENANT-COLONEL GRIFFITH-JONES: I am very obliged to you.
No, I did not. As I say, it was on the next day, the 6th
January. The date in actual fact does not appear on the copy
I have got in my book. It does appear in the White Book
itself.

   "M. Beck asked Ribbentrop to inform the Chancellor that
   whereas previously, after all his conversations and
   contacts with German statesmen, he had been feeling
   optimistic, today, for the first time, he was in a
   pessimistic mood. Particularly in regard to the Danzig
   question, as it had been raised by the Chancellor, he
   saw no possibility whatever of agreement."

I emphasise this last paragraph:

   "In answer Ribbentrop once more emphasised that Germany
   was not seeking any violent solution. The basis of their
   policy towards Poland was still a desire for the further
   building up of friendly relations. It was necessary to
   seek such a method of clearing away the difficulties as
   would respect the rights and interests of the two
   parties concerned."

The defendant Ribbentrop apparently was not satisfied with
that one expression of good faith. On the 25th of the same
month, January, 1939, some fortnight or three weeks later,
he was in Warsaw and made another speech, of which an
extract is set out in Document 2530-PS, which will become
Exhibit GB 36:

   "In accordance with the resolute will of the German
   National Leader, the continual progress and
   consolidation of friendly relations between Germany and
   Poland, based upon the existing agreement between us,
   constitute an essential element in German foreign
   policy. The political foresight, and the principles
   worthy of true statesmanship, which induced both sides
   to take the momentous decision of 1934, provide a
   guarantee that all other problems arising in the course
   of the future evolution of events will also be solved in
   the same spirit, with due regard to the respect and
   understanding of the rightful interests of both sides.
   Thus Poland and Germany can look forward to the future
   with full confidence in the solid basis of their mutual
   relations."

And even so, the Nazi Government must have been still
anxious that the Poles were beginning to sit up-your
Lordship will remember the expression " sit up " used in the
note to the Fuehrer-and to assume they would be the next in
turn, because on the 30th January, Hitler again spoke in the
Reichstag, and gave further assurances of their good faith.

That document, that extract, was read by the Attorney
General in his address, and therefore I only put it in now
as an exhibit. That is Document TC-73, No- 57, which will
become Exhibit GB 37.

That, then, brings us up to the March, 1939, seizure of the
remainder of Czechoslovakia and the setting up of the
Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia.

If the Tribunal will now pass to the next part, Part IV, of
that document book, I had intended to refer to three
documents where Hitler and Jodl

                                                  [Page 140]

were setting out the advantages gained through the seizure
of the remainder of Czechoslovakia. But the Tribunal will
remember that Mr. Alderman, in his closing remarks yesterday
morning, dealt very fully with that matter, showing what
advantages they did gain by that seizure and showing on the
chart that he had on the wall, the immense strengthening of
the German position against Poland. Therefore, I leave that
matter. The documents are already in evidence, and if the
Tribunal should wish to refer to them, they are to be found
in their correct order in the story in that document book.

As soon as that occupation had been completed, within a week
of marching into the rest of Czechoslovakia, the heat was
beginning to be turned on against Poland.

If the Tribunal would pass to Document TC-73, which is about
half-way through that document book - it follows after
Jodl's lecture, which is a long document - TC-73, Number 61.
It is headed "Official documents concerning Polish-German
Relations."

THE PRESIDENT: Does it come after TC-72?

LIEUTENANT-COLONEL GRIFFITH-JONES: It comes after L-172.

THE PRESIDENT: Page 1397, I am told it is.

LIEUTENANT-COLONEL GRIFFITH-JONES: Yes, that is correct. It
does not actually show the page number, but that is at the
bottom of the page. I am sorry, these are not numbered.

THE PRESIDENT: I have got it now.

LIEUTENANT-COLONEL GRIFFITH-JONES: This will be Exhibit GB
38.

On the 21st March, M. Beck again saw Ribbentrop, and the
nature of the conversation was generally very much sharper
than the one that had been held a little time back at the
Grand Hotel, Berchtesgaden.

   "I saw Ribbentrop today. He began by saying he had asked
   me to call in order to discuss Polish-German relations
   in their entirety.
   
   He complained about our Press, and the Warsaw student's
   demonstrations during Count Ciano's visit." - I think I
   can go straight on to the larger paragraph, which
   commences with "Further".
   
   "Further, Ribbentrop referred to the conversation at
   Berchtesgaden between you and the Chancellor, in which
   Hitler put forward the idea of guaranteeing Poland's
   frontiers in exchange for a motor road and the
   incorporation of Danzig into the Reich. He said that
   there had been further conversations between you and him
   in Warsaw" - that is, of course, between him and M.
   Beck.
   
   "He said that there had been further conversations
   between you and him in Warsaw on the subject, and that
   you had pointed out the great difficulties in the way of
   accepting these suggestions. He gave me to understand
   that all this had made an unfavourable impression on the
   Chancellor, since so far he had received no positive
   reaction whatever on our part to his suggestions.
   Ribbentrop had had a talk with the Chancellor, only
   yesterday. He stated that the Chancellor was still in
   favour of good relations with Poland, and had expressed
   a desire to have a thorough conversation with you on the
   subject of our mutual relations. Ribbentrop indicated
   that he was under the impression that difficulties
   arising between us were also due to some
   misunderstanding
   
                                                  [Page 141]
   
   of the Reich's real aims. The problem needed to be
   considered on a higher plane. In his opinion, our two
   States were dependent on each other."

I think it unnecessary that I should read the next page.
Briefly, Ribbentrop emphasises the German argument as to why
Danzig should return to the Reich; and I turn to the first
paragraph on the following page.

   "I stated" - that is M. Lipski - "I stated that now,
   during the settlement of the Czechoslovakian question,
   there was no understanding whatever between us. The
   Czech issue was already hard enough for the Polish
   public to swallow, for, despite our disputes over the
   Czechs -

THE PRESIDENT: "With the Czechs."

LIEUTENANT-COLONEL GRIFFITH-JONES: I beg your pardon.

   "-with the Czechs, they were after all a Slav people.
   But in regard to Slovakia, the position was far worse. I
   emphasised our community of race, language and religion,
   and mentioned the help we had given in their achievement
   of independence. I pointed out our long frontier with
   Slovakia. I indicated that the Polish man in the street
   could not understand why the Reich had assumed the
   protection of Slovakia, that protection being directed
   against Poland. I said emphatically that this question
   was a serious blow to our relations.
   
   Ribbentrop reflected for a moment, and then answered
   that this could be discussed.
   
   I promised to refer to you the suggestion of a
   conversation between you and the Chancellor. Ribbentrop
   remarked that I might go to Warsaw during the next few
   days to talk the matter over. He advised that the talk
   should not be delayed, lest the Chancellor should come
   to the conclusion that Poland was rejecting all his
   offers.
   
   Finally, I asked whether he could tell me anything about
   his conversation with the Foreign Minister of Lithuania.
   
   Ribbentrop answered vaguely that he had seen Mr. Urbszys
   on the latter's return from Rome, and that they had
   discussed the Memel question, which called for a
   solution."

That conversation took place on the 21st March. It was not
very long before the world knew what the solution to Memel
was. On the next day German Armed Forces marched in.


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