The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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Last-Modified: 1999/09/13

And yet, again, we have further corroboration of General
Lahousen's evidence in a memorandum, which has been
captured, of a conversation between the writer and Keitel.
It is PS-795, and it becomes Exhibit GB 54. That
conversation with Keitel took place on 17th August, and from
the memorandum I quote the first paragraph:

   "I reported my conference with Jodl to Keitel. He said
   that he would not pay any attention to this action, as
   the Fuehrer had not informed him, and had only let him
   know that we were to furnish Heydrich with Polish
   uniforms. He agrees that I instruct the General Staff.
   He says he does not think much of actions of this kind.
   However, there is nothing else to be done if they have
   been ordered by the Fuehrer; that he could not ask the
   Fuehrer how he had planned the execution of this special
   action. In regard to Dirschau, he has decided that this
   action would be executed only by the Army."

That then, my Lord, was the position at the end of the first
week in August - I mean at the end of the third week in
August. On 22nd August, the Russian-German Non-Aggression
Pact was signed in Moscow, and we have heard in Hitler's
speech of that date to his Commanders-in-Chief how it had
shocked the rest of the world. In fact, the orders to invade
Poland were given immediately after the signing of that
Treaty, and the H-hour was actually to be in the early
morning Of 25th August. Orders were given to invade Poland
in the early hours of 25th August, and that I shall prove in
a moment.

On the same day, 22nd August, that the German-Russian
agreement was signed in Moscow, news reached England that it
was being signed, and, of course, the significance of it
from a military point of view as to Germany, particularly in
the present circumstances, was obvious; and the British
Government immediately made their position clear in one last
hope - and that one last hope was that, if they did so, the
German Government might possibly think better of it, and I
refer to Document TC-72, Number 56; it is the first document
in the next to the last part of the Tribunal document book,
in which the Prime Minister wrote to Hitler. That document
becomes Exhibit GB 55:

   "Your Excellency.
   
   Your Excellency will have already heard of certain
   measures taken by His Majesty's Government, and
   announced in the Press and on the wireless this evening.
   
   These steps have, in the opinion of His Majesty's
   Government, been rendered necessary by the military
   movements which have been reported from Germany, and by
   the fact that apparently the announcement of a German-
   Soviet Agreement is taken in some quarters in Berlin to
   indicate that intervention by Great Britain on behalf of
   Poland is no longer a contingency that need be reckoned
   with. No greater mistake could be made. Whatever may
   prove to be the nature of the German-Soviet Agreement,
   it cannot alter Great Britain's obligation to Poland,
   which His Majesty's Government have stated in public
   repeatedly and plainly, and which they are determined to
   fulfil.
   
                                                  [Page 158]
   
   It has been alleged that, if His Majesty's Government
   had made their position more clear in 1914, the great
   catastrophe would have been avoided.
   
   Whether or not there is any force in that allegation,
   His Majesty's Government are resolved that on this
   occasion there shall be no such tragic misunderstanding.
   
   If the need should arise, they are resolved and prepared
   to employ foresee the end of hostilities once engaged.
   It would be a dangerous delusion to think that, if war
   once starts, it will come to an early end, even if a
   success on any one of the several fronts on which it
   will be engaged should have been secured."

Thereafter, the Prime Minister urged the German Government
to try and resolve the difficulty without recourse to the
use of force, and they suggested that a truce should be
declared while direct discussions between the two
governments, the Polish and German Governments, might take
place. I quote, in Prime Minister Chamberlain's language:-

   "At this moment I confess I can see no other way to
   avoid a catastrophe that will involve Europe in war. In
   view of the grave consequences to humanity, which may
   follow from the action of their rulers, I trust that
   Your Excellency will weigh with the utmost deliberation
   the considerations which I have put before you."

On the following day, 23rd August, Hitler replied to Prime
Minister Chamberlain, and that document is TC-72, Number 60,
and it becomes Exhibit GB 56. He starts off by saying that
Germany has always wanted England's friendship, and has
always done everything to get it; on the other hand, she has
some essential interests which it is impossible for Germany
to renounce. I quote the third paragraph:-

   "Germany was prepared to settle the questions of Danzig,
   and of the Corridor by the method of negotiation on the
   basis of a proposal of truly unparalleled magnanimity.
   The allegation which is disseminated by England
   regarding a German mobilisation against Poland" - we see
   here the complete dishonesty of the whole business -
   "the assertion of aggressive designs towards Roumania,
   Hungary, etc., as well as the so-called guarantee
   declarations, which were subsequently given, had,
   however, dispelled Polish inclination to negotiate on a
   basis of this kind which would have been tolerable for
   Germany also.
   
   The unconditional assurance given by England to Poland
   that she would render assistance to that country in all
   circumstances regardless of the causes from which a
   conflict might spring, could only be interpreted in that
   country as an encouragement thenceforward to unloosen,
   under cover of such a charter, a wave of appalling
   terrorism against the one and half million German
   inhabitants living in Poland."

Again, I cannot help remembering the report by the British
Ambassador, to which I just referred:-

   "The atrocities which since then have been taking place
   in that country are terrible for the victims, but
   intolerable for a Great Power such as the German Reich,
   which is expected to remain a passive onlooker during
   these happenings. Poland has been guilty of numerous
   breaches
   
                                                  [Page 159]
   
   of her obligations towards the Free City of Danzig, has
   made demands in the character of ultimata, and has
   initiated a process of economic strangulation."

It goes on to say that "Germany will not tolerate a
continuance of the persecution" and the fact that there is a
British guarantee to Poland makes no difference to its
determination to end this state of affairs. I quote from
Paragraph 7:-

   "The German Reich Government has received information to
   the effect that the British Government has the intention
   to carry out measures of mobilisation which, according
   to the statements contained in your own letter, are
   clearly directed against Germany alone. This is said to
   be true of France as well. Since Germany has never had
   the intention of taking military measures other than
   those of a defensive character against England and
   France, and, as has already been emphasised, has never
   intended, and does not in the future intend to attack
   England, or France, it follows that this announcement,
   as confirmed by you, Mr. Prime Minister, in your own
   letter, can only refer to a contemplated act of menace
   directed against the Reich. I, therefore, inform your
   Excellency that in the event of these military
   announcements being carried into effect, I shall order
   immediate mobilisation of the German forces."

If the intention of the German Government had been peaceful,
if they really wanted peace and not war, what was the
purpose of these lies; these lies saying that they had never
intended to attack England or France, and had carried out no
mobilisation, statements which, in view of what we now have,
we know to be lies? What can have been their object if their
intention had always been a peaceful settlement of the
Danzig question only? Then I quote again, from the last
paragraph:-

   "The question of the treatment of European problems on a
   peaceful basis is not a decision which rests on Germany,
   but primarily on those who since the crime committed by
   the Versailles dictate have stubbornly and consistently
   opposed any peaceful revision. Only after a change of
   spirit on the part of the responsible powers can there
   be any real change in the relationship between England
   and Germany. I have all my life fought for Anglo-German
   friendship; the attitude adopted by British diplomacy -
   at any rate up to the present - has, however, convinced
   me of the futility of such an attempt. Should there be
   any change in this respect in the future, nobody could
   be happier than I."

On 25th August, the formal Anglo-Polish Agreement of mutual
assistance was signed in London. It is unnecessary to read
the document. The Tribunal will be well aware of its
contents, where both Governments undertake to give
assistance to the other in the event of aggression against
either by any third power. I point to Document TC-73, it is
Number 91 and it becomes Exhibit GB 57. I shall refer to the
fact of its signing again in a moment, but perhaps it is
convenient, while we are dealing with a letter between the
British Prime Minister and Hitler, to refer also to a
similar correspondence which took place a few days later
between the French Prime Minister, M. Daladier and Hitler. I
emphasise this because it is desired to show how
deliberately the German Government was set about their
pattern of aggression. "The French Ambassador in Berlin has
informed me of your personal communication," - written on
the 26th August.

                                                  [Page 160]

   "In the hours in which you speak of the greatest
   responsibility which two heads of the Governments can
   possibly take upon themselves, namely, that of shedding
   the blood of two great nations, who long only for peace
   and work, I feel I owe it to you personally, and to both
   our peoples, to say that the fate of peace still rests
   in your hands.
   
   You can doubt whether my own feelings towards Germany,
   nor France's peaceful feelings" - I think that must be a
   mistake. It should be, "You cannot doubt".

THE PRESIDENT: "You cannot doubt what are my own feelings."

LIEUTENANT-COLONEL GRIFFITH-JONES: Yes, I am obliged to you,
sir.

   "You cannot doubt what are my own feelings towards
   Germany, nor France's peaceful feelings towards your
   nation. No Frenchman has done more than myself to
   strengthen between our two Nations not only peace, but
   also sincere co-operation in their own interests, as
   well, as in those of Europe and of the whole world.
   Unless you credit the French people with a lower sense
   of honour than I credit the German Nation with, you
   cannot doubt that France loyally fulfils her obligations
   towards other powers, such as Poland, who, as I am fully
   convinced, wants to live in peace with Germany.
   
   These two convictions are fully compatible.
   
   Till now there has been nothing to prevent a peaceful
   solution of the international crisis, with all honour
   and dignity for all nations, if the same will for peace
   exists on all sides.
   
   Together with the good will of France I proclaim that of
   all her allies. I take it upon myself to guarantee
   Poland's readiness, which she has always shown, to
   submit to the mutual application of a method of open
   settlement, as it can be imagined between the
   governments of two sovereign nations. With the clearest
   conscience I can assure you that among the differences
   which have arisen between Germany and Poland over the
   question of Danzig, there is not one which could not be
   submitted to such a method, with a purpose of reaching a
   peaceful and just solution.
   
   Moreover, I can declare on my honour that there is
   nothing in France's clear and loyal solidarity with
   Poland and her allies, which could in any way prejudice
   the peaceful attitude of my country. This solidarity has
   never prevented us, and does not prevent us today, from
   keeping Poland in the same friendly state of mind.
   
   In so serious an hour, I sincerely believe that no high-
   minded human being could understand it, if a war of
   destruction were started without a last attempt being
   made to reach a peaceful settlement between Germany and
   Poland. Your desire for peace could in all certainty
   work for this aim, without any prejudice to German
   honour. I, who desire good harmony between the French
   and the German people, and who am, on the other hand,
   bound to Poland by bonds of friendship, and by a
   promise, am prepared, as head of the French Government,
   to do everything an upright man can do to bring this
   attempt to a successful conclusion.
   
                                                  [Page 161]
   
   You and I were in the trenches in the last war. You
   know, as I do, what horror and condemnation the
   devastations of that war have left in the conscience of
   the people, without any regard to its outcome. The
   picture I can see in my mind's eye of your outstanding
   role as the leader of the German people on the road of
   peace, towards the fulfilment of its task in the common
   work of civilisation, leads me to ask for a reply to
   this suggestion.
   
   If French and German blood should be shed again, as it
   was shed 25 years ago, in a still longer and more
   murderous war, then each of the two nations will fight
   believing in its own victory. But the most certain
   victors will be - destruction and barbarity."

THE PRESIDENT: I think we will adjourn now until 2 o'clock.

(A recess was taken until 1400 hours.)

COLONEL STOREY: If it please the Tribunal, with the consent
of Lieutenant-Colonel Griffith-Jones, may I make an
announcement to the defence counsel.

At 7.30, in the Court room, this evening, the remainder of
the motion pictures which the United States will offer in
evidence will be shown for the defence counsel. We urge that
all of them come at 7.30.

DR. DIX (Counsel for defendant Schacht): I believe I should
explain in the name of the defence, that in regard to films
it does not seem necessary to ask that the films be shown
twice. We fully and with gratitude appreciate the courtesy
and readiness to facilitate our work; but our evenings are
very much taken up by the preparation of the defence and in
talking to our clients.

In regard to films, they are an entirely different matter to
documents. Documents one likes to read in advance, or
simultaneously, or later, but since we are expected to take
note of and take action on testimonies of witnesses only
during the main proceedings, we are of course in a by far
greater measure in a position and prepared to become
acquainted with the films only during these proceedings. We
believe the prosecution need not go to the trouble of
showing the films twice, including once on an evening, in
advance. We hope this will not be construed as, how shall I
say, a sort of a demonstration along one line or another,
but the reason really is that our time is so fully taken up
with the work just referred to, that superfluous work might
well be saved to the prosecution as well as to us. I repeat
and emphasise that we fully appreciate the readiness in
principle to facilitate our work - of which this
announcement is taken to be an expression - and I ask that
my words be understood in this light.

THE PRESIDENT: Do I understand that you think it will be
unnecessary for the defendants' counsel to have a preview of
the films, to see them before they are produced in evidence?
Is that what you are saying?

DR. DIX: That is what I said, yes.

THE PRESIDENT: Colonel Storey, I am not sure that you were
here when Dr. Dix began his observation, but I understand
that what he says is that in view of the amount of
preparation which the defendants' counsel have to undertake,
they do not consider it necessary to have a view of these
films before they are produced in evidence, but at the same
time he wishes to express his gratification at the co-
operation of the counsel for the prosecution.

                                                  [Page 162]

COLONEL STOREY: I am quite agreeable. It will suit us very
well; we were only going to do it for their benefit.

THE PRESIDENT: Very well.

LIEUTENANT-COLONEL GRIFFITH-JONES: When. the Tribunal rose
for the adjournment, I had just read the letter of 26th
August, from M, Daladier to Hitler. On 27th August, Hitler
replied to that letter, and I think it unnecessary to read
the reply. The sense of it was very much the same as that
which he wrote to the British Prime Minister, in answer to
the letter that he had received earlier in the week.

Those two letters are taken from the German White Book,
which I put in evidence as Exhibit GB 58, so, perhaps, the
Tribunal would treat both those letters as the same number.
After that, nobody could say that the German Government
could be in any doubt as to the position that was to be
taken up by both the British and French Governments in the
event of a German aggression against Poland.

But the pleas for peace did not end there. On 24th August,
President Roosevelt wrote to both Hitler and to the
President of the Polish Republic. I quote only the first few
paragraphs of his letter:

   "In the message which I sent you on 14th April, I stated
   that it appeared to be that the leaders of great nations
   had it in their power to liberate their peoples from the
   disaster that impended, but that, unless the effort were
   immediately made, with good will on all sides, to find a
   peaceful and constructive solution to existing
   controversies, the crisis which the world was
   confronting must end in catastrophe. Today that
   catastrophe appears to be very near at hand indeed.
   
   To the message which I sent you last April I have
   received no reply, but because my confident belief that
   the cause of world peace-which is the cause of humanity
   itself - rises above all other considerations, I am
   again addressing myself to you, with the hope that the
   war which impends, and the consequent disaster to all
   peoples, may yet be averted.
   
   1 therefore urge with all earnestness - and I am
   likewise urging the President of the Republic of Poland
   - that the Governments of Germany and Poland agree by
   common accord to refrain from any positive act of
   hostility for a reasonable, stipulated period; and that
   they agree, likewise by common accord, to solve the
   controversies which have arisen between them by one of
   the three following methods:-
   
      First, by direct negotiation;
      
      Second, by the submission of these controversies to
      an impartial arbitration in which they can both have
      confidence; or
      
      Third, that they agree to the solution of these
      controversies through the procedure of conciliation."


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