The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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Last-Modified: 2000/06/15


Q. When did Hitler approach you on the subject of going to
Vienna as Ambassador Extraordinary?

A. It was on the day of the murder of Dollfuss, 25th July,

THE PRESIDENT: Can you remind me, Dr. Kubuschok, whether any
question was put to the witness Lammers about this offer?

DR. KUBUSCHOK: Yes, a question was put to the witness
Lammers. The witness Lammers was asked about it when he was

THE PRESIDENT: What did he say?

DR. KUBUSCHOK: He said that Papen had refused.


THE WITNESS: On 25th July, the day of the murder of
Dollfuss, Hitler rang me up in the middle of the night, and
asked me to go to Vienna at once as his Ambassador. I asked:
"What gave you this odd idea?" He informed me of the murder
of Dollfuss, of which I had not yet heard, and said: "It is
absolutely essential that someone who knows the conditions
there should take over affairs at once." I replied that I
could not possibly give my decision on such a step over the
telephone, whereupon he asked me to come to Bayreuth at once
to discuss it.

Q. How did these negotiations in Bayreuth turn out? Did you
state your own terms for accepting the appointment?

A. In the discussion in Bayreuth, Hitler put it to me that I
was the only available person who could re-establish a
favourable situation in Austria, because, of course, Hitler
knew my attitude towards that problem, from the numerous
protests I had raised in the cabinet against Austria's
treatment. He also knew that I had been a friend of the
murdered Dr. Dollfuss and that I knew von Schuschnigg. I
stated my conditions and these conditions were: The
immediate recall of the Party Gauleiter, Herr Habicht, who
was in Austria by Hitler's order. Hitler was of the opinion
that if he did this it would amount to an admission of

BY THE PRESIDENT: Gauleiter of where?


THE PRESIDENT: I thought you said that was his name. I
wanted to know what Gau he was the Gauleiter of.

THE WITNESS: Perhaps "Gauleiter" is the wrong word. He had
been sent to Austria by Hitler as a liaison man, to exert
influence on the affairs of the Austrian National


Q. Witness, perhaps you ought to point out that his title
was "Landesleiter," which probably corresponds to the title
"Gauleiter" in Germany.

A. He was Landesleiter, which was the title given to people
who directed the Party organization abroad. Hitler replied
that if he recalled this man, it would look like a
confession of complicity in the Dollfuss murder. I replied
that the whole

                                                  [Page 300]

world was in any case convinced of the complicity of the
Party or its organizations, generally speaking; and that as
far as I was concerned, it was only important that those
connections should be broken off forthwith. I further
demanded an assurance in writing from Hitler that the
German-Austrian policy of the future - what is generally
termed the Anschluss policy - should move on a purely
evolutionary level, that is to say, that recourse should not
be taken to forcible measures and aggression. Hitler
immediately ordered this man Habicht to be recalled and gave
me a written assurance with reference to the second
question. And finally, I said that I was prepared to take
over the pacification programme in Austria, but only until
normal and friendly relations had been re-established. This
meant that later on in Austria I had the additional title of
"Ambassador on a special mission."

Q. Witness, we have heard of your political break with
Hitler after the speech at Marburg, your resignation from
the cabinet and your actions on 30th June. I should now like
you to give us your reasons for accepting that post in
Austria in spite of the events already described.

A. My decision to go to Austria has been made the subject of
a special charge by the prosecution. In order to understand
this decision of mine you must be acquainted with German
history and you must know that the Austrian problem was the
central problem of German national policy. As Dr.
Seyss-Inquart has discussed this problem at length, I can
dismiss it quite briefly; and I need only add that the
achievement of German unity, for which we had fought for
three centuries, was considered by Germany herself to be the
most significant and important target of our national
policy. The events of 30th June had brought about the
collapse of the coalition which I had formed on 30th
January. It had been clearly established that I had failed
to achieve my intentions and aims in home policy. After the
Dollfuss murder, the danger existed that Germany would fail
to achieve her main foreign political aim of accomplishing
the desired unity. All this was in my mind when I weighed
the very serious decision as to whether I should accede to
Hitler's request. If he put a Party man in that post, then
obviously all hope would be lost. If he appointed a diplomat
from the Foreign Office, it could be assumed that that
official would have no personal influence on Hitler. If,
therefore, the situation was to be saved, it would have to
be someone who was at least in a position to influence
Hitler and, moreover, someone who, like myself, was
independent and had his own political ideas. Today, just as
at that time, I am fully aware that many of my friends did
not understand the step I took and that they interpreted it
as lack of character. But I hold the view that this is a
question which the individual has to settle with his
conscience, without regard to understanding or the lack of
it; and my conscience told me that I must do everything to
restore order in this one question at least.

DR. KUBUSCHOK: With reference to the subject of Austria
generally, I call your attention mainly to the documentary
material which has been submitted in the previous case. To
supplement this, I will only refer to Document 64, Page 157,
Document 65, Page 158, and Document 81, Page 178. This last
document has already been presented in connection with the
case of Seyss-Inquart. It refers to the views held by State
Chancellor Dr. Renner on the Anschluss question. I should
like only to quote the last four lines on Page 179:

  "As a Social Democrat, and therefore as a champion of the
  right of self-determination of nations, as first
  Chancellor of the Austro-German Republic and former
  president of its peace delegations to St. Germain, I
  shall vote in the affirmative."

I have produced the document at this particular point in
order to support the testimony of the defendant, who
considered the Austro-German question from both points of
view a fateful problem, and the fact that this leading
statesman, Dr. Renner, even when placed in a difficult
situation, expressed himself as in favour of Austro-German
friendship, is clearly shown.

                                                  [Page 301]


Q. Witness, on 26th July Hitler wrote a letter to you
confirming your appointment as Ambassador Extraordinary to
Vienna. That letter has been mentioned by the prosecution.
What is the explanation of the contents of that letter?

A. The contents of that letter can be explained very easily.
If I was to have a chance of re-establishing normal and
friendly relations; if I was to have a chance of creating a
proper position for myself in relation to the Austrian
Government, then after the events of 30th June a public
statement of confidence had to be made. In that letter
Hitler was to certify that my mission was one of
pacification, and that he intended to disavow his terrorist
methods. That is stated in the letter. And I find the
prosecution's statement that this letter was a "masterpiece
of deceit" quite impossible to understand.

Q. Mr. Messersmith, in his affidavit, Document 2385-PS,
alleges that you pursued from Vienna a policy of aggression
towards the States of South-eastern Europe and quotes as
your personal statement, made on the occasion of the return
visit he paid to you: " ... South-east Europe as far as
Turkey constitutes the German hinterland, and I have been
assigned to carry out the task of incorporating it in the
Reich. Austria is the first country on this programme."

Did you make any such statement?

A. I took up my position in Vienna in the autumn of 1934,
and one of the first colleagues whom I saw was Mr.
Messersmith. I never received an assignment to pursue a
policy such as Mr. Messersmith describes in his affidavit,
and I never made any such statement to Mr. Messersmith.

DR. KUBUSCHOK: In this connection, I refer to Horthy's
interrogatory, Document 76, Pages 172 and 173.

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Kubuschok, before you turned to the
Messersmith affidavit, you were speaking, or the defendant
was speaking, of some letter. Is that letter a document
which is before us?

DR. KUBUSCHOK: Yes, the prosecution have already presented
that letter. It is the letter written on the occasion of the
defendant's appointment. It is Document 2799-PS.

SIR DAVID MAXWELL FYFE: My Lord, if your Lordship has the
British Document Book II, it is Page 37.


DR. KUBUSCHOK: The witness has just dealt with the statement
in the Messersmith affidavit, 2385-PS. The same question,
namely the return visit paid to Papen by Mr. Messersmith, is
treated in a further affidavit by Messersmith, Document

I should like to point out that the wording of the statement
referring to the influence of Germany on the States of
South-east Europe differs considerably in Messersmith's two

As I have already indicated in my previous question, Mr.
Messersmith says in 2385-PS that Papen stated that he had
been assigned to carry out the task of incorporating
South-east Europe in the Reich. In contrast to that, the
statement is worded very differently in 1760-PS. There Mr.
Messersmith states that Papen said on that occasion that he
had been ordered to see to it that the whole of Southeast
Europe, up to the Turkish border, should be regarded as
Germany's natural hinterland, and that German economic
control over that entire area should be facilitated by his
work; thus, in one affidavit, incorporation is mentioned and
in the other the facilitation of economic control.

In connection with this latter much less strongly-worded
affidavit, 1760-PS, I ask the witness whether he did at that
time make such a statement, namely, that the whole of
South-eastern Europe as far as the Turkish border was
Germany's natural hinterland and that he had been called
upon to facilitate German economic control throughout the
entire area on Germany's behalf.

                                                  [Page 302]


Q. Did you make such a statement?

A. The actual remark I made to Mr. Messersmith is perhaps -

SIR DAVID MAXWELL FYFE (Interposing): My Lord, I do not know
whether it would be useful for the Tribunal to have the two
references, the two passages. The passage in 2385- PS your
Lordships will find in Document Book II-A, that is, the
second Document Book, on Page 24 at the bottom of the page.
The reference in 1760-PS is in Document Book II, Page 22,
about one-third down the page.

A. (Continuing): My actual remark to Mr. Messersmith is
perhaps not quite so far from my defence counsel's last
quotation as the difference between Mr. Messersmith's two
statements would seem to indicate. It is perfectly possible
that we discussed the question of South-east Europe and I
can  well imagine pointing out to him that the economic and
political questions of the South-eastern area were of great
importance not only for Germany's policy, but also for
Austria; for the expansion of our trade towards the Balkans
was a perfectly legitimate target. I kept Berlin informed of
everything that I learned in Vienna regarding the policy of
the countries of the South-eastern area because naturally
that was one of the functions of the Ambassador to Vienna.
But except for that, I did nothing in the whole course of my
work in Vienna which tallies in any way with what Mr.
Messersmith alleges here.

Apart from that, may I say that it would be extremely
foolish and contrary to the most elementary rules of
diplomacy if I had made such a disclosure to an unknown
ambassador in the course of my first conference with him.
That would have made a sensation and would certainly have
come to the cars of the Austrian Government and the whole
world next day.

DR. KUBUSCHOK: On this point, I refer to Prince Erbach's
interrogatory, Document 96, Page 238, questions 8 and 9,
which deal with this subject. Page 232 of the English text.

THE WITNESS: Perhaps, my Lord, I might add that the
prosecution is in possession of all my reports from the
Vienna period, and that these reports are bound to show
whether I was pursuing such an objective.


Q. Did you ever, during your time in Vienna, negotiate with
Hungary and Poland about a division of Czechoslovakia? Mr.
Messersmith makes such a statement.

A. No, I never did. The policy of the Reich in
Czechoslovakia was the exclusive responsibility of our
Embassy in Prague.

DR. KUBUSCHOK: I refer to the Horthy interrogatory already
presented as Document 76. I also refer to Document 68, Page
162, a report from Papen to Hitler, dated 31st August 1935.


Q. Mr. Messersmith asserts in the affidavit mentioned, that
you stated during this conference that you were in Austria
for the purpose of undermining and weakening the Austrian

Did you make such a statement?

A. May I make a general statement with reference to this
affidavit. If I am to express myself in diplomatic terms, I
must describe it as in the highest degree astonishing. In
this affidavit, Mr. Messersmith himself relates that on the
occasion of my first visit he received me icily. That is
perfectly correct. I was quite well aware that Mr.
Messersmith was a keen opponent of the Nazi system. It is
therefore all the more astonishing to read here that during
the second visit I opened my heart, so to speak, to Mr.
Messersmith; the passage quoted here-that I came to
undermine and weaken the Austrian Government-is, of course,
not true either, because such a statement would naturally
have been communicated to the Austrian

                                                  [Page 303]

Government by Mr. Messersmith at once, and would have
rendered all my work of pacification and my position
generally impossible from the outset. May I refer in this
connection to the statement made by the Austrian Foreign
Minister Schmidt, to whom such activities on my part were
entirely unknown.

Q. I refer in this connection also to Glaise-Horstenau's
deposition in the case of Seyss-Inquart. Mr. Messersmith
further alleges that you said to him during the discussion
that you were trading on your reputation as a good Catholic
with, among others, certain Austrians, like Cardinal
Innitzer. Further on in his affidavit he even asserts that
you used your wife's reputation as a fervent and devout
Catholic for this purpose, without scruples or qualms of
conscience. Will you kindly state your views on this
assertion of Mr. Messersmith?

A. I think that of all the accusations raised against me,
this is the most mortifying. I can understand that the
policy pursued by a diplomat may be criticized and
misinterpreted, but I cannot understand why anyone should be
accused of misusing his own religious convictions for dirty,
political, commercial purposes; I can understand even less -
and find it the height of bad taste - that anyone should say
that I even used the religious convictions of my wife for
such purposes. Perhaps I can leave this to the judgement of
this High Tribunal.

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