The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Shofar FTP Archive File: imt/tgmwc/tgmwc-16/tgmwc-16-157.02

Archive/File: imt/tgmwc/tgmwc-16/tgmwc-16-157.02
Last-Modified: 2000/06/23

Q. How did you prepare that conference?

A. On my return, I went to see Herr von Schuschnigg, and
with him I discussed the change in the situation created by
my recall and the appointment of the new German Minister for
Foreign Affairs. I told Herr von Schuschnigg:

  "It appears to me that in this situation a discussion
  between the two heads of State regarding the differences,
  which have arisen from the interpretation of the July
  Agreement, could be nothing but helpful."

The Austrian Minister for Foreign Affairs has, as a matter
of fact, confirmed that we had discussed those personal
meetings as far back as November 1937. The proposal was that
there should be discussions in Berchtesgaden about all the
differences. No definite programme was drafted. It was
arranged that these conferences should take place on the
basis of the July Agreement, i.e., on the basis of the
maintenance of Austria's sovereignty. The only essential
problem discussed was the inclusion of a Minister in the
Austrian Cabinet who would act as the homme de confiance of
both States, and whose task would be to keep the peace
between the Austrian and German National Socialist Parties;
i.e., to eliminate in future all interference by the German
Party in Austrian affairs.

Later on, during the Berchtesgaden conference, it was
demanded that the Ministry for Security should be handed to
Dr. Seyss-Inquart. This demand was entirely unknown to me,
nor had I discussed it with Schuschnigg. It was merely
mentioned that a suitable man, perhaps Seyss-Inquart, should
be given the Ministry of the Interior. Today we know from
the testimony of witnesses that, in addition to this
official conference of mine, there were Austrian Party
channels through which proposals were sent to Hitler,
proposals that were unknown to me.

Q. Please give us an idea of the course of the discussion at

A. This conference has been repeatedly described here. I
accompanied Herr Schuschnigg and Herr Schmidt there
personally, and it is quite possible that when I received
them at the Austrian or the German frontier, I told them
that, in addition to Hitler, they might find one or several
generals up there, because I had quite possibly telephoned
to Berchtesgaden in the morning and learned that these
generals were to be present.

The course of the conference differed, of course, very much
from the customary conferences of diplomatic life; but it
was not quite so dramatic as has been described here by
various sources. To my knowledge, these generals, called in

                                                  [Page 313]

by Hitler on the previous evening and unknown to me, were
merely effective by their presence, and were only meant to
have that effect. As far as I know, they were not invited to
take part in the political conferences.

The tone in which Hitler negotiated, the accusations which
he hurled against von Schuschnigg, were to my mind most
unpleasant and for that reason I repeatedly intervened as a
mediator. I remember very well an incident which occurred
when Hitler and Schuschnigg were negotiating together, and
the discussion became extraordinarily loud. I entered the
conference room to find that Hitler was accusing Herr von
Schuschnigg of being no German, of lacking in national
feeling, so that I intervened and told Herr Hitler, "You are
completely misjudging Herr von Schuschnigg. Herr von
Schuschnigg's way of thinking is as German as yours and
mine, only he does not want a union of our two countries
under a doctrine of State which you are now representing in
Germany." During this conference, a. programme was submitted
to Herr von Schuschnigg and Herr Schmidt which was unknown
to me personally, as I have already said. After
negotiations, a number of points were removed from this
programme, for instance, the commanding of the Austrian Army
by General von Glaise, and all economic demands; and
therefore, towards evening when the conference was coming to
an end, I told Herr von Schuschnigg that he had better
accept the rest of the programme so that further peaceful
development should not be prejudiced. Apart from this, Herr
von Schuschnigg only made the express reservation in
connection with this programme or this agreement that the
stipulations would have to be confirmed by the Austrian
Government and the Austrian President. Therefore, the
possibility for later alterations on the part of Austria
certainly was provided.

Q. In one point your relation has not been quite clear. Did
you arrive at Berchtesgaden only when Schuschnigg and Dr.
Schmidt did? Were you already in Berchtesgaden, or had you
spent the night elsewhere?

A. I travelled from Vienna to Salzburg with Herr von
Schuschnigg, spent the night there with him and went on with
him the next morning to Berchtesgaden. In other words, I was
not in Berchtesgaden before him. However, Herr von
Schuschnigg has alleged that the morning before our visit I
told him that generals were up there. I cannot remember
that, but it is possible, because it may be that I put a
telephone call through from Salzburg in the morning, and was
told of it.

Q. There is one more point to be supplemented. Schuschnigg
said that you met him at the frontier. Perhaps you can clear
up that point, too.

A. Well, Herr von Schuschnigg and I had spent the night
together in Salzburg, as I have said. The next morning I
went ahead as far as the German frontier and waited for him

Q. Did the Berchtesgaden Agreement differ basically from the
Agreement of 11th July, 1936?

A. The result of the Berchtesgaden arrangements was
certainly an enlargement compared with the Agreement of
July. But there was no departing from the basic principle of
the July Agreement, that is, the maintenance of Austrian
sovereignty. This is evident also from the two communiques
by the governments which were issued on the occasion of the
acceptance of the Agreement.

DR. KUBUSCHOK: I refer to the official communique, Document
78, Page 174; and also to Document 79, Page 175, Hitler's
Reichstag speech of the 20th February, with reference to
this question.


Q. On the 26th of February you paid an official farewell
visit to Schuschnigg. The prosecution have presented a
memorandum from the files in this connection. Please tell us
about this farewell visit.

A. This note from the files obviously contains the
information I gave Herr von Ribbentrop over the telephone
regarding my farewell visit. In this note I drew the
attention of the Foreign Office to the fact

                                                  [Page 314]

THE PRESIDENT: What is the date of this note?

DR. KUBUSCHOK: The file note is dated 26th February and was
submitted by the prosecution.


THE WITNESS: In this memorandum I mention the pressure
brought to bear on Schuschnigg and under which he acted. The
fact that I informed the Foreign Office should really
indicate that I personally disapproved of this pressure;
otherwise I would not have made a report on it. On the 26th
of February my temporary activities came to an end.


Q. On the 9th of March, 1938, Schuschnigg proclaimed the
plebiscite. Kindly comment on this.

A. The plebiscite announced by Herr von Schuschnigg was, of
course, a complete surprise. In my view it was contrary to
the spirit of the arrangements agreed upon at Berchtesgaden
and contrary to the tendency of a peaceful settlement of the

The plebiscite was a violation of the Austrian Constitution
too. It had not been passed by the Austrian Government, but
was a spontaneous measure of the Austrian Chancellor, and in
my opinion it was quite evident that those elements in
Austria who were in favour of a union of the two States
would be opposed to this plebiscite.

Q. The witness Rainer has said in his testimony and in the
speech which has been quoted, that on the evening of 9th
March he was at your apartment. Was this a prearranged
conference, if a conference at all, or an exchange of views?

A. Not at all. I was absent from Vienna from the evening of
the 26th, as far as I remember, until about the 9th of
March. On that day I returned to Vienna and it is naturally
possible that these gentlemen came to my Embassy and talked
to me there. There was no question of anything prearranged
on my part.

Q. Were you in Berlin on the 11th of March?

A. On the evening of the 10th of March a telephone message
from the Reich Chancellery reached me at the Embassy,
informing me of the order from Hitler to go to Berlin
immediately, that very night. I flew to Berlin the following
morning and approximately between nine and ten in the
morning I arrived at the Reich Chancellery. Why Hitler sent
for me I do not know. I assumed that, as this crisis
developed, he might want my advice, perhaps; also he may
have discovered that my presence in Vienna would interfere
with his plans. At any rate, on this fateful day, the 11th
of March, I was in Berlin and at the Reich Chancellery. I
met Hitler surrounded by numerous Ministers, Herr Goering,
Dr. Goebbels, von Neurath, Secretaries of State and also
military people. He greeted me with the words:

  "The situation in Austria has become intolerable. Herr
  von Schuschnigg is betraying the German idea and we
  cannot permit this forced plebiscite."

And when I saw how aroused he was, I reminded him again of
his promise to me at Bayreuth, and warned him urgently
against over-hasty decisions. But on this morning he told

  "Either the plebiscite is cancelled or the government
  must resign."

Today we know from the letter, which he sent to Dr. Seyss
Inquart by special courier, of this ultimatum to the
Austrian Government. At that time he did not inform me of
this active intervention on his part. Then during the day,
while I along with most of the persons present, remained in
the large hall, Goering telephoned from Hitler's private
office. What was telephoned is something we, who were
waiting in the large hall, could only gather fragmentarily,
but, of course, today we know from the documents here.

There is only one incident which I want to mention. Towards
five o'clock in the afternoon, the report came from Vienna
that Schuschnigg's government was

                                                  [Page 315]

prepared to resign. Thereupon, I pressed Hitler to cancel
his military orders. Herr Hitler did that. Between five and
six o'clock in the afternoon the order to the military
forces standing by was withdrawn. On that occasion I
congratulated General Keitel and General von Brauchitsch,
who were present, on our being spared this issue. But one
hour later the situation was once more entirely different.
When a telephone call came through from Vienna stating that
the Federal President refused to nominate a Seyss-Inquart
government, Hitler again issued the orders to the troops.
Following that, late in the evening it was learned that the
Austrian Government had requested the entry of German
troops, since otherwise they could not control the

I can still see Herr von Neurath standing next to me telling

  "This is such an important report from Vienna that we
  absolutely have to have it in writing."

Thus, we were under the impression that this call for
assistance came to us from Vienna. The further events of the
evening are known and I can only say that I personally was
deeply shaken by this turn of events because it was
perfectly clear that if one marched in with the army, there
might be serious incidents and bloodshed, and new bloodshed
between our two nations which might badly compromise the
German problem again, and make the worst possible impression
in Europe about German leaders and their policy.

DR. KUBUSCHOK: I draw your attention here to Document 97,
Page 241, of the third document book. I beg your pardon, it
is not yet contained in the book, it is just being presented
- Document 97, Page 241. It is an affidavit by Thass, a
friend of the witness Papen, who talked to him on the
evening of March 11th. I quote approximately from the middle
of the document:

  "On the 11th of March, 1938, the day of the commencement
  of the march of German troops into Austria, Herr von
  Papen appeared at the Union Club late in the evening
  where he very excitedly and despairingly declared:
     'I have just come from the Reich Chancellery. I tried
     to talk Hitler out of the march into Austria and
     strongly advised against it; but he has carried through
     with the madness and has just given the order to march
     into Austria.'"


Q. Did you, witness, know anything about the military plan
"Case Otto"?

A. I have heard about this "Case Otto" for the first time
during this trial. The "Case Otto" was, as is known, a
theoretical preparation for Germany's march into Austria in
the event of the Czechs and Hungarians, because of the
restoration of the Hapsburgs, marching into Austria.

THE PRESIDENT: This is exactly what the defendant was doing
some time ago when I interrupted you. He said he did not
know anything about the document and he is now trying to
explain it. This is argument, not evidence.

DR. KUBUSCHOK: Yes, quite, Mr. President.


Q. Let us pass on to the next question. A little while ago
you mentioned that you had decided that the files, which
were documentary proof for your activity in Vienna, should
be taken to Switzerland. Was this carried out later on?

A.. Yes, that was done. My secretary, Herr von Ketteler,
took the files to Switzerland at the beginning of March

Q. Describe briefly the circumstances of the assassination
of your assistant, Baron von Ketteler, after the entry of
German troops into Austria. In particular, what did you do
to have that case cleared up?

A. During the days of the march into Vienna my secretary and
friend, Herr von Ketteler, suddenly disappeared. I informed
the Viennese police at once, as well as Herr Himmler, Herr
Heydrich, and Dr. Kaltenbrunner. They promised
investigation. The investigation was for a long time without
success. Originally

                                                  [Page 316]

I had assumed that Herr von Ketteler had fled, since his
relations with the Austrian Party had been very bad. But
then, a few weeks later, it transpired that von Ketteler's
body was found in the Danube below Vienna. I filed a charge
of murder against person or persons unknown with the Public
Prosecutor. At my request, a post-mortem examination was
made, but it produced no evidence of death by violence.
Nevertheless, I am perfectly aware that this new act was an
act of revenge by the Gestapo against me and my policies and
my friends. I addressed myself to Goering, who was in
command of the Gestapo, and asked for his assistance.
Goering demanded the files from the Gestapo and told me that
there was proof that Herr von Ketteler had prepared an
attempt on Hitler's life. I stated that that was quite out
of the question. And then it was ascertained by Goering
through the Gestapo, that I had taken my files to
Switzerland and that Herr von Ketteler had assisted in this.
Herr Goering promised me to negotiate with Hitler and to
demand the punishment of the Gestapo people who had taken
part in this murder. I believe that he did, but his
intervention met with no success.

Q. After your departure from Vienna you retired to private
life. Did you receive new offers of posts abroad?

A. I retired to private life, since my experiences after the
30th of June and then in Austria were not such as to make me
desire a new post. I can only say that during the period,
Herr von Ribbentrop asked me twice to go to Ankara as
Ambassador and that I refused.

Q. As a last question with reference to the Austrian events,
I want to ask whether Hitler awarded you the Golden Party
Emblem after the march into Vienna? Please make a statement
on that.

A. That is correct. As we know, Hitler was accustomed to
make sudden dismissals, and he had dismissed me abruptly on
4th February and solved the Austrian question without me.
For public consumption he used to camouflage such acts with
cordial letters and decorations. Perhaps I should have
turned down this Golden Party Emblem at that time, because I
was no longer in any official position and there was no
reason for my accepting it. However, my position in those
days was so difficult that I did not want to make it any
worse. My assistant, Ketteler, had disappeared, and there
was a possibility that I might be involved in a State trial
because I had removed my files to Switzerland. Thus, I
accepted the Emblem. But I deny that doing this established
my Party membership. I believe that no one who knows me -
even among the gentlemen sitting in this dock with me - will
maintain that I was ever in my life a National Socialist.

DR. KUBUSCHOK: I now come to the discussion of a relatively
brief period, that is, the "time in Turkey." May I start on
that now?

THE PRESIDENT: Why is it necessary to go into the affairs
after the Anschluss in March 1938, in view of what the
prosecution has stated? I mean, does it throw any light upon
the past? As I understand it -

DR. KUBUSCHOK: Mr. President, I have finished then with the
entire Austrian phase. I now have to deal only with a brief
subject, the defendant's activities during his time as
Ambassador to Ankara. I am only asking whether this would be
a suitable moment to begin with this, or whether the
Tribunal wishes to recess. I shall have completely finished
in about an hour.

Home ·  Site Map ·  What's New? ·  Search Nizkor

© The Nizkor Project, 1991-2012

This site is intended for educational purposes to teach about the Holocaust and to combat hatred. Any statements or excerpts found on this site are for educational purposes only.

As part of these educational purposes, Nizkor may include on this website materials, such as excerpts from the writings of racists and antisemites. Far from approving these writings, Nizkor condemns them and provides them so that its readers can learn the nature and extent of hate and antisemitic discourse. Nizkor urges the readers of these pages to condemn racist and hate speech in all of its forms and manifestations.