The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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Last-Modified: 2000/09/15

THE PRESIDENT: The translation came through to me, I think,
as though you had said, " ... the union did not even
correspond with the intentions of Hitler, but was arrived
at" - it should have been "by Goering himself".

DR. HORN: Yes.


                                                  [Page 146]

DR. HORN: In justification of these violations, one could
point out that these articles concerned constituted a
violation of the right of self-determination, on which the
peace treaties were based. The outcome of the vote after the
annexation at any rate clearly confirms the Austrian
attitude at that time.

The clausula rebus sic stantibus could be considered as a
further justification for the violation. One could refer to
the statement of Under Secretary Butler in the House of
Commons who, upon being questioned after the Anschluss,
stated that England had given no special guarantee for the
independence of Austria as undertaken in the Treaty of St.

These legal evaluations would hardly do justice to the
facts. Statute law always lags behind the ideal of justice.
That does not only apply to domestic law, but also to
International Law.

Events show that if treaties do not provide for revision,
time and events pass them by, and bring about an adjustment
upon a new basis.

The question whether the participation in such events can be
legally evaluated must definitely be disputed. I shall refer
later on to the general aspects of the adaptation of the law
to meet the requirements of conditions and definite facts.

An Englishman asserted:

  "We have to face the stubborn fact that Central Europe is
  populated by an almost solid block of eighty million
  people who are highly gifted, highly organized, and who
  are conscious of their achievements in the highest
  degree. The majority of these people have the strong and
  evidently unexterminable desire to be united in one

This artificially split-up block, created by the peace
treaties of 1919, was stirred with enthusiasm by the
Anschluss of Austria and the doctrines of National
Socialism. No attentive observer could fail to notice the
effect of the Anschluss upon the neighbouring States.

It is not my intention to take up the time of the Tribunal
with the particulars of the subsequent efforts by the
various groups of Germans in the neighbouring States for
incorporation into the Reich. The facts which have now
become history are only too well known. My task here is to
examine whether these events were the results of a
premeditated plan of one person or a group of persons, or
whether they were not rather the result of a long and
artificially suppressed force, which was instrumental in
accomplishing the objectives which were assigned by Hitler
to Herr von Ribbentrop at the time of his appointment.

The Anschluss of Austria was the signal for the Sudeten
German Party to force the Anschluss now on their part too.

Herr von Ribbentrop has been accused by the prosecution that
he, in his capacity as Foreign Minister, engaged in the
creating of difficulties under the Sudeten German Henlein.
It further accuses him of having induced the Sudeten German
Party to increase their demands step by step instead of
entering the Czechoslovak Government, and thus having
prevented a solution of the whole problem without making it
appear that the German Government was directing the action.

Document 3060-PS, submitted by the prosecution, shows just
the contrary. It is true that Herr von Ribbentrop knew that
the Anschluss efforts of the Sudeten Germans were encouraged
by the Party. But he had no influence on this party policy,
nor any thorough knowledge of it. Due to the difficulties
which had arisen with the Czech Government on account of the
separatist efforts of the Sudeten Germans and their partly
uncontrollable policy, Herr von Ribbentrop considered it
necessary to see to it that the realization of the Sudeten
German aims was carried out within the limits of a
responsible policy.

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Horn, would that not be a convenient time
to break off?

(A recess was taken.)

DR. HORN: The Munich Pact brought a temporary relief of the
situation with reference to foreign policy. Complications
first arose again through Hitler's invitation to Hacha to
visit Berlin, which came as a complete surprise to Herr von

                                                  [Page 147]

Ribbentrop, as did also the events resulting therefrom.
Reichsmarschall Goering has testified that Hitler, after the
Slovak question had been settled, had, in spite of all
warnings, decided upon setting up the Protectorate of
Bohemia and Moravia. On the basis of the available material,
it will be difficult to ascertain the final reasons for
Hitler's step. According to the testimony of the defendant
Goering, they sprang from Hitler's lasting fear that through
an alliance of the Czech officer corps with Russia, another
complication of the situation in the South-eastern territory
might be brought about. This and the resulting strategical
and historical reasons might have induced Hitler to take
this step of 13th March, 1939, which came as a surprise even
to Herr von Ribbentrop.

This decision, which is only understandable by Hitler's
inclination for making surprise decisions, completely
changed the German situation as to foreign policy.

Herr von Ribbentrop had warned Hitler at that time of the
reaction, which had to be expected as a result of this step,
by the Western Powers, especially by England.

And the consequences became immediately apparent in regard
to the Danzig and Corridor question which had been under
discussion since October, 1938. Up to that time, the Poles,
because of the German policy since 1934, and the return of
the Olsa territory, had not refused discussions about this
problem. The reaction to the setting up of the Protectorate
could be seen immediately at the end of March. England
regarded the establishing of the Protectorate as a violation
of the Munich Pact and began consultations with a number of
countries. At the same time, Minister Beck, instead of
coming to Berlin again, went to London, and returned from
there with the assurance that England would resist any
change of the status quo in the East. This declaration was
also made in the House of Commons after previous
consultation with the French Government.

On 26th March, 1939, the Polish Ambassador Lipski called at
the Wilhelmstrasse and stated to Herr von Ribbentrop that
any continuation of the revisional policy towards Poland -
especially as far as a return of Danzig to the Reich was
concerned would mean war.

Thereby the Polish question hid become a European question.
Herr von Ribbentrop told the Polish Ambassador at that time
that Germany could not acquiesce in this decision. Only a
complete return of Danzig and an ex-territorial connection
with East Prussia could bring a final solution.

I submitted to the Tribunal in the form of documentary
evidence a review of the Polish crisis which had now begun.
I can therefore assume that the actual course of events is
known, also in so far as they are connected with the
annexation of the Memelland, which was returned to the Reich
through an agreement with Lithuania.

In order not to take up the time of the Tribunal
unnecessarily, I shall confine myself to stating those facts
which serve to clarify the role of Herr von Ribbentrop.

The prosecution accuses Herr von Ribbentrop that he, during
the Sudeten crisis and the setting up of the Protectorate of
Bohemia and Moravia, had deceived Poland by pretending
friendly feelings toward her. May I, in refutation of this
assertion, point out that the relations between Germany and
Poland since the agreement of 1934 were good and even
friendly, and that this attitude became, of course, even
more favourable through the fact that Poland was indebted to
the German foreign policy for the acquisition of the Olsa

She had, therefore, every reason to entertain friendly
feelings towards Germany without it being necessary to be
deceived by Herr von Ribbentrop's behaviour. As the evidence
has show, Herr von Ribbentrop continued this friendly policy
towards Poland, even after the dissolution of
Czechoslovakia, as there was no reason to deviate from this

The prosecution further accuses Herr von Ribbentrop of
having known that Hitler as early as in the spring of 1939
was determined to wage war against Poland, and that Danzig
served only as pretext for this conflict. They deduce this
from Documents USA 27 and USA 30. These are Hitler's well-
known speeches of 23rd May and 22nd August, 1939. First of
all, I wish to point out that Herr

                                                  [Page 148]

von Ribbentrop was not present at these conferences intended
only for the military leaders.

A number of key documents have been discussed in detail
here. I only wish to name the best known, such as, for
instance, the Hoszbach document, the two Schmundt files and
the aforementioned speeches. Quite a number of statements
about these documents have been submitted in evidence.
People who knew Hitler well stated that they had become
accustomed to his extravagant ideas expounded in sudden
speeches in which he often repeated himself, and that they
did not take them seriously in view of this peculiarity.

One can counter these documents with quite a number of
speeches in which Hitler has asserted the contrary. It will
be said that Hitler simply pursued definite purposes with
his utterances. That might certainly be true. But it is just
as true that even the few key documents, which were
submitted as proof of aggressive war, contain so many
contradictions with regard to the aggressive intentions
deduced from them that at best only a critic, judging
retrospectively, could recognize such intentions. Besides,
the contents of these documents, in accordance with the
strict regulations for secrecy, became known only to those
who took part in the conferences. This might explain why
Herr von Ribbentrop learned about them only here in the

The guiding principles as to foreign policy which Hitler
laid down for him at that time covered merely the
reincorporation of Danzig and the establishment of an
extraterritorial road through the Corridor, in order to open
a direct land-route to East Prussia.

As the Tribunal will remember, Hitler had told Herr von
Ribbentrop already at the time of his appointment as Foreign
Minister that it was desirable to achieve these aims. This
demand was historically justified and the solution in this
case too, as in preceding cases, became inevitable by
incorporation of areas inhabited by Germans into the Reich.

The statute of the purely German city of Danzig, which was
created by the Treaty of Versailles in the course of the
erection of a Polish State, had always been the cause of
friction between Germany and Poland. Poland had achieved
this solution at Versailles through the argument that it
needed an outlet to the sea. For the same reasons the
Corridor was established against all ethnological
principles. Already Clemenceau had referred in his
memorandum to this artificial creation as a source of
danger, especially due to the fact that the people living in
this area had been separated through long years of bitter
enmity. It was not difficult to foresee that, as a result of
this fact, the League of Nations and the International Court
at the Hague would constantly be occupied with complaints
about Polish violations of the Agreement for Minorities. The
same cause gave rise to the large-scale confiscation of up
to one million hectares of German estates and the expulsion
of far more than one million Germans in the course of twenty
years. Not without reason did Lord d'Abernon speak of the
Danzig Corridor problem as the " powder-magazine of Europe".
If now a solution of this question was sought with due
recognition of the Polish claim to the preservation of an
outlet to the sea, then this endeavour was just as sensible
and historically justified.

The evidence has produced nothing to support the claim that
this question served merely as a pretext of which Herr von
Ribbentrop must have known. It has produced no proof that
Herr von Ribbentrop was acquainted with Hitler's aims, which
far exceeded these demands. Nor has it been proved that Herr
von Ribbentrop before 1st September, 1939, as has been
asserted by the prosecution, did all he possibly could to
prevent peace with Poland, although he knew that a war with
Poland would draw Great Britain and France into the
conflict. The prosecution bases this statement on Document
TC-73. This is a report by the Polish Ambassador to Berlin,
Lipski, to his Foreign Minister. The document contains
nothing whatsoever to substantiate this assertion.

Moreover, I do not believe that, according to the nature of
the evidence, Lipski can be valued as a particularly
reliable witness. May I recall that it was Lipski

                                                  [Page 149]

who, during the decisive stage of the negotiations before
the outbreak of the war, remarked that he had not the least
cause to be interested in notes or propositions from the
German side, that he knew the situation in Germany quite
well after a period of five and a half years as ambassador,
and that he was convinced that, in the event of war, riots
would break out in Germany, and that the Polish Army would
march victoriously into Berlin.

According to the testimony of the witness Dahlerus, it was
none other than Lipski, who, during the decisive discussion
at the Polish Embassy, created the impression among the
Swedes that Poland was sabotaging every possibility for
negotiations. ,

Further, results of the evidence also argue against the
above allegations of the prosecution. As for instance, the
fact that Herr von Ribbentrop, after he had learned that the
Anglo-Polish Guarantee Pact had been signed, induced Hitler
through his intervention to cancel the order to the
Wehrmacht to march, because a conflict with Poland would, in
his opinion, drag the Western Powers into the conflict. This
opinion is identical with the conclusions to which Herr von
Ribbentrop had come in his review of the European situation
and laid down in Document TC-75 which has already been

Ambassador Schmidt has testified here that it was Herr von
Ribbentrop who on 25th August, 1939, after the Hitler-
Henderson meeting, sent him to Sir Nevile Henderson with the
verbal communique, presented as Document TC 72-69, in which
the contents of Hitler's proposals were summarised. At the
same time, Herr von Ribbentrop adjured Henderson to submit
Hitler's proposals personally to the British Government for
favourable consideration. According to the British Blue
Book, Sir Nevile Henderson could not refrain from calling
these and subsequent proposals exceptionally reasonable and
sincere. They were not the customary Hitler proposals, but
pure "League of Nations" proposals.

Anyone studying the negotiations of the subsequent fateful
days cannot deny that everything was done on the German side
to at least get negotiations on a workable basis under way.
The opposite side would not have it thus, because they were
determined to take action this time. The good services of
England ended with the breaking off of all mediation without
having been able to bring Poland to the conference table.

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