The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Shofar FTP Archive File: imt/tgmwc//tgmwc-02/tgmwc-02-13.01

Archive/File: imt/tgmwc/tgmwc-02/tgmwc-02-13.01
Last-Modified: 1999/09/12
                                                   [Page 92]



MR. ALDERMAN: May it please the Tribunal: When the Tribunal
rose yesterday afternoon, I had just offered in evidence
Document 2826-PS, Exhibit USA 111. This was an article by
S.S. Group Leader Karl Hermann Frank, published in Bohmen
und Mahren, or Bohemia and Moravia, the official periodical
of the Reich Protector of Bohemia and Moravia, the issue of
March, 1941, at Page 79. It is an article which reveals with
considerable frankness the functions which the F. S. and the
S. S. had, and shows the pride which the Nazi conspirators
took in the activities of these organisations. I read from
that article, under the heading "The S.S. on 15th March,

   "A modern people and a modern State are today
   unthinkable without political troops. To these are
   allotted the special task of being the advance guard of
   the political will and the guarantor of its unity. This
   is especially true of the German folk-groups, which have
   their home in some other people's State. Accordingly the
   Sudeten German Party had formerly also organised its
   political troop, the "Voluntary Vigilantes" or, in
   German, "Freiwilliger Selbstschutz " called F.S. for
   short. This troop was trained especially in accordance
   with the principles of the S.S., so far as these could
   be used in this region at that time. The troop was
   likewise assigned here the special task of protecting
   the homeland actively, if necessary. It stood up well in
   its first test in this connection, whenever, in the
   autumn crisis of 1938, it had to assist in the
   protection of the homeland, arms in hand.
   After the annexation of the Sudeten Gau, the tasks of
   the F.S. were transferred essentially to the German
   student organisations as compact troop formations in
   Prague and Brunn, apart from the isolated German
   communities which remained in the Second Republic. This
   was also natural because many students from the Sudeten
   Gau were already active members of the S.S. The student
   organisations then had to endure this test, in common
   with other Germans, during the crisis of March, 1939.
   In the early morning hours Of 15th March, after the
   announcement of the planned entry of German troops into
   various localities, German men had to act in some
   localities in order to assure a quiet course of events,
   either by assumption of the police authority, as for
   instance in Brunn, or by corresponding instruction of
   the police president. In some Czech offices, men had
   likewise, in the early hours of the morning, begun to
   burn valuable archives and the material of political
   files. It was also necessary to take measures here in
   order to prevent foolish destruction. How significant
   the many-sided and comprehensive measures were
   considered by the competent German agencies, follows
   from the fact that many of the men either on 15th March
   itself or on the
                                                   [Page 93]
   following days were admitted into the S.S. with fitting
   acknowledgement, in part even through the Reich leader
   of the S.S. himself or through S.S. Group Leader
   Heydrich. The activities and deeds of these men were
   thereby designated as accomplished in the interest of
   the S.S.
   Immediately after the corresponding divisions of the
   S.S. had marched in with the first columns of the German
   Army and had assumed responsibility in the appropriate
   sectors, the men here placed themselves at once at their
   further disposition, and became valuable auxiliaries and

I now ask the Court to take judicial notice, under Article
21 of the Charter, of three official documents. These are
identified by us as Documents D-571, D-572 and 2943-PS. I
offer them in evidence, respectively, D-571 Exhibit USA 112;
D-572 as  Exhibit USA 113; and 2943-PS which is the French
Official Yellow Book, at Pages 66 and 67, as Exhibit USA

THE PRESIDENT: Have you cited 572?

MR. ALDERMAN: D-572 was Exhibit USA 113. The first two
documents are British diplomatic dispatches, properly
certified to by the British Government, which give the
background of intrigue in Slovakia - German intrigue in
Slovakia. The third Document, 2943-PS or Exhibit USA 114,
consists of excerpts from the French Yellow Book,
principally excerpts from dispatches signed by M. Coulondre,
the French Ambassador in Berlin, to the French Foreign
Office, between 13th and 18th March, 1939. I expect to draw
on these three dispatches rather freely in the further
course of my presentation, since the Tribunal will take
judicial notice of each of these documents, I think; and,
therefore, it may not be necessary to read them at length
into the transcript. In Slovakia the long-anticipated crisis
came on 10th March. On that day the Czechoslovakian
Government dismissed those members of the Slovak cabinet who
refused to continue negotiations with Prague, among them
Foreign Minister Tiso and Durcansky. Within twenty-four
hours the Nazis seized upon this act of the Czechoslovak
Government as an excuse for intervention. On the following
day, 11th March, a strange scene was enacted in Bratislava,
the Slovak capital. I quote from Document D-571, which is
Exhibit USA 112. That is the report of the British Minister
in Prague to the British Government.

   "Herr Burckel, Herr Seyss-Inquart, and five German
   generals came at about 10 p.m. in the evening of
   Saturday, the 11th March, into a cabinet meeting in
   progress in Bratislava, and told the Slovak Government
   that they should proclaim the independence of Slovakia.
   When M. Sidor, the Prime Minister, showed hesitation,
   Herr Burckel took him on one side and explained that
   Herr Hitler had decided to settle the question of
   Czechoslovakia definitely. Slovakia ought, therefore, to
   proclaim her independence, because Herr Hitler would
   otherwise disinterest himself in her fate. M. Sidor
   thanked Herr Burckel for this information, but said that
   he must discuss the situation with the Government at

- a very strange situation that he should have to discuss
such a matter with his own Government before obeying
instructions of Herr Hitler delivered by five German
generals and Herr Burckel and Herr Seyss-Inquart.

Events went on moving rapidly, but Durcansky, one of the
dismissed ministers, escaped with Nazi assistance to Vienna,
where the facilities of the

                                                   [Page 94]
German broadcasting station were placed at his disposal.
Arms and ammunition were brought from German offices in
Engerau across the Danube into Slovakia, where they were
used by the F.S. and the Hlinka Guards to create incidents
and disorder of the type required by the Nazis as an excuse
for military action. The German Press and radio launched a
violent campaign against the Czechoslovak Government; and,
significantly, an invitation from Berlin was delivered in
Bratislava. Tiso, the dismissed Prime Minister, was summoned
by Hitler to an audience in the German capital. A plane was
awaiting him in Vienna.

At this point, in the second week of March, 1939,
preparations for what the Nazi leaders liked to call the
liquidation of Czechoslovakia were progressing with what to
them must have been very satisfying smoothness. The
military, diplomatic and propaganda machinery of the Nazi
conspirators was moving in close co-ordination. As during
the process of the Fall Grun, or Case Green, of the
preceding summer, the Nazi conspirators had invited Hungary
to participate in this new attack. Admiral Horthy, the
Hungarian Regent, was again greatly flattered by this

I offer in evidence Document 2816-PS, as Exhibit USA 115.
This is a letter which the distinguished Admiral of Hungary
- a country which, incidentally, had no navy - wrote to
Hitler on 13th March, 1939, and which we captured in the
German Foreign Office files.

"Your Excellency,

My sincere thanks,

I can hardly tell you how happy I am because this Head Water
Region - I dislike using big words - is of vital importance
to the life of Hungary" - I suppose he needed some head
waters for the non-existent navy of which he was admiral.

"In spite of the fact that our recruits have been serving
for only five weeks we are going into this affair with eager
enthusiasm. The dispositions have already been made. On
Thursday, the 16th of this month, a frontier incident will
take place which will be followed by the big blow on
Saturday "- He does not like to use big words. "Big Blow" is

"I shall never forget this proof of friendship, and your
Excellency may rely on my unshakeable gratitude at all

Your devoted friend,


From this cynical and callous letter from the distinguished
Admiral --

THE PRESIDENT: Was that letter addressed to the Hungarian
Ambassador at Berlin ?

MR. ALDERMAN: I thought it was addressed to Hitler, if the
President please.

THE PRESIDENT: There are some words at the top which look
like a Hungarian name.

MR. ALDERMAN: That is the letter heading. As I understand
it, the letter was addressed to Adolf Hitler.


MR. ALDERMAN: And I should have said it was - it ended with

THE PRESIDENT: Is there anything on the letter which
indicates that?

                                                   [Page 95]

MR. ALDERMAN: Only the fact that it was found in the Berlin
Foreign Office, and the wording of the letter and the
address, "Your Excellency" we may be drawing a conclusion as
to whom it was addressed; but it was found in the Berlin
Foreign Office.

From that cynical and callous letter it may be inferred that
the Nazi conspirators had already informed the Hungarian
Government of their plans for further military action
against Czechoslovakia. As it turned out the timetable was
advanced somewhat. I would draw the inference that His
Excellency, Adolf Hitler, informed his devoted friend Horthy
of this change in good time.

On the diplomatic level the defendant Ribbentrop was quite
active. On 13th March, the same day on which Horthy wrote
his letter, Ribbentrop sent a cautionary telegram to the
German minister in Prague outlining the course of conduct he
should pursue during the coming diplomatic pressure. I offer
in evidence Document 2815-PS as Exhibit USA 116. This is the
telegram sent by Ribbentrop to the German Legation in Prague
on 13th March.

   "Berlin, 13th March, 1939. Prague. Telegram in secret
   With reference to telephone instructions given by Kordt
   today, in case you should get any written communication
   from President Hacha, please do not make any written or
   verbal comments or take any other action on them, but
   pass them on here by cipher telegram. Moreover, I must
   ask you and the other members of the Embassy to make a
   point of not being available if the Czech Government
   wants to communicate with you during the next few days.
   Signed Ribbentrop."

On the afternoon of 13th March, Tiso, accompanied by
Durcansky and Herr Meissner, the local Nazi leader, arrived
in Berlin in response to the summons from Hitler to which I
have heretofore referred. Late that afternoon Tiso was
received by Hitler in his study in the Reich Chancellery and
presented with an ultimatum. Two alternatives were given
him: either declare the independence of Slovakia or be left
without German assistance; or, what were referred to as the
mergers of Poland and Hungary. This decision, Hitler said,
was not a question of days, but of hours. I now offer in
evidence Document 2802-PS as Exhibit USA 117, again a
document captured in the German Foreign Office; German
Foreign Office minutes of the meeting between Hitler and
Tiso on 13th March. I read the bottom paragraph on Page 2
and the top paragraph on Page 3 of the English translation.
The first paragraph I shall read is a summary of Hitler's
remark. You will note that in the inducements he held out to
the Slovaks, Hitler displayed his customary disregard for
the truth. I quote:

   "Now he had permitted Minister Tiso to come here in
   order to make this question clear in a very short time.
   Germany had no interest East of the Carpathian
   mountains. It was indifferent to him what happened
   there. The question was whether Slovakia wished to
   conduct her own affairs or not. He did not wish for
   anything from Slovakia. He would not pledge his people
   or even a single soldier to something which was not in
   any way desired by the Slovak people. He would like to
   secure final confirmation as to what Slovakia really
   wished. He did not wish that reproaches should come from
   Hungary that he was preserving something which did not
   wish to be preserved at all. He took a liberal view of
   unrest and demonstration in general, but in this
   connection unrest was
                                                   [Page 96]
   only an outward indication of interior instability. He
   would not tolerate it and he had for that reason
   permitted Tiso to come in order to hear his decision. It
   was not a question of days, but of hours. He bad stated
   at that time that if Slovakia wished to make herself
   independent he would support this endeavour and even
   guarantee it. He would stand by his word so long as
   Slovakia would make it clear that she wished for
   independence. If she hesitated or did not wish to
   dissolve the connection with Prague, he would leave the
   destiny of Slovakia to the mercy of events, for which he
   would be no longer responsible. In that case he would
   only intercede for German interests, and those did not
   lie East of the Carpathians. Germany had nothing to do
   with Slovakia. She had never belonged to Germany.
   The Fuehrer asked the Reich Foreign Minister (the
   defendant Ribbentrop) if he had any remarks to add. The
   Reich Foreign Minister also emphasised for his part the
   conception that in this case a decision was a question
   of hours not of days. He showed the Fuehrer a message he
   had just received which reported Hungarian troop
   movements on the Slovak frontiers. The Fuehrer read this
   report, mentioned it to Tiso, and expressed the hope
   that Slovakia would soon decide clearly for herself."

A most extraordinary interview. Germany had no interest in
Slovakia; Slovakia had never belonged to Germany; Tiso was
invited there; and this is what happened: those present at
that meeting included the defendant Ribbentrop, the
defendant Keitel, State Secretary Dietrich, State Secretary
Keppler, the German Minister of State Meissner. I invite the
attention of the Tribunal to the presence of the defendant
Keitel on this occasion as on so many other occasions where
purely political measures in furtherance of Nazi aggression
were under discussion, and where apparently there was no
need for technical military advice.

While in Berlin the Slovaks also conferred separately with
the defendant Ribbentrop and with other high Nazi officials.
Ribbentrop very solicitously handed Tiso a copy already
drafted in Slovak language of the law proclaiming the
independence of Slovakia. On the night of the 13th a German
plane was conveniently placed at Tiso's disposal to carry
him home. On 14th March, pursuant to the wishes of the Nazi
conspirators, the diet of Bratislava proclaimed the
independence of Slovakia. With Slovak extremists acting at
the Nazi bidding in open revolt against the Czechoslovak
Government, the Nazi leaders were now in a position to move
against Prague. On the evening of the 14th, at the
suggestion of the German Legation in Prague, M. Hacha, the
President of the Czechoslovak Republic and M. Chvalkowsky,
his Foreign Minister, arrived in Berlin. The atmosphere in
which they found themselves might be described as somewhat
hostile. Since the preceding week-end, the Nazi Press had
accused the Czechs of using violence against the Slovaks,
and specially against the members of the German minority and
citizens of the Reich. Both Press and radio proclaimed that
the lives of Germans were in danger. Such a situation was
intolerable. It was necessary to smother as quickly as
possible the focus of trouble, which Prague had become, in
the heart of Europe - these peacemakers.

After midnight on the 15th at 1.15 in the morning, Hacha and
Chvalkowsky were ushered into the Reich Chancellery. They
found there Adolf Hitler, the defendants Ribbentrop,
Goering, and Keitel and other high Nazi officials.

                                                   [Page 97]

I now offer in evidence Document 2798-PS as Exhibit USA 118.
This document is the captured German Foreign Office account
of this infamous meeting. It is a long document. Parts of it
are so revealing and give so clear a picture of Nazi
behaviour and tactics that I should like to read them in

It must be remembered that this account of the fateful
conference on the night of March 14th-15th comes from German
sources, and of course it must be read as an account biased
by its source, or as counsel for the defendants said last
week "a tendentious account." Nevertheless, even without too
much discounting of the report on account of its source, it
constitutes a complete condemnation of the Nazis, who by
pure and simple international banditry forced the
dissolution of Czechoslovakia. And I interpolate to suggest
that international banditry has been a crime against
International Law for centuries.

I will first read the headings to the minutes. In the
English mimeographed version in the document books the time
given is an incorrect translation of the original. It should
read 0115 to 0215. Conversation between the Fuehrer and
Reich Chancellor and the President of Czechoslovakia, Hacha,
in the presence of the Reich Foreign Minister, von
Ribbentrop, and of the Czechoslovakian Foreign Minister,
Chvalkowsky, in the Reich Chancellery on 15th March, 1939,
0115 to 0215 hours. Others present were General Field
Marshal Goering, General Keitel, Secretary of the State, von
Weizsaecker, Minister of the State, Meissner, Secretary of
the State, Dietrich, Counsellor of the Legation, Hewel.
Hacha opened the conference. He was conciliatory - even
humble, though the President of a sovereign State. He
thanked Hitler for receiving him and he said he knew that
the fate of Czechoslovakia rested in the Fuehrer's hands.
Hitler replied that he regretted that he had been forced to
ask Hacha to come to Berlin, particularly because of the
great age of the President. Hacha was then, I believe, in
his seventies. But this journey, Hitler told the President,
could be of great advantage to his country because, and I
quote "It was only a matter of hours before Germany would
intervene." I quote now from the top of page three of the
English translation. You will bear in mind that what I am
reading are rough notes or minutes of what Adolf Hitler said
-  "Czechoslovakia was a matter of indifference to him."

   "If Czechoslovakia had kept closer to Germany it would
   have been an obligation to Germany, but he was glad that
   he did not have this obligation now. He had no interests
   whatsoever in the territory East of the little
   Carpathian Mountains. He did not want to draw the final
   consequences in the autumn - "

THE PRESIDENT: Mr. Alderman, do you not think you ought to
read the last sentence on page two ?

MR. ALDERMAN: Perhaps so; yes. The last sentence from the
preceding page was:

   "For the other countries Czechoslovakia was nothing but
   a means to an end. London and Paris were not in a
   position really to stand up for Czechoslovakia.
   Czechoslovakia was a matter of indifference to him."

Then I had read down to -

   "But even at that time and also later in his
   conversations with Chvalkowsky he made it clear that
   they would ruthlessly smash this State if Benes's
   tendencies were not completely
                                                   [Page 98]
   revised. Chvalkowsky understood this and asked the
   Fuehrer to have patience. (He often bragged of his
   patience.) The Fuehrer saw this point of view, but the
   months went by without any change. The new regime did
   not succeed in eliminating the old one psychologically.
   He observed this from the Press, mouth-to-mouth
   propaganda, dismissals of Germans, and many other things
   which, to him, were a symbol of the total position.
   At first he had not understood this but when it became
   clear to him he drew his conclusions because, had the
   development continued in this way, the relations with
   Czechoslovakia would in a few years have become the same
   as six months ago. Why did Czechoslovakia not
   immediately reduce its army to a reasonable size? Such
   an army was a tremendous burden for such a State because
   it only makes sense if it supports the foreign political
   mission of the State. Since Czechoslovakia no longer has
   a foreign political mission such an army is meaningless.
   He enumerates several examples which proved to him that
   the spirit in the army had not changed. This symptom
   convinced him that the army also would be a source of a
   severe political burden in the future. Added to this
   were the inevitable development of economic necessities,
   and, further, the protests of national groups which
   could no longer endure life as it was."

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.