The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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Last-Modified: 1999/12/15

THE PRESIDENT (interposing): Colonel Pokrovsky, you see the
witness was allowed to Dr. Seidl. Therefore, Dr. Seidl could
have put him in the witness box and could have asked him
questions, and the only reason for doing it by way of an
affidavit is to get the matter cleared and more quickly. So
if we were to order that this affidavit was not to be used,
we should then have Dr. Seidl asking the witness questions,
and probably, I am afraid, taking up rather longer than it
would to read the affidavit, and you would not object to

COLONEL POKROVSKY: Perhaps the Tribunal would find it
advisable to have Dr. Seidl ask the witness those questions
which have already been answered in the affidavit? It seems
to me that that would give us an opportunity to reconcile
this, contradiction, especially since there are only a few
questions and the first three, as far as I can understand,
are mostly of a historical nature and connected with the
organisation of the Institute in Stuttgart, in 1917.

THE PRESIDENT: Colonel Pokrovsky, I have not read the
affidavit yet so I am afraid I am not in a position to deal
with that point.

COLONEL POKROVSKY: All right, I withdraw my objection.

THE PRESIDENT: Call your witness then now.

(The witness Karl Stroelin took the stand)

                                                   [Page 41]


Q. What is your name?

A. Karl Stroelin.

Q. Will you repeat this oath after me:

I swear by God, the Almighty and omniscient, that I will
speak the pure truth and withhold and add nothing.

(The witness repeated the oath.)

THE PRESIDENT: You may sit down if you wish.



Q. Witness, you were last Lord Mayor of the City of
Stuttgart, is that correct?

A. Yes.

Q. In this capacity were you also Honorary President of the
German Auslands-institut?

A. Yes.

Q. You signed a sworn affidavit this morning which I shall
now read to you.

  "1. The German Auslandsinstitut was founded in Stuttgart
  in the year 1917. The fact that Stuttgart was chosen as
  the seat of this Institute is connected with the fact
  that the Swabian district has always furnished a
  particularly high percentage of emigrants. That is
  precisely why there arose in Stuttgart the need to create
  an institution for the purpose of keeping up a patriotic
  connection between the old and the new homeland. The
  German Auslandsinstitut was to serve this purpose. It had
  the following tasks:-
     (a) Scientific research on Germanism in the world.
     (b) Maintaining cultural connections with the
     (c) Informing the people at home about Germanism abroad
     and about foreign countries.
  For scientific research the German Auslandsinstitut had a
  library of more than one hundred thousand volumes on
  folklore and newspaper files concerning Germanism abroad.
  For this purpose they submitted and utilised nearly all
  newspapers which were published abroad in the German
  language and a large number of newspapers in foreign
  languages. An extensive collection of pictures was in one
  filing room. As the Germans abroad become increasingly
  interested in the homeland, genealogical research took on
  ever greater proportions.
  In addition to its activities of collecting and
  registering, the German Auslandsinstitut also had
  advisory and representative functions. The question of
  emigration was a subject for consultation for a long
  time. This required that the German Auslandsinstitut be
  informed regarding the living conditions and the
  possibility of finding employment in the individual areas
  to which they immigrated.
  The material of the German Auslandsinstitut was placed at
  the disposal of the various offices and organisations
  upon request. The representative activities of the German
  Auslandsinstitut consisted mainly in organising
  exhibitions. The centre of this activity was the Museum
  of Germandom Abroad in Stuttgart. The scientific work of
  the German Auslandsinstitut found expression particularly
  in the books, magazines, and calendars of a native
  character which it published. The connections with the
  Germans abroad was maintained by sending out such
  publications. The guiding thought of the German
  Auslandsinstitut in its relations with the Germans abroad
  was that these Germans abroad were to be the connecting
  links between nations in order to strengthen mutual
  understanding and the desire for collaboration. They were
  to be the envoys of friendship between their old and
  their new homeland. As President of the German
  Auslandsinstitut, I particularly emphasised
                                                   [Page 42]
  this thought in the speech which I made at Madison Square
  Garden in New York City in October, 1936, on the occasion
  of 'German Day'. Moreover the German Auslandsinstitut had
  no arrangements or representatives abroad to act as
  agents for these corresponding members. Direct or
  individual care for Germans abroad was not the task of
  the German Auslandsinstitut. The welfare of German
  nationals abroad was taken care of by the Auslands
  Organisation of the NSDAP. Relations with the
  Volksdeutsche were maintained by the 'Volksbund fuer das
  Deutschtum im Ausland' (People's League For Germanism in
  Foreign Lands).
  2. The German Auslandsinstitut never engaged in any
  activities which could be termed 'Fifth Column'
  activities. No one has ever made a request of this nature
  to me or to the institute.
  3. Rudolf Hess, the Deputy of the Fuehrer, did not exert
  any influence on the activities of the institute. He
  issued no directives or instructions which could have
  induced the institute to undertake any activity along the
  lines of 'Fifth Column' work."

Witness, are these statements correct?

A. These statements are correct.

DR. SEIDL: I have at the moment no further questions to
direct to the witness.

THE PRESIDENT: Do any of the defendants' counsel wish to ask
any questions of this witness?

DR. VON LUEDINGHAUSEN (Defence Counsel for defendant von
Neurath): May it please the Tribunal, I should like to ask
the witness a few questions.


Q. First, from when to when were you Lord Mayor of

A. From 1933 until the end of the war.

Q. And how long have you known the defendant von Neurath?
What was his position and his reputation at the time?

A. I have known von Neurath since the first World War. At
that time, at the end of the first World War, he was Chief
of the Cabinet of the King of Wurttemberg and his reputation
was excellent. In my capacity as Lord Mayor I met von
Neurath more frequently. In 1938 von Neurath became an
honorary citizen of the city of Stuttgart.

Q. You were more closely connected with him later when he
returned from Czechoslovakia?

A. When he returned from Czechoslovakia Herr von Neurath
retired to his estate of Leinfelden in the vicinity of
Stuttgart and here I had closer and more active connection
with him.

Q. What do you know about his ancestry, his family, his
education, his personality, in general?

A. Von Neurath comes from an old Swabian family. His father
was Lord Chamberlain of the King of Wurttemberg. His
grandfather and his great grandfather were ministers. Von
Neurath was very much respected as a dignified character,
distinguished personality, always ready to help,
extraordinarily humane, very conscientious, straight-forward
and frank.

Q. During his activity as foreign minister and possibly
later, did you have an opportunity to discuss politics with
him and particularly his views on foreign policy?

A. Von Neurath repeatedly discussed these matters with me,
but of course, only in general terms. As Reich Foreign
Minister he was convinced that Germany would succeed in
getting by peaceful means the place in the world which she
deserved. He rejected any other way. He strove to build up
and strengthen relations of mutual confidence with other
European powers, particularly with England. He was convinced
that it was precisely in this field that he had done
everything possible.

Later, I had occasion to examine with him Henderson's book
"Two Years

                                                   [Page 43]

with Hitler," which particularly emphasised how extremely
popular von Neurath has been in London at that time. I
recall that we also discussed the sentence written by
Henderson, that he admired von Neurath's honest devotion to
peace and to peaceful and friendly relations with England.
Von Neurath was also greatly concerned with the cultivation
of better relations with the United States. I recall that he
discussed the subject with me after my trip to America, and
said that I had done well to emphasise in my various
speeches Germany's desire for friendship with the United
States. I also remember how severely von Neurath criticised
the tone of Hitler's speech made in the beginning of 1939 in
reply to Roosevelt's message. He said at that time that the
international tension was increased by that speech. Then von
Neurath spoke of the Munich Agreement, in which he had been
an active participant. Later, he very frequently spoke of
the tragedy that was implicit in the fact that despite all
efforts, the relation between England and Germany had not
remained one of continuing confidence. He pointed out how
tragic it was for Europe and for the world. All my
conversations with von Neurath convinced me that he desired
an understanding and a peaceful settlement and that he would
never have pursued a policy that might lead to war.

Q. What were the reasons for his appointment as an honorary
citizen of Stuttgart? This happened after he resigned his
office as Reich Foreign Minister, did it not?

A. He was appointed in 1938, on the. occasion of his fifty-
sixth birthday on 2nd February, 1938. This appointment was
to express to von Neurath the gratitude and appreciation not
only of the people of Stuttgart but of all Swabia for his
manifest love of peace and the calm and prudence with which
he had conducted foreign affairs. It was also an indication
of respect for his honest and incorruptible character.

Q. Witness, the British prosecution asserts that von Neurath
repeatedly assured foreign governments or their
representatives that Germany had no military or aggressive
intentions toward these states, but that these assurances
were in fact given for the sake of appearances, in order to
lull these states into a false sense of security, because
even then von Neurath knew and approved of the fact that
Hitler actually had aggressive intentions toward these

From your knowledge of his personality do you consider von
Neurath capable of such infamy?

A. No, I do not consider him capable of such action.

Q. Did von Neurath inform you at the time of his resignation
from his position as foreign minister?

A. By chance, I was with von Neurath in the foreign ministry
on 4th February, 1938, at the very moment when his
resignation was accepted. He described how this resignation
came about. He said that until the end of the year 1937 he
had been convinced that Hitler was completely in sympathy
with the foreign policy which he was pursuing and that
Hitler as well as himself had not wanted to chance an armed
conflict, but at the end of 1937 Hitler had altogether
unexpectedly changed his attitude; he had suddenly struck a
different note, and it was impossible to decide whether it
was to be taken seriously. Von Neurath went on to say that
in a personal conversation with Hitler, he had attempted to
persuade him not to take this altered view, but that he had
the impression that he had lost his influence over Hitler,
and this prompted him to submit his resignation.

Q. After, or rather simultaneously with his discharge from
the foreign
ministry, von Neurath was
appointed President of the Secret Cabinet Council. Do you
know anything
about this appointment?
How and why he received it and what he did in this capacity?

A. He received this appointment as President of the Secret
Cabinet Council at the same time that his resignation was
accepted, but this Cabinet never convened; this was also
true of the Reich Cabinet. The Secret Cabinet was to be
convened by Hitler personally, and Hitler had simply not
done this. Von Neurath

                                                   [Page 44]

believed later that he had been appointed to this post as
President, in order to conceal from foreign countries that
the former foreign minister no longer had any influence on
the policy of the Reich.

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Luedinghausen, I do not see how this
witness can know
whether the Secret Cabinet Council was ever called. In any
event we have already heard it from Goering, and presumably
we shall hear it again from the defendant von Neurath, in
which case it is grossly cumulative. I do not think we
should waste the time of the Tribunal with it.


Q. Did you occasionally speak to von Neurath regarding his
attitude toward the Nazi Party?

A. Von Neurath's attitude toward the Party was critical and
disapproving at first he disapproved and waited to see what
would develop. His relations with the Party were poor. The
Party was of the opinion that von Neurath was not a National

Q. Did you ever discuss with him the policy of the Nazis
toward the Christian churches, that is, the Catholic and the
Protestant church?

A. Von Neurath was a faithful Christian and disapproved of
the policy of the Party toward the Christian churches. He
particularly supported Bishop Bohr's efforts to maintain
freedom of religion. He used his influence to see to it that
seminaries which had been requisitioned were released.
Following a discussion with von Neurath I visited Church
Minister Kerrl personally and discussed with him the
question of policy toward the church. I discovered that
Church Minister Kerrl was making every effort to represent
and carry out the ideas of positive Christianity. However,
he did not succeed because his work was continually
sabotaged, particularly by Himmler and Bormann.

Q. Later, when von Neurath retired to his estate Leinfelden,
did you discuss his activities as Reich Protector with him?

A. Von Neurath said that he took the post as Reich Protector
in Bohemia and Moravia most unwillingly and that he had
refused it twice, but finally decided that he must make this
sacrifice. He believed that it was precisely there that he
could act as an intermediary and bring about reconciliation.
He had considerable difficulties with Himmler and Frank; he
told me of his efforts to gain better treatment for the
Czechs, and of the protests which he made to Hitler in vain.
Once, when I visited von Neurath in Prague, there I was
invited to visit President Hacha, who told me emphatically
how pleased he was that von Neurath had been sent to Bohemia
and Moravia, since he was to be trusted and was fulfilling
the function of an intermediary in every respect. Von
Neurath told me that he was recalled and replaced because in
his treatment of the Czechs, he was too mild for the
Fuehrer, who preferred a particularly trustworthy S.S.
Leader in that position.

Q. Who was to be appointed to that post?

A. That was Heydrich.

Q. Was that von Neurath's reason for resigning?

A. Apparently.

Q. Now, von Neurath was also an Ehrengruppenfuehrer of the
S.S. Did he tell you how he attained this - let us say -

A. He told me that he was appointed Honorary Leader of the
S.S. without having been consulted. When he asked the reason
Hitler told him that Mussolini was soon to pay a visit and
that he, Hitler, wanted everyone in his attendance to wear a
uniform and since von Neurath had no uniform he appointed
him an honorary leader of the S.S. Von Neurath said he did
not intend to become one of Himmler's subordinates.
Thereupon Hitler told him that that was not necessary, it
was merely a question of wearing a uniform.

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