The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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Q. Did you make peace suggestions of a foreign political
nature to von Ribbentrop after the French campaign?

A. Yes. I had at that time, to be sure, no official
position. But I nevertheless felt the need, and I believe it
was a heartfelt wish of many, if not all, Germans, to see
peaceful conditions again in the world as soon as possible.
On the day of the capitulation of the King of Belgium, I
suggested, firstly, the creation of a United States of
Europe on a democratic basis. This would have meant
independence of Holland, Belgium, Poland, and so on.
Secondly, if this could not be brought about with Hitler, at
any rate to have as few encroachments on the autonomy of the
countries as possible.

Q. Did Ribbentrop speak to Hitler on this matter?

A. So far as I know, yes. But at that time Hitler considered
such plans as premature.

Q. Did you speak to Ribbentrop again in the winter of 1942-
1943 on the same subject?

A. Yes. Ribbentrop at that time also worked out very
concrete proposals.

                                                   [Page 83]

They provided for the sovereignty and independence of all
conquered countries, including Poland, and, in addition a
far-reaching economic collaboration.

Q. How did Hitler react then to these proposals?

A. Hitler turned down these proposals giving as reason the
fact that the time was not suited, the military, situation
not favourable enough, and that this would be interpreted as
a sign of weakness.

Q. Now to another question. Before the outbreak of the
Russian campaign, did Ribbentrop mention to Hitler
Bismarck's statement about the danger of preventive wars?

A. Ribbentrop told me several times that he was very
concerned about the pact with Russia. In regard to
preventive war, he had stated to Hitler: "The good God does
not let anyone look at His cards." I know, too, that
Ribbentrop made efforts to bring our experts on Russia to
Hitler in order to explain to him the situation there and to
advise him against a war. Hitler did not see these people,
so far as I know. Only Ambassador Graf Schulenburg was
granted a short audience. He, who considered such a war ill-
advised, and sharply rejected the idea, could not, however,
advance his views on Russia and the reasons which made a war
undesirable, for Hitler, after delivering a speech of his
own on this subject, in about twenty minutes dismissed him
abruptly without letting him speak a word.

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Horn, the order of the Tribunal was that
witnesses might refresh their memory by notes, but this
witness appears to the Tribunal to have read practically
every word he has said. That is not refreshing your memory
with notes. That is making a speech which you have written
out beforehand, and if that sort of thing goes on the
Tribunal will have to consider whether it is necessary to
alter its rule and adhere to the ordinary rule, which is
that no witness is allowed to refer to any notes at all
except those made at the time.

DR. HORN: Mr. President, to be sure, I discussed the
questions with the witness but his notes, if they have been
made, were made by the witness independently and without my
knowledge of the exact contents. I shall now ask the witness
to answer my questions without making use of any means with
which I am unfamiliar. I do not - that I want to emphasise
once again - know these answers.


Q. Witness, is it known to you that von Ribbentrop tried to
use his influence with Hitler to stop the damaging
tendencies against the Church and the Jews?

A. Yes. I know that Ribbentrop spoke frequently with Hitler
on this policy. I was absolutely in despair about the policy
toward the Church and the Jews, and for this reason had
occasion to speak to him about it often, as I have said. But
he explained to me again and again when he returned from
Hitler that Hitler could not be spoken to on this point,
that Hitler said that these problems had to be solved before
he died.

Q. Did von Ribbentrop and the Foreign Office have any
knowledge of the military planning?

A. Ribbentrop frequently told me that he was completely in
the dark in military affairs. So far as the Foreign Office
was concerned, this Foreign Office had no influence on
strategic planning.

Q. What were the relations between Ribbentrop, Himmler,
Goebbels and Bormann?

A. The relations between Ribbentrop and those afore-named
gentlemen were as bad as can be imagined. There was a
perpetual fight between them. In my opinion Ribbentrop would
have been Himmler's first victim if anything had happened to
Hitler. A constant struggle and feud, I should like to
state, went on between these men with an unprecedentedly
sharp exchange of letters.

Q. What was the relationship in general in the highest Party
and Reich positions?

A. The relationship in the individual departments naturally
varied according to the character of the department chiefs.
But one can say that the relationship was by no means good,
and, above all, that reciprocal orientation, so urgently

                                                   [Page 84]

necessary for national affairs, practically never developed.
It was almost more difficult for one minister to discuss a
question with another minister by telephone, than to have
had the Angel Gabriel himself come from heaven and speak
with one of us. Even in the most important and essential
matters a factual discussion could not take place. There
was, in other words, practically no connection between these
departments. Moreover, they were very different, both in
their characters and in their ideas.

Q. Is anything known to you about objections on the part of
the Vatican, above all regarding the Polish clergy?

A. I heard about that later, and there must have been two
protests concerning the Catholic Polish clergy. These two
notes were submitted by the Nuncio to the Secretary of State
of that time. The then Secretary of State turned these over
to Ribbentrop according to regulation, and Ribbentrop in his
turn presented them to Hitler. Since the Vatican had not
recognized the Government General, and accordingly, since
the Nuncio was not responsible in these regions, Hitler
declared when these notes were presented to him, "They are
just one long lie. Give these notes back to the Nuncio
through his Secretary of State with a reproof, and tell him
that you will never again deal with such a matter."

Q. Were these notes then worked on by the Foreign Office?

A. Sharp and precise instructions were issued that all cases
in which representatives of countries brought up matters,
for which they were not authorised, whether in
conversations, or notes, transcripts of conversations,
memoranda, or other documents - these were not to be
accepted, and verbal protests must be turned down sharply.

Q. It is known to you that von Ribbentrop prevented the
shooting of about 10,000 prisoners of war after the
frightful air attack on Dresden?

A. Yes, I know the following: von Ribbentrop's liaison
officer with Hitler called me up one day in great
excitement. He informed me that on a suggestion by Goebbels,
the Fuehrer intended, as reprisal for the holocaust of
Dresden, to have English and American prisoners of war, I
believe mostly airmen, shot. I went immediately to
Ribbentrop and informed him of this. Ribbentrop became very
excited; he turned pale; he was in fact almost stunned and
thought it was impossible, picked up the phone and called up
this liaison officer in person in order to verify this
report. The liaison officer corroborated it. Then Ribbentrop
got up immediately and went to Hitler, came back, I think
after a half hour, and told me that he had succeeded in
having Hitler withdraw this order. That is all I known about
this matter.

Q. Do you know anything about the meeting of an anti-Jewish

A. Regarding the meeting of an anti-Jewish congress I know
something, namely, I believe this same liaison officer with
Hitler informed us that, on a suggestion of Bormann, Hitler
had ordered the calling of an anti-Jewish congress through
Rosenberg's office. Ribbentrop did not want to believe this;
but nevertheless had to accept this too as true once he had
spoken with our liaison officer. Then, since on the basis of
this decision we could do nothing more officially to prevent
the thing, we nevertheless worked our way into it, and we
made efforts by a policy of hesitation, delay and
obstruction to render the execution of it impossible. And
although the order was given in the spring of 1944 and the
war did not end until April, 1945, this congress never
actually took place.

Q. Could you observe whether von Ribbentrop often adopted
astern manner with his staff, for reasons of State, although
he sometimes thought entirely differently?

A. This would be passing a judgement. But I believe that I
must affirm this. Thinking that he was being loyal to
Hitler, Ribbentrop, it seems to me, in those cases when he
went to Hitler with a preconceived opinion and returned with
a totally different view, tried afterwards to explain to us
Hitler's view. This he always did with special vehemence. I
assumed then that this was contrary to his own personal and
original ideas.

                                                   [Page 85]

Q. Did Ribbentrop during the course of the war ask that Rome
and Florence be spared?

A. So far as I know he did speak with Hitler on these

Q. Are you acquainted with an article by Goebbels in the
"Reich" or perhaps the "Volkischer Beobachter," an article
dealing with lynch justice?

A. Yes. Once by accident I came to Ribbentrop when he was
reading a paper and was again very excited. He asked me if I
had read yet the article, this shocking article by Goebbels.
It was an article on lynch justice.Q. Did Ribbentrop lodge a
protest with Goebbels about this article?A. As far as I
know, he charged our Press chief who had the liaison with
Goebbels to enter a protest against this article. But to his
surprise he was forced to see that this protest was useless
since the article had not only been inspired but, I believe,
ordered by Hitler, and thus there was nothing more to be

Q. What attitude did the Foreign Office take on the opinions
expressed in this article?A. The Foreign Office repudiated
the article vehemently, because it comprised an offence
against International Law and thus removed us one step
further from International Law. Moreover, it appealed to the
lower instincts of man, and both in internal and external
policy did great damage.

Further, such an article, that has been read by several
hundred thousand or by millions, does irreparable damage. We
therefore insisted that in no circumstances should such
things appear in the Press again. I must regretfully state,
however, that we had a very great difficulty in this matter,
especially since low-flying enemy aircraft often shot at
peasants in the fields and pedestrians in the streets, that
is to say, purely civilian people. And our arguments that on
our part we wanted to observe International Law under all
circumstances were not taken into account at all either by
the German people, or above all by Hitler personally. On the
contrary, in this case too we were regarded again as formal
jurists only. But we did try, as much as we could, with the
help of military offices, to prevent the carrying out of
this order.Q. Do you know of a Battalion Guensberg?A. I do
not know of a Battalion Guensberg. I know of course, of a
former Legation Councillor von Guensberg in the Foreign
Office. This Legation Councillor von Guensberg, received, so
far as I recall - I did not at that time do any work at all
connected with these matters - received from Ribbentrop the
assignment of following with a few people from the Foreign
Office, and a few drivers, the fighting troops, and seeing
to it that, firstly, the foreign missions, for instance, in
Brussels and Paris, and so forth, that stood under the
protection of the protective powers, should not be entered
by our troops. And at the same time, Guensberg was charged
with protecting the files in the foreign ministries that
were of foreign political interest.

After the conclusion of the French campaign, Guensberg, so
far as I recall, was no longer in the active service of the
Foreign Office, but continued with the Secret Field Police,
from whom he had received a uniform, because as a civilian
he could not enter these countries.Q. How and when did
Guensberg's job end?A. Ribbentrop lost interest, after these
events, in Guensberg, and the original assignment. Then
after the beginning of the Russian campaign, Guensberg, so
far as I remember, reported again for duty and said that he
intended to do the same thing in the East, and Ribbentrop
told him, "Very well, you may go with a few people to the
Army Groups and see whether anything of interest for us is
happening there and also see to it that when we approach
Moscow, the foreign embassies, etc., are not entered, and
that the documents are preserved." But he did not consider
himself any longer as belonging to the Foreign Office and
openly received orders from other offices. Then, as I later
heard, he had a large number of men under him and had many
automobiles which he could not have received from the

                                                   [Page 86]

Office any more than he could have received a military
uniform from the Foreign Office - which indicated that he
was openly working for other offices.Q. He no longer
belonged to the Foreign Office, at any rate not in a
military capacity?A. No. And in addition when Ribbentrop
heard that he had undertaken such a big job, he charged me
personally to inform immediately the S. S. and say that he,
Ribbentrop, did not want to have Guensberg any longer, and
at that time I told Obergruppenfuehrer Wolff that I should
like to point out that we wanted nothing more to do with
Guensberg: "See to it that you keep him with the Waffen S.
S. along with all his subordinates." That is all I know
about the matter of Guensberg.DR. HORN: Would the President
like to interrupt the examination or should I continue to
put further questions?

THE PRESIDENT: Unless you are going to conclude almost
immediately, we had better adjourn. Will you be some time
longer with this witness?

DR. HORN: I have a number of further question.

(The Tribunal adjourned until 27th March, 1946, at 10.00 hours.)

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