The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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Last-Modified: 1999/12/16

Q. And you consider all of the others not to be typical
Nazis? Correct?

A. I did not say that. Then I would have to go through them

Q. I have asked you to do that three times. Will you please
name them individually?

A. I also see Herr Sauckel. Sauckel was Gauleiter and was
active as a leader in the National Socialist Movement.

                                                   [Page 99]

Then I see the Reich Youth Leader, who educated the Hitler

Q. Who else? Just give me the names. Do not give these
explanations; please.

A. Well, I think that with that I have pointed out the
typical representatives of the Party.

Q. Well, how about Streicher?

A. I do not see him here, or I would have answered in the

Q. In other words, you consider him to be a typical Nazi
according to your standards?

A. Yes, but please do not attribute his abuses to all
National Socialists.

Q. Now, while you were working with Ribbentrop, do I
understand that you knew nothing about the murder, torture,
starvation and killings which were taking place in the
concentration camps?

A. By the facts that foreign diplomats supplied to me, and
by the fact that I was informed by opposition elements in
Germany, and from enemy propaganda, I knew of the existence
and some of the methods. But I emphasise only some of the
methods. I learned about the total extent and degree only
when in internment here.

Q. Did you know that priests were being tortured and starved
and killed in concentration camps while you were working
with Ribbentrop?

A. No, I heard nothing specific regarding individual things
that occurred there, and if that had happened or has
happened to priests, then I would consider the only
authentic information to be that which the Nuncio or the
Vatican had given me; but that did not occur. But in spite
of the fact that, as I said yesterday, the Vatican had no
jurisdiction, I took care of all cases based on humanity,
that is, all humanitarian cases. I took care of them, and
always strove to handle them successfully. I handled 87
cases in which my activity threatened to bring about my
death. I intervened in hundreds of cases, and thus saved, or
at least improved, the lives of thousands and thousands of

Q. If you do not confine your answers directly to my
questions, it is very difficult to get through and to save
time. Now, will you please try to answer my questions Yes or
No, if possible, and make your explanations short. Do you

A. I understand perfectly. As far as I can, I shall of
course do so.

Q. Did you know that nuns were being tortured and starved
and killed in concentration camps, while you were working
with Ribbentrop?

A. No.

Q. You did not know either about what was happening to
priests or the nuns or to other inmates of concentration
camps? Correct?

A. I have just said that I have intervened in hundreds of
cases, in which I was approached by the Nuncio even when it
concerned Jews, for whom the Nuncio was not authorised to
act, and in cases in which the Nuncio was acting on behalf
of Polish clergymen, also a sphere for which he was not
authorised. In spite of the fact that I had strictest orders
not to receive such cases, I did receive the cases, ,and, in
spite of the "Nacht und Nebel" ("Night and Fog") decree, I
always gave information when I could get any information.
Details, other than those which I received officially, I
never had.

Q. Who gave you the instructions not to do anything about
these complaints?

A. These orders came directly from Hitler and came to me
through Ribbentrop.

Q. How do you know?

A. I said already yesterday that the two notes which, before
my time, Secretary of State von Weizsaecker passed to Hitler
through Ribbentrop, were rejected with the remarks that they
were stupid lies and, apart from that, this was not under
the jurisdiction of the Nuncio; these notes were to be
returned and in the future such documents were not to be
accepted. Furthermore, there were to be no discussions and
that did not only apply to the Nuncio, it applied to all
unauthorised actions, particularly when foreign diplomats
intervened in matters in which they had no jurisdiction.

                                                  [Page 100]

Q. But do you want the Tribunal to understand that you went
ahead and tried to do something about these complaints,
whereas Ribbentrop did nothing; is that correct?

A. I tried to settle within my own sphere of jurisdiction
all cases which, according to instructions, I was not
permitted to accept at all. But if a case here and there was
of primary importance, or where the lives of several people
could have been saved, I always applied to Ribbentrop. In
most of these cases Ribbentrop took the matter before
Hitler, after we had invented a new authorisation, so that
he could not raise the objection that the Nuncio had no
jurisdiction. When that was done, Hitler either absolutely
rejected them or at least said that the police would have to
investigate the case first. This presented the grotesque
picture that in a humanitarian matter or an affair which
under all circumstances had to be handled as foreign
politics, the Foreign Minister no longer made the decision,
but the Criminal Inspector Meier or Schulze, who only needed
to state "Undesirable in the interests of State security."

Q. Did Ribbentrop obey the instructions which you say were
received from the Fuehrer not to do anything about these
complaints or did he not? Yes or No?

A. I cannot answer that question since I do not know how
many orders he received from Hitler and whether he obeyed in
each individual case.

Q. Well, you have been testifying that you received
instructions not to do anything about these complaints from
the Vatican; is that not correct?

A. Yes, and I did not obey them.

Q. Well, I am now asking you whether Ribbentrop obeyed those
instructions or whether he did not?

A. But he was in a higher position. What orders Hitler gave
to Ribbentrop privately I cannot say since I do not know.

Q. Where did you receive your instructions from?

A. From Ribbentrop.

Q. Ribbentrop has testified under interrogation that he knew
nothing of what went on in any of these concentration camps
until the Fuehrer ordered Luther to be placed in a
concentration camp. Do you know who Luther was?

A. Yes.

Q. Who was he, please?

A. Luther was an Under-Secretary of State of the Foreign
Office who was the head of the "Deutschland" department.

Q. And when was he placed in a concentration camp?

A. That must have been about February, 1943.

Q. Now, as a matter of fact, is it not true that Ribbentrop
had a whole desk full of complaints from the Vatican about
killings, atrocities, the starving of priests and nuns, to
which he never made any reply at all, even an

A. Mr. Prosecutor, what happened before May, 1943, I do not
know. As long as I was Secretary of State, I never failed to
accept a note or failed to answer it. On the contrary, I
accepted all notes and attempted, as I said before, to
assist these people. Regarding conditions before my term of
service, I cannot give you any information because I do not
know it.

Q. Well, I am not talking about that time; I am talking
about the period immediately before and following your
appearance there in 1943. Now I want to read to you from ...

A. I am sorry. I would gladly answer your question if I knew
anything about the matter. During my time - I cannot say
anything about it because I do not know.

Q. Well, I will read to you from the interrogation of
Ribbentrop and ask you whether what he says conforms with
your recollection of the facts.

A. I should only like to say that until May, 1943, I was not
active politically, so that from my own knowledge I cannot
make a statement about it.

Q. Well, as I read the testimony to you, you will find that
the interrogation

                                                  [Page 101]

refers to communications which remained in his desk
unanswered for an indefinite period of time. Did you have
access to Ribbentrop's desk? Did you know what was in it?

A. No.

  Q. "Question: Did you receive from the Vatican a
  communication dated 2nd March, 1943, calling your
  attention to a long list of persecutions of bishops and
  priests, such as imprisonment, shooting, and other
  interferences with the exercise of religious freedom?
  Answer: I do not recollect at the moment, but I know that
  we had protests from the Vatican, we had a whole desk-
  full of protests from the Vatican."

Does that conform with your recollection?

A. That was, I must unfortunately say again, before my time.
I cannot know whether he had a whole drawer full of things.

Q. If they had remained in his desk from March until May,
then you would know about them. Is that not correct?

A. I? No. I was not von Ribbentrop's servant, who went over
his chest of drawers or desk.

Q. So that your testimony is that you knew nothing about any
protests from the Vatican other than those which you have
already referred to?

A. Apart from those I have mentioned, I know nothing about
protests. I emphasize again that during my time in office I
accepted them all and answered them all.

Q. I will read you further from the interrogation:

  "Question: Did you reply to these Papal protests?
  Answer: I think there were very many we did not reply to-
  quite a number."

Does that conform with your recollection?

A. Certainly, that is correct. That was in accordance with
the instructions which were originally given.

Q. By whom?

A. Hitler's instructions.

Q. To whom?

A. Certainly to Ribbentrop.

Q. Those are the instructions which you say that you were
secretly violating, is that correct?

A. Instructions which I did not obey, for otherwise I would
not have been allowed to accept the notes from the Vatican
in all those cases where the jurisdiction was questioned;
nor would I have been allowed to accept, for example,
protests from the Swedish Ambassador regarding mistreatment
in Norway. This also, however, I accepted.

Q. I will continue to read from the interrogation:

  "Question: Now, do you mean to say that you did not even
  read a protest from the Vatican that came to your desk?
  Answer: It is really true. The fact is that the Fuehrer
  took such a stand in these Vatican matters that, from
  then on, they did not come to me any more."

Does that conform with your recollection?

A. That Ribbentrop did not receive the protests any more?
Yes, that is correct, that tallies with what I said, that in
all these cases, where we could not accept them, I tried to
settle them on my own, since it was against orders.

Q. And in the course of reading these complaints from the
Vatican which went unanswered, both you and Ribbentrop
learned full details of exactly what was going on in the
concentration camps, did you not?

A. There was never anything about that in these notes - the
ones I saw - there was never anything about the treatment in
them. Instead they were only concerned

                                                  [Page 102]

with complaints asking why the death sentence was ever
imposed, or why the clergyman was ever arrested, or similar
cases, or the closing of churches or the like.

Q. I do not want to take the time of the Tribunal to read to
you the documents which are already in evidence. I am
referring to Documents 3261-PS, 3262-PS, 3264-PS, 3267-PS,
3268-PS and 3269-PS, but in those documents - I am sorry,
Sir, 3269 is not in evidence.

But in those documents, witness, are set forth the details
of numerous individual and collective cases of just what
went on in concentration camps. You say you are not familiar
with any of those matters?

A. Mr. Prosecutor, I do not think that I expressed myself
like that. I expressed myself to the effect that I said that
everything communicated to me by foreign diplomats I do, of
course, know. In other words, if detailed reports were
received during my term of office, then of course I knew of
them. I never denied it.


What you said, witness, was - at least what I took down and
understood you to say was - that nothing was ever mentioned
in the notes about the treatment in concentration camps.

A. But I remarked with reference to the previous question,
when the question was put generally as to whether I knew
about conditions in concentration camps and the
mistreatment, I said that I knew everything that had been
reported to me by foreign diplomats, by people of the
opposition and what I could learn from the foreign Press. In
other words, if these documents contained details during my
time in office, then I know that too. But may I ask the date
of the documents?


Q. There are many documents with many dates, which can be
obtained, but we do not want to take too much of the
Tribunal's time. What I want to find out is whether or not
you and Ribbentrop did or did not know all about the
murders, tortures, starvations and killings that were taking
place in the concentration camps, and which were the subject
of constant and continuous protests from the Vatican, which
Ribbentrop has testified were not even read or acknowledged?
Do you understand that, witness?

A. I understand that. I knew nothing at all of the ill-
treatment in concentration camps to the degree and in the
bestial way that I have heard about here. I must strongly
protest against the suggestion that I had heard things like
that through the Vatican at that time. Also I am convinced
that even Ribbentrop had no idea of the details as we have
heard them here and as they have been shown in the films.

Q. Is it not a fact, witness, that if you had followed up
any of these complaints from the Vatican which Ribbentrop
has testified were ignored, you would have found out
everything which was going on in the concentration camps to
the last detail? Yes or no.

A. No, that is not correct. I said yesterday that perhaps
the key to it can be found in the speech made by Himmler on
3rd October, 1943, in which he said that the action against
Jews and the matter of concentration camps were to be kept
just as secret as the matter of 30th June, 1934. The great
majority of the German people will confirm the fact that
until a short time ago they could not discover anything at
all about these events. If I went to Gruppenfuehrer Muller
or other officials I was always told that everything in
those concentration camps was functioning beautifully and
that there could be no question of ill-treatment. Then I
insisted that the foreigners, particularly the Red Cross,
inspect a concentration camp, and the Danish Red Cross was
taken to the concentration camp Theresienstadt. After that
inspection took place - this was a camp for Jews - the
Danish Ambassador came to me and told me that contrary to
expectation everything had been favourable there. I
expressed my astonishment and he told me "yes, our people
were there, there was a theatre there, and their own police
force, their own hospital, their own money; the thing is
well-run." I had no reason, therefore,

                                                  [Page 103]

to doubt that it was true. But I myself could get no idea of
the true conditions from any German department, since they
would certainly have been afraid to tell a member of the
Foreign Office anything about it. But I want to emphasize
again that we really had no idea of the atrocities and such

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