The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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Last-Modified: 1999/12/18

SIR DAVID MAXWELL FYFE: I have a list of witnesses who were

There is Admiral Schuster -

THE PRESIDENT: Yes, he is one.

SIR DAVID MAXWELL FYFE: Who was relevant on this question as
to who initiated the Treaty. And then there is Sir Robert
Craigie, No. 24. There is Lord Monsell -

THE PRESIDENT: He was refused.

SIR DAVID MAXWELL FYFE: These are on the same points. No.


SIR DAVID MAXWELL FYFE: Yes, my Lord, I think these are the

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Horn, what do you say to this? Those
three witnesses - Schuster, Craigie and Monsell - who as
alleged by you were to give evidence on this 1935 Treaty,
were all refused. As to the witness you are now examining,
no reference to this matter was contained in his
application; he was asked for only as an interpreter in the
Foreign Office.

DR. HORN: I was under the impression that the other
witnesses had been refused because they were cumulative and
I was not going to question the witness on the Naval
Agreement, but I merely want to ask him about the attitude
shown by Ribbentrop when the agreement was concluded and
afterwards, in order to prove to the Tribunal that
Ribbentrop was in any case not at that time deliberately
working towards an aggressive war, nor was he participating
in a conspiracy to initiate a war of aggression, at least
not at that time. And I wish to prove further that this
agreement was not "eye wash" as the said British Ambassador,
Sir Neville Henderson, put it.

THE PRESIDENT: Your application with reference to Ambassador
Craigie was this: the witness can give evidence that in 1935
Ribbentrop approached England with a proposal that the Naval
Treaty should be signed and Ribbentrop's initiative brought
about an agreement by France to this treaty which involved
the Treaty of Versailles. Thus the treaty has come into

                                                  [Page 141]

Is it not in connection with that, that you were going to
ask this witness questions?


THE PRESIDENT: If you have nothing to ask him about the
Naval Treaty of 1935, then you can go on.

Q. Witness, in 1944, you were present at a conference
between Horthy and Hitler at Klessheim, in which Ribbentrop
also took part and during which the solution of the Jewish
question in Hungary was discussed. What did Ribbentrop say
to you about this question?

A. During this conference there had been a certain
difficulty, when Hitler insisted that Horthy should proceed
more drastically in the Jewish question, and Horthy answered
with some heat, "But what am I supposed to do? Shall I
perhaps beat them to death?"... Whereupon there was rather a
lull, and the Foreign Minister then turned to Horthy and
said, "Yes. There are only two possibilities - either that
or to intern the Jews." Afterwards he said to me - and this
was rather exceptional - that Hitler's demands in this
connection might have gone a bit too far.

Q. On the 25th of August, 1939, you took part in a
conference between Hitler, Henderson and
Ribbentrop, at which Ribbentrop and Hitler once more
expressed their wish to come to an agreement with Poland,
with Britain acting as intermediary. Is it correct that
Ribbentrop then sent you with a draft memorandum on this
conference to Henderson at the British Embassy to ask him to
back this proposal as far as possible and to try to put it
through? Is that correct?

A. Yes, that is so.

DR. HORN: May I submit to the Tribunal a copy of this
telegram from Sir Nevile Henderson to Lord Halifax?

Q. Is it correct, witness, that on the 28th of August, 1939,
von Ribbentrop in a further discussion with Sir Nevile
Henderson again stressed that an agreement between Germany
and Britain in regard to a settlement of the Polish question
was Chamberlain's greatest wish, as the British Prime
Minister had stated to Ribbentrop, and that Ribbentrop then
repeated this to Henderson. Is that true?

A. Yes, that is true.

DR. HORN: May I submit to the Tribunal the memorandum in
question as an exhibit?

THE PRESIDENT: You offer a copy of that in evidence, do you?

DR. HORN: I request the Tribunal to take judicial notice of
the document.

THE PRESIDENT: What number -

DR. HORN: The number has also been fixed by the prosecution
as TC-72. I submit it again to the Tribunal because I have
referred to it just now.

Q. Witness, one last question: In your extensive activities
as an interpreter, you had much opportunity to observe
Hitler in contact with foreigners. What impression,
according to your observations, did Hitler make on foreign

A. Naturally it is not quite so easy to answer this
question, as one cannot look into the hearts and minds of
other people. But as an observer one can naturally draw
certain conclusions from the attitude....

THE PRESIDENT: The Tribunal really does not think that this
is a matter which is relevant, the effect that Hitler's
demeanour had on foreign statesmen. It does not influence us
in the least.

DR. HORN: Then I withdraw my question. I have no further
questions to put to the witness.

THE PRESIDENT: Are there any other defendants' counsel who
wish to ask questions?

BY DR. STAHMER (counsel for defendant Goering):

Q. Witness, were you present at a conversation which took
place about one year before the outbreak of war, between
Lord Londonderry and Field Marshal Goering at Karinhall?

A. Yes, I was present at this conversation.

                                                  [Page 142]

Q. Describe briefly to the Tribunal the substance of this

A. After so long a time I cannot, of course, remember all
the details, but I recall that the subject of conversation
was the Anglo-German rapprochement, or rather the
elimination of any points of dispute between Germany and
England, and that in addition of course, quite a number of
technical questions regarding aviation and the air force
were dealt with. I always remember very clearly one remark
in particular made by Goering in the course of this
conversation, when at the end of a discussion which was to
prove how desirable it was that Germany and England be
friendly and avoid conflicts, he said the following: If our
two countries should be involved in a war against each
other, then there will naturally be a victor and vanquished,
but the victor in this dreadful conflict will in the moment
of victory have just enough strength left to strike the last
blow at the defeated and will then fall to the ground
himself gravely wounded, and for this reason alone our two
countries should get along with each other without conflict
and without war.

Q. Did you take part in the negotiations in Munich in the
autumn of 1938?

A. Yes, I did take part in these negotiations.

Q. Was the then Field Marshal Goering also present?

A. During the first part he was not present, but later when
the circle of those present became larger he likewise took

Q. In what way did he participate?

A. He concerned himself only with individual questions of
lesser importance. However he did take part in a way which
showed that through his intervention he wanted to remove in
so far as possible any difficulties which might hamper the
progress of the negotiations. In other words, he was anxious
that the Munich negotiations should not collapse over such
technical points of procedure as played an important role in
the second part of the negotiations.

Q. Were you present at a conversation which took place in
the autumn of 1937 between Lord Halifax and Goering - and
followed a conference between Lord Halifax and Hitler at the

A. Yes, I was present.

Q. What course did this conversation take? Briefly, please.

A. First I must say that at the Obersalzberg the discussion
with Lord Halifax took a very unsatisfactory turn. The two
statesmen could in no way come to an understanding of each
other, but in the conversation with Goering the atmosphere
improved. The same points were dealt with as at
Obersalzberg, the subjects which were in the foreground at
the time, namely, the Anschluss, the Sudeten question, and
finally the question of the Polish Corridor and Danzig. At
Obersalzberg Hitler had treated these matters without
willingness to compromise, and he had demanded more or less
that the solution as he conceived it be accepted by England,
whereas Goering in his discussions always attached
importance to the fact that a peaceful solution, that is to
say, a solution through negotiation, was his idea, and that
everything should be done in this direction, and that he
also believed that such a solution could be reached for all
three questions if the negotiations were properly conducted.

DR. STAHMER: I have no further questions.

BY DR. LATERNSER (Defence counsel for the General Staff and
High Command):

Q. Witness, you were present at numerous political
conferences of Hitler's? Did you notice on such occasions
that high military leaders tried to influence him to enlarge
German territory in a peaceful way or by war?

A. No, such efforts on the part of the military did not come
to my notice, because at political negotiations the military
representatives were for the most part not present at the
beginning, when the large problems were dealt with, but they
were called in only when purely military problems were
discussed, and then, of course, they stated their opinion
only on these problems, but did not speak on any political

                                                  [Page 143]

Q. I have one more question. On the occasion of such
discussions, did you find that high military leaders were
anxious to exert political influence upon the Reich

A. No, I did not find that, and you could not have found it,
since they were hardly ever present.

DR. LATERNSER: I have no further questions.



Q. Witness, I want you first of all to tell the Tribunal
quite shortly the general background of your views. Do you
remember on 28th November making an affidavit at Oberursel;
do you remember?

A. I cannot remember the date clearly, but I do remember
that I made an affidavit.

Q. Would you look at it.

(The witness is handed the document.)

Paragraph 1 sets out your experience, the number of
conferences -

My Lord, I ought to have said that this document is 3308-PS
and will be Exhibit GB 288.

Then, in Paragraph 2 you give the basis of your experience.
Would you follow it while I read:

  "Whatever success and position I have enjoyed in the
  Foreign Office, I owe to the fact that I made it my
  business at all times to possess thorough familiarity
  with the subject matter under discussion, and I always
  endeavoured to obtain intimate knowledge of the mentality
  of Hitler and the other leaders. During the whole of the
  Hitler regime I endeavoured to keep myself apprised as to
  what was going on in the Foreign Office and in related
  organisations, and I enjoyed such a position that it was
  possible to have ready access to key officials and to key
  personnel in their offices."

Then, if you will look at the third paragraph, which gives
your impression from that basis of the objectives of the
foreign policy:

  "The general objectives of National Socialism were known
  from the start, namely, the domination of the European
  Continent, to be achieved first by the incorporation of
  all German-speaking groups in the Reich and, secondly, by
  territorial expansion under the slogan of 'Lebensraum.'
  The execution of these basic objectives, however, seemed
  to be characterised by improvisation. Each succeeding
  step was apparently carried out as each new situation
  arose, but all consistent with the ultimate objectives
  mentioned above."

Is that right, Herr Schmidt? Does that express your views?

A. Yes.

Q. Now, before I go on to deal with particular matters, I
want you to develop your impressions a little further. You
have told us that you acted under or with every Foreign
Minister since Herr Stressmann. Did you notice a
considerable difference between the style of living of the
Nazi Ministers and those who had preceded them?

A. As far as the style of living is concerned, there were
certain differences, yes.

Q. Let us take the defendant Ribbentrop. Before the
defendant Ribbentrop went into politics, had he one house in
Berlin, Dahlem; I think "Lentze" Allee 79. Was that his

A. Yes, that is correct.

Q. Now, when he was Foreign Minister, had he six houses? Let
me remind you and take them one by one. You can tell me if I
am right. There was a house in Sonneburg, somewhere near
Berlin, with an estate of 750 hectares and a private golf
course. That was one, was it not?

A. I knew that there was a house at Sonneburg, but I did
not, know how large it was.

                                                  [Page 144]

Q. Then there was one at Tanneck bei Duren, near Aachen, a
house that he used for horse breeding?

A. I did not know about that house.

Q. And then there was one near Kitzbuhel that he used for
chamois hunting?

A. That is not known to me in detail.

Q. Not in detail, but its existence was known?

A. I consider that it is not at all improbable that the
house existed, but I have not heard any details about it.

Q. Then, of course, there was the Schloss Fuschl; that is in
Austria, is
it not?

A. Near Salzburg, yes.

Q. Near Salzburg, yes. That was taken over as a State
residence. I will ask you about the circumstances a little

Then there was a Slovakian hunting estate called
"Pustepole," was there not?

A. The name is familiar to me, and I know that Herr von
Ribbentrop sometimes went hunting there, but I know nothing
regarding the proprietorship.

Q. Then he also used a hunting lodge, near Podersan, that
had belonged to Count Czernin, Neu Podesan, in Bohemia, in
the Sudetenland?

A. There was a hunting box or something similar, I do not
know the name, where receptions took place, as for instance,
for Count Ciano. But I think it had a different name.

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