The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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Last-Modified: 1999/12/18

Q. That is the one - where Ciano visited. That is the one I
was indicating to you. I think I am right that it previously
belonged to Count Czernin.

Tell me, was there a fixed salary for Reich Ministers?

A. I did not understand the question.

Q. Let me put it quite clearly. Was a salary - that is, a
fixed annual remuneration - given to Reich Ministers?

A. Yes, that is quite right.

Q. How much was that?

A. That I cannot say.

Q. That was kept secret?

A. That is not the reason that I cannot give you any
information. I was not at all interested in how large a
salary the Reich Minister received.

Q. You do not know?

A. No.

Q. If you say that you do not know, that is good enough for
me. I think, perhaps, you can answer this question. Had any
previous Reich Foreign Minister been able to run six country
houses and estates of various sizes on his salary, anyone
that you had worked with?

A. Whether he could have done it - I cannot say, but he did
not do it.

Q. He did not. We will leave it there for a moment.

Now, I want you to apply your mind to May, 1939. That is
about four months before the war, when the Polish question
was just coming up. I mean, it was getting to be quite a
serious question. Do you remember what I think they call in
the German Foreign Office a "conduit de langage" that was
issued by Ribbentrop about that time and put out by Baron
von Weizsaecker?

A. No, I do not know that, or at any rate, I should say that
I cannot remember it.

Q. Let me try to remind you, to see if this draws it to your

"The Polish problem will be solved by Hitler in 48 hours;
the Western Powers will be unable to give any assistance to
Poland; the British Empire is doomed within the next ten
years; France will bleed to death if she tries to

Do you remember a "conduit de langage" to that effect issued
by the Foreign Minister?

A. I cannot remember a conduit de langage of that kind. It
appears to me rather to resemble a conduit de langage for
propaganda purposes.

                                                  [Page 145]
Q. Do you not remember that von Ribbentrop issued
instructions that no official of the Foreign Office was to
issue any different views?

A. That is right, that one was to adhere to those rules
regarding speeches.

Q. And do you remember what he told Baron von Weizsaecker to
say would happen to any one who expressed different views?

A. No, I do not recollect that, but I can imagine that
severe penalties would have been threatened to a person like
that. However, I do not remember the actual case.

Q. Do you not remember that he said they would be shot by
him personally?

A. That such a statement may have been made by him on some
occasion when he was furious, I consider perfectly possible,
but I do not believe that it was meant seriously.

Q. What I thought you might remember - I just suggest it to
you - was the distress and difficulty that Baron von
Weizsaecker had in deciding how he was to say it at the
official conference at the Foreign Office. Do you not
remember that?

A. At that time I had not yet been admitted to the morning
conferences. I was not present at that time so I cannot tell
you anything about it, but I can imagine that the State
Secretary may have had quite some trouble in translating
that statement into official language.

Q. Well, now, I want to deal quite shortly with the points
that have been put to you about August, 1939, I only want to
get the facts quite clear.

Do you remember that you were with Hitler at the time that
he was expecting the reactions of the Western Powers to the
Soviet Treaty?

A. No, I was attached to the delegation in Moscow and
therefore not with Hitler.

Q. Did you come back with the defendant Ribbentrop on the

A. Yes, but I remained in Berlin and did not go to

Q. I see, well, now, on the 25th, you remember that Hitler
saw Sir Nevile Henderson at 1.30 and gave him what has been
called a "note verbale"? Do you remember that?

A. I think that I was not present at that conference because
just at that time I was in Moscow. It must be possible to
establish the date. I was not present at a conference
between Hitler and the British Ambassador, which took place
on the Obersalzberg during the time of our Moscow journey. I
think that is the conference you are referring to.

Q. This is the day after the defendant came back from

A. No, I remained in Berlin. I was not up there.

Q. I just want to remind you of the day. If you were not
present, I will pass from it, but were you present when
Signor Attolico, the Italian Ambassador, produced a
communication from Mussolini?

A. Yes.

Q. You were there?

A. Yes.

Q. That is the day I am asking you about. Do you remember
that a communication came from Signor Attolico that
afternoon that the Italian Army and Air Force were not in a
condition to go to war?

A. Yes, indeed.

Q. I want you to try to help me because it is rather
important as to the time. Was that not about three o'clock
in the afternoon?

A. That could be so, but with the many conferences which
took place at the time, the question of hours and dates is
naturally a bit confused.

Q. And do you remember the news coming through about four
o'clock, that the Anglo-Polish Treaty would be signed that

A. Yes, I remember that.

Q. And do you remember about four o'clock M. Coulondre, the
French Ambassador, having an interview with Hitler?

                                                  [Page 146]

A. Yes, I remember that.

Q. Now, were you aware that on that day the orders for an
attack on Poland the next morning were countermanded?

A. I remember that military orders had been withdrawn, but
just what orders these were I naturally never learned.

Q. I would not ask you about that, Herr Schmidt, but you
knew that orders had been countermanded. I wondered if you
could help me on this point: Was not the countermanding of
the orders at 6.5 - 1815 hours - after the interview with
the French Ambassador, M. Coulondre, was not that the time
when they were countermanded?

A. I cannot recall, if that was the time.

Q. And equally could you help the Tribunal on this point:
Were they not issued about two o'clock - 1400 hours - after
the interview with Sir Nevile Henderson? Do you know that?

A. No.

Q. I see. You cannot help us on that point.

Well, now. I am not going to take time about the interview
on the night of the 30th-31st August between Sir Nevile
Henderson and the defendant Ribbentrop, except to ask you
this: You have told us that the defendant Ribbentrop was
very excited. When he read these terms over, did he raise
his voice at times, shouting?

A. No.

Q. How did he show his nervousness, then?

A. It manifested itself during some incidents which had
occurred previously, of which I have spoken before, during
those incidents the nervousness became apparent but not
during the reading of the document.

Q. I see, but you remember and were very much astounded at
the time at the refusal to hand over the vital document to
the British Ambassador?

A. Yes, certainly.

Q. Well, I want to see if you can help us with one or two
other incidents. It has been suggested by a witness, whom we
heard yesterday, that the defendant Ribbentrop knew very
little about concentration camps. I want to make it clear
that this was suggested. I think perhaps you can help us
with regard to one or two inhabitants of concentration camps
that he knew about. Do you remember a man called Martin
Luther? Not the religious gentleman?

A. Yes.

Q. Do you remember that the defendant Ribbentrop brought him
into his office, the Bureau Ribbentrop, in 1936?

A. I am not sure about the year, but I do know that he got
his job through the office.

Q. Yes. I think it was not received with great joy by the
older members of the German Foreign Office?

A. No, certainly not.

Q. There had been some trouble about a small matter of 4,000
Reichsmark that Luther had had to deal with in the past?

A. Yes.

Q. He was taken into the Foreign Office and received rapid
promotion to Councillor, Minister and Under-Secretary of
State, did he not?

A. Yes.

Q. And then, do you remember that in 1943 he had a quarrel
with the defendant Ribbentrop?

A. Yes.

Q. And he sent a message to Himmler - I think he did it
through Lieutenant Buntner - suggesting that Ribbentrop's
state of mind was not such that he ought to continue as
Foreign Secretary, and suggesting that Werner Best, I
believe it was, should be appointed. Do your remember that?

                                                  [Page 147]

A. Yes, I remember that; but I did not know that he
suggested Best as successor.

Q. At any rate, he suggested that Ribbentrop should go. I
think he was quite blunt about it. I believe he suggested
that his mental powers were no longer up to the work.

A. I did not see the report. I only heard rumours about it.

Q. In consequence of that, of course, after an interview
with Ribbentrop, Ribbentrop had Luther put in a
concentration camp, had he not?

A. I do not know whether Ribbentrop's initiative was
responsible for that, or whether it came from some other
source, but it was said in our department that Luther had
landed in a concentration camp.

Q. Yes. Well, the sequence of events was that Luther had
this disagreement with Ribbentrop, and shortly afterwards he
appeared in a concentration camp. And not only did he go
into a concentration camp, but is it not correct that even
the S.S. asked that he should come out of the concentration
camp, and Ribbentrop would not agree to it?

A. I cannot say, because the whole matter was, of course,
treated rather  confidentially in the office by von
Ribbentrop, and the members of the Foreign Office, of which
I was one, did not have his confidence to such an extent
that they were informed of all such details. In other words,
I only heard about the whole Luther affair, through special
channels - actually through prohibited channels - so that I
cannot therefore give you any authentic information, but can
only repeat what I have heard unofficially.

Q. I am sure you desire to be absolutely frank with the
Tribunal, and the point I am putting to you is that everyone
in the Foreign Office knew that Luther had landed in a
concentration camp and, quite clearly, the defendant
Ribbentrop knew that he had landed in a concentration camp.
That is right, is it not?

A. Yes, certainly.

Q. Well, now, let us just take one other incident relating
to this, if I may comment as to his extraordinary innocence
about concentration camps.

You remember two unfortunate people called Herr and Frau von
Raemitz, to whom the Schloss Fuschl used to belong? I think
the name is either Raemitz or Raenitz. Do you remember?

A. Yes.

Q. Well, the Schloss Fuschl - would you tell me how it is

A. Well, regarding these matters I am so little -

Q. No, I want you to tell me how it is pronounced.

A. Fuschl.

Q. Thank you.

The Schloss Fuschl used to belong to the people that I have
just mentioned. Frau von Raemitz was a sister of August
Thyssen, was she not?

A. I cannot say anything about that, since all these
questions refer to the private household of Herr von
Ribbentrop and I had nothing to do with that. My connections
with him were purely official and limited at that to routine
matters and the important political interpretation affairs
in the Foreign Office. I only heard about the other matters,
but naturally not in such a way that I could make authentic
statements about them.

Q. Well, I will only ask you one question. After the Schloss
had become the property, or at any rate had come to the use
of the Foreign Minister, did not Herr von Raemitz spend
several years in a concentration camp, where he ultimately
died? You knew that, did you not?

A. I knew it as a rumour: I was told that it had happened in
that way.

Q. And did not you hear of other stories, stronger than
these, that came out of concentration camps?

A. I do not believe that any authentic reports were made
there regarding conditions because naturally, particularly
where the Foreign Office was concerned, it

                                                  [Page 148]

was treated as taboo by these people who were responsible
for concentration camps. Since we were in any case, regarded
as not quite reliable and as not quite belonging to them,
such matters were of course, diligently, covered up and
concealed from us. Therefore, any concrete details never
became known to us at all.

Q. But you knew, did you not, even in the Foreign Office,
that there were a large number of concentration camps in
which a vast number of people were shut up?

A. We knew that, but our source of information was mostly
the foreign Press, which we read, of course; and the foreign
radio reports which appeared on our table, translated, every

Q. So that if you knew it from the foreign Press and the
foreign radio, whoever else in that dock did not know about
concentration camps, the defendant Ribbentrop, as Foreign
Minister, did know. Is not that right?

A. I would like to put it this way. Of course, he had access
to that foreign news material. Just how he evaluated it,
whether he considered it true or completely false, or
exaggerated, naturally I cannot say. Of course he also
received the reports as such, but under the heading of
foreign reports, and, during the war as reports from hostile

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