The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Shofar FTP Archive File: imt/tgmwc//tgmwc-10/tgmwc-10-94.01

Archive/File: imt/tgmwc/tgmwc-10/tgmwc-10-94.01
Last-Modified: 1999/12/18

                                                  [Page 157]

FRIDAY, MARCH 29th, 1946

Before the examination of the defendant von Ribbentrop goes
on, the Tribunal desires me to draw the attention of Dr.
Horn and of the defendant von Ribbentrop to what the
Tribunal has said during the last few days.

In the first place, the Tribunal said this: The Tribunal has
allowed the defendant Goering, who has given evidence first
of the defendants and who has proclaimed himself to be
responsible as the second leader of Nazi Germany, to give
his evidence without any interruption whatever, and he has
covered the whole history of the Nazi regime from its
inception to the defeat of Germany. The Tribunal does not
propose to allow any of the other defendants to go over the
same ground in their evidence except in so far as is
necessary for their own defence.

Secondly, the Tribunal ruled that evidence as to the
injustice of the Versailles Treaty, or whether it was made
under duress is inadmissible.

Thirdly, though this is not an order of the Tribunal, I must
point out that the Tribunal has been informed on many
occasions of the view of the defendants and some of their
witnesses that the Treaty of Versailles was unjust, and
therefore any evidence upon that point, apart from its being
inadmissible, is cumulative, and the Tribunal will not hear
it for that reason.

Lastly, the Tribunal wishes me to point out to Dr. Horn that
it is the duty of counsel to examine their witnesses and not
to leave them simply to make speeches, and, if they are
giving evidence which counsel knows is inadmissible
according to the rulings of the Tribunal, it is the duty of
Counsel to stop the witness. That is all.

Dr. Seidl, if you are going to refer to Gauss' affidavit the
Tribunal will not deal with that matter now; it will be
dealt with after the defendant von Ribbentrop has given

DR. SEIDL (Counsel for the defendant Hess): Mr. President, I
agreed with Dr. Horn, counsel for the defendant Ribbentrop

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Seidl, I do not care whether you spoke to
Dr. Horn or not, or what arrangement you may have made with
him, it is not convenient for the Tribunal to hear Dr.
Gauss' evidence at the present moment; they want to go on
with Ribbentrop's evidence.



BY DR. HORN (Counsel for defendant Ribbentrop):

Q. At the end of yesterday's proceedings you were speaking
about your political impressions in England and France. In
connection with that I should like to put the following
question. Did you make efforts to tell Hitler of your views
on French and British politics at that time?

A, Yes, after the 30th of January, 1933, I saw Hitler
repeatedly and, of course, told him about the impressions
which I gathered on my frequent travels, particularly as
regards England and France.

Q. What was Hitler's attitude toward France and England at
that time?

A. Hitler's attitude was as follows: He saw in France an
enemy of Germany because of France's whole policy with
regard to Germany since the end of the

                                                  [Page 158]

first World War, and especially because of the position
which she took on questions of equality of rights. This
attitude of Hitler's found expression at the time in his
book "Mein Kampf."

I knew France well, since for a number of years I had had
connections there. At that time I told the Fuehrer a great
deal about France. It interested him, and I noticed that he
showed an increasing interest in French matters in the year
1933. Then I arranged for him to meet a number of Frenchmen,
and I believe some of these meetings, and perhaps also some
of my descriptions of the attitude taken by many Frenchmen
and, generally speaking, of French culture ...

Q. What Frenchmen were they?

A. There were a number of French economists, there were
journalists and also some politicians. My descriptions, too,
interested the Fuehrer, and gradually he got the impression
that there were, after all, men in France who were not
averse to the idea of an understanding with Germany.

Above all, I acquainted the Fuehrer with an argument which
sprang from my deepest convictions and my years of
experience. It was the great wish of the Fuehrer, as is well-
known, to come to a definitive friendship and agreement with
England. At first the Fuehrer treated this idea as something
apart from German-French politics. I believe that at that
time I succeeded in convincing him that an understanding
with England would be possible only by way of an
understanding with France as well. That made, as I still
remember very clearly from some of our conversations, a
strong impression on him. He told me then that I should
continue this purely personal course of mine for bringing
about an understanding between Germany and France and that I
should continue to report to him about these things.

Q. Then you were Hitler's foreign political adviser, not the
Party adviser? How was that?

A. I have already said that I reported to Hitler about my
travel experiences. These impressions which I brought from
England and France were of interest to him, and, without any
special conferences or discussions being arranged, I was
often received by Hitler. I spoke with him repeatedly and
the result was that, apart from the official channels, he
acknowledged my co-operation and my advice as to what I had
seen and heard in foreign countries.

Above all, of course, he had a vital interest in all
questions concerning England. I told him about public
opinion and personalities and introduced to him, besides
Frenchmen, a number of Englishmen with whom he could
exchange thoughts outside the official channels, a thing
which he loved to do.

Q. In what did your personal co-operation in the efforts
made by Hitler to come to an agreement with France in the
years 1933 and 1935 consist?

A. At that time the solution of the Saar question was one of
the first problems up for discussion. I tried through my own
private channels to make it clear to the French in Paris
that a reasonable and quiet solution of the Saar question in
the spirit of the plebiscite as laid down in the Versailles
Treaty would be a good omen for the relations between the
two countries. I spoke with a number of people during those
years in Paris and also made the first contact with members
of the French cabinet. I might mention that I had
conversations with the then French President Doumergue, with
the Foreign Minister Barthou, who was later assassinated,
with M. Laval, and above all with M. Daladier.

I remember that, in connection with the Saar question in
particular, I met with considerable understanding on the
part of the latter. Then, somewhat later I noticed, during
the visits of Frenchmen to Hitler that it was always
mentioned, "Yes, but there is 'Mein Kampf,' and your policy
toward France is contained in that book." I tried to get the
Fuehrer to bring out an official revision of this passage of
"Mein Kampf." He said, however - and I remember the exact
words -  that he was determined through his policy, as put
into practice, to prove to the world that he had changed his
view in this respect. Things once written

                                                  [Page 159]

down could not be changed, they were a historical fact, and
his former attitude towards France had been caused by
France's attitude towards Germany at that time, but one
could now turn over a new leaf in the history of the two
countries.Then I asked Hitler to receive a French
journalist, in order that, through a public statement, this
revision of that view expressed in his book "Mein Kampf"
could be made known to the world.He agreed to this, and then
received a French journalist and gave him an interview. I do
not exactly recall just when - in the year 1933, I believe -
aa report of this interview appeared in "Le Matin" and
created a great deal of excitement. I was very glad, for
thereby a large step towards an understanding with France
had been taken. Then I contemplated what could further be
done and how, from this simple public article one could work
up to a close contact between French andGerman statesmen.Q.
At that time were you not contemplating the means for
bringing Hitler and Daladier together? What practical
efforts did you make?A. I was just coming to that.

At that time Daladier was the French Premier. I had several
conversations with him and suggested to him that he meet
Adolf Hitler, so that quite frankly, man to man, they could
carry on a discussion and see whether Franco-German
relations could not be put on an entirely new basis. M.
Daladier was quite taken by this idea. I reported this to
Hitler and Hitler was ready to meet M. Daladier. The meeting
place was to be in the German Odenwald and was already
agreed upon. I went to Paris to make the last arrangements
with Daladier.MR. DODD: If your Honour pleases, I am
reluctant to interfere in any respect with this examination
of this defendant, but my colleagues and I feel that this
particular part of the examination is quite immaterial and
in any event much too detailed, and that we will never make
any progress on these lines here. If counsel would abide by
the instruction of the Tribunal given this morning, we could
proceed much more directly and much more quickly.

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Horn, the Tribunal thinks that the
objection is really well founded. The defendant is dealing
with a period between 1933 and 1935 and the efforts which he
made for good relations with France. Well now, that is very
remote from any question which we have to decide in this
case, and therefore to deal with it in this detail seems to
the Tribunal a waste of time.

DR. HORN: Then I will put other questions, which concern his
direct co-operation.

Q. What caused Hitler to appoint you Plenipotentiary for

A. I believe I was appointed to that position in March or
April. The reason was as follows:

Hitler was of the opinion that there should be equality of
armament. He believed that this would be possible only
through negotiations with France and England. That was also
my point of view. Because of my efforts to establish good
relations between Germany and England, since this was the
dearest wish of the Fuehrer, I was at that time in London,
and there was able to make contacts with men influential in
English politics.

Above all, there was the contact with Lord Baldwin. I spoke
with Lord Baldwin and the Prime Minister of that time,
MacDonald, concerning the German desire for equality and
found that these ministers had an open ear. As a result of a
long conversation which I had with the Lord Chancellor of
that time, Lord Baldwin, I believe on the 1st December,
1933, made a speech in the House of Commons, in which he
pointed out that one should meet Germany half-way.
Armament equality had been promised and therefore it would
have to be reached somehow. In this connection he said that
there were three possibilities: One was that Germany should
arm up to the level of the other powers - and that was not
desired; the second possibility was that the others should
disarm to the level of Germany - and that could not be
carried out; and therefore one would have to compromise

                                                  [Page 160]

and permit Germany a limited rearmament, and the other
countries for their part would have to disarm.

Adolf Hitler was very happy then about this attitude, for he
considered it a practicable way for carrying through
equality for Germany.

Unfortunately it was not at all possible in the ensuing
course of events to put into practice these good and
reasonable thoughts and statements made by Baldwin. Adolf
Hitler therefore took the view that within the system now
prevailing in the world it was apparently impossible to
attain, by means of negotiations, armament equality for

THE PRESIDENT: Wait. The interpreter cannot hear you
clearly. Could you put the microphone a little bit more in
front of you? And would you repeat the last few sentences
you said?

A. VON RIBBENTROP (resuming): Adolf Hitler saw that
unfortunately, within the international system prevailing at
that time, the good intentions of Lord Baldwin could not be
carried out by means of negotiations.

Q. What practicable steps in limitation of armament did you
aim at in London?

A. It is well known that Germany left the League of Nations
and the Disarmament Conference because it was impossible to
carry through the German desires by way of negotiations.
Hitler therefore saw no other possibility of achieving this
aim except through the power of the German people
themselves. He of course realised that a risk was involved,
but after the experiences of the preceding few years no
other means remained. Accordingly Germany then started to
rearm independently. As a result of this the following
happened. In the course of the year 1934 there came about a
closer contact between the German Government and the British
Government. There followed visits by British statesmen to
Berlin, by Sir John Simon and Mr. Eden, and during these
visits the suggestion was brought up as to whether it would
not be possible to come to an agreement or an understanding
at least as far as naval matters were concerned.

Hitler was very much interested in this idea and in the
course of the negotiations between the British and the
German Governments it was agreed that I should be sent to
London to attempt to come to a naval agreement with the
British Government.

It is not necessary for me to go into the details of the
pact which actually materialised. Hitler himself had said
from the beginning that, in order to come to a final
understanding with England, one would have to acknowledge
the absolute naval supremacy of Great Britain once and for
all. It was he who suggested the naval ratio of 100 to 35,
which was an entirely different ratio from that which was
negotiated between Germany and England before 1914.

After relatively short negotiations this naval agreement was
then concluded in London. It was very important for future
Anglo-German relations, and at that time it represented the
first practical result of an actual armament limitation.

Q. At that time did France agree to this rearmament and what
were your personal efforts in this step?

A. I might say in advance that Hitler and I were extremely
happy about this pact, I know that it was then described on
occasions by certain circles - to use an English expression
- as "eye-wash." I can say here from my own personal
experience that I have never seen Adolf Hitler so happy as
at the moment when I was able to tell him personally in
Hamburg of the conclusion of this agreement.

Q. And what was France's attitude to this pact?

A. With France the situation was, of course, a little
difficult. I had already noticed this while the negotiations
were taking place, for one had deviated from the armament
limitation of the Versailles Treaty. Then I proposed to
certain gentlemen of the Foreign Office - I can mention
their names; they were Sir Robert

                                                  [Page 161]

Craigie in particular and also Admiral Little - that I would
go to France so that I could make use of my ties with French
statesmen and make clear to them the usefulness of this
agreement for a future German-Anglo-French understanding.

I should like to point out something here. In this
courtroom, some time ago, a film was shown wherein a speech
which I made for the newsreels of that time, at the
conclusion of this naval agreement, was presented as proof
of the duplicity of German diplomacy. At that time I
purposely made this speech in London in order to record and
to declare before the whole world that this did not concern
merely British-German matters, but that it was the wish of
Hitler - and also the spirit of the naval agreement - to
bring about a general limitation of armament, and that this
naval pact was also designed to improve relations between
France and Germany. This wish was real and sincere.

I then went to France, spoke with French statesmen and, I
believe, did to some extent contribute to this first step in
the limitation of armaments being considered a reasonable
measure by many Frenchmen, in view of the fact that, in the
long run, equality of rights could not be withheld from the
German people.

Q. Then you were appointed Ambassador to London. What led to
this appointment?

A. That came about as follows: In the period after the naval
agreement, which was hailed with joy by the widest circles
in England, I made great efforts to bring Lord Baldwin and
the Fuehrer together, and I should like to mention here that
the preliminary arrangements for this meeting had already
been made by a friend of Lord Baldwin, a Mr. Jones. The
Fuehrer had agreed to fly to Chequers to meet Lord Baldwin,
but unfortunately Lord Baldwin declined at the last minute.
What led to his declining, I do not know, but there is no
doubt that certain forces in England at the time did not
wish this German-British understanding.

Then in 1936, when the German Ambassador von Hoesch died, I
told myself that, on behalf of Germany, one should make one
last supreme effort to come to a good understanding with

I might mention in this connection that at that time I had
already been appointed State Secretary of the Foreign Office
by Hitler, and had asked him personally that that
appointment be cancelled and that I be sent to London as

What follows may have led to this decision of Hitler. Hitler
had a very definite conception of England's balance-of-power
theory, but my view perhaps deviated somewhat from his. My
conviction was that England would always continue to support
her own balance-of-power theory, whereas Hitler was of the
opinion that this theory of balance-of-power was obsolete
and that from now on England should tolerate, that is,
should welcome a much stronger Germany in view of the
changed picture in Europe, and in view of Russia's
development of strength. In order to obtain a definite and
clear picture of how matters actually stood in England -
that must likewise have been one of the reasons why the
Fuehrer sent me to England. Another reason was that at that
time we hoped, through contact with the still very extensive
circles in England which were well disposed to Germany and
supported a German-English friendship, to make the relations
between the two countries friendly and perhaps even to reach
a permanent agreement.

Hitler's goal in the final analysis always had been the
German-English pact.

Home ·  Site Map ·  What's New? ·  Search Nizkor

© The Nizkor Project, 1991-2012

This site is intended for educational purposes to teach about the Holocaust and to combat hatred. Any statements or excerpts found on this site are for educational purposes only.

As part of these educational purposes, Nizkor may include on this website materials, such as excerpts from the writings of racists and antisemites. Far from approving these writings, Nizkor condemns them and provides them so that its readers can learn the nature and extent of hate and antisemitic discourse. Nizkor urges the readers of these pages to condemn racist and hate speech in all of its forms and manifestations.