The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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Q. In what way was your ambassadorial activity hampered in

A. I should like to say first that I was repeatedly in
England in the 1930's, mainly from 1935 to 1936, and, acting
on instructions from the Fuehrer, I sounded out the opinions
there on the subject of a German-British pact. The basis of
this pact is known. It was to make the naval ratio of 100 to
35 permanent. Secondly, the integrity of the so-called Low
Countries, Belgium and Holland and also France was to be
guaranteed by the two countries for ever and-this was the
Fuehrer's idea - Germany should recognise the British Empire
and should be ready

                                                  [Page 162]

to stand up, if necessary even with the help of her own
power, for the preservation and maintenance of the British
Empire; and England, in return, should recognise Germany as
a strong power in Europe.

It has already been said, and I should like to repeat this,
that these efforts in the 1930's unfortunately did not lead
to any results. It was one of the Fuehrer's deepest
disappointments - and I must mention that here, for it is
very important for the further course of events that this
pact, upon which he had placed such very great hopes and
which he had regarded as the corner-stone of his foreign
policy, did not materialise in these years. What the forces
were which prevented its materialisation I cannot say,
because I do not know. In any case we got no further.

I came back to this question several times while I was
Ambassador in London and discussed it with circles who were
friendly to Germany, and I must say that there also were
many Englishmen who had a very positive attitude towards
this idea.

Q. Did you also meet with any attitude that was negative?

A. There was naturally a strong element in England which did
not look favourably upon this pact or this idea of close
relations with Germany, because of considerations of
principle and perhaps because of traditional considerations
of British policy. I should like to mention here briefly,
even though this goes back to the year 1936, that during the
Olympic Games in the year 1936 I tried to win the very
influential, British politician, the present Lord Vansittart
to this idea. I had at that time a very long discussion of
several hours' duration with him in Berlin. Adolf Hitler
also received him and likewise spoke with him about the same
thing. Lord Vansittart, even though our personal relations
were good, showed a certain reserve.

In the year 1937, when I was in London, I saw that gradually
two clearly different trends were forming in England; one
very much in favour of promoting good relations with
Germany, the other against such relations.

There were - I believe that I do not need to mention names,
for they are well know - those gentlemen who did not wish
such close relations with Germany, Mr. Winston Churchill,
who was later Prime Minister, and others.

I then made strenuous efforts in London in order to promote
this idea but other events occurred which made my activity
there more difficult. There was first of all, the Spanish
policy. It is well known that civil war raged in Spain at
that time and that in London the so-called Non-Intervention
Commission was meeting.

As Ambassador to the Court of St. James's I had a difficult
task. On the one hand, with all means at my disposal, I
wished to further German-English friendship and to bring
about the German-English pact, but on the other hand, I had
to carry out the instructions of my government in regard to
the Non-Intervention Commission and Spain. These
instructions, however, were often in direct opposition to
certain aims of British Policy. Therefore it came about that
this sort of League of Nations which the Non-Intervention
Commission represented at that time, and of which I was the
authorised German member, prejudiced the chief aim with
which Adolf Hitler had sent me to London.

But I have to say here - if I may and am supposed to
describe that period openly in the interest of the case -
that it was not only the policy regarding Spain, but that in
these years - 1937 till the beginning of 1938 - that trend
which did not want a pact formed with Germany, definitely
became ever more evident in England; and that, to-day, is a
historical fact. Why? The answer is very simple, very clear.
These circles regarded a Germany strengthened by National
Socialism as a factor which might disturb the traditional
British balance-of-power theory and policy on the Continent.

I am convinced that Adolf Hitler at that time had no
intention at all of undertaking on his part anything against
England, but that he had sent me to London

                                                  [Page 163]

with the most ardent wish for really reaching an
understanding with that country. From London I reported to
the Fuehrer about the situation, and before this Tribunal
now I wish to clarify one point, a point which has been
brought up very frequently and which is relevant to my own
defence. It has often been asserted that I reported to the
Fuehrer from England that England was degenerate and would
perhaps not fight. I may and must establish the fact here,
and from the beginning I reported exactly the opposite to
the Fuehrer. I told him that; in my opinion, the English
ruling class and the English people had a definitely heroic
attitude and that this nation was ready at any time to fight
to the utmost for the existence of its Empire. Later, in the
course of the war and after a conference with the Fuehrer, I
once discussed this subject in public, in a speech made in

Summarising the situation in London in the years 1937 and
1938, while I was ambassador, I can at least say that I was
fully cognizant of the fact that it would be very difficult
to conclude a pact with England. But even so - and this I
always reported - all efforts would have to be made to come
by means of a peaceful settlement to an understanding with
England as a decisive factor in German policy, that is, to
create such a relation between the development of German
power and the British basic tendencies and views on foreign
policy that these two factors would not conflict.

Q. During the time you were ambassador you concluded the so-
called Anti-Comintern Pact with Japan. How was it that just
you, the ambassador, concluded that pact?

A. I should like to make the preliminary remark that in 1938
I was appointed Foreign Minister on the 4th of February. On
the 4th of February I was in Berlin. The Fuehrer called me
and informed me that he had appointed me Foreign Minister.
After that ... I am not sure, are you talking of the Three-
Power Pact?

Q. No, you have misunderstood me. During your activity as
ambassador you concluded the Anti-Comintern Pact in 1936
which in 1937 was joined by Italy and later on by Spain, as
well as other countries. How was it that you, as ambassador,
concluded this pact?

A. Adolf Hitler at that time considered the ideological
difference between Germany, that is, National Socialism, and
Communism, actually one of the decisive factors of his
policy. Therefore, the question arose as to how a way could
be found at all to win over additional countries for the
opposition to Communist tendencies. The problem, therefore,
was an ideological one. In the year 1933, I believe, Hitler
discussed with me for the first time the question of whether
a closer contact with Japan could be established in some
form or other. I replied that I personally had certain
connections with Japanese persons and would establish
contact. When I did so it came to light that Japan had the
same anti-Comintern attitude as Germany. Out of these
conversations of the years 1933, 1934, 1935, I believe, the
idea gradually crystallised that one might make these common
attitudes the subject of a pact. I believe it was one of my
aides who had the idea of concluding an Anti-Comintern Pact.
I presented this idea to the Fuehrer and he approved of it.
However, since it was, so to speak, an ideological question,
he did not wish at that time that it should be done through
the official channels of German politics, and therefore he
instructed me to prepare this pact, which then was concluded
in my office in Berlin, as I believe, in the course of the
year 1936.

Q. If I understand you correctly, this pact was concluded by
you because you were the head of the Department Ribbentrop
(Dienststalle Ribbentrop)?

A. That is correct. The Department Ribbentrop consisted
chiefly of me and just a few aides. But it is correct to say
that the Fuehrer wished that I conclude this pact because he
did not wish to emphasise it publicly.

Q. Did t1fis pact have aims of practical policy or only
ideological aims?

A. It is certain that this pact - as a basic principle, I
should say - had an ideological aim. It was meant to oppose
the work of the Comintern in the various countries

                                                  [Page 164]

at that time. But naturally it also contained a political
element. This political element was anti-Russian at the
time, since Moscow was the centre of the Comintern idea.
Therefore, it occurred to the Fuehrer and me that through
this pact a certain balance or counterbalance against the
Russian efforts or against Russia would be created in a
political sense as well, because Russia was in opposition to
Germany in respect to ideology and also, of course, to

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Horn, do you and the defendant really
think it is necessary to take as long as the defendant has
taken to tell us why he, as an ambassador in London, was
called upon to sign the Anti-Comintern Pact?

DR. HORN: It is very difficult for me to hear your Honour.

THE PRESIDENT: What I asked you was whether you and the
defendant think it necessary for the defendant to make such
a long speech in answer to your question, as to why he, as
ambassador in London, was employed to sign the Anti-
Comintern Pact. He has spoken for at least five minutes
about it.


Q. On the 4th of February, 1938, you were made Foreign
Minister. What were the reasons for this appointment?

A. I have already said that on the 4th of February, 1938, I
was in Berlin. The Fuehrer called me and informed me that,
because of a shift in various higher positions, he was going
to appoint a new Foreign Minister and that he had appointed
the then Foreign Minister von Neurath to be President of the
Secret Cabinet Council. I replied to the Fuehrer that I, of
course, would be glad to accept that appointment.

Q. On this occasion you also received a high rank in the
S.S.? The prosecution has asserted that this rank was not
purely honorary. Is that true?

A. I must correct that. I had received a rank in the S.S.
prior to this time, and I do not recall whether it was on
the occasion of this appointment or later on that I became
S.S.-Gruppenfuehrer. The Fuehrer bestowed on me the rank and
the uniform of an S.S.-Gruppenfuehrer. That was a position
which formerly in the army used to be known as a "rank a la
suite." It happened that I agreed definitely with the S.S.
idea at that time and relations with Himmler were also quite
good. I considered the S.S. idea a possible basis for
producing and creating an idealistic class of leaders,
somewhat like that existing in England, and such as emerged
symbolically through the heroism of our Waffen S.S. during
the war. Later on, it is true, my attitude towards Himmler
changed. But the Fuehrer bestowed this rank on me because he
wished that, at Party rallies and meetings, I should wear
the Party uniform and have a Party rank.

May I at this time state briefly my attitude toward the
Party. Yesterday or the day before yesterday, I believe, the
question was raised as to whether I was a true National
Socialist. I do not claim to be competent to judge this
question. It is a fact that it was only in later years that
I joined Adolf Hitler. I did not pay very much attention to
the National Socialist doctrines and programme nor to the
racial theories, with which I was not very familiar. I was
not anti-Semitic, nor did I fully understand the church
question, although I had left the church a long time ago. I
had my own inner reasons for doing so, reasons connected
with the early 20's and the development of the church in
Germany in those years. However, I believe that I have
always been a good Christian. What drew me to the Party was
the fact that the Party wanted a strong, flourishing, and
socialistic Germany.
That was what I wanted too. For that reason, in the year
1932, I did, after thorough deliberation, become a member of
the National Socialist German Workers Party.

Q. Had you put your services at the disposal of the Party
before that date, as the prosecution asserts, namely, from
1930 on?

A. It was in 1930 that, in the general election, National
Socialism obtained more than 100 seats in the German
Reichstag. I set forth yesterday, and perhaps do not need to
describe in detail any more, what conditions in Germany were
at that time. However, during the years 1930, 1931 and 1932
I gradually came

                                                  [Page 165]

nearer to the Party. Then from 1932 on - I believe I entered
the Party in August 1932 - from that moment on until the end
of this war I devoted my entire strength to National
Socialist Germany and exhausted it in so doing. I wish to
profess frankly before this Tribunal and before the world
that I have always endeavoured to be a good National
Socialist, and that I was proud of the fact that I belonged
to a little band of men, idealists, who did not want
anything else but to re-establish Germany's prestige in the

Q. What foreign political problems did Hitler describe to
you as requiring solution, when you took office? What
directives did he give you for the conduct of foreign

A. When I took office, the Fuehrer said relatively little to
me. He said only that Germany had now assumed a new
position, that Germany had once more joined the circle of
nations having equal rights and that it was clear that in
the future certain other problems would also have to be
solved. In particular, I recall that he pointed out three,
no, four problems which, sooner or later, would have to be
solved. He emphasised that such problems could be solved
only with a strong Wehrmacht, not by using it, but through
its mere existence, because a country which was not strongly
armed could practice no foreign policy whatsoever, as we had
experienced during the past years, but rather such a country
operated, so to speak, in a vacuum. He said we would have to
achieve clear-cut relations with our neighbours. The four
problems he enumerated were, first of all, Austria then he
mentioned a solution of the Sudeten questions, of the
question of the tiny Memel district and of the Danzig and
the Corridor question, all of them problems which would have
to be solved in one way or another. It would be my duty, he
said, to assist him diplomatically in this task. From this
moment on I did my best to assist the Fuehrer to prepare
some solution of these problems in a way beneficial to

Q. Shortly after your appointment you . . .

THE PRESIDENT: I believe this would be a good time to break

(A recess was taken.)

Q. What course did German foreign policy pursue after you
were appointed foreign minister?

A. First I tried to get an over-all picture of the current
affairs of the Foreign Office and of the situation. German
foreign policy, as I said before, had reached a certain
stage, that is, Germany had regained prestige in the eyes of
the world, and the future task would be to solve in some way
or other the important and vital problems created in Europe
by the Versailles Treaty. This was all the more necessary
since, by way of example, ethnic questions always were an
incendiary subject, that is, contained germs of conflict
dangerous to a peaceful development in Europe.

During the period following I familiarised myself with the
affairs of the ministry. That was at first not easy, as I
was dealing with altogether new men. I should like to
mention here that Hitler's attitude toward the Foreign
Office was not always positive and in continuing the efforts
of Minister von Neurath, my predecessor, I considered it my
most important task to bring the Foreign Office closer to
Hitler and to build a bridge between the two spheres of

It was clear to me from the very beginning, after I took
over the ministry, that I would be working, so-to-speak, in
the shadow of a vital personality and that I would have to
impose on myself certain limitations - that is to say, that
I would not be in a position, one might almost say, to
conduct the foreign policy in such a way as it is done by
other foreign ministers, who are responsible to a
parliamentary system or a parliament. The commanding
personality of the Fuehrer naturally dominated the foreign
policy as well. He occupied himself with all its details. It
went like this more or less: I reported to him and forwarded
to him important foreign policy reports through a special
courier, and Hitler in turn gave

                                                  [Page 166]

me definite orders as to what views I should take in regard
to problems of foreign policy, etc.

In the course of these conversations the problem of Austria
crystallised as the first, and most important problem which
had to be brought to some solution or other. Austria had
always been a matter very close to the Fuehrer's heart,
because he was a native of Austria himself, and naturally,
with Germany's power growing, the efforts already long in
existence for bringing Germany and Austria more closely
together became even more pronounced. At that time I did not
yet know very much about this problem, since Hitler himself
handled it for the most part.

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