The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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Last-Modified: 1999/12/18

Q. When you took over your office, or later, did you get to
know the minutes of a conference of 5th November, 1937,
which has become known here under the name "Hoszbach"

A. I did not know this document, which has been mentioned
here in various connections. I saw it here for the first

Q. Did Hitler ever say anything to you which conforms to the
contents of this document?

A. I do not recall all the details of the contents of this
document, but it was the Fuehrer's practice to speak very
little at all about his aims and intentions and his attitude
in matters of principle. At any rate, this was his practice
in dealing with me. He did say that Germany had to solve
certain problems in Europe - as I said before - and that for
this reason it was necessary to be strong. He also mentioned
the possibility that this might lead to disagreements, but
he said to me nothing more specific about this. On the
contrary, he always emphasised to me, that it was his desire
to solve by diplomatic means these problems in Europe which
had to be solved and that, once he had solved these
problems, he had the intention of creating an ideal
Socialistic State of the people("Volksstaat") and that the
Germany he would then create would be a model modern
Socialistic State - with all the new edifices to which he
attached special value. In other words, to me he did
casually admit the possibility of an armed conflict, but he
always said that it was his unalterable aim, and that it was
and had always been his intention, to achieve this solution
of the "impossibility of Versailles," as he sometimes called
it, in a peaceful way.

Q. Shortly after your appointment as foreign minister you
were called by Hitler to Berchtesgaden to the conference
with Schuschnigg. What was discussed there and what was your
role in these conferences?

A. Hitler informed me - I recall this was on 12th February,
1938 - that he was going to meet Federal Chancellor
Schuschnigg at the Obersalzberg. I do not remember the
details. I see from my notes that this was on the 12th of
February. One thing I know is that he told me that the
solution to be achieved was that in some form or other the
German National Socialists in Austria must be given
assistance. Difficulties of all sorts had arisen there, the
details of which I no longer recall. At any rate, I believe,
there were a great many National Socialists in jail, and, as
a consequence of the natural efforts of these Austrian
people to, bring about a closer contact with the Reich, this
Austrian problem threatened to become a really serious
problem between Germany and Austria.

Adolf Hitler told me at the time that I should be present in
the Berghof. Later it was said, and I have heard it said
here, that Adolf Hitler once declared that he intended to
fight for autonomy for these six million Germans under all
circumstances during the year 1938. I do not recall that he
said so but it is quite possible that he did. On the
occasion of Schuschnigg's reception I was at the
Obersalzberg. Hitler received Schuschnigg alone and had a
long conversation with him. The details of this conversation
are not known to me because I was not present. I recall that
Schuschnigg saw me after this conversation and that I in
turn had a long conversation with him.

Q. Did you at that time put Schuschnigg under political
pressure, as the prosecution asserts?

                                                  [Page 167]

A. No, that is not true. I remember very clearly my
conversation with Schuschnigg, whereas the other details of
what was going on at the Obersalzberg are not so clear in my
memory, since I was not present at either the first or the
second meeting between Schuschnigg and Hitler. My discussion
with Schuschnigg proceeded in a very amicable fashion. I
felt that Schuschnigg obviously was very greatly impressed
by the Fuehrer and the Fuehrer's personality. I wish to say
first that I do not know exactly the details of what Hitler
wanted to achieve or discuss with Schuschnigg, so that on
this subject matter I could say to him very little, or
rather nothing. Our discussion therefore was confined to
more general subjects. I told Schuschnigg that, in my
opinion, Germany and Austria must come into closer contact
and that perhaps it was his historical task to assist in
this and to co-operate. I told him that it was undeniable
that both nations were German, and that two such German
nations could not forever be separated by artificial

Q. Was it at this conference that a rescission of the German-
Austrian Treaty of 1936 was discussed?

A. I did not discuss this point with Schuschnigg, and I
believe that the Fuehrer did not do so either in any way,
because, according to what Schuschnigg told me, the Fuehrer
had told him that certain measures would have to be carried
out in Austria in order to eliminate the reasons for
conflict between the two countries. That is what, without
remembering any details, I understood him to say. As I said,
my discussion with him was very amicable, and I might
mention that, when I suggested to Schuschnigg that the two
countries would have to get into closer contact, Schuschnigg
showed an altogether positive attitude towards this idea so
that, to a certain extent, I was even surprised by that
attitude. There can be no talk of any pressure exerted on
Schuschnigg during our discussion. However, the Fuehrer's
discussion with him, I believe, was conducted in very clear
language, because the Fuehrer wanted to reach some
improvement in relations in order to solve the problems
between the two countries, and to achieve this it was
necessary for the two statesmen to reveal their thoughts
openly. I have heard here - and I think this is from an
entry in General Jodl's diary - that heavy political and
military pressure was exerted. I believe I can testify here
that I knew nothing of any military or strong political
pressure at this meeting between Schuschnigg and Hitler. I
may reiterate that I am sure that the Fuehrer used clear and
frank language with Schuschnigg, but I certainly did not
notice any pressure of a military or a political kind, or
anything in the nature of an ultimatum. Also I assume that
General Jodl's remark - I do not believe he was present - is
a diary entry based on hearsay. I should like to add that at
that time - and I have also stated this to several persons
who were with me, and also to the Fuehrer - I had an
altogether positive and pleasant impression of Schuschnigg's
personality. Schuschnigg even said that the two countries -
and I remember these words exactly - were bound together by
fate and that he would have to assist in some way in
bringing these two countries closer together. There was no
mention in this discussion of an "Anschluss" or any such
thing. Whether the Fuehrer mentioned that I do not know, but
I do not believe so.

Q. At that time, or shortly after, did the Fuehrer mention
to you that he wished to deviate from the German-Austrian
Treaty of 1936 and find some other solution?

A. Hitler did not discuss this matter with me. I spoke very
little with him about the Austrian problems, if at all. This
may sound surprising, but it can be understood from the fact
that it was only on the 4th of February that I took over the
Foreign Office, and that I first had to get familiar with
all the problems. The Austrian problem was, anyway, as I
already said, a problem which was always dealt with by
Hitler himself and which, consequently, was, so to speak,
merely taken note of in the Foreign Ministry. I remember
that the then ambassador von Papen also had the right to
report directly to Hitler and that the Foreign Office
received copies of these reports. These reports were, I
believe, presented directly

                                                  [Page 168]

to Hitler by the Reich Chancellery, so that the problem was
anchored rather in the Reich Chancellery than in the Foreign

Q. You then went back to London in order to give up your
post as ambassador. What did you hear in London regarding
the development of the Austrian question?

A. First, let me say as follows: I myself had always the
idea that the Austrian problem should be solved through a
treaty, a customs and currency union between the two
countries, since I personally believed that this was the
most natural and the easiest way to bring about a close
connection between them. I might perhaps remind you at this
point, that this idea of a customs union, or at least a
currency union, was nothing new, and had already been
pursued by the governments before Hitler; it did not
materialise at that time, I believe, because of the veto of
the allied powers, but it was a long-cherished wish of both
countries. I must now answer your question concerning
London. According to my notes, I went to London on the 8th
of March. As I have already mentioned, I happened to be in
Berlin for the celebration of the seizure of power on the
30th of January, I believe, and then was appointed Foreign
Minister on the 4th of February. Because of this appointment
I did not have the opportunity to take official leave in
London. On the 8th of March, 1938, I went to London. Before
resigning my post I had a short conversation with Hitler,
primarily about English matters. I remember that he remarked
on this occasion that the Austrian problem beyond a doubt
was progressing very nicely in line with the arrangements
agreed upon with Schuschnigg at Berchtesgaden. I wish to add
that I did not know all the details of the agreements, and I
still remember a small detail about which we sent an inquiry
to the Reich Chancellery only a few weeks later for the
information of our specialist on the Austrian question.
After I arrived in London, I believe it was in the
afternoon, I happened to hear over the radio in the embassy
building a speech made by the then Federal Chancellor
Schuschnigg in Innsbruck or in Graz, I think. I must say
that this speech took me very much by surprise. To go into
details would take too long, nor do I remember them all. I
do know, however, that the entire manner, and, as it seemed
to me, the entire tone of this speech, was such that I
immediately got the impression that the Fuehrer would not
tolerate this, and that the whole speech, without any doubt,
contradicted at least the spirit of the agreements made with
the Fuehrer at the Obersalzberg. As I said, I was convinced
that Adolf Hitler would do something about it; and I should
like to say quite openly before this Tribunal that it
appeared quite In order to me that the question be solved in
some way or other, I mean, that one would have to speak to
Schuschnigg very frankly, in order that the matter should
not develop into a catastrophe, perhaps even a European
catastrophe. Then, on the next morning, I had a long
discussion with Lord Halifax. Lord Halifax had also received
reports from Austria, and I tried, without knowing the
situation fully, to explain to him that it was better to
solve this problem now in one form or another, and that this
would be definitely in the interests of the German-English
efforts toward friendly relations; and that, in the long
run, the assumption that the friendship between Germany and
England, as striven for by both countries, could be broken
up by such a problem, would be proved false. Lord Halifax
was not alarmed by the situation and told me, as far as I
remember, that I should still have an opportunity to discuss
these matters with the British Prime Minister Chamberlain at
the breakfast which was to follow. After this I had
breakfast with the then Prime Minister Chamberlain; and
during or after this breakfast I had a long conversation
with him. During this conversation he again emphasised his
desire to reach an understanding with Germany. I was
extremely happy to hear this and told him that I was firmly
convinced that this was also the Fuehrer's attitude. He gave
me a special message for the Fuehrer, that this was his
desire and that he would do everything he could in this
direction. Shortly after this conversation telegrams arrived
from Austria, from Vienna, I believe from the ambassador or
the British consul. Mr. Chamberlain and Lord Halifax asked
me to come to their. office. I believe the breakfast took
place in

                                                  [Page 169]
10 Downing Street and I went then to their office in order
to discuss these telegrams. I told them that of course, I
had no precise reports; then the news of an ultimatum came,
and later of the entrance of German troops. We arranged that
I should try to contact my government and that Lord Halifax
would come to see me in the German Embassy in the afternoon
to discuss these things further. I wish to emphasise that
Mr. Chamberlain on this occasion also took a very composed
and, it seemed to me, very sensible attitude towards the
Austrian question. In the afternoon Lord Halifax visited me
and we had a long talk. In the meantime, the entrance of
German troops had become known. I should like to emphasize
the fact that this talk with Lord Halifax was very amicable
and that at the end of it I invited the English Foreign
Minister to pay Germany another visit. He accepted, adding
that he would be glad to come, and perhaps another
exhibition of hunting trophies could be arranged.

Q. On the next morning you had a telephone conversation with
the defendant Goering. This telephone conversation had been
put in evidence by the prosecution, with the assertion that
it is a proof of your double-crossing policy. What about

A. That is not true. Reichsmarschall Goering has already
testified that this was a diplomatic conversation, and
diplomatic conversations are carried on all over the world
in the same way. But I might say that through this telephone
conversation I learned for the first time of the details of
the events in Austria. Without going into details I heard,
above all, that this vote without doubt was not in
accordance with the true will of the Austrian people, and I
learned a number of other things, which Goering asked me to
mention in my conversations with the British Ministers. But
I should like to say that actually such conversations never
took place, because I had already taken leave of the
official English circles. In fact, I did not have any
further talks after my conversation with Goering; just a few
hours later I left London and went to Berlin and later to

I might add that first I went to Karinhall to visit Goering,
and found him very happy about the "Anschluss" - i.e., not
about the Anschluss but about the whole Austrian
development. He was just as happy as I. We all were happy.
Then I flew, I believe, on the same day, to Vienna and
arrived there at about the same time as Adolf Hitler. In the
meantime I heard about the "Anschluss" and it was in Vienna
that I learned that the idea of the "Anschluss" had
definitely not occurred to Hitler until his drive through
Austria. I believe it was prompted by a demonstration in
Linz and then he decided very quickly, I think, to
accomplish the "Anschluss."

Q. What problem did Hitler mention to you as the next one
which you should solve, following the Anschluss?

A. The next problem which Hitler had outlined to me on the
4th of February was the problem of the Sudeten Germans. This
problem, however, was not a problem posed by Hitler or the
Foreign Office or any office - it was a de facto problem
that existed of itself. I believe it was the American
Prosecutor who said here that with the dissolution of
Czechoslovakia a chapter ended which was one of the saddest
in the history of nations, namely, the oppression and
destruction of the small Czechoslovak nation. I should like
to state the following from my own knowledge of these

One may speak in this sense of a Czechoslovak State but not
of a Czechoslovak nation, because it was a State of
different nationalities, a State which comprised the most
varied national groups. I need only mention, besides Czechs,
Germans, Hungarians, Poles, Ruthenians, Carpatho-Ukrainians,
Slovaks, etc. This shows that quite heterogeneous elements
had been welded together in 1919 to form the State. It is
certain, and probably a historical fact, that the efforts of
the different nationalities within the artificially welded
State were divergent to a certain extent and that the
Czechs, following their own tendencies, tried to surround
these nationalities with a strong ring, I should like to
say, with an iron ring. This

                                                  [Page 170]

pressure created counter-pressure - counter-pressure from
the various nationalities; of this State, and it is evident
that a strong Germany, a Germany of National Socialism, at
that time exerted a strong power of attraction on all the
national segments in Europe; or, at any rate, on those
living close to the German border and to some extent, I
might say, on the others as well. It thus happened that the
German minorities in the Sudetenland, who, since 1919 had
been constantly exposed to considerable pressure from
Prague, were now subjected to still greater pressure. I do
not believe I need go into details, but I can say from my
own knowledge, and even from my own discussions while I was
ambassador in London, that the question of the Sudetenland
was very clearly understood by the British Foreign Office
and that England herself very often before 1938 had
supported certain interests of the Sudeten Germans, in co-
operation with Conrad Henlein.

After the seizure of power by Adolf Hitler the suppression
of these German minorities undoubtedly increased. I should
also like to point out - and I know this from having read
the files of the Foreign Office at the time - that the
League of Nations' Committee for Minorities had a tremendous
amount of documents on the Sudeten Germans and the great
impediments encountered by the Germans in practising and
living their own cultural life.

I do not believe it is too much to say that the manner in
which the Sudetenland was treated by Prague was, even in the
opinion of the League of Nations' competent and unprejudiced
authorities, in no way in accord with the provisions of the
League of Nations regarding minorities. I myself thought it
was  absolutely necessary to reach some solution in order
that this problem might not become a germ of conflict,
whereby again, as in the case of Austria, all Europe would
be stirred up. I should like to emphasise that the Foreign
Office and I always endeavoured, from the very beginning, to
solve the Sudeten German problem by way of diplomatic
negotiations with the main signatory powers of Versailles. I
might add that it was my personal conviction, which I also
expressed to Hitler, that given sufficient time and
appropriate action, the Germany that we had in 1938 could
solve this problem in a diplomatic, i.e., peaceful way.

The prosecution has charged me with having stirred up unrest
and discord in Czechoslovakia by illegal means, and with
thus having consciously helped to bring about the
culmination of this crisis. I do not deny in any way that
between the Sudeten German Party and the National Socialist
German Workers Party there had been connections for a long
time which aimed at taking care of the Sudeten-German
interests. Nor do I wish to deny, for example, what was
mentioned here, that the Sudeten German Party was supported
with certain funds from the Reich. I might even say, and I
believe the Czechoslovak Government will confirm this, that
that was an open secret which was well-known in Prague.
However, it is not correct to say that anything was done on
the part of the Foreign Office and by me to so direct these
efforts that a really serious problem might arise. I do not
want to go into further detail, but I should like to mention
one more point. Documents have been mentioned about arrests
of Czech nationals in Germany as reprisals for Czech
treatment of Sudeten Germans. To that I can say merely that
these were measures which can only be understood and
explained in view of the situation at that time, but which
were not brought about by us in the Foreign Office in order
to make the situation more critical. On the contrary, in the
further course of events, I attempted through the Embassy in
Prague as well as through efforts of my officers, to
restrain the activities of the Sudeten German Party. I
believe that this has to some extent been proved clearly by
the documents which have been made known here. I have not
these documents before me, so I cannot deal with them in
greater detail; but I believe that perhaps the defence can
make these matters clear in detail.

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