The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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Q. What brought about the critical situation in the summer?

A. It is natural and has always been the case that
nationality has its own dynamics. This problem of the
separation of German groups bordering on Ger-

                                                  [Page 171]

many was often referred to by us in the Foreign Office as
"the gruesome problem," i.e., a problem which could not be
mastered to the extent necessary for the interests of
foreign policy. We had to deal here not with letters and
articles but with living people who had laws and dynamics of
their own. The situation was this, that the Sudeten Germany
Party naturally strove for greater and greater independence;
it cannot be denied that a number of influential leaders, at
least at the time, demanded at least absolute autonomy, if
not the possibility of joining the Reich. This is perfectly
clear, and that was also the goal of the Sudeten German
Party. For the Foreign Office and German foreign policy, as
well as for Hitler, of course, manifold difficulties arose
because of this. As I said before, I tried to get the
foreign policy affairs under control. At the time I received
Conrad Henlein - I believe once or twice, I do not remember
exactly - and asked him not to do anything, in the pursuit
of his political goals, as far as Prague was concerned, that
might put German foreign policy into a state of emergency.
This was perhaps not always so easy for Henlein either, and
I know that the leaders of the Sudeten German Party
naturally could approach and be received by other offices of
the Reich, and that Adolf Hitler himself, who was interested
in this problem, occasionally received these leaders. The
crisis, or rather the whole situation, developed more and
more critically, because on the one hand the Sudeten Germans
insisted on their demands in Prague more and more openly and
stubbornly and because, on the other hand, the Czechs, the
Government in Prague, opposed these demands. This resulted
in excesses, arrests, and so on, and in an even more
critical situation. At that time I often spoke with the
Czech Ambassador. I asked him to meet the demands of the
Sudeten Germans for autonomy, and all their demands, to the
furthest extent possible. However, matters developed in such
a way that the attitudes displayed by Prague became more
stubborn, and so did the attitude of the Sudeten Germans.

Q. What brought about Chamberlain's visit? What were the
reasons for this visit and for the role played by you on
that occasion?

A. I should like to interpolate here that in the summer of
1938, the situation was moving more and more toward a
crisis. Ambassador Sir Nevile Henderson in Berlin, with whom
I had often discussed this problem, and who was making
efforts ,on his part to find a solution, undoubtedly made
continuous reports to his government. I no longer know
precisely, but I believe that it was through his initiative
that Lord Runciman went to Prague. Runciman undoubtedly went
to Prague in good faith and tried to get a clear picture of
the situation. He also rendered an opinion which, as far as
I recall, was to the effect - I do not remember the wording
- that the right to exercise self-determination, immediate
self-determination, should not be denied the Sudetenland.
Thus, apparently, this opinion supported the Sudeten
Germans. Nevertheless, the crisis was there. I do not
remember exactly what the date was, but I believe it
happened that, through Ambassador Henderson, Chamberlain got
in touch with the Reich Government, and so followed
Chamberlain's visit to the Fuehrer at the Obersalzberg
during the first half of September. Regarding this visit,
there is not very much to be said. The Fuehrer spoke alone
with Chamberlain on that occasion. I do know, however, and
we all felt this way, that the visit took place in an
altogether good and pleasant atmosphere. As far as I
remember the Fuehrer told me that he had told Chamberlain
frankly that the demand of the Sudeten Germans for self-
determination and freedom in some form or other would have
to be met now. Chamberlain, I believe - and this was the
substance of that conference - replied that he would inform
the British Cabinet of these wishes of the German Government
and that he would make further statements.

Q. How did the second visit of Chamberlain to Godesberg come

A. As far as I recall, matters did not progress
satisfactorily. The situation in the Sudetenland became more
difficult and threatened to develop into a very very serious
crisis, not only within Czechoslovakia but also between
Germany and

                                                  [Page 172]

Czechoslovakia, and thereby into a European crisis. The
result was that Chamberlain once more took the initiative
and thus his visit to Godesberg came about; I believe this
was in the middle of September or during the second half of

Q. How, then, was the Sudeten German question solved, and
what was your part in this solution?

A. May I first report about Godesberg? In view of the crisis
which had developed, Hitler informed Mr. Chamberlain in
Godesberg that now he had to have a solution of this
question under all circumstances. I might emphasize that I
knew nothing regarding details of a military nature at that
time, but I do know that the Fuehrer concerned himself with
the possibility that this problem might have to be solved by
military power. He told Mr. Chamberlain in Godesberg that a
solution of the Sudeten German problem would have to be
found as rapidly as possible. Mr. Chamberlain was of the
opinion that it would be difficult to win Prague over so
quickly to a solution, and finally things bogged down
altogether at the conference. Adolf Hitler then personally
dictated a memorandum which he or I was to give to Mr.
Chamberlain. Then Sir Horace Wilson, a friend of Mr.
Chamberlain, visited me, a man who deserves very much credit
in bridging over disagreements. I succeeded in arranging for
another meeting in the evening. During this meeting, which
started in a rather cool atmosphere, the Fuehrer I received
a report of Czechoslovakia's mobilization. This was a most
deplorable circumstance, since Hitler just at this moment
resented that very strongly, and both he and Mr. Chamberlain
wanted to break off the conference. This happened, I
believe, exactly at the moment when the interpreter was
about to read the Fuehrer's memorandum containing a proposal
for the solution of the Sudeten German problem. Through a
short conversation with Hitler and then with Chamberlain I
succeeded in straightening matters out. Negotiations were
resumed, and after a few hours of negotiations the result
was that Mr. Chamberlain told the Fuehrer he could see now
that something had to be done and that he was ready, on his
part, to submit this memorandum to the British cabinet. I
believe he also said that he would suggest to the British
Cabinet, that is to say, to his ministerial colleagues, that
compliance with this memorandum be recommended to Prague.
The memorandum contained as a solution, in general outlines,
the annexation of the Sudetenland by the Reich. I believe
the Fuehrer expressed his desire in the memorandum that, in
view of the critical situation there, it would be advisable
that this be carried out, if possible, within a definite
period of time - I think, by the first of October, i.e.
within ten or fourteen days. Mr. Chamberlain then departed,
and a few days passed. The crisis did not improve but rather
became worse. I remember that very well. Then, during the
latter part of September, I have not got the date here, the
French Ambassador came and said that he had good news about
the Sudeten German question. Later on the British Ambassador
also called. At the same time, as Reichsmarschall Goering
has already testified, Italy wanted to take part in the
solution of the crisis, acting on a wish made known to
Goering by Mussolini, and offered to mediate. Then came
Mussolini's proposal that a conference be held, which
proposal was accepted by England, France and Germany. The
French Ambassador, and later on the British Ambassador, saw
the Fuehrer and outlined on a map the approximate solution
which apparently was being proposed by France, England and
Italy as a solution of the Sudeten problem. I still remember
that the Fuehrer in the first place stated to the French
Ambassador that this proposal was not satisfactory,
whereupon the French Ambassador declared that of course
further discussions should be held regarding this question
and the question of where Germans really were living and how
far the Sudetenland extended; all these questions could
still be discussed in detail.

Anyway, as far as the French Government was concerned - and
I believe, Sir Nevile Henderson used similar words when
received later by the Fuehrer - the

                                                  [Page 173]

Fuehrer could be assured that the British as well as the
French intended to contribute to the solution of this
problem in conformity with the German view.

Then came the Munich conference. I take it I need not go
into the details of this conference; I should like only to
describe briefly the results of it. The Fuehrer explained to
the statesmen, with the aid of a map, the necessity, as he
saw it, of annexing a particular part of the Sudetenland to
the German Reich to the definite satisfaction of the latter.
A discussion arose. Mussolini, the Italian Chief of
Government, agreed in general with Hitler's ideas. The
English Prime Minister made at first certain reservations
and also mentioned that perhaps the details might be
discussed with the Czechs, with Prague. Daladier, the French
Minister, said, as far as I recall, that he thought that,
once this problem had been broached, the Four Great Powers
should make a decision there and then. In the end this
opinion was shared by all the four statesmen and, as a
result, the Munich Agreement was drawn up, providing that
the Sudetenland should be annexed to Germany as outlined on
the maps that were on hand. The Fuehrer was very pleased and
happy about this solution, and, with regard to other
versions of this matter which I have heard during the Trial
here, I should like to emphasise here once more particularly
that I also was happy. We all were extremely happy that in
this way the matter had been solved.

THE PRESIDENT: We will adjourn until ten minutes past two.

(A recess was taken)

THE PRESIDENT: The Tribunal will sit to-morrow morning from
ten o'clock until one o'clock in open session. And now,
before going on, Dr. Horn, the Tribunal wishes me to say
that they think that too much time is being taken up by the
defendant in detailed accounts of negotiations which led up
to an agreement which is a matter of history and which is
perfectly well known to everybody. That is not the case
which the defendant has to meet; what the defendant has to
meet is not the making of agreements which are perfectly
well known, but the breach of those agreements by Germany
and any part which he may have played in the breach of those
agreements. It is very important that the time of this
Tribunal should not be taken up by unnecessary detail of
that sort.



Q. What was the foreign political reaction to the Munich

A. The Munich Agreement is well known. Its contents were the
following: Germany and England should never again wage war;
the naval agreement on the ratio of 100 to 35 was to be
permanent and, in important matters, consultations were to
be resorted to. Through this agreement the atmosphere
between Germany and England was undoubtedly cleared up to a
certain degree. It was to be expected that the success of
this pact would bring about a final understanding. The
disappointment was very great when, a few days after Munich,
rearmament at any cost was announced in England. Then
England started on a policy of alliance and close
relationship with France. In November, 1938, trade policy
measures were taken against Germany, and in December, 1938,
the British Colonial Secretary made a speech, which
negatived any revision of the colonial question. Contact
with the United States of America was also established. Our
reports of that period, as I remember them, showed an
increased, I should like to say, "stiffening" of the English
attitude towards Germany, and the impression was created in
Germany of a policy which practically aimed at her

Q. You are accused by the prosecution of having contributed
to the separation of Slovakia from Czechoslovakia in
violation of International Law. What part did you take in
the Slovakian Declaration of Independence?

A. There is no doubt that there were relations between
Slovakians and quite a number of members of the National
Socialist German Workers Party. These tenden-

                                                  [Page 174]

cies naturally were known to the Foreign Office, and it
would be wrong to say that we did not welcome them at all.
But it is not correct to say that the autonomy was demanded
or forced by us in any way. I remember that Dr. Tiso
proclaimed this autonomy, and the Prague Government, under
the influence of Munich, also recognised it. What the
situation was like at the time after Munich can be seen from
the fact that all minorities of Czechoslovakia wanted
autonomy and independence. Shortly thereafter the Carpatho-
Ukrainians declared their independence and others as well
had similar aspirations. In the Munich Agreement, I should
like to add, there was a clause, according to which Germany
and Italy were to give Czechoslovakia a guarantee, but a
declaration to this effect was not made. The reason for that
was that Poland, after the Munich Agreement, sent an
ultimatum to Czechoslovakia, and on its own initiative
separated the Polish minorities and occupied these areas,
The Hungarians also wanted autonomy, or rather a union of
Hungarian areas, and certain areas of Czechoslovakia were
thereupon given to Hungary by the Vienna arbitration. The
situation in Czechoslovakia, however, was not yet clear and
remained difficult during the period following. Then the
Slovak, Tuka, approached us. He wanted to win Germany's
approval of Slovakia's independence. The Fuehrer received
Tuka at that time and, after a few interludes, the final
result was the declaration of independence of Slovakia made
by Tiso on the 13th of March. The prosecution has submitted
a document in which I am alleged to have said, during the
conversation which took place between the Fuehrer and Tiso,
that it was only a matter of hours, not of days, before
Slovakia would have to come to a decision. This remark was
to be understood to mean that at the time preparations for
an invasion had been made in order to occupy Carpatho-
Ukrainia as well as some other regions of Slovakia. We
wanted to prevent a war between Slovakia and Hungary or
between Czechoslovakia and Hungary - Hitler was greatly
concerned about it, and therefore he gladly complied with
Tiso's desire. Later, after the declaration of Slovakia's
independence by the Slovak parliament, he complied with
Tiso's request and took over the protection of Slovakia.

Q. What brought about Hacha's visit to Berlin on the 14th of
March, 1939?

A. Events in Slovakia had their repercussions, of course,
and chiefly very  strong excesses against racial Germans in
the area of Prague, Brunn, Iglau, etc., as reported to
Hitler. Many fugitives came into the old Reich. In the
winter Of 1938-39 I repeatedly attempted to discuss these
matters with the Prague Government. Hitler was convinced
that a development was being initiated which could not be
tolerated by the German Reich. It was the attitude of the
Press and the influential government circles in Prague. The
Fuehrer furthermore wished that the Czech nation should
reduce her military power, but this was refused by Prague.

During these months I tried repeatedly to maintain good
German relations with Prague. In particular I spoke
frequently with Chvalkovski, the Slovak Foreign Minister. In
the middle of March, Chvalkovski approached our German
representative in Prague to find out whether Hitler would
give Hacha the opportunity of a personal interview. I
reported this to the Fuehrer and he agreed to receive Hacha.
However, he told me that he wished to deal with this matter
personally. To that effect I had an exchange of telegrams
with Prague: a reserved attitude should be taken in Prague
but Hacha should be told that the Fuehrer would receive him.

At this point I should like to mention briefly that the
Foreign Office and I, myself, did not know anything at this
date of impending military events. We learned about these
things only shortly before they happened. Before the arrival
of Hacha I asked the Fuehrer whether a treaty was to be
prepared. The Fuehrer answered, as I recall distinctly that
he had the intention of going far beyond that. After the
arrival of Hacha in Berlin I visited him at once and he told
me he wanted to place the fate of the Czech nation in the
Fuehrer's hands. I reported this to the Fuehrer and he
instructed me to draft an agreement. The draft was submitted
to him and corrected later on, as I remember. Hacha was then

                                                  [Page 175]

by the Fuehrer and the results of this conference, as far as
I know, are already known here and have been submitted in
documentary form, so that I do not need to go into them.

I know that Adolf Hitler at that time spoke pointedly to
Hacha and told him that he intended to occupy
Czechoslovakia. It was the old historic territory which he
intended to take under his protection. The Czechs were to
have complete autonomy and their own way of living and he
believed that the decision which was being made on that day
would result in great benefit for the Czech people. While
Hacha talked to the Fuehrer or rather afterwards - I was
present at the conference - I had a long discussion with the
Foreign Minister Chvalkovski. He adopted our point of view
fairly easily and I asked him to influence Hacha so that the
Fuehrer's decision and the whole action might be carried out
without bloodshed.

I believe it was the deep impression made on him by the
Fuehrer and by what he said that caused Hacha to get in
touch by telephone with his government in Prague and also, I
believe, with the Chief of the General Staff. I do not know
this exactly. He obtained the approval of his government to
sign the agreement which I mentioned in the beginning. This
agreement was then signed by Hitler, Hacha, and both the
Foreign Ministers, i.e. by me, too. Then Hacha, as I recall,
gave instructions that the German Army should be received
cordially and, as far as I know, the march into and the
occupation of Czechoslovakia, that is Bohemia and Moravia,
was completed without serious incident of any kind.

After the occupation I went to Prague with the Fuehrer.
After the occupation - or maybe it was in Prague - the
Fuehrer gave me in the morning a proclamation in which the
countries of Bohemia and Moravia were declared to be a
Protectorate of the Reich. I read out this proclamation -
which, I may say, was somewhat a surprise to me - in Prague.
No protest of any sort was made as far as I recall, and I
believe I might mention that the occupation of Bohemia and
Moravia, which the Fuehrer considered necessary in the best
interest of the Reich, took place for historical and
economic reasons and above all for reasons of security for
the German Reich. I believe that Goering has given the

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