The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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                                                  [Page 189]


SATURDAY, 30th MARCH, 1946

THE MARSHAL: May it please the Tribunal, the defendant
Donitz is absent from Court this morning.




Q. On 16th February, 1923, at a conference of ambassadors,
Lithuania was granted sovereignty over the territory of
Memel, which had already been annexed in 1923 by a surprise
attack by Lithuanian troops. What caused Hitler to give you
directives for the reintegration of Memel territory in 1939?

A. The territory of Memel is very small, and, as the land
mentioned in our National anthem, was always very dear to
the hearts of the entire German people. The facts from a
military point of view are well known. It was placed under
the control of the Allied Powers after the first World War
and was later seized and occupied by Lithuanian soldiers.
The country itself is ancient German territory, and it was
natural that it should wish to become a part of Germany once
more. As early as 1938, the Fuehrer referred to this problem
in my presence as one which would have to be solved sooner
or later. In the spring of 1939 negotiations were begun with
the Lithuanian Government. These negotiations resulted in a
meeting between Urbisk, the Lithuanian Foreign Minister, and
myself, and an agreement was signed, by means of which Memel
territory was once more to become part of the Reich. That
was in March, 1939- I do not need to describe the sufferings
which this region has had to endure in the past few years.
It was quite in accordance with the principle of the self-
determination of peoples, that the will of the people of
Memel should be taken into account; and all that the
agreement did was to restore a perfectly natural state of
affairs and one which would have had, in any case, to be
established sooner or later.

Q. It was followed six months later by the war with Poland.
What, in your opinion, were the decisive causes which
brought about this war?

A. I gave evidence on this matter yesterday. The deciding
factor was the English guarantee extended to Poland. I do
not need to elaborate this point. This guarantee, combined
with the attitude adopted by Poland, made it impossible for
us to negotiate with the Poles or to come to an
understanding with them. As for the actual outbreak of war,
the following reasons for it can be given:

1. There is no doubt ...

MR. DODD: If your Honour please, I generalised yesterday
morning, and I repeat my assertion of yesterday that I am
most reluctant to interfere here with this examination. But
as the witness has said himself, we did go all through this
yesterday - we have heard this whole story already on the
occasion of yesterday afternoon's session. My point is that
the witness himself, before going into his answer, stated
that he had already given the causes for the war yesterday
afternoon, and I quite agree. I think it is entirely
unnecessary for him to go over it again today. I might add
parenthetically that we had some great doubt about the
relevancy or the materiality of it even on yesterday's
occasion, but surely we do not have to hear him again.

                                                  [Page 190]

THE PRESIDENT: What do you say to that, Dr. Horn?

DR. HORN: I Would like to reply that the former German
Minister for Foreign Affairs, who is accused of being co-
responsible for a war of aggression, might perhaps say a few
words about the decisive causes, which according to him led
to this war. The defendant, of course, should not repeat
what he said yesterday, I only want him to give some details
on points to which he only referred in a general way
yesterday, and I will not take up any more time than is

THE PRESIDENT: Very well, Dr. Horn, provided, of course,
that he does not go over the identical ground that he went
over yesterday.


Q. Please tell us these facts very briefly.

A. There are just a few brief facts that I would like to
mention; and they concern only the events of the last two
days. First of all, there is no doubt that on 30th and 31st
August England was well aware of the extreme tension of the
situation. Hitler received a letter informing him of this;
and he said that the decision must be made and a way of
solving the problem found with all possible speed. This was
Chamberlain's letter to Hitler.

Second: England knew that the proposals made by Germany were
reasonable, for we know that England was in possession of
these proposals on the night of 30th to 31st August.
Ambassador Henderson himself declared that these proposals
were reasonable.

Third: It would have been possible, therefore, on 30th or
31st August, to give a hint to Warsaw and tell the Poles to
begin some sort of negotiations with us. This could have
been done in three different ways - a Polish negotiator
could have flown to Berlin, which would have been, as the
Fuehrer said, a matter of an hour to an hour and a half; or,
a meeting could have been arranged between the Foreign
Ministers or the rulers of the States to take place on the
frontiers; or Ambassador Lipski could simply have been
instructed at least to reconsider the German proposals. If
these instructions had been given the crisis would have been
averted and diplomatic negotiations could have been
initiated. England herself, had she wished to do so, could
have sent her ambassador to represent her at the
negotiations, which action, after what had gone before,
would undoubtedly have been regarded favourably by Germany.

This, however, did not take place, and, as I gather from
documents which I saw for the first time during my
internment here, nothing was done, during this period, to
alleviate this very tense situation. Chauvinism is natural
to the Poles; and we know from Ambassador Henderson's own
words and from the testimony of M. Dahlerus that Ambassador
Lipski used very strong language illustrative of Polish
mentality. Because Poland was very well aware that she
would, in all circumstances, have the assistance of England
and France, she assumed an attitude which made war to all
intents and purposes inevitable. I believe that these facts
are necessary for a complete survey of the situation.

I would like to add that I personally regretted this turn of
events. All the work of 25 years was destroyed by this war;
and up to the last minute I made every possible effort to
avert war. I believe that even Ambassador Henderson's
documents prove that I did my utmost in this direction. I
told Hitler that it was Chamberlain's ardent desire to have
good relations with Germany and to reach an agreement with
her; and I even sent a special messenger to the British
Ambassador, Sir Neville Henderson, to tell him how earnestly
the Fuehrer desired this; and to do everything in his power
to make this desire of Hitler's clear to his government.

Q. Denmark and Norway were occupied in April, 1940. You had
concluded a non-aggression pact with Denmark on 31st May,
1939, and on the basis of those facts you are accused by the
prosecution of perfidious diplomacy. When and in what way
did you have knowledge of the imminent occupation of Denmark
and Norway?

                                                  [Page 191]

A. It had always been the Fuehrer's wish, and mine, to keep
Scandinavia neutral. In accordance with Hitler's policy, I
did my best to prevent the war from spreading.

In April, 1940, Hitler summoned me to the Chancellery. He
told me that he had received reports stating that the
British were on the point of occupying Norway, or, at least,
of landing troops there. He had therefore decided to occupy
Norway and Denmark in two days' time. That was the first I
heard of it. I was amazed; and the Fuehrer then showed me
the documentary evidence which he had received through his
intelligence service. He ordered me to prepare notes at
once, informing Norway and Denmark that German troops were
about to march in. I reminded the Fuehrer that we had a non-
aggression pact with Denmark and that Norway was a neutral
country, and told him that reports received from our
Ambassador at Oslo did not indicate that any landing was
planned. When the documents were shown to me, however, I
realised how grave the situation was and that the reports
had to be taken seriously.

The next day, together with my assistants, I prepared
diplomatic notes to be sent by plane to Oslo and Copenhagen
on 8th April. We worked the whole day in order to finish
these notes. The Fuehrer had given orders that these notes
were to arrive shortly before the German occupation. The
order was executed.

The occupation of Denmark was completed without friction, as
far as I know. I believe that hardly a shot was fired. As
soon as we had occupied the country, we negotiated with the
Danish Government, under Stauning, and made an agreement
that everything should go on without disturbances, and as
far as possible in a friendly manner. Denmark's integrity
was guaranteed, and matters went on, even in the later
stages, in a comparatively quiet and orderly way.

The situation was rather different in Norway. They resisted.
We tried to keep the King of Norway in the country and to
induce him to stay there. We negotiated with him but we had
no success. He went, I believe, to Narvik; and so there was
no longer any possibility of negotiating with Norway. Norway
was occupied, as you know, and a civil administration
established. After this date, Norway was no longer any
concern of the Foreign Office; but I should like to add that
the Fuehrer told me repeatedly that the measures he had
taken were absolutely necessary, and documents found after
the British landing in Norway, and published at a later
date, showed that the occupation of these countries and the
British landing in Norway had been planned well in advance.

Frequent allusions have been made in the course of this
trial to the great sufferings of the Norwegian and Danish
peoples. I personally am of the opinion that whatever one
may think of the German occupation, it prevented Scandinavia
from becoming a theatre of war, and I believe that in that
way the Norwegian and Danish people were spared untold
suffering. If war had broken out between Germany and the
Scandinavian countries, these people would have been exposed
to much greater suffering and privation.

Q. Did you have anything to do with Quisling before the
occupation of Norway?

A. I must explain that the name of Quisling only became
known at a much later date. Before the occupation of Norway
his name meant nothing to me. It is true that Herr Rosenberg
contacted me with a view to assisting pro-German
Scandinavians within the scope of the former Nordic Movement
(Nordische Bewegung); and that was a perfectly natural thing
to do. At that period, we also provided funds for
newspapers, for propaganda and for political activities in

At these discussions - I remember this distinctly - no
mention was ever made of any kind of political putsch to be
achieved through certain circles in Norway, or of military

Q. What influence did the Foreign Office have in Denmark
after the occupation of the country?

A. After the occupation of Denmark the Foreign Office was
represented by an ambassador at the Danish Court. Later,
because of certain events which I believe it would take too
long to enumerate, the Danish Government resigned and

                                                  [Page 192]

a Reich Plenipotentiary was appointed. There was also a
military commander in Denmark and later on a Higher S.S. and
Police Fuehrer.

The activities of the ambassador to the Danish Court were
those of an ordinary and very influential ambassador, who
tried to straighten out all the difficulties which might
naturally arise during an occupation; and the function of
the Reich Plenipotentiary, as stated in my instructions, was
to treat Denmark, not as an enemy of Germany, but as a
friend. This was our guiding principle in Denmark and even
at a much later period, when more serious difficulties arose
as a result of the intensified warfare, there was really
complete quiet and calm in Denmark throughout long years of
war, and we were very well satisfied with conditions there.

Later, because of hostile enemy agents, we had, as I said,
to take sterner measures; the Reich Plenipotentiary always
had instructions from me not to increase the difficulties
but to do everything in his power to straighten them out and
to maintain good relations between the Danes and the
Germans. His task was not always an easy one; but on the
whole he did his work satisfactorily.

Q. When and how did you receive reports about the intention
of the Franco-British General Staff to include Belgium and
Holland in its sphere of operations?

A. Great importance has obviously been attached to this
question during the proceedings here. The situation was as
follows: In 1937, Germany declared that she had made an
agreement with Belgium in which Germany undertook to respect
Belgium's strict neutrality on condition that Belgium on her
part would maintain her neutrality.

After the Polish campaign the Fuehrer told me on several
occasions that, according to intelligence reports, the enemy
intended to cross Dutch and Belgian territory to attack the
Ruhr. We also sometimes received reports of this kind,
though these were of less concrete nature.

In any event, Adolf Hitler believed that an attack on the
Ruhr, which was an area of vital importance to Germany, was
a possibility that had to be reckoned with at all times. I
had a good many discussions with the Fuehrer about that time
regarding the importance of Belgian neutrality for the world
in general; but I knew, too, that we were involved in a hard
struggle where completely different standards would have to
be applied.

In the course of events, in the spring of 1940, our
intelligence reports about an attack of this kind became
more and more concrete, and documents belonging to the
French General Staff, which were later found and published
by the German Foreign Office, proved conclusively that the
reports which Germany had received were absolutely true, and
that an attack on the Ruhr area had actually been planned by
the then enemies of Germany - i.e. by those who were her
enemies at the time.

In this connection I would like to call attention to a
document concerning a meeting between Chamberlain and
Daladier in Paris, at which Chamberlain suggested an attack
on the vitally important industrial areas of the Ruhr
through the so-called "chimneys" of Holland and Belgium. I
believe this document is here and has been granted to the

The situation before the offensive in the West on which the
Fuehrer had decided was therefore such that an attack by the
enemy through these great areas might be expected at any
time. For this reason he decided to attack across this area
- across these two neutral areas - and I believe that after
the attack - the military authorities will confirm this -
further documents were found and facts established, which as
far as I remember, showed that the closest co-operation had
existed between the Belgian and, I believe, Dutch General
Staff and the British and French General Staffs.

Of course it is always a grave matter in such a war to
violate the neutrality of any country, and you must not
think that we dismissed it, so to speak, with a wave of the
hand. It cost me many a sleepless night and I would like to

                                                  [Page 193]

you that the same questions arose on the other side and
other statesmen also discussed them. I remember a statement
to the effect that: "one got tired of thinking of the rights
of neutrals"; and this assertion was made by the eminent
British statesman, Winston Churchill.

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