The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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Last-Modified: 1999/12/20

DR. HORN: No. I wanted to show only that Germany made
efforts to prevent the conflict with Russia.

THE PRESIDENT: There was no question of a conflict with
Russia in any of these negotiations.

DR. HORN: No.  It is evident from all the efforts made by
Germany - and from Ribbentrop's testimony - that they wanted
to eliminate as far as possible any differences which might
lead to a conflict between Germany and Russia. The
prosecution asserts that the pact with Russia was made with
the intention of violating it and attacking Russia - that
they had intended to attack Russia all along. I want to
prove that that was not the case.

THE PRESIDENT: It seems to me to be very remote, indeed. It
only goes to show that Ribbentrop entered into certain
negotiations with Russia which had no result. That is all.
You may go on, Dr. Horn.


Q. In one of your previous answers you spoke of troop
concentrations on the East Prussian border, mentioning
twenty German divisions. I assume that that was just a
lapsus linguae on your part.

A. I meant to say twenty, Russian divisions. The Fuehrer, I
know, mentioned this many times. He said, I believe that we
had only one division in the whole of East Prussia.

Q. Was not the Russian occupation of territory in the
Balkans and also in the Baltic States the reason for
inviting Molotov to Berlin?

A. In the Balkans - no; for there were Russian occupation
zones there. But it did apply to Bessarabia, which is not a
Balkan country in the strictest sense of the term. It was
the occupation of Bessarabia, which took place with
surprising speed, and that of Northern Bukovina, which had
not been declared to fall within the Russian sphere of
influence in the discussions at Moscow - and which was, as
the Fuehrer said at the time, really old Austrian crown land
- and the occupation of the Baltic territories. It is true
that this caused the Fuehrer a certain amount of anxiety.

Q. Is it correct that in the summer of 1940 you and Hitler
were informed that a Franco-British military mission was in

A. Yes. What was the date, please?

Q. The summer of 1940; that is, after June, 1940?

A. Yes, that is correct. Such reports came in continually,
but I cannot say now exactly what part of the summer of
1940. When I arrived in Moscow in 1939, I found French and
English military missions there, with instructions from the
British and French governments to conclude a military
alliance between Russia, England and France. This was part
of the policy which the Fuehrer described as "British
encirclement policy" in his speech to the Reichstag on - I
think - 28th May and which Mr. Churchill's message in 1936
had made quite evident to me.

                                                  [Page 198]

Q. Is it correct that at these conferences between ...

SIR DAVID MAXWELL FYFE: My Lord, I am trying very hard to
follow this. I wonder if I could be helped? Did the witness
refer to 1940? I wanted to get it clear whether it was 1940
or 1939. It makes a big difference.

THE PRESIDENT: Do you mean about an English mission? 1940, I

A. I was going to reply to that. I have already said that I
am quite sure about 1940; I only said that these reports
existed. I know, however, that this mission was there in

Q. During Molotov's visit to Berlin in the year 1940, was
any allusion made to the fact that Russia was not satisfied
with the last Russo-Finnish peace treaty and that she
intended to annex the whole of Finland?

A. It was nothing as definite as that, but it was clear from
her attitude that Russia considered Finland as within her
sphere of influence. What measures Russia intended to take
there, it is not in my power to say.

Q. On 5th April, 1941, a Russian-Yugoslav non-aggression and
friendship pact was concluded. How did Germany react to

A. This seemed to the Fuehrer to confirm the fact that
Russia had deviated from the 1939 policy. He considered it
an affront - to use his own words - for he said that he had
concluded a pact with Russia, and only a short time
afterwards, Russia had concluded a pact with a government
which was definitely hostile to Germany.

Q. Is it true that Hitler thereupon forbade you to take any
further diplomatic steps in connection with Russia?

A. That is correct. I told the Fuehrer at the time that we
must now make even more determined efforts to come to an
understanding about Russia's attitude. He said that would be
useless and he did not think it would change it.

Q. What were the causes which precipitated the conflict with

A. In the winter of 1940-41 the Fuehrer was confronted with
the following situation. I think it is most important to
make this clear.

England was not prepared to make peace. The respective
attitudes of the United States of America and of Russia were
therefore of decisive importance to the Fuehrer. He told me
the following (I had a very lengthy discussion with him on
the subject and asked him to give me clearly defined
diplomatic directives).

He said, "Japan's attitude is not absolutely in favour of
Germany. Although we have concluded the Tripartite Pact,
there are strong elements at work against us in Japan and we
do not know what position she will take up. Italy proved to
be a very weak ally in the Greek campaign. Germany might,
therefore, have to stand entirely alone."

After that, he spoke of the American attitude. He said that
he had always wanted to have good relations with the U.S.A.,
but that in spite of extreme caution the U.S.A. had grown
steadily more hostile to Germany. The Tripartite Pact had
been concluded with a view to keeping the U.S.A. out of the
war, as it was our wish and our belief that in this way
those circles in the U.S.A. which were working for peace and
for good relations with Germany could be strengthened. We
were not successful in this, however, as the attitude of the
U.S.A. was not favourable to Germany after the conclusion of
the Tripartite Pact. The Fuehrer's main idea - and mine -
namely, that if the U.S.A. did enter the war, she would have
to reckon with a war on two fronts and therefore would
prefer not to intervene, was not realised. Now the further
question of Russia's attitude came up and in this connection
the Fuehrer made the following statement: "We have a
friendship pact with Russia. Russia has assumed the attitude
which we have just been discussing and which causes me a
certain amount of concern. We do not know, therefore, what
to expect from that side."

More and more troop movements were reported; he had himself
taken military counter-measures, the exact nature of which
was - and still is - unknown to me. However, his great
anxiety was that Russia on the one hand and the U.S.A. and

                                                  [Page 199]

Britain on the other might proceed against Germany. On the
one hand, therefore, he had to reckon with an attack by
Russia and on the other hand with a joint attack by the
U.S.A. and England - that is to say - with large-scale
landings in the West. These considerations caused the
Fuehrer to take preventive measures by starting a preventive
war against Russia of his own accord.

Q. What political reasons were there for the Tripartite

A. The Tripartite Pact was concluded, I believe, in
September 1940. The situation was as I have just described
it, that is to say, the Fuehrer was alarmed that the U.S.A.
might sooner or later enter the war. For this reason I
wanted to do all I could, through diplomatic channels, to
strengthen Germany's position. I thought we had Italy as an
ally, but Italy showed herself to be a weak ally.

As we could not win France over to our side, the only friend
we could count on outside the Balkans was Japan.

In the summer of 1940 we tried to achieve closer ties with
Japan. Japan was trying to do the same with us, and that led
to the signing of the pact. The aim, or substance, of this
pact was a political, military and economic alliance. There
is no doubt, however, that it was intended as a defensive
alliance; and we considered it as such from the start. By
that I mean that it was intended in the first place to keep
the U.S.A. out of the war; and I hoped that a combination of
this kind might enable us to make peace with England after

The pact itself was not based on any plan for aggression or
world domination, as has often been said. That is not true,
our purpose was, as I have just said, to form a combination
which would enable Germany to introduce a new order in
Europe which would also allow Japan to reach a solution
acceptable to her in East Asia - especially in regard to the
Chinese problem.

That was what I had in mind when I negotiated and signed the
pact. The situation was not unfavourable. The pact might
keep U.S.A. neutral, and isolate England so that she would
have to compromise on peace terms, a possibility of which we
never lost sight during the whole course of the war, and for
which we worked steadily.

Q. What effect, according to the reports which reached you,
did the Anschluss of Austria and the Munich Agreement have
on the United States?

A. There is no doubt that the occupation of Austria and the
Munich Pact produced a much more unfavourable feeling
towards Germany on the part of the U.S.A.

Q. In November, 1938, the American Ambassador at Berlin was
recalled to Washington to report to his Government, and the
normal diplomatic relations with Germany were broken off.
According to your own observations, what were the reasons
for this measure?

A. We never really found out the details, and we very much
regretted it, as it forced us to recall our own Ambassador
in Washington, at least, to call him back to make a report.

It is, however, evident that this measure was determined by
the whole attitude of the U.S.A. Many incidents took place
about this time which gradually convinced the Fuehrer that
sooner or later the U.S.A. would enter the war against us.

Permit me to mention a few examples. President Roosevelt's
attitude was defined for the first time in the Quarantine
speech which he made in 1937. The Press then started an
energetic campaign.

When the Ambassador was recalled the situation grew more
critical and the effect began to make itself felt in every
sphere of German-American relations.

I believe that many documents dealing with the subject have
been published in the meantime, and that a number of these
have been submitted by the defence, dealing, for instance,
with the attitude adopted by certain U.S.A. diplomats at the
time of the Polish crisis; the cash-and-carry plan, which
could only benefit Germany's enemies; the cession of
destroyers to England; the so-called "Lend-Lease" Bill later
on; and in other fields the further advance of the U.S.A.

                                                  [Page 200]

Europe: the occupation of Greenland, Iceland, Africa, etc.,
the aid given to Soviet Russia after the outbreak of war.
All these measures strengthened the Fuehrer's conviction
that sooner or later he would have to reckon with a war with
America. There is no doubt that the Fuehrer did not in the
first instance want such a war; and I may say that I myself
- as I think you will see from many of the documents
submitted by the prosecution - did everything I could,
through diplomatic channels, to keep the U.S.A. out of the

Q. In the summer of 1941 President Roosevelt gave his so-
called "firing order" to the American fleet in order to
protect transports carrying armaments to England.

How did Hitler and German diplomacy generally react to this

A. It was a very regrettable event for us. I am not
competent to deal with technical details but I remember that
Hitler was greatly excited about this order, I believe it
was in a speech at some meeting - probably at Munich, but I
do not remember exactly - that he replied to this speech and
issued a warning in answer to the announcement. I happen to
remember the form which his reply took, because at the time
I thought it rather odd. He said, "America has given the
order to fire on German ships. I gave no order to fire but I
ordered that the fire be returned." I believe that is the
way he expressed it.

Documentary evidence of these events reached us in the
diplomatic service, but the Navy is better informed on the
subject than I am. After that, I believe, there were
protests and publications about the measure which made the
German attitude plain; I cannot give you the exact nature of
these protests without referring to the documents

Q. Did Japan notify Germany in advance of her attack on
Pearl Harbour?

A. No, she did not. At the time I tried to induce Japan to
attack Singapore, because it was impossible to make peace
with England and I did not know what military measures we
could take to achieve this end. In any case, the Fuehrer
directed me to do everything I could through diplomatic
channels to weaken England's position and thus achieve
peace. We believed that this could best be done through an
attack by Japan on England's strong position in East Asia.
For that reason I tried to induce Japan to attack Singapore.

After the outbreak of the Russo-German war, I also tried to
make Japan attack Russia, for I thought that in this way the
war could be ended more quickly. Japan, however, did not do
that. She did neither of the things we wanted her to do, but
instead, she did a third. She attacked the United States at
Pearl Harbour. This attack came as a complete surprise to
us. We had considered the possibility of Japan attacking
Singapore - that is England - or perhaps Hong Kong, but we
never considered an attack on the United States as being to
our advantage. We knew that in the case of an attack on
England, there was a possibility that the U.S.A. might
intervene; that was a question which, naturally, we had
often considered. We hoped very much, however, that this
would not happen and that America Would not intervene. The
first news I received of the attack on Pearl Harbour was
through the Berlin Press, and then from the Japanese
Ambassador Oshima. I should like to say under oath that all
other reports, versions or documentary evidence are entirely
false. I would like to go even further to state that the
attack came as a surprise even to the Japanese Ambassador -
or so he told me, at least.

DR. HORN: Do your Honours wish for a recess now?

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Horn, how much longer are you going to

DR. HORN: Not much more, your Honour. I should say 15 or 20

THE PRESIDENT: Very well, we will recess for ten minutes.

(A recess was taken.)

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