The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Shofar FTP Archive File: imt/tgmwc//tgmwc-10/tgmwc-10-95.04

Archive/File: imt/tgmwc/tgmwc-10/tgmwc-10-95.04
Last-Modified: 1999/12/20


Q. What considerations caused Hitler and you to enter the
war against the United States on the side of Japan?

                                                  [Page 201]

A. When the news of Pearl Harbour came, the Fuehrer had to
make a decision. The text of the Tripartite Pact bound us to
assist Japan only in case of an attack against Japan
herself. I went to see the Fuehrer, explained the legal
aspect of the situation, and told him that, although we
welcomed a new ally against England, it meant we had a new
opponent to deal with as well - or would have one to deal
with if we declared war on the U.S.A. The Fuehrer decided
that, as the United States had already fired upon our ships,
to all intents and purposes a state of war existed. It was
therefore, only a question of form, or, at least an official
state of war might supervene at any moment. If this state of
affairs in the Atlantic continued, it was bound to lead to a
German-American war in the long run.

He then instructed me to draft a note - which he
subsequently altered - and to hand the American
Ambassador his papers.

Q. How did the Foreign Office co-operate with Germany's
allies during the war?

A. We naturally had close co-operation with Italy. By that I
mean that as the war went on, we were forced to all intents
and purposes to take charge of all military operations there
ourselves, or, at least, to take joint charge of them.

Co-operation with Japan was very difficult, for the simple
reason that we could only communicate with the Japanese
Government by air. We had contact with them from time to
time through U-boats, but there was no co-ordinated military
or political plan of campaign. I believe that on this point
General Marshal's view is correct, namely, that there was no
close strategic co-operation or planning of any kind.

Q. How was co-operation with Italy?

A. As I have just said, we naturally had very close co-
operation with Italy, but difficulties arose through the
heterogeneous influences at work; and Italy proved herself,
right from the start, to be a very weak ally in every

Q. Why, in the course of the Russian campaign, did you
suggest to Hitler the conclusion of separate peace

A. A certain atmosphere of confidence between the Russian
Government and ourselves had been created at Moscow -
between Stalin, Molotov and myself, and, also to some
extent, the Fuehrer. For instance, the Fuehrer told me that
he had confidence in Stalin, whom he considered one of the
really great men of history, and whose creation of the Red
Army he thought a tremendous achievement; but that one could
never tell what might happen. The power of the Soviets had
grown and developed enormously. It was very difficult to
know how to deal with Russia and make an agreement with her
again. I myself always tried, through diplomatic and other
channels, to maintain contact to a certain extent, because I
still believed and hoped that some sort of peace could be
made which would relieve Germany in the East and allow her
to concentrate her forces in the West and that this might
even lead to a general peace.

With this in view, I proposed to the Fuehrer, for the first
time, in the winter of 1942 - it was before Stalingrad -
that an agreement should be reached with Russia. I did that
after the Anglo-American landing in Africa, which caused me
great misgivings.

The Fuehrer, whom I met in the train at Bamberg, most
emphatically rejected the idea of any such peace or attempts
at peace, because he thought that, if it became known, it
would be liable to create a spirit of defeatism, etc. I had
suggested to him at the time that we should negotiate peace
with Russia and modify our demands considerably.

Secondly, in 1943 I again advised the Fuehrer in a lengthy,
written exposition to seek such a peace. I think it was
after the collapse of Italy. The Fuehrer was at that time
open to consider it, and he drafted a possible mutual line
of demarcation which might be adopted, saying that he would
let me know his decision definitely on the following day. I
did not, however, receive any authorisation or directive
from him; I think that the Fuehrer probably felt that it was
impossible to heal the

                                                  [Page 202]

breach between National Socialism and Communism and that
such a peace would be no more than an armistice.

I made one or two further attempts, but the Fuehrer held
that a decisive military success must be achieved first, and
only after that could we start negotiations - otherwise they
would be useless.

If I were asked to express an opinion as to whether such
negotiations would have been likely to succeed, I would say
that I think it very doubtful. I believe that, considering
the strong stand made by our opponents, especially England,
ever since the beginning of the war, there was never any
real chance of Germany's attaining peace; and that holds
good for both the East and the West. I am convinced, too,
that with the formulation at Casablanca of the demand for
unconditional surrender, the possibility ceased to exist. I
base my opinion not on purely abstract considerations, but
on continuous feelers, made through indirect channels, and
often unidentifiable as such by the other side, which drew
expressions of opinion from important personalities with a
guiding influence on policy in those countries. They were
determined to fight it out to the bitter end. I think the
Fuehrer was right when he said that such negotiations would
serve no purpose.

Q. To come to a different subject, the witness Lahousen has
testified here that in September, 1939, a conversation took
place in Hitler's private train at which you were also
present, and which dealt with the instigation of a rebellion
in the Polish Ukraine. What led to this conversation and
what part did you play in the discussion?

A. I remember that in the course of the Polish campaign
Admiral Canaris, who was at the time Chief of the Counter-
Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces, came to see me, as
he sometimes did, when he was making a short personal visit.
I was in my compartment on the Fuehrer's train at the time.
I do not remember that the witness Lahousen was present; I
had the impression when I saw Lahousen here that I had never
seen him before.

Canaris came to me from time to time to report on his
activities in the intelligence and other fields. He did so
on this occasion; and I believe it was he who told me that
he had put all his link men on to inciting the Ukrainian and
other minorities in the rear of the Polish Army to revolt.
He received no instructions or directives from me - as was
alleged here - and that for two reasons:

1. The German Foreign Minister was never in a position to
give any directives to a military authority.

2. At the beginning of the Polish campaign, the German
Foreign Office was not at all concerned with the question of
Ukrainia, etc. or, at least, I myself was not. I was not
even sufficiently well acquainted with the details to be
able to give directives.

Q. The prosecution has submitted a circular issued by the
Foreign Minister.

A. May I say something more about this?

The witness Lahousen has alleged that I said that "houses
were to be burned down or villages were to be burned down
and the Jews were to be killed." I would like to state
categorically that I said no such thing.

Canaris was with me in my compartment at that time, and it
is possible, although I do not remember it exactly, that I
may have talked with him later on. Apparently he had
received instructions which originated with the Fuehrer as
to the attitude he was to take in Poland as to the Ukrainian
and other questions. There is no sense in the statement
ascribed to me because, first of all, in the Ukraine these
Ukrainian villagers were not our enemies but our friends. It
would have been senseless for me to say that their villages
should be burned down. Secondly, as regards killing the
Jews, I can only say that this would have been entirely
contrary to my inner convictions and that there was no
thought of killing Jews at that time. I may say, in short,
that all this is quite untrue. I have never given a
directive of this kind, nor could I have done so, nor even a
general indication on those lines.

                                                  [Page 203]

May I add that I do not believe that Lahousen himself was
quite convinced that I had made this statement; at least,
that was my impression.

Q. Have you anything to say about the Foreign Office
circular submitted by the prosecution and bearing the title:
"The Jewish question as a factor in foreign politics in the
year 1938"?

A. I saw this circular here for the first time. Here are the
facts. There was a section in the Foreign Office which was
concerned with Party matters and questions of ideology. That
department undoubtedly co-operated with the competent
departments of the Party. That was not the Foreign Office
itself. I saw the circular here. It seems to me that it is
on the same lines as most of the circulars issued at the
time for the information and guidance of officials. It might
quite possibly have gone through my office, but I think that
the fact that it was signed by a section chief and not by
myself or the State Secretary should prove that I did not
consider the circular very important even if I did see it.
Even if it did go through my office or reach me in some
other way, I certainly did not read it, because in
principle, I did not read such long documents, but asked my
assistants to give me a short summary of the contents. I
received hundreds of letters in the course of the day's
work, some of which were read to me, and also circulars and
decrees which I signed, and many of which I did not read. I
wish to state, however, that if one of my officials signed
the circular it goes without saying that I assume full
responsibility for it.

Q. The prosecution has several times spoken of the Geneva
Convention. Your name was frequently mentioned in this
connection also. What was your attitude towards the Geneva

A. I believe - and many people could confirm it - that from
the beginning of the war the Foreign Office and I have
always supported the Geneva Convention in every way. I
should like to add that the military authorities too always
showed their intention to support it.

If, later on, this no longer held good in every respect, it
was due to the rigours of war, and possibly to the harshness
of the Fuehrer.

As to the "terror flyers" I must state that in 1943 and 1944
the English and American air raids gradually became a grave
threat to Germany. I saw this for the first time in Hamburg,
and I remember this event because I was with the Fuehrer at
the time and I described to him the terrifying impression I
had received. I do not believe that any one who has not
experienced such a raid and its results can imagine what it
means. It is obvious that we Germans, and especially Hitler,
were forced to try to find means to overcome this menace.

I must also mention the terrible attack on Dresden, and I
would like to ask the Tribunal's permission to call a
witness, the former Danish Ambassador Richard, who was there
during the attack, and described it to me two days later.

It was, therefore, self-evident that the problem of terror
flyers had to be solved by the Fuehrer somehow. The solution
was rendered more difficult by the fact that we wanted to
find a method which would not infringe the Geneva
Convention, or at least one which could be publicly
proclaimed to our enemies. My department was not directly
concerned with the question, for we had nothing to do with
defence problems, as they were taken care of by the military
authorities, the police and those responsible for home
policy. But we were indirectly concerned where the matter
was affected by the Geneva Convention, and my point of view,
one which I frequently expressed, was that, if any steps
were taken, an official proclamation should be published,
describing the nature of terrorist raids, and stating that
terror airmen accused of an attack upon the civilian
population would be tried by military tribunals. Geneva
would then be officially notified of this preparatory
measure, and then the enemy State would be informed through
the protecting powers. Airmen found guilty of terrorist
raids by a military court would be executed; if not, they
would revert to the status of prisoners of war. But this was
never carried out in practice. It was not a suggestion by me
but an idea which I expressed

[Page 204]

to Hitler in the course of conversation on one or two
occasions, and which was not put into practice because, in
practice, it was impossible to find a definition for these

I believe some mention was also made of a conference
supposed to have taken place in Kressheim during which I was
said to have proposed or supported other far-reaching
measures. I remember quite clearly that this conference did
not take place. I do not believe - or, at least, I do not
remember - that I ever discussed this question with Himmler,
with whom I was not on good terms, or Goering, whom I did
not see very often. I believe that the subject was brought
up on general lines, during an official visit to the Fuehrer
at Kressheim, but I am not sure. I am sure that, if there is
any allusion to a more thorough-going proposal emanating
from me it can only refer to the following: At the time we
were anxious to arrive at a clear definition of attacks by
"terror flyers" and in the course of discussion various
suggestions were made for the definition of certain
"categories" of attack - such as machine-gunning from the
air - as "terror attacks." It is possible, I believe, that
this note or whatever it was, came into being in this way:
that the person in question knew my views and was,
therefore, trying to find a practical solution which could
later have been made to agree officially with the Geneva
Convention or could at least have been officially discussed
with Geneva.

Another document has been submitted in this connection. I
believe it was a suggestion for an expert opinion by a
member of the Foreign Office. In this connection I do not
remember exactly how this expert opinion came to be given:
whether it was done on my orders or whether it was the
result of a discussion between the Wehrmacht establishments
concerned, who wanted to have the opinion of the Foreign
Office. All I know is that the Wehrmacht always attached
great importance to an exact knowledge of our opinion with
regard to the Geneva Convention.

I remember that expert opinion, however, and I remember
having seen it. I am now said to have approved it. It would
take too long to go into details, but that is not correct. I
remember that I submitted it to the Fuehrer as being a very
important matter which I could not deal with alone. The fact
that the Fuehrer dismissed it as nonsense at the time goes
to show that he did not place much value on it. As to the
further course of events, all we heard, because we were only
indirectly concerned, was that no order of any sort was
issued by the Fuehrer or any Wehrmacht authority, because
the Wehrmacht shared our views on the subject. Admittedly, I
do not remember that in detail; but I can say with absolute
certainty that while this question of defence against terror
flyers was under consideration, and afterwards, not a single
case of lynching came to my ears. I did not hear that that
had happened until I heard it here.

Q. The other day the witness Dahlerus was brought here. How
long have you known Dahlerus?

A. I believe that I saw Dahlerus here for the first time. Of
course, it is possible that I may have seen him once from a
distance or possibly in the Reich Chancellery during one of
his apparently frequent visits to the Fuehrer. But I do not
remember him, and when I saw him here I had the impression
that I had never seen him before.

Q. Were you in a position to exercise influence regarding
planes for visitors to the Reich Government?

A. No, I had no such influence.

Q. One more question - on a different subject. What real
estate was at your disposal in your official capacity as
foreign minister?

A. The other day the British prosecutor declared that, to
begin with, I had one house and later on I had six. I want
to clear this matter up for the Tribunal. After losing my
entire fortune in America, I became quite wealthy again
through my own work. In other ways, too, I was able to get
funds; through my wife, and through other relatives. I built
a house in Berlin - Dahlem in I922-23 and bought

                                                  [Page 205]

several lots there. We lived there for many years.
Furthermore, in 1934, I want to emphasise the fact that this
had nothing to do with my political activities, because at
the time I had only just started there - I bought a small
house and estate called Sonnenburg, near Berlin with some
money which my wife inherited, I think, and some of my own
money. Since that time I have not acquired a square yard of
property in Germany or anywhere else. As to the other houses
mentioned by the British Prosecutor - for instance, Castle
Fuschl - this became known because various foreign statesmen
were received there during the war. It is not really a
castle but a lodge - an old shooting lodge - belonging to
the Archbishop of Salzburg. The Fuehrer had put it at my
disposal so that I should have a roof over my head. He did
not want me to stay in the hotel, which was always very
crowded, and I had to bring my staff with me.

Schloss Fuschl was never my personal property, but was a so-
called Foreign Office establishment, which belonged to the
State and was kept up by the State. I only knew the former
owners of this castle or lodge by name and, therefore, I
cannot give any information about them. I only heard that
this building was confiscated by the Reich Government, along
with other property belonging to its political opponents in

The second house mentioned here was - I think - a house in
Slovakia. There was also a question of a third house in
Sudetenland, which was alleged to be the property of a Count
Czernin. I believe I can explain this also. Here are the
facts. The Fuehrer had given me permission to arrange
shooting parties to which I could invite foreign statesmen
for the purpose of informal discussions. I was also a
hunting man. So the Foreign Office, that is to say, the
Reich Government, had ]eased ground from some of the farmers
in Sudetenland to shoot over, along with a suitably
impressive house. I believe they were only rented for a
couple of years; they were not purchased. The same thing was
done in the case of a deer forest in Slovakia. I do not
think that this was our property at all. The Slovak
Government placed it at our disposal for a few days every
year, to shoot deer. It was a hunting lodge in which I once
or twice spent two or three days, but it has nothing to do
with my own property.

Another place was mentioned, a house situated, I believe, in
the Rhineland, and called Tanneck. I have never even seen
it. According to the description which I have received it is
a small house occupied by a man responsible for looking
after several horses. I was formerly a cavalry man and was
interested in the horses, which had been purchased in France
by the State from the well-known racing stable owner the Aga
Khan, as they would otherwise have been ruined. I should
like to emphasise the fact that full compensation was paid
for the horses, as I think the Aga Khan will confirm. They
were brought to Germany with the Fuehrer's full consent,
although he was not greatly interested in horses; but he
understood my point of view. These horses were later to be
put in the stud-farm Grabitz, which belonged to the Reich

If the Tribunal permits, I would like to say again that, as
far as my personal affairs are concerned, my defence counsel
can present the necessary testimony. I have stated that I
did not want to have a single Reichsmark more at the end of
my term of office than I had at the beginning, with the
exception of two sums which I received from the Fuehrer,
most of which - or, at least, part of which - I believe, has
since been spent by the State for my official expenses.

Home ·  Site Map ·  What's New? ·  Search Nizkor

© The Nizkor Project, 1991-2012

This site is intended for educational purposes to teach about the Holocaust and to combat hatred. Any statements or excerpts found on this site are for educational purposes only.

As part of these educational purposes, Nizkor may include on this website materials, such as excerpts from the writings of racists and antisemites. Far from approving these writings, Nizkor condemns them and provides them so that its readers can learn the nature and extent of hate and antisemitic discourse. Nizkor urges the readers of these pages to condemn racist and hate speech in all of its forms and manifestations.