The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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Last-Modified: 1999/12/20

                                                  [Page 210]


MONDAY, 1st APRIL, 1946

(The defendant Ribbentrop resumes the witness-stand.)

THE PRESIDENT: Have any of the Defendants' Counsel any
questions they want to put to the defendant?

DR. SEIDL (Counsel for the defendants Hess and Frank): Yes,
your Honour.


Q. Witness, the preamble to the secret pact concluded
between Germany and the Soviet Union on 23rd August, 1939,
is worded more or less as follows:

  "In view of the present tension between Germany and
  Poland, the following is agreed upon in case of a
  conflict ..."

Do you recall whether the preamble had approximately that

A. I do not recall the exact wording, but it is
approximately correct.

Q. Is it correct that the Chief of the Legal Department of
the Foreign Office, Ambassador Dr. Gauss, participated as
legal adviser in the negotiations in Moscow on 23rd August,

A. Ambassador Gauss participated partly in the negotiations
and drafted the agreements with me.

Q. I shall now read an extract from the statement by
Ambassador Gauss and ask you a few questions in connection
with it.

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Seidl, what document are you going to

DR. SEIDL: I shall read from paragraph 3 of the statement
made by Dr. Gauss and in connection with it ask a few
questions of the witness, because some points concerning
this pact do not seem to have been sufficiently clarified as

THE PRESIDENT: Yes, General Rudenko?

GENERAL RUDENKO: I do not know, Mr. President, what relation
these questions have with the defendant Hess, who is
defended by Dr. Seidl, or with the defendant Frank. I do not
wish to discuss this affidavit, as I attach no importance
whatsoever to it. I only wish to draw the attention of the
Tribunal to the fact that we are not investigating the
problems connected with the policy of the Allied nations,
but are investigating the charges against the major German
war criminals, and such questioning on the part of the
defence counsel is an attempt to divert the attention of the
Tribunal from the issues we are investigating.

I therefore think it proper that questions of this kind
should be rejected as not relevant.

(Consultation between members of the Tribunal, en banc.)

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Seidl, you may ask the questions.

Q. Gauss stated, under paragraph 3 of his affidavit:

  "The 'plane of the Reich Foreign Minister, whom I had to
  accompany as legal adviser in the planned negotiations,
  arrived in Moscow at noon on 23rd August, 1939. On the
  afternoon of the same day the first conversation between
  Ribbentrop and Stalin took place at which, on the German
  side, besides the Reich Foreign Minister, only Embassy
  Councillor Hilger, as interpreter, and perhaps also
  Ambassador Count Schulenburg, but not myself, were
  present. The Reich Foreign Minister returned very
  satisfied from this long conference and indicated that it
  was as good as certain that it would result in
                                                  [Page 211]
  the conclusion of the, agreements desired on the part of
  Germany. The
  continuation of the conference, at which the documents to
  be signed were to be discussed and completed, was
  scheduled for later in the evening. I participated
  personally and so did Ambassador Count Schulenburg and
  Embassy Councillor Hilger. On the Russian side the
  negotiations were conducted by Stalin and Molotov, whose
  interpreter was Pavlov. An agreement on the text of the
  Soviet-German non-aggression pact was reached quickly and
  without difficulties.
  Von Ribbentrop himself had inserted, in the preamble to
  the agreement which I had drafted, a rather far-reaching
  phrase concerning the formation of friendly German-Soviet
  relations to which Stalin objected, with the remark that
  the Soviet Government could not suddenly present to the
  public German-Soviet assurances of friendship after they
  had been covered with 'pails of manure' by the Nazi
  Government for six years. Thereupon this phrase in the
  preamble was deleted or changed.
  Besides the Non-Aggression Pact there were negotiations
  for some time on a separate secret document, which,
  according to my recollection was called a 'secret
  agreement' or 'secret additional agreement,' and the
  terms of which were aimed at a limitation of the mutual
  spheres of interest in the European territories situated
  between the two countries. Whether the expression 'sphere
  of interest' or other such expressions were used therein,
  I do not recall. In the document Germany declared herself
  politically dis-interested in Latvia, Esthonia and
  Finland but did consider Lithuania to be part of her
  sphere of influence.
  Regarding the political disinterest of Germany in the two
  Baltic countries mentioned, controversy arose when the
  Reich Foreign Minister, in accordance with his
  instructions, wanted to have a certain part of the Baltic
  territory exempted from this political disinterest; this,
  however, was rejected on the part of the Soviet,
  especially on account of the ice-free ports in this
  Because of this point, which apparently had already been
  discussed in Ribbentrop's first conversation, the Foreign
  Minister had put in a call to Hitler which only came
  through during the second discussion, and, during which,
  in direct conversation with Hitler, he was authorised to
  accept the Soviet standpoint. A demarcation line was laid
  down for the Polish territory. I cannot remember whether
  it was drawn in the document. Moreover, an agreement was
  reached in regard to Poland, stating approximately that
  the two powers would act in mutual agreement in the final
  settlement of questions concerning this country. It
  could, however, be possible that this last agreement
  regarding Poland was only reached when the change
  mentioned later in paragraph 5 of the secret agreement
  was made.
  Regarding the Baltic countries, it was confirmed that
  Germany had only economic interests there. The Non-
  Aggression Pact and the secret agreement were signed
  rather late that same evening."

Witness, in the affidavit of Gauss a pact is mentioned
whereby the two powers agree to act in mutual agreement with
regard to the final settlement of the questions concerning
Poland. Had such an agreement already been reached on 23rd
August, 1939?

A. Yes, that is true. At that time the serious German-Polish
crisis was acute, and it goes without saying that this
question was thoroughly discussed. I should like to
emphasise that there was not the slightest doubt in either
Stalin's or Hitler's mind, that, if the negotiations with
Poland came to naught, the territories that had been taken
from the two great powers by force of arms could also be
retaken by force of arms. In keeping with this
understanding, the Eastern territories were occupied by
Soviet troops and the Western territories by German troops
after victory. Of one thing there is no doubt: Stalin can
never accuse Germany of

                                                  [Page 212]

an aggression or an aggressive war for her action in Poland.
If it is considered an aggression, then both sides are
guilty of it.

Q. Was the demarcation line in this secret agreement
described merely in writing or was it drawn on a map
attached to the agreement?

A. The line of demarcation was roughly drawn on a map. It
ran along the Rysia, Bug, Narew and San rivers. These rivers
I remember. That was the line of demarcation that was to be
adhered to in case of an armed conflict with Poland.

Q. Is it correct that on the basis of that agreement not
Germany, but Soviet Russia received the greater part of

A. I do not know the exact proportions, but, at any rate,
the agreement was that the territories East of these rivers
were to go to Soviet Russia, and the territories West of
them were to be occupied by German troops; while the
organisation of this territory as intended by Germany was
still an open question and had not yet been discussed by
Hitler and myself. Then, later the Government General was
formed, and the regions lost by Germany after the first
World War were incorporated into Germany.

Q. Now, something else: You stated last Friday that you
wanted Russia to join in the Tripartite Pact. Why did that

A. That failed because of Russian demands. The Russian
demands concerned ... I should perhaps say first that I had
agreed with Molotov in Berlin to conduct further
negotiations through diplomatic channels. I would try to
influence the Fuehrer regarding the demands already made by
Molotov in Berlin in order that some sort of an agreement or
compromise might be arrived at.

Then Schulenburg sent us a report from Moscow with the
Russian demands. In this report was, first of all, the
renowned demand for Finland. To this the Fuehrer, as is well
known, told Molotov that he did not wish that after the
winter campaign of 1940 another war should breakout in the
North. Now the demand for Finland was raised again, and we
assumed that it would mean the occupation of Finland. It was
difficult, since it was a demand which the Fuehrer had
already turned down. Another demand of the Russians was that
of the Balkans and Bulgaria. Russia, as is well known,
wanted bases there and wished to enter into close relations
with Bulgaria. The Bulgarian Government, with whom we got in
touch, did not want this. Moreover, this Russian penetration
of the Balkans was, for both the Fuehrer and Mussolini, a
difficult question because of our economic interests there:
grain, oil, and so on. But, above all, it was the will of
the Bulgarian Government itself which was against this

Then, thirdly, there was the demand of the Russians for
outlets to the sea and military bases on the Dardanelles:
and then the request, which Molotov had already expressed to
me in Berlin, to secure somehow at least an interest in the
outlets of the Baltic sea. Molotov himself told me at that
time that Russia was also very much interested in the
Skaggerak and Kattegat.

At that time I discussed these demands and requests fully
with the Fuehrer. He said we would have to get in touch with
Mussolini, who was very interested in some of these demands.
This was done, but neither the demands for the Balkans nor
the demands for the Dardanelles met with support from
Mussolini. As far as Bulgaria is concerned I have already
stated that she did not want it either; and with regard to
Finland, neither Finland nor the Fuehrer wanted to accede to
the demands of the Soviet Union.

Negotiations were then carried on for many months. I recall
that upon receipt of a telegram from Moscow in December,
1940, I had another long conversation with the Fuehrer. I
had an idea that, if we could bring about a compromise
between the Russian demands and the wishes of the various
parties concerned, a coalition could be formed, which would
be so strong that it would eventually induce England to stay
at peace.

                                                  [Page 213]

THE PRESIDENT: What is this all an answer to? What was your
question that this is supposed to be an answer to?

DR. SEIDL: In essence he has already answered the question.

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Seidl, if he has answered the question
you should stop him.

DR. SEIDL: Very well.


Q. I now come to another question. What was Adolf Hitler's
opinion regarding the military strength of Russia?

A. Adolf Hitler once said to me, when he was becoming
worried about events in Russia in the way of preparations
against Germany: "We do not know, of course what we should
find behind this gate, if some day we should really be
forced to kick it open."

From this and other statements which the Fuehrer made at
this time I concluded that, on the basis of reports about
Russia he suffered great anxiety about the strength and the
possible display of might by the Soviet Union.

Q. My next question: What circumstances induced Hitler to
anticipate the threatening danger of an offensive by the
Soviet Union?

A. The following circumstances ...

THE PRESIDENT: Has not this been dealt with extensively and
exhaustively by the defendant Goering? You are here as
Counsel for Hess.

DR. SEIDL: If the Tribunal is of the opinion that this has
been dealt with exhaustively I shall withdraw the question.

THE PRESIDENT: Before you sit down, Dr. Seidl, you were
putting Gauss' affidavit to the defendant, I suppose with
the intention that he should say that the affidavit was
true; is that right?


THE PRESIDENT: You did not put to him paragraph 4 of the
affidavit at all, did you?

DR. SEIDL: I only read paragraph 3 of the affidavit. I
omitted paragraphs 1, 2, 4 and 5 in order to save time.

THE PRESIDENT: The answer to my question was that you did
not put it. Should you not put the end of paragraph 4 to
him, which reads in this way:

  "The Reich Foreign Minister regulated his words in such a
  manner that he let a warlike conflict of Germany with
  Poland appear not as a matter already finally decided
  upon, but only as an imminent possibility. No statements
  which could have included the approval or encouragement
  for such a conflict were made by the Soviet statesmen on
  this point. Rather the Soviet representatives limited
  themselves in this respect simply to taking cognizance of
  the explanations of the German representatives."

Is that correct?

DR. SEIDL: That is correct.

THE PRESIDENT: I am asking the witness. Is that correct?

THE WITNESS: I may say the following to this. When I went to
Moscow no final decision had been reached by the Fuehrer -

THE PRESIDENT: Well, could you not answer the question
directly? I asked you whether the statement in the affidavit
was correct or not. You can explain afterwards.

THE WITNESS: Not quite correct, no.

THE PRESIDENT: Now you can explain.

THE WITNESS: It is not correct in so far as at that time the
decision to attack Poland had not been made by the Fuehrer.
There is, however, no doubt that it became perfectly clear
during the discussions in Moscow that there was at any time
the possibility of such a conflict, if the last effort at
negotiations failed.

THE PRESIDENT: Well, what is the difference between that and
what I have just read to you? What I read to you was this:

                                                  [Page 214]

  "The Reich Foreign Minister regulated his words in such a
  manner that he let a warlike conflict of Germany with
  Poland appear not as a matter already finally decided
  upon, but only as an imminent possibility."

I should have thought your explanation was exactly the same
as that. That is all.

DR. SEIDL: Mr. President; may I mention something briefly in
this connection? This witness Gauss was only present at the
second conference. He was not present at the long conference
which took place previously between the witness Ribbentrop
on the one hand and Molotov and Stalin on the other hand. At
these conferences only embassy Councillor Hilger was present
and I ask the Tribunal to call the witness Hilger, who has
in view of the importance of this point, already been
granted me.

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Seidl, as you know, you can make any
application in writing for calling any witness that you
like; and also the Tribunal wishes me to say that if the
prosecution wish to have the witness Gauss here for cross-
examination they may do so.

DR. SEIDL: Then I should like to put in as Hess Exhibit 47
the sworn affidavit of Ambassador Gauss.

THE PRESIDENT: Yes, certainly.

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