The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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Last-Modified: 1999/12/20

Q. I just want you to tell us how you carried that out. Let
us take the first example. Are you telling this Tribunal
that, as far as you know, no pressure or threats were made
to Herr von Schuschnigg?

A. Do you mean in the discussions with Hitler at the

Q. Yes, on the 12th of February.

A. At this discussion ...

Q. Witness, answer the question first, and then you can give
your explanation. Are you saying that no pressure or threats
were put to Herr von Schuschnigg on the 12th of February?
Answer that yes or no, and we will go into the explanation

A. Not exactly, no. I believe that the great personality of
the Fuehrer and the arguments that he presented made such an
impression on Schuschnigg that he finally agreed to Hitler's

Q. Now, let us just look into that.

A. May I continue? I personally had a conversation at that
time with Schuschnigg after his first talk with Adolf
Hitler, in which his reaction to the first conference became
very clear to me. This reaction was one of being deeply
impressed by Hitler's personality and by the arguments which
Hitler had submitted to him. Schuschnigg told me in this
conversation, which was extremely cordial, that he, too -
and I believe these were his words - regarded it as a
historical mission to bring the two peoples closer together.

Q. Who were present at the Berghof - I do not say in the
room, but in the building or at hand? Were there present
Hitler, yourself, the defendant von Papen, the defendant
Keitel, General Sperrle and General von Reichenau?

A. I think that is correct, yes.

Q. And on the morning of the 12th, I think that Hitler and
von Schuschnigg were together for about two hours before
lunch, is that not so?

A. I do not recall the time exactly. Anyway, they had a long
conversation, that is correct.

Q. And then, after lunch, von Schuschnigg was allowed to
have a short conversation with his own Foreign Minister,
Guido Schmidt, is that not so?

A. I do not know exactly, but it is possible.

Q. Then, after that, von Schuschnigg and Guido Schmidt were
called before you and the defendant von Papen?

                                                  [Page 219]

A. I do not remember that. I do not think so.

Q. Do you not remember that? Just think again.

A. Do you mean-perhaps I did not understand the question.

Q. Then I will put it again. After a conversation that
Schuschnigg had with Guido Schmidt, he and Schmidt came
before you and the defendant von Papen and they had a
conversation with you, which I will put to you in a moment.

Now, is it not correct that you and von Papen saw von
Schuschnigg and Guido Schmidt?

A. No, I do not think so. I do not believe that is true.

Q. Do you not remember exhibiting to von Schuschnigg a
typewritten draft containing the demands made on von
Schuschnigg? Now, just think.

A. That is quite possible. Hitler had dictated a memorandum,
and it is possible that I gave it to Schuschnigg. I am not
sure of the details now.

Q. What was the subject of that memorandum?

A. That I do not know; and in order to explain my ignorance
about the entire conference I would like to state that at
this time I was not informed about the Austrian problem at
all, because Hitler had handled these matters personally and
I had become Foreign Minister only a few days before.

Q. If you hand someone a memorandum at what you have
described him as saying was a historic meeting, presumably
you can give the Tribunal at any rate an outline of what the
memorandum contained. What were the points in the

A. Curiously enough, I really do not remember that in
detail. This meeting was one between the Fuehrer and
Schuschnigg, and everything that was done and agreed upon
there was either dictated by the Fuehrer himself or was
suggested to him by someone else. I did not know the
details. I only knew that it was primarily a question of
bringing about better relations between Germany and Austria.
Since many National Socialists had been arrested in Austria
the relations between the two countries had been greatly

Q. Well, if I remind you, perhaps it will bring it back.
Were not the three points as follows: First, the
reorganisation of the Austrian cabinet, including the
appointment of the defendant Seyss-Inquart to the Ministry
of Security in the Interior; second, a general political
amnesty of Nazis convicted of crimes; and third, a
declaration of equal rights for Austrian National Socialists
and the taking of them into the Fatherland Front? Are these
the points that you were putting to von Schuschnigg?

A. I do not remember exactly now, but that may be about
correct. It corresponds with the vague notion and knowledge
I had about Austrian affairs at that time.

Q. Did you tell von Schuschnigg that Hitler had informed you
that these demands which you were offering were the final
demands of the Fuehrer and that Hitler was not prepared to
discuss them?

A. I do not recall that. It is possible that I told
Schuschnigg something to that effect, but at the moment I do
not remember.

Q. Did you say, "You must accept the whole of these

A. No, I do not think so, I did not say that. I exerted no
pressure whatsoever on Schuschnigg, for I still remember
that this conversation, which lasted about an hour to an
hour and a half, was confined to generalities and to
personal matters, and that I gained from this conversation a
very favourable impression of Schuschnigg's personality,
which fact I even mentioned to my staff later on. I put no
pressure on Schuschnigg.

Q. You told us that before, and I am suggesting to you that
at this conversation you were trying to get Schuschnigg to
sign the document containing these terms which you agree
that you may have had. I want you to remember the answer and
remind you of that. Do you not remember Herr von Schuschnigg
turning to the defendant von Papen

                                                  [Page 220]

and saying, "Now, you told me that I would not be confronted
with any demands if I came to Berchtesgaden," and Herr von
Papen apologising and saying, "That is so. I did not know
you were going to be confronted with these demands."

Do you not remember that?

A. No, I do not remember that. That cannot be quite right.

Q. We will see.

Do you remember von Schuschnigg being called back to speak
to Hitler again and Guido Schmidt remaining with you to make
some alterations in the document which you were submitting?

A. It is quite possible that changes were made; it is
conceivable. I do not remember the details, though.

Q. But did you hear that in this second conversation with
Hitler, Hitler told Schuschnigg that he must comply with
these demands within three days?

A. No, I hear that today for the first time. I did not know
that. I was not present at the second conversation.

Q. Just be a little careful before you say you have heard
that for the first time today, because in a moment I will
show you some documents.

Are you sure you did not hear that Hitler told Schuschnigg
that he must comply within three days or Hitler would order
the march into Austria?

A. I consider that to be out of the question.

Q. If he had said that, you will agree that it would
represent the heaviest military and political pressure?
There could be no other heavier pressure than suggesting a
march into Austria, could there?

A. In view of the tense situation that existed between the
two countries at that time, that, of course, would have been
a pressure. But one thing must be taken for granted, and
that is, that under no circumstances would it have been
possible in the long run to find any solution between the
two countries if they were not together, and from the
beginning - I should like to state this here - it was always
my standpoint that the two countries should form some sort
of close alliance, and I visualised a customs and currency
union ...

Q. You have given that view about three times. Let us come
back to this interview which I am putting to you that took
place on the 12th of February. Do you not know that
Schuschnigg said:

  "I am only the Bundeskanzler. I have to refer to
  President Miklas, and I can only sign this protocol
  subject to reference to President Miklas"?

A. No, I do not remember that in detail.

Q. Do you not remember Hitler opening the door and calling

A. No; I only learned here that this is supposed to have
happened. I have no knowledge whatsoever about that. I heard
about it here for the first time.

Q. You know it is true, do you not?

A. I do not know. I only heard about it here for the first

Q. Do you not remember Keitel going in to speak to Hitler?

A. I have already said that I did not hear about that. I do
not know, I cannot say.

Q. Do you know that von Schuschnigg signed this document on
the condition that within three days these demands would be
fulfilled, otherwise Germany would march into Austria?

A. No, I did not know that.

SIR DAVID MAXWELL FYFE: I think it would be convenient if
the witness had the German Document Book in front of him. I
tried to get most of the pages agreeing.

THE PRESIDENT: Sir David, perhaps this would be a good time
to break off.

(A recess was taken.)


Q. Witness, will you look first at the defendant Jodl's
diary, the entry for the

                                                  [Page 221]

13th of February, it is the Ribbentrop Document Book, Page
9, Exhibit USA 72, Document 1780-PS. The entry is as

  "In the afternoon General K." - that is Keitel - "asks
  Admiral C." - that is Admiral Canaris - "and myself to
  come to his apartment. He tells us that the Fuehrer's
  order is to the effect that military pressure by shamming
  military action should be kept up until the 15th.
  Proposals for these deceptive manoeuvres are drafted and
  submitted to the Fuehrer by telephone for approval."

You were suggesting on Friday that the defendant Jodl had
got hold of some rumours or gossip that were going around
the Berghof. That rumour or gossip was a definite order from
his superior officer, General Keitel, was it not?

A. I know absolutely nothing about any military measures,
therefore I cannot pass any judgement on the value of this
entry. The Fuehrer did not inform me about any military
measures regarding Austria.

Q. Are you telling the Tribunal you were there, that you
were taking part, that you handled the document, and that
Hitler never said a word to you about what he was arranging
with the defendant Keitel, who was also there?

A. That is correct.

Q. Well, now, just look at the next entry, for the 14th of

  "At 2.40 o'clock the agreement of the Fuehrer arrives.
  Canaris went to Munich to the Foreign Division of
  Intelligence, Office VII (Abwehr VII) and initiated the
  different measures.
  The effect was quick and strong. In Austria the
  impression is created that Germany is undertaking serious
  military preparations."

Are you telling this Tribunal that you know nothing about
either these military measures or the effect on Austria?

A. I did not know anything about the military measures, but
I consider it quite possible that the Fuehrer, in order to
put more stress on his wishes, had something done in this
field ...

Q. But, witness, just a moment

A. ... and that may have contributed in the end to the
solution of the problem.

Q. Yes, I quite agree. That is just why I am putting it to
you that it did contribute. But surely you, as Foreign
Minister of the Reich, with all the channels available to a
foreign minister, knew something about the effect in
Austria, about which General Jodl was saying that it "was
quick and strong; the impression was created that Germany is
undertaking serious military preparations." Are you telling
the Tribunal, on your oath, that you knew nothing about the
effect in Austria?

A. I would like to point out again that I did not know
anything about military measures and, if I had known, I
would not have the slightest reason not to say that it was
not a fact. It is true, however, that in the days before and
after the conversations between the Fuehrer and Schuschnigg,
I was so busy taking over the Foreign Office that I treated
the Austrian problem at that time merely as a secondary
matter in foreign policy. I did not play a leading role in
the handling of it ...

Q. We know you said before that you were engaged in the
Foreign Office; and my question was perfectly clear; my
question was: Are you telling this Tribunal that you did not
know anything about the effect in Austria - you, as Foreign
Minister of the Reich? Now, answer the question. Did you or
did you not know of the effect in Austria?

A. I did not know anything about that effect, and I did not
observe it in detail either.

Q. I see, that is your story and you want that to be taken
as a criterion, a touch-stone of whether or not you are
telling the truth; that you, as Foreign Minister of the
Reich, say that you knew nothing about the effect in Austria
of the measures taken by Keitel on the Fuehrer's orders? Is
that your final answer?

                                                  [Page 222]

A. To that I can tell you again quite precisely, I learned
from the Fuehrer when I went to London a little later-and
that is absolutely the first thing I remember about the
entire Austrian affair-that matters in Austria were working
out more or less as agreed upon in the conversations in
Berchtesgaden. I did not make any particular observations in
detail at that time, so far as I remember. It is possible
that this or that detail slipped my memory in the meantime,
for many years have passed since then.

Q. Just look at the next two entries in Jodl's diary:

  "15 February. In the evening, an official communique
  about the positive results of the conference at
  Obersalzberg was issued. 16 February. Changes in the
  Austrian Government and the general political amnesty."

Do you remember my putting to you what Herr von Schuschnigg
signed, and how the condition was made that the matters
would come into effect within three days; within three days
there was a conference about the effects, and the changes
were announced in Austria in accordance with the note that
you had put to Schuschnigg. You can see that that is clear,
is it not - three days - you still say -

A. Of these three days, as I have told you already, I know
nothing, but it was a matter of course that this meeting
would have some results in the way of appeasing.

Q. You call it "appeasing"? Is that your considered view to
the Tribunal? Assuming that the defendant Jodl is telling
the truth or assuming that the defendant Keitel said to him,
as General Jodl was saying, that these military preparations
should be put in hand, is not that the most severe political
and military pressure that could be put on the chancellor of
another State?

A. If one considers the problem from a higher angle, no; I
have a different opinion. Here was a problem which might
possibly have led to war, to a European war; and I believe -
and I also said that later to Lord Halifax in London - that
it was better to solve this problem than to allow it to
become a permanent sore spot on the body of Europe.

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