The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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Last-Modified: 1999/12/20

Q. I do not want to put words in your mouth. Do you mean by
the last answer, that it was better that political and
military pressure should be put on Schuschnigg so long as
the problem was solved? Is that your view?

A. I did not understand that question. May I ask you to
repeat it?

Q. My question was: Is it your view that it was better that
political and military pressure should be put on Herr von
Schuschnigg if by that means the problem was solved?

A. If by that means a worse complication, that is to say a
war, was actually avoided, I consider that was the better

Q. Just tell me, why did you and your friends keep
Schuschnigg in prison for seven years?

A. I do not know; I believe that Schuschnigg - I do not know
the details - must at that time have done something which
was against the State or the interests of the State. But if
you say "prison," I only know from my own recollection that
the Fuehrer said and emphasised several times that
Schuschnigg should be treated particularly well and decently
and that he was not in a prison, but in a house, and also, I
believe his wife was with him. I cannot, however, say more
on the subject from my own experience and from my own

Q. I will substitute for the word "prison," "Buchenwald" and
"Dachau." He was at both Buchenwald and Dachau. Do you think
he was enjoying himself there?

A. It was only here that I heard that Schuschnigg was in a
concentration camp; I did not know before.

Q. For a change - just try to answer my question. Why did
you and your friends keep Schuschnigg in prison for seven

A. I cannot say anything on that point. I can only say and
repeat, that, according to what I heard at that time, he was
not in prison but confined in a villa

                                                  [Page 223]

and had all the comforts possible. That is what I heard at
that time and I was glad about it because, as I have said
already, I liked him.

Q. There is one thing he did not have, witness, he did not
have the opportunity of giving his account as to what had
happened at Berchtesgaden, or of his side of the Anschluss,
to anyone for these seven years, did he? It is quite obvious
after all you have said, that he was very comfortable at
Buchenwald and Dachau, wherever he was, but comfortable or
not, he did not get the chance of putting his side of the
happenings to the world, did he?

A. That I could not judge.

Q. You could not judge? You know perfectly well, do you not,
that Herr Von Schuschnigg was not allowed to publish his
account of anything while he was under restraint for these
seven years? You know that quite well, do you not?

A. That may be assumed -

Q. Now -

A. - it may have been in the interests of the State,

Q. Well that is your view of it. We will pass to another

I am going to ask you a few questions now about your share
in the dealing with Czechoslovakia. Will you agree with me,
that in March of 1938, the Foreign Office, that is, you,
through your ambassador in Prague, took over control of the
activities of the Sudeten Deutsche Party under Konrad

A. I am sorry but that is not correct. May I explain -

Q. Before you explain, I think you might save time if you
look at the document book, Page 20 in your book - it is Page
31 in the English book - and listen while I refer you to a
letter from your ambassador.

A. Which number, please?

Q. Page 20. It is a letter from your ambassador in Prague to
the Foreign Office.

SIR DAVID MAXWELL FYFE: If I may explain to the Tribunal, it
is not the defendant's Document Book, it is the
Prosecution's Book. I will see hereafter that it is correct.

Q. Now, this letter from your ambassador to the Foreign
Office -

A. Yes, I know about that letter. May I -

Q. Just let me refer you to paragraph I. I shall refer you
also to paragraph 3, so you need not be worried that I shall
miss it.

  Paragraph 1: "The line of German Foreign policy, as
  transmitted by the German Legislation, is exclusively
  decisive for the policy and tactics of the Sudeten German
  Party. My" - that is, your ambassador's - "directives are
  to be complied with implicitly."
  Paragraph 2: "Public speeches and the Press will be co-
  ordinated uniformly with my approval. The editorial staff
  of 'Zeit' is to be improved."
  In Paragraph 3: "Party leadership abandons the former
  intransigent line which, in the end, might lead to
  political complications and adopts the line of gradual
  promotion of Sudeten German interests. The objectives are
  to be set in every case with my participation and to be
  promoted by parallel diplomatic action."

Having read that, do you not agree with me - as I put it to
you a moment ago - that the activities of the Sudeten German-
Party were to take place according to the directives?

A. May I state an opinion on that now?

Q. I would like the answer to that question first, and I am
sure the Tribunal will let you make an explanation. It is
perfectly easy to answer that question by "yes" or "no." Is
it not right that that letter shows that the Sudeten German
Party was acting under your directives; is that not right?

A. No.

Q. Why not?

                                                  [Page 224]

     A. I would like to explain. This letter in itself is a
crowning proof of the fact that things were quite to the
contrary. Between the Sudeten German Party and many agencies
in the Reich, connections had been established, which was
quite natural, because there was a very strong movement
among the Sudeten Germans, who were striving for closer
connection with the Reich, especially after Adolf Hitler had
come to power. These tendencies were beginning to impair the
relations between Germany and Czechoslovakia, and this very
letter bears proof of the fact that I attempted gradually to
put these uncontrolled connections, which existed between
the Sudeten Germans and the Reich, in some way under

Q. That is not what I am asking you, witness, what I put to
you, and I put it to you three times, I think, quite clearly
is: Does this letter show that that Party, the Sudeten
German Party, were from that time acting under your
directions? Are you still denying that?

A. Yes, I deny that emphatically. The case is just the
opposite. This letter indicates an attempt to direct the
German-Czech relations, which had become very difficult due
to the natural desire of the Sudeten Germans to establish
closer relations with the German people, into right and
sensible channels, which, however, shortly after this letter
unfortunately failed.

Q. Now, if you deny what I have put to you, what is meant
when your ambassador writes to the Foreign Office and says
that the line of German policy, as transmitted by the German
legation, is exclusively decisive for the policy and tactics
of the Sudeten German Party? What does that mean if it does
not mean that the party was acting under your direction?
What else can it mean if it does not mean that?

A. It means exactly what I have said, that the embassy
should try to induce the leadership of the Sudeten Germans
to adopt a sensible programme, so that the illegal
tendencies which were existent should not lead to
difficulties in German-Czech relations. That was at that
time the purport of the conversation with the embassy in
Prague and that is quite clearly expressed by this letter.

Q. Let us see what this sensible programme which you were
suggesting was. The next day, on the 17th of March, Konrad
Henlein writes to you and suggests a personal talk; and if
you will turn over to Page 26 of the German Document Book -
Page 33 of the English - you will find the note of the
personal talk which you had at the foreign office on the
29th of March with Henlein, Karl Hermann Frank, and two
other gentlemen whose names are not so well known. I only
want you to look at four sentences in that, after the first
one: "The Reichsminister started out by emphasising the
necessity of keeping the conference, which had been
scheduled, strictly a secret." And then you refer to the
meeting that the Fuehrer had had with Konrad Henlein the
afternoon before. I just want you to have that in mind.

Now, if you will look down the page, there is a paragraph
which begins "The foreign minister," and the second sentence
is: "It is essential to propose a maximum programme which
has, as its final aim the granting of full freedom to the
Sudeten Germans. It appears dangerous to be satisfied
prematurely with the consent of the Czechoslovakian
government. This, on the one hand, would give the impression
abroad that a solution has been found; and, on the other
hand, would only partially satisfy the Sudeten Germans."

Then, if you will look one sentence on, after some
uncomplimentary remarks about Benes, it says:

  "The aim of the negotiations to be carried out by the
  Sudeten Germans Party with the Czechoslovak Government is
  finally this: to avoid entry into the government" -
  observe the next words - "by the extension and gradual
  specification of the demand to be made."

And then you make the position of the Reich Cabinet clear:

                                                  [Page 225]

  "The Reich Cabinet" - the next sentence but one - "itself
  must refuse to appear towards the Government in Prague or
  towards London and Paris as the advocate" - note the next
  words - "or peacemaker of the Sudeten demands."

The policy which I suggest to you was now to direct the
activities of the Sudeten Germans as follows: They were to
avoid agreement with the Czechoslovak Government, and avoid
participation in the Czechoslovak Government; the Reich
Cabinet in its turn, would avoid acting as peacemaker in the
matter, in other words, Witness, you, through your influence
on the Sudeten Germans, were taking every step and doing
your utmost to see that no agreement could be reached on the
difficulties or the minority problem. Is not that correct?
Is not that what you were telling them at that interview?

A. No, that is not so.

Q. Give your explanation! What would you say these words

A. I summoned Konrad Henlein at that time, and I believe it
was the only time - or perhaps I saw him once more;
unfortunately, only once or twice - in order to enjoin him,
too, to work for a peaceful development of the Sudeten
German problem. The demands of the Sudeten Germans were
already far-reaching at that time. They wanted to return to
the Reich. It seemed to me a solution which was dangerous
and which had to be stopped in some way or another, because
otherwise it might lead to a war. Henlein finally came to
see me then, but I wish to point out in advance that it was
the only time, I believe, that I discussed the matter
thoroughly with him, and soon afterwards I lost control of
the matter. The entire Sudeten German problem - that is,
what is contained in this letter and about which there can
be no doubt - is firstly: that I wanted to bring the efforts
of the Sudeten Germans to a peaceful development so that we
could support it diplomatically also, which to me seemed
absolutely justified; and secondly, that in this way we
should avoid the sudden development of a situation which, by
acts of terror or other wild incidents, would lead to a
German-Czech and European crisis. Those were at that time
the reasons why I summoned Henlein.

Now, as to the various sentences which the prosecutor has
read, it is clear that the Sudeten German Party had at that
time very far-reaching demands. Naturally, they wanted Adolf
Hitler to send an ultimatum to Prague saying "You must do
that, and that is final." And that is what they would have

We did not want that, of course. We wanted a quiet, peaceful
development and solution of these things. Therefore, I
discussed with Henlein at that time the way in which the
Sudeten German Party was to proceed in order to put through
their demands gradually. The demands which I had in mind at
that time were demands for a far-reaching cultural autonomy,
and possibly autonomy in other fields too.

Q. If you were thinking of cultural and social autonomy, why
were you telling these gentlemen not to come to an agreement
with the Prague Government?

A. I could not specify that now. That may have been for
tactical considerations. I assume that Konrad Henlein made
such a suggestion and that I agreed with it. Naturally I did
not know the problem too well in detail and I presume that
what happened was that Henlein himself merely explained his
programme - the details are not contained here - and that I
agreed to it more or less. Therefore, I assume that at that
time it seemed perhaps advisable to Henlein, for tactical
reasons, not to enter into the government and to assume
responsibilities, but rather to try first to proceed with
the matter in a different way.

Q. That was the 29th of March, and you have told the
Tribunal a moment ago about your anxiety for peace. You very
soon knew that there was not going to be any question of
relying on peaceful measures, did you not? Can you remember?
Just try and apply yourself to it, because you have
obviously been applying your mind to this. Can you remember
when Hitler disclosed to you that he was making the military
preparations for the occupying of Czechoslovakia that

A. Adolf Hitler spoke very little to me about military
matters. I do not remem-

                                                  [Page 226]

ber such a disclosure, but I know, of course that the
Fuehrer was determined to solve this problem at a fixed
time, and, according to Germany's experiences in past years,
it was for him a matter of course that to do this he would
be forced to take some sort of military measures in order to
back up his demands with more pressure.

Q. Let me help you about that. Turn on to Page 31 of your
document book. It is Page 37 of the English Document Book.

A. Page 31?

Q. Page 31 of your document book, yes. It is a quotation
from Hitler's speech in January, 1939, but it happens to
make clear this point. You see he says - have you got it,

A. Yes, I have it.

  Q. "On the basis of this unbearable provocation, which
  was still further emphasised by truly infamous
  persecution and terrorising of our Germans there, I have
  now decided to solve the Sudeten German question in a
  final and radical manner.
  On the 28th of May I gave, one, the order for the
  preparation of military steps against this State" - that
  is Czechoslovakia - "to be concluded by the 2nd of
  October. I ordered the forceful and speedy completion of
  our defensive front in the West."

I want to remind you of that, because there was a meeting on
the 28th of May, and that is Hitler's own account of it. Put
in another way, he said:

  "It is my absolute will that Czechoslovakia should
  disappear from the map."

And then he made clear the other thing about the defensive
front in the West.

Now, do you remember that meeting, the 28th of May?

A. I have here, I believe, seen the document about it. I do
not recall the meeting.

Q. Well, if - I think Captain Fritz Wiedemann was still
adjutant of the Fuehrer at that time; it was before he went
abroad - he says you were there, would you deny it?

A. I have seen that, but I believe that is an error by

Q. But you think you were not there?

A. I am inclined to believe that it is an error. At any rate
I do not remember that meeting. I could not say for sure.
Generally I was not drawn into military affairs, but in this
case I cannot say for sure. But I knew that it was common
talk that the Fuehrer, in the course of the year 1938,
became more and more determined to assure the rights, as he
put it, of the Sudeten Germans; I knew that he had made
certain military preparations for that purpose, but I did
not know in what form and to what extent.

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