The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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Last-Modified: 1999/12/20

Q. One point, This is my last question before I come to the
interview with President Hacha. Do you not remember that,
two days before, Herr Burckel - that is in my recollection -
Herr Burckel and another Austrian National Socialist, the
defendant Seyss Inquart, and a number of German officers, at
about 10.00 hours in the evening of Saturday, the 11th of
March, had had a cabinet meeting at Bratislava and had told
the soi-disant Slovak Government that they should proclaim
the independence of Slovakia? Do you not know that? It was
reported by our Consul.

A. I do not recall it in detail. I believe that something of
the kind took place but I do not know exactly what it was. I
believe that it was directed by the Fuehrer. I had, I
believe, less to do with that. I no longer recall that

Q. I will deal very shortly ...

THE PRESIDENT: Sir David, it is a quarter to one now. We had
better adjourn until 2.0 o'clock.

(A recess was taken.)




Q. Witness, you were present at the interview between
President Hacha and Hitler on the 15th March, 1939, were you

A. Yes, I was present.

Q. Do you remember Hitler saying at that interview that he
had given the order for German troops to march into
Czechoslovakia, and that at 6 o'clock in the morning the
German Army would invade Czechoslovakia from all sides?

A. I do not recall the exact words, but I know that Hitler
told Hacha that he would occupy the countries of Bohemia and

Q. Do you remember him saying what I put to you, that he had
given the order for German troops to march into

A. Yes, that is what I just said.

Q. Do you remember the defendant Goering - as he told the
Tribunal - telling President Hacha that he would order the
German Air Force to bomb Prague?

A. I cannot say anything about that in detail, because at
that discussion I was not -

Q. I am not asking you for a detailed statement; I am asking
you if you remember what I should suppose was a rather
remarkable statement, that the defendant Goering said to
President Hacha that he would order the German Air Force to
bomb Prague if Czech resistance was not called off. Do you
remember that?

A. No, I do not; I was not present.

Q. You were there during the whole interview, were you not?

A. No, I was not. If the British prosecutor will give me a
chance I will explain how it was.

                                                  [Page 232]

Q. I want you to answer my question at the moment. You say
you do not remember that. At any rate, if the defendant
Goering said that he said it, would you agree that it

A. If Goering says so, then it will, of course, be true. I
have merely stated that I was not present during that
conference between President Hacha and the then Reich
Marshal Goering.

Q. Do you remember Hitler saying that within two days the
Czech Army would not exist any more?

A. I do not recall that in detail, no; it was a very long

Q. Do you remember Hitler saying that at 6 o'clock the
troops would march in? He was almost ashamed to say that
there was one German division to each Czech battalion.

A. It is possible that something like that was said.
However, I do not remember the details.

Q. If these things were said, will you agree with me that
the most intolerable pressure was put on President Hacha?

A. Undoubtedly, Hitler used very strong language. However,
to that I have to add that President Hacha, on his part, had
come to Berlin in order to find a solution, together with
Hitler. He was surprised that troops were to march into
Czechoslovakia. That I know, and I remember it exactly. But
he agreed to it eventually, and then contacted his
government and his Chief of Staff so that there would be no
hostile reception for the German troops.

He then concluded with Hitler, in the presence of the Czech
Foreign Minister and myself, the agreement which I had

Q. Will you agree with me that that agreement was obtained
through a threat of aggressive action by the German Army and
Air Force?

A. It is certain, that as the Fuehrer told President Hacha
that the German Army would march in, naturally, under that
impression, the document was signed. That is correct.

Q. Do you not think you could answer one of my questions
directly? I will ask it again. Will you agree with me that
that document was obtained by the most intolerable pressure
and threat of aggression? That is a simple question. Do you

A. In that way, no.

Q. What further pressure could you put on the head of a
country beyond threatening him that your Army would march
in, in overwhelming strength, and your air force would bomb
his capital.

A. War, for instance.

Q. What is that but war? Do you not consider it war that the
Army would march in with a proportion of a division to a
battalion, and that the air force would bomb Prague.

A. President Hacha had told the Fuehrer that he would place
the fate of his country in the Fuehrer's hands, and the
Fuehrer had -

Q. I want you to answer my question. My question is a
perfectly simple one, and I want your answer to it.

You have told us that that agreement was obtained after
these threats were made.

A. No, I did not say that.

Q. Yes, that is what you said a moment ago.

A. No.

Q. I put to you that that agreement was obtained by threat
of war. Is that not so?

A. I believe that this threat is incomparably lighter than
the threats under which Germany stood for years through the
Versailles Treaty and its sanctions.

Q. Well, leaving whatever it is comparatively, will you now
answer my question? Do you agree that that agreement was
obtained by threat of war?

                                                  [Page 233]

A. It was obtained i1nder a pressure, that is under the
pressure of the march into - to Prague; there is no doubt
about that. However, the decisive point of the whole matter
was that the Fuehrer explained to President Hacha the
reasons why he had to do this, and eventually Hacha agreed
fully, after he had consulted his government and his general
staff and heard their opinion. However, it is absolutely
correct that the Fuehrer was resolved to solve this question
under all circumstances. The reason was that he was of the
opinion that in the remainder of Czechoslovakia there was a
conspiracy against the German Reich. Field Marshal Goering
has already stated that Russian commissions were said to
have been at Czech aerodromes. Consequently the Fuehrer
acted as he did because he believed that it was essential in
the interest and for the protection of the German Reich.

I may draw a comparison: for instance, President Roosevelt
declared an interest in the Western Hemisphere; England has
extended her interest over the entire globe. I think that
the interest which the Fuehrer showed in the remainder of
Czechoslovakia was, as such, not unreasonable for a great
Power; about the methods one may think as one pleases. At
any rate one thing is certain, and that is that these
countries were occupied without a single drop of blood being

Q. They were occupied without a single drop of blood being
shed because you had threatened to march in overwhelming
strength and to bomb Prague if they did not agree, is that
not so?

A. No, not because we had threatened, but because we had
agreed beforehand that the German armed forces should march
in unimpeded.

Q. I put it to you again, that the agreement was obtained,
however, by your threatening to march in and threatening to
bomb Prague, was it not?

A. I have already told you once that it was not so, but the
Fuehrer had talked to President Hacha about it and told him
that he would march in. The conversation between President
Hacha and Goering is not known to me. President Hacha signed
the agreement, after he had consulted his Government and his
General Staff in Prague by telephone. There is no doubt that
the personality of the Fuehrer, his arguments and finally
the announced entry of the German troops induced President
Hacha to sign the agreement.

Q. Do you not remember - would you mind standing up,
General, for a second (a Czechoslovak army officer stood up
in the court room).

Do you not remember General Eger asking you some questions
once, this General from Czechoslovakia?

A. Yes, certainly.

Q. Did you say to him that you thought that this action on
the 15th of March was contrary to the declaration of Hitler
given to Chamberlain but, in fact, that Hitler saw in the
occupation a vital necessity for Germany?

A. Yes, that is correct. I was wrong in the first point; I
will admit that openly; I remembered it afterward. In the
Munich agreement between Hitler and Chamberlain nothing like
that is contained. It was not directed against that
agreement. In the second place, I think I stated, that
Hitler believed he had to act that way in the interest of
his country.

Q. Now, I just want you to tell us one or two general things
about your views with regard to Great Britain. Is it correct
that when you went to London as Ambassador of the Reich you
thought there was very little chance of an agreement, in
fact that it was a hundred-to-one chance of getting an
understanding with Great Britain?

A. When I asked the Fuehrer to send me to London personally

Q. Here is a simple question I am asking you: Is it right
that when you went to London as Ambassador you thought there
was very little chance of an understanding with England, in
fact, that the chance was a hundred-to-one?

A. Yes, the chances were not good.

Q. These, as you know, are your own words -

A. I would like to add something.

                                                  [Page 234]

Q. First, answer my question. These are your own words, are
they not, that the chance was a hundred-to-one? Do you
remember saying that?

A. A hundred-to-one? I do not remember that, but I want to
add something. I told Hitler that the chance was very small;
and I also told him that I would try everything to bring
about an Anglo-German understanding in spite of the odds.

Q. Now, when you left England did you believe that war was
inevitable? When you left England - when you ceased being
Ambassador - did you believe that war was unavoidable?

A. No, I was not of the opinion that it was unavoidable; but
that, considering the developments which were taking place
in England, a possibility of war existed, of that I was

Q. I want you to be careful about this; Did you say that you
did not think war was unavoidable when you left England?

A. I neither said that it was unavoidable nor that it was
avoidable; at any rate, it was clear to me that with the
development of the policy towards Germany which was taking
place in England, an armed conflict might lie in the realm
of possibility.

Q. Now, look at Page 211-E of the document book, English
book 170 -

A. Did you say 211?

Q. Have you got that?

A. Yes.

Q. Now will you look at the second paragraph? It reads like

  "He, the Reich Foreign Minister, had been more than
  sceptical even on his arrival in London, and had
  considered the chances for an  understanding as a hundred-
  to-one. The war mongers in England had won the upper
  hand, he said, when he, the Reich Foreign Minister, left
  England, and war was unavoidable."

Is that what you said to Ambassador Oshima?

A. I do not know whether I said exactly that; at any rate,
that is diplomatic language, and it is quite possible that
we at that time, as a result of the situation, considered it
opportune to express it that way. At any rate, that is not
the interesting point; the interesting thing is that so far
as I remember, when I left England, a certainty and
inevitability of war did not exist. Whether in later years I
said this or that has no bearing on what I said when I left
London. I do not think that there is the least bit of
evidence for that. Perhaps I tried to draw him into the war
against England and therefore used forceful language.

Q. You probably told him what was untrue?

A. I do not know, and I also do not know whether the details
have been recorded accurately. It is a long record; I do not
know where it comes from.

Q. It is your own record of the meeting, from captured
German documents.

A. That is quite possible, but many things are said for
diplomatic purposes. At any rate, the truth is, that when I
left London, there was no certainty that the war was
inevitable, but there is no doubt that I was sceptical and
did not know in what direction things would be drifting,
particularly on account of the very strong pro-war party in


Q. Defendant, will you speak a little bit more slowly?

A. Yes, sir.


Q. Now, when you left England, was it not your view that the
German policy should be pretended friendliness toward
England, but actual formation of a coalition against her?

A. That is not quite correct. It was clear to me, when I
became Foreign Minister, that the realisation of the German
wishes in Europe was difficult and

                                                  [Page 235]

that it was principally England who resisted them. I had
tried for years, by order of the Fuehrer, to achieve these
things by means of a friendly understanding.

Q. I want you now to answer my question: Did you advise the
Fuehrer that the proper policy was pretended friendliness
with England, but in actuality the formation of a coalition
against her? Did you or did you not?

A. No; that is not the right way of putting it.

Q. As you said no, just look at the document, TC-75, Exhibit
GB-28, and at your conclusions that are to be drawn. You
will see it at the end under No. 5.

  "Therefore, conclusions to be drawn by us."

It is about the end of the third page.

  "Therefore, conclusions to be drawn by us, outwardly
  further understanding with England while protecting the
  interests of our friends; formation under great secrecy
  but with wholehearted tenacity of a coalition against
  England; that is, in practice a tightening of our
  friendship with Italy and Japan, also the winning over of
  all nations whose interests conform with ours, directly
  or indirectly; close and confidential co-operation of the
  diplomats of the three great Powers towards this

And the last sentence:

  "Every day on which-no matter what tactical interludes of
  rapprochement towards us are carried out - our political
  decisions are not guided fundamentally by the thought of
  England as our most dangerous adversary, would be a gain
  for our enemies."

Why did you tell the Tribunal a minute ago that you had not
advised the Fuehrer that there should be outward friendly
relations but in actuality a coalition against her?

A. I do not know what kind of a document that is at all. May
I see it?

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