The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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Last-Modified: 1999/12/20

Q. That is quite a long explanation. But it is not an
explanation of the words I put to you, which is the
important thing. "It would be best to liquidate the pseudo-
neutrals one after the other." Are you denying that that was
your policy, to liquidate the pseudo-neutrals?

A. No, it was not that. That must not be taken so literally,
for in diplomatic discussions - and I do not think it is
different in other countries - many things are said
sometimes -

Q. (Interposing): I want to -

A. (Interposing): This was a question of Yugoslavia.

Q. It had always been Mussolini's view, had it not, that the
Balkans should be attacked at the earliest possible

A. That I do not know.

Q. Well, would you look at Document 2818-PS. My Lord, this
will be Exhibit GB 292. Remember that this is the secret
additional protocol to the friendship alliance pact between
Germany and Italy made on the 22nd of May, 1939, and
appended to it there are some comments by Mussolini on the
30th of May, 1939. Do you see?

A. What page?

Q. Well, I just wanted you to look at two passages. Do you
see where the comments by Mussolini begin? Under the Pact
itself, do you see the comment by Mussolini?

A. Yes, here it is.

Well now, No. 1 says:

  "The war between the plutocratic and, therefore,
  selfishly conservative nations and the densely populated
  and poor nations is inevitable. One must prepare in the
  light of this situation."

Now, if you will turn to, paragraph 7, you see Mussolini is
hoping that the war will be postponed, and he is saying what
should happen if the war comes; he says that:

  "The war which the great democracies are preparing is a
  war of exhaustion. One must therefore start with the
  worst assumption which contains 100 per cent.
  probability. The Axis will get nothing more from the rest
  of the world. This assumption is hard, but the strategic
  positions reached by the Axis diminish considerably, the
  vicissitude and the danger of a war of exhaustion. For
  this purpose one must take the whole Danube and Balkan
  area immediately after the very first hours of the war.
  One cannot be satisfied with declarations of neutrality,
  but must occupy the territories and use them for the
  procurement of the necessary food and industrial war

Do you see that?

A. Yes, I have it.

Q. Do you not agree that it was Mussolini's view that the
Balkans should be attacked at the earliest possible moment?

A. They are utterances of Mussolini which I see here for the
first time. I did not know them.

Q. Now, I want you to come to the remarks of Hitler which
you have seen considerably more than once. You remember,
after the Simovic coup d'etat on the 26th of March, there
was a meeting, a conference with Hitler, where he announced
his policy:

                                                  [Page 249]

  "The Fuehrer is determined, without waiting for possible
  loyalty declarations of the new government, to make all
  preparations in order to destroy Yugoslavia militarily
  and as a national unit. No diplomatic inquiries will be
  made nor ultimatums presented. Assurances of the Yugoslav
  Government, which cannot be trusted anyhow in the future,
  will not be taken note of. The attack will start as soon
  as the means and troops available for it are ready."

Do you remember Hitler saying that on the 27th of March?

A. I do not remember that. Could I perhaps see the document?

Q. Do you not remember it? It has been read many times in
this court, Hitler's statement.

A. Yes, I remember it: not the individual words, but in

Q. Do you remember that was the sense of it, and I read his
words. Now, that was the policy -

A. (Interposing): I do not know what you mean by "the sense
of it."

Q. Well, I will put it to you now. What I mean is this, that
it was your policy to attack Yugoslavia without asking her
for assurances, without any diplomatic action of any kind.
You decided to attack Yugoslavia and to bomb Belgrade. Is
not that right?

A. No, it was entirely different, and I ask to be permitted
to explain the actual state of the case.

Q. I want your explanation of these points which I have
specifically read and mentioned to you. "No diplomatic
inquiries will be made." Why did you decide, or why did
Hitler decide, and you help, to attack Yugoslavia without
making any diplomatic inquiries, without giving the new
government any chance to give you assurances? Why did you do

A. Because the new government had been formed mainly by
England, as one of the British interrogation officers
himself, in the course of the preliminary hearings, admitted
to me. Therefore it was perfectly clear to the Fuehrer, when
the Simovic Putsch was carried out, that the enemies of
Germany at that time stood behind Simovic's government and
that it mobilised this army - this information had been
received - in order to attack the Italian army from the
rear. It was not my policy, for I was called into this
conference of which you are speaking, only later I believe,
and at that time Hitler definitely announced his position
without being opposed by anyone. I ask you to question the
military men about that. I was present, and had a serious
encounter with the Fuehrer.

Q. Did you think it right to attack this country without any
diplomatic measures being taken at all, to cause - to use
Hitler's words "with unmerciful harshness" - military
destruction, and to destroy the capital of Belgrade by waves
of bomber attacks? Did you think that was right? I ask you a
simple question: Did you think it was right?

A. I cannot answer this question either with yes or no, as
you want it, without giving an explanation.

Q. Then you need not answer it. If you cannot answer that
question yes or no, you need not answer it at all. And I
come on to the next point, which is the question of Russia.

Now, as far as I could understand your statement, you said
that Hitler had decided to attack the Soviet Union after M.
Molotov's visit to Berlin on, I think, the 12th of November
of 1940.

A. I did not say that because I did not know it.

Q. Well, as I understood it, one of the reasons which you
were giving as a justification for the attack on the Soviet
Union was what was said by M. Molotov during his visit of
November 1940. Is not that what you said?

A. That was one of the reasons that caused the Fuehrer
concern. I did not know anything about an attack at that

Q. You know that the defendant Jodl says that even during
the Western campaign - that is, May and June, 1940 - Hitler
had told him that he had made a

                                                  [Page 250]

fundamental decision to take steps against this danger, that
is, the Soviet Union, "the moment our military position made
it at all possible." Did you know that?

A. I learned that only now here in Nuremberg.

Q. That is L 172, US 34, Jodl's lecture.

Did you know that on 14th August, 1940, General Thoma was
informed, during a conference with Goering, that the Fuehrer
desired punctual delivery to the Russians only until the
spring of 1941; that "later on we would have no further
interest in completely satisfying the Russian demands."

Did you know that?

A. No, I did not.

Q. And did you know that in November of 1940 General Thoma.
and State Secretaries Koerner, Neumann, Becker, and General
von Hanneken were informed by Goering of the action planned
in the East?

Did you know that?

A. No, I did not know that either.

Q. You know now, do you not, that a long time before any of
the matters raised in M. Molotov's visit came up for
discussion, Hitler had determined to attack the Soviet

A. No, I did not know that at all. I knew that Hitler had
doubts, but I knew nothing about an attack. I have not been
informed about military preparations, because that was out
of my province, these matters were dealt with separately.

Q. Even on the 18th of December, when Hitler issued the
directive No. 21 on "Barbarossa," he told you nothing about

A. No, because just in December, as I happen to remember, I
had again a long talk with the Fuehrer in order to obtain
his consent to win the Soviet Union as a partner to the
three-power pact, and to make it a four-power pact. Hitler
was not altogether enthusiastic about this idea, I noticed,
but he told me, "We have already made this pact, perhaps we
will succeed with that, too." These were his words, it was
in December. I believe there is also an affidavit available
from a witness, which the defence is going to present.

Q. Do you understand what you are saying? This is after the
defendant Goering had announced it to General Thoma and
these under secretaries, after the directive had actually
gone out for Barbarossa, and you are saying that Hitler let
you suggest that you should try and get the Soviet Union to
join the three-power pact, without ever telling you that he
had his orders out for the attack of the Soviet Union. Do
you really expect anyone to believe that?

A. I did not quite understand the question.

Q. The question was, do you really expect anyone to believe
that after it had been announced time and again that the
Reich was going to attack the Soviet Union, and after the
actual directive has gone out for the attack, that Hitler
let you tell him that you were thinking of asking them to
join the three-power pact? Is that your evidence?

A. Yes, that is exactly the way it was. I suggested this to
Hitler again in December, and received his consent for
further negotiations. I knew nothing in December of an
aggressive war against the Soviet Union.

Q. It was quite clear that, as far as your department was
concerned, you were getting the most favourable reports
about the Soviet Union and about the unlikeliness of the
Soviet Union making any incursion into political affairs
inimical to Germany? Is that right, so far as your reports
from your own Ambassador and your own people in Russia were

A. Reports of this sort came from the Embassy in Moscow. I
submitted them repeatedly, or rather always, to the Fuehrer,
but his answer was that the diplomats and military attaches
in Moscow were the worst informed men in the world. That was
his answer.

Q. But that was your honest view, based on your own
information, that there

                                                  [Page 251]

was no danger from Russia, that Russia was keeping honestly
to the agreement that she had made with you. That was your
honest view, was it not?

A. No, I did not say that. I said those were the reports
from the diplomats, which we received from Moscow.

Q. Did you not believe them? Did you not believe your own

A. I was very sceptical myself as to whether these reports
were reliable, because the Fuehrer had received reports of
an altogether different nature, and the political attitude
also pointed in a different direction.

Q. At any rate, in the spring of 1941, your office joined in
the preparations for the attack on the Soviet Union, did it

A. I do not know precisely when, but some time in the spring
things came to a head, and there must have been conferences
that dealt with the possibility of a conflict with the
Soviet Union. However, I do not recall details about that

Q. I see. Again, I do not want to occupy too much time over
it, but it is right, is it not, that in April of 1941 you
were co-operating with Rosenberg's office in preparing for
the taking over of Eastern Territories, and, on the 18th of
May, you issued a memorandum with regard to the preparation
of the naval campaign?

A. So far as the preparations with Rosenberg are concerned,
that is an error. I spoke, according to my recollection,
about this matter to Rosenberg only after the outbreak of
war. So far as that navy memorandum is concerned, I saw that
document here; I had not known of it previously. I believe
it is an opinion on International Law about matters which
might arise in connection with a war in the Baltic Sea.

Q. It says: "The Foreign Office has prepared, for use in
Barbarossa, the attached draft of a declaration of
operational zones." Do you not remember anything about that?

A. No, that, I believe, did not reach me at all at that
time. It was acted upon by another office. Of course, I am
responsible for everything that happened in my ministry.

Q. Was not Ambassador Ritter the liaison Officer between
your office and the Wehrmacht?

A. Yes, that is right.

Q. Now, again, I want you to help me about one or two other
matters. You have told us that you negotiated the Anti-
Comintern Pact back in 1936, and, of course, at that time
the Anti-Comintern Pact - and I think you said so yourself -
was directed against the Soviet Union. That is so, is it

A. Yes, it was more an ideological pact, which, of course,
had certain political implications.

Q. And that was extended by the Tripartite Pact of the 27th
of September, 1940? That was an extension of the first pact,
was it not?

A. It had in itself nothing to do with the first pact,
because this one was a purely political, economic and
military pact.

Q. Well now, the fact is - and I think I can take this quite
shortly - that you were urging Japan to enter the war quite
early in March of 1941, were you not?

A. That could be; at that time for an attack on England.

Q. Yes. I am taking it shortly, because you have given your
explanation. You say you were at war with England, and
therefore you were entitled to see an ally in the Japanese.
That is your point, is it not?

A. I do not believe I did anything which other diplomats
would not do, for instance, those of Britain and America;
and Russia tried to do so but failed.

Q. I am not going to put any points to you on that actual
fact, but it did occur to you quite early, did it not, that
if Japan came into the war, then it was a possibility that
the United States might be brought in shortly after? And you
agreed, in April Of 1941, that if the coming in of Japan
produced the fact that Japan would be involved with the
United States, you would be prepared to fight the United.
States, too. That is right, is it not?

                                                  [Page 252]

A. No, that is not correct. I believe I did everything I
could, until the day of Pearl Harbour, to keep America out
of the war. I believe also that that is proved by many
documents that I have seen here for the first time.

Q. Well now, since you said that, I would like you to look
at document N-352 of your book, at Page 204 of the English
Document Book.

A. Yes, I know this document; I have already read it here.

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