The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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Last-Modified: 1999/12/20

Q. Well, that was a week before Pearl Harbour, on the 29th
of November, and according to the Japanese Ambassador, you
are saying this to him - if you look at paragraph 1:

  "Ribbentrop: It is essential that Japan effect the New
  Order in East Asia without losing this opportunity. There
  has never been, and probably never will be, a time when
  closer co-operation under the Tripartite Pact is so
  important. If Japan hesitates at this time and Germany
  goes ahead and establishes her New Order in Europe, all
  the military might of Britain and the United States will
  be concentrated against Japan. As the Fuehrer said today:
  'there are fundamental differences in the very right to
  exist between Germany and Japan and the United States.'
  We have received advice to the effect that there is
  practically no hope of the Japanese-United States
  negotiations being concluded successfully, because of the
  fact the United States is putting up a stiff front. If
  this is indeed the fact of the case, and if Japan reaches
  a decision to fight Britain and the United States, I am
  confident that that will not only be to the interests of
  Germany and Japan jointly, but would bring about
  favourable results for Japan herself."

Do you still say, in view of that document and that
statement that you made to the Japanese Ambassador, that you
were trying to prevent war with the United States? I suggest
to you that you were doing everything to encourage Japan to
go to war with the United States.

A. I must contradict you there, Mr. Prosecutor; that is not
true. I do not know this document, nor do I know where it
comes from; nevertheless, under no circumstances did I
express it that way, and I regret that all the other
documents which prove that I tried again and again to keep
the United States out of the war, have not yet been read

I have seen the document here and I have been reflecting
here all the time as to how this passage could have got into
it. All the other documents - I believe a dozen or a dozen
and a half - which have been presented here prove very
clearly my wish to keep America out of the war. I can say
that for years I had made efforts in all fields, despite the
intransigent attitude of the United States, to keep America
out of the war. I can only explain this as follows: The
Japanese Ambassador earnestly desired that his country
should take some action and I know he sent many telegrams to
Tokyo in order to get Japan to participate in the war,
particularly against Singapore. I can only presume that this
is perhaps, if I may say so, an incorrect interpretation of
this conference. I ask you to give the defence an
opportunity to submit all the other documents up to this
date, which will prove the exact opposite of what is laid
down in this one paragraph.

Q. Well, this is the official report to the Government of
the Japanese Ambassador. You say that he is wrong when he
says that you told him - he gives your exact words - that
you were confident that it would not only be in the interest
of Germany and Japan jointly, but would bring about
favourable results for Japan herself.

Well, just look at the next document, if you deny that one,
on Page 356. This is another report of the Japanese
Ambassador, and he said:

  "The day after Pearl Harbour, at one o'clock, I called on
  Foreign Minister Ribbentrop and told him our wish was to
  have Germany and Italy issue formal declarations of war
  on America at once. Ribbentrop replied that Hitler was
  then in the midst of a conference at general
  headquarters, discussing how the formalities of declaring
  war could be carried out, so as to make a good impression
  on the
                                                  [Page 253]
  German people, and that he would transmit your wish to
  him at once and do whatever he was able to have it
  carried out properly."

Now, look at the last three lines

  "At that time Ribbentrop told me that on the morning of
  the 8th, Hitler issued orders to the entire German Navy
  to attack American ships whenever and wherever they might
  meet them."

That was three days before the declaration of war. You say
that that report of the Japanese ambassador is also wrong?

A. I believe that it is an error.

Q. What is wrong about it?

A. I believe it is an error. That was after the attack on
Pearl Harbour?

Q. Exactly, the day after Pearl Harbour.

A. That was an order of Adolf Hitler to attack American
ships which, as everyone knows, had been attacking German
ships for months. This is an altogether different situation.

Q. When you say "attacking German ships," do you mean
defending themselves against German submarines?

A. No, so far as I know, some months earlier, I cannot tell
you the exact date, but it was a long time before Pearl
Harbour, we had delivered an official protest to the United
States, in which we pointed out, in the case of the two
ships "Greer" and "Kerne," that these two had pursued German
submarines and had thrown depth charges at them. I believe
the Secretary of the Navy Knox admitted this openly in a
Press conference. I mentioned yesterday that Hitler said in
his speech in Munich that he did not give the order to shoot
or to attack American vessels, but that he had given the
order to fire back if they fired first.

Q. What I want to know from you is this:

Did you approve of the policy of ordering the entire German
Navy to attack American ships whenever and wherever they
might meet them three days before war was declared? Did you
approve of that?

A. I cannot say anything about that now because I do not
remember it and do not even know the document.

Q. Now, I want to ask you about another point. Do you
remember that the -

A. It would have been understandable, I must add that.

Q. You have given your answer. Do you remember in June,
1944, that there was a conference, about which we have heard
evidence, regarding the shooting of what is known as "terror

Now, just listen to this question and try to answer it
directly, if you would. Is it correct, as is stated in the
report, that you wished to include among terror flyers every
type of terror attack on the German civilian population,
that is, including bombing attacks on cities? Is it right
that you wished to include the airmen engaged in attacks on
German cities as terror flyers?

A. No, it is not true.

Q. Well, look at Page 391. This is a report signed by
General Warlimont on the conference on the 6th of June, and
in the fourth line - well, let me read it. It says:

  "Obergruppenfuehrer Kaltenbrunner informed the deputy
  chief of staff in Klessheim on the afternoon of the 6th
  that a conference on this question had been held shortly
  before between Goering, Ribbentrop, and Himmler. Contrary
  to the original suggestion made by Ribbentrop, who wished
  to include every type of terror attack on the German
  civilian population, that is, also bombing attacks on
  cities, it was agreed at the above conference that merely
  the other attacks carried out with aircraft armament
  should be included."

Do you say that Kaltenbrunner was wrong when he said that
you wished to include every type of attack?

                                                  [Page 254]

A. I do not know whether I should refer to this point once
again. Yesterday I answered this question at length. I dealt
with this point, I think, very exhaustively. If you wish, I
can repeat it now.

Q. Well, I do not want you to repeat it. I want you to
answer my question. Do you say that Kaltenbrunner was wrong
when he said at this conference that you wished to include
those who were engaged in the bombing of cities?

A. It is not true. First of all, so far as I remember, this
conference never took place; and, secondly, I stated my
attitude perfectly clearly yesterday as to how I wished to
treat terror flyers.

Q. Well, answer my question.

A. No, that is not true as you have stated it.

Q. I see. Then answer this question. Did you approve that
the treatment of those that you called "terror flyers"
should be that they should be left to be lynched by the
population or else that they should be handed over to the

A. No, that was not my attitude.

Q. Well now, would you look on to Page 393, Page 24 of the
English. This, as you know, is a memorandum from the Foreign
Office, and it is stated on Page 393 that General Warlimont
states that "Ambassador Ritter has advised us by telephone
that the Minister for Foreign Affairs has approved this
draft." The draft deals with the two actions in paragraph 1,
that of lynching, and the draft says, "The German
authorities are not directly responsible, since death
occurred before a German official intervened."

Do you agree with that view? Is that your view of the
lynching of flyers?

A. No, that is not my view. I explained that yesterday quite
exhaustively and stated what my attitude was to this
document. This document is an opinion of the Foreign Office,
which was submitted to me. I do not know how it originated,
whether upon my order or upon a statement of the military
authorities. I did not approve this opinion as it is
submitted to me here, but I did send it to the Fuehrer and
asked him to decide about it. The Fuehrer then called this
document "nonsense," I believe, and therewith this opinion
of the Foreign Office was rejected and did not come into

Q. So that, with regard to this, you say that when Warlimont
says that Ambassador Ritter advised the Wehrmacht by
telephone on 29th June that you approved the draft, that
either Warlimont is not speaking the truth or Ritter is not
speaking the truth?

A. At any rate, it is not true, because it can be seen from
another document which I have also seen here that this
document was sent to the Fuehrer and that I said there that
the Fuehrer must approve it. I see no other document
regarding it. That is my recollection of the matter.

Q. Well, then, if you referred to the Fuehrer's view, let us
just have a look at what that was. Have a look at Document
3780-PS, which will be Exhibit GB 293, which is an account
of a meeting that you and Hitler had with Oshima on the 27th
of May, 1944. It is on Page 11, lines 9 to 12. Do you
remember in your presence Hitler advising Oshima that the
Japanese should hang, not shoot, every American terror
pilot; so that the Americans will think twice before making
such attacks? Did you agree with that view?

A. No, I do not agree with that view. If that is in this
document, that is not my meaning, not my opinion.

Q. I see. Well, now -

A. I do not even know where what you said here is in the

Q. You will find it on Page 11, lines 9 to 12.

A. No, I do not remember that, but I can only say that this
entire attitude of Hitler as it appears in this document was
brought about by the terrible results of the air attacks at
that time.

Q. I heard all that before. I asked you whether you agreed
or not; you said "no." I want you now to deal with another

                                                  [Page 255]

A. I want to say something further, however, regarding this
point because it is of decisive importance.

Q. You will say that to Learned Counsel after you have
answered my question on this. I want you now to direct your
attention to Stalag Luft 3. You may have heard me asking a
number of witnesses a certain number of questions about it.
This concerns the fifty British airmen who were murdered by
the S.S. after they escaped. Do you know that? Do you know
what I am talking about?

A. Yes, I do.

Q. You remember that my colleague, Mr. Eden, made a strong
statement in the House of Commons, saying that these men had
been murdered and that Great Britain would exact justice
upon the murderers? Do you remember that, in June of 1944?

A. I heard of this through the speech made by Mr. Eden in
the House of Commons, yes.

Q. And do you remember that the Reich Government issued a
statement saying that, in a communication by the Reich
Government conveyed to the British via Switzerland, this
unqualifiable charge of the British Foreign Minister had
been sharply refuted, that being issued in July, 1944? Do
you remember that being issued?

A. No, I do not remember it. I only remember the following:
that at that time we received proof of what had happened and
that it was communicated to us in a note from the protecting
powers. That is all I know about it.

Q. That is what I wanted to ask you: Did you know at the
time that this statement was issued - did you know that
these officers had been murdered in cold blood?

A. No, I did not. I heard that these men had been shot while
trying to escape. At that time, to be sure, we did have the
impression that everything was not in order. I know that. I
remember that.

Q. Let me take it in two stages. Who told you the lie that
these men had been shot trying to escape? Who informed you
of that lie?

A. I do not remember in detail. At that time we received the
proofs from the competent authorities and a memorandum was
forwarded to the Swiss Government.

Q. From whom did you get your documentation which contained
that lie? Did you get it from Himmler or Goering? -

A. I cannot remember.

Q. Then you told us, I think, that you had a good idea that
things were not all right?

A. Yes.

Q. Thank you. Now, I want you to tell us a word about your
connection with the S.S. You are not suggesting, are you, at
this stage of time that you were merely an honorary member
of the S.S.? It has been suggested by your counsel, and I am
sure it must have been on some misunderstanding of
information that you were merely an honorary member of the
S. S. That is not the case, is it?

A. That is no misunderstanding. That is exactly the
situation. I received the S.S. uniform from Adolf Hitler. I
served no office in the S.S., but as Ambassador and later as
Foreign Minister it saw customary to have a rank of some
sort and I had the rank of S.S.-Fuehrer.

Q. I put it to you that that is entirely untrue, that you
joined the S.S. by application before you became Ambassador-
at-Large in May, 1933, is not that right?

A. I know that. I certainly always belonged to the S.S.

Q. You said just now it was honorary, because Hitler wanted
you to have a uniform. I am putting it to you; you applied
to join the S.S. in May, 1933, in the ordinary way. Did you?

A. Of course, one had to make an application, but the fact
was this, that I occasionally went around in a grey great
coat and thereupon Hitler said I must

                                                  [Page 256]

wear a uniform. I do not know when that was. It must have
been 1933. As Ambassador I received a higher rank, as
Foreign Minister I received a still higher one.

Q. And May 1933, after you made application, you joined the
S.S. in the not too high rank of Standartenfuehrer, did you

A. Yes, that could be.

Q. And you only became an Oberfuehrer on the 20th of April,
1935, a Brigadefuehrer on 14th June, 1935 and Gruppenfuehrer
on the 13th of September, 1936 - that was after you became
an Ambassador - and Obergruppenfuehrer on the 20th of April,
1940. Before you were made an Ambassador you had been in the
S.S. for three years and you had received promotion in the
ordinary way, when you did your work with the S.S., is that
not so?

A. Without ever taking any steps or doing anything myself in
the S.S., yes, that is correct.

Q. Just look. Document D-744-A (Exhibit GB 294). The
correspondence is 744-B. You may take it; you need not go
through it in detail. That is your application, with all the
particulars. I just want to ask you one or two things about
it. You asked to join, did you not, the "Totenkopf" the
Death Head Division of the S.S.?

A. No, that cannot be true.

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