The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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Q. Do you not remember getting a special Death Head ring and
dagger from Himmler for your services? Do you not?

A. No, I do not remember. I never belonged to a Death Head
Division. You were just talking about a Death Head Division,
were you not?

Q. A Death Head Division.

A. No, that is not so. If it says so here, it is not true.
But I think that I at one time received a so-called dagger
like all S.S. Fuehrer. That is correct.

Q. And the ring, too. Here is a letter dated the 5th of
November, 1935, to the Personnel Office of the Reichsfuehrer
S.S.: "In reply to your question, I have to inform you that
Brigadefuehrer von Ribbentrop's ring size is 17. Heil
Hitler, (signed) Adjutant Thorner." Do you remember getting

A. I believe that everyone received such a ring but I do not
remember precisely. No doubt it is true.

Q. And you took, did you not, continuous interest in the
S.S. from 1933 up to well into the war? I think your
correspondence with Himmler goes on to well into 1941 or

A. Yes, that is quite possible, that is certainly correct.
Of course, we had a great deal to do with the S.S. in all
fields. That is quite clear.

Q. You had, and especially in the field of concentration
camps, had you not? Are you saying that you did not know
that concentration camps were being conducted on an enormous

A. No, I knew nothing about that.

Q. I want you to look around for the moment. (A map behind
the witness-box was unveiled). That is an enlargement of the
exhibits put in by the French Prosecution, and these red
spots are concentration camps. Now, I would just like you to
look at it. We will see now one of the reasons for the
location of your various residences. There, one North of
Berlin, Sonneburg. Do you see roughly Where that is on that

A. Sonneburg is one hour's auto ride from Berlin.

Q. North of Berlin?

A. No, East of Berlin.

Q. Let us take another house. You are quite near it yourself
- your Schloss or tower of Fuschl. That is quite near the
border, just over the border, and very near it is the group
of camps which existed around Mauthausen. Do you see them,
just above your right hand? Do you see the group of camps,
the Mauthausen group?

                                                  [Page 257]

A. I should like to state on my oath that I heard the word
"Mauthausen" for the first time in Nuremberg.

Q. Let us take another of the places. You say you did not go
there very often, but you used to -

A. I believe I can make this much more brief for you. I can
say that I had heard of only two concentration camps before
I came here - no, it was three: Dachau, Oranienburg, and
Theresienstadt. All the others I heard of here for the first
time. Theresienstadt was an old people's home for Jews, and
I believe was visited a few times by the International Red
Cross. I never heard before of all the other camps. I wish
to make that quite clear.

Q. Do you know that near Mauthausen there were 33 camps at
various places, within a comparatively short distance, and
45 camps as to which the commandant did not give the names
because there were so many of them, and in the 33 camps
there were over a hundred thousand internees? Are you
telling the Tribunal that in all your journeys to Fuschl you
never heard of the camps at Mauthausen, where a hundred
thousand people were shut up?

A. That was entirely unknown to me, and I can produce dozens
of witnesses who can testify to that.

Q. I do not care how many witnesses you produce. I ask you
to look at that map again. You were a responsible Minister
in the Government of that country from 4th of February,
1938, till the defeat of Germany in May, 1945, a period of
seven and a quarter years. Are you telling the Tribunal that
anyone could be a responsible Minister in that country where
these hundreds of concentration camps existed and not know
anything about them except two?

A. It may be amazing, but it is absolutely true.

Q. I suggest to you that it is not only amazing, but that it
is so incredible that it must be false. How could you be
ignorant of these camps? Did you never see Himmler?

A. No, I never saw him about these things. These things were
kept absolutely secret and we heard here for the very first
time what went on in them. Nobody knew anything about them.
That may sound astounding, but I am positively convinced
that most of the defendants in the dock also knew nothing
about all that was going on.

Q. We will hear from them in their turn. Did you know that
at Auschwitz alone -

A. I heard the name Auschwitz here for the first time.

Q. The German official of Auschwitz has sworn in an
affidavit that four million people were put to death in the
camp. Are you telling the Tribunal that that happened
without your knowing anything about it?

A. That was entirely unknown to me. I can state that here on
my oath.

Q. Well, now, there is one other subject, which I would like
you to deal with, and here, fortunately, I am in the
position of assisting your memory with some documents. It is
a question of the Partisans. I want you to look at a few
documents, three documents, with regard to that.

THE PRESIDENT: Will you be able to finish tonight?

SIR DAVID MAXWELL FYFE: Yes, I shall, if Your Lordship will
allow me five minutes. That is what I have been trying to

Q. Do you agree that you were in favour of the harshest
treatment of people in the occupied countries?

A. I did not understand. Could you repeat the question?

Q. My question is, would it be a fair way of expressing your
point of view to say that you were in favour of the harshest
treatment of - I will put it first of all - of Partisans?

A. I do not know whether I ever concerned myself with the
treatment of Partisans. I do not recall having done so. In
any case, I was against it.

Q. All right, look at Document D-735, which will be Exhibit
GB 295. That

                                                  [Page 258]

is a discussion between you and Count Ciano in the presence
of Field Marshal Keitel and Marshal Cavallero in the
Fuehrer's Headquarters after breakfast on the 19th December,
1942. Now, if you will look at Page two, you will see that
there is a passage where Field Marshal Keitel had told the
Italian gentlemen that the "Croatian area was to be cleaned
up by German and Italian troops working in co-operation, and
this while it was still winter, in view of the strong
British influence in this area. The Fuehrer had declared
that the Serbian conspirators were to be burnt out, and that
no gentle methods might be used in doing this. Field Marshal
Keitel here interjected that every village in which
Partisans were found had to be burnt down. Continuing, the
Reich Foreign Minister declared that Roatta must not leave
the third zone, but must on the contrary advance, and this
in the closest collaboration with the German troops. In this
connection Field Marshal Keitel requested the Italian
gentlemen not to regard the utilisation of Croatian troops
to help in this cleaning up operations as a favouring of the
Croatians. The Reich Foreign Minister stated in this
connection that the Croatian Fuehrer, to whom he had spoken
very clearly, was quite ready to come to an agreement with

Did that represent your view - that the "Serbian
conspirators should be burnt out"?

A. Please?

Q. Did that represent your view, that "the Serbian
conspirators should be burnt out?"

A. I do not know that expression. At any rate - it is
certain that they should have been locked up.

Q. What it means is that their villages should be razed to
the ground by fire.

A. Where did I say that? I do not believe I said that.

Q. That was the Fuehrer's point of view. Was it your point
of view?

A. The Fuehrer took a very harsh attitude on these questions
and I know that occasionally harsh orders were issued, also
from other sources, including the military. It was a
struggle for life and death. One should not forget that it
was war.

Q. Are you denying -

A. At any rate, I do not see where I said anything about the

Q. You say that is not your point of view? Is that what you
are saying? That it is not your point of view? Are you
saying that it is not your point of view as to the way to
treat them? Do not look at the next document. Tell me, is
that your point of view?

A. Please repeat the question that you want me to answer.

Q. Do you say that you were not in favour of harsh treatment
of Partisans?

A. Was it my opinion that the Partisans who attack the
troops in the rear should be treated harshly? Yes, I was of
that opinion, I believe everyone in the Army is of that
opinion, and every politician.

Q. Including women and children?

A. No, by no means.

Q. Just look at that, if you deny this attitude to women and
children. Look at the Document D- 741.

My Lord, that will be Document D-741. Exhibit GB 296.

Q. Will you look at the end of that. That is a conference
between you and Ambassador Alfieri in Berlin on 21st
February 1943. The last paragraph says:

  "Continuing, the Reich Foreign Minister emphasised that
  the conditions which Roatta's policy had helped to
  produce in Croatia were causing the Fuehrer great
  concern. It was appreciated on the German side that
  Roatta wished to spare Italian blood, but it was believed
  that he was, as it were, by this policy, trying to drive
  out Satan with Beelzebub. The gangs had to be
  exterminated, and that included men, women and children,
  as their continued existence imperilled the lives of
  German and Italian men, women, and children."

                                                  [Page 259]

Do you still say that you did not want harsh treatment of
women and children?

A. What page is that on?

Q. It is on Pages 10 to 13 - It is the last paragraph on my
translation. " The gangs had to be exterminated, and that
included men, women and children, as their continued
existence imperilled the lives of German and Italian men,
women and children."

A. If I did say that at any time, it must have been under
great excitement. In any case, it does not correspond to my
opinion, which I have proved by my other acts during the
war. I cannot say anything else at the moment.

Q. I will just show you one of your other acts, which will
be the final one, if the Tribunal will bear with me. It is
Document D-740, which will be Exhibit GB 297. This is a
memorandum of the conversation between the Reich Foreign
Minister and Secretary of State Bastiani, in the presence of
Ambassadors von Mackensen and Alfieri at Klessheim castle on
the afternoon of the 8th of April, 1943. If you will look at
the beginning, I think you were discussing some strike in
Italy. You say:

  "The Reich Foreign Minister's supposition that this
  strike had perhaps been contrived by British Agents was
  energetically contested by Bastiani. There had been
  Italian communists. The Reich Foreign Minister replied
  that, in such a case, only merciless action was any

And then, after a statement with regard to the information,
you say:

  "He did not want to discuss Italy, but rather the
  occupied territories, where it had been shown that one
  would not get anywhere with soft methods in the endeavour
  to reach an agreement. The Reich Foreign Minister then
  amplified his train of thought by a comparison between
  Denmark and Norway. In Norway brutal measures had been
  taken which had evoked lively protests, particularly in

And then you go on, and after a certain criticism of Dr.
Best -

A. I cannot find it; what page is it on, please?

Q. The paragraph begins: "The Reich Minister's supposition
that this strike has perhaps been contrived by British
agents -

A. Yes, here it is.

Q. Well, you see what I have put to you. You say, "Only
merciless action would be any good. In Norway brutal
measures had been taken." - And at the beginning of the next
paragraph: "In Greece, too, brutal action would have to be
taken if the Greeks got fresh. He was of the opinion that
the demobilised Greek Army should be deported from Greece
with lightning speed, and that the Greeks should be shown in
an iron manner who was master in the country. Hard methods
of this kind were necessary if one was waging a war against
Stalin, which was not a gentleman's war but a brutal war of
extermination." And then with regard to France, after some
statement about the French you say,

  "Coming back to Greece, the Reich Foreign Minister once
  again stressed the necessity of taking severe measures."

And in the third line of the next paragraph, "The Fuehrer
would have to take radical measures in the occupied
territories to mobilise the local labour potential in order
that the American armament potential might be opposed by
something of equal value." Do you agree? Does that fairly
express your view, that you wanted the most severe measures
taken in occupied territories in order to mobilise labour to
increase the Reich war potential?

A. I can say the following in regard to this document. I
know that at that time -

Q. Well, you can say that, but you can answer my question
first. Do these views express your view that -

A. No.

                                                  [Page 260]

Q. - severe measures should be taken with foreign labour and
with people in occupied territories. Does that document
express your views?

A. No.

Q. Then why did you say it? Why did you say these things?

A. Because at that time, on the commission of the Fuehrer I
had to keep the Italian nose to the grindstone, because
there was complete chaos in some of the areas, the Italians
always attempted to do things differently, causing complete
confusion in the rear areas of the German Army. That is why
I occasionally had to speak very harshly with the Italians.
I recall distinctly that at that time the Italians were
fighting with the Chetniks, partly against German troops; it
was complete chaos there, and for this reason I often used
rather harsh language with the diplomats and perhaps
exaggerated language. But things actually seemed quite
different afterwards.

Q. It was not at all exaggerated, was it, in both Norway and
Greece? You were taking the most brutal measures against the
occupied countries.

A. No, that is not so. We had nothing to say in Norway; we
always tried to do things differently, and in Denmark we did
everything to reduce these harsh measures, which were in
part necessary, because of the paratroopers and so on, and
tried not to have them carried out.

I think it can be proved from other documents, that I and
the Foreign Office worked toward compromise in the various
occupied countries. I do not believe that it is quite fair
and correct to take one or two such statements from the
innumerable documents where occasionally I did use harsh
words. I may remind you that foreign statesmen also used
harsh language regarding the treatment of Germany. But I am
sure they did not mean it. It is certain that in the course
of six years of war harsh language must be used.

Q. Tell me this: every time today when you have been
confronted with a document which attributes to you some
harsh language or the opposite of what you have said here,
you say that on that occasion you were telling a diplomatic
lie. Is that what it comes to? Thank you very much.

THE PRESIDENT: Sir David, have you all these documents in


(The Tribunal adjourned until 2nd April, 1946, at 1000 hours.)

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