The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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Last-Modified: 1999/12/22

Q. I understand.

A. I did not consider the Anschluss as an act of aggression,
that is, no - I considered it a realisation of the mutual
purpose of both nations involved. They had always wished to
be together and the government, before Adolf Hitler, had
striven for it.

Q. I ask you once more: please answer "yes" or "no." Do you
consider that the Anschluss was not an act of German
aggression? Do you consider ...

THE PRESIDENT: General Rudenko, he gave you a categorical
answer to that that it was not an aggression.

GENERAL RUDENKO: Yes, I understand, Mr. President.

THE PRESIDENT: And we have already ruled that the witnesses
are not to be confined to answering "yes" or "no." They must
answer "yes" or "no" first, and then make a short
explanation if they want to. But, anyhow, with reference to
this question, he has answered it categorically.


Q. The second question: do you consider the seizure of
Czechoslovakia as an act of aggression by Germany?

A. No, it was no aggression in that sense, but a union in
accordance with the self-determination of nations, as laid
down in 1919 by the President of the United States, Wilson.
The annexation of the Sudetenland was sanctioned by an
agreement of the four great Powers in Munich.

Q. You evidently have not understood my question. I asked
you whether you considered the seizure of Czechoslovakia, of
the whole of Czechoslovakia, as an act of aggression by

A. No, it was not an act of aggression by Germany. I
consider, according to the words of the Fuehrer, and I
believe he was right, that it was a necessity, resulting
from Germany's geographical position. This position meant
that the remaining part of Czechoslovakia, the part which
still existed, could always be used as a kind of aircraft-
carrier for attack against Germany. The Fuehrer therefore
considered himself obliged to occupy the territory of
Bohemia and Moravia in order to protect the German Reich
against air attack - the air journey from Prague to Berlin
took only half an hour. Looking back on the matter, I
remember that the Fuehrer told me at the time that the
United States had declared the entire Western Hemisphere as
their particular sphere of interest, that Russia was a
powerful country with gigantic territories, and that England
embraced the entire globe, so that Germany would be
perfectly justified in considering so small a space as her
own sphere of interest.

Q. Do you consider the attack on Poland as an act of
aggression by Germany?

A. No, I must again say no; the attack on Poland was
rendered inevitable by the behaviour of the other Powers. It
might have been possible to find a peaceful solution to the
German demands, and I think the Fuehrer would have trodden
this path of peace had the other Powers taken this path with
him. As matters stood, the situation had become so tense
that Germany could no longer accept it as it was, and as a
great power Germany could not tolerate Polish provocations
any further. That is how this war arose. I am convinced that
primarily the Fuehrer was never interested in conquering

Q. Do you consider the attack on Denmark as an act of
aggression by Germany?

A. No, the "invasion" of Denmark, as it is called, was -
according to the Fuehrer's words and explanations - a purely
preventive measure adopted against imminent landings of
British fighting forces. How authentic our information was
is proved by the fact that only a few days later English and
German troops were engaged in battle in Norway. That means
that it was proved that these English troops had been ready
for some time past for fighting in Norway and

                                                  [Page 282]

from the documents discovered later on, and published at the
time and from orders issued, that the English landing in
Scandinavia had been prepared down to the smallest detail.
The Fuehrer therefore thought that by seizing Scandinavia,
he would prevent it from becoming another theatre of war. I
do not therefore think that the invasion of Denmark can be
considered as an act of aggression.

Q. And you do not consider this attack on Norway as an act
of aggression on the part of Germany either?

A. We have just been talking about Norway. I was talking
about Norway and Denmark - a combined action.

Q. Together with Denmark. All right, it was a simultaneous
action. Do you consider the attack on Belgium, Holland and
Luxembourg as an act of aggression on the part of Germany?

A. That is the same question. I must again say "no," but I
would like to add an explanation.

Q. Just a moment. I would like you to give shorter replies
because you explain the basic questions far too extensively.
You deny that this was an act of aggression on the part of

A. The Russian prosecutor will understand that we are
dealing with very important questions, which are not easily
explained in a sentence, especially since we did not have
the opportunity to explain the matter in detail. I shall be
quite brief.

Q. I quite appreciate that you have already been answering
questions of this nature for three days running.

A. I shall now be very brief. After the Polish campaign
military considerations proved to be the decisive factors.
The Fuehrer did not wish the war to spread. As for Holland,
Belgium and France, it was France which declared war on
Germany and not we who declared war on France. We therefore
had to prepare for an attack from this direction as well.
The Fuehrer told me at the time that such an attack on the
Ruhr area was to be expected, and documents discovered at a
later date have proved, beyond even a shadow of doubt, and
to the world at large, that this information was perfectly
authentic. The Fuehrer therefore decided to adopt preventive
measures in this case as well, and not wait for an attack on
the heart of Germany. He attacked first - and the timetable
of the German General Staff was put into practice.

Q. Do you consider the attack on Greece as an act of
aggression on the part of Germany?

A. The attack on Greece and Yugoslavia by Germany has
already been discussed. I do not believe I need give any
further details on this point.

Q. I also do not think it is necessary to give detailed
replies. I ask you whether you consider the attack on Greece
as an act of aggression on the part of Germany? Answer "yes"
or "no."

A. No, and I consider that the measures adopted in
Yugoslavia and the measures taken by Greece in granting air
bases to the enemies of Germany justified the intervention
of Adolf Hitler, so that here too one cannot speak of
aggressive action in this sense. It was quite clear that
British troops were about to land in Greece, since they had
already landed in Crete and the Peloponnesus, and that the
rising in Yugoslavia as I mentioned yesterday by the enemies
of Germany, in agreement with the enemies of Germany, had
been encouraged in the intent of launching an attack against
Germany from that country. The documents discovered later in
France showed only too clearly that a landing in Salonika
had been planned.

Q. Witness Ribbentrop, you have already spoken about that in
much detail. You explained it yesterday at great length. Now
will you please answer "yes" or "no" to my last question: do
you, or do you not consider the attack on the Soviet Union
as an act of aggression on the part of Germany?

A. It was no aggression in the literal sense of the word.

                                                  [Page 283]

Q. You say that in the literal sense of the word it was not
an act of aggression. Then in what sense of the word was it
an aggression?

THE PRESIDENT: You must let him answer.

A. May I offer a few words of explanation? I must be allowed
to say something.

Q. You ...

A. The concept of "aggression" is a very complicated
concept, which even today the world at large cannot readily
define. That is a point I should like to emphasise a priori.
We are here dealing, undeniably, with a preventive attack,
with a war of prevention. That is quite certain, for attack
we did. There is no denying it. I had hoped that matters
with the Soviet Union could have been settled differently,
diplomatically, and I did everything I could in this
direction. But the information received and all the
political acts of the Soviet Union, in 1940 and 1941 until
the outbreak of war, persuaded the Fuehrer, as he repeatedly
told me, that sooner or later the so-called East-West
pincers would be applied to Germany, i.e. that in the East,
Russia, with her immense war potential, and in the West,
England and the United States, were pushing steadily towards
Europe with the purpose of making a large-scale landing.
That was Hitler's great worry. Moreover, the Fuehrer
informed me that close collaboration existed between the
General Staffs of London and Moscow. This I had not known, I
personally had received no such news. But the reports and
information which I received from the Fuehrer were of an
extremely concrete nature. At any rate, he feared that, one
day, Germany, faced with this political situation, would be
threatened with catastrophe and he wished to prevent the
collapse of Germany and the destruction of the balance of
power in Europe.

Q. In your testimony you have frequently stated that, in the
pursuit of peaceful objectives, you considered it essential
to solve a number of decisive questions through diplomatic
channels. Now this testimony is obviously arrant hypocrisy
since you admitted just now that all these acts of
aggression on the part of Germany were justified.

A. I did not mean to say that, I only said that we were not
dealing with an act of aggression, Sir, while explaining how
this war came to pass and how it developed. I also explained
how I had always done everything in my power to prevent the
war at its outbreak during the Polish crisis. Beyond the
precincts of this Tribunal, history will prove the truth of
my words and show how I endeavoured to localise the war and
prevent it from spreading. That too is true. Therefore, in
conclusion I say that the outbreak of war was caused by
circumstances which, at long last, were no longer in
Hitler's hands, He could only act in the way he did, and
when the war spread ever further, all his decisions were
principally prompted by considerations of a military nature,
and he acted solely in the highest interests of his people.

Q. I understood that you have submitted to the Tribunal a
document, No. 111, written by yourself, which is an
appreciation of Hitler entitled "The Personality of the
Fuehrer." You wrote that document not so very long ago. I am
not going to quote from it, since you doubtless remember it,
you wrote it a very short time ago.

A. No, I am not quite sure what document that is. May I look
at it?

Q. This document was submitted by you to your own defence
counsel, as Exhibit No. Ribbentrop 111, and submitted to the
Tribunal by your attorney. On page 5 there -

A. Will you be kind enough to give me this document?

THE PRESIDENT: It cannot have been submitted to the Tribunal
as 111, without anything more. What is it, 111-PS or 111?

GENERAL RUDENKO: Mr. President, this is the same document
submitted as Ribbentrop 311. We have only a Russian
translation here, which came to us together with a German
Document Book. I presume that the Document Book has been
submitted to the Tribunal.

                                                  [Page 284]

THE PRESIDENT It is R-111 or Ribbentrop 111, you mean. It is
not 111; it is Ribbentrop 111.

GENERAL RUDENKO: Mr. President, this is document 311.

THE PRESIDENT: Yes, I have it now. It is in Document Book
No. 9.

GENERAL RUDENKO: May I continue, Mr. President?


Q. On page 5 of the document, your appreciation of Hitler,
you state: "After the Polish victory, Hitler's plans in the
West, under an influence which we can only ascribe to
Himmler, were further worked out, with the purpose of
establishing German hegemony in Europe." Do you remember the
passage of the document you wrote yourself, defendant

A. May I see this document, I do not know it?

Q. I would like to ask counsel for the defendant Ribbentrop
to submit this document to his client.

DR. HORN: Mr. President, we are dealing here with ...

THE PRESIDENT: Wait a minute.

Dr. Horn, the Tribunal is inclined to think that this
document is quite irrelevant. It is apparently a document
prepared by the defendant Ribbentrop, upon the personality
of the Fuehrer. I do not know where it was prepared, but it
seems to us to be irrelevant.

DR. HORN: Yes, Mr. President, I too am of opinion that it is
irrelevant. I only included this document in case the
defendant did not have an opportunity to speak in greater
detail of his relationship to Hitler. Since he has had that
opportunity I should like to withdraw the document.

THE PRESIDENT: General Rudenko, the Tribunal considers the
document quite irrelevant.

GENERAL RUDENKO: Mr. President, this document was presented
by the defence counsel. It was written by the defendant
Ribbentrop in the course of this Trial. All the prosecutors
considered it admissible since this document, this
appreciation, presented by the defendant Ribbentrop would
justify us in asking a whole number of questions. But if the
Tribunal considers that it really is quite irrelevant to the
case, I shall, of course, refrain from quoting it.

THE PRESIDENT: We have not yet had an opportunity of ruling
on the admissibility of these documents. It is the first
time we have seen them, this morning. We all consider this
document irrelevant.

GENERAL RUDENKO: I understand, Mr. President.

Q. I should like to put a few questions with regard to
German aggression against Yugoslavia. I should like you to
acquaint yourself with Document PS-1195. This document is
entitled "Current Directive for the Partition of
Yugoslavia." I invite your attention to paragraph 4 of the
first section of the document. It states: "In connection
with the partition of Yugoslavia the Fuehrer has issued the
following instructions:

The transfer of territories occupied by the Italians has
already been arranged in a letter of the Fuehrer to the Duce
and will be carried out by detailed directive of the Foreign

Have you found the place?

A. No, I do not see the place.

Q. Page 1, paragraph 4, beginning with the words: "The
Fuehrer ... " Got it?

A. Yes.

Q. I have already read this paragraph into the record.

A. It begins: "In connection with the partition of
Yugoslavia, the Fuehrer has issued the following
instructions"? That is how the document begins. May I ask
... now what passage are you quoting?

Q. It ends with the following words: " ... will be carried
out by a detailed directive of the Foreign Office." And then
reference is made to a teletype from the Quartermaster
General of the O.K.H.

                                                  [Page 285]

A. There must be some mistake. It is not mentioned here.

(A recess was taken until 1400 hours.)




Q. Defendant Ribbentrop, have you acquainted yourself with
the contents of the document?

A. Yes, I have.

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