The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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So, on 30th January, 1937, perhaps because Hitler realised
the position of Belgium and of the Netherlands, in the next
document in the bundle (TC-33 and 35, which I hand in and
will be Exhibit GB 99) he gave the solemn assurance - he
used the word "solemn". That has already been read by the
Attorney General, and so I do not want to read it again. But
the Tribunal will see that it is a full guarantee. In April,
1937, in a document which is not before the Court, France
and England released Belgium from her obligations under the
Locarno Pact. It is a matter of history and it does occur in
an exhibit, but it has not been copied. Belgium, of course,
gave guarantees of strict independence and neutrality, and
France and England gave guarantees of assistance should
Belgium be attacked. And it was because of that that
Germany, on 13th October, 1937, in the next document, gave a
very clear and unconditional guarantee to Belgium-Document
TC-34, which I offer in evidence as Exhibit GB 100 - the
German declaration of 13th October, 1937, which shows the
minutes:

  "I have the honour on behalf of the German Government to
  make the following communication to Your Excellency: The
  German Government has taken cognisance with particular
  interest of the public declaration in which the Belgian
  Government defines the international position of Belgium.
  For its part, the German Government has repeatedly given
  expression, especially through the declaration of the
  Chancellor of the German Reich in his speech of 30th
  January, 1937, to its own point of view. The German
  Government has also taken cognisance of the declaration
  made by the British and French Governments on 24th April,
  1937" - that is a document to which I have previously
  referred - "since the conclusion of a treaty - "

THE PRESIDENT: When you are reading a document to which you
attach importance, would you go a little bit slower?

                                                  [Page 201]

MR. ROBERTS: I certainly will. A little bit slower or
faster?

THE PRESIDENT: Slower in the documents to which you attach
great importance.

MR. ROBERTS: Yes.

  "Since the conclusion of a treaty to replace the Treaty
  of Locarno may still take some time, and being desirous
  of strengthening the peaceful aspirations of the two
  countries, the German Government regards it as
  appropriate to define now its own attitude towards
  Belgium. To this end, it makes the following declaration:
  First, the German Government has taken note of the views
  which the Belgian Government has thought fit to express.
  That is to say, (a) of the policy of independence which
  it intends to exercise in full sovereignty; (b) of its
  determination to defend the frontiers of Belgium with all
  its forces against any aggression or invasion, and to
  prevent Belgian territory from being used for purposes of
  aggression against another State as a passage or as a
  base of operation by land, by sea, or by air, and to
  organise the defence of Belgium in an efficient manner
  for this purpose. Secondly: The German Government
  considers that the inviolability and integrity of Belgium
  are common interests of the Western Powers. It confirms
  its determination that in no circumstances will it impair
  this inviolability and integrity, and that it will at all
  times respect Belgian territory except, of course, in the
  event of Belgium's taking part in a military action
  directed against Germany in an armed conflict in which
  Germany is involved. The German Government, like the
  British and French Governments, is prepared to assist
  Belgium should she be subjected to an attack or to
  invasion."

Then, on the following page:

  "The Belgian Government has taken note with great
  satisfaction of the declaration communicated to it this
  day by the German Government. It thanks the German
  Government warmly for this communication."

My Lord, may I pause there to emphasise that document.
There, in October, 1937, is Germany giving a solemn
guarantee to this small nation of its peaceful aspiration
towards her, and its assertion that the integrity of the
Belgian frontier was a common interest between it and
Belgium and the other Western Powers.

You have before you to try, the leaders of the German
Government and the leaders of the German Armed Forces. One
does not have to prove, does one, that everyone of those
accused must have known perfectly well of that solemn
undertaking given by his government? Every one of these
accused, in their various spheres of activity - some more
actively than the others - was a party to the shameless
breaking of that treaty two and a-half years afterwards, and
I submit that, on the ordinary laws of inference and
justice, all those men must be fixed as active
participators, in that  disgraceful breach of faith which
brought misery and death to so many millions.

Presumably it will be contended on the part, for instance,
of Keitel and Jodl that they were merely honourable soldiers
carrying out their duty. This Tribunal, no doubt, will
inquire what code of honour they observe which permits them
to violate the pledged word of their country.

That this declaration of October, 1937, meant very little to
the leaders, and to the High Command of Germany can be seen
by the next document.

                                                  [Page 202]

which is Document PS-375 in the bundle. It is Exhibit USA
84, and has already been referred to many times. May I just
refer or remind the Tribunal of one sentence or two. The
document comes into existence on 24th August, 1938, at the
time when the Czechoslovakian drama was unfolding, and it
was uncertain at that time whether there would be war with
the Western Powers. It is top secret, addressed to the
General Staff of the 5th section of the German Air Force.
The subject: "Extended Case Green - Estimate of the
Situation." Probably the more correct word would be
"Appreciation of the Situation with Special Consideration of
the Enemy." Apparently some staff officer had been asked to
prepare this appreciation. In view of the fact that it has
been read before, I think I need only read the last
paragraph, which is Paragraph H, and it comes at the bottom
of Page 6, the last page but one of the document:-

  "Requests to Armed Forces Supreme Command, Army and
  Navy."

This, you see, was an appreciation addressed by an Air Force
staff officer. So these are requests to the Army and Navy.
And then, if one turns over the page, No. 4:

  "Belgium and the Netherlands would, in German hands,
  represent an extraordinary advantage in the prosecution
  of the air war against Great Britain as well as against
  France. Therefore it is held to be essential to obtain
  the opinion of the Army as to the conditions under which
  an occupation of this area could be carried out and how
  long it would take. And in this case it would be
  necessary to reassess the commitment against Great
  Britain."

The point that the prosecution desires to make on that
document is that it is apparently assumed by the staff
officer who prepared this, and assumed quite rightly, that
the leaders of the German nation and the High Command, would
not pay the smallest attention to the fact that Germany had
given her word not to invade Holland or Belgium. They are
recommending it as a militarily advantageous thing to do,
strong in the knowledge that, if the Commanders and the
Fuehrer agree with that view, treaties are to be completely
ignored. Such, I repeat, was the honour of the German
Government and of its leaders.

Now, in March, 1939, as has been proved, the remainder of
Czechoslovakia was peacefully annexed, and then came the
time for further guarantees; in the next documents TC-35 and
39, the assurances, which were given to Belgium and the
Netherlands on 28th April, 1939.

These have been read by my learned friend, Major Elwyn
Jones. They are Exhibit GB
78. I need not read them again.

There is also a guarantee to Luxembourg, which is on the
next page, TC-42A. That was given in the same speech by
Hitler in the Reichstag, and this 42A was where Hitler was
dealing with a communication from Mr. Roosevelt, who was
feeling a little uneasy on the other side of the Atlantic as
to Hitler's intentions, and may I, before I read this
document, say that I believe the Tribunal will be seeing a
film of the delivery by Hitler of this part of this speech,
and you will have the privilege of seeing Hitler in one of
his jocular moods, because this was greeted and was
delivered in a jocular vein, and you will see in the film
that the defendant Goering, who sits above Hitler in the
Reichstag, appreciates very much the joke, the joke being
this -

                                                  [Page 203]


that it is an absurd suggestion to make that Germany could
possibly go to war with any of her neighbours - and that was
the point of the joke that everybody appears to have
appreciated very much.

Now, if I may read this document:

  "Finally, Mr. Roosevelt demands the readiness to give him
  an assurance that the German fighting forces will not
  attack the territory or possessions of the following
  independent nations and, above all, that they will not
  march into them. And he goes on to name the following as
  the countries in question: Finland, Latvia, Lithuania,
  Esthonia, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Holland, Belgium,
  Great Britain, Ireland, France, Portugal, Spain,
  Switzerland, Lichtenstein, Luxembourg, Poland, Hungary,
  Roumania, Yugoslavia, Russia, Bulgaria, Turkey, Iraq,
  Arabia, Syria, Palestine, Egypt and Iran.
  
  A. I started off by taking the trouble to find out in the
  case of the countries listed, firstly, whether they feel
  themselves threatened, and secondly and particularly,
  whether this question Mr. Roosevelt has asked us was put
  as the result of a demarche by them or at least with
  their consent.
  
  The answer was a general negative, which in some cases
  took the form of a blunt rejection. Actually this counter-
  question of mine could not be conveyed to some of the
  States and nations listed, since they are not at present
  in possession of their liberty (as for instance Syria),
  but are occupied by the military forces of democratic
  States, and therefore, deprived of all their rights.
  
  Thirdly, apart from that, all the States bordering on
  Germany have received much more binding assurances and,
  above all, much more binding proposals than Mr. Roosevelt
  asked of me in his peculiar telegram."

You will see that, although that is sneering at Mr.
Roosevelt, it is suggesting in the presence, certainly, of
the accused Goering as being quite absurd that Germany
should nurture any warlike feeling against its neighbours.
But the hollow falsity of that and the preceding guarantee
is shown by the next document. May I put this Document, TC-
42A, in as Exhibit GB 101.

The next document, which is Hitler's conference of 23rd May,
has been referred to many times and is Exhibit USA 27.
Therefore, I need only very shortly remind the Tribunal of
two passages. First of all, on the first page, it is
interesting to see who was present: The Fuehrer, Goering,
Admiral Raeder, Brauchitsch, Colonel General Keitel, and
various others who are not accused. Colonel Warlimont was
there. He, I understand, was Jodl's deputy.

Well, now, the purpose of the conference was an analysis of
the situation. Then, may I refer to the third page, down at
the bottom. The stencil number is 819:

  "What will this struggle be like?"

And then these words:

  "The Dutch and Belgian air bases must be occupied by
  armed force.  Declarations of neutrality must be
  ignored."

                                                  [Page 204]

Then, at the bottom:-

  "Therefore, if England intends to intervene in the Polish
  war, we must occupy Holland with lightning speed. We must
  aim at securing a new defence line on Dutch soil up to
  the Zuider Zee."

There is this decision made: "Declarations of neutrality
must be ignored," and there is the Grand Admiral present,
and there is the Air Minister and Chief of the German Air
Force, and there is General Keitel present. They all appear,
and all their subsequent actions show that they acquiesced
in that: "Give your word and then break it." That is their
code of honour, and you will see that at the end of the
meeting, the very last page - the stencil number is 823 -
Field Marshal Goering asked one or two questions.

There was the decision of 23rd May. Is it overstating the
matter to submit that any syllable of guarantee, any
assurance given after that, is just purely hypocrisy, is
just the action - apart from the multiplicity of the crimes
here - of the common criminal?

THE PRESIDENT: Mr. Roberts, I think we would like you, so
far as possible, to confine yourself to the document.

MR. ROBERTS: Yes, my Lord. Then we go to 22nd August, 798-
PS. That has already been put in and is Exhibit USA 29. My
Lord, that was Hitler's speech Of 22nd August. It has been
read and re-read. I only, my Lord, refer to one passage, and
that is at the bottom of the second page:-

  "Attack from the West from the Maginot Line: I consider
  this impossible.
  
  Another possibility is the violation of Dutch, Belgian
  and Swiss neutrality. I have no doubt that all these
  States as well as Scandinavia will defend their
  neutrality by all available means."

My Lord, I desire to emphasise the next sentence:-

  "England and France will not violate the neutrality of
  these countries."

Then I desire to comment, I ask your Lordship to bear that
sentence in mind, that correct prophecy, when remembering
the excuses given for the subsequent invasion of Belgium and
the Netherlands.

My Lord, the next documents are TC-36, 40 and 42. Those are
three assurances. TC-36 is by the Ambassador of Germany to
the Belgium Government.

  "In view of the gravity of the international situation, I
  am expressly instructed by the Head of the German Reich
  to transmit to Your Majesty the following communication:-
  
  Though the German Government is at present doing
  everything in its power to arrive at a peaceful solution
  of the questions at issue between the Reich and Poland,
  it nevertheless desires to define clearly, here and now,
  the attitude which it proposes to adopt towards Belgium
  should a conflict in Europe become inevitable.
  
  The German Government is firmly determined to abide by
  the terms of the declaration contained in the German Note
  of 13th October, 1937. This provides in effect that
  Germany will, in no circumstances, impair the
  inviolability and integrity of Belgium, and will at all
  times respect Belgian territory. The German Government
  renews this undertaking

                                                  [Page 205]
  
  however, in the expectation that the Belgian Government,
  for its part, will observe an attitude of strict
  neutrality and that Belgium will tolerate no violations
  on the part of a third power, but that, on the contrary,
  she will oppose it with all the forces at her disposal.
  It goes without saying that, if the Belgian Government
  were to adopt a different attitude, the German Government
  would naturally be compelled to defend its interests in
  conformity with the new situation thus created."

My Lord, may I make one short comment on the last part of
that document? I submit it is clear that the decision having
been made to violate the neutrality as we know, those last
words were put in to afford some excuse in the future.

That document will be Exhibit GB 102.

My Lord, the next document is a similar document,
communicated to Her Majesty, the Queen of the Netherlands,
on the same day, 26th August, 1939. Subject to the
Tribunal's direction, I do not think I need read it. It is a
public document in the German document book, and it has
exactly the same features.

That will be Exhibit GB 103

Then, my Lord, TC-42, the next document (Exhibit GB 104), is
a similar document in relation to Luxembourg. That is dated
26th August, the same day. I am not certain; it has two
dates. I think it is 26th August. My Lord, that is, in the
same terms, a complete guarantee with the sting in the tail
as in the other two documents. Perhaps I need not read it.

My Lord, as the Tribunal knows, Poland was occupied by means
of the lightning victory, and in October German Armed Forces
were free for other tasks. The first step that was taken, so
far as the Netherlands and Belgium are concerned, is shown
by the next document, which is, I think, in as GB 80, but
the true, essential portions refer to Belgium and the
Netherlands. It is the next document in your Lordships'
bundle, No. 4

THE PRESIDENT: TC-32?

MR. ROBERTS: Yes. It begins with TC-32, and then if you go
to the next one, my Lords will see TC-37 on the same page -
and then TC-41; both 37 and 41 refer to this matter. Now,
this is a German assurance on the 6th October, 1939:-

  "Belgium.
  
  Immediately after I had taken over the affairs of the
  State I tried to create friendly relations with Belgium.
  I renounced any revision or any desire for revision. The
  Reich has not made any demands which would in any way be
  likely to be considered in Belgium as a threat."


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