The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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Last-Modified: 2000/06/04

Q. He became Minister of the Interior and Police Minister,
and went to Hitler in Berlin. Did he report to Schuschnigg
the contents of his first talk with Adolf Hitler?

A. I do not know, but I do know of individual statements by
State Secretary Zernatto, the head of the Fatherland Front,
from which I can conclude that a conversation between
Minister Zernatto and Seyss-Inquart at which this talk was
mentioned must have taken place.

Q. It can therefore be assumed that, through Zernatto,
Schuschnigg also learned of it?

A. Yes, I assume so.

Q. Now we will pass over events until we come to March.
Schuschnigg planned a plebiscite. Do you know whether
Schuschnigg informed Seyss-Inquart of this and discussed it
with him?

A. Yes, Seyss-Inquart was informed of it. I learned that an
agreement between Seyss-Inquart and the Chancellor was
reached on about the 10th of March. The Chancellor told me
that Seyss-Inquart had declared himself willing to speak on
the radio in favour of the election.

Q. When Glaise Horstenau reported that there was a threat of
invasion, did you, in your capacity as Foreign Minister,
inform the foreign powers of this?

A. Yes. I did not receive a direct report from Glaise
Horstenau. I learned of the critical situation only from the
ultimatum which demanded the cancellation of the plebiscite
planned by the Chancellor on the 13th March. From then on,
there was constant contact during the 11th March with the
diplomatic corps in Vienna, and later, during the hours
which followed, with our foreign representatives also.

Q. Then, the demands of the German Reich followed closely
upon one another. Especially, the demand was made that
Schuschnigg should resign. The ministers were assembled, and
a member of the government is said to have told
Seyss-Inquart the following:

                                                  [Page 203]

  "We now see clearly that the Reich is putting an end to
  Austria. It would be best for Seyss-Inquart to take over
  the office of Chancellor so that the transition may at
  least be bearable."

Do you remember such a statement?

A. No. Only later did I hear of a statement by Minister
Glaise Horstenau which contained this request to

Q. Did you have the impression that with the farewell speech
of Schuschnigg, the Fatherland Front which was directed by
him had also collapsed?

A. I believe the question does not quite fit the situation.
The resignation of the Chancellor was demanded by ultimatum,
and finally the State itself was taken over so that the
Fatherland Front no longer existed. With the entry of the
German troops, National Socialism had become a reality and
developments showed that it did not permit the Fatherland
Front to live any longer.

Q. Seyss-Inquart was then appointed Chancellor. He set up
his cabinet, and you, witness, were proposed as Foreign
Minister, is that correct?

A. That is correct. I refused. I was requested again and I
refused again, and I was asked to give my reasons.
Seyss-Inquart told me that he intended to keep Austria
independent as long as possible, but he was afraid that with
his government, which had a National Socialist majority, he
would encounter difficulties in the West. Therefore, he
wanted to retain my diplomatic experience and connections
for the government. He added that he intended to create a
broader platform for this government by calling in positive
Austrian representatives.

Q. Did you find the names of such positive Austrians on the
list of ministers?

A. There were names of men like these. I have puzzled about
it myself, but I cannot recall any individual names with any

Q. Do you know why another list of ministers was drawn up,
which was the final list?

A. In the evening State Secretary Keppler arrived from
Berlin, and, as I learned later, he rejected me, and others,
too, I believe. I think I can remember one name. I believe
that he suggested at the request of Berlin that Weber should
take over the foreign ministry. Thus this list was discarded
and Seyss-Inquart no longer tried to dissuade me to go back
on my decision.

Q. Do you believe that Seyss-Inquart had the intention of
keeping Austria independent, even under National Socialist

A. As a witness, I can only say what I know. Opinions are
very difficult to express. I have stated what he told me.

DR. STEINBAUER: I have no further questions to put to this

BY DR. KUBUSCHOK (Counsel for defendant von Papen):

Q. According to a statement by the American Ambassador in
Vienna at that time, Mr. Messersmith, Herr von Papen, at the
beginning of his activity in Vienna, is said to have stated
that his real task in Vienna was the economic and political
incorporation of South East Europe by Germany, and that
South East Europe was the natural hinterland of Germany.

Did you, witness, ever hear of such a statement?

A. No. In view of the close contact which I had already with
Mr. Messersmith before my appointment as a member of the
government, and especially later, I would probably have
heard of it. I assume, however, that no special significance
was attached to this question at the time, because in first
visits between diplomats, as a rule, a tour d'horizon is
usually made and questions are discussed which interest both
countries, that is, general political questions. Nor did I
observe later that a South East Europe policy was being
carried on from the German Legation.

Q. According to Mr. Messersmith, Herr von Papen is supposed
to have said at that time that he was working to weaken and
undermine the Austrian Government. Do you believe that Herr
von Papen made such a statement, and, what is more
important, did he carry out such a policy?

                                                  [Page 204]

THE PRESIDENT: Wait a minute, Dr. Kubuschok, you cannot ask
him whether he believes that a certain statement was made or
not. That is pure speculation, it is not the subject of
evidence. Therefore, that question must be withdrawn, and
the answer not given to it, and it will be struck out.



Q. I will not ask the witness this: Did the witness
Messersmith report such a statement by Herr von Papen to

A. No.

Q. Did the Austrian Government consider it advisable and
necessary to normalise relations with the Reich by an
agreement in July 1936?

A. Yes. I have already explained the reasons for conducting
a realistic policy which was of an economic nature and based
on foreign policy.

Q. In these and in later negotiations, did the internal
political situation, particularly the settlement of the
Party question, also have a part in deciding this?

A. Of course, it was the task of the government to ease
inner political tension. The Chancellor had to try to find a
way out of the difficult situation which he had inherited
from Dollfuss, by liquidating the inner political fronts.

Q. Do you believe that Herr von Papen concluded the July
1936 Agreement with treacherous intent?

A. No, I have no reason to disbelieve that he considered
this agreement a serious attempt to create a modus vivendi
between Austria and the Reich. The fact that it resulted in
a modus mali vivendi does not alter this.

Q. Did the Germans complain that after the Agreement of the
11th July, 1936, there was no essential change in the inner
political course of the Austrian Government?

A. Yes, many reproaches were made, and thus we come to the
last and the real cause of the conflict with the Reich. The
struggle against National Socialism within the country in
the interests of maintaining the independence of the country
and, on the basis of the Agreement of the 11th July the
co-operation with the German Reich - the leaders of which
were National Socialists - these were the two imperative
demands which, after a time, the Austrian Government found
to be irreconcilable. This also explains the difficulties
encountered by all persons entrusted with carrying out this
Agreement in Vienna, including the German Minister.

Q. As a result of these conditions, particularly those
arising out of the July Agreement, were questions of
internal policy, such as questions of policy and personnel
of the so-called national opposition, the subject of
discussions between the Chancellor and Herr von Papen?

A. The situation as just described shows that such
discussions were unavoidable, and talks on the internal
political situation also took place between the Chancellor
and the German Minister, as well as with the Italian
Minister - in a general way that is not unusual - I know of
no diplomatic memoirs which do not contain such entries. The
Chancellor would never have tolerated any interference of
any kind. In questions of personnel, Schuschnigg was
especially reticent, because if I may say so, he was afraid
of "Trojan horses".

That, more or less, represents the situation which was
discussed in talks between the Chancellor and the German

Q. Did Herr von Papen make it clear that he was opposed to
the methods of the illegal party?

A. Yes. According to the information received by the
government, Papen opposed the leaders of the illegal party -
that is, Leopold, in particular. This was doubtless due to
fundamental differences, differing political ideas and
differing political methods which von Papen on the one hand
and the leaders of the illegal party on the other hand were
determined to pursue.

Q. Did Herr von Papen, on the basis of the July Agreement,
ever adopt an aggressive attitude in Austrian foreign

                                                  [Page 205]

A. There existed between Austria and the Reich, not only in
cultural and internal political relations, but also in the
field of foreign policy, unbridgeable differences of
opinion. I will only mention the demand of the Reich that
Austria should leave the League of Nations, which we
rejected by pointing to the fact that Austria, by reason of
her geographical position and her history, had a continental
mission, and also to the loans received from the League of
Nations. A second point was Austria's attitude -

THE PRESIDENT (Interposing): Is this at all answering the
questions that you have put to him?

DR. KUBUSCHOK: He is introducing the answer to the question.

THE PRESIDENT: Try and get on with the answer to it, will
you? Get the witness on to the answer, rather than the


Q. I should like to know whether Herr von Papen took
advantage of the opportunities for an aggressive
intervention in Austrian foreign policy in the individual
cases mentioned by you.

A. I wanted to say that in spite of the deeply rooted
differences, this did not occur, and that an Ambassador with
a more radical point of view would certainly have had the
opportunity and the occasion to adopt a more severe attitude
towards Austria. There was not a single case where we
reached an agreement with the German Reich on a joint
foreign policy. Von Papen did remind us of that, but that
was all. As for aggression, or aggressive activities, I
cannot say anything about this.

Q. On the contrary, did Herr von Papen act on occasion as
mediator? I would like to recall the Pinkafeld case.

A. The Pinkafeld flag-incident is an example of von Papen's
activity as mediator. In itself it was a minor incident, but
it led to threats of invasion by Hitler. Von Papen was
called to Berlin, and had a great deal of difficulty in
calming down the fury of Hitler, who, as I said, threatened
to invade Austria.

THE PRESIDENT (Interposing): Witness, if it is convenient to
you, it would be more convenient to the Tribunal if you
spoke a little faster.

A. He succeeded in settling the matter and there were no


Q. He settled the matter. Did Herr von Papen speak to you
about the reasons for his being recalled on the 4th of
February, 1938?

A. On the occasion of a visit on the 5th, he expressed his
astonishment - and I might say his anger - at his being
recalled, which in his opinion and also in our opinion was
due to the events of the 4th of February, 1938, the
dismissal of General Fritsch and of thirty other generals,
and the dismissal of von Neurath. He thought that Austria
would not be unaffected either, especially in view of the
man who had been proposed to succeed him. At that time,
Burckel or Consul General Kriebel was proposed. That was
approximately what von Papen said to me and I believe also
to the Chancellor.

Q. Then he believed and feared that his successor would
adopt a more severe policy against Austria?

A. That conclusion was inevitable in view of the two persons
just mentioned.

Q. Did von Papen take part in the pressure exerted on you
and Schuschnigg in the Berchtesgaden talks?

A. No, he did not.

Q. On the contrary, did he not, in so far as he had any
opportunity of taking part in the negotiations, attempt to
tone down Hitler's demands?

A. In view of the atmosphere of violence which prevailed and
the programme of demands which was presented, this was
difficult. I believe that he, like many others who were
present, endeavoured to restore calm, and thus enable the
negotiations to proceed in a reasonable atmosphere.

                                                  [Page 206]

Q. In the course of the negotiations, a number of
concessions was made. Do you believe that von Papen's
attitude and his part in these negotiations had a
restraining effect, and led to you obtaining these practical

A. His attitude on the whole was no doubt mediatory. One
cannot speak of success at Berchtesgaden so far as the
result is concerned; but that was not von Papen's fault.

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Kubuschok, do you think you will be able
to finish in a few moments?



Q. In order to answer my question I believe it would be
better if you would not consider the final result of
Berchtesgaden but rather the fact that Hitler had presented
to you a very big programme of demands going far beyond the
final results, and if you would consider that actually some
points which were of great importance to you were changed in
the course of the negotiations.

A. As far as there was any help coming from the other side,
it came from von Papen.

Q. Do you perhaps recall that the Hitler-Schuschnigg
negotiations were especially violent because Hitler was
trying to win Schuschnigg over to his German attitude and
von Papen came to Schuschnigg's aid and thereby put
Schuschnigg in a better position to negotiate than at the

A. I was not present for the first hour or two of the talk.
I cannot answer the question.

Q. My last question is this: Did Herr von Papen, after the
26th February, the day on which he took leave of the
Austrian President, still carry on any official activity in

A. No; the Vienna Embassy was administered by the charge
d'affaires, Embassy Counsellor von Stein, who made the two
official demarches of the Reich in the afternoon of the 9th
or the morning of the 10th against the plebiscite planned by
Schuschnigg. Von Stein, together with General Muff and State
Secretary Keppler, also handed to the Austrian President the
ultimatum demanding the resignation of Chancellor
Schuschnigg. This shows that Ambassador von Papen was no
longer active.

THE PRESIDENT: The Tribunal will recess until a quarter past

(A recess was taken until 1420 hours.)

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