The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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Last-Modified: 2000/10/14

These assertions of the defendant are confirmed
by the statements of the witness von Holleben in the
questionnaire answered by him - Document Book V, No. 156 -
of the witness Dr. von Burgsdorf, as well as by the
defendant's letter to Baroness Ritter - quoted in her
affidavit - Document Book I, No. 3. And the defendant has
actually succeeded in carrying his point, as shown by
Ziemke's report on his conversation with Hitler, submitted
by the prosecution.

As long as he was in Prague, no measures were taken to
Germanise the Czech people; the defendant even prohibited
the discussion of this entire question, as shown by document
3862-PS submitted by the prosecution. By preventing any
division of the Protectorate territory and any more or less
forcible Germanisation of the Czech nation according to
plan, the defendant has proved in a striking manner the
sincerity of his aims and endeavours to protect and preserve
the Czech nation, its national traits and its national unity
and character, and how he remained true to his principles
and intentions, as stated publicly in his article reproduced
by the Frankfurter Zeitung of 30th March, 1939 - Document
Book V, No. 143 - on the New Order in Central Europe, which
set forth his line of conduct for the accomplishment of his
task. In this article he himself describes his task as a
fine one, but at the same time a difficult one. How
difficult it really was, now nearly impossible, was seen,
unfortunately, only too soon.

Chief among the reasons for this was that from the beginning
not only were the full powers in the Protectorate not
transferred to the Reich Protector, not only was he not
given the sole executive and controlling position, and this
in spite of the fact that he was Hitler's immediate
subordinate, but also his competences and powers were not
sufficiently clearly defined. It is true that Hitler's
decree of 16th March, 1939, establishing the Protectorate,
and the supplementary decree of 22nd March, 1939, Document
Book V, Nos. 144 and 145 - had laid it down that the
Reichsprotektor was subordinate to the Fuehrer and Reich
Chancellor, that he was to be the sole representative of the
Fuehrer and the Reich Government and was to receive his
directives from the Fuehrer and from the Reich Chancellor.
But at the same time not only were certain administrative
branches, such as the Wehrmacht, communications, the postal,
telegraphic and telephone services, removed from his

                                                  [Page 312]

control from the beginning, but the Reich Government, that
is, the Reich, had also been given the right to take under
its own jurisdiction, as administration of the Reich proper-
so-called "reichseigene" - independent of the Reich
Protector, those administrative branches which actually were
Reich Protector offices, and to establish, if necessary,
Reich offices, which did not fall within the Reich
Protector's competence: The Reich was also given the right
to take measures necessary for maintaining security and
order in the Protectorate over the head of the Reich
Protector himself. Furthermore - and this is the most
important point of all - every one of the many supreme Reich
authorities, that is, not only the Reich ministries, but,
for instance, the Reichsbank, the Four-year Plan, the
Council of Ministers for the Defence of the Reich and
others, was given the right to decree laws and
organisational measures on its own authority and quite
independently of the Reich Protector, and therefore to
interfere in those branches of the Reich Protector, without
the Reich Protector having either the right or the
possibility to protest against or prevent such decrees or
measures, should they be in opposition to his own decrees,
measures and policy. On the contrary, he was bound not only
to publish them in the Protectorate if asked to do so, but
also to supervise their execution. Therefore the position of
the Reich Protector was, to use an example by way of
explanation, by no means the same as that of the British
Viceroy in India; it was more like the position - though to
outward appearances on a somewhat higher level - of a Reich
Regent or the President of a Province. Therefore it was
quite different from what had hitherto been understood
constitutionally by a protectorate; nor could it be
otherwise, because this so-called Protectorate of Bohemia
and Moravia belonged, according to Article 1 of the above-
mentioned decree of 16th March, 1939 - and to this I wish to
draw particular attention here - to the territory of the
German Reich, that is to say, it was a part of the German
Reich. And it only had a certain amount of independent
authority, a limited autonomy within the Reich as a part of
it, so that the laws and regulations valid in the rest of
the Reich territory were introduced into the Protectorate.
It was quite obvious that this vague and loosely defined
limitation of the powers and competence of the Reich
Protector was bound to lead very soon to great difficulties,
difficulties not only in the way of a homogeneous policy,
homogeneously conceived and directed, but difficulties which
prevented the defendant himself, as Reich Protector, from
governing in the way he wished and steering the course
already taken, difficulties and reverses which became more
and more acute in the course of time. In view of all this,
it follows that the responsibility of the defendant can only
be judged against this background, that is, only by taking
into account these various competences of these many other
authorities. He can never be held responsible for decrees,
measures and actions which he did not decree or order
himself, but which were decreed without his co-operation,
without his knowledge, even against his will, by authorities
or other offices outside his sphere of power and influence -
decrees, measures and actions which he had neither the right
nor the power to prevent and for which he was at most a
medium for circulation.

This is especially relevant for the accusation of joint
responsibility brought against him by the Czech prosecution
(USSR 60-a) for all the actions of Hitler and of the Reich
Government before and after the setting up of the
Protectorate. The prosecution takes as basis for its
assertions the fact that Herr von Neurath, after having
given up his post as Reich Foreign Minister, remained a
member of the Reich Cabinet - whereas in fact this is
incorrect. I have already proved elsewhere beyond all doubt
that he was not a member of the Reich Cabinet, either as a
Minister or as President of the Secret Cabinet Council, and
still less was he a member of the Reich Cabinet as Reich
Protector. That, too, is certain and has never been
maintained by the prosecution before this Tribunal.
Therewith, any joint responsibility of the defendant for any
actions or measures which preceded or prepared the way for
the setting up of the Protectorate is disproved. Also I have
already proved elsewhere that his statement to the
Czechoslovak Ambassador on

                                                  [Page 313]

12th March, 1938, which has been used by the prosecution in
support of its allegation that this prepared the way, was
not false, not deceitful, and was not an action which
prepared the way for the entry into Czechoslovakia.

If the Czech prosecution further deduces from Article 5 of
the above-mentioned decree of 16th March, 1939, that, as
Reich Protector, he was wholly responsible for everything
that occurred in the Protectorate during the time he was in
office, that is, from 17th March, 1939, to 27th September,
1941, then this conclusion also is wrong and incorrect, in
view of the actual position with regard to the division of
powers in the Protectorate, as explained above. There is no
system of law in the world according to which one can charge
a person with criminal responsibility for occurrences and
acts by third persons, in which he did not participate or
cooperate, or which even occurred against his will.

Thus he cannot be made responsible for the fixing of the
rate of exchange between the Reichsmark and the Czech
Koruna, because this rate had already been fixed when he
took over office; neither had he any hand in fixing it nor
had he the power or right to change the rate of exchange;
quite apart from the question, which we need not discuss
here, of whether, as the prosecution maintains without
producing proofs, the rate of exchange really was
detrimental to the Czech people or not. Incidentally, I need
hardly say that even if this had been the case, it would not
be a crime according to the Charter - and only as such would
it be punishable.

Nor can he be made responsible for the setting up of the
customs union and putting it into practice. This had already
been laid down in Article 9 of the decree of 16th March,
1939, which reads:

  "The Protectorate belongs to the customs area of the
  German Reich and is subject to its sovereignty as regards

This regulation was a natural consequence of the fact, which
I have already stressed, that the Protectorate was a part of
the territory of the German Reich. However, I would like to
draw special attention here to the fact that the defendant,
because he regarded the absorption of the Protectorate into
the customs area, the customs sovereignty of the Reich, as
detrimental and harmful to Czech economy, managed to prevent
this absorption from becoming operative for a year and a
half, until October, 1940, in spite of all the pressure
exerted by the Reich Finance Minister, which is clear proof
that the defendant put the interests of the Czech people,
who had been entrusted to him, above the interests of the
German Reich. He had absolutely nothing to do with the
economic measures for the alleged transfer of Czech banks
and industrial undertakings and the alleged filling of the
key positions in them by Germans. Those measures were taken
by other offices, especially by the Reichsbank and the
Trustee for the Four-Year Plan, behind his back and without
his collaboration. These were merely the natural consequence
of the fact that already in earlier days a very large amount
of German capital had been invested in these banks and
undertakings, and this capital increased after the
occupation, because the credits given by other countries
were withdrawn by them and were now granted by German firms.

Lastly, he had nothing whatever to do with jurisdiction.
This was wholly under the control of the Reich Ministry of
Justice. This alone set up the German courts including
courts martial and the prosecuting authority, this alone
appointed judges and prosecutors. Herr von Neurath himself
had nothing to do with these appointments and still less
with the jurisdiction of the courts, as is clearly shown by
the ordinances and decrees which defined it, especially the
decree concerning the practice of criminal jurisdiction of
April 14th, 1939, Document Book V, No. 147.

Here again I must draw attention to the fact that neither
the economic measures nor the setting up of German courts in
the Protectorate, which was a part of the German Reich, can
even remotely fall under the category of crimes arraigned by
this Charter. And this applies equally to the alleged
intrusions into the Czech educational system, the
appointment of German school inspectors, measures with which
the defendant has been charged in the Czech indictment.
These measures

                                                  [Page 314]

also were not taken by him, but by the German Reich Ministry
for Education. And the closing of a larger number of Czech
secondary schools was not ordered by the defendant, nor by
order of the German Reich Ministry, but by the Czech
Government itself, even if it did so on the suggestion of
the defendant. This measure turned out to be a useful one
and was in the interests of the Czech youth and, therefore,
of the Czech intelligentsia and people, because it prevented
the formation and growth of a large educated proletariat.
After the incorporation of the Sudeten German territory into
the German Reich in the autumn of 1938, this danger had
become acute, for a very large number of Czech officials and
members of the free professions had streamed into the
territory of the Protectorate, with the result that because
of the overcrowding of all higher professions, which already
existed, and the diminution of the Protectorate territory
owing to the separation of the Sudeten territory and
Slovakia, the chances of finding employment for the pupils
leaving the secondary schools were still further diminished.
In addition to this came the closing of universities, in the
middle of November, 1939, upon personal order of Hitler. The
Czech Government could not shut its eyes to the truth of
these considerations of the defendant, and itself decreed
the closing of quite a number of schools. The defendant did
not exercise any pressure on the Czech Government. This has
been proven by the evidence.

The dissolution of Czech gymnastic and sports clubs and
similar organizations, however, as well as the confiscation
and the use of their assets was ordered without knowledge or
participation of the defendant, by the police, who were not
under his jurisdiction. It is not even certain, by the way,
whether this dissolution took place while the defendant was
holding office or only after his departure. The dissolution
of the Sokol, it must be said, was a real necessity for the
Government, in order to protect German interests, and
moreover it was a measure which was taken to try to appease
and reconcile the Czech nation too, for the Sokol was,
beyond doubt, the focusing point of all anti-German efforts
and of the incitement of the Czech people toward an active
resistance against everything which was German.

The preceding arguments show how manifold were the
encroachments of other administrations and offices on the
administration of the Protectorate, and, accordingly, the
difficulties and resistances which arose against a uniform
policy of the defendant. Those were, however, by no means
removed but, on the contrary, aggravated by the decree of
1st September, 1939, concerning the organization of
administration and the German Security Police - Document
Book V, No. 149. This decree was issued, without previous
consultation with the defendant, by the Council of Ministers
for the Reich defence. Especially in its first part, it is
absolutely obscure and misleading. True, it placed all
German administration offices and their officials in the
Protectorate under the control of the Reich Protector, but
this subordination was an administrative one only, i.e., a
purely external one, but not at the same time an actual one
in view of the administrative duties which they had to

In this respect, things remained unchanged, as had already
been indicated from the authority of the supreme Reich
offices according to Article 11 of the decree of 16th March,
1939, and of the ordinance of 22nd March, 1939. The
difference was only that from now on all administrations and
offices established or to be established by other offices
were formally attached to the Reich Protector's office and
took up their functions under the official title of "The
Reich Protector of Bohemia and Moravia". However, this by no
means ensured that such attached departments were put, in
fact, under control of the Reich Protector himself, i.e.,
the defendant, and that they had to receive from him their
actual directives and orders and had to work according to
his views and his directives. On the contrary, they received
their instructions, just as before, from their original
Reich offices and had to observe and to obey only these. For
instance, the so-called transportation department
constituted accordingly under the Reich Protector which
dealt with the communication system - already taken out of
the Reich Protector's jurisdiction by ordinance of 16th
March, 1939 -

                                                  [Page 315]

was controlled, just as before, by the Reich Ministry of
Communications, and not by the Reich Protector, and had to
get instructions not from him but from the Ministry in
Berlin. And the same applied to other sectors, also
including the purely internal administration.

According to this ordinance of 1st September, 1939, of the
Council of Ministers for the Reich defence, and not, as the
Czech Indictment erroneously contends, by a decree of the
defendant, a new division of the Protectorate territory was
undertaken, into Oberlandratsbezirke with an Oberlandrat at
their head, which official is, according to paragraph 6 of
the ordinance; the competent administrator for all
administration branches of the internal administration, and
subordinate to the Reich Protector in an administrative
sense; as such he was invested with far-reaching authority,
and also supervised the Czech authorities in the
Protectorate, and this, not by the order of the Reich
Protector, but of the concerned Reich Ministry in Berlin.
This too was bound to result in very serious differences and
oppositions arising from the measures taken by those
Oberlandrat according to the directives issued to them by
the Reich Ministry of the Interior in Berlin and from the
policy pursued by the defendant. To what extent this latter
affected and influenced the Czech administrative offices
does not have to be taken into consideration, since this
decree too and its result, replacement of the Czech
administrators by Reich German officials, is no crime
punishable according to the Charter of this Tribunal. This
decree, too, is but a result of the fact that the
Protectorate belonged to the Reich.

On the other hand, this decree clarified the question of the
position of the police within the Protectorate territory,
the political as well as the Security Police. This question
was quite unsettled until the decree came into force, and
from the very first day of his activity had led to
differences and difficulties between von Neurath and his
State Secretary Frank.

At the time when Hitler charged the defendant with the
office of the Reich Protector, he had, according to the
defendant's testimony, assured him of far-reaching power,
especially for protecting and fully aiding the defendant's
policy of conciliation and appeasement as opposed to radical
aspirations of the Party and other chauvinistic circles. The
defendant deduced from this that, as the representative of
the Fuehrer in the Protectorate, he must and would have a
decisive influence on the activity of the police also.
According to his own testimony he could not visualize at
that time that due to the fact that the police had not
expressly and from the beginning been subordinated to him, a
large part of the sphere of activity accepted by him became
illusory from the start. However, due to the fact that Frank
- who had been made Higher SS and Police Fuehrer in the
Protectorate - was at the same time appointed to the
position of State Secretary and as such was subordinate to
him, he felt entitled to assume that Hitler s intention was
to put the police authority, if not in his own hands, at
least under his jurisdiction, i.e., in the hands of his
State Secretary. In practice, however, this relation worked
out entirely differently, since State Secretary Frank had
not the slightest intention of allowing his superior, the
defendant, any authority whatsoever over the police, and
recognized only the jurisdiction and authority of Himmler
his superior as SS and Police Fuehrer or of his Security
Reich Main Office (Reichssicherheitshauptamt).

This actual state of affairs was established by law in the
decree of 1st September, 1939.

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