The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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Last-Modified: 2000/10/18

If any doubts should still have existed can this point, then
they are removed by Document PS-812, Exhibit USA 611,
presented by the prosecution. It deals in this case with the
letter of the Gauleiter of Salzburg, Dr. Friedrich Rainer,
to Reich Commissioner Gauleiter Josef Burckel, and in which
he states, among other things:

                                                  [Page 358]

  " ... Soon after the seizure of power in the Eastern
  Province, Klaussner, Globocnik and I flew to Berlin in
  order to give a report to the deputy of the Fuehrer,
  Party member Rudolf Hess, about the incidents which led
  to the seizure of power."

A report naturally would not have been required if the
deputy of the Fuehrer and the Party itself had been directly
and decisively participating in the solution of the
annexation question. I do not mention this in order to give
reasons of justification or excuses on behalf of the
defendant Rudolf Hess. The findings are rather made
exclusively in the interests of historical truth.

I now come to the question of the Anschluss of the
Sudetenland.

Three and a half million Sudeten Germans were incorporated
into a State with eight and a half million Czechs and
Slovaks, without being granted a decisive influence on the
State. All attempts of this national group to receive
autonomy within the Czechoslovakian State structure remained
without success. When the question of annexation with regard
to Austria was solved, it could not but happen that the
future position of the Sudeten Germans, which after all
consisted of three and one half million persons who
undoubtedly belonged to the German nation, was also subject
to a test.

Now, I do not intend to deal with all the questions of the
annexation of the Sudetenland to the Reich as regards their
factual and legal aspects. In view of the fact that the
prosecution in the Trial Brief which it presented before the
Tribunal against the defendant Hess treated the Sudeten
German question and has also presented several documents as
evidence, it appears necessary, in spite of all, to deal
with them to a certain extent.

Document 3258-PS, Exhibit GB 262, refers to a speech of the
deputy of the Fuehrer at the meeting of the Foreign
Organization of the NSDAP on 28th August, 1938. The latter
takes a stand on the Sudeten German question in only general
statements, emphasizing the principle of nationalities and
the right of self-determination of the nations. Also the
remaining documents presented by the prosecution, Exhibits
USA 126, USA 26, do not show on what a decisive
participation of the defendant Rudolf Hess in the solution
of the Sudeten German question could be based.

However, the extent of this participation can be completely
ignored, as the annexation of the Sudetenland to the Reich
cannot in itself be a charge of a criminal act according to
International Law. After all, the annexation of the Sudeten
province was not carried out on the basis of a one-sided act
of Germany or on the basis of a perhaps disputable agreement
between the German Reich and the Czechoslovak Republic. The
annexation, rather, took place on the basis of an agreement
which had been concluded in Munich on 29th September, 1938,
between Germany, the United Kingdom of Great Britain, France
and Italy. In this Treaty exact and very detailed agreements
were reached about the evacuation of the territory to be
ceded and the step-by-step occupation by German troops. The
final determination of the frontier was carried out by an
international committee.

Without wishing to go into further details, it can still be
said with certainty that this is a treaty which had been
concluded on the basis of a free agreement of will and that
all those participating expected that it might provide the
basis, or at least a considerable prerequisite, for an
improvement of international relations in Europe.

I now come to another point of the Indictment. Within the
limits of the Indictment as a whole, as well as in the
personal accusation raised by the prosecution against the
defendant Rudolf Hess, the latter is accused of having
participated in the outbreak of war and of being responsible
for it. The defendant Rudolf Hess actually did take a stand
in several speeches on the question of the Polish Corridor
and the problem of the Free State of Danzig. In regard to
this, however, the following must be stated:

[Page 359]

Through the establishment of the Polish Corridor, not only
the right of self-determination of the nations was violated
- after all, more than one million Germans came under Polish
domination in this manner - but in addition to this, through
the partition of the State territory of the German Reich
into two areas completely separated from each other, a
condition was established which was not only contrary to all
economic common sense, but which, moreover, was bound to
become the cause of constant discord and incidents from the
very first. Indeed, from the day of the signing of the
Versailles Peace Treaty, the demand for a revision of the
treaty, especially as regards the question of the Polish
Corridor, was incessant. There was no party and no
government in Germany which did not acknowledge and demand
the necessity of a revision of the treaty, primarily on this
point. It cannot be the subject of any doubt that, if Poland
ought to have an independent access at all to the Baltic Sea
under all circumstances, this problem could have been solved
much more sensibly than by the establishment of the so-
called Corridor and the thereby stipulated partition of the
German Reich into two areas which were completely separated
from each other.

Something similar applies with regard to the status of the
Free State of Danzig on the basis of International Law and
State sovereignty. It is not necessary to regard the facts
more closely in this case, which in the course of time have
led to constantly increasing difficulties and which in the
end caused a situation which made a change of the position
in regard to International Law and State sovereignty of this
purely German city necessary.

It is just as unnecessary to go into closer details with
regard to the minority problem which was raised by the
Polish Corridor and the establishment of a Free State of
Danzig. The fact is that, in the course of two decades, no
less than approximately one million Germans were forced to
leave their settlement area and under circumstances which
could not avoid affecting the general political relations
between the German Reich and the Polish Republic. It is also
not as if the problems which have been raised here have been
publicly discussed only since the coming into power of Adolf
Hitler.

If I have understood the Tribunal correctly, the subsequent
pages up to and including Page 29 are to be eliminated.

Under these circumstances, it could not surprise anyone if
after the seizure of power through Adolf Hitler and his
Party, the questions raised by the Polish Corridor and the
separation of Danzig from the Reich were subject to an
examination anew. This was all the less avoidable since,
after the conclusion of the German-Polish Treaty in the year
1934, Poland's attempts to exclude the German element to an
ever-increasing extent continued.

I do not intend to discuss in further detail the
negotiations which were conducted by the German Reich with
the Polish Republic, the aim of which was to find a modus
vivendi with due consideration for the justified interests
of Poland. Nevertheless, it appears important to me to keep
the following facts in mind. This seems to be essential for
the reason that the prosecution has stated again and again
that the defendants, the German Government, should have done
everything to clarify those questions and that especially
the German Government should have solved them by
negotiation; and that the one thing that they should not
have done was to have started a war. The following
statements are to show that it was indeed attempted to solve
the problems through negotiations, the problems that could
not be ignored and which had to be solved.

For the first time the Reich Minister for Foreign Affairs
discussed, in the course of a conversation with the Polish
Ambassador on 24th October, 1938, the question raised by the
Corridor and the separation of the City of Danzig and
suggested a solution which was to be based on the following
foundation:

1. The Free State of Danzig returns to the German Reich.

                                                  [Page 360]

2. An extra-territorial Reichsautobahn belonging to Germany
and likewise an extra-territorial railroad with several
tracks would be constructed across the Corridor.

3. Poland likewise obtains an extra-territorial road or
autobahn and railroad and a free port in the Danzig area.

4. Poland receives a guarantee of disposal for her goods in
the Danzig area.

5. The two nations recognize their common frontiers
(guarantee) or the territories of both sides.

6. The German-Polish Treaty is to be extended by 10 to 25
years.

7. Both countries include in their treaty a consultation
clause.

The prosecution itself submitted to the Tribunal the reply
of the Polish Government to this proposal. The document is
TC-73, No. 45, which describes the attitude of the Polish
Foreign Minister Beck on 31st October, 1938, and his
instructions to the Polish Ambassador, Lipski, in Berlin. In
this document the German proposal is flatly turned down on
the ground that "any attempt to incorporate the Free City of
Danzig into the Reich would invariably lead to a conflict,
and the resulting difficulties would not merely be of a
local nature, but would prevent any possibility of Polish-
German understanding in all its aspects."

In fact, such also was the stand taken by the Polish
Ambassador during another conversation which he had with the
Reich Foreign Minister on 19th November, 1938. When asked
about the Polish Government's attitude regarding the German
proposition of an extra-territorial arterial motor road and
an extra-territorial railway through the Corridor, the
Polish Ambassador declared that he was not able to make an
official statement on these questions.

It is impossible to deny that the proposal made by Germany
was very restrained and contained nothing incompatible with
Polish honour or the vital interests of that State. One
should be all the more willing to admit this, as the
creation of the Corridor and the separation of East Prussia
from the Reich was really felt by the German people as the
hardest of the territorial burdens of the Versailles Treaty.
If, nevertheless, the Polish Government turned this proposal
down, for reasons which left little prospect of finding a
solution in subsequent negotiations, the only conclusion
which could be drawn at that time was that Poland lacked
completely any sincere wish for an agreement which would
take into consideration Germany's legitimate interest. This
impression was confirmed by the negotiations during the
visit of the Polish Foreign Minister Beck to Berlin, on 5th
January, 19399 and the return visit by the Reich Foreign
Minister to Warsaw, on 21st January, 1939. In spite of this
hostile attitude of Poland, the Reich Foreign Minister
repeated the proposition made on 24th October, 1938, at
another meeting with the Polish Ambassador on 21st March,
1939, which must lead to the conclusion that the German
Government was sincerely desirous of solving, by means of
negotiation, the questions relative to the Corridor and the
separation of Danzig. Thus it cannot be seriously denied
that the German Government tried to solve the Danzig
question and that of the Polish Corridor by negotiation and
that it made very moderate proposals in that respect.

The reply to the German proposals of 21st March, 1939, was a
partial mobilization of the Polish armed forces. It need not
be defined as to what was the connection between the partial
mobilization ordered by the Polish Government and the
British proposal for consultation, dated 21st March, 1939
and whether, incidental to the transmission of this
consultation proposal in Warsaw, the declaration of
guarantee of 31st March had already been promised or
contemplated. There can be no doubt, however, that the
partial mobilization of the Polish armed forces, as also
admitted by the British Prime Minister Chamberlain, in a
declaration before the House of Commons on 10th July, 1939,
was bound to do anything but create favourable prerequisites
for further negotiations. As a matter of fact, the subject
of the memorandum of the Polish Government handed to the
German

                                                  [Page 361]

Government by the Polish Ambassador Lipski on 26th March,
1939, was a complete rejection of the German proposal. It
was declared that extra-territoriality for the highways
could not enter into question, and that a reunion of Danzig
with the Reich could not be considered. In the conversation
between the Reich Foreign Minister and the Polish
Ambassador, which followed the handing over of the
memorandum, the latter declared openly that it was his
unpleasant duty to point out that to pursue further the
German plans, particularly in so far as they had a bearing
on the return of Danzig to the German Reich, would be
tantamount to a war with Poland.

If I have stated that the connection between the rapid
Polish mobilization of 23rd March, 1939, and the Polish
memorandum of 26th March, 1939, containing a complete
rejection of the German proposal, on the one hand, and the
proposed British guarantee-pledge of 31st March, 1939, on
the other hand, remains undecided, this appears justified
with regard to the proposed "formal declaration" made by the
British Government as early as 21st March in Warsaw, as well
as in Paris and in Moscow. This "formal declaration" was to
announce the opening of immediate discussions on measures of
mutual resistance against any threat against any, European
State. Furthermore, the speech by Prime Minister Chamberlain
on 17th March, in Birmingham, and the speech of the British
Foreign Minister, Lord Halifax, of 20th March, in the House
of Lords, reflected a point of view bound to encourage the
Polish Government all the more in its stubbornness. As a
matter of fact, the proposed step of "a mutual formal
declaration", already proposed by the British Government to
the governments in Warsaw, Paris and Moscow, proved to be
the opening of lengthy discussions, the purpose of which was
to place an iron ring around Germany.

It was thus clear from the outset that under such
conditions, bilateral negotiations between the German and
the Polish Governments promised but little success, in any
case as long as those discussions lasted. In another
memorandum handed to the Polish Foreign Minister on 28th
April, 1939, already submitted by the prosecution, the
German Government nevertheless once more explained its
attitude completely and established once more its readiness
for further negotiations. Contents of this memorandum,
including proposals made in March, 1939, were announced
publicly by Adolf Hitler in his speech delivered in the
Reichstag on 28th April, 1939.

In reply to the memorandum of the German Government of 28th
April, 1939 the Polish Government transmitted on 5th May,
1939, a memorandum which has also been submitted by the
prosecution.

That memorandum contained even more emphatically a complete
rejection of Germany's proposition for solving the problem
of the Corridor and the Danzig question.

Negotiations which began on 21st March, 1939, between
London, Paris, Warsaw and Moscow, for the purpose of
establishing an alliance exclusively directed against
Germany, did not proceed as desired. Nor was it possible for
the French and British Military Commissions, sent to Moscow
on 11th August, 1939, to eliminate completely the
difficulties arising from evidently far-reaching differences
of opinion. It need not be established how important was the
fact that Poland, which was to obtain a guarantee by
England, France, and the Soviet Union, publicly refused to
accept military assistance from the Soviet Union. It also
remains uncertain whether it is correct that the Soviet
Foreign Commissar Molotov asserted during the emergency
meeting of the Supreme Soviet on 31st August, 1939, that
England had not only not dissipated Poland's apprehensions,
but that, on the contrary, she had furthered them. It seems
more important to examine the fundamental differences of
opinion.

I was about to refer here to an extract from the well-known
book written by the former British Ambassador in Berlin, Sir
Nevile Henderson. In consideration of the fact that the
Tribunal does not desire to have this quotation read,
although

                                                  [Page 362]

during the taking of evidence this extract was admitted, I
shall confine myself merely to referring to it, and I shall
proceed on Page 35, beginning with the second paragraph.

Meanwhile, the following had actually occurred:

At the 18th Congress of the Communist Party on 10th March,
1939, the President of the Council of People's Commissars of
the USSR, Stalin, made a speech in which he intimated that
the Soviet Government considered it possible or desirable to
reach a better understanding even with Germany. Hitler
understood this hint perfectly well.

Foreign Commissar Molotov expressed himself similarly in his
speech before the Supreme Soviet on 31st May, 1939.
Thereupon the discussions between the German and the Soviet
Governments were followed by the conclusion of a German-
Soviet Trade and Credit Agreement. This agreement was signed
in Berlin on 19th August, 1939. During these economic
negotiations, questions of general political nature were
discussed, which, according to the Soviet Russian News
Agency "Tass" on 21st August, 1939, disclosed the desire of
both parties to bring about the change of their policy and
to ban war by the conclusion of a non-aggression pact. This
resulted in the non-aggression agreement which was signed in
Moscow in the night of 23rd to 24th August, 1939; therefore,
as shown by the presentation of evidence in this trial, two
days before the attack of the German army against Poland was
ordered for the morning of 26th August, 1939.

Besides this non-aggression agreement, a "Secret
Supplementary Protocol" was signed as an important part of
the former. On the basis of the presentation of evidence,
especially on the basis of the affidavit of Ambassador and
Chief of the Legal Department of the Foreign Office Dr.
Friederich Gaus, on the basis of the testimony of Baron von
Weiszacker, State Secretary in the Foreign Office, and on
the basis of the statements of the defendants von Ribbentrop
and Jodl, the following contents of the secret supplementary
protocol can be considered as established:

In the case of territorial-political reorganisation in the
territories belonging to the Baltic States, Finland,
Esthonia and Latvia were to fall into the sphere of interest
of the Soviet Union, whereas the territory of Lithuania was
to belong to the sphere of interest of Germany.

For the territory of Poland, the division of spheres of
interest was made in the manner that the territories lying
to the east of the rivers Narev, Vistula and San should fall
to the sphere of interest of the Soviet Union, whereas the
territories lying to the west of the demarcation line
determined by these rivers should belong to the German
sphere of interest. In addition, an agreement was reached
concerning Poland that both powers would come to a mutual
understanding about the final settlement of questions
concerning this country. With regard to South-East Europe,
the limits of spheres of interest of both sides were made on
the basis that the Soviet side stressed its interest in
Bessarabia, whereas the German side declared a complete
political disinterest in this territory. According to the
testimony of several witnesses, but especially on the basis
of the statements by Ambassador Dr. Gaus and State Secretary
von Weiszacker, it is established that this secret agreement
included in it a complete new settlement concerning Poland
and the future fate of the Polish State.


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