The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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Last-Modified: 1999/10/05

SIR DAVID MAXWELL FYFE: If your Lordship please then, Major
Harcourt Barrington will deal with the presentation against
the defendant von Papen.

MAJOR J. HARCOURT BARRINGTON: My Lords, I understand that
the court interpreters have not got the proper papers and
document books up here yet, but they can get them in a very
few minutes. Would your lordship prefer that I should go on
or wait until they have got them?

THE PRESIDENT: Very well. Go on then.

MAJOR BARRINGTON: May it please the Tribunal. It is my duty
to present the case against the defendant von Papen. Before
I begin I would like to say that the documents in the
document books are arranged numerically, and not in the
order of presentation, and that the English document books
are paged in red chalk at the bottom of the page.

THE PRESIDENT: Does that mean that the French and the Soviet
are not?

MAJOR BARRINGTON: My Lord, we did not prepare French and
Soviet document books.

The defendant von Papen is charged primarily, as are all the
other defendants, with the guilt of the conspiracy itself.
The proof of this charge of conspiracy will emerge
automatically from the proof of the four allegations.

THE PRESIDENT: Major Barrington, the French members of the
Tribunal have no document books at all.

MAJOR BARRINGTON: My Lord, there should be a German document
book for the French members. I understand it is now being
fetched. Should I wait until it arrives?

THE PRESIDENT: I think you can go on.

MAJOR BARRINGTON: The defendant Papen is charged primarily
with the guilt of conspiracy, and the proof of this charge
of conspiracy will emerge automatically from the proof of
the four allegations specified in Appendix "A" of the
Indictment. These are as follows:

   (1) He promoted the accession of the Nazi conspirators
   to power.
   (2) He participated in the consolidation of their
   control over Germany.
   (3) He promoted the preparations for war.
   (4) He participated in the political planning and
   preparation of the Nazi conspirators for Wars of
   aggression, etc.

Broadly speaking, the case against von Papen covers the
period from 1 June 1932, to the conclusion of the Anschluss
in March 1938.

So far in this trial, almost the only evidence specifically
implicating von Papen has been evidence in regard to his
activities in Austria. This evidence need only be summarised
now. But if the case against von Papen rested on Austria

                                                   [Page 93]

alone, the prosecution would be in the position of relying
on a period during which the essence of his task was studied
plausibility, and in Which his whole purpose was to clothe
his operations with a cloak of sincerity and innocent
respectability. It is therefore desirable to put the
evidence already given in its true perspective, by showing,
in addition, the active and prominent part he played for the
Nazis before he went to Austria.

Papen himself claims to have many times rejected Hitler's
request that he should actually join the Nazi Party. Until
1938 this may indeed have been true, for he was shrewd
enough to see the advantage of maintaining, at least
outwardly, his personal independence. It will be my object
to show that, despite his facade of independence, Papen was
an ardent member of this conspiracy, and in spite of
warnings and rebuffs was unable to resist its fascination.

In this submission of the prosecution, the key to von
Papen's activities is that, although perhaps not a typical
Nazi, he was an unscrupulous political opportunist, and
ready to fall in with the Nazis when it suited him. He was
not unpractised in duplicity, and viewed with an apparent
indifference the contradictions and betrayals which his
duplicity inevitably involved. One of his chief weapons was
fraudulent assurance.

Before dealing with the specific charges, I will refer to
document 2902-PS, which is on Page 38 of the English
document book, and I put it in as Exhibit GB 233. This is
von Papen's own signed statement showing his appointments.
It is not in chronological order, but I will read the
relevant parts as they come. I need not read the whole of
it. The Tribunal will note that this statement is written by
Dr. Kubuschok, counsel for von Papen, although it is signed
by von Papen himself.

Paragraph I:

  "Von Papen many times rejected Hitler's request to join
  the NSDAP. Hitler simply sent him the golden Party badge.
  In my opinion, legally speaking, he did not thereby
  become a member of the Party."

Interposing there, my Lord, the fact that he was officially
regarded as having become a member in 1938 will be shown by
a document which I shall refer to later.

Going on to paragraph 2: "From 1933 to 1945 von Papen was a
member of the Reichstag."

Paragraph 3: "Von Papen was Reich Chancellor from 1 June
1932, to 17 November 1932. He carried on the duties of Reich
Chancellor until his successor took office 2 December 1932."

Paragraph 4: "On 30 January 1933, von Papen was appointed
Vice-Chancellor. From 30 June 1934" - which was the date of
the Blood Purge - "he ceased to exercise official duties. On
that day he was placed under arrest. Immediately after his
release on 3 July 1934, he went to the Reich Chancellery to
hand in his resignation to Hitler."

The rest of the paragraph I need not read. It is an argument
which concerns the authenticity or otherwise of his
signature, as it appears in the Reichsgesetzblatt, to
certain decrees of August 1934. I am prepared to agree with
his contention that his signature on these decrees may not
have been correct and may have been a mistake. He admits
holding office only to 3 July 1934.

He was, as the Tribunal will also remember, in virtue of
being Reich Chancellor, a member of the Reich Cabinet.

Going on to paragraph 5: "On 13 November 1933, von Papen
became Plenipotentiary for the Saar. This office was
terminated under the same circumstances as were described in
paragraph 4."

The rest of the document I need not read. It concerns his
appointments to Vienna and Ankara, appointments which are
matters of history. He was

                                                   [Page 94]

appointed Minister to Vienna on 26 July 1934, and recalled
on 4 February 1938, and he was ambassador in Ankara from
April 1939 until August 1944.

The first allegation against the defendant von Papen is that
he used his personal influence to promote the accession of
the Nazi conspirators to power. From the outset von Papen
was well aware of the Nazi programme and Nazi methods. There
can be no question of his having encouraged the Nazis
through ignorance of these facts. The official NSDAP
programme was open and notorious; it had been published in
"Mein Kampf" for many years; it had been published and
republished in the Year-book of the NSDAP and elsewhere. The
Nazis made no secret of their intention to make it a
fundamental law of the State. This has been dealt with in
full at an earlier stage of the trial.

During 1932 von Papen, as Reich Chancellor, was in a
particularly good position to understand the Nazi purpose
and methods, and, in fact, he publicly acknowledged the Nazi
menace. Take, for instance, his Munster speech on 28 August
1932. This is document 3314-PS, on Page 49 of the English
document book, and I now put it in as Exhibit GB 234, and I
quote two extracts from the top of the page:

   "The licentiousness emanating from the appeal of the
   leader of the National Socialist movement does not
   comply very well with his claims to governmental power.
   I do not concede him the right to regard the mere
   minority following his banner solely as the German
   nation and to treat all other fellow countrymen as free

Take also his Munich speech of 13 October 1932. That is on
Page 50 of the English document book, Document 3317-PS,
which I now put in as Exhibit GB 23 5, and I will read only
the last extract on the page:

   "In the interest of the entire nation, we decline the
   claim to power by parties which want to own their
   followers body and soul, and which want to put
   themselves, as a party or a movement, over and above the
   whole nation."

I do not rely on these random extracts to show anything more
than that he had, in 1932, clearly addressed his mind to the
inherent lawlessness of the Nazi philosophy. Nevertheless,
in his letter to Hitler of 13 November 1932, which I shall
quote more fully later, he wrote of the Nazi movement as, I
quote, "so great a national movement - "

THE PRESIDENT: Where is this?

MAJOR BARRINGTON: This is in a letter which I shall quote in
a few minutes, my Lord, a letter to Hitler of 13 November
1932. He wrote:

  "So great a national movement, the merits of which for
  people and country I have always recognised in spite of
  necessary criticisms."

So variable and so seemingly contradictory were von Papen's
acts and utterances regarding the Nazis that it is not
possible to present the picture of Papen's part in this
infamous enterprise unless one first reviews the steps by
which he entered upon it. It then becomes clear that he
threw himself, if not wholeheartedly, yet with cool and
deliberate calculation, into the Nazi conspiracy.

I shall enumerate some of the principal steps by which Papen
fell in with the Nazi conspiracy.

As a result of his first personal contact with Hitler, von
Papen as Chancellor rescinded, on 14 June 1932, the decree
passed on 13 April 1932, for the dissolution of the Nazi
para-military organisations, the SA and the SS. He thereby
rendered the greatest possible service to the Nazi Party,
inasmuch as it relied upon its para-military organisations
to beat the German people into

                                                   [Page 95]

submission. The decree rescinding the dissolution of the SA
and the SS is shown in Document D-631, on Page 64 of the
document book, and I now put it in as Exhibit GB 236. It is
an extract from the Reichsgesetzblatt, which was an omnibus
decree. The relevant passage is in paragraph 29:

   "This order comes into operation from the day of
   announcement. It takes the place of the Order of the
   Reich President for the Safeguarding of the State
   Authority of...." The date should be 13 April 1932.

THE PRESIDENT: Which page of the document book is it?

MAJOR BARRINGTON: I am sorry, my Lord; it is Page 64. And
the date shown there should not be 3 May 1932; it should be
13 April 1932.

That was the decree which had previously dissolved the Nazi
para-military organisations under the government of
Chancellor Bruning. At the bottom of the page the Tribunal
will see the relevant parts of the decree of 13 April
reproduced. At the beginning of paragraph 1 of that decree
it said:

   "All organisations of a military nature of the German
   National Socialist Labour Party will be dissolved with
   immediate effect, particularly, the Storm Detachments
   (SA) and the Protective Detachments (SS)."

This rescission by von Papen was made in pursuance of a
bargain with Hitler which is mentioned in a book called
"Dates from the History of the NSDAP," by Dr. Hans Volts, a
book published with the authority of the NSDAP. It is
already an exhibit, USA 592. The extract I want to quote is
on Page 59 of the document book, and it is Document 3463-PS.
I quote an extract from Page 41 of this little book:

   "28 May" - that was in 1932, of course. "In view of the
   imminent fall of Bruning, at a meeting between the
   former deputy of the Prussian Centre Party, Franz von
   Papen, and the Fuehrer in Berlin, (first personal
   contact in Spring, 1932), the Fuehrer agrees that a
   Papen cabinet should be tolerated by the NSDAP, provided
   that the prohibition imposed on the SA uniforms and
   demonstrations be lifted, and the Reichstag dissolved."

It is difficult to imagine a less astute opening gambit, for
a man who was about to become Chancellor, than to reinstate
this sinister organisation which had been suppressed by his
predecessor. This action emphasises the characteristic
duplicity and insincerity of his public condemnations of the
Nazis, which I quoted a few minutes ago.

Eighteen months later he publicly boasted that at the time
of taking over the chancellorship he had advocated paving
the way to power for what he called the "young fighting
liberation movement." That will be shown in Document 3375-
PS, which I shall introduce in a few minutes.

Another important step was when, on the 20 July 1932, he
accomplished his famous coup d'etat in Prussia, which
removed the Braun-Severing Prussian Government, and united
the ruling power of the Reich and Prussia in his own hands
as Reichskommissar for Prussia. This is now a matter of
history. It is mentioned in Document D 632, which I now
introduce as Exhibit GB 237. It is on Page 65 of the
document book. This document is, I think, a semi-official
biography in a series on public men.

Papen regarded this step, his coup d'etat in Prussia, as a
first step in the policy, later pursued by Hitler, of co-
ordinating the States with the Reich, which will be shown in
Document 3357, which I shall come to later.

The next step; if the Tribunal will look at Document D-632
on Page 65 of the document book, the last four or five lines
at the bottom of the page; "The Reichstag elections of 31
July, which were the result of von Papen's disbandment of
the Reichstag on 4 June," - which was made in pursuance of
the bargain that I mentioned a few minutes ago -
"strengthened enormously

                                                   [Page 96]

the NSDAP, so that von Papen offered to the leader of the
now strongest party his participation in the government as
Vice-Chancellor. Adolf Hitler rejected this offer on 13

The new Reichstag, which assembled on 30 August, was
disbanded by 12 September. The new elections brought about a
considerable loss to the NSDAP, but did not strengthen the
government parties, so that Papen's government retired on 17
November 1932 after unsuccessful negotiations with the party

My Lord, I shall wish to quote a few more extracts from that
biography, but as it is a mere catalogue of events, perhaps
Your Lordship would allow me to return to it at the
appropriate time.

So far as those negotiations mentioned just now in the
biography concern Hitler, they involved an exchange of
letters in which von Papen wrote to Hitler, on 13 November
1932, and the latter replied on 16 November. Papen's letter
to Hitler is Document D-633, on Page 68 of the English
document book, and I now put it in as Exhibit GB 238. I
propose to read a part of this letter, because it shows the
positive efforts made by Papen to ally himself with the
Nazis, even in face of further rebuffs from Hitler. I read
the third paragraph. I should tell the Tribunal that there
is some underlining in the English translation of that
paragraph, which does not occur in the German text:

   "A new situation has arisen through the elections of
   November 6, and at the same time a fresh opportunity for
   all nationalist elements to be concentrated anew. The
   Reich President has instructed me to find out, by
   conversations with the leaders of the individual parties
   concerned, whether and how far they will be prepared to
   support the carrying out of the political and economic
   programme on which the Reich Government has embarked. In
   spite of the National Socialist Press calling it a načve
   attempt for Reich Chancellor von Pa en to confer with
   the people concerned in the nationalist concentration
   and saying that there can only be one answer, viz.: "No
   negotiations with Papen," I should consider it a neglect
   of my duties, and I would be unable to justify it to my
   own conscience, if I did not approach you in this
   matter. I am quite aware, from the papers, that you are
   maintaining your demands to be entrusted with the
   Chancellor's office, and I am equally aware of the
   continued existence of the reasons for the decision of
   13 August. I need not assure you again that I myself do
   not come into this matter at all. All the same, I feel
   that the leader of so great a national movement, the
   merits of which for the people and country I have always
   recognised, in spite of necessary criticisms, should not
   refuse to discuss with the German politician who at
   present bears the full responsibility, the situation and
   the decisions required. We must attempt to forget the
   bitterness of the elections, and to place the welfare of
   the country, which we, both of us, serve, above all
   other considerations."

Hitler replied on 16 November 1932 in a long letter, laying
down terms which were evidently unacceptable to von Papen,
since he resigned tile next day and was succeeded by von
Schleicher. That document is D-634, put in as part of
Exhibit GB 238, as it is part of the same correspondence. I
need not read from the letter itself.

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