The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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President Hacha arrived and talked first with the Reich
Foreign Minister. At night he came to see the Fuehrer; we
greeted him briefly. First he conversed with the Fuehrer
alone; then we were called in. Then I talked to him in the
presence of his Ambassador and urged him to meet as quickly
as possible the Fuehrer's demand that the troops be kept
back when the Germans marched in, in order that there be no
bloodshed. I told him that nothing would help, that the
Fuehrer had made his decisions and considered it necessary,
and that there would be only unavoidable bloodshed, since
resistance for any length of time was quite impossible. In
that connection I made the statement that I should be sorry
if I had to bomb beautiful Prague. The intention of bombing
Prague did not exist, nor had any order been given to that
effect, for, even in the case of resistance, that would not
have been necessary; resistance could always be broken more
easily without such bombing. But such a point I thought
might serve as an argument and accelerate the whole matter.

                                                  [Page 109]

I succeeded then in getting a telephone connection between
him and his Government in Prague; he gave the order; and the
occupation and the march into Prague took place the next
day.

BY DR. STAHMER:

Q. Did you accompany the Fuehrer to Prague?

A. No, I did not accompany him to, Prague. I was rather
annoyed. I did not enter Czechoslovakia or Sudeten Germany
at any time after that incident, with the exception of 21st
April, 1945, when I passed through a part of Czechoslovakia.

Q. Why were you annoyed?

A. Because the whole matter had been carried out for the
most part over my head.

Q. Did other Powers take a part in the occupation of
Czechoslovakia?

A. Yes. Poland took the Olsa territory.

Q. The prosecution have presented a document from which the
conclusion is drawn that the murder of the German Ambassador
was to take place in connection with anti-German
demonstrations in Prague. It has been so represented as if
this assassination of the German Ambassador was to be
carried out in order to provide an occasion for the
annexation.

A. That story comes before the solution of the Sudeten
German problem, and I listened very carefully when that
point came up. I also remember what the facts really were.
The matter was not discussed in this way and it should not
be represented as if we wanted to murder our own Ambassador,
or had even considered this possibility, in order to find an
occasion for solving this problem. We merely considered the
possibilities which might lead to an immediate clash. In
view of the tension which existed between Czechoslovakia and
Germany in regard to Sudeten Germany, the possibility was
also considered that the German Ambassador in Prague might
actually be assassinated by the Czechs, and that this would
necessitate immediate action on Germany's part under all
circumstances and in disregard of any other political
actions.

This possibility arose from the fact that outside the German
Embassy in Prague there had been a number of demonstrations,
a fact which cannot be denied, for which reason Germany had
sent arms to the Embassy for its defence. For these reasons
we talked of that possibility. That has been misrepresented
here. We did not want to have the Ambassador assassinated as
a provocation, or a possible provocation, but we saw the
possibility of such an assassination by another Party, and
in response to this the Fuehrer would have acted
immediately.

Q. To what extent were confiscations carried out in
Czechoslovakia?

A. Before the war no confiscation took place in
Czechoslovakia - that is, no economic goods were taken away.
On the contrary, Czechoslovakia's large and strong economic
capacity was included to its full extent in the economic
capacity of Germany. That is to say, we attached importance
above all to the fact that, now that we had declared the
Protectorate and thus concluded an action, the Skoda Works
and the Brunn Armament Works naturally be included in the
armament potential of Germany as important armament works.
That means that orders were sent there for the time being to
a considerable extent. Over and above that we even created
new industries there and gave our support in respect to
this.

We have been accused, among other things, of dismantling new
rails there and replacing them with old rails from Germany.
I believe that this is a complete error, for the
transportation system in Czechoslovakia, the Protectorate,
was one of the most important for Germany. The entire South-
eastern transportation to and from the Balkans went through
the Protectorate, first, in the direction of Vienna, Prague,
Dresden and Berlin and, second, by the main Vienna-
Lundenburg-Odelberg-Breslau line; and, since the canal had
not been

                                                  [Page 110]

completed, the entire transportation of all economic goods
no longer detoured around the border but took the shortest
way. We would have been crazy had we weakened this
transportation system. I can think of only one explanation,
and that is that during the extension of the existing
transportation system many rails from Germany's stock may
have been used, and these later appeared in the Government
report as "old." But that we dismantled new for old is
absolute nonsense.

Furthermore, it is a matter of course that, since the
Sudetenland was included in the Reich, the accusation that
State property and forests were taken over into German State
possession has no bearing; for it is obvious that, if a
country is taken over, then its State property must also
become the property of the new State.

Likewise the accusation, as far as Sudeten Germany is
concerned, that banks were affiliated with German banks is
obviously not justified, since German currency was
introduced for the country; and, therefore, the affiliated
banks also had to be converted to that.

As far as the later Protectorate is concerned, I have
already emphasised that, even before the creation of that
Protectorate, a strong economic penetration of
Czechoslovakia had been prepared by me, on the one hand by
our acquiring shares from other owners which gave us a voice
in Czech and Slovak enterprises, and furthermore, I believe,
by our replacing certain loans originally given and then
called in by Western Powers.

In this connection the Reich Works Hermann Goering appeared
on the scene, since they had acquired large possession of
shares in the Skoda Works, in order to use the latter as a
finishing industry for the products of their own rolling
mills and steel works, just as they used other industries in
Germany.

It is, therefore, a matter of course that, after the
creation of the Protectorate, the total economic capacity of
the Protectorate was amalgamated with Germany's total
economic capacity.

Q. On 15th November, 1937, a discussion with the Fuehrer
took place at the Reich Chancellery, a record of which was
prepared by Colonel Hoszbach, and that has been referred to
as Hitler's last will. It has repeatedly been the subject of
discussion here. May I ask you for a short explanation as to
what significance this conference had. I am going to have
that document shown to you. It is Document 386-PS.

A. This document has already been shown to me here, and I am
fairly familiar with the contents. This document played an
important role in the Indictment, since it appears under the
heading "Last Will of the Fuehrer." This expression "last
will" is, in fact, used in one place by Hoszbach.

As far as the technical aspect of this record is concerned,
I want to say the following: Hoszbach was the adjutant of
the Fuehrer, the chief adjutant. As such, he was present at
meetings and took notes. Five days later, as I have
ascertained, he prepared this record on the basis of his
notes. This is, therefore, a record which contains all the
mistakes which easily occur in a record which is not taken
down at the moment by stenographers and which under certain
circumstances contains the opinions of the recorder or his
own interpretations.

It contains a number of points, as I said at the time, which
correspond exactly to what the Fuehrer had repeatedly said;
but there are other points and formulations which I can say
do not represent the Fuehrer's words.

During the past months I have seen so many records and
interrogations which, in part, had nothing to do with the
sense of what had been stated; for this reason I must here,
too, point out the sources of mistakes.

As far as the word "testament" is concerned, the use of this
word contradicts completely the Fuehrer's views. If anybody
knows something about these views, it is I.

                                                  [Page 111]
The decision that I was to be the successor was not reached
first on 1st September, 1939, but as early as the late
autumn of 1934. I have often had the opportunity of
discussing the question of a so-called political last will
with the Fuehrer. He turned it down, giving as his reason
the fact that one could never appoint a successor by means
of a political last will, since developments and political
events should afford him complete freedom of action at all
times. Quite possibly one could set down political wishes or
views, but never binding statements in the shape of a last
will. That was, then and as long as I stood in his
confidence, his views at all times.

Now, what did he aim at in this discussion? The Minister for
War, the Commander-in-Chief of the Army, the Commander-in-
Chief of the Navy and the Air Force and
the then Reich Foreign Minister were called together.
Shortly before that the Fuehrer had informed me, since I was
there earlier, that he was going to call this meeting,
mostly in order, as he called it, to put pressure on General
von Fritsch, since he was dissatisfied with the rearmament
of the Army. He said it would not do any harm if Herr von
Blomberg would also exercise a certain pressure on von
Fritsch.

I asked why von Neurath was to be present. He said he did
not want the thing to look too military, that, as far as I
was concerned, it was not so important, but that he wanted
to make it very clear to Commander-in-Chief Fritsch that the
foreign political situation required a forced speed in
armament and that for this reason he had asked the Foreign
Minister to come along, who knew nothing about the details.

Everything was then set forth in the way which the Fuehrer
preferred on such occasions. He went to great length to
picture things within a large political framework and he
talked about the whole world situation from all angles; and
for anybody who knew him as well as I did the purpose which
he pursued was obvious. He was quite clearly aiming at
saying that he bad great plans, that the political situation
was such and such, and the whole thing ended in the
direction of a stronger armament programme. I should like to
say that, if the Fuehrer, one or two hours later, had talked
to another group - for instance, diplomats of the Foreign
Office, of Party
Functionaries - then he probably would have represented
matters quite differently.

Nevertheless, some of these statements naturally do reflect
the basic attitude of the Fuehrer, but with the best
intentions I cannot attach the same measure of significance
to the document as is being attached to it here.

Q. You said you had been considered the Fuehrer's successor.
Were you in this capacity included in all political problems
by Hitler?

A. I am now talking of the period of my good relations,
which lasted until long into the war. Of course he informed
me of all important political and military problems. He
acquainted me with these problems for the most part in very
many long discussions, which would take place for many
hours, day after day. Many times, to be sure, I was
surprised in regard to foreign political questions, but
whenever possible I would include myself, and on one
occasion he said, in fact, that I had a decided opinion of
my own in foreign political matters and that he did not
always find it easy to agree with me. But I want to
emphasise that in all important political questions I was,
of course, included.

Q. On 23rd May, 1939, a conference took place with the
Fuehrer, which was briefly discussed in connection with the
examination of the witness Milch. A record of that has also
been made, Document L-79. According to the wording of that
record, you participated in this meeting, but the witness
Milch stated that you were not present.

A. I was, in fact, not present. Milch was called in at the
last moment to represent me. But, of course, if the witness
says that he had not received any permission from the
Fuehrer to inform me, then you must understand that the
Fuehrer did not want to have me informed of this matter by
way of my State

                                                  [Page 112]

Secretary, but wanted rather to inform me himself. No, I
apologise, I was actually present at this meeting. I see
that just now from another clue; but even if I had not been
present, I think Milch must have been thinking of another
meeting. That would not be of any importance, for it is out
of the question that the Fuehrer should have had a
conference with such gentlemen without notifying me either
before or afterwards, if I myself were absent. It is,
therefore, not at all important. It is quite obvious that in
such cases I was informed either previously or, if I was
absent, afterwards, in great detail by the Fuehrer. But I
gather that Milch must have made a mistake here, and he is
probably thinking of another meeting, since to the very end
I still put questions in respect to the armament programme,
which I now recall very well.Q. What was the significance of
this meeting?

A. It was a conference held by the Fuehrer at which he once
more stated his views in regard to the situation and the
tasks demanded of the Armed Forces as a result of this
situation. Once more the main point was to inform the Armed
Forces in regard to armament and preparedness that he was
considering all possible developments, political and
otherwise, and that he himself wanted to have complete
freedom of decision.

Retrospectively, in regard to events which have occurred up
till this moment - and I need not emphasise how easily
matters, viewed in retrospect, are seen in a light of
development different from that in which they actually
occurred at an earlier time - retrospectively I can safely
say that even at that time I wanted this and that, since I
have in the meantime achieved it, and can safely say also -
this is inevitably the case-that this was always my
intention, even though one knows perfectly well that one was
originally very dependent on other factors and that under
certain circumstances one's intentions at that time would
have been quite different.

Generally speaking, this is another case where there are
misconceptions on the part of the adjutant, but, on the
whole, it is typical of the conferences which the Fuehrer
used to hold when he had some particular purpose in mind
which he wanted to achieve, and wanted to give this purpose
the necessary emphasis.

Q. During the time from 1935 to 1938 you made many State
visits to Poland. What was the purpose of these visits?

A. After German-Polish relations had been clarified in 1934,
the Fuehrer wished a strengthening of that pact and the
creation of a better atmosphere. He requested me to take
over this task because he believed that I would find it easy
to talk to these Polish gentlemen, which was indeed the
case.The President of the Polish State invited me. That was
in 1935, and from then on - in 1935, 1936 and 1937 - I spent
about one or two weeks in Poland each year. I had a long
discussion with the then Marshal Pilsudski and later with
the Foreign Minister, Beck.

At that time the Fuehrer had given me the serious task, not
a task of deception, of currently improving relations and
telling Poland that he was interested in a strong Poland,
because a strong Poland would be an excellent barrier
between Germany and Russia. The Fuehrer had emphasised the
solution of the Danzig question and the Corridor question in
speaking to me at that time, and had said that the
opportunity for this would come, but that, until then, there
would be some sort of opportunity to come to an agreement
with Poland about that problem. The Lithuanian problem
played a part in this. But the decisive factor is that he
did not say, "Lull Poland to sleep. I am going to attack
Poland afterwards." It was never the case, as has often been
represented here, that from the very beginning we conspired
together and made detailed plans for decades ahead. Rather,
everything arose out of the trend of political forces and
interests, as it always has everywhere in the whole world in
matters of State policy. I had this task and I consciously
considered it a serious task and carried

                                                  [Page 113]

it out with an honest belief in it. Consequently, when the
clash with Poland came about it was not a very pleasant
situation for me.


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