The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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Last-Modified: 2000/07/23

HANS DIEKHOFF - Resumed

DIRECT EXAMINATION - Continued

BY DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN:

Q. Witness, since when have you known Herr von Neurath?

A. Since 1913. I met him when I joined the Foreign Office.
He was legation counsellor in the Foreign Office at that
time. I then met him again in Constantinople, and there I
had contact with him. Then I did not meet him again until
1930.

Q. In what capacity did you have dealings with von Neurath
beginning with 1930?

A. Herr von Neurath was then, from 1930 till 1932,
Ambassador to London, and I was head of the department
"England-America" in the Foreign Office.

                                                  [Page 227]

Q. How was the co-operation during that time between the
Foreign Office - that is, yourself - and von Neurath, who
was then Ambassador to London?

A. The co-operation was excellent.

Q. Do you know anything about Neurath's appointment to the
position of Reich Foreign Minister?

A. I remember that most of the leading officials of the
Foreign Office were greatly upset by the sudden departure of
Bruning, whose steady and moderate policy we approved at the
time. We submitted to the change in the person ofthe Foreign
Minister only because Neurath replaced Bruning, and we knew
that Neurath was a man of high standards and an experienced
diplomat. Furthermore, we knew that he had represented
Bruening's policy in London, and we expected that as Foreign
Minister he would continue that policy.

I met Herr von Neurath, I think it was on 2nd June, at the
station in Berlin when he arrived in Germany. From
conversations with him I gathered the impression that he
very much disliked leaving London to take over the Foreign
Ministry. But he said to me: "I do not think I shall be able
to refuse the wish of the old gentleman." That, of course,
was Reich President von Hindenburg.

Q. What position did you hold yourself during the time when
you worked under von Neurath in the Foreign Ministry?

A. At first, I remained at the head of the England-America
department until 1936. Afterwards, in April, 1936, I took
over the re-established political department. In June, State
Secretary von Bulow died, and in August, 1936, I was
appointed acting State Secretary in the Foreign Office. I
remained in that provisional position until March, 1937, and
then I became Ambassador to Washington.

Q. Did von Neurath, as Foreign Minister, retain the old
officials of the Foreign Office?

A. He retained the old officials in practically all the
leading positions of both the domestic and the foreign
service. The State Secretary von Bulow, for instance,
remained four years, until his death, in the same position
in the Foreign Office.

He sent Ambassador Hoesch to London as his successor, and he
sent Ambassador von Hassel to Rome, and Ambassador Kessler
to Paris; all these were old diplomatic officials.

Q. Can you tell us from your own experience during your
activities what the aims of Neurath's foreign policy were?

A. It was the aim of von Neurath to maintain good relations
with all States, and thereby to re-establish gradually
Germany's status of equal rights which she had lost in 1919.
This was the same policy as had been Stresemann's and
Bruening's. Herr von Neurath was aware of the difficulties
of Germany's position. He talked to me about it repeatedly.
He was under no misapprehension about it. He saw things
realistically. His tendency was to exercise moderation.

Q. What do you know about Neurath's entry into Hitler's
Government, which was formed on 30th January, 1933?

A. I only know about this what I was told by State Secretary
von Bulow when I returned to Berlin from leave at the
beginning of February of that year. According to this, Herr
von Neurath had no part in the formation of the new Cabinet,
that is, Hitler's Cabinet. Apart from that, he was sick
during that time. He heard of the plan of making Hitler
Reich Chancellor and of forming a new government. He wanted
to discuss it with Reich President von Hindenburg in order
to obtain certain reservations for himself, but he came too
late, and could not obtain these reservations. In spite of
this, he retained the Foreign Ministry in the new Cabinet
because he did not want to refuse the wish of the Reich
President.

Q. Do you know anything about Neurath's attitude towards the
National Socialist domestic policy?

A. I know that Herr von Neurath, soon after the 30th
January, 1933, viewed the domestic policy with some anxiety;
chiefly because he felt that it strongly

                                                  [Page 228]

affected our foreign policy. When, in June, 1933, I visited
him in London, where he attended a conference as head of the
German delegation, he told me about his anxieties; but he
thought that these things would die down and that
developments would be similar to those in Fascist Italy,
where things had been very turbulent in the beginning, but
had settled down afterwards. He was hoping that the same
would happen in Germany.

Q. I am coming now to the year 1936. One of the principal
questions which dominated that year was the Austrian
problem. Can you tell us what Neurath's attitude was toward
the repeated interferences of German circles in the internal
affairs of Austria?

A. Yes. Herr von Neurath considered such German interference
in the internal affairs of Austria not only inadmissible,
but damaging. He told me so repeatedly. He was striving for
an economic improvement of the relations with Austria, and
thus a gradual improvement in the political relations also.
He wanted to leave the sovereignty of Austria untouched.
Also, the object of the agreement of 11th July between
Germany and Austria was the economic strengthening of
Austria, and thereby the re-establishment of good political
relations between the two countries.

Q. Did you hear anything before March, 1938, about Hitler's
intention to incorporate Austria into Germany, if necessary
with force?

A. No.

Q. Did you ever hear anything before 1938 about Hitler's
intention to solve the Sudeten problem by force, or even to
attack Czechoslovakia?

A. No.

Q. Do you know whether Hitler was in full agreement until
November, 1937, with the peaceful policy which von Neurath
pursued with regard to both Austria and Czechoslovakia, and
also with regard to the other European countries?

A. Until von Neurath's resignation in February, 1938, I
always presumed that Hitler agreed with the peaceful policy
pursued by von Neurath, and I never heard or learned
anything to the contrary.

Q. Do you know what the thoughts, the considerations were of
Herr von Neurath in 1935 regarding the question of
rearmament, that is to say, the reestablishment of Germany's
military sovereignty?

A. I know that Herr von Neurath, realising that Germany, by
the declaration of the Western Powers on 11th December,
1932, had been granted equality of rights considered she had
the indisputable right to rearm after all disarmament
efforts had failed.

Q. I should like to put the same question to you, with
regard to the considerations and attitude of Herr von
Neurath, with reference to the remilitarization of the
demilitarised Rhineland.

A. I know that von Neurath was aware of the seriousness of
this problem, for he knew that the problem of the
remilitarization of the Rhineland was interconnected with
the Locarno Pact; but I know that he saw a breach of the
Locarno Pact in the Franco-Russian agreement of mutual
assistance concluded in May, 1935, and that as a result of
the ratification of this Pact, or its coming into effect, he
firmly believed that Germany had the right to re-establish
military sovereignty in the Rhineland.

Q. In view of the general political situation in those days,
was it not justifiable to assume that sooner or later a
peaceful solution of this Rhineland problem would be arrived
at in any case?

A. The actual development after 7th March, 1936, showed that
the Western Power - though they did not agree to the
remilitarization of the Rhineland - nevertheless very
quickly acquiesced in the fait accompli. I was at that time,
during the second half of March, 1936, for two weeks in
London, on behalf of the Reich Government, and I had the
opportunity to discuss this matter with a number of
Englishmen; and the view I found in the widest circles was
that as Germany had been granted equality of rights, one
couldn't deny her the right to remilitarize

                                                  [Page 229]

the Rhineland. In some circles I even found the view that it
was a relief that the remilitarization of the Rhineland,
which was due sooner or later in any case, was carried out
so quickly and comparatively painlessly.

Q. And now one last question. What do you know about von
Neurath's resignation from the position of Reich Foreign
Minister in February, 1938?

A. I was Ambassador to Washington at that time, and I was
completely surprised by Foreign Minister von Neurath's
sudden departure. I did know that there were many things he
did not agree with and that he had asked several times to be
allowed to resign. I also knew that he was ill. He suffered
from a neurotic heart. I also knew that he had passed his
sixty-fifth birthday, a fact which gave him the right to
retire. But I was surprised all the same, particularly as I
didn't know the details at that time. I very much regretted
his resignation, as I had confidence in his peace policy. I
remember that the official circles in Washington also
regretted the departure of Herr von Neurath very much, for
Under Secretary of State Sumner Welles approached me a few
days after this event and told me that the American
Government regretted the departure of this man who had
pursued a moderate policy.

DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: Mr. President, I have no further
questions to this witness.

THE PRESIDENT: Does any other member of the defendants'
counsel wish to ask him any questions?

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

Q. One single question, witness. You said that if von
Neurath assumed the office of Foreign Minister, you had
expected that he would continue Stresemann's and Bruening's
policy. According to your knowledge, did he actually
continue Bruening's policy after he became Foreign Minister?

A. Yes.

DR. KUBUSCHOK: Thank you.

SIR DAVID MAXWELL FYFE: My Lord, on the same basis as I
intimated with regard to the last witness; the prosecution
do not desire to take up time by asking any questions.

THE PRESIDENT: Then the witness may retire.

DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: Mr. President, may I then have your
permission to call my third and last witness, Dr. Voelkers,
into the witness stand.

HANS HERMANN VOELKERS, a witness, took the stand, and
testified as follows:

BY THE PRESIDENT:

Q. Will you state your full name, please?

A. Hans Hermann Voelkers.

Q. Will you repeat this oath after me:

I swear by God, the Almighty and Omniscient, that I will
speak the pure truth and will withhold and add nothing.

(The witness repeated the oath.)

THE PRESIDENT: You may sit down.

DIRECT EXAMINATION

BY DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN:

Q. Witness, you were twice the personal adviser (Referent)
to Herr von Neurath; first in his position as Foreign
Minister, and later in his position as Reich Protector of
Bohemia and Moravia; is that correct?

A. Yes; since 1920, I was a member of the Foreign Office and
I spent all my time abroad. Under Stresemann I spent four
years in Geneva as the German permanent representative and
Consul General to the League of Nations, and in

                                                  [Page 231]

1932 I was called to the Foreign Office and became personal
adviser (Referent) to the newly appointed Foreign Minister,
Herr von Neurath. I remained in that position for one year
and then, upon my own request, I was sent to Madrid as an
Embassy Counsel and later I became Minister to Havana; in
1939 I was called back to the Foreign Office to act as
personal adviser (Referent) with the title of "Cabinet
Chief" to Herr von Neurath, who, in the meantime, had been
appointed Reich Protector in Prague.

Q. Did this appointment as personal adviser (Referent) to
Herr von Neurath in Prague take place on the basis of any
personal relations or merely for professional reasons?

A. Only for professional reasons. Until I was transferred to
Berlin I did not know Herr von Neurath.

Q. What was the attitude of the officials of the Foreign
Ministry towards Neurath's appointment as Foreign Minister?

A. I had the impression that the officials of the Foreign
Office were generally most satisfied that, in view of the
difficult internal political situation, an old professional
diplomat and expert minister had taken over the direction of
the Foreign Ministry, because they saw in that a guarantee
for a steady foreign political course; all the more so as it
was known that von Neurath had the special confidence of the
Reich President von Hindenburg, and because he enjoyed, due
to his personality and his equanimity, the special
recognition and veneration of all the officials of the
Foreign Office.

When Hitler came to power, I had the impression that he was
sceptical and reserved towards him. Von Neurath did not
belong to the circle of the closer associates of Hitler, and
during the time I was with him, he never attended those
evening conferences which Hitler held in the Reich
Chancellery in those days. Gradually, however, the pressure
on the Foreign Office increased more and more. The foreign
organization (Auslandsorganization) was created and the
"Office Ribbentrop" started a competitive enterprise into
which all sorts of people were called who had made journeys
abroad; they made all sorts of reports which went directly
to the Fuehrer without being controlled by the Foreign
Office. And then later on, the head of the foreign
organization was installed as commissioner in the Office of
Foreign Affairs (Auslandsamt) while Prince Waldeck was
transferred into the personnel department of the Foreign
Office. At that stage the pressure became so strong that
finally one could not fight against it any more.

But the fact that the Foreign Office had isolated itself for
so long and that it was still evading the pressure of the
Party, that, I think, is certainly the merit of the then
Foreign Minister and his State Secretary von Bulow. Again,
when the Jewish laws were then introduced into the Foreign
Office, I know that von Neurath protected, as far as that
was possible, his officials. I was in Stockholm during the
last two years of the war and met there two former
colleagues of mine with whom I am close friends - one is
Ministerial Director Richard Meier who used to be in charge
of the postal department, and who had to leave quite soon,
and who often told me in Stockholm how grateful he was to
von Neurath for not only having enabled him to take with him
his family and his furniture when he went abroad, but also
because von Neurath, until the collapse, continued to pay
him his monthly pension in Swedish crowns.

Q. What was your position and your activity in Prague in the
Government of the Protectorate?

A. My position in Prague with the Government of the
Protectorate was approximately the same as the one I had
seven years earlier when I had been personal adviser
(Referent) to the Foreign Minister in the Foreign Ministry
in Berlin, with the exception that in the Foreign Office
there is a special protocol department, and a Chief of
Protocol, whereas in Prague, and that was really my chief
occupation, I was also in charge of all protocols and
ceremonial affairs. I was head of the so-called "Office of
the Reich Protector," not to be confused with the principal
authority (grosse Behorde) with which I had nothing to do.
When I came to

                                                  [Page 231]

Prague in the summer of 1939, the office had been at work
for several months. My predecessor was one Legation
Counsellor von Kessel, from the Foreign Office. Apart from
myself, two other officials from the Foreign Office, who
were subordinated to me, belonged to the "Office of the
Reich Protector," also one Count Waldburg, whose mother was
a Czech and who was engaged by the Reich Protector because
he was hoping to establish through him especially good
relations with the Czechs.

The office was responsible, apart from the general and usual
routine matters, for dealing with the private correspondence
and the handling of personal petitions. In the course of
time we had to set up a special department, because later
on, when the many arrests took place, we received so many
petitions, most of which were addressed to the Reich
Protector personally -

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. von Ludinghausen, surely this is very
remote from anything we have got to consider, and all the
previous evidence this witness has given has been cumulative
evidence which has not been cross-examined upon before, and
now what he is saying is all very remote to anything we have
got to consider.

DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: In fact, I have already come to an
end, Mr. President. I merely wanted to show that he is in a
position to answer the following questions from his own
knowledge.


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