The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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Last-Modified: 1999/12/10

Q. Is it correct that it was first intended to undertake
aggressive action against Poland on 26th August, and that
this date was later postponed?

A. It was provided that if by this time - official
negotiations were being carried on before this, it must not
be forgotten - if by then these negotiations had not led to
a solution of the problem, as a consequence of the general
mobilisation of Poland and the deployment of troops which
had likewise taken place, and as a consequence of very
serious frontier incidents that had actually occurred - I
remind you of the bloody Sunday of Bromberg, of the more
than 70,000 Germans who had fled, and of the Germans slain -
in other words, the atmosphere at this time was such that
the Fuehrer would have wanted a solution by warlike means.
Then this delay came about precisely because one believed
that a diplomatic solution could still be found, and thus I
took it as a matter of course that I should intensify to the
utmost the unofficial course, which I had already pursued in
my previous efforts, and see it through. This explains
Dahlerus' frequent conferences in London and in Berlin, the
frequent changes in those conferences, and the frequent
flying back and forth.

When the last attempt was suggested by me on 3rd September,
the situation was as follows, and it also has not been
described quite correctly. The British Government at first
did not send any ultimatum after the 1st September, but it
sent a note in which it demanded the withdrawal ...

THE PRESIDENT: Will the interpreter please tell the Tribunal
what the last question asked by counsel was? Perhaps the
interpreter would not know it. Does the shorthand writer
know what the last question was? It does not seem to me any
answer has been given; it related to 26th August.

(Interpreter repeated the question.)

DR. STAHMER: Yes.

THE PRESIDENT: Yes, that was the question, and as far as I
have heard there has been no answer to it yet.

DR. STAHMER: I did not understand that, Mr. President.

THE PRESIDENT: The question that you asked was whether the
date of 26th August was arranged for the action to take
place against Poland, and the defendant Goering has been
speaking for some considerable time, and has not answered
that question yet as far as I have heard.

THE DEFENDANT: The question - my answer to the question was
that actually 26th August was at first planned by the
Fuehrer as the date for the invasion, since he considered
this date necessary, in view of the situation that I have
described. It was then possible, however, to persuade him to
postpone this date, in order to carry on further
negotiations.

DR. STAHMER:

Q. How is it to be explained that Hitler's proposal failed?

A. Which proposal?

Q. The last proposal of 27th August, that Dahlerus delivered
to London.

A. This proposal was, of course, an unofficial one and was
followed by an official proposal that was read to the
British Ambassador in the form of a note; that is, the
British Government was informed what demands Germany would
make on Poland. This proposal was not entirely understood
and was then unofficially - but de facto - made known not
only to the British Government but also, in the unofficial
way that Dahlerus has described, to the Polish

                                                  [Page 236]

Ambassador, again exactly and precisely. It came to naught
because the Polish Government did not consent to discuss
this proposal. First there was a delay so that there might
be a plenipotentiary appointed - I believe until the 30th or
the 31st; still one waited even longer for a
plenipotentiary. Because of the belief that the Polish
Ambassador might be this plenipotentiary, circumstances
permitting, one waited for a conference with him; when he
declared that he was not authorised to accept any terms the
Fuehrer decided on invasion the next day. This telegram I
also sent to the British Ambassador via Dahlerus - the
telegram of the Polish Government to its Ambassador, in
which it forbade him, in a postscript, to conduct any
negotiations regarding proposals or to accept any proposal
or any note on the subject.

I immediately gave Dahlerus the decoded telegram, which I
received from the investigation office mentioned the day
before yesterday, so that he could turn it over to
Henderson. I told him in addition, despite any scruples I
might have had, that, since it was a matter of extraordinary
importance, the British, Government should find out as
quickly as possible how intransigent the Polish attitude
was, so that it might, circumstances permitting, influence
the Polish Government in the direction of a conference. I
thus sacrificed the key, that is, I demonstrated that we had
the Polish diplomatic code key and thus spoiled for Germany
a real and important source of secret information. This was
a unique step, that I could justify only by my absolute wish
and determination to avert the conflict at the last moment.
I should, therefore, like to read the appendix to the
official dispatch; it is brief and runs: "From the Polish
Government to the Polish Ambassador Lipski in Berlin" - I
omit the first part and read only the following:

  "As a particular secret instruction for the Ambassador,
  he is in addition informed to kindly refrain from
  conducting official negotiations under any circumstances.
  In the event that oral or written proposals are made by
  the Reich Government, to state that he has no
  plenipotentiary powers to respond to or discuss them and
  that his power extends only to turning over the above
  message to his Government and that he must have further
  instructions first."

It is clearly seen from this that the Ambassador was not, as
we had been told, authorised to do anything at all in the
other direction, and this telegram, which the Fuehrer also
read, probably indicated to him very clearly the
hopelessness of arriving at an understanding with Poland.

Q. Were these negotiations begun and carried out by you with
the earnest intention of maintaining peace?

A. If one reads these writings in their context it can be
seen from this document; but I should not like to rely on
the evidence of this book but on what I have to say here
under oath. It was my firm determination to do everything to
settle this problem, that had come up, in a peaceful way - I
did not want the war; consequently I did everything I
possibly could to avoid it. That has nothing to do with the
preparations which I, as a matter of duty in my capacity as
a high-ranking soldier, carried out.

Q. A matter was brought up here concerning an aeroplane
accident which could possibly have befallen Mr. Dahlerus.
What about this remark?

A. The witness Dahlerus said at the conclusion of his
testimony that he would have to correct himself, that he had
not received this absurd information from me, but that this
was a conclusion of his because I had mentioned Ribbentrop's
name shortly before in an entirely different connection. I
had only one concern and that I indicated: Dahlerus flew in
my own plane to London at that time; the tension was already
very acute, and in all States the mobilisation and the
threatening had been proclaimed. Official air transport had
been cut off long before. So it was not possible for a
German plane to fly to London

                                                  [Page 237]

with a courier or, vice versa, a British plane to fly to
Berlin at that time without risking danger from our anti-
aircraft batteries or the like, and I wanted to obviate this
danger, as far as possible, by telephoning Dutch and English
offices, as far as I remember. This was the only reason for
my telling Dahlerus that I hoped he would arrive and return
safely, because in those times an accident could easily have
taken place.

Herr von Ribbentrop knew nothing whatsoever about the fact
that Dahlerus was being sent. During the whole time I never
discussed the matter of Dahlerus with Herr von Ribbentrop.
Thus he did not know at all that he was flying, that he went
back and forth between me and the British Government. That
is an absolute concoction.

Q. On 26th September, 1939, were you present at the
conference between Dahlerus and Hitler?

A. Yes.

Q. What did Hitler say then about Poland?

A. It is correct that he made statements to the effect that
a restoration of Poland as she existed before the outbreak
of war could no longer be considered after arms had decided,
but that he would now, of course, keep the old German
provinces that had been taken in 1918. But even at that time
he indicated that a Government General in Warsaw would not
interest him, and pointed out very emphatically to Dahlerus
that this was a question which was to be settled chiefly and
decisively by Germany and Russia, and that there, could thus
be no question of a unilateral settlement with England
because the greater part of Poland was already occupied by
Russia. And therefore these were agreements that he could no
longer make unilaterally with England. That was the gist of
the Fuehrer's statements.

DR. STAHMER: I have no further questions.

MR. JUSTICE JACKSON:

Q. I call your attention to the testimony which you gave
yesterday and ask you if it is correct.

  "I think I was Deputy Chairman" - referring to the Reich
  Defence Council - "I do not even know, I heard about
  that, but I assure you on my oath that at no time and at
  no date did I participate in a single meeting when the
  Council for the Defence of the Reich was called together
  as such."

Is that a correct transcription of your testimony?

A. Yes, I said that in no single ...

Q. That is all. That is all I asked you.

A. Yes.

Q. I ask to have your attention called to Document 3575-PS
(Exhibit USA 781), which is the minutes of the Reich Defence
Council of 18th November, 1938, with you presiding.

I call your attention to the statement that the "meeting
consisted solely of a three-hour lecture by the Field-
Marshal. No discussion took place."

Is that correct?

(Witness handed document.)

A. I have to read it first, this is the first time I have
seen the document.

Q. You did not know when you testified yesterday that we had
this document, did you? Would you kindly answer that
question?

A. I have not seen this document before. I have to look at
it first. It says here:

  "Notes on the session of the Reich Defence Council on
  18th November, 1938."

The Reich Defence Council, as it was described here,
comprised few people. Here there were present, however, all
Reich Ministers and State Secretaries,

                                                  [Page 238]

also the Commanders-in-Chief of the Army and the Navy, the
chiefs of staff of the three divisions of the Armed Forces,
Reichsleiter Bormann for the Deputy of the Fuehrer, General
Daluege, S.S. Gruppenfuehrer Heydrich, the Reich Labour
Fuehrer, the Price Commissioner, the President of the Reich
Labour Office and others.

When I gave my testimony I was thinking only of the Reich
Defence Council as such. This is dealing with the Reich
Defence Council within the framework of a large assembly.
Nevertheless, I was not thinking of that; this concerns,
over and beyond the Reich Defence Council, an assembly that
was much larger than that provided for in the Reich Defence
Council.

Q. I call your attention to the fact that the "Field-Marshal
stated it to be the task of the Reich Defence Council to
correlate all the forces of the nation for accelerated
building up of German armament."

Do you find that?

A. Yes, I have it now.

Q. The second paragraph?

A. Yes.

Q. Under 11, "The Physical Task: the assignment is to raise
the level of armament from a current index of 100 to one of
300."

A. Yes.

DR. SIEMERS (counsel for the defendant Raeder): I cannot
quite see the reason why the defence repeatedly does not
receive documents that are discussed in the Court and that
are submitted to the Tribunal. The document now discussed is
also not known to us, at least not to me.

During the past few days I have noticed that several times
documents were suddenly presented by the prosecution without
their having made any effort to inform us of their
existence.

MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: That is perfectly true, and I think
every lawyer knows that one of the great questions in this
case is credibility, and that if we have to, in cross-
examination, submit every document before we can refer to it
in cross-examination after we hear their testimony, the
possibilities of useful cross-examination are destroyed.

Now, of course he did not know, and we have had the
experience of caning document after document to their
attention, always to be met with some explanation, carefully
arranged and read here from notes. No defendant has ever had
better opportunity to prepare his case than these
defendants, and I submit that cross-examination of them
should not be destroyed by any requirement that we submit
documents in advance.

THE PRESIDENT: Did you wish to say something?

DR. SIEMERS: Yes. I should like to make two points. First, I
am entirely agreed if Mr. Justice Jackson wants to make use
of the element of surprise. I should merely be thankful if
the defence then were also permitted to use the element of
surprise. Yet we have been told heretofore that we must show
every document we want to submit weeks ahead of time, so
that the prosecution has several weeks to form an opinion on
it.

Secondly, if the element of surprise is being used, I
believe that at least we, as defence counsel, should not be
given this surprise at the moment when the document is
submitted to the Tribunal and to the witness. However, I
have at this moment neither to-day's documents nor the
documents of the previous days.

THE PRESIDENT: What you have just said is entirely
inaccurate. You have never been compelled to disclose any
documents which you wished to put to a witness in, cross-
examination. This is cross-examination, and therefore it is
perfectly open to counsel for the prosecution to put any
document without disclosing it beforehand, just as defence
counsel could have put any document to witnesses called on
behalf of the prosecution, if they had wished to do so in
cross-examination.

                                                  [Page 239]

I am sure that if counsel for the defendants wish to re-
examine upon any such document as this, a copy of it will be
supplied to them for that purpose.

The Tribunal now rules that this document may be put to the
witness now.

DR. SIEMERS: Does the defence also have the opportunity, now
that it is known to the entire Court, of receiving the
document?

THE PRESIDENT: Yes, certainly.

DR. SIEMERS: I should be thankful if I could have a copy
now.

MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: Frankly, I do not know whether we have
adequate copies to furnish them to all the defence counsel
now.

THE PRESIDENT: Maybe you have not, but you can let them have
one or more copies.

MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: But I do not think we should furnish
copies until the examination with reference to that document
is completed, that is to say ...

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