Archive/File: imt/nca/nca-02/nca-02-16-responsibility-20-03 Last-Modified: 1997/06/16 Nazi Conspiracy and Aggression, Volume Two, Chapter XIV [Page 1020] D. VON NEURATH'S PART, AS FOREIGN MINISTER AND ADVISOR TO THE FUEHRER, IN THE PLANNING OF WARS OF AGGRESSION. Both as Minister of Foreign Affairs and as one of the inner circle of the Fuehrer's advisors on foreign political matters, von Neurath participated in the political planning and preparation for acts of aggression against Austria, Czechoslovakia, and other nations. (1) The von Neurath technique. If von Neurath's policy may be described in a sentence it may be summarized as breaking one treaty only at a time. He himself put it slightly more pompously but to the same effect in a speech before the Academy of German Law on 30 October 1937: " *** Out of the acknowledgment of these elementary facts the Reich Cabinet has always interceded in favor of treating every concrete international problem within methods especially suited for it, not to complicate it unnecessarily by amalgamation with other problems, and as long as problems between only two powers are concerned to choose the way for an immediate understanding between these two powers. We are in a position to state that this method has fully proved itself good not only in the German interest, but also in the general interest." The only countries whose interests von Neurath failed to mention in that speech are the other parties to the various treaties that were dealt with in that way. The working out of that policy can be seen from a brief summary of the actions of von Neurath when he was Foreign Minister, and those of his immediate-successor when von Neurath still purported to have influence. In 1935 action was directed against the Western Powers, in the form of the rearmament of Germany. When that was going on another country had to be reassured. At that time it was Austria, which still had -- up to 1935 -- the support of Italy. Hence, the fraudulent and clearly false assurance, the essence of the technique in that case, given by Hitler, on 21 May 1935. (TC-26) Then, in 1936, action was again taken against the Western Powers in the occupation of the Rhineland. Another fraudulent assurance was made to Austria in the Treaty of 11 July of that year, (TC-22) the deceitful nature of which is shown by letters from von Papen. (2246-PS; Then, in 1937 and 1938, the Nazis moved on a step and action was directed against Austria. That action was absorption, finally planned, at the latest, at the meeting on 5 November 1937 [Page 1021] (386-PS). The action was taken on 11 March 1938. Reassurance had to be given to the Western Powers; hence the assurance to Belgium on 13 October 1937. (TC-34) Less than a year later the object of the aggressive action was Czechoslovakia. The Sudetenland was obtained in September 1938, and the whole of Bohemia and Moravia was absorbed on 15 March 1939. At that time it was necessary to reassure Poland; so an assurance to Poland was given by Hitler on 20 February 1938 (2357-PS), and repeated up to 26 September 1938 (2358-PS). The falsity of that assurance is shown in Section 8 of Chapter IX on Aggression Against Poland. Finally, when the Nazis decided to take action for the conquest of Poland in the next year, assurance had to be given to Russia. Hence, a non-aggression pact was entered into with the USSR. on 23 August 1939. (TC-25) With regard to the foregoing summary, the Latin tag, res ipsa loquitur is apposite. But a frank statement from von Neurath with regard to the earlier part of it is found in the account of his conversation with the United States Ambassador, Mr. Bullitt, on 18 May 1936 (L-150): "Von Neurath said that it was the policy of the German Government to do nothing active in foreign affairs until 'the Rhineland had been digested.' He explained that he meant that, until the German fortifications had been constructed on the French and Belgian frontiers, the German Government would do everything possible to prevent rather than encourage an outbreak by the Nazis in Austria and would pursue a quiet line with regard to Czechoslovakia. 'As soon as our fortifications are constructed and the countries of Central Europe realize that France cannot enter German territory at will, all those countries will begin to feel very differently about their foreign policies and a new constellation will develop,' he said." The conversation between von Papen as Ambassador and Mr. Messersmith is much to the same effect. (1760-PS) (2) Austria. At the time of the aggression against Austria von Neurath was Foreign Minister. This included the preliminary stages, during the early Nazi plottings against Austria in 1934. In this period occurred the Nazi murder of Chancellor Dolfuss and the ancillary acts which were afterwards so strongly approved by the German Government. (See Section 3 of Chapter IX on Aggression Against Austria.) Von Neurath was also Foreign Minister when the false assurance was given to Austria [Page 1022] on 21 May 1935 (TC-26) and the fraudulent treaty was made on 11 July 1936 (TC-22). And von Neurath was Foreign Minister when his ambassador to Austria, von Papen, was carrying on his subterranean intrigue in the period from 1935 to 1937. (2247-PS; 2246-PS) Von Neurath was present when Hitler declared, in a highly confidential circle, on 5 November 1937, that the German question could only be solved by force, and that his plans were to conquer Austria and Czechoslovakia (386-PS). Hitler expressed his designs on Austria as follows: "*** For the improvement of our military political position, it must be our first aim in every case of entanglement by war to conquer Czechoslovakia and Austria simultaneously, in order to remove any threat from the flanks in case of a possible advance westwards." (386-PS) It is impossible for von Neurath, after that meeting, to say that he was not acting except with his eyes completely open and with complete comprehension as to what was intended. During the Anschluss von Neurath received a note from the British Ambassador dated 11 March 1938 (045-PS). In reply von Neurath uttered two obvious untruths. The first: "*** It is untrue that the Reich used forceful pressure to bring about this development, especially the assertion, which was spread later by the former Chancellor Schuschnigg, that the German Government had presented the Federal President with a conditional ultimatum. It is a pure invention." (3287-PS) According to the German ultimatum, Schuschnigg had to appoint a proposed candidate as Chancellor and form a Cabinet conforming to the proposals of the German Government. Otherwise the invasion of Austria by German troops was held in prospect. (See Section 3 of Chapter IX on Aggression Against Austria.) The second untruth: "The truth of the matter is that the question of sending military or police forces from the Reich was only brought up when the newly formed Austrian Cabinet addressed a telegram, already published by the press, to the German Government, urgently asking for the dispatch of German troops as soon as possible, in order to restore peace and order and to avoid bloodshed. Faced with the immediately threatening danger of a bloody civil war in Austria the German Government then decided to comply with the appeal addressed to it." (3287-PS) [Page 1023] (As to the inspired nature of the Austrian telegram, see Section 3 of Chapter IX on Aggression Against Austria.) All that can be said is that it must have given von Neurath a certain macabre sort of humor to write that note (3287-PS) when the truth was the opposite, as shown by the report of Gauleiter Rainer to Buerckel (812-PS), the transcripts of Goering's telephone conversations with Austria (2949-PS), and the entries in Jodl's diary for 11, 13, and 14 February. (1780-PS) According to Jodl's diary -- the entry for 10 March: "At 13.00 hours General Keitel informs Chief of Operational Staff and Admiral Canaris. Ribbentrop is being detained in London. Neurath takes over the Foreign Office." (1780-PS) It is inconceivable when von Neurath had taken over the Foreign Office, was dealing with the matter and was co- operating with Goering to suit the susceptibilities of the Czechs, that he should have been so ignorant of the truth of events as to write that letter (3287-PS) in good faith. Von Neurath's position is shown equally clearly by the account which is given of him in the affidavit of Messersmith (2385-PS). Von Neurath's style of activity at this crisis is described as follows: "I should emphasize here in this statement that the men who made these promises were not only the dyed-in-the- wool Nazis, but more conservative Germans who already had begun to willingly lend themselves to the Nazi program. "In an official dispatch to the Department of State from Vienna, dated 10 October 1935, I wrote as follows: " 'Europe will not get away from the myth that Neurath, Papen, and Mackensen are not dangerous people and that they are diplomats of the old school. They are in fact servile instruments of the regime, and just because the outside world looks upon them as harmless they are able to work more effectively. They are able to sow discord just because they propagate the myth that they are not in sympathy with the regime'." (2385-PS) (3) Czechoslovakia. At the time of the occupation of Austria, von Neurath gave the assurance to M. Mastny, the Ambassador of Czechoslovakia to Berlin, regarding the continued independence of Czechoslovakia (TC-27). M. Jan Masaryk, Czechoslovakian Foreign Minister, describes the circumstances as follows: "I have in consequence been instructed by my Government to bring to the official knowledge of His Majesty's Govern- [Page 1024] ment the following facts: Yesterday evening (the 11th March) Field-Marshal Goering made two separate statements to M. Mastny, the Czechoslovak Minister in Berlin, assuring him that the developments in Austria will in no way have any detrimental influence on the relations between the German Reich and Czechoslovakia, and emphasizing the continued earnest endeavor on the part of Germany to improve those mutual relations." ******* "M. Mastny was in a position to give him [Goering] definite and binding assurances on this subject [Czech mobilization] and today spoke with Baron von Neurath, who, among other things, assured him on behalf of Herr Hitler that Germany still considers herself bound by the German-Czechoslovak Arbitration Convention concluded at Locarno in October 1925." ( TC-27) . In view of von Neurath's presence at the meeting on 5 November 1937, four months previously, where he had heard Hitler's views on Czechoslovakia (386-PS), and that it was only six months before the treaty was disregarded, von Neurath's assurance is an excellent example of the technique of diplomacy developed by von Neurath. On 28 May 1938 Hitler held a conference of important leaders, including Beck, von Brauchitsch, Raeder, Keitel, Goering, and Ribbentrop, at which Hitler affirmed that preparations should be made for military action against Czechoslovakia by October (388-PS; 2360-PS). It is believed, although not confirmed, that von Neurath attended. On 4 September 1938 the Government of which von Neurath was a member enacted a new Secret Reich Defense Law which defined various official responsibilities, in clear anticipation of war. This law provided, as did the previous Secret Reich Defense Law, for a Reich Defense Council as a supreme policy board for war preparations (2194-PS). Then came the Munich agreement of 29 September 1938, in spite of which, on 14 March 1939, German troops marched into Czechoslovakia. (TC-50) On 16 March 1939 the German Government, of which von Neurath was still a member, promulgated the Decree of the Fuehrer and Reich Chancellor on the Establishment of the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia. (TC-51) During the following week, von Ribbentrop signed a treaty with Slovakia (1439-PS), Article 2 of which reads as follows: "For the purpose of making effective the protection undertaken by the German Reich, the German armed forces shall [Page 1025] have the right at all times to construct military installations and to keep them garrisoned in the strength they deem necessary, in an area delimited on its western side by the frontiers of the State of Slovakia, and on its eastern side by a line formed by the eastern rims of the Lower Carpathians, the White Carpathians, and the Javornik Mountains. "The Government of Slovakia will take the necessary steps to assure that the land required for these installations shall be conveyed to the German armed forces. Furthermore, the Government of Slovakia will agree to grant exemption from custom duties for imports from the Reich for the maintenance of the German troops and the supply of military installations." (1439-PS) The ultimate objective of Hitler's policies, disclosed at the meeting at which von Neurath was present on 5 November 1937 (86-PS), is obvious from the terms of this treaty. It was the resumption of the drang for lebensraum in the East.
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