The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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Last-Modified: 1999/11/20

SIR DAVID MAXWELL FYFE: This gentleman is stated to have
been a partner in the defendant's former business. According
to the application, it is really desired that he should give
his views on the defendant's general attitude and state of
mind. Again, the prosecution fail to see to what issue he is
relevant, but it may be that it would please the defendant
to have affidavits from an old business partner

                                                  [Page 281]

to give his views on him. If that is desired, the
prosecution would be prepared to consider such an affidavit,
but they really must take up the consistent attitude that a
witness of this kind is irrelevant, a witness who is going
to say "I have known this defendant for twenty years; I have
been in business with him and I have always had high opinion
of him." That, in the submission of the prosecution, does
not touch the issues before this Tribunal, and therefore is
irrelevant. But, as I say, if my friend cares to produce an
affidavit, the prosecution will consider it with the,
greatest sympathy,

DR. HORN: I would be satisfied, in the case of the witness
Michel, with an affidavit.

Mr. President, I would like to come back to the witness
listed under No. 5, Legation Counsellor Gottfriedsen.

THE PRESIDENT: One moment. Are you not going to deal with
No. 38? You didn't deal with 37. You are passing that over,
are you?

DR. HORN: I believe that the same objections would be raised
against him as were raised with reference to the other
witnesses. Since I assume that the Tribunal is going to
decide in principle about the question whether or not all
the facts referred to should be submitted here, I have left
out this witness and ask the Tribunal for a decision.THE
PRESIDENT: I see. Now you want to go back to No. 5?

DR. HORN: I would like to go back to No. 5, Legation
Counsellor Gottfriedsen. This gentleman managed all the
official and private financial affairs of the defendant von
Ribbentrop for many years.

Ribbentrop has been accused by various members of the
prosecution of enriching himself with art treasures and
similar things. About this point Legation Counsellor
Gottfriedsen can give conclusive evidence which will refute
these charges. I therefore ask for approval of this witness.

SIR DAVID MAXWELL FYFE: My Lord, I have just asked Dr. Horn
on this point whether he would prefer Herr Gottfriedsen to
Herr von Sonnleitner. I think Dr. Horn says that, if there
was a question of choice, he would.

The prosecution do not want to be unreasonable. I made my
general statement that this group of witnesses, of seven
foreign office witnesses, ought to be restricted to three.
If my friend thinks that Herr Gottfriedsen will be more
helpful, especially on this point, I have no objection to
the substitution, so long as some limitation is made in this
particular group of witnesses.

THE PRESIDENT: Would it be satisfactory if interrogatories
were administered?

DR. HORN: Yes, Mr. President. In this case I ask for the
witness Gottfriedsen.


DR. HORN: My statement on the subject of summoning witnesses
is thereby concluded.

DR. STAHMER (Counsel for defendant Goering): I have not
named some witnesses because other defendants' counsel had
asked for them. Among, these is the interpreter, Dr.
Schmidt. I, too, have the greatest interest in the
questioning of this witness. Schmidt was Goering's
interpreter and was present at almost all foreign political
negotiations with statesmen. Therefore I, too, ask for the
summoning of this witness and to that extent support the
application made by Dr. Horn.

THE PRESIDENT: We will consider that, Dr. Stahmer. We will
adjourn now for ten minutes.

(A recess was taken.)

DR. HORN: Mr. President, may I please bring up one other
point having to do with the calling of witnesses?I have also
named a number of the witnesses because I must ascertain
when the conspiracy in general began and when my client
could have joined this conspiracy. The prosecution made
things relatively easy for itself as regards setting
                                                  [Page 282]
the time at which the conspiracy began, by stating in the
general Indictment "some time before 8th May, 1945."

Now, if I can call no witnesses with regard to the years
1933 to 1938, then I must assume that the prosecution admits
that the defendant Ribbentrop could not have been a party to
the conspiracy at least before 1939.

I should like this point of view to be taken into
consideration in the granting of witnesses.

SIR DAVID MAXWELL FYFE: It might be helpful, if I indicated
quite generally what Dr. Horn has to meet.

The Tribunal will remember that on the 8th and 9th of
January I presented the individual case against this
defendant. The first point is the time of Hitler's accession
to power in 1933. It is the case for the prosecution that
this defendant assisted in various ways in that accession.
After that, he held various positions in close touch with

If Dr. Horn will refer to the transcript of my presentation,
he will find that there is detailed, with a note of all the
supporting documents, the part which his client played in
the aggression against Austria, Czechoslovakia, Lithuania,
Poland, England, France, Norway, Denmark, Holland, Belgium,
Luxembourg, the Soviet Union, and finally, the United
States. All these matters are set out with the supporting
documents, and a reference to them will show exactly what is
alleged against the defendant on that point.

Apart from that, there are four matters under Counts 3 and 4
which are specially raised.

First of all, the defendants pressed that measures contrary
to International Law and the Conventions should be taken
against Allied airmen. Again, the supporting documents are
in evidence.

Second, there is General Lahousen's evidence as to what the
defendant said with regard to the treatment of the
population of Poland.

Third, there is the defendant's responsibility for putting
the various protectors of Bohemia and Moravia in office with
unrestricted powers, which resulted in the crimes against
the populations of these areas.

Then there is a similar position with regard to the

The third main category is the treatment of the Jews. Again,
there is an American official document, the report of
Ambassador Kennedy; there is a long Foreign Office statement
on the policy towards the Jews; and there is a document
showing the preparation for an Anti-Semitic Congress, of
which this defendant was to be an honorary member.

Finally, there is the question of plunder, the evidence
given by my Soviet colleague on the Ribbentrop battalion for
the collection of plunder, which was given the other day.I
do not think that if Dr. Horn will consider these various
points, which are practically all collected in the
transcript for 8th and 9th of January, except the last
point, he will find that there is any difficulty in deciding
the commencement of the acts imputed to his client or their
detailed and concrete elements.THE PRESIDENT: Sir David, the
Tribunal would like to know whether the prosecution allege
any particular date at which the conspiracy started; and
second, they would like to know whether you contend that
defendants joining the conspiracy after it started are
responsible for the conspiracy.

What the Tribunal would like to know is whether a person who
joins the conspiracy after it started would be responsible
for acts committed by the conspirators before he joined.

SIR DAVID MAXWELL FYFE: If I might deal with the questions
in order, the position of the prosecution on the question of
time is as set out in Count 1 of the Indictment. The
prosecution say that the Nazi Party was the core of the
conspiracy, and that it was an essential part of the
conspiracy that the Nazi Party should obtain political and
economic control of Germany in order that they

                                                  [Page 283]

might carry out the aims set out in Articles 1 and 2 of the
Nazi Party programme. That part of the conspiracy started
with the emergence of the Nazi Party as a force in German
politics, and was fully developed in January, 1933. At that
time it was the aim of the Nazi Party to secure the breaches
of the Treaty of Versailles and the other matters set out in
these articles, if necessary by force.

But, as is stated in the statement of offence under Count 1
of the Indictment, the conspiracy was not static; it was
dynamic. And, in 1934, after Germany left the League of
Nations and the Disarmament Conference, the aggressive war
aspect of the conspiracy increased in momentum.

It is the case for the prosecution that, from 1935, when
conscription was introduced and the Air Force came into
being, and through 1936 when the Rhineland was re-occupied,
the securing of Germany's objectives - the objectives of the
Nazi Party - if necessary by aggressive war, became a
stronger, clearer and more binding aim.

The position is crystallised by the meeting on 5th November,
1937, when Hitler declared that Austria and Czechoslovakia
would be conquered at the earliest opportunity. That was
succeeded by the acquisition of Austria in March, 1938, and
the "Fall Grun" against Czechoslovakia, which originated in
May, 1938, to be carried out before October.From that time
the prosecution say that the plan of aggressive war followed
the well-known and clear technique of attacking one country
or taking aggressive measures against one country, and
giving assurances to the country that was next on the list
to be attacked.From that time the succession and procession
of aggressive wars takes a clear course, which I have just
mentioned in outlining the accusation of aggression against
the defendant Ribbentrop. I may summarise it by saying that
the prosecution submit that the Nazi Party was always
engaged in this agreement and concerted action to get
control of Germany and carry out its aims, but that the
aggression crystallised and became clear from 1934 and the
beginning of 1935 onwards.

THE TRIBUNAL (Mr. Biddle): Sir David, I would like to ask
you a few questions in connection with this.

First of all, you must know either the date when the
conspiracy began, or you must not be able to give us that
date. Now, is it the contention that the prosecution do not
know when the conspiracy began? If you do know, would you
tell us?

SIR DAVID MAXWELL FYFE: The conspiracy began with the
formation of the Nazi Party.

MR. BIDDLE: And what was that date?


MR. BIDDLE: 1921? Now, was the conspiracy to wage aggressive
war begun on that date?

SIR DAVID MAXWELL FYFE: Yes, it was begun in this way that
Hitler had said, "I have certain objects, one of them being
to break the Treaty of Versailles - which means also
breaking the Treaty of Friendship with the United States
which has the same clauses - and I shall attain these
objects, if necessary by using force". That was always one
of the beliefs and aims of the Party.

Now, if people agree to commit an illegal act, or a legal
act by illegal methods, that is, ipso facto, the committing
of the offence of conspiracy. Conspiracy is constituted by
the agreement, not by the acts carrying out the agreement.
Therefore, in that way the conspiracy starts in 1921. But,
as Mr. Justice Jackson made clear in his opening, and as I
have repeated this morning, the aims, and more particularly
the methods by which the conspirators sought to achieve
these aims, grew and acquired particular forms as the years
went on. They appear to have acquired their special form
when a decision was reached on the method of breaking the
Treaty of Versailles in 1934, and bringing that to fruition
in 1935.

I am not seeking to avoid answering the question of the
learned American Judge, but I am putting, in summary form,
exactly what is stated in both the statement of
                                                  [Page 284]
offence and the particulars of offence under Count 1, and I
hope that I will not be thought to be avoiding the question.
I am not doing that. I am trying to put it in the clearest
and most accurate language.MR. BIDDLE: Well, I would not ask
you, were I clear about the matter in my own mind, Sir
David. Let me ask you a few more questions.The conspiracy to
commit Crimes Against Humanity - was that begun in 1921?SIR
DAVID MAXWELL FYFE: To the extent that a general readiness
was adopted to use all methods, irrespective of the rights,
safety, and happiness of other people, it was begun with the
start of the Nazi Party. Ruthlessness, and disregard for the
rights and safety and happiness of others was a badge of the
Nazi Party programme, in so far as the rights and happiness
of others might interfere with their aims, from the very

Again, the translation of that into practical methods
developed as the years went on, and in a period well before
the war - Mr. Biddle will not hold it against me that I
should remember exact documents in an answer straight off
the reel to his question, but well before the war - there
will be found again and again in the speeches of Hitler to
his associates that utter ruthlessness and disregard for non-
German populations should be employed. That is the
foundation of the War Crimes and Crimes Against Humanity,
and it was initiated and grew in the method which I have

MR. BIDDLE: Did you answer the President with respect to the
question of whether the conspirators joining later became
responsible? If that were true, then this defendant would be
responsible for acts running back to 1921.

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