The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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Archive/File: imt/tgmwc/tgmwc-14/tgmwc-14-136.01
Last-Modified: 2000/03/18

                                             [Page 276]

HUNDRED AND THIRTY-SIXTH DAY
WEDNESDAY, 22nd MAY, 1946

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Siemers, I think yesterday we got to
the stage whether any of the other defendants' counsel
wished to ask any questions.

DR. SIEMERS (Counsel for defendant Raeder): Yes,
indeed, I believe Dr. von Ludingshausen wishes to
examine the witness.

ERICH VON WEIZSACKER - resumed

DIRECT EXAMINATION - continued

BY DR. VON LUDINGSHAUSEN (Counsel for defendant von
Neurath)

Q. Witness, I should like to put a few questions to you
about the activity of Herr von Neurath in his capacity
of Foreign Minister. You were at that time director of
the Political Department of the Foreign Office. How
long were you in that position?

A. I believe from late autumn of 1936, in a deputy
capacity, and from the spring of 1937, until the spring
of 1938, in a full capacity.

Q. But before then you had the opportunity to work with
Herr von Neurath, and on an occasion in the year 1932,
in the autumn of that year, you attended the same
Disarmament Conference at Geneva?

A. Yes.

Q. What tendencies did Herr von Neurath follow, and
what attitude did von Neurath adopt at the Disarmament
Conference?

A. The attitude of Herr von Neurath was dictated by the
Articles of the League of Nations pact which provided
for disarmament. He followed those lines.

Q. Thereby he followed the same policy which his
predecessors had followed at the Disarmament
Conference?

A. It was always the same.

Q. Yes, all the previous governments pursued a policy
aimed at peace and unity, that is, understanding; and
Herr von Neurath continued to pursue this  policy, is
not that correct?

A. I never noticed anything to the contrary.

Q. Did you at that time - that is in 1932 - notice in
any way that he had National Socialist tendencies, or
that he was sympathetic with the National Socialists?

A. I had the impression that there was no common ground
between him and National Socialism.

Q. Can you quite briefly summarize Herr von Neurath's
trend in respect to foreign politics? Could he have
been persuaded, at that time, in favour of a
belligerent action or was he the representative, the
acknowledged representative of a policy of
understanding and peace?

A. I should like to say that Herr von Neurath pursued a
policy of peaceful revision, the same policy that had
been carried on by his predecessors. His aim was to be
a good neighbour with all, without binding himself
politically in any special direction. I never noticed
any bellicose tendencies in his policies.

Q. Did anything change in Herr von Neurath's political
trend in the year 1936, when you became one of his
closest collaborators, or did it always remain the
same?

A. It was always the same.

                                             [Page 277]

Q. He was especially interested in bringing about an
understanding with England, and also with France; is
that right?

A. I had the impression that Herr von Neurath wanted to
bring about an understanding with all sides.

Q. I should like to put a few more questions to you
which more or less concern his relationship with
Hitler. According to your knowledge of the
circumstances - as his collaborator - can it be said
that he had the confidence of Adolf Hitler at all times
when he was Foreign Minister, and also that Hitler was
absolutely prepared to let himself be advised and led
by him?

A. As far as I am in a position to judge, he was the
adviser but not the confidant of Hitler.

Q. But there was a certain contact between them; is
that not right?

A. I never noticed such a contact.

Q. Did you observe when von Neurath and Hitler met
whether they frequently discussed the political
situation, what had to be done and what should be done?

A. I can only say that we of the Foreign Office
regretted that the contact was not closer; all the more
so as Hitler was frequently absent from Berlin. We
considered the contact too loose.

Q. Then, one cannot speak of close relations or of
close collaboration with Hitler in the case of von
Neurath?

A. In my opinion, no.

Q. And in your opinion and according to your
observation, how did the activity of von Neurath affect
foreign policy? Was he the leading man or was he a
retarding element, that is a brake, so to speak, with
reference to matters contrary to his convictions?

A. I have no actual proof that important foreign
political actions of this period were influenced by von
Neurath. But I can well imagine that certain actions in
the sphere of foreign politics were prevented

THE PRESIDENT (Interposing): Wait a minute. I do not
think we can allow the witness to imagine. We cannot
let him tell us what he can imagine. I think the
question is too vague, and not a proper question to
ask.

BY DR. VON LUDINGSHAUSEN:

Q. During the time when Herr von Neurath was Foreign
Minister, did any agency of the Party also have
influence on the foreign policy, an influence contrary
to the tendencies of von Neurath, or at least not
shared by him?

A. I believe there was not only one agency but many
which acted along these lines, and had connections and
influence with Hitler, of course.

Q. Do you know why the Anti-Comintern Pact with Japan
in November, 1935 was not signed by von Neurath but by
the then Special Ambassador von Ribbentrop in London?

A. Was not that in 1936?

Q. Yes, that is correct. That was in 1936.

A. I assume for the reason that Hitler always liked to
put several persons on certain jobs and to select from
among these the one he considered best suited for the
crucial assignment.

Q. Was von Neurath at all in agreement with this
Anti-Comintern Pact?

A. That I do not know.

Q. What was the personal policy of von Neurath? Did he
try to keep old officials in office or did he try to
bring in National Socialist officials?

A. Herr von Neurath was very anxious to retain the old
and familiar Foreign Office staff as well in the
Foreign Office as in positions abroad.

Q. But that changed at the moment when he resigned?

A. Not immediately, but later on to an increasing
extent.

                                             [Page 278]

Q. Now, just two more questions. What was the attitude
of Herr von Neurath when he was no longer Foreign
Minister, and the Sudeten questions became acute in the
autumn of 1938, and what was his activity at the Munich
conference?

A. I recall a scene in the Reich Chancellery, a day
before the Munich Agreement, when Herr von Neurath very
strongly recommended pursuing a policy of appeasement
and following the suggestion of Mussolini to hold a
Four-Power conference.

Q. Do you know that, after von Neurath left the Foreign
Office, this office was forbidden to give him any
foreign political information?

A. I do believe I recall that the successor of Herr von
Neurath reserved for himself the right to inform his
predecessor about foreign political matters.

DR. VON LUDINGSHAUSEN: I have no further questions.

DR. LATERNSER (Counsel for the General Staff and the
OKW):

BY DR. LATERNSER:

Q. Herr von WeizsĄcker, you were German Ambassador to
the Holy See in Rome from the summer of 1943?

A. Yes.

Q. At the same time, the Commander-in-Chief in the
Mediterranean theatre was Field Marshal Kesselring?

A. Yes. That is, he was the commander-in-chief in this
theatre from 25th September, 1943. Before that time an
Italian general had this post.

Q. Were you frequently called upon by Kesselring to
settle differences between the German Army on one hand
and the local population on the other?

A. There were very frequent contacts between Field
Marshal Kesselring and my own office, not only in order
to straighten out differences but first of all, to
prevent differences.

Q. Did you, through your frequent contacts with Field
Marshal Kesselring, gain a personal impression with
regard to the attitude of the military -

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Laternser. We are not trying here
von Kesselring. We are not trying von Kesselring! What
relevance has this question got?

DR. LATERNSER: This question is relevant because in the
cross-examination of Field Marshal Kesselring the
prosecution brought forth incriminating material to the
effect that the military leadership in Italy did not
observe the usages of war and the laws of humanity. I
distinctly remember that you, Mr. President, said, in
reply to an objection by Dr. Stahmer, that it was
material incriminating the General Staff. I should like
to ask the witness now present a few questions about
this incriminating material.

THE PRESIDENT: If you wish to ask him anything that he
knows about accusations which have been made by the
prosecution against Kesselring as a member of the
General Staff, then you may do that.

DR. LATERNSER: Yes, Mr. President. I started with that
in mind, and the question I asked was a preparatory
one.

BY DR. LATERNSER:

Q. Herr von Weizsacker, were the art treasures of Italy
in the Italian theatre of war spared and put in
safe-keeping?

A. The German Wehrmacht, under the leadership of Field
Marshal Kesselring, made the greatest efforts to spare
and protect church property and art treasures and
success was not wanting.

Q. Can you give us one or two especially outstanding
examples in proof of this?

A. Yes, there are a lot of examples. I would like to
mention that six months or a year ago an exhibition of
manuscripts and other things took place in the Vatican.
The German Wehrmacht is to be thanked for the rescue of
these objects.

                                             [Page 279]


Q. That is sufficient, Herr von WeizsĄcker. The high
military administration in Italy is accused of treating
the Italian population with especial harshness and
cruelty. Can you tell us anything that points to the
high military administration in Italy having taken
certain measures for the feeding of the population at a
period of time when the food problem was difficult?

A. Does this question refer, especially to the food
problem?

Q. Yes, the food problem in Rome.

A. Well, Rome, in particular was in my field of
observation, and I can say that Field Marshal
Kesselring told me one day that half of his time was
being used up in concerning himself with feeding Rome;
and I knew a rather high military official - I believe
his name was Seiphart or something like that who with
great devotion concerned himself with this problem and
carried it through with success.

Q. Now my last question, Herr von WeizsĄcker. Through
your observations of the activities of the high
military leaders in Italy you gained a clear picture of
these people. Did you get the impression that there was
a sincere effort on the part of these military leaders
to observe the laws of war and the laws of humanity?

A. That is a matter of course. Perhaps it is not known
here that in the autumn of 1943 the Holy See published
a communique, an official communique, which especially
praised the behaviour of the German soldiers in Rome.
Besides the sparing of the Eternal City could not have
been realized had the German Wehrmacht not acted in the
way it did.

Q. And Kesselring in particular was deserving of merit
in that connection?

A. I would say that when the history of this time is
being written, at the top of the list of merits will be
Pope Pius XII, and, second only to him praise will be
accorded the German Wehrmacht under the leadership of
von Kesselring.

DR. LATERNSER: Thank you very much. I have no further
questions.

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

Q. Once it was asserted that the defendant von Papen,
who in the summer of 1934 had been appointed special
ambassador to Vienna, directed from this office a
policy of aggressive expansion, taking in all the
South-Eastern States up to Turkey; and that he, among
other things, had offered neighbouring States like
Hungary and Poland, territory to be gained from the
partition of Czechoslovakia. Did this policy actually
exist?

A. I'm sorry. I did not quite understand your question.

Q. Did this policy, which I just outlined, actually
exist?

A. My observation dates only from the late summer of
1936, for before that time I was abroad. But later I
had not noticed that Herr von Papen had carried on a
South-Eastern policy from Vienna or that he was charged
therewith. The Foreign Office could not charge him with
such a mission, for he was not subordinate to the
Foreign Office.

Q. And this policy, as I've just outlined, did that
exist in the Foreign Office when you assumed your
office?

A. Please repeat the question.

Q. Did this policy

A. Which policy?

Q. The aggressive policy of expansion on the part of
Germany to the Southeast up to Turkey, the partition of
Czechoslovakia, and the cession of parts of
Czechoslovakia to Poland and Hungary.

A. Yes, in 1939, no doubt.

Q. Not in 1936?

A. No.


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