The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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                                                  [Page 275]


MONDAY, 17th JUNE, 1946

MARSHAL: If it please the Tribunal, report is made that the
defendants Fritsche and Speer are absent.



B Y DR. KUBUSCHOK (Counsel for defendant von Papen):

Q. Witness, on Friday you told the Tribunal that during the
well-known conversation with Hitler on 4th January, 1933, at
the home of Schroder, you did not discuss the question of
the formation of the cabinet which took place later, on 30th
January. You also said that up to 22nd January you did not
take part in any political discussion. The prosecution,
however, asserts that you influenced the Reich President to
appoint Hitler as Chancellor on 30th of January. Did you
influence Hindenburg to that effect?

A. Before I reply, may I make a brief correction? Your
Lordship asked me on Friday for the date of the evacuation
of Jerusalem. I said it was 1918, but of course, your
Lordship was right, it was in 1917. I beg your pardon.

Now in reply to your question: I did not exert any such
influence on Reich President von Hindenburg. The political
situation, as we shall see, left the Reich President only
the choice between a violation of the Constitution and a
Hitler cabinet.

Furthermore, and I already mentioned this at the conclusion
of the last session, from the historical events of January,
described in Document 9, Pages 27 to 31, it is quite plain
that during the entire month of January until the 22nd,
negotiations took place almost daily, without my
participation, between the Reich Government and the various
parties or between the parties themselves; all of these
negotiations were concerned with the possible formation of a
majority in the Reichstag, but all of them remained without
result. I have explained that the Reich Chancellor, von
Schleicher, was trying to obtain a majority in the Reichstag
by splitting the Party. This attempt, too, finally failed on
20th January, and that was obvious to the world, for on that
day the Reich Chancellor authorized a statement in the
Reichstag to the effect that he no longer attached
importance to forming a majority in the Reichstag.

DR. KUBUSCHOK: In this connection, I should like to refer to
Document 9 in the first Document Book. I shall just read a
few extracts from this document, Document 9, Page 27. The
heading is:

  "11th January, Reich Chancellor von Schleicher receives
  leader of the German People's Party, Dingeldey."

On the next page, Page 28, is proof that on 12th January
efforts to split the NSDAP through Strasser had not yet been
abandoned. I shall quote from the beginning of the page:

  "At the same time it has only now become known that the
  Reich President received Gregor Strasser last week for a
  conference. Strasser apparently expressed his intention
  of keeping in the background for the time being; only in
  the event of an unexpectedly quick conflict between
  Hitler and Schleicher's Reich cabinet would Strasser be
  likely to play a definite part."

                                                  [Page 276]

In the meantime, the Lippe elections took place and gave a
clear picture of the development of the NSDAP.

I am quoting now from the middle of the paragraph under 15th

  "The electoral victory of the NSDAP not only surprisingly
  refutes the assertions of the opposition concerning a
  decline of the National Socialist movement, but is also a
  proof that the stagnation of the movement has been
  entirely overcome, and that a new upward development of
  it has now begun."

Significant aspect of his efforts to obtain a parliamentary
majority was Schleicher's negotiations with the Centre
Party, led by Prelate Dr. Kaas.

I quote from the last paragraph on Page 28:

  "Reich Chancellor von Schleicher receives Prelate Dr.
  Kaas, chairman of the Centre Party, for a lengthy
  "In regard to the predictions of a reorganisation of the
  cabinet, the fiction is kept up in government circles
  that a Strasser-Hugenberg-Stegerwald combination is
  possible, despite the difficulties which these plans have
  undoubtedly encountered. Privy Councillor Hugenberg is
  said to have made it a condition that membership of the
  cabinet should be guaranteed for at least one year."

On the next page, Page 29, I would like to refer to the last
ten lines or so of the statement of State Secretary Plank in
the Council of Senior Members of the Reichstag.

  "In the conversations referred to, the National
  Socialists are to assume the lead and to attempt to form
  with members of all groups, from the National Socialists
  to the Centre Group, a party with a majority. This was
  attempted at the end of 1932, but failed to materialise.
  The conduct of these negotiations, in which the
  Schleicher Cabinet is in no way involved, rests with
  Hitler. If, on the 31st of January, the Reichstag should
  be summoned and a conflict arise between Government and
  Reichstag, or if such a conflict is brought about by
  other events, the proclamation of the often discussed
  'state of emergency' must, to an increased extent, be
  expected. The Government would then dissolve the
  Reichstag and decree the new elections to take place in
  the early autumn."

Finally, I should like to refer to the first heading on the
following page -

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Kubuschok, the Tribunal does not think it
necessary to read all this detail. It is evident from the
headlines of these entries that there were political
negotiations which led to the assumption of power by the
National Socialist Party. Is not that all that you want to

DR. KUBUSCHOK: I want to prove that the formation of the
government on the 30th of January was an inevitable solution
arising out of the political and parliamentary incidents of
the day. Therefore, it is of relevance to note what took
place at the time what attempts failed, what other
possibilities existed, and what -

THE PRESIDENT: What I mean is this. It appears, does it not,
from the headlines of these entries, really? You can read
the headlines without reading the details. For example, on
Page 30, the entry on 21st January, and those other entries,
give the substance of the matter.

DR. KUBUSCHOK: All right, Mr. President. May I then be
permitted to read Page 31, part of the text describing the
historical events of the overthrow of Chancellor Schleicher
on the 28th? Regarding the decisive conversation between the
Reich Chancellor and the Reich President the following was
officially announced:

   "Reich Chancellor von Schleicher submitted to the Reich
   President today his report on the situation, and
   declared that the present Reich Cabinet, on account of
   its character as a minority government, would be in a
   position to represent its programme and its standpoint
   in the Reichstag only if the Reich President placed the
   dissolution order at the Chancellor's disposal. Reich
   President von Hindenburg stated that, in view of the
   prevailing situation, he

                                                  [Page 277]

  could not accept this proposition. Reich Chancellor von
  Schleicher thereupon submitted the collective resignation
  of the Reich Cabinet, which the Reich President accepted;
  the cabinet being entrusted with the task of continuing
  provisionally to discharge official business."

As proof of the fact that the possibility of Hitler forming
a parliamentary government did not exist, I want to refer to
a brief extract on Page 32:

   "National Socialist sources again state categorically
   that for the National Socialists only a Hitler
   Government can be considered. Any other attempts towards
   a solution must be prevented with the utmost vigour.
   This, of course, applies to a Papen cabinet, but a
   Schacht cabinet also is out of the question."

I should like now to refer to the next document, Document 8.
In this document all the possibilities for the formation of
a government are discussed in detail.


Q. Witness, how did Reich Chancellor von Schleicher react to
this political situation?

A. After his efforts to split the Party and to bring about a
majority in the Reichstag had failed, Reich Chancellor von
Schleicher asked the Reich President to give him dictatorial
powers, which meant a violation of the Constitution. Thus,
he wanted the very thing which I had proposed to the Reich
President on the 1st of December, 1932, as the only way out
of the situation, a proposal which the Reich President had
accepted at that time but which General von Schleicher had

Q. A discussion took place on the 22nd of January, at the
home of von Ribbentrop, at which, besides yourself, Goering,
Meissner, and Oskar von Hindenburg were present. Was this
discussion arranged on your initiative, or who suggested it?

A. The initiative for this discussion on the 22nd was
Hitler's, and he suggested that Herr von Ribbentrop should
place his home at our disposal. The Reich President wished
to know what Hitler thought about the solution for the
political crisis, and what his proposals were. Therefore,
the conversation of the 22nd pivoted exclusively on the
demands of the National Socialists, while the formation of a
government, as it took place on the 30th, was not discussed.

Q. On the 28th of January, at noon, the Reich President
instructed you to begin negotiations for the formation of a
new government. What possibilities for the formation of a
government did you consider the political situation offered?

A. The idea of forming a parliamentary majority government
had been abandoned since the 20th of January; it was
impossible ... Hitler was not willing to lead or participate
in such a government.

Secondly, further support of the Schleicher Presidential
Cabinet by means of a declaration of a state of emergency
and the prorogation of the Reichstag, which was against the
Constitution, had been rejected by the Reich President on
the 23rd. He had rejected these proposals, as we know,
because von Schleicher had told him in December that a
violation of the Constitution would mean civil war and a
civil war would mean chaos, "because," he said, "I am not in
a position with the army and with the police to maintain law
and order."

Thirdly, since Hitler offered to participate in a
presidential cabinet this was the only remaining
possibility, and all the forces and political parties which
had supported my government in 1932 were available for this.

Q. What were the instructions which the Reich President gave

A. The instructions given me by von Hindenburg were as

The formation of a government under the leadership of
Hitler, with the utmost restriction. of National Socialist
influence, and within the framework of the Constitution.

I should like to add that it was quite unusual for the Reich
President to ask any person to form a government which would
not be headed by the person himself

                                                  [Page 278]

In the normal course of events, Hindenburg should, of
course, have entrusted Hitler himself with the formation of
a government; but he entrusted me with this task because he
wished to minimise Hitler's influence in the government as
far as possible.

Q. And with whom did you negotiate?

A. I negotiated with the leaders of the Rightist groups,
namely, the NSDAP, the German National People's Party, the
"Steel Helmet Party" ("Stahlhelm"), and the German People's
Party, which were the most likely to participate in the
formation of this government.

Q. On what lines did you suggest the formation of the new
cabinet to the Reich President?

A. I suggested the only possibility which existed, namely, a
coalition cabinet consisting of these groups.

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Kubuschok, the Tribunal thinks that the
defendant is going into far too much detail about this,
because he has given his account of why the President sent
for him and why he had anything to do with it. And that is
the only matter which concerns him. After he has given that
explanation, it should not be necessary to go into any
further detail about it at all.

DR. KUBUSCHOK: Mr. President, the prosecution has made the
charge that the very act of forming the government was a
crime; he is therefore defending himself by stating that he
tried to provide for a safeguard against an overwhelming
influence of Hitler in the government. It is relevant -

THE PRESIDENT: Yes; but that is what I said. He has given
that explanation. He does not need to add all sorts of
details to support that explanation.

I have written down, some moments ago, that the President
asked him because he wished to minimise the influence of
Hitler. Now he is going on with all sorts of details.

DR. KUBUSCHOK: Mr. President, he is merely trying to set
forth in what way he tried to limit Hitler's influence, and
that is a very important point. He is going to tell us what
safeguards he provided within this government: the careful
selection of members of the government, for example, with
the object of preventing Hitler's influence becoming,
dominating. This is a very important point in reply to the
prosecution's charges.

THE PRESIDENT: The defendant can do it as shortly as
possible, and not do it in too great detail. That is all the
Tribunal wants.

THE WITNESS: I shall be very brief, my Lord.

The safeguarding measures which I introduced at the request
of the Reich President were the following:

  1. The including of a very small number of National
  Socialist ministers in the new cabinet; only three out of
  eleven, including Hitler.
  2. The decisive economic departments of the cabinet to be
  placed in the hands of non-National Socialists.
  3. Experts to be placed in the ministerial posts as far
  as possible.
  4. Joint reports of Reich Chancellor Hitler and
  Vice-Chancellor von Papen to Hindenburg, to avoid too
  extensive a personal influence of Hitler on Hindenburg.
  5. The attempt to form a parliamentary bloc as a
  counter-balance against the political effects of the
  National Socialist Party.


Q. To what extent did Reich President von Hindenburg himself
select the members of the new cabinet?

A. The Reich President reserved the right to appoint the
Foreign Minister and the Reichswehr Minister. The first of
these two key posts was given to Herr von Neurath, in whom
the president had special confidence, and the Reich

                                                  [Page 279]

Defence Ministry was given to General von Blomberg, who also
enjoyed the particular confidence of the Reich President.
The National Socialist members of this cabinet were only the
Reich Minister of the Interior, Frick, whose activity as
Minister of the Interior of the State of Thuringia had been
completely moderate, and the Minister without Portfolio, and
later Prussian Minister of the Interior, Goering.

Q. In this connection I should like to refer to Document
Book 3, Documents 87 and 93, namely, an affidavit of the
former Minister, Dr. Alfred Hugenberg, and an interrogatory
of Freiherr von Lersner.

THE PRESIDENT: What page in Book 3 did you say?

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