The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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Last-Modified: 2000/06/23

THE PRESIDENT: We will in a moment, but what I was asking
you was why is it necessary to go into the history of the
defendant in Ankara in view of what the prosecution have
said with reference to their charges against the defendant?
As I understand it, the prosecution have said that they make
no charges against the defendant in connection with his work
at Ankara. Unless the history of that time throws light upon
the past, upon the time up to March 1938, it does not appear
to be relevant to this trial.

DR. KUBUSCHOK: In discussing his activities in Turkey, I
shall confine myself to only a few points, which shed light
on the previous activities of the defendant

                                                  [Page 317]

von Papen. The evidence will, therefore, refer to the fact
that through his activities the defendant made it quite
clear that he was a definite opponent of the war, and that
in every phase of the war he merely strove for peace. This
material relative to the period in Turkey is; therefore, to
form evidence rebutting the charge that previously the
defendant had been in any way an active participant in the
war policy. We must also get a complete picture of a man
who is under the indictment of conspiracy. If he was in an
official position directly before the outbreak of the war
and during the war, then certainly we must investigate
whether his attitude during that time does not disprove the
statements by the prosecution that, before that time, he
was in agreement with the plans which, it is true were,
first carried out during his early days in office. The
questions are brief.

THE PRESIDENT: The Tribunal will adjourn.

(A recess was taken.)


Q. Under what circumstances were you appointed Ambassador to
Ankara in April 1939? Why did you accept this post?

A. I accepted the post, after I had refused it twice, under
quite extraordinary circumstances. On the day of Italy's
occupation of Albania, Herr von Ribbentrop called me up and
urged me to go to Berlin. There, he explained to me that
the post in Ankara, which had been vacant for six months,
would have to be filled immediately because of the
complications which might arise in the South-East from the
occupation of Albania. Before I accepted this post I
considered carefully whether I could do, and ought to do,
anything more for the Hitler government. After the entry
into Prague on the 15th of March, we knew that we were
sitting on a powder keg. In this European problem there
were two possibilities of conflict: one was the Polish
problem, with regard to which I could do nothing; the other
was the South-East problem, which had become acute through
the occupation of Albania. With regard to this, I felt that
I could do something useful and contribute to the
maintenance of peace in Europe. For that reason I agreed to
go to Ankara.

Q. First you went to Ankara to obtain information; you
obtained a picture of the situation there, and then, both in
oral and written reports, you explained your views. Please
comment on this.

A. In Ankara, I immediately obtained a picture of the whole
situation because I knew all the leading personalities

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Kubuschok, you are not proposing to take
the defendant through all the intricacies of Turkish
politics, are you?

DR. KUBUSCHOK: No, that is not my intention. The problem is
dealt with in a report which the defendant made in Berlin
not only to Hitler but also to other offices. The contents
of this report show a positive activity for the maintenance
of peace. That is why I have gone into this affair briefly.
And, witness, I beg you to outline -

THE PRESIDENT: Have you got the report?

DR. KUBUSCHOK: No, this report is also in the files of the
Foreign Office, to which I have no access.

THE PRESIDENT: Well, then, you had better deal with the
subject, but deal with it shortly.

DR. KUBUSCHOK: Witness, please continue.

THE WITNESS: I will be very brief, my Lord. I came back from
Turkey, and told Hitler in a report what had to be done in
order to maintain European peace. I sent this memorandum
also to Keitel and Brauchitsch. I stated in this report that
it was necessary, for the purpose of keeping the situation
in the South-East under control, for Italy immediately to
give positive promises, in order to remove any doubt of the
sincerity of the Italian policy, that its military forces
would be withdrawn from Albania and its relations with
Turkey would be adjusted.

                                                  [Page 318]

A very heated discussion on this advice followed between
Count Ciano and me. Count Ciano was in Berlin on that day to
sign the German-Italian Alliance. When I made my suggestions
to him, he was most indignant at these demands and
complained about me to Herr von Ribbentrop. A very heated
discussion then took place with Herr von Ribbentrop who told
me that he was in charge of German foreign policy and not I,
and that it was after all not my task to make suggestions
for keeping the peace. Then I offered my resignation to Herr
von Ribbentrop and told him it was useless, under the
circumstances, to send me to Ankara; but Herr von Ribbentrop
withdrew his statement then and I went back.


Q. In this report, did you warn in general against a war
adventure and what reasons did you give for this warning?

A. The memorandum, which I gave also to General Keitel and
General Brauchitsch, contained a military presentation of
the situation, in which I stated that to begin a war for the
Polish Corridor would of necessity lead to a world war, for
there was no doubt that England would keep its promise to
Poland and that England and France would come to Poland's
aid. I also expressed the opinion that if such a world war
were to break out, Germany's position would be hopeless.

Q. What was your reaction to the news about the outbreak of
war on the 1st of September, 1939?

A. When the news of the outbreak of the Polish war reached
me in Ankara, I was shocked. I had, of course, hoped that
Hitler would avoid this step which would plunge us into the
greatest misfortune.

Q. I refer to Document 14, Page 62, an affidavit of the lady
who was for many years private secretary of the witness von
Papen. I will quote a brief passage from Page 64, the second
paragraph from the end:

  "I heard the radio announcement of the outbreak of war in
  the Embassy at Ankara with the Ambassador and the entire
  staff. Afterwards I walked across the Embassy's park with
  the Ambassador. The Ambassador was extraordinarily
  excited and shaken. I had never seen him like this, not
  even after the darkest days of 30th June, 1934, and not
  even after the murder of his friend Ketteler.
  That is why I can recall exactly every word which the
  Ambassador said to me on that occasion: 'Remember my
  words: To have provoked this war is the greatest crime
  and the greatest madness which Hitler and his people
  could have committed. Germany cannot win this war. All
  will be buried under the ruins'."

Q. Witness, what were your decisions for the future?

A. What could I do? I could have protested and then, in
order not to be shot as a traitor in Germany, have remained
abroad. I could have emigrated. I would never have done
that, for I have always found that one can work better in
one's own country than as an emigrant. I could have
resigned, then returned to Germany and become a soldier. The
best thing, it seemed to me, was to remain where I was,
where I could best help my fatherland.

Q. Now I come to discuss your various efforts towards peace.
Please describe first your negotiations with the Dutch
Ambassador, Dr. Visser.

A. Immediately after the Polish campaign I had negotiations
with the Dutch Ambassador in Ankara at that time, Dr.
Visser, who declared himself willing to get his Foreign
Minister to mediate in London. The condition for a peace
would, of course, have been the restoration of Poland, with
a corresponding adjustment of the Corridor problem, the
problem of the German sections.

I reported this possibility for peace negotiations to Herr
von Ribbentrop, but it seemed to me that he was not doing
anything in the matter, and therefore in November 1939 I
went to Berlin, where I saw Herr von Ribbentrop, who told
me: "The Fuehrer does not want to hear anything of peace
negotiations; please do not undertake any further steps."

                                                  [Page 319]

Nevertheless, I went to Hitler, reported the Dutch offer to
him and expressed the wish of the Dutch Ambassador, Dr.
Visser, to come to Berlin. Unfortunately, Hitler rejected
all my arguments.

DR. KUBUSCHOK: I wish to point out that with the approval of
the Tribunal an interrogatory on this subject was sent to
Ambassador Dr. Visser, but the interrogatory has not yet
been returned.


Q. Did you make further suggestions as to ending the war in
1939? I am thinking in this connection of a report on the
restoration of legal life in Germany.

A. Yes. In December of 1939 I sent a detailed report for
Hitler to Herr von Ribbentrop, and in this report I said
that the first condition for any conclusion of peace, and
for any readiness abroad to conclude a peace, would be the
renunciation of the present governmental methods in Germany;
that is, a return to constitutional conditions in Germany.
Then I told Hitler: "If you do this, you will have more
credit abroad, and it might be possible to prepare the way
for peace negotiations."

Q. What was the instruction which you received from Berlin
in regard to peace efforts, and what did you do

A. The Reich Foreign Minister repeatedly issued strict
orders to the Chiefs of Missions under no circumstances to
extend any peace feelers. In the opinion of the Foreign
Office, such attempts would be a sign of weakness.

I did not observe this ruling because I was determined, on
my own initiative, to do everything to shorten the war. For
that reason, in the spring of 1941, before the Balkan
crisis, I addressed myself to his Majesty the King of
Sweden, with the request to begin a peace mediation. I also
asked the President of Turkey, Ismet Inonu, to consider the
possibilities of mediating. President Inonu agreed to do so,
while his Majesty the King of Sweden refused, saying he did
not consider it a suitable moment for such efforts. The
Turkish President requested, however, that he should be
officially asked to mediate. That, of course, was not done.

Q. What did you think about the events of the 10th of May,
1940, the entry of German troops into Holland and Belgium,
and what statement did you make in this connection?

A. On the 10th of May, 1940, I was deeply concerned with the
question which had dominated the whole of the first World
War, the question of why Germany had violated Belgian
neutrality. It was completely incomprehensible to me that
this psychological error should be repeated and I expressed
this opinion of mine in a letter which I sent to the Dutch
Ambassador, Dr. Visser, on the 10th of May.

Q. What did you do in order to check the extension of the
war to the Balkans?

A. When the Yugoslav crisis broke out and our troops marched
through Bulgaria, I got Hitler to send a personal letter to
the Turkish President. In this letter Hitler assured the
Turkish President that under no circumstances did he intend
to fight Turkey, and for that reason he had ordered German
troops to keep a forty kilometres distance from the Turkish

Q. In June 1941 you concluded a treaty of friendship with
Turkey. Will you state briefly the reasons for that?

A. The reasons were very simple: to limit the war. Turkey
was to be assured that, in spite of our alliance with Italy,
in spite of the war in the Balkans, in spite of the war with
Greece, we would never threaten Turkey; and that we would
not attempt to advance through Turkey to the Suez Canal. The
negotiations were very long and difficult because Herr von
Ribbentrop did not want in this treaty any mention of
Turkey's contractual obligations to the Allies. I then
pointed out to Herr von Ribbentrop that the Turks were
faithful to their treaties.

Q. Did you know of Hitler's intentions against Russia? What
did you think about this war?

A. The beginning of the war with Russia was, of course, a
complete surprise to us. We had heard of the massing of
troops on both sides but, of course, I

                                                  [Page 320]

assumed and hoped that Hitler would keep his pact with
Russia and that he would not begin this war. I considered
the beginning of the war against Russia a crime, from the
point of view of German as well as European interests.

Q. Did you, after you returned from a visit to Germany in
the autumn of 1943, continue your efforts towards peace?

A. In the autumn of 1943, after Stalingrad, it had become
clear that no peace could be established with the Hitler
government. Regarding this, there was much discussion
between myself and my friends, including my military
friends. In the autumn of 1943 I was initiated into the
so-called Beck Plan, which has been mentioned here by the
witness Gisevius. At that time, the object of this plan was
not to eliminate Hitler by assassination, but to surround
his headquarters with troops, arrest Hitler and put him on
trial. The reasons for this were obvious. Even if many
generals were of the opinion that this war had to be
stopped, they were afraid of taking action against Hitler
because they were of the opinion that Hitler still enjoyed
very great prestige. Moreover, there was the further
difficulty that if Hitler were removed, no one knew what the
Allies would do with us.

THE PRESIDENT: The Tribunal thinks this should be taken more
shortly, Dr. Kubuschok.

THE WITNESS: As a result of all these considerations, I
attempted to learn what the Allies would do with Germany in
such a case, and for this purpose I approached the American
Minister at that time, Ambassador Earl, who reported on the
matter in the Press.

DR. KUBUSCHOK: I refer to Document 93, Page 214. This is the
interrogatory of Freiherr von Lersner, whom I wanted to call
as a witness, but who could not come here because of
transportation difficulties. On Page 214, the answer to
question 7 is:

   "My activities for the mediation of peace negotiations
   were always based on my own initiative and extended to
   the attempt to mediate general world peace between all
   belligerent States Prior to all steps towards peace, I
   engaged in detailed discussions with Ambassador von
   Papen and was always warmly supported by him to the
   utmost, although taking part in any peace negotiations
   was just as perilous for him as for me.
   He also introduced me to a number of foreigners,
   including the Apostolic Delegate to Istanbul, Archbishop
   When in 1942 I resolved to go to the Vatican, not only
   did Ambassador von Papen urgently advise me to make the
   trip, but he also personally procured for me all the
   necessary papers and passports for Rome, where, in spite
   of the special, express prohibition of the Reich
   Government, I suggested to Cardinal Maglione and the
   diplomatic director of the Curia, Bishop Montini, a
   world-peace drive by Pope Pius XII with all belligerent
   When in April 1944 I had the opportunity to establish
   contact with, George Earl, the former American
   Ambassador to Vienna and Sofia, the friend of President
   Roosevelt, with whom I had long been personally
   acquainted, Papen again helped me in every way. He even
   took it upon himself - "

THE PRESIDENT (Interposing): These are details. Is it not
sufficient to say that the defendant said that he
endeavoured in every way to make peace? Then you can refer,
if you like, to any interrogatories or affidavits which
confirm what the defendant says.

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