The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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Last-Modified: 2000/08/15


                                                  [Page 290]

Q. Very well. You will now be handed Exhibit USSR 493. It is
your radio speech in connection with the aggression against
Poland. This speech was made on 29th August. Its purpose was
to explain beforehand the reasons for the German attack on
Poland. I do not intend reading it, but the gist of this
speech is that on that day you spoke of a series of
unexpected events which were imminent. Have you acquainted
yourself with this document?

A. Yes, indeed.

Q. You do not deny that on 29th August, 1939, you made this
speech?

A. No, I do not deny that. I should just like to refer to
the fact

Q. Excuse me. Please answer my question first and give your
explanations later. This was on 29th August? You do not deny
it. I am asking you, did you yourself believe in these
explanations of the inevitability of war with Poland? Did
you yourself believe this at that moment?

A. Whether at that moment I considered a war unavoidable,
that I am not in a position to tell you. But I am able to
tell you one thing: I did not believe that Germany was to
blame. That if this tension should lead to a war -

Q. That is enough -

A. I ask to be allowed to add -

Q. But please be brief.

THE PRESIDENT: General Rudenko, let the man answer.

GENERAL RUDENKO: If you please.

THE WITNESS: At that time it was a matter of great
satisfaction to me that in the weeks that followed I could
see from the Soviet Press that Soviet Russia and its
Government shared the German opinion of the question of war
guilt in this case.

BY GENERAL RUDENKO:

Q. I believe that you should not say that now and I did not
ask you that. You did not answer my question, but let us
pass on to another question. On 9th April, 1940, you made a
speech concerning the reasons for a possible occupation of
Norway. You will now be handed an extract from this speech.

GENERAL RUDENKO: Mr. President, this is Exhibit USSR 496.

BY GENERAL RUDENKO:

Q. You have that document, defendant Fritzsche. It is
Excerpt No. 4.

A. No, I have not it before me. Yes, I have found it. It is
Page 4.

Q. Very well. Yes, it is Excerpt No. 4. I will read a short
passage:

  "The fact that German soldiers had to carry out their
  duty because the English violated Norwegian neutrality
  did not end in a warlike but in a peaceful action. No one
  was injured, not a single house was destroyed; life took
  its daily course."

This was a lie. Do you admit it or will you deny it?

A. No, that was not a lie, for I had just been in Norway
myself and I had seen these things. Here everything will be
quite clear if you will permit me to read the next sentence,
which says - the next sentence reads as follows -

Q. Defendant Fritzsche, wait a minute. You will be able to
read it

THE PRESIDENT: But, General Rudenko, you must let the man
explain. He wants to read the next sentence in order to
explain this sentence.

A. The next sentence reads:

  "Even there where Norwegian troops, instigated by the
  misguided former Norwegian Government, put up resistance,
  the civilian population was hardly affected by this, for
  the Norwegians fought outside the cities and villages
  ...."

Q. Well. Now I will show you a document, "An Official Report
of the Norwegian Government," which has already been
submitted to the Tribunal by the French prosecution as
Exhibit RF 72.

                                                  [Page 291]

GENERAL RUDENKO: Mr. President, in my document book this
document is wrongly numbered Exhibit USSR 78. It is Document
PS-1800 and it has been submitted by the French prosecution
as Exhibit RF 72.

BY GENERAL RUDENKO:

Q. Listen, defendant Fritzsche, how correctly you described
the situation in Norway; listen to what the "Official Report
of the Norwegian Government" says about it. I quote:

  "The German attack on Norway on 9th April, 1940, brought
  war to Norway for the first time in 126 years. For two
  months war raged throughout the country, causing
  destruction to the amount of 250,000,000 kronen. More
  than 40,000 houses were damaged or destroyed and about
  1,000 civilians were killed."

Now that described the situation as it really was. Do you
admit that your speech on 2nd May, 1940, was full of the
usual lies?

A. No, I do not admit that, but I assert that you, sir, in
submitting this extract, are not taking into consideration
the fact that I, in my introduction, reported that I wanted
to describe what I had seen myself, when I made a journey
into the Goldbraun Valley and which I remember took me
nearly as far as Atta. It does not in any way prove my
description to be incorrect, if, according to the facts
ascertained by the Norwegian Government, such loss and
damage actually did occur in connection with this
undertaking.

Q. I believe that the Norwegian people and the Norwegian
Government had sufficient experience of the weight of the
German occupation, and the Government report states the
actual facts and not the sort of facts which you stated in
your propaganda. This document has been submitted according
to Article 21 as indisputable evidence, and I do not intend
to argue with you. The Tribunal will take note of it. I have
a few questions to put to you in connection with a matter
which has already been dealt with in detail here. It is the
case Athenia. I will not question you in detail on this
matter, as it has already been ascertained with sufficient
accuracy. I am simply asking you: do you admit now that
Fascist propaganda gave out to the public slanderous and
false information about the Athenia case?

A. Whether this was done by Fascist propaganda in Italy,
that I do not know. National Socialist propaganda did it in
good faith, as I have clearly described.

Q. I have already spoken here for nearly an hour about what
occurred and what has been ascertained. Do you agree that
your speech was a slanderous one or do you still deny it?

A. No, I have already admitted that, and I also showed
clearly how these statements came about.

Q. Very well. I am only interested in the personal part you
played in this matter. Why did you take such an active part
in this matter, and why were you the first man to spread
this slander?

A. I do not believe that I was the first one to bring this
matter before the public. However, it is a fact that I spoke
very frequently about the case of the Athenia, on the basis
of official reports which I believed. I spoke about this
case because I happened to be the man who, at the beginning
of the war, spoke on the radio in the evenings.

Q. Are you trying to assert that the first report on the
Athenia appeared in the Volkischer Beobachter in October,
1939?

A. I never claimed that.

Q. Very well. Then I will remind you that you dealt with the
Athenia as early as September, 1939; is that right?

A. Yes, of course, the question of the Athenia -

Q. And you spoke about it before the report was published in
the Volkischer Beobachter?

A. Many weeks before that, yes.

                                                  [Page 292]

Q. Therefore, you were the first to spread those slanderous
assertions?

A. No, I cannot confirm that, but rather -

Q. Very well. In this connection I will only put one other
question to you. You will not deny that in 1940 you were
still spreading this version? I will repeat the question. I
am asking you, you will not deny that even in 1940 you
continued to propagate this slander?

A. It is the essence of every form of propaganda that it
repeats good and effective things as frequently and for as
long a time as possible. I have explained already that in
December, 1945, here in the prison, I heard from Grand
Admiral Raeder for the first time that it was really a
German U-boat that had sunk the Athenia.

Q. Very well. I will pass on to a group of questions
regarding your participation in the carrying out of
propaganda connected with the preparation of aggression
against the Soviet Union. You assert that you had no
knowledge of the preparation of aggression against the
Soviet Union until five o'clock on the morning of 22nd June,
1941 - that is to say, when the German troops had already
entered Soviet territory - when you were called by
Ribbentrop to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, where a Press
conference was being held. Did I correctly understand your
testimony?

A. No. Several hours before that, on the evening of the day
preceding the entry, Dr. Goebbels had called some of the
division chiefs of the Ministry to his house at Wannsee and
told them these facts and forbade them to leave or to
telephone. That was the first real knowledge that I had of
this fact.

Q. Very well. You also claim that you got to know of
Germany's aggressive aims with regard to the Soviet Union
only in 1942, and this according to your own observations,
is that right?

A. I do not know what you mean by that. I tried this morning
to make it clear that I began to have doubts as to the
validity of the official German reasons given for this
attack only when I became a prisoner. I explained that this
morning. A second point, which I emphasized earlier in
Moscow when I was interrogated, was that I observed in 1942,
or it may have been in 1941, after the war with the Soviet
Union had broken out, that preparations of all kinds must
have been going on for a considerable time before 22nd June.

Q. I will recall to your memory an excerpt from your
statement, a document which you confirm in full. It is
Document 3469-PS. In paragraph 42 we read:

  "At the beginning of 1942 I was a soldier in the eastern
  theatre of war. I saw the extensive preparations which
  had been made for the occupation and administration of
  territories extending as far as the Crimea. On the basis
  of my personal observations, I came to the conclusion
  that the war against the Soviet Union had been planned a
  long time before it broke out."

Is this statement right?

A. Yes, certainly.

Q. Well, then, I have no further questions to put to you
regarding this matter.

I would like to recall to your memory two further documents
connected with the carrying out of propaganda, in view of
the preparation of war and the actual attack against the
Soviet Union. I am referring to the minutes of a conference
held by Hitler dated 16th July, 1941.

GENERAL RUDENKO: This document, Mr. President, is 221-L and
has already been submitted.

Q. This document will be handed to you and I will quote one
or two paragraphs on the first page.

  "Now it is essential that wee do not publicise our aims
  to the whole world. There is no need for that; the main
  thing is that we ourselves know what we want. But on no
  account should we render our task more difficult by
  making superfluous declarations. Such declarations are
  superfluous because

                                                  [Page 293]

  if we have sufficient power we can do everything, and
  what is beyond our power we will not be able to do
  anyway."

And further:

  "What we tell the world about the motives for our actions
  must be governed by tactical considerations. We must act
  here in exactly the same way as we did in the case of
  Norway, Denmark, Holland, and Belgium. In those cases we
  did not say anything about our aims, and we shall have
  the prudence to follow the same procedure in the future."

Had you any knowledge of such directives of Hitler?

A. No, I did not know of any such directive, but the fact
that such statements and directives have been submitted in
this court-room has made me realize, as I have said, that
some of the premises of our propaganda had no foundation.

Q. Very well. You also had no knowledge either of the
instructions issued by the OKW and signed by the defendant
Jodl regarding the carrying out of propaganda in the "Case
Barbarossa"?

A. I cannot say that without seeing these documents; the
case "Barbarossa" as such meant nothing to me until this
trial.

GENERAL RUDENKO: Mr. President, this document is 26-C and
has already been submitted to the Tribunal. I will deal with
it only in connection with the matter of propaganda. It is
477 in your document book, Mr. President.

BY GENERAL RUDENKO:

Q. I will quote only one excerpt, defendant. These
instructions say:

  "Propaganda directed towards the dismemberment of the
  Soviet Union into single States is not to be used for the
  time being. In the various parts of the Soviet Union
  German propaganda must employ the language in use. But
  this should not be done in such a way that the various
  propaganda texts might give the impression that it is
  intended to dismember the Soviet Union at an early date."

Were you acquainted with these directives?

A. I knew neither the document nor the contents of the
directive which you have just read.

Q. Yes, but I hope you will not deny that this was the
spirit in which the propaganda was carried on.

A. No. As far as I could observe, the propaganda which was
carried on in the Soviet Union had just the reverse
tendency. It tried to educate the various nationalities,
such as the Ukraine, White Russia, Baltic States and so
forth, for independence.

Q. Very well. I would like to ask you now: When did you meet
the defendant Rosenberg for the first time, and when did you
get his information concerning the tasks of German
propaganda in the East?

A. I doubt whether before this trial I ever spoke with Herr
Rosenberg, though I believe I met him socially. However,
never in my life have I had an official conversation with
him.

Q. Very well. You will be handed Document 1039-PS. This is
Rosenberg's report on the preparatory work concerning
matters connected with the eastern countries. This document
has already been submitted to the defendant Rosenberg and he
did not deny it but confirmed it.

I would like you to turn to the second quotation which is
marked. In order to shorten this cross-examination, I will
not read the whole quotation. This report states:

  "Apart from these negotiations" - about which we spoke
  before - "I received the responsible representatives of
  the entire propaganda organization, namely Ministerial
  Director Fritsche, Ambassador Schmidt, Reich
  Superintendent of Broadcasting Glasmeier, Dr. Grothe for
  the OKW, and others. Without going into details as to
  political objectives, I instructed the above-mentioned
  persons in confidence about the necessary attitude, with
  the

                                                  [Page 294]

  request to tone down the whole terminology of the Press,
  without issuing any statements.
  
  The scheme for dealing substantially with questions
  concerning the eastern countries, which was prepared a
  long time ago, is now in my Department and I have passed
  it on to the Propaganda representatives."

Did defendant Rosenberg correctly describe these events
which occurred in 1941, before the attack against the Soviet
Union?

A. No. I do not recall ever having been received by
Rosenberg. In any case I never received before 22nd June
from Rosenberg, or from any of his colleagues, any report
about the planned attack on the Soviet Union.

On the other hand, and this perhaps may clarify matters, I
do recall that a colleague of Rosenberg's frequently came to
see me or my colleagues. I also recall his name; he was
chief of a Press group, Major Kranz, formerly an editor of
the Volkischer Beobachter. This man frequently came to see
me and my colleagues, and transmitted certain wishes of
Rosenberg's pertaining to Press propaganda. But in any case
this was not before 22nd June.


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