The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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Last-Modified: 2000/09/15

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Horn, you are ready to go on, are you?

DR. HORN: Mr. President, I have just heard that the
translations are being brought up. Perhaps I may wait until
the translation gets here?

THE PRESIDENT: I think you might go on. We can hear what you
say and; take it down.

DR. HORN: Mr. President, gentlemen of the Tribunal:

All great upheavals in the history of the world and
especially of modern Europe have been associated with wars
and revolutions.

We are standing in the midst of such an upheaval. It is by
no means concluded as yet. To select various events in order
to submit them to a judicial appraisal is not only almost
impossible, but entails the danger of a premature judgement.
Let us make no mistake about it; we are not judging here a
local crisis, the causes of which are limited to a certain
part of Europe. We have to form a judgement about a
catastrophe which touches upon the deepest roots of our

The prosecution has laid down strict rules for judging
certain national and international events. Germany is
greatly interested in the development of law and justice if
its general application leads to an improvement of
international morals. This Tribunal has the high task, not
only to pass judgement on certain defendants, and to uncover
the causes of the present catastrophe, but, at the same
time, it will create norms which are expected to be adopted
universally. No law should be created that is only applied
to the weak. Otherwise we would foster the danger that again
all national efforts would be directed to develop more
effectively the power of total resistance, and thereby make
war still more merciless than the one over which judgement
is to be rendered here.

In taking these thoughts as a basis, I beg to submit to the
Tribunal the case which I represent.

Herr von Ribbentrop is being considered among the
conspirators as the man mainly responsible for the foreign,
political, and diplomatic side of an alleged, conspiracy,
which is supposed to have had as its goal the preparation
and waging

                                                  [Page 142]

of aggressive wars. It is my task, at first, to determine on
the basis of the results of the evidence when a case
constitutes an attack in the meaning of International Law,
and in which cases aggressive wars were conducted.

The concept "aggressive war" is not exhausted in the
proposed formal judicial definition by the American and
British Prosecutors, but has above all a material basis.

Only the knowledge of these premises permits the adoption of
an attitude which can serve as a basis for the decision of
the Tribunal. I am therefore deferring the discussion of the
problematic aspects of aggression and aggressive wars till
I, after having described the German foreign policy and Herr
von Ribbentrop's role therein, have submitted to the
Tribunal the evidence for consideration.

As the Tribunal intends to consider the matter in the light,
of criminal law, I shall especially examine as to what
extent Herr von Ribbentrop hindered or furthered the foreign
political decisions during the time of his official

Herr von Ribbentrop's first move on the international chess-
board in the international game for power was successfully
accomplished when he concluded the naval agreement between
Germany and England in 1935. The circumstances under which
this treaty came into existence are as significant for the
political problems of those years as they are for judging
the personality of von Ribbentrop and his further political
development. As is known in informed quarters, in making
this treaty, the official German diplomatic channels were
avoided. The then German Ambassador in London, von Hosch and
the Wilhelmstrasse were very sceptical toward this project.
Both Hosch and the Wilhelmstrasse did not believe that
England was inclined to conclude such a treaty, which was in
contradiction to the terms of Section V of the Versailles
Treaty, as well as her previous attitude displayed at the
various disarmament conferences. Furthermore, they did not
believe that such an agreement could materialise a few weeks
after the Council of the League of Nations had declared the
restoration of German military sovereignty as a breach of
German obligations; and England, France and Italy had met at
Stresa in order to counteract this German step. And much
less did they believe that a successful conclusion of such a
far-reaching treaty with its fundamental significance could
be achieved by an outsider like Herr von Ribbentrop.

The consequences of concluding this treaty were significant
and far-reaching. Herr von Ribbentrop, who came from the
Party, rose greatly in Hitler's esteem. In turn, however,
the relationship between Herr von Ribbentrop and the
conservative diplomatic corps became more and more
difficult. This acting ambassador (Titularbotschafter) who
had managed to acquire Hitler's confidence was distrusted
because his activity could not be controlled by the Foreign

From the conclusion of the naval agreement on, Hitler began
to see in Herr von Ribbentrop the man who could help him in
the fulfilment of his favourite wish - and also, we may say,
of that of the German people - to achieve a general
political alliance with England. The inclination to realize
these intentions had material as well as idealistic motives.

The reason for the material motive can be condensed into the
short statement that it was the misfortune of our nation and
of all of Europe that Germany and England were never able to
understand each other, in spite of serious attempts to get
closer allied on the part of both countries during the last
fifty years.

The ideal motives were based on Hitler's indisputable liking
for many internal institutions of the Empire.

Politically, the naval agreement represented the first
important break with the Versailles policy which was
sanctioned by England with the final approval of France. And
thus the first actual and practical armament limitations
were put in effect after many years of fruitless

In addition to this, a generally favourable political
atmosphere was created at the same time. The naval agreement
and its effects may also have been the reason for Hitler
appointing Herr von Ribbentrop Ambassador to the Court of
St. James the following year, after the death of Hosch

                                                  [Page 143]

Surprisingly fast as Herr von Ribbentrop succeeded in
concluding the naval agreement, he had as surprisingly
little success in his efforts to bring about a closer
alliance with England. Was it the fault of Herr von
Ribbentrop's diplomacy, or the basic difference of

He who knows the Anglo-Saxon psychology knows that it is not
advisable to attack these people at once with proposals and
requests. Germans, at first sight, may recognize many mutual
characteristics in the British, but upon closer observation,
profound differences will be noted. Each nation has her
roots in a different soil. Their spiritual heritages have
different sources. The deeper the Germans and the British
penetrate, the greater will be the proof of the difference
of their faith and their intellect. The deeper the British
and the French penetrate into each other's nature, the more
they will find in common with each other. These similarities
between the British and the French have been still further
strengthened in the past fifty years through the affiliation
of their political interests.

In the course of modern history, England has always had the
desire to ally herself with a continental military power and
has sought and found the fulfilment of this interest,
depending on the standpoint of the British aims, sometimes
in Vienna, sometimes in Berlin, and from the beginning of
the twentieth century in Paris. England's interests at the
time of Herr von Ribbentrop's activity as an ambassador did
not demand a departure from this line. To this was added the
basic British attitude that Great Britain did not wish to
commit herself on the continent. From London the
complications which lay dormant beneath the surface on the
continent were clearly seen. Added to this was the fact that
authoritative men in the Foreign Office were still thinking
too much in terms of a policy conducted at the end of the
nineteenth and the beginning of the twentieth century. This
policy directed towards an alignment with France was still
being followed.

The voices of those who supported a closer contact with
Germany were negligible, their political weight succumbed to
that of the opposition. To this were added the difficulties
which resulted for Herr von Ribbentrop from Germany's
participation in the non-intervention committee, which at
that time met in London in order to prevent the Powers
interceding in the Spanish civil war.

The prosecution raised the question of how Herr von
Ribbentrop regarded the German-British relationship on his
departure from London as an Ambassador. The answer to this
will best be furnished by Document TC-75, which contains the
views of Herr von Ribbentrop on the then prevailing foreign
political situation of Germany and on the future
possibilities of German-British relations.

Herr von Ribbentrop presupposes that Germany does not want
to bind herself to the status quo in Central Europe. It is
his conviction that the implementation of such foreign
political aims will necessarily force Germany and England
"into different camps".

For this reason he advises the formation of alliances, loose
at first, with Powers having similar interests (Italy and
Japan). Through this policy he hopes to bind England at the
danger points of her Empire, and still to keep the door open
to an understanding with Germany.

Herr von Ribbentrop then deals with the question of Austria
and the Sudetenland. According to his conviction at that
time, England will not, in both these questions, give her
consent to a modification of the status quo, but might be
forced through the power of circumstances to tolerate a
solution of these questions.

A change through collision with vital French interests of
the status quo in the East would, however, always cause
England to become an opponent of Germany in a conflict of
such a nature. Herr von Ribbentrop held this conviction not
only in 1938 when this document was penned, but, contrary to
the assertions of the prosecution, warned Hitler of this
danger even before and at the outbreak of the Second World

From this document it follows also that Herr von Ribbentrop
did not, as was asserted here, picture the British to Hitler
as a degenerate nation, but he says in

                                                  [Page 144]

this document quite clearly that England would become a hard
and keen opponent to the pursuance of German interests in
the Mediterranean.

This conception of Germany's foreign political situation at
that time, as expressed in TC-75, evidently agreed with
Hitler's ideas, inasmuch as in the course of the Fritsche
crisis, Herr von Ribbentrop took over the Foreign Ministry
in place of the resigning Herr von Neurath.

According to Herr von Ribbentrop's testimony, Hitler asked
him upon entering his office to assist him in solving four
problems. These were the Austrian, the Sudeten German, the
Memel as well as the Danzig and Corridor questions. As shown
by the evidence, this was not a secret understanding which
was arrived at by the two statesmen.

The Party programme contains, in point three, the demand for
revision of the peace treaties of 1919. In a number of
speeches, Hitler repeatedly pointed out the necessity of
fulfilling these German demands. Reichsmarschall Goering
testified here that in November, 1937, he explained to Lord
Halifax the necessity of solving these questions and said
that they were an integral part of German foreign politics.
He also clearly expounded these goals to the French Minister
Bonnet. Herr von Ribbentrop therefore put his energy into
the attainment of goals which were known and which beyond
that resulted, of necessity, from the dynamic situation at
that time prevailing in Central Europe due to the
strengthening of the Reich.

How much or how little freedom of action Herr von Ribbentrop
had as a Minister in the solution of these questions I shall
explain in connection with my statement on the participation
in the conspiracy of which the defendant is accused. Only
this much may be said here, that, as was proven by evidence,
with the dismissal of Herr von Neurath the decisive
authority also in the field of foreign policy was
concentrated in Hitler's hands. Herr von Neurath was the
last Foreign Minister who, under the regime of National
Socialism, had retained a decisive influence on foreign
politics as a Foreign Minister, which influence, however,
due to the increasing power of the regime, he had to
surrender more and more to Hitler's drive towards totality.

By selecting Herr von Ribbentrop, a man of Hitler's own
liking became Foreign Minister.

In addition to the components of all forms of State law and
jurisdiction, a government, without a doubt, has an
important component consisting of the purely personal
relations between the leading men of the government. Seen
from this point of view, it is necessary for the
understanding of certain actions and of recent history to
look into the relations between Hitler and Herr von

Herr von Ribbentrop, as a well-to-do man from the
nationalistic camp, saw that Hitler and his Party strove for
goals which corresponded with his own ideas and feelings.
Herr von Ribbentrop's ideas about the foreign countries
visited by him aroused Hitler's interest. Hitler's
personality and political convictions developed in Herr von
Ribbentrop a form of loyalty, the final explanation of which
one can perhaps find in the effects of the power of
suggestion and hypnosis.

Do not let us be oblivious of the fact that not only Herr
von Ribbentrop, but also an enormous number of people within
and also beyond Germany's borders fell victim to this power.

What in this courtroom is supposed to be considered by the
standards of law, finds all its final explanation of this
phenomenon only from the point of view of mass suggestion
and psychology, to say nothing of the pathological forms of
these phenomena. This task may be left to the sciences

As an attorney - and only as such do I have to evaluate the
results of the evidence - I shall, with the permission of
the Tribunal, after clarifying this fact, present the role
of Herr von Ribbentrop within the alleged conspiracy for the
plotting of wars and acts of aggression in violation of

Herr von Ribbentrop had not yet been Foreign Minister for
ten days when he was called upon by Hitler to participate in
the conference with the Austrian

                                                  [Page 145]

Bundeskanzler and his Foreign Minister on 12th and 13th
February, 1938, in Berchtesgaden. Evidence presented in
Court has confirmed the fact that especially questions
involving Austria were exclusively Hitler's own concern. The
then Ambassador von Papen reported directly to the head of
the State. Herr von Ribbentrop had no influence whatever
upon the activities of the Party in Austria, in the south-
eastern territory. My client alleges to have been informed
only very rarely and not officially about its activities

The former Austrian Foreign Minister, Dr. Guido Schmidt,
testified here that Herr von Ribbentrop did not participate
in the decisive conference between Hitler and Schuschnigg.
During the other conferences, he did not conduct himself in
the Hitlerian style, and created the impression on the
witness of not being informed, which to a certain degree was
due to his late activity in London and his only recently
effected appointment as Foreign Minister. From this
unobjectionable conduct of Herr von Ribbentrop the
prosecution have drawn the conclusion that it was a
manoeuvre agreed upon by Hitler and himself. They insist
upon seeing in Herr von Ribbentrop's conduct a typical sign
of what they characterise as "double dealing". Must not the
undisputable dates and facts as regards Herr von Ribbentrop,
the resulting impression of the witness Schmidt, my
portrayal of Ribbentrop's position as Minister, his lack of
information on the long-planned preparations with respect to
Norway and Denmark, and other undeniably proved facts, give
rise to the question as to whether Herr von Ribbentrop did
not participate in decisions of foreign policy to a far
lesser degree than is contended by the prosecution?

In the question of the Anschluss, at any rate, he did not,
as the evidence proves conclusively, play a decisive part.
To him Austria was a country mutilated by the Treaty of St.
Germain, which, according to healthy principles, could
hardly subsist; and a country which once shared a common
destiny in history with a greater Germany. The National
Socialists were not the first to awaken Austria to the
thought of a union with Germany. This thought had ripened in
the German element of the Hapsburg Monarchy since the
revolution of 1848, which was aimed at a democratic and
greater Germany. After the downfall of this monarchy, the
Social-Democrats continued to fight for it for ideological
and realistic reasons. It was this very democracy that saw
in the Weimar State their spiritual offspring. The economic
distress resulting from the destruction of the Danube area
as an economic entity nurtured the thought of a union with
the Reich, which was in a better economic position.

In this fertile soil the National Socialists were able to
cultivate the Anschluss idea. In any event, the
prerequisites for an Anschluss with Germany existed, when
Italy ceased from assisting Austria, due to the
rapprochement of the former towards Germany on account of
the Abyssinian conflict. The additional reasons that
contributed to the Anschluss and its justification will be
fully presented by my colleague Dr. Steinbauer.

Reichsmarschall Goering has testified here that the
Anschluss in the limited form, as laid down in the law
(Wiedervereinigungsgesetz) of 13th March, 1938, which was
signed also by Herr von Ribbentrop, did not even correspond
with Hitler's intentions, but was put through by him.

As further violation of treaties with regard to the Austrian
question, the prosecution quotes the violation of Article 80
of the Treaty of Versailles and the corresponding article of
the Treaty of St. Germain as well as the violation of the
agreement between Austria and Germany of 11th July, 1936.

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