The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Nazi Conspiracy & Aggression
Volume I Chapter IX
Aggression Against Austria
(Part 9 of 19)

Mr. Messersmith states in his affidavit:

"Austria and Czechoslovakia were the first on the German program of aggression. As early as 1934, Germany began to woo neighbors of these countries with promises of a share in the loot. To Yugoslavia in particular they offered Carinthia. Concerning the Yugoslav reaction, I reported at the time:

*** The major factor in the internal situation in the last week has been the increase in tension with respect to the Austrian Nazi refugees in Yugoslavia. *** There is very little doubt but that Goering, when he made his trip to various capitals in Southeastern Europe about six months ago, told the Yugoslavs that they would get a part of Carinthia, when a National Socialist Government came into power in Austria. *** The Nazi seed sown in Yugoslavia has been sufficient to cause trouble and there are undoubtedly a good many people there who look with a great deal of benevolence on those Nazi refugees who went to Yugoslavia in the days following July 25.

"Germany made like promises of territorial gains to Hungary and to Poland in order to gain their cooperation or at least their acquiescence in the proposed dismemberment of Czechoslovakia. As I learned from my diplomatic colleagues in Vienna, von Papen and von Mackensen in Vienna and in Budapest in 1935, were spreading the idea of division of Czechoslovakia, in which division Germany was to get Bohemia, Hungary to get Slovakia, and Poland the rest. This did not deceive any of these countries for they knew that the intention of Nazi Germany vas to take all.

"The Nazi German Government did not hesitate to make inconsistent promises when it suited its immediate objectives. I recall the Yugoslav Minister in Vienna saying to me in 1934 or 1935, that Germany had made promises to Hungary of Yugoslav territory while at the same time promising to Yugoslavs portions of Hungarian territory. The Hungarian Minister in Vienna later gave me the same information.

"I should emphasize here in this statement that the men who

[Page 477]

made these promises were not only the died-in-the-wool Nazis but more conservative Germans who already had begun to willingly lend themselves to the Nazi program. In an official despatch to the Department of State from Vienna dated 10 October 1935, I wrote as follows:

*** Europe will not get away from the myth that Neurath, Papen and Mackensen are not dangerous people and that they are "diplomat of the old school." They are in fact servile instruments of the regime and just because the outside world looks upon them as harmless, they are able to work more effectively. They are able to sow discord just because they propagate the myth that they are not in sympathy with the regime." (2385-PS)

In other words, Nazi Germany was able to promote these divisions and increase its own aggressive strength by using as its agents in making these promises men who on outward appearances were merely conservative diplomats. It is true that Nazis openly scoffed at any notion of international obligations. It is true that the real trump in Germany's hand was its rearmament and more than that its willingness to go to war. And yet the attitude of the various countries was not influenced by those considerations alone. Schuschnigg laid great stress upon, and was willing to go to some lengths to obtain, an assurance of independence. All these countries found it possible to believe apparently substantial personages, like von Neurath, for example. They were led to rely on the assurances given, which seemed more impressive since the diplomats making them ere represented as men who were not Nazis and would not stoop to go along with the base designs of the Nazis.

Germany's approach toward Great Britain and France was in terms of limited expansion as the price of peace. They signed a naval limitations treaty with England and discussed a Locarno Air Pact. In the case of both France and England, they limited their statement of intentions-and harped on fears of Communism and war.

In making these various promises, Germany was untroubled by notions of the sanctity of international obligations. High ranking Nazis, including Goering, Frick, and Frank, openly stated to Mr. Messersmith that Germany would observe her international undertakings only so long as it suited Germany's interests to do so. As Mr. Messersmith states in his affidavit:

"High ranking Nazis with whom I had to maintain official contact, particularly men such as Goering, Goebbels, Ley, Frick, Frank, Darre and others, repeatedly scoffed at my

[Page 478]

position as to the binding character of treaties and openly stated to me that Germany would observe her international undertakings only so long as it suited Germany's interests to do so. Although these statements were openly made to me as they were, I am sure, made to others, these Nazi leaders were not really disclosing any secret for on many occasions they expressed the same ideas publicly." (2385-PS)

France and Italy worked actively in Southeastern Europe to counter Germany's moves. France made attempts to promote an East Locarno Pact and to foster an economic accord between Austria and the other Danubian powers. Italy's effort was to organize an economic bloc of Austria, Hungary, and Italy.

But Germany foiled these efforts by redoubling its promises of loot, by continuing its armament, and by another significant stratagem. The Nazis stirred up internal dissensions to disunite and weaken their intended victims. They supported the Austrian Nazis and the Henlein Party in Czechoslovakia. They probed hat Goebbels called the "sore spots." In Yugoslavia they played on the differences between the Croats and the Serbs, and in particular played on the fear of the restoration of the Hapsburgs in Austria, a fear which was very real in Yugoslavia. In Hungary, Poland, and Rumania they stirred up other fears and hatreds. These measures had considerable effect in preventing these countries from joining any which were opposed to German designs.

The Nazis consolidated their power in Germany very quickly. The German people became increasingly imbued with the Nazi military spirit. Within Germany, resistance to the Nazis disappeared. Army officers, including many who originally aided the Nazis with the limited objective of restoring the German Army, increasingly became imbued with aggressive designs as they saw how remarkably their power was growing.

The power of Nazi Germany outside the borders of the Reich increased correspondingly. Other countries feared its military might. Important political leaders in Yugoslavia, in Hungary, and in Poland became convinced that the Nazi regime would gain its ends and that the best course as to play along with Germany. These countries became apathetic toward the development of Anschluss with Austria and cooperative toward the dismemberment of Czechoslovakia. Mr. Messersmith's despatches from Europe to the State Department, setting out the developments in these countries, are included in his second affidavit. (2385-PS)

As for Italy, Germany's initial objective was to sow discord between Yugoslavia and Italy, by promising Yugoslavia Italian territory, particularly Trieste. This was to prevent France from

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reaching agreement with them and to block an East Locarno Pact. A Mr. Messersmith states:

"While Italy openly opposed efforts at Anschluss with Austria in 1934, Italian ambitions in Abyssinia provided Germany with the opportunity to sow discord between Italy and France and England, and to win Italy over to acceptance of Germany's program in exchange for German support of Italy's plans in Abyssinia." (2385-PS)

The original plaintext version of this file is available via ftp.

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