The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Nazi Conspiracy & Aggression
Individual Responsibility Of Defendants
Joachim von Ribbentrop
(Part 1 of 10)


[Page 489]

A.POSITIONS HELD BY RIBBENTROP.

According to Ribbentrop's own certified statement (2829-PS), he became a member of the Nazi Party in 1932, but according to the semi-official statement in "Das Archiv," he had gone to work for the Party before that time by extending his business connections to political circles. Having joined the service of the Party in 1930 at the time of the final struggle for power in the Reich, "Ribbentrop played an important if not strikingly obvious part in the bringing about of the decisive meetings between the representatives of the President of the Reich and the heads of the

[Page 490]

NSDAP, who had prepared the entry of Nazis into power on 30 January 1933. Those meetings as well as those between Hitler and von Papen took place in Ribbentrop's house in Berlin Dahlen." (D-472) .

Ribbentrop was therefore present and active at the inception of the Nazi seizure of power. In that first period he was advisor to the Party on questions of foreign affairs. His title was first, "Collaborator to the Fuehrer on matters of Foreign Policy." He later became Representative in Matters of Foreign Policy on the Staff of the Deputy.

This was followed by membership in the Nazi Reichstag in November 1933.

On 24 April 1934 after Germany had left the disarmament conference, he was appointed Delegate of the Reich Government in matters of Disarmament. In this capacity he visited London and other foreign capitals. He was then given more important and imposing title, the German Minister Plenipotentiary at Large, and it was in that capacity that he negotiated the Anglo-German Naval Agreement of 1935.

In March 1936, after the Nazi Government had reoccupied the Rhineland zone, which had been demilitarized in accordance with the terms of the Versailles and Locarno Treaties, and the matter was brought before the Council of the League of Nations, Ribbentrop addressed the Council in defense of Germany's action.

On 11 August 1936 he was appointed Ambassador in London, and occupied that position for a period of some eighteen months. His activities while holding that position are not highly relevant to the issues, but during that period, in his capacity which he still had as German Minister Plenipotentiary at Large, he signed the original Anticomintern Pact with Japan in November 1936, and also the additional pact by which Italy joined it in 1937.

Finally, on 24 February 1938, Ribbentrop was appointed Foreign Minister in place of von Neurath, and simultaneously was made a member of the Secret Cabinet Council (Geheimer Kabinettsrat) established by decree of Hitler of the same date (1337-PS).

Ribbentrop became an Oberfuehrer in the SS, was subsequently promoted to SS Gruppenfuehrer in 1938, and later became Obergruppenfuehrer. There is no question of any honorary rank. The SS went into his ancestry in detail in order to deal with the law relating to that subject. Ribbentrop was also permitted to adopt "von" as a prefix before his last name (D-66).

These activities of Ribbentrop in the earlier part of his career

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show in themselves that he assisted willing and deliberately in bringing the Nazis into power, and in the earlier stage of their obtaining control of the German State.

B. RIBBENTROP'S PART IN THE CONSPIRACY TO LAUNCH AND WAGE WARS OF AGGRESSION.

(1) The Austrian Anschluss. Ribbentrop was present at a meeting at Berchtesgaden on 12 February 1938, at which Hitler and von Papen met the Austrian Chancellor von Schuschnigg and his foreign minister, Guido Schmidt. The official German account of that interview is contained in 2461-PS. What appears to be the truthful account of that interview is contained in Jodl's diary, the entries for 11 and 12 February 1938 (1780-PS).

On 11 February Jodl wrote:

"In the evening, and on 12 February, General Keitel with General von Reichenau and Sperrle at Obersalzburg. Schuschnigg, together with R. G. Schmidt, are again being put under the heaviest political and military pressure. At 2300 hours Schuschnigg signs protocol." (1780-PS)

The 13 February entry reads:

"In the afternoon, General Keitel asks Admiral Canaris and myself to come to his apartment. He tells us that the Fuehrer's order is to the effect that military pressure by shamming military action should be kept up until the 15th. Proposals for these deceptive maneuvers are drafted and submitted to the Fuehrer by telephone for approval.

"14 February:

"At 2:40 o'clock the agreement of the Fuehrer arrived. Canaris went to Munich to the Counter-Intelligence Office VII and initiates the different measures.

"The effect is quick and strong. In Austria the impression is created that Germany is undertaking serious military preparations."

The next step was the telephone conversation which took place between Goering and Ribbentrop on 13 March 1938, when Ribbentrop was still in London. Goering was passing on the false statement that there was no ultimatum to Austria. The facts of the ultimatum were explained by the earlier telephone conversations between Goering and Vienna. But Goering then passed the falsehood on to Ribbentrop in London in order that he might placate and reassure political circles in London (2949-PS).

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The third step was taken by Ribbentrop after his return from London. Although he had been appointed Foreign Minister in February, he had gone back to London to clear up his business at the embassy. Although he was still in London until after the Anschluss had actually occurred, his name appears as a signatory of the law making Austria a province of the German Reich (2307-PS).

(2) Czechoslovakia. Czechoslovakia furnishes a typical example of aggression in its various aspects. To summarize the outstanding features briefly: First, there was the necessity of stirring up trouble inside the country against which aggression was planned.

Ribbentrop, as Foreign Minister, helped in the stirring up of the Sudeten Germans under Henlein, who was in frequent contact with the German Foreign Office (3060-PS; 2789-PS; 5059-PS). These documents demonstrate how the Foreign Office stirred up the Sudeten-German movement so that it would act in accordance with the Government of the Reich.

Later on, Ribbentrop was present on 5/28/1938 at the conference at which Hitler gave instructions to prepare the attack on Czechoslovakia (388-PS; 2360-PS). In a speech in January 1939 Hitler proclaimed that aggression was to take place against Czechoslovakia (2360-PS):

"On the basis of this unbearable provocation, which was still further emphasized by a truly infamous persecution and terrorizing of our Germans there, I have now decided to solve the Sudeten-German question in a final and radical manner."

*******

"On 28 May I gave the order for the preparation of military steps against this state, to be concluded by 2 October." (2360-PS)

The important point is that 28 May was the date when the Fall Gruen for Czechoslovakia was the subject of orders, and that it was thereafter put into effect, to come to fruition at the beginning of October.

That was the second stage: To lay well in advance the plans of aggression.

The third stage was to see that neighboring states were not likely to cause trouble. Hence, on 18 July 1938, Ribbentrop had a conversation with the Italian Ambassador, Attolico, at which the attack on Czechoslovakia was discussed (2800-PS). Further discussions along the same lines followed (2791-PS; 2792-PS).


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