The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Nazi Conspiracy & Aggression
Individual Responsibility Of Defendants
Joachim von Ribbentrop
(Part 5 of 10)

[Page 500]

(6) The Low Countries: Belgium, The Netherlands, and Luxembourg. The facts as to the aggression against these countries, during the period when Ribbentrop was Foreign Minister, are discussed in Section 10 of Chapter IX. Special attention should be called, however, to the statement made by Ribbentrop 10 May 1940 to representatives of the foreign press with regard to the reasons for the German invasion of the Low Countries. These reasons demonstrated to be false in Section 10 of Chapter IX on Aggression Against The Low Countries.

[Page 501]

(7) Greece and Yugoslavia. At a meeting in Salzburg in August 1939, at which von Ribbentrop participated, Hitler announced that the Axis had decided to liquidate certain neutrals (1871-PS):

" Generally speaking, it would be best to liquidate the pseudo-neutrals one after the other. This is fairly easily done, if one Axis partner protects the rear of the other, who is just finishing off one of the uncertain neutrals, and vice-versa. Italy may consider Yugoslavia such an uncertain neutral. At the visit of Prince Regent Paul he [the Fuehrer] suggested, 'particularly in consideration of Italy, that Prince Paul clarify his political attitude towards the Axis by a gesture. He had thought of a closer connection with the Axis and Yugoslavia's leaving the League of Nations. Prince Paul agreed to the latter. Recently the Prince Regent was in London and sought reassurance from the Western Powers. The same thing was repeated that happened in the case of Gafencu, who was also very reasonable during his visit to Germany and who denied any interest in the aims of the western democracies. Afterwards it was learned that he had later assumed a contrary standpoint in England. Among the Balkan countries the Axis can completely rely only on Bulgaria, which is in a sense a natural ally of Italy and Germany. *** At the moment when there would be a turn to the-worse for Germany and Italy, however, Yugoslavia would join the other side openly, hoping thereby to give matters a final turn to the disadvantage of the Axis." (1871-PS)

That demonstrates the policy with regard to uncertain neutrals.

Then, as early as September 1940 Ribbentrop reviewed the war situation with Mussolini. Ribbentrop emphasized the heavy revenge bombing raids in England and the fact that London would soon be in ruins. It was agreed between the parties that only Italian interests were involved in Greece and Yugoslavia, and that Italy could count on German support. Ribbentrop went on further to explain to Mussolini the Spanish plan for the attack on Gibraltar and Germany's participation therein. He added that he was expecting to sign the Protocol with Spain, bringing the latter country into the war, on his return to Berlin (1842-PS). Ribbentrop then gave Mussolini a free hand with Greece and Yugoslavia:

"With regard to Greece and Yugoslavia, the Foreign Minister stressed that it was exclusively a question of Italian interests, the settling of which was a matter for Italy alone,

[Page 502]

and in which Italy could be certain of Germany's sympathetic assistance.

"But it seemed to us to be better not to touch on these problems for the time being, but to concentrate on the destruction of England with all our forces instead. Where Germany was concerned, she was interested in the northern German districts (Norway, etc.), and this was acknowledged by the Duce." (1842-PS).

Several months later, in January 1941, at the meeting between Hitler and Mussolini in which Ribbentrop participated, the Greek operation was discussed. Hitler stated that the German troops in Rumania were for use in the planned campaign against Greece (C-134). Count Ciano, who attended that meeting as Italian Foreign Minister, recalls his impression of that meeting in his diary entry for 20/21 January:

"The Duce is pleased with the conversation on the whole. I am less pleased, particularly as Ribbentrop, who had always been so boastful in the past, told me, when I asked him outright how long the war would last, that he saw no possibility of its ending before 1942."

Despite that somewhat pessimistic statement to Count Ciano, three weeks later, when it was a question of encouraging the Japanese to enter the war, Ribbentrop took a more optimistic line. On 13 February 1941 he saw Oshima, the Japanese Ambassador. In the course of their conversation Ribbentrop gave an optimistic account of the military situation and the position of Bulgaria and Turkey (1834-PS).

In the course of his efforts to get Yugoslavia to join the Axis, Ribbentrop addressed a note, (2450-PS) on 25 March 1941, to Prime Minister Cvetkovitch, which contained this assurance:

"The Axis-Power Governments during this war will not direct a demand to Yugoslavia to permit the march or transportation of troops through the Yugoslav state or territory." (2450-PS)

Shortly thereafter, there occurred the coup d'etat in Yugoslavia, when General Simovitch took over the Government. Two days after Ribbentrop's assurance (2450-PS), at a meeting on 27 March 1941 at which Ribbentrop was present, Hitler outlined the military campaign against Yugoslavia and promised the destruction of Yugoslavia and the demolition of Belgrade by the German Air Force (1746-PS).

After the invasion of Yugoslavia Ribbentrop was one of the persons directed by Hitler with the drawing of the boundaries

[Page 503]

for the partition and division of Yugoslavia. The preliminary directive for that action provided:

" If the drawing up of boundaries has not been laid down in the above Part I, it will be carried out by the Supreme Command of the Armed Forces in agreement with the Foreign Office Ribbentrop], the Plenipotentiary for the Four Year Plan [Goering], and the Reich Minister of the Interior [Frick]." (1195-PS)

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