The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Nazi Conspiracy & Aggression
Individual Responsibility Of Defendants

Franz Von Papen

(Part 2 of 15)

[Page 916]


(1) When von Papen began these efforts he was well aware of the Nazi program and Nazi methods. The official NSDAP program was open and notorious. For many years it had been published and republished in the Yearbook of the NSDAP and elsewhere. The Nazis made no secret of their intention to make it the fundamental law of the State. The first three points of this program forecast a foreign policy predicated upon the absorption of "Germanic" populations outside the boundaries of the Reich, the abrogation of Versailles treaty limitations, and the acquisition of "Lebensraum." Points 4 to 8 foretold the ruthless elimination of the Jews, and the 25th point demanded "unlimited authority" of the central regime over the entire Reich as a means "for the execution of all this" (1708-PS).

Hitler and the other leaders of the Party repeatedly reiterated these views before 1933. Hitler himself subsequently pointed out that there was no excuse for misinterpreting Nazi intentions:

"When I came to power in 1933, our path lay unmistakably before us. Our internal policy had been exactly defined by our fifteen-year-old struggle. Our program, repeated a thousand times, obligated us to the German people. I should be a man without honor, worthy of being stoned, had I retracted a single step of the program I then enunciated

"My foreign policy had identical aims. My program was to abolish the Treaty of Versailles. It is futile nonsense for the rest of the world to pretend today that I did not reveal this program until 1933 or 1935 or 1937. Instead of listen-

[Page 917]

ing to the foolish chatter of emigres, these gentlemen would have been wiser to read what I have written thousands of times." (2541-PS)

Hitler and other Nazi leaders repeatedly made clear their willingness to use force if necessary to achieve their purposes. They glorified war. Mein Kampf is replete with early evidence of such intentions, which subsequently were reaffirmed from time to time in the years preceding 1933 (D- 660; 2771-PS; 2512-PS).

The Nazi leaders prior to 1933 had openly declared their intentions to subvert democratic processes as a means to achieve their purposes, and to this end to harass and embarrass democratic forces at every turn. Thus Hitler himself had declared that.

"We shall become members of all constitutional bodies, and in this manner make the Party the decisive factor. Of course, when we possess all constitutional rights we shall then mould the State into the form we consider to be the right one." (2512-PS)

Frick, writing in the National Socialist Yearbook, declared:

"Our participation in the parliament does not indicate a support, but rather an undermining of the parliamentarian system. It does not indicate that we renounce our anti-parliamentarian attitude, but that we are fighting the enemy with his own weapons and that we are fighting for our National Socialist goal from the parliamentary platform." (2742-PS)

The practical application of these purposes was thus subsequently described by a leading Nazi constitutional authority, Ernst Rudolf Huber:

"It was necessary above all to make formal use of the possibilities of the party-state system but to refuse real cooperation and thereby to render the parliamentary system, which is by nature dependent upon the responsibility cooperation of the opposition, incapable of action." (2633-PS).

This practical application of Nazi purposes and methods was manifest at the time von Papen was a member of the Reichstag and Vice Chancellor. By this time the Nazi members of the Reichstag were engaging in tactics of disturbance which finally culminated in physical attacks upon members of the Reichstag and upon visitors, and were using terroristic measures to assure their election (L-83).

Von Papen not only had the opportunity to observe early manifestations of Nazi violence and irresponsibility. He fully under-

[Page 918]

stood the true character of the Nazi menace before 1933 and publicly condemned it.

At the time of the German elections in the summer of 1932, von Papen, President Hindenburg, and certain other German leaders were hoping that the rising Nazi menace would be dissipated by providing for National Socialist participation in a rightist-centrist government. Hitler refused all overtures inviting such participation, even when suggested by President Hindenburg himself, insisting upon assuming the chancellorship without obligation to other parties. Hitler's refusal at this time to collaborate with Hindenburg and Papen marked the beginning of a series of public declarations in which von Papen revealed a clear understanding of Nazi methods and objections. Thus, on the occasion of his Munster speech of 28 August 1932 von Papen declared:

"The licentiousness emanating from the appeal of the leader of the National Socialist Movement does not comply very well with his claims to governmental power."


"I do not concede him the right to regard the mere minority following his banner solely as the German nation, and to treat all our fellow countrymen as 'free game'."


"I am advocating the constitutional state, the community of the people, law and order in government. In doing so, it is I, and not he, who is carrying on the struggle against the domination of parties, against arbitrarianism and injustice, a struggle which millions of his supporters had been wholeheartedly longing for years to fight."


"I am firmly determined to stamp out the smouldering flame of civil war, to put an end to political unrest and political violence, which today is still such a great obstacle to the positive work representing the sole task of the State." (3314-PS)

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

[ Previous | Index | Next ]

Home ·  Site Map ·  What's New? ·  Search Nizkor

© The Nizkor Project, 1991-2012

This site is intended for educational purposes to teach about the Holocaust and to combat hatred. Any statements or excerpts found on this site are for educational purposes only.

As part of these educational purposes, Nizkor may include on this website materials, such as excerpts from the writings of racists and antisemites. Far from approving these writings, Nizkor condemns them and provides them so that its readers can learn the nature and extent of hate and antisemitic discourse. Nizkor urges the readers of these pages to condemn racist and hate speech in all of its forms and manifestations.