The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Nazi Conspiracy & Aggression
Individual Responsibility Of Defendants

Constantin Von Neurath

(Part 1 of 6)

[Page 1014]


He was a member of the Nazi Party from 30 January 1937 until 1945, and vas awarded the Golden Party Badge on 30 January 1937.

He was General in the SS. He was personally appointed Gruppenfuehrer by Hitler in September 1937, and was promoted to Obergruppenfuehrer on 21 June 1943.

He was Reich Minister of Foreign Affairs under the Chancellorship of von Papen from 2 June 1932, and under the Chancellorship of Hitler from 30 January 1933 until he was replaced by von Ribbentrop on 4 February 1938.

He was Reich Minister from 4 February 1938 until May 1945.

He was President of the Secret Cabinet Council, to which he was appointed on 4 February 1938.

He was a member of the Reich Defense Council.

He was Reichs Protector for Bohemia and Moravia from 18 March 1939 until he was replaced by Frick on 25 August 1943.

He was awarded the Adlerorden by Hitler at the time of his appointment as Reich Protector. Ribbentrop was the only other German to receive this decoration.

These facts are collected in a document signed by von Neurath and his counsel (2972-PS). Von Neurath comments on certain of these matters. He says that the award of the Golden Party Badge was made on 30 January 1937 against his will and without his being asked. Yet he not only refrained from repudiating

[Page 1015]

the allegedly unwanted honor, but after receiving it attended meetings at which wars of aggression were planned, actively participated in the forcible annexation of Austria, and tyrannized over Bohemia and Moravia.

He also contends that his appointment as SS Gruppenfuehrer was also against his will and without his being asked. But in this connection, his wearing of the SS uniform, his receipt of the further promotion to Obergruppenfuehrer, and the actions against Bohemia and Moravia must be considered. In addition, von Neurath says that his appointment as Foreign Minister was by Reichspresident von Hindenburg. Yet President von Hindenburg died in 1934, and von Neurath continued as Foreign Minister until 1938, under the chancellorship first of von Papen and then of Hitler. He further claims that he was an inactive Minister from 4 February 1938 until May 1945. His activities in this connection will be mentioned below, particularly with regard to Bohemia and Moravia.

Von Neurath next alleges that the Secret Cabinet Council never sat or conferred. This Council, of which von Neurath was president, has been authoritatively described as a select committee of the Cabinet for the deliberation of foreign affairs, directly subordinated to the Fuehrer for counsel and assistance (1774-PS):

"A Privy Cabinet Council, to advise the Fuehrer in the basic problems of foreign policy, has been created by the decree of 4 February 1938 *** This Privy Cabinet Council is under the direction of Reich-Minister v. Neurath, and includes the Foreign Minister, the Air Minister, the Deputy Commander for the Fuehrer, the Propaganda Minister, the Chief of the Reich- Chancellery, the Commanders-in-Chief of the Army and Navy and the Chief of the Supreme Command of the Armed Forces. The Privy Cabinet Council constitutes a select staff of collaborators of the Fuehrer which consists exclusively of members of the Government of the Reich; thus, it represents a select committee of the Reich Government for the deliberation on foreign affairs." (1774-PS)

The formal composition of this body is shown in 201-PS. Von Neurath held himself out as a member of this body by communicating with the British Ambassador on Secret Cabinet Council stationery. (3287-PS)

Von Neurath, finally, objects that he was not a member of the Reich Defense Council. This Council was set up soon after Hitler's accession to power, on 4 April 1933 (2261- PS). In an affidavit by Frick (2986-PS), this Council is described as follows:

[Page 1016]

" We were also members of the Reich Defense Council, which was supposed to plan preparations in case of war which later on were published by the Ministerial Council for the Defense of the Reich." (2986-PS)

The membership of this Council included the Minister for Foreign Affairs, who was then von Neurath. This is shown by a document giving the composition of the Reich Defense Council, and including among permanent members the Minister for Foreign Affairs (EC-177). That document is dated "Berlin, 22 May 1933," which was during von Neurath's tenure of that office.

The functioning of the Reich Defense Council, with a representative of von Neurath's ministry, von Beulow, present, is shown by the minutes of the 12th meeting on 14 May 1936 (EC-407). Under the secret law of 4 September 1938 von Neurath was a member of the Reich Defense Council by virtue of his presidency of the Secret Cabinet Council. This fact is shown by the enclosure of a copy of that law in a letter addressed to von Neurath as Reich Protector for Bohemia and Moravia on 6 September 1939 (2194-PS). It is curious that the Reich Protector for Bohemia and Moravia denies his membership in the Council when the letter enclosing the law is one addressed to him. This law describes the tasks of the Council as follows:

"The task of the Reich Defense Council consists, in peacetime, of the decision on all measures for the preparation of Reich defense, and the gathering together of all forces and means of the nation according to the- directions of the Leaders and Reich Chancellor. The tasks of the Council in wartime will be especially determined by the Leader and Reich Chancellor." (2194-PS)

The law also lists the permanent members of the Council, and the seventh one is the President of the Secret Cabinet Council, who was von Neurath.

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

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