The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Nazi Conspiracy & Aggression
Individual Responsibility Of Defendants

Constantin Von Neurath

(Part 4 of 6)

[Page 1023]

Von Neurath's position is shown equally clearly by the account which is given of him in the affidavit of Messersmith (2385-PS). Von Neurath's style of activity at this crisis is described as follows:

"I should emphasize here in this statement that the men who made these promises were not only the dyed-in-the- wool Nazis, but more conservative Germans who already had begun to willingly lend themselves to the Nazi program.

"In an official dispatch 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 diplomats 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)

(3) Czechoslovakia. At the time of the occupation of Austria, von Neurath gave the assurance to M. Mastny, the Ambassador of Czechoslovakia to Berlin, regarding the continued independence of Czechoslovakia (TC-27). M. Jan Masaryk, Czechoslovakian Foreign Minister, describes the circumstances as follows:

"I have in consequence been instructed by my Government to bring to the official knowledge of His Majesty's Govern-

[Page 1024]

ment the following facts: Yesterday evening (the 11th March) Field-Marshal Goering made two separate statements to M. Mastny, the Czechoslovak Minister in Berlin, assuring him that the developments in Austria will in no way have any detrimental influence on the relations between the German Reich and Czechoslovakia, and emphasizing the continued earnest endeavor on the part of Germany to improve those mutual relations."


"M. Mastny was in a position to give him [Goering] definite and binding assurances on this subject [Czech mobilization] and today spoke with Baron von Neurath, who, among other things, assured him on behalf of Herr Hitler that Germany still considers herself bound by the German-Czechoslovak Arbitration Convention concluded at Locarno in October 1925." ( TC-27) .

In view of von Neurath's presence at the meeting on 5 November 1937, four months previously, where he had heard Hitler's views on Czechoslovakia (386-PS), and that it was only six months before the treaty was disregarded, von Neurath's assurance is an excellent example of the technique of diplomacy developed by von Neurath.

On 28 May 1938 Hitler held a conference of important leaders, including Beck, von Brauchitsch, Raeder, Keitel, Goering, and Ribbentrop, at which Hitler affirmed that preparations should be made for military action against Czechoslovakia by October (388-PS; 2360-PS). It is believed, although not confirmed, that von Neurath attended.

On 4 September 1938 the Government of which von Neurath was a member enacted a new Secret Reich Defense Law which defined various official responsibilities, in clear anticipation of war. This law provided, as did the previous Secret Reich Defense Law, for a Reich Defense Council as a supreme policy board for war preparations (2194-PS). Then came the Munich agreement of 29 September 1938, in spite of which, on 14 March 1939, German troops marched into Czechoslovakia. (TC-50)

On 16 March 1939 the German Government, of which von Neurath was still a member, promulgated the Decree of the Fuehrer and Reich Chancellor on the Establishment of the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia. (TC-51) During the following week, von Ribbentrop signed a treaty with Slovakia (1439-PS), Article 2 of which reads as follows:

"For the purpose of making effective the protection undertaken by the German Reich, the German armed forces shall

[Page 1025]

have the right at all times to construct military installations and to keep them garrisoned in the strength they deem necessary, in an area delimited on its western side by the frontiers of the State of Slovakia, and on its eastern side by a line formed by the eastern rims of the Lower Carpathians, the White Carpathians, and the Javornik Mountains.

"The Government of Slovakia will take the necessary steps to assure that the land required for these installations shall be conveyed to the German armed forces. Furthermore, the Government of Slovakia will agree to grant exemption from custom duties for imports from the Reich for the maintenance of the German troops and the supply of military installations." (1439-PS)

The ultimate objective of Hitler's policies, disclosed at the meeting at which von Neurath was present on 5 November 1937 (86-PS), is obvious from the terms of this treaty. It was the resumption of the drang for lebensraum in the East.

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