The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

The Trial of German Major War Criminals

Sitting at Nuremberg, Germany
November 20 to December 1, 1945

Fifth Day: Monday, 26rd November, 1945
(Part 3 of 7)

[MR ALDERMAN continues]

[Page 160]

I interpolate: The Tribunal will recall the specific allegation in the Indictment that at this meeting there emerged three different plans, any of which might be utilised.
"Case 1. Period 1943-45: After this we can only expect a change for the worse. The rearming of the Army, the Navy and the Air Force, as well as the formation of the Officers' Corps, are practically concluded."
I remind the Tribunal that this meeting was on 5th November, 1937, but he is contemplating the period 1943-45.
"Our material equipment and armaments are modern; with further delay the danger of their becoming out-of-date will increase. In particular the secrecy of 'special weapons' cannot always be safeguarded. Enlistment of reserves would be limited to the current recruiting age groups and an addition from older untrained groups would be no longer available.

In comparison with the rearmament, which will have been carried out at that time by other nations, we shall decrease in relative power. Should we not act until 1943-45, then, dependent on the absence of reserves, any year could bring about the food crisis, for the countering of which we do not possess the necessary foreign currency. This must be considered as a 'point of weakness in the regime.'

Over and above that, the world will anticipate our action and will increase counter-measures yearly. Whilst other nations isolate themselves we should be forced on the offensive.

What the actual position would be in the years 1943-45, no one knows today. It is certain, however, that we can wait no longer.

On the one side the large armed forces, with the necessity for securing their upkeep, the ageing of the Nazi movement and of its leaders, and on the other side the prospect of a lowering of the standard of living and a drop in the birth rate, leaves us no other choice but to act. If the Fuehrer is still living, then it will be his irrevocable decision to solve the German space problem no later than 1943-45. The necessity for action before 1943-45 will come under consideration in Cases 2 and 3.

Case 2. Should the social tensions in France lead to an internal political crisis of such dimensions that it absorbs the French Army and thus renders it incapable for employment in war against Germany, then the time for action against Czechoslovakia has come.

[Page 161]

Case 3. It would be equally possible to act against Czechoslovakia if France should be so tied up by a war against another State that it cannot "proceed" against Germany.

For the improvement of our military political position it must be our first arm, in every case of entanglement by war, to conquer Czechoslovakia and Austria simultaneously, in order to remove any threat from the flanks in case of a possible advance westwards. In the case of a conflict with France it would hardly be necessary to assume that Czechoslovakia would declare war on the same day as France. However, Czechoslovakia's desire to participate in the war will increase proportionally to the degree to which we are being weakened. Its actual participation could make itself felt by an attack on Silesia, either towards the North or the West.

Once Czechoslovakia is conquered - and a mutual frontier, Germany-Hungary, is obtained-then a neutral attitude by Poland in a German-French conflict could more easily be relied upon. Our agreements with Poland remain valid only as long as Germany's strength remains unshakeable; should Germany have any setbacks then an attack by Poland against East Prussia, perhaps also against Pomerania, and Silesia, must be taken into account.

Assuming a development of the situation, which would lead to a planned attack on our part in the years 1943 to '45, then the behaviour of France, England, Poland and Russia would probably have to be judged in the following manner:

The Fuehrer believes personally, that in all probability England and perhaps also France, have already silently written off Czechoslovakia, and that they have got used to the idea that this question would one day be cleaned up by Germany. The difficulties in the British Empire and the prospects of being entangled in another long-drawn-out European war, would be decisive factors in the non-participation of England in a war against Germany. The British attitude would certainly not remain without influence on France's attitude. An attack by France, without British support, is hardly probable, assuming that its offensive would stagnate along our Western fortifications. Without England's support it would also not be necessary to take into consideration a march by France through Belgium and Holland, and this would also not have to be reckoned with by us in case of a conflict with France, as in every case it would have, as a consequence, the enmity of Great Britain. Naturally, we should in every case have to bar our frontier during the operation of our attacks against Czechoslovakia and Austria. It must be taken into consideration here that Czechoslovakia's defence measures will increase in strength from year to year, and that a consolidation of the inside values of the Austrian Army will also be effected in the course of years. Although the population of Czechoslovakia in the first place is not a thin one, the embodiment of Czechoslovakia and Austria would nevertheless constitute the conquest of food for five to six million people, on the basis that a compulsory emigration of two million from Czechoslovakia, and of one million from Austria could be carried out. The annexation of the two States to Germany, militarily and politically, would constitute a considerable relief, owing to shorter and better frontiers, the freeing of fighting personnel for other purposes, and the possibility of reconstituting new armies up to a strength of about twelve Divisions, representing a new Division per one million population.

No opposition to the removal of Czechoslovakia or Austria is expected on the part of Italy; however, it cannot be judged today what would be her attitude in the Austrian question, since it would depend largely on whether the Duce were alive at the time or not.

The measure and speed of our action would decide Poland's attitude. Poland will have little inclination to enter the war against a victorious Germany, with Russia in the rear.

Military participation by Russia must be countered by the speed of our operations; it is a question whether this needs to be taken into consideration at all in view of Japan's attitude.

[Page 162]

Should Case 2 occur - paralysation of France by a Civil War - then the situation should be utilised at any time for operations against Czechoslovakia, as Germany's most dangerous enemy would be eliminated.

The Fuehrer sees Case 3 looming nearer; it could develop from the existing tensions in the Mediterranean, and should it occur, he has firmly decided to make use of it any time, perhaps even as early as 1938.

Following recent experiences in the course of the events of the war in Spain, the Fuehrer does not see an early end to hostilities there. Taking into consideration the time required for past offensives by Franco - the English Text says France: it means Franco - a further three years' duration of war is within the bounds of possibility. On the other hand, from the German point of view, a one hundred per cent victory by Franco is not desirable; we are more interested in a continuation of the war and preservation of the tensions in the Mediterranean. Should Franco be in sole possession of the Spanish Peninsula, it would mean the end of Italian intervention and of the presence of Italy in the Balearic Isles. As our interests are directed towards continuing the war in Spain, it must be the task of our future policy to strengthen Italy in her fight to hold on to the Balearic Isles. However, a solidification of Italian positions in the Balearic Isles cannot be tolerated either by France or by England and could lead to a war by France and England against Italy, in which case Spain, if entirely in his (that is Franco's) hands, could participate on the side of Italy's enemies. A subjugation of Italy in such a war appears very unlikely. Additional raw materials could be brought to Italy via Germany. The Fuehrer believes that Italy's military strategy would be to remain on the defensive against France on the Western frontier and carry out operations against France from Libya, against the North African French colonial possessions.

As a landing of French and British troops on the Italian coast can be discounted, and as a French offensive via the Alps to Upper Italy would be extremely difficult, and would probably stagnate before the strong Italian fortifications, French lines of communication threatened by the Italian fleet will to a great extent be paralysed for the transport of fighting personnel from North Africa to France, so that at its frontiers with Italy and Germany, France will have, at its disposal, solely the metropolitan fighting forces."

There again I think that must be a defective English translation. "French lines of communication by the Italian fleet." must mean "Fresh lines." or something in that connection.
"If Germany profits from this war by disposing of the Czechoslovakian and the Austrian questions, the probability must be assumed that England-being at war with Italy-would not decide to commence operations against Germany. Without British support, a warlike action by France against Germany is not to be anticipated.

The date of our attack on Czechoslovakia and Austria must be made independent of the course of the Italian- French-English war and would not be simultaneous with the commencement of military operations by these three States. The Fuehrer was also not thinking of military agreements with Italy, but in complete independence and by exploiting this unique favourable opportunity, he wishes to begin to carry out operations against Czechoslovakia. The attack on Czechoslovakia would have to take place with the 'speed of lightning'"

- the German words being "blitzartig schnell."

Fieldmarshal von Blomberg and Generaloberst von Fritsch, in giving their estimate on the situation, repeatedly pointed out that England and France must not appear as our enemies, and they stated that the war with Italy would not bind the French Army to such an extent that it would not be in a position to commence operations on our Western frontier with superior forces. Generaloberst von Fritsch estimated the French forces which would presumably be employed on the Alpine frontier against Italy to be in the region of twenty divisions, so that a strong

[Page 163]

French superiority would still remain on our Western frontier. The French would, according to German reasoning, attempt to advance into the Rhineland. We should consider the lead which France has got in mobilisation, and, quite apart from the very small value of our then existing fortifications - which was pointed out particularly by General Fieldmarshal von Blomberg - the four motorised divisions which had been laid down for the West would be more or less incapable of movement. With regard to our offensive in a South- easterly direction, Fieldmarshal von Blomberg drew special attention to the strength of the Czechoslovakian fortifications, the building of which had assumed the character of a Maginot Line and which would present extreme difficulties to our attack.

Generaloberst von Fritsch mentioned that it was the purpose of a study which he had laid on for this winter to investigate the possibilities of carrying out operations against Czechoslovakia, with special consideration of the conquest of the Czechoslovakian system of fortifications; the Generaloberst also stated that owing to the prevailing conditions, he would have to relinquish his leave abroad, which was to begin on the 10th of November. This intention was countermanded by the Fuehrer, who gave as a reason that the possibility of the conflict was not to be regarded as being so imminent. In reply to statements by General Fieldmarshal von Blomberg and Generaloberst von Fritsch regarding England and France's attitude, the Fuehrer repeated his previous statements and said that he was convinced of Britain's non-participation and that consequently he did not believe in military action by France against Germany. Should the Mediterranean conflict, already mentioned, lead to a general mobilisation in Europe, then we should have to commence operations against Czechoslovakia immediately. If, however, the powers who are not participating in the war should declare their disinterestedness, then Germany would, for the time being, have to side with this attitude.

In view of the information given by the Fuehrer, Generaloberst Goering considered it imperative to think of a reduction or abandonment of our military undertaking in Spain. The Fuehrer agreed to this, insofar as he believed this decision should be postponed for a suitable date.

The second part of the discussion concerned material armament questions."

(Signed) "Hoszbach," and there are other notations.

In this connection I invite the Court's attention to the allegation in paragraph 3(a) of Section IV (F) of the Indictment, on page 7 of the printed English text, relating to a meeting of an influential group of Nazi conspirators on 5th November, 1937. The document just introduced and read in evidence gives the specific evidentiary support for trial allegation.

The record of what happened thereafter is well known to history. The Anschluss with Austria, under military pressure from the Nazis, occurred in March, 1938. We shall give you detailed evidence concerning that in due course. We shall also give evidence as to details of the aggression against Czechoslovakia including the pressure on Czechoslovakia that resulted in the Munich Pact of September, 1938, and the violation of that Pact itself by Germany, on 15th March, 1939. There is much of interest in the secret documents relating to those aggressions.

At this point, however, I desire to bring to the attention of the Tribunal one more captured document, which reveals in all its nakedness the truth concerning the deliberateness of the aggressions against Czechoslovakia. This document consists of a file, a file kept by Colonel Schmundt, Hitler's adjutant. The file was found by one of the units of the 327th Glider Infantry, in a cellar of the Platterhof, Obersalzberg, near Berchtesgaden. The file represents a work- file of originals and duplicates, incidental to the preparations for the annexation of Czechoslovakia. I should like to ask the Tribunal to examine particularly the photostat of the original German of this file. We have copies of those photostats. Something in physical form is lost in transcribing a translation. The picture of the original

[Page 164]

file, including photographs of the telegrams, gives a sense of the reality of the evidence that is lost in the transcribed translation. The file is numbered document 388- PS, in our numbered series of documents. I have here the original file.

I thought perhaps I might read the German title. It is "Grundlagen zur Studie Gruen," that is the main plan for "Case Green," Green being a code word for the aggression against Czechoslovakia.

I offer the entire file in evidence as exhibit USA 26 and will ask that photostats be passed up to the Court. I offer the file, if the Tribunal please, with, of course, the understanding arid realisation that only such parts of it as I read will immediately go into evidence; but we shall refer to other parts from time to time later, in the presentation of the case. The material in this file will be dealt with in greater detail at a later point in my prosecution. However, at this point, I desire to call attention to Item No. 2 in the file.

Item No. 2 is dated 22nd April, 1938. It is the second sheet of the English translation. It is a summary, prepared by Schmundt, the adjutant, of a discussion on 21st April, 1938, between Hitler and the defendant Wilhelm Keitel.

This item, like the other items in the file, relates to "Case Green." As I said, "Case Green" was a secret code word for the planned operation against Czechoslovakia. This meeting occurred within approximately one month following the successful annexation of Austria. In the carrying out of the conspiracy, it became necessary to revise the "Case Green," to take into account the changed attitude, as a result of the bloodless success against Austria. I shall now read Item 2 of this file.

"Berlin, 22nd April, 1938.

Bases of the Dissertation on 'Gruen.'

Summary of discussion between the Fuehrer and General

Keitel of 21st April: -

A. Political Aspect.

(1) Strategic surprise attack out of a clear sky without any cause or possibility of justification has been turned down. The result would be: hostile world opinion which can lead to a critical situation. Such a measure is justified only for the elimination of the last opponent on the mainland.

(2) Action after a time of diplomatic clashes, which gradually come to a crisis and lead to war.

(3) Lightning-swift action as the result of an incident (for example, assassination of German ambassador in connection with an anti-German demonstration).

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