The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

The Trial of German Major War Criminals

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

Seventh Day: Wednesday, 28th November, 1945
(Part 2 of 6)

[MR. ALDERMAN continues]

[Page 215]

And the next paragraph:-
"During the wave of terroristic acts in May and June, 1934, I had already assumed my duties as American Minister in Vienna. The bomb outrages during this period were directed primarily at railways, tourist centres and the Catholic Church, which latter, in the eves of the Nazis, was one of the strongest organisations opposing them. I recall, however, that these outrages diminished markedly for a few days during the meeting of Hitler and Mussolini at Venice in mid-June, 1934. At that time Mussolini was strongly supporting the Austrian Government and was strongly and deeply interested in maintaining Austrian independence and sovereignty, and in keeping down Nazi influence and activity in Austria. At that time also Hitler could not afford an open break with Mussolini, and undoubtedly agreed to the short cessation of these bomb outrages on the insistence of Mussolini because he, Hitler, wished to achieve as favourable an atmosphere for the meeting between him and Mussolini as possible. The cessation of the bomb outrages during the Hitler-Mussolini conversations was considered by me, and by the Austrian authorities, and by all observers at that time as an open admission on the part of Hitler and the German Government that the outrages were systematically and completely instigated and controlled from Germany."
Then turning to page 7 of the English version, following the line which reads,

[Page 216]

"Official dispatch from Vienna," dated 26th July, 1934, I quote the following paragraph:-
"In addition to these outrages, the Nazis attempted to bring pressure upon Austria by means of the 'Austrian Legion.' This organisation, a para-military force of several thousand men, was stationed near the Austrian border in Germany as a constant and direct threat of violent action against Austria. It was without any question sanctioned by the Nazi Government of Germany, as it could otherwise not have existed, and it was armed by them. It was made up of Austrian Nazis who had fled from Austria after committing various crimes in that country, and by Austrians in Germany who were attracted by the idle life and pay given by the German authorities."
These terroristic activities of the Nazis in Austria continued until 25th July, 1934. It is a well-known historical fact, of which I ask the Court to take judicial notice, that on that day members of the N.S.D.A.P., the Nazi Party, attempted a revolutionary "putsch" in Austria and killed Chancellor Dollfuss. At this point I should like to invite your attention to the fact that the indictment alleges in Count IV, Crimes against Humanity, paragraph B on page 26 of the English printed text, that the Nazis murdered amongst others Chancellor Dollfuss. I have not available an official authenticated account of the details of that "putsch," but I think that it will suffice if I briefly recall to the Court what is after all a well-known matter of history. On 25th July, 1934, about noon, 100 men dressed in the uniform of the Austrian Army invaded the Federal Chancellery. Chancellor Dollfuss was wounded in trying to escape, being shot twice at close quarters. The Radio Building in the centre of the town was overwhelmed, and the announcer was compelled to broadcast the news that Dollfuss had resigned and that Dr. Rintelen had taken his place as Chancellor. Although the "putsch" failed, the insurgents kept control of the Chancellery building, and agreed to give it up only after they had a safe conduct to the German border. The insurgents contacted the German Minister Dr. Rieth by telephone, and subsequently had private negotiations with him in the building. At about 7 P.M. they yielded the building, but Chancellor Dollfuss breathed his last about 6 p.m., not having had the services of a doctor.

It is also a well-known historical fact that the German government denied all complicity in this "putsch" and in this assassination. Hitler removed Dr. Rieth as Minister on the ground that he had offered a safe conduct to the rebels without making inquiry of the German government, and had thus without reason dragged the German Reich into an internal Austrian affair in public sight.

This statement appears in a letter which Hitler sent to defendant Papen on 26th July, 1934. I shall offer that letter a little later.

Although the German government denied any knowledge or complicity in this "putsch," we think there is ample basis for the conclusion that the German Nazis bear responsibility for these events. It is not my purpose, with respect to this somewhat minor consideration, to review the expansive record in the trial of the Austrian Nazi Planetta and others who were convicted for the murder of Dollfuss. Similarly I have no intention of presenting to the Court the contents of the Austrian "Braunbuch," issued after 25th July, without which the Court will, I think, take judicial notice.

I should like instead to mention a few brief items which seem to us sufficient for the purpose. I quote again from our document 1760-PS, from the Messersmith affidavit, exhibit USA 57, on page 7, the paragraph in the middle of the page:-

"The events of the 'putsch' of 25th July, 1934, are too well known for me to repeat them in this statement. I need say here only that there can be no doubt that the 'putsch' was ordered and organised by the Nazi officials from Germany through their Organisation in Austria, made up of German Nazis

[Page 217]

and Austrian Nazis. Dr. Rieth, the German Minister in Vienna, was fully familiar with all that was going to happen and that was being planned. The German Legation was located directly across the street from the British Legation, and the Austrian secret police kept close watch on persons who entered the German Legation. The British had their own secret service in Vienna at the time, and they also kept a discreet surveillance over the people entering the German Legation. I was told by both British and Austrian officials that a number of the men who were later found guilty by the Austrian courts of having been implicated in the 'putsch' had frequented the German Legation. In addition, I personally followed very closely the activities of Dr. Rieth, and I never doubted on the basis of all my information that Dr. Rieth was in close touch and constant touch with the Nazi agents in Austria, these agents being both German and Austrian. Dr. Rieth could not have been unfamiliar with the 'putsch' and the details in connection therewith. I recall, too, very definitely, from my conversations with the highest officials of the Austrian Government after the 'putsch' their informing me that Dr. Rieth had been in touch with von Rintelen, who, it had been planned by the Nazis, was to succeed Chancellor Dollfuss, had the 'putsch' been successful.

It may be that Dr. Rieth was himself not personally sympathetic with the plans for the 'putsch,' but there is no question that he was fully familiar with all these plans, and must have given his assent thereto and connived therein.

As this 'putsch' was so important, and was a definite attempt to overthrow the Austrian government, and resulted in the murder of the Chancellor of Austria, I took occasion to verify at the time for myself various other items of evidence indicating that the 'putsch' was not only made with the knowledge of the German government but engineered by it. I found and verified that almost a month before the 'putsch' Goebbels told Signor Corruti, the Italian Ambassador in Berlin, that there would be a Nazi government in Vienna in a month."

I should also like to offer in evidence Ambassador Dodd's diary, 1933-1938, a book published in 1941, our document 2832 PS, and particularly the entry for 26th July, 1934. We have the book with the page to which I refer, two pages. I should like to offer that portion of the book in evidence as exhibit USA 58, further identified as our document 2832 PS.

Mr. Dodd, then Ambassador to Berlin, made the following observations in that entry. First he noted that in February, 1934, Ernst Henfstaengl advised him that he brought what was virtually an order from Mussolini to Hitler to leave Austria alone and to dismiss and silence Theodor Habicht, the German agent in Munich, who had been agitating for annexation of Austria. On 18th June in Venice, Hitler was reported to have promised Mussolini to leave Austria alone. Mr. Dodd further states, and I quote from his entry Of 26th July, 1934:

"On Monday, 23rd July, after repeated bombings in Austria by Nazis, a boat loaded with explosives was seized on Lake Constance by the Swiss police. It was a shipment of German bombs and shells to Austria from some arms plant. That looks ominous to me, but events of the kind have been so common that I did not report it to Washington."
THE PRESIDENT: Mr. Alderman, we don't seem to have this document. Our document 2832-PS begins 28th July, Thursday. MR. ALDERMAN: That is right. Yes.

THE PRESIDENT: You began something about Monday, didn't you?

MR. ALDERMAN: I think you misunderstood me. I began reading at a sentence which began on Monday, 23rd July.

THE PRESIDENT: I want to know where that is.

MR. ALDERMAN: Yes, sir. It is in the third paragraph.

[Page 218]

THE PRESIDENT : Yes, I see, about twelve lines down.

MR. ALDERMAN: Yes, sir.

"To-day evidence came to my desk that last night, as late as 11 o'clock, the government issued formal statements to the newspapers rejoicing at the fall of Dollfuss and proclaiming the greater Germany that must follow. The German Minister in Vienna had actually helped to form the new cabinet. He had, as we now know, exacted a promise that the gang of Austrian and Nazi murderers should be allowed to go into Germany undisturbed, but it was realised about 12 o'clock that, although Dollfuss was dead, the loyal Austrians had surrounded the Government Palace and prevented the organisation of a new Nazi regime. They held the murderers prisoners. The German Propaganda Ministry therefore forbade publication of the news sent out an hour before, and tried to collect all the releases that had been distributed. A copy was brought to me to-day by a friend.

All the German papers this morning lamented the cruel murder, and declared that it was simply an attack of discontented Austrians, not Nazis. News from Bavaria shows that thousands of Austrian Nazis living for a year in Bavaria on German support had been active for ten days before, some getting across the border contrary to law, all drilling, and making ready to return to Austria. The German propagandist Habicht was still making radio speeches about the necessity of annexing the ancient realm of the Hapsburgs to the Third Reich, in spite of all the promises of Hitler to silence him. But now that the drive has failed and the assassins are in prison in Vienna, the German government denounces all who say there was any support from Berlin.

I think it will be clear one day that millions of dollars and many arms have been pouring into Austria since the spring of 1933. Once more, the whole world is considering and condemning the Hitler regime. No people in all modern history have been quite so unpopular as Nazi Germany. This stroke completes the picture. I expect to read a series of bitter denunciations in the American papers when they arrive about ten days from now."

As I stated before, the German government denied any connection with the "putsch" and the murder of Dollfuss. In this connection, I should like to invite attention to the letter of appointment which Hitler wrote to the defendant von Papen on 26th July, 1934. This letter appears in a standard German reference work "Dokumente der Deutschen Politik," Volume2, at page 83. For convenience we have identified it as document 2799-PS, and a copy translated into English is included in the document book. The defendants may examine the German text in the "Dokumente der Deutschen Politik," a copy of which is at present in my hand, page 83 of Volume 2.

I ask the Court if it will take Judicial notice of this original German typing.

THE PRESIDENT: Can you tell us where it occurs in our document book?

MR. ALDERMAN: It is our document 2799-PS, a letter from Adolf Hitler.

THE PRESIDENT: It appears to come opposite 2510-PS, according to the book.

MR. ALDERMAN: I should like to read this letter which Chancellor Hitler sent to Vice-Chancellor von Papen. I think it will provide us with a little historical perspective and perhaps freshen our recollection of the ways in which the Nazi conspirators worked. In considering Hitler's letter to the defendant von Papen on 26th July, we must bear in mind as an interesting sidelight the widespread reports at that time, and I mention this only as a widespread report, that the defendant von Papen narrowly missed being purged on 30th June, 1934, along with the Nazi Ernst Roehm, and others. The letter from Hitler to von Papen is as follows:-

"Dear Herr von Papen,

As a result of the events in Vienna, I am compelled to suggest to the Reichs- President the removal of the German Minister to Vienna, Dr. Rieth, from

[Page 219]

his post, because he, at the suggestion of Austrian Federal Ministers and the Austrian rebels respectively, consented to an agreement made by both these parties concerning the safe conduct and retreat of the rebels to Germany without making inquiry of the German Reich Government. Thus the Minister has dragged the German Reich into an internal Austrian affair without any reason.

The assassination of the Austrian Federal Chancellor which was strictly condemned and regretted by the German Government has made the situation in Europe, already fluid, more acute, without any fault of ours. Therefore it is my desire to bring about, if possible, an easing of the general situation, and especially to direct the relations with the German Austrian State, which have been so strained for a long time, into normal and friendly channels again.

For this reason, I request you, dear Herr von Papen, to take over this important task, just because you have possessed, and continue to possess, my most complete and unlimited confidence ever since we have worked together in the Cabinet.

Therefore, I have suggested to the Reichs-President that you, upon leaving the Reich-Cabinet and upon release from the office of Commissioner for the Saar, be called on a special mission to the post of the German Minister in Vienna for a limited period of time. In this position you will be directly subordinate to me.

Thanking you once more for all that you have at one time done for the co-ordination of the Government of the National Revolution, and since then together with us for Germany, I remain,

Yours very sincerely,
Adolf Hitler."

Now let us look at the situation four years later, on 25th July, 1938, after the "Anschluss" with Austria. At that time the German officials no longer expressed regrets over the death of Dr. Dollfuss. They were eager and willing to reveal what the world already knew, that they were identified with and sponsors of the murder of the former Chancellor.

I offer in evidence at this point document L-273, which I offer as exhibit USA 59. That document is a dispatch from the American Consul General, Vienna, to the Secretary of State, dated 26th July, 1938. Unfortunately, through a mechanical slip, this document which is in English in the original, was not mimeographed in English and is not in your document book. However, it was translated into German, and is in the document book which counsel for the defendants have. I read from a photostatic copy of the dispatch :-

"The two high points of the celebration" - here was a celebration - "were the memorial assembly on the 24th at Klagenfurt, capital of the Province of Carinthia, where in 1934 the Vienna Nazi revolt found its widest response, and the march on the 25th to the former Federal Chancellery in Vienna by the surviving members of the SS Standarte 89, which made the attack on the Chancellery in 1934"; a reconstruction of the crime, so to speak. "The assembled thousands at Klagenfurt were addressed by the Fuehrer's Deputy, Rudolf Hess, in the presence of the families of the thirteen National Socialists who were hanged for their part in the July "putsch." The Klagenfurt Memorial Celebration was also made the occasion for the solemn swearing in of the seven recently appointed Gauleiters of this Ostmark. From the point of view of the outside world, this picture of Reichsminister Hess was chiefly remarkable for the fact that after devoting the first half of his speech as expected, to praise of the sacrifices of the men, women, and youth of Austria in the struggle for greater Germany, he then launched into a defence of the occupation of Austria and an attack on the lying foreign Press and on those who spread the idea of a new war." The world was fortunate,"

[Page 220]

declared Hess, "that Germany's leader was a man who would not allow himself to be provoked. The Fuehrer does what is necessary for his people in sovereign calm and labours for the peace of Europe, even though mischief makers, completely ignoring the deliberate threat to the peace of certain small States, distinctly claim that he is a menace to the peace of Europe." The march on the former Federal Chancellery, referring back to the "putsch" of four years before, now the "Reichsstatthalterei," followed the exact route and time schedule of the original attack. The marchers were met at the Chancellery by Reichsstatthalter Seyss-Inquart, who addressed them and unveiled a memorial cabinet from the "Reichsstatthalterei," the "Standarte." That is the SS organisation which made the original attack and which marched on this occasion four years later. From the "Reichsstatthalterei" the Standarte marched from the Old Reich Broadcasting Centre, from which false news of the resignation of Dollfuss had been broadcast, and there unveiled a second memorial tablet. Steinhausen, the present police president of Vienna, was a member of the SS Standarte 89."

[ 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.