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 6 of 6)

[MR. ALDERMAN continues]

[Page 234]

This amnesty was duly announced by the Austrian Government, and thousands of Nazis were released, and the first penetration of Deutsche-Nationals into the Austrian Government was accomplished by the appointment of justice Guido Schmidt as Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs and Dr. Edmund Glaise-Horstenau as Minister without portfolio.

I now offer in evidence document 2994-PS, which is an affidavit executed by Kurt von Schuschnigg, Foreign Chancellor of Austria, at Nuremberg, Germany on 19th November, 1945. I offer this as exhibit USA 66. The defendants have received German translations of that evidence.

DR. LATERNSER (Counsel for the defendant Seyss-Inquart): In the name of the accused, Seyss-Inquart, I wish to protest against the presentation of written evidence by the witness von Schuschnigg, for the following reasons: To-day, when a resolution was announced, with respect to the use to be made of the written evidence of Mr. Messersmith, the Court was of the opinion that in a case of very great importance it might possibly take a different view of the matter. With respect to the Austrian conflict, this is such a case, since Schuschnigg is the most important witness. He was the witness who at the time had the office of Federal Chancellor which was affected. In the case of such an important witness, the principle of direct evidence must be adhered to in order that the Court be in a position to ascertain the actual truth in this case. The accused and his defence counsel would feel prejudiced in his defence should direct evidence be circumvented. I must, therefore, uphold my viewpoint since it can be assumed that the

[Page 235]

witness, von Schuschnigg, will be able to confirm certain facts which are in favour of the accused, Seyss-Inquart.

I, therefore, submit an application to the Court that the written evidence of the witness, von Schuschnigg, be not admitted.

THE PRESIDENT: If you have finished the Tribunal will hear Mr. Alderman.

MR. ALDERMAN: May it please the Tribunal, at this point I am simply proposing to offer this affidavit for the purpose of showing the terms of the secret understanding between the German and Austrian Governments in connection with this accord. It is not with any purpose of incriminating the defendant, Seyss-Inquart, that it is being offered at this point.

DR. LATERNSER : May I complete my application by saying that the witness, von Schuschnigg, on the 19th of November, 1945, was questioned in Nuremberg, and that, if an interrogation on the 19th of November was possible, such a short time later it ought to be possible to call him before the Court, especially as the interrogation before this Court is of special importance.

THE PRESIDENT: The Tribunal will recess now to consider this question.

(A recess was taken.)

THE PRESIDENT: The Tribunal has considered the objection to the affidavit of von Schuschnigg and upholds the objection.

If the prosecution desires to call von Schuschnigg as a witness they can apply to do so. Equally the defence, if they wish to call von Schuschnigg as a witness, can apply to do so. In the event of von Schuschnigg not being able to be produced the question of affidavit-evidence by von Schuschnigg being given will be reconsidered.

MR. ALDERMAN: May it please the Tribunal, in view of the strategy and tactics of the Nazis' concessions as indicated in the portion of the Messersmith affidavit that I read, substantial concessions were made by Austria to obtain Germany's diplomatic formal assurance of Austrian independence and non-intervention in Austrian internal affairs.

The release of employed Nazis presented potential police problems, and as Mr. Messersmith pointed out in a 1934 dispatch to the United States State Department quoted on pages 12 to 13 of his affidavit:-

"Any prospect that the National Socialists might come to power would make it more difficult to obtain effective police and judicial action against the Nazis, for fear of reprisals by the future Nazi Government against those taking action against Nazis even in the performance of duty. The preservation of internal peace in Austria was less independent upon Germany's living up to its obligations under the accord."
Next, Germany's continuing programme of weakening the Austrian Government. In the pact of 11th July, 1936, Germany agreed not to influence directly or indirectly the internal affairs of Austria, including the matter of Austrian National Socialism.

On 16th July, 1936, just five days later, Hitler violated that provision. I quote from document 812-PS, which is exhibit USA 61, the reports of Gauleiter Rainer to Commissar Burckel, all of which were forwarded to the defendant Seyss- Inquart, at page 6 of the English and, I believe, also page 6 of the German version:

"At that time the Fuehrer wished to see the leaders of the party in Austria in order to tell them his opinion on what Austrian National Socialists should do. Meanwhile Hinterleitner was arrested, and Doctor Rainer became his successor and the leader of the Austrian party. On 16th July, 1936, Doctor Rainer and Globoznik visited the Fuehrer at the Obersalzberg, where they received a clear explanation of the situation and the wishes of the Fuehrer. On 17th July, 1936, all illegal Gauleiters met in Anif, near Salzburg, where they received a complete report from Ranier on the statement of the Fuehrer and his political instructions

[Page 236]

for carrying out the fight. At this same conference the Gauleiters received organisational instructions from Globotschnik and Hiedler."
I am skipping a paragraph from this report in the English version.
"Upon the proposal of Globotschnik, the Fuehrer named Lt. Gen. (Gruppenfuehrer) Keppler as chief of the mixed commission which was appointed, in accordance with the state treaty of 11th July, 1936, to supervise the correct execution of the agreement. At the same time Keppler was given full authority by the Fuehrer for the party in Austria. After Keppler was unsuccessful in his efforts to co-operate with Leopold, he worked together with Doctor Rainer, Globoznik, Reinthaler as leader of the peasants, Kaltenbrunner (that is the defendant Kaltenbrunner in this case) leader of the SS, and Doctor Jury as deputy leader of the Austrian party, as well as von Glaise-Horstenau and Seyss-Inquart."
A new strategy was developed for the Austrian Nazis. Mr. Messersmith describes briefly - and I quote from page thirteen of his affidavit, document 1760-PS: "The sequel of the agreement was the only one which could have been expected in view of all the facts and previous recorded happenings." Active Nazi operations in Austria were resumed under the leadership of a certain Captain Leopold who, as was known definitely, was in frequent touch with Hitler. The Nazi programme was now to form an organisation through which the Nazis could carry on their operations openly and with legal sanction in Austria. There were formerly in Austria several organisations which had a legal basis, but which were simply a device by which the Nazis in Austria could organise and later seek inclusion as a unit in the Patriotic Front. The most important of these was the Ostmaerkische Versin, the Union of the East Mark, the sponsor of which was the Minister of the Interior, Glaise-Horstenau. Through the influence of Glaise-Horstenau and pro-Nazi Neustadter Sturmer, this organisation was declared legal by the court.

I make a specific mention of the foregoing because it shows the degree to which the situation in Austria had disintegrated as a result of the underground and open Nazi activities directed from Germany.

At this point I offer in evidence document 2246-PS as exhibit USA 67, a captured German document, which is a report from von Papen to Hitler, dated 1st September, 1936. This document is most interesting because it indicates von Papen's strategy, after 11th July, 1936, for destroying Austria's independence. Von Papen had taken a substantial step forward with the agreement of 11th July. It should be noted, incidentally, that, after that agreement, he was promoted from Minister to Ambassador. Now his tactics were developed in the following terms, I quote the last three paragraphs of his letter of 1st September, 1936, to the Fuehrer and Reich Chancellor. These three paragraphs are all joined as one paragraph in the English text:

"The progress of normalising relations with Germany at the present time is obstructed by the continued persistence of the Ministry of Security, occupied by the old anti-National Socialistic officials. Changes in personnel are therefore of utmost importance. But they are definitely not to be expected prior to the conference on the abolishing of the Control of Finances at Geneva. The Chancellor of the League has informed Minister von Glaise-Horstenau of his intention to offer him the portfolio of the Ministry of the Interior. As a guiding principle 'Marschroute' (a German word meaning the 'Route of March') I recommend on the tactical side continued, patient, psychological treatment with slowly intensified pressure, directed at changing the regime. The proposed conference on economic relations, taking place at the end of October, will be a very useful tool for the realisation of some of our projects. In discussion with Government officials as well as with leaders of the illegal party - Leopold and Schattenfroh - who conform completely with the agreement of 11th July - I am trying to direct the next developments in such a manner as to aim at corporative representation of the movement in the Fatherland front, but nevertheless refraining

[Page 237]

from putting National Socialists in important positions for the time being. Such positions are to be occupied only by personalities having the support and the confidence of the movement. I have a willing collaborator in this respect in Minister Glaise- Horstenau."
Citing Papen. To recapitulate, this report by von Papen to Hitler discloses the following plan :

(a) Obtaining a change in personnel in the Austrian Ministry of Security in due course.
(b) Obtaining corporative representation of the Nazi movement in the Fatherland front.
(c) Not putting avowed National Socialists in important positions yet, but using Nationalist personalities.
(d) Using economic pressure and patient psychological treatment with slowly intensified pressure directed at changing the regime.

My next subject is "Germany's Diplomatic Preparations for the Conquest of Austria."

The programme of the Nazi conspiracy with respect to Austria consisted of weakening that country externally and internally by removing its support from without, as well as by penetrating within. This programme was of the utmost significance, especially since, as the Court will remember, the events Of 25th July, 1934, inside Austria, were overshadowed in the news of the day by the fact that Mussolini had brought his troops to the Brenner Pass, and poised there as a strong protector of his Northern neighbour, Austria.

Accordingly, interference in the affairs of Austria, and steady increase in the pressure needed to acquire control over that country, required removal of the possibility that Italy or any other country would come to her aid. But the foreign policy programme of the conspiracy for the weakening and isolation of Austria was integrated with their foreign policy programme in Europe generally.

I should like, therefore, at this juncture, to digress for a moment from the presentation of evidence bearing on Austria alone, and to consider with the Tribunal the general foreign policy programme of the Nazis. It is not my intention to examine this subject in any detail. Historians and scholars exhausting the archives will have many years of exploring all the details and ramifications of European diplomacy during this fateful decade.

It is, instead, my purpose to mention very briefly the highlights of the Nazis' diplomatic preparation for war.

In this connection I should like to offer to the Tribunal document 2385-PS, a second affidavit of George S. Messersmith executed on 30th August, 1945, at Mexico City. This has been made available to the defendants in German, as well as in English.

This is a different affidavit from document I760-PS, which was executed on 28th August. This second affidavit, which I offer as exhibit USA 68, consists of a presentation of the diplomatic portion of the programme of the Nazi party. To a considerable extent it merely states facts of common knowledge, facts that many people who are generally well- informed already know. It also gives us facts which are common knowledge in the circle of diplomats or of students of foreign affairs. It consists of some eleven mimeographed pages, single-spaced. I read from the third paragraph in the affidavit:-

"As early as 1933, while I served in Germany, the German and Nazi contacts, which I had in the highest and secondary categories, openly acknowledged Germany's ambitions to dominate South-eastern Europe from Czechoslovakia down to Turkey. As they freely stated, the objective was territorial expansion in the case of Austria and Czechoslovakia. The professed objectives in the earlier stages of the Nazi regime, in the remainder of South-eastern Europe, were political and economical control, and they did not at that time speak so definitely of actual absorption and destruction of sovereignty. Their ambitions, however, were not

[Page 238]

limited to South-eastern Europe. From the very beginnings of 1933, and even before the Nazis came into power, important Nazis, speaking of the Ukraine, freely said that 'it must be our granary' and that 'even with South-eastern Europe under our control, Germany needs and must have the greater part of the Ukraine in order to be able to feed the people of greater Germany.' After I left Germany in the middle of 1934 for my post in Austria, I continued to receive information as to the German designs in South-eastern Europe. In a conversation with von Papen shortly after his appointment as German Minister to Austria in 1934, he frankly stated to me that 'South-eastern Europe to Turkey is "Germany's Hinterland" and I have been designated to carry through the task of bringing it within the fold. Austria is the first on the programme.' As I learned through my diplomatic colleagues, von Papen in Vienna and his colleague von Mackensen in Budapest were openly propagating the idea of the dismemberment and final absorption of Czechoslovakia as early as 1935."
Then, skipping a short paragraph, I resume:-
"Immediately after the Nazis came into power, they started a vast rearmament programme. This was one of the primary immediate objectives of the Nazi regime. As a matter of fact, the two immediate objectives of the Nazi regime, when it came into power, had to be, and were, according to their own statements frequently made to me: first, to bring about the complete and absolute establishment of their power over Germany and the German people, so that they would become in every respect willing and capable instruments of the regime to carry through its ends; and second, the establishment of a tremendous armed power within Germany in order that the political and economic programme in South-eastern Europe and in Europe could be carried through by force if necessary, but probably by a threat of force. It was characteristic that, in carrying through this second aim, they emphasised from the very outset the, building of an over-powering Air Force. Goering and Milch often said to me or in my presence that the Nazis had decided to concentrate on air power as the weapon of terror most likely to give Germany a dominant position, and the weapon which could be developed the most rapidly and in the shortest time."
Skipping to the end of that paragraph, and resuming at the next:-
"At the same time that this rearmament was in progress, the Nazi regime took all possible measures to prepare the German people for war in the psychological sense. Throughout Germany, for example, one saw everywhere German youth of all ages engaged in military exercises, drilling, field manoeuvres, practising the throwing of hand grenades, etc.-. In this connection 1 wrote in an official communication in November, 1933, from Berlin as follows. '. Everything that is being done in the country to-day is with the object of making the people believe that Germany is threatened vitally in every aspect of its life by outside influences and by other countries. Everything is being done to use this feeling to stimulate military training and exercises, and innumerable measures are being taken to develop the German people into a hardy, sturdy race which will be able to meet all comers. The military spirit is constantly growing. It cannot be otherwise. The leaders of Germany to-day have no desire for peace, unless it is a peace which the world would make at the expense of complete compliance with German desires and ambitions. Hitler and his associates really and sincerely want peace for the moment, but only to have a chance to get ready to use force if it is found finally essential. They are preparing their way so carefully that there is not, in my mind, any question but that the German people will be with them when they want to use force, and when they feel that they have the necessary means to carry through their objects."
I quote one further sentence:
"Military preparation and psychological preparation were coupled with diplomatic preparation, designed to so disunite and isolate their intended victims amongst the members of the Little Entente as to render them defenceless against German aggression."

[Page 239]

In 1933 the difficulties facing Germany in the political and diplomatic field loomed large. France was the dominant military power on the continent. She had a system of mutual assistance in the West and the East.

The Locarno Pact of 1928, supplemented by the Franco-Belgian alliance, guaranteed the territorial status quo in the West. Yugoslavia, Czechoslovakia and Roumania were allied in the Little Entente and each, in turn, was united with France by Mutual Assistance Pacts. Since 1922, France and Poland likewise had been allied against external aggression. Italy had made plain her special interest in Austrian independence.

Nazi Germany launched a vigorous diplomatic campaign to break up the existing alliances and understandings, to create divisions among the members of the Little Entente and the other Eastern European powers.

Specifically, Nazi Germany countered these alliances with promises of economic gain for co-operating with Germany. To some of these countries she offered extravagant promises of territorial and economic rewards. She offered Corinthia and Austria to Yugoslavia. She offered part of Czechoslovakia to Hungary and part to Poland. She offered Yugoslav territory to Hungary, at the same time that she was offering land in Hungary to Yugoslavia.

As Mr. Messersmith states in his affidavit, that's, document 238S-PS, page 5:-

"Austria and Czechoslovakia were the first on the German programme of aggression. As early as 1934, Germany began to woo neighbours of these countries with the promises of a share in the loot. To Yugoslavia in particular they offered Carinthia. Concerning the Yugoslav reaction, I reported at the time:
'The major factor in the internal situation in the last week has been the increase in tension with respect to the Austrian Nazi refugees in Yugoslavia.. There is very little doubt but that Goering, when he made his trip to various capitals in South-eastern Europe about six months ago, told the Yugoslavs that they would get a part of Carinthia, when a National Socialist Government came into power in Austria.. The Nazi seed sown in Yugoslavia had been sufficient to cause trouble, and there are undoubtedly a good many people there who look with a great deal of benevolence on those Nazi refugees who went to Yugoslavia in the days following July 25.'

Germany made like promises of territorial gains to Hungary and to Poland in order to gain their co- operation or at least their acquiescence in the proposed dismemberment of Czechoslovakia. As I learned from my diplomatic colleagues in Vienna, von Papen and von Mackensen in Vienna and in Budapest in 1935 were spreading the idea of division of Czechoslovakia, in which division Germany was to get Bohemia, Hungary to get Slovakia, and Poland the rest. This did not deceive any of these countries, for they knew that the intention of Nazi Germany was to take all.

The Nazi German Government did not hesitate to make inconsistent promises when it suited its immediate objective. I recall the Yugoslav Minister in Vienna saying to me, in 1934 or 1935, that Germany had made promises to Hungary of Yugoslav territory, while at the same time promising to Yugoslav portions of Hungarian territory. The Hungarian Minister in Vienna later gave me the same information.

I should emphasise 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 lend themselves willingly to the Nazi programme. In an official dispatch to the Department of State from Vienna, dated 10th 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 [Page 240] work more effectively. They are able to sow discord just because they propagate the myth that they are not in sympathy with the regime.'"
I find that last paragraph very important and worthy of emphasis. In other words, Nazi Germany was able to promote these divisions and increase its own aggressive strength by using as its agents in making these promises, men who, on outward appearances, were merely conservative diplomats. It is true that Nazis openly scoffed at any notion of international obligations, as I shall show in a moment. It is true that the real trump in Germany's hand was its rearmament and more than that, its willingness to go to war. And yet the attitude of the various countries was not influenced by these considerations alone.

The fact is that with all these countries, and I suppose it is the same with all persons, we are not always completely rational, we tend to believe what we want to believe, so that if an apparently substantial and conservative person, like defendant von Neurath, for example, is saying these things, one might be apt to believe them, or at least, to act upon that hypothesis. And it would be the more convincing if one were also under the impression that the person involved was not a Nazi and would not stoop to go along with the designs of the Nazis.

Germany's approach toward Great Britain and France was in terms of limited expansion as the price of peace. They signed a naval limitations treaty with England and discussed a Locarno Air Pact. In the case of both France and England, they limited their statement of intentions and harped on fears of Communism and war.

In making these various promises, Germany was untroubled by notions of the sanctity of international obligations. High ranking Nazis, including Goering, Frick and Frank, openly stated to Mr. Messersmith that Germany would observe her international undertakings only so long as it suited her interest to do so.

I quote from the affidavit, document 2385-PS, beginning on the tenth line, page 4 of the English version:-

"High ranking Nazis with whom I had to maintain official contact, particularly men such as Goering, Goebbels, Ley, Frick, Frank, Darre and others, repeatedly scoffed at my attitude towards the binding character of treaties, and openly stated to me that Germany would observe her international undertakings only so long as it suited Germany's interest to do so. Although these statements were openly made to me, as they were, I am sure, made to others, these Nazi leaders were not really disclosing any secret, for on many occasions they expressed the same idea publicly."
France and Italy worked actively in South-eastern Europe to counter Germany's moves.

THE PRESIDENT: Would that be a convenient time to break off?

MR. ALDERMAN: Yes, sir.

THE PRESIDENT: Until 10 o'clock to-morrow morning.

(The Tribunal adjourned until 29th November, 1945, at 1000 hours.)

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