The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)
Nuremberg, war crimes, crimes against humanity

The Trial of German Major War Criminals

Sitting at Nuremberg, Germany
December 3 to December 14, 1945

Eleventh Day: Monday, 3rd December, 1945
(Part 6 of 8)

[MR ALDERMAN continues]

[Page 29]

The Henleinists terrorised the non-Henlein population and the Nazi Gestapo crossed into the border d1stricts to carry Czechoslovak citizens across the border into Germany. In several cases, political foes of the Nazis were murdered on Czech soil. Nazi agents murdered Professor Theodor Lessing in 1933, and Ing. Formis in 1935. Both men were anti-Nazis who had escaped from Germany after Hitler came to power and had sought refuge in Czechoslovakia.

Sometime afterwards, when there was no longer need for pretence and deception, Konrad Henlein made a clear and frank statement of the mission assigned to him by the Nazi conspirators. I offer in evidence Document 2863-PS, an excerpt from a lecture by Konrad Henlein quoted in the book Four Fighting Years, a publication of the Czechoslovak Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and I quote from Page 29. This book has been marked for identification Exhibit USA 92, but without offering it in evidence, I ask the Tribunal to take judicial notice of it. I shall read from Page 29. This lecture was delivered by Henlein on 4th March, 1941, in the auditorium of the University of Vienna, under the auspices of the Wiener Verwaltungsakademie. During a thorough search of libraries in Vienna and elsewhere, we have been unable to find a copy of the German text. This text, this volume that I have here, is an English version. The Vienna newspapers the following day carried only summaries of the lecture. This English version, however, is an official publication of the Czech Government and is under the circumstances, the best evidence that we can produce of the Henlein speech.

In this lecture on "The Fight for the Liberation of the Sudetens" Henlein said:

"National Socialism soon swept over us Sudeten Germans. Our struggle was of a different character from that in Germany. Although we had to behave differently in public we were, of course, secretly in touch with the National Social1st revolution in Germany so that we might be a part of it. The struggle for Greater Germany was waged on Sudeten soil, too. This struggle could be waged only by those inspired by the spirit of National Socialism, persons who were true followers of our Fuehrer, whatever their outward appearance. Fate sought me out to be the leader of the national group in its final struggle. When in the autumn, 1933, the leaders of the N.S.D.A.P. asked me to take over the political leadership of the Sudeten Germans, I had a difficult problem to solve. Should the National Social1st Party continue to be carried on illegally or should the movement, in the interest of the self- preservation of the Sudeten Germans and in order to prepare their return to the Reich, wage its struggle under camouflage and by methods which appeared quite legal to the outside world? For us Sudeten Germans only the second alternative seemed possible, for the preservation of our national group was at stake. It would certainly have been easier to exchange this hard and mentally exhausting struggle for the heroic gesture of confessing allegiance to National Socialism and entering a Czechoslovak prison. But it seemed more than doubtful whether, by this means, we could have fulfilled the political task of destroying Czechoslovakia as a bastion in the alliance against the German Reich."
The account of Nazi intrigue in Czechoslovakia which I have just presented to the Tribunal is the outline of this conspiracy as it had been pieced together by the Czechoslovak Government early this summer. Since then, captured

[Page 30]

documents and other information made available to us since the defeat of Germany have clearly and conclusively demonstrated the implication, which hitherto could only be deduced, of the Nazi conspirators in the agitation in the Sudetenland.

I offer in evidence Document 3060-PS, which will be Exhibit USA 93.This is the original, hand-written draft of a telegram sent from the German Legation in Prague on 16th March, 1938, to the Foreign Minister in Berlin. It is presumably written by the German Minister Eisenlohr. It proves conclusively that the Henlein Movement was an instrument, a puppet of the Nazi conspirators. The Henlein party, it appears from this document, was directed from Berlin and from the German Legation in Prague. It could have no policy of its own. Even the speeches of its leaders had to be co- ordinated with the German authorities.

I will read this telegram:

"Prague, 16th March, 1938

Foreign (Office), Berlin

Cipher Cable (Secret Proced.)
No 57 of 16th March.

With reference to cable order No. 30 of 14th March.

Rebuff to Frank has had a salutary effect. Have thrashed out matters with Henlein, who recently had shunned me, and with Frank separately and received following promises:

1. The line of German Foreign Policy as transmitted by the German Legation is exclusively decisive for policy and tactics of the Sudeten German Party. My directives are to be complied with implicitly.

2. Public speeches and the Press will be co-ordinated uniformly with my approval. The editorial staff of Zeit (Time) is to be improved.

3. Party leadership abandons the former intransigent line which in the end might lead to political complications, and adopts a line of gradual promotion of Sudeten-German interests. The objectives are to be fixed in every case with my participation and to be promoted by parallel diplomatic action. Laws for the protection of nationalities (Volksschutzgesetze) and 'territorial autonomy' are no longer to be stressed.

4. If consultations with Berlin agencies are required or desired before Henlein issues important statements on his programme, they are to be applied for and prepared through the Mission.

5. All information of the Sudeten German Party for German agencies is to be transmitted through the Legation. 6. Henlein will establish contact with me every week, and will come to Prague at any time if requested.

I now hope to have the Sudeten German Party under firm control, as this is more than ever necessary for coming developments in the interest of Foreign Policy. Please inform Ministries concerned and Mittelstelle (Central Office for Racial Germans) and request them to support this uniform direction of the Sudeten German Party."
The initials are illegible.

The dressing down administered by Eisenlohr to Henlein had the desired effect. The day after the telegram was dispatched from Prague, Henlein addressed a humble letter to Ribbentrop, asking for an early personal conversation.

[Page 31]

I offer in evidence Document 2789-PS, as Exhibit USA 94. This is the letter from Konrad Henlein to von Ribbentrop, captured in the German Foreign Office files, dated 17th March, 1938.
"Most honoured Minister of Foreign Affairs:

In our deeply felt joy over the fortunate turn of events in Austria we feel it our duty to express our gratitude to all those who had a share in this new grand achievement of our Fuehrer.

I beg you, most honoured Minister, to accept accordingly the sincere thanks of the Sudeten Germans herewith.

We shall show our appreciation to the Fuehrer by doubled efforts in the service of the Greater German policy.

The new situation requires a re-examination of the Sudeten- German policy. For this purpose I beg to ask you for the opportunity of a very early personal talk.

In view of the necessity of such a clarification I have postponed the nation-wide Party Congress, originally scheduled for 26th and 27th March, 1938, for four weeks.

I would appreciate if the Ambassador, Dr. Eisenlohr, and one of my closest associates be allowed to participate in the requested talks.

Heil Hitler.
Loyally yours,

/s/ Konrad Henlein."

You will note that Henlein was quite aware that the seizure of Austria made possible the adoption of a new policy towards Czechoslovakia. You will also note that he was already in close enough contact with Ribbentrop and the German Minister in Prague to feel free to suggest early personal talks.

Ribbentrop was not unreceptive to Henlein's suggestion. The conversations Henlein had proposed took place in the Foreign Office in Berlin on 29th March, 1938. The previous day Henlein had conferred with Hitler himself.

I offer in evidence Document 2788-PS as Exhibit USA 95, captured German Foreign Office notes of the conference on 29th March. I read the first two paragraphs:

"In this conference the gentlemen enumerated in the enclosed list participated.

The Reichsminister started out by emphasising the necessity to keep the conference which had been scheduled strictly a secret. He then explained, in view of the directives which the Fuehrer himself had given to Konrad Henlein personally the previous afternoon, that there were two questions which were of outstanding importance for the conduct of policy of the Sudeten German Party."

I will omit the discussion of the claims of the Sudeten Germans and resume the minutes of this meeting in the middle of the last paragraph of the first page of the English translation, with the sentence beginning, "The aim of the negotiations."
"The aim of the negotiations to be carried out by the Sudeten German Party with the Czechoslovakian Government is finally this: to avoid entry into the Government by the extension and gradual specification of the demands to be made. It must be emphasised clearly in the negotiations that the Sudeten German Party alone is the

[Page 32]

party to the negotiations with the Czechoslovakian Government, not the Reich Cabinet. The Reich Cabinet itself must refuse to appear toward the Government in Prague or to London and Paris as the advocate or peace-maker of the Sudeten-German demands. It is a self-evident prerequisite that during the impending discussion with the Czechoslovak Government the Sudeten Germans shall be firmly controlled by Konrad Henlein, shall maintain quiet and discipline, and would avoid indiscretions. The assurances already given by Konrad Henlein in this connection were satisfactory.

Following these general explanations of the Reichsminister, the demands of the Sudeten German Party from the Czechoslovak Government, as contained in the enclosure, were discussed and approved in principle. For further co-operation, Konrad Henlein was instructed to keep in the closest possible touch with the Reichsminister and the head of the Central Office for Racial Germans, as well as with the German Minister in Prague, as the local representative of the Foreign Minister, The task of the German Minister in Prague would be to support the demand of the Sudeten German Party as reasonable, not officially, but in more private talks with the Czechoslovak politicians, without exerting any direct influence on the extent of the demands of the party.

In conclusion, there was a discussion whether it would be useful if the Sudeten German Party co-operated with other minorities in Czechoslovakia, especially with the Slovaks. The Foreign Minister decided that the Party should have the discretion to keep a loose contact with other minority groups if the adoption of a parallel course by these should appear appropriate. Berlin, 29th March, 1938, 'R' for Ribbentrop."

Not the least interesting aspect of this secret meeting is the l1st of those who attended: Konrad Henlein; his principal deputy, Karl Hermann Frank, and two others represented the Sudeten German Party. Professor Haushofer, the geopolitician, and S. S . ObergruppenFuehrer Lorenz represented the Volksdeutsche Mittelstelle, the Central Office for Racial Germans. The Foreign Office was represented by a delegation of eight. These eight included Ribbentrop, who presided at the meeting and did most of the talking; von Mackensen; Weizsaecker and Minister Eisenlohr from the German Legation at Prague.

In May, Henlein came to Berlin for more conversations with the Nazi conspirators. At this time the plans for Case Green for the attack on the Czechs were already on paper, and it may be assumed that Henlein was briefed on the role he was to play during the summer months.

I again quote from General Jodl's diary, Document 1780-PS, the entry for 22nd May, 1938: "Fundamental conference between the Fuehrer and K. Henlein (see enclosure)."

The enclosure unfortunately is missing from Jodl's diary.

The Tribunal will recall that in his speech in Vienna, Henlein had admitted that he had been selected by the Nazi conspirators in the fall of 1933 to take over the political leadership of the Sudeten Germans. The documents I have just read show conclusively the nature of Henlein's mission. They demonstrate that Henlein's policy, his propaganda, even his speeches, were controlled by Berlin.

[Page 33]

I will now show that from the year 1935 the Sudeten German Party was secretly subsidised by the German Foreign Office. I offer in evidence Document 3059-PS, Exhibit USA 96, another secret document captured in the German Fo

reign Office file. This memorandum, signed by Wormann and dated Berlin, 19th August, 1938, was occasioned by the request of the Henlein Party for additional funds. I read from that document:

"The Sudeten German Party has been subsidised by the Foreign Office regularly since 1935 with certain amounts, cons1sting of a monthly payment of 15,000 marks; 12,000 marks of this are transmitted to the Prague Legation for disbursement and 3,000 marks are paid out to the Berlin representation of the party (Bureau Burger). In the course of the last few months the tasks assigned to the Bureau Burger have increased considerably, due to the current negotiations with the Czech Government. The number of pamphlets and maps which are produced and disseminated has risen; the propaganda activity in the Press has grown immensely; the expense accounts have increased especially, because, due to the necessity for continuous good information, the expenses for trips to Prague, London and Paris (including the financing of travels of Sudeten, German deputies and agents) have grown considerably heavier. Under these conditions the Bureau Burger is no longer able to get along with the monthly allowance Of 3,000 marks to 5,500 marks. In view of the considerable increase in the business transacted by the Bureau, and of the importance which marks the activity of the Bureau in regard to the co-operation with the Foreign Office, this desire deserves the strongest support.

Herewith submitted to the Personnel Dept. with a request for approval. It is requested to increase the payments with retroactive effect from 1st August.

Signed Wormann."

And under this signature is a footnote:
"Volksdeutsche Mittelstelle - Central Office for Racial Germans - will be informed by the Political Department" - hand- written marginal note.
We may only conjecture what financial support the Henlein Movement received from other agencies of the German Government.

As the military preparations to attack Czechoslovakia moved forward in the late summer and early fall, the Nazi command made good use of Henlein and his followers. About 1st August, the Air Attache in the German Legation in Prague, Major Merrecke, acting on instructions from Luftwaffe Headquarters in Berlin, visited the Sudeten German leader in Freudenthal. With his ass1stance and in the company of the local leader of the F.S., the Henlein equivalent of the S.S., he reconnoitred the surrounding countryside to select possible airfield sites for German use. The F.S. leader, a Czech reserv1st then on leave, was in the uniform of the Czech Army, a fact which, as the Attache noted, served as excellent camouflage.

I now read from the enclosure to Document 1536-PS, which I offered in evidence earlier and which will be Exhibit USA 83. I have already read the first four paragraphs of the enclosure.

"The manufacturer M. is the head of the Sudeten German Glider Pilots in Fr. (Freudenthal) and said to be absolutely reliable by my trusted man. My personal impression fully confirmed this judgement. No hint of my identity was given to him, although I had the impression that M. knew who I was.

[Page 34]

At my request, with which he complied without any question, M. travelled with me over the country in question. We used M.'s private car for the trip.As M. did not know the country around Beneschau sufficiently well, he took with him the local leader of the F.S., a Czech reserv1st of the Sudeten German Racial Group, at the time on leave. He was in uniform. For reasons of camouflage, I was entirely in agreement with this-without actually saying so.

As M., during the course of the drive, observed that I photographed large open spaces from the car, he said, 'Aha, so you are looking for airfields!' I answered that we supposed that in the case of any serious trouble, the Czechs would put their airfields immediately behind the line of fortifications. I had the intention of looking over the country from that point of view."

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