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

Thirteenth Day: Wednesday, 5th December, 1945
(Part 7 of 8)


[Page 124]

Now the next document, which is on the next page, is British Document TC-28, which I hand in as Exhibit GB 22. And that is an Assurance of the 26th September, 1938, which Hitler gave to Czechoslovakia, and again the Tribunal will check my memory; I do not think that Mr. Alderman read this document.

THE PRESIDENT: No, I do not recall it.

SIR DAVID MAXWELL FYFE: If he did not, the Tribunal ought to have it before them, because it contains very important points as to the alleged governing principle of getting Germans back to the Reich, on which the Nazi conspirators purported for a considerable time to rely. It said:-

"I have little to explain. I am grateful to Mr. Chamberlain for all his efforts, and I have assured him that the German people want nothing but peace; but I have also told him that I cannot go back beyond the limits of our patience."
The Tribunal will remember this is between the Godesberg Treaty meeting and the Munich Pact:-
"I assured him, moreover, and I repeat it here, that when this problem is solved there will be no more territorial problems for Germany in Europe. And I further assured him that from the moment when Czechoslovakia solves its other problems, that is to say, when the Czechs have come to an arrangement with their other minorities peacefully, and without oppression, I will no longer be interested in the Czech State. And that, as far as I am concerned, I will guarantee it. We do not want any Czechs. But I must also declare before the German people that in the Sudeten- German problem my patience is now at an end. I made an offer to M. Benes which was no more than the realisation of what he had already promised. He now has peace or war in his hands. Either he will accept this offer and at length give the Germans their freedom, or we shall get this freedom for ourselves."
Less than six months before the 15th March, Hitler was saying in the most violent terms, that "He did not want any Czechs." The Tribunal has heard it said by my friend Mr. Alderman this morning. The last document which I shall ask to put in, which I now ask the Tribunal to take notice of, and hand in is Exhibit GB 23, which is the British Document TC-23 and a copy of

[Page 125]

the Munich Agreement Of 29th September, 1938. That was signed by Hitler, the late Neville Chamberlain, M. Daladier and Mussolini, and it is largely a procedural agreement by which the entry of German troops into Sudeten-German territory is regulated. That is shown by the preliminary clause: "Germany, the United Kingdom, France and Italy " taking into consideration the agreement, which has been already reached in principle, for the cession to Germany of the Sudeten-German territory as agreed on the following terms and conditions governing the said cession and the measures consequent thereon, and by this agreement they each hold themselves responsible for the steps necessary to secure fulfilment."

And I do not think, unless the Tribunal wants it, I need go through the steps. In Article 4, it states that:

"The occupation by stages of the predominantly German territory by German troops will begin on the 1st October. The four territories marked on the attached map," and in article 6, "The final determination of the frontiers will be carried out by the international commission."
And it provides also that there is the right of option and the release from the forces the Czech forces of Sudeten Germans.

That was what Hitler was asking for in the somewhat rhetorical passage which I have just read out, and it will be observed that there is an annex to the Agreement which is most significant.

"Annex to the Agreement.

His Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom and the French Government have entered into the above Agreement on the basis that they stand by the offer contained in Paragraph 6 of the Anglo-French Proposal of the 19th September, relating to an international guarantee of the new boundaries of the Czechoslovak State against unprovoked aggression.

When the question of the Polish and Hungarian minorities in Czechoslovakia has been settled, Germany and Italy, for their part, will give a guarantee to Czechoslovakia."

"The Polish and Hungarian minorities," not the question of Slovakia which the Tribunal heard this morning. That is why Mr. Alderman submitted, and I respectfully joined him in his submission, that the action of the 15th March was a flagrant violation of the letter and spirit of that Agreement.

That, my Lord, is the part of the case which I desired to present.

THE PRESIDENT: We will now recess for ten minutes.


(A recess was taken.)

LIEUTENANT-COLONEL GRIFFITH-JONES: May it please the Tribunal, Count 2 of the Indictment charges participation in the planning, the preparation, the initiation and waging of various wars of aggression, and it charges that those wars are also in breach of international treaties. It is our purpose now to present to the Tribunal the evidence in respect of those aggressive wars against Poland and against the United Kingdom and France.

Under Paragraph B. of the particulars to that Count 2, reference is made to Count I in the Indictment for the allegations charging that those wars were wars of aggression, and Count I also sets out the particulars of the preparations and planning for those wars, and in particular those allegations will be found in Paragraph F-4. But, my Lord, with the Tribunal's approval

[Page 126]

I would propose first to deal with the allegations of breach of treaties which are mentioned in Paragraph C. of the particulars, and of which the details are set out in Appendix C. The section of Appendix C. which relates to the war against Poland is Section 2, which charges a violation of the Hague Convention in respect of the pacific settlement of international disputes, on which Sir David has already addressed the Court, and I do not propose, with the Court's approval, to say more than that.

Section 3 of Appendix C. and Section 4 charges breaches of the other Hague Conventions of 1907. Section 5 (Subsection 4) charges a breach of the Versailles Treaty in respect of the Free City of Danzig, and Section 13 a breach of the Kellogg-Briand Pact.

All those have already been dealt with by Sir David Maxwell Fyfe, and it remains, therefore, for me only to deal with two other sections of Appendix C Section 10, which charges a breach of the Arbitration Treaty between Germany and Poland, signed at Locarno on the 16th October, 1925, and Section 15 Of Appendix C., which charges a violation of the Declaration of Non-Aggression which was entered into between Germany and Poland on the 26th January, 1934.

If the Tribunal would take Part I of the British document book No. 2, I will describe in a moment how the remaining parts are divided. The document book is divided into six parts. The Tribunal will look at Part I for the moment. The document books which have been handed to the defence counsel are in exactly the same order, except that they are bound in one and not in six separate covers, in which the Tribunal's documents are bound for convenience.

The German-Polish Arbitration Treaty, the subject of Section 10 of Appendix C. is Document TC-15 and it is the end document in the book. It has already been put in under the number GB 16.

My Lord, I would quote the preamble and Articles I and 2 from that Treaty.


Equally resolved to maintain peace between Germany and Poland by assuring the peaceful settlement of differences which might arise between the two countries;

Declaring that respect for the rights established by treaty or resulting from the law of nations is obligatory for international tribunals;

Agreeing to recognise that the rights of a State cannot be modified save with its consent;

And considering that sincere observance of the methods of peaceful settlement of international disputes permits of resolving, without recourse to force, questions which may become the cause of division between States;

Have decided ."

Then going on to Article I:
"All disputes of every kind between Germany and Poland with regard to which the Parties are in conflict as to their respective rights, and which it may not be possible to settle amicably by the normal methods of diplomacy, shall be submitted for decision either to an arbitral tribunal or to the Permanent Court of International justice, as laid down hereafter."

[Page 127]

I go straight to Article 2:-
"Before any resort is made to arbitral procedure before the Permanent Court of International Justice, the dispute may, by agreement between the Parties, be submitted, with a view to amicable settlement, to a permanent international commission, styled the Permanent Conciliation Commission, constituted in accordance with the present Treaty."
Thereafter the Treaty goes on to lay down the procedure for arbitration and for conciliation.

THE PRESIDENT: It is in the same terms, is it not, as the arbitration treaty between Germany and Czechoslovakia and Germany and Belgium?

LIEUTENANT-COLONEL GRIFFITH-JONES: Well - yes, it is, my Lord, both signed at Locarno.


LIEUTENANT-COLONEL GRIFFITH-JONES: The wording, however, of the charge in Section 10, it will be noted, is that Germany did, on or about the 1st September, 1939, unlawfully attack and invade Poland without having first attempted to settle its disputes with Poland by peaceful means.

The only other treaty to which I refer, the German-Polish Declaration of the 26th January, 1934, will be found as the last document in Part 1 of the Tribunal's document book, which is the subject of Section 10 of Appendix C.

"The German Government and the Polish Government" - This, of course, was signed on the 26th January, 1934.

"The German Government and the Polish Government consider that the time has come to introduce a new era in the political relations between Germany and Poland by a direct understanding between the States. They have therefore decided to establish by the present declaration a basis for the future shaping of those relations.

The two Governments assume that the maintenance and assurance of a permanent peace between their countries is an essential condition for general peace in Europe."

THE PRESIDENT: Do you think it is necessary to read all this? We are taking judicial notice of it.

LIEUTENANT- COLONEL GRIFFITH-JONES: I am very much obliged. I am willing to shorten this, if I can.

In view of what is later alleged by the Nazi Government, I will particularly draw attention to the last paragraph in that declaration:

"The declaration shall remain in effect for a period of ten years counting from the day of exchange of instruments of ratification. In case it is not denounced by one of the two governments six months before the expiration of that period of time, it shall continue in effect, but can then be denounced by either government after six months and at any time six months in advance."
My Lord, I pass then from the breach of treaties to present to the Court the evidence upon the planning and preparation of these wars, and in support of the allegations that they were wars of aggression. For convenience, as I say, the documents have been divided into separate parts and if the Tribunal would look at the index, the total index to their documents, which is a separate book, on the front page it will be seen how these documents have been divided. Part 1 is the "Treaties"; Part 2 is entitled "Evidence of German Intentions Prior to March, 1939." It might perhaps be more accurately

[Page 128]

described as "Pre-March, 1939, Evidence", and it will be with that part that I would now deal.

It has been put to the Tribunal that the actions against Austria and Czechoslovakia were in themselves part of the preparation for further aggression, and I now - dealing with the early history of this matter - wish to draw the Court's particular attention only to those parts of the evidence which show that even at that time, before the Germans had seized the whole of Czechoslovakia, they were perfectly prepared to fight England, Poland and France, if necessary, to achieve those aims; that they appreciated the whole time that they might well have to do so. And, what is more, that, although not until after March, 1939, did they begin their immediate and specific preparations for a specific war against Poland, nevertheless, they had, for a considerable time before, had it in mind specifically to attack Poland, once Czechoslovakia was completely theirs.

During this period also - and this happens throughout the whole story of the Nazi regime in Germany - as afterwards, while they are making their preparations and carrying out their plans, they are giving to the outside world assurance after assurance so as to lull them out of any suspicion of their real object.

The dates - as I think the Attorney General said, addressing you yesterday - the dates in this case, almost more than the documents, speak for themselves. The documents in this book are arranged in the order in which I will refer to them, and the first that I would refer to is Document TC-70, which will go in as GB 25.

It is only interesting to see what Hitler said of the agreement with Poland when it was signed in January, 1934.

"When I took over the Government on the 30th January, the relations between the two countries seemed to me more than unsatisfactory. There was a danger that the existing differences which were due to the territorial Clauses of the Treaty of Versailles, and the mutual tension resulting therefrom, would gradually crystallise into a state of hostility which, if persisted in, might too easily acquire the character of a dangerous traditional enmity."
I go down to the last paragraph:-
"In the spirit of this Treaty the German Government is willing and prepared to cultivate economic relations with Poland in such a way that here, too, the state of unprofitable suspicion can be succeeded by a period of useful co-operation. It is a matter of particular satisfaction to us that in this same year the National Socialist Government of Danzig has been enabled to effect a similar clarification of its relations with its Polish neighbour."
That was in 1934. Three years later, again on the 30th January, speaking in the Reichstag, Hitler said - this is Document PS-2368, which will be GB 26. I will, if I may, avoid so far as possible repeating passages which the Attorney General quoted in his speech the other day. The first paragraph, in fact, he quoted to the Tribunal. It is a short paragraph but perhaps I might read it now, but I will, dealing with this evidence, so far as possible avoid repetition - Hitler said, on that occasion:
"By a series of agreements we have eliminated existing tension and thereby contributed considerably to an improvement in the European

[Page 129]

atmosphere. I merely recall an agreement with Poland which has worked out to the advantage of both sides. True statesmanship will not overlook realities but consider them. The Italian nation and the new Italian State are realities. The German nation and the German Reich are equally realities, and to my own fellow citizens I would say that the Polish nation and the Polish State have also become a reality."
That was on the 30th January, 1937.

On the 24th June, 1937, we have a "Top Secret Order ", C- 175, which has already been put in as Exhibit USA 69. It is a "Top Secret Order" issued by the Reich Minister for War and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, signed "von Blomberg". There is at the top, "Written by an Officer. Outgoing documents in connection with this matter and dealing with it in principle are to be written by an officer." So it is obviously highly secret, and with it is enclosed a Directive for the Unified Preparation for War of the Armed Forces to come into force on the 1st August, 1937. The directive enclosed with it is divided into Part 1, "General Guiding Principle"; Part 2, "Likely Warlike Eventualities"; Part 3, "Special Preparations".

The Tribunal will remember that the Attorney General quoted the opening passages. The general position justifies the supposition that Germany need not consider an attack from any side.

It goes on - the second paragraph:

"The intention to unleash a European war is held just as little by Germany. Nevertheless, the politically fluid world situation, which does not preclude surprising incidents, demands a continuous preparedness for war of the German Armed Forces.

To counter attacks at any time, and to enable the military exploitation of politically favourable opportunities should they occur."

It then goes on to set out the preparations which are to he made, and I would particularly draw the Tribunal's attention to paragraph 2b:
"The further working on mobilisation without public announcement, in order to put the Armed Forces in a position to begin a war suddenly and by surprise both as regards strength and time."
On the next page, under Paragraph 4:
"Special preparations are to be made for the following eventualities:
Armed intervention against Austria; warlike entanglement with Red Spain."
Thirdly, and this shows so clearly how they appreciated at that time that their actions against Austria and Czechoslovakia might well involve them in war, "England, Poland, Lithuania take part in a war against us."

If the Tribunal would turn over to Part 2 of that directive, Page 5 of that document: "Probable warlike eventualities-


1. War on two fronts with focal point in the West.

Suppositions. In the West, France is the opponent. Belgium may side with France, either at once, or later, or not at all. It is also possible that France may violate Belgium's neutrality if the latter is neutral. She will certainly violate that of Luxembourg."

I pass to Part 3, which will be found on Page 9 of that exhibit, and I particularly refer to the last paragraph on that page under the heading "Special Case-Extension Red- Green." It will he remembered that Red was Spain and Green was Czechoslovakia.

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