The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

The Trial of German Major War Criminals

Sitting at Nuremberg, Germany
7th January to 19th January, 1946

Thirtieth Day: Wednesday, January 9th, 1946
(Part 2 of 10)


[Page 95]

The next document, which is D-656, is a new document which I put in as Exhibit GB 148. That was captured from the Japanese, and it is a message, intercepted, which was sent by the Japanese Ambassador in Berlin just before the attack on the United States. If I might just read one short extract from this defendant's speech - on the 29th November, 1941, that is, roughly, a week before Pearl Harbour, Ribbentrop was saying this. It is in paragraph 1, and I will read it all because it is new:
"Ribbentrop opened our meeting by again inquiring whether I had received any reports regarding the Japanese-United States negotiations. I replied that I had received no official word.

Ribbentrop: 'It is essential that Japan effect the New Order in East Asia without losing this opportunity. There never has been and probably never will be a time when closer co-operation under the Tripartite Pact is so important. If Japan hesitates at this time and Germany goes ahead and establishes her European New Order, all the military might of Britain and the United States will be concentrated against Japan.

As the Fuehrer said to-day, there are fundamental differences between Germany and Japan, and the United States, as to their very right to exist. We have received advice to the effect that there is practically no hope of the Japanese-United States negotiations being concluded successfully, because of the fact that the United States is putting up a stiff front.

If this is indeed the fact of the case, and if Japan reaches a decision to fight Britain and the United States, I am confident that that will not only be to the interest of Germany and Japan jointly, but would bring about favourable results for Japan herself.'

Then the Ambassador replied:

'I can make no definite statement, as I am not aware of any concrete intentions of Japan. Is Your Excellency indicating that a state of actual war is to be established between Germany and the United States?'

The defendant Ribbentrop: 'Roosevelt is a fanatic, so it is impossible to tell what he would do.'

Then: 'Concerning this point, in view of the fact that Ribbentrop has said in the past that the United States would undoubtedly try to avoid meeting German troops, and from the tone of Hitler's recent speech, as well

[Page 96]

as that of Ribbentrop's, I feel that the German attitude toward the United States is being considerably stiffened. There are indications at present that Germany would not refuse to fight the United States if necessary."
Then the next part, Section 2, is an extremely optimistic prognosis of the war against the Soviet Union. I do not think, in view of the date in which we are reading it, that I need trouble the Tribunal with that.

There are then a few remarks about the intended landing operations against England, which I shall not read at this time.

If the Tribunal would go to Part III, there again we get the international attitude of mind of this defendant - at the foot of Page 2, Part III, and I am quoting:

"In any event, Germany has absolutely no intention of entering into any peace with England. We are determined to remove all British influence from Europe. Therefore, at the end of this war, England will have no influence whatsoever in international affairs. The Island Empire of Britain may remain, but all of her other possessions throughout the world will probably be divided three ways by Germany, the United States and Japan. In Africa, Germany will be satisfied with, roughly, those parts which were formerly German colonies. Italy will be given the greater share of the African colonies. Germany desires, above all else, to control European Russia."
And, after hearing this defendant, the Ambassador said, and I quote:
"I am fully aware of the fact that Germany's war campaign is progressing according to schedule, smoothly. However, suppose that Germany is faced with the situation of having not only Great Britain as an actual enemy, but also having all of those areas in which Britain has influence and those countries which have been aiding Britain as actual enemies as well. Under such circumstances, the war area will undergo considerable expansion, of course. What is your opinion of the outcome of the war under such an eventuality?"
The defendant Ribbentrop:
"We would like to end this war during next year" - that is, 1942. "However, under certain circumstances, it is possible that it will have to be continued on the following year. Should Japan become engaged in a war against the United States" -
THE PRESIDENT: You are going a little bit too fast.

SIR DAVID MAXWELL FYFE: If your Lordship pleases. I am sorry. I will go back to the paragraph I have just finished.

The defendant Ribbentrop - and I am still quoting:

"We would like to end this war during next year. However, under certain circumstances it is possible that it will have to be continued into the following year.

Should Japan become engaged in a war against the United States, Germany, of course, would join the war immediately. There is absolutely no possibility of Germany's entering into a separate peace with the United States under such circumstances. The Fuehrer is determined on that point."

That document associates this defendant in the closest possible way with the aggression by Japan against the United States.

Another new document, which is also an intercepted Japanese diplomatic message, is the next one, D-657, which I put in as Exhibit GB 149. If I might read the first two sentences, they show what it is - and I quote:

"The Japanese Ambassador says: 'At 1 p.m. to-day - the 8th December - I called on Foreign Minister Ribbentrop and told him our wish was to have Germany and Italy issue formal declarations of war on America

[Page 97]

at once. Ribbentrop replied that Hitler was then in the midst of a conference at general headquarters, discussing how the formalities of declaring war could be carried out so as to make a good impression on the German people, and that he would transmit your wish to him at once and do whatever he was able to have it carried out promptly. At that time Ribbentrop told me that on the morning of the 8th' - that is, before the declaration of war - 'Hitler issued orders to the entire German Navy to attack American ships whenever and wherever they might meet them.'

It goes without saying that this is only for your secret information."

Then, as a matter of fact, as the Tribunal are aware, on the 11th December, 1941, the defendant Ribbentrop, in the name of the German Government, announced a state of war between Germany and the United States.

The next stage concerns his attempt to get Japan to attack the Soviet Union.

In Ribbentrop's conversations with Oshima, the Japanese Ambassador, in July, 1942, and in March and April, 1943, he continued to urge Japanese participation and aggression against the Soviet Union. This is shown in Document 2911-PS, which has been put in as Exhibit USA 157 and already read, and Document 2954-PS, which I now put in as Exhibit GB 150. That is a new document, and if I may I will just indicate the effect of it by a very short quotation. This is a discussion between the defendant Ribbentrop and Ambassador Oshima. It begins:

"Ambassador Oshima declared that he has received a telegram from Tokyo, and he is to report, by order of his Government, to the Reich Minister for Foreign Affairs the following:

The suggestion of the German Government to attack Russia was the subject of a common conference between the Japanese Government and the Imperial Headquarters, during which the question was discussed in detail and investigated exactly. The result is the following: The Japanese Government recognises absolutely the danger which threatens from Russia and completely understands the desire of its German ally that Japan on her part will also enter the war against Russia. However, it is not possible for the Japanese Government, considering the present war situation, to enter into the war. It is rather of the conviction that it would be in the common interest not to start the war against Russia now. On the other hand, the Japanese Government would never disregard the Russian question."

And then, in the middle of the next paragraph, this defendant returns to the attack. The third sentence - it begins on the fourth line - says:
"However, it would be more correct that all the powers, allied in the Three Power Pact, should combine their forces to defeat England and America, but also, Russia together. It is not good when one part must fight alone."
Then the pressure on Japan to attack Russia is shown again in the next document, 2929-PS, which was put in as Exhibit USA 159. And, in closing this part of the case, if I may, I will read that. It is very short.
"The Reichsminister for Foreign Affairs then stressed again that without any doubt this year presented the most favourable opportunity for Japan, if she felt strong enough and had sufficient anti-tank weapons at her disposal, to attack Russia, who certainly would never again be as weak as she is at the moment" - the moment being 18th April, 1943.
If the Tribunal please, that concludes my evidence on the second allegation dealing with aggressive war, and I submit that the allegation in the Indictment is more than amply proved.

The third allegation is that the defendant Ribbentrop authorised, directed or participated in War Crimes and Crimes against Humanity.

Of course, I am considering this from the point of view of planning these crimes only. The execution of the crimes will be dealt with by my friends,

[Page 98]

my Soviet colleagues, but it is relevant to show how this defendant participated in the planning of such crimes.

I deal, first, with the killing of Allied aviators; secondly, with the destruction of peoples in Europe; and thirdly, with the persecution of the Jews.

First, the killing of Allied aviators:

With the increasing air raids on German cities in 1944 by the Allied Air Forces, the German Government proposed to undertake a plan to deter Anglo-American fliers from further raids on the Reich cities. In a report of a meeting at which a definite policy was to be established, there is stated what was the point of view that this defendant Ribbentrop had been urging. That is in Document 735-PS, which I now put in as Exhibit GB 151. That is a discussion of a meeting at the Fuehrer's Headquarters on the 6th June, 1944. If I may, I will read the first paragraph:

"Obergruppenfuehrer Kaltenbrunner informed the Deputy Chief of W.F.S.T. in Klessheim, on the afternoon of the 6th June, that a conference on this question had been held shortly before between the Reich Marshal, the defendant Goering; the Reich Foreign Minister, the defendant von Ribbentrop; and the Reichsfuehrer S.S. Himmler. Contrary to the original suggestion made by the Reich Foreign Minister, who wished to include every type of terror attack on the German civilian population, that is, also bombing attacks on cities, it was agreed in the above conference that only strafing attacks, aimed directly at the civilian population and their property, should be taken as the standard for the evidence of a criminal action in this sense. Lynch law would have to be the rule. There was, however, no question of trial by court martial or handing over to the police."
That is to say, this defendant was pressing that even where there was an attack on a German city, the airmen should be handed over to be lynched by the crowd. The others were saying that such action should be restricted to cases where there were attacks by machine guns, and the like, on the civilian population.

I do not think we need trouble with paragraph (a) of the statement of the Deputy Chief of W.F.S.T. The importance of (a) goes because Kaltenbrunner says that there were no such cases as were mentioned.

If you look at (b):

"Deputy Chief of the W.F.S.T. mentioned that, apart from lynch law, a procedure must be worked out for segregating those enemy aviators who are suspected of criminal action of this kind, until they are received into the reception camp for aviators at Oberursel; if the suspicion were confirmed, they would be handed over to the S.D. for special treatment."
As I understand that, it means that if they were not lynched under the first scheme, by the crowd, then they were to be kept apart from prisoners of war, where they would, of course, be subject to the Protecting Powers' intervention. And if the suspicion were confirmed, they would be handed over to the S.D. to be killed.

Then, in paragraph 3, we have what was decided as justifying the lynch law. Paragraph 3 says:

"At a conference with Colonel von Brauchitsch, representing the C.-in-C., Air Force, on the 6th June, it was settled that the following actions were to be regarded as terror actions justifying lynch law:

Low-level attacks with machine-guns on the civilian population, single persons as well as crowds.

Shooting our own men in the air who had baled out.

Attacks with aircraft armament on passenger trains in the public service.

[Page 99]

Attacks with machine-guns on military hospitals, hospitals, and hospital trains, which are clearly marked with the Red Cross."
These were to be the subject of lynching and not, as this defendant had suggested, cases where there was merely the bombing of a city.

Then on the next page, the last page of this document, We have a somewhat curious comment from the defendant Keitel:

"Remarks by the Chief of the O.K.W. on the agenda dated 6th June, 1944."
The number thereon is that of the document at which the Tribunal has just been looking.
"Most secret; Staff Officers only.

If one allows the people to carry out lynch law, it is difficult to enforce rules.

Ministerial direktor Berndt got out and shot the enemy aviator on the road. I am against legal procedure. It does not work out."

That is signed by Keitel.

Then the remarks of the defendant Jodl appear:

"This conference is insufficient. The following points must be decided quite definitely in conjunction with the Foreign Office:

1. What do we consider as murder?
Is R.R. in agreement with point 3 (b)?
2. How should the procedure be carried out?

(a) By the people?
(b) By the authorities?
3. How can we guarantee that the procedure be not also carried out against other enemy aviators?
4. Should some legal procedure be arranged or not?

Signed Jodl."

It is important, I respectfully submit, to note that this defendant and the Foreign Office were fully aware of these breaches of the laws and usages of war, and indeed the clarity with which the Foreign Office perceives that there were breaches of laws and usages of war is furthered by the next document-728-PS, which I now put in as Exhibit GB 152. That is a document from the Foreign Office, approved of by the defendant Ribbentrop and transmitted by one of his officials called Ritter; and the fact that it is approved by this defendant is specifically stated in the next document, 740-PS, which I put in as Exhibit GB 153. I do not think this document has been read before, and therefore, again, I would like to read just one or two passages in it. It begins:
"In spite of the obvious objections, based on International Law and foreign politics, the Foreign Office is basically in agreement with the proposed measures.

In the examination of the individual cases, a distinction must be made between the cases of lynching and the cases of special treatment by the Security Service (S.D.).

1. In the cases of lynching, the precise establishment of the circumstances deserving punishment, according to points 1-4 of the communication of 15th June, is not very essential. First, the German authorities are not directly responsible, since death will have occurred before a German official became concerned with the case. Furthermore, the accompanying circumstances will be such that it will not be difficult to depict the case in an appropriate manner upon publication. Hence, in cases of lynching, it will be of primary importance correctly to handle the individual cases upon publication.

[Page 100]

2. The suggested procedure for special treatment by the S.D. (Security Service), including subsequent publication, would be tenable only if Germany, on this occasion, would openly at the time repudiate the commitments of International Law, presently in force, and still recognised by Germany. When an enemy aviator is seized by the Army or by the Police, and is delivered to the Air Forces (P.W.) Reception Camp, Oberursel, he has received, by this very fact, the legal status of a prisoner of war.

The Prisoner of War Agreement of 27th July, 1929, establishes definite rules on the prosecution and sentencing of prisoners of war, and the execution of the death penalty, as for example in Article 66: Death sentences may be carried out only three months after the Protective Power has been notified of the sentence; in Article 63: A prisoner of war will be tried only by the same courts and under the same procedure as members of the German armed forces. These rules are so specific that it would be futile to try to cover up any violation of them by clever wording of the publication of an individual incident. On the other hand, the Foreign Office cannot recommend, on this occasion, a formal repudiation of the Prisoner of War Agreement.

An emergency solution would be to prevent suspected fliers from ever attaining a legal prisoner of war status; that is, that immediately upon seizure they be told that they are not considered prisoners of war, but criminals, that they would not be turned over to the agencies having jurisdiction over prisoners of war; that, therefore, they would not go to a prisoner of war camp; but that they would be tried in a summary procedure. If the evidence at the trial should reveal that the special procedure is not applicable to a particular case, the fliers concerned may subsequently be given the status of prisoner of war by transfer to the Air Forces (P.W.) Reception Camp, Oberursel.

Naturally, not even this expedient will prevent the possibility of Germany being accused of the violation of existing treaties or even the adoption of reprisals upon German prisoners of war. At any rate, this solution would enable us clearly to define our attitude, thus relieving us of the necessity of openly having to renounce the present agreements or of the need of having to use excuses, which no one would believe, upon the publication of each individual case."

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