The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Fifty-Sixth Day: Monday,11th February, 1946
(Part 3 of 14)


In his next customary speech after the defeat of Poland, before the Reichstag on 6th October, Hitler reassured Yugoslavia of his love of peace and of his friendly attitude in the following words:

"After the annexation had taken place, I assured Yugoslavia as before that her frontier with this country shall be regarded as inviolable by Germany from this moment on, and that we want to live in peace and friendship with her."

[Page 227]

I am now going to read into the record a few paragraphs from sub-paragraph 2 of the first section of the report of the Yugoslav State Commission for the Investigation of the Crimes Perpetrated by the Aggressors.

The excerpts in question begin with paragraph 3, on Page 6 of Exhibit USSR 36, and are marked, for your convenience, with a red line. In your document book it is Volume I, Section I:

"Thus, Hitler regularly gave assurances about friendly relations with Yugoslavia and about the inviolability of her boundaries while, at the same time, his band of conspirators and enslavers were already tightening the ring of war around Yugoslavia. When Yugoslavia was completely surrounded by Hitler's armoured divisions, and when the Government of the Centralist Fifth Column of Prince Paul, Cvetcovic, and Macek was ready to join the Tripartite Pact on 25th March, 1941, i.e., 10 days before the attack on Yugoslavia, the defendant Ribbentrop stated as follows" -- on Page 413 of your document book you will find Document 2450-PS: "Germany herself -- and I solemnly state this -- has neither territorial nor political interests in this region."
The Tribunal has already been handed a certified extract from Document 72 of the above-mentioned German book.

An official note from the Reich Government, of the same date, reads as follows -- you will find this on Page 415 of the document book:

"M. Prime Minister: On behalf and on the direction of the German Government, I have the honor to report to Your Excellency as follows:

In connection with to-day's adherence of Yugoslavia to the Tripartite Pact, the German Government affirms its resolution to respect at all times the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Yugoslavia....

Signed, Joachim von Ribbentrop." (See Document 2450- PS.)

The culminating point in the execution of the breach of faith so cunningly prepared by the Fascists is the following statement made by Hitler on 6th April, 1941, that is, at the moment when the perfidious and treacherous attack on Yugoslavia had already begun. It is under Document 92-TC -- in your book of documents, on Page 414.
"The German people feel no hatred towards the Serbian people. Above all, the German people see no reason to start a war against the Croats and Slovenes; they want nothing from them."
Certified excerpts have been handed to the Tribunal from the documents of the German book already quoted on Pages 1 and 4.

Even while Hitler was speaking in this manner, the occupation, annexation, and dismemberment of the Yugoslav State was already taking place; soon after began the bombing of undefended cities, towns and settlements; forcible evictions; deportations to camps; punitive expeditions; and hundreds of other acts that were a part of the planned extermination of the Yugoslav people, which resulted in the death of 1,650,000 Yugoslav men, women, and children.

On the question of the preparation for the attack on Yugoslavia and the individuals who directly supervised this crime, we have at our disposal two very valuable pieces of evidence.

The first is the original affidavit of the German General Loehr. Prior to and at the time o the aggression against Yugoslavia, he was in command of the 4th Air Force. It was precisely his air units which carried out the raids on Belgrade. He is undoubtedly a man well acquainted with the course of operations and its leaders.

On 24th May, 1945, General Loehr was taken prisoner by the Yugoslav forces. During interrogations to which he was subjected between 24th May and 6th June, 1945, he states (you will find the respective excerpts on Page 416,

[Page 228]

as excerpts from our Document USSR 253. We submit the originals of these excerpts to the Tribunal:

"I and my staff went on March 26 to Sofia, as the campaign against Greece was about to begin.

On the following day, 27th March, 1941, the coup d'etat took place in Yugoslavia. I was called unexpectedly to Berlin, where I received orders from Reichsmarshal Goering to prepare for air operations against Yugoslavia.

After this, preparations against Yugoslavia were begun. At my first meeting with Goering I was not told of the date of the war against Yugoslavia, but it was to begin soon afterwards. At Vienna, I received a written order in which the commencement of the operations was fixed for 6th April."

Passing over the rest of the statement, I proceed to read into the record excerpts from the minutes of the interrogation of the former Field Marshal of the German Army, Friedrich Paulus. In accordance with the wish of the Tribunal, we submit the original of this interrogation.

Friedrich Paulus was interrogated on 12th January, 1946, by the chief prosecutors of the U.S.S.R. His testimony is registered with us as Exhibit USSR 182. You will find the passage quoted on Page 419 of your document book. My colleagues of the Soviet Delegation will probably revert to this document when dealing with subsequent matters. I shall therefore merely quote that part which refers to the preparation for the attack on Yugoslavia.

"It was clear to both German and Hungarian officers that these military preparations must have been based on the preparation of military collaboration between Germany and Hungary."
THE PRESIDENT: Colonel Pokrovsky, the Tribunal understand that the first interrogatory to which you refer -- General Loehr's -- which is contained in Exhibit USSR 253, is an official document?


THE PRESIDENT: The official document of your Government. The other interrogatory to which you refer, of Field Marshal Paulus, is not an official document, is it?

COL. POKROVSKY: The minutes of the interrogation of Field Marshal Paulus have been compiled in compliance with all legal standards of procedure applying to such interrogations by judicial organisations in the U.S.S.R. He is interrogated as a witness with the warning that he must tell the truth, in accordance with Articles 95 and 92 of our penal code. These documents, in the U.S.S.R., are considered as absolutely official documents, of full probative value, to be submitted to the Tribunal when necessary.

THE PRESIDENT: Could you tell us where the interrogatory was made?

COL. POKROVSKY: Paulus was interrogated in person in Moscow, on 12th January, 1946. This, Sir, must have been pointed out at the beginning of the interrogation.

THE PRESIDENT: The date is on the document, but not the place. Go on, Colonel.

COL. POKROVSKY: With your permission, I shall continue my quotation from the minutes of the interrogation of Field Marshal Paulus, submitted to you:

"It was clear to the Hungarians that Germany's assistance was in order to prepare the Hungarian Army purposely and in advance for future combined military operations, thus incorporating an ally into its ranks. With the attack on Yugoslavia, which followed this, there was no need for special explanations as to the object of these military preparations.

[Page 229]

It was clear that Armed Forces were being made ready for war with the U.S.S.R., as the attack on Yugoslavia was part of the operational plan for the attack on the U.S.S.R.

With the defeat of Yugoslavia, the right flank, which was to be formed at the commencement of military operations against Russia, was secured."

I shall leave out one paragraph which deals with another subject . and continue to quote:
"The preparation of the combined German-Hungarian attack on Yugoslavia was entrusted to me. On 27th or 28th March, 1941, I was called before Hitler at the Reich Chancellery where, besides Hitler, were present Keitel, Jodl, Halder and Brauchitsch. Halder met me with the following words: `The Fuehrer has decided to attack Yugoslavia in order to eliminate the threat to the flank during the offensive against Greece and to seize the main Belgrade-Nish railway line which runs in a southerly direction; but the main objective of the attack on Yugoslavia is to have our right flank secure when, later on, the `Barbarossa' plan is to be carried out.

Your task is to go to Vienna immediately in my special train, and to transmit the orders and explain the situation to Field Marshal List (12th Army Group), General Von Kleist (Armoured Group), and Colonel Von Witzleben (Chief of Staff of the 2nd Army), who have been called there.

From Vienna, you are to proceed to Budapest and there to co-ordinate with the Hungarian General Staff the strategic employment of the German forces on Hungarian territory, and the participation of the Hungarian forces in the invasion of Yugoslavia.'"

The participation of Hitlerite generals of the very highest rank in the treacherous attack on Yugoslavia simply does not fit, in any way at all, into the execution of purely military tasks only.

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