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

The Trial of German Major War Criminals

Sitting at Nuremberg, Germany
14th February to 26th February, 1946

Sixty-Seventh Day: Monday, 25nd February, 1946
(Part 2 of 8)

[Page 277]

DR. HORN: The next witness is Ambassador Dr. Paul Schmidt, interpreter at the Foreign Office in Berlin, at this time probably at Oberursel in the interrogation camp.

SIR DAVID MAXWELL FYFE: May it please the Tribunal, with regard to the next two witnesses, who are grouped together in the application, they are desired to give evidence of the fact that this defendant asked Hitler five or six times for permission to resign. Again I make the point, which I have made several times to the Tribunal, that if these witnesses can give evidence from the Hitler side of these offers, then there would be no objection.

If they merely give evidence of the fact that von Ribbentrop told them that he had offered to resign, that does not, in the submission of the prosecution, take it any further. But it may well be that there are letters which went to Hitler which these gentlemen saw; and if that is the purpose of their evidence, then the prosecution feels that it might be relevant, certainly on the question of sentence, if not, then it would reserve all rights to say whether the evidence affected the question of guilt or innocence in view of the provisions of the Charter.

I therefore suggest that the reasonable course would be for both these gentlemen to make affidavits of their means of knowledge, and that would deal with the point which I have put to the Tribunal.

THE PRESIDENT: Do you suggest a preliminary affidavit rather than interrogatories? Would not interrogatories be wiser?

SIR DAVID MAXWELL FYFE: I would agree, my Lord, interrogatories which would cover that point - means of knowledge - would be the better method.

I do not think, if I may put it that way, that it would be worth while making two bites at the cherry, if I may use a colloquialism.

DR. HORN: We can discuss the next two witnesses at the same time. I believe I can say that Sir David will raise the same points against them as he did against the other witnesses.

SIR DAVID MAXWELL FYFE: I should have thought, my Lord, that my friend and I could agree that they stand or fall with the Tribunal's decision on Admiral Schuster.

DR. HORN: I would like to forego the calling of these two witnesses, provided the Court will grant me Admiral Schuster.

The next witness is the former Chief of the Protocol at the Foreign Office, Dornberg, at present most probably interned at Augsburg.

SIR DAVID MAXWELL FYFE: Again, with great respect, in my submission Herr Dornberg's views on the veracity of Count Ciano are not relevant. If we begin calling witnesses to express their views as to the veracity or other characteristics of the statesmen of Europe, the Tribunal would embark on a course that might well take a very long time, and would not lead to any great results, and I respectfully submit that this is not a class of testimony or a ground of testimony which the Tribunal should entertain.

DR. HORN: Mr. President, with reference to this matter I can say that Ciano himself, in his diary which has now been made accessible to us, produces this proof - at least as to the decisive point - which Mr. Dornberg is able to bring, and we shall submit it to the Court at the proper time and - I believe I can say - in a conclusive form.

The second point of Dornberg's statement deals with the matter of a decoration. The Soviet prosecution has accused Ribbentrop of bartering Siebenburgen for a high Roumanian order. For this reason I would like permission to question Dornberg about this point either here or in the form of an affidavit.


DR. HORN: Next I name Ambassador Schnurre, chief of the Trade Policy Department of the Foreign Office, present whereabouts unknown, presumably in custody in the British zone.

[Page 278]

SIR DAVID MAXWELL FYFE: With great respect, my Lords, the prosecution again say that there is no need for a witness to be called to give information that his political chief intended to keep a treaty which he signed. The very grounds that are given for the application seem to me to show that this is really a matter of comment and argument, and we submit that a witness on this point is both irrelevant and unnecessary.

DR. HORN: I ask the Tribunal to grant me this witness, because the mere fact that the witness can testify about the sincerity or insincerity or the intentions of his chief is not so important for me as the fact that, having been present at the negotiations and preliminaries, and having discussed with other important persons the background of this treaty, he can testify with regard to an important point of the Indictment.

THE PRESIDENT: May I ask you again, with reference to the relevance of this evidence: suppose it were true that in August, 1939, the German authorities intended to keep the treaty which was made with Russia, that depended or might have depended upon whether England supported Poland in the war which Germany was about to begin with Poland - and it may very well be that the German authorities intended to keep the treaty with Russia in order to keep Russia out of the war with Poland and England - how, then would the intention of Ribbentrop at that time be relevant?

DR. HORN: Mr. President, for determining the criminality in this case in order to establish guilt, it is material to know the extent to which the defendant Ribbentrop as a human being strove to keep the treaty; and how far he may have been compelled, by political necessity and other forces, to witness that a treaty was not kept in the spirit in which it was originally signed, is a different matter.

THE PRESIDENT: You can pass on.

DR. HORN: Ambassador Ritter of the Foreign Office, a liaison officer with the O.K.W.; now most probably in the internment camp at Augsburg.

SIR DAVID MAXWELL FYFE: The application for Ambassador Ritter falls into two parts: One raises the point which we have just been discussing with regard to the Russo-German treaty of 23rd August, 1939, and I have indicated the view of the prosecution on that. The second deals with the defendant's attitude with regard to the treatment of Allied airmen. The position at the moment is that I put in one document which was prepared by Ambassador Ritter, and another document in which Ambassador Ritter said that the defendant Ribbentrop had approved the memorandum from the German Foreign Office dealing with the proposals for lynching aviators and handing them over to the S.D. before they could become prisoners of war and entitled to the rights under the Convention.

If it is desired to say that Ambassador Ritter was wrong in stating that Ribbentrop had approved the memorandum, then, of course, it would be a relevant point. But at the moment these documents are in, and I am not quite clear from this for what purpose my friend wishes him to be called on the second point. If there is any further purpose, then perhaps Dr. Horn will indicate it.

DR. HORN: Sir David has just stated the reason why I have requested the witness. The witness is able to and will testify that von Ribbentrop was opposed to special treatment of terror flyers - at least for acts covered by the Geneva Convention - without previous notification to the Signatory Powers of that Convention.

SIR DAVID MAXWELL FYFE: Dr. Horn says that he wants to call Ambassador Ritter to contradict the two documents prepared by Ambassador Ritter, which are already in evidence. To that I cannot make any objection; it is obviously a relevant point, if he is going to contradict his own document.

[Page 279]

THE PRESIDENT: Would it be acceptable to Dr. Horn to have interrogatories administered to Ambassador Ritter, or would the prosecution prefer that he should be called if he is to give evidence of any sort.

SIR DAVID MAXWELL FYFE: If he gives evidence, the prosecution would prefer that he should be called, because this is our position - there are two documents in, prepared by this gentleman, and if he is going to contradict them, then I suggest he should come and do it in person.

DR. HORN: I leave it to the prosecution.


DR. HORN: The next witness is the former German Ambassador in Oslo, von Grundherr, at present presumably in Allied custody.

SIR DAVID MAXWELL FYFE: Again, I do not want to go into detail. The position is that there is a document before the Court signed by the defendant Rosenberg in which he says that 10,000 pounds sterling a month were given to Quisling through an arrangement with this gentleman. If. Dr. Horn wishes to call Herr von Grundherr to contradict the statement of the defendant Rosenberg, again I suppose the prosecution cannot make any objection.


DR. HORN: Regarding the witnesses whom I have listed under numbers 30 to 34, I can limit my statement to the fact that I want to call them to testify that Ribbentrop, from 1933 to 1939, earnestly and constantly endeavoured to bring about close relations with France.

The witnesses, above all Mr. Daladier, former Prime Minister of France, can give substantive detailed evidence about these efforts. If the Court should decide that these witnesses, or some of them, could give the testimony in the form of affidavits, I will submit relevant questions to the Tribunal.

SIR DAVID MAXWELL FYFE: In the submission of the prosecution, the grounds stated for calling these witnesses are too vague and general to justify their being called before Court.

When two countries are at peace, the fact that a foreign minister or an ambassador has made statements saying that he hopes the good relations between the two countries will continue, or words to that effect, does not really take us any further; and it would, in the submission of the prosecution, be a waste of time for witnesses to be called for such a purpose.

Apart from that, the first four witnesses, the Marquis and Marquise De Polignac, and Count and Countess Jean de Castellane, as far as the prosecution know, have not been in any official position; and there is, therefore, the additional objection that calling people who may be the most admirable people, but are in the position of personal friends, to talk as to what really was their point of view of the state of mind of a defendant, is not evidence which is relevant or which the Tribunal should entertain.

DR. HORN: By these witnesses the defence wishes to prove clearly that the efforts of Ribbentrop with respect to France went beyond what could be called merely "courtoisie internationale". For this reason I ask that one or the other of the witnesses in this group be granted me.

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Horn, these witnesses seem to raise the same question as to relevance as I put to you earlier on them.

Assuming that it was the intention of the German Foreign Office to try to keep France our of any war which Germany was preparing to make, what relevance has that got to the question whether she was about to make an aggressive war upon Poland?

DR. HORN: I would like by these witnesses to prove that it was at least not the intention of the defendant von Ribbentrop to plan and prepare wars, but that he had tried for years to improve relations with Germany's neighbouring States.

The prosecution, Mr. President, accuses my client also of having planned

[Page 280]

and prepared aggressive war against England and France. If the prosecution will forgo this point, I, of course, can also forgo these witnesses.

THE PRESIDENT: The Tribunal will give this the necessary consideration.

DR. HORN: The next witness is Mr. Ernest Tennant, of London.

SIR DAVID MAXWELL FYFE: With regard to this witness, I do not know the gentleman, and I have never heard of him, and the only information which is in the application is that he is a member of the firm of Tennant and Company and a member of the Bath Club, and also that he was well known to the defendant Ribbentrop. But the matters for which he is sought to be called are surely the acme of irrelevance. It is submitted that the witness can testify that in the early and middle thirties the defendant asked him to bring him in contact with Lord Baldwin, Mr. MacDonald and Lord Davidson, for the purpose of negotiating with the latter toward paving the way to good political relations, aiming at the conclusion of an alliance. In 1936 the defendant was Ambassador to the Court of St. James. Mr. MacDonald had just ceased being Prime Minister in 1935, and was still, I think, Lord President of the Council. Lord Baldwin was then Prime Minister and Lord Davidson, I think, was Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster in the same administration. At any rate, he held a comparatively less important office.

But how it can be relevant to the issues before this Tribunal, that at or shortly before that time the defendant asked a gentleman of no official position whether he could introduce him to the three gentlemen I have just mentioned, I really suggest, cannot be stated, and I submit that this witness should not be allowed.

DR. HORN: Mr. President, on the question of witnesses we always come back to the same fundamental question. The prosecution always raises the question: What can this witness tell us about the fact that Germany did or did not march against Poland, or is to blame for the Polish-German war, inasmuch as the witness comes from an entirely different country and has nothing to do with Poland or Polish affairs?

The defence is of the opinion, however, that the entire policy of Germany toward Poland can only be understood within the framework of the whole of European politics. Therefore, the defence has asked for witnesses whom the prosecution would like to exclude, because they can offer us material for the reconstruction of the large picture. With this in mind, I also ask for Professor Conwell-Evans of London.

SIR DAVID MAXWELL FYFE: May it please the Tribunal again I have never heard of Professor Conwell-Evans, and he does not appear in "Who's Who", the British publication showing a very large number of the citizens who have certain grades of distinction or hold certain offices. But I would like Dr. Horn to consider this point, which I respectfully put to the Tribunal:Accepting that every word that is stated in this application with regard to Professor Conwell-Evans were said in court by Professor Conwell-Evans, I submit that it would not advance the case at all, and that the Tribunal would be left in exactly the same position - if it heard that evidence - as it is in at the present moment. After all, the defendant will be able to give evidence himself and to make his own impression on the Tribunal as to his intentions and as to his honesty of mind at various times. The submission of the prosecution is that the evidence of this gentleman would not help the trial at all and is not relevant to any issue before the Court.


DR. HORN: As next witness I name Wolfgang Michel, Oversdorf im Allgau, the witness No. 38.

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