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

The Trial of German Major War Criminals

Sitting at Nuremberg, Germany
12th March to 22nd March, 1946

Eighty-First Day: Thursday, 14th March, 1946
(Part 7 of 8)

[DR. STAHMER continues his direct examination of HERMANN WILHELM GORING]

[Page 108]

President Hacha arrived and talked first with the Reich Foreign Minister. At night he came to see the Fuehrer; we greeted him briefly. First he conversed with the Fuehrer alone; then we were called in. Then I talked to him in the presence of his Ambassador and urged him to meet as quickly as possible the Fuehrer's demand that the troops be kept back when the Germans marched in, in order that there be no bloodshed. I told him that nothing would help, that the Fuehrer had made his decisions and considered it necessary, and that there would be only unavoidable bloodshed, since resistance for any length of time was quite impossible. In that connection I made the statement that I should be sorry if I had to bomb beautiful Prague. The intention of bombing Prague did not exist, nor had any order been given to that effect, for, even in the case of resistance, that would not have been necessary; resistance could always be broken more easily without such bombing. But such a point I thought might serve as an argument and accelerate the whole matter.

[Page 109]

I succeeded then in getting a telephone connection between him and his Government in Prague; he gave the order; and the occupation and the march into Prague took place the next day.


Q. Did you accompany the Fuehrer to Prague?

A. No, I did not accompany him to, Prague. I was rather annoyed. I did not enter Czechoslovakia or Sudeten Germany at any time after that incident, with the exception of 21st April, 1945, when I passed through a part of Czechoslovakia.

Q. Why were you annoyed?

A. Because the whole matter had been carried out for the most part over my head.

Q. Did other Powers take a part in the occupation of Czechoslovakia?

A. Yes. Poland took the Olsa territory.

Q. The prosecution have presented a document from which the conclusion is drawn that the murder of the German Ambassador was to take place in connection with anti-German demonstrations in Prague. It has been so represented as if this assassination of the German Ambassador was to be carried out in order to provide an occasion for the annexation.

A. That story comes before the solution of the Sudeten German problem, and I listened very carefully when that point came up. I also remember what the facts really were. The matter was not discussed in this way and it should not be represented as if we wanted to murder our own Ambassador, or had even considered this possibility, in order to find an occasion for solving this problem. We merely considered the possibilities which might lead to an immediate clash. In view of the tension which existed between Czechoslovakia and Germany in regard to Sudeten Germany, the possibility was also considered that the German Ambassador in Prague might actually be assassinated by the Czechs, and that this would necessitate immediate action on Germany's part under all circumstances and in disregard of any other political actions.

This possibility arose from the fact that outside the German Embassy in Prague there had been a number of demonstrations, a fact which cannot be denied, for which reason Germany had sent arms to the Embassy for its defence. For these reasons we talked of that possibility. That has been misrepresented here. We did not want to have the Ambassador assassinated as a provocation, or a possible provocation, but we saw the possibility of such an assassination by another Party, and in response to this the Fuehrer would have acted immediately.

Q. To what extent were confiscations carried out in Czechoslovakia?

A. Before the war no confiscation took place in Czechoslovakia - that is, no economic goods were taken away. On the contrary, Czechoslovakia's large and strong economic capacity was included to its full extent in the economic capacity of Germany. That is to say, we attached importance above all to the fact that, now that we had declared the Protectorate and thus concluded an action, the Skoda Works and the Brunn Armament Works naturally be included in the armament potential of Germany as important armament works. That means that orders were sent there for the time being to a considerable extent. Over and above that we even created new industries there and gave our support in respect to this.

We have been accused, among other things, of dismantling new rails there and replacing them with old rails from Germany. I believe that this is a complete error, for the transportation system in Czechoslovakia, the Protectorate, was one of the most important for Germany. The entire South- eastern transportation to and from the Balkans went through the Protectorate, first, in the direction of Vienna, Prague, Dresden and Berlin and, second, by the main Vienna- Lundenburg-Odelberg-Breslau line; and, since the canal had not been

[Page 110]

completed, the entire transportation of all economic goods no longer detoured around the border but took the shortest way. We would have been crazy had we weakened this transportation system. I can think of only one explanation, and that is that during the extension of the existing transportation system many rails from Germany's stock may have been used, and these later appeared in the Government report as "old." But that we dismantled new for old is absolute nonsense.

Furthermore, it is a matter of course that, since the Sudetenland was included in the Reich, the accusation that State property and forests were taken over into German State possession has no bearing; for it is obvious that, if a country is taken over, then its State property must also become the property of the new State.

Likewise the accusation, as far as Sudeten Germany is concerned, that banks were affiliated with German banks is obviously not justified, since German currency was introduced for the country; and, therefore, the affiliated banks also had to be converted to that.

As far as the later Protectorate is concerned, I have already emphasised that, even before the creation of that Protectorate, a strong economic penetration of Czechoslovakia had been prepared by me, on the one hand by our acquiring shares from other owners which gave us a voice in Czech and Slovak enterprises, and furthermore, I believe, by our replacing certain loans originally given and then called in by Western Powers.

In this connection the Reich Works Hermann Goering appeared on the scene, since they had acquired large possession of shares in the Skoda Works, in order to use the latter as a finishing industry for the products of their own rolling mills and steel works, just as they used other industries in Germany.

It is, therefore, a matter of course that, after the creation of the Protectorate, the total economic capacity of the Protectorate was amalgamated with Germany's total economic capacity.

Q. On 15th November, 1937, a discussion with the Fuehrer took place at the Reich Chancellery, a record of which was prepared by Colonel Hoszbach, and that has been referred to as Hitler's last will. It has repeatedly been the subject of discussion here. May I ask you for a short explanation as to what significance this conference had. I am going to have that document shown to you. It is Document 386-PS.

A. This document has already been shown to me here, and I am fairly familiar with the contents. This document played an important role in the Indictment, since it appears under the heading "Last Will of the Fuehrer." This expression "last will" is, in fact, used in one place by Hoszbach.

As far as the technical aspect of this record is concerned, I want to say the following: Hoszbach was the adjutant of the Fuehrer, the chief adjutant. As such, he was present at meetings and took notes. Five days later, as I have ascertained, he prepared this record on the basis of his notes. This is, therefore, a record which contains all the mistakes which easily occur in a record which is not taken down at the moment by stenographers and which under certain circumstances contains the opinions of the recorder or his own interpretations.

It contains a number of points, as I said at the time, which correspond exactly to what the Fuehrer had repeatedly said; but there are other points and formulations which I can say do not represent the Fuehrer's words.

During the past months I have seen so many records and interrogations which, in part, had nothing to do with the sense of what had been stated; for this reason I must here, too, point out the sources of mistakes.

As far as the word "testament" is concerned, the use of this word contradicts completely the Fuehrer's views. If anybody knows something about these views, it is I.

[Page 111]

The decision that I was to be the successor was not reached first on 1st September, 1939, but as early as the late autumn of 1934. I have often had the opportunity of discussing the question of a so-called political last will with the Fuehrer. He turned it down, giving as his reason the fact that one could never appoint a successor by means of a political last will, since developments and political events should afford him complete freedom of action at all times. Quite possibly one could set down political wishes or views, but never binding statements in the shape of a last will. That was, then and as long as I stood in his confidence, his views at all times.

Now, what did he aim at in this discussion? The Minister for War, the Commander-in-Chief of the Army, the Commander-in- Chief of the Navy and the Air Force and the then Reich Foreign Minister were called together. Shortly before that the Fuehrer had informed me, since I was there earlier, that he was going to call this meeting, mostly in order, as he called it, to put pressure on General von Fritsch, since he was dissatisfied with the rearmament of the Army. He said it would not do any harm if Herr von Blomberg would also exercise a certain pressure on von Fritsch.

I asked why von Neurath was to be present. He said he did not want the thing to look too military, that, as far as I was concerned, it was not so important, but that he wanted to make it very clear to Commander-in-Chief Fritsch that the foreign political situation required a forced speed in armament and that for this reason he had asked the Foreign Minister to come along, who knew nothing about the details.

Everything was then set forth in the way which the Fuehrer preferred on such occasions. He went to great length to picture things within a large political framework and he talked about the whole world situation from all angles; and for anybody who knew him as well as I did the purpose which he pursued was obvious. He was quite clearly aiming at saying that he bad great plans, that the political situation was such and such, and the whole thing ended in the direction of a stronger armament programme. I should like to say that, if the Fuehrer, one or two hours later, had talked to another group - for instance, diplomats of the Foreign Office, of Party Functionaries - then he probably would have represented matters quite differently.

Nevertheless, some of these statements naturally do reflect the basic attitude of the Fuehrer, but with the best intentions I cannot attach the same measure of significance to the document as is being attached to it here.

Q. You said you had been considered the Fuehrer's successor. Were you in this capacity included in all political problems by Hitler?

A. I am now talking of the period of my good relations, which lasted until long into the war. Of course he informed me of all important political and military problems. He acquainted me with these problems for the most part in very many long discussions, which would take place for many hours, day after day. Many times, to be sure, I was surprised in regard to foreign political questions, but whenever possible I would include myself, and on one occasion he said, in fact, that I had a decided opinion of my own in foreign political matters and that he did not always find it easy to agree with me. But I want to emphasise that in all important political questions I was, of course, included.

Q. On 23rd May, 1939, a conference took place with the Fuehrer, which was briefly discussed in connection with the examination of the witness Milch. A record of that has also been made, Document L-79. According to the wording of that record, you participated in this meeting, but the witness Milch stated that you were not present.

A. I was, in fact, not present. Milch was called in at the last moment to represent me. But, of course, if the witness says that he had not received any permission from the Fuehrer to inform me, then you must understand that the Fuehrer did not want to have me informed of this matter by way of my State

[Page 112]

Secretary, but wanted rather to inform me himself. No, I apologise, I was actually present at this meeting. I see that just now from another clue; but even if I had not been present, I think Milch must have been thinking of another meeting. That would not be of any importance, for it is out of the question that the Fuehrer should have had a conference with such gentlemen without notifying me either before or afterwards, if I myself were absent. It is, therefore, not at all important. It is quite obvious that in such cases I was informed either previously or, if I was absent, afterwards, in great detail by the Fuehrer. But I gather that Milch must have made a mistake here, and he is probably thinking of another meeting, since to the very end I still put questions in respect to the armament programme, which I now recall very well.Q. What was the significance of this meeting?

A. It was a conference held by the Fuehrer at which he once more stated his views in regard to the situation and the tasks demanded of the Armed Forces as a result of this situation. Once more the main point was to inform the Armed Forces in regard to armament and preparedness that he was considering all possible developments, political and otherwise, and that he himself wanted to have complete freedom of decision.

Retrospectively, in regard to events which have occurred up till this moment - and I need not emphasise how easily matters, viewed in retrospect, are seen in a light of development different from that in which they actually occurred at an earlier time - retrospectively I can safely say that even at that time I wanted this and that, since I have in the meantime achieved it, and can safely say also - this is inevitably the case-that this was always my intention, even though one knows perfectly well that one was originally very dependent on other factors and that under certain circumstances one's intentions at that time would have been quite different.

Generally speaking, this is another case where there are misconceptions on the part of the adjutant, but, on the whole, it is typical of the conferences which the Fuehrer used to hold when he had some particular purpose in mind which he wanted to achieve, and wanted to give this purpose the necessary emphasis.

Q. During the time from 1935 to 1938 you made many State visits to Poland. What was the purpose of these visits?

A. After German-Polish relations had been clarified in 1934, the Fuehrer wished a strengthening of that pact and the creation of a better atmosphere. He requested me to take over this task because he believed that I would find it easy to talk to these Polish gentlemen, which was indeed the case.The President of the Polish State invited me. That was in 1935, and from then on - in 1935, 1936 and 1937 - I spent about one or two weeks in Poland each year. I had a long discussion with the then Marshal Pilsudski and later with the Foreign Minister, Beck.

At that time the Fuehrer had given me the serious task, not a task of deception, of currently improving relations and telling Poland that he was interested in a strong Poland, because a strong Poland would be an excellent barrier between Germany and Russia. The Fuehrer had emphasised the solution of the Danzig question and the Corridor question in speaking to me at that time, and had said that the opportunity for this would come, but that, until then, there would be some sort of opportunity to come to an agreement with Poland about that problem. The Lithuanian problem played a part in this. But the decisive factor is that he did not say, "Lull Poland to sleep. I am going to attack Poland afterwards." It was never the case, as has often been represented here, that from the very beginning we conspired together and made detailed plans for decades ahead. Rather, everything arose out of the trend of political forces and interests, as it always has everywhere in the whole world in matters of State policy. I had this task and I consciously considered it a serious task and carried

[Page 113]

it out with an honest belief in it. Consequently, when the clash with Poland came about it was not a very pleasant situation for me.

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