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-Fourth Day: Monday, 18th March, 1946
(Part 9 of 9)

[MR. JUSTICE JACKSON continues his cross examination of HERMANN WILHELM GORING]

[Page 205]

Q. I will ask that you be shown Document 3700-PS and ask you whether you received from Schacht the letter of which that is a carbon copy.

A. Yes, I certainly did receive that letter. The year is not given here; that is missing in the copy.

Q. Could you fix, approximately, the date of its receipt?

A. It says here 3rd November, but from the incidents described on the other side I assume it must be 1943. On this copy the year, strangely enough, is not given, but I believe it was in the year 1943, when I received this letter.

Q. Did you reply to Document 3700-PS. Did you reply to this letter?

A. I cannot say that to-day with certainty - possibly.

Q. The Four-Year Plan had as its purpose to put the entire economy in a state of readiness for war, did it not?

A. I have explained that it had two tasks to fulfil: (1) to safeguard German economy against crises, that is to say, to make it immune from export fluctuations and, as regards food, from harvest fluctuations, in so far as possible, and (2) to make it capable of withstanding a blockade, that is to say, in the light of experiences in the First World War, to put it on such a basis that in a second World War a blockade would not have such disastrous consequences. That the Four-Year Plan in this respect was a basic prerequisite for the entire building up and expansion of the armament industry, goes without saying. Without it, the rearmament industry could not have been shaped in this way.

Q. To get a specific answer, if possible, did you not say in a letter to Schacht, dated the 18th day of December, 1936, that you saw it to be your task, using these words, "within four years to put the entire economy in a state of readiness for war"? Did you say that or did you not?

A. Of course I said that.

Q. Now, do you recall the report of Blomberg in 1937 in which - and you may examine if you wish Document 175-C - he starts his report by saying:

"The general political position justifies the supposition that Germany need not expect an attack from any side"?
A. That may have been quite possible at that moment. I took a most reassuring view of the German situation in 1937. It was after the Olympic Games and at that time the general situation was extraordinarily calm. But that had nothing to do with the fact that I felt obliged, quite apart from passing fluctuations in a calmer or a tenser atmosphere, to make the German economy ready for war and proof against crises or blockades, for exactly one year later incidents of a different nature occurred.

[Page 206]

Q. Well now, does not Blomberg continue: "Grounds for this are, in addition to the lack of desire for war in almost all nations, particularly the Western Powers, the deficiencies in the preparedness for war of a number of States and of Russia in particular"?

That was the situation in 1937, was it not?

A. That is the way Herr von Blomberg saw the situation. Concerning the readiness for war in Russia, Herr von Blomberg, in the same way as all those representatives with a "Reichswehr" mentality, was always really mistaken; in contrast to the opinion expressed in other quarters in regard to Russian armaments. This is merely the opinion of Herr von Blomberg, not of the Fuehrer, not mine, and not the opinion of other leading people.

Q. That, however, was the report of the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces on 24th June, 1937, was it not?

A. That is correct.

Q. You organised, one month later, the Hermann Goering Works?

A. Right.

Q. And the Hermann Goering Works were concerned with putting Germany in condition of readiness for war, were they not?

A. No, that is not right. The Hermann Goering Works were at first concerned solely with the mining of German iron ore in the area of Salzgitter and in an area in the Oberfpalz, and, after the annexation, of the iron ore works in Austria. The Hermann Goering Works first established, exclusively, mining and refining plants for this ore and the foundries. Only much later steel works and rolling mills were added, that is to say, an industry.

Q. The Hermann Goering Works were a part of the Four-Year Plan, were they not?

A. That is right.

Q. And you have already said that the Four-Year Plan had as its purpose to put the economy in a state of readiness for war; and the Hermann Goering Works were organised to exploit ore mining and iron smelting resources and to carry the process through to completed guns and tanks, were they not?

A. No, that is not correct; the Hermann Goering Works had at first no armament works of their own, but merely produced, as I again repeat the basic product, steel, crude steel.

Q. Well, at all events, you continued your efforts and on 8th November, 1943, you made a speech describing those efforts to the Gauleiters in the Fuehrer Building at Munich, is that right?

A. I do not know the exact date, but about that time I made a short speech, one of a series of speeches, to the Gauleiters, about the aviation situation as far as I remember, and also perhaps about the armament situation. I do not remember the words of that speech, since I was never asked about it until now: but the facts are correct.

Q. Well, let me remind you if you used these terms, refreshing your recollection:

"Germany, at the beginning of the war, was the only country in the world possessing an operative fighting Air Force. The other countries had split their air fleets up into Army and Navy air fleets, and considered the air arm primarily as a necessary and important auxiliary of the other branches of the Forces. In consequence, they lacked the power which is alone capable of dealing concentrated and effective blows, namely, an operative Air Force. In Germany we had gone ahead on those lines from the very outset, and the main body of the Air Force was disposed so that it could thrust deeply into the hostile areas with strategic effect, while a lesser portion of the Air Force, consisting of Stukas and, of course, fighter planes, went into action on the front line in the battlefields. You all know what wonderful results were achieved by these tactics and what

[Page 207]

superiority we attained at the very beginning of the war through this modern kind of Air Force."
A. That is entirely correct; I certainly did say that, and what is more, I acted accordingly. But in order that this be understood and interpreted correctly, I must explain briefly.

In these statements I dealt with two separate opinions on air strategy, which are still being debated to-day and without a decision having been reached. That is to say: Should the Air Force form an auxiliary arm of the Army and the Navy and be split up to form a constituent part of the Army and the Navy, or should it be a separate part of the Armed Forces? I explained that for nations with a very large Navy it is perhaps understandable that such a division should be made. From the very beginning, thank God, we made the correct consistent decision to build up a strong, I emphasise the word "strong," and independent Air Force along with the Army and the Navy; and I described how we passed from a tentative Air Force to an operative Air Force.

As an expert I am to-day still of the opinion that only an operative Air Force can have a decisive effect. I have also explained, in regard to two- and four-engine bombers, that at first I was quite satisfied with the two-engine bombers because, firstly, I did not have four-engine bombers and, secondly, because the operational radius of the two-engine bombers was wide enough for the enemy with whom we had to deal at that time. I further pointed out that the main reason for the swift ending of the campaign in Poland and in the West was the effect of the Air Force.

Q. I remind you of the testimony of the witness Milch, sworn on your behalf, as to a subject on which I have not heard you express yourself. He said:

"I had the impression that already at the time of the occupation of the Rhineland, he, Goering, was worried lest Hitler's policy should lead to war."
Do you remember that?

A. Yes.

Q. And was it true or false? True or mistaken, perhaps, I should say.

A. No, I did not want a war and I thought the best way to avoid a war was to be strongly armed according to the well- known adage "He who has a strong sword has peace."

Q. Well, you are still of that opinion?

A. I am of that opinion to-day; now that I see the entanglements - more than ever.

Q. And it is true, as Milch said, that you were worried that Hitler's policies would lead to war at the time of the occupation of the Rhineland?

A. Excuse me, I just understood you to ask whether it is also my opinion to-day that only a nation that is strongly armed can maintain peace. That is what I meant to answer with my last statement.

If you are relating this question to the statement by Milch, that I was worried that the policy of the Fuehrer could lead to war, I should like to say that I was worried that war might come, and if possible I wanted to avoid it, but not in the sense that the policy of the Fuehrer would lead to it, because the Fuehrer also desired to carry out his programme by agreements and diplomatic action.

In regard to the occupation of the Rhineland I was somewhat worried at the time about the reactions; all the same, it was necessary.

Q. And when nothing happened, the next step was Austria?

A. The one has nothing to do with the other. I never had any misgivings about Austria leading to a war, as I had with the Rhineland occupation, for in the case of the Rhineland occupation I could well imagine that there might be repercussions. But how there could be any repercussions from abroad over the union of two brother nations of purely German blood was not clear to me,

[Page 208]

especially since Italy, who always pretended that she had a vital interest in a separate Austria, had somewhat changed her ideas. It could not have mattered in the least to England and France, nor could they have had the slightest interest in this union. Therefore I did not see the danger of its leading to a war.

Q. I ask you just a few questions about Austria. You said that you and Hitler had felt deep regret about the death of Dollfuss, and I ask you if it is not a fact that Hitler put up a plaque in Vienna in honour of the men who murdered Dollfuss, and went and put a wreath on their graves when he was there. Is that a fact? Can you not answer that with "Yes" or 'No"?

A. No, I cannot answer it with either "Yes" or "No," if I am to speak the truth according to my oath. I cannot say, "Yes, he did it," because I do not know; I cannot say, "No, he did not do it," because I do not know that either. I want to say that I heard about this event here for the first time.

Q. Now, in June, 1937, Seyss-Inquart came to you and to the Secretary of State Keppler, and you had some negotiations.

A. Yes.

Q. And it was Seyss-Inquart's desire to have an independent Austria, was it not?

A. As far as I remember, yes.

Q. And Keppler was the man who was sent by Hitler to Vienna at the time of the Anschluss and who telegraphed to Hitler not to march in, do you recall?

A. Yes.

Q. That is the telegram that you characterised as impudent and senseless from the man who was on the spot, and who had negotiated earlier with Seyss-Inquart, do you recall that?

A. I did not characterise the telegram with this word which has just been translated to me in German, that is, "impudent." I said that this telegram could no longer have any influence and was superfluous, because the troops were already on the move and had their orders; the thing was already underway.

Q. You had demanded that Seyss-Inquart be made Chancellor? Is that right?

A. I did not desire that personally, but it arose out of the circumstance that at that time he was the only man who could assume the Chancellorship because he was already in the Government.

Q. Now, did Seyss-Inquart become Chancellor of Austria with the understanding that he was to surrender his country to Germany, or did you lead him to believe that he would be independent, have an independent country?

A. I explained the other day that even at the time when he left by plane the next morning, the Fuehrer himself had still not made up his mind as to whether the union with Austria should not be brought about by means of a German Head of State. I also said that I personally did not consider this solution far-reaching enough and that I was for an absolute, direct and total Anschluss.

I did not know exactly what Seyss-Inquart's attitude was at this time. Nevertheless, I feared that his attitude was rather in the direction of a continued separation and co- operation, and did not go as far as my attitude in the direction of a total annexation. Therefore I was very satisfied when this total Anschluss crystallised in the course of the day.

Q. I respectfully submit that the answers are not responsive, and I repeat the question.

Did Seyss-Inquart become Chancellor of Austria with an understanding that he would call in the German troops and surrender Austria to Germany, or did you lead him to believe that he could continue an independent Austria?

A. Excuse me, but that is a number of questions, which I cannot simply answer with "Yes" or "No."

If you ask me, "Did Seyss-Inquart become Chancellor according to Hitler's wishes or yours?" - yes.

[Page 209]

if you ask me then, "Did he become Chancellor with the understanding that he should send a telegram for troops to march in?" - I say, "No," because at the time of the Chancellorship there was no question of his sending us a telegram.

If you ask me, thirdly, "Did he become Chancellor on the understanding that he would be able to maintain an independent Austria?" - then I have to say again that the final turn of events was not clear in the Fuehrer's mind on that evening.

That is what I tried to explain.

Q. Is it not true that you suspected that he might want to remain as independent as possible, and that that was one of the reasons why the troops were marched in?

A. No. Excuse me, there are two questions. I strongly suspected that Seyss-Inquart wanted to be as independent as possible. The sending of troops had nothing at all to do with that suspicion; not a single soldier would have been needed for that. I gave my reasons for the sending of the troops.

Q. But it was never intimated to Seyss-Inquart that Austria would not remain independent until after - as you put it - the Fuehrer and you were in control of Austria's fate? Is that a fact?

A. That was certainly not told him beforehand by the Fuehrer. As far as I was concerned, it was generally known that I desired it, and I assume that he knew of my attitude.

Q. Now, you have stated that you, then, in telephonic conversation with Ribbentrop in London, stressed that no ultimatum had been put to Seyss-Inquart, and you have said that legally that was the fact.

A. I did not say "legally," I said "diplomatically."

THE PRESIDENT: Is that a convenient time to break off?

MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: Yes, your Honour.

(The Tribunal adjourned until 10.00 hours, 19th March, 1946.)

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