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

The Trial of German Major War Criminals

Sitting at Nuremberg, Germany
23rd March to 3rd April, 1946

Ninetieth Day: Monday, 25rd March, 1946
(Part 1 of 11)

[Page 11]

THE MARSHAL: May it please the Tribunal: The defendants Streicher and Ribbentrop are absent from this session.


(Dr. Seidl goes to the lectern.)

DR. SEIDL (counsel for defendant Hess): Mr. President, on Friday last I stated that I would not read anything from the first volume of the document book; that does not mean, however, that I should not like to refer to one or the other document in my brief: The question now arises whether under these circumstances, these documents, to which I may refer, but which I will not read now, should be submitted as evidence to the Tribunal, or whether it is sufficient if these documents are copied down in the book. I would be grateful if the Tribunal would help me to decide this question.

SIR DAVID MAXWELL FYFE: My Lord, I have a suggestion to make, that the Tribunal take these documents de bene esse at the moment and that when Dr. Seidl comes to make his final speech, then any point as to admissibility can be discussed. With regard to the third book, for example, that consists of a number of opinions of various politicians and economists in various countries. The prosecution will, in due course, submit that these have no evidential value and in fact relate to a matter too remote to be relevant. But I should have thought the convenient course would have been to discuss that when we find what ultimate use Dr. Seidl makes of the documents, at the moment letting them go in, as I suggest, de bene esse.

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Seidl, the Tribunal think that you should offer the documents in evidence now, and that they should be numbered consecutively. Probably the best way would be with the letter "H" in front of them - H No. 1 and so on - and that then, as Sir David says, as they are being offered all together, objection, if necessary, can be taken to them at a later stage - objection with regard to admissibility or relevance.

DR. SEIDL: Very well. I turn once more to volume 1 of the document book. The first document is a speech made by the defendant Rudolf Hess on 8th July, 1934. This document will bear the number H-1, page 23 of the document book. The second document can be found on page 27 of the document book

THE PRESIDENT: One moment, Dr. Seidl, to what issue has this speech relevance?

DR. SEIDL: The speech of the 8th July, 1934?

THE PRESIDENT: Yes. Well, it is the one on page 23. It is 8th July, 1934.

DR. SEIDL: Yes, Mr. President, this speech deals with the question of war and peace. Since the defendant Hess is accused of having participated in the psychological preparation of aggressive war, and thus also of being a participant in the conspiracy, it seems to me that the attitude of the defendant Hess toward the question of a war is of considerable importance as regards evidence.

THE PRESIDENT: Very well. We will allow you to read it.

DR. SEIDL: Mr. President, I do not intend to read the speech now. I only want to bring up the speech as a document so as to be able to refer to it in my speech, if necessary.


[Page 12]

DR. SEIDL I shall read nothing at all from the first document book. I shall only mention certain documents as exhibits.

I turn to page 28 of the document book. This is another speech by the defendant Hess, delivered on 27th November, 1934. The number of this exhibit will be H-2.

THE PRESIDENT: The speech of the 8th December, 1934, begins on page 27.

DR. SEIDL: Page 27 - that is right. It was marked here incorrectly. As the third exhibit I submit a speech - that is to say, an excerpt from a speech - of the 17th November, 1938, page 31 of the document book, Exhibit H-3.

I turn to page 32 of the document book, an excerpt from a speech delivered on the 11th October, 1935, Exhibit H-4.

Then comes a speech of the 14th March, 1936, page 33 of the document book, Exhibit H-5.

The next exhibit is on page 35 of the document book, a speech of the 21St March, 1936, Exhibit H-6.

Exhibit H-7 is a speech on page 36 of the document book.

Exhibit H-8 is a speech of the 6th June, 1936, on page 40 of the document book.

Then, I turn to page 43 of the document book, a speech at the Reichsparteitag in Nuremberg, 1936, Exhibit H-9.

There follow excerpts of a speech on page 59 of the document book, Exhibit H-10.

A speech of the 14th May, 1938, at Stockholm is found on page 70 of the document book, Exhibit H-11.

The next exhibit is on page 78 of the document book, Exhibit H-12.

So much for the first volume of the document book.

I pass on to the second volume, to the affidavit which I submitted last Friday. It can be found on page 164 of the document book. It is an affidavit made by the former Secretary, Hildegard Fath, and it will bear the Exhibit No. H-13.

The next exhibit is on page 86 of the document book, Volume 2, a decree of 3rd June, 1936, Exhibit H-14.

And now I come to the point where I shall read certain excerpts from the minutes of the meeting between the defendant Hess and Lord Simon, which took place on 10th June, 1941. These minutes begin on page 93 of the document book. The minutes will be Exhibit H-15.

Your Honours, the defendant Hess, on the 10th May, 1941, flew to England. Nobody except his then adjutant Hitsch knew of this flight. The Fuehrer himself was informed about the flight and the intentions connected therewith in a letter which was delivered to the Fuehrer after Hess had already landed in England. After his arrival in England, Hess was frequently questioned by officials of the Foreign Office and, as already mentioned, a meeting took place between him and Lord Simon on the 10th June, 1941. This meeting lasted two hours and a half. In the course of this meeting, the defendant Hess told Lord Simon the reasons for his extraordinary undertaking and he then submitted four proposals, or four points which he claimed embodied the intentions of Adolf Hitler, and which he considered to be the basis for an understanding and final peace.

During the conference Lord Simon assumed a pseudonym; in the minutes which were given to the defendant Hess shortly after the meeting, he is referred to as Dr. Guthrie.

As far as I know, this measure was probably taken to prevent the stenographers or the translators from knowing at once what it was all about. In the minutes mention is also made of a Dr. Mackenzie, an official of the Foreign Office, and of Mr. Kirkpatrick, who had previously already spoken with the defendant Hess.

After a few introductory remarks by Lord Simon, the defendant Hess began to explain the reasons which led him to take his singular step, and I quote on page 93 of the document book, about the middle of the page. I must add in the minutes,

[Page 13]

the defendant Hess is referred to by the name "J". The defendant Hess, after the introductory remarks, said the following:

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Seidl, there seems to be a typographical error, probably in the date. The date is given as the 9th of August. You said the 10th of June, did you not?

DR. SEIDL: The 10th of June, yes.

THE PRESIDENT: Is this a mistake at the top of page 93 - 9.8.41?

DR. SEIDL: On the cover of the document there is the following remark:

"Minutes of the conversation which took place on the 9th June, 1941, somewhere in England." On the inside of the document, there is also the entry 9/6/41; so there must obviously be a typographical error here.

THE PRESIDENT: Yes, it must have been. They put "8" instead of "6".



DR. SEIDL: "I know that nobody, probably, has correctly understood my coming; but in view of the extraordinary step that I have taken, that can by no means be expected, Therefore I would like to begin by explaining how I came to do this."

I continue on page 94:

"The idea came to me in June of last year, during the time of the French campaign, while visiting the Fuehrer."
I believe I may omit the following incidental remarks and continue quoting further:
"I must admit that I came to the Fuehrer convinced, as we all were, that sooner or later in the end we would surely conquer England, and I expressed the opinion to the Fuehrer that we must naturally demand from England the restitution of goods - such as the equivalent of our merchant fleet, etc. - , which had been taken from us by the Versailles Treaty."
I turn to page 95:
"The Fuehrer then immediately contradicted me. He was of the opinion that the war could possibly be an occasion for coming to an agreement with England, which he had attempted to achieve ever since he had been politically active. To this I can testify, that, ever since I have known the Fuehrer, since 1921, the Fuehrer has always said, that an agreement between Germany and England had to be achieved. He said he would bring this about as soon as he achieved power. He told me at that time in France that one should not impose any severe conditions, even if victorious, on a country with which one desired to come to an agreement. At that the thought came to me that if this were known in England, it might be possible that England also might be ready for an agreement."
I turn now to page 96 of the document book.
"Then, at the conclusion of the French campaign came the Fuehrer's offer to England. The offer, as is known, was refused. This made me all the more firm in my belief that under these circumstances I had to execute my plan. During the subsequent period came the air war between Germany and England, which, on the whole, meant heavier losses and damages for England than for Germany. Consequently, I had the impression that England could no longer give in without losing considerable prestige. That is why I said to myself, now I must realize my plan all the more, for if I were over in England, England could be enabled to cultivate negotiations with Germany without loss of prestige."
I turn now to page 97 of the document book. After a short incidental remark by Dr. Mackenzie, Hess continued:

[Page 14]

"I was of the opinion that apart from the question of terms for an agreement, there would be still in England a certain general distrust to overcome. I must confess that I faced a very critical decision, the most critical in my life, of course, and I believed I was aided by continuously keeping before my inner vision the picture of an endless row of children's coffins with the mothers crying behind them on the German side as well as on the English side..."
THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Seidl, have you got the original document there before you?


THE PRESIDENT: Might it be handed up?


(The document was handed to the President.)

THE PRESIDENT: Yes, go on.

DR. SEIDL: " ... and vice-versa, the coffins of mothers with the children behind them.

I want to mention certain points which, I believe, have a certain importance from the psychological point of view. I must go back a bit. After Germany's defeat in the World War, the Versailles Treaty was imposed on her; and no serious historian is to-day still of the opinion that Germany was to blame for the World War. Lloyd George has said that the nations stumbled into the war. I recently read an English historian - Farrar - who wrote about Edward VII and his policy. This historian Farrar lays the main guilt for the war on the policies of Edward VII. After her collapse Germany had this treaty imposed upon her, which was not only a frightful calamity for Germany but also for the whole world. All attempts of politicians, of statesmen in Germany, before the Fuehrer came to power - that is to say, when Germany was a pure democracy - , to obtain any sort of relief failed."
I forgo the reading of the following part of the minutes literally. A conversation followed on various points. Among other things the subject of the conversation then was the aerial strength of Germany at that time, and the preparations with regard to the building of U boats. I do not believe that these questions are relevant in the present connection; and so I shall turn at once to that part of the minutes where mention is made of the proposals which Hess made to Lord Simon. This is on page 152 of the document book. From the minutes we can see that Hess had previously written down the proposals which he wanted to submit. He gave these notes to Dr. Mackenzie, and Mr. Kirkpatrick, who then read and translated them and I now quote on page 152, at the bottom of the page, literally:

"Basis for an understanding" - "Grundlage der Verstaendigung" - and here I have to ask the Tribunal to turn from page 152 of the document book to page 159 of the document book for the reason that the first point in the proposal obviously has been presented in the wrong fashion. On page 159, about the middle of the page, there is a statement by Dr. Mackenzie which expresses the first point correctly, and I quote:

"In order to prevent future wars between the Axis and England, the limits of the spheres of interest should be defined. The sphere of interest of the Axis is Europe, and England's sphere of interest is the Empire."
I ask now that you turn back, namely to page 153 of the document book. Here we find on the last line the second point of the proposals which Hess made. Dr. Mackenzie is reading: "2. Return of German Colonies."

I turn to page 154 of the document book and begin to quote at the top of the page:

It is possible that the figure 2 is inadvertently repeated here in the document book. It should be 3.

[Page 15]

"Indemnification of German citizens who before or during the war had their residence within the British Empire and who suffered damage to life and property through measures of a Government of the Empire or as a result of pillage, riot, etc.; indemnification of British subjects by Germany on the same basis.

4. Armistice and peace to be concluded with Italy at the same time."

Then there is a personal remark by Hess as follows:
"The Fuehrer in our conversation repeatedly presented these points to me in general as the basis for an understanding with England."
I shall not read any further excerpts from these minutes.

I forgo the reading of the other passages marked in red. The conference was terminated by a statement made by Lord Simon to the effect that he would bring the proposals made by Hess to the knowledge of the British Government. That was Exhibit H-15.

Your Honours, the defendant Rudolf Hess is accused in the Indictment of helping the Nazi conspirators to seize power and of furthering the military, economic, and psychological preparations for the war as mentioned under Count I of the Indictment; of participating in the political planning and preparation of aggressive wars and of war in violation of international treaties, agreements and promises, as mentioned in Counts 1 and 2, and of participating in the preparation and planning of foreign political plans of the Nazi conspirators as listed under Count 1.

That accusation is the nucleus of the Indictment against Rudolf Hess. It is therefore my duty to discuss also briefly in evidence the circumstances which in 1939 led to the outbreak of war. In that respect I have the following to say:

On the 23rd August, 1939, at Moscow, a non-aggression pact was concluded between Germany and the Soviet Union, which has already been submitted by the prosecution as Exhibit GB 145. On the same day, that is to say one week before the outbreak of the war and three days before the planned attack on Poland, these two nations also made a secret agreement. This secret agreement essentially contained the definition of the spheres of interest of both nations within the European territory lying between Germany and the Soviet Union.

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