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

Ninety-First Day: Tuesday, 26th March, 1946
(Part 1 of 7)

[Page 58]

MARSHAL OF THE COURT: If it please the Tribunal, defendant Streicher will be absent from this session of the Court.

THE PRESIDENT: Yes, Dr. Seidl.

DR. SEIDL (for the defendant Hess): Mr. President, your Honours, I now turn to the reading of the interrogation of the witness Alfred Hess.

THE PRESIDENT: Where shall we find it?

DR. SEIDL: Mr. President, I received this transcript of the interrogation of the witness only last Saturday, and it has thus not been possible for me to incorporate in into the document book as yet. This witness was interrogated at Bad Nergentheim on 19th March.

THE PRESIDENT: Do you mean that we have not got copies of it?

DR. SEIDL: I do not know whether the General Secretary, from whom I received this transcript, has supplied a copy for the Tribunal.

THE PRESIDENT: Well, you had better go on then. Go on.

DR. SEIDL: Yes. Before answering the first question, the witness made a few preliminary remarks which are as follows:

"It should be noted that I had to terminate my activity in the Ausland Organisation of the N.S.D.A.P. after the flight to England of my brother Rudolf Hess, Deputy of the Fuehrer. Therefore the following statements are only valid for the period up to 12th May, 1941.

Question 1: What were the tasks and the purpose of the Ausland Organisation of the N.S.D.A.P.?

Answer: The purpose of the Ausland Organisation was the cultural, social, and economic care of all German nationals in foreign countries, regardless of whether they were Party associates or not. The Ausland Organisation in this sense was to be a bridge between Germans abroad and the home country. Its purpose was to foster and maintain love for and ties with the distant home country and to keep alive understanding for the Fatherland, as well as to awaken the understanding of Germans at home of the hard battle for existence of their people all over the world. The German abroad, through his dignified upright bearing, was to make himself popular in the country of his adoption, and thus act as the best representative of his Fatherland.

Question 2: Who could become a member of the Ausland Organisation?

Answer: The question is not understandable. There was no such thing as a membership in the Ausland Organisation; just as little, for example, as there was a membership in the Foreign Office of the Reich or in a Gau of the N.S.D.A.P. in the Reich.

Question 3: Is it correct that on the membership card of each Reich German associate the following principle was printed as a ruling principle of the Ausland Organisation:

'Follow the laws of the country whose guest you are, let its people make the internal policy of that country, do not interfere in this, not even in conversation'?

Answer: It is correct that the above principle among similar ones was printed on the cover of the membership card. If I am not mistaken, under-

[Page 59]

neath this principle there was the warning even of expulsion from the N.S.D.A.P. if this principle was not observed. This latter is to be ascertained without great difficulty by procuring a cover, which was in the possession of every Party associate in a foreign country.

Question 4: Did the Ausland Organisation of the N.S.D.A.P. develop any activity which could appear as Fifth Column?

Answer: 'Fifth Column' is not a clear concept, uniformly used. In general, it would probably mean secret espionage or sabotage activity. According to its guiding principles, the Ausland Organisation could not have carried on any such activity.

I remember that the slogan 'Fifth Column' of the foreign press was considered in the Ausland Organisation as a clever bluff of the anti-Fascist propaganda, and it caused genuine amusement. Seriously, no State could conceive that such a widely known, rather suspect and vulnerable organisation could be suited for any service of the nature of the Fifth Column. I consider it natural that this or that German abroad had secret missions - services such as other nationals performed likewise for their Fatherland - but the Ausland Organisation was certainly not the giver of such assignments nor the intermediary for such agents.

Question 5: What kind of instructions and guiding principles did the Deputy of the Fuehrer give the Ausland Organisation for its activity?

Answer: The instructions and principles of the Deputy of the Fuehrer for the activity of the Ausland Organisation are such as those mentioned in my answers to questions 1 and 3. He pointed out again and again with special emphasis, his strict instructions that the groups abroad were not to do anything which could damage the countries affording them hospitality or which could be considered an interference in the affairs of those countries. The basic principle must also be that National Socialism was a purely German movement, not an article for export which one wanted to force on other countries as suitable for them.

Question 6: Did the Deputy of the Fuehrer give the Ausland Organisation any directions or orders which could have caused them to carry on an activity similar to that of the Fifth Column?

Answer: The Deputy of the Fuehrer not only never issued any such directions or orders, but as stated above in question 6, laid down principles which absolutely prohibited any activity of the sort carried on by the so- called Fifth Column.

Question 7: Is it correct that, on the contrary, the Deputy of the Fuehrer pointed out with the utmost care that in all circumstances interference in the internal affairs of the country of adoption was to be avoided?

Answer: I can repeat only that it was a chief concern of the Deputy of the Fuehrer to develop the work of the Ausland Organisation abroad in such a way that no interference of any kind should take place in the internal affairs of the country. The few insignificant offences, which were unavoidable with the then very large number of German nationals abroad - already amounting to several million - were correspondingly severely punished.

Question 8: What were the tasks and the purposes of the 'Volksbund fur das Deutschtum im Ausland' (Association for Germanism Abroad)?

Answer: The 'Volksbund fur das Deutschtum im Ausland' had the cultural care of the so-called 'Volksdeutsche.' 'Volksdeutsche' are racial Germans who had lost their German citizenship either voluntarily or through the laws of other countries, that is, they have taken up citizenship in another country, for instance, in America, Hungary, Transylvania, etc.

Question 9: Did the 'Volksbund fur das Deutschtum im Ausland' ever, in particular however before 10th May, 1941, develop any activity which could have given it the appearance of a 'Fifth Column'?

[Page 60]

Answer: I must state in this connection that the activity of the Ausland Organisation did not have anything to do with the 'Volksbund fur das Deutschtum im Ausland,' so I can have no insight into its work. But I consider it entirely out of the question that my brother could have given the Volksbund tasks of a Fifth Column nature. It would neither have fallen within the jurisdiction of the Deputy of the Fuehrer, nor have corresponded with his views as to the task of the 'Volksbund fur das Deutschtum im Ausland.'

Question 10 and last question: What kind of directions and instructions did the Deputy of the Fuehrer give as to the activity of this Bund?

Answer: Directions, etc., which my brother gave as to the activity of this Bund, are unknown to me for, as already stated, my activity in the Ausland Organisation was in no way connected with the 'Volksbund fur das Deutschtum im. Ausland.'

(Signed) Alfred Hess; sworn to and subscribed on 19th March, 1946."

The witness Alfred Hess was then cross-examined in connection with his interrogation. I assume that the prosecution wants to submit this cross-examination itself to the Tribunal. But if this cross-examination and the questions belonging to it have not yet been translated, it might perhaps be practicable if it were done directly, in this connection.

Mr. DODD: If it please the Tribunal, we have received the cross-interrogatories but I suggest respectfully that rather than take the time to read them, we offer them and if the Tribunal will permit us, have them translated into the four languages. It will take another ten minutes or so to read them and we are not interested in doing it unless the Tribunal feels that we should.

THE PRESIDENT: Yes, certainly, Mr. Dodd.

DR. SEIDL: Mr. President, and gentlemen, I do not know whether the affidavit of Ambassador Gauss submitted by me yesterday has been translated and whether the Tribunal has received these translations already. Yesterday at mid-day I gave six copies to the information office and have heard nothing further since.

THE PRESIDENT: Can the prosecution inform the Tribunal what the position is?

SIR DAVID MAXWELL FYFE: My Lord, the prosecution has not had a copy of this affidavit yet so we do not know what is in it. We suggest that perhaps Dr. Seidl could postpone the reading of that until we have had a chance to consider it.

THE PRESIDENT: Yes, I am afraid that must be postponed.


Now I turn to volume 3 of the document book.

If it please the Tribunal, this volume of the document book contains, in substance, statements and quotations taken from, books and speeches of foreign statesmen, diplomats and political economists, regarding the history and origin of the Versailles Treaty, the contents of the Versailles Treaty, the territorial changes made by the treaty, such as the question of the Polish Corridor, and above all the disastrous economic consequences which this treaty had for Germany and also for the rest of the world.

THE PRESIDENT: Yes, Sir David?

SIR DAVID MAXWELL FYFE: My Lord, I have read the documents in this book and I should like just to say one or two words about them.

They are opinions expressed by a great variety of gentlemen, including politicians, economists and journalists. They are opinions that are expressed polemically and some of them journalistically, and with most of them one is familiar and knew them when they were expressed fifteen to twenty-five years ago.

Now, while I submit, as I have submitted to the Tribunal, that the whole subject is too remote, I have a suggestion which I hope the Tribunal will consider reasonable, that the prosecution should, as I suggested yesterday, let this book go in at the moment de bene esse and that when Dr. Seidl comes to making his final speech he can adopt the arguments that are put forward by the various gentlemen when

[Page 61]

he quotes, if he thinks they are right. He can use the points as illustrations, always provided the thesis that he is developing is one which the Tribunal thinks is relevant to the issues before it. That will preserve for Dr. Seidl the advantage of the right to use these documents subject, as I say, to the relevancy of the issues, but I suggest that it would be quite wrong to read them as evidence at the moment. They are merely polemical and journalistic opinions and directed to an issue which the prosecution has submitted and I do submit is too remote.

However, I am most anxious that Dr. Seidl should have every advantage for his final speech. Therefore, I suggest it would be convenient if they were put in without being read at the moment and were left, subject to the limitation of relevancy, which can be considered when all the evidence is before the Tribunal, for him to make use of in his final speech.

I hope that the Tribunal may consider that not only a proper but a reasonable method of dealing with such material.

DR. SEIDL: Mr. President, may I -

THE PRESIDENT: Just one moment, Dr. Seidl. We will hear you in a moment. ...Perhaps it would be better to hear what you have to say now. Do you think the suggestion made by Sir David Maxwell- Fyfe would be one which would be acceptable to you?

DR. SEIDL: Mr. President, at first glance the suggestion of Sir David Maxwell Fyfe seems to be very reasonable. But I regret I must say that if the matter is treated in that way great difficulties will arise for the defence. For example, the arguments on relevancy, which in their nature belong in the presentation of evidence and must be heard then, will be postponed until the final speech of the defence. This would mean that the defence counsel in his final speech again and again would be interrupted; that he would have to argue for the relevancy of his quotations; that perhaps whole parts of his speech would fall by the wayside in that manner; and that in that way the danger would arise that the cohesion of the speech will be broken completely.

THE PRESIDENT: Yes, Sir David.

SIR DAVID MAXWELL FYFE: My Lord, that is a danger which every advocate has to meet, that certain portions of his speech may not be deemed relevant, but I thought that that might be a helpful way out. But if it is not accepted then the prosecution must respectfully but very strongly submit that the issues of the terms of the Treaty of Versailles are not relevant to this Tribunal. I have already argued that and I do not want to develop it at great length. I do want to make it clear that the questions which are raised by the quotations here were, of course, the subject of political controversy in practically every country in Europe, and different opinions were expressed as to the rightness and the practicality of the provisions, especially the economic provisions of the Treaty of Versailles. I am not disputing that that is a matter of controversy, but I am saying that it is not a controversy that should come before this Tribunal. I myself have replied to practically all the quotations from the English statesmen here as a politician over the past years, and I am sure many people in this court must have taken one view or the other, but that is not a relevant issue to this Tribunal and, of course, especially is it wrong in my view to put forward as evidential matter opinions expressed by one side in the controversy. Every one of these speeches, as far as they were English, was either preceded by matters to which it was a reply, or was followed by a reply, and I should think the same applies to those of Senator Borah in the United States.

These matters, and this is my second point, are not really evidential, and - this is a point for argument; and it will have to be decided what is a convenient time for the Tribunal to decide on whether this is a relevant issue. But that was why I put forward this suggestion that it was better to decide it when the whole of the true evidence of fact had been put before the Tribunal. But, I do want, apart from my suggestion, to make quite clear that as regards relevance, the prosecution unitedly submits that the rightness or practicality of the provisions of the Treaty

[Page 62]

of Versailles is not a relevant matter. The other argument, I want to distinguish between the two, the other argument has been adumbrated by Dr. Stahmer as to the actual terms of the preamble to the military clauses. That is quite a different point which we can discuss when, as I understand, certain propositions of law are to be put forward by one of the defence counsel on behalf of the defence. But, as I say, the rightness and practicality of the Treaty and especially the economic clauses is a subject of enormous controversy on which there are literally thousands of different opinions from one shade to the other, and I submit it is not an issue before this Tribunal and, secondly, I submit this is not evidence. It is not evidential matter, even if it were an issue.

[ Previous | Index | Next ]

Home ·  Site Map ·  What's New? ·  Search Nizkor

© The Nizkor Project, 1991-2012

This site is intended for educational purposes to teach about the Holocaust and to combat hatred. Any statements or excerpts found on this site are for educational purposes only.

As part of these educational purposes, Nizkor may include on this website materials, such as excerpts from the writings of racists and antisemites. Far from approving these writings, Nizkor condemns them and provides them so that its readers can learn the nature and extent of hate and antisemitic discourse. Nizkor urges the readers of these pages to condemn racist and hate speech in all of its forms and manifestations.