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 5 of 7)

[Page 74]

THE PRESIDENT: You are reading from the document, are you not, Dr. Horn? You began to tell us something about Hitler.

DR. HORN: Yes, I interrupted at the phrase "as bound by this pact which has been rendered void," in order to bring in the role of Ribbentrop briefly. On the basis of this pact and of the intentions of the French General Staff, Hitler then had the defendant von Ribbentrop ...

THE PRESIDENT: We shall hear that from von Ribbentrop, shall we not?

DR. HORN: Mr. President, we are permitted to add a few connecting words to the documents. I can now explain ...

THE PRESIDENT: Yes, Colonel Pokrovsky.

COLONEL POKROVSKY: As far as I can understand, the Tribunal has already explained to the defence counsel, Dr. Horn, that the defence has already submitted documents. Although Dr. Horn does not consider it necessary to state when he deviates from the documents and when he quotes from them, I have had the opportunity of noting that in the document he has just quoted, numbered

[Page 75]

"Ribbentrop-1 " there is a complete absence of any reference to the plans of the French General Staff. Among the documents in the Document Book submitted by Ribbentrop's defence counsel I could not find any copies of the plans of the French General Staff. It is therefore quite incomprehensible to me how Dr. Horn happens to be informed in connection with the plans of the French General Staff, and on what grounds he refers to these plans in Ribbentrop's case, since they appear to be completely absent among the documents to which he refers?

DR. HORN: Mr. President ...

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Horn, what you appeared to the Tribunal to be doing then was not anything explanatory of the document, but telling us what Hitler did and what the defendant Ribbentrop did in consequence of what Hitler did. That is not in evidence. You cannot tell us what is not in evidence. You can only give us explanatory remarks to make the document itself intelligible.

DR. HORN: Mr. President, the defendant von Ribbentrop is accused on account of the administering of the entire foreign policy. The prosecution has presented the foreign political activity as they see it and we have been permitted, not to give a speech but, in connection with the documents submitted, to present our opposing view, as the defence see it. In order to do that, I must refer to certain facts, documents and quotations. I can never give a complete picture if I may just submit a document without giving a large frame to this matter, a certain development in the entire policy.

THE PRESIDENT: Well, Dr. Horn, the Tribunal is not expecting you to give a complete picture at this stage. All you are doing at the present moment is introducing the evidence. You are going to give the complete picture when you make your final speech. It is intelligible, this document. It is a document which is well known; it is perfectly intelligible without telling us what Hitler or what the defendant Ribbentrop did.

DR. HORN: Regarding these questions raised by the Russian Prosecutor, I have already asked for the defendant von Neurath as a witness. I can interrogate him on this point only after the defendant von Neurath is in the witness box. But I can still refer now to these facts that are counter- evidence.

THE PRESIDENT: But, you see, that would be his function. If you are going to tell us what you think the defendant von Neurath is going to say in answer to questions which you put to him, that would be making an opening statement. Well, that has not been provided for by the Charter. We must wait until you call von Neurath or until you question von Neurath.

DR. HORN: Then I will read from this document just mentioned, Ribbentrop Exhibit 1, on page ten of the document book:

"The German Government is now forced to face the new situation created by this alliance, a situation which is made more critical by the fact that the Franco-Soviet pact has found its supplement in a pact of exactly parallel nature, between Czechoslovakia and the Soviet Union. In the interest of the elementary right of a nation to safeguard its borders and to guarantee its defensive capacities, the German Government has therefore re-established the full and unrestricted sovereignty of the Reich in the demilitarised zone of the Rhineland, effective today."
I ask the Tribunal to accept the entire document as evidence. Through this step of the German Government certain articles of the Treaty of Versailles which were concerned with the demilitarisation of the Rhineland zone, had become obsolete. Since this morning, by decision of the Tribunal, the taking of a position on the Versailles Treaty is not permitted, I will omit the corresponding material from the document book of the defendant von Ribbentrop, and turn now to the document Ribbentrop Exhibit 8, which is on page twenty-one of the document book.

May I put another question first, Mr. President?

[Page 76]


DR. HORN: Is it permitted to submit the official documents oh the Treaty of Versailles that were exchanged between governments before the conclusion of the Treaty? These are purely government documents and not any arguments on the Treaty itself. May these documents be submitted after the decision today of the Tribunal?

THE PRESIDENT: Which are they, the one on page twenty-one?

DR. HORN: This is in regard to the Ribbentrop Exhibit 3.

THE PRESIDENT: Where is that?

DR. HORN: It is on page fourteen of the document book.

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Horn, the Tribunal would like to know what issue in this trial this document is relevant to.

DR. HORN: I wanted to explain with it the German opinion of the Treaty of Versailles. Ribbentrop Exhibit 2 deals with the note of Germany to the United States that contains the offer for an armistice and conclusion of peace. And I wanted further to show in the next note again that this offer was one based on the Wilsonian Fourteen Points. Further, with Ribbentrop Exhibit 4, I wanted to submit evidence that the peace and the armistice were to be concluded on the basis of the Fourteen Points with two exceptions. I also wanted to show through Ribbentrop Exhibit ...

SIR DAVID MAXWELL FYFE: My Lord, I tried not to interrupt, but really this is the issue that the Tribunal ruled on a fortnight ago when the defendant Goering, I think, applied for documents on exactly this issue: and that also, as I understand, the Tribunal ruled on again this morning. The issue is perfectly clear; the only issue to which this can be directed is whether the Treaty of Versailles was in accordance with the Fourteen Points and if not, was therefore an unjust treaty which comes directly within the Tribunal's ruling of an hour ago.

DR. HORN: May I add something more?

As far as I and my colleagues have understood the ruling of the Tribunal today, the only prohibition is against making before this Tribunal statements on the injustice of the Treaty and on the fact that it purportedly was concluded under duress. We have not understood the decision in any other way.

THE PRESIDENT: That was why I asked you to what issue this was relevant, and you said that it was relevant to showing what the German opinion on the Treaty was. Well, these are documents of the period before the Treaty was made, and they seem to be only relevant upon the question of whether or not the Treaty was a just treaty or not a just treaty.

DR. HORN: I personally did not want to demonstrate through this document either that it was a just or an unjust treaty, but only that it was a treaty which had many legal inadequacies, since the main treaty was not in line with the agreements of the preliminary treaty.

THE PRESIDENT: Well, if the main treaty was not in accordance with the preliminary treaty then the main treaty would, according to that argument, be an unfair treaty. That is the very point upon which the Tribunal has ruled.

DR. HORN: For that reason, Mr. President, I have just omitted these documents also and said that I will not refer to them in view of this ruling. I will now turn to document No. 8.

THE PRESIDENT: As you are going through a lot of documents we might break off for ten minutes.

(A recess was taken.)

MR. DODD: I do not want to take much of the Tribunal's time, but in view of the statement of Dr. Horn concerning the condition of the defendant von Ribbentrop, I think it is required that we inform the Tribunal of the situation as we understand it, which is something quite different from the understanding of Dr. Horn.

I have talked with Colonel Andrus and with one of the Army doctors in atten-

[Page 77]

dance. Colonel Andrus has talked with both of them. And our understanding is that Ribbentrop is not ill and is able to take the witness-stand; that he is nervous, and appears to be frightened, but he is not disabled in any sense and is capable of testifying.

DR. HORN: I come now to page twenty-one of the document book and ask the Tribunal to take judicial notice of the document appearing under Ribbentrop Exhibit 8. It is a copy, again from the "Documents of German Politics," volume 4, which I turned over, signed, to the Court. It is the speech of Ambassador von Ribbentrop at the ninety-first session of the League of Nations Council in London, regarding the Soviet Pact, the Locarno Pact and the German Peace Plan. The speech was delivered on 19th March, 1936. I refer to page three of the speech and begin my quotation at No. 5. I quote:

"According to this alliance, France and Russia appoint themselves the judge in their own affairs by independently determining the aggressor if occasion arises, without a resolution or a recommendation on the part of the League of Nations, and thereby are able to go to war against Germany according to their own judgement.

This strict obligation of the two countries is clearly and unequivocally evident from paragraph 1 of the signed protocol to the Treaty of Alliance, which states: In a given case France can decide, with its own judgement, whether Germany or Soviet Russia is the aggressor. It only reserves the right in this, not to have itself exposed through its military action based on such an individual decision to sanctions on the part of the powers guaranteeing the Rhine Pact, namely, England and Italy.

From a legal and 'real political' point of view, this reservation is meaningless.

In terms of law: How will France be able to foresee, when determining the aggressor itself, what attitude the guarantors of the Locarno Pact will afterwards assume towards this determining on its part? The answer to the question of whether France would have to fear sanctions in such a case depends in practice not only on the faithful adherence to the pact by the guarantors - about which the German Government does not wish to raise doubts in any way - but also on the most various prerequisites of a purely factual nature, the probability or improbability of which is not to be perceived in advance. In addition, however, the evaluation of the relationship between the new treaty of alliance and the Rhine Pact cannot be made dependent on the treaty relationship between France and Germany on the one hand and the guaranteeing powers on the other, but only on the immediate treaty relationship between France and Germany itself. otherwise one would have to demand of Germany that it tolerate silently every possible violation of the Rhine Pact by France, in confidence that the guarantors would have to provide for its security. That certainly was not the purpose of the Rhine Pact.

In terms of real politics: When a country is attacked by such a superior military coalition as a consequence of a decision, incorrect because taken in advance in some party's own interests, it is an inconsequential consolation to obtain its right in subsequent sanctions against the aggressors condemned by the League of Nations Council. For what sanctions could actually touch such a gigantic coalition reaching from East Asia to the Channel? These two countries are such powerful and important members, and especially militarily strong factors of the League of Nations, that, according to all practical considerations, sanctions would be unthinkable from the outset.

Therefore this second restriction dealing with the consideration of eventual sanctions is wholly inconsequential from a real political point of view.

I now ask the members of this Council to bear in mind not only the legal and practical political scope of this obligation, on the part of France, to act

[Page 78]

independently, but to ask yourselves above all whether the opinion can be advocated that the German Government of that time, which signed the Locarno Pact, would ever have taken upon itself the obligations of this Pact, had it contained such one-sided stipulations as have now later developed."
I now go to page twenty-six of the document book, and the same document, and to clarify the German point of view, I add the following:
"But the Franco-Soviet Russian alliance means, beyond that-in the German Government's view of history - a complete elimination of the hitherto existing European balance and, consequently, of the fundamental political and legal conditions under which the Locarno Pact was concluded at that time."
With this Germany had expressed the legal basis of its attitude toward the Locarno Pact and the Versailles stipulations regarding the demilitarisation of the Rhineland. In order to prove its will to disarm, there is in the same document on page seven, that is, page twenty-seven of the document book, an exhaustive and detailed disarmament proposal.

I ask the Tribunal to accept in evidence the document just cited, so that I may later refer to it.

With this exposition I conclude my presentation on Germany's reasons for re-occupying the Rhineland. Regarding the role of the defendant von Ribbentrop in the occupation of the Rhineland - I shall enter upon that when I call the defendant to the witness-stand.

After the occupation of the Rhineland, the defendant von Ribbentrop returned to London, where he was appointed then as ambassador. On 4th February, 1938, he was appointed Foreign Minister, and from that time on conducted the foreign policy along the lines laid down by Hitler. In proof of this statement I refer to Ribbentrop Exhibit 10, to be found in the document book. This is a very short document that I submit to the Tribunal for judicial notice. It is an excerpt from the speech of the Fuehrer before the German Reichstag in the Kroll Opera House in Berlin on 19th July, 1940. I quote:

"I cannot conclude this appraisal without finally thanking the man who for years has carried out my foreign political directions in loyal, tireless, selfless devotion.

The name of Party Member von Ribbentrop will always be recognised as that of the Reich Foreign Minister at the time of the political uprising of the German Nation."

I submit this quotation to the Tribunal to show according to what principles the defendant von Ribbentrop conducted the foreign policy.

I should like now to ask the Tribunal to hear the witness State Secretary von Steengracht.

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