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-Second Day: Wednesday, 27th March, 1946
(Part 3 of 10)

[Page 95]

THE PRESIDENT: What do the words that follow the passage you have just read on Page 27 mean? "Bucharest, October 17, 1941 (Signature illegible)," and below "To be discussed with Vice Minister President Antonescu. Confidential, Bucharest, October 16, 1943"?

COLONEL PHILLIMORE: My Lord, it is badly typed. "Bucharaest, October 17, 1943" and then follows the next letter. The previous part is a note on the file.


COLONEL PHILLIMORE: It is a note on the German Legation file on Bucharest.


COLONEL PHILLIMORE: I have not troubled the Tribunal with the following letters. They deal with the expulsion of Jews from firms owned by citizens of the German Reich.


Q. Now would you look at Page 31 of the German, Page 20 of the English translation. You will see there a document sent to -

THE PRESIDENT: When you stated that document you did not give the date in full. The year there appears to be 1944, does it not?

COLONEL PHILLIMORE: It is 1942, I think, my Lord.

THE PRESIDENT: It should be April 28th, 1942? Is the date at the head of the document?

COLONEL PHILLIMORE: My Lord, the letter I read was dated March 42, and marked with a Foreign Office stamp "Received 13th of March" -

THE PRESIDENT: I am speaking of the whole document, Page 1 of the document.

COLONEL PHILLIMORE: My Lord, it is a file, one of those rather inconvenient documents, a file, and it starts with the earliest date at the bottom and then works up to 1944.

THE PRESIDENT: Yes. Then the part you read first -


THE PRESIDENT: Very well. What page are you going to now?

COLONEL PHILLIMORE: I am going to Page 20 now, my Lord.

Q. Now, this is a communication from von Thadden who was, as you have told us, assistant in the Department Inland II, to the German Legation in Bucharest. It is dated 12th October, 1943, and it is stamped as received on 18th October. He encloses a letter signed by Muller in the Reichssicherheitshauptamt, to all German police authorities abroad. You will see that it goes to the Commander of the Security Police in Prague, The Hague, Paris, Brussels, Metz, Strasbourg, Luxembourg, Cracow, Kiev, Smolensk and so on. October, 1943. That is after you had become Secretary of State, is it not?


Q. You were appointed in April?

A. Yes.

Q. Turning to the substance of the letter - the subject of the letter is treatment of Jews with foreign citizenship in the sphere of German power.

"In agreement with the Foreign Office, all Jews who remain in the sphere of German power after the end of the so-called home-bringing action, and who have the citizenship of the following countries, may now be included in the evacuation measures: Italy, Switzerland, Spain, Portugal, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Hungary, Roumania, Turkey.

Since the evacuation of these Jews to the East cannot yet take place at the present time, a temporary stay is provided in concentration camp Buchenwald for male Jews over fourteen years of age, and in the concentration camp Ravensbrueck for Jewesses as well as children. The necessary measures are to be carried out on the following dates:

[Page 96]

(a) for Jews with Italian citizenship, immediately;

(b) for Jews with Turkish citizenship, on 20th October, 1943

(c) for Jews with citizenship of other countries mentioned above, on 10th October, 1943.

A special application for protective custody is not required for the transfer to the concentration camp, but the concentration camp headquarters are to be notified that the transfer to the concentration camp is taking place in keeping with the evacuation measures."
Then there are arrangements about baggage. And if you look at 31-E, you will see at the foot of Page 22, on the English, that it had been signed by Miller and then was signed again by a clerk of Himmler's office. Then on the next page of the English, still on 31-E of the German, Himmler's office sends it to the Foreign Office, to von Thadden, on 2nd October.

Now, did you not see that document when it got to the Foreign Office?

A. No, I see this document today for the first time.

Q. You were the Secretary of State?

A. Yes. This obviously concerns a measure which was ordered by another office within the German Reich. The Foreign Office had no executive powers at all and consequently -

Q. No executive powers, but it was sent to you for information.

A. It was sent to us - an account of it - solely for our information, and it was not given to me.

Q. You had a departmental liaison with the S.S., von Thadden. Was he not a competent official?

A. The exact content of this affair I do not know, even today, because I have not read it through fully. I can only imagine the following in reference to this whole matter: The question, whether the Jews who were in Germany could be returned to their home countries, was discussed for a long time. This, I think, is what we are concerned with here?

Q. I do not think we are interested in your imagination. Either you know or you do not know. I asked you whether von Thadden was a competent official.

A. I have not seen this document.

Q. You are not answering the question. Was von Thadden a competent official?

A. Von Thadden was a man from the Foreign Office who knew his job.

Q. Yes, knew his job. And do you not think that as Secretary of State he ought to have shown you this document?

A. He should have done that, certainly, if this matter was not arranged in another office, but I was completely excluded from any anti-Jewish action. Also, instructions about anti-Jewish actions abroad never went through my office. I pointed out yesterday, at the beginning of my statement, that many matters were arranged directly on the highest level and that the Foreign Office was not even notified afterwards about orders in these matters -

Q. This is a document you were informed about?

A. Muller sent it to the Foreign Office.

Q. And you sent it to your legation at Bucharest?

A. He ought certainly to have put that before me, but I never saw it.

Q. If you just look again at the letter, you will notice how Muller's instructions start. He begins,

"In agreement with the Foreign Office - "
A. Where does it say so? Unfortunately I have not found it.

Q. At the start of the letter. " Subject: Treatment of Jews of foreign citizenship in the sphere of German power." And then he begins,

"In agreement with the Foreign Office."
Does that just mean in agreement with von Thadden?

[Page 97]

A. I assume that this type of thing went to the competent experts, and since this concerns a basic matter it was put directly before von Ribbentrop. May I ask to be allowed to ask Herr von Ribbentrop whether he knows of this matter or not? I never saw it.

Q. This is a matter of such importance that it could not have been agreed with the Foreign Office without Ribbentrop being consulted, is not that the case?

A. In my opinion, I would never have decided alone on this matter if it had been put before me. I am of the opinion that it was an affair which would have to be put before von Ribbentrop.

Q. Good. And, of course, von Ribbentrop was one of the most ruthless persecutors of Jews of any, was he not?

A. That is not correct.

Q. I am going to just read you a short passage from a conference between the Fuehrer, Ribbentrop and the Hungarian Regent, Horthy. This is D-736, which was put in as Exhibit GB 283, by Sir David Maxwell Fyfe, to the defendant Goering. This was a meeting at Kleesheim Castle on the morning of 17th April, 1943, and you see the minutes are signed by Schmidt.

A. Yes.

Q. The question of Jews was raised. "The Fuehrer replied that it was the fault of the Jews who considered hoarding and profiteering as their main sphere of activity, even during a world war; in exactly the same way as in England sentences for rationing offences and the like now chiefly concern Jews. To Horthy's counter-question as to what he should do with the Jews, now that he had deprived them of almost all possibilities of livelihood - he could not kill them off - the Reich Foreign Minister declared that the Jews must either be exterminated or taken to concentration camps. There was no other possibility."

And then you see the Fuehrer goes on to describe them as tuberculosis bacilli. Now, in the face of that document, do you still say that the defendant Ribbentrop was against the policy of persecution and extermination of the Jews?

A. I said yesterday that von Ribbentrop, when he was with Hitler, -

Q. Never mind what you said yesterday. I am putting it to you now, today. You have now seen that document. Do you still say that Ribbentrop was against the policy of persecution and extermination of the Jews?

A. Here, too, I should like to make a distinction between the real instincts of von Ribbentrop and what he said when he was under Hitler's influence. I said yesterday that he was completely hypnotised by Hitler and then became his tool.

Q. Yes, became his tool. And from then on, he was prepared to do anything that Hitler wanted and was as violent a Nazi as anyone, is that not right?

A. He followed blindly the orders given by Hitler.

Q. Yes. To the extent of conniving at any and every atrocity, is not that right?

A. Since he had no executive powers he personally did not commit these cruelties.

(Colonel Phillimore withdrew from the lectern.)

THE PRESIDENT: Do any of the other Chief Prosecutors want to cross-examine?

BY COLONEL JOHN HARLAN AMEN (for the United States):

Q. You testified yesterday that you did not consider Ribbentrop to be a typical Nazi, is that correct?

A. Yes.

Q. Do you consider Goering to be a typical Nazi?

A. Goering made speeches before every type of meeting and fought for the seizure of power, and accordingly he had a completely different basis in the party than Ribbentrop.

Q. I think you can answer my question "yes" or "no." We are trying to save time as much as possible.

A. Yes, certainly.

[Page 98]

Q. Do you consider Goering to be a typical Nazi according to the same standards that you were using with Ribbentrop, yes or no?

A. This question one cannot answer in that way with yes or no. I am trying every -

Q. You answered it that way with respect to Ribbentrop, did you not?

A. Goering was a peculiar type of person. I cannot class him with the ordinary Nazis, as one usually understands the description.

Q. In other words, you do not know whether you think he is a typical Nazi or not, is that what you want the Tribunal to understand?

A. By a typical Nazi one understands the "average" Nazi. Goering is a unique person and one cannot compare his manner of living with the other National Socialists.

Q. Well, are you acquainted with all of the gentlemen in the box there in front of you?

A. Yes.

Q. Now, will you tell me which of those individuals you consider to be a typical Nazi, according to the standards which you applied yesterday to Ribbentrop?

THE PRESIDENT: Colonel Amen, I do not want to interrupt your cross-examination, but I want to say that there is too much laughter and noise in court, and I cannot have it.

Go on, Colonel, with your cross-examination.

Q. Do you understand my last question? Please name those of the defendants in the box whom you consider to be typical Nazis, on the same standard by which you judged Ribbentrop.

DR. HORN: Mr. President, I am convinced that here the witness is making a decision which in my opinion should be made by the Tribunal at the end of the proceedings. That is an evaluation which the witness cannot make.

COLONEL AMEN: This is the subject that was brought up by this very counsel yesterday with respect to Ribbentrop.

THE PRESIDENT: The Tribunal thinks it a perfectly proper question. They understand that the phrase "a typical Nazi" was used by the witness himself.

Q. Please just give us the names and not a long explanation, if you can.

A. I said yesterday that by typical Nazis I meant people who are familiar with the dogma and doctrine. I want to add today that by typical Nazi I mean further those people who during the time of struggle represented National Socialist ideology and were propagandists of National Socialism. Rosenberg's book is known, Frank, as President of the Academy for German Law, is known, Hess, of course, too, and these are people whom I want to put into the foreground very particularly because through their writings and so forth and through their speeches they became known. No one ever heard Ribbentrop make an election speech.

Q. But you are not answering my question. Am I to assume from what you have said that in your opinion Rosenberg, Frank and Hess are the only persons whom you could characterise as being typical Nazis, according to your standards?

A. Well, shall I go through the ranks of the defendants and give an opinion on each one?

Q. Precisely. Just give me the names. No, I do not want your opinion. I want to know under your standards which of them you consider to be typical Nazis.

A. I have already stated the standard. It can be proved by whether the people unreservedly represented the National Socialist ideology in words or at meetings and in this respect I named the prominent ones.

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