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 5 of 10)

[COLONEL JOHN HARLAN AMEN continues his cross examination of ADOLF VON STEENGRACHT]

[Page 103]

Q. Why in the world should they be afraid to advise the Foreign Office of these atrocities? Had the Foreign Office ever done anything to discourage them?

A. In all matters which were violations of International Law we attempted to bring the case to the attention of the Red Cross in one way or another. We did this particularly in all matters relating to prisoners of war and if anything appeared to be wrong we drew the attention of the Swiss delegation to it on our own initiative: "Go to this place," we said, "and see what is going on." And in this case too, if I had gone to the Swiss and told them in confidence that this and that had occurred in the concentration camps, Switzerland and the Red Cross would probably have interfered, which could ultimately have led to unpleasant measures.

THE PRESIDENT: Colonel Amen, I think, we ought to have an adjournment for ten minutes.

COLONEL AMEN: I have only a few more questions.

(A recess was taken.)


Q. So far as you know, after Ribbentrop had received this desk-full of complaints from the Vatican, which he neither read nor acknowledged, did he take any steps or do anything to find out whether those complaints were justified and true, or did he not?

A. Regarding the complaints made before my time, I have no idea.

Q. I am asking you about any complaints that were received from the Vatican that ever came to your attention, with particular reference, of course, to the desk-full to which Ribbentrop himself has testified. Do you know of any steps that were ever taken by Ribbentrop in connection with complaints received from the Vatican about the atrocities taking place in concentration camps? Please try to answer "yes" or "no."

A. So far as I recall he probably submitted complaints of this sort to Hitler, when he had the opportunity, and then waited for Hitler's order.

Q. All right. And when Hitler told him to pay no attention whatsoever to these complaints, he, as usual, did exactly what the Fuehrer told him to do, namely, nothing. Is that correct, so far as you know?

A. Yes, he obeyed Hitler's orders.

Q. And did nothing?

A. If that is how the order read, he did nothing, yes.

Q. Well, did you tell the Tribunal that is what the directive from the Fuehrer was, to pay no attention to these complaints? Yes or no, please.

A. Yes.

Q. And so, I say, Ribbentrop, as usual, did nothing about any of these complaints after the Fuehrer instructed him to disregard them. Is that right?

A. I could not quite understand that question.

Q. I say after Ribbentrop received instructions from the Fuehrer to disregard these complaints from the Vatican, Ribbentrop, as usual, did what he was directed, namely, nothing.

A. I assume so, except in those cases where he nevertheless tried again and then received the same answer. I also know that he once appealed to Himmler and requested on principle that the actions against the Jews should not be carried out, and he proposed that Jewish children and women should, I believe, be put at the disposal of England and America.

Q. And you also know what reply he received to that suggestion, do you not?

A. I do not know the answer.

[Page 104]

Q. Well, you are certainly familiar with the fact that no such thing was ever done, are you not?

A. That it was never carried out? I did not understand the question.

Q. The suggestion which you claim that Ribbentrop made to Himmler. That suggestion was never carried out, was it?

A. I do not understand; in what way not carried out? So far as I know Ribbentrop appealed directly to the foreign countries at that time. I do not know what answer he received at that time, at least not in detail.

Q. Well, so far as you know, nothing ever came of that suggestion, correct?

A. No, nothing came of it.

Q. And, as a matter of fact, you know that Ribbentrop and Himmler were not on good terms anyway, do you not?

A. Yes.

Q. That was a matter of common knowledge to everybody, was it not?

A. Yes, the enmity became greater in the course of time.

Q. So far as you know, did Ribbentrop take bromides every day?

A. That I do not know. He -

Q. You never saw him taking any?

A. It is possible, I do not know.

Q. Well, did you ever see him taking any, or did he ever say that he was taking them?

A. Yes, I remember now that he took some sort of red substance, but I did not pay particular attention to it.

THE PRESIDENT: Is it any concern of ours - whether he took bromides or not?

COLONEL AMEN: Yes, your Lordship, it is, because in his interrogations he claims that his memory as to many of these events has been obscured or removed by the over-use of such medicine.



Q. Now, witness, were you incarcerated at one time at a place known as "Ash Can"?

A. In Mulleimer?

Q. Outside Luxembourg.

A. I cannot remember it.

Q. Near Luxembourg.

A. In Mulleimer? No, I do not remember being incarcerated there.

Q. After you were taken prisoner, where were you incarcerated?

A. Mondorf.

Q. For how long a period of time?

A. In Mondorf altogether eleven weeks.

Q. And at that time were numerous of the defendants in this case also incarcerated there?

A. Yes.

Q. And while you were there you were free to have conversations with some of the inmates?

A. Yes.

Q. And you did, from time to time, have such conversations? Right?

A. Yes. I was not together with them all the time, because I was in another camp.

Q. Now, in the course of your conversations with one or another of the inmates there, did you make the statement which I am about to read to you, either in exact words or in substance? Do you understand the question? "Ribbentrop is lacking in any notion of decency and truth. The conception does not exist for him." Please answer "yes" or "no." Did you say that, witness, did you say that?

A. I should be grateful if I could hear again exactly what I am supposed to have said.

[Page 105]

Q. Now remember, I am asking you whether you said it either in the exact words or in substance. Do you understand that?

A. I did not precisely understand the German translation of your question.

Q. Do you now understand it?

A. I do not understand. I did not exactly understand the German translation.

Q. Yes, but do you understand my question, namely, that you are to say whether you used these exact words or some other similar words? I will now read it to you again. Do you understand?

A. Yes, I would be grateful if you would read it again.

Q. "Ribbentrop is lacking in any notion of decency and truth. The conception does not exist for him."

A. I cannot recall that I ever made such a statement. I would have to know to whom I am supposed to have said it.

Q. Do you deny having made that statement, or is it simply that you cannot remember whether you did or not?

A. I cannot remember having said that.

Q. Is it possible that you did?

A. It is possible that I made such a statement, in some connection.

COLONEL AMEN: Very good.

THE PRESIDENT: Do the other prosecutors wish to ask any questions?

MAJOR-GENERAL ZORYA: To save time, I shall restrict myself to a few questions only. In so far as I can understand the translation of your testimony, which you submitted yesterday, you testified to the fact that besides the Ministry for Foreign Affairs, many individuals and organisations had influenced Germany's foreign policy.

A. Yes.

Q. Tell me, which of the defendants in the present trials whom you see in the dock, attempted to influence and did, to a certain extent, influence Germany's foreign policy?

A. Foreign policy was, of course, after the beginning of the War -

Q. I must ask you here and now, not to make any declaration on Germany's foreign policy, but to indicate precisely, in the form of a reply to my question, who of the defendants in the present trials attempted to influence, and did influence, Germany's foreign policy?

A. The basic lines of foreign policy were determined solely by Hitler. The fact that we had occupied many countries and in these various countries occupied the most varied positions -

Q. We know all about that. I ask you to indicate by name, who of the defendants in the present trials attempted to influence and did influence Germany's foreign policy. Is my question clear to you?

Q. Foreign policy, as I stated yesterday, was by and large determined by Hitler alone; but those people who were appointed to special agencies naturally exercised some influence in one respect or another. For example - someone who had a special assignment concerning the police carried out police measures; someone who had to take care of labour problems conducted labour affairs. The same is true of other sectors.

Q. You still do not answer my question. I request you to indicate, irrespective of the form and extent of his influence, who of the defendants in the current trials attempted to influence and did influence in one form or another, Germany's foreign policy, and this apart from representatives of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs.

A. I assume that you are asking this question in relation to Russia; as the Foreign Office no longer had jurisdiction after the entrance of German troops into Russia -

Q. I request you to understand my question thoroughly and to answer who of the defendants, and in what form, irrespective of concrete facts of foreign policy,

[Page 106]

attempted to influence this foreign policy of Germany and did, in effect, so influence it?

A. As regards Russia, the Eastern ministry was competent for these questions.

Q. No, not in connection with Russia.

A. In Norway Terboven laid down the policy. Quite naturally he influenced Hitler in his attitude toward Norway and Norwegian problems. In the same way the individual chiefs of the administrations in the individual countries exerted influence according to how close they could come to Hitler with their reports.

THE PRESIDENT: We do not want you to make speeches; we want you to answer the question. You were not asked who influenced foreign policy, but who of the defendants influenced foreign policy. You may say none, or you may say some. It is a question that you must be able to answer.

A. I would assume that Rosenberg had something to say regarding Russia. Frank had something to say regarding Poland, Seyss-Inquart had something to say regarding Holland. Other matters touched only special sectors. Naturally the S.S. had something to say; the Wehrmacht had something to say, also the various other offices, and they naturally all exerted a certain influence but only a certain influence. However, the basic policy was conducted solely by Hitler.


Q. Do you not wish in this connection to name the defendant Goering?

A. Goering carried on the Four-Year Plan and in this capacity he naturally also exercised a certain influence on Russia.

Q. What did this influence consist of?

A. There again I must say that I and the foreign office had nothing to do with Russia and that we were strictly forbidden to intervene in Russian affairs. In the sphere of propaganda and the Press we were in no way permitted to become active. For this reason I am especially badly informed on Russian affairs.

Q. Did the defendant Goering have any influence in other questions besides the Russian question?

A. I do not understand the question in the German.

Q. In addition to the Russian question, did the defendant Goering exercise any influence on other questions in the sphere of foreign policy?

A. I would say that until the year 1938 he certainly had influence over Hitler in matters of foreign policy.

Q. You have stated in your testimony that in July 1944 the Ministry for Foreign Affairs participated in preparations for the anti-Jewish Congress which, it was assumed, would be held in Cracow. Will you please answer this question briefly - yes or no.

A. Yes.

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