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 7 of 10)

[MR. BIDDLE continues his examination of ADOLF VON STEENGRACHT]

[Page 110]

Q. Was he in favour of the Tripartite Pact?

A. Yes.

MR. BIDDLE: That is all.

THE PRESIDENT: The witness may retire.

DR. HORN: Yesterday I concluded the presentation of my documents with the submission of Ribbentrop Exhibit No. 10 (on Page 35 of the Document Book). From this document I proved that von Ribbentrop conducted his foreign policy according to Hitler's foreign policy directive. I should like to prove with the following documents what was the foreign political situation that Ribbentrop found when he took office in February of 1938. I ask the Tribunal to take judicial notice of the following documents, the numbers of which I shall now communicate to the Tribunal, without my reading anything from them, in order that I may later be able to come back to them in my speech for the defence.

The first of these documents is the document which bears the number Ribbentrop Exhibit 14. It is a question here again of an extract from the "Documents of German Policy," Volume I, and carries the heading "Proclamation of the Reich Government to the German People of 1 February, 1933." This document describes briefly Germany's position at that time and the intentions of the Hitler Government which came to power on 30th January, 1933.

The next document that I ask the Tribunal to take judicial notice of is document Ribbentrop Exhibit 15. This document is again taken from the first volume of the "Documents of German Policy." It carries the title "Adolf Hitler's Address on the Occasion of the Inauguration on 21 March, 1933, in Potsdam."

[Page 111]

In this document, too, basic expositions are made regarding the internal and external policy agreed upon by the new government.

The next document of which I ask the Court to take judicial notice is Ribbentrop Exhibit 16. Again it is a document from the above-mentioned volume of documents. It is headed "Adolf Hitler's Speech on His Programme at the Meeting of the Reichstag in the Kroll Opera House on 23 March, 1933."

I ask the Tribunal to take judicial notice of the next document, Ribbentrop Exhibit 17. It is again an excerpt from the "Documents of German Policy."

COLONEL POKROVSKY: I do not like to interrupt Dr. Horn, but not one single document among those which he now mentions, beginning with 14, and as far as I understand, up to 44, inclusive, was put at the disposal of the Soviet Prosecution, and I cannot see any possibility of aiding the Tribunal in the study of these documents until we have received them. I presume that the Tribunal will judge it necessary to put off the studying of these documents until the Soviet Prosecution have received them.

DR. HORN: May I give a short explanation? I have inquired to what extent the translations have progressed. Three weeks ago I turned in my documents in the prescribed manner, the last of them about ten days ago. I was informed that the translation division unfortunately had too few French and Russian translators available to have the translation of the documents in these two languages as far advanced as is the case in the English language up to now. These are, of course, things over which I have no control.

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Horn, the Tribunal appreciates that you have done what fulfils the obligations which rested upon you and they, therefore, think that the documents should go in, subject of course to any objection being taken to them when the translations are available.

DR. HORN: Yes, Mr. President. As a precaution I have already informed Colonel Pokrovsky that this was the case, without knowing in detail what documents had been translated into Russian. That was as far as I could possibly go to reach an understanding, because the other thing was beyond my control.

MR. DODD: I wonder if it would be possible for Dr. Horn to very briefly indicate the purpose for which he offers these documents as they come up. We will have objection to some, I know, but some of that objection may be clarified if we hear beforehand just what the purpose of the offer is.

THE PRESIDENT: Mr. Dodd, Dr. Horn is putting in a large number of documents at the present moment and asking the Tribunal to take judicial notice of them, and if the prosecution finds that there is something specific that they want to object to, would it not be best that they should do that hereafter?

MR. DODD: I thought it might be of assistance and save us from rising very often if he gave us some idea of the purpose for which the offer is made.

THE PRESIDENT: I think it would take longer, probably.

DR. HORN: May I make a short explanation on this subject? Since 1933 my client has occupied official positions that were closely tied up with foreign policy. The direction of a foreign policy that had as its aim the waging of aggressive war has been charged against him. I now submit with these documents the evidence which demonstrates how that policy developed, and to demonstrate that the defendant Ribbentrop on his part made long and continuous efforts to avoid a war of aggression; for example, there is Ribbentrop Exhibit 17, which I ask the Tribunal to take judicial notice of. It is in the Document Book on Page 40 and contains a speech of Hitler's before the German Reichstag on the National Socialist Peace Policy of 17th May, 1933.

THE PRESIDENT: Yes, go on, Dr. Horn.

DR. HORN: This document of 17th May, 1933, I cite as proof of Germany's general will to disarm and as proof that the Reich Government made efforts to bring about the pacification of Europe generally.

As to the next document, I ask the Tribunal to take judicial notice of Ribbentrop

[Page 112]

Exhibit No. 18. It is again a document from the same collection and is headed "Treaty of Agreement and Co- operation of 15 July, 1933," known in brief as the "Four Power Pact." It is on Page 42 of the Document Book. This Four Power Pact was inspired by Mussolini between Germany, France, England and Italy. Its purpose was to bring about universal disarmament and above all to make effective the revision article - No. 19 - in the Treaty of Versailles. This treaty did not come into being because France did not ratify it.

As to the next document, I ask the Tribunal to take judicial notice of Ribbentrop Exhibit 20. It concerns a "Proclamation of the Reich Government to the German people in connection with the withdrawal from the League of Nations on 14 October 1933." This proclamation of the Reich Government takes cognizance of the failure of the disarmament conference and gives a concise account of Germany's reasons for withdrawing from the League of Nations. In connection with this proclamation, Hitler on the same day gave a speech over the radio in order to state the reasons for Germany's withdrawal. I submit this speech to the Tribunal as Ribbentrop Exhibit 21, and ask the Tribunal to take judicial notice of it. The speech is on Page 45 of the document book.

In order to justify the then existing foreign policy to the people, as well as to obtain a confirmation of the policy at that time, Reich President von Hindenburg, on 11th November, 1933, called the German people to the ballot-box.

The corresponding proclamation is contained in Ribbentrop Exhibit 23 which is found on page 48 of the document book. I present it to the Tribunal again with the request for judicial notice.

I further ask the Tribunal to take judicial notice of Exhibit 24 in which the trend and the results of the election are to be found. It is on Page 49 of the document book which lies before you.

In the course of its disarmament policy, Germany, on 18th December, 1933, issued a German Memorandum on the disarmament question and Germany's attitude regarding the disarmament problem. I offer the Tribunal this document for judicial notice as Ribbentrop Exhibit 25.

The next document is contained on Page 51 of the document book and describes the course of the disarmament negotiations and Germany's attitude towards these negotiations. I submit it to the Tribunal for judicial notice as Ribbentrop Exhibit 26. The document is on page 51 of the document book, and is headed " The German Memorandum on Disarmament of 19 January 1934."

The German view on disarmament is again set forth in the following document, Ribbentrop Exhibit 27, set forth on Page 53 of the document book, and is entitled: "German Memorandum of 13 March 1934."

I ask the Tribunal to take judicial notice of this document.

The German Government answered an English disarmament memorandum on 16th April, 1934, with an Aide Memoire to the English Government. I ask the Tribunal to take judicial notice of this document as Ribbentrop Exhibit 28.

In the course of the disarmament negotiations, France, in 1934, suggested a pact which became known under the name of the "Eastern Pact." Regarding this Eastern Pact, the German Government expressed its view in a communique of the German Reich Government of 10th September, 1934, which is on Page 56 of the document book, and which I have given the number Ribbentrop Exhibit 30, again with the request that judicial notice be taken of it.

As the next document, which is on page 57, I present to the Tribunal for judicial notice: Ribbentrop Exhibit 31. It concerns a copy of the "Documents of German Policy" - Volume 3 - and shows the reply of the Reich Government of 14th February, 1935, to the suggestion for an air pact, Germany's comments on this air pact include the following - I read paragraph 2 from this exhibit and begin the quotation:

"The German Government welcomes the proposal to increase safety from sudden attacks from the air by an agreement to be concluded as soon as

[Page 113]

possible, which provides for the immediate use of the air forces of the signatories on behalf of the victim of an unprovoked air attack."
In the year 1935, compulsory military service was reintroduced in Germany. On this occasion, the German Government addressed a proclamation to the German people. This proclamation is on Page 59 of the document book and carries the number Ribbentrop Exhibit 33, I request that this excerpt from the proclamation be given judicial notice.

As Ribbentrop Exhibit 34 I submit a communique of the German Reich Government of 14th April, 1935, on Germany's attitude toward the Eastern Pact. It is on Pages 61 and following of the document book and I ask, without my reading anything from it, that the Tribunal take judicial notice of it.

The introduction of conscription was regarded by the signatory countries of the Versailles Treaty as an infraction of part V of this treaty. The States protested against the reintroduction of conscription in Germany. A protest was issued by the Reich Government against this decision of the Council of the League of Nations of 17th April, 1935. This protest is on Page 63 of the document book. I have given this document the number Ribbentrop Exhibit 35, and ask the Tribunal to take judicial notice of it.

In this document the German Government disputes the right of the governments represented in the Council of the League of Nations, who approved the decision of April 17th, to set themselves up as judges over Germany. In this protest it is stated that this attitude is interpreted as a manifestation of renewed discrimination against Germany and consequently is rejected.

I turn now to Ribbentrop Exhibit 36 which is on Page 64 of the document book. This concerns the German Memorandum to the Locarno Powers of 25th May, 1935, and treats the incompatibility of the Soviet Pact with the Locarno Treaty. The defendant Ribbentrop participated decisively in the negotiations that led to the drawing up of this memorandum, and to the presentation of the German point of view before the League of Nations and the Locarno Powers. I ask the Tribunal to take judicial notice of the document because it contains Germany's legal attitude towards this problem.

A further memorandum to the Locarno Powers is to be found on Page 68 of the document book, and it again exposes briefly and clearly the incompatibility of the Soviet Pact with the Locarno Treaty. I ask that also this German Memorandum to the Locarno Powers - it is dated 25th May, 1936 - be given judicial notice.

The legal point of view which formed the basis for this memorandum was presented in a speech by Hitler concerning the peace policy in the German Reichstag on 21St May, 1935, in order to again prove German willingness for peace and disarmament. At the same time a peace and disarmament proposal was submitted in London by Ribbentrop. I ask that this document, this speech by Hitler, be given judicial notice as Ribbentrop Exhibit 37. It is on Pages 69 and following of the document book.

As the next document to prove that Germany made continuous efforts for disarmament and attempts at agreement, I submit Ribbentrop Exhibit 38, for judicial notice, which is on Page 77 of the document book. This concerns the Anglo-German Naval Agreement of 18th June, 1935, in which Ribbentrop played a decisive role, and for the ratification of which Ribbentrop exerted himself particularly. He induced the French Government, in particular, by his own efforts, to agree to this Treaty. That was necessary because this naval agreement made necessary a change in Part V of the Versailles Treaty already cited - it is the part that is concerned with disarmament instructions and armament stipulations. At that time Ribbentrop succeeded in persuading the French Government to give its approval to this agreement. I submit this document as Ribbentrop, Exhibit 38, with the request that it be taken judicial notice of.

I may in addition say in this connection that this treaty was at that time considered, both by Ribbentrop and Hitler, as the cornerstone of a far-reaching

[Page 114]

proposal for an understanding and an alliance with England. During the succeeding years, as well as during the time he served as Ambassador in London and also as Foreign Minister, Ribbentrop made constant efforts to bring about such a pact of agreement in some form or other.

As the next document I submit Ribbentrop Exhibit 39, which is on Page 79 of the document book.

In view of the reoccupation of the Rhineland the German Government found itself compelled, on 7th March, 1936 to present its attitude again, through a memorandum, to the signatory powers of the Locarno Pact. This point of view is found in the document just mentioned and I ask the Tribunal to take judicial notice of it.

The occupation of the Rhineland had led to a protest by the powers interested in it. Ribbentrop replied to this protest with a speech before the Council of the League of Nations in London, and then delivered another speech before the Council of the League of Nations also against the protest of the signatory powers of Locarno. I present this speech as Ribbentrop Exhibit 40; it is on Page 83 of my document book, and I submit it for judicial notice.

As the next document I present to the Court Ribbentrop Exhibit 41, on Page 84 of the document book, with the request for judicial notice. It contains the last peace proposals by Germany in connection with the disarmament and peace proposals of that time. It is headed "Peace Plan of the German Cabinet of 31st March, 1936." In subsequent years Germany made repeated efforts to bring about the withdrawal of the lie about her war guilt. In the year 1937 German and Italian relations became constantly closer, and in connection with these relations Hitler, on 30th January; 1937, on the fourth anniversary of the National Socialist revolution, made a proposal before the German Reichstag in the Kroll Opera House in Berlin, that agreements should be reached with other European nations in Europe on the same basis as that of the agreement between Germany and Italy, in order to attain harmonious relationships. I ask that this document be accepted as Ribbentrop Exhibit 43, which is on Page 88 of the document book. In this document the withdrawal of the lie about Germany's war guilt was clearly requested once more. I quote from the third paragraph of the above:

"Above all, therefore, I formally withdraw Germany's signature from that statement, extorted against its better judgement from the weak German government of the day, that Germany is to blame for the war."
As the next document I bring ...

THE PRESIDENT: I beg your pardon. Are you referring to 44?

DR. HORN: I was just referring to Ribbentrop Exhibit 43, which is on Page 88 of the document book. Please pardon me if I left that out.

THE PRESIDENT: There was some passage you read in it which does not appear to be translated here.

DR. HORN: Did I correctly understand you to say, Mr. President, that there was no English translation in the document book?

THE PRESIDENT: Well, I am not quite sure. I did not catch it myself. Did you read anything which is not in the document book?

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