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-Fifth Day: Saturday, 30th March, 1946
(Part 2 of 5)

[Page 193]

Q. What caused Germany to violate the integrity of Luxembourg?

A. Luxembourg was in pretty much the same situation as Belgium and Holland. It is a very small country, and obviously in a war on the scale of this one the armies cannot suddenly refrain from over-running one particular country. But I would like to point out just one thing in connection with Luxembourg. The summer before - that is during the summer of 1939 - we had started negotiations with France and Luxembourg with a view to making perfectly definite pacts of neutrality to be established by treaties. At first, the negotiations seemed to be going very well; but they were suddenly broken off by both, France and Luxembourg. At the time, we did not understand the reason for this, but I know that when I reported it to the Fuehrer, it made him a little distrustful of their motives. We never knew the exact reason.

Q. How far was the German Foreign Office able to exert its influence in France after the partial occupation of the country?

A. After the occupation, or partial occupation, of France, although we were not yet at peace with France and there was therefore really no reason to resume diplomatic relations, as only an armistice had been declared, the Fuehrer, at my request, appointed an ambassador to the Vichy Government. I was especially anxious for this to be done because it had always been my aim to establish closer relations with France. I would like to emphasise the fact that I resumed my efforts in this direction immediately after the victory and the armistice. The Fuehrer readily agreed to this and also initiated the so-called Montoire policy at my request, by meeting Marshal Petain at Montoire after a meeting with General Franco. I was present at this meeting.

I believe I may say in the interests of historical accuracy that Hitler's treatment of the ruler of the defeated French nation is probably unexampled and must be described as chivalrous. There cannot be many parallel cases in history.

Adolf Hitler immediately made proposals to Petain for a closer collaboration between Germany and France, but Marshal Petain, even at the very first meeting, adopted an attitude of marked reserve towards the victor, so that, to my great regret, this first meeting came to an end more quickly than I really wanted it to. In spite of this, we continued to try to carry out a systematic policy of conciliation and even of close collaboration with France. Our lack of success was probably due to the natural attitude of France and the opposition of influential circles. Germany did not fail to make every effort.

Q. What influence did you yourself, and also the German Foreign Office, have on conditions in Belgium after the occupation?

A. We had no influence whatsoever on conditions in Belgium or in Holland. The Fuehrer set up military and civil administrations, and the Foreign Office had no further connection with them, beyond being represented by a liaison officer who, in practice, had nothing, or practically nothing, to do. I would like to add that it was rather different in France, inasmuch as we were naturally in a position to exercise a certain amount of influence on the Vichy Government through our Ambassador. I did so, for instance, in matters of finance.

We have heard a good deal about the activities of a certain Herr Henimen. I should just like to say that, no matter how his powers may have been defined, I appointed him for the express purpose of preventing inflation and the collapse of the French currency. That was the special mission entrusted to Hemmen. Even if France was no longer willing to co- operate politically with Germany, she was undoubtedly of economic importance to us; and I wanted to keep her on a sound basis and to preserve her economic system. That was the real reason for Hemmen's appointment.

[Page 194]

Q. What plans did Hitler have with regard to his foreign policy after the conclusion of the campaign in the West?

A. After the conclusion of the campaign in the West, I discussed future developments with the Fuehrer at his headquarters. I asked him what his intentions were with regard to England, and whether we had better not make another attempt with England. The Fuehrer seemed to have had the same idea and was delighted with my proposal for making a fresh peace offer or attempting to make peace with England. I asked him whether I should draft such a treaty. He at once replied: "No, that will not be necessary, I will do that myself."

He said, word for word: "If England is ready for peace, there are only four points to be settled. Above all, after Dunkirk, I do not want England in any circumstances to suffer a loss of prestige, so that I do not want a peace which would involve that in any circumstances."

With regard to the contents of such a treaty, he enumerated four points:

1. Germany was ready to recognise in all respects the existence of the British Empire.

2. England must, therefore, acknowledge Germany to be the greatest Continental power, if only because of the size of her population.

3. He said, "I want England to return the German colonies - I would be satisfied with one or two of them - because of the raw materials."

4. He said that he wanted a permanent alliance with England.

Q. Is it correct that at the end of 1939 you heard from Hitler that conferences had taken place between the Greek and French General Staffs and that French officers had been sent to Greece?

A. Yes, that is correct. It came within the scope of the Fuehrer's policy, as entrusted to me, for preventing the war from spreading, that I should keep a sharp watch on these things and, of course, especially on the Balkans; Hitler wished in all circumstances to keep the Balkans out of the war.

Greece: The situation was as follows: Greece had accepted a British guarantee, Also, there were close links between Yugoslavia and England and - especially - France. Through our intelligence and through military channels we repeatedly heard about staff conferences between Athens, Belgrade, London and Paris, which were supposed to be taking place. About that time I summoned the Greek Ambassador on several occasions and drew his attention to these things. I asked him to be very careful, and told him that Germany had no intention of taking any steps against the Greek people, who had always been very much liked in Germany.

However, further intelligence reports came in, to the effect that Britain had been given permission to establish naval bases in Greece. All this led up to the intervention of Italy, which was highly undesirable from our point of view. I believe Reichsmarshal Goering has already discussed this topic. It was impossible to prevent this intervention, for when we arrived in Florence - I was with Hitler at the time - for his conference with Mussolini it was too late, and Mussolini said: "We are on the march."

The Fuehrer was very much upset and depressed when he heard this news. We then had to do everything in our power so that the war between Greece and Italy might at least be prevented from spreading. Yugoslav policy was naturally the decisive factor here. I tried in every possible way to establish closer links with Yugoslavia and to win her over to the Tripartite Alliance which had already been concluded. It was difficult at first, but with the help of the Regent, Prince Paul and the Zwetkowitsch Government, we finally succeeded in inducing Yugoslavia to join the Tripartite Alliance. We knew very well, however, that there was strong opposition in Belgrade to the adhesion of Yugoslavia to the Tripartite pact and to any kind of closer connection with Germany. In Vienna at the time the Fuehrer said that the signing of the Tripartite Alliance seemed like a funeral to him.

All the same, we were very much surprised when - I think it was two or three

[Page 195]

days after the conclusion of this pact - the government was overthrown by General Simovic's putsch and a new government was set up which certainly could not be described as friendly to Germany.

Reports came from Belgrade concerning close collaboration with the British General Staff. I believe American observers in this field are informed on the point, and during the last few months I have heard from English sources that British elements had played a part in this putsch. That was quite natural, for we were at war.

All these events caused the Fuehrer to intervene in the Balkans, first of all, to help Italy, whom the courageous resistance of the Greeks had forced into a very difficult position in Albania; and, secondly, to prevent a possible attack from the North on the part of Yugoslavia, which might have made the Italian situation still more serious or even brought about a crushing defeat for our Italian partner.

Those were the military and strategic factors which induced the Fuehrer to intervene and to conduct the campaign against Greece and Yugoslavia.

Q. If I understood you correctly, Greece put bases on her territory at the disposal of the British navy before the Italian attack in October, 1940, in spite of the fact that she had declared her neutrality. Is that correct?

A. That was the substance of the military reports which I received.

Q. In September 1939, General Gamelin, then French Commander- in-Chief, approved the project for an allied landing at Salonika. When did Germany receive knowledge of this intention?

A. We first learned the exact details from the files of the French General Staff on the outbreak of war. But I know that from the very beginning all the reports which the Fuehrer received from the various intelligence branches of the Reich caused him to fear the possibility that a new front might be built up at any moment in Salonika, as had happened in the first World War, and that would mean a considerable dispersal of the German forces.

Q. In September of 1938 you made a second trip to Moscow. What was the reason for this visit and what was discussed there?

A. My second visit to Moscow was made necessary by the ending of the Polish campaign. I flew to Moscow toward the end of September, and this time I received an especially cordial reception. We had to reach a definite agreement about Poland. Soviet troops had occupied the Eastern regions of the country, and we had occupied the Western parts up to the line of demarcation previously agreed upon. Now we had to fix a definite line of demarcation. We were also anxious to strengthen our ties with the Soviet Union and to establish cordial relations with them.

An agreement was reached in Moscow finally fixing the line of demarcation in Poland, and an economic treaty, putting economic relations on an entirely new basis, was envisaged.

A comprehensive treaty regulating the exchange of raw materials was envisaged and later concluded. At the same time this pact was amplified into a treaty of friendship, as is well known.

The question of Lithuania remained. For the sake of establishing particularly confidential relations between Moscow and Berlin, the Fuehrer refrained from claiming influence over Lithuania, and gave Russia predominance in that country by the second treaty, so that there was now a clear understanding between Germany and Soviet Russia with respect to territorial claims as well.

Q. Is it correct that on 15th June, 1940, after the delivery of an ultimatum, the Russians occupied the whole of Lithuania, including the part which was still German, without any intimation being received by Germany?

A. We had no special agreement concerning this, but it is well known that these areas were actually occupied.

Q. What further Russian measures caused Hitler anxiety as to Russia's attitude and intentions?

[Page 196]

A. Various things made the Fuehrer a little sceptical about the Russian attitude. One was the occupation of the Baltic States, which I have just mentioned. Another was the occupation of Bessarabia and North Bukovina after the French campaign, of which we were simply informed without any notification beforehand. The King of Roumania asked us for advice at that time. The Fuehrer, out of loyalty to the Soviet pact, told him to accept the Russian demands and to evacuate Bessarabia. In addition, the war with Finland in 1940 caused a certain uneasiness among the German people, who had strong sympathies for the Finns. The Fuehrer felt himself bound to take this into account to some extent. There were two other points to consider. One was that the Fuehrer received a report on communist propaganda in German factories which alleged that the Russian trade delegation was the centre of this propaganda. We also heard of military preparations being made by Russia. I know that, after the French campaign, he spoke to me about this matter on several occasions, and said that approximately twenty Russian divisions had been concentrated near the East Prussian border; and that very large forces - I happen to remember the number, about thirty army corps - were to be concentrated in Bessarabia. The Fuehrer was perturbed by these reports, and asked me to watch the situation closely. He even said that in all probability the 1939 pact had been concluded for the sole purpose of being able to dictate economic and political measures to us. In any case, he now proposed to take counter-measures. I pointed out the danger of preventive wars, but the Fuehrer said that German-Italian interests must come first in all circumstances, if necessary. I said I hoped that matters would not go so far and that at all events we should make every effort through diplomatic channels to avoid it.

Q. In November - from 12th to 14th November, 1940, to be exact - the Russian foreign commissar Molotov visited Berlin. On whose initiative did this visit take place and what was the subject under discussion?

A. The conferences with Molotov at Berlin concerned the following subjects I might interpolate that when we were trying to effect a settlement with Russia through diplomatic channels, I wrote to Marshal Stalin, with the Fuehrer's permission, in the late autumn of 1940 and invited M. Molotov to visit Berlin. This invitation was accepted, and Russo-German relations were discussed in their entirety during a conversation between the Fuehrer and M. Molotov. I was present at this discussion.

M. Molotov first discussed with the Fuehrer Russo-German relations in general, and then went on to mention Finland and the Balkans. He said that Russia had vital interests in Finland. He said that when the delimitation of zones of influence had been settled, it had been agreed that Finland should be included in the Russian sphere of influence. The Fuehrer replied that Germany also had extensive interests in Finland, especially with regard to nickel, and, furthermore, it should not be forgotten that the entire German people sympathised with the Finns. He would therefore ask M. Molotov to compromise on this question. This topic was brought up on several occasions.

With regard to the Balkans, M. Molotov said that he wanted a non-aggression pact with Bulgaria, and closer ties generally with Bulgaria. He also thought of establishing bases there. The Fuehrer replied - or, rather asked - whether Bulgaria had approached Molotov in the matter, but that apparently was not the case. The Fuehrer then said that he could not express any opinion on this question until he had discussed it with Mussolini, who was his ally and who was naturally interested in the Balkans, too.

Various other points were also discussed, but no final settlement was reached at this discussion. The discussion proceeded on lines which seemed to me not those best calculated to lead to a solution likely to satisfy both sides. As soon as the meeting was over, I requested the Fuehrer to authorise me to start fresh discussions with Molotov and asked him if he would consent to my discussing with him the possibility of Russia joining the Tripartite Alliance. That was one

[Page 197]

of our aims at the time. The Fuehrer agreed to this, and I had another long discussion with the Russian Foreign Minister on the same questions. M. Molotov alluded to vital importance of Finland to Russia; he also referred to Russia's interest in Bulgaria, her kinship with the Bulgarian people and her interest in other Balkan countries. It was finally agreed that on his return to Moscow he should speak to Stalin and try to arrive at some solution of the question. I suggested that they might join the Tripartite pact, and further proposed that I should discuss with the Fuehrer the various points which had been raised. Perhaps we could still find a way out. The general result of this conversation was that Molotov went back to Moscow with the intention of clearing up, through diplomatic channels, the differences still existing between us.

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Horn, surely, as these negotiations did not eventuate in any agreement, they are very remote from anything we are considering. You are not suggesting that any agreements were come to, are you?

[ 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.