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-Seventh Day: Tuesday, 2nd April, 1946
(Part 4 of 11)

[Page 273]

THE PRESIDENT: There are two things that I want to say. One of them relates to the prosecution, and one of them relates to the defence. It is desired that the prosecution should furnish documents to the interpreters when they are going to use documents in the course of examination or cross- examination. Documents need not necessarily be in the language which the interpreter is going to use, but there must be some document in some language, one of the languages, placed before the interpreters in order to assist them.

The other point is, that I am told that the defendants' counsel are not getting their documents ready for the translation division in anything like the two weeks beforehand which was specified by the Tribunal. The Tribunal, it is true, said that the documents must be furnished to the Tribunal or the translating division two weeks ahead, if possible. Those words "if possible" are being treated too

[Page 274]

lightly and the documents, I am told, are sometimes coming in as late as forty-eight hours before the case of the particular defendant is to be taken. That is not sufficient and it will lead to delay. That is all.

MR. DODD: May it please the Tribunal, in the course of the cross-examination of this defendant by the French prosecution, reference was made to Document PS-3766 and I understood Dr. Horn to say that that document was not a captured document. That was my understanding of his statement. I am not altogether sure that that was what he said when he approached the microphone. So that the record will be perfectly clear, I now wish to inform the Tribunal that it is a captured document and I do not know upon what basis Dr. Horn made that assertion.


DR. HORN: Mr. President, I have not, so far, had any opportunity ... it has been stated that we are dealing with a captured document, and I have had no opportunity of checking the matter beforehand. It said on the top of this document that it was a U.S.A. exhibit, Document 3766-PS, and I had no opportunity of checking this on its arrival. I have therefore requested that this fact be kindly established by the French prosecution. That was my sole objection. I did not deny that it was a captured document; I was merely unable to prove it.

THE PRESIDENT: Do any of the other prosecutors wish to ask questions of the defendant? Colonel Amen, the Tribunal hopes that you are not going over ground which has already been gone over.

COLONEL AMEN: Most certainly not, Sir.


Q. You speak English pretty well, Ribbentrop?

A. I spoke it very well in the past and I think I speak it passably well today.

Q. Almost as well as you speak German?

A. No, I would not say that, but in the past I spoke it as well as German, although I have naturally forgotten a great deal in the course of the years and now it is more difficult for me.

Q. Do you know what is meant by a "yes man" in English?

A. A "yes man" - per se. A man who says "yes" even when he himself - it is somewhat difficult to define. In any case, I do not know what you mean by it in English. In German I should define him as a man who obeys orders and is obedient and loyal.

Q. And, as a matter of fact, you were a "yes man" for Hitler, is that not correct?

A. I was always loyal to Hitler, carried through his orders, differed frequently in opinion from him, had serious disputes with him, repeatedly tendered my resignation, but when Hitler gave an order, I always carried out his instructions, in accordance with the principles of our authoritarian State.

Q. Now, you were interrogated frequently by me, were you not, before this Trial?

A. Yes, once or twice, I believe.

Q. Now, I am going to read you certain questions and answers which were given in the course of these interrogations, and simply ask you to tell the Tribunal whether or not you made the answers that I read to you. That question can be answered yes or no; do you understand?

A. Yes.

Q. "I have been a loyal man to the Fuehrer to his last days. I have never gone back on him. I have been a loyal man to his last days, last hours, and I did not always agree with everything. On the contrary, I sometimes had very divergent views, but I promised him in 1941 that I would keep faith in him. I gave him my word of honour that I would not get him into any difficulties."

Is that correct?

A. Yes, that according to my recollection is correct. I did not see the document and I did not sign anything, but as far as I can remember, that is correct.

[Page 275]

Q. Well, what did you mean by saying that you would not get him into any difficulties?

A. I saw in Adolf Hitler the symbol of Germany and the only man who could win this war for Germany, and therefore I did not want to create any difficulties for him, and remained faithful to him until the end.

Q. Well, what you really meant was that you were never going to cross him, and you promised him that in 1941, is that not true?

A. I would never cause him any difficulties, yes, I did say that. He often found me a rather difficult subordinate, and that is when I told him that I would not cause him any difficulties.

Q. In 1941 you told him that no matter whether you differed with his opinion in the future, you would never press the point, is not that true?

A. (No response).

Q. Yes or no?

A. No, not quite that, but ...

Q. Well, approximately that, is that right?

A. No, it cannot be put that way. I only meant - if I may explain it this way - that I would never cause him any difficulties; if a serious divergence of opinion should ever arise, I would just withhold my own view. That was what I meant.

Q. Well, you gave him your word of honour to that effect, is not that true?

A. Yes, that is correct, yes.

Q. And at that time you had talked about resigning, is that not correct?

A. Yes, that is also true, yes.

Q. And that made the Fuehrer lose his temper and become ill, correct?

A. Yes. "Ill" is not the correct expression, but he always became very excited, I should prefer not to mention the details.

Q. Well, he said it was injuring his health, is that not correct, and told you to stop arguing with him about any of these questions and do what he told you to do? Right?

A. I do not wish to say anything more about the personal reasons, nor do I believe that these are matters which could be of any interest here. Those would be personal matters between the Fuehrer and myself.

Q. Well, I am not interested in that. I am interested only in ascertaining if it is not a fact, and if you did not swear under oath, that on that occasion you swore to Hitler that you would never express or press any divergent views to anything which he desired. Is that not correct?

A. No, no! That is absolutely untrue, the interpretation is false. I told the Fuehrer that I would never create any difficulties for him. After 1941 I had many divergencies with him and even at that time I always voiced my own opinions.

Q. Well, Ribbentrop, whatever divergent views you had you were never able to put any of them into effect after 1941, were you? Yes or no.

A. I did not understand the question. Please repeat it.

Q. I say, no matter how divergent your views were, or what views you expressed to the Fuehrer on any of these questions after 1941, your suggestions being contrary to the Fuehrer's, were never put into effect. Is that not correct? You always eventually did what the Fuehrer told you to do and what he wished, regardless of your own views.

A. You are putting two questions to me. To the first I must reply that it is not correct that Hitler never accepted suggestions from me. Question No. 2, however, is correct. I can answer it by saying that if Hitler at any time expressed an opinion to me or issued an order, I carried the order through, as was natural in our country.

Q. In other words, eventually you always said "Yes," is that not correct?

A. I carried out his order, yes.

Q. Now, I am going to read you some more of your testimony:

"He" - referring to the Fuehrer - "considered me his most close collabora-

[Page 276]

tor. We had a very serious conversation when I wanted to go away. I promised it to him and I have kept it to the last moment. It was sometimes very difficult, I can assure you, to keep this promise, and today I am sorry that I have given it. Perhaps it would have been better had I not given it, because it put me in a position that I could not from that moment, in very serious and important moments of this war, talk to Hitler in that way which I would have liked to have talked to him, and in which, perhaps, I could have talked to him since this conversation in 1941.

I must explain all this to you. If you do not know the background of these things you might think perhaps that as Foreign Minister during these last years I would like to say more about this. Perhaps I might say one could give some more information about this, but I want to be and remain loyal to this man, even after his death, as far as I can possibly do it. But I reserve the right to prove to posterity that I kept my promise and also the right to show the role which I have played in the whole of this drama."

Did you or did you not make those statements under oath to me?

A. They are ...

Q. Yes or no?

A. Here again, we have two questions. To question number one I would say that I know nothing at all. To the second question, I answer no, I certainly never testified under oath to that. I was only put on oath twice, but that is not relevant here. The statement is not verbatim and must have been wrongly translated. It is correct that I said that I was loyal to the Fuehrer and that I further said that I had many arguments with him, that we were not always of the same opinion, and that is the quintessence of my statement That is correct.

Q. I only asked you one question, and I ask you again to answer it "yes" or "no." Did you or did you not make those statements in the exact language that I just read them to you?

THE PRESIDENT: I think, Colonel Amen, he really did answer that, because he said it is not verbatim.

COLONEL AMEN: But it is verbatim.

THE PRESIDENT: That is a matter of opinion. He says it is not verbatim.

COLONEL AMEN: Well, very good, your Lordship.


Q. In any event, you can see that you stated the substance of what I just read to you, correct?

A. As I have just said, yes.

Q. As a matter of fact, Ribbentrop, you testified and gave this particular testimony in English, did you not?

A. I have often spoken English at interrogations, that is quite true, but whether it was precisely this statement which was made in English I do not know. In any case I would answer "Yes" - both points of the statement have been correctly interpreted and it was meant to be understood that way.

Q. And when you gave your testimony in English, that was at your own request, was it not?

A. No, that is not correct.

Q. At whose request?

A. That I do not know. I believe it just happened that way. I cannot remember. I believe I mostly spoke English and German a few times. Most of the time, however, I spoke English.

Q. Now, I am going to read you a little more of your testimony and ask you the same question, which I hope you will answer "yes" or "no," namely: Did you give this testimony in the course of the interrogation:

"Question: Do you feel that you have an obligation to the German

[Page 277]

people historically to set forth not only the good things, but the bad things, for their education in the future?

Answer: That is a terribly difficult question to answer.

Question: Does that counterbalance the loyalty you feel towards the Fuehrer?

Answer: I do not want to stand before the German people as being disloyal to the Fuehrer."

Did you make those statements?

A. Yes, that is quite possible, though I can no longer remember very exactly. But that is quite possible. So much has been said in the course of the last few months and then, too, from a physical point of view I have, as you know, not been quite up to the mark so that I just cannot remember every single word.

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