The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)
Nuremberg, war crimes, crimes against humanity

The Trial of German Major War Criminals

Sitting at Nuremberg, Germany
4th April to 15th April, 1946

One Hundred and Fourth Day: Wednesday, 10th April, 1946
(Part 11 of 11)

[Page 232]

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Horn, the Tribunal has to adjourn at five o'clock into a closed session. They hope very much that you will conclude your examination of these documents by then.

DR. HORN: Very well, Mr. President. So as to save time, I shall only state briefly what these documents are. Ribbentrop Exhibit 221 is the proof of an intended intervention in Belgium. This is a report from the military attache at the French Embassy in London, General Lelong, addressed to the Chief of the French General Staff for National Defence. I am going to quote a very brief passage from it which says:

"Intervention in Belgium.

The British Delegation readily recognised how uncertain the conditions are for eventual intervention in Belgium. It was proposed that we, in order to prevent a battle on the Belgian flatlands, must plan to organise our defences at least along the Scheldt, or preferably, along the Albert Canal. By request of the British Delegation, the following points have been considered:

(1) The possibility of intervention along the line Antwerp-Brussels-Namur, assuming that it were possible to organise such a position in good time.

(2) The importance of holding the Belgian and Dutch territory as a base for a resumption of the offensive against Germany.

Again, to save time, I shall not refer to any other documents in connection with this group. I merely ask the Tribunal that Ribbentrop Exhibit 219, on Page 521 of the document book, which is a memorandum of the German Government to the Luxembourg Government, of 9th May, 1940, and Ribbentrop Exhibit 220, should be taken judicial notice of, so that I can refer to them when I present my case. Furthermore, I ask the Tribunal to take judicial notice of Documents 230, 230-a, 231 and 231-a, 232, 233, 234, 235, 236, 237, 239, 240, 241, 242, 243, 244, and 245, which, again are documents which originate from the French General Staff and are clear proof that Britain and France, before 9th May, 1940, had

[Page 233]

prepared detailed plans for military co-operation, and that British and French advance parties were already on Belgian and Dutch territory before German troops crossed the border. That is the end of this particular group.

I now come to those documents which I intend to submit to the Tribunal with reference to the occupation of Yugoslavia and Greece. These are Documents 272 and the following, Page 604 and the following, of the document book. Here again, we are concerned with documents which partly come from the files of the French General Staff. The first document of the type is Ribbentrop Exhibit 272, which is a note from the German Government to the Yugoslav Government, dated March, 1941. This is concerned with the joining of the Three-Power Pact by Yugoslavia. This document shows that Germany and the Axis Powers did not intend to put demands to Yugoslavia during the war at all, least of all with reference to the march of troops through Yugoslav territory. Ribbentrop Exhibits 272 and 274 contain the minutes of Yugoslavia's entry into the Three-Power Pact on 25th March, 1941, and connected with it is a note from the Reich Government to the Yugoslav Government. With Ribbentrop Exhibit 277 I submit to the Tribunal a note from the Reich Government to the Greek Government, which was handed to that Government after Greek territory had been occupied by British troops. From Page 3 I quote the following sentence:

"During recent days Greece had become an operational territory for British forces."
Under Exhibit Ribbentrop 278, I submit to the Tribunal an official statement from the Reich Government, dated 6th April, 1941, which is addressed to both Yugoslavia and Greece. In this note the reasons are stated which, after the Simovic revolt, led to military action by Germany in Yugoslavia. These reasons can be found on Page 4 of this document. As evidence that the statements contained therein are true, I am referring to the so-called "Charitait Files" which are the files of the French General Staff.

This completes the group of documents with reference to Yugoslavia and Greece, but I should like to add that once again I will rely on further evidence which will be submitted by my colleague, Dr. Siemers, for the defendant Raeder, and which also refer to the German action against Greece.

The next group of documents refer to Russia. They are the documents in Ribbentrop Exhibits 279 and the following, which can be found on Page 619 and the following of the document book. I ask the Tribunal to take judicial notice of Nos. 279, 280, 282, 283 and 284. During the presentation of my argument I shall refer to these documents further.

The next and last group of documents are those which refer to the accusation against the defendant Ribbentrop regarding the Anti-Comintern Pact and his policy in connection with Japan and the U.S.A.

The first document of this type is Ribbentrop Exhibit 291 on Page 652 of the document book. This document contains the text of the Anti-Comintern Pact. Ribbentrop Exhibit 281 refers to the extension of the Anti-Comintern Pact, the Three-Power Pact of 27th September, 1940. I submit these documents to the Tribunal as proof of the fact that Ribbentrop and the Reich Government made efforts, by means of this policy, to keep the United States out of the war. In spite of this policy an active support of our opponents by the United States took place. As proof of this I refer to the documents in Ribbentrop Exhibit 306 and Ribbentrop Exhibit 308 on Pages 700 and following of the document book. These documents are the last I am submitting to the Tribunal with reference to the policy of Germany during the years when the defendant von Ribbentrop was Foreign Minister. Finally I refer briefly to Ribbentrop Exhibit 313. That is an affidavit from the Legation Counsellor Bernd Gottfriedsen. This affidavit actually has nothing to do with the aggressive war, but it refers to questions which have been brought up by the prosecution in connection with the case of Ribbentrop,

[Page 234]

and this affidavit contains statements regarding the real estate property of the defendant Ribbentrop and regarding his ownership of art works.

May I point out that Legation Counsellor Gottfriedsen, as he has stated in the affidavit, handled the financial affairs of the Foreign Office and particularly those of the Foreign Minister. I will quote a brief passage in connection therewith from question No. 5.

"Q. What is the situation with regard to von Ribbentrop's art possessions?

A. (by Legation Counsellor Gottfriedsen): Herr von Ribbentrop was a wealthy man before he entered diplomatic life. During the time of his activities in the above- mentioned department he acquired some paintings, for the most part on the art market in Germany itself. Every one of these paintings was acquired properly and, above all, at correct prices, and, of course, paid for out of the private funds of the Reich Foreign Minister.

During the time he was Foreign Minister, Herr von Ribbentrop acquired art treasures abroad for purposes of furnishing the Foreign Office and German missions in foreign countries, which became State property and were used accordingly. All these were catalogued and an inventory of them was entered in the books. No foreign art treasures were acquired illegally, i.e. by pressure, etc. Herr von Ribbentrop's private art treasures, too, were catalogued, and the objects themselves marked distinctly by me."

I now omit one paragraph and read the end of the statement which says:
"During the war he did not acquire any art treasures illegally from any of the territories occupied by German troops, either for his own private use or for the Foreign Office of the Reich."
I should like to add that Legation Counsellor Gottfriedsen knew thoroughly the private property affairs of the defendant von Ribbentrop, and had annually made a survey of them together with a certified accountant for the purpose of taxes and inventory.

Finally, I should like to quote a paragraph from the affidavit which is Exhibit 217 and which is in the document book on Page 749.

This is an affidavit from Frau von Ribbentrop given before a notary in Nuremberg. It refers to accusations made by the prosecution in connection with the Russian policy pursued by Ribbentrop. I am quoting, as follows:

"In 1940 we had a very inadequate air-raid shelter in the Foreign Office official residence. During air-raids, therefore, on the order of Adolf Hitler, we used the air- raid shelter of the Reich Chancellery, since he considered it important that my husband, in his capacity as Reich Foreign Minister, and the documents of the Foreign Office should be safe from air-raids. I was at that time expecting my youngest child, which was born on 19th December, 1940, and can therefore clearly remember an air-raid which took place shortly before this event, which caused us to go to the air-raid shelter of the Reich Chancellery. On this occasion Adolf Hitler was also present and came into our room in the shelter. He, my husband, and I sat at a table in this room. In the course of our stay my husband spoke at length of his efforts to induce Russia to join the Tri-Partite Pact. He developed the possibilities of such diplomatic action and his ideas of what he imagined the conclusion of such a pact would mean. I remember clearly that Adolf Hitler closed the conversation with the words: 'Ribbentrop, why shouldn't we be able to manage that, when we have managed so many things?'

My husband presented his ideas with great elan and with great impressiveness. After he had finished I noticed that Adolf Hitler, who had received my husband's statements without pertinent remarks, seemed to be a little

[Page 235]

absent-minded, so that I had the impression I that my husband's statements had not made any convincing impression."
I have offered this affidavit so as to prove that at that time Ribbentrop was still anxious to avoid a conflict with Russia.

This ends the presentation of the documents on behalf of the defendant von Ribbentrop.

THE PRESIDENT: Sir David, could you inform us how far you have been able to get with Dr. Thoma in connection with his documents, that is the Rosenberg documents?

SIR DAVID MAXWELL FYFE: My Lord, the American, the Soviet and the French Delegations are dealing with Rosenberg.

THE PRESIDENT: Perhaps Mr. Dodd can tell us.

MR. DODD: Captain Krieger of our staff, your Honour, has been in consultation with Dr. Thoma and will continue to be in an effort to follow the procedures laid out by the Tribunal.


MR. DODD: While on that subject, if I may, I would like to inform the Tribunal that we have concluded our conversations with Dr. Dix and we have, I think it fair to say, some differences; I think it would be necessary to have a hearing by the Tribunal regarding those matters on which we do not agree. However, we have agreed to a considerable number of Schacht items.

THE PRESIDENT: Yes, but what I want to ensure is that there shall be no delay at the end of Kaltenbrunner's case.

With reference to Rosenberg's case - as I understand it - the documents in the Rosenberg case which, it has been suggested, we might have to consider are very numerous, and the sooner the Tribunal gets to them the better.

MR. DODD: We shall be available at all times to talk with Dr. Thoma and expedite the matter in the evening if he cares to do it.

THE PRESIDENT: It might possibly be desirable, it seems to me, to have the documents which have been translated presented to the Tribunal before the others, I mean to say, not have them all together because there are, no doubt, various volumes.

MR. DODD: There are three so far; I understand there will be more. But we will press on with the matter and continue to talk with Dr. Thoma and, as soon as possible, we will be prepared to come before the Tribunal for a hearing on the first book.

THE PRESIDENT: Well, Dr. Thoma, wouldn't the best thing be for you to submit the volumes which have been translated to the Tribunal so that they can consider them beforehand as we did with Dr. Horn's books?

DR. THOMA: Yes, my Lord, that is possible. The documents have already been processed. With reference to my Document Books II and III, I have discussed them with Captain Krieger, and we came to an agreement.

THE PRESIDENT: Yes, well, you could specify that agreement in the books. I suppose you could show which documents you were prepared to withdraw.


THE PRESIDENT: Well, then, as soon as possible you will let the General Secretary have those books, showing the agreement which you have made with Captain Krieger, is that right?

DR. THOMA: But I do want to point out that I have come to an agreement with Captain Krieger only with reference to Books II and III and that only refers to the Special Purpose Staff and the Eastern Minister.

I have not yet come to an agreement regarding the philosophy and writings of Rosenberg, but I shall do that in due course.

THE PRESIDENT: No; - is that in Book 1?


[Page 236]

THE PRESIDENT: Well, if you are unable to come to an agreement you can specify that and we will consider those matters. Possibly you could take some time tomorrow with Krieger, take time off from Court, in order to come to an agreement with reference to Book 1 and with reference to the other books. How many more books have you got?

DR. THOMA: Altogether four Document Books. THE PRESIDENT: Four more?

DR. THOMA: Altogether four Document Books.

THE PRESIDENT: Oh yes, I see. So there is only one more to be translated.


(The Tribunal adjourned until 11th April, 1946, at 10.00 hours.)

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