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

The Trial of German Major War Criminals

Sitting at Nuremberg, Germany
7th June to 19th June 1946

One Hundred and Fifty-Fourth Day: Thursday, 13th June, 1946
(Part 2 of 10)

[DR. STEINBAUER continues his direct examination of Dr. Friedrich Rainer]

[Page 198]

Q. Was that a typical Gau speech? I mean, from the point of view of the propaganda of Goebbels? A speech which gives prominence to one's own merits and disparages one's opponents?

A. I would not say that. It was a comradely meeting of the Old Guard on the occasion of the 11th of March. We drank beer and there was music and I described events rather like telling a story. I spoke for a very long time; in fact, it was the longest speech I ever made. I spoke for more than three hours. I spoke quite freely and without any notes, and the shorthand record which is submitted here appears to me not to tally with my statements on every point.

Q. You mean, therefore, that it was more your intention to produce an effect upon the members of the Party than to make history?

A. Yes, of course.

DR. STEINBAUER: Thank you very much. That is enough for me and I have no further questions.

DR. KUBUSCHOK (counsel for the defendant von Papen):


Q. During the cross-examination yesterday, it was mentioned that on one occasion you were with von Papen at Garmisch. What did you talk about to von Papen at the time, and how did that conversation come about at all?

Q. Dr. Seyss-Inquart and I had been invited to Garmisch by the Reich Sports Leader. The German-Austrian-Alpine Club was to be discussed. Together with von Tschammer we were watching the bob-sleigh races at the Riesser lake and there we met von Papen. Herr von Papen, Seyss-Inquart and I then walked back from there to Garmisch, and on the way we discussed the political situation and the -

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Kubuschok, you do not need to give the details of it. I suppose the point of the question is that the conversation was not political. Is that the point of the question?

DR. KUBUSCHOK: The conversation was political, but it is a question of the type of political conversation it was.


Q. Perhaps, witness, you can confine yourself to the facts. You just said it was an accidental meeting. You were coming back from the bob-sleigh track. What did you talk about?

A. We talked about the situation in Austria, about the pacification of the country, and while we did not exhaust the subject, we did discuss other matters which interested us and which dealt with the immediate future.

[Page 199]

Q. So that nothing was discussed which could not have been put before the Austrian public?

A. No.

Q. Were those matters in keeping with the July Agreement?

A. Yes, of course they were.

Q. But then, in the course of the speech which has already been mentioned, you said that you had been with others in von Papen's apartment on the evening of the 9th of March, 1938. I should like to know whether that was a pre-arranged meeting, or whether it was a more or less chance meeting?

A. It was just a casual meeting. I do not remember who arranged it. The conversation dealt, naturally, with the situation arising out of Schuschnigg's plan for the plebiscite, which was an entirely new and most surprising move, so that we had to think it over from every point of view and clarify it during debate.

Q. What stand did von Papen take during that conference?

A. I remember that von Papen, who just happened to be in Vienna that evening, acted in a reserved way. I think he considered that an affirmative vote would have met the situation perfectly.

Q. What reason had you for thinking he considered than an affirmative vote was plausible and necessary? Was it for practical reasons or was it due to the plebiscite which the Austrian Government had suggested?

A. It was because of the plebiscite.

Q. Once again, my question is: Would the matters which were discussed have led one to believe it was a specially called conference, or rather was it a social gathering during which political questions cropped up and this topical matter came up for discussion?

A. It was a casual meeting which had been improvised because von Papen's presence in Vienna coincided with the new political situation.

Q. Were any resolutions passed?

A. No.

THE PRESIDENT: The witness can retire.

DR. STEINBAUER: With the permission of the Tribunal I shall now call the witness Dr. Guido Schmidt.

GUIDO SCHMIDT, a witness, took the stand and testified as follows:


Q. Will you state your full name.

A. Dr. Guido Schmidt.

Q. Will you repeat this oath after me:

I swear by God, the Almighty and Omniscient, that I will speak the pure truth and will withhold and add nothing.

(The witness repeated the oath.)

THE PRESIDENT: You may sit down.



Q. Witness, what positions did you hold in the Austrian Republic?

A. I was a diplomat by profession. I was in the Austrian Foreign Service under Dr. Seipel and for about six years I was a member of the Austrian Legation in Paris. In 1936 I was recalled and assigned to the Austrian State for service with the diplomatic corps and the Foreign Office. In 1936 I became State Secretary under Dr. Schuschnigg and later Foreign Minister.

I was a member of the Schuschnigg Government until his forced resignation. From that time on, I had no political activity.

Q. Witness, what were the reasons as regards foreign policy and economics which led to the Agreement of the 11th of July, 1936?

[Page 200]

A. At the beginning of 1936, the situation of Austria as regards foreign policy had changed to Austria's disadvantage. After the events of July, 1934, England, France and Italy drew up a three-power declaration at Stresa concerning the maintenance of Austrian independence. Over and above the international obligations existing up to that time, the three Powers now set up a new guarantee for the maintenance of Austria, the Stresa front, which during the whole year of 1935 gave protection to Austria. The collapse of the Stresa front, as a result of Mussolini's Abyssinian enterprise, meant for Austria the loss of the only practical international guarantee, and for Chancellor Schuschnigg, the creation of a completely new situation. According to his conception of foreign policy, Austrian independence should rest not only on the shoulders of Italy, but if possible on other shoulders as well, that means of England and France. Then, there were difficulties resulting from the development of the situation in Europe from 7th March, 1936 on, the day on which Adolf Hitler started his surprise tactics by occupying the Rhineland without encountering serious resistance from the Western Powers. This gave the Austrian Government cause for anxiety and fear lest some day the Austrian question as well might be solved by surprise or, as we later saw, by violence.

These are the reasons we must give if we are asked about the considerations on which the Agreement was based. There was also the rapprochement between Rome and Berlin, which began at that time and was due to the sanction policy of the League of Nations. Austria, lying between Italy and Germany, had to expect that one day that Austro-Italian friendship which had existed since the time of Dollfuss, would fall victim to the closer relationship between Rome and Berlin.

For this reason and for other considerations, Dr. Schuschnigg sought a means to improve relations, that is to restore relations between Austria and the German Reich.

It would perhaps be useful in this connection to give a few of the guiding rules of Austria's foreign policy. The underlying idea was the maintenance of Austrian independence. Austrian foreign policy was furthermore based on the knowledge of the extremely difficult and delicate geographical situation of the country between two totalitarian States, at the cross roads of European ideologies. Therefore, the task of Austrian foreign policy was to reach an understanding with her big neighbour, the German Reich. The foreign policy further had to be based on the determination to avoid everything that could lead to a conflict with the German Reich, to avoid everything that could antagonise the Reich, in order to prevent any violent action which after the 7th of March was to be feared.

There were reasons in practical politics which were decisive in this determination to restore relations with the German Reich to the ethnographic area of which we belonged, relations which had been unnaturally interrupted. Apart from the reasons of foreign policy, there were also economic considerations. Because of Austria's economic constitution which although alive was nevertheless extremely weak, the world economic crisis had affected Austria very seriously.

This can be understood only if we look back to the beginnings of this young State. From the very start, all Austria's neighbours had carried on an economic policy of egoism, of chauvinistic self-interest, and in no case had it been possible to reach really close co-operation of all the Danube countries. It is true, some separate agreements had been reached, such as the Rome Protocol, but the mutual distrust which all had brought from their former home, their common home, the Austrian Monarchy, continued to exist and obstructed any healthy development.

From 1931, the beginning of the world economic crisis, there were a number of attempts to relieve the situation. I will mention them one after the other. It begins with the attempt of the government to create a customs union which failed because of the resistance of the League of Nations. In 1932, there was an attempt by France to bring Austria and Hungary into the Little Entente and to reach economic co-operation there. Germany and Italy opposed this. England was also against it. In 1933, the economic crisis was aggravated by the, internal

[Page 201]

struggle against National Socialism. That also had its effect on the economic life of Austria, because the economic life of Austria was also used as a weapon in the internal struggle.

THE PRESIDENT: This is undoubtedly interesting, but it has rather a remote bearing, perhaps, upon the questions which the Tribunal has to decide. I do not know whether the witness has dealt with it sufficiently for your purposes.

DR. STEINBAUER: Mr. President, in this presentation of the facts I wanted to show that from the economic and foreign policy point of view the situation was such that the role of the defendant was forced into the background; but we can continue now.


Q. Witness, will you speak quite briefly.

A. The conclusion?

Q. Yes.

A. All this led to the breaking off of economic relations with the German Reich and now Austria's life and death struggle for economic existence entered a very serious phase. Because of these considerations, that is, for economic reasons, too, Chancellor Schuschnigg attempted to reach an agreement with the German Reich and to restore economic relations which had been completely broken off, to remove the "1,000 mark blockade," to restore tourist traffic, to restore the flow of economic goods, to silence the complaints which were coming from the provinces in Austria because of the lack of a market for agricultural products, wood, grain, cattle and so forth. These were, generally speaking the main considerations.

Q. Witness, I now ask you: Did Dr. Seyss-Inquart help in preparing or concluding this agreement of July, 1936?

A. No. The Chancellor worked with Glaise Horstenau who represented the so-called national opposition.

THE PRESIDENT: I'm afraid there is a defect in the sound equipment, so we had better adjourn.

(A recess was taken).


Q. Witness, in the spring of 1937 Seyss-Inquart entered politics, and presumably you met him then.

A. Yes, I met him first in the summer of 1937.

Q. Now, I shall go on, and I should like to ask you what reasons in domestic and foreign policy led to the well-known meeting of Adolf Hitler and Dr. Schuschnigg in Berchtesgaden.

A. This question demands a detailed answer. I ask for permission to express myself in somewhat more detail.

By New Year, 1938, the Austrian foreign political situation had become worse. Italy had entered into an engagement in Spain in favour of Franco, which reduced still further her military and political influence in central Europe. What we called "The Watch at the Brenner" had, in effect, ceased to exist, and Germany had more or less a free hand as regards Austria.

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Steinbauer, the Tribunal has common knowledge of the history of this time. It is not necessary, really, to go into it.


Q. Witness, I should like to ask you to tell me if you were present at Obersalzberg at that time.

A. Yes, I should like to add, if I am to pass over the historical events - that is how I understood the question - that the Chancellor accepted the invitation in order to prevent Austria being reproached for having refused a peaceful attempt to clear up existing differences between Austria and the German Reich. The Chancellor was by no means optimistic, the less so because the existing differences of opinion were very great and also because of the personality of his partner in the

[Page 202]

talks. I recall that Schuschnigg before leaving for this meeting told me that he was of the opinion that instead of him it might have been better to send Professor Wagner Jaureck, the greatest psychiatrist of Vienna, but he believed, in view of the exposed position of Austria, that he had to accept in order to forestall a "coup" and to gain time until the international situation should improve in Austria's favour.

Unfortunately, we were right. Our fear of a coming attack or of coming difficulties was justified. The fear that Austria would be left entirely alone was justified. The realization of the fact that we were completely deserted was perhaps one of the primary reasons which weighed with Schuschnigg together with the need of bridging over this difficult period and gaining time. Austria had to tread this difficult path in the dark winter days from the end of 1937 until March 1938 without the hope of any immediate or prospective assistance. And then it came to Berchtesgaden.

Q. As Foreign Minister, did you inform the big powers of the events of Berchtesgaden?

A. Yes. Contrary to frequent Press reports, the interested big powers were informed in detail both before and after Berchtesgaden. I gave all the material to the head of the political section to whom the diplomatic corps applied first. The Chancellor himself and I gave detailed reports to the accredited foreign representatives in Vienna and drew their attention to the dangerous situation of the country.

THE PRESIDENT: Forgive my interrupting you, we do not want the details. You said you informed the foreign powers beforehand and after. That is sufficient.


Q. Now we return to the defendant. Did Dr. Seyss-Inquart take part in these talks?

A. What talks?

Q. The talks in Berchtesgaden.

A. No.

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