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 4 of 10)

[Page 206]

THE PRESIDENT: The Tribunal will not sit on Saturday.

DR. KUBUSCHOK: May I ask the indulgence of the Tribunal and have permission to put one more question to witness Schmidt, a question which I had overlooked putting before the recess?





Q. Witness, in November 1937, in the course of measures introduced against the illegal movements, certain materials were confiscated which were given the name " Tafs papers". Is the person of Herr von Papen referred to in these "Tafs papers"?

A. As far as I can recollect, a number of documents were discovered one after the other along with this material which we called the "Tafs plan". I think I can remember that in one of these documents Papen was mentioned. An attempt on the life of the German Ambassador to Vienna was to be the cause for internal

[Page 207]

disturbances in Austria, which were to be followed by repressive measures by the government; and then later this was to lead to measures on the part of the German Reich. I cannot remember the details of that plan any more.

DR. KUBUSCHOK: Thank you.

DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN (Counsel for the defendant von Neurath): With the permission of the Tribunal, I should now like to put a few questions to this witness.


Q. Dr. Schmidt, when and on what occasion did you meet Herr von Neurath?

A. I met von Neurath in November 1937 in Berlin, where I paid him a visit in response to his invitation.

Q. Can you tell us what attitude von Neurath, as German Foreign Minister, had with regard to the relations of the German Reich with Austria? In particular, can you tell us his views regarding the agreement of the 11th July, 1936? In this connection I should like to draw your attention to the fact that the prosecution has alleged that, as it is expressed, von Neurath concluded this agreement in a deceptive way.

A. During the few times I met von Neurath he always expressed the view that he was in favour of an independent Austria, and with this he wanted the closest possible co-operation in the foreign political, economic and military spheres. Our negotiations always proceeded on the basis of the 11th of July agreement, and differences of opinion only arose about the interpretation of the agreement. Neurath, on behalf of the German government, held that the agreement should, if possible, work actively in his interest, while we, for defensive reasons, preferred a different interpretation. At any rate, Neurath rejected means of violence and followed approximately the line of an Austria which was independent but as close as possible to Germany.

Q. What was Neurath's attitude towards the extreme factions of the Party in the Reich which, in practice, followed a policy of intervention in the internal affairs of Austria?

A. As I have already mentioned, Neurath rejected methods of violence, and with them the methods of intervention, and also the methods of the illegal party in Austria. From conversations which I had with him I believe that I can state this unequivocally. This is also attested by his complete rejection of the activity of State Secretary Keppler and Weselmeier, who were certainly among the pioneers of the new development in the South-east and primarily in Austria. The expressions which he used in that connection allow no doubt regarding his attitude.

DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: Mr. President, I have no further questions.

DR. SEIDL (Counsel for Frank and Hess): Mr. President, may I have permission to represent my colleague, Dr. Stahmer, who is absent and put a few questions on behalf of defendant Goering to the witness?



Q. Witness, you have just stated that in November 1937 you paid an official visit to Berlin?

A. Yes.

Q. On that occasion, did you also talk to the then Field Marshal Goering?

A. Yes.

Q. Is it correct that even at that time Field Marshal Goering already told you that the Austrian problem could only be solved by the complete union of the two brother peoples, that is to say, by the annexation of Austria to the Reich, and that he for his part would do everything to achieve that end?

A. It was not told me in those words. The former Reichsmarschall probably did refer in an insistent way to a close co-operation with Austria, but a demand for an Anschluss was not mentioned as far as I can remember. As an illustration to that, I could say that at that time the events of the 25th of July, 1934 were discussed.

[Page 208]

I expressed the view that the agreement of July, '36 ought to put a final touch to that development, and Reichsmarschall Goering stated that he had called the 'wirepuller' of this affair to account - I believe he mentioned Habicht - and had banished him to some obscure part of Germany. From this remark alone it appears, therefore, there could have been no talk of an Anschluss. The former Reichsmarschall welcomed the development caused by the 11th of July 1936, that is that a full stop had been put to the then existing development, which one had to describe as a state of war, as it had been up to the 11th of July, 1936.

Q. Is it correct that on the morning of the Anschluss, that is to say, the morning of the 12th of March, 1938, Goering had you come to Berlin by aeroplane?

A. No. That was either Monday or Tuesday; it must have been the 15th or 16th.

Q. When you were in Berlin, did he put the question to you whether you yourself or Schuschnigg had asked for help from foreign powers, military help, on the day before the Anschluss.

A. I cannot remember having heard that question.

Q. You stated this morning that, with the Anschluss, National Socialism in Austria became a reality. I now ask you, was not National Socialism also a political reality in Austria even before the Anschluss?

A. Yes, certainly a political reality, but I am talking of a political reality in the sense of an organized power in the State.

THE PRESIDENT: I am afraid you are going a little bit too fast - well I do not know what it was. Anyhow, you had better repeat it because the interpreters do not seem to have got it.


Q. The question was whether or not National Socialism in Austria had been a political reality even before the Anschluss, and I put this question with reference to the fact that the witness had said this morning that National Socialism did not become a reality in Austria until the German troops marched in.

A. By the term "political reality" I meant that National Socialism had then got the State power into its hands, because until then it represented a prohibited party, which of course, after the agreement of 12th February, was supposed to be drawn within the framework of the Fatherland Front for responsible co-operation in political affairs.

In other words, I wanted to show the basic change, which came about for National Socialism with the arrival of the German troops.

Q. Now, one last question: After the Anschluss, did you not repeatedly tell the Reichsmarschall that the Fatherland Front, on the occasion of the Anschluss, collapsed like a house of cards?

A. Yes, of course, I cannot remember individual statements, but the collapse of the Fatherland Front did, of course, occur when the Chancellor resigned. The Fatherland Front was the gathering point of the resistance, and with the 11th of March, the resistance collapsed.

DR. SEIDL: I have no further questions.

THE PRESIDENT: Does the prosecution want to cross-examine?



Q. Dr. Schmidt, when, for the first time - if you know - did the defendant von Papen suggest to Chancellor Schuschnigg that he, Schuschnigg, should have a meeting with Hitler?

A. Late in autumn 1937; it must have been November, von Papen made the suggestion for such a meeting. This suggestion did not, however, have any concrete results at the time. The official invitation was brought by von Papen on or about the 6th or 7th of February after he had returned from his visit to Hitler. I heard about the invitation on that day.

[Page 209]

Q. Will you also tell us if you know whether or not von Papen assured Schuschnigg that this meeting would be restricted to very well-defined points, and that it would concern itself only with the matters that were agreed upon between Schuschnigg and von Papen before the conference took place?

A. The Chancellor himself demanded exact wording for the agenda of the conference, that is, basic topic: 11th July, final removal of existing differences and so on and so forth. That had been agreed between von Papen and Schuschnigg.

Q. And did von Papen assure Schuschnigg that the meeting would proceed favourably for Austria?

A. Assure him? No. But a declaration was given by von Papen to the effect that the situation at the time was favourable. In this connection, von Papen referred to the conditions such as had been created on 4th February.

Q. Well -

A. He believed then that Hitler would need a foreign political success, following these events, and so a certain success could be scored by the Chancellor at a low price.

Q. Of course, what I am trying to clear up here - and you can answer briefly which, I think, will help us - is this: You and Schuschnigg had the impression that advantage would accrue to you and to Austria if you attended this meeting, is that not so?

A. I said earlier that the Chancellor was not optimistic. An improvement of the situation, therefore, was hardly expected, only a removal of the existing differences.

Q. Now, the night before you left for Berchtesgaden, you had a conversation with a man by the name of Hornbastel, is that so? The Ambassador.

A. Yes.

Q. And had you already had a conversation with Seyss-Inquart that same evening, you and Schuschnigg?

A. It is possible. During those days, repeated discussions took place.

Q. Well, maybe I can help you a little. Do you not recall that Zernatto and Seyss-Inquart were drawing up a memorandum of some sort about domestic questions, while you and, I believe, Hornbastel or someone else, were preparing a paper or papers on international matters or matters of foreign policy? Does that help you any?

A. I did not understand.

Q. Well, I am referring to the time when you and some of your associates were preparing a memorandum of some sort about the foreign questions, and Zernatto and Seyss-Inquart were preparing papers about domestic affairs. You remember that, do you not?

A. Yes.

Q. Now, you were alarmed that night about Seyss-Inquart, were you not?

A. Yes.

Q. And why were you alarmed? What was the cause of your alarm? What did you fear at the hands of Seyss-Inquart?

A. The drafts which I saw before my departure and which had been worked out by Zernatto and Seyss-Inquart as a basis for a part of the political discussions appeared to me to be politically useless. It was my impression that two men were at work here who perhaps enjoyed talking, but who did not do justice to the seriousness of the situation. There were expressions used, such as the difference between the Austrian National Socialist ideology and the National Socialist. But there is no difference. An Austrian National Socialist ideology can only be National Socialist. I criticized these matters in one of my talks.

Q. Will you agree that he was combining with Hitler and that bad things would result from it for Austria?

By "him" I mean Seyss-Inquart.

A. No, at that time I had no fear that there was a secret agreement between Hitler and Seyss-Inquart.

[Page 210]

Q. Now, when you got to Berchtesgaden the next day, you found that much of the material that had been discussed between Zernatto and yourself and Seyss-Inquart and Schuschnigg was the basis for Hitler's demands on Schuschnigg, is that not so?

A. Yes.

Q. And were you not convinced, at least that day, that Seyss-Inquart had been in communication with Hitler some time before you got to Berchtesgaden and had communicated to him these basic demands?

A. We merely had the impression that the basis for this conference was a draft which had been prepared by men who knew the conditions. Therefore, this list of demands was based on a large portion of the Zernatto-Seyss-Inquart agreements. The entire programme of demands had not been made known to us previously.

Q. You and Schuschnigg represented Austria that day at Berchtesgaden?

A. Yes.

Q. Hitler, von Papen, von Ribbentrop, Keitel, Sperrle, and Reichenau, represented Germany?

A. Yes.

Q. You and von Papen and Schuschnigg rode from the frontier together in the same railway coach, did you, to Berchtesgaden?

A. Yes.

Q. And in the course of that -

A. (Interrupting). Whether Papen was in the same coach, I am not sure but we were together on the way back.

Q. Well, he was on the train, was he not, whether he was in the same coach or not? Did he not get on the train at the frontier and ride on with you and Schuschnigg?

A. That I no longer know.

Q. Did he meet you at the frontier?

A. He was waiting for us at the frontier.

Q. Perhaps I am confused, but what I am getting at is a particular conversation that you and Schuschnigg had with von Papen, either right at the time you met him at the frontier, or in the course of your trip up to Berchtesgaden, when he told you that, "Oh, by the way, there are going to be a few generals up there. I hope you won't mind." Do you remember von Papen saying that?

A. Well, generals were mentioned, yes. Schuschnigg had said - whether Keitel's name was mentioned, that I can no longer remember - that he would be there.

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