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 5 of 10)

[MR. DODD continues his cross examination of Dr. Guido Schmidt]

[Page 210]

Q. Well, it was rather casually said, and you did not have any opportunity to object at all, did you? And up to that time you had not known there were to be military men there.

A. No, up to then, we did not know.

Q. Now, you got to Berchtesgaden at what time of day? Early in the morning or mid-morning? What time of the day?

A. In the course of the morning.

Q. Yes, and I wish you to tell the Tribunal, as well as you can, just what happened there that day. We have heard much testimony about this meeting at Berchtesgaden, and you are the first person on the witness-stand who was actually there. I do not think that is so - Keitel was there also. Well, but at any rate, you participated in the discussion. How did the discussion start?

A. To begin with, the discussion started with a conversation between Hitler and Schuschnigg. That conversation took place privately, so that neither I nor the other gentlemen were present. Later, the gentlemen were called in individually, and then there were also conferences without Hitler, with the then Foreign Minister Ribbentrop, during which the points of the programme which had been submitted to us before were discussed. In the course of these conversations, individual demands were ignored.

[Page 211]

Q. While Hitler and Schuschnigg were talking, who were you talking with if you were talking with anybody, or what were you doing?

A. I was together with the other gentlemen whom you have already mentioned, some of us were in the large hall and some of us sat and waited in the ante-room right outside the room where the four-man conference was taking place.

Q. Did you talk to von Ribbentrop, for example, while Schuschnigg was talking to Hitler? What was going on there? What were you talking about with Ribbentrop, if you were talking to him?

A. In the afternoon session we went through the list of demands with Ribbentrop - I did that partly on my own - and I succeeded in having certain points eliminated.

Q. Well, regarding the morning I wish you would limit yourself to time here so that we will know the exact sequence of events. During that morning session between Hitler and Schuschnigg were you just sitting around in an informal conversation or were you actually in conversation about Austria and Germany with Ribbentrop or with anybody else?

A. Not in the morning, no, because we, or at least I, had not yet seen the programme, and the political talks could only take place on the basis of the demands presented by both sides.

Q. Well, there were recesses, were there not, so to speak, between the conferences, and during those recesses, did you not have a chance to talk to Schuschnigg? During those few intervals?

A. Yes, after about an hour Schuschnigg came out, gave me a summary of the situation, and discussed it with me.

Q. Tell us what he told you, at first hand.

A. He first of all described the atmosphere, the violence of the language used, and then said that the demands which had been presented had the character of an ultimatum.

Q. Try to tell us what he said, if you remember. What did he say about the atmosphere, about the language used? That is what we want to know.

A. First of all, he began with the reception he had received. He said that the Fuehrer had accused him of not being a German, or that Austria was not following a German policy. It had always been so, even during the time of the Hapsburgs. He also held the Catholic element in Austria responsible for this. Austria had always put a stumbling block in the way of every national movement and the same was true today. Then, Hitler also mentioned the fact that Austria had not left the League of Nations. Then there were very serious arguments between Hitler and Schuschnigg personally, during which the Federal Chancellor felt that even he personally was being attacked badly. The details of this conference I cannot now remember, but the atmosphere, according to the Federal Chancellor's description, was extremely bitter.

Q. You had luncheon there, I assume, at mid-day or shortly after?

A. After the conference, at or about 1200 or 1230, there was a joint luncheon. Here there was a perfectly normal tone of conversation again. In the meantime the emotions had calmed down once more.

Q. Now, was Schuschnigg quite a heavy smoker?

A. You mean then, or when?

Q. I mean at that time, of course.

A. Of course. Schuschnigg was a heavy smoker.

Q. Now, we have heard that during that day of conferences, he was not permitted to smoke, until you pleaded with Ribbentrop to let him have one cigarette. Now what about that? Is that so, or is that fiction?

A. We were told at the time that there could be no smoking in Hitler's presence. That is true. Then I tried to find a chance for the Chancellor to be allowed to smoke one cigarette. Whether I asked Ribbentrop about it I cannot remember exactly, because that detail was not of any importance.

[Page 212]

Q. Well, all right. Anyhow, at this conference did Schuschnigg tell you that Hitler demanded that Seyss-Inquart should be made Minister of Security of the Government?

A. I did not understand you again. There was interference.

Q. My question is, did Hitler demand that Seyss-Inquart be made Minister of Security in the Schuschnigg Government?

A. That was one of the demands on the programme.

Q. Made by Hitler?

A. Yes.

Q. Did he also demand that Glaise Horstenau be made Minister for the Army?

A.. That was the second position which was demanded.

Q. Did he also demand that certain expelled students from the universities in Austria be reinstated?

A. Yes, the expelled students were to be pardoned and readmitted to the universities.

Q. And certain discharged officials were to be reinstated in their office?

A. That too.

Q. Second, certain discharged members of the police forces of Austria were to be restored to their posts as well?

A. That was included in the chapter "Acts of Reprieve". Accordingly, officials who had been discharged from executive positions were to be returned to status again.

Q. Were there also demands made with regard to currency exchange and customs unions?

A. Yes, economic demands of this kind were discussed. The expression customs union itself was not used. However, there were demands that came close to it.

Q. Now, as soon as Schuschnigg heard these demands of course you knew that the conference was exceeding the limitations that had been placed upon it by the agreement between von Papen and Schuschnigg, did you not? You knew that right away?

A. Yes, the programme was more far-reaching than we had expected, that is quite true, but I do not know whether von Papen knew the programme beforehand. I assume not.

Q. Well, I did not ask you that, but that is all right, if you want to say something for von Papen, my question is however: did you not immediately go to von Papen or did you not go to Schuschnigg and say: "there, this is not what you told us we came here to do"? Did you not have any such conversation with him during one of these recesses?

A. Of course, statements were made to the effect that this programme was more far reaching than we had expected.

Q. What did von Papen say?

A. We had the impression that von Papen himself was unpleasantly affected by certain points.

Q. Did he not suggest, however, that you agree to Hitler's terms?

A. Papen certainly recommended that the final conditions be accepted, that is, after we had already obtained some of the concessions, because, indeed, in his opinion, an agreement ought to be reached. The Federal Chancellor, too, gave his personal word because he did not want to go away without a result being reached, in order not to endanger Austria's position.

Q. Now, also, Hitler agreed that he would dissolve the new National Socialist Party in Austria, did he not? Did he not assure you that day that he would do so?

A. Yes, indeed.

Q. That he would recall Dr. Tafs and Dr. Leopold, the leaders of the Nazi Party in Austria?

A. Yes.

Q. And also, you agreed to appoint Seyss-Inquart as Minister for Security?

[Page 213]

A. The Chancellor agreed with this decision.

Q. And you agreed to take in men by the names of, or men like Fischbock and Wolf into the Austrian Press Service?

A. They were to be admitted. Fishbock was to be in the Ministry of Commerce, and Wolf in the Press Section. Nothing was said about the form in which that was to take place.

Q. And you agreed also to try to absorb some of the National Socialists into the "Fatherland Front", to absorb them into your own political group?

A. The expression "some of the Nazis into the Fatherland Front" does not meet with the situation. It was the question of building the national opposition - which at that time was described as the Austrian National Socialist ideology - into the Fatherland Front, and so the co-operation of this entire group in the political life of Austria.

Q. All right, now, Hitler told you that you had until 15th December to accept his terms, did he not? I mean, 15th February.

A. Yes.

Q. And he told you that if you did not do so, he would use force?

A. The ultimatum was - yes, it was an ultimatum - that Hitler declared that he intended to march into Austria as early as February, but I was still prepared to make one last attempt.

Q. And what about these generals, were they walking in and out while the conference was going on? Men like the defendant Keitel?

A. The generals were called in several times.

Q. Were you and Schuschnigg frightened? Did you think at one time that you were to be taken either into custody or to be shot?

A. We were worried that possibly we might not be allowed to leave, yes, but that we might be shot, no.

Q. Well, do you not recall you and Schuschnigg leaving Berchtesgaden, and Schuschnigg told you when Hitler called Keitel in, he, Schuschnigg, thought that was the end? Do you remember Schuschnigg telling you that, and you said that you agreed that you were frightened too?

A. I could not follow you.

Q. Well, do you remember Schuschnigg telling you, when on your way back to Vienna, that he was frightened when Keitel was called in, that Schuschnigg thought he was going to be shot, or something drastic was to be done to him, and you told Schuschnigg that you, too, were frightened at that time, that the end had come, or words to that effect?

A. No, I do not remember that conversation. There was never any talk about shooting, but as I have already said, we were just afraid. The Chancellor was also of the opinion that if negotiations did not go well we might not get away.

Q. Very well. What was von Papen doing while the generals were moving in and out? Did he see that as well as you?

A. After such a heated discussion, it is quite difficult to say, after eight years, what each individual was doing at the time.

Q. There were not too many of you there - six or eight. Were you more or less generally in a group?

A. There were continuous changes. We were not always in there together. Various combinations were certainly made.

Q. Let me put it to you this way: There was not any possibility of von Papen failing to see the generals there that day, was there?

A. On that day he must have seen them when we were there.

Q. Von Ribbentrop told you that Hitler was in a very angry frame of mind, did he not?

A. Yes, we were all agreed on that.

Q. And he also urged that you, of course, accept the terms as the best thing for you and for Schuschnigg, did he not?

[Page 214]

A. At any rate, Ribbentrop at the time did not take part in this pressure. He represented the German demands, too, yes, but not in an unpleasant or forceful way. I mentioned that to the Chancellor even at the time.

Q. Yes, this is what the situation was, was not it: Von Ribbentrop was playing the role of the nice man, while Hitler inside was playing the role of the horrid man, and you and Schuschnigg were being passed back and forth from one to another?

A. It was my impression, at the time, that Ribbentrop was not acquainted with the subject very well and that for that reason alone he had kept himself somewhat in the background.

Q. Yes, that is interesting, and it is not altogether news in this case, but in any event, is not it a fact that you were being played off, so to speak, as between the nice man, von Ribbentrop, and the bad man, Hitler?

A. It cannot be described like that. That was not the case. We had to negotiate the details with Ribbentrop. Hitler had stated that we should discuss the details together with the experts.

Q. Well, could it be that you do not realise it yet? Are you sure that that was not the situation, or is it only that you have not realised it to this day?

A. About what?

Q. That situation that I suggested - that you were being manoeuvred between the good man and the bad man.

A. No.

Q. Well, if you do not understand, I do not think we need to go on with it.

Now, how late did you stay there that day, and what time did you leave Berchtesgaden?

A. In the late hours of the evening. It must have been between nine and ten, as far as I remember.

Q. And when you got back to Vienna, did you tell Seyss-Inquart about what had happened in Berchtesgaden?

A. First of all there was a conference between Zernatto and Seyss-Inquart in which Zernatto gave Seyss-Inquart an exact picture of the situation, since Zernatto had been informed by the Federal Chancellor as well as by myself. Later I joined in this conversation. However, I had the impression that most of the description was already over and only details were still being mentioned.

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