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-Sixth Day: Monday, 17th June, 1946
(Part 3 of 8)

[Page 283]

DR. KUBUSCHOK: I refer now to Document 16, Page 68, which contains an extract from the speech which, as the defendant mentioned, he made in the year 1934 at Gleiwitz. I quote:
"There are certainly no objections to race research and eugenics which endeavour to keep the characteristics of a nation as pure as possible, and at the same time to foster a pride for nationality. This love of one's own race will never degenerate into hatred of other nations and races. That is the decisive point. Eugenics must never be brought into conflict with Christianity, for they are not opposed, they only differ. It was Christianity which first made of the German tribes a German nation, and it is really not necessary to create a new Nordic-Germanic religion in order to preserve our race."
May I refer also to Document 29, Page 103, which deals with the second topic discussed by the defendant; it is an excerpt from the diary of Mr. Dodd, date 4th July. I then refer to Document 35, Page 115, which contains an article from the Volkischer Beobachter, dated 19th August, 1932. The heading of that article is:
"The Papen government has inscribed the 'Protection of Jews' on its Banner."
THE PRESIDENT: That was August, 1932? Where is it?

DR. KUBUSCHOK: Document 35, Page 115. I just read the heading of this article in the Volkischer Beobachter, dated 19th August, 1932.

"The Papen Government has inscribed the Protection of Jews on its Banner."
The article deals with a statement of Herr Kareski, Berlin, as representative of the Jewish People's Party. Kareski was head of the synagogue in Berlin. He stated at that time, and I quote the last paragraph of this article:
"Fortunately, the constitution of the German Republic still protects the legal position of the Jews and the Papen government has inscribed the 'Protection of the Jews' on its banner."

The Civil Service Law of 7th April, 1933, contains certain exceptions applying to Jews. Originally these exceptions were planned to be much more extensive; did you do anything to restrict them to the form in which they were then issued?

[Franz von Papen] A. May I just add one thing? I believe you forgot to submit to the Tribunal Document 33, relevant to the question of foreign monopolisation in the German legal system.

Q. I shall submit that document after your answer to the question I have just put.

A. I approved of the Civil Service Law of 7th April, 1933, only in so far as it applied to Jewish civil servants appointed after the year 1918. For after the war large scale immigration into Germany had taken place from the east, especially from Poland, a country which was strongly anti-Semitic at the time.

I successfully pleaded with Hindenburg that soldiers who had taken part in the war should under no circumstance be affected by this law, for I always held the view that a German, no matter of what race, who had done his duty to his country, should not be restricted in his rights.

Q. I refer now to Document 33, Page 114. It is a report of the Ministry of Justice, which shows that when the Civil Service Law was issued 3,515 Jewish attorneys were practising. On account of the alleviations which the witness has just mentioned, 735 ex-Service men and 1,383 other attorneys who had been admitted to the Bar before 1914 were exempted from this law. Thus 2,118 Jewish attorneys remained, and 1,397 had to resign from office.

What was your view of the Civil Service Law as a whole?

[Page 284]

A. I think it was completely normal that the National Socialists, since they were partners in the coalition government and controlled more than fifty per cent of the German people's vote, should have a part in filling civil service posts.

I might point out that the National Socialists, in the propaganda which they had conducted for years, fought with all their power the so-called "Bonzentum" (boss rule); but of course we could not predict that they themselves would later on revert to the same mistake.

THE PRESIDENT: Would this be a convenient time to adjourn?

(A recess was taken.)


Q. We have been speaking of the Civil Service Law, which, in the points we have discussed, corresponds to some extent to the trend of thought of the NSDAP. Why did you feel impelled to urge certain concessions which were then in fact made?

A. I was convinced at the time that with this Civil Service Law we were creating something basic. I did not anticipate and I could not guess that the Party would continually introduce in the following years new laws in this field, and would thereby completely ruin the Civil Service.

Q. What was your attitude towards the dissolution of the parties?

A. The exclusion of parties was a necessary result of the Enabling Act. For four years Hitler had demanded the reforms which we wanted to make. Document 25 shows that I asked Hitler to create a new basic State Law, and in his speech of the 23rd March, Hitler promised that. In that speech, he spoke of a reform of the Constitution to be carried through by the appropriate existing constitutional organs. That reform would have given us, in my opinion in a revolutionary way, a new and sounder democratic and parliamentary form of government. Moreover, I must say that I saw no danger in the temporary use of the one-party system. There were excellent examples for it in other States, for instance in Turkey and Portugal, where this one-party system was functioning very well. Finally, I should like to point out that in my speech at Marburg on the 17th of June, 1934, I criticized this development and said that one could only regard it as a transitional stage which a reconstructed Constitution would have to terminate.

Q. What is your view of the Reichsstatthalter Law of April, 1933? Will you also state your attitude to the question of German federalism?

A. This question has been brought up by the prosecution in order to accuse me of duplicity, untruthfulness or deceit. The prosecution has alleged that in 1932 my views on the federal character of Germany were different from those I expressed in 1933. But even if I had changed my mind in this respect, I cannot see why the question of a federal or a central government should be a crime within this Charter. Besides, I did not change my mind at all. The view I expressed in 1932 was this: I recognized the advantages of a federal system for Germany and I wanted to maintain it, but I always wished, even in 1932, that there should be joint agreement on the major political issues in Germany. That a federal country is governed on uniform principles is surely a matter of course. That was the only question, and it was also the basis of my intervention in Prussia on the 20th of July.

If one knows the history of Germany, one will be aware that Bismarck overcame that difficulty by combining the offices of the Reich Chancellor and the Prussian Minister President. Therefore, when in 1933 we appointed Reichsstatthalter in the various Lander, we merely intended to establish a common political line. Besides, the rights of the Lander remained unaffected. They had their own financial, legal and educational systems, and their own parliaments.

Q. With regard to the Reichsstatthalter Law, may I refer to Document 31, particularly Page 111 of that document.

The passage quoted there from the Pfundtner-Neubert account shows that the authority of the Lander was abolished afterwards by the later Reichsstatthalter Law in the year 1935, when the defendant von Papen was no longer in office.

[Page 285]

Why did you on the 7th of April, 1933, resign as Minister President of Prussia?

A. My letter to Hitler, dated 10th April, 1933, has been submitted by the prosecution. It contains the reasons for my resignation. In Prussia - I have already stated that - in Prussia I had already carried through the co-ordination of political aims on the 20th of July. The Reichsstatthalter Law enabled the Reich Chancellor to be Minister President of Prussia himself or to nominate a substitute. And so my task in Prussia was completed. Apart from that, I should like to mention the following point: The elections of March 5th had given the National Socialists a strong majority also in the Prussian Parliament. The Prussian Parliament then met and naturally desired that a National Socialist should become Minister President of Prussia. For these reasons I resigned.

Q. The prosecution charges that you, as a prominent member of the Catholic Church, were particularly active in the effort to consolidate the Nazi regime in the field of the Churches. We must therefore discuss your attitude regarding the Church. Will you give an account of the situation of the German Church at that time?

A. This charge is, for me, the most serious of the entire Indictment - the charge that I, as a Catholic, assisted in this conspiracy against world peace. May I be permitted, therefore, quite briefly to explain my attitude on the Church question.

The Catholics in Germany had politically organized themselves as the Centre Party. Before 1918, the Centre Party, as a moderate party, had always endeavoured to establish a balance between the Left and the Right political wings. After that date, we find the Centre Party mostly in coalition with the Left. In Prussia, this coalition was maintained during all the years from 1918 until 1932. Undeniably the Centre Party deserves much credit for the maintenance of the life of the State during the years after the collapse, but the coalition with the Social Democrats made co-operation of the Centre Party with the Right impossible, particularly with regard to Church policy. Regarding important political questions and matters of internal party policy, the Centre Party advocated a policy of compromise which resulted in concessions in the field of church policy. That this state of affairs -

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Kubuschok, to what is all this relevant?

DR. KUBUSCHOK: The prosecution maintains that Papen used his position as a prominent Catholic to consolidate the Nazi regime; was double-faced, and that this characteristic is especially obvious in this connection and throws light on his personality.

The defendant is now explaining what his attitude in Church matters has been from the beginning of his political activity. Since he was first a member of the Centre Party, and then left it, it is necessary to discuss the split which developed between him and the leaders of the party. Later we shall -

THE PRESIDENT: Why is it necessary to go into this extreme detail? Surely the thing that he wants to show is that he was not assisting the Nazi Party. He was undoubtedly a Catholic, and he wants to show that he was not assisting the Nazi Party. He does not want to go into all of these details about Catholic influences and his part in Catholic influences.

DR. KUBUSCHOK: Mr. President, may I say quite frankly that in dealing with the case of Papen it is our intention to prove that from the very beginning the defendant consistently adhered to his principles. For this purpose it is essential that the conditions prevailing at particular times should be elucidated. We are now not very far from the point at which we can leave the internal political conditions, and the other subjects will be dealt with much more briefly. I do think, however, that for the sake of completing the picture of the defendant's personality, I must go into certain details, but, of course, we shall make every effort to omit all superfluous and avoidable particulars.

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Kubuschok, we are perfectly well aware that the case of every one of these twenty-one defendants is different from the others. We are

[Page 286]

perfectly aware of that, but what we desire is that their cases should be put forward fairly but without unnecessary and burdensome detail. We hope that you will try to confine the defendant to the really essential matters. Will you go on?

DR. KUBUSCHOK: Very well, Mr. President. We shall do our best.


Q. Will you continue, please.

A. Perhaps I may complete my reply to this question by saying that my opposition within the party, my plea for the use of conservative forces, gave me the reputation of being a bad Catholic. A foreign judge, a non-German judge, cannot know that in those years a Catholic who was not a member of the Centre Party but belonged to the Right Wing parties was regarded as a bad and inferior Catholic; and that was a conception I always fought against.

DR. KUBUSCHOK: In his government statement of 4th June, 1932, von Papen referred to the fact that the outcome of the previous coalition policy in Prussia was fully evidenced in the entire public life of Germany. I refer to Document 1, Page 2, and I quote the last part of the first long paragraph:

"The disintegration by atheistic-marxist ideas has already too deeply permeated all the cultural fields of public life, because the Christian forces of the State were all too ready for compromises. The purity of public life cannot be maintained or re-established by way of compromises for the sake of parity. A clear decision must be made as to what forces are willing to help to reconstruct the new Germany on the basis of the unchangeable principles of the Christian ideology."
I also refer to Document 37, Page 119, a speech at Munich on 1st March, 1933 in which the witness discussed the aspects which he has just mentioned.


Q. Witness, how did you think the position of the Churches was safeguarded by the new government, and what did you do in that respect?

A. First of all, I asked Hitler to make a clear-cut statement on this question, and he did so in a positive manner. In the foreword to my speeches made at that time, there is the observation that it is the first and most important task to revise the Nazi programme with reference to the religious problem, since such a revision is a prerequisite for a united front of the two Christian confessions in that coalition. Secondly, I attempted to protect church policy by giving it, after the conclusion of the Concordat, a certain foreign political context.

DR. KUBUSCHOK: In this connection may I refer to Document 37, Pages 119 and 120, containing an extract from several speeches delivered by the witness, and to Volume 1, Document 38 further down on Page 119, which is a speech made at Dortmund in February, 1933. In it the defendant von Papen said:

THE PRESIDENT: We have that document before us.

DR. KUBUSCHOK: Document 37, Page 119.

THE PRESIDENT: Well, I have got that, yes. All I was suggesting was that it was sufficient to refer us to the document. As a matter of fact, you have already got to the time when he resigned his post as Minister President of Prussia in 1934, and now you are going back to 1933 -

DR. KUBUSCHOK: He resigned, in Prussia, in 1933. May I draw the Tribunal's attention, then, to this speech on Page 720.

THE PRESIDENT: Did he resign in 1933 or 1934?


I draw the Tribunal's attention to this speech and to Page 120, a proclamation of the Reich Government of the 1st of February, 1933.


Q. What were the events leading up to the Concordat?

[Page 287]

A. I reiterate that I wanted to secure a Christian basis for the Reich at all costs. For that reason, I suggested to Hitler in April, 1933, that the rights of the Church should be firmly laid down in a Concordat, and that this Concordat should be followed by an agreement with the Evangelical Church. Hitler agreed, although there was strong opposition in the Party, and thus the Concordat was concluded. The prosecution has adopted the view that this Concordat was a manoeuvre intended to deceive. Perhaps I may in this connection point to the fact that the gentlemen with whom I signed this Concordat were Secretary of State Pacelli, the present Pope, who had known Germany personally for thirteen years, and Monsignor Kaas, who for years had been the Chairman of the Centre Party. If these two men were willing to conclude a Concordat, then surely one can not maintain that this was a manoeuvre intended to deceive.

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