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 4 of 8)

[Page 287]

DR. KUBUSCHOK: I should like to read now a quotation from Document 40, on Page 122. After the conclusion of the Concordat, Hitler published a decree, which is worded as follows - near the middle of Page 122:
"I therefore order:
"1. All Catholic organizations which are recognized by the present treaty and which were dissolved without directions from the government are to be immediately reinstated.

2. All measures of coercion against members of the clergy and other leaders of these Catholic organizations are to be rescinded. A repetition of such measures is prohibited in future, and will be punished under prevailing laws."

I read that quotation to prove that only later did Hitler change his mind, probably under the influence of the circle nearest to him.

I refer to Document 41, Page 123, a telegram of von Papen. In the English translation of this telegram there is a mistake which affects the sense considerably. Paragraph 2 of the telegram says:

"Thanks to your generous and wise statesmanlike conception - "
The English translation reads "sportsmanlike" instead of "statesmanlike."

On the same page I draw attention to the telegram addressed by von Papen to the Bishop of Trier. There are also affidavits relevant to the questions which have been discussed. Document 43, Page 127 is the affidavit of Freiherr von Twickel, and it takes the place of an affidavit which the late Cardinal von Galen was to have signed. The statement had already been discussed with Cardinal von Galen, but he died before being able to put it into writing. Freiherr von Twickel, who discussed the questions with him, has now stated the details in his affidavit, Document 43, on Page 127.

I also draw particular attention to Document 52, on Page 139. This is an affidavit of the Abbot of the Benedictine Abbey at Gruessau, Schmitt, who for many years has been the spiritual adviser of the defendant. In the last but one paragraph on Page 139, he discusses the question of the Concordat, and says:

"Herr von Papen was deeply upset by the disloyal attitude of the German Government, which became apparent soon after the conclusion of the Concordat. He continually and fully discussed with me his great anxiety, and he pondered ways and means of ending the violations of the Concordat. I can also testify, from my own experience, that he personally worked actively in the interests of the Church to assure a loyal observance of the Concordat."

Q. Witness, did you, apart from the Concordat, endeavour to see to it that your views on church policy were adopted?

[Franz von Papen] A. Yes. On the 15th of June, 1933, I created an organization in Berlin which we called the "Cross and Eagle," and a little later I founded the Union (Arbeitsgemeinschaft) of Catholic Germans. Catholic forces were to gather within these two organizations, which were non-political. The Union of Catholic Germans had

[Page 288]

the particular task of collecting complaints and reporting them to me, so that I could try my best to help.

Q. The prosecution charges that by dissolving the Union of Catholic Germans you yourself violated the Concordat. What can you say to that?

A. Yes, and furthermore the prosecution has described the events which followed the Concordat as "the characteristic development of the Church policy of conspirators, and Papen's participation in it."

The accusation raised by the prosecution, with regard to my own sabotage of the Concordat, is a serious accusation, which is connected with the dissolution of the Union to which I have just referred. The documents show that this Union had already been paralysed during the Roehm Putsch, on the 30th of June, 1934, and that its later dissolution, through me, was merely a formal affair. Moreover, this Union had no connection whatever with the Concordat. It was a political Union which never enjoyed the protection of the Concordat.

DR. KUBUSCHOK: I refer to Document 45, on Page 129. It is an exchange of telegrams between Hitler and Hindenburg on the question of the appeasement of the Evangelical Church.

For the subject of the Union of Catholic Germans I refer to Document 74, Pages 130 to 132. This document contains an affidavit - I beg your pardon; I gave a wrong figure. I refer to Document 47, on Page 130, which is an affidavit of an executive member of the Union of Catholic Germans, Roderich Count Thun. He discusses the dissolution on Page 131, and I quote the second paragraph:

"On the 30th of June, 1934, the office of the Union of Catholic Germans was occupied by officials of the Gestapo. The files were confiscated and taken away. I myself was arrested."
The fact that, as a result of these measures, the dissolution became a mere formality is mentioned in the last paragraph on Page 131:
"Even after my release, which was effected after a time, the confiscated files were not returned. In view of the attitude taken up by the Party authorities, a revival or any further activity on the part of the organization could no longer be considered. Furthermore, in practice any further activity of the Union of Catholic Germans was no longer possible, as the only person who could have undertaken the constantly necessary interventions, Herr von Papen, had moved to Vienna. The only question which remained for the heads of the Union was that of officially declaring the end of the Union's activities, which in fact had already occurred. But one had to consider that in the event of an official announcement of the enforced dissolution, the large number of Catholics who had distinguished themselves through their work for the organization would be persecuted. In order to prevent this, the dissolution was pronounced by the Union's own leaders."
Then I quote the last sentence:
"In order to do everything still possible to safeguard Catholic interests, this pronouncement did not omit to point out again that official authorities, above all, Hitler himself, had solemnly vowed to protect Christian and ecclesiastical interests."
THE PRESIDENT: Will you remind me of the date when the defendant von Papen moved to Vienna?

DR. KUBUSCHOK: On the 15th of August, 1934, he went to Vienna; he was appointed at the end of July, 1934.


Q. In the summer of 1934 it became obvious that the Party was sabotaging the Concordat, and that Hitler's assurances were not being kept. How do you explain Hitler's behaviour in this respect?

A. I believe that in those days Hitler himself had been entirely willing to keep peace with the Church, but that the radical elements in his Party did not wish it,

[Page 289]

that most of all Goebbels and Bormann continually instigated Hitler to violate assurances in the Church question. Often and repeatedly I protested to Hitler and in my speech at Marburg I branded these violations publicly. I stated at Marburg:
"How can we fulfil our historic mission in Europe if we ourselves strike our name from the list of Christian peoples?"
DR. KUBUSCHOK: I draw attention to Document 85 on Page 186 and ask that judicial notice be taken of it -

THE PRESIDENT: The translation did not get through.


I call attention to Document 85, Page 186, and ask that judicial notice be taken of it. It is an affidavit of Dr. Glasebock, former leader of the "Front of German Conservative Catholics."

Q. Witness, on the 14th of March, 1937, Pope Pius XI expressed his burning anxiety in an encyclical and solemnly protested against the interpretation and the violations of the Concordat. The prosecution said that if you had been serious in giving the assurances contained in the Concordat, you would, at that point, have had to resign from your official post. What do you say to that?

A. What could I have improved by resigning? Apart from the Austrian affair, I no longer had any political influence at all on Hitler; and my own conviction that, in the critical time of 1937, there was an urgent necessity for me to remain in Austria, prevented me from leaving my post there. We shall later see that from the developments.

Besides, if the prosecution assumes that on account of the, certainly quite justified, encyclical of the Pope, I should have left my post, then I must ask, what did the Church do? The Church did not recall the Papal Nuncio from Berlin, and Bishop Berning did not leave the State Council in which he represented Catholic interests. No doubt, all this was quite justified, because all of us at that time still hoped for inner changes.

Q. I draw attention to Document 48, Page 133. The document has already been submitted as Exhibit USA 356, it is on Page 133 in my Document Book. It is the speech of Pope Pius XII on 2nd of June, 1945. I quote:

" ... It must, nevertheless, be recognized that the Concordat, in the years that followed, brought some advantages, or at least prevented worse evils. In fact, despite all the violations to which it was subjected, it gave Catholics a juridical basis for their defence, a stronghold behind which they could shield themselves in their opposition - as long as this was possible - to the ever growing campaign of religious persecution".
A practical effect of the Concordat is shown in Document 49, on Page 134 of my Document Book. It has already been presented as Exhibit USA 685. It is a letter from the Deputy of the Fuehrer to the Reich Minister of Education, and deals with the dissolution of the theological faculties of the universities. I quote the last paragraph of that letter:
"In this case, as you have likewise pointed out in your letter, the directives of the Concordat and the Church Treaties are to be taken into consideration. In the case of those faculties which are not mentioned by a specific directive in the Concordat and the Church Treaties, as, for example, Munich and a few others, the dissolution may begin at once. This is equally true of the theological faculties in Austria, Vienna and Graz."
During the following years public discussion of questions regarding Church policy was almost entirely suppressed, since the Catholic Press, and in violation of the Concordat even Catholic Church papers, were to a large extent banned. What did you do against this?

A. It appeared to me necessary, since the Catholic Press had been completely muzzled, to endeavour to continue public discussion of the struggle against tendencies inimical to the Church. I very often talked about this question with Bishop Dr. Hudal, a prominent churchman in Rome, whose book written in 1936 will be

[Page 290]

submitted to the Tribunal by my counsel. This book contains my severe criticism of the anti-religious tendencies, and contains also an objective appreciation of the positive social ideas of National Socialism; it is all the more notable because a high authority of the Church was then, in 1936, making yet another attempt to create a synthesis of Christian ideas and the healthy doctrines of National Socialism.

Q. In what way do you consider the book of importance with regard to the charge brought by the prosecution?

A. I consider it to be relevant for the following reason: In view of the criminal end of National Socialism, the prosecution is making its task very easy by placing all blame for it to the initial years of development, and brands as criminals all those who, from pure motives, attempted to give the movement a constructive and creative character. Here in this book of 1936 a churchman of high rank raises his voice in an attempt, made on his own initiative, to bring about an improvement of conditions. Today we know that all such attempts failed, and that a world crumbled in ruins. But is it right, on that account, to accuse millions of people of crimes because they tried to achieve something good in those days?

DR. KUBUSCHOK: I refer to extracts from Bishop Hudal's book, contained in Document 36, Page 116, and ask that judicial notice be taken of that document. With reference to the subject which the witness has just mentioned, the attitude of high ranking churchmen to the question of a possible synthesis of ideas, I refer to Document 50, Page 135, which is an appeal made by Cardinal Innitzer at the request of the Austrian bishops on their behalf.

Q. Witness, as you have said, Bishop Hudal's objective was to bring about a change in Hitler's policy and attitude on the lines proposed in his book. What was Hitler's reaction to the book?

A. At first Hitler was, I thought, very impressed by this book, but then the anti-Christian forces among his advisers gained the upper hand once more and convinced him that it would be extremely dangerous to allow such a book to appear in Germany. The book had been printed in Austria and therefore a permit for its publication in Germany had to be issued. All I could obtain was permission to print two thousand copies, which Hitler wanted to distribute among leading Party members for a study of the problem.

Q. Did you consider that the foreign policy of the Reich was being pursued according to the principles laid down when the government was formed?

A. Yes. While I was a member of the cabinet it was certainly conducted on the agreed principles. As illustration, I might mention the pact of friendship with Poland, which was concluded at that time and which was an important step toward peace. Hitler concluded this treaty, although on account of the problem of the Corridor, it was most unpopular. I might also mention the Four-Power Pact concluded in the summer of 1933, which affirmed the Locarno Treaty and the Kellogg Pact. I mention also the visit of Mr. Eden in January, 1934, to whom we submitted proposals for the demilitarisation of the SA and the SS. Thus we tried to remove the discriminations against Germany by peaceful means. In my opinion, the Great Powers made a catastrophic mistake by not showing sympathetic understanding and assisting Germany during that phase, and thus checking radical tendencies.

Q. On the 14th of October, 1933, Germany left the Disarmament Conference. Was this a departure from the previous policy which you have just discussed?

A. The withdrawal from the Disarmament Conference was not in any way intended to be a departure from our political principles, but it took place because the equality of which we had been definitely assured on 11th December was then revoked.

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Kubuschok, would you tell me, is the defendant saying that the principles adopted in 1933 were contained in any document or not?

DR. KUBUSCHOK: The proclamation of the Reich Government of 1st February, 1933, contains the principles of the policy of the new cabinet. These principles

[Page 291]

are supplemented in the statement of the Reich Government dated 23rd March, 1933, a statement which deals with the Enabling Act.

THE PRESIDENT: Could you give me the reference to the first document that you mentioned?

DR. KUBUSCHOK: I shall give it to you after the recess, Mr. President.

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