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-Seventh Day: Tuesday, 18th June, 1946
(Part 2 of 10)

[Page 312]

Q. How did you prepare that conference?

[Franz von Papen] A. On my return, I went to see Herr von Schuschnigg, and with him I discussed the change in the situation created by my recall and the appointment of the new German Minister for Foreign Affairs. I told Herr von Schuschnigg:

"It appears to me that in this situation a discussion between the two heads of State regarding the differences, which have arisen from the interpretation of the July Agreement, could be nothing but helpful."
The Austrian Minister for Foreign Affairs has, as a matter of fact, confirmed that we had discussed those personal meetings as far back as November 1937. The proposal was that there should be discussions in Berchtesgaden about all the differences. No definite programme was drafted. It was arranged that these conferences should take place on the basis of the July Agreement, i.e., on the basis of the maintenance of Austria's sovereignty. The only essential problem discussed was the inclusion of a Minister in the Austrian Cabinet who would act as the homme de confiance of both States, and whose task would be to keep the peace between the Austrian and German National Socialist Parties; i.e., to eliminate in future all interference by the German Party in Austrian affairs.

Later on, during the Berchtesgaden conference, it was demanded that the Ministry for Security should be handed to Dr. Seyss-Inquart. This demand was entirely unknown to me, nor had I discussed it with Schuschnigg. It was merely mentioned that a suitable man, perhaps Seyss-Inquart, should be given the Ministry of the Interior. Today we know from the testimony of witnesses that, in addition to this official conference of mine, there were Austrian Party channels through which proposals were sent to Hitler, proposals that were unknown to me.

Q. Please give us an idea of the course of the discussion at Berchtesgaden.

A. This conference has been repeatedly described here. I accompanied Herr Schuschnigg and Herr Schmidt there personally, and it is quite possible that when I received them at the Austrian or the German frontier, I told them that, in addition to Hitler, they might find one or several generals up there, because I had quite possibly telephoned to Berchtesgaden in the morning and learned that these generals were to be present.

The course of the conference differed, of course, very much from the customary conferences of diplomatic life; but it was not quite so dramatic as has been described here by various sources. To my knowledge, these generals, called in

[Page 313]

by Hitler on the previous evening and unknown to me, were merely effective by their presence, and were only meant to have that effect. As far as I know, they were not invited to take part in the political conferences.

The tone in which Hitler negotiated, the accusations which he hurled against von Schuschnigg, were to my mind most unpleasant and for that reason I repeatedly intervened as a mediator. I remember very well an incident which occurred when Hitler and Schuschnigg were negotiating together, and the discussion became extraordinarily loud. I entered the conference room to find that Hitler was accusing Herr von Schuschnigg of being no German, of lacking in national feeling, so that I intervened and told Herr Hitler, "You are completely misjudging Herr von Schuschnigg. Herr von Schuschnigg's way of thinking is as German as yours and mine, only he does not want a union of our two countries under a doctrine of State which you are now representing in Germany." During this conference, a. programme was submitted to Herr von Schuschnigg and Herr Schmidt which was unknown to me personally, as I have already said. After negotiations, a number of points were removed from this programme, for instance, the commanding of the Austrian Army by General von Glaise, and all economic demands; and therefore, towards evening when the conference was coming to an end, I told Herr von Schuschnigg that he had better accept the rest of the programme so that further peaceful development should not be prejudiced. Apart from this, Herr von Schuschnigg only made the express reservation in connection with this programme or this agreement that the stipulations would have to be confirmed by the Austrian Government and the Austrian President. Therefore, the possibility for later alterations on the part of Austria certainly was provided.

Q. In one point your relation has not been quite clear. Did you arrive at Berchtesgaden only when Schuschnigg and Dr. Schmidt did? Were you already in Berchtesgaden, or had you spent the night elsewhere?

A. I travelled from Vienna to Salzburg with Herr von Schuschnigg, spent the night there with him and went on with him the next morning to Berchtesgaden. In other words, I was not in Berchtesgaden before him. However, Herr von Schuschnigg has alleged that the morning before our visit I told him that generals were up there. I cannot remember that, but it is possible, because it may be that I put a telephone call through from Salzburg in the morning, and was told of it.

Q. There is one more point to be supplemented. Schuschnigg said that you met him at the frontier. Perhaps you can clear up that point, too.

A. Well, Herr von Schuschnigg and I had spent the night together in Salzburg, as I have said. The next morning I went ahead as far as the German frontier and waited for him there.

Q. Did the Berchtesgaden Agreement differ basically from the Agreement of 11th July, 1936?

A. The result of the Berchtesgaden arrangements was certainly an enlargement compared with the Agreement of July. But there was no departing from the basic principle of the July Agreement, that is, the maintenance of Austrian sovereignty. This is evident also from the two communiques by the governments which were issued on the occasion of the acceptance of the Agreement.

DR. KUBUSCHOK: I refer to the official communique, Document 78, Page 174; and also to Document 79, Page 175, Hitler's Reichstag speech of the 20th February, with reference to this question.


Q. On the 26th of February you paid an official farewell visit to Schuschnigg. The prosecution have presented a memorandum from the files in this connection. Please tell us about this farewell visit.

A. This note from the files obviously contains the information I gave Herr von Ribbentrop over the telephone regarding my farewell visit. In this note I drew the attention of the Foreign Office to the fact

[Page 314]

THE PRESIDENT: What is the date of this note?

DR. KUBUSCHOK: The file note is dated 26th February and was submitted by the prosecution.


THE WITNESS: In this memorandum I mention the pressure brought to bear on Schuschnigg and under which he acted. The fact that I informed the Foreign Office should really indicate that I personally disapproved of this pressure; otherwise I would not have made a report on it. On the 26th of February my temporary activities came to an end.


Q. On the 9th of March, 1938, Schuschnigg proclaimed the plebiscite. Kindly comment on this.

A. The plebiscite announced by Herr von Schuschnigg was, of course, a complete surprise. In my view it was contrary to the spirit of the arrangements agreed upon at Berchtesgaden and contrary to the tendency of a peaceful settlement of the tension.

The plebiscite was a violation of the Austrian Constitution too. It had not been passed by the Austrian Government, but was a spontaneous measure of the Austrian Chancellor, and in my opinion it was quite evident that those elements in Austria who were in favour of a union of the two States would be opposed to this plebiscite.

Q. The witness Rainer has said in his testimony and in the speech which has been quoted, that on the evening of 9th March he was at your apartment. Was this a prearranged conference, if a conference at all, or an exchange of views?

A. Not at all. I was absent from Vienna from the evening of the 26th, as far as I remember, until about the 9th of March. On that day I returned to Vienna and it is naturally possible that these gentlemen came to my Embassy and talked to me there. There was no question of anything prearranged on my part.

Q. Were you in Berlin on the 11th of March?

A. On the evening of the 10th of March a telephone message from the Reich Chancellery reached me at the Embassy, informing me of the order from Hitler to go to Berlin immediately, that very night. I flew to Berlin the following morning and approximately between nine and ten in the morning I arrived at the Reich Chancellery. Why Hitler sent for me I do not know. I assumed that, as this crisis developed, he might want my advice, perhaps; also he may have discovered that my presence in Vienna would interfere with his plans. At any rate, on this fateful day, the 11th of March, I was in Berlin and at the Reich Chancellery. I met Hitler surrounded by numerous Ministers, Herr Goering, Dr. Goebbels, von Neurath, Secretaries of State and also military people. He greeted me with the words:

"The situation in Austria has become intolerable. Herr von Schuschnigg is betraying the German idea and we cannot permit this forced plebiscite."
And when I saw how aroused he was, I reminded him again of his promise to me at Bayreuth, and warned him urgently against over-hasty decisions. But on this morning he told me:
"Either the plebiscite is cancelled or the government must resign."
Today we know from the letter, which he sent to Dr. Seyss Inquart by special courier, of this ultimatum to the Austrian Government. At that time he did not inform me of this active intervention on his part. Then during the day, while I along with most of the persons present, remained in the large hall, Goering telephoned from Hitler's private office. What was telephoned is something we, who were waiting in the large hall, could only gather fragmentarily, but, of course, today we know from the documents here.

There is only one incident which I want to mention. Towards five o'clock in the afternoon, the report came from Vienna that Schuschnigg's government was

[Page 315]

prepared to resign. Thereupon, I pressed Hitler to cancel his military orders. Herr Hitler did that. Between five and six o'clock in the afternoon the order to the military forces standing by was withdrawn. On that occasion I congratulated General Keitel and General von Brauchitsch, who were present, on our being spared this issue. But one hour later the situation was once more entirely different. When a telephone call came through from Vienna stating that the Federal President refused to nominate a Seyss-Inquart government, Hitler again issued the orders to the troops. Following that, late in the evening it was learned that the Austrian Government had requested the entry of German troops, since otherwise they could not control the situation.

I can still see Herr von Neurath standing next to me telling me:

"This is such an important report from Vienna that we absolutely have to have it in writing."
Thus, we were under the impression that this call for assistance came to us from Vienna. The further events of the evening are known and I can only say that I personally was deeply shaken by this turn of events because it was perfectly clear that if one marched in with the army, there might be serious incidents and bloodshed, and new bloodshed between our two nations which might badly compromise the German problem again, and make the worst possible impression in Europe about German leaders and their policy.

DR. KUBUSCHOK: I draw your attention here to Document 97, Page 241, of the third document book. I beg your pardon, it is not yet contained in the book, it is just being presented - Document 97, Page 241. It is an affidavit by Thass, a friend of the witness Papen, who talked to him on the evening of March 11th. I quote approximately from the middle of the document:

"On the 11th of March, 1938, the day of the commencement of the march of German troops into Austria, Herr von Papen appeared at the Union Club late in the evening where he very excitedly and despairingly declared:
'I have just come from the Reich Chancellery. I tried to talk Hitler out of the march into Austria and strongly advised against it; but he has carried through with the madness and has just given the order to march into Austria.'"

Q. Did you, witness, know anything about the military plan "Case Otto"?

A. I have heard about this "Case Otto" for the first time during this trial. The "Case Otto" was, as is known, a theoretical preparation for Germany's march into Austria in the event of the Czechs and Hungarians, because of the restoration of the Hapsburgs, marching into Austria.

THE PRESIDENT: This is exactly what the defendant was doing some time ago when I interrupted you. He said he did not know anything about the document and he is now trying to explain it. This is argument, not evidence.

DR. KUBUSCHOK: Yes, quite, Mr. President.


Q. Let us pass on to the next question. A little while ago you mentioned that you had decided that the files, which were documentary proof for your activity in Vienna, should be taken to Switzerland. Was this carried out later on?

A.. Yes, that was done. My secretary, Herr von Ketteler, took the files to Switzerland at the beginning of March 1938.

Q. Describe briefly the circumstances of the assassination of your assistant, Baron von Ketteler, after the entry of German troops into Austria. In particular, what did you do to have that case cleared up?

A. During the days of the march into Vienna my secretary and friend, Herr von Ketteler, suddenly disappeared. I informed the Viennese police at once, as well as Herr Himmler, Herr Heydrich, and Dr. Kaltenbrunner. They promised investigation. The investigation was for a long time without success. Originally

[Page 316]

I had assumed that Herr von Ketteler had fled, since his relations with the Austrian Party had been very bad. But then, a few weeks later, it transpired that von Ketteler's body was found in the Danube below Vienna. I filed a charge of murder against person or persons unknown with the Public Prosecutor. At my request, a post-mortem examination was made, but it produced no evidence of death by violence. Nevertheless, I am perfectly aware that this new act was an act of revenge by the Gestapo against me and my policies and my friends. I addressed myself to Goering, who was in command of the Gestapo, and asked for his assistance. Goering demanded the files from the Gestapo and told me that there was proof that Herr von Ketteler had prepared an attempt on Hitler's life. I stated that that was quite out of the question. And then it was ascertained by Goering through the Gestapo, that I had taken my files to Switzerland and that Herr von Ketteler had assisted in this. Herr Goering promised me to negotiate with Hitler and to demand the punishment of the Gestapo people who had taken part in this murder. I believe that he did, but his intervention met with no success.

Q. After your departure from Vienna you retired to private life. Did you receive new offers of posts abroad?

A. I retired to private life, since my experiences after the 30th of June and then in Austria were not such as to make me desire a new post. I can only say that during the period, Herr von Ribbentrop asked me twice to go to Ankara as Ambassador and that I refused.

Q. As a last question with reference to the Austrian events, I want to ask whether Hitler awarded you the Golden Party Emblem after the march into Vienna? Please make a statement on that.

A. That is correct. As we know, Hitler was accustomed to make sudden dismissals, and he had dismissed me abruptly on 4th February and solved the Austrian question without me. For public consumption he used to camouflage such acts with cordial letters and decorations. Perhaps I should have turned down this Golden Party Emblem at that time, because I was no longer in any official position and there was no reason for my accepting it. However, my position in those days was so difficult that I did not want to make it any worse. My assistant, Ketteler, had disappeared, and there was a possibility that I might be involved in a State trial because I had removed my files to Switzerland. Thus, I accepted the Emblem. But I deny that doing this established my Party membership. I believe that no one who knows me - even among the gentlemen sitting in this dock with me - will maintain that I was ever in my life a National Socialist.

DR. KUBUSCHOK: I now come to the discussion of a relatively brief period, that is, the "time in Turkey." May I start on that now?

THE PRESIDENT: Why is it necessary to go into the affairs after the Anschluss in March 1938, in view of what the prosecution has stated? I mean, does it throw any light upon the past? As I understand it -

DR. KUBUSCHOK: Mr. President, I have finished then with the entire Austrian phase. I now have to deal only with a brief subject, the defendant's activities during his time as Ambassador to Ankara. I am only asking whether this would be a suitable moment to begin with this, or whether the Tribunal wishes to recess. I shall have completely finished in about an hour.

[ Previous | Index | Next ]

Home ·  Site Map ·  What's New? ·  Search Nizkor

© The Nizkor Project, 1991-2012

This site is intended for educational purposes to teach about the Holocaust and to combat hatred. Any statements or excerpts found on this site are for educational purposes only.

As part of these educational purposes, Nizkor may include on this website materials, such as excerpts from the writings of racists and antisemites. Far from approving these writings, Nizkor condemns them and provides them so that its readers can learn the nature and extent of hate and antisemitic discourse. Nizkor urges the readers of these pages to condemn racist and hate speech in all of its forms and manifestations.