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 6 of 10)

[SIR DAVID MAXWELL FYFE continues his cross examination of Franz von Papen]

[Page 329]

Q. Well, now, I am not going to delay. You understand that what I am putting to you, defendant, is this: That during the early months of your chancellorship you tried to get Hitler to come in with you. When he refused you for the second time, you then, according to Meissner, were prepared to use force against him. When that was refused to you through Schleicher, you resigned. When Schleicher took over and got into difficulties, you turned around to Hitler again. That is what I am putting to you, and it was at your request, was it not, that you and Hitler had the meeting at the house of Kurt von Schroder on 4th January, 1933?

A. No, that is a completely false idea. Unfortunately, the Tribunal did not permit me to go into detail about this meeting on 4th January.

Q. Well, do you disagree with von Schroder that it was at your request that the meeting took place?

A. Yes, I am of an entirely different opinion. This meeting took place at Hitler's request.

THE PRESIDENT: Will you ask him to tell us about that meeting on 4th January?

SIR DAVID MAXWELL FYFE: Yes, certainly; I am going to deal with it.


Q. Well, now, do you say that Hitler asked for the meeting? I am suggesting to you, you see, that von Schroder, who was the intermediary, says that you asked for the meeting. Do you disagree with that?

A. Yes, I am of an entirely different opinion. What Herr von Schroder says does not correspond to the facts. Herr von Schroder -

Q. Well, you tell the Tribunal who arranged it.

DR. KUBUSCHOK: I object to the use of the Schroder affidavit. The document was to be submitted when the prosecution presented its evidence. I asked that the witness be called since he is located near by. The Tribunal asked the prosecution to bring the witness. The prosecution chose not to call the witness. Now, in cross-examination, the affidavit is to be used. I do not believe that that is permissible, since it is contrary to the decision of the Tribunal. The Tribunal decided on the use of the affidavit in conjunction with the witness. Now it would be used without the witness.

SIR DAVID MAXWELL FYFE: My Lord, it is quite true. I submit, however, that it is a different matter, using it in cross-examination, when Dr. Kubuschok has put in, as part of his own evidence, an account of this very meeting from Schulthess' Calendar of European History, which you will find in Volume I, Page 27, of his document book. Surely, if this evidence has been put in a document book, I am entitled to challenge that evidence in cross-examination by the affidavit of von Schroder

[Page 330]

My Lord, I am sorry, I should have gone further. My friend has put in an actual statement from Baron von Schroder, which appears on Page 26. He says that at the same time Baron von Schroder, handed the following declaration to the County Bureau to correct the false Press news:
"The initiative for bringing about a discussion between former Reich Chancellor von Papen, as the representative of the widest national conservative circles, and Herr Hitler, as the sole leader of the National Socialist movement, emanated solely from me personally."
I should have thought that, inasmuch as a statement from von Schroder, has been put in, I am entitled to challenge that with another statement of von Schroder.

DR. KUBUSCHOK: May I say something, Mr. President?

There are two entirely different things here. Sir David is referring to a document which I produced from Schulthess' Calendar of History. That is a joint communique of Papen and Schroder, which was published in the papers at that time. I object, however, to an affidavit of the witness Schroder, The prosecution agreed with me that Schroder, was a person open to suspicion under the Indictment and was involved in the matter to such an extent that producing an affidavit is possible only if we have an opportunity to put the appropriate question to von Schroder, At any rate, what is here is nothing but a copy of contemporary documents from the historical calendar by Schulthess. These documents, in agreement with the prosecution, were accepted by the Tribunal.

THE PRESIDENT: Sir David, can you not put the facts without relying on the document?

SIR DAVID MAXWELL FYFE: I can quite easily, my Lord; I will do that.


Q. At this meeting, defendant, did you not suggest I am sorry, I apologise. I think first we ought to get details of the surroundings where the meeting was held and who were present.

It was in Baron von Schroder's house in Cologne, I think, or his flat in Cologne; is that not right?

A. Yes, but no friend of mine.

Q. Now, as to the people who were present at the meeting: Hitler's party consisted of himself, the defendant Hess, Himmler, and Keppler, did it not?

A. That is possible, yes.

Q. Keppler is the gentleman of whom the Tribunal have heard as being in Vienna in March of 1938, is that not so?

A. He was a man who was always in Hitler's entourage.

Q. Now, the actual discussion took place between you and Hitler, with von Schroder present. Is that not so?

A. No. Perhaps I might give the Tribunal a shoat account of the conference as the Tribunal desired.

Q. Well, I think it is easier to put the facts to you. I will take them quite shortly. I am in the hands of the Tribunal.

Do you say that von Schroder was not present?

A. Schroder may have been present for parts of the conversation. I recall that in the main I talked to Hitler alone.

Q. The meeting started at about 11.30 in the morning, did it not? The meeting between you and Hitler?

A. Yes.

Q. And the first thing you did was to explain to Hitler that, although you had not been able to release the two nazis who had been condemned for killing a communist, you had tried to get President von Hindenburg to pardon them. Is that not right?

A. I recall that Hitler strongly reproached me because of the death sentence against these National Socialists.

[Page 331]

Q. And then you explained to Hitler that it was not through any intrigue or machinations of yours that President von Hindenburg had refused to discuss with Hitler the question of the latter becoming Chancellor. Was that not the second matter dealt with, that it was not you who had caused von Hindenburg to refuse the discussion?

A. Yes. I explained that my offer to him of 13th August, 1932, had been meant absolutely honestly.

THE PRESIDENT: I do not think that was an answer to your question.


Q. Did you not explain to Hitler that it was not your fault that von Hindenburg had refused to discuss the question of making Hitler Chancellor in August of 1932 -

A. No.

Q. - when Hitler had met von Hindenburg?

A. No, that cannot be right, for according to the evidence of historical documents Hitler had a talk with von Hindenburg on 13th August, and Hindenburg explained to him the reasons why he did not agree to Hitler's chancellorship.

Q. What I am putting to you is that you told Hitler on 4th January, with reference to his meeting with von Hindenburg: "I want you to understand it was not my fault that von Hindenburg was not ready to discuss the question of your being Chancellor." Did you not tell him that, that it was not your fault, that you thought von Hindenburg would have been ready?

A. No, Mr. Prosecutor, that is what Herr von Schroder says; but that is not right.

Q. Well now, what do you say was said about this matter? If you do not accept what I suggest to you, what do you say?

A. What Hindenburg told Hitler can be read in all the books; that is a well-known matter of history.

Q. No, no. What we want to know - if I may say so, with great respect to the Tribunal - is what you told Hitler on 4th January. What did you tell him, if you told him anything, about the position between President von Hindenburg and himself?

A. If you had permitted me to make an explanation about the course of the conference, I would already have explained that.

In the course of this talk I did nothing but call Hitler's attention to the fact of how necessary it was to reach an agreement with Herr von Schleicher, how necessary it was to enter his government. In other words, I continued those efforts, which I had made in 1932, to induce the Nazi Party to co-operate.

Q. Are you seriously telling the Tribunal that you told Hitler that he should not go into a Schleicher cabinet?

A. On the contrary, I told him he should enter a Schleicher cabinet.

Q. That is what I put to you. I am suggesting that is entirely wrong. What you suggested to Hitler was that it would be a sound thing for the conservatives and nationalists, whose political views coincided with yours, to join with Hitler in forming a government; you suggested to him at this meeting what, in fact, actually happened on 30th January. Do you say that is untrue?

A. Not one word is true; that is absolutely false. As proof of this, I state the following:

Immediately after the conversation I wrote a letter to Schleicher, on 4th January, in the afternoon. He probably received this letter on the morning of the 5th. However, even before Herr von Schleicher received this letter of mine giving an account of the meeting, the morning papers of 5th January started a tremendous campaign against me, asserting that this talk with Hitler showed disloyalty to Schleicher. Returning to Berlin, I went to see Herr von Schleicher immediately, and I gave him full particulars of the conversation I had had with Hitler. Herr

[Page 332]

von Schleicher then published a communique on this subject. This communique -

Q. But he was not the only person, you know, who published a communique. You and Hitler published a communique.

I want you to remember, defendant, I put to you that the suggestion from you was that you and Hitler would form a coalition with the conservative forces behind you and the National Socialist forces behind Hitler. Now just look at the communique which you and Hitler issued.

SIR DAVID MAXWELL FYFE: Will you give the defendant Document 637? My Lord, this is a new document, which will become Exhibit GB 496.


Q. Look at the foot of it, defendant, the end of the document:

"Adolf Hitler and Herr von Papen publish the following joint declaration:

"In answer to false deductions which have in many cases been circulated in the Press regarding Adolf Hitler's meeting with the former Reich Chancellor von Papen, the undersigned declare that the conversation dealt exclusively with the question of the possibility of a great national political united front and that, in particular, the opinions of both parties on the present Reich Cabinet were not touched upon at all in this general discussion."

Now, defendant, when you have been reminded of what you published yourself, is it not correct what I have put to you, that you suggested to Hitler that you should form this coalition of conservatives and nationalists who agreed with you, and the Nazi Party under Hitler?

A. No, Mr. Prosecutor, this communique states two things: In the first place, I point out that we did not speak at all about overthrowing the Schleicher cabinet or replacing it by another government, as the Press generally assumed. Then I state that it is necessary to create "a great national political united front." Herr von Schleicher headed the same cabinet that I had headed, with the same political forces. So if I called on Hitler to enter this cabinet, then that is exactly the same political combination as if I had asked him to join my cabinet.

Q. Defendant, I am not going to argue with you. If you say that that communique is your way of expressing that you had asked Hitler to take the Nazis into von Schleicher's government, and that you had not discussed forming the coalition, if you say that that is what that communique expresses, I haves no further questions on this, and I will pass on to another point. I have made my suggestion, and I maintain the communique bears it out.

But now, let us come to the next action of yours. Do you deny that during January you were active in making contact with Hitler, and, on Hitler's behalf, with President von Hindenburg, in order to bring Hitler into the government? Or do you agree with that?

A. That is true, and I will say in what respect. I had two official talks with Hindenburg. On 9th January, when I returned to Berlin, I went from Reich Chancellor von Schleicher to Reich President von Hindenburg. Reich Chancellor von Schleicher, being of the opinion that at the Schroder meeting I had been disloyal to him, had asked von Hindenburg not to receive me any more. I informed von Hindenburg of the actual nature of the Schroder meeting and, after I had reached an agreement with von Schleicher, Hindenburg was also convinced that the whole thing had been a big misunderstanding.

Then, to the best of my memory, I did not talk officially to Herr von Hindenburg about these governmental matters again until 22nd January.

Q. Well now, just let us see what the chief of the Presidential Chancellery says about it, and see whether he can refresh your memory. Would you look at Herr Meissner's affidavit, at the second part of paragraph 6?

(A document was handed to the witness.)

[Page 333]

SIR DAVID MAXWELL FYFE: My Lord, it is Document 11A, Page 45, about seven lines from the foot of the page.


Q. You see, just after the first section of paragraph 6, defendant, the second part, it begins:

"Schleicher first made these suggestions to Hindenburg in the middle of January ..."
Then the next sentence is:
"In the meantime Papen had returned to Berlin, and, through arrangements with Hindenburg's son, had several talks with the President. When Schleicher renewed his demand for emergency powers, Hindenburg declared that he was unable to give him such authority and must reserve for himself decisions in every individual case. Schleicher then said that under these circumstances he was unable to stay in the government and tendered his resignation on 28th January, 1933."
Then, paragraph 7:
"In the middle of January, when Schleicher first asked for emergency powers, Hindenburg was not aware of the meetings between Papen and Hitler - particularly the meeting which had taken place in the house of the Cologne banker, Kurt von Schroder. In the second part of January Papen played an increasingly important role in the entourage of the Reich President, but, in spite of Papen's persuasiveness, Hindenburg was extremely hesitant - until the end of January - to appoint Hitler Chancellor. He wanted to have Papen as chancellor once more. Papen finally won him to Hitler with the argument that the representatives of the other Right Wing parties supporting the government would restrict Hitler's freedom of action. In addition Papen expressed his misgivings that, if the present opportunity were once again neglected, a revolt of the National Socialists resulting in civil war would be likely."
Is that right?

A. No.

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