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 8 of 10)

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

[Page 337]

Q. Herr Jung was not a member of your staff, but he was a close associate of yours. Now -

A. (Interposing): He was an associate who, as I said, quite often assisted me when I was very busy, by drafting notes for speeches and with whom I exchanged conservative ideas.

[Page 338]

Q. And of course it is common knowledge that General von Schleicher and his wife were also shot, and-I think my recollection is right-that General von Gronau was shot too, was he not?

A. Yes.

Q. And you were placed under arrest, as you have told us, for three days, and I think your files were taken, were they not?

A. Yes.

Q. Did this performance shake your faith in the regime?

A. My belief in what? I beg your pardon.

Q. Did this performance shake your faith in the regime and in Hitler?

A. Quite. I explained to the Tribunal yesterday that by this action the pact of the 30th of January had been broken.

Q. And you offered your resignation on 2nd July, I think.

A. No, I offered it even earlier.

Q. You had already offered it on 18th or 19th June, and you reaffirmed your offer on 2nd July.

A. Quite right.

Q. Quite right; my mistake. Now, do you tell the Tribunal that you reaffirmed your offer of resignation because you had lost your faith in the regime or because of the insult to your own pride, because of your being arrested and having your files taken and your secretaries shot?

A. I offered my resignation, firstly, because of the unbearable affront to my own person and my staff and, secondly, because by this action the pact of the 30th of January had been broken by Hitler; and because any political co-operation with him in domestic matters had become impossible for me.

Q. I see. Well, just look at Document 714, will you.

SIR DAVID MAXWELL FYFE: My Lord, this will be Exhibit GB 497.


Q. This is a letter from you to Hitler written on 4th July, and you say:

"Yesterday at 10 in the morning I had the honour of informing you verbally of my attitude towards the events of the last few days, after my term in police custody had been suspended on 2nd July at 9.00 o'clock in the evening. I pointed out to you that I could not possibly take my seat in the cabinet until my honour and that of my officials had been restored.

"On the 30th of June five of my co-workers were arrested; one of them was shot. My files have been confiscated, my office sealed, and my private secretary also arrested. This is still the position at the moment.

"A procedure of this kind against the second highest official of the State could be justified only if he and his officials were guilty of complicity in the plot against the Fuehrer and nation.

"It is in the interest not only of protecting my personal honour, but even more so of protecting the authority and decency of the State that either the guilt in this case be proved at once or honour restored."

Then you say:
"The events have become known abroad, in part in distorted form ..."
And that for that reason not a single hour should be lost. You appeal to his soldierly sense of honour, and you ask that the case should be put in the hands of the Prosecutor General or a communique be published stating:
" ... that the investigations had found no evidence of any complicity in the plot, in order that my honour and that of my officials thus be restored.

If you do not wish to undertake these steps, my remaining in the cabinet any longer would be an impossibility."

Now, look at the rest of the letter.
"I had placed my office at your disposal, Chancellor, as early as 18th and 19th June. I can ask for my dismissal with a much lighter heart today since

[Page 339]

the work jointly commenced by us on 30th January, 1933, now appears to have been made secure against further revolts. At the same time I request to be relieved of my position as Commissioner for the Saar.

I assume that you will make your decision regarding the restoration of my honour, for which I am asking you, within the next few hours.

I remain loyally devoted to you and to your work for our Germany."

Was it true that it lightened your heart that the work of Hitler now appeared to be secured against further revolts?

A. I did not understand the question.

Q. Is it true what you say there, that it lightened your heart that the work of Hitler now appeared to be secured against further revolt?

A. Yes, I was under the impression that there had been a revolution which he had suppressed. This letter was written a day after I was released from custody, and I had the feeling there had been a revolution and now it was settled.

Q. Did you know that General von Schleicher and his wife had been killed?

A. I do not think I knew that at that moment.

Q. You just knew that Herr von Bose had been shot?

A. Yes, that is mentioned in the letter.

Q. And you knew there was not the slightest reason on earth for General von Schleicher, Jung, and Bose being shot, did you not?

A. No, I did not know the reason. As far as I remember -

Q. (Interposing): No, you knew that there was no reason, did you not?

A. No, to my question regarding the reason, Hitler replied that Herr von Bose had been involved in a matter of giving information to the foreign Press.

Q. I see. So that we may take it that you were speaking with your head and your heart and with complete confidence and sincerity when you said: "I remain loyally devoted to you and to your work for our Germany," on 4th July, 1934, is that right?

A. Yes, because I hoped that his further activities would not lead to any disadvantages for Germany, even though he separated himself from me as far as matters of domestic policy were concerned.

Q. You need not go on with the letters. You may take it that I shall deal with them in time, so do not read the others in advance.

As a result of that, you saw Hitler on that day, did you not?

Would you mind just answering my questions. I assure you I will take you through these letters.

You saw Hitler on that day?

A. I saw him earlier.

Q. But you also saw him after.

A. I saw him the day before. In the letter it says -

Q. Yes, but you saw him after this letter, and did you not agree with Hitler to remain Vice-Chancellor until September and that you would then take employment under the Foreign Office?

A. I do not believe so, no.

Q. Well, if you do not believe that, look at the next letter which is Document 715-D, which becomes Exhibit GB 498.

This is a letter of the 10th of July, and it begins:

"Our agreement of 4th July" - that is the date of the last letter - "to the effect that I am to retain my position as Vice-Chancellor until September and then be employed in the Foreign Service was based between us on the following condition: the immediate and complete restoration of my authority and honour, which will enable me to remain in the service of the Reich, in whatever capacity."

Now, do you tell the Tribunal that on the 10th of July you did not know that General von Schleicher and his wife had been killed, and General von Gronau had been killed, and that Jung, as well as Bose, had been murdered? You say you did not know on the 10th of July?

[Page 340]

A. I am not denying by any means that I knew that, but as I have already told the Tribunal I demanded a thorough investigation of the whole affair so that we might learn the precise reasons for these drastic actions.

It was stated to the public that Schleicher was shot in self-defence, so the true facts about these matters at the time were not at all clear.

Q. But it is correct, of course, as you write here, that you had agreed with Hitler to carry on as Vice-Chancellor until September and then to be employed in the Foreign Service on this condition, is that right?

A. No, that is not correct, for I have already explained -

Q. It is your own letter you know.

A. Yes, but this letter was written because Hitler had promised me a clarification, an investigation which would enable me, after my honour had been restored and all these crimes cleared up, to remain in the service of the Reich. But that was never done.

Q. Von Bose and Jung had been working with you in close co-operation and if anyone knew whether they were innocent men or not it was you. Why did you, with that knowledge, agree with Hitler to carry on as Vice-Chancellor and then to enter the Foreign Service?

A. I have stated that I had resigned. The sentence dealing with my possibly remaining in office is only a supposition. De facto I had resigned and de facto I did not exercise any governmental activity from the 4th of July on.

Q. Just look at the next words in this letter.

"To this end I submitted to you on 5th July my proposal for a statement to be issued officially, explaining why the arrest of a number of officials of my staff had taken place and how von Bose had lost his life and averring the non-participation of all the members of my staff in the SA revolt. This statement requested by me was approved and published by you only in part, inasmuch as the release and innocence of Herr von Tschirschky, Herr von Savigny and of my private secretary Stotzingen were announced."
You had put before Hitler your own version and asked him to pass it and he would not pass it, he would not clear the people who were working closely with you and yet you had agreed with him, you had agreed with him to continue as Vice-Chancellor and to go into the Foreign Service.

You see what I am putting to you? I am putting to you quite clearly that all you cared about was your own personal position, your dignity being restored. You were prepared to serve these murderers so long as your own dignity was put right.

A. Mr. Prosecutor, I cannot give better proof for my intentions to separate myself from the regime than lies in the fact of my actual resignation. If everything had been clarified, if the fact that my employees and officials had been innocent when they were arrested and murdered, had been made clear, then perhaps it might have been possible for me to remain in the service of the Reich, but not as vice-chancellor, from which position I had resigned. But you can see from this letter that Hitler made no attempt to give such a declaration.

Q. And as a result of his making no such attempts you wrote an even more fulsome statement of your admiration for his actions. Look at Document 70, which will become Exhibit GB 499.

"Most honoured Reich Chancellor:

I reflected a long time on our conversation of yesterday and the statements made to me, in particular, what you told me about your intentions regarding your Reichstag speech, have occupied my mind constantly in view of the enormous importance of the speech and its special effect on Germany's position in the sphere of foreign politics. I therefore feel impelled, in fact I feel it my duty, to let you know my opinion, as I have frequently done on previous occasions.

You explained to me yesterday that you intend publicly to accept responsibility for everything that happened in connection with the crushing

[Page 341]

of the SA revolt. Allow me to tell you how manly and humanly great I consider this intention. The crushing of the revolt and your courageous and firm personal intervention have met with nothing but recognition throughout the entire world.

What is, however, at the moment a burden on Germany is solely those events that took place outside the bounds of your own initiative and without any immediate connection with the revolt, such as the examples you yourself gave me. These have been given particular publicity in the British and American Press."

Then, leaving out three paragraphs, you say:
"Allow me to assure you once again that my person or my position, except for the restoration of my personal honour, do not matter at all and are at issue only in so far as the events in the Vice-Chancellery on 30th June are being regarded by the public as the consequence of a breach between you and me."
Then, after some more of the same stuff you finish up:
"With unchanged admiration and loyalty ..."
Did it not come to this, defendant, that, so long as you could get your dignity cleared, it did not matter whether your collaborators were shot or the government of which you had been a member had adopted murder as an instrument of policy? These things did not matter to you so long as you kept your own dignity and the chance of a future job in the Foreign Service.

A. No.

Q. Well, why did you write stuff like that to the head of a gang of murderers who had murdered your collaborators? Why did you write to him:

"The crushing of the revolt, your courageous and firm personal intervention have met with nothing but recognition throughout the entire world."
Why did you write it?

A. Because at that time it was my opinion that there actually had been a revolution and that Hitler had crushed it. With regard to numerous people who had been murdered, including members of my own office staff, that was something about which Hitler was to ascertain the truth.

When he told me that he himself would assume responsibility, I considered this an excellent act on his part, but not in the sense as it was actually done afterwards by Hitler, when he stated to the Reichstag that these events were justified. I understood him to mean that if he himself assumed responsibility for these events, he would clarify them to the world, but not announce to the world without any investigation through the medium of a law that they were legal and proper.

Q. Will you tell the Tribunal whether on 12th July you thought there was any doubt or any possibility that your friend Jung could be guilty of treason against the Reich or of a plot against Hitler? Did you believe that for an instant?

A. Herr Hitler explained to me at that time that the shooting of Bose was first of all only a -

Q. No, I was asking about yourself. I asked did you believe for a moment that Jung had been guilty of treason against the Reich or of a plot against Hitler?

A. No, certainly not.

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