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 10 of 10)


[Page 345]

SIR DAVID MAXWELL FYFE: I think I gave your Lordship the references yesterday. The reference to the affidavit, Document 1760-PS, is Document Book

[Page 346]

II, and Page 22 is the relevant part; and the other affidavit, Document 2385-PS, is Document Book IIA, Page 24. This is rather shorter.

BY SIR DAVID MAXWELL FYFE:

Q. I think the one that I would like you to look at, defendant, is 1760-PS, and I think it begins on Page 3. I want you to refer to the part in the affidavit - and I am afraid I cannot give you the exact German place - where he deals with yourself.

SIR DAVID MAXWELL FYFE: It is Page 22, my Lord.

Q. (Continuing): The paragraph begins:

"That the policy of Anschluss remained wholly unchanged was confirmed to me by Franz von Papen when he arrived in Vienna as German Minister."
Have you got the passage, defendant?

[Franz von Papen] A. No.

Q. It was Page 12 of the German translation.

A. Page 12?

Q. Page 12, right in the middle of the page.

A. Yes, page I2; I have it.

Q: Look and see if you can find the paragraph that begins: "That the policy of Anschluss remained wholly unchanged was confirmed to me by Franz von Papen."

Can you find that? It is about the middle of the page.

A. Yes.

Q. Now, if you look down a few lines in Mr. Messersmith's statement, he says:

"When I did call on von Papen in the German Legation he greeted me with: 'Now you are in my Legation and I can control the conversation.' In the baldest and most cynical manner he then proceeded to tell me that all of South-East Europe, to the borders of Turkey, was Germany's natural hinterland, and that he had been charged with the mission of facilitating German economic and political control over all this region for Germany. He blandly and directly said that getting control of Austria was to be the first step. He definitely stated that he was in Austria to undermine and weaken the Austrian Government, and from Vienna to work towards the weakening of the governments in the other States to the South and South-East. He said that he intended to use his reputation as a good Catholic to gain influence with certain Austrians, such as Cardinal Innitzer, towards that end. He said that he was telling me this because the German Government was firmly resolved on this objective of getting this control of South-Eastern Europe and there was nothing which could stop it, and that our own policy and that of France and England was not realistic."
Then Mr. Messersmith says that he told you that he was shocked, and that you merely smiled and said that, of course, this conversation was between you and Mr. Messersmith, and you would not talk so clearly to other people.

Then he says:

"I have gone into this detail with regard to this conversation as it is characteristic of the absolute frankness and directness with which high Nazi officials spoke of their objectives."
Now, you have told the Tribunal that you said nothing like that to Mr. Messersmith. Apart from whether you said it to Mr. Messersmith or not, do you deny that these were your aims and intentions?

A. Yes; I absolutely deny that my purposes and aims were those which Mr. Messersmith is describing in his affidavit here. I told the Tribunal yesterday -

Q. Now I just want to deal with these quickly. Would you just refer back to the document you were looking at a short time ago, which is Document 2248-PS.

That is Page 96, my Lord. It starts there, in IIA, and I want to pass on to Page 97. That is Page 81 of the German book.

[Page 347]

Now, defendant, this was your view in 1935, if you will look at the beginning of Page 81 of the German text.

My Lord, it is the first break on Page 97.

"The great historical speech of the Fuehrer on 21st May of this year, and later the Naval Treaty, caused an appreciable diminution of the strained relations in the field of foreign policy as regards England. But the clear and final definition of the attitude of National Socialism to the Soviet doctrine of the State naturally doubled Franco-Russian attempts to cripple us in the East and South-East without at the same time achieving a detente in the other direction by clearly renouncing the annexation or Anschluss of Austria.

"Any attempt at an economic and, even more so, at a political offensive by the newly formed Third Reich in the direction of South-Eastern Europe must inevitably come up against a front formed by the whole of Europe."

Who put into your mind the question of a commercial or a political offensive in the direction of South-Eastern Europe? Had you discussed that with the defendant von Neurath?

A. No, not at all.

Q. Do you think you spoke for yourself?

A. Certainly. I am making a negative assertion, Sir David, namely that an advance into the South-Eastern area would come up against a front formed by all of Europe. I am thus voicing a warning of that.

Q. You appreciate, Herr von Papen, that I cannot make any comments at the moment. I can merely draw your attention to matters. All that I am asking you is whether you had got that idea from, say, the Foreign Minister, or whether it was your own idea. You say it was your own idea.

Just look on Page 82.

A. Yes.

Q. Page 82. There is a paragraph - my Lord, it is the same page, 97, in the English version - you go on to say:

"This realistic political survey of the European States shows immediately that the German-Austrian problem cannot, at least in the near future, be successfully approached from the direction of foreign politics. We must for the time being be content with not allowing Austria's international status to deteriorate in view of a later solution. In this connection the danger of a non-intervention pact with bilateral treaties of assurance seems to be successfully prevented. The maturing of a solution was and still remains dependent on nothing but the evolution of German-Austrian relations."
Why were you so afraid of a non-intervention pact, if your idea was that there should be only an evolutionary solution of Austria based on Austria's will? Why were you afraid of a non-intervention pact which would bind the Reich to not interfering in Austria?

A. For a very simple reason. All political combinations which our opponents were making at the time had only one end, that Austria should be pushed into such a situation, whether it was a Danube Pact or a pact with Italy and France, which would make it impossible to advance the idea of the Anschluss. For that reason it had to be and remain our natural political aim that the international status of Austria should not be allowed to deteriorate, as I have expressed it here.

Q. Yes. That is the answer which I thought you would have to give. Now, just lock at Page 83, in the very next paragraph:

"The German nation has for centuries had to tread a rough path of suffering in order to secure its unity. With the dawn of National Socialism and the founding of the Third Reich by means of the final overthrow of all particularism, an opportunity, unique and never to be repeated, seemed to present itself to complete Bismarck's work and to bring relations between Germany and Austria nearer to a solution, as a dynamic result of internal events in Germany."

[Page 348]

I will see if I can put quite shortly what you mean by the completion of this man's work, because I hope we shall not disagree about ancient history, whatever we do about the present. As I understand, your view is that Bismarck's setting up of the German Empire in 1881 was merely an attempt at a solution which left the Hapsburg empire separated from Germany, and the final completion of his work was that the old Hapsburg dominions should be re-formed with the States which had been in the Holy Roman Empire. Is that roughly the truth?

A. Quite right; not all the Hapsburg States, but Austria, the German part.

Q. The original Hapsburg domains?

A. Yes.

Q. Quite right. I hope I am putting it objectively enough.

A. Oh, yes.

Q. With regard to that, what did you mean by saying that the solution of the relations between Germany and Austria should be brought about as a "dynamic result of internal events in Germany"? What did you mean by that?

A. By that I mean the following: Never in Germany's history had it happened that a large party whose aim was Germany's unity existed in both nations. That was a unique historical event. And I wished to state that the dynamic force of this movement in the two countries, which was urging unity, gave promise of a solution.

Q. You see, defendant, the difficulty that I want you to explain is: How do you square an approval of centralising in Germany with a Nazi government of whose unscrupulous nature you were aware after the affairs from the 30th of June, 1934 - how do you square an unscrupulous centralised Germany with an evolutionary solution of the Austrian problem?

That is what that paragraph is saying, you know. What I am suggesting is that it means a much simpler thing than you have told us. It means that you were out to get an annexation of Austria at the earliest opportunity under the National Socialist Reich.

A. Of course, I had to reckon with existing conditions, and I did reckon with them, as any realistic politician would. I wanted to attempt, with the help of the factors present in the National Socialist Party in both lands, to come to a solution. But I see no contradiction, Sir David. You are saying, how could I achieve my aim by centralisation. But if you would be good enough to look at the end of this report of mine, then you will find that I am proposing decentralisation to Hitler.

Q. At the moment, you see, I was really asking you for an explanation of what you meant by the expression "dynamic result of internal events in Germany." In short, I want you to realize, defendant - I am not going to argue with you, because I ought not to - the first point of Mr. Messersmith was a question of this action in South-Eastern Europe. The second point, that Austria was the first line, the first thing to be dealt with. Now, I wonder if you will be good enough to take the same bundle of documents and turn over to Page 102, which is a report of your own, dated 18th October, 1935. I want you to deal with Mr. Messersmith's third suggestion against you, which you deny, that you were going to work in Austria by a weakening of the regime.

Now I will just read the first sentence so that you will get the point into your mind. The report that I am dealing with is of 18th October, 1935. You are dealing with the Austrian Government re-shuffle, and you are saying My Lord, this is a new document. It is Exhibit GB 502. It is in Document Book IIA, Page 102. It begins:

"Yesterday's cabinet re-shuffle resembles a bloodless insurrection led by Prince Starhemberg and the Heimwehr (Austrian Home Defence Organization). It is clear that Minister Fey heard early of his intended dismissal and that as early as yesterday afternoon he had the public buildings in Vienna occupied by the Viennese Heimwehr, which is loyal to him. The government

[Page 349]

countered this measure by simultaneously reinforcing the occupation by police forces."
Now you go on to discuss the matter. That is at the beginning of the report. Then, if you turn to the next page, 102, you will see about half-way down the page that you say this:
"In spite of the Vice-Chancellor's clear victory and of the strenuous efforts of the Austrian Press to make it appear plausible that the cabinet reshuffle was carried out for reasons of internal consolidation, the feeling of moving towards a completely uncertain development prevails among the Austrian public, also in the Heimwehr circles.

From our point of view the change of affairs is only too welcome. Every new weakening of the system is of advantage, even if at first it seems, in fact, to be directed against us. The fronts are starting to move and it will have to be our task to keep them moving."

Now, defendant, by that it is quite clear, is it not, that you meant that so long as there is political uncertainty or political trouble in the Austrian State, it does not matter whether the move may be an anti-German one, so long as the struggle results in distrust spreading? That was an advantage to Germany, and that is what you wanted. That is what the lines mean, is it not?

A. No, not quite.

Q. Not quite?

A. I should like to make the following remarks about your explanation, Sir David. Here in this report we are concerned with a change in the Austrian Government with Prince Starhemberg and the Heimwehr involved. You know that Starhemberg and the Heimwehr had allied themselves with Mussolini against the German Reich. A loosening up of this inner-political front which was working against the interests of a union could be only advantageous, in the light of my policy.

Q. But what I do not understand is this. You see, you have said, "In spite of the Vice-Chancellor's clear victory and of the strenuous efforts of the Austrian Press ..." And you go on to say, "Every new weakening of the system is of advantage." You see, Prince Starhemberg and the Italian party, according to you, had won, because you say, "In spite of" - this - "clear victory."

Then you say, "Every new weakening of the system ..." That could not be Starhemberg's alliance because that had been successful. By "the system" you mean the government of Austria, do you not? You cannot mean anything else.

SIR DAVID MAXWELL FYFE: My Lord, perhaps I should not continue the argument. But it is a somewhat, complicated subject.

THE WITNESS: Yes, it is.

THE PRESIDENT: I was thinking that you should, perhaps draw attention to the few remaining sentences.

SIR DAVID MAXWELL FYFE: Yes, my Lord, certainly I will read on:

"The continuation of negotiations for a settlement which I had renounced since the Geneva Declaration, seems to be entirely superfluous for the time being. It will be a good thing to continue the increasingly excited public feeling against the Italian trend by clever and tactful handling via the Press without, however, giving the Government justifiable cause for having recourse to the desperate measure of starting a new propaganda campaign against us. I would be very grateful if the Reich Minister for Propaganda were to put a few experienced journalists to work in this connection.

For the rest, we can confidently leave further developments to the near future. I am convinced that the shifting of powers on the European chessboard will permit us in the not too distant future to take up actively the question of influencing the South-Eastern area."

[Page 350]

Extraordinary - if I may say so - extraordinary how Mr. Messersmith had got your ideas if you had never had this conversation with him, was it not?

My Lord, perhaps this will be a convenient time to adjourn.

THE PRESIDENT: We will adjourn at this time.

THE WITNESS: But may I come back to that question tomorrow?

THE PRESIDENT: Yes.

(The Tribunal adjourned until 19th June, 1946, at 1000 hours.)


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