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-Eighth Day: Wednesday, 19th June, 1946
(Part 5 of 11)

[Page 367]


Q. Now, if you notice, that is quite early, on the 14th of March, 1937, four years after the Concordat, and he says in the second sentence - well, at the beginning:

"It discloses intrigues which from the first had no other aim than a war of extermination. In the furrows in which we had laboured to sow the seeds of true peace, others - like the enemy in Holy Scripture - sowed the tares of suspicion, discord, hatred, calumny, of secret and open basic hostility to Christ and His Church. They, and they only, along with their silent or vocal protectors, are responsible for the fact that on the horizon of Germany there is now to be seen not the rainbow of peace but the threatening storm-clouds of destructive religious wars."
Now, defendant, what I want you to tell the Tribunal - do you agree with that?

[Franz von Papen] A. Yes.

Q. If you agree with these statements of the head of the Church, how could you possibly write to Hitler, two years after the Concordat, in July 1935, that he had "eliminated political Catholicism without touching the Christian foundations of Germany"? It was absolutely wrong, was it not, that Hitler and the Nazis had not touched the Christian foundations of Germany? They had uprooted them and were in process of destroying them?

A. Sir David, you are confusing two completely different things, political Catholicism -

Q. Defendant, I do not want to interrupt you, but I have made that point quite clear. The point I am putting to you is not the elimination of political Catholicism. I am not, for the moment, dealing with the relations between you and Msgr. Kaas. What I am dealing with is your other statement, that it had been done without touching the Christian foundations of Germany. What I am putting to you is what His Holiness is saying that the Christian foundations of Germany were being destroyed. I do not mind, for the moment, about the views that Msgr. Kaas had of you or you had of Msgr. Kaas. I know what they are.

A. Let me explain these things to you. The attacks on the Church and its institutions, against which His Holiness the Pope inveighs in his encyclicals in the years 1937 and 1945 and in which he recognized the intensification of the situation during the war - all of these things were an attack on the Christian foundations of Germany, an attack which I always condemned most strongly. But this has no connection at all with the elimination of so-called political Catholicism for which I hoped and which I demanded. These are two completely different things. Perhaps it is hard for you to understand, since you are not familiar with conditions in Germany.

Q. Please believe, defendant, that I have spent a great deal of time in pursuing the troubles between you and Msgr. Kaas. I am not going to bring them out

[Page 368]

before the Tribunal because they are not important. I appreciate and understand - not as well as you do - but I appreciate the position of political Catholicism and I am not asking you about that. I am asking you about your statement. Why did you say to Hitler that he had not touched the Christian foundations of Germany? That is what I want to know. You must have known in 1935 that that was not true?

A. But, Sir David, that is a complete distortion of the contents of this report. I am telling Hitler that the Christian foundations of Germany must not be weakened and that may still be read in the report today:

"Political Catholicism must be eliminated without weakening the Christian foundations of Germany."
Q. Well, you appreciate how it begins. You say that "the clever hand which eliminates it without touching ..." Just let me remind you. Did you not say, in your interrogation, that your trouble - part of your trouble in the summer of 1934 before you made the Marburg speech, was due to the non-fulfilment of the Concordat, that after it had been signed, with the consent of Hitler, "he treated it just as a scrap of paper and I could not do anything." Then there was the persecution of the Churches and the Jews at the same time. That was late in 1933 and 1934. Is that your view in 1934, that there had not only been treating of the Concordat as a scrap of paper but persecution of both the Churches and the Jews?

A. I do not know which document you are quoting from, Sir David.

Q. This is your interrogation on the morning of 19th September, 1945.

A. Yes, of course. When I delivered the Marburg speech, I believed that the State was violating all these things, otherwise, I would not have made the speech. But in this speech, Sir David, I again expressly emphasized the fact that no European occidental State could exist without a Christian foundation and that by disregarding our Christian basis, we would cut ourselves off from the group of Christian peoples and from our mission in Europe. I could scarcely say it more clearly than that. And perhaps I can tell you something else on the subject of political Catholicism. You have -

Q. Do as you want to. I especially want to avoid burdening the Tribunal with the exchanges between you and Msgr. Kaas, because both of you used harsh language and it might not sound very good if I repeated it now. If you want to go into it, do, but do not open it up unless you must.

A. I regard this accusation which you are making against me as most serious.

Q. Defendant, you remember you told the Tribunal just before the adjournment that you had introduced Cardinal Innitzer to Hitler when you went into Austria. You remember that, after the statement to which Dr. Kubuschok has referred, Cardinal Innitzer in a broadcast from Rome made clear that he was only accepting the Nazi rule of Austria on certain conditions. Do you remember that?

A. Yes.

Q. Now, I would just like to see what happened to Cardinal Innitzer.

SIR DAVID MAXWELL FYFE: This is a new document, my Lord, 903-D, which becomes Exhibit GB 5o8. My Lord, this is a statement in the form of an affidavit from a priest, Dr. Weisbacher, which I only got from Vienna on the 7th of June.

Q. (Continuing): You will see that this priest - well, at any rate I take it he is a priest; he is the Archbishop's secretary in the cathedral chapter. Let us just look at it.

"On 8th October, 1938" - that is a little over six months after you had arranged for Cardinal Innitzer to meet Hitler - "a serious attack was made by youthful demonstrators on the Archbishop's palace in Vienna. I was present during the attack and can therefore describe it from my own experience."
Then he describes how they smashed window panes, broke in the gate. The priests took the Archbishop into an inner room and hid him there. They took the Cardinal to safety in the personalia archive and locked the iron door behind him, and:

[Page 369]

"Then we two priests, seeing ourselves opposed by a crowd of invaders, took up a position at the entrance to the Cardinal's house chapel in order to prevent any destruction from being wrought there."
My Lord, this is about ten lines from the foot of the page.
"Shortly after we had reached the chapel, the invaders stormed into the Cardinal's rooms adjoining the chapel. As soon as they reached the door we warded them off. Pieces of wood came flying into the chapel; I received a push that knocked me over; but we managed to prevent them from entering the chapel. The demonstrators were youths aged from fourteen to twenty-five and numbering about a hundred. After we had warded them off, we opened up the tabernacle and consumed the consecrated wafers so as to prevent the most holy from being desecrated. But new invaders were already storming in; and we warded them off. In the meantime an indescribable orgy of destruction of all the fittings was going on in the remaining rooms. With the brass rods holding the carpet in place on the staircase, the youths destroyed tables and chairs, candelabras and valuable paintings and, in particular, all the crucifixes."
Then it describes the plate glass doors and so on, and there was an alarm when the Cardinal was discovered. This priest himself was dragged from the chapel by about six people and dragged across the anteroom to the window with shouts of "We will throw the dog out of the window."

And then, eventually, the police came, and you will notice their idea of what was proper reparation.

"Then a lieutenant-colonel of police arrived and apologised. He was followed by a representative of the Gestapo who expressed his regret that the police had not been very active in their intervention."
Meanwhile other demonstrators attacked the cathedral rector's house at 3 Stefansplatz, where they threw the cathedral curate, Krawarik, out of the window into the yard. This priest lay in the hospital until February with both his thighs fractured.

Now I ask you to look at the penultimate paragraph:

"That the demonstration was not the result of youthful wantonness or embitterment, but a well-laid plan known to official quarters, is obvious from the speech of Gauleiter Burckel, who, on 13th October, in the Heldenplatz, in the basest possible manner, represented the Cardinal as guilty."
Now, Herr von Papen, you had a great responsibility in relation to Cardinal Innitzer, had you not? You had introduced him to Hitler. You must have learned from the ramifications and communications of the Catholic Church of this attack on the Cardinal's house six months after the Anschluss, did you not? You must have learned of this.

A. I heard about it later, of course.

Q. What protest did you make when you heard of this disgraceful attack on a Prince of the Church, the throwing of the cathedral curate out of the window and breaking both his thighs, the desecration of the chapel, the breaking of crucifixes? What protest did you make about it?

A. I should like to remind you, Sir David, that I had resigned from office more than six months before and no longer had anything whatsoever to do with these matters. Naturally, the details of the incident were in the highest degree regrettable, and, indeed, amounted to criminal attacks; but the details did not appear in the German Press, so that I am probably seeing them for the first time in this form here. But let me add -

THE PRESIDENT (Interposing): But, defendant, you have not-answered the question. The question was: What complaint did you make about it?

THE WITNESS: I made no protest, for I was no longer in an official position at the time. I was a private citizen, and all I learned officially about these things was what the German papers were allowed to publish.

[Page 370]


Q. Oh, defendant, surely you have told us that you were one of the leading Catholic laymen in Germany. You are not going to tell the Tribunal that in the Catholic Church it was not known to every bishop in Germany, and probably to every parish priest, that this abominable and sacrilegious insult had been offered to a Prince of the Church in his own house in Vienna. Surely it would circulate through the Church in a few days.

A. That is quite possible, Sir David, but would you expect me, a private citizen, to do anything? What could I do? The Tribunal did not take notice of the discussion which I brought about between Cardinal Innitzer and Hitler. You mentioned that for the first time here today.

Q. That is exactly why I am putting this incident to you, that you were responsible for bringing about the meeting between Cardinal Innitzer and Hitler in March of 1938. When His Eminence is attacked in October, I should have thought - it is not for me to express my thoughts - that you might have taken the trouble to protest to Hitler, and all that you do is to take another job under Hitler within six months, in April 1939.

What I am asking you is why you didn't make a protest. You could have written to Hitler. The defendant Goering has expressed his great religious interests. A number of the other defendants have said that they had great religious sympathies. Why could you not have got in touch with them?

A. Because in autumn 1938 I retired from political life; I was living in the country and was no longer taking active interest in politics. But perhaps I may say just why I was responsible for promoting a meeting with Cardinal Innitzer.

Q. No, that is not the point that I am interested in at the moment, the meeting on the 15th of March. I am interested in the fact that this took place, you knew of it and made no protest.

Now I am going to come to another point. Dr. Kubuschok can raise it later on, if he wants.

Defendant, you have heard a number of your co-defendants giving evidence and saying that they did not know of the terrible repressive measures that were taking place in Germany. You knew very well about these repressive measures, did you not? You knew about the action of the Gestapo, the concentration camps, and later you knew about the elimination of the Jews, did you not?

A. I only knew this much, that in the years 1933 and 1934 political opponents were interned in the concentration camps. I very frequently protested against the methods used in concentration camps. In various cases I liberated people from these camps; but at that time I was quite unaware that murders had been committed in them.

Q. Well now, just let me take that up. It is good to get down to a concrete instance.

A. Yes.

Q. You remember that at the beginning of 1935 your secretary, Herr von Tschirschky, was ordered to return from Vienna to Berlin for examination by the Gestapo. Do you remember that?

A. Yes, indeed.

Q. And you remember that he refused to go and he sent you a detailed report of his reasons for not going? Do you remember that?

A. Yes.

Q. Just let us look at that together very shortly.

SIR DAVID MAXWELL FYFE: My Lord, that is Document 685-D, which will become Exhibit GB 509, and your Lordship will find it on Page 87 of Document Book IIA, and it is on Page 60 of the German version.


Q. Now, on Page 87 there is Herr von Tschirschky's own letter to you in which he says at the end of the second paragraph:

[Page 371]

"I am not in a position to comply with the Gestapo demand to report to Berlin for interrogation."
And then he says - to quote his own words - that he has been influenced only by the "human, understandable desire to live," and then he sends a report, he encloses a report to you of what had happened to him on the 30th of June, which got him into the bad books of the Gestapo. Do you remember that?

A. Yes.

Q. And summarising the beginning of it, which would be almost humorous if it did not show such a dreadful state of affairs, your secretary, Herr von Tschirschky, was arrested simultaneously by two competing groups of Reich policemen, I think the criminal police and the Gestapo, and there was a severe danger of Herr von Tschirschky and some of the police being shot before they could decide who was to take him into custody.

But I want you to come to when he is taken into custody.

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