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 7 of 11)

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

[Page 375]

Q. Herr von Papen, I will finish on that matter because I think we have the other reference to Marchionini's affidavit, and then you can make all the remarks you like.

Why didn't you, after this series of murders which had gone on over a period of four years, why didn't you break with these people and stand up like General York, or any other people that you may think of from history, stand up for your own views and oppose these murderers? Why did you not do it?

Now you can give your explanation.

A. Very well. You can see that I submitted von Tschirschky's report on these murders to Hitler, in all its details, but what you do not know is the fact that I myself frequently told Hitler that such a regime could not possibly last; and if you ask me, Sir David, why, despite everything, I remained in the service of the Reich, then I can say only that on 30th June I personally broke off the relations into which we had entered on 30th January. From that day onward I did my duty - my duty to Germany, if you wish to know. I can understand very well, Sir David, that after all the things we know today, after the millions of murders which have taken place, you consider the German people a nation of criminals, and that you cannot understand that this nation has its patriots as well. I did these things in order to serve my country, and I should like to add, Sir David, that up to the time of the Munich Agreement, and even up to the time of the Polish campaign, even the major Powers tried, although they knew everything that was going on in Germany, to work with this Germany.

Why do you wish to reproach a patriotic German with doing likewise the same thing and with hoping likewise for the same thing for which all the major Powers hoped?

Q. The major Powers had not had their servants murdered, one after the other, and were not close to Hitler like you. What I am putting to you is that the only reason that could have kept you in the service of the Nazi Government, when you

[Page 376]

knew of all these crimes, was that you sympathised and wanted to carry on with the Nazis' work. That is what I am putting to you-that you had this express knowledge; you had seen your own friends, your own servants, murdered around you. You had the detailed knowledge of it, and the only reason which could have dominated you and made you take one job after another from the Nazis was, that you sympathised with their work. That is what I am putting against you, Herr von Papen.

A. That, Sir David, is perhaps your opinion; my opinion is that I am responsible only to my conscience and to the German people for my decision to work for my fatherland; and I shall accept their verdict.

SIR DAVID MAXWELL FYFE: My Lord, I have finished.

(A recess was taken until 1400 hours.)


THE PRESIDENT: Had you finished, Sir David?

SIR DAVID MAXWELL FYFE: Yes, my Lord, I had finished.

THE PRESIDENT: Did any of the other prosecutors wish to cross-examine?

(No response.)

Dr. Kubuschok?



Q. In the cross-examination yesterday it was shown that in your report to Hitler of 27th July, 1935 - British Document Book IIA, page 79 - you point out that, according to legal research, leading Reich German personalities applied for the use of force in Austria in July 1934. In this connection you mentioned the name Habicht. I should like to receive some information about the personality of Habicht. Was Habicht a Reich German?

A. Habicht was a Reich German and had his headquarters in Munich. He was Provincial Inspector (Landesinspekteur) of the entire National Socialist Party in Austria. That means the following:

The Austrian Party had a Gauleiter in Austria, but it was directed from Munich, from the Reichsparteileitung, by a specially appointed Landesleiter, Landesinspekteur Habicht. Since this man had charge of the whole Austrian Party, his position in the Party was, of course, considered as a leading one. One could not call him a "liaison officer," but a leading Reich German personality.

Q. In cross-examination yesterday, various letters were submitted to you, which you wrote to Hitler between 4th and 17th July, 1934. These letters should be gone into more closely. What was the purpose of the letters?

A. I am glad to have an opportunity to go into this correspondence once more. One must consider the situation which existed at that time: Bose shot, three co-workers arrested; great excitement; and everyone who was in any way in opposition was under suspicion of being connected with this SA revolt. It was similar to the situation after 20th July, 1944.

Therefore the first goal was to clear up the Bose case, as well as the other cases, through legal proceedings. I requested that in my first letter of 4th July. I also demanded this in further letters, but it was of prime necessity to show, first of all, that we were not in any way connected with the SA conspirators.

Q. In the letters you assure Hitler of your faithfulness and loyalty. Is this not astonishing after the events of 30th June?

A. It may seem astonishing to an outsider, but not to a person who remembers the hysterical atmosphere of those days, for at that time everyone who had been in any opposition at all, or who had criticized the system, was branded as a co-conspirator. For that reason, I thought it advisable to make it clear, by means of such a letter, that I and the Vice-Chancellery had nothing to do with this conspiracy.

[Page 377]

Q. The representative of the prosecution thinks your letters only have the purpose of rehabilitating your own person. What do you have to say about this?

A. I ask that the Tribunal study these letters. In them it can be seen that I repeatedly pointed out that my co-workers too had absolutely to be rehabilitated.

In the letter of 12th July, on Page 3, I say that the honour of my own officials is also my own honour, and I repeatedly demanded that the Bose case be cleared up.

Q. What did you believe you could achieve through the legal proceedings which you suggested?

A. Legal proceedings would have had two effects: In the first place, non-participation in the putsch would have been established and that would necessarily have shown that the arrest of my co-workers and the killing of Bose had been an arbitrary act, an act for which those responsible should be punished.

Q. In a letter of 14th July, you welcomed Hitler's speech of justification before the Reichstag on 13th July. What comment do you have to make on this?

A. I will ask you to look at the text of this letter. I welcomed the suppression of the intended second revolution but by no means a recognition of the acts of violence carried out against persons not participating in the revolution; and, furthermore, the following is to be considered: The events of 30th June were divided into two parts. In the first place, Hitler himself had turned against the revolting SA; the fact that such a revolt was actually planned seemed quite credible to all of us, for the rumours of a second revolution had been current in the country for weeks. In Marburg I had already made reference to it. The revolt of the SA leaders, who represented an effective power, could be considered a danger to the State, and the executions had been directed against SA leaders who were especially well known and whose names were connected with the excesses of 1933.

The second part of the action had been directed against persons outside of this circle. Slowly the news of the individual cases leaked out. The justification for taking steps against these persons was explained by saying that they had some sort of connection with SA leaders or that they had offered resistance. That had to be cleared up, for no emergency law could be referred to, but it was not possible to deviate from an orderly legal procedure. Hence my letter to Hitler of 12th July, in which I asked him not to deviate from the orderly legal procedure. I warned him against identifying himself with these events and I demanded from him - referring to the Bose case - the latter's rehabilitation and legal proceedings.

THE PRESIDENT: We have got the letters, Dr. Kubuschok.

DR. KUBUSCHOK: Yes, the purpose of this questioning is to clear up the matter and to explain the contents of the letters, but I believe the defendant has said enough and we can go on to another question now.


Q. Your letter of 17th July is signed without a complimentary ending, and also deviates from the other letters in its general form. How do you explain this?

A. On 17th July, I had to consider my efforts to achieve legal proceedings as having failed. I had not even received my files back. For that reason, I gave up further efforts and there was also no longer any reason to announce my resignation publicly.

DR. KUBUSCHOK: You mean to put it off.

Now I come back to a document to which the English prosecution referred today. It is 2248-PS, in the English Document Book IIA, Page 99. The representative of the British prosecution has tried to obtain an explanation from the defendant. I believe difficulties in the translation and the manner of expression in general have made it a bit hard to understand. I will read the sentence in question once more and ask the defendant to explain this sentence. I will quote from Page 99 of the English text, the second paragraph from the top. "The way Germany - "

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Kubuschok, we have had a very long explanation already.

[Page 378]

DR. KUBUSCHOK: Mr. President, the explanation suffered from the fact that the defendant did not understand the translation correctly or that the British prosecution did not understand the defendant. The form of the German text is not clear. The defendant will be able to explain it very easily. The explanation goes -

THE PRESIDENT: All right, go on then, go on.


Q. "The way in which Germany deals with politico-religious difficulties, the clever hand which eliminates political Catholicism without touching the Christian foundation of Germany, will not only have a decisive effect on England," etc.

Please explain the sense of this sentence which I have just read.

A. I meant to say to Hitler:

"You must eliminate political Catholicism with a clever hand, but the religious foundation must under no circumstances be touched."
It depended upon the clever solution of this question -

THE PRESIDENT: No question of translation arises. The passage was read to us verbatim as it is before us and it was read by Sir David Maxwell Fyfe to the defendant and the defendant has given the same answer over and over again in answer to Sir David.

DR. KUBUSCHOK: Mr. President, may I point out the following: The whole sentence was in the future tense, the whole sentence -

THE PRESIDENT: It was read to us just now by the interpreter verbatim in the words which are before us in the book and the words which were put by Sir David Maxwell Fyfe to the defendant. There is no question of difference of tense at all.

DR. KUBUSCHOK: Mr. President, there is a special language difficulty, because in the first part, the first two verbs are in the present tense in connection with the auxiliary "wird" used later, and in accordance with German language usage the present is to be understood as meaning the future also. In the opinion of the British prosecution, the first two verbs "deals" and "eliminates" are to be considered past tense and that is the difference.

THE PRESIDENT: It is a matter of verbal argument on the words of the document.

DR. KUBUSCHOK: Yes. Now one last question to the witness.


Q. A while ago Cardinal Innitzer's talk to Hitler in Vienna was discussed. What occasioned you to arrange this meeting of Hitler with Cardinal Innitzer?

A. With our march into Austria and the Anschluss of Austria to the Reich, Hitler had joined a Catholic country to Germany and the problem which was to be solved was winning this country internally as well. That was possible only if Hitler recognized the religious basis, recognized what rights Catholicism had in this country. For this reason, I arranged a talk between Cardinal Innitzer and Hitler in order to make sure that Hitler in the future would follow a policy which stood on a Christian basis in Austria.

By arranging ths interview, I thought I would be able to do one last service for Austria; that was the reason.

DR. KUBUSCHOK: That is the end of the examination.

THE PRESIDENT: I have just two or three questions I should like to ask you.


Q. When did you first hear about the murder of Jews?

A. I believe, my Lord, that that was during the war.

Q. Well, the war lasted six years. When during the war?

A. I cannot say with certainty, my Lord. I cannot say on my oath when it was.

[Page 379]

Q. You cannot say with more certainty than that?

A. No; our general knowledge was that the Jews were sent to camps in Poland. But we knew nothing of a systematic extermination of Jews such as we have heard of here.

Q. The witness whose affidavit your counsel has put in evidence, Marchionini, what do you know about him?

A. Marchionini, my Lord, is a very well-known professor who was employed by the Model Hospital in Ankara, and who was also my family doctor.

Q. Have you got your volumes of exhibits before you?

A. No.

THE PRESIDENT: Could the defendant have Volume 3?

(A document was handed to the witness.)


Q. I refer to Volume 3, the last paragraph of the answer to question 6. It is in the affidavit from Marchionini.

A. One moment, my Lord. I have not found it yet.

Q. There is no hurry.

A. I have the affidavit now.

Q. Do you have question 6, or rather the answer to question 6?

A. The questions are not numbered here.

Q. It is the last question but one.

A. The last question?

Q. The last question but one.

A. Yes.

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