The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)
Nuremberg, war crimes, crimes against humanity

The Trial of German Major War Criminals

Sitting at Nuremberg, Germany
20th June to 1st July 1946

One Hundred and Sixty-Second Day: Monday, 24th June, 1946
(Part 8 of 8)

[DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN continues his direct examination of Constantin von Neurath]

[Page 145]

DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: Now I should like to read a few more sentences from the document of the Czech prosecution, USSR 60, to be found on Page 59 of the English text:
"Immediately after the occupation, representatives of the 'Sokol' (Falcon) athletic association, which had one million members, joined a movement for the liberation of the country; this included the underground movement at home and the movement abroad. The idea of the 'Sokol' united the army members abroad and gave strength and enthusiasm even in the hardest times. This was true at home to an even larger extent. The Gestapo was aware of this danger, and therefore proceeded with the utmost severity. In the beginning, their measures were moderate, but when they realised the firm resolve of the 'Sokols,' they began to use force. The first arrests took place on the day of the occupation of Czechoslovakia, and a further large number of arrests on 1st September, 1939. Then, extensive arrests of single individuals and groups followed."

Q. Will you please comment on this.

A. The "Sokol" was the most dangerous organization hostile to the State in the Protectorate. The extent of its activity can be seen especially from the sentences of the Czech Indictment which have just been read. It was taken for granted that machinations of this kind could not be tolerated, especially in war, and the report itself characterises the first police measures as "still moderate." I am convinced that in no other country would such underground movements have been treated any differently. In such cases of undoubted high treason or cases of sabotage, I could not possibly intervene for the people responsible, and moreover, the Czech Government quite understood this.

Q. The Czech report further mentions shootings under martial law. Did such shootings occur during your period of office?

A. No, apart from the case of the nine students which has already been mentioned, I know of no shootings under martial law during my time in office.

Q. Did Frank, apart from his unwholesome activity as Higher Police and SS Fuehrer, try as your State Secretary to use his influence on the policy and

[Page 146]

administration of the Protectorate, and did you work closely with him in that respect?

A. Frank represented one-sided, radical German interests. That was the old Sudeten-German hatred of the Czechs. I repeatedly curbed these tendencies, but as my representative he, in practice, took part in the general policy and in the administration.

Q. What was your personal relationship with Frank?

A. From the beginning, it was bad because of the fact that he was so radical, and beyond that, I quite soon realised that very frequently he did not tell me the truth.

Q. What was your personal and official relationship to President Hacha and to the Czech Government?

A. In general, good. The Czech Government at that time was quite convinced of the fact that my intentions for the fair and just treatment of the Czech population were quite sincere, and that I did everything within my power to carry them out. On the other hand, I fully understood and recognized in every respect the efforts of the Czech Government to represent primarily the interests of the people. As to my personal relationship with President Hacha, I might go so far as to say it was very good. I always did my best to make easier his most difficult task, for I knew that he, too, through his assumption of the post of president and through his remaining in office, was making a great personal sacrifice. He and the members of the government were always invited to all functions which did not have a purely German character, and were treated with distinction in accordance with their rank.

Q. What was the manner of work of your office in Prague? Were you quite independent in your work or were you bound by directives from Berlin?

A. My answer in this respect must be a rather tedious one. The fundamentals of policy and the administration of the department were determined in Berlin as far as they applied to the Protectorate, that is, by Hitler himself or by department ministers. My field was the supervision of the carrying out and the application of these principles, always considering the special circumstances which arose from the ethical, cultural and economic structure of the country. It can be taken for granted that above all in war, the Protectorate, which was situated in the centre of the Reich, could not be treated as an independent unit but had to be incorporated into the general pattern. As I have already stated, the various branches of my authority had been established by the central office in Berlin. The officials of these branches, therefore, from the beginning, had a certain practical connection with their home ministries, even though they were later subordinate to me. The individual heads of the branches received their directives in regard to specific problems direct from their department ministries in Berlin. Then those directives were submitted to Under State Secretary von Burgsdorff, who was the head of the administration, or if they were very fundamental matters he also reported them to me. The carrying out of these measures in the Protectorate was in that way discussed, and agreed on after discussion, with the Czech minister. Thus were established the decrees and basic directives which were signed by me or by my deputy. Frequently these dealt with the introduction of legal or administrative measures which already existed in the Reich, or which were newly issued in the Reich. Apart from that, a series of directives applying to the Protectorate were issued directly by the competent Berlin ministries. The Reich Minister of the Interior had been designated as the so-called central agency for the issue of these.

DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: Mr. President, in this connection I should like to refer to the following documents to be found in my Document Book 5: Documents 145, a decree from the Fuehrer and Reich Chancellor dealing with the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia, supplementing the decree of 22nd March, 1939; 146, extracts from basic regulations applying to the Protectorate dealing with commercial transactions with the Protectorate, dated

[Page 147]

28th March, 1939; 147, a directive as to the carrying through of criminal justice in the Protectorate, dated 14th April, 1939; 148, a directive dealing with law in the Protectorate under date of 7th June, 1939; and I should like to refer again to the document which has already been submitted, 147, a regulation dealing with the development of the administration and of the German Security Police. In this connection I should like to remark that all these directives were signed not by the Reich protector but rather by the competent Reich department minister and sometimes also by Reichsmarschall Goering as the Chairman of the Reich Defence Council. The legal basis for the authority of the Protector is the decree from the Fuehrer and Reich Chancellor in regard to the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia, dated 16th March, 1939, signed by Hitler, Frick -

THE PRESIDENT: Will you ask the defendant to clear up what his concern was with these decrees of the Reichsfuehrer and of the defendant Goering?

DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: No, Mr. President, I wanted to show that he had nothing to do with these matters, but that he was obliged to carry out the measures. According to the decree which put him in office, it was his duty to supervise any measures which were issued by agencies in the Reich. That was what I wanted to prove, that all these directives did not originate with him himself but rather with the Reichsfuehrer.

THE PRESIDENT: Is that right, defendant?

THE WITNESS: Yes. I should like to remark that I was chiefly concerned with the fact that these decrees were published in the Protectorate and then that my agencies supervised the carrying through of these measures.


Q. How far did the autonomy of the Protectorate extend in all these decisions?

A. The extent of autonomy was not clearly defined. Basically the Protectorate was autonomous and it was administered by its own Czech authorities and Czech officials. But in the course of time considerable restrictions were placed on this autonomy as was provided for in the decree which you have just read. The introduction of these restrictions was regarded as practical by the Reich Government and resulted, in part, from general tendencies towards centralisation in Berlin, but it was also necessitated to a large extent by the general political development, because of the war and of the so-called totalization of the war effort. I constantly objected to these restrictions if in my opinion they could not be brought into line with the vital needs of the Protectorate and of its people.

DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: Mr. President, in this connection I should like to refer to Article 3 of the order which has already been quoted, a decree issued by the Fuehrer and Reich Chancellor, dealing with the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia, No. 144 of my Document Book 5. This reads:

"The Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia is autonomous and administers itself. Its sovereign rights as a protectorate are exercised on the basis of the political, military and economic interests of the Reich. These sovereign rights are exercised by its own organizations, its own authorities, and with its own officials."

Q. How about the Wehrmacht offices in the Protectorate? Were you connected with them?

A. No, they were subordinate to a special plenipotentiary of the Wehrmacht who was to keep me advised about the basic military questions.

Q. Now, I should like to turn to specific points which are mentioned in the Czech report, USSR 60, and of which you are accused.

To what extent were you competent for administering criminal justice in the Protectorate? Specifically, did you have to confirm death sentences against the Czechs?

[Page 148]

courts was under jurisdiction of the Ministry of Justice in Berlin. The Czech courts were not under my jurisdiction at all. I was concerned only with decisions in cases of appeals for remission of sentences of German courts in the Protectorate, which were submitted to me by the president of the provincial court of appeal (Oberlandesgericht).

These, in special cases, might also apply to Czechs. However, they did not concern political crimes. Political proceedings against Czechs were, as far as I recall, handled by the People's Court (Volksgerichtshof) in Berlin, in so far as they dealt with high treason. As far as I know, in these proceedings against Czechs the same basic principles were applied as against Germans.

Q. Did you have the right to grant pardon when the People's Court passed sentences on Czechs?

A. No, I had no possibility of influence, and I did not have the right to pardon.

Q. In your time did you know anything about the activity of special courts in the Protectorate?

A. No, I cannot recall that special courts were active during the time I was there. In my opinion, this could apply only to German courts for the prosecution of specific offences, for example, violations of radio regulations; such courts were established at the beginning of the war in the Reich. However, they were not under my jurisdiction, but directly subordinate to the Reich Minister of Justice. He appointed the judges, gave them their directives, and the judges reported directly to him. I had no opportunity of using influence in any way.

Q. Regarding the activity of these special courts, I should like to quote one sentence from the Czech report, USSR 60. This may be found on Page 106 of the German text and Page 92 of the English text. It deals with orders and decrees that were to be applied by these special courts. I quote:

"A large number of these orders and decrees violate principles that all civilised countries consider irrevocable."
Is that report correct?

A. Yes, in this case I agree entirely with the Czech prosecution report. But I imagine that in the latest developments these principles have been considerably weakened even among civilised peoples.

Q. Now I should like to know something about the alleged plans dealing with the Germanisation of the areas in the Protectorate inhabited by Czechs. You said previously that, when you assumed office, you knew nothing about such plans. Who later revealed the pattern of these plans to you?

A. These plans in part originated with Sudeten German circles, but in the greater part they were to be traced back to the organizations of Himmler and also to the suggestions on the part of the Gauleiter of the Lower Danube.

Q. In regard to this problem of alleged efforts at Germanisation, I should like to read to you a report by the Wehrmacht General Plenipotentiary in the Protectorate, General Frederici, to the OKW, dated 15th October, 1940. This is the document which has been submitted by the prosecution under PS-862, Exhibit USA 313, and it is concerned with statements about basic policy pursued in the Protectorate which State Secretary Frank made in an official discussion with your office. In this document Frank mentions a memorandum in which, after careful investigation, the Reich Protector defined his attitude towards the various plans of numerous offices. He mentions three possibilities of solution to the question of the possible Germanisation of the Czech territory. You probably know this document, and I do not believe that it is necessary for me to read it. What do you know about this memorandum? Did you compose it yourself? Tell us what you have to say about it.

A. The memorandum dates back to the proposals which I just mentioned, on the part of various Party offices, for the possible resettlement of the Czechs. I objected to this plan from the very beginning as being quite absurd and incapable of execution. Frank, who agreed with me in this point, therefore drew up, at my direction, this memorandum which you have just mentioned, in which the

[Page 149]

radical measures of the SS and of the Party were rejected and in which the so-called gradual assimilation was considered as the only possible solution of this problem. In this way I wanted to postpone the matter and thwart the plans of the SS. Since these plans for resettlement had already been reported by Himmler to the Fuehrer, I had to have a rather stringent directive from him in order to do away with it. For this purpose, for tactical reasons, I needed some sort of suggestion: hence the proposal of the policy of assimilation - and with this suggestion, the matter was really postponed. In order to eliminate the counter-measures of the SS and of Himmler, I reported to the Fuehrer personally about the matter and I asked him to issue a stringent directive, which he did. Thus the matter was buried, and it was not dug up again. The sentence found in this memorandum to the effect that "... the Germanisation would have to be carried out for a number of years by the office of the Reich Protector ..." means specifically that the SS could no longer interfere in this matter. The Reich Protector alone was to be the competent authority, and the Reich Protector did nothing. Moreover, the sentence of General Frederici, who was also not inclined to radical fantasy, to the effect that as far as the Wehrmacht was concerned there would be no important results, since he had always adhered to this concept, also applies. If after this report Frank said that the elements which were working contrary to the intended Germanisation would have to be handled roughly and would have to be eliminated, they were merely the words that he used and the type of language that was used in speeches of that kind. Actually, as I have said, nothing further was done to assimilate the people.

DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: Mr. President, I now ask your permission to quote a few sentences from the affidavit that we have mentioned, which was made by Baroness Ritter, No. 3 in my Document Book I. They are to be found on Page 18. It says there:

"With regard to the plans for the Germanisation, that is, the gradual assimilation of the Czechs, Neurath stated as follows in a letter:
'Quite apart from the sensible point of view, the people who are simply - '"
THE PRESIDENT: Did you say Page 18?

DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: Page 18, yes. It is the second paragraph from the end.

THE PRESIDENT: Yes, I have it.


"'Quite apart from the sensible point of view, the people who are simply to be resettled arouse pity in one's soul. However, I believe I have discovered a way now to prevent the disaster. Time is everything, and frequently to postpone a thing is to do away with it!'"
Mr. President, if it is permissible for me to make a suggestion, I would ask that we stop now, since the problem of Germanisation is now completed.

THE PRESIDENT: How long do you think you are going to be? You have already been a day and a half.

DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: Mr. President, the Indictment contained in the Czech report is not well substantiated and not very concrete, so that I must mention each individual point contained therein.

I have approximately twenty more questions.

THE PRESIDENT: How long do you think it will take?


THE PRESIDENT: Well, the Tribunal will expect you to conclude in an hour.

DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: I hope so, Mr. President.

THE PRESIDENT: The Tribunal will adjourn now.

(The Tribunal adjourned until 25th June, 1946, at 1000 hours.)

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