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-Third Day: Tuesday, 25th June, 1946
(Part 7 of 11)

[SIR DAVID MAXWELL FYFE continues his cross examination of Constantin von Neurath]

[Page 177]

Q. Well, now, just let us deal with one or two other points. I would just like you to look at what Mr. Messersmith says at the end of 1935. You remember this statement - I will give you the reference in a moment - that:
"Europe will not be able to get away from the myth that Neurath, Papen and Mackensen are not dangerous people and that they are diplomats of the old school. They are in fact, servile instruments of the regime, and just because the outside world looks upon them as harmless they are able to work more effectively. They are able to sow discord just because they propagate the myth that they are not in sympathy with the regime''
Now, can you tell us up to the date on which Mr. Messersmith wrote that - on 10th October, 1935 - of a single instruction of Hitler's that you had not carried out?

A. I did not quite understand. A single -

SIR DAVID MAXWELL FYFE: My Lord, I am sorry; I mislaid the reference. It is Document Book 12, Page 106. That is the reference to it.


Q. You see, Mr. Messersmith is there saying that you and the defendant von Papen and von Mackensen are servile instruments of the regime. Now, I am just asking you whether you could tell us up to the date that Mr. Messersmith wrote, on 10th October, 1935, any instruction of Hitler that you had refused to carry out.

A. Not only one, but a number. I have testified as to the number of times I contradicted Hitler, and I have expressed myself about what Mr. Messersmith is assuming here again - about the importance of Mr. Messersmith's affidavit.

Q. Defendant, I put it this way: Up to 10th October, 1935, what did you tell the Tribunal was the most serious thing that Hitler had ordered you to do and you had refused to carry out? What was the most serious - the one that mattered most?

A. At this moment, that is a question that I cannot answer. How should I know what the most serious question was which I opposed? I opposed all sorts of things.

Q. If you cannot remember what you think is the most serious, I shall not trouble you with it any more, but I want -

A. Well, then, give me an example, but do not produce an allegation out of a clear sky without giving me the chance to refute it.

Q. I was asking you to tell us, but I will pass on to what another American diplomat put. I would like to ask you about Mr. Bullitt's report, with which I gather you agree.

SIR DAVID MAXWELL FYFE: My Lord, that is Document L-150, and it is at Page 72 of the Document Book 12.

My Lord, I hope that there is no difference in the paging - 72 of mine.


SIR DAVID MAXWELL FYFE: Yes, it is 74. I am sorry, my Lord.

[Page 178]


Q. Now, it is the second paragraph there. After saying that he had a talk with you, he says:

"Von Neurath said that it was the policy of the German Government to do nothing active in foreign affairs until the Rhineland had been digested. He explained that by that he meant that until the German fortifications had been constructed on the French and Belgian frontiers, the German Government would do everything possible to prevent rather than to encourage an outbreak by the Nazis in Austria and would pursue a quiet line with regard to Czechoslovakia. Von Neurath added: 'As soon as our fortifications are constructed and the countries of Central Europe realize that France cannot enter German territory at will, all those countries will begin to feel differently about their foreign policies and a new constellation will develop.'"
Q. You agree you said that?

A. Yes, yes, certainly. Yesterday or the day before I testified in detail about what that was supposed to mean. Moreover, it does not make any difference.

Q. I would like to see if you agree with the meaning I suggest. That is, that as soon as you had got your fortifications in sufficiently good order on your western frontier, you would proceed to try and secure an Anschluss with Austria and to get back the Sudetenland from Czechoslovakia. Isn't that what it means?

A. No, no, not at all. It is quite clear in the document. What I meant by this, and what I expressed, was that these countries, particularly Czechoslovakia and France, would change their policy toward Germany, because they could no longer march through Germany so easily.

Q. You appreciate, defendant, what I am putting to you? I think I made it quite clear - that at the time that you were facing the Western powers with the remilitarization of Germany and the Rhineland - that is in 1935 and 1936 - you were giving assurances to Austria, which Hitler did in May, 1935, and you made this treaty in 1936. As soon as you had digested your first steps, you then turned against Austria and Czechoslovakia in 1938. I am suggesting, you see, that you were talking the exact truth and prophesying with a Cassandra-like accuracy. That is what I am suggesting - that you knew very well that these intentions were there.

A. Not at all, not at all, not at all! That is an assumption on your part, for which there is absolutely no proof.

Q. We will not argue it further because we will come on to just one other point before we proceed to 1937.

You have told the Tribunal, not once but many times, that you did not support the Nazi attitude toward the Christian Churches, of oppressing the Churches. I have understood you correctly, have I not?

A. Yes, indeed.

Q. Now, you say that you resisted and actively intervened against the repression of the Church. Would you just look at Document 3758-PS.

SIR DAVID MAXWELL FYFE: My Lord, that will become GB 516. Your Lordship will find it in Document Book 12-A, Page 81.


Q. This is an entry which must have been fairly early in 1936 in the diary of the Reich Ministry of Justice:

"The Reich Foreign Minister sent over, with a personal note for confidential information, a letter from Cardinal State Secretary Pacelli" - that is the present Pope - "to the German Ambassador in the Vatican, in which he urges an act of pardon for Vicar-General Seelmayer. He, the Reich Foreign Minister, remarks that after the heavy attacks on the German Administration of Justice by the Holy See in the note of 29th January, there is no reason in his opinion to show any deference to the Vatican. He recommends it, however, since for foreign policy reasons it is to our interest not to let our good personal relations with Pacelli cool off."

[Page 179]

Now, defendant, will you tell me anything that showed the slightest personal interest in the fate of Father Seelmayer, or were you only concerned with showing a firm front to the Vatican and not endangering your good relations with Cardinal Pacelli?

DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: Mr. President, the document has just been submitted to me; I have had no opportunity whatsoever to look it over and inform myself about it. Likewise, I do not know of there having been any talk about a diary of the Reich Minister of Justice up to now in this trial. Therefore, I am not in a position to judge how the Reich Minister of justice could have made this entry in his diary at all.

Since these notes have apparently been taken out of their context, it is not possible for me to form any kind of a picture of the significance of the entry as a whole, and naturally it is even less possible for the defendant to do so.

Therefore, I must protest against the admissibility of this question and against the submission of this document.

SIR DAVID MAXWELL FYFE: This is a perfectly good captured document. It is a copy of the original diary of the Reich Minister of Justice, and it is therefore admissible against the defendant.

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. von Ludinghausen, you can see the original document.

SIR DAVID MAXWELL FYFE: My Lord, actually, I am just told by my American colleagues that this diary has been used before, that extracts were put in in the case against the defendant von Schirach.

THE WITNESS: Mr. President, I have no objection -

THE PRESIDENT: One moment.

DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: I could not understand a word, Mr. President. I am sorry, I could not understand. I can hear now.

THE PRESIDENT: When you make an objection, you should see that the instrument is in order.

What I said was that you can see the original document. And I am told now that the original document has been used before, and that therefore there is nothing to prevent its being used in cross-examination. It is a captured document, and you can see the original.

DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: I did not know that, Mr. President.


Q. What I am putting to you, defendant, is that your statement to the Minister of Justice shows no concern for the individual priest about whom the complaint had been made; it is merely concerned with your relations with the Vatican and with Cardinal Pacelli, as he then was. Is that typical of your interferences? Is this typical of your interferences for the sake of ill-treated priests?

A. I naturally cannot remember this case any more, but as it stands there in the entry I was perfectly justified. According to the entry, I said that we had no reason to show any special consideration after the then Cardinal-State Secretary had attacked German justice, but that, as Foreign Minister, I considered it important not to disturb our relations with Pacelli.

I cannot see what conclusions you want to draw from this.

Q. Well, I do not want to trespass on the ground of my Soviet colleagues, but you know that the Czech report accuses you, with complete impartiality as far as sect is concerned, that your Government persecuted the Catholics, Protestants, Czech National Church and even the Greek Church in Czechoslovakia. You know that all these Churches suffered during your protectorate. Do you agree that all these Churches suffered under your protectorate?

A. No, not at all.

Q. All right, I will not go into the details, but I am suggesting to you that your care about the various religious confessions did not go very deep.

[Page 180]

A. That is again an assertion on your part which you cannot prove.

Q. Well, I would just like to put one thing. You remember telling the Tribunal this morning of the excellent terms that you were on with the Archbishop of Prague?

A. I said that I had good relations with the Archbishop.

Q. I would just like you to look at this copy.

SIR DAVID MAXWELL FYFE: My Lord, this is a copy, but General Ecer assures me that he can get the original from the Czech Government files. I only received it a half-hour ago. General Ecer, who is here from Czechoslovakia, says that he can vouch for the original.

Q. (continuing): I would like the defendant to look at it. Is that a letter which you received from the Archbishop?

SIR DAVID MAXWELL FYFE: My Lord, it is Document D-920, and it will be Exhibit GB 517.

Q. (continuing): "Your Excellency, very esteemed Herr Reich Protector:

Your last letter has filled me with much sorrow because I had to assume from it that not even you, your Excellency, are willing to believe that I fell unconscious and had to call the Professor of the University, Dr. Tirasek, who remained at my bedside for an hour. He will come again today, together with a specialist for internal diseases."

And then he gives his name.
"Your Excellency may be convinced that I shall always do what I can to please you. Pray, however, have compassion on me and do not ask me to act against the laws of the Church.

With the greatest esteem,

Karl Kardinal Kaspar, Prince Archbishop."

Do you remember that?

A. I cannot say what this refers to. I have no idea; there is nothing in it, and I cannot tell you what it referred to.

Q. You cannot remember this occasion when the Prince Archbishop wrote to you and told you the effects of the illness from which he had suffered, and beseeched you not to ask him to do something against the laws of the Church? It does not remain in your mind at all, does it?

A. No.

Q. All right, we will leave that. Well, now, I want you just to tell me this, before we pass on to the later occurrences in 1937. You remember you dealt yesterday with your speech - I think it was to the German Academy of Law. You remember the speech, in August of 1937? I can give you a reference. Would you like to look at it?

A. I only need the reference to where I spoke.

Q. You remember it, I only wanted to save time. Do you not remember? I will put it to you if you like. It is the speech of 29th August, 1937, and I will give you the reference in one moment.

What I wanted to ask you was this. You said: "The unity of the racial and national will created through Nazism with unprecedented elan has made possible a foreign policy by means of which the chains of the Versailles Treaty were broken,"

What did you mean by "the unity of the racial will," produced by Nazism?

A. By that I probably meant that all Germans were unified more than ever before. However, at this date I can no longer tell you exactly what I meant at the time. But in any case I was merely establishing a fact.

Q. I see. Now tell me. That was in August, 1937. You told the Tribunal the effect that the words of Hitler, on the 5th of November, 1937, had upon you, and your counsel has put in the statement by Baroness von Ritter. After these words

A. (interrupting): In November?

Q. Yes, November, 1937.

A. Yes.

[Page 181]

Q. Now, after these words had had that effect, with whom did you discuss them among the people who had been present at the Hoszbach interview?

A. This speech was not made at Berchtesgaden at all. That is a mistake; it was at Berlin, this address.

Q. I did not say Berchtesgaden; I said at the Hoszbach conference. We call it the Hoszbach conference because he took the minutes.

A. I told you yesterday with whom I spoke, General von Fritsch, and with Beck, who was at that time Chief of the General Staff, and I also testified that we agreed at that time jointly to oppose Hitler and the tendency which he had revealed in this speech.

Q. Did you speak about it to Hitler?

A. Yes. I testified yesterday in detail that I did not have a chance to speak with Hitler until 14th or 15th January, because he had left Berlin and I could not see him. That was the reason why I asked for my resignation at that time.

Q. Did you speak about it to Goering or Raeder?

A. No.

Q. Now I want you just to tell me one word or two about this Secret Cabinet Council to which you were appointed after you left the Foreign Office.

Would you look at the first sentences of the report of that meeting on 5th November?

SIR DAVID MAXWELL FYFE: My Lord, it is Page 81 in the English Document Book 12 , and Page 93 of the German Document Book.

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