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

The Trial of German Major War Criminals

Sitting at Nuremberg, Germany
December 3 to December 14, 1945

Eleventh Day: Monday, 3rd December, 1945
(Part 1 of 8)

[Page 1]

THE PRESIDENT: I call on the Prosecutor for the United States.

MR. ALDERMAN: May it please the Tribunal, it occurs to me that perhaps the Tribunal might be interested in a very brief outline of what might be expected to occur within the next week or two weeks in this trial.

I shall immediately proceed with the aggressive war case, to present the story of the rape of Czechoslovakia. I perhaps shall not be able to conclude that today.

Sir Hartley Shawcross, the British Chief Prosecutor, has asked that he be allowed to proceed tomorrow morning with his opening statement on Count 2, and I shall be glad to yield for that purpose, with the understanding that we shall resume on Czechoslovakia after that.

Accordingly, the British Prosecutor will proceed to present the aggressive warfare case as to Poland, which brought France and England into the war. Thereafter, the British Prosecutor will proceed with the expansion of aggressive war in Europe, the aggression against Norway and Denmark, against Holland, Belgium, and Luxembourg, against Yugoslavia and Greece. And in connection with those aggressions the British Prosecutor will present to the Tribunal the various treaties involved and the various breaches of treaties involved in those aggressions.

That, as I understand it, will complete the British case under Count 2 and will probably take the rest of this week.

Then it will be necessary for the American prosecuting staff to come back to Count I to cover certain portions which have not been covered, specifically; persecution of the Jews, concentration camps, spoliation in occupied territories, the High Command and other alleged criminal organisations, and particular evidence dealing with individual responsibility of individual defendants.

Roughly, I would anticipate that that would take up the following week, or two weeks. However, that is a very rough estimate.

Thereupon, the French Chief Prosecutor will make his opening statement and will present the evidence as to Crimes against Humanity and War Crimes, under Counts 3 and 4, as to Western occupied countries.

Following that, the Russian Chief Prosecutor will make his opening statement and will present corresponding evidence regarding War Crimes and Crimes against Humanity in the Eastern countries.

That, in very rough outline, is what we have in mind to present.

I turn now to the third section in the detailed chronological presentation of the aggressive war case: aggression against Czechoslovakia. The relevant portions of the Indictment are set forth in Subsection 3, under Section IV, (F), appearing at Pages 7 and 8 of the printed English text of the Indictment.

[Page 2]

This portion of the Indictment is divided into three parts:
(a) The 1936-1938 phase of the plan; that is, the planning for the assault both on Austria and Czechoslovakia.

(b) The execution of the plan to invade Austria; November, 1937, to March, 1938.

(c) The execution of the plan to invade Czechoslovakia; April, 1938, to March, 1939.

On Thursday last I completed the presentation of the documents on the execution of the plan to invade Austria. Those documents are gathered together in a document book, which was handed to the Tribunal at the beginning of the Austrian presentation.

The materials relating to the aggression against Czechoslovakia have been gathered in a separate document book, which I now submit to the Tribunal and which is marked "Document Book 0".

The Tribunal will recall that in the period 1933 to 1936 the defendants had initiated a programme of rearmament, designed to give the Third Reich military strength and political bargaining power to be used against other nations. You will recall also that beginning in the year 1936 they had embarked upon a preliminary programme of expansion which, as it turned out, was to last until March, 1939. This was intended to shorten their frontiers, to increase their industrial and food reserves, and to place them in a position, both industrially and strategically, from which they could launch a more ambitious and more devastating campaign of aggression.

At the moment - in the early spring of 1938 - when the Nazi conspirators began to lay concrete plans for the conquest of Czechoslovakia, they had reached approximately the half-way point in this preliminary programme.

In the preceding autumn, at the conference in the Reich Chancellery on 5th November, 1937, covered by the Hoszbach minutes, Hitler had set forth the programme which Germany was to follow. Those Hoszbach minutes, you will recall, are contained in Document 386-PS, Exhibit USA 25, which I read to the Tribunal in my introductory statement a week ago today.

"The question for Germany," the Fuehrer had informed his military commanders at that meeting, " is where the greatest possible conquest can be made at the lowest cost."
At the top of his agenda stood two countries, Austria and Czechoslovakia.

On 12th March, 1938, Austria was occupied by the German Army, and on the following day it was annexed to the Reich. The time had come for a re-definition of German intentions regarding Czechoslovakia. A little more than a month later, two of the conspirators, Hitler and Keitel, met to discuss plans for the envelopment and conquest of the Czechoslovak State.

Among the selected handful of documents which I read to the Tribunal in my introduction a week ago, to establish the corpus of the crime of aggressive war, was the account of this meeting on 21st April, 1938. This account is Item 2 in our Document 388-PS, Exhibit USA 26.

The Tribunal will recall that Hitler and Keitel discussed the pretext which Germany might develop to serve as an excuse for a sudden and overwhelming attack. They considered the provocation of a period of diplomatic squabbling which, growing more serious, would lead to an excuse for war.

[Page 3]

In the alternative - and this alternative they found to be preferable-they planned to unleash a lightning attack as the result of an incident of their own creation.

Consideration-as we alleged in the Indictment and as the document proved-was given to the assassination of the German Ambassador at Prague to create the requisite incident.

The necessity of propaganda to guide the conduct of Germans in Czechoslovakia and to intimidate the Czechs was recognised. Problems of transport and tactics were discussed, with a view to overcoming all Czechoslovak res1stance within four days, thus presenting the world with a fait accompli and forestalling outside interventions.

Thus, by mid-April, 1938, the designs of the Nazi conspirators to conquer Czechoslovakia had already reached the stage of practical planning.

Now all of that occurred, if the Tribunal please, against a background of friendly diplomatic relations. This conspiracy must be viewed against that background. Although they had, in the fall Of 1937, determined to destroy the Czechoslovak State, the leaders of the German Government were bound by a treaty of arbitration and assurances freely given, to observe the sovereignty of Czechoslovakia. By a formal treaty signed at Locarno on 16th October, 1925 - Document TC-4, which will be introduced by the British Prosecutor-Germany and Czechoslovakia agreed, with certain exceptions, to refer matters of dispute to an arbitral tribunal or to the Permanent Court of International justice. I quote, they would so refer "All disputes of every kind between Germany and Czechoslovakia with regard to which the parties are in conflict as to their respective right, and which it may not be possible to settle amicably by the normal methods of diplomacy."

And the preamble to this treaty stated

"The German Reich President and the President of the Czechoslovak Republic equally resolved to maintain peace between Germany and Czechoslovakia by securing the peaceful settlement of disputes which might arise between the two countries, considering that International Tribunals are bound to respect rights established by treaties or resulting from International Law, agreeing that the rights of a State cannot be altered save with its consent, and considering that sincere observance of the methods of peaceful settlement of international disputes permits of resolving, without recourse to force, questions which may become the cause of divisions between States, have decided to embody in a treaty their common intention in this respect."
That ends the quotation.

Both formal and categoric assurances of their good will towards Czechoslovakia were coming from the Nazi conspirators as late as March, 1938. On 11th and 12th March, 1938, at the time of the annexation of Austria, Germany had a considerable interest in inducing Czechoslovakia not to mobilise. At this time the defendant Goering assured Monsieur Masaryk, the Czechoslovak Minister in Berlin, on behalf of the German Government, that German-Czech relations were not adversely affected by the development in Austria, and that Germany had no hostile intentions towards Czechoslovakia. As a token of his sincerity, defendant Goering accompanied his assurances with the statement: "Ich gebe Ihnen mein Ehrenwort." I give you my word of honour."

[Page 4]

At the same time, the defendant von Neurath, who was handling German foreign affairs during Ribbentrop's stay in London, assured Monsieur Masaryk, on behalf of Hitler and the German Government, that Germany still considered herself bound by the Arbitration Convention of 1925.

These assurances are contained in Document TC-27, another of the series of documents which will be presented to the Tribunal by the British Prosecutor under Count 2 of the Indictment.

Behind the screen of these assurances the Nazi conspirators proceeded with their military and political plan for aggression. Ever since the preceding fall it had been established that the immediate aim of German policy was the elimination of both Austria and Czechoslovakia. In both countries the conspirators planned to undermine the will to res1st, by propaganda and by fifth column activities, while the actual military preparations were being developed.

The Austrian operation, which received priority for political and strategic reasons, was carried out in February and March, 1938. Thenceforth the Wehrmacht-planning was devoted to "Fall Grun," Case Green, the designation given to the proposed operation against Czechoslovakia.

The military plans for Case Green had been drafted in outline form as early as June, 1937. The O.K.W. top secret directive for the unified preparation of the armed forces for war - signed by von Blomberg on 24th June, 1937, and promulgated to the Army, Navy, and Luftwaffe for the year beginning on 1st July, 1937 - included, as a probable warlike eventuality for which a concentrated plan was to be drafted, Case Green, "War on two fronts, with the main struggle in the South-east".

This document-our number C-175, Exhibit USA 69-was introduced in evidence as part of the Austrian presentation and is an original carbon copy, signed in ink by von Blomberg. The original section of this directive dealing with the probable war against Czechoslovakia - it was later revised - opens with this supposition. I am reading, following the Heading 11, and Subparagraph (1) headed "Suppositions":

The war in the East can begin with a surprise German operation against Czechoslovakia in order to parry the imminent attack of a superior enemy coalition. The necessary conditions justify such an action politically, and in the eyes of International Law must be created beforehand."

After detailing possible enemies and neutrals in the event of such action, the directive continues as follows:

"(2) The task of the German Armed Forces" - and that much is underscored - "is to make their preparations in such a way that the bulk of all forces can break into Czechoslovakia quickly, by surprise, and with the greatest force, while in the West the minimum strength is provided as rear-cover for this attack.

The aim and object of this surprise attack by the German Armed Forces should be to eliminate from the very beginning and for the duration of the war, the threat by Czechoslovakia to the rear of the operations in the West, and to take from the Russian Air Force the most substantial portion of its operational base in Czechoslovakia. This must be done by the defeat of the enemy armed forces and the occupation of Bohemia and Moravia."

[Page 5]

The introduction to this directive sets forth as one of its guiding principles the following statement - and I now read from Page 1 of the English translation, that is, the third paragraph following figure 1:
"Nevertheless, the politically fluid world situation, which does not preclude surprising incidents, demands constant preparedness for war on the part of the German Armed Forces."
And then
"(a) To counter attack at any time.

(b) To make possible the military exploitation of politically favourable opportunities, should they occur."

This directive ordered further work on the plan for mobilisation, without public announcement. I quote: "In order to put the armed forces in a position to be able to begin a war suddenly, which will take the enemy by surprise, both as regards strength and time of attack."

This directive is, of course, a directive for staff planning, but the nature of the planning and the very tangible and ominous developments which resulted from it, give it a significance that it would not have had in another setting.

Planning along the lines of this directive was carried forward during the fall of 1937 and the winter of 1937-1938. On the political level, this planning for the conquest of Czechoslovakia received the approval and support of Hitler in the conference with his military commanders on 5th November, 1937, reported in the Hoszbach minutes, to which I have frequently heretofore referred.

In early March, 1938, before the march into Austria, we find defendants Ribbentrop and Keitel concerned over the extent of the information about war aims against Czechoslovakia to be furnished to Hungary. On 4th March, 1938, Ribbentrop wrote to Keitel, enclosing for General Keitel's confidential information the minutes of a conference with Sztojay, the local Hungarian Ambassador, who had suggested an interchange of views. This is Document 2786-PS, a photostat of the original captured letter, which I now offer in evidence as Exhibit USA 81. In his letter to Keitel, Ribbentrop said:

"I have many doubts about such negotiations. In case we should discuss with Hungary possible war aims against Czechoslovakia, the danger ex1sts that other parties as well would be informed about this. I would greatly appreciate it if you would notify me briefly whether any commitments were made here in any respect. With best regards and Heil Hitler."
At the 21st of April meeting between Hitler and Keitel, the account of which I read last week and alluded to earlier this morning, Document 3 88-PS, Item 0, specific plans for the attack on Czechoslovakia were discussed for the first time. This meeting was followed, in the late spring and summer Of 1938, by a series of memoranda and telegrams advancing "Fall Grun" (Case Green). Those notes and communications were carefully filed at Hitler's headquarters by the very efficient Colonel Schmundt, the Fuehrer's military adjutant, and were captured by American troops in a cellar at Obersalzberg, near Berchtesgaden. This file, which is preserved intact, bears our number 388-PS, and is Exhibit USA 26, and we affectionately refer to it as "Big Schmundt" - a large file. The individual items in this file tell more graphically than could any narrative the progress of the Nazi conspirators' planning to launch an unprovoked and brutal war against

[Page 6]

Czechoslovakia. From the start the Nazi leaders displayed a lively interest in intelligence data concerning Czechoslovakian armament. With the leave of the Tribunal I shall refer to some of these items in the "Big Schmundt" file without reading them. The documents to which I refer are Item 4 of the Schmundt file, a telegram from Colonel Zeitzler, in General Jodl's office of the O.K.W., to Schmundt at Hitler's headquarters.

THE PRESIDENT: Mr. Alderman?

MR. ALDERMAN: Yes, sir?

THE PRESIDENT: Are you proposing not to read them?

MR. ALDERMAN: I had not intended to read them in full, unless that may be necessary.

THE PRESIDENT: I am afraid we must adhere to our decision.

MR. ALDERMAN: If the Tribunal please, I should simply wish to refer to the title or heading of Item 12, which is headed "Short Survey of Armament of the Czech Army," dated Berlin, 9th June, 1938, and initialled "Z" for Zeitzler, and Item 13, "Questions of the Fuehrer," dated Berlin, 9th June, 1938, and classified Most Secret. I should like to read four of the questions about which Hitler wanted authoritative information as shown by that document, and I read the questions indicated on Pages 23, 24, 25, and 26 of Item 13 of Document 388-PS:

"Question 1: Hitler asked about the armament of the Czech Army." I don't think it necessary to read the answers. They are detailed answers giving information in response to these questions Posed by Hitler.

"Question 2: How many battalions, etc., are employed in the West for the construction of emplacements?

Question 3: Are the fortifications of Czechoslovakia still occupied in unreduced strength?

Question 4: Frontier protection in the West."

As I say, those questions were answered in detail by the O.K.W. and initialled by Colonel Zeitzler of General Jodl's staff.

As a precaution against French and British during the attack on Czechoslovakia, it was necessary for the Nazi conspirators to rush the preparation of fortification measures along the Western frontier in Germany. I refer you to Item 8, at Page 12 of the "Big Schmundt" file, a telegram presumably sent from Schmundt in Berchtesgaden to Berlin, and I quote from this telegram. It is, as I say, Item 8 of the Schmundt file, Page 12 of Document 388-PS:

"Inform Colonel General von Brauchitsch and General Keitel".
And then, skipping a paragraph:
"The Fuehrer repeatedly emphasised the necessity of pressing forward greatly the fortification work in the West."

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