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

Fourteenth Day: Thursday, 6th December, 1945
(Part 2 of 9)


[Page 141]

If the Tribunal would turn over - I think the next document is unnecessary - turn over to TC-72, Number 17, which becomes Exhibit GB 39.

As a result of these events, not unnaturally, considerable anxiety was growing both in the Government of Great Britain and the Polish Government, and the two governments therefore had been undertaking conversations between each other.

On the 31st March, the Prime Minister, Mr. Chamberlain, spoke in the House of Commons, and he explained that as a result of the conversations that had been taking place between the British and Polish Governments - I quote from the last but one paragraph of his statement:-

"As the House is aware, certain consultations are now proceeding with other governments. In order to make perfectly clear the position of His Majesty's Government in the meantime, before those consultations are concluded, I now have to inform the House that during that period,

[Page 142]

in the event of any action which clearly threatened Polish independence, and which the Polish Government accordingly considered it vital to resist, with their national forces, His Majesty's Government would feel themselves bound at once to lend the Polish Government all support in their power. They have given the Polish Government an assurance to this effect.

I may add that the French Government have authorised me to make it plain that they stand in the same position in this matter as do His Majesty's Government."

On the 6th April, a week later, a formal communique was issued by the British and Polish Governments, which repeated the assurance the Prime Minister had given a week before, and in which Poland assured Great Britain of her support should she, Great Britain, be attacked. I need not read it all. In fact, I need not read any of it. I put it in. It is TC-72, Number 18. I put it in as Exhibit GB 40.

The anxiety and concern that the Governments of Poland and Great Britain were feeling at that time appears to have been well justified. During the same week, on 3rd April, the Tribunal will see in the next document an order signed by Keitel. It emanates from the High Command of the Armed Forces. It is dated Berlin, 3rd April, 1939. Its subject is "Directive for the Armed Forces 1939/40".

"Directive for the uniform preparation of war by the Armed Forces for 1939/40 is being reissued.

Part I (Frontier Defence) and Part III (Danzig) will be issued in the middle of April. Their basic principles remain unchanged.

Part II 'Fall Weiss'" - which is the code name for the operation against Poland," - Part II, 'Fall Weiss', is attached herewith. The signature of the Fuehrer will be appended later.

The Fuehrer has added the following Directives to 'Fall Weiss':

1.Preparations must be made in such a way that the operation can be carried out at any time from 1st September, 1939, onwards." - This is in April, the beginning of April.

"2. The High Command of the Armed Forces has been directed to draw up a precise timetable for 'Fall Weiss' and to arrange by conferences the synchronised timings between the three branches of the Armed Forces.

3. The plan of the branches of the Armed Forces and the details for the timetable must be submitted to the O.K.W. by 1st May, 1939."

That document, as the Tribunal will see on the following page under the heading "Distribution", went to the O.K.H., O.H.M., O.K.W.

THE PRESIDENT: Are those words at the top part of the document, or are they just notes?

LIEUTENANT-COLONEL GRIFFITH-JONES: They are part of the document.

THE PRESIDENT: "Directives from Hitler and Keitel, Preparing for War."

LIEUTENANT-COLONEL GRIFFITH-JONES: I beg your pardon: no, they are not. The document starts from under the words "Translation of a document signed by Keitel."


[Page 143]

LIEUTENANT -COLONEL GRIFFITH-JONES: The first words being "Top Secret."

If the Tribunal will look at the second page, following after "Distribution", it will be seen that there follows a translation of another document, dated 11th April, and that document is signed by Hitler.

"I shall lay down in a later Directive the future tasks of the Armed Forces and the preparations to be made in accordance with these for the conduct of the war." - No question about war - "conduct of the war".

"Until that Directive comes into force, the Armed Forces must be prepared for the following eventualities:

I. Safeguarding the frontiers of the German Reich, and protection against surprise air attacks.

II. 'Fall Weiss'.

III. The annexation of Danzig."

Annex IV contains regulations for the exercise of military authority in East Prussia in the event of a warlike development.

Again that document goes to the O.K.H., O.K.M., O.K.W.

On the next page of the copy the Tribunal have, the translation of Annex I is set out, which is the safeguarding of the frontiers of the German Reich, and I would quote from paragraph (2) under "Special Orders."

"Legal Basis.

It should be anticipated that a state of defence or state of war, as defined in the Reich Defence law of 4th September, 1938, will not be declared. All measures and demands necessary for carrying out a mobilisation are to be based on the laws valid in peacetime."

My Lord, that Document is C-120. It becomes Exhibit GB 41. It contains some other later documents to which I shall refer back in chronological order.

The statement of the Prime Minister in the House of Commons, followed by the Anglo-Polish communique of 6th April, was seized upon by the Nazi Government to urge on, as it were, the crisis which they were developing in Danzig between themselves and Poland.

On 28th April, the German Government issued a memorandum in which they alleged that the Anglo-Polish Declaration was incompatible with the 1934 Agreement between Poland and Germany, and that as a result of entering into or by reason of entering into that Agreement, Poland had unilaterally renounced the 1934 agreement.

I would quote only three short passages, or four short passages, from that document:-

"The German Government have taken note of the Polish -
THE PRESIDENT: Will you give us the reference to it?

LIEUTENANT-COLONEL GRIFFITH-JONES: It is TC-72, Number 14. It becomes Exhibit GB 42.

Some of these passages are worth quoting, if only to show the complete dishonesty of the whole document on the face of it.

"The German Government have taken note of the Polish- British Declaration regarding the progress and aims of the negotiations recently conducted between Poland and Great Britain. According to this Declaration there has been concluded between the Polish Government and the British Government a temporary understanding, to be replaced

[Page 144]

shortly by a permanent agreement, which will provide for the giving of mutual assistance by Poland and Great Britain in the event of the independence of one of the two States being directly or indirectly threatened."
Thereafter, the document sets out in the next three paragraphs the history of German friendship towards Poland. I quote from the last paragraph, Paragraph 5, on that page:
"The agreement which has now been concluded by the Polish Government with the British Government is in such obvious contradiction to these solemn declarations of a few months ago, that the German Government can take note only with surprise and astonishment of such a violent reversal of Polish policy.

Irrespective of the manner in which its final formulation may be determined by both parties, the new Polish-British agreement is intended as a regular Pact of Alliance, which, by reason of its general sense and of the present state of political relations, is directed exclusively against Germany.

From the obligation now accepted by the Polish Government, it appeared that Poland intends, in certain circumstances, to take an active part in any possible German-British conflict, in the event of aggression against Germany, even should this conflict not affect Poland and her interests. This is a direct and open blow against the renunciation of all use of force contained in the 1934 Declaration."

I think I can omit Paragraph 6.
"Paragraph 7: The Polish Government, however, by their recent decision to accede to an alliance directed against Germany, have given it to be understood that they prefer a promise of help by a third power to the direct guarantee of peace by the German Government. In view of this, the German Government are obliged to conclude that the Polish Government do not at present attach any importance to seeking a solution of German- Polish problems by means of direct, friendly discussion with the German Government. The Polish Government have thus abandoned the path traced out in 1934 to the shaping of German-Polish relations."
All this would sound very well, if it had not been for the fact that orders for the invasion of Poland had already been issued, and the Armed Forces had been told to draw up a precise timetable.

The document goes on to set out the history of the last negotiations and discussions. It sets out the demands of the 21st March, which the German Government had made; the return of Danzig, the autobahn, the railway, the promise by Germany of the twenty-five years' guarantee, and I go down to the last but one paragraph on Page 3 of the exhibit, under the heading (I):

"The Polish Government did not avail themselves of the opportunity offered to them by the German Government for a just settlement of the Danzig question; for the final safeguarding of Poland's frontiers with the Reich and thereby for permanent strengthening of the friendly, neighbourly relations between the two countries. The Polish Government even rejected German proposals made with this object.

At the same time the Polish Government accepted, with regard to another State, political obligations which are not compatible either with

[Page 145]

the spirit, the meaning of the text of the German-Polish declaration of 26th January, 1934. Thereby, the Polish Government arbitrarily and unilaterally rendered this declaration null and void."
In the last paragraph the German Government says that, nevertheless, they are prepared to continue friendly relations with Poland.

On the same day as that memorandum was issued, Hitler made a speech in the Reichstag, 28th April, in which he repeated, in effect, the terms of the memorandum. This is Document TC- 72, Number 13, which becomes Exhibit GB 43. I would refer the Tribunal only to the latter part of the second page of the translation. He again repeats the demands and offers that Germany made in March, and he goes on to say that the Polish Government have rejected his offer, and lastly:

"I regret greatly this incomprehensible attitude of the Polish Government. But that alone is not the decisive fact. The worst is that now Poland, like Czechoslovakia a year ago, believes, under the pressure of a lying international campaign, that it must call up troops although Germany, on her part, has not called up a single man, and had not thought of proceeding in any way against Poland. As I have said, this is, in itself, very regrettable, and posterity will one day decide whether it was really right to refuse the suggestion once made by me. This, as I have said, was an attempt on my part to solve a question which intimately affects the German people, by a truly unique compromise and to solve it to the advantage of both countries. According to my conviction, Poland was not a giving party in this solution at all, but only a receiving party, because it should be beyond all doubt that Danzig will never become Polish. The intention on the part of Germany to attack, which was merely invented by the International Press, led, as you know, to the so-called guarantee offer, and to an obligation on the part of the Polish Government for mutual assistance."
It is unnecessary, my Lord, to read more of that. It shows us, as I say, how completely dishonest was everything that the German Government was saying at that time. There was Hitler, probably with a copy of the orders for "Fall Weiss" in his pocket, as he spoke, saying that the intention to attack, by Germany, was an invention of the International Press.

In answer to that memorandum and that speech, the Polish Government issued a memorandum on 28th April. It is set out in the next Document, TC-72, Number 16, which becomes Exhibit GB 44. It is unnecessary to read more than:

THE PRESIDENT : It is stated as 5th May, not the 28th April.

LIEUTENANT-COLONEL GRIFFITH-JONES: I beg your pardon, yes, on the 5th May.

It is unnecessary to read more than two short paragraphs from that reply. I can summarise the document in a word. It sets out the objects of the 1934 agreement, to renounce the use of force and to carry on friendly relationship between the two countries; to solve difficulties by arbitration and other friendly means. The Polish Government appreciate that there are difficulties about Danzig and have long been ready to carry out discussions. They set out again their part in the recent discussions, and I turn to the second page of the document, the last but one paragraph or, perhaps, I should go back

[Page 146]

a little, to the top of that page, the first half of that page. The Polish Government allege that they wrote, as indeed they did, to the German Government on 26th March, giving their point of view, that they then proposed joint guarantees by the Polish and German Governments of the City of Danzig, based on the principles of freedom for the local population in internal affairs. They said they were prepared to examine the possibilities of a motor road and railway facilities, and that they received no reply to those proposals. "It is clear that negotiations in which one State formulates demands and the other is to be obliged to accept those demands unaltered, are not negotiations in the spirit of the Declaration of 1934 and are incompatible with the vital interests and dignity of Poland", which, of course, in a word, summarises the whole position of the Polish point of view. Thereafter, they reject the German accusation that the Anglo-Polish Agreement is incompatible with the 1934 German- Polish Agreement.

They state that Germany herself has entered into similar agreements with other nations and lastly, on the next page, they say too, that they are still willing to entertain a new pact with Germany, should Germany wish to do so.

If the Tribunal would turn back to document C-120, to the first two letters, to which I referred only a few minutes ago, it is becoming Exhibit GB 41. On the bottom of the page there is a figure 614, on the first page of that exhibit, "Directives from Hitler and Keitel Preparing for War and the Invasion of Poland". I would refer to Page 6 of that particular exhibit. The page number will be found at the bottom of the page, in the centre. It is a letter from the Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces; it is signed by Hitler. It is dated 10th May. It goes to O.K.W., O.K.H., O.K.M., and various branches of the O.K.W., and with it apparently were enclosed "Instructions for the Economic War and the Protection of Our Own Economy". I only mention it now to show better that throughout this time preparations for the immediate aggression were continuing. That document will still be part of the same exhibit.

Again, on the next page, which is document numbered " C-120 L".

I am afraid this is a precis only, not a full translation, and therefore, perhaps, I will not read it. But it is the annex, showing the "Directives for the War against the Enemy Economy and Measures of Protection for Our Economy".

As we will see later, not only were the military preparations being carried out throughout these months and weeks, but economic and every other kind of preparation was being made for war at the earliest moment.

I think this period of preparation which I have taken up to May, 1939, finishes really with that famous meeting or conference in the Reich Chancellery on 23rd May, about which the Tribunal has already heard. It was L-79 and is now Exhibit USA 27 and it was referred to, I think, and has been known, as the "Schmundt Minutes". It is the last document which is in the Tribunal's document book of this part, and I do not propose to read anything of it. It has been read already and the Tribunal will remember that it was the speech in which Hitler was crying out for "Lebensraum" and said that Danzig was not the dispute at all. It was a question of expanding their living space in the East, and where he said that the decision had been taken to attack Poland.

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