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

Fifteenth Day: Friday, 7th December, 1945
(Part 8 of 9)


[Page 221]

And then the next paragraph, to which I would particularly draw the Tribunal's attention:
"The Fuehrer is determined, without waiting for possible loyalty declarations of the new government, to make all preparations in order to destroy Yugoslavia militarily and as a national unit. No diplomatic inquiries will be made nor ultimatums presented. Assurances of the Yugoslav Government, which cannot be trusted anyhow in the future, will be taken note of. The attack will start as soon as the means and troops suitable for it are ready.

It is important that action be taken as soon as possible. An attempt will be made to let the bordering States participate in a suitable way. Actual military support against Yugoslavia is to be requested of Italy, Hungary, and in certain respects of Bulgaria too. Roumania's main task is the protection against Russia. The Hungarian and the Bulgarian ambassadors have already been notified. During the day a message will be addressed to the Duce.

Politically it is especially important that the blow against Yugoslavia is carried out with unmerciful harshness and that the military destruction is done in a lightning-like undertaking. In this way Turkey would become sufficiently frightened and the campaign against Greece later on would be influenced in a favourable way. It can be assumed that the Croats will come to our side when we attack. A corresponding political treatment (autonomy later on) will be assured to them. The war against Yugoslavia should be very popular in Italy, Hungary and Bulgaria, as territorial acquisitions are to be promised to these states; the Adriatic coast for Italy, the Banat for Hungary, and Macedonia for Bulgaria.

This plan assumes that we speed up the schedule of all preparations and use such strong forces that the Yugoslav collapse will take place within the shortest time."

Well, of course, the Tribunal will have noted that in that third paragraph - two days after the pact had been signed and the assurances given - because there has been a coup d'etat, and it is just possible that the operations against

[Page 222]

Greece may be affected - the destruction of Yugoslavia is decided upon without any question of taking the trouble to ascertain the views of the new Government.

Then there is one short passage on Page 5, the next page of the document, which I would like to read.

"5. The main task of the Air Force is to start as early as possible with the destruction of the Yugoslavian Air Force ground installations and to destroy the capital Belgrade in attacks by waves."
I pause there to comment; we now know, of course, how ruthlessly this bombing was done, when the residential areas of Belgrade were bombed at 7 o'clock on the following Sunday morning, the morning of the 6th.

THE PRESIDENT: The 6th April?


Then again, still in the same document, the last part of it, Part V, at Page 5; a tentative plan is set out, drawn up by the defendant Jodl, and I would read one small paragraph at the top of the following page, Page 6:

"In the event of the political development requiring an armed intervention against Yugoslavia, it is the German intention to attack Yugoslavia in a concentric way as soon as possible, to destroy her armed forces and to dissolve her national territory."
I read that because the plan is issued from the office of the defendant Jodl.

Now, passing to the next document in the bundle, C-127, I put that in as Exhibit GB 125. It is an extract from the order issued after the meeting, from the minutes of which I have just read, that is, the meeting of 27th March, recorded in PS-1746, Part II. It is worth reading the first paragraph:

"The military putsch in Yugoslavia has altered the political situation in the Balkans. Yugoslavia must, in spite of her protestations of loyalty, for the time being be considered as an enemy and therefore be crushed as speedily as possible."
I pass to the next document, PS-1835, which I put in evidence as Exhibit GB 126. It is an original telegram, containing a letter from Hitler to Mussolini, forwarded through the German Ambassador in Rome by Hitler and the defendant Ribbentrop. It is written to advise Mussolini of the course decided on and under the guise of somewhat fulsome language the Duce is given his orders. If I might read the first five paragraphs:
"Duce, events force me to give you, Duce, by this the quickest means, my estimation of the situation and the consequences which may result from it.

(1) From the beginning I have regarded Yugoslavia as a dangerous factor in the controversy with Greece. Considered from the purely military point of view, German intervention in the war in Thrace would not be at all justified as long as the attitude, of Yugoslavia remained ambiguous, and she could threaten the left flank of the advancing columns on our enormous front.

(2) For this reason I have done everything and honestly have endeavoured to bring Yugoslavia into our community bound together by mutual interests. Unfortunately these attempts did not meet with success, or they were begun too late to produce any definite result. Today's reports leave no doubt as to the imminent turn in the foreign policy of Yugoslavia.

[Page 223]

(3) I do not consider this situation as being catastrophic, but nevertheless it is a difficult one, and we on our part must avoid any mistake if we do not want, in the end, to endanger our whole position.

(4) Therefore I have already arranged for all necessary measures in order to meet a critical development with necessary military means. The change in the deployment of our troops has been ordered also in Bulgaria. Now I would cordially request you, Duce, not to undertake any further operations in Albania in the course of the next few days. I consider it necessary that you should cover and screen the most important passes from Yugoslavia into Albania with all available forces.

These measures should not be considered as designed for a long period of time, but as auxiliary measures designed to prevent for at least fourteen days to three weeks a crisis arising.

I also consider it necessary, Duce, that you should reinforce your forces on the Italian-Yugoslav front with all available means and with utmost speed.

(5) I also consider it necessary, Duce, that everything which we do and order be shrouded in absolute secrecy and that only personalities who necessarily must be notified know anything about them. These measures will completely lose their value should they become known."

Then he goes on to emphasise further the importance of secrecy.

I pass to R-95, the next document in the bundle, which I put in as Exhibit GB 127. It was referred to by my learned friend, the Attorney General. It is an operational order, signed by General von Brauchitsch, which is merely passing to the Armies the orders contained in Directive No. 25, which was the Document C-127, an extract of which I put in as Exhibit GB 125. I will not trouble the Tribunal with reading it.

I pass to TC-93, which has already been put in with TC-92 as Exhibit GB 114. The invasion of Greece and Yugoslavia took place on this morning, 6th April, on which Hitler issued the proclamation from which this passage is an extract:-

"From the beginning of the struggle it has been England's steadfast endeavour to make the Balkans a theatre of war. British diplomacy did, in fact, using the model of the World War, succeed in first ensnaring Greece by a guarantee offered to her and then finally in misusing her for Britain's purposes.

The documents published today afford" - that refers to the German 'White Book' which they published of all the documents leading up to the invasion - "The documents published today afford a glimpse of a practice which, in accordance with very old British recipes, is a constant attempt to induce others to fight and bleed for British interests.

In the face of this I have always emphasised that:

(1) The German people have no antagonism to the Greek people but that

(2) We shall never, as in the first World War, tolerate a power establishing itself on Greek territory with the object, at a given time, of being able to advance thence from the South-east into

[Page 224]

German living space. We have swept the Northern flank free of the English; we are resolved not to tolerate such a threat inn the South."
Then the paragraph to which I would draw the Tribunal's particular attention:-
"In the interests of a genuine consolidation of Europe it has been my endeavour since the day of my assumption of power above all to establish a friendly relationship with Yugoslavia. I have consciously put out of mind everything that once took place between Germany and Serbia, I have not only offered the Serbian people the hand of the German people, but in addition have made efforts as an honest broker to assist in bridging all difficulties which existed between the Yugoslav State and various nations allied to Germany."
One can only think that when he issued that proclamation Hitler must momentarily have forgotten the meeting with Ciano in August, 1939, and the meeting with the defendant Ribbentrop and the others on 27th March a few days earlier.

I pass to the last document in the bundle. It is a document which has already been put in, L-172, and it was put in as Exhibit USA 34. It is a record of a lecture delivered by the defendant Jodl on 7th November, 1943. At Page 4 there is a short passage which sets out his views two and a-half years later on the action taken in April, 1941. I refer to Paragraph 11 on Page 4:-

"What was, however, less acceptable was the necessity of affording our assistance as an ally in the Balkans in consequence of the 'extra-turn' of the Italians against Greece. The attack which they launched in the autumn of 1940 from Albania with totally inadequate means was contrary to all agreement, but in the end led to a decision on our part which-taking a long view of the matter-would have become necessary, in any case, sooner or later. The planned attack on Greece from the North was not executed merely as an operation in aid of an ally. Its real purpose was to prevent the British from gaining a foothold in Greece and from menacing our Roumanian oil area from that country."
If I might summarise the story: The invasion of Greece was decided on at least as early as November or December, 1940, and planned for the end of March or the beginning of April, 1941 No consideration was at any time given to any obligations under treaties or conventions which might make such invasion a breach of International Law. Care was taken to conceal the preparations so that the German forces might have an unsuspecting victim.

In the meanwhile Yugoslavia, though to be liquidated in due course, was clearly better left for a later stage. Every effort was made to secure her co-operation for the offensive against Greece or, at least, to ensure that she would abstain from any interference.

The coup d'etat of General Simovic upset this plan and it was then decided that, irrespective of whether or not his government had any hostile intentions towards Germany, or even of supporting the Greeks, Yugoslavia must be liquidated.

It was not worth while to take any steps to ascertain Yugoslavia's intentions when it would be so little trouble, now that the German troops were deployed, to destroy her militarily and as a national unit. Accordingly, in the early

[Page 225]

hours of Sunday morning, 6th April, German troops marched into Yugoslavia without warning, and into Greece simultaneously with the formality of handing a note to the Greek Minister in Berlin, informing him that the German forces were entering Greece to drive out the British. M. Koryzis, the Greek Minister, in replying to information of the invasion from the German Embassy, replied that history was repeating itself and that Greece was being attacked by Germany in the same way as by Italy. Greece returned, he said, the same reply as in the preceding October.

That concludes the evidence in respect of Greece and Yugoslavia. But, as I have the honour to conclude the British case, I would like, if the Tribunal would allow me, to draw their attention, very shortly indeed, to one common factor which runs through the whole of this aggression. I can do it, I think, in five minutes.

It is an element in the diplomatic technique of aggression, which was used with singular consistency, not only by the Nazis themselves but also by their Italian friends. Their technique was essentially based upon securing the maximum advantage from surprise, even though only a few hours of unopposed military advance into the country of the unsuspecting victim could thus be secured. Thus there was, of course, no declaration of war in the case of Poland.

The invasion of Norway and of Denmark began in the small hours of the night of 8th-9th April, and was well under way as a military operation before the diplomatic explanations and excuses were presented to the Danish Foreign Minister, at 4.20 a.m. on the morning of the 9th, and to the Norwegian Minister, between 4.30 and 5 on that morning.

The invasion of Belgium, Luxembourg and Holland began not later than 5 o'clock, in most cases earlier, in the small hours of 10th May, whilst the formal ultimatum, delivered in each case with the diplomatic excuses and explanations, was not presented until afterwards. In the case of Holland, the invasion began between 3 and 4 o'clock in the morning. It was not until 6 o'clock, when The Hague had already been bombed, that the German Minister asked to see M. van Kleffens. In the case of Belgium, where the bombing began at 5 o'clock, the German Minister did not see M. Spaak until 8 o'clock. The invasion of Luxembourg began at 4 o'clock and it was at 7 o'clock when the German Minister asked to see M. Beck.

Mussolini copied this technique. It was 3 o'clock on the morning of 28th October, 1940, when his Minister in Athens presented a three-hour ultimatum to General Metaxas.

The invasions of Greece and Yugoslavia, as I have said, both began in the small hours of 6th April, 1941. In the case of Yugoslavia, no diplomatic exchange took place even after the event, but a proclamation was issued by Hitler - a proclamation from which I read an extract - at 5 o'clock that Sunday morning, some two hours before Belgrade was bombed.

In the case of Greece, once again, it was at 5.20 a.m. that M. Koryzis was informed that German troops were entering Greek territory.

The manner in which this long series of aggressions was carried out is, in itself, further evidence of the essentially aggressive and treacherous character of the Nazi regime. Attack without warning at night to secure an initial advantage and proffer excuses or reasons afterwards. Their method of procedure is clearly the method of the barbarian, of the State which has no respect for its own pledged word, nor for the rights of any people but its own.

[Page 226]
One is tempted to speculate whether this technique was evolved by the honest broker himself or by his honest clerk, the defendant Ribbentrop.

THE PRESIDENT: Mr. Alderman, will you be ready to go on after a short adjournment. That is what you were intending to do


THE PRESIDENT: We will adjourn for 10 minutes.

(A recess was taken.)

MR. ALDERMAN: May it please the Tribunal, before proceeding with the presentation of the evidence relating to the aggression against the Soviet Union, I shall take about 15 minutes to offer two further documents relating to the aggression against Austria.

These two documents are stapled in a supplementary book, supplement to document Book N.

Both documents are correspondence of the British Foreign Office. They have been made available to us through the courtesy of our British colleagues.

First, I offer in evidence Document 3045-PS as Exhibit USA 127. This is in two parts. The first is a letter dated 12th March, 1938, from Ambassador Neville Henderson, at the British Embassy, Berlin, to Lord Halifax. It reads:-

"My Lord,

With reference to your Telegram No. 79 of 11th March, I have the honour to transmit to your Lordship herewith a copy of a letter which I addressed to Baron von Neurath in accordance with the instructions contained therein and which was delivered on the same evening.

The French Ambassador addressed a similar letter to Baron von Neurath at the same time."

The enclosure is the note of 11th March, from the British Embassy to defendant von Neurath and it reads as follows
"Dear Reich Minister,

My Government are informed that a German ultimatum was delivered this afternoon at Vienna demanding, inter alia, the resignation of the Chancellor and his replacement by the Minister of the Interior, a new Cabinet of which two-thirds of the members were to be National Socialists, and the readmission of the Austrian Legion to the country with the duty of keeping order in Vienna. I am instructed by my Government to represent immediately to the German Government that if this report is correct H. M.G." - meaning His Majesty's Government - "in the U.K. feels bound to register a protest in the strongest terms against such use of coercion backed by force against an independent state in order to create a situation incompatible with its national independence.

As the German Minister for Foreign Affairs has already been informed in London, such action is bound to produce very great reactions, of which it is impossible to foretell the issues."

[ Previous | Index | Next ]

Home ·  Site Map ·  What's New? ·  Search Nizkor

© The Nizkor Project, 1991-2012

This site is intended for educational purposes to teach about the Holocaust and to combat hatred. Any statements or excerpts found on this site are for educational purposes only.

As part of these educational purposes, Nizkor may include on this website materials, such as excerpts from the writings of racists and antisemites. Far from approving these writings, Nizkor condemns them and provides them so that its readers can learn the nature and extent of hate and antisemitic discourse. Nizkor urges the readers of these pages to condemn racist and hate speech in all of its forms and manifestations.