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 9 of 9)

[MR. ALDERMAN continues]

[Page 226]

I now offer Document 3287-PS, as Exhibit USA 128.

This consists of a transmittal from the British Embassy, Berlin, to the British Foreign Office, of defendant von Neurath's letter of response dated 12th March, 1938. The letter is identified in the document with the letter "L".

[Page 227]

First the defendant von Neurath objected to the fact that the British Government was undertaking the role of protector of Austria's independence. I quote from the second paragraph of his letter:-
"In the name of the German Government I must point out here that the Royal British Government has no right to assume the role of a protector of Austria's independence. In the course of diplomatic consultations on the Austrian question, the German Government never left any doubt with the Royal British Government that the formation of relations between Germany and Austria could not be considered anything but the inner concern of the German people and that it did not affect a third power."
Then, in response to the assertions regarding Germany's ultimatum, von Neurath set out what he stated to be the true version of events.

I quote the last two long paragraphs of the letter; in the English translation I start at the bottom of Page 1 of the letter:-

"Instead, the former Austrian Chancellor announced, on the evening of 9th March, the surprising and arbitrary resolution, decided on by himself, to hold an election within a few days which, under the prevailing circumstances, and especially according to the details provided for the execution of the election, could and was to have the sole purpose of oppressing politically the predominant majority of the population of Austria. As could have been foreseen, this procedure, being a flagrant violation of the agreement of Berchtesgaden, led to a very critical point in Austria's internal situation. It was only natural that the members of the then Austrian Cabinet who had not taken part in the decision for an election should have protested very strongly against it. Therefore, a Cabinet crisis occurred in Vienna which, on 11th March, resulted in the resignation of the former Chancellor and in the formation of a new Cabinet. It is untrue that the Reich used forceful pressure to bring about this development. In particular the assertion which was spread later by the former Chancellor, that the German Government had presented the Federal President with a conditional ultimatum, is a pure invention; according to the ultimatum he had to appoint a proposed candidate as Chancellor and to form a Cabinet conforming to the proposals of the German Government, otherwise the invasion of Austria by German troops was held in prospect. The truth of the matter is that the question of sending military or police forces from the Reich was brought up only when the newly formed Austrian Cabinet addressed a telegram, already published by the Press, to the German Government, urgently asking for the dispatch of German troops as soon as possible, in order to restore peace and avoid bloodshed. Faced with the immediately threatening danger of a bloody civil war in Austria, the German Government then decided to comply with the appeal addressed to it.

This being the state of affairs, it is impossible that the attitude of the German Government, as asserted in your letter, could lead to some unforeseeable reactions. A complete picture of the political situation is given in the proclamation which, at noon today, the German Reich Chancellor has addressed to the German people. Dangerous reactions to this situation can take place only if eventually a third party should try to exercise its influence, contrary to the peaceful intentions and legitimate

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aims of the German Government, on the shaping of events in Austria, a step which would be incompatible with the right of self-government of the German people."
That ends the quotation.

Now, in the light of the evidence which has already been presented to the Tribunal, this version of the events given by the defendant von Neurath is a hollow mockery of the truth.

We have learned, from the portions quoted from Document 1780- PS, which is Exhibit USA 72 - Jodl's diary - the entry for 10th March, 1938, the fact that von Neurath was taking over the duties of the Foreign Office while Ribbentrop was detained in London, that the Fuehrer wished to send an ultimatum to the Austrian Cabinet, that he had dispatched a letter to Mussolini of his reasons for taking action, and that army mobilisation orders were given.

We have seen the true facts about the ultimatum from two different documents. I refer to 812-PS, Exhibit USA 61, Report of Gauleiter Rainer to Reichskommissar Burckel, dated 6th July, 1939, which was transmitted to the defendant Seyss- Inquart on 22nd August, 1939. The portion reporting on the events of 11th March have already been read to the Tribunal.

I also refer to Document 2949-PS, Exhibit USA 76, the transcripts of Goering's telephone conversations, relevant portions of which I have already read to the Tribunal.

These documents emphatically show, and with unmistakable clarity, that the German Nazis did present an ultimatum to the Austrian Government that it would send troops across the border if Schuschnigg did not resign, and if defendant Seyss- Inquart were not appointed Chancellor.

These documents also show that the impetus of the famous telegram came from Berlin and not from Vienna, that Goering composed the telegram and Seyss-Inquart did not even have to send it, but merely said "agreed."

The transcript of Goering's telephone call to Ribbentrop, is indicated as Part W of that document. In it the formula was developed and recited for English consumption that there had been no ultimatum and that the German troops crossed the border in response only to the telegram.

And now, in this document from which I have just read, we find the same bogus formula coming from the pen of the defendant von Neurath. He was at the meeting of 5th November, 1937, of which we have the Hoszbach Minutes, Exhibit USA 25. And so he knew very well the firmly held Nazi ideas with respect to Austria and Czechoslovakia. Yet, in the period after 10th March, 1938, when he was handling the foreign affairs for this conspiracy, and particularly after the invasion of Austria, he played his part in making false representations. He gave an assurance to Mr. Mastny regarding the continued independence of Austria. I refer to the document introduced by Sir David Maxwell Fyfe, Document TC-27, which is Exhibit GB 21.

We see him here, still handling foreign affairs, although using the letterhead of the Secret Cabinet Council, as the exhibit shows, reciting this diplomatic fable with respect to the Austrian situation, a story also encountered by us in the transcript of the Goering-Ribbentrop telephone call, all in furtherance of the aims of what we call the conspiracy.

Now, if the Tribunal please, it might have been fitting and appropriate for me to present the case on collaboration with Japan and the attack on the

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United States on this 7th December, 1945, the fourth anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbour. However, our plan was to proceed chronologically, so that part of the case must wait its turn for presentation next week.

We now come to the climax of this amazing story of wars of aggression, perhaps one of the most colossal misjudgements in history, when Hitler's intuition led him and his associates to launch an aggressive war against the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.

In my last appearance before the Tribunal I presented an account of the aggression against Czechoslovakia. In the meantime, our British colleagues have given you the evidence covering the formulation of the plan to attack Poland and the preparations and initiation of actual aggressive war. In addition, they have laid before the Tribunal the story of the expansion of the war into a general war of aggression, involving the planning and execution of attacks on Denmark, Norway, Belgium and the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Yugoslavia, and Greece, and in doing so, the British prosecution has marshalled and presented to the Court various international treaties, agreements and assurances and the evidence establishing the breaching of those treaties and assurances.

I should like to present to the Tribunal now the account of the last but one of the defendants' acts of aggression, the invasion of the U.S.S.R. The section of the Indictment in which this crime is charged is Count 1, Section 4 (f), Paragraph 6, German invasion on 22nd June, 1941, of the U.S.S.R. Territory in violation of the Non-Aggression Pact of 23rd August, 1939. The first sentence of this paragraph is the one with which we shall be concerned today. It reads:-

"On 22nd June, 1941, the Nazi conspirators deceitfully denounced the Non-Aggression Pact between Germany and the U.S.S.R. and without any declaration of war invaded Soviet territory, thereby beginning a war of aggression against the U.S.S.R."
The documents having a bearing on this phase of the case are contained in document book marked "P", which we now hand to the Court.

First, if the Tribunal please, the inception of the plan. As a point of departure for the story of aggression against the Soviet Union, I should like to take the date 23rd August, 1939. On that date, just a week before the invasion of Poland, the Nazi conspirators caused Germany to enter into the Treaty of Non-Aggression with the U.S.S.R., which is referred to in this section of the Indictment which I have just quoted. This treaty, Document TC-25, will be introduced in evidence by our British colleagues, but it contains two articles which I should like to bring to the attention of the Tribunal. Article C 1 provided as follows:-

"The two contracting parties undertake to refrain from any act of violence, any aggressive action, or any attack against one another, whether individually or jointly with other Powers."
Article 5 provides that:
"Should disputes or conflicts arise between the contracting parties, regarding the questions of any kind whatsoever, the two parties would clear away these disputes or conflicts solely by friendly exchanges of view or, if necessary, by arbitration commissions."
It is well to keep these solemn pledges in mind during the course of the story which is to follow. This treaty was signed for the German Government by the defendant Ribbentrop. Its announcement came as somewhat of a

[Page 230]

surprise to the world, since it appeared to constitute a reversal of the previous trend of Nazi foreign policy. The explanation for this about-face has been provided, however, by no less eminent a witness than the defendant Ribbentrop himself in a discussion which he had with the Japanese Ambassador Oshima in Fuschl on 23rd February, 1941. A report of that conference was forwarded by Ribbentrop to certain German diplomats in the field for their strictly confidential and purely personal information. This report we now have. It is Document 1834-PS. I offer it in evidence as Exhibit USA 129, the original German document.

On Page 2 of the English translation, Ribbentrop tells Oshima the reason for the Pact with the U.S.S.R. That is Page 4 of the German document.

"Then when it came to war the Fuehrer decided on a treaty with Russia - as a necessity for avoiding a two- front war."
In view of the spirit of opportunism which motivated the Nazis in entering into this solemn pledge of arbitration and non-aggression, it is not very surprising to find that they regarded it, as they did all treaties and pledges, as binding on them only so long as it was expedient for them to be bound. That they did so regard it is evidenced by the fact that even while the campaign in the West was still in progress, they began to consider the possibility of launching a war of aggression against the U.S.S.R.

In a speech to the Reich and Gauleiters at Munich in November, 1943, which is set forth in our Document L-172, already in evidence as Exhibit USA 34, the defendant Jodl admitted - and I shall read from Page 7 of the English translation, which is at Page 15 of the original German text:-

"Parallel with all these developments realisation was steadily growing of the danger drawing constantly nearer from the Bolshevik East - that danger which has been only too little perceived in Germany and of late, for diplomatic reasons, had deliberately to be ignored.

However, the Fuehrer himself has always kept this danger steadily in view and even as far back as during the Western Campaign had informed me of his fundamental decision to take steps against this danger the moment our military position made it at all possible."

At the time this decision was made, however, the Western campaign was still in progress, and so any action in the East necessarily had to be postponed for the time being. On 22nd June, 1940, however, the Franco-German armistice was signed at Compiegne, and the campaign in the West, with the exception of the war against Britain, came to an end. The view that Germany's key to political and economic domination lay in the elimination of the U.S.S.R. as a political factor and in the acquisition of "Lebensraum" at her expense, had long been basic in Nazi ideology. As we have seen, this idea had never been completely forgotten even while the war in the West was in progress. Now, flushed with the recent success of their arms, and yet keenly conscious of both their failure to defeat Britain and the needs of their armies for food and raw, materials, the Nazis began serious consideration of the means for achieving their traditional ambition by conquering the Soviet Union.

The situation in which Germany now found herself made such action appear both desirable and practical. As early as August, 1940, General Thomas received a hint from the defendant Goering that planning for a campaign against the Soviet Union was already under way. Thomas at that time was the Chief of the Wirtschaftsruestungsamt of the O.K.W.

[Page 231]

I should, perhaps, mention that this office is generally referred to in the German documents by the abbreviation WR. RUE.

General Thomas tells of receiving this information from Goering in his draft of a work entitled Basic Facts for a History of German War and Armament Economy, which he prepared during the summer of 1944. This book is our Document 2353-PS, and has already been admitted into evidence as Exhibit USA 35. I am sorry, it was marked that for identification purposes. I now offer it in evidence as Exhibit USA 35.

On Pages 313 to 315 of this work, Thomas discusses the Russo- German Trade Agreement of 1939 and relates how, since the Soviets were delivering quickly and well under this agreement and were requesting war materials in return, there was much pressure in Germany until early in 1940 for increased delivery on the part of the Germans. However, at Page 315, he has the following to say about the change of heart expressed by the German leaders in August, 1940. I read from Page 9 of the English translation:

"On 14th August, the Chief of the Wirtschaftsruestungsamt, during a conference with Reichsmarshal Goering, was informed that the Fuehrer desired punctual delivery to the Russians only until spring 1941. Later on we were to have no further interest in completely satisfying the Russian demands. This illusion moved the Chief of the Wirtschaftsruestungsamt to give priority to matters concerning Russian war economy."
I shall refer to this statement again later when I discuss the preparation for the economic exploitation of Soviet territory expected to be captured. At that time, too, I shall introduce evidence which will show that in November, 1940, Goering informed Thomas that a campaign was planned against the U.S.S.R.

Preparations for so large an undertaking as an invasion of the Soviet Union necessarily entailed, even these many months in advance of the date of execution, certain activity in the East in the way of construction projects and strengthening of forces. Such activity could not be expected to pass unnoticed by the Soviet Intelligence Service. Counter-intelligence measures were obviously called for.

In an O.K.W. directive signed by the defendant Jodl and issued to the Counter-Intelligence Service abroad on 6th September, 1940, such measures were ordered. This directive is Document 1229-PS and I offer it in evidence as Exhibit USA 130, a photostat of the captured German document. This directive pointed out that the activity in the East must not be permitted to create the impression in the Soviet Union that an offensive was being prepared, and outlined the line for the counter-intelligence people to take to disguise this fact. The text of the directive indicates by implication the extent of the preparations already under way, and I should like to read it to the Tribunal:-

"The Eastern territory will be manned more strongly in the weeks to come. By the end of October the status shown on the enclosed map is supposed to be reached.

These regroupings must not create the impression in Russia that we are preparing an offensive in the East. On the other hand, Russia will realise that strong and highly trained German troops are stationed in the Government General, in the Eastern Provinces, and in the

[Page 232]

Protektorat. She should draw the conclusion that we can at any time protect out interests - especially in the Balkans - with strong forces against Russian seizure.

For the work of our own intelligence service as well as for the answer to questions of the Russian Intelligence Service, the following directives apply:

1. The respective total strength of the German troops in the East is to be veiled as far as possible by giving news about a frequent change of the army units there. This change is to be explained by movements into training camps, regroupings.

2. The impression is to be created that the centre of the massing of troops is in the Southern part of the Government, in the Protektorat and in Austria, and that the massing in the North is relatively unimportant.

3. When it comes to the equipment situation of the units, especially of the armoured divisions, things are to be exaggerated, if necessary.

4. By suitable news the impression is to be created that the anti-aircraft protection in the East has been increased considerably after the end of the campaign in the West, and that it continues to be increased with captured French material for all important targets.

5. Concerning improvements on railroads, roads, aerodromes, etc., it is to be stated that the work is kept within normal limits, is needed for the improvement of the newly-won Eastern territories, and serves primarily economical traffic.

The Supreme Command of the Army (O.K.H.) decides to what extent correct details, i.e., numbers of regiments, manning of garrisons, etc., will be made available to the defence for purposes of counter espionage.

The Chief of the Supreme Command of the Armed Forces. By order of

(signed) JODL".

Early in November, 1940, Hitler reiterated his previous orders, and called for a continuation of preparations, promising further and more definite instructions as soon as this preliminary work produced a general outline of the Army's operational plan. This order was contained in a top secret directive from the Fuehrer's headquarters, No. 18, dated 12th November, 1940, signed by Hitler and initialled by Jodl. It is Document 444-PS in our numbered series and is already in evidence as Exhibit GB 116.

The directive begins by saying:

"The preparatory measures of Supreme Headquarters for the prosecution of the war in the near future are to be made along the following lines .."
It then outlines plans for the various theatres and the policy regarding relations with other countries and says, regarding the U.S.S.R. - and I read now from Page 3, Paragraph No. 5, of the English translation:
"Political discussions have been initiated with the aim of clarifying Russia's attitude for the time being. Irrespective of the results of these discussions, all preparations for the East which have already been verbally ordered will be continued.

Instructions on this will follow as soon as the general outline of the army's operational plans have been submitted to, and approved, by me."

[Page 233]

On 5th December, 1940, the Chief of the General Staff of the Army, at that time General Halder, reported to the Fuehrer concerning the progress of the plans for the coming operation against the U.S.S.R. A report of this conference with Hitler is contained in captured Document 1799-PS. This is a folder containing many documents, all labelled annexes and all bearing on "Fall Barbarossa," the plan against the U.S.S.R. This folder was discovered in the War Diary of the Wehrmacht Fuehrungstab and was apparently an enclosure to that diary.

The report I am here referring to is Annex No. I, and is dated December, 1940.

I now offer in evidence Document 1799-PS as Exhibit USA 131. I should also like to read into the record a few sentences from the report of 5th December, 1940, as they indicate the state of the planning for this act of aggression, six and a- half months before it occurred.

"Report to the Fuehrer on 5th December, 1940.

"The Chief of the General Staff of the Army then reported about the planned operation in the East. He expanded at first on the geographical fundamentals. The main war industrial centres are in the Ukraine, in Moscow and in Leningrad."

Then, omitting a few sentences.
"The Fuehrer declares that he has agreed with the discussed operational plans and adds the following:

The most important goal is to prevent the Russians withdrawing on a closed front. The Eastward advance should be combined until the Russian Air Force becomes unable to attack the territory of the German Reich and on the other hand the German Air Force will be enabled to conduct raids to destroy Russian war industrial territory. In this way, we should be able to achieve the annihilation of the Russian Army and to prevent its regeneration. The first commitment of the forces should take place in such a way as to make the annihilation of strong enemy units possible."

Then, again omitting some passages.
"It is essential that the Russians should not take up positions in the rear again. The number of 130 to 140 divisions as planned for the entire operation is sufficient."
THE PRESIDENT: Would that be a good time to break off?

MR. ALDERMAN: Very convenient, sir.

THE PRESIDENT: Then we shall not sit in open session tomorrow. We will sit again on Monday at 10 o'clock.

(The Tribunal adjourned until 10th December, 1945, at 1000 hours.)

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