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

The Trial of German Major War Criminals

Sitting at Nuremberg, Germany
14th May to 24th May, 1946

One Hundred and Thirty-Fifth Day: Tuesday, 21st May, 1946
(Part 9 of 9)

[DR. SIEMERS continues his direct examination of Ernst von Weiszacker]

[Page 271]

Q. Herr von Weiszacker, are you in a position to judge whether particularly grave points were involved in the well- known offences committed by the Navy against the Treaty of Versailles?

A. I can only answer that question indirectly. The details are unknown to me. But I can scarcely consider it possible that grave or important violations could have occurred, for it is precisely in naval matters that the observance of contract agreements is particularly easy to control. Ships cannot be built without being seen. I must, therefore, assume that these infringements were of an insignificant nature.

Q. Herr von Weiszacker, in your opinion, did the defendant Raeder prepare a war of aggression, or do you know of any case from which Raeder's attitude -

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Siemers, that is the very charge against the defendant Raeder which the Tribunal has got to decide.


Q. Herr von Weiszacker, did you in February, 1939, travel by train from Hamburg to Berlin with Grand Admiral Raeder, did you converse with him, and if so, what did you discuss?

A. Yes. It is quite true that I was on the train from Hamburg to Berlin with Admiral Raeder, after the launching of a ship. On this occasion the Admiral told me that he had just made a report to Hitler in which he said he had made it quite clear that the size of the Navy would preclude any war against England for years to come. I presume that this is the reply to the question which you wished to receive from me.

Q. That was in February, 1939?

A. It was the day of the launching of the Bismarck.

Q. Then the date is known to the Tribunal, for the launching of the Bismarck is entered in the records.

A It must have been in the spring - in February or March.

Q. Did Raeder's declaration at that time have a calming influence on you?

A. I heard Raeder's declaration on the subject with very great pleasure.

THE PRESIDENT: Well, we do not care whether it had a calming influence on him or not.

Q. In your opinion, and to the best of your knowledge, did Raeder - either as a politician or as a naval expert - exercise any influence over Hitler?

THE PRESIDENT: Dr Siemers, the witness can tell us what Raeder said, but he really cannot tell us in what capacity he was speaking, whether as a politician or an admiral. If you want to know whether he had his uniform on

Q. Herr von Weiszacker, did you have any conversations with Raeder or with any other high ranking personages?

A. About what?

Q. About Raeder's influence on Hitler?

A. It was a well-known fact that political arguments expressed by soldiers scarcely influenced Hitler at all, although military arguments of a technical nature certainly did carry weight with him, and in this sense Raeder may have exercised some influence over Hitler.

[Page 272]

Q. Herr von Weiszacker, in the winter of 1938-1939, the usual large diplomatic dinner party took place in Berlin, and you, as far as I know, were present. Did Raeder on this occasion speak with Sir Neville Henderson about the eventual return of Germany's colonies?

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Siemers, why do you not ask him instead of telling him? You are telling him what happened.


THE PRESIDENT: Yes, you are.

DR. SIEMERS: I beg your pardon this was a conversation between Raeder and Sir Neville Henderson, not between Herr von Weiszacker and Henderson.


Q. I am now asking you, Herr von Weiszacker, did you have a conversation to this effect with Sir Neville Henderson, or with other British diplomats? And do, you know anything about their attitude?

A. I cannot recall having spoken personally with any British diplomats about the question of the colonies. On the other hand, I do know that between 1934 and 1939, the question of the colonies was repeatedly handled by the British Government, either officially, unofficially, or semi- officially, and its attitude was expressed in a friendly and conciliatory manner. I believe I can remember reading a report on the visit of two British Ministers to Berlin, and that on this occasion the question of the colonies was also discussed in a conciliatory manner.

Q. Herr von Weiszacker, can you tell us anything about the behaviour or the attitude of the Navy during the Norwegian occupation?

A. An occupational force always finds it difficult to be popular anywhere. But, with this one reservation, I should like to state that the Navy, as far as I heard, enjoyed a good, even a very good, reputation in Norway. This was repeatedly confirmed to me by my Norwegian friends during the war.

Q. You made these Norwegian friendships at the time you were Minister in Oslo? When was that?

A. I was Minister in Oslo from 1931 to 1933.

Q. Now, one last question. A document - D-843 - was submitted yesterday signed by Brauer, who was employed in the Oslo Legation in March 1940. May I submit this document to you?

A. Am I to read the entire document?

Q. I think it would best serve the purpose if you were just to glance through it, especially over the middle part of the document.

Mr. President, it is Exhibit GB 466, and the document was submitted yesterday. According to this document, Brauer stated that the danger of a British landing in Norway was not so great as was assumed by the other side, and he only mentioned measures by which Germany might be provoked. What can you tell us about these statements of Brauer's? Are these statements correct?

A. Brauer was not employed in the Legation - he was the Minister himself - and I take it for granted that he reported correctly on the subject from an objective, or rather, if I may say so, subjective point of view. Whether this was really correct from an objective point of view or not, is quite another question. It really means, in plain German, was Brauer correctly informed of the intentions of our opponents? That is another question.

Q. Herr von Weiszacker, according to the information you subsequently received from the Ministry for Foreign Affairs, were Raeder's misgivings justified or was the picture, as painted by Brauer, correct?

A. I must add that my personal opinion tallied with the opinion of Brauer, although both our opinions were subsequently proved incorrect, and the conjectures of the Navy were justified, or - at least - more justified than the opinion voiced by the Minister.

[Page 273]

DR. SIEMERS: Thank you very much indeed.

THE PRESIDENT: Do any of the defence counsel want to ask any questions of this witness?

BY DR. SEIDL (Counsel for the defendant Hess):

Q. Witness, on 23rd August, 1939, a Non-Aggression Pact was concluded between Germany and the Soviet Union. Were any other agreements concluded on that day by the two governments, beyond this pact of non-aggression?

GENERAL RUDENKO: Mr. President, the witness is called upon to answer certain definite questions which are set forth in the application of counsel for the defence, Dr. Siemers. I consider that the question which is being put to him at this moment by defence counsel Seidl, has no connection with the examination of the case in hand and should be ruled out.

THE PRESIDENT: You may ask the question, Dr. Seidl, that you were going to ask.


Q. I ask you again, Herr von Weiszacker, whether on 23rd August, 1939, other agreements had been reached between the two governments, which were not contained in the Non- Aggression Pact?

A. Yes.

Q. Where were these agreements contained?

A. These agreements were contained in a secret protocol.

Q. Did you yourself read this secret protocol in your function of Secretary of State in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs?

A. Yes.

Q. I have before me a text, and Ambassador Gauss harbours no doubt at all that the agreements in question are correctly set out in this text. I shall have it put to you.

THE PRESIDENT: One moment, what document are you putting to him?

DR. SEIDL: The secret addenda to the protocol Of 23rd August, 1939.

THE PRESIDENT: Is not that the document - what is this document that you are presenting to the witness? There is a document which you have already presented to the Tribunal and which has been ruled out. Is that the same document?

DR. SEIDL: It is the document which I submitted to the Tribunal in my documentary evidence and which was refused by the Tribunal, presumably because I refused to divulge the origin and source of this document. But the Tribunal granted me permission to produce a new sworn affidavit by Ambassador Gauss on the subject in question.

THE PRESIDENT: You have not done it.

DR. SEIDL: No, but I should, your Honour, like to read this text in order to stimulate the memory of the witness, and to ask him whether in connection therewith, as far as he can remember, the secret agreements are correctly reproduced in this document.

GENERAL RUDENKO: Your Honour! I would like to protest against these questions for two reasons.

First of all, we are examining the matter of the crimes of the major German war criminals. We are not investigating the foreign policies of other States. Secondly, the document which defence counsel Seidl is attempting to put to the witness has been rejected by the Tribunal, since it is - in substance - a forged document, and cannot have any probative value whatsoever.

DR. SEIDL: May I in this connection say the following, Mr. President. This document is an essential component of the Non-Aggression Pact, submitted by the prosecution in evidence as Exhibit GB 145. If I now submit the text to the witness -

[Page 274]

THE PRESIDENT: The only question is whether it is the document which has been rejected by the Tribunal. Is it the document which has been rejected by the Tribunal?

DR. SEIDL: It was rebutted as documentary evidence per se.

THE PRESIDENT: Well, then the answer is yes.

DR. SEIDL: But it seems to me that there is a difference as to whether this document may be put to the witness during the hearing of his testimony. I should like to affirm this since the prosecution, when cross-examining, can put the document in its possession to the witness, and on the basis of his testimony we should then see which is the correct text or whether these two texts harmonise at all.

THE PRESIDENT: Where does the document which you are presenting come from?

DR. SEIDL: I received this document a few weeks ago from a man on the Allied side who appeared absolutely reliable. I only received it on condition that I would not divulge its origin, a condition which seemed to me perfectly reasonable.

THE PRESIDENT: Do you say that you received it a few moments ago?

DR. SEIDL: Weeks ago.

THE PRESIDENT: It is the same document that you say just now that you presented to the Tribunal and the Tribunal rejected?

DR. SEIDL: Yes, but the Tribunal also decided that I might submit another sworn affidavit from Ambassador Gauss, and this decision only makes sense -

THE PRESIDENT: Yes, I know, but you have not done so. We do not know what affidavit Dr. Gauss has made.

DR. SEIDL: Ambassador Gauss's sworn affidavit, the new one, is already in my possession, but it has not yet been translated.

MR. DODD: Mr. President, I certainly join General Rudenko in objecting to the use of this document. We now know that it comes from some anonymous ,source. We do not know the source at all, and anyway, it is not established that this witness does not remember himself what this purported agreement amounted to. I do not know why he cannot ask him, if that is what he wants to do.

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Seidl, you may ask the witness what his recollection is of the treaty, without putting the document to him. Ask him what he remembers of the treaty, or the protocol.


Q. Witness, please describe the contents of the agreement in so far as you can remember them.

A. This is a very incisive, a very far-reaching secret additional agreement to the Non-Aggression Pact concluded at that time. The scope of this document was very extensive, since it covered certain spheres of influence and drew a demarcation line between areas which, under given conditions, belonged to the sphere of Soviet Russia, and those which would fall in the German sphere of interest. Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Eastern Poland and, as far as I can remember, certain areas of Roumania were to be included in the sphere of the Soviet Union. Anything West of this area fell into the German sphere of interest. Of course, this secret agreement did not maintain its original form. Later on, either in September or October of the same year, certain changes and amendments were made. As far as I can recall, the essential difference in the two documents consisted in the fact that Lithuania, or - at least - the greater part of Lithuania, fell into the sphere of interest of the Soviet Union, while in the Polish territory, the line of demarcation between the two spheres of interest was moved very considerably westwards.

I believe that I have herewith given you the gist of the secret agreement and of the subsequent additional agreement. [

Page 275]

Q. Is it true that in case of a subsequent territorial reorganisation, a line of demarcation was agreed upon in the territory of the Polish State?

A. I cannot tell you exactly whether the expression "line of demarcation" was contained in this protocol or whether "line of separation of spheres of interest" was the actual term.

Q. But a line was drawn.

A. Precisely the line which I have just mentioned, and I believe I can recall that this line, once the agreement was realised, was adhered to as a general rule with possible slight fluctuations.

Q. Can you recall - this is my last question - if this secret additional agreement of 23rd August, 1939, also contained an agreement on the future destiny of Poland?

A. This secret agreement included a complete reorganisation of Poland's destiny. It may very well have been that explicitly or implicitly such a reorganisation had been provided for in the agreement. I would not, however, like to commit myself as to the exact wording.

DR. SEIDL: Mr. President, I have no further questions.


Q. Witness, did you see the original of the secret treaty?

A. I saw a photostat of the original, possibly the original as well. In any case, I had the photostatic copy in my possession. I had a photostatic copy locked up in my personal safe.

Q. Would you recognize a copy of it, if it was shown to you

A. Oh yes, I definitely think so, your Honour. The original signatures were attached and they could be recognized immediately.

THE PRESIDENT: The Tribunal will adjourn.

(A recess was taken.)

THE PRESIDENT: The Tribunal has been considering whether it ought to put to the witness the document in the possession of Dr. Seidl, but, in view of the fact that the contents of the original have been stated by the witness and by other witnesses, and that it does not appear what is the origin of the document which is in Dr. Seidl's possession, the Tribunal has decided not to put the document to the witness. The Tribunal will now adjourn.

(The Tribunal adjourned until 22nd May, 1946, at 1000 hours.)

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