The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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                                                   [Page 95]


SATURDAY, 22nd JUNE, 1946

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. von Ludinghausen, the Tribunal sees that
you have a supplementary request for an additional witness,
Ambassador Francois Poncet. Is that so, and for some
additional documents?

DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: Yes, Mr. President. May I, with
reference to the application for M. Francois Poncet, make
the following remarks. The Ambassador Francois Poncet has in
the meantime replied to the summons which he received and I
got this letter two days ago through the French Delegation,
though only a copy thereof. The French prosecution, however,
has promised me that the original will be submitted to the
Tribunal and it, as well as the British Delegation, have no
objections to its being used. Therefore, the application for
the interrogation of the witness...

THE PRESIDENT: The letter being used, you mean?

DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: The calling and examination of the
witness is, therefore, unnecessary, likewise this
application of mine.

THE PRESIDENT: That seems a convenient course to the
Tribunal, subject, of course, to any question of relevance
in the actual subject matter of the letter.

Now, as to the documents which you are asking, does the
prosecution object to those or not?

DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: Yes, in two cases, which I have
already crossed off. The two documents which I also wanted
to submit and which have been objected to by the prosecution
I eliminated and they are no longer in my document books.

THE PRESIDENT: On the document before me the prosecution
appears to have objected to three of them. I do not know
whether that is true or not.

DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: Two, Nos. 93 and 101 from my document
books. They have been objected to and I have dropped them.

THE PRESIDENT: Yes, I beg your pardon, I was wrong. Well,
then, you have dropped them, that is all right. You may
continue, please.

DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: Mr. President, may I first of all say
that up to now the translations have been completed only for
Document Book 1. That book is already available. The others,
however, are not yet ready. I should nevertheless like to be
permitted first of all to cite the documents from the
document books in connection with the respective questions,
giving their numbers and short descriptions and also,
possibly, quoting short passages from them, so that the
context may remain intact and we may be saved the trouble of
submitting the documents again after they have been
translated, which after all would be a waste of time.

THE PRESIDENT: Do you mean to use the documents before you
have called the defendant?

DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: No, no, in the course of the

THE PRESIDENT: Yes - then you propose to call the defendant?


                                                   [Page 96]

Constantin von Neurath, defendant, took the stand and
testified as follows:


Q. Will you state your name, please?

A. Constantin von Neurath.

Q. Will you repeat this oath after me:

I swear by God, the Almighty and Omniscient, that I will
speak the pure truth and will withhold and add nothing.

(The witness repeated the oath.)

THE PRESIDENT: You may sit down.


BY DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN (counsel for defendant von Neurath):

Q. Herr von Neurath, will you please give us a brief account
of your family background, your education at home and your

A. I was born on 2nd February, 1878. On my father's side I
come from an old family of civil servants. My grandfather,
my great-grandfather and my great-great-grandfather were
Ministers of justice and foreign affairs in Wurttemberg. On
my mother's side I come from a noble Swabian family whose
ancestors were mostly officers in the Imperial Austrian

Until my twelfth year, spent in Berlin, I was brought up in
the country in extreme simplicity, with particular emphasis
laid on the duty of truthfulness, responsibility, patriotism
and a Christian way of life along with Christian tolerance
of other religions.

Q. And then you took your leaving-certificate examination
and went to the university? Where and when?

A. After leaving public school I studied law in Tuebingen
and Berlin and passed the two State law examinations.

Q. After your examinations what official positions did you
hold until the moment when you were appointed Reich Foreign

A. In 1901 I entered the Foreign Service of the Reich. First
of all, I worked at the central office in Berlin, and then
in 1903 I was assigned to the Consulate General in London.
From there I returned to the Foreign Office in Berlin and I
worked there in all the departments of that office. In 1914



THE PRESIDENT: Do you mean you were in London for eleven

THE WITNESS: Nearly, yes. Then I was sent to Constantinople
as an Embassy Counsellor. At the end of 1916 I retired from
the diplomatic service because of disagreement with the
policy of Reich Chancellor Bethmann-Hollweg. Then I became
the head of the Cabinet of the King of Wurttemberg until the
revolution at the end of 1918.

In February, 1919, the Social Democrat People's
Commissioner, Ebert, requested me to return to the
diplomatic service. I did so, with the reservation that I
might keep my own political opinions, and then I became
Ambassador to Denmark, where my principal task was to handle
the differences we had with Denmark because of the so-called
Schleswig question.

In December, 1921, I became Ambassador to Rome, where I
remained until 1930. There I experienced the Fascist
Revolution, with its bloody events and consequences. At the
outset I had sharp arguments with Mussolini, which
gradually, however, developed into a relationship of
confidence on his part towards me.

During the First World War I was a captain in a grenadier
regiment, and in December, 1914, I was decorated for bravery
in action against the enemy with the Iron Cross, First
Class. I was wounded, and then I was returned to my post in

                                                   [Page 97]

Q. What is your attitude towards the Church and religion?

A. As I have already told you, I was educated as a
Christian, and at all times I have considered the Christian
Church and Christian morality the foundation of the State.
Therefore I tried again and again to persuade Hitler not to
allow the anti-clerical attitude of certain groups in the
Party to become effective. In the case of excesses committed
by Party organizations and individuals against the Church
and the monasteries and so on I have always intervened, as
far as I was able.

DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: Mr. President, in this connection I
should like to quote from the affidavit given by Provincial
Bishop Wurm in Stuttgart. This affidavit is No. 1 in my
Document Book 1. I quote:

  "I became acquainted with Herr von Neurath at the time of
  the Church struggle. I thought that I could turn to him
  as a man from the same province and as a descendant of a
  family which was friendly towards the Protestant Church.
  His father was a member of the Protestant provincial
  synod. I was not disappointed in this confidence. He
  received me frequently and often arranged conferences for
  me with other members of the Reich Cabinet. In
  particular, he helped me in the autumn of 1934, together
  with Minister of the Interior Dr. Frick and Reich
  Minister of Justice Dr. Guertner, when I had been removed
  from my office and interned in my apartment, because of
  illegal interventions on the part of Reich Bishop Ludwig
  Muller, as a result of my resistance to the domination of
  the Church by the German Christians. He obtained my
  release from detention and my reinstatement by the State
  as Bishop. He also brought about a discussion in the
  Reich Chancellery, the result of which was a repeal of
  the illegal legislation on the part of the Reich Bishop.
  Also during later periods of the Church struggle I always
  found a friendly reception and full understanding on his
  part for the concerns of the Church."

I should like also to refer to an affidavit which appears
under No. 2 in my document book. It is an affidavit from an
old, intimate friend of the defendant, the lawyer and notary
Manfred Zimmermann, of Berlin. I should like to quote just a
brief passage from this affidavit.

THE PRESIDENT: I do not think it is necessary to read all of
it. The Tribunal will, of course, consider it.

DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: Very well, but I had attached
importance to it because this second document comes from a
man who has known the defendant very closely for forty
years. I was interested, for that reason, in quoting,
besides the declaration of Bishop Wurm, a statement by a man
who knew his daily life. However, Mr. President, if you
believe that it is not necessary for me to read it here,
then I shall only refer to it.

THE PRESIDENT: You need not read it all, but you can draw
our attention to the most material passages.

DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: Mr. President, the passage which I was
going to quote is on Page 5 of that affidavit, under
paragraph 5. It begins:

  "Constantin von Neurath, according to his family,
  education and development, is a man of sound character in
  every respect."

Then I can dispense with the rest.

I should like to present a statement from Pastor Roller and
the Mayor of Einzweihinger. This is the community in which
von Neurath resides. This is No. 24 in my Document Book 1.


Q. Herr von Neurath, what, in this connection, was your
attitude towards the Jewish problem?

A. I have never been anti-Semitic. My Christian and
humanitarian convictions prevented that. A repression of the
undue Jewish influence in all spheres

                                                   [Page 98]

of public and cultural life, as it had developed after the
First World War in Germany, however, I regarded as
desirable. But I opposed all measures of violence against
the Jews, as well as propaganda against them. I considered
the entire racial policy of the National Socialist Party
wrong and for that reason I fought against it.

After the Jewish laws had been put in force, I opposed their
being carried out and kept non-Aryan members in the Foreign
Office as long as was possible. Not until after the Party
had received the decision regarding the appointment of civil
servants did I have to confine myself to defending
individual persons. I enabled several of them to emigrate.

The so-called racial law was drawn up by a racial fanatic in
the Party, and was passed in Nuremberg in spite of emphatic

DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: In this connection I should like to
refer to and read a short sentence from an affidavit by the
former Ambassador Dr. Kurt Pruefer. This document is No. 4
in my document book. Ambassador Pruefer was Ministerial
Director in the Foreign Office when von Neurath was Foreign
Minister. I should like to quote briefly concerning his
attitude towards officials of different faiths. "Neurath in
many cases ..."

THE PRESIDENT: Will you give us the page?

DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: It is Page 9 of the German.

THE PRESIDENT: Yes, and our Page 21?


  "Neurath in many cases intervened on behalf of officials
  of the Foreign Office who, because of their race, their
  religion, or their former membership in other parties,
  were objected to by the National Socialists. Thus, until
  Hindenburg's death, and as long as Neurath still had sole
  power in all questions relating to civil servants, a
  number of officials of Jewish or mixed blood remained in
  their positions, and were even, in some cases, promoted.
  Not until after Hindenburg's death, when the Reich
  Ministers, as well as other department chiefs, were
  deprived of the final decision in all questions relating
  to civil servants by a decree of the Fuehrer, and this
  power was transferred to the Deputy of the Fuehrer, did
  the radicalism of the Party penetrate this sector, too,
  and then, particularly after Neurath's resignation, it
  assumed increasingly harsh forms."

THE PRESIDENT: Which answer was that?

DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: That was the affidavit of the former
Ambassador Pruefer.

THE PRESIDENT: Yes, I know that. I wanted to know which
answer it was.

DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: I see, number 4. It is an affidavit,
it is not a questionnaire in this sense.

THE PRESIDENT: It is paragraphed in our copy, at any rate.

DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: Number 18; it is the answer to
question number 18.

May I also draw your attention to an affidavit by Baroness
Ritter of Munich. Baroness Ritter is a distant relative of
the defendant. She is the widow of the former Bavarian
Ambassador to the Holy See. She has known von Neurath for
many years, and is very familiar with his way of thinking.

This is contained in my Document Book 3, and I should like
to quote from Page 3, just one short passage:

  "The same tolerant attitude which he had towards
  Christian denominations he also had towards the Jewish
  question. Therefore, he rejected Hitler's racial policy
  as a matter of principle. In practice he also succeeded
  in preventing any elimination of Jews under his
  jurisdiction until the year 1937.

                                                   [Page 99]

  Furthermore, he helped all persons who were close to him
  professionally or personally and who had been affected by
  the legislation concerning Jews, in so far as he was
  able, in order to protect them from financial and other


Q. Herr von Neurath, what was your attitude towards Hitler's
anti-Jewish tendencies and measures?

A. In them I saw an anti-Semitism which was not altogether
rare in the German people, but had had no practical effects.
I protested to Hitler against all excesses of which I knew,
and not simply for foreign political reasons. I begged him,
in particular, to restrain Goebbels and Himmler.

Q. In connection with this matter I should like to interpose
a question. What did you know about the activities and
excesses committed by the Gestapo, the SA, and the SS?

In this connection I should like to put to you the testimony
of the witness Gisevius, who was examined here some time
ago. He said:

  "In addition I gave as much material as I could to one of
  the closest collaborators of the Foreign Minister" - that
  was you - "the Chief of Records, Ambassador von Bulow-
  Schwandte, and, according to the information I received
  from Bulow-Schwandte, he very often submitted that
  material to Neurath."

This is material supposed to refer to excesses, particularly
against foreigners, of course.

A. The statement by this witness, Gisevius, that my Chief of
Records would generally have had to inform me about the
activities of the Gestapo is completely incorrect.
Officially, through complaints from ambassadors and envoys,
I heard of brawls and also of arrests by the police and the
SA, but I knew nothing about the general official
institutions of the Gestapo and its activities.

In every case which became known to me I demanded, above
all, that the Minister of the Interior, the Chief of the
Police and the Gestapo give me an explanation and punish the
guilty persons.

Q. What did you know or what did you learn about
concentration camps? When did you first hear of this
institution at all, and when and from whom did you hear of
the conditions which prevailed in these camps?

A. The institution of the so-called concentration camps was
known to me from the Boer War. The existence of such camps
in Germany became known to me in 1934 or 1935 when two
officials of my office, one of them the Chief of Records
mentioned by Herr Gisevius, were suddenly arrested. When I
investigated their whereabouts, I discovered that they had
been removed to a so-called concentration camp. I sent for
Himmler and Heydrich and remonstrated with them, I
complained at once to Hitler, and my two officials were
released. I then asked them how they had been treated, and
both of them agreed in saying that, apart from the lack of
freedom, the treatment had not been bad.

The concentration camp to which they had been taken was the
camp at Oranienburg. Later on I learned of the existence of
a camp at Dachau, and in 1939 I also heard of Buchenwald,
because the Czech students who had been arrested by Himmler
were taken there.

The extent of the concentration camps as it has become known
here and, in particular, the treatment of the prisoners and
the existence of the extermination camps are things which I
learned about for the first time here in Nuremberg.

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