The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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Last-Modified: 2000/07/13

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Ludinghausen, the Tribunal thinks this is
all argument. If there are any facts as to what the German
Government did at the time, after the French and Russian
Pact and before the entry into the Rhineland, the witness
can give these facts, but this is mere argument and the
Tribunal is well aware of the argument. It does not require
them to be restated and certainly not to be restated in the
course of the evidence.

DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: Mr. President, I merely wanted to
avoid that when later in my final speech I refer to this
point, the objection might be made that these are my
opinions. I want to show -

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Ludinghausen, that is quite a wrong
conception. We are now hearing evidence. When we hear you we
shall be hearing arguments and we shall be prepared to hear
any argument from you.

DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: Yes, but I want to avoid it being said
these are my arguments. These arguments come from the

THE PRESIDENT: I am pointing out to you that it is the
function of counsel to argue and it is the function of the
Tribunal to listen to argument. It is not the function of
the Tribunal to listen to argument in the course of


THE WITNESS: Perhaps I may make one statement. In the course
of the winter of 1936, we had learned through our military
intelligence service that the French General Staff already
had a military plan for invading Germany. This invasion was
to take place through the Rhineland, along the so-called
line of the river Main to Czechoslovakia in order to join
the Russian ally.


Q. On the basis of what the President just said, I shall
continue with the evidence, and reserve for myself the right
to introduce the arguments in my final speech. I should like
to ask just one more question. Did the decision to reoccupy
the Rhineland constitute any aggressive intention at the
moment or later on?

A. No, none whatever. The reoccupation, as can be seen from
my statements, had a purely defensive character and was not
intended to have any other purpose.

                                                  [Page 120]

The occupation with such weak forces as only one division
made it clear that it was a purely symbolic act. That has
been testified to here by the military - the witness Mitch,
for example - that the Luftwaffe had no part whatever and
had learned of the action only two or three days before.
That there were no aggressive plans for the future is shown
by the fact that the German Government, at the suggestion of
England, on 12th March, 1936, pledged itself, until such
time as an understanding had been reached with the Western
Powers, particularly with France, not to increase the
garrisons in the Rhineland and not to move the troops any
closer to the border than they were already, on the
condition, however, that France would do the same. France
did not want to accept this offer. Then, in the memorandum
of 7th March, 1936, addressed to the signatory powers of
Locarno, and which the prosecution has already submitted
here, Germany not only made definite suggestions for an
agreement with France, Belgium and the other Locarno Powers,
but also declared her willingness to sign a general air pact
to avoid the danger of sudden air raids and, in addition, to
join the League of Nations again. In a speech in the
Reichstag on 7th March, 1936, Hitler explained to the world
the reasons for the reoccupation of the Rhineland. This
speech, as well as the memorandum, I had discussed
beforehand with Hitler, and I can only repeat that I did not
have the slightest suspicion that Hitler was not honest and
was trying to conceal his real intentions, which tended
towards war. Even today I have the firm conviction that at
that time Hitler was not thinking of war. I need not
emphasize that any such intention was far from my own
thoughts. On the contrary, I considered the restoration of
sovereignty throughout the Reich a step towards peace and

THE PRESIDENT: Let us get on. Dr. Ludinghausen, you are
allowing the defendant to make long, long speeches. That is
not the object of evidence.

DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: I should like to submit various
documents in this connection and ask the Tribunal to take
judicial notice of the following documents in my Document
Book 4. First, No. 109, memorandum of 7th March, 1936, from
the Reich Government to the signatory powers of the Locarno
Treaty; the official statement of the German Reich
Government on 13th March, 1936, No. 112 and No. 113, the
communication from the German Ambassador in London to the
British Foreign Minister Eden on 12th March, 1936, and a
memorandum dated 3rd January, 1936, sent by the German
Government to the British Government through the ambassador
extraordinary in London, Herr von Ribbentrop.


Q. What were the consequences of the reoccupation of the
Rhineland as far as foreign policy was concerned?

A. In consideration of the wishes of the President of the
Tribunal, I will not comment on this question.

Q. What did the Western Powers do? Did they take any
political or diplomatic steps?

A. Foreign Minister Eden said in the House of Commons that
Germany's procedure did not constitute any threat and
promised to give careful consideration to the German peace

DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: I should like to submit and ask the
Tribunal to take judicial notice of the following documents
in my Document Book 4: No. 125, excerpts from a speech of
the American Under Secretary of State Welles on "The
Versailles Treaty and Europe," of 7th July, 1937; Document
No. 120, excerpt from the decree of the People's Commissars
of the U.S.S.R. on the lowering of the age for military
service; and No. 117, a report of the Czechoslovak Minister
in the Hague dated 21st April, 1936.


Q. Herr von Neurath, did you or the Foreign Office
discontinue any further steps and attempts towards a
peaceful understanding with the other European Powers or did
you persevere with them?

                                                  [Page 121]

A. These efforts were continued. The next opportunity was
provided by our relations with Austria. The development of
these relations since 1933 has already been described in
detail before the Tribunal; but I should like especially to
stress the fact that in our relations with Austria my views
remained unchanged from start to finish; that is, I wanted
close economic relations, such as a customs union, between
the two countries and a similarly directed foreign policy on
the basis of State treaties and close contact between the
two governments, but whatever happened I wanted to see the
full independence of Austria guaranteed. For that reason, I
was always an outspoken opponent of any interference in the
internal political affairs of that country, and I was
against any support being given to the Austrian National
Socialists by the German National Socialists in the fight of
the former against Dollfuss and Schuschnigg; and I
constantly urged Hitler to take the same line. I need not
repeat that I sharply condemned the murder of Dollfuss from
the moral as well as the political point of view. The
Foreign Office, under my direction, had nothing whatever to
do with this murder, as the prosecution has asserted. But
that Hitler also had absolutely nothing to do with the
murder, I can confirm from various statements which he made
to me. The deed was carried out by Austrian National
Socialists who were, in some cases, much more radical than
the Germans. This attitude of mine is best proved by the
fact that when, shortly after the murder of Dollfuss, the
German Minister in Vienna, Herr Rieth, without my knowledge,
asked the Austrian Government for free passage to Germany
for several persons involved in the murder, I at once
recalled him from Vienna and dismissed him from the Foreign
Service. In the same way I myself, as well as a number of
other Ministers, opposed the travel ban imposed on Austria
by Germany, but I welcomed the efforts for an understanding
with Austria, which started in 1935 and were carried through
with success by von Papen, and I always tried to influence
Hitler to bring this about. As to von Papen's actions in
Vienna during this time, I was only imperfectly informed, as
Herr von Papen was not under me and received his orders
directly from Hitler. It was only during this trial that I
learned about the series of letters which von Papen wrote to

DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: I should like to quote two passages,
one from a letter from Herr von Neurath to the head of the
political section of the Foreign Office, dated 28th June,
1934, No. 84 in my Document Book 3, Page 227, which says in
regard to conditions at that time:

  "The development of events in Austria cannot be foreseen.
  It appears to me, however, that the acute danger - "

THE PRESIDENT: You are going a little bit too fast. You did
not observe the light. The light came on. You are going a
little bit too fast. Go on.


  "The development of events in Austria cannot be foreseen.
  It appears to me, however, that the acute danger has been
  averted due to rapid action. We should act with great
  reserve now, and to this end I spoke to the Reich
  Chancellor yesterday. I found complete understanding."

Then I should like to quote a passage from the affidavit of
Bishop Dr. Wurm, already submitted by me, No. 1 in my
Document Book 1, on Page 3. It says:

  "I remember especially his - Herr von Neurath's - severe
  condemnation of the occurrences in Vienna during which
  Chancellor Dollfuss was murdered, and of the person used
  by Hitler during the agitation in Austria."

Then, in this connection, I should like to refer to a
document which Herr Seyss-Inquart, or his defence counsel,
has already submitted under No. E.S. 32, which is an
interview of the State Chancellor, Dr. Renner, of 3rd April,
1938. As a precaution, I have included it once more in my
document book under No. 130, Document Book 4.

                                                  [Page 122]


Q. Herr von Neurath, you know that the charge is made
against you that on 11th July, 1936, an agreement was made
between Germany and Austria in the course of these
negotiations by von Papen and that this agreement, which has
been discussed here in detail, was concluded with intent to
deceive, that is, with the purpose of lulling Austria into a
sense of security and preparing for her future incorporation
into the Reich. Will you comment on this point?

A. This assertion is absolutely untrue. In effect I honestly
and gladly welcomed this agreement. It corresponded to my
point of view in every respect. I saw in this the best means
of clearing up the unnatural dissensions, and for that
reason I did everything I could to bring it about. The
assertion of the prosecution has been disproved by the
statements of the former Austrian Foreign Minister, Dr.
Guido Schmidt. I found satisfaction in the fact that the
agreement had a special significance as regards foreign
policy. By this agreement, in which the Reich clearly
recognized Austrian independence, the German-Austrian
differences, which were a danger to peace in Europe, were

DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: Mr. President, in this connection, I
submit the agreement between Germany and Austria of 11th
July, 1936, under No. 118, Document Book 4, and I ask the
Tribunal to take judicial notice of it.


Q. Herr von Neurath, apart from clearing up the Austrian
question in the years before 1937, you also carried on
negotiations with Eastern European States. In the affidavit
of the American Consul General Messersmith, which the
prosecution has submitted as Exhibit USA 68, it is asserted
that the purpose of these negotiations was to get these
south-eastern States to acquiesce in the destruction and
splitting up of Czechoslovakia contemplated by Germany, and
even to take an active part in it. For this purpose, in the
course of these negotiations, you are even supposed to have
promised these States, or got others to promise them, that
they would receive parts of Czechoslovakia and even Austrian
territory as a reward. Will you please comment on this?

A. These assertions of Mr. Messersmith are pure invention
and a figment of the imagination from beginning to end.
There is not one word of truth in them. I can only call this
affidavit fantasy. It is not even true that, as he says, Mr.
Messersmith was a close friend of mine. I met him a few
times at large gatherings, but I avoided discussing politics
with him, because I knew that in his reports and other
statements about talks which he had had with diplomats he
repeated things in a way which did not always correspond to
the truth. This affidavit, significantly, does not contain
accurate indications of the sources from which he obtained
his information.

My negotiations with the south-eastern countries, as well as
my personal trips to their capitals, had, in reality, the
sole purpose of strengthening the existing economic
relations, and promoting mutual trade and exchange of goods.
In addition, I wanted to gain information about the
political situation in the Balkans, always difficult to

DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: In my Document Book 2, under No. 30,
Page 87, I have a short excerpt from another affidavit of
Mr. Messersmith, dated 30th August, 1945. The prosecution
has already submitted it as Exhibit USA 68, in another
connection. [See Part 1, p. 237.] I should like to quote one
passage from this excerpt. It is on Page 87 of my Document
Book 2, and reads:

  "During the years 1933-1934 the Nazi Government left the
  German Foreign Office for the most part in charge of
  conservative officials of the old school. Generally
  speaking, this situation continued throughout the period
  during which Baron von Neurath was Foreign Minister.
  After von Ribbentrop became Chief of the Foreign Office,
  the situation gradually changed as regards the political
  officials. During von Neurath's tenure of office, the
  German Foreign Office had not been brought into line with
  Nazi ideology,

                                                  [Page 123]

  and von Neurath and his assistants can hardly be blamed
  for acts of German foreign policy during this period,
  though his continuation in office may appear to indicate
  his agreement with National Socialist aims. In defence of
  these activities von Neurath might easily adduce reasons
  of patriotic motives."

Then, in regard to these trips and the policy of the
defendant in the South-East, I am submitting the three
communiques on von Neurath's visit to Belgrade, Sofia, and
Budapest in June, 1937, under Nos. 122, 123 and 124, in my
Document Book 4. I ask the Tribunal to take judicial notice
of them.


Q. Herr von Neurath, the prosecution is using your speech of
29th August, 1937, made at a demonstration in Stuttgart of
Germans living abroad, to bring a charge against you,
inasmuch as it sees in one of your remarks the aggressive
intentions of your policy. It quotes the following words
which you are supposed to have used in your speech:

  "The unity of the racial and national will, created
  through Nazism, with unparalleled elan [See Part 1, p.
  113], has made possible a foreign policy through which
  the bonds of the Versailles Treaty were slashed, the
  freedom to arm regained, and the sovereignty of the whole
  nation re-established. We have again become master in our
  own home, and we have produced the means of power to
  remain so for all time. The world should notice from
  Hitler's deeds and words that his aims are not aggressive

DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: I should like to point out that these
sentences can be understood only if taken with their
context. I should like to ask the permission of the Tribunal
to state briefly what the context is. This excerpt from the
speech is submitted by me in Document Book 4, No. 126. I

  "We have become master in our own home. We have produced
  the means of power to remain so for all time."

THE PRESIDENT: You have just read that. You have read it

DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: Yes. I should like to read the
sentence in between.

THE PRESIDENT: You may read anything which is relevant and
which was omitted, of course.

DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: The quotation that I am submitting

  "But this attitude of the new German Reich is in reality
  the strongest bulwark for safeguarding peace and will
  always prove itself as such in a world in turmoil. Just
  because we have recognized the danger of certain
  destructive tendencies which are attempting to assert
  themselves in Europe, we are not looking for differences
  between countries and peoples, but are trying to find
  connecting links. We are not thinking of political
  isolation. We want political co-operation between
  governments, a co-operation which, if it is to be
  successful, cannot be based on theoretical ideas of
  collectivity, but on living reality, and which must
  devote itself to the concrete tasks of the present. We
  can state with satisfaction that in pursuing such a
  realistic peace policy, we are working hand in hand with
  our friend Italy. This justifies the hope that we may
  also reach a friendly understanding with other nations
  regarding important questions of foreign policy."

THE PRESIDENT: I think this is a convenient time to break

(A recess was taken.)

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