The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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Q. Now, first of all, I should like to refer to individual
police measures for which you have been held responsible to
a greater or lesser degree by the prosecution. Were there
many arrests of Czechoslovak nationals already in the summer
of 1939?

A. No; the activity of the police in the summer of 1939 was
slight, and I hoped that it would be possible to restrict
these police measures.

DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: The Czechoslovak Indictment, under
USSR 60, in Appendix No. 6, Supplement I, submits a
proclamation which you, as Reich Protector, issued in
August, 1939, that is, just prior to the outbreak of the
war. This is a proclamation which was to serve as a warning
to the people of the Protectorate against acts of sabotage.
I shall have this proclamation submitted to you at this

I should like you to comment on it. This appendix is
attached to the Document USSR 60 as Appendix I. The
proclamation, which I have just given to the defendant,
reads as follows - if I may, with the permission of the
Tribunal, read the most important part:

  "Each act of sabotage against the interests of the
  Greater German Reich, against German administration in
  the Protectorate, and against the German Wehrmacht will
  be prosecuted with unrelenting harshness, and will be
  punished most severely. By sabotage, as described in
  Paragraph I, are meant all disturbances of the public and
  economic life, particularly the damaging of essential
  installations such as railways, telephones, and so forth,
  lines of communication, water works, electricity works,
  gas works, and factories, as well as the hoarding of
  consumer goods, raising of prices, and the spreading of
  spoken or written rumours.
  3. The population must observe all special directives of
  the authorities of the Reich working in the Protectorate
  such as have been published or such as will be published
  in the future. Refusal to obey or acting against any
  Reich authority will be considered as sabotage and
  punished accordingly. Responsibility for all acts of
  sabotage will be placed not only on the person who is
  committing the act, but rather on the entire Czechoslovak
  I expect under all circumstances that the Czechoslovak
  population, through a loyal, peaceful, and quiet
  demeanour, will prove themselves worthy of the autonomy
  which the Fuehrer has guaranteed to the countries of
  Bohemia and Moravia."


Q. Will you please comment on this?

A. I cannot imagine from what point of view the issue of
this public warning against sabotage can be used as the
basis of an accusation against me. At this period of the
greatest political tension, it was to be feared that radical
elements would exploit the situation in order to commit acts
of sabotage which could damage public services. In my
opinion, this would not have been tolerated in any State at
such a time without severe punishment. Through this warning
we wanted to try to eliminate all incentives for committing
acts of sabotage. Moreover, as far as I recall, this warning
had the desired effect and practically no acts of sabotage
actually took place. Besides, the threat of special
punishment is not contained in this warning at all but it
refers only to provisions for severe punishment which
already existed.

Q. Shortly after the publication of this proclamation, the
war broke out. What was your attitude toward this war?

A. I considered this war the greatest piece of stupidity,
for on the basis of my knowledge of British psychology and
politics, I was convinced that England would keep her
promise to Poland, and that therewith the war against
England and France would also commence, in which the United
States, with its tremendous production capacity, would stand
behind these powers. That was clear to me from all the
statements made by President Roosevelt before the beginning
of the

                                                  [Page 142]

war. I also rejected and condemned the rather reckless
beginning of this war, because of my ethical convictions and
my ideology.

For what reasons did you remain in your office instead of

A. I told myself that during the war, on the one hand, the
Czechs would try - if not to throw off German rule, then at
least to disturb, either openly or secretly, through
uprisings, sabotage, etc., the military measures of the
German Wehrmacht which were taken in the Protectorate and
that, on the other hand, due to this, the severest measures
would be taken against the population on the part of
Germany, and this would cause the police - above all, the
Gestapo - to proceed with all kinds of terroristic acts.
Through my remaining in office, I wanted to prevent both of
these things and I also wanted to prevent a more strict
treatment of the Czech population, by the policy of
conciliation and compromise which I followed.

To resign at a moment like that would have been desertion.
But, on the other hand, I believed that in a war in which
the existence of the German people was at stake I could not,
as a German - which I am, with fervent love - refuse my
services and my knowledge. After all, it was not a question
of Hitler or the Nazi regime but rather of my people and
their existence.

Q. Therefore, by remaining in office, you did not wish to
indicate your approval of this war, which was brought about
by Hitler?

A. Never. For it was an accomplished fact, to which I had
not contributed, and I told Hitler my attitude and my
opinion about the madness of the war quite clearly. But as
long as I could, even in a restricted way, carry out the
difficult task which I had undertaken for the benefit and
the welfare of both peoples, I would have considered myself
a traitor to both the Germans and the Czechs if, in their
hour of need, I had abandoned the struggle. I do not believe
that any decent person would have acted differently, for,
above all, and beyond personal wishes, there is one's duty
to one's own people.

Q. On the day of the outbreak of the war, in the
Protectorate as well as everywhere in the Reich, so-called
preventive measures were taken in the form of numerous
arrests, at any rate more than a thousand, especially of
representatives of the intelligentsia in so far as they were
considered politically unreliable.

Were you advised of these arrests in advance, according to
Paragraph 11 of the order of 1st September, 1939, which has
been quoted earlier?

A. No, not even afterwards. I learned of these arrests
through President Hacha.

Q. What did you have done then?

A. First of all, I summoned Frank and remonstrated with him.
He said that he had not been informed either, and that this
was a general police preventive measure.

Q. Which came directly from Berlin?

A. Yes, which Himmler had ordered the Gestapo and SD to

Q. Did you now try to have released the people who had been
arrested, and who had for the most part been taken into the

A. Yes. I constantly brought pressure to bear on Frank, and
on Himmler and Heydrich in Berlin, to that end.

Q. And how successful were your efforts?

A. Hundreds of these people who had been arrested, whose
names I had to get from the Czechs with great difficulty as
the German police refused to give me them, were released in
the course of time.

Q. On 28th October, 1939, in Prague, public demonstrations
occurred for the first time on the occasion of the Czech
Independence Day. On this occasion, some of the
demonstrators and some policemen were either killed or
injured, for the police took rather strong measures against
the demonstrants.

Regarding these police measures before, during and after
this demonstration, had you any knowledge of them and did
you endorse them?

A. At that time I was not in Prague, and only on 29th
October did Frank inform me over the telephone about the
unrest. The details I did not learn

                                                  [Page 143]

until I returned on 30th or 31st October. I told Frank that,
through his personal interference on the street and through
the use of the SS, he had intensified the tumult instead of
leaving the restoration of order to the Czech police.

Q. Frank sent a report, dealing with these cases of unrest,
to Berlin, which he mentioned when he was interrogated by
the Czech delegation.

I have submitted an excerpt from the record of this
interrogation which will be found in my Document Book 5
under No. 152. I should like to quote a few sentences from
this report:

   "This was the first time that the population
   demonstrated publicly, and that these slogans that were
   mentioned earlier were heard in the open. This matter
   was therefore taken seriously, and I personally reported
   to Berlin about all incidents. I should like to say that
   I was an eye-witness to these demonstrations and that I
   had the impression that they were of a dangerous nature.
   In the report which I sent to Berlin I stated
   specifically that these were the first demonstrations,
   and that, therefore, special importance was to be
   attached to them since they took place in the open
   street. I asked for directives, and I received these
   immediately from the Fuehrer's Headquarters. They were
   sent from Berlin direct to the Security Police and I
   received knowledge of their contents. The entire
   programme was carried through directly by the police."

Had you any knowledge of this report of Frank's, and the
measures which are mentioned therein, before it was sent off
or afterwards?

A. No. This report was completely unknown to me up till now
in Nuremberg; but Frank always reported directly to Berlin.
Apart from that, I was never of the opinion that this
demonstration, which was carried on mostly by young people,
should be considered especially important or that it should
necessitate special police measures.

Q. At the funeral on 15th November of one of the students
who was killed on 28th October there were new demonstrations
in Prague, in the course of which numerous students were
shot, others were arrested, and the universities were
closed. What do you know about these incidents?

A. When this student, Publital, who was injured in this
fracas, died of his wounds, the police, in order to prevent
new demonstrations, prohibited the participation of students
at the funeral, which was to take place on 15th November.
Despite this, crowds collected, and when the police
attempted to disperse them, renewed demonstrations and
shootings resulted. When this was reported to Hitler by
Frank, Hitler was greatly enraged and called me, Frank, and
the military plenipotentiary, General Frederici, to a
conference to be held in Berlin. Hitler had also asked the
former Czech Ambassador, Chvalkovsky, to be present at this
conference. Hitler was in a rage. I tried to calm him but
despite that he made serious charges against the Czech
Ambassador and gave him instructions to tell the Czech
Government that if such events were repeated he would take
the most severe measures against the people who were
disturbing the peace and, furthermore, that he would hold
the entire Czech Government liable to arrest. The language
used by Hitler was quite uncontrolled and the proceeding was
extremely distressing to us who were listening. After the
Czech Ambassador had left, we stayed with Hitler for a few
minutes longer. He asked me how long I would remain in
Berlin and I told him one to two days. Then we were asked to
dinner, but there was no further discussion about these
incidents. Hitler asked State Secretary Frank to come back
later. Hitler said no word about the shooting of the leaders
of the demonstration or taking the students to concentration
camps; neither did he mention the closing of the

When, towards evening, I asked about the pilot of my
aeroplane in order to give him instructions, I was told at
the airport that he had flown back to Prague in my aeroplane
together with Frank. The following day I returned to Prague
by train and only then did I learn that Hitler had decreed
the closing of all Czech universities for three years, the
arrest of perhaps twelve hundred students and

                                                  [Page 144]

their transfer to a concentration camp, as well as the
shooting of the ringleaders of the demonstration. At the
same time a proclamation, which was signed with my name, was
submitted to me in which these orders were announced which
had been published in the Press and had been posted
publicly. I had Frank summoned immediately and I accused him
of these unheard-of things which had taken place without my
knowledge. He referred to a specific decree of Hitler. I had
not even seen this proclamation. My name had been affixed to
it illegally by Frank. Even as my deputy, he was not
justified in doing this; but later, through an official in
my office, I learned that Frank often misused my name in
this way. If I had had any advance knowledge of these
decrees of Hitler - and, of course, he had the opportunity
to reach me by telephone in Berlin - I would, naturally,
have objected to them and at that time would have asked to
be allowed to resign.

Immediately I tried to have these students released. I
talked with Hitler personally, and also with Himmler, and
gradually most of them were released, I believe more than
eight hundred in all, and the last of their number was
released in the summer of 1941.

Shortly after this incident, when I was again present in
Berlin, I complained bitterly to Hitler about his demeanour
towards me. He evaded an answer, so far as I recall, but he
promised me that the students would be released very soon
and that the Czech universities would be reopened after one
year. Neither of these promises was kept by him.

Q. I should like to read to you the answer of the Legation
Counsellor von Holleben, who at that time participated in
the Protectorate Government, to Question 21 of his
interrogatory of 18th May, 1946. This interrogatory may be
found under No. 158 in my Document Book 5. The answer of
Herr von Holleben reads as follows:

  "The student riots of October and November, 1939, were a
  turning-point in the history of the Protectorate. I
  cannot give you a chronological repetition of the events
  from memory. However, I can state the following: The
  demonstrations which took place on 28th October, 1939, on
  the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the constitution
  of the Czechoslovak State in Prague and Brunn, mainly by
  the academic youth, were foreseen. Therefore, Herr von
  Neurath, before that anniversary date, issued the order
  to ignore them as far as possible and only to interfere
  when they assumed the character of a serious danger to
  public peace and security. Because of the disregard of
  this order the greater part, if not the whole of this
  misery resulted. Immediately after the conference with
  Hitler, Frank returned to Prague. The office of the Reich
  Protector, who himself was still in Berlin, received
  knowledge of the measures taken against the students on
  15th and 16th November, only on the following morning,
  partly through the numerous appeals which the members of
  the families of the arrested students made at the office
  of Herr von Neurath. In my opinion, Herr von Neurath did
  not learn of these measures against students until after
  they had taken place. I personally did not report on this
  matter to him, and I cannot tell you just who did report
  to von Neurath on this matter. It is my firm conviction
  that the proclamation in question, addressed to the Czech
  people, was given out without the knowledge of Herr von
  Neurath, and through misuse of his name. I remember
  distinctly that because of this he frequently had heated
  arguments with Frank. At that time he remained in office,
  for he believed that by so doing he could prevent much
  more disaster. He considered the closing of the
  universities an irresponsible intervention in the life of
  the Czech people. He tried, with all the means at his
  disposal, to have the Czech university teachers and
  students who had been taken into German concentration
  camps released subsequently, and until such release, to
  have them accommodated in special sections."

In this connection, I should also like to submit to the
Tribunal an affidavit which I received a few days ago from
the secretary of Herr von Neurath at that

                                                  [Page 145]

time, Fraulein Irene Friedrich. This is dated 6th June,
1946, and from it we can see quite clearly that at the time
this announcement was issued and published, Herr von Neurath
had not yet returned from Berlin, and therefore that it was
quite impossible for him to have known of this proclamation.

I should like to ask the Tribunal to take judicial notice of
this affidavit.

I should also like to refer -

THE PRESIDENT (interposing): What is the number of the

DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: N0. 159, Mr. President.

I should like to refer further to a document of the Czech
prosecution: Appendix 5 of Supplement I, a memorandum of
Herr von Neurath dated 26th March, 1946, which has been
submitted. This deals with the discussion with President
Hacha regarding the arrested students and also shows that
Herr von Neurath tried and kept on trying to have these
students released.

THE PRESIDENT: Did you give us the number for that? You said
Document Book 5.

DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: No, that is attached to the Czech
report, USSR 60, and is not in my document book. I was only
referring to that.


Q. Apart from these two actions which were decreed by Hitler
personally, did other arrests take place on a rather large
scale during the time of your office?

A. No, but single instances of arrest did take place
recurrently, and I continually intervened anew to have them
investigated and perhaps rescinded, at the suggestion of the
Czech Government and private people.

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