The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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Last-Modified: 2000/07/21

Q. Do you know anything at all about the fact

THE PRESIDENT: I did not understand that answer. As I got
it, "The buildings, in part, were put at the disposal of
German universities which had been closed by the Czechs."

                                                  [Page 155]

THE WITNESS: In Prague. In Prague was the oldest German
university; it had been closed by the Czechs after the last
war, and after the establishing of the Protectorate, it was
reopened; and, as far as I know, some of the equipment and
buildings were used for this German University.



Q. Do you know anything else about the removal of scientific
equipment, collections, works of art, and so forth?

A. The only case about which I have any knowledge concerns
the removal of historically valuable old Gobelins from the
Maltese Palais in Prague. These were removed by a member of
the Foreign Office in Berlin, allegedly by order of the
Chief of Protocol, and this was done at night, secretly, and
without my knowledge or the knowledge of my officials. As
soon as I learned of this, I contacted the Foreign Office,
and I requested immediate restoration. Whether restoration
was made, I do not know; that was only in 1941, and
meanwhile I had left Prague.

Q. May I here -

A. I knew nothing about other incidents. Apart from that, I
specifically prohibited the removal of works of art from the
Protectorate to the Reich.

DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: In this connection, I should like to
submit an extract from the interrogation of the former
Secretary of State, Frank, dated 10th June, 1945. This is
No. 154 of my Document Book 5, and I should like to ask the
Tribunal to take notice of this statement.


Q. What happened to the works of art and the furniture,
which were Czech State property, and with which the Czernin
Palace in Prague, which you used as your official residence,
was furnished?

A. This house was the former official residence of the Czech
Foreign Minister, and the valuable furniture belonged to the
Czech State. Since there was no inventory of any sort of
these items, before moving in, in the autumn of 1938, I
called in the Czech director of the castle administration
and the Czech art historian, Professor Strecki, and I had a
very exact inventory taken. One copy of this inventory was
left in my office and another one was deposited with the
administration of the castle. After I left Prague, in the
autumn of 1941, I had a record made through my former
caretaker, and again in the presence of a representative of
the castle administration, Professor Strecki, that the
articles which were mentioned in the inventory were actually
still there.

THE PRESIDENT: I do not think we need details of the
inventory, but there is one thing I should like to ask. The
translation came through to me that the inventory was made
in the autumn of 1938. Was that right?

THE WITNESS: Nineteen-thirty-nine. I only wanted to mention
that, naturally, I did not take any of these articles.


Q. Another point raised by the Czech indictment deals with
the confiscation of the so-called Masaryk houses in various
cities and with the destruction of Masaryk monuments and
monuments erected to other personalities famous in Czech
history. What do you know about that?

A. While I was in office, some of these Masaryk houses were
closed by the police because they were centres of agitation
against Germany. The destruction or the removal of the
Masaryk or other Czech national monuments I had specifically
prohibited. Apart from that, I expressly permitted the
laying of wreaths at the grave of Masaryk at Lanyl, which
Frank had prohibited, and it actually took place on a large

Q. It is further asserted that the Czech literature was
suppressed and muzzled to a large extent.

                                                  [Page 156]

A. The printing and dissemination of Czech anti-German
literature was prohibited, of course, just as was the
further dissemination of English and French works in the
entire Reich during the war. Apart from that, all this
material was treated according to the direct orders of the
Propaganda Ministry. However, while I was in office, there
were still many Czech book stores and book publishing
concerns which published books by Czech authors in large
numbers and disseminated them. The selection of Czech books
of every type in the book stores was considerably larger
than that of German books.

Q. Could you say anything about the suppression of Czech
cultural life, of theatres, cinemas and so forth, to which
the prosecution refers?

A. There was no question at all of a limitation of the
cultural autonomy of the Czechs, apart from the university
problem. In Prague, a great number of Czech plays were
continually running, especially pure Czech opera, and
several theatres were always open. On the other hand, there
was only one permanent German theatre open. As to music, the
well-known Czech Philharmonic Orchestra at Prague played
Czech music primarily, and was absolutely independent
regarding its programmes.

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Ludinghausen, we do not need details. The
defendant says that theatres and cinemas were allowed and
there was only one German theatre. We do not want any
further details about it.

DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: Very well, Mr. President. I only asked
about these matters because they are rather extensively
dealt with in the Indictment.


Q. And what about the film industry, Herr von Neurath?

A. The same applied to that industry. It was even especially

Q. Now, I should like to turn to the alleged suppression of
religious freedom, of which you are being accused in the
Czech indictment. The Czech indictment speaks of a wave of
persecution which inundated the Churches and which started
immediately when the German troops marched in to occupy the
country. What about that?

A. A planned persecution of the Churches was quite out of
the question. The population was quite free as concerns
public worship, and I certainly would not have tolerated any
restrictions along this line. The former Under Secretary of
State, von Burgsdorf, has testified to that point here
already. It may be true that in individual cases,
pilgrimages or certain religious processions were prohibited
by the police, even though I personally do not remember it
clearly. But that only took place because certain
pilgrimages, consisting of many thousands of people, were
exploited as political demonstrations at which anti-German
speeches were made. At any rate, that had actually occurred
several times, and it had been brought to my knowledge.

It is true that a number of clerics were arrested in
connection with the action at the beginning of the war which
we have already mentioned here. But these arrests did not
take place because the men were clerics, but because they
were active political opponents or people who were political
suspects. In cases of this kind, I made special efforts to
have these people released.

My personal connections with the Archbishop of Prague were
absolutely correct and amicable. He and the Archbishop of
Olmutz specifically thanked me for my intervention on behalf
of the Church, as I remember distinctly. I prevented any
measure against the public worship of the Jews. Every
synagogue was open to the time I left in the autumn of 1941.

Q. In connection with the last point, I should like to put
one more question about the position of Jews in the
Protectorate. What can you tell us about it?

A. The legal position of the Jews had to be co-ordinated
with the position of the Jews in the Reich, according to
instructions from Berlin. The directives with regard to this
had been sent to me in April of 1939. Through all sorts of
inquiries addressed to Berlin, I tried and succeeded in not
having the laws put into

                                                  [Page 157]

effect until June, 1939, so as to give the Jews the
opportunity to prepare themselves for the imminent
introduction of these laws.

The so-called "Nuremberg Laws" were introduced into the
Protectorate, too, at that time. Thereby, the Jews were
removed from public life and from leading positions in the
economic life. However, arrests on a large scale did not
take place. There were also no excesses against Jews, except
in a few single instances. The camp at Theresienstadt was
not erected until long after my term of office, and I
prevented the establishment of other concentration camps in
the Protectorate, too.

Q. The Czech prosecution accuses you of personally carrying
through measures harmful to the Jews. They maintain that,
first of all, you charged the Czech Government, that is to
say, the autonomous government, with the carrying through of
the anti-Jewish laws, and that when President Elias refused
to do so, you personally took the necessary steps.

A. As I said just now, the introduction of the anti-Jewish
laws came about on Hitler's direct order, respectively
through the competent authorities in Berlin. The
representation ...

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. von Ludinghausen, why do you want to go
over all this again? The defendant has given the evidence
that he succeeded in putting off the laws until June, 1939,
and that then the Nuremberg laws were introduced. He has
given us the various qualifications which he said he made,
and then you read him the Czech report and try to get him to
go over it all again, it seems to me. It is now quarter past

DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: All right, then, I shall consider the
first question sufficiently answered and we shall not deal
with the matter of confiscation either.


Q. The Czech prosecution further accuses you of the
dissolution of the organizations of the YMCA and YWCA, and
the confiscation of their property in favour of German

A. I must admit that I do not recall these confiscations at
all. If this dissolution and confiscation took place before
I left, it must have been a police measure only.

Q. The Czech prosecution further mentions the destruction of
Czech economic life and the systematic plundering of Czech
raw material stocks, and accuses you in that regard. What
are the facts about that?

A. With the establishment of the Protectorate, the Czech
economy almost automatically was incorporated into the total
German economy. The export trade, for which Czech industries
had worked to a considerable degree, was done away with for
the duration of the war, that is to say, it was transformed
into an export to the Reich.

The Czech heavy industries, especially the Skoda Works and
the arms industry as direct war industries, were taken over
to supplement German armaments production by the Trustee for
the Four-Year Plan.

At the beginning, I tried especially to avoid selling out of
the Protectorate, which would have been hard on the
population. An effective means for that purpose was the
maintenance of the customs frontier which existed between
Czechoslovakia and Germany. After heated conflicts with the
Berlin Economic Department, I succeeded in having the
customs frontier maintained up to October, 1940, for another
year and a half, though it had already been rescinded on
16th March, 1939.

I believe I am also accused of having been responsible for
the removal of raw materials and the like. In that
connection I should like to say that the office of the
Trustee for the Four-Year Plan was the only authority which
could take such measures.

DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: In this connection I should like to
refer to the decree which has already been submitted, the
decree dated 16th March, 1939 No. 144 of my Document Book 5.
In this decree, I should like to call special attention to
Articles 9 and 10.

                                                  [Page 158]


Q. You are further charged with and accused of the fact that
the currency ratio of Czech kronen to marks was established
as ten to one, for in this way the buying out of
Czechoslovakian goods was said to have been favoured. Are
you responsible for the establishing of this ratio?

A. No. In the decree of 16th March, 1939, dealing with the
establishment of the Protectorate - a decree in the drafting
of which I did not take part in any way - it was already
stipulated that the rate of exchange would be determined by
the Reich Government. As far as I know, the same ratio was
the customary one at the Stock Exchange and in trade before
the incorporation of the Sudetenland into the Reich as well
as afterwards. An official rate had to be determined, of
course, and this was done through the decree issued try the
authorities in Berlin.

DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: In connection with the decree dated
16th March, 1939, which was just mentioned, and which is to
be found under No. 144 of my Document Book 5, I should like
to call your attention especially to Article 10 which sets

   "The ratio of the two currencies, the Czechoslovakian
   and the German, to each other, will be determined by the
   Reich Government."


Q. The Czech report further accuses you of the fact that
railway rails allegedly were removed and taken to Germany.
Do you know anything about this matter?

A. I know nothing about this matter, and I consider it a
complete misrepresentation of the facts. I only know that in
the year 1940 there were negotiations between the German
Reich railways and the Czech railways concerning the hire of
railway cars and of engines. But the stipulation in this
case was that this rolling stock could be spared by the
transport system in the Protectorate. Apart from that, the
railways in the Protectorate were not under my supervision,
but they were directly subordinate to the Ministry of
Transport in Berlin.

DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: I should like to refer to Article 8 of
the decree which I have just mentioned, a decree which is
found under No. 144 of my Document Book 5.

Q. It is further asserted that the Reich Commissioner at the
Prague National Bank stopped all payments abroad and
confiscated all stocks of gold and of foreign currencies of
the National Bank.

Did you have anything to do with this matter?

A. I had nothing at all to do with these matters. The Reich
Commissioner for the Prague National Bank was appointed
directly by the Reichsbank in Berlin, by the Ministry of
Finance, and he got his orders from them.

Q. The Czech prosecution maintains further that you are to
be blamed, or are to be made co-responsible, for the alleged
confiscation of the Czech banks and industrial undertakings
by the German economy.

A. The German banks, and to an extent the German industries
as well, had a real interest in getting a firm foothold in
the economic life of the Protectorate. However, this was
something which applied long before the establishment of the
Protectorate. Therefore, it was not strange that the major
German banks in particular used the opportunity to acquire
Czech stocks and securities, and in this way the controlling
interest in two Czech banks together with their industrial
holdings were transferred to German hands in a manner which
was economically quite correct.

I believe the Union Bank is mentioned in the Czech report, a
bank which was taken over by the Deutsche Bank, and I know
in this case, quite by chance, that the initiative did not
originate with the German side, but rather with the Czech
Union Bank itself.

But neither I nor my agencies tried to foster this
development in any way. Apart from that, all these
enterprises had Czech general directors and in very few

                                                  [Page 159]

cases were German officials incorporated. By far the largest
part of all industrial enterprises remained purely Czech as

Q. What was the situation with regard to the alleged
coercive measures which the prosecution maintains were used
against Czech agriculture? Can you tell us something about
this and about your attitude and the measures you took?

A. This chapter belongs to the whole scheme of plans, by the
Party and SS, relative to Germanisation, which have already
been mentioned. The instrument of this German settlement
policy was to be the Czech Land Office (Bodenamt), which, in
itself, was a Czech office, and was a survival of the former
Czech agrarian reform period. Himmler, first of all,
assigned the Land Office to an SS Fuehrer as its provisional

THE PRESIDENT: The Tribunal does not want to know all the
details about this. The Czech report apparently alleges
coercion in agriculture. The defendant says that it was due,
if any, to the Party and the SS, and he had nothing to do
with it.

What is the object of giving us all these details about the
history of agriculture in Czechoslovakia? You must realize
the Tribunal -

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