The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Shofar FTP Archive File: imt/tgmwc/tgmwc-17/tgmwc-17-163.04

Archive/File: imt/tgmwc/tgmwc-17/tgmwc-17-163.04
Last-Modified: 2000/07/21


Q. Did you know that was the line that was being taken, that
it was systematic in the sense of being an organic part of
the Hitler regime?

                                                  [Page 164]

A. No, in that sense certainly not.

Q. Did you know that the British paper, the Manchester
Guardian, was quoting:

  "An eminent German conservative, who is in close touch
  with the Nationalist members of the German Government,
  and certainly more sympathetic to the right than to the
  left, has mentioned the number of victims as being as
  high as 20,000 in April"?

Did you know that the figure was being put so high?

A. No, and I do not believe it, either.

Q. Well, let us see what the German Press was saying.

On 24th April, 1933, The Times was quoting the Hamburger
Fremdenblatt, which, in turn, was invoking official sources
and stating that there were 18,000 Communists in prison in
the Reich, and that the 10,000 prisoners in Prussia included
many intellectuals and others.

Would the Hamburger Fremdenblatt have had a very long career
as a newspaper if it had misquoted official sources under
your Government in April, 1933, if it had misrepresented the
position. It would not, would it?

A. That I do not know, but I do know that a lot of trouble
is always being stirred up by means of figures.

Q. But defendant, here is a figure quoted, as far as I know,
by a responsible Hamburg paper, as an official figure, re-
quoted by the London Times, which is the leading paper in
England. Was that not sufficiently serious for you to bring
it up in the Cabinet?

A. I am very sorry, but with all respect to the papers - and
even the London papers - they do not always tell the truth.

Q. No. That is a perfectly reasonable comment. Newspapers,
like everyone else, are misinformed. But when you had a
widespread account of terrible conditions, quoting large
numbers, did you not, as one of the respectable elements in
that Government, think that it was worthy of bringing it up
in Cabinet and finding out whether it was true or not?

A. How do you know that I did not do that?

Q. That is what I am asking. Did you bring it up, and what
was the result when you did?

A. I have already told you that I always remonstrated about
these incidents, with Hitler - not in the Cabinet, but with

Q. That is not what I asked you. You see, defendant, what I
asked you was why you did not bring it up in the Cabinet.
Here was a Cabinet established with conservative elements to
keep it respectable. Why did you not bring it up in the
Cabinet and try to get the support of Herr von Papen, Herr
Hugenberg, and all the other conservative gentlemen in the
Cabinet, of whom we have heard? Why did you not bring it up?

A. For the very simple reason that it seemed to be more
effective to tell Hitler directly.

Q. In April, 1933, some two months after it was formed, are
you telling the Tribunal that you did not think it was worth
while to bring a matter up in the Reich Cabinet, that within
two months of Hitler coming into power, it had become so
"Fuehrer-principled" that you could not bring it up in the

A. I repeat, and after all, I am the only one in a position
to judge, that I considered direct representations made to
Hitler more effective.

Q. I see. Well, now, I just want I do not suppose you were
interested, but did you know about the putting into
concentration camps of any of the gentlemen that I mentioned
to the defendant von Papen - Herr von Ossietzky or Herr
Muehsam, or Dr. Hermann Drucker, or any of the other left-
wing writers and lawyers and politicians? Did you know that
they had gone to a concentration camp from which they never

A. No.

Q. You did not know at all?

                                                  [Page 165]

A. No.

Q. At any rate, you knew, as your documents have shown, when
you went to London in June, you knew very well how, at any
rate, foreign opinion had crystallised against Germany
because of the treatment of the Jews and the opposition
parties. You knew that, did you not, when you went to the
world economic conference in June?

A. Yes. That was mentioned by me in a report that was read
in Court.

Q. Now you say that your reaction was to go to Hitler and
protest. I just want to look at what the existing documents
show that you did. Now, let us take April, first of all.
Would you look at Document D-794?

(A document was handed to the witness.)

SIR DAVID MAXWELL FYFE: My Lord, it is Document Book 12-A,
Page 8. It will be Exhibit GB 513.


Q. Now, this is a letter from you to Hitler dated 2nd April,

  "The Italian Ambassador telephoned me last night and
  informed me that Mussolini had declared himself prepared
  to deny, through the Italian delegations abroad, all news
  about the persecution of the Jews in Germany that had
  been distorted by propaganda, if we should consider this
  course useful. I thanked Herr Cerruti, also on your
  behalf, and told him that we would be glad to accept his
  I regard this friendly gesture of Mussolini's as
  important enough to bring it to your notice."

What did you think had been distorted by propaganda?

A. Yes, please read this part. Here it says: "the news had
been distorted by propaganda" - that is what it is about.

Q. That is what I was so interested in, defendant. What did
you think had been distorted, and how much knowledge had
you, so that you could decide whether the news had been
distorted or not?

A. That I really cannot tell you today.

Q. You knew that Jews had been beaten, killed, taken away
from their families, and put into concentration camps, and
that their property had been destroyed, and was beginning to
be sold at under value. You knew that all these things were
happening, did you not?

A. No, certainly not, at that time. That they were beaten,
yes, that I had heard, but at that time no Jews were
murdered or, perhaps, only once in one individual case.

Q. Well, you saw that The Times and the Manchester Guardian
of that date gave the most circumstantial examples of
typical murders of Jews? You must have seen that; you must
have seen that the foreign Press was saying it. Why did you
think that it was distorted? What inquiry did you make to
discover whether it was distorted?

A. Who told me? Who informed me about murders being

Q. I am putting it to you that it was the foreign Press. I
have given you the two examples from the Press of my own
country, and obviously from what Signor Mussolini was
saying, it was in the Press of other countries. You must
have known what they were saying. What inquiries did you
make to find out whether it was true or not?

A. I used the only way possible for me, namely, through the
police authorities concerned.

Q. Did you ask Himmler, or did you ask the defendant

A. Most certainly not.

Q. What? You did not ask Himmler? Did you not ask the
defendant Goering? Why not? Why not? He was the head,
inventing the Gestapo and the concentration camps at that
time. He would have been a very good man to ask, would he

                                                  [Page 166]

A. The man who could have given me information was the
chief, the supreme head of the police.

Q. Did you ask the defendant Frick?

A. I did not ask him personally.

Q. Now -

A. Certainly not personally.

Q. May I suggest to you that I do not want to take up time?
Why did you not take the trouble to ask Goering or Frick or
anyone who could have given you, as I suggest, proper

Would you look at Document 3893-PS?

(The document is handed to the defendant.)

SIR DAVID MAXWELL FYFE: The Tribunal will find it at Page
128 of Document Book 12-A, my Lord; it will become Exhibit
GB 514.


Q. This is the Volkischer Beobachter, quoting you on 17th
September, 1933 on the Jewish question:

  "The Minister had no doubt that the stupid talk abroad
  about purely internal German affairs, as for example the
  Jewish problem, would quickly be silenced if one realised
  that the necessary cleaning up of public life must
  temporarily entail individual cases of personal hardship,
  but that nevertheless it served to establish all the more
  firmly the authority of justice and law in Germany."

Was that your view in September, 1933, of the action against
the Jews and against the left-wing sympathisers up to that
time, that it was a "necessary cleaning up of public life,"
which would, of course, temporarily involve "individual
cases" of hardship, and that it was necessary "more firmly"
to establish " the authority of justice and law in Germany"?
Was that your view?

A. I told you during - during my - I think it was the day
before yesterday, in answer to the question of what my
attitude was towards the Jewish problem - that in view of
the domination of public life in Germany by Jews which
occurred after the last war, I thought it absolutely right
to have these things either eliminated or restricted. That
is what I am referring to here.

Q. So that it is right - I mean, you are not running away
from what you said on 17th September, 1933 - that you
thought the treatment of the Jews in 1933 a "necessary
cleaning up of public life" in Germany? Are we to take it
that your view then is your view now, and you do not deviate
from it at all? Is that right?

A. That is still my view today, only it should have been
carried out by different methods.

Q. All right. Well, we will not go into discussions of it.

Am I to take it that you knew and approved of the breakdown
of political opposition?

A. No, that is ...

Q. Well, then, let us take it by stages. Did you believe in
the proscribing, the making illegal of the Communist Party?

A. In those days, most certainly, because you have heard,
have you not, that we were facing civil war.

Q. Very well. You agreed with that. Did you agree with the
breaking down and making illegal of the trade unions?

A. No.

Q. What did you do to protest against the breaking down of
the trade unions?

A. That was in a sphere ... this sphere did not concern me
at all. I was Foreign Minister, and not Minister of the

Q. I see. Well, again I am not going to argue with you. You
thought it was perfectly right as Foreign Minister to remain
and give your support and authority to a government which
was doing something of which you disapproved, like breaking
down the trade union movement. Is that how we are to take

                                                  [Page 167]

A. Yes. Did you ever hear that a Minister ...

Q. Now what about ...

A. I would like to say, did you ever hear that every Cabinet
Minister must leave the Cabinet if he does not agree with
one particular thing?

Q. Every Cabinet Minister for whom I have any respect would
leave a Cabinet if it did something of which he morally
disapproved, and I understood from you that you morally
disapproved of the breaking down of the trade union
movement. If I am wrong, correct it. If you did not
disapprove, say so.

A. I did not think that it was immoral. It was a political
measure, but not an immoral one.

Q. Then let us take the Social Democratic Party, that was a
party which had taken a great share in the government of
Germany and of Prussia for the years since the war. Did you
think it right, morally right, to make that party illegal
and unable to take any further share in the carrying on of
the country?

A. No, certainly not. But I do not at all know ...

Q. Let us get it clear. Did you think it right or not?

A. I just told you no, but I do not at all know whether you

Q. What did you do to protest against that; what did you do
to protest against the dissolution of the Social Democratic

A. The most I could do against this dissolution was to state
my objections.

Q. To whom did you state your objection against the
dissolution of the Social Democratic Party?

A. To Hitler, again and again.

Q. Again and again you stated your objection to the
dissolution of the parties, the opposition parties? But you
never raised that in the Cabinet; that is right, is it not?

A. I cannot remember whether this question was discussed in
the Cabinet; I do not know any more.

Q. I see. All right. Let us just pass to another aspect and
still on 1933. I just want you to have in mind what was
happening in 1933. Did you know that after you had announced
that Germany was leaving the Disarmament Conference and the
League of Nations, orders had been got out for military
preparations to deal with the possibility of war, as a
consequence of that action?

A. No. In 1932 - 1933, I knew nothing about it.

Q. Yes, in 1933, 25th October, 1933, as is shown in Document
C-40, Exhibit USA 51. Now, defendant, you were then Foreign
Minister. Are you telling the Tribunal that neither Hitler
nor Marshal von Blomberg - I think he was Reichswehr
Minister - that neither told you, as a result of this
action, "we shall have to have the preparations ready in
case sanctions, including military sanctions, are imposed on
Germany." Did neither of them tell you that that was to be
the result of your move in foreign policy?

A. No, nor was there any action to be feared.

Q. I see. Well, now it is rather ... You will agree with me,
it is rather odd not to inform the Foreign Minister of the
possible consequences of his policy or the military
preparations being taken to deal with it; it is rather odd,
is it not, in any system of government, totalitarian,
democratic, or anything you like, it is rather odd not to
tell the Foreign Minister what is being done in the way of
military preparations to deal with his policy, is it not?

A. I certainly had to form an opinion as to whether any
danger threatened from our withdrawal from the League of
Nations and the Disarmament Conference, that is, I had to
decide whether this was likely to have any consequences. The
military had their own opinion presumably, but I do not
know, or at any rate, I was not informed; I assume, however,
that there were certain discussions amongst the General

Q. Well, now, I just want to sum up for 1933, and I want to
do that quickly. May I take it that up to the end of 1933,
despite these matters which I have put

                                                  [Page 168]

to you, you were perfectly satisfied with the respectability
and peace-loving intentions of the government; is that

A. Yes.

Well, now, just let us turn to 1934. You remember your
conversation wit Mr. Dodd, the American Ambassador, which
you mentioned in your Document Book I, at Page 54. It was on
28th May, 1934, and Mr. Dodd had told you apparently what he
had said to Hitler about the way Americans were trying to
control profiteering by great financial interests. He said
that you said that you were glad that he had informed
Hitler, and then added "that the Chancellor had not agreed
with me." Then he says: "Von Neurath was silent for a moment
after my remarks. It was plain that he was entirely of my
way of thinking. He begged me to say to Washington that the
outbreak was entirely contrary to the German Government's
purpose, but he did not commit himself on Hitler." What did
you mean by that " ... that the outbreak against Jews was
entirely contrary to the German Government's purpose ... "?

A. By that I wanted to say that the members of the Cabinet,
the majority of them, were against these methods. Apart from
that, I can add that I had just asked Mr. Dodd to go and see
Hitler personally so as to give a backing to the suggestions
I was making to Hitler. I took him there.

Home ·  Site Map ·  What's New? ·  Search Nizkor

© The Nizkor Project, 1991-2012

This site is intended for educational purposes to teach about the Holocaust and to combat hatred. Any statements or excerpts found on this site are for educational purposes only.

As part of these educational purposes, Nizkor may include on this website materials, such as excerpts from the writings of racists and antisemites. Far from approving these writings, Nizkor condemns them and provides them so that its readers can learn the nature and extent of hate and antisemitic discourse. Nizkor urges the readers of these pages to condemn racist and hate speech in all of its forms and manifestations.