The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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Last-Modified: 2000/07/23


Q. What can you tell us from your own observations and
experiences about the attitude of Herr von Neurath toward
the Czechs?

A. I can only give you general impressions. As I have
already told you, I had nothing to do with the actual
activities of the office, but was only attached to Herr von
Neurath personally for his private affairs and all
ceremonial matters. But I do know, and he told me, that when
he took over his position as Reich Protector, he did so with
the intention of treating the Czech population as justly and
decently as possible in order to create, by smoothing out
the differences, a healthy basis for a peaceful living side
by side of the two nations. He told me frequently that he
was appointed Reich Protector, that is, Protector of the
Czechs, and we knew that the last German Ambassador in
Prague, Dr. Eisenlohr, had often reported that the last
Czechoslovak Government for their part had been prepared to
effect an "Anschluss" with Germany. He was opposed to the
use of military measures, and told me when I came to Prague
- I think it was in September, 1939 - that he had expressed
himself very strongly against their use, and that he had,
together with Goering, visited Hitler in Munich in order to
dissuade him from that. In my office I found again and again
that von Neurath was very open-handed towards the Czechs,
with regard to petitions. He had a lot of sympathy and
understanding; he examined each individual case, and that
was very well known amongst the Czechs and as we in this
office had the possibility of submitting each single request
and petition of Czech individuals directly to the highest
chief, the Czech petitioners very frequently and gladly used
this channel, because the prospects for a positive action on
their private requests and petitions through the highest
local chief promised to be much more favourable than if they
were quickly dealt with by the authorities concerned in the
Government. Particularly this practice brought us in
conflict with the State Secretary -

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. von Ludinghausen, this witness is simply
making speeches, you know. You are not asking him any
questions at all. He is simply going on -


Q. Witness, what do you know about the personal and official
relationship between von Neurath and the State President

A. According to my -observations, the personal and official
relationship between the Reich Protector and the State
President Hacha was excellent, and I believe

                                                  [Page 232]

that this was not merely a matter of form, but I had the
impression that von Neurath really sincerely liked Hacha
because he considered him a very decent and upright man who,
under the existing circumstances -

THE PRESIDENT: Witness, when you see your counsel has heard
enough of your answer, surely you can stop -

THE WITNESS: Very well.


Q. What was the relationship between von Neurath and the
State Secretary attached to him, Frank?

A. Very bad. Herr von Neurath had already told me, when I
assumed my office, that he had had considerable difficulties
with Frank because of his definite anti-Czech attitude, as a
Sudeten German, an attitude which, as a Reich German, one
could not easily understand. He had always hoped, however,
that Frank, who was not a civil servant, but an outsider,
would gradually follow his policy and adapt himself to the
civil service staff. But, unfortunately, this was not
possible. I do not know when -

Q. Witness, can you describe to us briefly what actually
were the relative official powers of Herr von Neurath and

A. Von Neurath was the superior of the State Secretary. The
State Secretary was in charge of the entire internal
administration, which was a very large one. Under Secretary
of State von Burgsdorff worked under him. Besides being
State Secretary, Frank was also the Higher Police and SS

Q. Now, did Herr von Neurath have a certain influence on
this part of Frank's activities, that is to say, in his
capacity as Higher SS and Police Leader?

A. Under the existing conditions he had practically no
influence. I do not know whether in the beginning the matter
had already been legally settled. In practice, however, the
police and the State Secretary with his police measures were
completely independent of Herr von Neurath. This had some
connection with the situation in the Reich, where Himmler,
too, was in charge of the entire police and SS, having taken
the police powers away from the Ministry of the Interior. As
far as I can remember, the matter was legally settled in the
autumn of 1939, to the effect that the police were
independent, and that Herr von Neurath was to be informed
afterwards of all measures taken.

Q. You mean by that the decree regarding the organization of
the administration and the German Security Police in the
Protectorate, under date of 1st September, 1939?

A. Yes, I think that is the one. The first part referred to
the administration and the second part to the police.

DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: Mr. President, may I remind you that
the wording of this decree is contained in my document book
under No. 149.

THE PRESIDENT: It has been submitted as evidence?

DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: Yes. I merely wanted to remind you
that I have presented it.


Q. Was von Neurath at least informed afterwards, in
accordance with the instructions, of the police actions
which Frank carried out independently?

A. The Chief of the Police was an SS man by the name of
Boehme. He used to report to the Reich Protector several
times each week. I do not believe that he informed him in
advance of intended police actions. We never heard anything
like that. Whether he reported such actions afterwards and
in their entirety is something which I cannot say. Usually
what happened was that the Reich Protector sent to him for
comment the various petitions from the next of kin of Czechs
who had been arrested, and that Boehme would bring them
along when he came to report. That was generally the way the
Reich Protector was afterwards informed.

                                                  [Page 233]

Q. Well, then, when Herr von Neurath was later on informed
of such police measures, no matter in which way, did he make
attempts for the suspension of arrests or for any limitation
and mitigation of such police measures?

A. As I have already told you, we had set up in the small
office of the Reich Protector a special department for the
purpose of receiving such applications. This department,
which of course was directly under the jurisdiction of the
Reich Protector, did everything possible in order to
reassure the next of kin and to bring about the release of
the detained persons. The work was particularly difficult
because these local departments, the local police chief and
also State Secretary Frank, usually took a negative
attitude. Again and again the Reich Protector would then go
directly to Himmler and very often to the Fuehrer himself. I
know and remember that there was a very excited
correspondence with Himmler and that Herr von Neurath
repeatedly complained to the Fuehrer about this.

Q. Witness, can you judge, or can you tell us in how far
Herr von Neurath, as Reich Protector, apart from the police
and police measures, was free and independent in his
political and economic measures and orders, or how far he
was dependent on Berlin when giving those?

A. When I came to Prague there were all sorts of other
offices beside that of the Reich Protector. For instance,
there was a Reich Commissioner for Economy who, so far as I
can remember, and as I heard at the time, had already begun
to exercise his functions when the office of the Reich
Protector had not yet been established. Then there was a
plenipotentiary for the Four-Year Plan and there was the
armed forces plenipotentiary who had a large staff. Even the
party agencies were not centrally organized. Prague and the
north belonged to the Sudetengau under Gauleiter Henlein;
the whole of Moravia belonged to the Niederdonau Gau, under
Gauleiter Dr. Jury, and the west belonged to a third Gau.
All these Gauleiter tried, in turn, on their part -

THE PRESIDENT: Counsel, this is all detail, is it not, and
quite unnecessary detail?


Q. Do you know anything about von Neurath's attitude towards
numerous plans of Germanising the Czechs?

A. No, I know nothing about that. I only remember that,
right at the beginning of the war, Herr von Neurath told me
that the whole structure of the Protectorate was regarded by
him as a temporary solution and that peace would have to
decide the ultimate fate of Czechoslovakia.

Q. Well, then, as you probably remember, in the autumn of
1939, there were the first demonstrations in Prague on the
occasion of the Independence Day of Czechoslovakia on 28th
October, 1939.

A. Well, I cannot remember the details. There were
demonstrations on the Czech national holiday in October. As
far as I can remember, they took place on the Wenzel Platz,
and the Narodny-ulice. I personally did -

Q. What do you know about new demonstrations, particularly
on the part of the students at Prague, when a wounded
student died and was buried on 15th November? What do you
know about these demonstrations and about the actions taken
immediately afterwards?

A. Previous to the second demonstration the instruction was
given to exercise restraint. The demonstrations were
generally, as I was told later, not particularly alarming.
In spite of this, Frank had reported to Berlin about them.
At any rate, the Reich Protector and Frank and General
Frederici were called to Berlin for a conference with Hitler
in the Reich Chancellery. I accompanied the Reich Protector
at the time. Chvalkovsky, the Czech Minister in Berlin, was
also invited. I was present when Hitler, in a very excited
and rude manner, reproached the Minister because of the
events, for which he was holding the Czech Government
responsible. Whether the closing of universities was
discussed on that occasion I cannot remember, nor can I
remember having heard him threaten the

                                                  [Page 234]

shooting or arrest of students. The manner in which Hitler
treated the Minister was most embarrassing to us. The
Minister then left the room without saying a single word.
As far as I can remember, the subject was then no longer
mentioned. We had lunch and, when saying goodbye, Hitler
said to Frank that he wanted to talk to him some more.

Herr von Neurath was not asked to stay, and I remember that
while walking home with him, he was very angry about it. On
the following day, I travelled back with Neurath, Frank
having already left the previous night for Prague. I
remember that when I came into the office in Prague, I saw
a red poster declaring that because of the demonstrations,
the shooting of the leaders and the arrest of students and
the closing of universities had been ordered; that poster
carried Neurath's signature. As I did not know what had
happened in Prague in the meantime, I was utterly
surprised, because I had heard nothing about these measures
in Berlin, and I suspected an intrigue on Frank's part, and
went to report the matter to Neurath. I had the impression
that Neurath was deeply upset and just as unpleasantly
surprised as I was, and that he had known nothing at all
about this previously. Soon afterwards, Frank passed
through my room going into Neurath's room, carrying that
red poster under his arm. I do not know whether Neurath had
sent for him or whether he came on his own initiative.

Q. Did Herr von Neurath afterwards, at least after this
unfortunate matter had occurred, work for the release of
these students who had been arrested?

A. Yes. He immediately used his influence, but he did not
even succeed in getting hold of the list of names of those
who had been arrested. Only after urging the Czechs for a
long time did we receive from the Czech Government an
incomplete list of names. In spite of this, von Neurath
immediately worked for their release, and he did, in fact,
have excellent results in that connection as time went by.

Q. Do you know anything about what was done to accommodate
or employ those students who, on account of these
demonstrations and the subsequent closing of the
universities, had more or less become unemployed?

A. No, I know nothing about that, and I had nothing to do
with that matter.

Q. But do you know whether von Neurath repeatedly urged
Hitler to reopen the universities?

A. Yes, I remember that Redni, a director of the Czech
University, whom I knew well, had approached me once in that
direction, and I reported it to Herr von Neurath, and von
Neurath again made efforts at the time; but as far as I
know, as long as we were in Prague, the universities were
not reopened.

Q. Do you remember a Czech Fascist organization Vlajka? I do
not know whether I pronounce the name correctly.

A. Yes, I do, but I know very little about it. I only know
that we received in the office a number of pledges of
loyalty sent to us by members of the movement, and I also
know that we had been informed by Czech sources that these
people were partly criminal and generally not worth much.
Herr von Neurath adopted quite generally the view that this
was an internal affair of the Czechs and that after all,
these were people who wanted to work together with us. But
he, on his part, refused any collaboration, and such letters
and pledges were never answered, I believe, by our office.
But I know -

Q. Herr von Neurath was also, besides being Reich Protector,
President of the Secret Cabinet Council. Did you, since you
partly handled his correspondence of a more personal nature,
notice that Herr von Neurath ever became active in that

A. No. As long as I was in Prague, von Neurath was never
active in that position. On the contrary, on one occasion he
told me that Hitler, when he appointed him, had told him
that he should not think that he would ever call a meeting
of the Cabinet Council.

Q. Herr von Neurath was also a member of the so-called
Defence Council. Did he ever have anything to do in this
capacity in Prague?

                                                  [Page 235]

A. No, I did not know that he was a member of that council.
The fundamental decrees from Berlin concerning the
Protectorate were frequently signed by the Ministerial
Council for the Defence of the Reich, I believe that was the
name, but Neurath never signed or countersigned them.

Q. Herr von Neurath was appointed, as is well known, an
honorary Gruppenfuehrer of the SS, and later, honorary
Obergruppenfuehrer of the SS. Did Herr von Neurath, when he
was in Prague, ever wear that uniform?

A. As a rule, he wore his Reich Minister uniform. A portrait
was also once made of him in that uniform. He used to wear
civilian clothes a great deal. It may be that he once wore
the black uniform of the SS, on the occasion of a parade of
the SS, but I do not know for certain now. Otherwise, he
never wore it.

Q. Do you know anything about the circumstances and reasons
concerning Neurath's departure from Prague in September,

A. When Herr von Neurath was ordered to come to Headquarters
that September, he was accompanied by his military adjutant.
I met him at the airfield, and in the car he told me that
Hitler had been furious because of the acts of sabotage in
the Protectorate, and that he wanted to send Heydrich to do
some exemplary punishing. He, Neurath, had stated that he
did not want to have anything to do with that, and had asked
for his release. Hitler then had ordered that he should
first of all go on leave, and so he did. He departed the
following day.

DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: Mr. President, I have no further

Mr. President, may I make one request at the end of my case.
I have not been able to submit all documents because I
haven't yet received all the translations. May I reserve the
right to submit the few remaining documents, perhaps at the
end of the case of my colleague Dr. Fritz?

THE PRESIDENT: You need not wait for the translation. You
can offer the documents in evidence now, put in a list with
the numbers.

DR. VON LUDINGHAUSEN: Mr. President, I have not got them
with me, I'm afraid. Perhaps, if I may, I could do so
tomorrow or the day after when Dr. Fritz is finished.

THE PRESIDENT: Yes, certainly.

Do any of the defendants' counsel want to ask any questions?

Does the prosecution wish to cross-examine?

SIR DAVID MAXWELL FYFE: My Lord, the prosecution, on the
same basis as before, does not wish to cross-examine.

My Lord, may I refer to one collection of documents that are
in our Document Book 12-B, the collection of the anti-Jewish
decrees in the Protectorate. They are all from the
Verordnungsblatt for the Protectorate, and the prosecution
asks the Tribunal to take judicial notice of them as being
an official publication. The collection is merely for
convenience and access of the Tribunal.

THE PRESIDENT: Then the witness can retire.

THE PRESIDENT: Then that closes your case for the present,
Dr. Ludinghausen.

The tribunal will now adjourn.

(A recess was taken.)

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