From the IMT affidavit of Ernst Wilhelm Bohle, the leader of the Auslands-Organisation of the NSDAP: 

1. The Auslands-Organisation of the NSDAP was founded on 1 May 1931 at Hamburg upon suggestion of some Germans abroad. Gregor Strasser, Reich Organization Chief at the time, appointed as its leader the NSDAP Member of the Reichstag, Dr. Hans Nieland.

I myself became a volunteer assistant of the Auslands-Organi-sation in December 1931 and was taken into the Party on I March 1932. On 8 May 1933 Dr. Nieland resigned as leader of the Auslands-Organisation, having become in the meantime a member of the Hamburg Government and also, as a German who had always stayed at home, being less interested in ques-tions concerning Germans abroad. On account of my experience and my connections abroad--I was born in England and raised in South Africa -- I was charged with the leadership of the Auslands-Organisation.

2. The purpose of the Auslands-Organisation was, upon the assumption of power, to hold together in an organized way the approximately 3,300 Party members living outside the boundaries of Germany at the time of the seizure of power. Further, through it Germans abroad, who could have only a vague idea of the political happenings at home, were to be taught the philosophy and the political program of the new state.

3. Only German nationals could become members of the Party. The acceptance of foreigners or former Germans who had acquired citizenship in another state was strictly prohibited.

4. The guiding principle of the Auslands-Organisation of the Party concerning its attitude to foreign countries was found on the Ausland pass of every German national who was a member of the Party, in the following passage: "Observe the laws of the country whose guest you are. Let the citizens of the country in which you stay take care of their internal politics; do not interfere in these matters, not even by way of conversation."

This principle was basic for the work and the attitude of the Auslands-Organisation with respect to foreign countries from the day of its founding up to its end. I myself referred to this in many public speeches, and in so doing coined, among others, the phrase: "The National Socialist honors foreign folkdom because he loves his own."

My speeches in Porchester Hall in London on 2 October 1937 and in Budapest at the end of January 1938 give a comprehen-sive picture of the attitude of the Auslands-Organisation of the NSDAP toward foreign countries.

Winston Churchill in the late summer of 1937 repeatedly attacked the activity of the Auslands-Organisation in news-paper articles, and in his well-known article, "Friendship with Germany," in the London Evening Standard of 17 September 1937, designated it as an encumbrance on German-English relations. In the same article he said that he was ready to converse with me in the most cordial manner about this question. The German Embassy in London informed the Foreign Office at that time that a question by Churchill in the House of Commons regarding the activity of the Auslands-Organisation would be extremely undesirable. As a result a meeting between Churchill and myself was advocated as urgent. This took place on the day of my speech to the Reich Germans in London, in Winston Churchill's London home, and lasted more than an hour. I had ample opportunity in this thoroughly cordial conversation to describe the activity of the Auslands-Organisation and to dispel his misgivings. At the end he accompanied me to my car and let himself be photographed with me, in order, as he said, to show the world that we were parting as friends. There was no inquiry in the House of Commons. From that day Churchill never uttered a word of objection again about the activity of the Auslands-Organisation. My speech of the same date, which was published shortly afterwards in English in pamphlet form by an English concern, was very favorably received. The Times published from it a lengthy excerpt under the heading "Herr Bohle's Plea for an Understanding." After this conversation Churchill wrote me a letter in which he voiced his satisfaction with the result of our conversation.

6. In the trial of the murderer of the Landesgruppenleiter of the Auslands-Organisation in Switzerland, Wilhelm Gustloff, which was held in a Swiss court at Chur in 1936, the legality of the activity of the Auslands-Organisation was the subject of investigation by the court. The Defendant, David Frankfurter, was sentenced to 18 years imprisonment. From what I remember, I can say that the Swiss authorities, who were in no way friendly to Nazis, had to testify that Gustloff and the Landesgruppen of the Auslands-Organisation had never in any way given reason for complaint with regard to their activity. The testimony of Federal Councillor Baumann, who, to my knowledge, was then Minister of the Interior and of the Police in Switzerland, was at that time decisive.

7. I should further like to point out in this connection that also after the outbreak of the war the Landesgruppen of the Auslands-Organisation in neutral countries continued to func-tion until the end of the war. That is especially true of Switzerland, Sweden, and Portugal.

From 1943 on, at the latest, the Reich would hardly have been able to take any steps against suppression, if the Auslands-Organisation had come into conflict with the internal laws of these countries; and suppression would have been the inevitable result.

8. Aside from the indisputable legality of the Auslands-Organisation, as its leader I have repeatedly expressed the idea that the Auslandsdeutschen (Germans abroad) would certainly be the last people who would let themselves be misused as warmongers or as conspirators against the peace. From bitter experience they knew that with the outbreak of the war they would face at once internment, persecution, confiscation of property, and destruction of their economic existence.

9. As a result of the knowledge of the situation abroad, no one knew better than the Auslandsdeutschen that any activity in the sense of a Fifth Column would be just as foolish as detrimental to the interests of the Reich. To my knowledge, moreover, the expression "Fifth Column" can be traced back to the Spanish Civil War. It is in any case a foreign invention. When Franco attacked Madrid with four columns of troops, it was asserted that a Fifth Column consisting of nationalist elements was doing its seditious work underground within the besieged city.

10. There is no basis whatsoever for applying the term "Fifth Column" to the Auslands-Organisation of the NSDAP. If this assertion were true, it would mean that members of the Auslands-Organisation working together with local oppositional elements in one or more foreign countries had been delegated, or had by themselves tried, to undermine this state from within. Any such assertion would be pure invention.

11. Neither from the former Deputy of the Fuehrer, Rudolf Hess, nor from me, as the leader of the Auslands-Organisation, has this organization or members of this organization in any way received orders the execution of which might be considered as Fifth Column activity. Even Hitler himself never gave me any directive in that respect. In summary, I can say that the Auslands-Organisation at no time, as long as I was its leader, displayed any activity in the sense of a Fifth Column. Never did the Deputy of the Fuehrer give orders or directives to the Auslands-Organisation which might have led to such activity. On the contrary, Rudolf Hess most urgently desired that members of the Auslands-Organisation should under no circumstances take part in the internal affairs of the country in which they were living as guests.

12. Of course, it is known that just as citizens of the then enemy countries, so also Germans were employed in the espionage and intelligence services abroad. This activity had however nothing at all to do with membership in the Auslands-Organisation. In order not to imperil the existence of the Auslands-Organisation groups, which worked legally and entirely in the open, I constantly demanded that members of the Auslands-Organisation would not be used for such purposes or that I should previously be given the opportunity to relieve them of their functions within the Auslands-Organisation.



Click to join 3rdReichStudies

Click to join 3rdReichStudies

FAIR USE NOTICE: This site may contain copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of historical, political, human rights, economic, democracy, scientific, environmental, and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner. Note: This material, which is available in its entirety at the outstanding Avalon and Nizkor sites, is being presented here in a catagorized form for ease of study and is not meant to supplant or replace these highly recommended sources.
Make your own free website on Tripod.com