From Ribbentrop's IMT Testimony: The attack on Poland was rendered inevitable by the attitude of the other powers. It might have been possible to find a peaceful solution to the German demands, and I think the Fuehrer would have trodden this path of peace, had the other powers taken this path with him. As matters stood, the situation had become so tense that Germany could no longer accept it as it was, and as a great power Germany could not tolerate Polish provocations any further. That is how this war arose. I am convinced that primarily the Fuehrer was never interested in conquering Poland. ....
Beyond the precincts of this Tribunal, history will prove the truth of my words and show how I always endeavored to localize the war and prevent it from spreading. That, I believe, will also be established. Therefore, in conclusion I should like to say once more that the outbreak of war was caused by circumstances which, at long last, were no longer in Hitler's hands. He could act only in the way he did, and when the war spread ever further all his decisions were principally prompted by considerations of a military nature, and he acted solely in the highest interests of his people.
...This night for the first time Polish regular soldiers fired on our own territory. Since 5:45 AM we have been returning the fire, and from now on bombs will be met with bombs. Whoever fights with poison gas will be fought with poison gas. Whoever departs from the rules of humane warfare can only expect that we shall do the same. I will continue this struggle, no matter against whom, until the safety of the Reich and its rights are secured...September 1, 1939: Chamberlain speaks before the House of Commons:
...It now only remains for us to set our teeth and to enter upon this struggle, which we ourselves earnestly endeavored to avoid, with determination to see it through to the end. We shall enter it with a clear conscience, with the support of the Dominions and the British Empire, and the moral approval of the greater part of the world. We have no quarrel with the German people, except that they allow themselves to be governed by a Nazi Government...September 3, 1939: Mussolini makes one more attempt to be the peacemaker.
From Ribbentrop's IMT Testimony: On 3 September, in the morning, such a proposal of mediation arrived in Berlin stating that Mussolini was still in a position to bring the Polish question in some way before the forum of a conference, and that he would do so if the German Government agreed rapidly. It was said at the same time that the French Government had already approved this proposal. Germany also immediately agreed. But a few days later--I cannot now state the time precisely--it was reported that, in a speech I believe, by the British Foreign Minister Halifax in the House of Commons or in some other British declaration, this proposal had been turned down by London.
From the IMT testimony of Adolf von Steengracht (former State Secretary in Ribbentrop's Foreign Office): From the beginning of the war, the Foreign Minister had his office in the neighborhood of Hitler's headquarters; that is to say in most instances several hundred kilometers distant from Berlin. There he carried on business with a restricted staff. The Foreign Office in Berlin had duties of a routine and administrative nature. But above all, its duty was also the execution of the regular intercourse with foreign diplomats. ....
The foreign policy, not only on its basic lines, but also usually down to the most minute details, was determined by Hitler himself. Ribbentrop frequently stated that the Fuehrer needed no Foreign Minister, he simply wanted a foreign political secretary. Ribbentrop, in my opinion, would have been satisfied with such a position because then at least, backed by Hitler's authority, he could have eliminated partly the destructive and indirect foreign political influences and their sway on Hitler. Perhaps he might then have had a chance of influencing Hitler's speeches, which the latter was accustomed to formulate without Ribbentrop, even in the foreign political field. ....
...there was practically no office in the Party or its organizations that, after 1933, had no foreign political ambitions. Every one of these offices had a sort of foreign bureau through which it took up connections with foreign countries in the attempt to gain its own foreign political channels.
I should judge the number of these to be approximately thirty. For example, the Hitler Jugend, the SA, the German Labor Front, the SS, the Rosenberg office with its Foreign Political office, the Propaganda Ministry, the office Waldeck, the Ribbentrop office, the Nordic Society; further, the VDA, the German Academy, the Reich Railways (Reichsbahn) and others. Besides these offices, the immediate entourage of Hitler and personalities like Himmler, Goebbels, and Bormann had an influence in the shaping of foreign policy. Goering, too, as I see it, had perhaps a certain influence, but only until 1938--at any rate, in matters of foreign politics, scarcely later than that.
Almost every one of those persons, who had never before lived in foreign countries and who, as an occasional traveling salesman for the Third Reich, in peacetime, or after the occupation of a foreign country, had eaten well in the capital of this or that foreign country, considered himself an unrivaled expert on this country. They all had a predilection for bringing their enlightenment and discernment to Hitler. Unfortunately the further they were removed from actual conditions, the more they were in contradiction to the political requirements and necessities, and especially, unfortunately, the more so-called strength was shown and the more they stood in contradiction to the elementary feelings of humanity, the more they pleased Hitler. For Hitler regarded such statements and representations as sound judgment, and they had sometimes an irreparable effect, and formed in Hitler's mind, together with his so-called intuition, the start of some fundamental idea.
To the possible objection that it should have been easy for an expert to criticize such an opinion or view, I should like to point out the following: As long as the future German Ambassador in Paris was still a teacher of painting, Hitler read his reports with interest; but when he became the official representative of the Reich, his reports were mostly thrown unread into the wastepaper basket. Himmler's reports, the slanted opinions of Goebbels, and Bormann's influence played, on the other hand, a decisive role, as did reports from agents which could not be checked and which carried more weight than the opinions of experts on the countries. .... With Hitler's methods of work, these so-called counter-influences simply could not be eliminated. Against this "organized disorganization" Ribbentrop waged an unmitigated, bitter war, and that against almost all German offices. I should like to state further that at least 60 percent of his time was devoted to these things alone.
From the IMT testimony of Dr. Paul Otto Schmidt: On the morning of the 3rd, at about 2 or 3 o'clock, the British Embassy telephoned the Reich Chancellery, where I was still present with the Foreign Minister in order to be available for possible conferences, to give the information that the British Ambassador had received instructions from his government, according to which, at exactly 9 o'clock, he was to make an important announcement on behalf of the British Government to the Foreign Minister. He therefore asked to be received by Herr Von Ribbentrop at that time. He was given the reply that Ribbentrop himself would not be available but that a member of the Foreign Office, namely I, would be authorized to receive the British Government's announcement from the British Ambassador on his behalf. Thus it happened that at 9 o'clock in the morning I received the British Ambassador in Ribbentrop's office. When I asked him to be seated Henderson refused and while still standing he read to me the well-known ultimatum of the British Government to the German Government, according to which, unless certain conditions were fulfilled by Germany, the British Government would consider themselves at war with Germany at 11 o'clock that morning.
After we had exchanged a few words of farewell, I took the document to the Reich Chancellery. In the Reich Chancellery I gave it to Hitler, that is to say, I found Hitler in his office in conference with the Foreign Minister and I translated the document into German for him. When I had completed my translation, there was at first silence. And when I had completed my translation, both gentlemen were absolutely silent for about a minute. I could clearly see that this development did not suit them at all. For a while Hitler sat in his chair deep in thought and stared somewhat worriedly into space. Then he broke the silence with a rather abrupt question to the Foreign Minister, saying, "What shall we do now?" Thereupon they began to discuss the next diplomatic steps to be taken, whether this or that ambassador should be called, et cetera.
I, of course, left the room since I had nothing more to do. When I entered the anteroom, I found assembled there--or rather I had already seen on my way in--some Cabinet members and higher officials, to whose questioning looks--they knew I had seen the British Ambassador--I had said only that there would be no second Munich. When I came out again, I saw by their anxious faces that my remark had been correctly interpreted. When I then told them that I had just handed a British ultimatum to Hitler, a heavy silence fell on the room. The faces suddenly grew rather serious. I still remember that Goering, for instance, who was standing in front of me, turned round to me and said, "If we lose this war, then God help us." Goebbels was standing in a comer by himself and had a very serious, not to say depressed, expression. This depressing atmosphere prevailed over all those present, and it naturally lives in my memory as something most remarkable for the frame of mind prevailing in the anteroom of the Reich Chancellery on the first day of the war.
From Ribbentrop's IMT Testimony: The decisive factor (that started the war) was the English guarantee extended to Poland. I do not need to elaborate this point. This guarantee, combined with the Polish mentality, made it impossible for us to negotiate with the Poles or to come to an understanding with them. As for the actual outbreak of war, the following reasons for it can be given:
First of all, there is no doubt that on 30 and 31 August, England was well aware of the extreme tension of the situation. This fact was communicated to Hitler in a letter, and Hitler said that the decision must be made and a way of solving the problem found, with all possible speed. This was Chamberlain's letter to Hitler.
Secondly: England knew that the proposals made by Germany were reasonable, for we know that England was in possession of these proposals in the night of 30 to 31 August. Ambassador Henderson himself declared that these proposals were reasonable.
Thirdly: It would have been possible, therefore, on 30 or 31 August, to give a hint to Warsaw and tell the Poles to begin some sort of negotiations with us. This could have been done in three different ways: Polish negotiator could have flown to Berlin, which would have been, as the Fuehrer said, a matter of an hour to an hour and a half; or, a meeting could have been arranged between the foreign ministers or the heads of the states to take place on the frontiers; or else, Ambassador Lipski could simply have been instructed at least to receive the German proposals. If these instructions had been given, the crisis would have been averted and diplomatic negotiations could have been initiated.
England herself, had she wished to do so, could have sent her ambassador to represent her at the negotiations, which action, after what had gone before, would undoubtedly have been regarded very favorably by Germany. This, however, did not take place, and, as I gather from documents which I saw for the first time here, nothing was done during this period to alleviate this very-tense situation. Chauvinism is natural to the Poles; and we know from Ambassador Henderson's own words and from the testimony of Mr. Dahlerus that Ambassador Lipski used very strong language illustrative of Polish mentality. Because Poland was very well aware that she would, in all circumstances, have the assistance of England and France, she assumed an attitude which made war inevitable to all intents and purposes.
I believe that these facts really are of some importance for the historical view of that entire period. I would like to add that I personally regretted this turn of events. All my work of 25 years was destroyed by this war; and up to the last minute I made every possible effort to avert this war. I believe that even Ambassador Henderson's documents prove that I did make these attempts. I told Adolf Hitler that it was Chamberlain's most ardent desire to have good relations with Germany and to reach an agreement with her; and I even sqnt a special messenger to the Embassy to see Henderson, to tell him how earnestly the Fuehrer desired this, and to do everything in his power to make this desire of Adolf Hitler's clear to his government.
...It is right, too, to point out that the unfortunate events of these recent years have, without question, been based on the use of force (or) and the threat of force. And it seems to me clear, even at the outbreak of this great war, that the influence of America should be consistent in seeking for humanity a final peace which will eliminate, as far as it is possible to do so, the continued use of force between nations...September 7, 1939: The Polish air force is now completely destroyed. Germany begins plans to move troops to the French border in the West. Despite sworn support to Poland, France declines to attack or militarily engage Germany.
From Ribbentrop's IMT Testimony: We received numerous reports all the time (that the Western Powers were preparing to invade the Ruhr). Our intelligence service was such that we had a great many channels doing intelligence work. All of these channels led to the Fuehrer. The Foreign Office had relatively little intelligence service, but relied rather an official diplomatic channels. But we too received reports and news at that time which undoubtedly allowed inferences to be drawn. We in the Foreign Office also received reports implying that the Western Powers had the intention of advancing into the Ruhr area at the first appropriate opportunity. The situation in the West was such that the West Wall was a very strong military barrier against France and this naturally gave rise to the idea that such an attack might come through neutral territory, such as Belgium and Holland.
From the IMT testimony of Erwin Lahousen (a member of the Abwehr, whose chief was Admiral Canaris): Canaris and I took part in discussions not in the Fuehrer's headquarters, but in the Fuehrer's special train, shortly before the fall of Warsaw. .... According to the notes and documents at my disposal it was on September 12, 1939. .... Present, regardless of location and time, were the following: Foreign Minister Von Ribbentrop; Keitel, the Chief of the OKW; Jodl, head of the Wehrmacht Operations Staff; Canaris; And myself. ....
First of all, Canaris had a short talk with Ribbentrop, in which the latter explained the general political aims with regard to Poland and in connection with the Ukrainian question. The Chief of the OKW took up the Ukrainian question in subsequent discussions which took place in his private carriage. These are recorded in the files which I immediately prepared on Canaris' order. While we were still in the carriage of the Chief of the OKW, Canaris expressed his serious misgivings regarding the proposed bombardment of Warsaw, of which he knew. Canaris stressed the devastating repercussions which this bombardment would have in the foreign political field. The Chief of the OKW, Keitel, replied that these measures had been agreed upon directly by the Fuehrer and Goering, and that he, Keitel, had had no influence on these decisions. I quote Keitel's own words here-naturally only after re-reading my notes. Keitel said: "The Fuehrer and Goering are in frequent telephone communication; sometimes I also hear something of what was said, but not always."
Secondly, Canaris very urgently warned against the measures which had come to his knowledge, namely the proposed shootings and extermination measures directed particularly against the Polish intelligentsia, the nobility, the clergy, and in fact all elements which could be regarded as leaders of a national resistance. Canaris said at that time-I am quoting his approximate words: "One day the world will also hold the Wehrmacht, under whose eyes these events occurred, responsible for such methods."
The Chief of the OKW replied--and this is also based on my notes, which I re-read a few days ago--that these things had been decided upon by the Fuehrer, and that the Fuehrer, the Commander-in-Chief of the Army, had let it be known that, should the Armed Forces be unwilling to carry through these measures, or should they not agree with then, they would have to accept the presence at their side of the SS, the SIPO and similar units who would carry them through. A civilian official would then be appointed to function with each military commander. This, in outlines, was our discussion on the proposed shooting and extermination measures in Poland...the Chief of the OKW used an expression which was certainly derived from Hitler and which characterized these measures as "political housecleaning". I recall this expression very clearly, even without the aid of my notes. ....
According to the Chief of the OKW, the bombardment of Warsaw and the shooting of the categories of people which I mentioned before had been agreed upon already...Mainly the Polish intelligentsia, the nobility, the clergy, and, of course, the Jews. .... Canaris was ordered by the Chief of the OKW, who stated that he was transmitting a directive which he had apparently received from Ribbentrop since he spoke of it in connection with the political plans of the Foreign Minister, to instigate in the Galician Ukraine an uprising aimed at the extermination of Jews and Poles. ....
Hitler and Jodl entered either after the discussions I have just described or towards the conclusion of the whole discussion of this subject, when Canaris had already begun his report on the situation in the West; that is, on the news which had meanwhile come in on the reaction of the French Army at the West Wall. ....
After this discussion in the private carriage of the Chief of the OKW, Canaris left the coach and had another short talk with Ribbentrop, who, returning to the subject of the Ukraine, told him once more that the uprising should be so staged that all farms and dwellings of the Poles should go up in flames, and all Jews be killed...The Foreign Minister of that time, Ribbentrop, said that to Canaris. I was standing next to him...I remember with particular clarity the somewhat new phrasing that "all farms and dwellings should go up in flames." Previously there had only been talk of "liquidation" and "elimination." ....
This order or directive which Ribbentrop issued and which Keitel transmitted to Canaris, Ribbentrop also giving it to Canaris during a brief discussion, was in reference to the organizations of National Ukrainians with which Amt Abwehr cooperated along military lines, and which were to bring about an uprising in Poland, an uprising which aimed to exterminate the Poles and the Jews; that is to say, above all, such elements as were always being discussed in these conferences. When Poles are mentioned, the intelligentsia especially are meant, and all those persons who embodied the national will of resistance. This was the order given to Canaris in the connection I have already described and as it has already been noted in the memorandum. The idea was not to kill Ukrainians but, on the contrary, to carry out this task of a purely political and terrorist nature together with the Ukrainians. The cooperation between Amt Ausland Abwehr and these people who numbered only about 500 or 1000, and what actually occurred can be clearly seen from the diary This was simply a preparation for military sabotage.
From Ribbentrop's IMT Testimony: I remember that in the course of the Polish campaign Admiral Canaris, who was at the time Chief of the Wehrmacht Counterintelligence Service, came to see me, as he sometimes did when he was making a short personal visit. I was in my compartment on the Fuehrer's train at the time. I do not remember that the witness Lahousen was present; I had the impression when I saw Herr Lahousen here that I had never seen him before. Canaris came to me from time to time to tell me about his activities in the Intelligence and other fields. He did so on this occasion; and I believe it was he who told me that he had set all his agents to fomenting a revolt among the Ukrainian and other minorities in the rear of the Polish Army, He certainly received no instructions or directives from me, as was alleged here--and cannot have received any, for these two reasons: 1. The German Foreign Minister was never in a position to give any directives to a military authority.
2. At the beginning of the Polish campaign, the German Foreign Office was not at all concerned with the question of the Ukraine, and similar questions--or at any rate I myself was not. I was not even sufficiently well acquainted with the details to be able to give directives. ....
The witness Lahousen has alleged that I said that houses were to be burned down or villages were to be burned down and the Jews were to be killed. I would like to state categorically that I never said such a thing. Canaris was with me in my car at that time, and it is possible, although I do not remember it exactly, that I may have seen him going out later on. Apparently he received instructions which originated with the Fuehrer as to the attitude he was to take in Poland with regard to the Ukrainian and other questions. There is no sense in the statement. ascribed to me, because especially in the Ukraine--the Ukrainian villages--those were Ukrainians living in them, and they were not our enemies but our friends; it would have been completely senseless for me to say that these villages should be burned down.
Secondly, as regards killing the Jews, I can only say that this would have been entirely contrary to my inner conviction and that the killing of the Jews never entered the mind of anybody at that time. I may say, in short, that all this is absolutely untrue. I have never given instructions of this kind, nor could I have done so, nor even a general indication on those lines. May I add that I remember that Herr Lahousen himself was not quite convinced that I had made this statement; at least, that was my impression.
From Ribbentrop's IMT Testimony: I should like to emphasize that there was not the slightest doubt in either Stalin's or Hitler's mind that, if the negotiations with Poland came to naught, the territories that had been taken from the two great powers by force of arms could also be retaken by force of arms. In keeping with this understanding, the eastern territories were occupied by Soviet troops and the western territories by German troops after victory. There is no doubt that Stalin can never accuse Germany of an aggression or of an aggressive war for her action in Poland. If it is considered an aggression, then both sides are guilty of it.
From Ribbentrop's IMT Testimony: After the conclusion of the Polish campaign I had some lengthy conversations with Adolf Hitler. The situation was then such that beyond a doubt there was a certain lack of enthusiasm for this whole war on the part of the French. During these weeks military people occasionally used the expression "potato war in the West." Hitler, as far as I can judge from everything that he told me, was not interested in bringing the war in the West to a decision, and I believe this was true of all of us members of the Government. I should like to remind you of the speech made by Reich Marshal Goering to this effect at that time. Hitler then made a speech in Danzig, and I believe later somewhere else, perhaps in the Reichstag, I believe in the Reichstag, in which he twice told England and France in unmistakable language that he was still ready to open negotiations at any time. We tried to find out also very cautiously by listening to diplomatic circles what the mood was in the enemy capitals. But the public replies to Adolf Hitler's speeches clearly demonstrated that there could be no thought of peace. ....
It was, I should like to say, my most ardent endeavor; after the end of the Polish campaign to attempt to localize the war, that is, to prevent the war from spreading in Europe. However, I soon was to find out that once a war has broken out, politics are not always the only or rather not at all, the decisive factor in such matters, and that in such cases the so-called timetables of general staffs start to function. Everybody wants to outdo everybody else. Our diplomatic efforts were undoubtedly everywhere, in Scandinavia as well as in the Balkans and elsewhere, against an extension of the war. Nevertheless, the war did take that course. I should like to state that according to my conversations with Adolf Hitler, and I am also convinced that the German military men were of the same opinion, Hitler wished in no way to extend the war anywhere.
From Ribbentrop's IMT Testimony: ...a long time before Pearl Harbor, we had delivered an official protest to the United States, in which we pointed out, in the case of the two ships Greer and Kerne, that these two boats had pursued German submarines and had thrown depth charges at them. I believe the Secretary of the Navy Knox admitted this openly in a press conference. I mentioned yesterday that Hitler said in his speech in Munich that he did not give the order to shoot or to attack American vessels but he had given the order to fire back if they fired first.
From Ribbentrop's IMT Testimony: My second visit to Moscow was made necessary by the ending of the Polish campaign. I flew to Moscow toward the end of September, and this time I received an especially cordial reception. The situation then was such that we had to create clear conditions in the Polish territory. Soviet troops had occupied the eastern regions of Poland, and we had occupied the western parts up to the line of demarcation previously agreed upon. Now we had to fix a definite line of demarcation. We were also anxious to strengthen our ties with the Soviet Union and to establish cordial relations with them. An agreement was reached in Moscow, fixing a definite line in Poland, and an economic treaty to put economic relations on an entirely new basis was envisaged. A comprehensive treaty regulating the exchange of raw materials was envisaged and later on concluded. At the same time this pact was politically amplified into a treaty of friendship, as is well known.
One question remained, about the territory of Lithuania. For the sake of establishing particularly trustful relations between Moscow and Berlin, the Fuehrer renounced influence over Lithuania, and gave Russia predominance in Lithuania by this second treaty, so that there was now a clear understanding between Germany and Soviet Russia with respect to territorial claims as well...The line of demarcation was roughly drawn on a map. It ran along the Rivers Rysia, Bug, Narew, and San. These rivers I remember. That was the line of demarcation that was to be adhered to in case of an armed conflict with Poland...the agreement was that the territories east of these rivers were to go to Soviet Russia and the territories west of these rivers were to be occupied by German troops, while the organization of this territory as intended by Germany was still an open question and had not yet been discussed by Hitler and myself. Then, later the Government General was formed when the regions lost by Germany after World War I were incorporated into Germany.
Germany has never had any conflicts of interest or even points of controversy with the northern states, neither has she any today. Sweden and Norway have both been offered non-aggression pacts by Germany, and have both refused them, solely because they do not feel themselves threatened in any way. ....
A Geneva convention once succeeded in prohibiting, in civilized countries at least, the killing of wounded, ill treatment of prisoners, war against noncombatants, etc., and just as it was possible gradually to achieve universal observance of this statute, a way must surely be found to regulate aerial warfare, use of poison gas and submarines, etc., and also so to define contraband that war will lose its terrible character of conflict waged against women and children and against noncombatants in general. A growing horror of certain methods of warfare will of its own accord lead to their abolition and thus they will become obsolete...
In spite of repeated serious warnings, a number of Czech intellectuals, in collaboration with émigré circles abroad, are trying to disturb peace and order in the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia by committing major or minor acts of resistance. In this connection it was possible to prove that the ringleaders of these resistance acts are especially to be found in the Czech universities. Since on 28 October and 15 November these elements gave way to acts of physical violence against individual Germans, the Czech universities have been closed for the duration of 3 years, nine of the perpetrators have been shot, and a considerable number of the participants have been arrested.November 23, 1939: Hitler reviews the situation to his military commanders, and in the course of which he makes this observation:
One year later Austria came; this step was also considered doubtful. It brought about an essential reinforcement of the Reich. The next step was Bohemia, Moravia, and Poland. This step also was not possible to accomplish in one move. First of all the Western Fortifications had to be finished.... Then followed the creation of the Protectorate, and with that the basis for action against Poland was laid. But I was not quite clear at the time whether I should start first against the East and then in the West, or vice versa.... The compulsion to fight with Poland came first. One might accuse me of wanting to fight again and again. In struggle, I see the fate of all beings.November 30, 1939: The USSR attacks Finland.
From Ribbentrop's IMT Testimony: Various things made the Fuehrer a little skeptical about the Russian attitude. One was the occupation of the Baltic States. .... Another was the occupation of Bessarabia and North Bukovina after the French campaign and of which we were simply informed without any previous consultation. The King of Romania asked us for advice at that time. The Fuehrer, out of loyalty to the Soviet pact, advised the King of Romania to accept the Russian demands and to evacuate Bessarabia. In addition, the war with Finland in 1940 caused a certain uneasiness in Germany, among the German people who had strong sympathies for the Finns. The Fuehrer felt himself bound to take this into account to some extent.
There were two other points to consider. One was that the Fuehrer received a report on certain communist propaganda in German factories which alleged that the Russian trade delegation was the center of this propaganda. Above all, we heard of military preparations being made by Russia. I know after the French campaign he spoke to me about this matter on several occasions and said that approximately 20 German divisions had been concentrated near the East Prussian border; and that very large forces--I happen to remember the number, I think about 30 army corps--were said to be concentrated in Bessarabia. The Fuehrer was perturbed by these reports and asked me to watch the situation closely. He even said that in all probability the 1939 Pact had been concluded for the sole purpose of being able to dictate economic and political conditions to us. In any case, he now proposed to take countermeasures. I pointed out the danger of preventive wars to the Fuehrer, but the Fuehrer said that German-Italian interests must come first in all circumstances, if necessary. I said I hoped that matters would not go so far and that, at all events, we should make every effort through diplomatic channels to avoid this.
In the bitter and increasingly exacting conflict which lies before us we are resolved to keep nothing back, and not to be outstripped by any in service to the common cause. Let the great cities of Warsaw, of Prague, of Vienna banish despair even in the midst of their agony. Their liberation is sure. The day will come when the joybells will ring again throughout Europe, and when victorious nations, masters not only of their foes but of themselves, will plan and build in justice, in tradition, and in freedom a house of many mansions where there will be room for all...February 17, 1940: Harold Macmillan, in company with Lord Davies, Colonel Serlachius, and Major Magill, meets with Colonel Serlachius's son--just back from Berlin--and Count Vizhum, a naturalized Finn of German origin. Macmillan, in his wartime diary, records their views on the present situation:
On policy: 1. Germany did not intend to go to war with England. They were genuinely amazed at getting so much--to which they knew they were not entitled--at Munich. They therefore expected to get away with the (Polish) Corridor, where (in their view) they had a much better claim. They never expected Chamberlain to strain at the gnat after swallowing the camel.
2. Germany does not want to see Russia conquer Sweden and may have given a guarantee to Sweden that they will not allow it. (This would explain Sweden's inaction.)
3. Germany does not now want a war to the death with England. She would not attack on the Western Front or Holland and Belgium (unless Hitler had a brainstorm), but hoped that after eight months or one year of a stalemate war, England would make a reasonable peace.
4. Germany's ambitions were still Ukraine, not the British Empire. The "free hand" in the Baltic to Russia was not intended to include conquest of Finland.
5. Germany would not object to Swedish help for Finland, however dangerous she might consider Anglo-French support of Finland.
On conditions in Germany. 1. No apparent shortage of petrol. Plenty of taxis in Berlin. Nevertheless they believe petrol will ultimately be short and that petrol is one of the main reasons justifying Russian alliance (other than general undesirability of war on two fronts).
2. Plenty of food in Germany.
3. Ribbentrop the most unpopular man in Germany.
4. Next to Hitler, Ribbentrop the most powerful an in Germany, having superseded Goering in this respect. Both Serlachius junior and Vizhum naturally regard Russia as real enemy of the world and the German-British war as a foolish and fratricidal strife, from which Russia alone can benefit.
This point of view was perhaps understandable, but neither of them seemed to realize the degree of Hitler's insane desire to dominate the world.February 29, 1940: Anthony Eden speaks in Liverpool:
Not Russia only but Germany also, bears a terrible responsibility for what is happening in Finland at this hour. Hitler and Ribbentrop, these men and their policies alone made Stalin's aggression possible. Stalin is the aggressor in Finland, Hitler the abettor...March 1-4, 1940: US Under Secretary of State Sumner Welles--assisted by career diplomat Jay Pierrepoint Moffat--arrive in Berlin on a "peace mission" from President Roosevelt.
From Ten Days to Destiny by John Costello: The reception that Welles and Moffat received from the Nazi leadership when they reached Berlin on 1 March 1940 quickly killed any hopes the Americans might have had for meaningful peace talks. Ribbentrop, who received them "glacially, and without a semblance of a smile or a word of greeting," launched into a two-hour harangue laying out Germany's claim to a "Monroe Doctrine of Europe." Welles found him "very stupid" and "saturated with hate for England." The next morning Hitler greeted the envoys "very pleasantly, but with great formality." With a "decidedly gemuetlich (gemuetlich: warm and congenial; pleasant or friendly.) look," he delivered "exactly the same historical survey" of Germany's position and willingness to negotiate peace as Ribbentrop.
The German people today are united as one man, and I have the support of every German," Hitler declared. "I can see no hope for the establishment of any lasting peace until the will of England and France to destroy Germany is itself destroyed." The same bombastic message was delivered next day by Rudolf Hess. He read from a typewritten text, giving Welles the "unmistakable appearance of being devoid of all but a very low order of intelligence.
Hess was so obviously parroting Ribbentrop that Welles did not waste any time with the party chief. He set off on the hour and a half drive to Karinhall, where Goering received the, in his bulging white uniform dripping with decorations, and with jewel-encrusted hands "shaped like the digging-paws of a badger." Goering nonetheless "spoke with great frankness" about Hitler's reluctance to begin a war that might destroy the British Empire. When Roosevelt's envoy's left Berlin for Paris on 4 March they had already come to the conclusion that Hitler could not be overthrown and that he commanded the military and public support to make good his threat to sacrifice two million men if Britain and France did not agree to his terms. Nothing they learned from the French officials during their brief stop-over in Paris changed Welles's opinion that both sides had dug in too deeply to make any concessions.
March 11, 1940: LIFE Magazine publishes the feature article HITLER'S SALESMAN: RIBBENTROP SOLD HIS BOSS ON STALIN AND THEN ON WAR by WILLIAM D. BAYLES.
The military occupation of Denmark and Norway has been, by command of the Fuehrer, long in preparation by the High Command of the Wehrmacht. The High Command of the Wehrmacht has therefore had ample time to occupy itself with all the questions connected with the carrying out of this operation. The time at your disposal for the political preparation of this operation is, on the contrary, very much shorter. I believe myself, therefore, to be acting in accordance with your ideas in transmitting to you herewith, not only these wishes of the Wehrmacht which would have to be fulfilled by the Governments in Oslo, Copenhagen and Stockholm for purely military reasons, but also I include a series of requests which certainly concern the Wehrmacht only indirectly but which are, however, of the greatest importance for the fulfillment of its task...April 7, 1940: Ribbentrop meets with Hitler in Berlin.
From Ribbentrop's IMT Testimony: One day in April 1940 Hitler summoned me to the Chancellery. He told me that he had received reports stating that the British were on the point of occupying Norway, or of landing troops there. He had therefore decided to occupy Norway and Denmark on the morning of the day after next. That was the first I heard of it. I was amazed; and the Fuehrer then showed me the documentary evidence which he had received through his intelligence service. He ordered me to prepare notes at once, informing the Norwegian and the Danish governments that German troops were about to march in. I reminded the Fuehrer that we had a non-aggression pact with Denmark and that Norway was a neutral country, and told him that reports received from our Legation at Oslo did not indicate any landing. When the documents were shown to me, however, I realized how grave the situation was and that these reports had to be taken seriously. The next day along with my assistants, I prepared diplomatic notes to be sent by plane to Oslo and Copenhagen on 8 April. On: that day we worked day and night in order to finish these notes. The Fuehrer had given orders that these notes were to arrive shortly before the German occupation. The order was executed.
From the IMT testimony of Adolf von Steengracht: In point of fact, the Foreign Office lost its competency toward the country concerned at the moment when the German bayonet crossed the border. The exclusive right to maintain direct relations with foreign governments was eliminated in all occupied territories; in most instances even the right to have a representative of the Foreign Office whose post was for observation only and without competency. This is particularly true for the Eastern Territories and for Norway.
Where Ribbentrop made the effort to maintain, in spite of the occupation, a certain degree of independence of a country, as, for example, in Norway, this activity of our diplomats was termed weak, traitorous, stupid, and those responsible had to stop their work at once, on Hitler's orders, and disappeared from the Foreign Office.
In general the changed position of the Foreign Office during the war is best characterized by Hitler's statement: "The Foreign Office shall, as far as possible, disappear from the picture until the end of the war." Hitler wanted to limit the Foreign Office to about 20 to 40 people, and it was even partially forbidden to form or to maintain any connection with the Foreign Office.
The Foreign Office, as such, and its officials were detested by Hitler. He considered them objective jurists, defeatists, and cosmopolitans, to whom a matter can be given only if it is not to be carried out. ....
...Hitler had in effect made the statement: "Diplomacy is defrauding the people. Treaties are childish; they are respected only as long as they seem useful to the respective partners." That was Hitler's opinion of all diplomats in the world.
From Ribbentrop's IMT Testimony: The occupation of Denmark was completed without trouble, as far as I know. I believe that hardly a shot was fired. As soon as we had occupied the country, we negotiated with the Danish Government, under Stauning, and made agreements so that everything should go on without disturbances and as far as possible in a friendly atmosphere. Denmark's integrity was fully guaranteed, and matters went on, even in the later stages, in a comparatively quiet and orderly way.
The situation was rather different in Norway. Resistance had developed. We tried to keep the King of Norway in the country and to induce him to stay there. We negotiated with him but we had no success. He went north, I believe, to Narvik; and so there was no longer any possibility of negotiating with Norway. Norway was occupied, as you know, and a civil administration established. After this date, Norway was no longer any concern of the Foreign Office; but one thing I should like to add: that the Fuehrer told me repeatedly that the measures he had taken were extremely necessary, and that documents found after the landing of British troops in Norway, and published at a later date, showed that the occupation of these countries and the landing in Norway had doubtlessly been planned for a long time by England.
Frequent allusions have been made in the course of this Trial to the great sufferings of the Norwegian and Danish peoples. I personally am of the opinion that whatever one may think of the German occupation, for all intents and purposes it prevented Scandinavia from becoming a theater of war, and I believe, that in that way the Norwegian and Danish peoples were spared untold suffering. If war had broken out between Germany and the Scandinavian countries, these people would have been exposed to much greater suffering and privation. ....
I must explain that the name of Quisling became known only at a much later date. Before the occupation of Norway his name meant nothing to me. It is true that Herr Rosenberg contacted me with a view to assisting pro-German Scandinavians within the frame of the former Nordic Movement (Nordische Bewegung) and that was a perfectly natural thing to do. At that period, we also provided funds for newspapers, propaganda, and also for political activities in Norway. At these discussions, I remember this distinctly, no mention was ever made of any seizing of political power through certain circles in Norway, or of military operations.
From Ribbentrop's IMT Testimony: ...the "invasion" of Denmark, as it is called, was, according to the Fuehrer's words and explanation, a purely preventive measure adopted against imminent landings of British fighting forces. How authentic our information was is proved by the fact that only a few days later English and German troops were engaged in battle in Norway. That means that it was proved that these English troops had been ready for a long time for fighting in Norway, and it came out from the documents discovered later on and published at the time, and from orders issued, that the English landing in Scandinavia had been prepared down to the smallest detail. The Fuehrer therefore thought that by seizing Scandinavia, he would prevent it from becoming another theater of war. I do not therefore think that the invasion of Denmark can be considered as an act of aggression.
From Ribbentrop's IMT Testimony: After the occupation of Denmark the Foreign Office was represented by a minister at the Danish Court. Later, because of certain events--I believe it would take too long to enumerate them--the Danish Government resigned and a Reich Plenipotentiary was appointed. There was also a Military Commander in Denmark and later on a Higher SS and Police Leader. The activities of the minister of the Danish Court were those of an ordinary and very influential minister, who tried to straighten out all the difficulties which might naturally arise during an occupation; and later on the function of the Reich Plenipotentiary, according to my instructions, was to treat Denmark, not as an enemy of Germany, but as a friend.
This was always guiding principle in Denmark and even at a much later period, when more serious difficulties arose as a result of the intensified warfare, there was really complete quiet and calm in Denmark throughout the long years of war and we were very well satisfied with conditions there. Later, because of the activities of enemy agents against our measures, et cetera, things took a more rigorous turn; the Reich Plenipotentiary always had instructions from me not to aggravate things but to straighten them out and to work on the continuation of good relations between the Danes and the Germans. His task was not always an easy one; but on the whole, I believe, he did his work satisfactorily.
Last week Foreign Minister Joachim von Ribbentrop, who likes nothing about the English except their ceremony, sent word to the Berlin diplomatic corps to be on hand in their cutaways at the Chancellery next morning for a momentous announcement. The press also was told to come, in blue serge suits. In due course the invited showed up, marched through the great gilded wood portals that had just replaced the bronze ones (now being melted into munitions), and Herr Ribbentrop shot the works. The works consisted of a speech and a White Paper calculated to show that Britain had long prepared an invasion of Scandinavia, in cahoots with Norway, and that Germany had been forced into invading first for self-protection...May 10, 1940: The Nazis invade France, Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands; Winston Churchill becomes British Prime Minister.
From Ribbentrop's IMT Testimony: After the Polish campaign military considerations proved to be the decisive factors. The Fuehrer did not wish the war to spread. As for Holland, Belgium, and France, it was France who declared war on Germany and not we who declared war on France. We therefore had to prepare for an attack from this direction as well. The Fuehrer told me at the time that such an attack on the Ruhr area was to be expected, and documents discovered at a later date have proved to the world at large beyond a shadow of doubt that this information was perfectly authentic. The Fuehrer therefore decided to adopt preventive measures in this case as well and not to wait for an attack on the heart of Germany, but to attack first. And so the timetable of the German General Staff was put into practice.
From Ribbentrop's IMT Testimony: Luxembourg was in much the same situation as Belgium and Holland. It is a very small country, and obviously in a war on the scale of this one the armies cannot suddenly bypass one particular country. But I would like to point out just one thing in connection with Luxembourg: The summer before, that is during the summer of 1939, we had started negotiations with France and Luxembourg with a view to making perfectly definite pacts of neutrality to be established by treaties. At first, the negotiations seemed to be going very well; but they were suddenly broken off by both France and Luxembourg. At the time we did not understand the reason for this, but I know that when I reported it to the Fuehrer, it made him a little distrustful as to the motives that may have been of importance on the other side. We never knew the exact reason.
From Ribbentrop's IMT Testimony: In 1937, Germany declared that she had made an agreement with Belgium in which Germany undertook to respect Belgium's strict neutrality on condition that Belgium on her part would maintain her neutrality. After the Polish campaign the Fuehrer told me on several occasions that, according to his intelligence reports, the enemy intended to cross Dutch and Belgian territory to attack the Ruhr. We also sometimes received reports of this kind; these were of a less concrete nature. In any event, Adolf Hitler believed that an attack on the Ruhr district, which was Germany's most vital area, was a possibility that had to be reckoned with at all times. I had a good many discussions with the Fuehrer about that time, regarding the importance of Belgian neutrality for the world in general; but I knew, too, that we were involved in a struggle, a hard struggle of larger dimensions where completely different standards would have to be applied.
In the course of events, in the spring of 1940, our intelligence reports about an attack of this kind became more and more concrete, and I may mention that documents belonging to the French General Staff, et cetera, which were found later and published by the German Foreign Office, proved conclusively that the reports which Germany had received were absolutely true and that an attack on the Ruhr area had actually been repeatedly considered by the enemies of Germany, that is, by those who were her enemies at the time. In this connection I would like to call attention to a document concerning a meeting between Prime Minister Chamberlain and M. Daladier in Paris, at which Mr. Chamberlain suggested an attack for the destruction of the vitally important industrial areas of the Ruhr through the so-called "chimneys" of Holland and Belgium. I believe this document is here and has been granted to the Defense.
The situation before the offensive in the West on which the Fuehrer had decided was therefore such that an attack by the enemy through these great areas had to be expected at any time. For this reason he decided to attack across this area, across these two neutral territories, and I believe that after the attack--the military authorities will confirm this--further documents were found and facts established, which as far as I remember, showed that the closest co-operation had existed between the Belgian and I believe also the Dutch General Staffs, and the British and French General Staffs. Of course it is always a very grave matter in such a war to violate the neutrality of a country, and you must not think that we dismissed it, so to speak, with a wave of the hand. It cost me many a sleepless night and I would like to remind you that the same questions arose on the other side and other statesmen also discussed them at the time. I remind you of a statement to the effect that "one got tired of thinking of the rights of neutrals;" and this assertion was made by the eminent British statesman, Winston Churchill.
Tonight over the once peaceful roads of Belgium and France millions are now moving, running from their homes to escape bombs and shells and fire and machine gunning, without shelter, and almost wholly without food. They stumble on, knowing not where the end of the road will be...June 10, 1940 Wirklich Kein Grund: Mussolini's Italy opportunistically pounces on France as the French government departs Paris.
From Ribbentrop's IMT Testimony: After the occupation or partial occupation of France, although we were not yet at peace with France and there was therefore really no reason to resume diplomatic relations, as only an armistice had been declared, the Fuehrer, at my request, appointed an ambassador to the Vichy Government. I was especially anxious for this to be done because it had always been my aim to come to a closer co-operation with France. I would like to emphasize the fact that I resumed my efforts in this direction immediately after the victory and the armistice. I have--the Fuehrer readily agreed to this and also initiated the so-called Montoire policy at my request, by meeting Marshal Petain at Montoire after a meeting with General Franco.
I was present at this meeting. I believe I may say in the interests of historical truth that Adolf Hitler's treatment of the head of the defeated French nation is probably unexampled and must be described as chivalrous. There cannot be many parallel cases in history. Adolf Hitler immediately made proposals to Marshal Petain for a closer collaboration between Germany and France, but Marshal Petain, even at the very first meeting, adopted an attitude of marked reserve towards the victor, so that, to my great personal regret this first meeting came to an end somewhat more quickly than I had really hoped it would. In spite of this, we continued to try to carry out a systematic policy of conciliation and even of close collaboration with France. Our lack of success was probably due to the natural attitude of France and the will of influential circles. Germany did not fail to make every effort.
From the IMT testimony of Adolf von Steengracht: Guilt for all these occurrences rests only on a relatively small group, to be appraised at a few thousand people. It was these who carried out this unparalleled terror against the German people. But those who thought differently and who remained are chiefly to be thanked for the fact that, for example, the Geneva Convention was not renounced, that tens or even hundreds of thousands of English or American airmen and prisoners were not shot, that the unfortunate prisoners, those seriously wounded, were returned during the war to their families in their home countries; Greece in her dire need received food; exchange was stabilized as far as possible, as in Belgium and France, and militarily pointless destruction ordered in foreign countries and in the home country could be in part prevented or at least lessened; indeed that the principles of human justice, in some places at least, remained alive. These circles were discouraged in their attitude earlier by the fact that no foreign power had used the conditions in Germany as a reason for breaking off diplomatic relations, but that almost all, until the outbreak of war negotiated with National Socialism, concluded treaties and even had their diplomatic representatives at the National Socialist Party Days at Nuremberg. It was particularly noted that National Socialist Germany, outwardly at any rate, received much more consideration, understanding, and respect from foreign countries than ever had the Weimar Republic despite all its fidelity to treaties or its integrity.
Then the war came, and with it special duties for civil servants, officers, and every individual German. Should, and if so when and how could these people who still felt themselves to be the servants of the nation, leave their posts under these circumstances? Would they, above all, by taking such a step be useful to their country and to humanity? Would they have frightened Hitler or even warned him? ....
I had at that time (after the French campaign), to be sure, no official position. But I nevertheless felt the need, and I believe it was a heartfelt wish of many, if not all, Germans, to see peaceful conditions again in the world as soon as possible. On the day of the capitulation of the King of the Belgians, I suggested: Firstly, the creation of a United States of Europe on a democratic basis. This would have meant independence of Holland, Belgium, Poland, and so on.
Secondly, if this could not be brought about with Hitler, at any rate to have as few encroachments on the autonomy of the countries as possible...But at that time Hitler considered such plans as premature. ....
From Ribbentrop's IMT Testimony: After the conclusion of the campaign in the West, I discussed future developments with the Fuehrer at his headquarters. I asked him what his further intentions were with regard to England. The Fuehrer and I proposed at the time, whether we had not better make another attempt with England. The Fuehrer seemed to have had the same idea and was delighted with my proposal for making a fresh peace offer or attempting to make peace with England. I asked the Fuehrer whether I should draft such a treaty for this case. The Fuehrer spontaneously replied: 'No, that will not be necessary, I will do that myself, that is, there is no need to do it at all."
He said, word for word: "If England is ready for peace, there are only four points to be settled. Above all, after Dunkirk, I do not want England in any circumstances to suffer a loss of prestige, so under no circumstances do I want a peace which would involve that." With regard to the contents of such a treaty, he enumerated four points: 1. Germany is ready to recognize in all respects the existence of the British Empire. 2. England must, therefore, acknowledge Germany to be the greatest continental power, if only because of the size of her population. 3. He said, "I want England to return the German colonies. I would be satisfied with one or two of them, because of the raw materials." 4. He said that he wanted a permanent alliance with England for life and death.
From Ribbentrop's IMT Testimony: It is quite clear that the basic anti-Semitic tendency and policy of the German Government spread over all the departments and naturally, in any sphere--I mean, every Government office somehow or other came into contact with these matters. Our task in the Foreign Office--which could be proved in thousands of cases if the documents would be submitted was to act as an intermediary in this sphere. I might say, we often had to do things in accordance with this anti-Semitic policy, but we always endeavored to prevent these measures and to reach some kind of conciliatory settlement. In fact, the German Embassy was not responsible for any anti-Semitic measures of any description in France.
This alliance (a proposed German-Japanese Pact) is directed exclusively against the American warmongers. To be sure that is, as usual, not expressly stated in the treaty, but can be unmistakably inferred from its terms. Its exclusive purpose is to bring the elements pressing for America's entry into the war to their senses by conclusively demonstrating to them if they enter the present struggle they will automatically have to deal with the three great powers as adversaries.September 27, 1940 Tripartite Pact: The German, Italian, and Japanese governments sign a Three-Power Pact in Berlin.
From the IMT testimony of Margarete Blank: The Tripartite Pact was to be a pact for the limitation of war (and) was signed with this end in view.
From Ribbentrop's IMT Testimony: The Tripartite Pact was concluded, I believe, in September 1940. The situation was as I have just described it, that is to say, the Führer was alarmed that the United States might sooner or later enter the war. For this reason I wanted to do all I could, in the field of diplomacy, to strengthen Germany's position. I thought we had Italy as an ally, but Italy showed herself to be a weak ally. As we could not win France over to our side, the only friend apart from the Balkan States was Japan. In the summer of 1940 we therefore tried to achieve closer collaboration with Japan. Japan was trying to do the same with us and that led to the signing of the pact. The aim, or substance, of this pact was a political, military, and economic alliance.
There is no doubt, however, that it was intended as a defensive alliance; and we considered it as such from the start. By that I mean that it was intended dn the first place to keep the United States out of the war; and I hoped that a combination of this kind might enable us to make peace with England after all. The pact itself was not based on any plan for aggression or world domination, as has often been asserted. That is not true; its purpose was, as I have just said, to arrive at a combination which would enable Germany to introduce a new order in Europe and would also allow Japan to reach a solution acceptable to her in East Asia, especially in regard to the Chinese problem. That was what I had in mind when I negotiated and signed the pact. The situation was not unfavorable; the pact might possibly keep the United States neutral and isolate England so that we might all the same arrive at a compromise peace, a possibility of which we never lost sight during the whole course of the war, and for which we worked steadily.
...the Axis not merely admits but the Axis proclaims that there can be no ultimate peace between their philosophy of government and our philosophy of government. In view of the nature of this undeniable threat, it can be asserted, properly and categorically, that the United States has no right or reason to encourage talk of peace, until the day shall come when there is a clear intention on the part of the aggressor nations to abandon all thought of dominating or conquering the world...October 8, 1940: Large numbers of German troops arrive in Romania to train the Romanian army and to protect Romanian oil fields from British sabotage. The arrival of German troops effectively places Romania under German control.
From Ribbentrop's IMT Testimony: I consider that the measures adopted in Yugoslavia and the measures taken by Greece in granting bases, et cetera, to the enemies of Germany justified the intervention of Adolf Hitler, so that here too one cannot speak of aggressive action in this sense. It was quite clear that British troops were about to land in Greece, since they had already landed in Crete and the Peloponnesos, and that the uprising in Yugoslavia by the enemies of Germany, in agreement with the enemies of Germany, as I mentioned yesterday, had been encouraged with the intent of launching an attack against Germany from that country. The documents of the French General Staff discovered later in France showed only too clearly that a landing in Salonika had been planned. ....
The concept of "aggression" is a very complicated concept, which even today the world at large cannot readily define. That is a point I should like to emphasize first. We are here dealing, undeniably, with a preventive intervention, with a war of prevention. That is quite certain, for attack we did. There is no denying it. I had hoped that matters with the Soviet Union could have been settled differently, diplomatically, and I did everything I could in this direction. But the information received and all the political acts of the Soviet Union in 1940 and 1941 until the outbreak of war, persuaded the Fuehrer, as he repeatedly told me, that sooner or later the so-called East-West pincers would be applied to Germany, that is, that in the East, Russia with her immense war potential, and in the West, England and the United States, were pushing steadily towards Europe with the purpose of making a large-scale landing. It was the Fuehrer's great worry that this would happen.
Moreover, the Fuehrer informed me that close collaboration existed between the General Staffs of London and Moscow. This I do not know; I personally received no such news. But the reports and information which I received from the Fuehrer were of an extremely concrete nature. At any rate, he feared that, one day, Germany, faced with this political situation, would be threatened with catastrophe and he wished to prevent the collapse of Germany and the destruction of the balance of power in Europe.
From Ribbentrop's IMT Testimony: The conferences with Molotov at Berlin concerned the following subjects: I might interpolate that when we were trying to effect a settlement with Russia through diplomatic channels, I wrote a letter to Marshal Stalin, with the Fuehrer's permission, in the late autumn of 1940 and invited Mr. Molotov to come to Berlin. This invitation was accepted, and Russo-German relations were discussed in their entirety during a conversation between the Fuehrer and Mr. Molotov. I was present at this discussion. Mr. Molotov first discussed with the Fuehrer Russo-German relations in general and then went on to mention Finland and the Balkans. He said that Russia had vital interests in Finland. He said that when the delimitation of zones of influence had been settled, it had been agreed that Finland should be included in the Russian sphere of influence.
The Fuehrer replied that Germany also had extensive interests in Finland, especially with regard to nickel, and furthermore, it should not be forgotten that the entire German people sympathized with the Finns. He would therefore ask Mr. Molotov to compromise on this question. This topic was brought up on several occasions. With regard to the Balkans, Mr. Molotov said that he wanted a non-aggression pact with Bulgaria, and generally closer ties with Bulgaria. He also thought of establishing bases there. The Fuehrer replied, or rather asked, whether Bulgaria had approached Molotov in the matter, but that apparently was not the case.
The Fuehrer then said that he could not express any opinion on this question until he had discussed it with Mussolini, who was his ally and who was naturally interested in the Balkans too. Various other points were also discussed, but no final settlement was reached at this discussion. The discussion rather proceeded on lines which seemed to me not those best calculated to lead to a bridging of all contrasts. As soon as the meeting was over, I requested the Fuehrer to authorize me to take up again the discussions with Mr. Molotov and asked him if he would consent to my discussing with Mr. Molotov the possibility of Russia's joining the Tripartite Pact. That was one of our aims at the time. The Fuehrer agreed to this and I had another long discussion with the Russian Foreign Commissar. In this conversation the same topics were discussed. Mr. Molotov alluded to Russia's vital interest in Finland; he also referred to Russia's deep interest in Bulgaria, the kinship between the Russian and the Bulgarian people, and her interest in other Balkan countries.
It was finally agreed that on his return to Moscow he should speak to Stalin and try to arrive at some solution of the question. I proposed that they join the Tripartite Pact and further proposed that I should discuss with the Fuehrer the various points which had been raised. Perhaps we could still find a way out. The general result of this conversation was that Molotov went back to Moscow with the intention of clearing up through the embassies the differences still existing between us.
From Ribbentrop's IMT Testimony: I should perhaps say first that I had agreed with M. Molotov in Berlin to conduct further negotiations through diplomatic channels. I wanted to influence the Fuehrer regarding the demands already made by Molotov in Berlin in order that some sort of an agreement or compromise might be arrived at. Then Schulenburg sent us a report from Moscow with the Russian demands. In this report was, first of all, the renewed demand for Finland. To this the Fuehrer, as is well known, told Molotov that he did not wish that after the winter campaign of 1940 another war should break out in the North.
Now the demand for Finland was raised again, and we assumed that it would mean the occupation of Finland. It was difficult since it was a demand which the Fuehrer had already turned down. Another demand of the Russians was that of the Balkans and Bulgaria. Russia, as is well known, wanted bases there and wished to enter into close relations with Bulgaria. The Bulgarian Government, with whom we got in touch, did not want this. Moreover, this Russian penetration of the Balkans was for both the Fuehrer and Mussolini a difficult question because of our economic interests there: grain, oil, and so on. But above all it was the will of the Bulgarian Government themselves, which was against this penetration.
Then, thirdly, there was the demand of the Russians for outlets to the sea and military bases on the Dardanelles; and then the request which Molotov had already expressed to me in Berlin, to secure somehow at least an interest in the outlets of the Baltic Sea. M. Molotov himself told me at that time that Russia naturally was also very much interested in the Skagerrak and Kattegat. At that time I discussed these demands and requests fully with the Fuehrer. The Fuehrer said we would have to get in touch with Mussolini, who was very much interested in some of these demands. This took place, but neither the demands for the Balkans nor the demands for the Dardanelles met with the approval from Mussolini.
As far as Bulgaria is concerned I have already stated that she did not want it either; and with regard to Finland, neither Finland nor the Fuehrer wanted to accede to the demands of the Soviet Union. Negotiations were then carried on for many months. I recall that upon receipt of a telegram from Moscow in December 1940 I had another long conversation with the Fuehrer. I had an idea that, if we could bring about a compromise between the Russian demands and the wishes of the various parties concerned, a coalition could be formed which would be so strong that it would eventually induce England to remain at peace.
From the IMT testimony of Adolf von Steengracht: Ribbentrop told me several times that he was very concerned about the pact with Russia. In regard to preventive war, he had stated to Hitler: "The good God does not let anyone look at His cards." I know too that Ribbentrop made efforts to bring our experts on Russia to Hitler in order to explain to him the situation there and to advise him against a war. Hitler did not permit these people to see him, so far as I know. Only Ambassador Count Schulenburg was granted a short audience. He, who considered such a war ill-advised and emphatically rejected the idea, could not, however, advance his views on Russia and the reasons against a war; for Hitler, having delivered a speech of his own on this subject, after about 20 minutes dismissed him abruptly without letting him speak a word. ....
From Ribbentrop's IMT Testimony: I must say this here: In the winter of 1940-41 the Fuehrer was confronted with the following situation. I think it is most important to make this clear. England was not prepared to make peace. The attitude of the United States of America and of Russia was therefore of decisive importance to the Fuehrer. He told me the following about this--I had a very lengthy discussion with him on the subject and asked him to give me clearly defined diplomatic directives. He said that Japan's attitude was not absolutely secure for Germany; although we had concluded the Tripartite Pact, there were very strong opposition elements at work in Japan and we could not know what position Japan would take; Italy had proved to be a very weak ally in the Greek campaign. Germany might, therefore, have to stand entirely alone. After that, he spoke of the American attitude. He said that he had always wanted to have good relations with the United States, but that in spite of extreme reserve, the United States had grown steadily more hostile to Germany.
The Tripartite Pact had been concluded with a view to keeping the United States out of the war, as it was our wish and our belief that in that way those circles in the United States which were working for peace and for good relations with Germany could be strengthened. We were not successful in this, however, as the attitude of the United States was not favorable to Germany after the conclusion of the Tripartite Pact. The Fuehrer's basic idea, and mine, namely, that if the United States did enter the war in Europe, they would have to reckon with a war on two fronts and therefore would prefer not to intervene, was not realized. Now the further question of Russia's attitude came up and in this connection the Fuehrer made the following statement: We have a friendship pact with Russia.
But Russia has assumed the attitude which we have just been discussing and which causes me a certain amount of concern. We do not know, therefore, what to expect from that side. More and more troop movements were reported; he had himself taken military countermeasures, the exact nature of which was, and still is, unknown to me. However, his great anxiety was that Russia on the one hand and the United States and Britain on the other, might proceed against Germany. On the one hand, therefore, he had to reckon with an attack by Russia and on the other hand with a joint attack by the United States and England, that is to say with large-scale landings in the West. All these considerations finally caused the Fuehrer to take preventive measures, to start a preventive war against Russia on his own initiative. ....
Adolf Hitler once said to me--he expressed himself thus--and this was when he became worried about what was taking place in Russia in the way of preparations against Germany: "We do not know of course what is concealed behind this gate, if some day we should really be forced to kick it open." From this and other statements which the Fuehrer made at this time I concluded that, on the basis of reports about Russia, he suffered great anxiety about the strength and the possible display of might by the Soviet Union.
The Duce is pleased with the conversation on the whole. I am less pleased. Above all, because Ribbentrop, who had always been so boastful in the past, told me, when I asked him outright how long the war would last, that he saw no possibility of its ending before 1942.
From Ribbentrop's IMT Testimony: The Defendant Keitel was with me at the time at Fuschl, and on that occasion he told me that the Fuehrer had certain misgivings regarding Russia and could not leave the possibility of an armed conflict out of his calculations. He said that, for his part, he had prepared a memorandum which he proposed to discuss with the Fuehrer. He had doubts as to the wisdom of any conflict of that kind in the East, and he asked me at the time if I would also use my influence with the Fuehrer in that direction. I agreed to do so. But an attack or plans for an attack were not discussed; I might say that all this was a discussion more from a General Staff point of view. He made no mention to me of anything more concrete.
That the German nation has no quarrel with the Americans is evident to everybody who does not consciously wish to falsify truth. At no time has Germany had interests on the American Continent except perhaps that she helped that Continent in its struggle for liberty. If States on this continent now attempt to interfere in the European conflict, then the aim will only be changed more quickly. Europe will then defend herself. And do not let people deceive themselves. Those who believe they can help England must take note of one thing: every ship, whether with or without convoy which appears before our torpedo tubes is going to be torpedoed...February 9, 1941: Churchill broadcasts an address to the British people:
...we do need most urgently an immense and continuous supply of war materials and technical apparatus of all kinds. We need them here and we need to bring them here. We shall need a great mass of shipping in 1942, far more than we can build ourselves, if we are to maintain and augment our war effort in the West and in the East. These facts are, of course, all well known to the enemy, and we must therefore expect that Herr Hitler will do his utmost to prey upon our shipping and to reduce the volume of American supplies entering these Islands. Having conquered France and Norway, his clutching fingers reach out on both sides of us into the ocean...February 24, 1941: Hitler speaks in Munich:
I am not one of those who see such a war coming and start whining about it. I have said and done all that I could; I have made proposal after proposal to Britain; likewise to France. These proposals were always ridiculed--rejected with scorn. However, when I saw that the other side intended to fight, I naturally did that which as a National Socialist of the early days, I did once before: I forged a powerful weapon of defense. And, just as of old, I proclaimed that we should be not merely strong enough to stand the blows of others but strong enough to deal blows in return. I built up the German armed forces as a military instrument of State policy, so that if war were inevitable, these forces could deliver crushing blows...March 1, 1941: Bulgaria officially joins the Tripartite Pact signed previously by Germany, Italy and Japan (September 27, 1940).
The RAM (Ribbentrop) resumed, where they had left off the preceding conversation with Matsuoka about the latter’s impending talks with the Russians in Moscow. He expressed the opinion that it would probably be best, in view of the whole situation, not to carry the discussions with the Russians too far. He did not know how the situation would develop. One thing was certain, however, namely that Germany would strike immediately, should Russia ever attack Japan. He was ready to give Matsuoka this positive assurance so that Japan could push forward to the South on Singapore without fear of possible complications with Russia.
The largest part of the German Army was on the Eastern frontiers of the Reich anyway and fully prepared to open the attack at any time. He (the RAM), however, believed that Russia would try to avoid developments leading to war. Should Germany, however, enter into a conflict with Russia, the USSR would be finished off within a few months. In this case Japan would have, of course, even less reason to be afraid than ever, if she wants to advance on Singapore. Consequently, she need not refrain from such an undertaking because of possible fears of Russia.
He could not know, of course, just how things with Russia would develop. It was uncertain whether or not Stalin would intensify his present unfriendly policy against Germany. He (the RAM) wanted to point out to Matsuoka in any case that a conflict with Russia was at least within the realm of possibility. In any case, Matsuoka could not report to the Japanese Emperor, upon his return, that a conflict between Russia and Germany was impossible. On the contrary, the situation was such that such a conflict, even if it were not probable, would have to be considered possible. ....
Next, the RAM turned again to the Singapore question. In view of the fears expressed by the Japanese of possible attacks by submarines based on the Philippines, and of the intervention of the British Mediterranean and home fleets, he had again discussed the situation with Grossadmiral Raeder. The latter had stated that the British Navy during this year would have its hands so full in the English home waters and in the Mediterranean that it would not be able to send even a single ship to the Far East. Grossadmiral Raeder had described the United States submarines as so poor that Japan need not bother about them at all. Matsuoka replied immediately that the Japanese Navy had a very low estimate of the threat from the British Navy.
It also held the view that, in case of a clash with the American Navy, it would be able to smash the latter without trouble. However, it was afraid that the Americans would not take up the battle with their fleet; thus the conflict with the United States might perhaps be dragged out to 5 years. This possibility caused considerable worry in Japan.
The RAM replied that America could not do anything against Japan in the case of the capture of Singapore. Perhaps for this reason alone, Roosevelt would think twice before deciding on active measures against Japan. For while on the one hand he could not achieve anything against Japan, on the other hand there was the probability of losing the Philippines to Japan; for the American President, of course, this would mean a considerable loss of prestige, and because of the inadequate rearmament, he would have nothing to offset such a loss. In this connection Matsuoka pointed out that he was doing everything to reassure the English about Singapore. He acted as if Japan had no intention at all regarding this key position of England. Therefore it might be possible that his attitude toward the British would appear to be friendly in words and in acts.
However, Germany should not be deceived by that. He assumed this attitude not only in order to reassure the British, but also in order to fool the pro-British and pro-American elements in Japan just so long, until one day he would suddenly open the attack on Singapore. In this connection Matsuoka stated that his tactics were based on the certain assumption that the sudden attack against Singapore would unite the entire Japanese nation with one blow. ('Nothing succeeds like success,' the RAM remarked.) He followed here the example expressed in the words of a famous Japanese statesman addressed to the Japanese Navy at the outbreak of the Russo-Japanese war: "You open fire, then the nation will be united." The Japanese need to be shaken up to awaken. After all, as an Oriental, he believed in the fate which would come, whether you wanted it or not. ....
Matsuoka then introduced the subject of German assistance in the blow against Singapore, a subject which had been broached to him frequently, and mentioned the proposal of a German written promise of assistance. The RAM replied that he had already discussed these questions with Ambassador Oshima. He had asked him to procure maps of Singapore in order that the Fuehrer--who probably must be considered the greatest expert on military questions at the present time--could advise Japan on the best method of attack against Singapore. German experts on aerial warfare, too, would be at her disposal; they could draw up a report, based on their European experiences, for the Japanese on the use of dive-bombers from airfields in the vicinity against the British Fleet in Singapore. Thus, the British Fleet would be forced to disappear from Singapore immediately. Matsuoka remarked that Japan was less concerned with the British Fleet than with the capture of the fortifications.
The RAM replied that here, too, the Fuehrer had developed new methods for the German attacks on strongly fortified positions, such as the Maginot Line and Fort Eben-Emael, which he could make available to the Japanese. Matsuoka replied in this connection that some of the younger expert Japanese Naval officers, who were close friends of his, were of the opinion that the Japanese Naval forces would need 3 months until they could capture Singapore. As a cautious Foreign Minister, he had doubled this estimate.
He believed he could stave off any danger which threatened from America for 6 months. If, however, the capture of Singapore required still more time and if the operations would perhaps even drag out for a year, the situation with America would become extremely critical; and he did not know as yet how to meet it. If at all avoidable, he would not touch the Netherlands East Indies, since he was afraid that in case of a Japanese attack on this area, the oil fields would be set afire. They could be brought into operation again only after 1 or 2 years. "The RAM added that Japan would gain decisive influence over the Netherlands East Indies simultaneously with the capture of Singapore."
Matsuoka then spoke of the general high morale in Germany, referring to the happy faces he had seen everywhere among the workers during his recent visit to the Borsig works. He expressed his regret that developments in Japan were not yet as far advanced as in Germany and that in his country the intellectuals still exercised considerable influence. The Reich Foreign Minister replied that at best a nation which had realized its every ambition could afford the luxury of intellectuals, some of whom are parasites, anyway. A nation, however, which has to fight for a place in the sun must give them up. The intellectuals ruined France; in Germany they had already started their pernicious activities when National Socialism put a stop to these doings; they will surely be the cause of the downfall of Britain, which is to be expected with certainty.April 6, 1941: On Palm Sunday, Hitler invades Yugoslavia and Greece.
From Ribbentrop's IMT Testimony: It came within the scope of the Fuehrer's policy for preventing the war from spreading, as entrusted to me, that I should keep a sharp watch on these things and, of course, especially on the Balkans; Adolf Hitler wished in all circumstances to keep the Balkans out of the war. As for Greece the situation was as follows: Greece had accepted a British guarantee. Also, there were close links between Yugoslavia and England and, especially, France. Through the Fuehrer's intelligence service and through military channels we repeatedly heard about staff conferences between Athens, Belgrade, London and Paris, which were supposed to be taking place. About that time I summoned the Greek Minister on several occasions and drew his attention to these things. I asked him to be very careful, and told him that Germany had no intention of taking any steps against the Greek people, who had always been very much liked in Germany. However, further intelligence reports came in to the effect that Britain had been given permission to establish naval bases in Greece. I believe--and all this led up to the intervention of Italy, which we did not desire at all. ....
It was impossible to prevent this intervention, for when we arrived in Florence--I was with Adolf Hitler at the time--for his conference with Mussolini, it was too late and Mussolini said: "We are on the march." The Fuehrer was very much upset and depressed when he heard this news. We then had to do everything in our power so that the war between Greece and Italy might at least be prevented from spreading. Yugoslav policy was naturally the decisive factor here. I tried in every possible way to establish closer links with Yugoslavia and to win her over to the Tripartite Pact which had already been concluded then. It was difficult at first, but with the help of the Regent Prince Paul and the Zvetkovitch Government, we finally succeeded in inducing Yugoslavia to join the Tripartite Pact. We knew very well, however, that there was strong opposition in Belgrade to the adhesion of Yugoslavia to the Tripartite Pact and to any kind of closer connection with Germany.
In Vienna at the time the Fuehrer said that the signing of the Tripartite Pact seemed like a funeral to him. All the same, we were very much surprised when--I think it was 2 or 3 days after the conclusion of this pact--the government was overthrown by General Simovic's coup and a new government was set up which certainly could not be described as friendly to Germany. Reports came from Belgrade concerning close collaboration with the British General Staff. I believe American observers in this field are informed on the point, and during the last few months I have heard from English sources that British elements had played a part in this coup. That was quite natural, for we were at war.
All these events caused the Fuehrer to intervene in the Balkans, first of all, to help Italy, whom the courageous resistance of the Greeks had forced into a very difficult position in Albania; and secondly, to prevent a possible attack from the north on the part of Yugoslavia, which might have made the Italian situation still more serious or even brought about a crushing defeat for our Italian ally. Those were the military and strategic factors which induced the Fuehrer to intervene and to conduct the campaign against Greece and Yugoslavia.
From the IMT testimony of Margarete Blank: His (Ribbentrop's) intentions regarding Russia were shown by the Non-aggression Pact of August 1939, and the Trade Agreement of September 1939...there was an additional secret agreement. Owing to illness, I could not accompany Von Ribbentrop on his two trips to Russia. I was also absent when the preparatory work for the agreements was being done. I learned of the existence of this secret agreement through a special sealed envelope which, according to instructions, was filed separately and bore an inscription something like "German-Russian secret or additional agreement." .... Having signed the German-Russian pacts, Von Ribbentrop was, of course, interested in their being kept. Moreover, he realized fully the great danger a German-Russian war would mean for Germany; accordingly he informed and warned the Fuehrer. For this very purpose, as far as I recall, Embassy Counsellor Hilger from Moscow and Ambassador Schnurre were called to Berchtesgaden to report. Also, in the spring of 1941 Ambassador Count von der Schulenburg was again ordered to report, to back up and to corroborate and reinforce Herr Von Ribbentrop's--warnings to the Fuehrer.
I can summarize my opinion on a German-Russian conflict in one sentence: if every burned out Russian city was worth as much to us as a sunk English battleship, then I would be in favor of a German-Russian war in this summer; I think though that we can win over Russia only militarily but that we should lose economically. One can find it enticing to give the Communist system its death blow and perhaps say too that it lies in the logic of things to let the European-Asiatic continent now march forth against Anglo-Saxondom and its allies.
But only one thing is decisive: whether this undertaking would hasten the fall of England. That we will advance militarily up to Moscow and beyond victoriously, I believe is unquestionable. But I thoroughly doubt that we could make use of what was won against the well known passive resistance of the Slavs. A German attack on Russia would only give a lift to English morale. It would be evaluated there as German doubt of the success of our war against England. We would in this fashion not only admit that the war would still last a long time, but we could in this way actually lengthen instead of shorten it.
To begin with, the Reich Foreign Minister conveyed the Fuehrer's greetings to the Duce. He would shortly propose to the Duce a date for the planned meeting, which he would like to take place as soon as possible. As the place for the meeting he would probably prefer the Brenner. At the present moment he was, as the Duce could well understand, still busy with the Hess Affair and with a few military matters. The Duce replied that he would agree with all the Fuehrer's proposals. ....
The Reich Foreign Minister then said that the Fuehrer had sent him to the Duce in order to inform him about the Hess affair and the conversations with Admiral Darlan. With regard to Hess's affair he remarked that the Fuehrer and his staff had been completely taken aback by Hess's action and that it had been the deed of a lunatic. Hess had been suffering for a long time from bilious attacks and had fallen into the hands of magnetists and nature-cure doctors who caused his state of health to become worse. All these matters were being investigated at the moment, as well as the responsibility of the aides-de-camp who had known about Hess's forbidden flights. Hess had for weeks carried out secret practice flights in an ME-110. Naturally he had acted only from idealistic motives. Disloyalty towards the Fuehrer was utterly out of the question. His conduct had to be explained by a kind of abstractness and a state of mind caused by his illness. ....
Being sympathetically inclined towards England, he had conceived the crazy idea of using Great Britain's fascist circles to persuade the British to give in. He had explained all this in a long and confused letter to the Fuehrer. When this letter reached the Fuehrer, Hess was already in England. It was hoped in Germany that he would perhaps meet with an accident on the way, but he was now really in England and had tried to contact the former Marquis of Clydesdale, the present Duke of Hamilton. Hess quite wrongly considered him as a great friend of Germany and had flown to the neighborhood of his castle in Scotland.
Today the whole world is divided, divided between human slavery and human freedom--between pagan brutality and the Christian ideal. We choose human freedom--which is the Christian ideal. No one of us can waver for a moment in his courage or his faith. We will not accept a Hitler-dominated world. And we will not accept a world, like the post-war world of the 1920's, in which the seeds of Hitlerism can again be planted and allowed to grow. We will accept only a world consecrated to freedom of speech and expression--freedom of every person to worship God in his own way--freedom from want--and freedom from (terrorism) terror. Is such a world impossible of attainment...June 6, 1941 From Hitler's Commissar Order to his Generals:
The war against Russia cannot be fought in knightly fashion. The struggle is one of ideologies and racial differences and will have to be waged with unprecedented, unmerciful, and unrelenting hardness. All officers will have to get rid of any old fashioned ideas they may have. I realize that the necessity for conducting such warfare is beyond the comprehension of you generals, but I must insist that my orders be followed without complaint. The commissars hold views directly opposite to those of National Socialism. Hence these commissars must be eliminated. Any German soldier who breaks international law will be pardoned. Russia did not take part in the Hague Convention and, therefore, has no rights under it.June 7, 1941: Ribbentrop's Ambassador in Moscow reports that "All observations show that Stalin and Molotov, who are alone responsible for Russian foreign policy, are doing everything to avoid a conflict with Germany."
The representatives of Great Britain, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the Union of South Africa and of the exiled governments of Belgium, Czechoslovakia, Greece, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Yugoslavia and of General de Gaulle of France, met at the ancient St. James’s Palace and sign a Declaration: The only true basis of enduring peace is the willing cooperation of free peoples in a world in which, relieved of the menace of aggression, all may enjoy economic and social security; It is our intention to work together, and with other free peoples, both in war and peace, to this end.June 22, 1941 Unternehmen Barbarossa: Operation Barbarossa begins as 4.5 million troops of the Axis powers invade the USSR along an 1,800 mile front.
...fascist Germany suddenly and treacherously violated the Non-Aggression Pact she concluded in 1939 with the USSR, disregarding the fact that she would be regarded as the aggressor by the whole world. Naturally, our peace-loving country, not wishing to take the initiative of breaking the pact, could not resort to perfidy. It may be asked how could the Soviet Government have consented to conclude a Non-Aggression Pact with such treacherous fiends as Hitler and Ribbentrop? Was this not an error on the part of the Soviet Government? Of course not.
Non-Aggression Pacts are pacts of peace between states. It was such a pact that Germany proposed to us in 1939. Could the Soviet Government have declined such a proposal? I think that not a single peace-loving state could decline a peace treaty with a neighboring state, even though the latter was headed by such fiends and cannibals as Hitler and Ribbentrop. Of course only on one indispensable condition, namely, that this peace treaty does not infringe either directly or indirectly on the territorial integrity, independence and honor of the peace-loving state. As is well known, the Non-Aggression Pact between Germany and the USSR is precisely such a pact...
I request you to use every means in your power to influence Matsuoka, in the way I have indicated, so that Japan will declare war on Russia as soon as possible; for the sooner this happens, the better it will be. It must still be our natural aim to shake hands with Japan on the Trans-Siberian railway before the winter. With the collapse of Russia the position of the countries participating in the Three Power Pact will be so strong that the collapse of England or the complete annihilation of the British Isles will be only a question of time.
From Ribbentrop's IMT Testimony: The war against Russia had started, and I tried at the time--the Fuehrer held the same view--to get Japan into the war against Russia in order to end the war with Russia as soon as possible. That was the meaning of that telegram.
Complementing the task that was assigned to you on 24 January 1939, which dealt with arriving at thorough furtherance of emigration and evacuation solution of the Jewish problem, as advantageous as possible, I hereby charge you to make all necessary organizational and practical preparations for bringing about a complete solution of the Jewish question in the German sphere of influence in Europe. Wherever other governmental agencies are involved, these are to cooperate with you. I charge you furthermore to send me, before long, an over-all plan concerning the organizational, factual, and material measures necessary for the accomplishment of the desired final solution of the Jewish question.
From the IMT testimony of Adolf von Steengracht: I know that Ribbentrop spoke frequently with Hitler on this theme (the Church and the Jews). I was absolutely in despair about the policy toward the Church and the Jews, and for this reason had occasion to speak to him about it often, as I have said. But he explained to me again and again when he returned from Hitler: "Hitler cannot be spoken to on this point. Hitler says that these problems have to be solved before he dies." ....
The relations between Ribbentrop and the forenamed gentlemen (Himmler, Goebbels, and Bormann) were as bad as can be imagined. There was a perpetual fight between them. In my opinion Ribbentrop would have been Himmler's first victim if anything had happened to Hitler. A constant struggle and feud, I should like to state, went on between these men with an exceptionally sharp exchange of letters. ....
The relationship in the individual departments naturally varied according to the character and the origin of the department chiefs. But one can say that the relationship was bad throughout, and, especially, that reciprocal information, so urgently necessary for state business, practically never developed. It was almost more difficult for one minister to discuss a question with another minister by telephone than to have had the Angel Gabriel himself come from heaven and speak with one of us. Even on the most important and essential matters, a factual discussion could not take place. There was, in other words, practically no connection between these departments. Moreover, they were very different, both in their character and in their ideas. ....
...there must have been two protests concerning the Catholic Polish clergy. These two notes were submitted by the Nuncio to the State Secretary of that time. The then State Secretary turned these over to Ribbentrop according to regulation, and Ribbentrop in his turn presented them to Hitler. Since the Vatican had not recognized the Government General, and accordingly the Nuncio was not competent for these regions, Hitler declared when these notes were presented to him:
They are just one blunt lie. Give these notes back to the Nuncio through the State Secretary in a sharp form, and tell him that you will never again accept such a matter.Sharp and precise instructions were then issued that in all cases in which representatives of countries brought up matters which were not within their authority, whether in conversations, or notes, note verbale, memoranda, or other documents, these were not to be accepted, and verbal protests were to be turned down sharply.
From Ribbentrop's IMT Testimony: I have always said that my relations with Himmler were good during the first few years, but I regret to say that in the latter years I was not on good terms with him. I naturally--it was not very noticeable to the outside world--but I do not wish to discuss this matter in detail. Many things have already been said about it and there were serious and violent divergences, due to many reasons. ....
The first divergences between Himmler and myself arose, I believe, in 1941, over Romania and difficulties in Romania. These divergences were smoothed over, and naturally to all outward appearances we had to work together as before, and we often exchanged letters on our respective birthdays and on other occasions. But later on relations were not very good. The final break came in 1941. Formerly I had been on good terms with him and also shared his opinion for the creation of a leadership class, at which he was aiming. ....
As for our 50 meetings, I do not know, we may have met frequently, despite everything, but I cannot remember 50 meetings. Possibly five or ten, I do not know. I do not believe it to be of vital importance since it is not a decisive factor. Of course we had to work together in various fields and this collaboration was mostly very difficult.
The USSR attaches great importance to the matter of neutralizing Finland and her association from Germany. The severance of relations between Britain and Finland and the blockade of Finland, announced by Britain, have already borne fruit and engendered conflicts among the ruling circles of Finland. If the US Government were to threaten Finland with a rupture of relations, the Finnish Government would be more resolute in the matter of breaking with Germany. In that case the Soviet Government could make certain territorial concessions to Finland with a view to assuaging her and conclude a new peace treaty with her.August 7, 1941 Goebbels' Diary:
The Jews have always been carriers of infectious diseases. One must either crowd them together in ghettos and leave them to it, or else liquidate them, failing which they will always infect the healthy civilized population.August 14, 1941: Churchill and FDR release a joint declaration; the Atlantic Charter:
...after the final destruction of the Nazi tyranny, they hope to see established a peace which will afford to all nations the means of dwelling in safety...
From Ribbentrop's IMT Testimony: It was a very regrettable event for us. I am not competent to deal with technical details but I remember exactly that Hitler was greatly excited about this order. I believe it was in a speech at some meeting--probably at Munich, but I do not remember exactly--that he replied to this speech and issued a warning in answer to the announcement. I happen to remember the form which his reply took, because at the time I thought it rather odd. He said that America had given the order to fire on German ships. "I gave no order to fire but I ordered that the fire be returned"; I believe that is the way he expressed it. Documentary evidence of these events reached us in the diplomatic service, but the Navy is better informed on the subject than I am. After that, I believe, there were protests and publications about the measures which made the German attitude plain; I cannot give you exact details of these protests without referring to the documents themselves.
The Fuehrer is convinced that his prophecy in the Reichstag (January 20, 1939 and subsequently repeated annually) that, if Jewry succeeded once more in provoking war it would end with their annihilation, is almost uncannily true.September 1, 1941: From a Police Decree Concerning the Marking of Jews:
PARAGRAPH I Jews (see Paragraph 5 of the First Executive Decree Concerning the Reich Citizenship Law of 14 November 1935) over the age of six are forbidden to show themselves in public without a Jew's star. The Jew's star consists of a six-pointed star of yellow cloth with black borders, equivalent in size to the palm of the hand. The inscription is to read JEW in black letters. It is to be sewn to the left breast of the garment, and to be worn visibly. PARAGRAPH II Jews are forbidden: (a) to leave their area of residence without carrying, on their person, written permission from the local police; (b) to wear medals, decorations, or other insignia.October 25, 1941: US Department of State Bulletin:
The practice of executing scores of innocent hostages in reprisal for isolated attacks on Germans in countries temporarily under the Nazi heel revolts a world already inured to suffering and brutality. Civilized peoples long ago adopted the basic principle that no man should be punished for the deed of another. Unable to apprehend the persons involved in these attacks the Nazis characteristically slaughter fifty or a hundred innocent persons. Those who would "collaborate" with Hitler or try to appease him cannot ignore this ghastly warning. The Nazis might have learned from the last war the impossibility of breaking men's spirits by terrorism. Instead they develop their lebensraum and 'new order' by depths of frightfulness which even they have never approached before. These are the acts of desperate men who know in their hearts that they cannot win. Frightfulness can never bring peace to Europe. It only sows the seeds of hatred which will one day bring fearful retribution.November 29, 1941: In a document captured from the Japanese from the Japanese Ambassador in Berlin to Tokyo:
Ribbentrop opened our meeting by again inquiring whether I had received any reports regarding the Japanese-United States negotiations. I replied that I had received no official word.
Ribbentrop: It is essential that Japan effect the New Order in East Asia without losing this opportunity. There never has been and probably never will be a time when closer cooperation under the Tripartite Pact is so important. If Japan hesitates at this time and Germany goes ahead and establishes her European New Order, all the military might of Britain and the United States wit be concentrated against Japan. As Fuehrer Hitler said today, there are fundamental differences in the very right to exist between Germany and Japan, and the United States. We have received advice to the effect that there is practically no hope of the Japanese-United States negotiations being concluded successfully because of the fact that the United States is putting up a stiff front. If this is indeed the fact of the case and if Japan reaches a decision to fight Britain and the United States, I am confident that will not only be to the interest of Germany and Japan jointly but would bring about favorable results for Japan herself.
Japanese Ambassador: I can make no definite statement as I am not aware of any concrete intentions of Japan. Is Your Excellency indicating that a state of actual war is to be established between Germany and the United States?
Ribbentrop: Roosevelt's a fanatic, so it is impossible to tell what he would do." (The Japanese Ambassador continues his dispatch:) Concerning this point, in view of the fact that Ribbentrop has said in the past that the United States would undoubtedly try to avoid meeting German troops, and from the tone of Hitler's recent speech as well as that of Ribbentrop's, I feel that the German attitude toward the United States is being considerably stiffened. There are indications at present that Germany would not refuse to fight the United States if necessary. ....
In any event Germany has absolutely no intention of entering into any peace with England. We are determined to remove all British influence from Europe. Therefore, at the end of this war, England will have no influence whatsoever in international affairs. The island empire of Britain may remain, but all of her other possessions throughout the world will probably be divided three ways by Germany, the United States and Japan. In Africa, Germany will be satisfied with, roughly, those parts which were formerly German colonies. Italy will be given the greater share of the African colonies. Germany desires, above all else, to control European Russia.
Japanese Ambassador: I am fully aware of the fact that Germany's war campaign is progressing according to schedule smoothly. However, suppose that Germany is faced with the situation of having not only Great Britain as an actual enemy but also all of those areas in which Britain has influence, and those countries which have been aiding Britain as actual enemies, as well. Under such circumstances, the war area will undergo considerable expansion, of course. What is your opinion of the outcome of the war under such an eventuality.
Ribbentrop: We would like to end this war during next year. However, under certain circumstances it is possible that it will have to be continued into the following year. Should Japan become engaged in a war against the United States, Germany, of course, would join the war immediately. There is absolutely no possibility of Germany's entering into a separate peace with the United States under such circumstances. The Fuehrer is determined on that point.
From Ribbentrop's IMT Testimony: I do not know this document, nor do I know where it comes from. At any rate, under no circumstances did I express it that way; and I regret that all the other documents which prove that I tried again and again to keep the United States out of the war, have not yet been read here. I have seen this document here and I have been pondering all the time as to how this passage would have gotten into the document. All the other documents, I believe a dozen or a dozen and a half, which have been presented here prove clearly my wish to keep America out of the war.
I can prove that for years I had made efforts in all fields, despite the intransigent attitude of the United States, not to undertake anything against America. I can explain this only as follows: The Japanese Ambassador earnestly desired that his country should take some action and I know he sent many telegrams to Tokyo in order to get Japan to participate in the war, particularly against Singapore. I can only presume that this is perhaps, if I may say so, an incorrect interpretation of this conference. I ask you to give the Defense an opportunity to submit all the other documents up to this date, which will prove the exact opposite of what is laid down in this one paragraph.
A night interrupted by Ribbentrop's restlessness. After delaying 2 days, now he cannot wait a minute to answer the Japanese; and at three in the morning he sent Mackensen to my house to submit a plan for a triple agreement relative to Japanese intervention and the pledge not to make a separate peace. He wanted me to awaken the Duce, but I did not do so, and the latter was very glad I had not.December 7, 1941: The Japanese bomb Pearl Harbor.
From the IMT testimony of Dr. Paul Otto Schmidt: I had no direct opportunity (to observe Ribbentrop's reactions first-hand), but in the Foreign Office it was generally known that the news of Pearl Harbor took the Foreign Minister, as indeed the whole Foreign Office, completely by surprise. This impression was confirmed by what a member of the Press Department told me. The Press Department had a listening station for radio news and the official on duty had instructions to inform the Foreign Minister personally of important news at once. When the first news of Pearl Harbor was received by the listening station of the Press Department, the official on duty considered it of sufficient importance to report it to his chief, that is to say, the head of the Press Department, who in turn was to pass it on to the Foreign Minister. He was, however -- so I was told -- rather harshly rebuffed by the Foreign Minister who said it must be an invention of the press or a canard, and he did not wish our Press Department to disturb him with such stories. After that, a second and third message about Pearl Harbor was received, I think a Reuters report had also been received by the listening station; and the head of the Press Department then again plucked up courage and, in spite of the order not to disturb the Foreign Minister, he once more gave him this news.
From Ribbentrop's IMT Testimony: At the time I tried to induce Japan to attack Singapore, because it was impossible to make peace with England and I did not know what military measures we could take to achieve this end. In any case, the Fuehrer directed me to do everything I could in the diplomatic field to weaken England's position and thus achieve peace. We believed that this could best be done through an attack by Japan on England's strong position in East Asia. For that reason I tried to induce Japan, at that time, to attack Singapore.
After the outbreak of the Russo-German war, I also tried to make Japan attack Russia, for I thought that in this way the war could be ended most speedily. Japan, however, did not do that. She did the--she did neither of the things we wanted her to do, but instead, she did a third. She attacked the United States at Pearl Harbor. This attack came as a complete surprise to us. We had considered the possibility of Japan's attacking Singapore, that is England, or perhaps Hong Kong, but we never considered an attack on the United States as being to our advantage.
We knew that in the case of an attack on England, there was a possibility that the United States might intervene; that was a question which, naturally, we had often considered. We hoped very much, however, that this would not happen and that America would not intervene. The first news I received of the attack on Pearl Harbor was through the Berlin press, and then from the Japanese Ambassador Oshima. I should like to say under oath that all other reports, versions, or documentary evidence are entirely false. I would like to go even further to state that the attack came as a surprise even to the Japanese Ambassador--at least he told me that.
At 1:00 PM today I called on Foreign Minister Ribbentrop and told him our wish was to have Germany and Italy issue formal declarations of war on America at once. Ribbentrop replied that Hitler was then in the midst of a conference at general headquarters, discussing how the formalities of declaring war could be carried out so as to make a good impression on the German people, and that he would transmit your wish to him at once and do whatever he could to have it carried out promptly. At that time Ribbentrop told me that on the morning of the 8th" that is before the declaration of war "Hitler issued orders to the entire German Navy to attack American ships whenever and wherever they might meet them. It goes without saying that this is only for your secret information."December 8, 1941: From the diary of Count Galeazzo Ciano, Foreign Minister of Italy:
A night telephone call from Ribbentrop. He is overjoyed about the Japanese attack on America. He is so happy about it that I am happy with him, though I am not too sure about the final advantages of what has happened. One thing is now certain, that America will enter the conflict and that the conflict will be so long that she will be able to realize all her potential forces. This morning I told this to the Ding who had been pleased about the event. He ended by admitting that, in the long run, I may be right. Mussolini was happy, too. For a long time he has favored a definite clarification of relations between America and the Axis.December 11, 1941: Hitler declares war on the United States.
From Ribbentrop's IMT Testimony: When the news of Pearl Harbor came, the Fuehrer had to make a decision. The text of the Tripartite Pact bound us to assist Japan only in case of an attack against Japan herself. I went to see the Fuehrer, explained the legal aspect of the situation and told him that, although we welcomed a new ally against England, it meant we had a new opponent to deal with as well, or would have one to deal with if we declared war on the United States. The Fuehrer then decided that the United States had already fired upon our ships and thereby had practically created a state of war; that it was therefore only a question of form, or, at least, that this official state of war might supervene at any moment, as a result of an incident; and that in the long run it was impossible that this state of affairs in the Atlantic continue without a German-American war. He then instructed me to draft a note--which he subsequently altered--and to hand the American Ambassador his papers. ....
We naturally had close co-operation with Italy. By that I mean that in the further course of war, we were forced to all intents and purposes to take charge of all military operations there ourselves, or, at least, to take joint charge of them. Co-operation with Japan was very difficult, for the simple reason that we could communicate with the Japanese Government only by air. We had contact with them from time to time through U-boats, but there was no coordinated military or political plan of campaign. I believe that on this point General Marshall's view is correct, namely, that there was no close strategic co-operation or planning of any kind; and, really, there was not any.
And now permit me to define my attitude to that other world, which has its representative in that man, who, while our soldiers are fighting in snow and ice, very tactfully likes to make his chats from the fireside, the man who is the main culprit of this war. ....
As a consequence of the further extension of President Roosevelt's policy, which is aimed at unrestricted world domination and dictatorship the USA together with England have not hesitated from using any means to dispute the rights of the German, Italian and Japanese nations to the basis of their natural existence. The Governments of the USA and of England have therefore resisted, not only now but also for all time, every just understanding meant to bring about a better New Order in the world. Since the beginning of the war the American President, Roosevelt, has been guilty of a series of the worst crimes against international law...
For Hitler and his followers there is no punishment on this earth commensurate with their crimes. But out of love for coming generations we must make an example after the conclusion of the war, so that no one will ever again have the slightest urge to try a similar action. And do not forget the petty scoundrels in this regime; note their names, so that none will go free! They should not find it possible, having had their part in these abominable crimes, at the last minute to rally to another flag and then act as if nothing had happened!January 3, 1942: From a conversation between Hitler and Japanese Ambassador Oshima, in the presence of Ribbentrop:
The Fuehrer, using a map, explains to the Japanese Ambassador the present position of marine warfare in the Atlantic, emphasizing that what he considers his most important task is to get the U-boat warfare going in full swing. The U-boats are being reorganized. Firstly, he had recalled all U-boats operating in the Atlantic. As mentioned before, they would now be posted outside United States ports. Later, they would be off Freetown and the larger boats even as far down as Capetown. ....
After having given further explanations on the map, the Fuehrer pointed out that, however many ships the United States built, one of their main problems would be the lack of personnel. For that reason even merchant ships would be sunk without warning with the intention of killing as many of the crew as possible. Once it gets around that most of the seamen are lost in the sinkings, the Americans would soon have difficulties in enlisting new people. The training of seagoing personnel takes a very long time. We are fighting for our existence and our attitude cannot be ruled by any humane feelings. For this reason he must give the order that in case foreign seamen could not be taken prisoner, which is in most cases not possible on the sea, U-boats were to surface after torpedoing and shoot up the life boats. Ambassador Oshima heartily agreed with the Fuehrer's comments, and said that the Japanese, too, are forced to follow these methods.
Just as the Hun assault could not be beaten back by pious wishes or fair warnings, just as the invasion of our country from the southeast in the course of centuries was not warded off by diplomatic tricks, and the Mongolian onslaught did not spare old monuments of culture, this danger also will not be overcome by right in itself but only by strength supporting this right. Right itself is nothing but the duty to defend the life entrusted to us by the Creator of the world. It is the sacred right of self-preservation. Whether this self-preservation will be successful depends solely on the greatness of our efforts and on willingness to make any sacrifice to preserve this life for the future. Attila's power was broken not at a meeting of the League of Nations but in battle...August 20, 1942: From a Hitler speech:
The law is not an end in itself. Its function is to maintain public order...All means used to this end are justifiable...It must adapt itself to this end...The idea that the judge is there to give absolutely irrevocable judgement, even if the world should come to an end as a result, is nonsense. (Maser)September 8, 1942: Churchill addresses the House:
...those who are guilty of the Nazi crimes will have to stand up before tribunals in every land where their atrocities have been committed in order that an indelible warning may be given to future ages and that successive generations of men may say, "So perish all who do the like again..."November 8, 1942: Hitler speaks in Munich:
If Mr. Roosevelt says he does not hear my speeches, I can only say, I do not talk for Mr. Roosevelt's benefit at all. Once he accosted me by telegraph, and thereupon I gave him my reply, as a polite man would, but otherwise I do not talk to Mr. Roosevelt at all. I now talk through that instrument through which one can only talk today and that instrument talks loud and distinct enough. Otherwise I talk only on the rarest occasions to the movement and to my own German people, and all that I can say for such a speech is only one thing: Think incessantly, men and women, only of the fact that this war will decide the "To be or not to be" of our people. And if you understand that, each one of your thoughts and each of your actions will be one single prayer...November 12, 1942: Ivan Maisky, the Soviet ambassador to Britain, sends a note to British Foreign Secretary Anthony Eden suggesting that an international tribunal be established for the trial of "major war criminals." Eden rejects the proposal as premature. (Taylor)
We have begun the offensive operations in the Stalingrad area--in its southern and north-western sectors. The objective of the first stage is to seize the Stalingrad-Likhaya railway and disrupt the communications of the Stalingrad group of the German troops. In the north-western sector the German front has been pierced along a 22-kilometre line and along a 12-kilometre line in the southern sector. The operation is proceeding satisfactorily.September 24, 1942: At the urging of Ribbentrop, Martin Luther, of the German Foreign Ministry began plans to set up negotiations between the governments of Bulgaria, Hungary and Denmark with the object of starting the evacuation of the Jews of these countries. From a note signed by Luther: The Minister for Foreign Affairs has instructed me today by telephone to expedite as much as possible the evacuation of the Jews from different countries in Europe, since it is certain that the Jews stir up feelings against us everywhere and must be held responsible for acts of sabotage and outrages. After a short report on the evacuation of Jews at present in process in Slovakia, Croatia, Romania, and the occupied territories, the Minister for Foreign Affairs has ordered us now to approach the Bulgarian, Hungarian, and Danish Governments with the aim of getting the evacuation started in these countries.
From Ribbentrop's IMT Testimony: It was the Fuehrer's plan, at the time, to deport the Jews from Europe to North Africa, and Madagascar was also mentioned in this connection. He ordered me to approach various governments with a view to encouraging the emigration of the Jews, if possible, and to remove all Jews from important government posts. I issued instructions to the Foreign Office accordingly, and, if I remember rightly, certain governments were approached several times to that effect. It was the question of the Jewish emigration to certain parts of North Africa; that is true. ....
Dr. Best once discussed the Jewish question with me, and he said that as far as Denmark was concerned, the question was of no particular importance, since there were not many Jews left there. I explained to him that he would have to let matters take their own course there. That is the truth. ....
I did not know Luther's document. It is, however, true that the Fuehrer gave me instructions to tell the Foreign Office to approach certain foreign governments with a view to solving the Jewish problem by removing the Jews from government positions and, wherever possible, to favor Jewish emigration.
From Ribbentrop's IMT Testimony: A certain atmosphere of confidence between the Soviet Government and ourselves had been created at Moscow, between Stalin, Molotov and myself, and also extending to the Fuehrer. For instance, the Fuehrer told me that he had confidence in Stalin, whom he considered one of the really great men of history, and whose creation of the Red Army he thought a tremendous achievement; but that one could never tell what might happen. The power of the Soviets had grown and developed enormously. It was very difficult to know how to deal with Russia and make an agreement with her again. I myself always tried, through diplomatic and other channels, to maintain contact to a certain extent, because I still believed and hoped that some sort of peace could be made which would relieve Germany in the East and allow her to concentrate her forces in the West and even lead, perhaps, to a general peace.
With this in view, I proposed to the Fuehrer, for the first time, in the winter of 1942, it was before Stalingrad, that an agreement should be reached with Russia. I did that after the Anglo-American landing in Africa which caused me great misgivings. Adolf Hitler--I met him in the train at Bamberg--most emphatically rejected the idea of any such peace or peace feelers, because he thought that if it became known, it would be liable to create a spirit of defeatism, et cetera. I had suggested to him at the time that we should negotiate peace with Russia on a very moderate basis.
I welcome the idea of a meeting between the three heads of Governments to establish a common strategy. To my great regret, however, I shall be unable to leave the Soviet Union. This is so critical a moment that I cannot absent myself even for a single day. Just now major military operations--part of our winter campaign--are under way, nor will they be relaxed in January. It is more than likely that it will be the other way round. Fighting is developing both at Stalingrad and on the Central Front. At Stalingrad we have encircled a large group of German troops and hope to complete their destruction.December 17, 1942: United Nations Statement:
...those responsible for these crimes shall not escape retribution...December 19, 1942: From an after breakfast meeting between Ribbentrop and Count Ciano in the presence of Field Marshal Keitel and Marshal Cavallero in Hitler's headquarters:
The Croatian area was to be cleaned up by German and Italian troops working in co-operation; and this while it was still winter, in view of the strong British influence in this area. The Fuehrer explained that the Serbian conspirators were to be burned out, and that no soft methods were to be used in doing this. Field Marshal Keitel here interjected that every village in which partisans were found had to be burned down.
Continuing, the Reich Foreign Minister declared that Roatta must not leave the third zone, but must on the contrary advance, and this in the closest collaboration with the German troops. In this connection Field Marshal Keitel requested the Italian gentlemen not to regard the utilization of Croatian troops to help in this cleaning up operation as a favoring of the Croatians. The Reich Foreign Minister stated in this connection that the Poglavnik to whom he had spoken very clearly, was 100 percent ready to come to an agreement with Italy.
On 4 January 1943, at 8 o'clock in the evening, Minister Speer telephoned from the general headquarters of the Fuehrer giving the information that, by virtue of a decision of the Fuehrer it was no longer necessary, when recruiting skilled and unskilled labor in France, to have any particular regard for the French. Recruitment could be carried on there with pressure and more severe measures.
From Ribbentrop's IMT Testimony: According to what I heard, all these foreign workers are supposed to have been well treated in Germany. I think it is possible, of course, that other things might have happened, too; but on the whole, I believe that a good deal was done to treat these workers well. I know that on occasion departments of the Foreign Office co-operated in these matters with a view to preventing those possible things. Generally speaking, however, we had no influence in that sphere, as we were excluded from Eastern questions. ....
We in the Foreign Office--in the case of the French, for instance, and quite a number of other foreign workers--co-operated in getting musicians, et cetera, from France for them. We advised on questions concerning their welfare. And I know that the German Labor Front did everything in its power, at least with regard to the sector which we could view to some extent, to treat the workers well, to preserve their willingness to work, and to make their leisure pleasant. I know, at least, that those of its efforts in which we co-operated were on these lines.
According to people who...have pipe lines to the Army both on the battle front and at home, there is now a real possibility for peace. The evil of the situation is revealed in the fact that at this same time there come reports from the "enemy's side" which give rise to ever-increasing doubts as to whether they are now holding out for the complete destruction of Germany.January 24, 1943 Casablanca: FDR, flanked by Churchill, announces the controversial policy of Unconditional Surrender:
Some of you Britishers know the old story: we had a general called US Grant. His name was Ulysses Simpson Grant but in my, and the Prime Minister's early days, he was called "Unconditional Surrender Grant." The elimination of German, Japanese and Italian war power means the unconditional surrender of Germany, Italy and Japan. .... It does not mean the destruction of the population of Germany, Italy or Japan, but it does mean the destruction of the philosophies in those countries which are based on conquest and the subjugation of other people.February 2, 1943: Paulus surrenders at Stalingrad.
As Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the United States of America I congratulate you on the brilliant victory at Stalingrad of the armies under your Supreme Command. The one hundred and sixty-two days of epic battle for the city which has for ever honored your name and the decisive result which all Americans are celebrating today will remain one of the proudest chapters of this war of the peoples united against Nazism and its emulators.February 18, 1943 Totalkrieg: In Berlin, Goebbels delivers his most famous speech:
The tragic battle of Stalingrad is a symbol of heroic, manly resistance to the revolt of the steppes. It has not only a military, but also an intellectual and spiritual significance for the German people. Here for the first time our eyes have been opened to the true nature of the war. We want no more false hopes and illusions. We want bravely to look the facts in the face, however hard and dreadful they may be. The history of our party and our state has proven that a danger recognized is a danger defeated. Our coming hard battles in the East will be under the sign of this heroic resistance. It will require previously undreamed of efforts by our soldiers and our weapons. A merciless war is raging in the East. The Fuehrer was right when he said that in the end there will not be winners and losers, but the living and the dead...February 21, 1943: From notes of a conference between Ribbentrop and Ambassador Alfieri in Berlin:
Continuing, the Reich Foreign Minister emphasized that the conditions which Roatta's policy had helped to produce in Croatia were causing the Fuehrer great concern. It was appreciated on the German side that Roatta wished to spare Italian blood, but it was believed that he was, as it were, trying to drive out Satan with Beelzebub by this policy. These partisan gangs had to be exterminated, including men, women, and children, as their further existence imperiled the lives of German and Italian men, women, and children.
From Ribbentrop's IMT Testimony: If I did say that at any time, it must have been under great excitement. In any case, it does not correspond to my opinion which I have proved by my other acts during the war. I cannot say anything else at the moment.
Further, the Reich Foreign Minister dealt with the Jewish question. The Duce was aware that Germany had taken a radical position with regard to the treatment of the Jews.. As a result of the development of the war in Russia she had come to an even greater clarification of this question. All Jews had been transported from Germany and from the territories occupied by her to reservations in the East. He, the Reich Foreign Minister, knew that this measure was described as cruel, particularly by enemies, but it was necessary in order to be able to carry the war through to a successful conclusion. ....
France also had taken measures against the Jews which were extremely useful. They were only temporary, because here, too, final solution would be the deportation of the Jews to the East. He, the Reich Foreign Minister, knew that in Italian military circles, and occasionally among German military people too, the Jewish problem was not sufficiently appreciated. It was only in this way that he could understand an order of the Comando Supremo which, in the Italian occupation zone of France had canceled measures taken against the Jews by the French authorities acting under German influence. The Duce contested the accuracy of this report and traced it back to the French tactics of causing dissension between Germany and Italy.
From Ribbentrop's IMT Testimony: This document refers to the fact that a large-scale espionage system had been discovered, I believe, in France. The Fuehrer sent me while I was on a journey to Italy and told me to speak to Mussolini and see to it that in cases of Jews involved in these acts of sabotage and espionage, the Italian Government or the Italian Army did not intervene to prevent this measure. Also I should like to state definitely that I knew, and it was also the Fuehrer's plan, that the European Jews were to be resettled on a large scale either in Madagascar, North Africa, or in reservations in the East. This was generally known in Germany. That is all that we are concerned with here, and I also knew that some very unpleasant things had occurred at that time and that the Fuehrer was convinced that all of them could be attributed to Jewish organizations in the south of France, I believe. I now recollect very well that at the time I discussed the matter with Mussolini and begged him to adopt suitable measures since these Jews were furnishing all the information to the English and American Intelligence Services. At least that was the information which the Fuehrer was constantly receiving.
Oshima declared that he received a telegram from Tokyo, and he is to report by order of his Government to the Reich Minister for Foreign Affairs the following: The suggestion of the German Government to attack Russia was the subject of a common conference between the Japanese Government and the Imperial headquarters during which the question was discussed in detail and investigated exactly. The result is the following: The Japanese Government absolutely recognize the danger which threatens from Russia and completely understand the desire of their German ally that Japan on her part will also enter the war against Russia. However, it is not possible for the Japanese Government, considering the present war situation, to enter into the war. They are rather of the conviction that it would be in the common interest not to start the war against Russia now.
On the other hand, the Japanese Government would never disregard the Russian question. The Japanese Government have the intention to become aggressive again in the future on other fronts. The RAM (Ribbentrop) brought up the question, after the explanation by the Ambassador, how the continued waging of the war is envisaged in Tokyo. At present Germany wages the war against the common enemies, England and America, mostly alone, while Japan mostly behaves more defensively. However, it would be more correct that the powers allied in the Three Power Pact would combine their forces not only to defeat England and America, but also Russia. It is not good when one part must fight alone. One cannot overstrain the German national strength. He was inwardly concerned about certain forces at work in Tokyo, who were of the opinion, and propagated the same, that doubtless, Germany could merge from the battle victoriously and that Japan should proceed to consolidate her forces before she should further exert herself to the fullest extent. ....
Then the RAM again brought up the question of the attack on Russia by Japan and he declared that, after all, the fight on the Burma front as well as in the South is actually more of a maritime problem; and on all fronts except those in China at best very few ground forces are stationed. Therefore the attack on Russia is primarily an Army affair, and he asked himself if the necessary forces for that would be available.
The Reich Foreign Minister's supposition that this strike had perhaps been instigated by British agents was energetically contested by Bastianini. There were Italian communists who were still in Italy and who received their orders from Moscow. The Reich Foreign Minister replied that, in such a case, only merciless action would remedy. ....
He (the Reich Foreign Minister) did not want to discuss Italy but rather the occupied territories, where it had been shown that one would not get anywhere with soft methods or in the endeavor to reach an agreement. The Reich Foreign Minister then explained his views by a comparison between Denmark and Norway. In Norway brutal measures had been taken which had evoked lively protests, particularly in Sweden. "In Greece, too, brutal action would have to be taken if the Greeks should sense a change for the better. He was of the opinion that the demobilized Greek Army should be deported from Greece with lightning speed, and that the Greeks should be shown in an iron manner who was master in the country. Hard methods of this kind were necessary if one was waging a war against Stalin, which was not a gentleman's war but a brutal war of extermination...Coming back to Greece, the Reich Foreign Minister once again stressed the necessity of taking severe measures...The Fuehrer would have to take radical measures in the occupied territories to mobilize the local labor potential in order that the American armament potential might be equaled.
From Ribbentrop's IMT Testimony: ...at that time, on the commission of the Fuehrer, I had to keep the Italians' noses to the grindstone, since there was complete chaos in some of the areas and the Italians always attempted to cause complete confusion in the rear areas of the German Army by some of the measures they took there. That is why I occasionally had to speak very harshly with the Italians. I recall that very distinctly. At that time the Italians were fighting together with the Chetniks partly against German troops; it was complete chaos there and for this reason I often used rather earnest and harsh language with the diplomats--perhaps an exaggerated language. But things actually looked quite different afterwards. ....
I do not know the contents of the document in detail. I do not know what I myself said in detail. But at any rate I knew that the Fuehrer had ordered that the Jews of the occupied territories in Europe were to be transported to reservations in the East and resettled there. That I did know. The carrying out of these measures, however, was not my task as Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Foreign Office, but I did know that it was the Fuehrer's wish. In this connection, I remember that I received an order from him to discuss the matter with the Italian Government so that they too would introduce corresponding measures regarding the Jewish problem. That applied to other countries as well, where we had to send telegrams quite frequently, so that these countries should solve the Jewish question.
From Ribbentrop's IMT Testimony: I had to confer several times with the Hungarian Government so as to persuade them to do something about the Jewish problem. The Fuehrer was extremely insistent on this point. I therefore discussed the question repeatedly with the Hungarian Ambassador and the question was primarily to centralize the Jews somehow or other in some part of Budapest, I think it was slightly outside Budapest or in--as a matter of fact, I do not know Budapest very well--in any case, it was somewhere in Budapest itself. That was the first point. And the second point dealt with the removal of the Jews from influential Government posts, since it had been proved that Jewish influence in these departments was sufficiently authoritative to bring Hungary to a separate peace. ...the Fuehrer had repeatedly charged me to talk to Horthy, to the Hungarian Government, to the Ambassador, in order to reach a solution of the Jewish question.
At the time when Horthy visited the Fuehrer the Fuehrer emphasized the question to him in a very irritable manner, and I remember perfectly that subsequent to this discussion I talked the matter over with "Minister" Schmidt, saying that I, strictly speaking, had not quite understood the Fuehrer. The remark mentioned was definitely not made in this way. M. Horthy had apparently said that he could not, after all, beat the Jews to death. It is possible, since there would have been no question of that in any case, that in this connection I did endeavor to persuade Horthy to do something or other at once about the Jewish question in Budapest, namely, that he should undertake now the centralization which the Fuehrer had already wished to carry out for a long time. My objection or my interpolation may have referred to this question.
I must add that the situation, at that time, was as follows: We had been receiving repeated indications from Himmler, to the effect that Himmler wished to handle the Jewish situation in Hungary himself. I did not want this, since, one way or another, it would probably have created political difficulties abroad. Consequently, acting on the wish of the Fuehrer, who was extremely obstinate on this subject, I, as is known, repeatedly attempted to smooth matters over and, at the same time, pin the Hungarians down to do something about it in any case. Therefore, if, from a long conversation, some remark has been extracted and summarized in brief, and contains some such statement, it certainly does not mean that I wished the Jews to be beaten to death. It was 100 percent contrary to my personal convictions. ....
I might have said ... well yes, "the Jews cannot be exterminated or beaten to death, so, please do something in order that the Fuehrer will be satisfied at long last, and centralize the Jews." That was our aim, at that time at any rate. We did not want to render the situation more acute, but we were trying to do something in Hungary so that no other department could take the matter in hand, thereby creating political difficulties abroad for the Foreign Office...we had, at that time, received an order that a concentration camp was to be installed near Budapest or else that the Jews should be centralized there, and the Fuehrer had instructed me a long time before to discuss with the Hungarians a possible solution of the Jewish question. This solution should consist of two points. One was the removal of the Jews from important government positions and two, since there were so many Jews in Budapest, to centralize the Jews in certain quarters of Budapest.
Today our production of ships is almost unbelievable. This year we are producing over nineteen million tons of merchant shipping and next year our production will be over twenty-one million tons. And in addition to our shipments across the Atlantic, we must realize that in this war we are operating in the Aleutians, in the distant parts of the Southwest Pacific, in India, and off the shores of South America. For several months we have been losing fewer ships by sinkings, and we have been destroying more and more U-boats...September 3, 1943: Italy surrenders.
From Ribbentrop's IMT Testimony: I again advised the Fuehrer in a lengthy, written exposition, to seek such a peace. I think it was after the collapse of Italy. The Fuehrer was at that time open to consider such a peace; and he drafted a possible mutual line of demarcation which might be adopted, and said that he would let me know definitely on the following day. Next day, however, I did not receive any authorization or directive from him. I think that the Fuehrer probably felt that it was impossible to heal the breach between National Socialism and communism and that such a peace would be no more than an armistice. I made one or two further attempts but the Fuehrer held the view that a decisive military success must be achieved first, and only after that could we start negotiations, otherwise the negotiations would be useless.
If I were asked to express an opinion as to whether such negotiations would have been likely to succeed, I would say that I think it very doubtful. I believe that, considering the strong stand taken by our opponents, especially England, even since the beginning of the war, there was never any real chance of Germany's attaining peace; and that holds good for both the East and the West. And I am convinced that with the formulation at Casablanca of the demand for unconditional surrender, the possibility ceased entirely to exist. I base my opinion not on purely abstract considerations, but on continuous feelers, made through indirect channels, often unidentifiable as such, by the other side, and which expressed the opinion of important personalities with a guiding influence on policy in those countries. They were determined to fight it out to the bitter end. I think the Fuehrer was right when he said that such negotiations would serve no purpose.
We Germans, the only ones in the world with a decent attitude towards animals, will also adopt a decent attitude with regards to these human animals; but it is a sin against our own blood to worry about them and give them ideals, so that our sons and grandchildren will have a harder time with them. When somebody comes to me and says, "I can't build tank ditches with children or women. That's inhumane, they'll die doing it." Then I must say: "You are a murderer of your own blood, since, if the tank ditches are not built, then German soldiers will die, and they are the sons of German mothers. That is our blood." That is how I would like to indoctrinate this SS, and, I believe, have indoctrinated, as one of the holiest laws of the future: our concern, our duty, is to our people, and to our blood. That is what we must care for and think about, work for and fight for, and nothing else. Everything else can be indifferent to us...
From the IMT testimony of Adolf von Steengracht: It is true that many people remained in their positions although at heart they disapproved of Hitler's methods of government and, indeed, were inimical to those methods. There are various reasons for this. First, it must be said that the NSDAP had come into power according to the rules of parliamentary procedure as being the strongest Party in the Reichstag. The officials employed had no reason at all to retire from service on account of the change of government. In consequence of the change to dictatorial government and the completely different concept of the State which the change of government involved, the individual suddenly found that he was no longer allowed to take a position of his own concerning this regime. The notorious reign of terror began. Everywhere, in the ministries and chancelleries, in private dwellings, and in restaurants there hovered spies who, out of fanaticism or for pay, were willing to report everything they heard.
Nevertheless, many would deliberately have risked the gravest consequences, if their withdrawal could have in any way improved anything. But it became obvious that such persons merely sacrificed themselves and especially their families unavailingly, because cases of the kind were painstakingly withheld from publicity and therefore had no effect. Worst of all was the fact that the appointment vacated was filled by an especially radical man. Many people realized this and remained at their posts in order to prevent the development that I have just described. The great number of atrocities committed or ordered by Hitler or Himmler have led many foreigners to the conclusion that the German people as a whole shared the guilt for these crimes, or at least had knowledge of them. This is not the case. The majority of people even in high government positions did not learn details of these matters--or the extent to which they were carried on--until the war was over. Perhaps the key to this is found in the speech which Himmler delivered in Posen on 3 October 1943 to his GruppenFuehrer, and which I learned of for the first time here. This speech directed that his special assignments--that means the actions against the Jews and the concentration camps--were to be kept just as secret as had been the events of 30 June 1934, of which the German people have only now learned the authentic story.
Let those who have hitherto not imbrued their hands with innocent blood beware lest they join the ranks of the guilty, for most assuredly the three Allied powers will pursue them to the uttermost ends of the earth and will deliver them to their accusers in order that justice may be done. The above declaration is without prejudice to the case of German criminals whose offenses have no particular geographical localization and who will be punished by joint decision of the government of the Allies...November 8, 1943: Hitler speaks in Munich:
The Americans and the English are now planning the reconstruction of the world. I am now planning the reconstruction of Germany. There will, however, be one difference: whereas the reconstruction of the world by the Americans and the English will not take place, the reconstruction of Germany by National Socialism will be carried out precisely and according to plan...December 24, 1943: FDR delivers a Fireside Chat
During the last two days in (at) Teheran, Marshal Stalin, Mr. Churchill and I looked ahead--ahead to the days and months and years that (which) will follow Germany's defeat. We were united in determination that Germany must be stripped of her military might and be given no opportunity within the foreseeable future to regain that might. The United Nations have no intention to enslave the German people. We wish them to have a normal chance to develop, in peace, as useful and respectable members of the European family. But we most certainly emphasize that word "respectable"--for we intend to rid them once and for all of Nazism and Prussian militarism and the fantastic and disastrous notion that they constitute the Master Race...March 18, 1944: Hitler meets with the Hungarian regent, Admiral Nikolaus Horthy.
From the IMT testimony of Dr. Paul Otto Schmidt: During this conference there had been a certain difficulty, when Hitler insisted that Horthy should proceed more energetically in the Jewish question, and Horthy answered with some heat, "But what am I supposed to do? Shall I perhaps beat the Jews to death?" Whereupon there was rather a lull, and the Foreign Minister then turned to Horthy and said, "Yes, there are only two possibilities--either that, or to intern the Jews." Afterwards he said to me--and this was rather exceptional--that Hitler's demands in this connection might have gone a bit too far.
ObergruppenFuehrer Kaltenbrunner informed the deputy chief of the Operations Staff in Klessheim on the afternoon of the 6th that a conference on this question had been held shortly before, between the Reich Marshal, the Reich Foreign Minister, and ReichsFuehrer SS. Contrary to the original suggestion made by Ribbentrop, who wished to include every type of terror attack on the German civilian population, that is, also bombing attacks on cities, it was agreed at the above conference that only attacks carried out with aircraft armament should be considered as criminal actions in that sense.
From Ribbentrop's IMT Testimony: First of all, so far as I remember, this conference never took place...This document is an expert opinion of the Foreign Office, which was submitted to me. I do not know how it originated, upon my order or upon a statement of the military authorities. I did not approve this expert opinion as it is submitted to me here, but I did send it to the Fuehrer and asked him to decide about it. The Fuehrer then called this document "nonsense," I believe, and therewith this expert opinion of the Foreign Office was rejected and did not come into effect.
This requires careful handling. It is quite possible that rich Jews will pay large sums of money to escape being murdered by the Huns. It is tiresome that this money should get into the hands of ELAS (Greek Communist partisans), but why on Earth we should go and argue with the United States about it I cannot conceive. We should take a great responsibility if we prevented the escape of Jews, even if they should be rich Jews. I know it is the modern view that all rich people should be put to death wherever found, but it is a pity that we should take up that attitude at the present time. After all, they have no doubt paid for their liberation so high that in the future they will only be poor Jews, and therefore have the ordinary rights of human beings.July 20, 1944: Hitler survives an assassination attempt (bomb explosion) during a war conference.
The claim by these usurpers that I am no longer alive, is at this very moment proven false, for here I am talking to you, my dear fellow countrymen. The circle which these usurpers represent is very small. It has nothing to do with the German armed forces, and above all nothing to do with the German army. It is a very small clique composed of criminal elements which will now be mercilessly exterminated...July 23, 1944: Majdanek is liberated.
From Ribbentrop's IMT Testimony: I had so much to read and so much work to do every day that, on principle, I received only the foreign political news selected for me from the foreign press. Thus, during the whole of the war I never had any news from abroad about the concentration camps, until one day your armies, that is, the Soviet Russian armies, captured the camp at Maidanek in Poland. On that occasion news came from our embassies and I asked for press news, et cetera, to be submitted to me. How I took these news releases to the Fuehrer and what resulted from that has already been discussed here. Before that I knew nothing about any atrocities or any measures taken in the concentration camps.
1) Germany is to be partitioned into two independent states.
2) Germany's main centers of mining and industry, including the Saar area, the Ruhr area and Upper Silesia are to be Internationalized or annexed by neighboring nations.
3) All heavy industry is to be dismantled or otherwise destroyed.
I share your conviction that firm agreement between the three leading powers constitutes a true guarantee of future peace and answers to the best hopes of all peace-loving peoples. The continuation of our governments in such a policy in the postwar period as we have achieved during this great war will, it seems to me, have a decisive influence. Of course, I have a great desire to meet with you and the President. I attach great importance to it from the point of view of the interests in our common business. But, as far as I am concerned, I must make one reservation. The doctors advise me not to undertake long journeys.October 9, 1944: Churchill arrives in Moscow. Soon, he and Stalin are discussing spheres of influence in the Balkans. From Churchill’s account:
The moment was apt for business, so I said, "Let us settle our affairs in the Balkans. Your armies are in Rumania and Bulgaria. We have interests, missions, and agents there. Don’t let us get at cross-purposes in small ways. So far as Britain and Russia are concerned, how would it do for you to have ninety per cent predominance in Rumania, for us to have ninety per cent of the say in Greece, and go fifty-fifty about Yugoslavia?"
While this was being translated I wrote out on half a sheet of paper: Rumania Russia 90% The others 10% Greece Great Britain 90% (in accord with USA) Russia 10% Yugoslavia 50-50% Hungary 50-50% Bulgaria Russia 75% The others 25% I pushed this across to Stalin, who had by then heard the translation.
There was a slight pause. Then he took his blue pencil and made a large tick upon it, and passed it back to us. It was all settled in no more time than it takes to sit down…After this there was a long silence. The penciled paper lay in the center of the table. At length I said, "Might it not be thought rather cynical if it seemed we had disposed of these issues, so fateful to millions of people, in such an offhand manner? Let us burn the paper." "No, you keep it," said Stalin."
Major War Criminals. UJ (Churchill and FDR refer to Josef Stalin as Uncle Joe, or UJ, in their correspondence) took an unexpectedly ultra-respectable line. There must be no executions without trial otherwise the world would say we were afraid to try them. I pointed out the difficulties in international law but he replied if there were no trials there must be no death sentences, but only life-long confinements.October 22, 1944 FDR to Churchill:
Your statement of the present attitude of Uncle J. towards war criminals, the future of Germany, and the Montreux Convention is most interesting. We should discuss these matters, together with our Pacific war effort, at the forthcoming three-party meeting.November 28, 1944: Himmler orders the gas chambers at Auschwitz destroyed.
The time to make history is short, and he who does not use the opportunity fails. The burdens of such a time certainly may seem unbearable, but those burdens decide which nation is called to victory and which is damned to defeat...
From the IMT testimony of Adolf von Steengracht: Once by chance I came to Ribbentrop when he was reading a paper and was again very excited. He asked me if I had read the article yet, this shocking article by Goebbels. It was an article on lynch justice...As far as I know, he charged our press chief who had the liaison with Goebbels to lodge a protest against this article. But to his surprise he was forced to see that this protest was useless since the article had not only been inspired but, I believe, ordered by Hitler, and thus there was nothing more to be done. .... The Foreign Office repudiated the article vehemently, because it comprised an offense against international law and thus made us depart from international law in another field. Moreover, it appealed to the lower instincts of man, and both in internal and external policy did great damage.
Besides, such an article, that has been read by several hundred thousands or by millions, does irreparable damage anyway. We therefore insisted that under no circumstances should such things appear in the press again. I must regretfully state, however, that we had a very difficult stand in this matter, especially since low-flying enemy craft often shot peasants in the fields and pedestrians in the streets, that is to say, purely civilian people, with their murder weapons. And our arguments that in our field we wanted to observe international law under all circumstances, were not taken into account at all either by most German offices, or above all by Hitler personally. On the contrary, in this case too we were regarded again only as formal jurists. But later we did try, as much as we could, with the help of military offices, to prevent the carrying out of this order.
Treatment of Germany after the war. It is much too soon for us to decide these enormous questions. Obviously, when the German organized resistance has ceased the first stage will be one of severe military control. This may well last for many months, or perhaps for a year or two, if the German underground movement is active.
2. We have yet to settle the practical questions of the partition of Germany, the treatment of the Ruhr and Saar industries, etc. These may be touched upon at our forthcoming meeting, but I doubt whether any final decision will be reached then. No one can foresee at the present moment what the state of Europe will be or what the relations of the Great Powers will be, or what the tempers of their peoples will be. I am sure that the hatreds which Germany has caused in so many countries will find their counterpart here.
3. I have been struck at every point where I have sounded opinion at the depth of the feeling that would be aroused by a policy of "putting poor Germany on her legs again." I am also well aware of the arguments about "not having a poisoned community in the heart of Europe" ....
I remember so well last time being shocked at the savage views of the House of Commons and of the constituencies, and being indignant with Poincare when he sent the French into the Ruhr. In a few years however the mood of Parliament and the public changed entirely. Thousands of millions of money were lent to Germany by the United States. I went along with the tolerant policy towards Germany up to the Locarno Treaty and during the rest of Mr. Baldwin’s Government on the grounds that Germany had no power to harm us. But thereafter a swift change occurred. The rise of Hitler began. And thereafter I once again found myself very much out of sympathy with the prevailing mood.
Hitler: Do you think the English are enthusiastic about all the Russian developments?
Jodl: No, of course not. They have quite different plans. Perhaps we'll discover the full extent of their plans later.
Goering: They certainly didn't plan that we hold them off while the Russians conquer all of Germany... If this goes on we will get a telegram (from the English) in a few days. They were not counting on us defending ourselves step by step...holding them off like madmen while the Russians drive deeper and deeper into Germany, and practically have all of Germany now...
Jodl: The English have always regarded the Russians with suspicion.
Hitler: I have given orders that we shall play a trick on the English—an information sheet telling them the Russians are organizing 200,000 of our men (German POWs) led by German officers, all of them infected with Communism, and they will be marched into Germany. I have ordered this report to be delivered to the English. I have discussed it with the Foreign Minister (Ribbentrop). That will be like sticking them with a needle.
Goering: They entered the war to prevent us from going East, not to have the East reaching out to the Atlantic.
Hitler: That's quite clear. It is something abnormal. The English newspapers are already saying bitterly: Is there any sense in this war?
Goering: On the other hand I have read a report in Braune Blaetter that they can support the Russians with their air force. They can reach the Russian forces with their heavy bombers, even though it is a long flight. But the information comes from an absurd source.
Hitler: Tactically, the English cannot support them. Since we don't know where the Russians are and where we are, how on earth can the English know?
I particularly address myself to German youth. In vowing ourselves to one another, we are entitled to stand before the Almighty and ask Him for His grace and His blessing. No people can do more than that everybody who can fight, fights, and that everybody who can work, works, and that they all sacrifice in common, filled with but one thought: to safeguard freedom and national honor and thus the future of life. However grave the crisis may be at the moment, it will, despite everything, finally be mastered by our unalterable will...February 9, 1945 Yalta Conference: Near the end of this days session, Churchill brings up the subject of war criminals. Stalin inquires about Hess. An annoyed Churchill lamely replies that "events would catch up with Hess." Churchill, in complete contrast to the Soviets, does not at this point any longer consider Hess a major war criminal. While the British Prime Minister advocates the immediate murder of the top 100 or so Nazis, he feels that Hess and the rest of "these men should be given a judicial trial." (Taylor)
From the IMT testimony of Adolf von Steengracht: Von Ribbentrop's liaison man with Hitler called me up one day (after the air attack on Dresden) in great excitement. He informed me that on a suggestion by Goebbels, the Fuehrer intended, as reprisal for the holocaust of Dresden, to have English and American prisoners of war--I believe mostly airmen--shot. I went immediately to Ribbentrop and informed him of this. Ribbentrop became very excited; he turned pale as death; he was in fact almost stunned and thought it was impossible; picked up the phone and called up this liaison man in person in order to verify this report. The liaison man corroborated it. Then Ribbentrop got up immediately and went to Hitler, came back, I think after half an hour, and told me that he had succeeded in having Hitler withdraw this order. That is all I know about this matter. ....
Regarding the convocation of an anti-Jewish congress I know something; I believe our liaison man with Hitler informed us that, on a suggestion of Bormann, Hitler had ordered the calling of an anti-Jewish congress through the Rosenberg office. Ribbentrop did not want to believe this; but nevertheless had to accept this too as true, once he had spoken with our liaison man. Then, since on the basis of this decision we could do nothing more officially to prevent the thing, we nevertheless worked our way into it, and we made efforts by a policy of hesitation, delay, and obstruction to render the convocation impossible. And although the order was given in the spring of 1944 and the war did not end until April 1945, this congress never actually took place. ....
Thinking that he was being loyal to Hitler, Ribbentrop--it seems to me--in those cases when he went to Hitler with a preconceived opinion and returned with a totally different view, tried afterwards to explain to us Hitler's view. This he always did with special vehemence. I would assume then that this was contrary to his own most personal original ideas. ....
From Ribbentrop's IMT Testimony: I believe, and many people will and could confirm it, that from the beginning of the war the Foreign Office and I have always supported the Geneva Convention in every way. I should like to add that the military authorities always showed much understanding for these things--at least, for the affairs I had to deal with. If, later on, this no longer held good in every respect, it was due to the rigors of war, and possibly to the harshness of the Fuehrer. As to the terror-fliers, I must state that in 1943 and 1944 the English and American air raids gradually became a terrible threat to Germany. I saw this for the first time in Hamburg, and I remember this event because I was with the Fuehrer at the time and I described to him the terrifying impression I had received. I do not believe that anyone who has not experienced such a raid and its results can imagine what it means.
It is evident that we Germans, and especially Adolf Hitler, continually sought means to master this menace. I must also mention the terrible attack on Dresden, and I would like to ask the Tribunal's permission to name a witness, the former Danish Minister Richard, who was there during the attack and described it to me 2 days later. It was, therefore, self-evident that the problem of terror-fliers had to be solved somehow by the Fuehrer. This was in contrast to our view insofar as we wanted to find a solution which would not infringe upon the Geneva Convention, or at least a solution which could be publicly proclaimed to our enemies. My department was not directly concerned with the question, for we had nothing to do with defense problems which were taken care of by the military authorities, the police and those responsible for home policy. But we were indirectly concerned where the matter was affected by the Geneva Convention, and my point of view, which I frequently expressed, was that if any steps were taken an official proclamation should be published, giving a definition of a terror-flier, and stating that these terror-fliers convicted or airmen suspected of an attack upon the civilian population would be tried by courts-martial.
Geneva would then be officially notified of this measure or preparatory measure and then the enemy would be informed through the protecting powers. Fliers found guilty of deliberate terrorist raids by the courts-martial would be sentenced; if not, they would revert to the normal status of prisoners of war. But this was never carried out in practice. It was not a suggestion by me but an idea which I expressed to Hitler in the course of conversations on one or two occasions and which was not put into practice because, in practice, it was impossible to find a definition for these raids. I believe some mention was also made of a conference supposed to have taken place in Klessheim during which I was said to have proposed or supported farther-reaching measures. I remember quite clearly that this conference did not take place.
I do not believe, or at least, I do not remember, that I ever discussed this question at that time with Himmler, with whom I was not at that time on good terms, or Goering, whom I did not see very often. I believe that it is possible that the subject was brought up in a conversation during an official visit to Klessheim, as often happened, with the Fuehrer, but that I do not know any more, I do know one thing that if allusion is made to a more thorough-going proposal emanating from me it can refer only to the following: At the time we were anxious to arrive at a clear definition of these attacks by terror-fliers and in the course of discussion various suggestions were made for the definition of certain categories of attacks, such as machine-gunning from the air, as terror attacks. It is possible that this note, or whatever it was, came into being in this way: That the person in question knew my views, that is, the person trying to find a practical solution--if one was arrived at--to agree officially with the Geneva Convention or could, at least, have been officially discussed with Geneva.
Another document has also been submitted in this connection. I believe it was a suggestion for an expert opinion on this question by the Foreign Office. I do not remember exactly how this expert opinion came to be given, whether it was done on my orders or whether it was the result of a discussion with the Wehrmacht authorities concerned, who wanted to know the opinion of the Foreign Office. All I know is that the Wehrmacht always attached great importance to an exact knowledge of our opinion with regard to the Geneva Convention. I remember that expert opinion, however, and that I have seen it. I am now said to have approved it. It would take too long to go into details, but that is not correct. I remember that I submitted that expert opinion to the Fuehrer as being a very important matter which I could not deal with alone.
I think that the Fuehrer--or I remember rather exactly, that the Fuehrer dismissed it as nonsense at the time, so this expert opinion was not well received by the Fuehrer. In the further course of events all we heard, because we were only concerned indirectly, was that no order of any sort was issued by the Fuehrer or any Wehrmacht authority, because the Wehrmacht shared our very views on this subject. Admittedly, I do not know that in detail; but I can say with absolute certainty that since this question of defense against terror-fliers was under consideration, and afterwards, not a single case of lynching came to my ears. I did not hear that this had happened until I was here.
Right itself is nothing but the duty to defend the life entrusted to us by the Creator of the world. It is the sacred right of self-preservation. Whether this self-preservation will be successful depends solely on the greatness of our efforts and on willingness to make any sacrifice to preserve this life for the future...March 1, 1945: FDR reports to Congress on the Crimean Conference:
When we met at Yalta, in addition to laying our strategic and tactical plans for the complete, final military victory over Germany, there were other problems of vital political consequence. For instance, there were the problems of occupational control of Germany after victory, the complete destruction of her military power, and the assurance that neither the Nazis nor Prussian militarism could again be revived to threaten the peace and civilization of the world.
Secondly, again for example, there was the settlement of the few differences which remained among us with respect to the international security organization after the Dumbarton Oaks Conference. As you remember at that time, I said afterward we had agreed 90 per cent. A pretty good percentage. I think the other 10 per cent was ironed out at Yalta.
Thirdly, there were the general political and economic problems common to all of the areas that would be in the future, or which had been, liberated from the Nazi yoke. There are special problems--we over here find it difficult to understand the ramifications of many of these problems in foreign lands. But we are trying to.
Fourth, there were the special problems created by a few instances, such as Poland and Yugoslavia. Days were spent in discussing these momentous matters. We argued freely and frankly across the table. But at the end, on every point, unanimous agreement was reached. And more important even than the agreement of words, I may say we achieved a unity of thought and a way of getting along together. Of course we know that it was Hitler's hope--and German war lords--that we would not agree, that some slight crack might appear in the solid wall of Allied unity, a crack that would give him and his fellow-gangsters one last hope of escaping their just doom. That is the objective for which his propaganda machine has been working for many months. But Hitler has failed. Never before have the major Allies been more closely united...
Measures for destruction’s in Reich Territory: The struggle of our nation for existence also forces the utilization of all means to weaken the fighting power of our enemy and to prevent further advances. Advantage must be taken of all opportunities to inflict the most enduring damage to the striking power of the enemy directly or indirectly. It is a mistake to believe in the possibility of work resumption for our own purposes of undestroyed or only temporarily paralyzed traffic, communications, industrial, and supply installations after the recapture of lost territories. On his retreat the enemy will leave behind only scorched earth and refrain from any consideration for the population. I therefore command:
1. All military traffic, communications, industrial and supply installation as well as objects on Reich territory, which the enemy might immediately or later utilize for the continuation of his fight, are to be destroyed.
2. The military commands are responsible for the execution of this destruction of all military objects including traffic and communications installations. The Gauleiter’s and Commissioners for Reich Defense are responsible for the destruction of the industrial and supply installations as well as of other valuable objects; the Gauleiter and Commissioners for Reich Defense are to be given necessary assistance by the troops in carrying out this task.
3. This command is to be transmitted as promptly as possible to all troop commanders; orders to the contrary are null and void. Adolf Hitler."
From the IMT testimony of Adolf von Steengracht: Ribbentrop was, in his whole attitude, no typical exponent of National Socialism. He knew extraordinarily little of the dogma and doctrines of National Socialism. He felt himself only personally bound to Hitler, whom he followed with soldierly obedience, and he stood under a certain hypnotic dependence on Hitler. However, I cannot characterize him as a typical exponent of National Socialism. ....
In the first years after 1933 he (Hitler) is said still to have been (accessible to suggestions and objections); but during the course of years he shut himself off more and more from expert objections and suggestions. From the time that I became State Secretary, I saw him only twice on official occasions. I can thus speak only on the success or lack of success of our work. In the course of my activities, covering almost 2 years, I can now recall almost no case in which he agreed to one of our suggestions. On the contrary, it was always to be feared that by some suggestion of a personal nature he would be led to take violent action in an opposite direction.
The basic trait of his character was probably lack of confidence, and this bore unprecedented fruit. Thus, experts and decent people who tried to influence Hitler to their way of thinking were engaged, in my opinion, in an altogether vain task. On the other hand, irresponsible creatures who incited him to take violent measures, or who voiced their suspicions, unfortunately found him extremely accessible. These men were then termed strong, whereas the behavior of anyone who was even half-way normal was condemned as weak or defeatist; through a reasonable opinion voiced only once, the influence of that man could be forever destroyed. ....
First of all the reaction depended very much, in my opinion, on the mood of the Dictator at the time. It was also a matter of importance as to who contradicted and how much strength or weakness he had already shown or seemed to have shown. But what the atmosphere was can perhaps be demonstrated by the following case, shortly after the death of President Roosevelt, as told by Ribbentrop's liaison agent with Hitler, a man named Hewel. He said:
Today I almost met my doom. Goebbels came from the Fuehrer, and reported on Germany's prospects, as far as the Fuehrer saw them affected by Roosevelt's death, and he drew up a very hopeful picture of the future. I, Hewel, was of the opinion that such a view was not justified and remarked as much cautiously to Goebbels. Goebbels fell into a rage, called me a spirit who demoralized everyone, who trampled on the happy moods and hopes of every decent person. I was forced," Hewel reports, "to make a special trip to see Goebbels. and to ask him to keep the matter to himself. For if he had informed the Fuehrer of my attitude, Hitler would have merely pressed a button, and called Rattenhuber, the Chief of his Security Service, and had me taken away and shot.
...among us, also, there are some who candidly would use courts as an instrument of power and many more who favor all of the premises of that philosophy without recognizing the conclusion. The ease with which men thoughtlessly fall into step with this philosophy is strikingly demonstrated by the attitude of many people toward the trial of war criminals. I have no purpose to enter into any controversy as to what shall be done with war criminals, either high or humble. If it is considered good policy for the future peace of the world, if it is believed that the example will outweigh the tendency to create among their own countrymen a myth of martyrdom, then let them be executed. But in that case let the decision to execute them be made as a military or political decision.
We must not use to forms of judicial proceedings to carry out or rationalize previously settled political or military policy. Farcical judicial trials conducted by us will destroy confidence in the judicial process as quickly as those conducted by any other people. Of course, if good faith trials are sought, that is another matter. I am not so troubled as some seem to be over problems of jurisdiction of war criminals or of finding existing and recognized law by which standards of guilt may be determined. But all experience teaches that there are certain things you cannot do under the guise of judicial trial. Courts try cases, but cases also try courts. You must put no man on trial before anything that is called a court, if you are not prepared to establish his personal guilt...
The Jewish Bolshevik arch-enemy has gone over to the attack with his masses for the last time. He attempts to smash Germany and to eradicate our nation. You soldiers from the east today already know yourselves to a large extent what fate is threatening, above all, German women, girls and children. While old men and children are being murdered, women and girls are humiliated to the status of barracks prostitutes. Others are marched off to Siberia. We have anticipated this thrust, and since January of this year everything has been done to build up a strong front. Mighty artillery is meeting the enemy. Our infantry's casualties were replenished by countless new units. Reserve units, new formations and the Volksturm reinforce our front. This time the Bolsheviks will experience Asia's old fate. That is, he must and will bleed to death...April 18, 1945: German forces in the Ruhr surrender.
From the IMT testimony of Margarete Blank: One of his (Ribbentrop's) moves (to end the war by diplomatic methods) was to send Minister Professor Berber to Switzerland in the winter of 1943-1944. Later on these moves were intensified by sending Herr Von Schmieden to Bern and Dr. Hesse to Stockholm. As the Fuehrer had not given official authority to initiate negotiations, it was possible only to try to find out on what conditions discussions might be opened between Germany and the Allies. Similar missions were entrusted to the German Charge d'Affaires in Madrid, Minister Von Bibra, Consul General Mollhausen in Lisbon, and the Ambassador to the Vatican, Von Weizsacker. A former member of the Office Ribbentrop living in Madrid was instructed to make a similar attempt with the British Government. On 20 April Von Ribbentrop dictated to me a detailed memorandum for the Fuehrer in which he asked for official authorization to initiate negotiations. I do not know the outcome of this request because I left Berlin. ....
From what I heard from men of his entourage I know that the Fuehrer did not expect much of it, or that he would have been in favor of initiating negotiations only at a time of military successes. If and when, however, there were military successes, he was likewise against diplomatic initiative. As to the mission of Dr. Hesse--after its failure, he, it was disclosed by an indiscretion, remarked that he had not expected much of it anyway.
After all, the German people did not want it otherwise. The German people by a great majority decided through a plebiscite on the withdrawal from the League of Nations and against a policy of yielding and chose, instead, a policy of courage and honor; thereby the German people themselves chose the war which they have now lost.April 22, 1945: From the last of Goebbels' articles in Das Reich:
This is the age of wars between nations. When whole peoples are threatened, whole peoples must defend themselves. The enemy does not want to take a province from us or push us back to more favorable strategic borders; he wants to cut our very arteries by destroying our mines and factories, destroying our national substance. If he succeeds, Germany will become a cemetery. Our people will starve and perish, aside from the millions who will be deported to Siberia as slave labor. In such a situation, any means is justified...April 29, 1945: While attempting to escape to Switzerland, Italian Premier Benito Mussolini is captured by Italian anti-Fascist forces and summarily executed, along with his girlfriend, in Dongo, on Lake Como. Their bodies are hung upside down on meat-hooks from the roof of an Esso gas station, then stoned and defiled by a mob.
Many very brave men and women have resolved to link their lives to mine to the very end. I have requested them, and finally ordered them, not to do so, but instead to take part in the continuing struggle of the nation. I ask the commanders of the army, navy, and air force to strengthen by all possible means the spirit of resistance of our soldiers in the spirit of National Socialism, emphasizing especially that I too, as founder and creator of this movement, have preferred death to cowardly flight or even capitulation. May it be one day a part of the code of honor; as it is already in the navy, that the surrender of an area or of a town is impossible, and above all in this respect the leaders should give a shining example of faithful devotion to duty unto death...April 30, 1945: An announcement on the German wireless:
It has been reported from the Fuehrer's headquarters that our Fuehrer Adolf Hitler has died this afternoon.May 2, 1945: Executive Order of US President Truman:
Associate Justice Robert H. Jackson is hereby designated to act as the Representative of the United States and as its Chief of Counsel in preparing and prosecuting charges of atrocities and war crimes against such of the leaders of the European Axis powers and their principal agents and accessories as the United States may agree with any of the United Nations to bring to trial before an international tribunal...May 7-8, 1945 VE Day: The Allies formally accept the unconditional surrender of Nazi Germany.
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