I thank you with all my heart for your friendly congratulations on the unconditional surrender of Hitler Germany. The peoples of the Soviet Union greatly appreciate the part played by the friendly American people in this liberation war. The joint effort of the Soviet, US, and British Armed Forces against the German invaders, which has culminated in the latter’s complete rout and defeat, will go down in history as a model military alliance between our peoples. On behalf of the Soviet people and Government I beg you to convey my warmest greetings and congratulations on the occasion of this great victory to the American people and the gallant US Armed Forces.May 10, 1945 Churchill to Field-Marshal Alexander (Italy):
I have seen the photograph. The man who murdered Mussolini made a confession, published in the Daily Express, gloating over the treacherous and cowardly method of his action. In particular he said he shot Mussolini’s mistress. Was she on the list of war criminals? Had he had any authority from anybody to shoot this woman? It seems to me the cleansing hand of British military power should make inquiries on these points.May 14, 1945: The Allies recognize the reestablishment of the Democratic Republic of Austria.
The custody and treatment of war criminals and suspects appeared to require immediate attention. I asked the War Department to deny those prisoners who are suspected war criminals the privileges which would appertain to their rank if they were merely prisoners of war; to assemble them at convenient and secure locations for interrogation by our staff; to deny them access to the press; and to hold them in close confinement...June 14, 1945: Ribbentrop is arrested by a Belgian SAS sergeant (Jacques Goffinet) working with British forces near Hamburg. He is discovered lying in bed wearing pink and white pajamas. "The game is up," declares Ribbentrop in perfectly rehearsed English. "I congratulate you. You know who I am. If you had come two days later, I would already have given myself up voluntarily." They confiscate a capsule of potassium cyanide and several hundred thousand Reichsmarks. Found with him is a letter to General 'Montgommery' requesting an interview with British Prime Minister 'Vincent Churchill.'
Justice Jackson: Our first task as prosecutors, as we see it, is to get the evidence in the case. We would not wait for any court to be set up to do that because we think of that as a prosecutor's function, and therefore we have already started work on it and have many people trying to examine captured orders and reports. We have interrogated prisoners of war, interrogated civilian prisoners taken since the surrender, interrogated witnesses, and gathered all of the evidence we can get in proof of the charges.
Then we envisage the preparation of an indictment or bill of accusation you can call it by various names-in which we would select persons indicated by the evidence to be guilty, they would be charged with crimes, and that indictment would then be presented to the court. That would be the first time there would be any contact between the prosecutors and the court in our system - when the charges are presented. That brings the case into court-when you have an indictment. The Court would then have nothing before it except the indictment but it would fix the time of trial and might assign counsel.
On the trial date we would produce in court all of our evidence. The court would not have the evidence merely as a result of its being gathered by the prosecutors but it would have received it in open session. Documentary proof, as we call it, would be offered and some facts would be established by "judicial notice", which means it would not be necessary to prove them...
Niktchenko: Local crimes should be tried locally. We only gave Frank as an example, but there are other main, criminals who ought to be charged by the international court but still whose activities refer mainly to certain countries and can be localized, and we had those in mind when we made the amendment to the draft. There are criminals who may be claimed by different governments, like France or Britain, those who have committed mainly crimes against their governments. For example, Goering was mainly responsible for the attacks on London, and therefore the British Government might claim that his trial should take place in London.
Justice Jackson: Where does the Soviet Delegation think Goering's trial should take place?
Niktchenko: I would not like to suggest a place where Goering should stand trial. He may be charged as one of the main criminals in Nuremberg. On the other hand, if Britain should think he should stand trial in England, I do not think we should have the power to refuse such a claim if reasonable.
Sir Thomas Barnes: But Goering is a major war criminal. In respect to his local crimes, that ought to be subsidiary to the main trial.
Mr. Troyanovsky: He would be tried as a major criminal, but perhaps in London?
Niktchenko: I quite agree he should be tried as a main war criminal and by the International Military Tribunal, but the place of that Tribunal may be London if the British Government should think it satisfactory.
Sir Thomas Barnes: We had come to think all major war criminals should be tried in Germany...
Professor Gros: I think to embody the common-plan theory would be easy. It is only a question of drafting. We thought of putting the word "planned," but it is difficult. It would have "or the plan of ," but as it refers to conduct...
Sir David Maxwell-Fyfe: It occurred to me you could do it in either of two ways. In the beginning "and took part in a plan to further," or the policy of aggression could be put in a more concrete form by "conduct of a plan to achieve aggression against." What is in my mind is getting a man like Ribbentrop or Ley. It would be a great pity if we failed to get Ribbentrop or Ley or Streicher. Now I want words that will leave no doubt that men who have originated the plan or taken part in the early stages of the plan are going to be within the jurisdiction of the Tribunal. I do not want any argument that Ribbentrop did not direct the preparation because he merely was overborne by Hitler, or any nonsense of that kind...
Much gossip is abroad about friction between the US, Great Britain, France and Russia over these trials. The truth is there is no trouble between US, Britain and France--but the Russians are just holding up the whole proceeding. They are impossible, in my opinion. I do not know the details but I do know they are not cooperative on this problem so far. I believe they want to put on another Russian farce for a trial. If that happens, I go home, and promptly! The English appointed their chief counsel 21 days after the US appointed Jackson (who was the first to be appointed). The French followed soon after. Thus far no one has been appointed for Russia. Our people meet with certain Russian representatives but nothing happens. When representatives of the United Nations went to Nuremberg to look it over as a possible site for the trial only the Russians failed to make the trip.August 2, 1945 International Conference on Military Trials: During this days Four Power conference session:
General Niktchenko: Article 24 (e) states, "The Tribunal shall ask the prosecution and defense what evidence, if any, they wish to submit to the Tribunal and rule upon the admissibility of such evidence." I think that is a sufficient provision. If we add another provision saying, "both the prosecution and the defense may at any time in the course of the trial offer evidence," would that not be sufficient to define the course of the trial?
Justice Jackson. The difficulty in this is a provision to regulate the order, otherwise it serves no purpose, and if you say "at any time" you do not regulate the order. Also, in the midst of our case a defendant may get up and say, "This is not true," and offer to prove it. The court would refer to this article and would be put in an embarrassing position. But if we have the order specified, the court would say, "Now, Mr. Defendant, you will have an opportunity at the proper time and now you sit down." Otherwise I fear that we open this to disorder, and we must not forget that, of all the things these people are artists in, one of the chief things is in creating disorder. We have tried Nazi sympathizers in our courts, the American prototypes, and their policy has been to disorganize and upset a trial. I think it would worsen the provision to say "at any time," for that confounds the whole thing. It is very important to give the court a guide here so that it can say, "You will have your rights at the time specified and if you don't keep still now you will be removed from the court." This trial must be conducted in a very stern way or they may make us look ridiculous. That will be their technique...
I am able to report the most fascinating days of my life. .... Next we questioned Joachim von Ribbentrop, who was the Nazi foreign minister. He came in under guard wearing an old brown overcoat, khaki shirt, no tie, army shoes (no laces), unshaven and seedy looking. He is of light complexion, blue eyes, light graying hair. He speaks some English. He was nervous, despondent, shaken. Here sat the man who paraded all over Europe in fancy dress with the Nazi might and power behind his diplomacy. He looked like a Bowery character to me. His answers were of great interest because in part they revealed something of Hitler's method of doing things and the competition - the jealousies among the Nazi top men. Remind me to tell you of the feeling between Rosenberg and von Ribbentrop. It fascinated me to hear this man tell of his talks with Hitler.August 17, 1945: When additional members of the prosecution team arrive in Nuremberg for an inspection, they find that Ribbentrop has not had a shave for four days and presents a miserable sight. (Tusa)
Grave precedents are being set. For the first time the leaders of a state are being tried for starting a war and breaking treaties. We may expect after this that at the end of any future war the victors--whether they have justice on their side or not, as this time we firmly believe we have--will try the vanquished.August 30, 1945: The Glasgow Herald reacts to the release of the list of defendants:
Scanning this list, one cannot but be struck by the completeness of the Nazi catastrophe. Of all these men, who but a year ago enjoyed wide influence or supreme power, not one could find a refuge in a continent united in hate against them.September 17, 1945 From the letters of Thomas Dodd:
Yesterday, Jackson told the press that the US would be ready to start the trial on November 1. By the way, the Russian representative (Niktchenko) had been suddenly withdrawn. No explanations--mere notice that he will no longer represent Russia in this matter. After weeks of negotiating, weeks of work with him as chief counsel for Russia, he simply goes home and does not come back. These Russians are impossible. What effect this will have on the trial or the trial; date no one knows, but you can imagine the confusion that may arise out of it.October 5, 1945: Andrus loses his first German prisoner to suicide; Dr Leonard Conti, Hitler's "Head of National Hygiene."
...the Defense consider it their duty to point out at this juncture another peculiarity of this Trial which departs from the commonly recognized principles of modern jurisprudence. The Judges have been appointed exclusively by States which were the one party in this war. This one party to the proceeding is all in one: creator of the statute of the Tribunal and of the rules of law, prosecutor and judge. It used to be until now the common legal conception that this should not be so; just as the United States of America, as the champion for the institution of international arbitration and jurisdiction, always demanded that neutrals, or neutrals and representatives of all parties, should be called to the Bench. This principle has been realized in an exemplary manner in the case of the Permanent Court of International Justice at The Hague. In view of the variety and difficulty of these questions of law the Defense hereby pray: That the Tribunal direct that an opinion be submitted by internationally recognized authorities on international law on the legal elements of this trial...November 19, 1945: After a last inspection by Andrus, the defendants are escorted individually into the empty courtroom and given their assigned seats. Hess is placed in the second spot in the front row after Goering, before Ribbentrop. (Tusa)
Justice Jackson: On March 29, 1941 Ribbentrop told Matsuoka, the Japanese Foreign Minister, that the German Army was ready to strike against Russia. Matsuoka reassured Ribbentrop about the Far East. Japan, he reported, was acting at the moment as though she had no interest whatever in Singapore, but intends to strike when the right moment comes. On April 5, 1941 Ribbentrop urged Matsuoka that entry of Japan into the war would "hasten the victory" and would be more in the interest of Japan than of Germany since it would give Japan a unique chance to fulfill her national aims and to play a leading part in Eastern Asia. The proofs in this case will also show that the leaders of Germany were planning war against the United States from its Atlantic as well as instigating it from its Pacific approaches...November 30, 1945 Nuremberg Tribunal: On Day 9 of the historic trial, defendant Rudolf Hess makes a statement before the court:
At the beginning of the proceedings this afternoon I gave my defense counsel a note saying that I thought the proceedings could be shortened if I would be allowed to speak. I wish to say the following: In order to forestall the possibility of my being pronounced incapable of pleading, in spite of my willingness to take part in the proceedings and to hear the verdict alongside my comrades, I would like to make the following declaration before the Tribunal, although, originally, I intended to make it during a later stage of the trial: Henceforth my memory will again respond to the outside world. The reasons for simulating loss of memory were of a tactical nature. Only my ability to concentrate is, in fact, somewhat reduced. But my capacity to follow the trial, to defend myself, to put questions to witnesses, or to answer questions myself is not affected thereby. I emphasize that I bear full responsibility for everything that I did, signed or co-signed. My fundamental attitude that the Tribunal is not competent, is not affected by the statement I have just made. I also simulated loss of memory in consultations with my officially appointed defense counsel. He has, therefore, represented it in good faith.
From The Case of Rudolf Hess by J. R. Rees (The reactions of Hess's fellow defendants to the above statement are noted.): Ribbentrop, upon learning the news, was dumbfounded, and was hardly able to speak when told Hess's statement, and merely kept repeating: 'Hess, you mean Hess? The Hess we have here? He said that?' Ribbentrop became quite agitated and seemed to feel such action was not possible. He stated: `But Hess did not know me. I looked at him. I talked to him. Obviously he did not know me. It is just not possible. Nobody could fool me like that.
Colonel Amen: After being assigned to the Intelligence Division, how were your activities principally directed?
Lahousen: My responsible chief, or more exactly, the responsible chief at that time, was Colonel of the General Staff Bohme. He was the division chief to whom I was subordinate, the Chief of the Intelligence Division, the man to whom I was responsible, from whom I received my orders and instructions; later on it was the Chief of the Austrian General Staff.
The President: Can't you shorten this, Colonel Amen? We really need not have all this detail.
Colonel Amen: Very good, Sir. It is, however, I think important for the Tribunal to understand more of this information than you ordinarily would by virtue of the fact that he was taken over subsequently to a corresponding position in the German Army, which I did want the Tribunal to appreciate. Now, will you state to the Tribunal what your principal activities were after being assigned to the Intelligence Division? What information were you interested in and seeking to obtain?
Lahousen: May I repeat--I don't know if I understood you correctly--I was a member of the Austrian Intelligence Division, and not of the German Abwehr.
Colonel Amen: After the Anschluss, what position did you assume?
Lahousen: After the Anschluss I was automatically taken into the High Command of the German Armed Forces, where I did the same work. In that position I was then a member of the Abwehr and my chief was Admiral Canaris...
Sir David Maxwell-Fyfe: Ribbentrop used the foregoing positions, his personal influence, and his intimate connection with the Fuehrer in such a manner that he promoted the accession to power of the Nazi conspirators as set forth in Count One of the Indictment and permitted the preparation for war set forth in Count One of the Indictment. In the second section he participated in the political planning and preparation of the Nazi conspirators for wars of aggression and wars in violation of international treaties, agreements, and assurances as set forth in Counts One and Two of the Indictment. In accordance with the Fuehrer Principle, he executed and assumed responsibility for the execution of the foreign policy plans of the Nazi conspirators...January 9, 1946 Nuremberg Tribunal: On day 30, the prosecution continues presenting its case against Ribbentrop:
Sir David Maxwell-Fyfe: ...there is no doubt that this defendant was behind the program against the Jews which resulted in the placing of them in concentration camps with anyone else who opposed the Nazi way of life; and it is submitted that he must, as a minister in special touch with the head of the government, have known what was going on in the country and in the camps. One who preached this doctrine and was in a position of authority cannot, I submit to anyone who has had any ministerial experience, suggest that he was ignorant of how the policy was carried out...January 28, 1946 From the diary of the British Alternate Judge, Mr. Justice Birkett:
The evidence is building up a most terrible and convincing case of complete horror and inhumanity in the concentration camps. But from the point of view of this trial it is a complete waste of valuable time. The case has been proved over and over again.
From Justice at Nuremberg by Robert E. Conot: An insomniac who could not go to sleep until three or four o'clock in the morning, Ribbentrop had customarily awakened between nine-thirty and noon. Since at Nuremberg he was aroused at 6 AM, he was obtaining no more than two or three hours of sleep a night. He lost so much weight that beneath his gray, unkempt hair his skin fell away from his gaunt eyes loosely and without texture. He had the haggard appearance of a man haunted by a thousand devils. His sight was failing and his state of mind suicidal. Despite exhortations and warnings, he could not be induced to make his bed or clean his cell. He scribbled endlessly, but had no sooner written something than he crumpled the paper and threw it on the floor. Pacing up and down, he kicked through the discarded papers as if they were an array of snowballs. Whenever the psychiatrist, Dr Douglas Kelly, came to visit him, he implored, "Doctor, what shall I do? What shall I do?" Though he was twenty years younger than some of his co-defendants, his appearance placed him among the oldest of the accused.
(The defendants showed) tremendous excitement. Hess suddenly stopped playing the amnesiac and reminded us how often he had predicted a great turning point that would put an end to the trial, rehabilitate all of us, and restore us to our ranks and dignities. Goering, too, was beside himself; he repeatedly slapped his thighs with his palms and boomed: 'History will not be deceived. The Fuehrer and I always prophesied it. This coalition had to break up sooner or later." (Speer II)March 11, 1946 Nuremberg Tribunal: On day 78, General Erhard Milch continues his testimony:
Mr. Justice Jackson: When you returned from England, did you warn Hitler against the activities of Ribbentrop?
Mr. Justice Jackson: What did you tell Hitler about the activities of Ribbentrop in England?
Milch: That I had gained the impression in England that Von Ribbentrop was not persona grata.
Mr. Justice Jackson: Now, when you were interrogated before, didn't you state after your capture that you told Hitler that if he did not get rid of Ribbentrop soon he was going to have trouble with England? Is that not what you told Hitler in substance?
Milch: I cannot now remember the exact words.
Mr. Justice Jackson: But is that not the sense of it?
Milch: I was of the opinion that another man should be sent to England to bring about mutual understanding as to policy...
Goering: Herr Von Ribbentrop definitely had no influence in the sense that he could have steered Hitler in any one direction. To what extent arguments of an objective nature may perhaps have definitely influenced the Fuehrer sometimes to do this or that in respect to foreign political affairs, or to refrain from doing it, or to change it, would have depended entirely on the strength of the arguments and the facts. To what extent that may sometimes have played a role I cannot say, for I was not present at 99 percent of the Fuehrer's conferences with Herr Von Ribbentrop. But Herr Von Ribbentrop had at no time such influence that he could have said, 'Do this' or 'Do not do it; I consider it a mistake,' when the Fuehrer was convinced of the correctness of any matter...March 19, 1946 Nuremberg Tribunal: On day 85, Swedish industrialist and amateur peace envoy Birger Dahlerus gives testimony damaging to Ribbentrop:
Sir David Maxwell-Fyfe: ...Now I want you, for a moment, to deal with the Foreign Minister of Germany, according to the impressions that you formed. Generally, I think you got the impression that Von Ribbentrop was doing everything he could to interrupt and spoil your endeavors?
Dahlerus: That is correct.
Sir David Maxwell-Fyfe: But according to Goering, he went further than that. Will you look at Page 76? This is, you remember, when you were just saying goodbye to Goering, on, I think, your last visit to London, after he had drawn the map, which I will come to in a moment. Did you say this: "Before we parted, he again went over the German standpoint, saying finally that if we never met again he would like to take the opportunity of thanking me for what I have done and for my tireless energy in the cause of peace. I was somewhat surprised by this farewell and could not help replying that in all probability we should meet again soon. His expression changed and he said solemnly: "Perhaps; but certain people are doing what they can to prevent your getting out of this alive." That was said seriously and solemnly, Mr. Dahlerus?
Sir David Maxwell-Fyfe: And you go on: "At a meeting in October of the same year Goering told me that Ribbentrop had tried to arrange for my plane to crash. Hence Goering's solemn mien when he bid me farewell...
Note: In the evening, a visibly upset Ribbentrop whispers to fellow defendant Kaltenbrunner, "I don't know who to trust now." (Tusa)
Dr Seidl: The Prosecutor for the Soviet Union states that he has no knowledge of the existence of this secret document which shall be established by this affidavit. Under these circumstances I am compelled to move that Foreign Commissar Molotov of the Soviet Union be called as a witness, so that it can be established, firstly whether this agreement was actually concluded, secondly, what the contents of this agreement are, and thirdly...
The President: Dr. Seidl, the first thing for you to do is to have a translation of this document made, and until you have a translation of this document made the Tribunal is not prepared to hear you upon it. We do not know what the document contains.
Dr Seidl: As to what the document contains, I already wanted to explain that before. In the document there is...
The President: No, the Tribunal is not prepared to hear from you what the document contains. We want to see the document itself and see it in English and also in Russian. I do not mean, of course, you have to do it yourself, Dr. Seidl. If you would furnish this copy to the Prosecution they will have it translated into the various languages and then, after that has been done, we can reconsider the matter.
Dr Seidl: Very well. I turn then to another document...
After lunch the Ribbentrop case started. His lawyer said he might be too ill to take the stand. I made some inquiry and found he is very well but scared to death, so I arose and so informed the court. The afternoon passed with the offering of some documents and the direct examination of one witness.March 26, 1946 Nuremberg Tribunal: On day 92, Ribbentrop's Defence begins with an attempt to introduce a statement by Ribbentrop into evidence:
Dr Horn: ...The health of the Defendant Von Ribbentrop is quite poor at present. This morning the doctor told me that Ribbentrop is suffering from so-called vasomotor disturbances in his speech. I wanted to take a part of his evidence statement from my client by making a statement of it here and thus showing the position of the defendant to the Tribunal. I do not know whether the Defendant von Ribbentrop, in view of his present state of health, that is, his impediment of speech, could make these explanations as briefly as I myself can. Then, when the defendant is in the box, he needs only to confirm these statements under oath.
The President: If the Defendant von Ribbentrop is too ill to give evidence today, then he must give evidence on some future occasion. If you have any oral witnesses to call other than the Defendant von Ribbentrop, then they can give evidence today; and with reference to the documentary evidence, it is perfectly simple for you to offer those documents in evidence in the way that it was done by Dr. Stahmer, in the way that it was done by Dr. Seidl, and the way in which the Tribunal have explained over and over again.
Dr Horn: I had intended to submit documents first and not to call my witnesses until later. As far as von Ribbentrop is concerned, I have learned that his condition has become constantly worse. I do not know therefore whether at the end of the presentation of evidence I will be in a position to summon the Defendant von Ribbentrop; but I must be prepared for the possibility that I might not be able to call him. And otherwise I am concerned with only a very few very general points for rectification.
The President: Dr. Horn, you cannot give evidence at any rate and if you cannot call von Ribbentrop, then you must, if it is possible to do so, call some other witnesses who will give the evidence which he would have given. If, unfortunately, it is not possible to do so, then his case may suffer...
Dr. Horn: Now, another matter. Is it correct that Herr von Ribbentrop gave orders that under all circumstances the French franc should be sustained against inflation?
Steengracht: Such measures can apply only to a time when I was not yet State Secretary. But I know that the basic attitude towards France and all occupied territories was that under all circumstances their currency was to be preserved as far as possible, or rather should be preserved by all means. That is why we often sent gold to Greece in order to attempt to maintain the value of the currency there to some extent.
Dr. Horn: What was accomplished in Greece by sending this gold there?
Steengracht: By sending gold to Greece we lowered the rate of exchange of foreign currencies. Thus the Greek merchants who had hoarded food to a large extent, became frightened and threw the food on the market, and in this way it was made available to the Greek population again.
Dr. Horn: Is it correct that Von Ribbentrop gave strictest orders not to undertake any confiscation in occupied territories but to deal directly only with their governments?
Steengracht: If you put the question like that, it is basically correct, but I say, as I said yesterday, that in principle we had no functions at all in the occupied territories, therefore no power to confiscate, nor was such power within the jurisdiction of other agencies; but it is correct that we negotiated only with the foreign governments and that Von Ribbentrop had most strictly forbidden us to support any direct measures concerning an occupied country which were carried out by other departments...
From The Nuremberg Trial by Ann and John Tusa: It was poor testimony, made worse by the fact that Steengracht read every word of it--and was told off by the judges for so doing. The only interest in his evidence lay in confirmation of a point which had appeared in the prosecution case and would be stressed by the Defence--that the Nazi state, coordinated by Hitler, had consisted of innumerable overlapping, competing, antagonistic agencies. .... Increasingly listeners would question the stereotype of German bureaucratic efficiency, and indeed wonder how the Nazi government ever survived so many back-biting officials, non-communicating departments and fights over resources.
Dr. Horn: Do you know that, in addition to the Non-aggression Pact and the Trade Agreement, a further agreement was concluded in Moscow?
Fraulein Blank: Yes, there was an additional secret agreement.
General Rudenko: Your Honors! It appears to me that the witness, who has been called to attend the present sitting of the Tribunal is, by the very nature of her position as secretary to the former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ribbentrop, able to testify only to the personality of the defendant, to his way of life, to the reticence or frankness of his character, and so forth. But the witness is quite incompetent to pass an opinion on matters pertaining to agreements, foreign policy, et cetera. In this sense I consider the questions of the Defense absolutely inadmissible and request that they be withdrawn.
The President: Dr. Horn, that is the same matter that is raised, is it not, upon the affidavit of Dr. Gaus? I mean, you said that. You were going to produce an affidavit of Dr. Gaus which dealt with a secret agreement between--can't you hear me? I beg your pardon. I ought, to have said that Dr. Seidl was going to produce an affidavit of Dr. Gaus with reference to this alleged agreement. That is right, is it not?
Dr. Horn: I assume so, yes.
The President: The Soviet Prosecutor objected to that agreement being referred to until the affidavit should be admitted, until it had been seen. Well, now, is the agreement in writing?
Dr. Horn: No.
The President: Is the alleged agreement between the Soviet Government and Germany in writing?
Dr. Horn: Yes. It was put down in writing, but I am not in possession of a copy...
Dr. Horn: What atmosphere prevailed during that conference?
Schmidt: The atmosphere during that conference was, I think I can say, somewhat charged with electricity. Both participants were extremely nervous. Henderson was very uneasy; and never before, and perhaps only once afterwards, have I seen the Foreign Minister so nervous as he was during that conference. An incident which occurred during the first part of the discussion can perhaps serve to illustrate the atmosphere. The matter under discussion was the specifying of all the points Germany had against Poland and her government, and the Foreign Minister had done that in all details and concluded with the words: "So you see, Sir Neville Henderson, the situation is damned serious." When Sir Neville Henderson heard those words, "damned serious" he started up, half raised himself and pointing a warning finger at the Foreign Minister said: "You have just said 'damned.' That is not the language of a statesman in so serious a situation."
The President: To what charge in the Indictment is this relevant?
Dr. Horn: To the point in the Indictment that on 30 August 1939, Von Ribbentrop read out the memorandum, the decisive memorandum, so quickly that Ambassador Sir Neville Henderson was not able to grasp its contents and transmit it to his government and have it forwarded to the Polish Government in order to continue negotiations between Germany and Poland. England at that time had offered her good offices as intermediary between both governments. Germany on the basis ...
The President: Which passage of the Indictment are you referring to? You may be right, I do not know. I only want to know which passage in the Indictment you are referring to.
Dr. Horn: I am referring to the preparation of, that is, to the failure to prevent aggressive war for which Ribbentrop is indicted as a co-conspirator.
The President: That is on Page 9, is it not, from (F) 4? There is nothing about the way in which this document was handed over to Sir Neville Henderson. Presumably you have got the Indictment. Where is it in the Indictment?
Dr. Horn: It has been presented by the Prosecution and it has also been presented in the House of Commons where Chamberlain insisted that Ribbentrop had read it out so rapidly that it was impossible to grasp the contents and transmit them through diplomatic channels, which England had expressly offered to do. Thus the Defendant Von Ribbentrop is directly indicted for having prevented this last chance of further negotiations with Poland. The statement of the witness will prove that the Defendant Von Ribbentrop cannot be charged with this.
The President: Well, Dr. Horn, you made the point that it was read in that way. There is no charge about it in the Indictment at all. It may be that the Prosecution referred to it in the course of the history. You have made the point, surely it is not necessary to go on at length about it...
Dr. Horn: May I once more ask the Tribunal whether it can be ascertained if the translations of the documents will be available by tomorrow morning. I would like to base the further presentation of evidence on them. If I have translations in the morning, then I would begin now to examine the Defendant Von Ribbentrop as a witness. If translations cannot be completed by tomorrow morning, then I would ask the Tribunal to allow me to submit my documents now.
The President: Dr. Horn, this Trial has been going on for many months, and it is taking a very much longer time than anybody anticipated, at any rate longer than any member of the Tribunal anticipated, and they cannot have it put off any longer. You must go on. Have you got any further witnesses to call?
Dr. Horn: No, I have no further witnesses, Mr. President.
The President: Are you not going to call the Defendant Von Ribbentrop?
Dr. Horn: Yes.
The President: Why can you not put him in the box now?
Dr. Horn: I can examine him, but I asked the President whether I can have the assistance of the Tribunal, whether I can have the documents by tomorrow morning. Then I would start now to examine the Defendant as a witness and submit the documents when the Prosecution have their documents too and can raise their objections here at the same time.
The President: Well, as soon as the documents are translated, you shall have them, of course. We have sent out to find out whether they will be available by tomorrow morning, but we have got 35 minutes now before 5 o'clock. We want to occupy the time.
Dr. Horn: Very well, Mr. President. In that case I shall examine the Defendant as witness now.
The President: Will you go on please, Dr. Horn?
Dr. Horn: Yes. In that case I shall continue to present the documents.
The President: Dr. Horn, you said you were going to call the Defendant Von Ribbentrop. We have not got the documents here, and you must do as you said.
Dr. Horn: Then I request to be given permission to examine the defendant as a witness...
Thursday I was in court all day--the Justice was ill and I have been in charge. We proceeded with the defense and they are doing all they can to stall us. I have been objecting right along and so you may have read about it in the press. The Tribunal just is not doing its job and unless it does very soon we will all find ourselves in a pickle...Today I was in court all day and von Ribbentrop went on with his defense. It is woefully weak. I again objected to the delay and the court agreed and admonished the lawyer but did no more.March 29, 1946 Nuremberg Tribunal: On day 94, Ribbentrop testifies on his own behalf:
Dr. Horn: Yesterday at the end you were speaking about your political impressions in England and France. In connection with that I should like to put the following question: Did you make efforts to tell Hitler of your views on French and British politics at that time?
Ribbentrop: Yes, after 30 January 1933 1 saw Hitler repeatedly and of course told him about the impressions which I gathered on my frequent travels, particularly to England and France.
Dr. Horn: What was Hitler's attitude toward France and England at that time?
Ribbentrop: Hitler's attitude was as follows: He saw in France an enemy of Germany because of the entire policy which France had pursued with regard to Germany since the end of World War I, and especially because of the position which she took on questions of equality of rights. This attitude of Hitler's found expression at the time in his book Mein Kampf. I knew France well, since for a number of years I had had connections there. At that time I told the Fuehrer a great deal about France. It interested him, and I noticed that he showed an increasing interest in French matters in the year 1933. Then I brought him together with a number of Frenchmen, and I believe some of these visits, and perhaps also some of my descriptions of the attitude taken by many Frenchmen, and all of French culture ...
Dr. Horn: What Frenchmen were they?
Ribbentrop: There were a number of French economists, there were journalists and also some politicians. These reports interested the Fuehrer, and gradually he got the impression that there were, after all, men in France who were not averse to the idea of an understanding with Germany. Above all I acquainted the Fuehrer with an argument which sprang from my deepest conviction and my years of experience. It was a great wish of the Fuehrer, as is well known, to come to a definitive friendship and agreement with England. At first the Fuehrer treated this idea as something apart from Franco-German politics. I believe that at that time I succeeded in convincing the Fuehrer that an understanding with England would be possible only by way of an understanding with France as well. That made, as I still remember very clearly from some of our conversations, a strong impression on him. He told me then that I should continue this purely personal course of mine for bringing about an understanding between Germany and France and that I should continue to report to him about these things...
From the memoirs of Dr Gilbert, the Nuremberg psychologist, who recorded (between March 26 and April 3, 1946) the reactions of Ribbentrop's fellow defendants to his testimony: Papen: "Now you see it! That was the Foreign Office." Fritzsche: "And just imagine German soldiers going to war, confidently thinking that there is a competent Foreign Office and a responsible administration..." Funk: "Disgraceful! Disgraceful--the whole thing!" Schacht: "Ugh! Such a washrag for a Foreign Minister--and look at the people he had working for him--Such a good-for-nothing, stupid weakling!" Toward the end of Ribbentrop's testimony, Gilbert overheard Goering remark to Raeder in court: "Ribbentrop is all washed up." (Gilbert)
March 30, 1946 Nuremberg Tribunal: On day 95, Ribbentrop testifies on his own behalf:
Dr Horn: ...What, in your opinion, were the decisive causes which brought about this war?
Ribbentrop: I gave evidence in this matter yesterday. The decisive factor 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: 1. There is no doubt...
Mr. Dodd: If Your Honor please, I generalized this morning and I repeat my assertion of yesterday that I am most reluctant to interfere here with this examination. But as the witness has said himself, we did go all through this yesterday, we have heard this whole story already in the occasion of yesterday afternoon's session. My point is that the witness himself, before going into his answer, stated that he had already given the causes for the war, yesterday afternoon, and I quite agree. I think it is entirely unnecessary for him to go over it again today. I might add parenthetically that we had some great doubt about the relevancy or the materiality of it even on yesterday's occasion, but surely we do not have to hear him again.
The President: What do you say to that, Dr. Horn?
Dr Horn: I would like to say that the former German Minister for Foreign Affairs, who is accused of being co-responsible for a war of aggression, might perhaps say a few words about the decisive causes, which according to him led to this war. The Defendant of course, should not repeat what he said yesterday. I want him to give only some details on points to which he referred in only a general way yesterday, and it will not take up very much of the Tribunal's time...
Ribbentrop: ...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...April 1, 1946 From the letters of Thomas Dodd:
Sir David Maxwell-Fyfe is cross-examining Ribbentrop. He did quite well this morning, but now it is dull--too detailed, quite repetitive. .... We are about through with Ribbentrop--should finish him up by tomorrow and then move on to Keitel and the others. I do think I am making progress at speeding things up.April 2, 1946 Nuremberg Tribunal: On day 97, Ribbentrop is cross-examined by various counsel:
Ribbentrop: ...I was always loyal to Hitler, carried through his orders, differed frequently in opinion from him, had serious disputes with him, repeatedly tendered my resignation, but when Hitler gave an order, I always carried out his instructions in accordance with the principles of our authoritarian state.
Amen: Now, you were interrogated frequently by me, were you not, before this Trial?
Ribbentrop: Yes, once or twice, I believe.
Amen: Now, I am going to read to you certain questions and answers which were given in the course of these interrogations, and simply ask you to tell the Tribunal whether or not you made the answers that I read to you. That question can be answered "yes" or "no"; do you understand?
Amen: "I have been a loyal man to the Fuehrer to his last days. I have never gone back on him. I have been a loyal man to his last days, last hours, and I did not always agree with everything. On the contrary, I sometimes had very divergent views, but I promised to him in 1941 that I would keep faith in him. I gave him my word of honor that I would not get him into any difficulties." Is that correct?
Ribbentrop: Yes, that according to my recollection is correct. I did not see the document and I did not sign anything, but as far as I can remember, that is correct.
Amen: Well, what did you mean by saying that you would not get him into any difficulties?
Ribbentrop: I saw in Adolf Hitler the symbol of Germany and the only man who could win this war for Germany, and therefore I did not want to create any difficulties for him, and remained faithful to him until the end...
From The Anatomy of the Nuremberg Trials by Telford Taylor: Joachim von Ribbentrop ran a close second against Kaltenbrunner and Streicher for the title "man most disliked by his fellow defendants." But the other two were Nazi thugs--Kaltenbrunner was hated with horror and Streicher with loathing--while Ribbentrop was regarded with utter scorn. .... Ribbentrop's continuing tenure at the Foreign Office was based solely on Hitler's support, not because of Ribbentrop's advice but for his servile obedience, and Hitler's exaggerated notion of Ribbentrop's reputation abroad. The professional staff at the Foreign Ministry could not abide Ribbentrop, who was arrogant, overbearing, and inept. Genuine "vons," like von Neurath and von Papen, laughed at Ribbentrop's "von," which came from adoption rather than birth. But scorn reached its apex at Nuremberg, where it soon became obvious that Ribbentrop was in a constant state of terror. True, he had plenty to worry about, but Ribbentrop was not the only defendant in that box, and he paraded his fears to a degree that none could tolerate. ....
Given his reputation, it is not surprising that Ribbentrop got little help from others. His counsel, Dr Martin Horn, was awkward and no favorite of the Tribunal, especially when he presented nine document books containing some 350 documents. .... Ribbentrop's testimony was so tangled in lies and mistakes that devastating cross-examination was easy. In fact, it seemed hardly necessary, but Fyfe could not let such an opportunity pass, and the British had plenty of bones to pick with the former ambassador to London who had been despised there. Fyfe took nearly a full day, and Faure, Amen, and Rudenko another four hours of cross-examination. Dr Horn did not reexamine.
Ribbentrop down--Keitel to go. And 17 to go for a touchdown. Yesterday saw the end of Ribbentrop) but not until Amen made a mess of cross-exam for us. He is impossible and a real faker, and this myth of the great prosecutor is just about exploded. The court was fed up and so were all the people in the courtroom. It should end his part in the case but the next defendant after Keitel has been assigned to him and it is too late to change and anyway the proof is so strong against him that Amen cannot do much harm.April 9, 1946 Nuremberg Tribunal: On day 103, Major F. Elwyn Jones (Junior Counsel for the United Kingdom), cross-examines Dr Hans Heinrich Lammers, Chief of the Reich Chancellery, who has been called to the stand by Keitel's Defense:
Major Jones: As Reich Chancellor you were responsible for distributing the largess of the Nazis among yourselves, were you not?
Lammers: I was in charge of the Fuehrer's funds; and on his instructions I made the necessary payments out of those funds. I could not spend money as I pleased.
Major Jones: You, as Reich Chancellor, delivered a million Reichsmarks to Dr. Ley, did you not?
Lammers: That was a donation that the Fuehrer specifically granted to Ley. I did not do that on my own initiative.
Major Jones: And Ribbentrop was another recipient of a million, was he not?
Lammers: He received a million in installments, first one half and then the other.
Major Jones: And Keitel was another millionaire, was he not? He received a million, did he not?
Lammers: He received a sum of money and an estate, because the Fuehrer renewed the practice of the old Prussian kings of granting land and money to his generals.
Major Jones: And you yourself received 600,000 marks, did you not?
Lammers: I received 600,000 marks on my 65th birthday. I received this sum because I had never received anything in my previous positions, since I had never asked for it-also because I had twice been bombed out and had no house or property of my own. The Fuehrer wished me to buy a small house.
Major Jones: That is all...
This has been a very interesting day. The defense witness, Gisevius, has been on the stand and as you may have read in the press he completely destroyed the defendants--man by man, with the exception of Schacht, for whom he was a good witness--but not good enough in my opinion to exculpate Schacht or to save him from punishment. Justice Jackson cross-examined him and brought out amazing and indeed shocking information about these Nazis. The defendants looked very glum--and disconsolate and indeed they might. They are a group of evil, wicked men. This is perfectly clear to me--and I have been in a position to know. Gisevius did not complete his testimony when the court adjourned for the day. He will be on again in the morning....April 26, 1946 Nuremberg Tribunal: On day 115, Hans Bernd Gisevius is cross-examined by the prosecution:
The President: Mr. Justice Jackson, I think you put your question, "Did not these men in the dock form a ring which prevented you getting to Hitler," and the question was answered rather as though it applied only to Keitel. If you intended to put it with reference to all defendants I think it ought to be cleared up.
Mr. Justice Jackson: I think that is true. (Turning to the witness.) Each of the defendants who held ministerial positions of any kind controlled the reports which should go to Hitler from that particular ministry, did he not?
Gisevius: As far as this general question is concerned, I must reply cautiously, for, first of all, it was a close clan which put a cordon of silence around Hitler. A man like von Papen or von Neurath cannot be included in this group, for it was obvious that von Papen and von Neurath, and perhaps one or the other of the defendants, did not have the possibility, or much later no longer had the possibility, of having regular access to Hitler, for besides von Neurath, Hitler already had his Ribbentrop for a long time. Thus I can only say that a certain group, which is surely well known, composed the close circle of which I am speaking.
Mr. Justice Jackson: I should like you to identify those of the defendants who had access to Hitler and those who were able to prevent access to Hitler by their subordinates. That would apply, would it not, to Goering, Ribbentrop, Keitel, Kaltenbrunner, Frick, and to Schacht--during the period until he broke with them, as you have testified--and to Doenitz, Raeder, Sauckel, and Speer?
Gisevius: You mentioned a few too many and some are missing. Take the Defendant Jodl, for instance. I would like to call your attention to the strange influence which this defendant had and the position he had with regard to controlling access to Hitler. I believe my testimony shows that Schacht, on the other hand, did not control access to Hitler, but that he could only be glad about each open and decent report which got through to Hitler from his and other ministries. As far as the defendant Frick is concerned, I do not believe that he was necessarily in a position to control access to Hitler. I believe the problem of Frick centers in the matter of responsibility.
Mr. Justice Jackson: Should I have included Funk in the group that had access to Hitler?
Gisevius: Funk, without a doubt, had access to Hitler for a long time, and for his part Funk had of course the responsibility to see that affairs in the Ministry of Economics and in the Reichsbank were conducted in the way Hitler desired. Without a doubt Funk put his surpassingly expert knowledge at the service of Hitler...
Mr. Justice Jackson: Well, you were there; you know who the co-operators were. I am asking you to name all that you put in that category of criminals with Hitler. Hitler, you know, is dead.
Schacht: Mr. Justice, it is very difficult for me to answer that question fully because I do not know who was in that close conspiracy with Hitler. The Defendant Goering has told us here that he considered himself one of that group. There were Himmler and Bormann, but I do not know who else there was in the small circle of men who were trusted by Hitler.
Mr. Justice Jackson: You have only named three men. Let me put it this way: You named four men criminals, three of whom are dead and one of them you say admitted.
Schacht: I can add one more, if you will permit me. I assume that the Foreign Minister von Ribbentrop was also always acquainted with Hitler's plans. I must assume that; I cannot prove it...
Neurath: ...From the personal point of view I had no close connection of any kind with Hitler. I did not belong to his close circle either. In the beginning I had frequent discussions with him concerning foreign policy and on the whole found him open to my arguments. However, in the course of time this changed when other organizations, especially the Party, began to concern themselves with foreign policy and came to Hitler with their plans and their ideas. This applied especially to the so-called Ribbentrop Bureau. Ribbentrop became more and more a personal adviser of Hitler in matters of foreign policy, and gained more and more influence. It was often difficult to dissuade Hitler from proposals which had been submitted to him through these channels.
German foreign policy was to a certain extent going two different ways. Not only in Berlin but also in its offices abroad the Foreign Office had constantly to contend with difficulties caused by the working methods and the sources of information of this Ribbentrop Bureau. I personally was always opposed to the Party exercising any influence on foreign policy. I was especially opposed to Ribbentrop's direct handling of important questions and his official interference in matters of foreign policy in cases where they had not been removed from my control. For that reason I handed in my resignation several times, and for a time I succeeded in getting Hitler to dispense with Ribbentrop's meddlesome methods...
Sir David Maxwell-Fyfe:...Now, Defendant, supposing that in February or March 1938, Hitler had wanted to discuss Austria before the same Council, the same limited number of people. Just let us see who would have taken the places of the people who were there. Instead of von Blomberg and von Fritsch, you would have had the Defendant Keitel as Chief of the OKW, and von Brauchitsch as Commander-in-Chief, would you not?
Neurath: Yes, I believe so.
Sir David Maxwell-Fyfe: As a matter of fact, Raeder and Goering maintained their positions; the Defendant von Ribbentrop had taken yours; and you were president of the Secret Cabinet Council. Lammers was secretary of the Cabinet, and Goebbels had become more important as Minister of Propaganda. Well now, I would just like you to look and see who the people were that formed the Secret Cabinet Council. .... Now, do you see who they are? There are the Defendant Von Ribbentrop, the Defendant Goering, the Fuehrer's Deputy, Hess, Dr. Goebbels, and the Chief of the Reich Chancellery, Lammers, von Brauchitsch, Raeder, and Keitel. You are saying, if I understand you, that this Secret Cabinet Council had no real existence at all. Is that your case?
Sir David Maxwell-Fyfe: Why were you receiving special funds for getting diplomatic information as president of the Secret Cabinet Council?
Neurath: I did not receive any. I should like to know...
Sir David Maxwell-Fyfe: Oh, didn't you?
Sir David Maxwell-Fyfe: Well, let us just have a look...
Dr Horn: ...Herr von Ribbentrop, a well-to-do man of nationalist leanings, saw that Hitler and his Party strove for goals which corresponded with his own ideas and feelings. Herr von Ribbentrop's ideas about the foreign countries visited by him aroused Hitler's interest. Hitler's personality and political convictions developed in Herr von Ribbentrop a form of loyalty, the final explanation of which one can perhaps find in the effects of the power of suggestion and hypnosis. Let us not be oblivious to the fact that not only Herr von Ribbentrop but also countless people within and beyond Germany's borders fell victims to this power. What in this courtroom is to be considered by the standards of law, after all finds its final explanation only from the point of view of mass suggestion and psychology, to say nothing of the pathological forms of these phenomena. This task may be left to the sciences concerned...July 8, 1946 Nuremberg Tribunal: On day 173, after a weekend break, Dr Horn wraps up his final argument:
Dr Horn: ...If one wished to regard the various cabinet ministers as a clique of conspirators also with regard to War Crimes, it would have to be proved that the military offices competent to conduct the war acted in agreement with the ministers or at least after having given them the necessary information. The concentration of military authorities and ministers into a unity of purpose, directed toward the perpetration of such criminal acts abominated by all decent people, is an artificial subsequent construction of the Prosecution. The unity, which did not exist at the time when it is supposed to have been effective, has only now been drawn up as a conception. The facts are now subsequently to fit the conception. It is obvious that criminal proceedings cannot be built up on such a method. Herr Von Ribbentrop cannot therefore be punished without discrimination for all war crimes committed during the war by the German side. Such a responsibility for the results would be absolutely grotesque. He could only be held responsible for individual acts if he himself participated in certain concrete individual actions...July 12, 1946 From the diary of Dr. Victor von der Lippe (assistant defense attorney for Raeder):
From a court source...the rumor went round today that, irrespective of the final pleas, the Tribunal was so far advanced with its findings that, as things stood, death sentences must be reckoned with except for Schacht, Papen and Fritzsche.July 16, 1946 From the letters of Thomas Dodd:
The defendants reflect the ending of these proceedings. They seem to feel that the days are definitely numbered. Even Goering, who has been positively impish up to very recently, now is gray and crestfallen. Keitel wears the mask of the doomed already. And so it goes through the entire dock. General Jodl and Seyss-Inquart being exceptions to some extent and mostly because they are more stable emotionally.
July 22, 1946 Nuremberg Tribunal: On day 187, US Justice Jackson, Chief Prosecutor for the United States, details Prosecutions closing arguments against Ribbentrop:
Justice Jackson: ...Ribbentrop's Ministry on 26 August 1938 was writing: "After the settlement of the Czechoslovakian question, it will be generally assumed that Poland will be next in turn"...When apprehensions abroad threatened the success of the Nazi regime for conquest, it was the duplicitous Ribbentrop, the salesman of deception, who was detailed to pour wine on the troubled waters of suspicion by preaching the gospel of limited and peaceful intentions...Who led Hitler, utterly un-traveled himself, to believe in the indecision and timidity of democratic peoples if not Ribbentrop, von Neurath, and von Papen.July 23, 1946 Nuremberg Tribunal: On day 188, Sir Hartley Shawcross, Chief Prosecutor for the United Kingdom, details Prosecutions closing arguments:
Shawcross: ...In April 1943, Hitler and Ribbentrop were pressing the Regent Horthy to take action against the Jews in Hungary. Horthy asked: "What should he do with the Jews now that he had deprived them of almost all possibilities of livelihood? He could not kill them off. The Reich Foreign Minister declared that the Jews must be either exterminated or taken to concentration camps. There was no other possibility." Hitler explained: "In Poland the state of affairs had been fundamentally cleared up. If the Jews there did not want to work, they were shot. If they could not work they had to succumb. They had to be treated like tuberculosis bacilli. This was not cruel if one remembered that even innocent creatures of nature, such as hares and deer, have to be killed so that no harm is caused by them...July 23, 1946 Nuremberg Tribunal: As the defendants leave the dock after Shawcross's closing speech, Goering turns to Ribbentrop and quips: "There, it is just as if we hadn't made any defense at all." Later, in his cell, Ribbentrop will tell Gilbert: "Compared to him (Shawcross), even Jackson was downright chivalrous." (Tusa, Taylor)
Dubost: ...Ribbentrop was one of the mainsprings of the Party and State machine. Placed in Wilhelmstrasse by Hitler who distrusted "old-fashioned" diplomats, he worked with all his might to create diplomatic conditions which would favor a war of aggression; the essential means for realizing the conquest of space...July 29, 1946 Nuremberg Tribunal: On day 189, General Rudenko, Chief Prosecutor for the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, details Prosecutions closing arguments:
Rudenko: ...Ribbentrop, however, did not limit his activities to the scope of foreign policy. As member of the Hitlerite Government, the Reich Defense Council, and the Secret Council, he participated in the solution of all the innumerable problems connected with the preparation of aggressive wars.
That is why he, Ribbentrop, although he was Minister for Foreign Affairs, participated in the solution and realization of problems only faintly relevant to foreign policy, such as the exploitation of manpower in wartime, the organization of the concentration camps, and so forth. In this connection it should be noted that Ribbentrop signed a special, far-reaching agreement with Himmler on the organization of joint intelligence service. Ribbentrop became Reich Foreign Minister exactly at the beginning of the realization of the plans of aggression, which counted on the submission of Europe to Germany. This coincidence is no accident. Ribbentrop was considered, not without reason, as the most qualified person for the realization of this criminal conspiracy. He was preferred even to such an expert on international provocation as Rosenberg, which induced the latter to lodge an official complaint, not without reason. And Hitler was not mistaken in his choice, for Ribbentrop fully justified his confidence...
Final Statement of Joachim von Ribbentrop: This Trial was to be conducted for the purpose of discovering the historical truth. From the point of view of German foreign policy I can only say: This Trial will go down in history as a model example of how, while appealing to hitherto unknown legal formulas and the spirit of fairness, one can evade the cardinal problems of 25 years of the gravest human history. If the roots of our trouble lie in the Treaty of Versailles--and they do lie there--was it really to the purpose to prevent a discussion about a treaty which the intelligent men even among its authors had characterized as the source of future trouble, while the wisest were already predicting from which of the faults of Versailles a new world war would arise? I have devoted more than twenty years of my life to the elimination of this evil, with the result that foreign statesmen who know about this today write in their affidavits that they did not believe me. They ought to have written that in the interests of their own country they were not prepared to believe me.
I am held responsible for the conduct of a foreign policy which was determined by another. I knew only this much of it, that it never concerned itself with plans of a world domination, but rather, for example, with the elimination of the consequences of Versailles and with the food problems of the German people. If I deny that this German foreign policy planned and prepared for a war of aggression, that is not an excuse on my part. The truth of this is proved by the strength that we developed in the course of the second World War and the fact how weak we were at the beginning of this war. History will believe us when I say that we would have prepared a war of aggression immeasurably better if we had actually intended one. What we intended was to look after our elementary necessities of life, in the same way that England looked after her own interests in order to make one-fifth of the world subject to her, and in the same way that the United States brought an entire continent and Russia brought the largest inland territory of the world under their hegemony. The only difference between the policies of these countries as compared with ours is that we demanded parcels of land such as Danzig and the Corridor which were taken from us against all rights, whereas the other powers are accustomed to thinking only in terms of continents.
Before the establishment of the Charter of this Tribunal, even the signatory powers of the London Agreement mast have had different views about international law and policy than they have today. When I went to see Marshal Stalin in Moscow in 1939, he did not discuss with me the possibility of a peaceful settlement of the German Polish conflict within the framework of the Kellogg-Briand Pact; but rather he hinted that if in addition to half of Poland and the Baltic countries he did not receive Lithuania and the harbor of Libau, I might as well return home.
In 1939 the waging of war was obviously not yet regarded as an international crime against peace, otherwise I could not explain Stalin's telegram at the conclusion of the Polish campaign, which read, I quote: "The friendship of Germany and the Soviet Union, based on the blood which they have shed together, has every prospect of being a firm and lasting one."
Here I should like to emphasize and stress the fact that even I ardently desired this friendship at that time. Of this friendship there remains today only the primary problem for Europe and the world: Will Asia dominate Europe, or will the Western Powers be able to stem or even push back the influence of the Soviets at the Elbe, at the Adriatic coast, and at the Dardanelles? In other words, practically speaking: Great Britain and the United States today face the same dilemma as Germany faced at the time when I was carrying on negotiations with Russia. For my country's sake I hope with all my heart that they may be more successful in their results.
Now what has actually been proved in this Trial about the criminal character of German foreign policy? That out of more than 300 Defense documents which were submitted 150 were rejected without cogent reasons. That the files of the enemy, and even of the Germans, were inaccessible to the Defense. That Churchill's friendly hint to me that if Germany became too strong she would be destroyed, is declared irrelevant in judging the motives of German foreign policy before this forum.
A revolution does not become more comprehensible if it is considered from the point of view of a conspiracy. Fate made me one of the exponents of this revolution. I deplore the atrocious crimes which became known to me here and which besmirch this revolution. But I cannot measure all of them according to puritanical standards, and the less so since I have seen that even the enemy, in spite of their total victory, was neither able nor willing to prevent atrocities of the most extensive kind.
One can regard the theory of the conspiracy as one will, but from the point of view of the critical observer it is only a makeshift solution. Anybody who has held a decisive position in the Third Reich knows that it simply represents a historical falsehood, and the author of the Charter of this Tribunal has only proved with his invention from what background he derived his thinking. I might just as well assert that the signatory powers of this Charter had formed a conspiracy for the suppression of the primary needs of a highly developed, capable, and courageous nation. When I look back upon my actions and my desires, then I can conclude only this: The only thing of which I consider myself guilty before my people--not before this Tribunal--is that my aspirations in foreign policy remained without success.
The judgement that is now about to be delivered has to answer a challenge which has been thrown down not only by Germans but by many critics among the Allies. It has to prove that victors can so rise above the ordinary limitations of human nature as to be able to try fairly the foes they vanquished, by submitting themselves to the restraints of law...The meeting of the challenge will also warn all future war-mongers that law can at last pursue them into peace and thus give humanity a new defense against them. Hence the judgement of the Nuremberg Tribunal may be one of the most important events in the history of civilization.September 30, 1946 Nuremberg Tribunal: On the penultimate day of this historic trial, the final judgements are read in open court.
Final Judgement: Ribbentrop is indicted under all four Counts. He joined the Nazi Party in 1932. By 1933 he had been made foreign policy adviser to Hitler, and in the same year the representative of the Nazi Party on foreign policy. In 1934 he was appointed Delegate for Disarmament Questions and in 1935 Minister Plenipotentiary at Large, a capacity in which he negotiated the Anglo-German Naval Agreement in 1935 and the Anti-Comintern Pact in 1936. On 11 August 1936 he was appointed Ambassador to England. On 4 February 1938, he succeeded Von Neurath as Reich Minister for Foreign Affairs as part of the general reshuffle which accompanied the dismissal of Von Fritsch and Von Blomberg.
Crimes against Peace: Ribbentrop was not present at the Hossbach conference held on 5 November 1937, but on 2 January 1938, while still Ambassador to England, he sent a memorandum to Hitler indicating his opinion that a change in the status quo in the East in the German sense could only be carried out by force, and suggesting methods to prevent England and France from intervening in a European war, fought to bring about such a change. When Ribbentrop, became Foreign Minister, Hitler told him that Germany still had four problems to solve: Austria, Sudetenland, Memel, and Danzig, and mentioned the possibility of "some sort of a show-down" or "military settlement" for their solution.
On 12 February 1938, Ribbentrop attended the conference between Hitler and Schuschnigg at which Hitler, by threats of invasion, forced Schuschnigg to grant a series of concessions designed to strengthen the Nazis in Austria, including the appointment of Seyss-Inquart as Minister of Security and Interior, with control over the Police. Ribbentrop was in London when the occupation of Austria was actually carried out and, on the basis of information supplied him by Goering, informed the British Government that Germany had not presented Austria with an ultimatum, but had intervened in Austria only to prevent civil war. On 13 March 1938, Ribbentrop signed the law incorporating Austria into the German Reich.
Ribbentrop participated in the aggressive plans against Czechoslovakia. Beginning in March 1938, he was in close touch with the Sudeten German Party and gave them instructions which had the effect of keeping the Sudeten German question a live issue which might serve as an excuse for the attack which Germany was planning against Czechoslovakia. In August 1938 he participated in a conference for the purpose of obtaining Hungarian support in the event of a war with Czechoslovakia. After the Munich Pact he continued to bring diplomatic pressure with the object of occupying the remainder of Czechoslovakia.
He was instrumental in inducing the Slovaks to proclaim their independence. He was present at the conference of 14 and 15 March 1939, at which Hitler, by threats of invasion, compelled President Hacha to consent to the German occupation of Czechoslovakia. After the German troops had marched in, Ribbentrop signed the law establishing a protectorate over Bohemia and Moravia.
Ribbentrop played a particularly significant role in the diplomatic activity which led up to the attack on Poland. He participated in a conference held on 12 August 1939 for the purpose of obtaining Italian support if the attack should lead to a general European war. Ribbentrop discussed the German demands with respect to Danzig and the Polish Corridor with the British Ambassador in the period from 25 August to 30 August 1939, when he knew that the German plans to attack Poland had merely been temporarily postponed in an attempt to induce the British to abandon their guarantee to the Poles. The way in which he carried out these discussions makes it clear that he did not enter into them in good faith in an attempt to reach a settlement of the difficulties between Germany and Poland.
Ribbentrop was advised in advance of the attack on Norway and Denmark and of the attack on the Low Countries and prepared the official Foreign Office memoranda attempting to justify these aggressive actions. Ribbentrop attended the conference on 20 January 1941, at which Hitler and Mussolini discussed the proposed attack on Greece, and the conference in January 1941, at which Hitler obtained from Antonescu. permission for German troops to go through Romania for this attack.
On 25 March 1941, when Yugoslavia adhered to the Axis Tri-Partite Pact, Ribbentrop had assured Yugoslavia that Germany would respect its sovereignty and territorial integrity. On 27 March 1941 he attended the meeting, held after the coup d'etat in Yugoslavia, at which plans were made to carry out Hitler's announced intention to destroy Yugoslavia. Von Ribbentrop attended a conference in May 1941 with Hitler and Antonescu. Relating to Romanian participation in the attack on the USSR. He also consulted with Rosenberg in the preliminary planning for the political exploitation of Soviet territories and in July 1941, after the outbreak of war, urged Japan to attack the Soviet Union.
War Crimes and Crimes against Humanity: Ribbentrop participated in a meeting of 6 June 1944, at which it was agreed to start a program under which Allied aviators carrying out machine gun attacks should be lynched. In December 1944 Ribbentrop was informed of the plans to murder one of the French generals held as a prisoner of war and directed his subordinates to see that the details were worked out in such a way as to prevent its detection by the protecting powers.
Ribbentrop is also, responsible for War Crimes and Crimes against Humanity because of his activities with respect to occupied countries and Axis satellites. The top German official in both Denmark and Vichy France was a Foreign Office representative, and Ribbentrop is therefore responsible for the general economic and political policies put into effect in the occupation of these countries. He urged the Italians to adopt a ruthless occupation policy in Yugoslavia and Greece. He played an important part in Hitler's "final solution" of the Jewish question. In September 1942 he ordered the German diplomatic representatives accredited to various Axis satellites to hasten the deportation of Jews to the East. In June 1942 the German Ambassador to Vichy requested Laval to turn over 50,000 Jews for deportation to the East. On 25 February 1943, Ribbentrop protested to Mussolini against Italian slowness in deporting Jews from the Italian occupation zone of France.
On 17 April 1943, he took part in a conference between Hitler and Horthy on the deportation of Jews from Hungary and informed Horthy that the "Jews must either be exterminated or taken to concentration camps." At the same conference Hitler had likened the Jews to "tuberculosis bacilli" and said if they did not work they were to be shot. Ribbentrop's defense to the charges made against him is that Hitler made all the important decisions, and that he was such a great admirer and faithful follower of Hitler that he never questioned Hitler's repeated assertions that he wanted peace or the truth of the reasons that Hitler gave in explaining aggressive action. The Tribunal does not consider this explanation to be true.
Ribbentrop participated in all of the Nazi aggressions from the occupation of Austria to the invasion of the Soviet Union. Although he was personally concerned with the diplomatic rather than the military aspect of these actions, his diplomatic efforts were so closely connected with war that he could not have remained unaware of the aggressive nature of Hitler's actions. In the administration of territories over which Germany acquired control by illegal invasion, Ribbentrop also assisted in carrying out criminal policies, particularly those involving the extermination of the Jews. There is abundant evidence, moreover, that Ribbentrop was in complete sympathy with all the main tenets of the National Socialist creed, and that his collaboration with Hitler and with other defendants in the commission of Crimes against Peace, War Crimes and Crimes against Humanity was whole-hearted. It was because Hitler's policy and plans coincided with his own ideas that Ribbentrop served him so willingly to the end.
Conclusion: The Tribunal finds that Ribbentrop is guilty on all four Counts.
From Ribbentrop's Memoirs: The defense had no fair chance to defend German Foreign policy. Our prepared application for the submission of evidence was not allowed...Half of the 300 documents which the defense had prepared were not admitted without good cause being shown. Witnesses and affidavits were only admitted after the prosecution had been heard; most of them were rejected. For instance, statements by some policemen or private individual who had served on a government commission were admitted as official evidence, but correspondence between Hitler and Chamberlain, reports by ambassadors and diplomatic minutes etc. were rejected. Only the prosecution, not the defense, had access to German and foreign archives. The prosecution only searched for incriminating documents and their use was biased; it knowingly concealed exonerating documents and withheld them from the defense. In cross-examination tricks and so-called 'surprise documents' were used; there was no fair chance to give a considered reply. ...the defendants are not responsible for the atrocities. Those who committed them or were responsible for them are dead. .... (As regards the) Final Solution of the Jewish Question, (it was) a term which I heard mentioned for the first time here in Nuremberg... (Maser)
Everyone knows that the verdict is quite untenable, but I happen to have been Hitler's Foreign Minister and political considerations therefore call for my conviction. Fate willed it that my principle witness, Adolf Hitler, is dead. Were he able to give evidence the whole verdict would collapse. As it is I must bear the fate of the followers of such a mighty and perhaps demoniac personality.October 5, 1946: Dr Gilbert visits all the condemned defendants and records their moods: "Ribbentrop is mainly interested in the question where they will be taken. I am glad I really know nothing about this." (Gilbert)
A guard goes from cell to cell. He asks whether we want to make use of our right to a daily walk on the ground floor. The yard is still barred to us. I have to get out; the cell is beginning to feel unbearably oppressive. So I ask to go. But I shudder at the prospect of seeing the men on death row (Note: The 11 condemned men are housed in cells on the ground floor; the 7 sentenced to prison time are being kept in an upper tier of cells). The guard holds out the chrome handcuffs. Linked together, we have some difficulty descending the winding staircase. In the silence, every step on the iron stairs sounds like a thunderclap. On the ground floor I see eleven soldiers staring attentively into eleven cells. The men inside are eleven of the surviving leaders of the Third Reich. ....
Joachim von Ribbentrop, Hitler's foreign minister is said to have abandoned his arrogance for a faith in Christ that sometimes strikes a grotesque note. .... As the rules prescribe, most of them are lying on their backs, hands on the blanket, heads turned toward the inside of the cell. A ghostly sight, all of them in their immobility; it looks as though they have already been laid on their biers. Only Frank is up, sitting at his table and writing away. He has wound a damp towel around his neck; he used to tell Dr Pffuecker he did that to keep his mind alert. Seyss-Inquart looks out through the doorway; he smiles at me each time I pass, and each time that smile gives me the chills. I cannot stand it for long. Back in my cell, I decide not to go back down again.
These and the comments immediately following are typical of Speer's usual fanciful descriptions. Since he was handcuffed to a guard, he could not have seen what was going on in the cells. His remarks on his fellow-defendants speak for themselves.
From Justice at Nuremberg by Robert E. Conot: The eleven condemned to death were no longer permitted to exercise in the yard. Whenever one emerged from his cell, he was handcuffed to a guard. For a few minutes a day, one at a time, they were marched up and down in the center of the cell block in lock step with a military policeman. When they saw their attorneys in the Palace of Justice, a GI sat with each of them like a Siamese twin joined at the wrist...The Allied Control Council ordered the executions carried out on the fifteenth day after sentencing. The condemned, however, were not informed of the date. Kaltenbrunner, Ribbentrop, Sauckel, and Streicher were in such a state of anguish that it was questionable whether they would retain their sanity till the fatal day. Ribbentrop, suffering from excruciating headaches, kept asking, 'When?'...The British and French were so apprehensive about demonstrations or a possible attempt to rescue the prisoners that they insisted that no prior announcement of the executions be made.
At some hour of the night I woke up. I could hear footsteps and indistinguishable words in the lower hall. Then silence, broken by a name being called out: "Ribbentrop!" A cell door is opened; then scraps of phrases, scraping of boots, and reverberating footsteps slowly fading away. Scarcely able to breathe, I sit upright on my cot, hearing my heart beat loudly, at the same time aware that my hands are icy. Soon the footsteps come back and I hear the next name... (Speer II)October 16, 1946: 1:14 AM - Ribbentrop's final words. "God protect Germany. God have mercy on my soul. My final wish is that Germany should recover her unity and that, for the sake of peace, there should be understanding between East and West." As the hood is placed over his head, Ribbentrop adds: "I wish peace to the world."
I hanged these ten Nazis in Nuremberg and I am proud of it; I did a good job. Everything went A1. I have...never been at an execution which went better. I am only sorry that that fellow Goering escaped me; I'd have been at my best with him. No, I wasn't nervous. I haven't got any nerves. You can't afford nerves in my job. But this Nuremberg job was just what I wanted. I wanted this job so terribly that I stayed here a bit longer, though I could have gone home earlier. But I'll say one thing about these Nazis. They died like brave men. Only one of them showed signs of weakness. As Frick climbed the thirteen steps to the gallows, one of his legs seemed to fail and the guard had to hold him up. They were all haughty. One could see how they hated us. The old Jew-baiter Streicher looked at me as he said: "One day the Bolshevists will hang you." I looked him back straight in the eye. They couldn't ruffle me.
There's not much to say about the executions themselves. They went off...like all other routine executions. Ten men in 103 minutes. That's quick work. Only one of them moved after he fell. He groaned for a bit but not for long. Another, I think it was Sauckel, started to shout "Heil Hitler" after I had put the hood over his head. I stopped that - with the rope. I used a new rope and a new hood for each man. I put the noose round myself and attached each rope myself to make sure nothing went wrong. The ropes and hoods were burnt with the bodies so that there was nothing left for the souvenir-hunters. ....
What do I think of the gallows job? Someone has to do it after all...But I'm glad the Nuremberg affair is over. It was a strain. I had never seen any of the condemned men before they came through the door of the execution chamber...they gave their names as they came to the scaffold...It is difficult to remember exactly what each one did and said. To hang ten people one after the other it has to go fairly quick, you know. And what I had in my hand was a rope, not a notebook.
From Nuremberg: A Nation on Trial by Werner Maser, translated by Richard Barry: The "job" had certainly not gone off "A1," as the hangman maintained. Streicher groaned for a long time after his execution. Jodl took eighteen minutes and Keitel as much as twenty-four minutes to die. Some of the victims' faces were scratched and bleeding. Frick had severe wounds on his face and neck. Possibly the trapdoors were too small or the ropes had not been properly positioned. The hangman's story, which is only a story, is that the faces were smeared with blood because "they had bitten their tongues at the moment they fell."
As far as the Allies were concerned all this was a closely guarded secret. When a German journalist named Helmut Kamphausen managed to persuade an American-licensed newspaper in Berlin to publish photographs of the blood-smeared faces and wounded heads, he was promptly arrested. The victors only released 'touched-up' pictures of the eleven bodies lying in a row on the gymnasium floor--with Goering at one end.
That night the bodies were photographed--both naked and clothed--by a US Army photographer; they were in wooden packing cases. Goering's right eye was open, staring glassily at nothing; all the others still had the rope round their necks. Each carried a long narrow identification plate on the chest showing the initial of the Christian name and the surname in full. The bodies, still in their packing boxes, were then taken to Munich on two US Army lorries. There, in the Heilmannstrasse, they were cremated and the ashes scattered into the Conwentz Brook.
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