Ribbentrop was not present at the Hoszbach Conference
held on 5th November, 1937,
but on 2nd 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 showdown " or " military
settlement " for their solution.
On 12th 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 13th March,
1938, Ribbentrop signed the law incorporating Austria into the German
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 indepedence. He was present
at the conference of 14th-15th 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 12th 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 25th August to 30th 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 them in good faith
in an attempt to reach a settlement of the difficulties between Germany
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 20th 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 Rumania for this attack.
On 25th March, 1941, when Yugoslavia adhered to the Axis Tripartite
Pact Ribbentrop had assured Yugoslavia that Germany would respect its
sovereignty and territorial integrity. On 27th 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.
Ribbentrop attended a conference in May, 1941 with
Hitler and Antonescu relating to Rumanian participation in the attack
on the U.S.S.R 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.
Ribbentrop participated in a meeting of 6th June, 1944, at which
it was agreed to start a programme under which Allied aviators carrying
out machine gun attacks on the civilian population 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 those countries.
He urged the Italians to adopt a ruthless occupation policy in Yugoslavia
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 25th February, 1943,
Ribbentrop protested to Mussolini against Italian slowness in deporting Jews from the Italian occupation
zone of France. On 17th 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 defence 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 wholehearted. It was because Hitler's policy and plans coincided
with his own ideas that Ribbentrop served him so willingly to the end.