A. POSITIONS HELD BY RIBBENTROP.
According to Ribbentrop's own certified statement (2829-PS), he became a member of the Nazi Party in 1932, but according to the semi-official statement in "Das Archiv," he had gone to work for the Party before that time by extending his business connections to political circles. Having joined the service of the Party in 1930 at the time of the final struggle for power in the Reich, "Ribbentrop played an important if not strikingly obvious part in the bringing about of the decisive meetings between the representatives of the President of the Reich and the heads of the NSDAP, who had prepared the entry of Nazis into power on 30 January 1933. Those meetings as well as those between Hitler and von Papen took place in Ribbentrop's house in Berlin Dahlen." (D-472) .
Ribbentrop was therefore present and active at the inception of the Nazi seizure of power. In that first period he was advisor to the Party on questions of foreign affairs. His title was first, "Collaborator to the Fuehrer on matters of Foreign Policy." He later became Representative in Matters of Foreign Policy on the Staff of the Deputy.
This was followed by membership in the Nazi Reichstag in November 1933.
On 24 April 1934 after Germany had left the disarmament conference, he was appointed Delegate of the Reich Government in matters of Disarmament. In this capacity he visited London and other foreign capitals. He was then given more important and imposing title, the German Minister Plenipotentiary at Large, and it was in that capacity that he negotiated the Anglo-German Naval Agreement of 1935.
In March 1936, after the Nazi Government had reoccupied the Rhineland zone, which had been demilitarized in accordance with the terms of the Versailles and Locarno Treaties, and the matter was brought before the Council of the League of Nations, Ribbentrop addressed the Council in defense of Germany's action.
On 11 August 1936 he was appointed Ambassador in London, and occupied that position for a period of some eighteen months. His activities while holding that position are not highly relevant to the issues, but during that period, in his capacity which he still had as German Minister Plenipotentiary at Large, he signed the original Anticomintern Pact with Japan in November 1936, and also the additional pact by which Italy joined it in 1937.
Finally, on 24 February 1938, Ribbentrop was appointed Foreign Minister in place of von Neurath, and simultaneously was made a member of the Secret Cabinet Council (Geheimer Kabinettsrat) established by decree of Hitler of the same date (1337-PS).
Ribbentrop became an Oberfuehrer in the SS, was subsequently promoted to SS Gruppenfuehrer in 1938, and later became Obergruppenfuehrer. There is no question of any honorary rank. The SS went into his ancestry in detail in order to deal with the law relating to that subject. Ribbentrop was also permitted to adopt "von" as a prefix before his last name (D-66).
These activities of Ribbentrop in the earlier part of his career show in themselves that he assisted willing and deliberately in bringing the Nazis into power, and in the earlier stage of their obtaining control of the German State.
(1) The Austrian Anschluss. Ribbentrop was present at a meeting at Berchtesgaden on 12 February 1938, at which Hitler and von Papen met the Austrian Chancellor von Schuschnigg and his foreign minister, Guido Schmidt. The official German account of that interview is contained in 2461-PS. What appears to be the truthful account of that interview is contained in Jodl's diary, the entries for 11 and 12 February 1938 (1780-PS).
On 11 February Jodl wrote:
"In the evening, and on 12 February, General Keitel with General von Reichenau and Sperrle at Obersalzburg. Schuschnigg, together with R. G. Schmidt, are again being put under the heaviest political and military pressure. At 2300 hours Schuschnigg signs protocol." (1780-PS)
The 13 February entry reads:
"In the afternoon, General Keitel asks Admiral Canaris and myself to come to his apartment. He tells us that the Fuehrer's order is to the effect that military pressure by shamming military action should be kept up until the 15th. Proposals for these deceptive maneuvers are drafted and submitted to the Fuehrer by telephone for approval.
"At 2:40 o'clock the agreement of the Fuehrer arrived. Canaris went to Munich to the Counter-Intelligence Office VII and initiates the different measures.
"The effect is quick and strong. In Austria the impression is created that Germany is undertaking serious military preparations."
The next step was the telephone conversation which took place between Goering and Ribbentrop on 13 March 1938, when Ribbentrop was still in London. Goering was passing on the false statement that there was no ultimatum to Austria. The facts of the ultimatum were explained by the earlier telephone conversations between Goering and Vienna. But Goering then passed the falsehood on to Ribbentrop in London in order that he might placate and reassure political circles in London (2949-PS).
The third step was taken by Ribbentrop after his return from London. Although he had been appointed Foreign Minister in February, he had gone back to London to clear up his business at the embassy. Although he was still in London until after the Anschluss had actually occurred, his name appears as a signatory of the law making Austria a province of the German Reich (2307-PS).
(2) Czechoslovakia. Czechoslovakia furnishes a typical example of aggression in its various aspects. To summarize the outstanding features briefly: First, there was the necessity of stirring up trouble inside the country against which aggression was planned.
Ribbentrop, as Foreign Minister, helped in the stirring up of the Sudeten Germans under Henlein, who was in frequent contact with the German Foreign Office (3060-PS; 2789-PS; 5059-PS). These documents demonstrate how the Foreign Office stirred up the Sudeten-German movement so that it would act in accordance with the Government of the Reich.
Later on, Ribbentrop was present on 5/28/1938 at the conference at which Hitler gave instructions to prepare the attack on Czechoslovakia (388-PS; 2360-PS). In a speech in January 1939 Hitler proclaimed that aggression was to take place against Czechoslovakia (2360-PS):
"On the basis of this unbearable provocation, which was still further emphasized by a truly infamous persecution and terrorizing of our Germans there, I have now decided to solve the Sudeten-German question in a final and radical manner."
"On 28 May I gave the order for the preparation of military steps against this state, to be concluded by 2 October." (2360-PS)
The important point is that 28 May was the date when the Fall Gruen for Czechoslovakia was the subject of orders, and that it was thereafter put into effect, to come to fruition at the beginning of October.
That was the second stage: To lay well in advance the plans of aggression.
The third stage was to see that neighboring states were not likely to cause trouble. Hence, on 18 July 1938, Ribbentrop had a conversation with the Italian Ambassador, Attolico, at which the attack on Czechoslovakia was discussed (2800-PS). Further discussions along the same lines followed (2791-PS; 2792-PS).
The effect of these documents is, that it was made clear to the Italian Government that the German Government was going to move against Czechoslovakia.
The other interested country was Hungary, for Hungary had certain territorial desires with regard to parts of the Czechoslovakian Republic. Accordingly on 23 and 25 August Ribbentrop as present at the discussions and had discussions himself with the Hungarian politicians Imredi and Kanya (2796-PS; 2797-PS). These documents indicate that Ribbentrop endeavored to the assurances of Hungarian help, and that the Hungarian Government at the time was not too ready to commit itself to action, although it was ready enough with sympathy.
Contacts had been established with the Sudeten Germans, for heirs was the long-term grievance that had to be exploited. But the next stage was to have a short-term grievance and to stir up trouble, preferably at the fountainhead. Therefore, between 16 and 24 September, the German Foreign Office, of which Ribbentrop was the head, was engaged in stirring up trouble in Prague (2858-PS; 2855-PS; 2854-PS; 2853-PS; and 2856-PS). An example of the type of these activities is the communication of 19 September from the Foreign Office to the German Embassy in Prague (2858-PS):
"Please inform Deputy Kundt at Konrad Henlein's request, to get in touch with the Slovaks at once and induce them to start their demands for autonomy tomorrow." (2858-PS)
Another of these documents deals with questions of arrest and action to be taken against any Czechs in Germany in order to make the position more difficult (2855-PS).
That was the contribution which Ribbentrop made to the pre- Munich crisis, which culminated in the Munich agreement of 29 September 1938
A significant aspect of Nazi plotting with regard to Czechoslovakia, which shows the sort of action and advice which the Wehrmacht expected from the Foreign Office, is contained in a long document putting forward an almost infinite variety of breaches of International Law, which were likely to arise or might have arisen from the action in regard to Czechoslovakia (C-2). On all these points the opinion of the Foreign Office was sought, with a view to explanation and justification. That, of course, remained a hypothetical question because at that time no war resulted.
The second stage of the acquisition of Czechoslovakia occurred when, having obtained the Sudetenland, the Nazis arranged a crisis in Czechoslovakia which would be an excuse for taking the rest. This action is important as constituting the first time that the German Government disregarded its own commitment that its desires did not go beyond the return of German blood to the Reich. On that point, again, Ribbentrop was active. On 13 March, as events were moving to a climax, he sent a telegram to the German Minister in Prague, his subordinate, telling him to
"make a point of not being available if the Czech Government wants to get in touch with you in the next few days." (2815-PS).
At the same time Ribbentrop attended a conference in Berlin with Hitler and a delegation of pro-Nazi Slovaks. Tiso, one of the heads of the pro-Nazi Slovaks, was directed to declare an independent Slovak State in order to assist in the disintegration of Czechoslovakia (2802-PS). A previous meeting along the same lines had been held a month before (2790-PS). Thus, Ribbentrop was assisting in the task, again, of fomenting internal trouble.
On 14 March 1939, the following day, Hacha, the President of Czechoslovakia, was called to Berlin. Ribbentrop was at this meeting, at which pressure and threats were used to obtain the aged President's consent to hand over the Czechoslovak State to Hitler (2798-PS; 3061-PS).
That was the end of the Czech part of Czechoslovakia. The following week Ribbentrop signed a treaty with Slovakia, Article II of which granted the German Government the right to construct military posts and installations, and to keep them garrisoned within Slovakia (1439-PS). Thus, after swallowing Bohemia and Moravia as an independent state, Ribbentrop obtained military control over Slovakia.
(3) Lithuania. An interesting point concerning the Northern Baltic shows how difficult it was for Ribbentrop to keep his hands out of the internal affairs of other countries, even when it did not seem a very important matter. On 3 April 1939 Germany had occupied the Memeland (TC-5-A). It would have appeared, as far as the Baltic States were concerned, that the position was satisfactory to the Nazis but in fact Ribbentrop was acting in close concert with Heydrich, in stirring up trouble in Lithuania with a group of pro-Nazi people called the Woldemaras Supporters (2953-PS; 2952-PS). Heydrich was passing to Ribbentrop a request for financial support for this group:
"Dear Party Comrade v. Ribbentrop,
"Enclosed please find a further report about the 'Woldemaras Supporters.' As already mentioned in the previous report, the 'Woldemaras Supporters' are still asking for help from the Reich. I therefore ask you to examine the question of financial support, brought up again by the 'Woldemaras Supporters' set forth on page 4, para 2 of the enclosed report and to make a definite decision.
"The request of the 'Woldemaras Supporters' for financial support could, in my opinion, be granted. Deliveries of arms should not, however, be made, under any circumstances." (2953-PS)
At the end of a fuller report on the same matter (2952-PS) there is added in handwriting,
"I support small regular payments, e.g. 2,000 to 3,000 marks quarterly." (2952-PS).
It is signed "W" who was the Secretary of State. Such was the extraordinary interference, even with comparatively unimportant countries.
(4) Poland. In the aggression against Poland, there were several periods. The first was what might be called the Munich period, up to the end of September 1938, and at that time no language the Nazis could use was too good for Poland. Examples of German assurances and reassurances to Poland during this period are Hitler's Reichstag speech on 20 February 1938 (2357-PS), the secret Foreign Office memorandum of 26 August 1938 (TC-76), and the conversation between M. Lipski, the Polish ambassador, and Ribbentrop (TC- 73, No. 40). A final illustration of this technique is Hitler's speech at the Sportzpalast on 26 September 1938, in which he said that this was the end of his territorial problems in Europe and expressed an almost violent affection for the Poles (TC-7, No. 42).
The next stage occupied the period between Munich and the rape of Prague. With part of the German plan for Czechoslovakia having been accomplished and parts still remaining to be done, there was a slight change towards Poland but still a friendly atmosphere. In a conversation with M. Lipski, the Polish Ambassador to Berlin, on 24 October 1938, Ribbentrop put forward very peaceful suggestions for the settlement of the Danzig issue (TC-73, No. 44). The Polish reply, of 10/31/1938, stated that it was unacceptable that Danzig should return to the Reich, but made suggestions of a bilateral agreement (TC-73, No. 45). Between these dates the German Government had made its preparations to occupy Danzig by surprise (C-137).
But although these preparations were made, still some two months later, on 5 January 1939, Hitler was suggesting to M. Beck, the Polish Foreign Minister, a new solution (TC-73, No. 8).
Ribbentrop saw M. Beck on the next day and said that there was to be no violent solution of the Danzig issue, but a further building up of friendly relations (TC-73, No. 49). Not content with that, Ribbentrop went to Warsaw on 25 January to talk of the continued progress and consolidation of friendly relations (2530-PS), That was capped by Hitler's Reichstag speech on 30 January 1939, in the same tone (TC- 73, No. 57). That was the second stage -- the mention of Danzig in honeyed words, because the rape of Prague had not yet been attained.
Then, in the meeting at the Reichschancellery on 23 May 1939, Hitler made it quite clear, and so stated, that Danzig had nothing to do with the real Polish question (L-79). "I have to deal with Poland because I want lebensraum in the East" -- that is the effect of Hitler's words at that time: that Danzig was merely an excuse.
The extent to which Ribbentrop had adopted this attitude of mind of Hitler at this time is shown in the introduction to- Count Ciano's Diary (2987-PS):
"In the Summer of 1939 Germany advanced her claim against Poland, naturally without our knowledge; indeed, Ribbentrop had several times denied to our Ambassador that Germany had any intentions of carrying the controversy to extremes. Despite these denials I remained in doubt; I wanted to make sure for myself, and on August 11th I went to Salzburg. It was in his residence at Fuschl that Ribbentrop informed me, while we were waiting to sit down at the table, of the decision to start the fireworks, just as he might have told me about the most unimportant and commonplace administrative matter. 'Well, Ribbentrop,' I asked him, while we were walking in the garden, 'What do you want ? The Corridor, or Danzig ?' 'Not any more', and he stared at me through those cold Musee Grevin eyes, 'We want war.' " (2987-PS).
That extraordinary declaration closely corroborates Hitler's statement at his Chancellery conference on 23 May -- that it was no longer a question of Danzig or the Corridor, but a question of war to achieve lebensraum in the East (L-79).
It should be recalled in this connection that "Fall Weiss" the plan for operations against Poland, is dated 3 and 11 April 1939, thus showing that preparations were already in hand (C-120). Another entry in Count Ciano's Diary during the summer of 1939 makes this point quite clear:
"I have collected in the conference records verbal transcripts of my conversations with Ribbentrop and Hitler. I shall only note some impressions of a general nature. Ribbentrop is evasive every time I ask him for particulars-of the forthcoming German action. He has a guilty conscience. He has lied too many times about German intentions toward Poland not to feel embarrassment now over what he must tell me and what he is preparing to do.
"The will to fight is unalterable. He rejects any solution which might satisfy Germany and prevent the struggle. I am certain that even if the Germans were given everything they demanded, they would attack just the same, because 'they are possessed by the demon of destruction."
"Our conversation sometimes takes a dramatic turn. I do not hesitate to speak my mind in the most brutal manner. But this doesn't shake him in the least. I realize how little weight this view carries in German opinion.
"The atmosphere is icy. And the cold feeling between us is reflected in our followers. During dinner we do not exchange a word. We distrust each other. But I at least have a clear conscience. He has not." (2987-PS)
The next stage in the German plan consisted of sharp pressure over the claim for Danzig, commencing immediately after Czechoslovakia had been formally dealt with on 15 March 1939. The first sharp raising of the claim was on 21 March (TC-73, No. 61)
An interesting sidelight during the last days before the war concerns the return of Herr von Dirksen, the German Ambassador to the Court of St. James, to Berlin on 18 August 1939. When interrogated (after capture) regarding the significance of this event Ribbentrop expressed a complete absence of recollection ever having seen the German Ambassador to England after his return. Ribbentrop thought he would have remembered him if he had seen him, and therefore he accepted the probability that he did not see him (D-490). Thus when it was well known that war with Poland would involve England and France, either Ribbentrop was not sufficiently interested in opinion in London to take the trouble to see his ambassador, or else, as he rather suggests, he had appointed so weak and ordinary a career diplomat to London that his opinion was not taken into account, either by himself or by Hitler. In either case, Ribbentrop was completely uninterested in anything which his Ambassador might have to tell him as to opinion in London or the possibility of war. It is putting the matter with great moderation to say that in the last days before 1 September 1939, Ribbentrop did whatever he could to avoid peace with Poland and to avoid anything which might hinder the encouraging of the war which he and the Nazis wanted. He did that, well knowing that war with Poland would involve Great Britain and France. (See also Section 8 of Chapter IX on Aggression Against Poland.)
M. Lipski, the Polish Ambassador at Berlin, summarized all these events leading up to the war in his report of 10 October 1939 (TC-73, No. 147).
(6) Norway and Denmark. On 31 May 1939, Ribbentrop, on behalf of Germany, signed a non-aggression pact with Denmark which provided that:
"The German Reich and the Kingdom of Denmark will under no circumstances go to war or employ force of any other kind against one another." (TC-24)
And on 7 April 1940 the German armed forces invaded Denmark at the same time they invaded Norway.
Ribbentrop was fully involved in the earlier preparations for the aggression against Norway. Along with Rosenberg, Ribbentrop assisted Quisling in his early activities. A letter from Rosenberg to Ribbentrop on 24 February states:
"Dear Party Comrade von Ribbentrop:
"Party Comrade Scheidt has returned and has made a detailed report to Privy Councillor von Gruendherr who will address you on this subject. We agreed the other day that 2-300,000 RM would be made immediately available for the said purpose. Now it turns out that Privy Councillor Gruendherr states that the second instalment can be made available only after eight days. But as it is necessary for Scheidt to go back immediately, I request you to make it possible that this second instalment is given to him at once. With a longer absence of Reichsamtsleiter P. M. Scheidt-also the connection with your representatives would be broken up, which just now, under certain circumstances, could be very unfavorable. "Therefore I trust that it is in everybody's interest, if P. M. Scheidt goes back immediately." (957-PS)
In a report to Hitler on the Quisling activities, Rosenberg outlined Ribbentrop's part in the preparation of the Norwegian operation:
"Apart from financial support which was forthcoming from the Reich in currency, Quisling had also been promised a shipment of material for immediate use in Norway, such as coal and sugar. Additional help was promised, These shipments were to be conducted under cover of a new trade company, to be established in Germany or through especially selected existing firms, while Hagelin was to act as consignee in Norway. Hagelin had already conferred with the respective Ministers of the Nygardsvold Government, as for instance, the Minister of Supply and Commerce, and had been assured permission for the import of coal. At the same time, the coal transports were to serve possibly to supply the technical means necessary to launch Quisling's political action in Oslo with German help. It was Quisling's plan to send a number of selected, particularly reliable men to Germany for a brief military training course in a completely isolated camp. They were then to be detailed as area and language specialists to German Special Troops, who were to be taken to Oslo on the coal barges to accomplish a political action. Thus Quisling planned to get hold of his leading opponents in Norway, including the King, and to prevent all military resistance from the very beginning. Immediately following this political action and upon official request of Quisling to the Government of the German Reich, the military occupation of Norway was to take place. All military preparations were to be completed previously. Though this plan contained the great advantage of surprise, it also contained a great number of dangers which could possibly cause its failure. For this reason it received a quite dilatory treatment, while at the same time, it was not disapproved as far as the Norwegians were concerned.
"In February, after a conference with General Field Marshal Goering, Reichsleiter Rosenberg informed the Secretary in the Office of the Four Year Plan, only of the intention to prepare coal shipments to Norway to the named confidant Hagelin. Further details were discussed in a conference between Secretary Wohlthat, Staff Director Schickedanz, and Hagelin. Since Wohlthat received no further instructions from the General Field Marshal, Foreign Minister von Ribbentrop -- after a consultation with Reichsleiter Rosenberg -- consented to expedite these shipments through his office. Based on a report of Reichsleiter Rosenberg to the Fuehrer it was also arranged to pay Quisling ten thousand English pounds per month for three months, commencing on the 1 of March, to support his work" (004-PS)
This sum was paid through Scheidt.
In a letter to Ribbentrop dated 3 April 1940, Keitel wrote:
"Dear Herr von Ribbentrop:
"The military occupation of Denmark and Norway has been, by command of the Fuehrer, long in preparation by the High Command of the Wehrmacht. The High Command of the Wehrmacht has therefore had ample time to occupy itself with all the questions connected with the carrying out of this operation. The time at your disposal for the political preparation of this operation, is on the contrary, very much shorter. I believe myself therefore to be acting in accordance with your own ideas in transmitting to you herewith, not only these wishes of the Wehrmacht which would have to be fulfilled by the Governments in Oslo, Copenhagen and Stockholm for purely military reasons, but also if I include a series of requests which certainly concern the Wehrmacht only indirectly but which are, however, of the greatest importance for the fulfillment of its task ***." (D-629)
Keitel then proceeds to ask that the Foreign Office get in touch with certain commanders. The important point is Keitel's clear admission to Ribbentrop that the military occupation of Denmark and Norway had been long in preparation. It is interesting to connect this letter with the official Biography of Ribbentrop, in the Archives, which makes a point of mentioning the invasion of Norway and Denmark (D-472):
"With the occupation of Denmark and Norway on 9 April 1940, only a few hours before the landing of British troops in these territories, the battle began against the Western Powers." (D-472)
It is clear that whoever else had knowledge or whoever else was ignorant, Ribbentrop had been thoroughly involved in the Quisling plottings and knew at least a week before the invasion started that the Wehrmacht and Keitel had been long in preparation for this act of aggression. (See also Section 9 of Chapter IX on Aggression against Norway and Denmark.)
(6) The Low Countries: Belgium, The Netherlands, and Luxembourg. The facts as to the aggression against these countries, during the period when Ribbentrop was Foreign Minister, are discussed in Section 10 of Chapter IX. Special attention should be called, however, to the statement made by Ribbentrop 10 May 1940 to representatives of the foreign press with regard to the reasons for the German invasion of the Low Countries. These reasons demonstrated to be false in Section 10 of Chapter IX on Aggression Against The Low Countries.
(7) Greece and Yugoslavia. At a meeting in Salzburg in August 1939, at which von Ribbentrop participated, Hitler announced that the Axis had decided to liquidate certain neutrals (1871-PS):
" Generally speaking, it would be best to liquidate the pseudo-neutrals one after the other. This is fairly easily done, if one Axis partner protects the rear of the other, who is just finishing off one of the uncertain neutrals, and vice-versa. Italy may consider Yugoslavia such an uncertain neutral. At the visit of Prince Regent Paul he [the Fuehrer] suggested, 'particularly in consideration of Italy, that Prince Paul clarify his political attitude towards the Axis by a gesture. He had thought of a closer connection with the Axis and Yugoslavia's leaving the League of Nations. Prince Paul agreed to the latter. Recently the Prince Regent was in London and sought reassurance from the Western Powers. The same thing was repeated that happened in the case of Gafencu, who was also very reasonable during his visit to Germany and who denied any interest in the aims of the western democracies. Afterwards it was learned that he had later assumed a contrary standpoint in England. Among the Balkan countries the Axis can completely rely only on Bulgaria, which is in a sense a natural ally of Italy and Germany. *** At the moment when there would be a turn to the-worse for Germany and Italy, however, Yugoslavia would join the other side openly, hoping thereby to give matters a final turn to the disadvantage of the Axis." (1871-PS)
That demonstrates the policy with regard to uncertain neutrals.
Then, as early as September 1940 Ribbentrop reviewed the war situation with Mussolini. Ribbentrop emphasized the heavy revenge bombing raids in England and the fact that London would soon be in ruins. It was agreed between the parties that only Italian interests were involved in Greece and Yugoslavia, and that Italy could count on German support. Ribbentrop went on further to explain to Mussolini the Spanish plan for the attack on Gibraltar and Germany's participation therein. He added that he was expecting to sign the Protocol with Spain, bringing the latter country into the war, on his return to Berlin (1842-PS). Ribbentrop then gave Mussolini a free hand with Greece and Yugoslavia:
"With regard to Greece and Yugoslavia, the Foreign Minister stressed that it was exclusively a question of Italian interests, the settling of which was a matter for Italy alone, and in which Italy could be certain of Germany's sympathetic assistance.
"But it seemed to us to be better not to touch on these problems for the time being, but to concentrate on the destruction of England with all our forces instead. Where Germany was concerned, she was interested in the northern German districts (Norway, etc.), and this was acknowledged by the Duce." (1842-PS).
Several months later, in January 1941, at the meeting between Hitler and Mussolini in which Ribbentrop participated, the Greek operation was discussed. Hitler stated that the German troops in Rumania were for use in the planned campaign against Greece (C-134). Count Ciano, who attended that meeting as Italian Foreign Minister, recalls his impression of that meeting in his diary entry for 20/21 January:
"The Duce is pleased with the conversation on the whole. I am less pleased, particularly as Ribbentrop, who had always been so boastful in the past, told me, when I asked him outright how long the war would last, that he saw no possibility of its ending before 1942."
Despite that somewhat pessimistic statement to Count Ciano, three weeks later, when it was a question of encouraging the Japanese to enter the war, Ribbentrop took a more optimistic line. On 13 February 1941 he saw Oshima, the Japanese Ambassador. In the course of their conversation Ribbentrop gave an optimistic account of the military situation and the position of Bulgaria and Turkey (1834-PS).
In the course of his efforts to get Yugoslavia to join the Axis, Ribbentrop addressed a note, (2450-PS) on 25 March 1941, to Prime Minister Cvetkovitch, which contained this assurance:
"The Axis-Power Governments during this war will not direct a demand to Yugoslavia to permit the march or transportation of troops through the Yugoslav state or territory." (2450-PS)
Shortly thereafter, there occurred the coup d'etat in Yugoslavia, when General Simovitch took over the Government. Two days after Ribbentrop's assurance (2450-PS), at a meeting on 27 March 1941 at which Ribbentrop was present, Hitler outlined the military campaign against Yugoslavia and promised the destruction of Yugoslavia and the demolition of Belgrade by the German Air Force (1746-PS).
After the invasion of Yugoslavia Ribbentrop was one of the persons directed by Hitler with the drawing of the boundaries or the partition and division of Yugoslavia. The preliminary directive for that action provided:
"If the drawing up of boundaries has not been laid down in the above Part I, it will be carried out by the Supreme Command of the Armed forces in agreement with the Foreign Office Ribbentrop], the Plenipotentiary for the Four Year Plan [Goering], and the Reich Minister of the Interior [Frick]." (1195-PS)
8) The U.S.S.R. On 23 August 1939 Ribbentrop signed The German-Soviet non-aggression Pact (TC-25). The first point at which Ribbentrop seems to have considered special problems of aggression against the Soviet Union was just after 20 April 1941, when Rosenberg and Ribbentrop met or communicated to consider problems expected to arise in the Eastern occupied territory. Ribbentrop appointed his Counsellor, Grosskopf, to be his liaison man with Rosenberg and also assigned a Consul General, Brauetigam, who had many years experience in USSR, as a collaborator with Rosenberg (1039-PS) .
The following month, on 18 May 1941, the German Foreign Office prepared a declaration setting forth operational zones in the Arctic Ocean and the Baltic and Black Seas to be used by the German Navy and Air Force in the coming invasion of the Soviet Union:
"The Foreign Office has prepared for use in Barbarossa the attached draft of a declaration of operational zones. The Foreign Office has, however, reserved its decision as to the date when the declaration will be issued, as well as discussion of particulars." (C-77)
Thus, it is clear that Ribbentrop was again fully involved in the preparation for this act of aggression. Finally, on 22 June 1941, Ribbentrop announced to the world that the German armies were invading the USSR (3054-PS).
How untrue were the reasons given by Ribbentrop is shown by the report of his own Ambassador in Moscow on 7 June 1941, who said that everything was being done by the Russians to avoid a conflict.
(9) Instigation of Japanese Aggression. On 25 November 1936, as a result of negotiations of Ribbentrop as Ambassador at Large, Germany and Japan signed the Anti-Comintern Pact (2508-PS). The recital states the purpose of the agreement as follows:
"The Government of the German Reich and the Imperial Japanese Government, recognizing that the aim of the Communist Internationale known as the Comintern is to disintegrate and subdue existing States by all the means at its command; convinced that the toleration of interference by the Communist Internationale in the internal affairs of the nations not only endangers their internal peace and social well-being, but is also a menace to the peace of the world; desirous of cooperating in the defense against Communist subversive activities; having agreed as follows **" (2508-PS)
There then follow the effective terms of the agreement under which Germany and Japan are to act together for five years. It is signed on behalf of Germany by Ribbentrop (2508-PS).
On 27 September 1940 Ribbentrop, as Foreign Minister, signed the Tripartite Pact with Japan and Italy, thereby bringing about a full-scale military and economic alliance for the creation of a new order in Europe and East Asia (2643-PS).
On 13 February 1941 -- some four months later -- Ribbentrop was urging the Japanese to attack British possessions in the Far East (183-PS).
Then, in April 1941, at a meeting between Hitler and Matsuoka, representing Japan, at which Ribbentrop was present, Hitler promised that Germany would declare war on the United States in the event of war occurring between Japan and the United States as a result of Japanese aggression in the Pacific (1881-PS);
The development of Ribbentrop's views is indicated by the minutes of another conversation with the Japanese Foreign Minister (1882-PS):
" Matsuoka then spoke of the general high morale in Germany, referring to the happy faces he had seen everywhere among the workers during his recent visit to the Borsig Works. He expressed his regret that developments in Japan had not as yet advanced as far as in Germany and that in his country the intellectuals still exercised considerable influence.
"The Reich Foreign Minister replied that at best a nation which had realized its every ambition could afford the luxury of intellectuals, most of whom are parasites, anyway. A nation, however, which has to fight for a place in the sun must give them up. The intellectuals ruined France; in Germany they had already started their pernicious activities when National Socialism put a stop to these doings; they will surely be the cause of the downfall of Britain, which is to be expected with certainty ***." (1882-PS)
That was on April 1941.
Within a month after the German armies invaded the Soviet Union on 22 June 1941, Ribbentrop was urging Ott, his ambassador in Tokyo, to do his utmost to cause the Japanese Government to attack the Soviet in Siberia .(2896-PS; 2897- PS).
A message, intercepted, which was sent by the Japanese Ambassador in Berlin on 29 November 1941, a week before the attack on the United States at Pearl Harbor, reports the coaxings of Ribbentrop:
"Ribbentrop opened our meeting by again inquiring whether I had received any reports regarding the Japanese-United States negotiations. I replied that I had received no official word.
"Ribbentrop: 'It is essential that Japan effect the New Order in East Asia without losing this opportunity. There never has been and probably never will be a time when loser cooperation under the Tripartite Pact is so important. If Japan hesitates at this time, and Germany goes ahead and establishes her European New Order, all the military might of Britain and the United States will be concentrated against Japan.
" 'As Fuehrer Hitler said today, -there are fundamental differences in the very right to exist between Germany and Japan, and the United States. We have received advice to the effect that there is practically no hope of the Japanese-United States negotiations being concluded successfully because of the fact that the United States is putting up a stiff front.
" 'If this is indeed the fact of the case, and if Japan reaches a decision to fight Britain and the United States, I am confident that that will not only be to the interest of Germany and Japan jointly, but would bring about favorable results for Japan and herself.'"
Then the Japanese Ambassador replied:
" 'I can make no definite statement as I am not aware of any concrete intentions of Japan. Is Your Excellency indicating that a state of actual war is to be established between Germany and the United States
"Ribbentrop: 'Roosevelt's a fanatic, so it is impossible to tell what he would do.' " (D-656).
The Japanese Ambassador thereupon concludes:
"Concerning this point, in view of the fact that Ribbentrop has said in the past that the United States would undoubtedly try to avoid meeting German troops, and from the tone of Hitler's recent speech, as well as that of Ribbentrop's, I feel that German attitude toward the United States is being considerably stiffened. There are indications at present that Germany would not refuse to fight the United States if necessary." (D-656).
Part 3 of the Japanese message quotes Ribbentrop as follows:
"In any event, Germany has absolutely no intention of entering into any peace with England. We are determined to remove all British influence from Europe. Therefore, at the end of this war, England will have no influence whatsoever in international affairs. The Island Empire of Britain may remain, but all of her other possessions throughout the world will probably be divided three ways by Germany, the United States, and Japan. In Africa, Germany will be satisfied with, roughly, those parts which were formerly German colonies. Italy will be given the greater share of the African Colonies. Germany desires, above all else, to control European Russia." (D-656)
In reply the Japanese Ambassador said:
" 'I am fully aware of the fact that Germany's war campaign is progressing according to schedule smoothly. However, suppose that Germany is faced with the situation of having not only Great Britain as an actual enemy, but also having all of those areas in which Britain has influence and those countries which have been aiding Britain as actual enemies as well. Under such circumstances, the war area will undergo considerable expansion, of course. What is your opinion of the outcome of the war under such an eventuality?'
"Ribbentrop: 'We would like to end this war during next year . However, under certain circumstances, it is possible that it will have to be continued on to the following year.
'Should Japan become engaged in war against the United States, Germany, of course, would join the war immediately. There is absolutely no possibility of Germany's entering into a separate peace with the United States under such circumstances. The Fuehrer is determined on that point.' " (I-656)
Ribbentrop was thus associated in the closest possible way, with the aggression by Japan against the United States.
Another intercepted diplomatic message from the Japanese Ambassador in Berlin states (D-657):
"At 1 p.m. today [8 December 1941] I called on Foreign Minister Ribbentrop and told him our wish was to have Germany and Italy issue formal declarations of war on America at once. Ribbentrop replied that Hitler was then in the midst of a conference at general headquarters discussing how the formalities of declaring war could be carried out so as to make a good impression on the German people, and that he would transmit your wish to him at once and do whatever he was able to have it carried out promptly. At that time Ribbentrop told me that on the morning of the 8th Hitler issued orders to the entire German Navy to attack American ships whenever and wherever they might meet them.
"It goes without saying that this is only for your secret information.'' (D-657)
Thus, Hitler ordered attacks on American ships before the German declaration of war.
Then on 11 December 1941 Ribbentrop, in the name of the German Government, announced a state of war between Germany and United States.
Ribbentrop also made attempts to get Japan to attack the Soviet Union. In his conversations with Oshima, the Japanese Ambassador, in July 1942 and in March and April 1943, Ribbentrop continued to urge Japanese participation and aggression against the Soviet Union (2911-PS; 2954-PS). The report of discussion between Ribbentrop and Ambassador Oshima reads:
"Ambassador Oshima declared that he has received a telegram from Tokyo, and he is to report, by order of his Government to the Reich Minister for Foreign Affairs the following:
"The suggestion of the German Government to attack Russia was the object of a common conference between the Japanese Government and the Imperial headquarters, during which the question was discussed in detail and investigated exactly. The result is the following: The Japanese Government absolutely recognizes the danger which threatens from Russia and completely understands the desire of its German ally that Japan on her part will also enter the war against Russia. However, it is not possible for the Japanese Government, considering the present war situation, to enter into the war. It is rather of the conviction that it would be in the common interest not to start the war against Russia now. On the other hand, the Japanese Government would never disregard the Russian question." (2954-PS)
Whereupon Ribbentrop returned to the attack:
"However, it would be more correct that all powers allied in the Three Power Pact would combine their forces to defeat England and America, but also Russia, together. It is not good when one part must fight alone." (2954-PS)
Ribbentrop's pressure on Japan to attack Russia is shown in an other report of Japanese-German discussions on 4/18/1943 (2929-PS):
"The Reichsminister for Foreign Affairs then stressed again that without any doubt this year presented the most favorable opportunity for Japan, if she felt strong enough and had sufficient anti-tank weapons at her disposal, to attack Russia, which certainly would never again be as weak as she is at the moment ***." (2929-PS)
(The following discussion concerns only the planning of these crimes. The execution of the crimes was left to the French and Soviet prosecuting staffs for proof.)
(1) The Killing of Allied Aviators. With the increasing air raids on German cities in 1944 by the Allied Air Forces, the German Government proposed to undertake a plan to deter Anglo-American fliers from further raids on Reich cities. In a report of a meeting at which a definite policy was to be established, there is stated the point of view that Ribbentrop had been urging (735-PS). The meeting took place at the Fuehrer's headquarters on 6 June 1944, and proceeded in part as follows:
"Obergruppenfuehrer Kaltenbrunner informed the Deputy Chief of WFST in Klessheim, on the afternoon of the 6th of June, that a conference on this question had been held shortly before between the Reich Marshal [Goering], the Reich Foreign Minister [Ribbentrop], and the Reichsfuehrer SS [Himmler]. Contrary to the original suggestion made by the Reich Foreign Minister, who wished to include every type of terror attack on the German civilian population, that is, also bombing attacks on cities, it was agreed in the above conference that merely those attacks carried out with aircraft armament, aimed directly at the civilian population and their property, should be taken as the standard for the evidence of a criminal action in this sense. Lynch law would have to be the rule. On the contrary, there has been no question of court martial sentence or handing over to the police." (735-PS)
That is, Ribbentrop was pressing that even where there was an attack on a German city, the airmen who crash-landed should be handed over to be lynched by the crowd.
The minutes of the conference report further as follows:
"Deputy Chief of the WFST mentioned that apart from lynch law, a procedure must be worked out for segregating those enemy aviators who are suspected of criminal action of this kind until they 'are received into the reception camp for aviators at Oberursel; if the suspicion was confirmed, they would be handed over to the SD for special treatment." (735-PS)
The sense of this seems to be that if they were-not lynched under the first scheme, by the crowd, then they were to be kept from prisoners of war, where they would be subject to the protecting power's intervention. And if the suspicion was confirmed, they would be handed over to the SD to be killed.
The conference reached a decision on what would be regarded as justifying lynch law:
"At a conference with Colonel von Brauchitsch, representing the C-in-C, Air Force, on the 6th of June, it was settled that the following actions were to be regarded as terror actions justifying lynch law:
"Low-level attacks with aircraft armament on the civilian population, single persons as well as crowds.
"Shooting our own men in the air who had bailed out.
"Attacks with aircraft armament on passenger trains in the public service.
"Attacks with aircraft armament on military hospitals, hospitals, and hospital trains, which are clearly marked with the Red Cross."
These were to be the subject of lynching and not, as Ribbentrop had suggested, the case of the bombing of a city.
In the latter part of this report there occurs a somewhat curious comment from Keitel:
"If one allows the people to carry out lynch law, it is difficult to enforce rules!
"Minister Director Berndt got out and shot the enemy aviator on the road. I am against legal procedure. It doesn't work out."
That is signed by Keitel.
The remarks of Jodl then appear:
"This conference is insufficient. The following points must be decided quite definitely in conjunction with the Foreign Office:
"1. What do we consider as murder?
"Is RR in agreement with point 3b?
"2. How should the procedure be carried out?
"a. By the people?
"b. By the authorities?
"3. How can we guarantee that the procedure be not also carried out against other enemy aviators?
"4. Should some legal procedure be arranged or not?
"Signed) Jodl" (735-PS) .
It is important to note that Ribbentrop and the Foreign Office were fully involved in these breaches of the laws and usages of war. The clarity with which the Foreign Office perceived that there were such violations is indicated by a document from the Foreign Office, approved of by Ribbentrop and transmitted by one of his officials, Ritter (728-PS). The approval of Ribbentrop is specifically stated in a memorandum of 30 June 1944 (740-PS). The Foreign Office document
"In spite of the obvious objections, founded on international law and foreign politics, the Foreign Office is basically in agreement with the proposed measures.
"In the examination of the individual cases, a distinction must be made between the cases of lynching and the cases of special treatment by the Security Service, SD.
"1. In the cases of lynching, the precise establishment of the circumstances deserving punishment, according to points of the communication of 15 June, is not very essential. First, the German authorities are not directly responsible, since death had occurred before a German official became concerned with the case. Furthermore, the accompanying circumstances will be such that it will not be difficult to depict the case in an appropriate manner upon publication. Hence, in cases of lynching, it will be of primary importance correctly to handle the individual case upon publication.
"2. The suggested procedure for special treatment by the S.D., including subsequent publication, would be tenable only if Germany, on this occasion, simultaneously would openly repudiate the commitment of International Law, presently in force, and still recognized by Germany. When an enemy aviator is seized by the Army or by the Police, and is delivered to the Air Forces (P.W.) Reception Camp Oberursel, he has received, by this very fact, the legal status of a prisoner of war.
"The Prisoner of War Treaty of 27 July 1929 establishes definite rules on the prosecution and sentencing of the Prisoner of War, and the execution of the death penalty, as for example in Article 66: Death sentences may be carried out only three months after the protective power has been notified of the sentence; in Article 63: a prisoner of war will be tried only by the same courts and under the same procedure as members of the German Armed Forces. These rules are so specific, that it would be futile to try to cover up any violation of them by clever wording of the publication of an individual incident. On the other hand the Foreign Office cannot recommend on this occasion a formal repudiation of the Prisoner of War Treaty.
"An emergency solution would be to prevent suspected fliers from ever attaining a legal Prisoner of War status, that is, that immediately upon seizure they be told that they are not considered Prisoners of War but criminals; that they would not be turned over to the agencies having jurisdiction over Prisoners of War; hence not go to a Prisoner of War Camp, but that they would be delivered to the authorities in charge of the prosecution of criminal acts and that they would be tried in a summary proceeding. If the evidence at the trial should reveal that the special procedure is not applicable to a particular case, the fliers concerned may subsequently be given the status of Prisoner of War by transfer to the Air Forces (P.W.) Reception Camp Oberursel.
"Naturally, not even this expedient will prevent the possibility that Germany will be accused of the violation of existing treaties, and maybe not even the adoption of reprisals upon German prisoners of war. At any rate this solution would enable us clearly to define our attitude, thus relieving us of the necessity of openly having to renounce the present agreements or of the need of having to use excuses, which no one would believe, upon the publication of each individual case."
"It follows from the above, that the main weight of the action will have to be placed on lynchings. Should the campaign be carried out to such an extent that the purpose, to wit 'the deterrence of enemy aviators', is actually achieved, which goal is favored by the Foreign Office, then the strafing attacks by enemy fliers upon the civilian populations must be stressed in a completely different propagandist manner than heretofore." (728-PS).
Those words show clearly Ribbentrop's point of view:
"Ambassador Ritter has advised us by telephone on 29 June that the Minister for Foreign Affairs has approved this draft." (740-PS)
Thus, on the treatment of aviators, Ribbentrop furthered the deliberate adoption of a procedure evading International Law.
(2) The Destruction of the Peoples in Europe. With regard to Poland, the affidavit of Lahousen reports Ribbentrop participation in a discussion on 12 September 1939 on the Fuehrer's train concerning the extermination of Poles and Jews (Affidavit A).
With regard to Bohemia and Moravia, on 16 March 1939 there was promulgated the decree of the Fuehrer and Reichschancellor, signed by Ribbentrop, establishing the protectorate (T-51). The effect of that decree was to place the Reich Protector in a position of supreme power over Bohemia and Moravia, subordinate only to the Fuehrer. Article 5 of that decree provides:
" 2. The Reich Protector, as representative of the Fuehrer and Chancellor of the Reich, and as commissioner of the Reich Government, is charged with the duty of seeing to the observance of the political principles laid down by the Fuehrer and Chancellor of the Reich.
"3. The members of the government of the Protectorate shall be confirmed by the Reich Protector. The confirmation may be
"4. The Reich Protector is entitled to inform himself of all measures taken by the government of the Protectorate and to give advice. He can object to measures calculated-to harm the Reich, and, in case of danger, issue ordinances required for the common interest."
It is further provided that the promulgation of laws and the execution of certain judgments shall- be annulled if the Reich Protector enters an objection (TC-51).
In part as a result of the sweeping terms of this law, the two Reich Protectors of Bohemia and Moravia and their various deputies were able to commit numerous violations of the laws of war, and crimes against humanity. (Discussion of these matters was assumed as the responsibility of the Soviet prosecuting staff.)
Similarly, with regard to the Netherlands, on 18 May 1940 a decree of the Fuehrer concerning the exercise of governmental authority in the Netherlands was signed by Ribbentrop. Section 1 of that-decree provided (D-639):
"The occupied Netherlands territories shall be administered by the Reich Commissioner for the Occupied Netherlands territories *** the Reich Commissioner is guardian of the interests of the Reich and vested with supreme civil authority.
"Dr. Arthur Seyss-Inquart is hereby appointed Reich Commissioner for the Occupied Netherlands Territories." (D-639 )
On the basis of this decree, the Reich Commissioner, Seyss- Inquart, promulgated such orders as that of 4 July 1940, confiscating the property of those who had, or might have, furthered activities hostile to the German Reich (2921-PS). Tentative arrangements were also made for the resettlement of the Dutch population (1520-PS). (This part of the proof was assumed as the responsibility of the French prosecuting staff.)
With regard to Bohemia and the Netherlands, the charge against Ribbentrop is laying the basis and erecting the governmental structure under which the war crimes and crimes against humanity were directed-and facilitated.
(3) Persecution of the Jews. In December 1938 Ribbentrop, in a conversation with M. Bonnet, who was then Foreign Minister of France, expressed his opinion of the Jews. That was reported by the United States Ambassador, Mr. Kennedy, to the State Department as follows (L-205):
"During the day we had a telephone call from Berenger's office in Paris. We were told that the matter of refugees had been raised by Bonnet in his conversation with von Ribbentrop. The result was very bad. Ribbentrop, when pressed, had said to Bonnet that the Jews in Germany without except ion were pickpockets, murderers and thieves. The property they possessed had been acquired illegally. The German Government had therefore decided to assimilate them with the criminal elements of the population. The property which they had acquired illegally would be taken from them. They would be forced to live in districts frequented by the criminal classes. They would be under police observation like other criminals. They would be forced to report to the police as other criminals were obliged to do. The German Government could not help it if some of these criminals escaped to other countries which seemed so anxious to have them. It was not, however, willing for them to take the property which had resulted from their illegal operations with them. There was in fact nothing that it could or would do." (L-205)
That succinct statement of Ribbentrop's views on Jews is elaborated in a long document which he had sent out by the Foreign Office (3358-PS). This document, entitled "The Jewish Question As A Factor In German Foreign Policy in the year 1938" contains the following:
"It is certainly no coincidence that the fateful year 1938 has brought nearer the solution of the Jewish question simultaneously with the realization of the 'idea of Greater Germany', since the Jewish policy was both the basis and consequence of the events of the year
"The final goal of German Jewish policy is the emigration of all Jews living in Reich territory."
"These examples from reports from authorities abroad can, if desired, be amplified. They confirm the correctness of the expectation that criticism of the measures for excluding Jews from German lebensraum, which were misunderstood in many countries for lack of evidence, would only be temporary and would wing in the other direction the moment the population saw with its own eyes and thus learned what the Jewish danger was to them. The poorer and therefore the more burdensome the immigrant Jew to the country absorbing him, the stronger this country will react and the more desirable is this effect in the interest of German propaganda. The object of this German action is to be the future international solution of the Jewish question, dictated not by false compassion for the 'United Religious Jewish minority' but by the full consciousness of all peoples of the danger which it represents to the racial composition of the nations." (3358-PS)
This document was widely circulated by Ribbentrop's ministry, to all senior Reich authorities and to numerous other people on 25 January 1939, just after the statement to M. Bonnet. Apparently Ribbentrop's anti-Semitic incitements grew stronger, for in June 1944 Rosenberg made arrangements for an international anti-Jewish Congress to be held in Kraków on 11 July 1944. The honorary members were to be Ribbentrop, Himmler, Goebbels, and Frank. The Foreign Office was to take over the mission of inviting prominent foreigners from Italy, France, Hungary, Holland, Arabia, Iraq, Norway etc. in order to give an international aspect to the Congress. However, the military events of June 1944 prompted Hitler to call off the Congress, which had lost its significance by virtue of the Allied landing in Normandy (1752-PS).
It is clear that Ribbentrop supported and encouraged the Nazi program against the Jews, which resulted in their transportation to concentration camps, where things went on which he, as a minister in special touch with the head of the government must have known about. As one who preached this doctrine and was a position of authority, Ribbentrop cannot suggest that he was ignorant of how the policy was carried out.
Hitler summed up Ribbentrop's contribution to the Nazi conspiracy for aggression, as follows:
"In the historic year of 1938 the Foreign Minister, von Ribbentrop, was of great help to me in view of his accurate and audacious Judgment and the exceptionally clever treatment of all problems."
During the course of the war, Ribbentrop was in close liaison with the other Nazi conspirators. He advised them and made available to them, through his foreign embassies and legations abroad, information which was required. He at times participated in the planning of war crime and crimes against humanity. His guilt is clear.
Sources: Nizkor. Nazi Conspiracy & Aggression, Volume II, Chapter XVI, pp.489-515.