Goering: Secret Cabinet Council

1946 Nuremberg Tribunal: On day 83, Hermann Goering testifies on his own behalf, answering a series of leading questions posed by his defense counsel.

Dr Stahmer: What was the purpose and importance of the Secret Cabinet Council that was created a short time after the seizure of power?

Goering: In February 1938 there came about the retirement of the War Minister, Field Marshal von Blomberg. Simultaneously, because of particular circumstances, the Commander-in-Chief of the Army, Colonel General von Fritsch, retired, that is to say, the Fuehrer dismissed him. The coincidence of these retirements or dismissals was, in the eyes of the Fuehrer, disadvantageous to the prestige of the Wehrmacht. He wanted to divert attention from this change in the Wehrmacht by means of a general reshuffling. He said he wanted above all to change the Foreign Office because only such a change would make a strong impression abroad and would be likely to divert attention from the military affairs.

At the time I opposed the Fuehrer very strongly about this. In lengthy, wearisome personal conversations I begged him to refrain from a change in the Foreign Office. He thought, however, that he would have to insist upon it. The question arose as to what should be done after Herr von Neurath's retirement or after the change. The Fuehrer intended to keep Herr von Neurath in the Cabinet by all means for he had the greatest personal esteem for him. I myself have always expressed my respect for Herr von Neurath. In order to avoid a lowering of Herr von Neurath's prestige abroad, I myself was the one to make a proposal to the Fuehrer. I told him that in order to make it appear abroad that von Neurath had not been entirely removed from foreign policy, I would propose to appoint him chairman of the Secret Cabinet Council. There was, to be sure, no such cabinet in existence, but the expression would sound quite nice, and everyone would imagine that it meant something.

The Fuehrer said we could not make him chairman if we had no council. Thereupon I said, "Then we shall make one," and offhand I marked down names of several persons. How little importance I attached to this council can be seen in the fact that I myself was, I think, one of the last on that list. Then, for the public at large the council was given out to be an advisory council for foreign policy. When I returned I said to my friends, "The affair has gone off all right, but if the Fuehrer does not ask the Foreign Minister for advice, he certainly will not ask a cabinet council for advice on foreign policy; we will not have anything to do with it!" I declare under oath that this Cabinet Council never met at all, not even for a minute; there was not even an initial meeting for laying down the rules by which it should function. Some members may not even have been informed that they were members."
The Nuremberg Tribunal Biographies
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