Goering: The Sudeten Crisis
1946 Nuremberg Tribunal: On day 81, Hermann Goering testifies on his own behalf, answering a series of leading questions posed by his defense counsel.
Goering: The incorporation of the Sudeten Germans or, better said, the solution of the Sudeten German problem I had always emphasized as being something that was necessary. I also told the Fuehrer after the Anschluss of Austria that I should regret it if his statements were misunderstood to mean that with the Anschluss of Austria this question had been settled.
Furthermore, in my conversations with Mr. Bullitt I had always taken up the very same position. And I told every other person, publicly and personally, that these three points had to be settled and that the settlement of the one would not make the others unimportant. I also want to stress that, if in connection with this, and also in connection with other things, the Prosecution accuses us of not having kept this or that particular promise that Germany had made in the past, including the Germany that existed just before the seizure of power, I should like to refer to the many speeches in which both the Fuehrer--this I no longer remember so well--and I, as I know very well, stated that we warned foreign countries not to make any plans for the future on the basis of any promises made by the present government, that we would not recognize these promises when we acquired power. Thus there was absolute clarity in respect to this.
It was about 6:30 or 7 o'clock in the morning when the Italian Ambassador, Attolico, rang me up and said that he had to see me immediately on orders from Mussolini, that it was about the solution of the Sudeten problem. I told him he should go and see the Foreign Minister. He said he had a special order from Mussolini to see me alone first. I met him, as far as I remember, at 9 o'clock in the morning, and there he suggested that Mussolini was prepared to mediate; that a meeting should be called as soon as possible between Germany [Adolf Hitler], England [Prime Minister Chamberlain], France [Premier Daladier], and Italy [Mussolini], in order to settle the question peacefully. He, Mussolini, saw a possibility of that and was prepared to take all necessary steps and asked me personally to use all my influence in that direction.
Late in the afternoon I was informed by the Italian Embassy that both the British Prime Minister and the French Prime Minister had agreed to arrive at Munich the next day. I asked the Fuehrer, or rather, I told him, that under all circumstances I would go along. He agreed. Then I suggested that I could also take Herr von Neurath with me in my train. He agreed to that also. I took part in some of the discussions and, when necessary, contributed to the settlement of many arguments and, above all, did my best to create a friendly atmosphere on all sides. I had personal conversations with M. Daladier and Mr. Chamberlain, and I was sincerely happy afterwards that everything had gone well.
Caution: As always, these excerpts from trial testimony should not necessarily be mistaken for fact. It should be kept in mind that they are the sometimes-desperate statements of hard-pressed defendants seeking to avoid culpability and shift responsibility from charges that, should they be found guilty, can possibly be punishable by death.
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