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.

Dr Stahmer: What part did you have in making the Munich Pact of September 1938?

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.

In November 1937, I stated to Lord Halifax that the Anschluss of Austria, the solution of the Sudeten German question in the sense of a return of the Sudeten Germans, and the solution of the problem of Danzig and the Corridor were integral parts of German policy. Whether they were tackled by Hitler one day, or by me or somebody else the next day, they would still remain political aims that under all circumstances would have to be attained sometime. However, both of us agreed that all efforts should be made to achieve that without resorting to war.

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.

When the Sudeten question approached a crisis and a solution was intended by the Fuehrer, I, as a soldier and Commander-in-Chief of the Luftwaffe, as was my duty, took the preparatory measures, ordered for any eventuality. As a politician I was extremely happy at the attempts which were made to find a peaceful solution. I acknowledge that at that time I was very glad when I saw that the British Prime Minister was making every possible effort. Nevertheless, the situation on the day before the Munich agreement had again become very critical.

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.

I took the Ambassador, and also Herr Constantin von Neurath although he was not Foreign Minister at that time, at once to the Reich Chancellery and reported everything to the Fuehrer, tried to persuade him, explained to him the advantages of such a step and said that this could be the basis for a general easing of tension. Whether the other current political and diplomatic endeavors would be successful one could not yet say, but if four leading statesmen of the four large western European powers were to meet, then much would be gained by that. Herr von Neurath supported my argument, and the Fuehrer agreed and said we should call the Duce by telephone. Attolico, who waited outside, did that immediately, whereupon Mussolini called the Fuehrer officially and matters were agreed and Munich decided upon as the place.

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.
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