Goering: Hossbach Conference

1946 Nuremberg Tribunal: On day 81, defendant Hermann Goering is given vast latitude by the Tribunal to tell his life story. He will be at it for the next few days. No other defendant will be given so much uninterrupted time.

Dr. Stahmer: On 15 November 1937 a discussion [Hossbach Conference] with the Fuehrer took place at the Reich Chancellery, a record of which was prepared by a certain Colonel [Friedrich] Hossbach, and that has been referred to as Hitler's last will. [Note: Present at this conference were; German War Minister, Werner von Blomberg, Commander in Chief of the Army, Werner von Fritsch, Commander in Chief of the Navy, Erich Raeder, Commander in Chief of the Luftwaffe, Hermann Goering, Foreign Minister, Constantin von Neurath.] It has repeatedly been the subject of the proceedings here. May I ask you for a short explanation as to what significance this conference had. I am going to have that document shown to you. It is Document Number 386-PS.

Goering: This document has already been shown to me here, and I am fairly familiar with the contents. This document played an important role in the Indictment, since it appears under the heading "Testament of the Fuehrer." This word "testament" is, in fact, used in one place by Hossbach.

As far as the technical aspect of this record is concerned, I want to say the following: Hossbach [above] was the adjutant of the Fuehrer, the chief adjutant. As such, he was present at the meeting and took notes. Five days later, as I have ascertained, he prepared this record on the basis of his notes. This is, therefore, a record which contains all the mistakes which easily occur in a record, which is not taken down on the spot by alternating stenographers, and which under certain circumstances contains the subjective opinions of the recorder or his own interpretations.

It contains a number of points, as I said at the time, which correspond exactly to what the Fuehrer had repeatedly said; but there are other points and expressions which I may say do not seem like the Fuehrer's words. During the last months I have seen too many records and interrogations which in part had nothing to do with it nor with the interpretation which had been given to it; for that reason I must here too point out the sources of mistakes. As far as the word "testament" is concerned, the use of this word contradicts the Fuehrer's views completely. If anybody at all knows anything about these views, it is I.

The decision that I was to be the successor was not made first on 1 September 1939, but as early as the late autumn of 1934. I have often had the opportunity of discussing the question of a so-called political testament with the Fuehrer. He turned it down, giving as his reason the fact that one could never appoint a successor by means of a political testament, for developments and political events must allow him complete freedom of action at all times. Quite possibly one could set down political wishes or views, but never binding statements in the shape of a will. That was his view then and as long as I stood in his confidence.

Now, what did he aim at in this discussion? The Minister of War, the Commander-in-Chief of the Army, the Commander-in-Chief of the Navy and the Luftwaffe and the then Reich Foreign Minister were called together. Shortly before the Fuehrer had informed me, as I was there earlier, that he was going to call this meeting mainly in order, as he called it, to put pressure on General von Fritsch [above], since he was dissatisfied with the rearmament of the Army. He said it would not do any harm if Herr von Blomberg would also exercise a certain amount of pressure on von Fritsch.

I asked why von Neurath was to be present. He said he did not want the thing to look too military, that as far as the commanders-in-chief were concerned it was not so important, but that he wanted to make it very clear to Commander-in-Chief Fritsch that the foreign political situation required a forced speed in armament and that for that reason he had asked the Foreign Minister, who knew nothing about the details, to come along. The statements were then made in the way the Fuehrer preferred on such occasions. He went to great lengths to picture things within a large political framework and he talked about the whole world situation from all angles; and for anybody who knew him as well as I did the purpose which he pursued was obvious. He was quite clearly saying that he had great plans, that the political situation was such and such, and the whole thing ended in the direction of a stronger armament program.

I should like to say that, if the Fuehrer, a couple of hours later, had talked to another group, for instance, diplomats of the Foreign Office, or Party functionaries, then he probably would have represented matters quite differently. Nevertheless, some of these statements naturally do reflect the basic attitude of the Fuehrer, but with the best intentions I cannot attach the same measure of significance to the document as is being attached to it here.
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