1946 Nuremberg Tribunal: On day 83, defendant Hermann Goering is cross-examined by the defense.
Dr Walter Ballas (Counsel for Defendant Arthur Seyss-Inquart): I ask the Tribunal to permit me to put a few questions to the witness Goering. They concern the well-known telephone conversations of 11 March 1938, between Berlin and Vienna. (Turning to the witness) Is it correct, that Dr. Seyss-Inquart, when he was appointed Austrian State Councilor in June of 1937, visited you in Berlin accompanied by State Secretary Keppler?
Goering: The date, I do not remember; the visit, yes.
Dr Walter Ballas: Did Dr. Seyss-Inquart, at that time, express the idea that the Austrian National Socialists should be made entirely independent of the Reich Party?
Goering: Wishes of that nature were discussed by him because he wanted as little friction as possible in his work in the cabinet.
Dr Walter Ballas: At that time he further mentioned--and I would like you to answer, whether it is correct--that the National Socialists were to be given permission to be active in Austria, in order to establish as close a relationship between Austria and Germany as possible within the framework of an independent Austria.
Goering: As far as Party matters are concerned, I do not remember exactly what was discussed. The scheme of keeping Austria independent in its collaboration with Germany was repeatedly advocated by Seyss-Inquart, and I have recently outlined it. It seemed to me personally not extensive enough. Just because I knew this attitude of Seyss-Inquart, I must say frankly that I was a little distrustful of his attitude on the 11th and 12th of March, and therefore on the late afternoon that these telephone conversations took place, I sent Keppler to Vienna, so that, as regards the annexation, matters would take their proper course. I would rather have sent someone else, because Herr Keppler was too weak for me; but the Fuehrer's desire in this case was that, if anyone was to be sent, it should be Keppler.
Dr Walter Ballas: Is it correct that Dr. Seyss-Inquart explained his attitude by pointing out the advantage of having German interests represented by two States?
Goering: It is absolutely correct that he said that. I answered that I was of a completely different opinion; that I would prefer having German interests represented by one state, which could act more energetically than two, as the second might not synchronize.
Dr Walter Ballas: Did you on 11 March 1938, or on the previous day, have another telephonic or other communication with Seyss-Inquart?
Goering: As far as I recall, but I cannot say with certainty, I believe I did, on the previous Sunday. That is, these telephone conversations were on the 11th, a Friday; on the Monday or Tuesday before I questioned him, or one of his men, on the impression they had had in Graz and Styria. I vaguely remember this but I cannot say so under oath.
Dr Walter Ballas: Document Number 2949-PS submitted by the Prosecution regarding the conversations between Berlin and Vienna in the critical time of March 1938 shows that only at the time of the conversation between Dr. Dietrich and State Secretary Keppler, who was in Vienna then on your behalf, which took place at 2154 hours--that only on that day was Dr. Seyss-Inquart's agreement to the telegram, which you had dictated in advance, conveyed by Keppler. Had the order to march into Austria already been given at that time?
Goering: I explained this recently. The order to march in had been given and had nothing to do with the telegram as such. It was immaterial whether or not he was in agreement. The responsibility for the marching in rested with the Fuehrer and me.
Dr Walter Ballas: Then it is correct that the marching in would have occurred even without the telegram?
Goering: Yes. Of course.
Dr Walter Ballas: What was the purpose then of this telegram? Had it perhaps something to do with foreign policy?
Goering: I have explained that here in greatest detail.
Dr Walter Ballas: Do you remember, Witness, that in the night from 11 to 12 March, State Secretary Keppler, in the name of Dr. Seyss-Inquart, telephoned Berlin with the request not to carry out the entry into Austria?
Goering: I remember this very distinctly for I was extremely enraged that such a senseless telegram--after everything was ready--should have disturbed the Fuehrer's rest when he was worn out and was to go to Austria the next day. I therefore severely reprimanded the Fuehrer's adjutant and told him that such a telegram should have been given to me. Because of this I remember the telegram distinctly, and its pointlessness.
Dr Walter Ballas: With the result then, that the Fuehrer, if I have understood you correctly, gave a flat refusal to this telegram?
Goering: He no longer was able to give a refusal because the entire troop movement was already underway. Such a movement cannot be halted in an hour. Once a troop movement is underway it takes days to halt it. At best we could have halted the movement at a certain point on the march. That was not at all in our interest, as I stated. From this moment on, not Seyss-Inquart, but the Fuehrer and I held the fate of Austria in our hands.
Dr Walter Ballas: I have only two more questions regarding the Netherlands. Is it correct that, in addition to the order of the Fuehrer which was promulgated on 18 May 1940 naming Dr. Seyss-Inquart Reich Commissioner of the Netherlands, there was an order, not promulgated, which made Seyss-Inquart directly subordinate to you?
Goering: Of this secret order, I know nothing.
The President: Put your questions more slowly. You can see that the light is flashing.
Dr Walter Ballas: Had the Four-Year Plan its own independent office in the Netherlands?
Goering: I have not yet answered your first question, I understood that you were to put this question once more, because it did not come through.
Dr Walter Ballas: I understood the Court to mean ...
Goering: I shall answer you now on this. Of this secret order, I know nothing. It would have been senseless, for a Reich Commissioner in the occupied territories could not have been subordinate to me separately. But if it is a question of subordination in economic matter, then it is clear that the Reich Commissioner was, of course, under my orders and directions in this field as all other major Reich positions were.
To your second question, I can say that I do not know today in detail whether in the occupied territories, that is also in the Netherlands, there was here and there a direct representative of the Four-Year Plan, or whether I used the military commander or the economic department of the Reich Commissioner of the territory concerned. As far as I remember now, without referring to documents, in the Netherlands the situation was that the economic counselor, or the representative of the Reich Commissioner--Fischbock at that time--which was logical, executed the economic directions of the Four-Year Plan. The Reich Commissioner would never have been in a position not to have carried out orders given by me. He could have protested against them only to me or, in extreme cases, to the Fuehrer, but in itself this did not lead to any suspension.
Dr Walter Ballas: I have no further questions.
1946 Nuremberg Tribunal: On day 84 of the proceedings, Hermann Goering is cross-examined by Justice Jackson, the chief US prosecutor.
Mr. Justice Jackson: And when nothing happened, the next step was Austria?
Goering: The one has nothing to do with the other. I never had any misgivings about Austria leading to a war, as I had with the Rhineland occupation, for in the case of the Rhineland occupation I could well imagine that there might be repercussions. But how there could be any repercussions from abroad over the union of two brother nations of purely German blood was not clear to me, especially since Italy, who always pretended that she had a vital interest in a separate Austria, had somewhat changed her ideas. It could not have mattered in the least to England and France, nor could they have had the slightest interest in this union. Therefore I did not see the danger of its leading to a war.
Mr. Justice Jackson: I ask you just a few questions about Austria. You said that you and Hitler had felt deep regret about the death of Dollfuss, and I ask you if it is not a fact that Hitler put up a plaque in Vienna in honor of the men who murdered Dollfuss, and went and put a wreath on their graves when he was there. Is that a fact? Can you not answer that question with "yes" or "no"?
Goering: No, I cannot answer it with either "yes" or "no," if I am to speak the truth according to my oath. I cannot say, "Yes, he did it," because I do not know; I cannot say, "No, he did not do it," because I do not know that either. I want to say that I heard about this event here for the first time.
Mr. Justice Jackson: Now, in June of 1937, Seyss-Inquart came to you and State Secretary Keppler, and you had some negotiations.
Mr. Justice Jackson: And it was Seyss-Inquart's desire to have an independent Austria, was it not?
Goering: As far as I remember, yes.
Mr. Justice Jackson: And Keppler was the man who was sent by Hitler to Vienna at the time of the Anschluss and who telegraphed to Hitler not to march in, do you recall?
Mr. Justice Jackson: That is the telegram that you characterized as impudent and senseless from the man who was on the spot, and who had negotiated earlier with Seyss-Inquart, do you recall that?
Goering: I did not characterize the telegram with this word that has just been translated to me in German, that is "impudent." I said that this telegram could no longer have any influence and was superfluous, because the troops were already on the move and had their order; the thing was already underway.
Mr. Justice Jackson: You had demanded that Seyss-Inquart be made Chancellor? Is that right?
Goering: I did not desire that personally, but it arose out of the circumstance that at that time he was the only man who could assume the Chancellorship because he was already in the Government.
Mr. Justice Jackson: Now, did Seyss-Inquart become Chancellor of Austria with the understanding that he was to surrender his country to Germany, or did you lead him to believe that he would be independent, have an independent country?
Goering: I explained the other day that even at the time when he left by plane the next morning, the Fuehrer himself had still not made up his mind as to whether the union with Austria should not be brought about by means of a joint head of state. I also said that I personally did not consider this solution far-reaching enough and that I was for an absolute, direct, and total Anschluss. I did not know exactly what Seyss-Inquart's attitude was at this time. Nevertheless I feared that his attitude was rather in the direction of continued separation with co-operation, and did not go as far as my attitude in the direction of a total Anschluss. Therefore I was very satisfied when this total Anschluss crystallized in the course of the day.
Mr. Justice Jackson: I respectfully submit that the answers are not responsive, and I repeat the question. Did Seyss-Inquart become Chancellor of Austria with an understanding that he would call in the German troops and surrender Austria to Germany, or did you lead him to believe that he could continue an independent Austria?
Goering: Excuse me, but that is a number of questions which I cannot answer simply with 'yes' or 'no.' If you ask me, 'Did Seyss-Inquart become Chancellor according to Hitler's wishes and yours?'--yes. If you then ask me, 'Did he become Chancellor with the understanding that he should send a telegram for troops to march in?'--I say, 'No,' because at the time of the Chancellorship there was no question of his sending us a telegram. If you ask me, thirdly, 'Did he become Chancellor on the understanding that he would be able to maintain an independent Austria?'--then I have to say again that the final turn of events was not clear in the Fuehrer's mind on that evening. That is what I tried to explain.
Mr. Justice Jackson: Is it not true that you suspected that he might want to remain as independent as possible, and that that was one of the reasons why the troops were marched in?
Goering: No. Excuse me, there are two questions: I strongly suspected that Seyss-Inquart wanted to be as independent as possible. The sending of troops had nothing at all to do with that suspicion; not a single soldier would have been needed for that. I gave my reasons for the sending of the troops.
Mr. Justice Jackson: But it was never intimated to Seyss-Inquart that Austria would not remain independent until after--as you put it--the Fuehrer and you were in control of Austria's fate? Is that a fact?
Goering: That was certainly not told him beforehand by the Fuehrer. As far as I was concerned, it was generally known that I desired it, and I assume that he knew of my attitude.
Mr. Justice Jackson: Now, you have stated that you then, in conversation with Ribbentrop in London, stressed that no ultimatum had been put to Seyss-Inquart, and you have said that legally that was the fact.
Goering: I did not say "legally," I said diplomatically.
The Nuremberg Tribunal Biographies
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