Goering: Von Ribbentrop

1946 Nuremberg Tribunal: On day 84, Hermann Goering is cross-examined by defense counsel.

Dr. Martin Horn (Counsel for Defendant [Joachim] von Ribbentrop): Witness, do you know to what extent von Ribbentrop was informed about military plans and intentions in his capacity as Foreign Minister?

Goering: I do not know the exact details. In general the same principle applies here too, that only such authorities as were competent, as far as these intentions were concerned, were kept informed, particularly so in the case of military intentions. Just how much the Fuehrer told Herr von Ribbentrop now and again in conversations about his military plans, I did not know.

Dr. Martin Horn: Is it correct that Hitler set down the guiding principles for all policies, including foreign policy?

Goering: That is a matter of course. Foreign policy above all was the Fuehrer's very own realm. By that I mean to say that foreign policy on the one hand and the leadership of the Armed Forces on the other hand enlisted the Fuehrer's greatest interest and were his main activity.

Dr. Martin Horn: Should I conclude from that that he was interested in the details of foreign policy as well?

Goering: He busied himself exceptionally with these details, as I have just stated, and with particularly great interest in both of these fields.

Dr. Martin Horn: Did Hitler expressly instruct you to keep secret the memorandum on Poland of 30 August 1939?

Goering: He did not expressly instruct me. I do not know whether he knew that I had it in my pocket. But in general he had given such instructions since he had instructed the one who would have had to hand it over, namely, Herr von Ribbentrop, not to hand it over, so that I actually handed over this memorandum against the express order of the Fuehrer, which constitutes a risk that probably only I--please do not misunderstand me--indeed I alone could take and afford.

Dr. Martin Horn: You mentioned a few days ago the diversified influence which the various personages had on Hitler. Do you know any facts from which we might conclude that Ribbentrop had not enough influence on Hitler to induce him to change decisions once he had made them?

Goering: As far as influence on Hitler, on the Fuehrer, is concerned, that is a problematical subject. I should like first to confine myself to the question of Herr von Ribbentrop's influence. Herr von Ribbentrop definitely had no influence in the sense that he could have steered Hitler in any one direction. To what extent arguments of an objective nature may perhaps have definitely influenced the Fuehrer sometimes to do this or that in respect to foreign political affairs, or to refrain from doing it, or to change it, would have depended entirely on the strength of the arguments and the facts. To what extent that may sometimes have played a role I cannot say, for I was not present at 99 percent of the Fuehrer's conferences with Herr von Ribbentrop. But Herr von Ribbentrop had at no time such influence that he could have said, "Do this" or "Do not do it; I consider it a mistake," when the Fuehrer was convinced of the correctness of any matter.

Dr. Martin Horn: Do you know facts or observations that might point to the existence of a conspiracy in the highest circles of the government?

Goering: Conspiracy may be variously interpreted. Conspiracies naturally never took place in the sense that men secretly came together and discussed extensive plans in darkness and seclusion. As to conspiracy in the sense that the Fuehrer had comprehensive conferences and as a result of these conferences decided upon joint undertakings, one can only talk of conspiracy here to the extent--and I beg of you again not to misunderstand me--that this took place between the Fuehrer and me until, say, 1941. There was no one who could even approach working as closely with the Fuehrer, who was as essentially familiar with his thoughts and who had the same influence as I. Therefore at best only the Fuehrer and I could have conspired. There is definitely no question of the others.

Dr. Martin Horn: American war propaganda consistently spoke of Germany's aggressive intentions toward the Western Hemisphere. What do you know about this?

Goering: The Western Hemisphere? Do you mean America?

Dr. Martin Horn: Yes.

Goering: Even if Germany had completely dominated the nations of Europe, between Germany and the American continent there are, as far as I still recall from my geographic knowledge, about 6,000 kilometers of water, I believe. In view of the smallness of the German fleet and the regrettable lack of bombers to cover this distance, which I have already mentioned, there was never any question of a threat against the American continent; on the contrary, we were always afraid of that danger in reverse, and we would have been very glad if it had not been necessary to consider this at all. As far as South America is concerned, I know that we were always accused, by propaganda at least, of economic penetration and attempted domination there. If one considers the financial and commercial possibilities which Germany had before and during the war, and if one compares them with those of Great Britain or America, one can see the untenable nature of such a statement. With the very little foreign exchange and the tremendous export difficulties which we had, we could never constitute a real danger or be in competition. If that had been the case, the attitude of the South American countries would presumably have been a different one. Not the mark, but only the dollar ruled there.
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