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"1. We demand the unification of all Germans in the Greater
of Versailles and St. Germain.” (1708-PS) An even clearer statement of these goals is contained in Hitler's speech at Munich on 15 March 1939, in which he said:
"My foreign policy had identical aims. My program was to abolish the Treaty of Versailles. It is futile nonsense for the rest of the world to pretend today that I did not reveal this program until 1933 or 1935 or 1937. Instead of listening to this foolish chatter of emigres, these gentlemen would have been wiser to read what I have written thousands of times.”
(2771-PS) If it is "futile nonsense" for foreigners to raise that point, it would be still more futile for Hitler's Foreign Minister to suggest that he was ignorant of the aggressive designs of Nazi policy. The acceptance of force as a means of solving international problems and achieving the objectives of Hitler's foreign policy must have been known to anyone as closely in touch with Hitler as was von Neurath. This doctrine, for example, is constantly reiterated in Mein Kampf (D-660). (See Section 6 of Chapter IX on Aggression as a Basic Nazi Idea.)
Hence, by the acceptance and implementation of this foreign policy, von Neurath assisted and promoted the realization of the illegal aims of the Nazi Party.
C. VON NEURATH'S PART, AS FOREIGN MINISTER, IN THE CONSPIRACY TO CONSOLIDATE NAZI CONTROL OVER GERMANY IN PREPARATION FOR AGGRESSIVE WAR.
In his capacity as Minister of Foreign Affairs von Neurath directed the international aspects of the first phase of the Nazi conspiracy, the consolidation of control in preparation for war.
From his close connection with Hitler von Neurath must have known the cardinal points of Hitler's policy leading up to the outbreak of World War II, as outlined in retrospect by Hitler in his speech to his military leaders on 23 November 1939 (789-PS). This policy had two facets: internally, the establishment of rigid control; externally, the program to release Germany from its international commitments. The external program had four points :
1. Secession from the disarmament conference;
2. The order to re-arm Germany;
4. The remilitarization of the Rhineland. These points were set out in Hitler's address of 23 November 1939, after the invasion of Poland:
I had to reorganize everything beginning with the mass of the people and extending it to the armed forces. First, reorganization of the interior, abolishment of appearance of decay and defeatist ideas, education to heroism. While reorganizing the interior, I undertook the second task, to release Germany from its international ties. Two particular characteristics are to be pointed out: secession from the League of Nations and denunciation of the disarmament conference. It was a hard decision. The number of prophets who predicted that it would lead to the occupation of the Rhineland was large, the number of believers was very small. I was supported by the nation, which stood firmly behind me, when I carried out my intentions. After that, the order for rearmament. Here again there were numerous prophets who predicted misfortunes, and only a few believers. In 1935 the introduction of compulsory armed service. After that, militarization of the Rhineland, again a process believed to be impossible at that time. The number of people who would trust in me were very small. Then the beginning of the fortification of the whole country, especially
in the West." (789-PS) Hitler thus summarized his pre-war foreign policy in four points. Von Neurath participated directly and personally in accomplishing each of these four points, at the same time officially proclaiming that these measures did not constitute steps toward aggression. The first is a matter of history. When Germany left the disarmament conference von Neurath sent telegrams, dated 14th October 1933, to the President of the Conference announcing Germany's withdrawal (Documents of German Politics, 1933, vol. I, p. 94). Similarly, von Neurath made the announcement of Germany's withdrawal from the League of Nations on 21 October 1933. (Documents of German Politics, 1933, vol. I). At the same time, the German government was undertaking farreaching military preparation (C-140; C-153).
The second point regarding German rearmament: When von Neurath was Foreign Minister, on 10 March 1935, the German Government officially announced the establishment of the German air force (TC-44). On 21 May 1935, Hitler announced a purported unilateral repudiation of the Naval, Military, and Air
clauses of the Treaty of Versailles and the Treaty for the Restoration of Friendly Relations with the United States (2288-PS). On the same day the Reich Cabinet, of which von Neurath was a member, enacted the secret Reich Defense Law creating the office of Plenipotentiary General for War Economy (2261-PS), afterwards described by the Wehrmacht armament expert as “the cornerstone of German rearmament" (2353-PS):
“The latter orders were decreed in the Reich defense law of 21 May 1935, which was supposed to be published only in case of war, and was already declared valid for carrying out war preparations. As this law fixed the duties of the armed forces and the other Reich authorities in case of war, it was also the fundamental ruling for the development and activity of the war economy organization.” (2353-PS)
The third point is the introduction of compulsory military service. On 16 March 1935 von Neurath signed the law for the organization of the armed forces, which provided for universal military service and anticipated a vastly expanded German army (Reichsgesetzblatt, 1935, I, p. 369) (1654-PS). This was described by Keitel as the real start of the large-scale rearmament program which followed.
The fourth point was the remilitarization of the Rhineland. The Rhineland was reoccupied on 7 March 1936. This action was announced by Hitler (2289-PS), who had also previously given the order for "Operation Schulung," directing the military action which was to be taken if necessary (C-139). These were acts for which von Neurath shared responsibility from his position and from the steps which he took. Some time later he summed up his views on the actions detailed above in a speech to Germans abroad, on 29 August 1937:
“The unity of the racial and national will created through Nazism with unprecedented elan has made possible a foreign policy through which the bonds of the Versailles Treaty were slashed, freedom to arm regained, and the sovereignty of the whole nation reestablished. We have again become master in our own home, and we have produced the means of power to remain henceforth that way for all times. The world should notice from Hitler's deeds and words that his aims are not aggressive war." (D-449)
D. VON NEURATH'S PART, AS FOREIGN MINISTER AND ADVISOR TO THE FUEHRER, IN THE PLANNING OF WARS OF AGGRESSION.
Both as Minister of Foreign Affairs and as one of the inner circle of the Fuehrer's advisors on foreign political matters, von Neurath participated in the political planning and preparation for acts of aggression against Austria, Czechoslovakia, and other nations.
(1) The von Neurath technique. If von Neurath's policy may be described in a sentence it may be summarized as breaking one treaty only at a time. He himself put it slightly more pompously but to the same effect in a speech before the Academy of German Law on 30 October 1937:
Out of the acknowledgment of these elementary facts the Reich Cabinet has always interceded in favor of treating every concrete international problem within methods especially suited for it, not to complicate it unnecessarily by amalgamation with other problems, and as long as problems between only two powers are concerned to choose the way for an immediate understanding between these two powers. We are in a position to state that this method has fully proved itself good not only in the German interest, but also
in the general interest.” (D-471) The only countries whose interests von Neurath failed to mention in that speech are the other parties to the various treaties that were dealt with in that way. The working out of that policy can be seen from a brief summary of the actions of von Neurath when he was Foreign Minister, and those of his immediate successor when von Neurath still purported to have influence.
In 1935 action was directed against the Western Powers, in the form of the rearmament of Germany. When that was going on another country had to be reassured. At that time it was Austria, which still had-up to 1935—the support of Italy. Hence, the fraudulent and clearly false assurance, the essence of the technique in that case, given by Hitler, on 21 May 1935. (TC-26)
Then, in 1936, action was again taken against the Western Powers in the occupation of the Rhineland. Another fraudulent assurance was made to Austria in the Treaty of 11 July of that year, (TC-22) the deceitful nature of which is shown by letters from von Papen. (2246-PS; 2247-PS)
Then, in 1937 and 1938, the Nazis moved on a step and action was directed against Austria. That action was absorption, finally planned, at the latest, at the meeting on 5 November 1937 (386
PS). The action was taken on 11 March 1938. Reassurance had to be given to the Western Powers; hence the assurance to Belgium on 13 October 1937. (TC-34)
Less than a year later the object of the aggressive action was Czechoslovakia. The Sudetenland was obtained in September 1938, and the whole of Bohemia and Moravia was absorbed on 15 March 1939. At that time it was necessary to reassure Poland; so an assurance to Poland was given by Hitler on 20 February 1938 (2357-PS), and repeated up to 26 September 1938 (2358– PS). The falsity of that assurance is shown in Section 8 of Chapter IX on Aggression Against Poland.
Finally, when the Nazis decided to take action for the conquest of Poland in the next year, assurance had to be given to Russia. Hence, a non-aggression pact was entered into with the U. S. S. R. on 23. August 1939. (TC-25)
With regard to the foregoing summary, the Latin tag, res ipsa loquitur is apposite. But a frank statement from von Neurath with regard to the earlier part of it is found in the account of his conversation with the United States Ambassador, Mr. Bullitt, on 18 May 1936 (L-150):
"Von Neurath said that it was the policy of the German Government to do nothing active in foreign affairs until 'the Rhineland had been digested.' He explained that he meant that, until the German fortifications had been constructed on the French and Belgian frontiers, the German Government would do everything possible to prevent rather than encourage an outbreak by the Nazis in Austria and would pursue a quiet line with regard to Czechoslovakia. “As soon as our fortifications are constructed and the countries of Central Europe realize that France cannot enter German territory at will, all those countries will begin to feel very differently about their foreign policies and a new constellation will de
velop,' he said." (L-150) The conversation between von Papen as Ambassador and Mr. Messersmith is much to the same effect. (1760-PS)
(2) Austria. At the time of the aggression against Austria von Neurath was Foreign Minister. This included the preliminary stages, during the early Nazi plottings against Austria in 1934. In this period occurred the Nazi murder of Chancellor Dolfuss and the ancillary acts which were afterwards so strongly approved by the German Government. (See Section 3 of Chapter IX on Aggression Against Austria.) Von Neurath was also Foreign Minister when the false assurance was given to Austria on