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of my conversations with Ribbentrop and Hitler. I shall only
conscience. He has not.” (2987-PS) The next stage in the German plan consisted of sharp pressure over the claim for Danzig, commencing immediately after Czechoslovakia had been formally dealt with on 15 March 1939. The first sharp raising of the claim was on 21 March (TC-73, No. 61).
An interesting sidelight during the last days before the war concerns the return of Herr von Dirksen, the German Ambassador at the Court of St. James, to Berlin on 18 August 1939. When interrogated (after capture) regarding the significance of this event, Ribbentrop expressed a complete absence of recollection of ever having seen the German Ambassador to England after his return. Ribbentrop thought he would have remembered him if he had seen him, and therefore he accepted the probability that he did not see him (D-490). Thus when it was well known that war with Poland would involve England and France, either Ribbentrop was not sufficiently interested in opinion in London to take the trouble to see his ambassador, or else, as he rather suggests, he had appointed so weak and ordinary a career diplomat to London that his opinion was not taken into account, either by himself or by Hitler. In either case, Ribbentrop was completely uninterested in anything which his Ambassador might have to tell him as to opinion in London or the possibility of war. It is putting the matter with great moderation to say that in the last days
before 1 September 1939, Ribbentrop did whatever he could to avoid peace with Poland and to avoid anything which might hinder the encouraging of the war which he and the Nazis wanted. He did that, well knowing that war with Poland would involve Great Britain and France. (See also Section 8 of Chapter IX on Aggression Against Poland.)
M. Lipski, the Polish Ambassador at Berlin, summarized all these events leading up to the war in his report of 10 October 1939 (TC-73, No. 147).
(5) Norway and Denmark. On 31 May 1939, Ribbentrop, on behalf of Germany, signed a non-aggression pact with Denmark which provided that:
“The German Reich and the Kingdom of Denmark will under no circumstances go to war or employ force of any other kind
against one another.” (TC-24) And on 7 April 1940 the German armed forces invaded Denmark at the same time they invaded Norway.
Ribbentrop was fully involved in the earlier preparations for the aggression against Norway. Along with Rosenberg, Ribbentrop assisted Quisling in his early activities. A letter from Rosenberg to Ribbentrop on 24 February states:
"Dear Party Comrade von Ribbentrop:
Scheidt goes back immediately." (957-PS) In a report to Hitler on the Quisling activities, Rosenberg outlined Ribbentrop's part in the preparation of the Norwegian operation:
Apart from financial support which was forthcoming from the Reich in currency, Quisling had also been promised a shipment of material for immediate use in Norway, such as coal and sugar. Additional help was promised. These ship
ments were to be conducted under cover of a new trade company, to be established in Germany or through especially selected existing firms, while Hagelin was to act as consignee in Norway. Hagelin had already conferred with the respective Ministers of the Nygardsvold Government, as for instance, the Minister of Supply and Commerce, and had been assured permission for the import of coal. At the same time, the coal transports were to serve possibly to supply the technical means necessary to launch Quisling's political action in Oslo with German help. It was Quisling's plan to send a number of selected, particularly reliable men to Germany for a brief military training course in a completely isolated camp. They were then to be detailed as area and language specialists to German Special Troops, who were to be taken to Oslo on the coal barges to accomplish a political action. Thus Quisling planned to get hold of his leading opponents in Norway, including the King, and to prevent all military resistance from the very beginning. Immediately following this political action and upon official request of Quisling to the Government of the German Reich, the military occupation of Norway was to take place. All military preparations were to be completed previously. Though this plan contained the great advantage of surprise, it also contained a great number of dangers which could possibly cause its failure. For this reason it received a quite dilatory treatment, while at the same time, it was not disapproved as far as the Norwegians were concerned. “In February, after a conference with General Field Marshal Goering, Reichsleiter Rosenberg informed the Secretary in the Office of the Four Year Plan, only of the intention to prepare coal shipments to Norway to the named confidant Hagelin. Further details were discussed in a conference between Secretary Wohlthat, Staff Director Schickedanz, and Hagelin. Since Wohlthat received no further instructions from the General Field Marshal, Foreign Minister von Ribbentropafter a consultation with Reichsleiter Rosenberg—consented to expedite these shipments through his office. Based on a report of Reichsleiter Rosenberg to the Fuehrer it was also arranged to pay Quisling ten thousand English pounds per month for three months, commencing on the 15 of March, to
support his work”. (004-PS) This sum was paid through Scheidt. In a letter to Ribbentrop dated 3 April 1940, Keitel wrote:
"Dear Herr von Ribbentrop:
*.” (D-629) Keitel then proceeds to ask that the Foreign Office get in touch with certain commanders. The important point is Keitel's clear admission to Ribbentrop that the military occupation of Denmark and Norway had been long in preparation. It is interesting to connect this letter with the official Biography of Ribbentrop, in the Archives, which makes a point of mentioning the invasion of Norway and Denmark (D-472):
"With the occupation of Denmark and Norway on the 9 of April 1940, only a few hours before the landing of British troops in these territories, the battle began against the West
ern Powers." (D-472) It is clear that whoever else had knowledge or whoever else was ignorant, Ribbentrop had been thoroughly involved in the Quisling plottings and knew at least a week before the invasion started that the Wehrmacht and Keitel had been long in preparation for this act of aggression. (See also Section 9 of Chapter IX on Aggression against Norway and Denmark.)
(6) The Low Countries: Belgium, The Netherlands, and Luxembourg. The facts as to the aggression against these countries, during the period when Ribbentrop was Foreign Minister, are discussed in Section 10 of Chapter IX. Special attention should be called, however, to the statement made by Ribbentrop 10 May 1940 to representatives of the foreign press with regard to the reasons for the German invasion of the Low Countries. These reasons demonstrated to be false in Section 10 of Chapter IX on Aggression Against The Low Countries.
(7) Greece and Yugoslavia. At a meeting in Salzburg in August 1939, at which von Ribbentrop participated, Hitler announced that the Axis had decided to liquidate certain neutrals (1871-PS):
Generally speaking, it would be best to liquidate the pseudo-neutrals one after the other. This is fairly easily done, if one Axis partner protects the rear of the other, who is just finishing off one of the uncertain neutrals, and vice versa. Italy may consider Yugoslavia such an uncertain neutral. At the visit of Prince Regent Paul he [the Fuehrer] suggested, particularly in consideration of Italy, that Prince Paul clarify his political attitude towards the Axis by a gesture. He had thought of a closer connection with the Axis and Yugoslavia's leaving the League of Nations. Prince Paul agreed to the latter. Recently the Prince Regent was in London and sought reassurance from the Western Powers. The same thing was repeated that happened in the case of Gafencu, who was also very reasonable during his visit to Germany and who denied any interest in the aims of the western democracies. Afterwards it was learned that he had later assumed a contrary standpoint in England. Among the Balkan countries the Axis can completely rely only on Bulgaria, which is in a sense a natural ally of Italy and Germany.
At the moment when there would be a turn to the worse for Germany and Italy, however, Yugoslavia would join the other side openly, hoping thereby to give matters a final turn to the
disadvantage of the Axis." (1871-PS) That demonstrates the policy with regard to uncertain neutrals.
Then, as early as September 1940 Ribbentrop reviewed the war situation with Mussolini. Ribbentrop emphasized the heavy revenge bombing raids in England and the fact that London would soon be in ruins. It was agreed between the parties that only Italian interests were involved in Greece and Yugoslavia, and that Italy could count on German support. Ribbentrop went on further to explain to Mussolini the Spanish plan for the attack on Gibraltar and Germany's participation therein. He added that he was expecting to sign the Protocol with Spain, bringing the latter country into the war, on his return to Berlin (1842–PS). Ribbentrop then gave Mussolini a free hand with Greece and Yugoslavia:
“With regard to Greece and Yugoslavia, the Foreign Minister stressed that it was exclusively a question of Italian interests, the settling of which was a matter for Italy alone,