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21 May 1935 (TC-26) and the fraudulent treaty was made on 11 July 1936 (TC-22). And von Neurath was Foreign Minister when his ambassador to Austria, von Papen, was carrying on his subterranean intrigue in the period from 1935 to 1937. (2247-PS; 2246-PS)
Von Neurath was present when Hitler declared, in a highly confidential circle, on 5 November 1937, that the German question could only be solved by force, and that his plans were to conquer Austria and Czechoslovakia (386-PS). Hitler expressed his designs on Austria as follows:
For the improvement of our military political position, it must be our first aim in every case of entanglement by war to conquer Czechoslovakia and Austria simultaneously, in order to remove any threat from the flanks in case
of a possible advance westwards." (386-PS) It is impossible for von Neurath, after that meeting, to say that he was not acting except with his eyes completely open and with complete comprehension as to what was intended.
During the Anschluss von Neurath received a note from the British Ambassador dated 11 March 1938 (3045-PS). In reply von Neurath uttered two obvious untruths. The first:
It is untrue that the Reich used forceful pressure to bring about this development, especially the assertion, which was spread later by the former Chancellor Schuschigg, that the German Government had presented the Federal President with a conditional ultimatum. It is a pure inven
tion.” (3287-PS) According to the German ultimatum, Schuschnigg had to appoint a proposed candidate as Chancellor and form a Cabinet conforming to the proposals of the German Government. Otherwise the invasion of Austria by German troops was held in prospect. (See Section 3 of Chapter IX on Aggression Against Austria.) The second untruth:
“The truth of the matter is that the question of sending military or police forces from the Reich was only brought up when the newly formed Austrian Cabinet addressed a telegram, already published by the press, to the German Government, urgently asking for the dispatch of German troops as soon as possible, in order to restore peace and order and to avoid bloodshed. Faced with the immediately threatening danger of a bloody civil war in Austria the German Government then decided to comply with the appeal addressed to it.” (3287-PS)
(As to the inspired nature of the Austrian telegram, see Section 3 of Chapter IX on Aggression Against Austria.)
All that can be said is that it must have given von Neurath a certain macabre sort of humor to write that note (3287-PS) when the truth was the opposite, as shown by the report of Gauleiter Rainer to Buerckel (812-PS), the transcripts of Goering's telephone conversations with Austria (2949-PS), and the entries in Jodl’s diary for 11, 13, and 14 February. (1780-PS) According to Jodl's diary—the entry for 10 March:
“At 13.00 hours General Keitel informs Chief of Operational Staff and Admiral Canaris. Ribbentrop is being detained in London. Neurath takes over the Foreign Office.”
(1780-PS) It is inconceivable when von Neurath had taken over the Foreign Office, was dealing with the matter and was co-operating with Goering to suit the susceptibilities of the Czechs, that he should have been so ignorant of the truth of events as to write that letter (3287-PS) in good faith.
Von Neurath's position is shown equally clearly by the account which is given of him in the affidavit of Messersmith (2385-PS). Von Neurath's style of activity at this crisis is described as follows:
"I should emphasize here in this statement that the men
(3) Czechoslovakia. At the time of the occupation of Austria, von Neurath gave the assurance to M. Mastny, the Ambassador of Czechoslovakia to Berlin, regarding the continued independence of Czechoslovakia (TC-27). M. Jan Masaryk, Czechoslovakian Foreign Minister, describes the circumstances as follows:
"I have in consequence been instructed by my Government to bring to the official knowledge of His Majesty's Government the following facts: Yesterday evening (the 11th March) Field-Marshal Goering made two separate statements to M. Mastny, the Czechoslovak Minister in Berlin, assuring him that the developments in Austria will in no way have any detrimental influence on the relations between the German Reich and Czechoslovakia, and emphasizing the continued earnest endeavor on the part of Germany to improve those mutual relations."
"M. Mastny was in a position to give him (Goering) definite and binding assurances on this subject (Czech mobilization) and today spoke with Baron von Neurath, who, among other things, assured him on behalf of Herr Hitler that Germany still considers herself bound by the German-Czechoslovak Arbitration Convention concluded at Locarno in October
1925." (TC-27) In view of von Neurath's presence at the meeting on 5 November 1937, four months previously, where he had heard Hitler's views on Czechoslovakia (386-PS), and that it was only six months before the treaty was disregarded, von Neurath's assurance is an excellent example of the technique of diplomacy developed by von Neurath.
On 28 May 1938 Hitler held a conference of important leaders, including Beck, von Brauchitsch, Raeder, Keitel, Goering, and Ribbentrop, at which Hitler affirmed that preparations should be made for military action against Czechoslovakia by October (388-PS; 2360-PS). It is believed, although not confirmed, that von Neurath attended.
On 4 September 1938 the Government of which von Neurath was a member enacted a new Secret Reich Defense Law which defined various official responsibilities, in clear anticipation of war. This law provided, as did the previous Secret Reich Defense Law, for a Reich Defense Council as a supreme policy board for war preparations (2194-PS). Then came the Munich agreement of 29 September 1938, in spite of which, on 14 March 1939, German troops marched into Czechoslovakia. (TC-50)
On 16 March 1939 the German Government, of which von Neurath was still a member, promulgated the Decree of the Fuehrer and Reich Chancellor on the Establishment of the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia. (TC-51) During the following week, von Ribbentrop signed a treaty with Slovakia (1439-PS), Article 2 of which reads as follows:
"For the purpose of making effective the protection undertaken by the German Reich, the German armed forces shall
have the right at all times to construct military installations
stallations." (1439-PS) The ultimate objective of Hitler's policies, disclosed at the meeting at which von Neurath was present on 5 November 1937 (386-PS), is obvious from the terms of this treaty. It was the resumption of the drang for lebensraum in the East.
E. VON NEURATH'S PART, AS PROTECTOR FOR BOHEMIA AND MORAVIA, IN THE CONSPIRACY TO COMMIT WAR CRIMES AND CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY.
By accepting and occupying the position of Reich Protector of Bohemia and Moravia, von Neurath personally adhered to the aggression against Czechoslovakia. As Protector he further actively participated in the conspiracy for world aggression, and assumed a position of leadership in the execution of policies involving violations of the laws of war and the commission of crimes against humanity.
Von Neurath's responsibility for these crimes derives from the legal position which he assumed. Von Neurath assumed the position of Protector under a sweeping grant of powers. Article V of the act creating the Protectorate provided :
“1. As trustee of Reich interests, the Leader and Chancellor
“4. The Reich Protector is entitled to inform himself of all
enters an objection.” (2119-PS) At the very outset of the Protectorate, von Neurath's supreme authority was implemented by a series of basic decrees. These established the alleged legal foundation for the policy and program which resulted, all aimed toward the systematic destruction of the national integrity of the Czechs. Among these decrees were:
(1) The decree granting "Racial Germans" in Czechoslovakia a supreme order of citizenship (2119-PS);
(2) An act concerning the representation in the Reichstag of Greater Germany of German Nationals Resident in the Protectorate (13 April 1939);
(3) An order concerning the acquisition of German citizenship by former Czechoslovakian citizens of German origin (20 April 1939).
Another series of decrees granted “Racial Germans" in Czechoslovakia a preferred status at law and in the courts :
(1) An order concerning the Exercise of Criminal Jurisdiction in the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia (14 April 1939);
(2) An order concerning the Exercise of Jurisdiction in Civil Proceedings (14 April 1939);
(3) An order concerning the Exercise of Military Jurisdiction (8 May 1939). The Ordinance on Legislation in the Protectoratę (7 June 1939) also granted to the Protector broad powers to change by decree the autonomous law of the Protectorate.
Finally, the Protector was authorized, with the Reich Leader SS and the Chief of the German Police (Himmler) “to take, if necessary, such (police) measures which go beyond the limits usually valid for police measures.” It is difficult to imagine what can be police measures "beyond the limits usually valid for police measures" in view of the police measures in Germany between 1933 and 1939. (See Section 4 of Chapter VII on Purge of Political Opponents and Section 6 of Chapter XV on the Gestapo and SD.) But presumably such increase was believed to be pos