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or to make preparations for intended operations. Papen is called upon at a time when the policy of expansion of our Italian ally into Albania caused difficulties and gave reason to fear entanglements with Turkey. And so here is a clear task, that of maintaining the status of peace.
If the Prosecution cannot utilize the activity in Ankara for its own support, then it still does not avoid passing unfavorable judgment on the acceptance of the post by Papen. It is, therefore, also necessary to go into this point in detail. leitz.
Papen was also very reluctant to accept this new appointment. Twice already, in more peaceful times, he had refused the appointment out of general considerations, because he no longer wanted to be active in any official position at all. Now he sees reasons to which he can no longer close his eyes. He sees a new task to which he believes it his duty to devote himself.
The entire political situation was extremely strained after March 1939. Even from a secondary flank the spark could easily fall on the powder-barrel. A conflict between Italy and Turkey could in fulfilment of existing treaties bring about a general war. If by his activity he could at least exclude the possibility of war to this extent, Papen must have found personal justification for taking over the mission. He was confronting the problem which confronts all those who have been called upon to cooperate within the framework of a system of which they disapprove. To stand aside, to adopt a completely passive attitude is, of course, the easier way, particularly if no other reasons impel the person in question to accept the post. The more difficult way is to take over a task within the framework of an over-all policy of which one disapproves, which in part of its field offers an aim worthy of achievement. And if this partial field is of such importance that the prevention of a possible war depends on it, then the decision to take over such a mission can only be understandable and worthy of approval. If only the most remote possibility of attaining such a goal exists, then private interests and feelings must step into the background.
If one reviews what Papen really did after taking over this mission to Ankara, if one sees that by his intervention the Italians were moderated from the German side and belligerent complications were avoided, if one considers that later Papen was successfully able to prevent the war from being extended to Turkey and the more distant southeastern territories, then in looking back one can only say that his taking over the mission against his personal feelings was the right decision.
If we saw during the presentation of evidence to what an
extent Papen made efforts to bring about a peace of renunciation as early as the year 1939, then we must also approve his acceptance of the mission for this reason, independently of the fact of what final success was to crown his efforts, even if one could have only figured on a quite dwindling possibility of reaching the desired goal.
The assumption of such a position would finally also be justified from the moral viewpoint if he had only had as much as one single partial success, as, for example, the saving of 10,000 Jews from being deported to Poland, which has been confirmed by the affidavit of Marchionini.
In this connection I want to discuss a misunderstanding which could arise from the judicial inquiry concerning this affidavit.
In his affidavit, Marchionini points out the lives of the Jews involved were saved by the intervention of Papen. Papen confirmed, upon interrogation, the correctness of the affidavit. This confirmation corresponds also with the facts. This does not mean, however, that the meaning of that action, as it is known to Marchionini to-day, and which he mentions therefore in his affidavit, was already known then. Papen knew, of course, that the deportation to Poland for an unknown purpose and with an unknown goal was something very grave. This also explains his intervention. He knows only to-day, the same as Marchionini certainly only knows to-day in all clarity, that the path of these people was not supposed to lead into deportation labor but directly into the gas chambers.
The activity in Ankara has been fully described by the witnesses Kroll and Baron von Lersner. It clearly shows a unified peace policy, a peace policy which, independently from the momentary military and political situation, even at the highest point of German victories, stressed a peace of renunciation. Papen was according to the statements of Rosen and Kroll deeply affected by the outbreak of the Polish war and condemned it from the first.
How can such an attitude and such an activity be reconciled with the assertions of the Prosecution? Papen is supposed to have brought about the war in a conspiracy with Hitler. The Prosecution believes it can deduce the criminal act from his behavior in the years preceding the war. No proof has been submitted as to what may have turned Papen the conspirator into an advocate of peace. It has rested its accusations on the shaky foundation of deductions and omitted to verify whether the assertions of the Prosecution might in any possible way be in agreement with the whole personality of the defendant. In view of the nature of the indictment, one cannot be content to solve the prob
lem by the assumption of a splitting of his personality and an opportunistic attitude. The indictment includes crimes of monstrous proportions. Such an indictment must also rest on the personality of the culprit. Participation in such a conspiracy is only conceivable in the case of a complete identity with the doctrines discussed in the proceedings and described as "Nazism" to their utmost consequences. A conspirator in the sense of the indictment can only be a man who has given himself up entirely, with the whole of his personality, to that aim. He must be a man in whom even the last moral ties have been abolished. Such a personality cannot be a phenomenon of brief duration; the readiness for such a crime must lie within the person of the culprit.
In contrast to the distorted picture of Papen's character drawn by the Prosecution, his true personality has been shown up during these proceedings in all clarity. We see a man who is rooted by origin and education in tradition and conservative ideas. A man of consciously responsible national feeling, to whom for just these reasons a regard for others is natural.
His personal ties with the neighboring country in the West, his knowledge of the world preclude from the first his seeing things from a one-sided viewpoint, according to his own, national wishes. He knows that life requires understanding and the willingness to understand. He knows that international life is built on sincerity and faith and that one must stand by one's word.
We have before us a man who, on account of his deep religious feeling, which he always makes the basic principle of his actions, must necessarily stand in opposition to the ideological doctrines of National Socialism. We have followed his political career and seen that he held fast through all the periods of his activity to his basic political creed which was built on these elements.
In keeping with this fundamental principle and fully conscious of his responsibilities he did not evade any of the tasks assigned to him. And even if we are witnessing in the end the collapse of his hopes and his endeavors, this cannot be the touchstone for the sincerity of his convictions.
To arraign such a man at all under the indictment of a crime in the sense of the facts established in the Charter can surely only have been possible on the basis of the legal simplifications which an indictment for conspiracy offers to the Prosecution. In the facts of the case against Papen, even this interpretation must fail.
The prosecution has not been able to prove that Papen has at any time involved himself in the alleged conspiracy. Qpposed to this is the reality. In the evidence offered in refutation facts are
established which make a connection of his person with even the idea of the facts in the indictment impossible.
The final conclusion is clearly given. Franz von Papen is not guilty of the charge brought against him!
2. FINAL PLEA by Franz von Papen
Your Lordship, may it please the Tribunal. When I returned home in 1919, I found a people torn by the political rights of the parties, attempting once more in those unfortunate days of my country, I believed as a responsible German that I should not be permitted to remain inactive.
I saw clearly that a re-birth of my country was possible only on the road of peace and intellectual discussion, a discussion which did not center only around political forms but, however, around the solution of the most burning social problems, which were the prerequisite of an inner state of peace.
Facing the onslaught of rationalistic ideologies, it was necessary-and this was my innermost conviction-that Christianity had to be maintained as the starting point of the rebuilding. From the premise of this inner-discussion, the maintenance of European peace would have to depend, too.
The use of my very best years was dedicated to this question. Anyone who knows the facts knows that I did not push myself to the high office and when like uncounted other Germans, in the emergency of 1933, I decided to cooperate in a prominent position then because I considered it to be my duty and because I believed in the possibility to steer National Socialism into responsible channels, because I hoped that the maintenance of Christian principles would be the best counterweight against ideological and political radicalism and would guarantee a peaceful domestic and foreign development.
That goal, however, has not been reached. The power of evil was stronger than the power of good and drove Germany into catastrophe without any hope of redemption, but should that be reason enough to damn those who kept flying high the banner of faith, opposing the flag of disbelief? And does that entitle Justice Jackson to claim that I was nothing but the hypocritical agent of a disbelieving administration? Or who gives Sir Hartley Shawcross the right to say, with scorn, ridicule, and contempt, "He preferred 'to reign in Hell than serve in Heaven"?" Gentlemen of the Prosecution, that is not your verdict-that is the verdict of another, but I should like to ask, doesn't the question of the defense of spiritual values remain in the center to-day for emain in the center to-day for the rebuilding of a world?
I believe that I can face my responsibility with a clear conscience. Love for country and people is the only factor decisive for all my actions. I have spoken without fear of man whenever I had to speak. I served the Fatherland but not the Nazi regime, when I attempted in spite of most bitter disappointments of my domestic hopes, to save peace at least from diplomatic posts.
When I examine my own conscience, I cannot find any guilt, where the Prosecution has looked for it or claimed it, but show me a man without guilt and without faults, which seen from the historical point of view, this guilt may be found in that tragic 2 December 1932, when I did not attempt to persuade the Reich President to maintain the decision he had made the night before— in spite of the break of the Constitution and in spite of the threat by General von Schleicher that civil war was imminent.
Does the Prosecution really contemplate damning all those who with the most honest intentions were ready to cooperate? Does it claim that the German people in 1933, elected Hitler because it wanted war? Does the Prosecution really wish to claim that the German people in its overwhelming majority made the gigantic spiritual and material sacrifices, including even sacrificing its youth on the battlefields of this war-merely for Hitler's utopian and criminal aims?
This High Tribunal faces the tremendously difficult task, without yet having gained sufficient distance in time from the catastrophe, to recognize the causes and results of historical development in their true context.
Only if the High Tribunal recognizes the historic truth and appreciates it, then the historical mission of this Tribunal will be fulfilled-only then, the German people, in spite of the destruction of its Reich, will find the realization of its errors but also the strength for its future task.
1. FINAL ARGUMENT by Dr. Gustav Steinbauer,
Your Lordships! High Military Tribunal!
- Nurnberg, the old august imperial city, which has given not only to the German nation but also to the world one of its most deeply significant painters, Albrecht Duerer, an unsurpassed sculptor, Veit Stoss, and the mastersinger, Hans Sachs, has, on her ruins, become the stage for the greatest criminal trials which legal history knows. Nurnberg has seen within her walls not only