Final statement Joachim von Ribbentrop

THE PRESIDENT: I call upon the Defendant Joachim von Ribbentrop.

JOACHIM VON RIBBENTROP (Defendant): This trial was to be conducted for the purpose of discovering the historical truth. From the point of view of German foreign policy I can only say: This trial will go down in history as a model example of how, while appealing to hitherto unknown legal formulas and the spirit of fairness, one can evade the cardinal problems of 25 years of the gravest human history.
If the roots of our trouble lie in the Treaty of Versailles - and they do lie there - was it really to the purpose to prevent a discussion about a treaty which the intelligent men, even among its authors, had characterized as the source of future trouble, while the wisest were already predicting from which of the faults of Versailles a new world war would arise?
I have devoted more than twenty years of my life to the elimination of this evil, with the result that foreign statesmen who know about this today write in their affidavits that they did not believe me. They ought to have written that in the interests of their own country they were not prepared to believe me. I am held resposible for the conduct of a foreign policy which was determined by another. I knew only this much of it, that it never concerned itself with plans of a world domination but rather, for example, with the elimination of the consequences of Versailles and with the food problems of the German people.
If I deny that this German foreign policy planned and prepared for a war of aggression, that is not an excuse on my part. The truth of this is proved by the strength that we developed in the course of the Second World War and the fact how weak we were at the beginning of this war.
History will believe us when I say that we would have prepared a war of aggression immeasurably better if we had actually intended one. What we intended was to look after our elementary necessities of life, in the same way that England looked after its own interests in order to make one-fifth of the world subject to her and in the same way that the United States brought an entire continent and Russia brought the largest inland territory of the world under their hegemony. The only difference between the policies of these countries as compared with ours is that we demanded parcels of land, such as Danzig and the Corridor, which were taken from us against all rights, whereas the other powers are accustomed to thinking only in terms of continents.
Before the establishment of the Charter of this Tribunal, even the signatory powers of the London Agreement must have had different views about international law and policy than they have today. When I went to see Marshall Stalin in Moscow in 1938, he did not discuss with me the possibility of a peaceful settlement of the German-Polish conflict within the framework of the Kellogg-Briand Pact, but rather he hinted that if in addition to half of Poland and the Baltic countries, he did not receive Lithuania and the harbour of Libau, I might as well return home.
In 1939, the waging of war was obviously not yet regarded as an international crime against peace, otherwise I could not explain Stalinís telgram at the conclusion of the Polish campaign, which read, I quote: "The friendship of Germany and the Soviet Union, based on the blood which they have shed together, has every prospect of being a firm and lasting one".
Here I should like to emphasize and stress the fact that even I ardently desired this friendship at that time. Of this friendship there remains today only the primary problem for Europe and the world. Will Asia dominate Europe or will the Western Powers be able to stem or even push back the influence of the Soviets at the Elbe, at the Adriatic coast and at the Dardanelles?
In other words, practically speaking, Great Britain and the United States today face the same dilemma as Germany faced at the time when I was carrying on negotiations with Russia. For my countryís sake, I hope with all my heart that they may be more successful in their results.
Now what has actually been proved in this Trial about the criminal character of German foreign policy? That out of more than 300 Defence documents which were submitted, 150 were rejected without cogent reasons. That the files of the enemy and even of the Germans were inaccessible to the Defence. That Churchillís friendly hint to me that if Germany became too strong she would be destroyed, is declared irrelevant in judging the motives of German foreign policy before this forum. A revolution does not become more comprehensible if it is considered from the point of view of a conspiracy.
Fate made me one of the exponents of this revolution. I deplore the atrocious crimes which became known to me here and which besmirch this revolution. But I cannot measure all of them according to puritanical standards and the less so since I have seen that even the enemy, in spite of their total victory, was neither able nor willing to prevent atrocities of the most extensive kind.
One can regard the theory of the conspiracy as one will, but from the point of view of the critical observer it is only a make-shift solution. Anybody who has held a decisive position in the Third Reich knows that it simply represents a historical falsehood and the author of the Charter of this Tribunal has only proved with his invention from what background he derived his thinking.
I might just as well assert that the signatory powers of this Charter had formed a conspiracy for the suppression of the primary needs of a highly developed, capable and courageous nation. When I look back upon my actions and my desires, then I can conclude only this: The only thing of which I consider myself guilty before my people - not before this Tribunal - is that my aspirations in foreign policy remained without success.

See also: Verdict Von Ribbentrop

Definitielijst

revolution
Usually sudden and violent reversal of existing (political) the political set-up and situations.
Soviet Union
Soviet Russia, alternative name for the USSR.

Sources

International Military Tribunal, Nuremberg 1947

Afbeeldingen


Joachim von Ribbentrop
(Source: Public domain)

Informatie

Published by:
Arnold Palthe
Published on:
24-12-2015
Last edit on:
03-08-2016
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