Franz von Papen
October 29, 1879:
Franz Joseph Hermann Michael Maria von Papen is born into a rich, aristocratic family in predominantly Roman Catholic Westphalia, Germany.
From Papen's IMT testimony: I was born on soil which has been in the possession of my family for 900 years. I grew up with conservative principles which unite a man most closely to his own folk and his native soil, and as my family has always been a strong supporter of the Church, I of course grew up in this tradition as well. As the second son I was destined for a military career."
Note: The source for most items is the evidence presented to the International Military Tribunal (IMT) at the first Nuremberg Trial, between November 21, 1945 and October 1, 1946. As always, these excerpts from trial testimony should not necessarily be mistaken for fact. It should be kept in mind that they are the sometimes-desperate statements of hard-pressed defendants seeking to avoid culpability and shift responsibility from charges that, should they be found guilty, could possibly be punishable by death. (To reduce redundancy, many of the ‘vons’ have been ignored by design, with the ‘von Papen’s’ becoming simply ‘Papen’s.’
Papen becomes a lieutenant in a cavalry regiment.
Papen weds Geheimrat von Boch, daughter of a Saar industrialist.
Papen gains a position on the German General Staff.
Captain von Papen becomes a military attaché to the German ambassador in the United States.
Papen witnesses the Mexican Revolution when he accompanies the US Expeditionary Corps to Vera Cruz, Mexico.
As the war gets underway in Europe, von Papen returns to Washington DC as military attaché (resident spymaster).
December 26, 1914:
From a letter by German spy Hans von Wedell to Johann Heinrich Count von Bernstorff, the German Ambassador to the United States:
December 28, 1915:
Ten days before my departure, I learnt from a telegram sent me by Mr. von Papen, which stirred me up very much, and further through the omission of a cable, that Dr. Stark had fallen into the hands of the English. That gentleman's forged papers were liable to come back any day and could, owing chiefly to his lack of caution, easily be traced back to me. 3. Officers and aspirants of the class which I had to forward over, namely the people, saddled me with a lot of criminals and blackmailers, whose eventual revelations were liable to bring about any day the explosion of the bomb. 4. Mr. von Papen had repeatedly urgently ordered me to hide myself. [For further details on Papen's spymaster activities
, Click here
Papen is expelled from the United States after he is discovered clumsily conducting organized economic espionage against the Allied war effort.
From Papen's IMT testimony: This period is of decisive significance for my political life. Our strife, carried on with legal methods, against the unilateral supplying of our enemies with war materials, led to heated polemics and propaganda. This propaganda, which was fostered by the enemy, tried by all means to cast suspicion upon the military attaches of Germany, accusing them of illegal acts and especially of having organized acts of sabotage. At the end of 1915 I left the United States. I regret to say that I never tried to rectify and correct this false propaganda; but this propaganda followed me until the thirties and even until today, and has impressed its stamp upon me...this propaganda honored me with titles such as 'master spy,' 'chief plotter,' and other pretty names; for this propaganda was the background for the judging of my personality, as I found out in 1932 when I entered public life.
Papen is indicted by a United States federal grand jury concerning an alleged plot to blow up Canada's Welland Canal. He will remain under US indictment until becoming Chancellor of Germany in 1932.
Papen serves on the Western Front.
Papen is transferred to Palestine as Chief of the Operational Section of Army Group Falkenhayn, working with the Turkish army.
December 8, 1918:
Papen will later claim that on this day he does 'something useful for the history of humanity' by 'getting Falkenhayn to evacuate Jerusalem. Because of this decision the city was not shelled or destroyed by the British Army.' Note: Having achieved the rank of lieutenant-colonel and become Chief of the General Staff of the Fourth Turkish Army, von Papen resigns his commission at the end of hostilities.
Papen, a confirmed right wing monarchist, joins the Catholic Center Party (Zentrum) and is elected to the parliament of Prussia.
From Papen's IMT testimony: The Catholics in Germany had organized themselves in the Center Party. Before 1918 the Center Party, as a moderate party, had always endeavored to establish a balance between the left and the right political wings. After the war that picture was altered entirely. We then find the Center Party mostly in coalition with the left. In Prussia, this coalition was maintained during all the years from 1918 until 1932. Undeniably the Center Party deserves much credit for the maintenance of the life of the State during the years after the collapse; but the coalition with the Social Democrats made co-operation of the Center Party with the right impossible, particularly with regard to Church policy. In political questions and matters of internal party policy the Center Party, therefore, followed a line of compromise which was the result obtained through the concessions of others in the field of Church policy.
Papen is awarded the honorary title of Papal Chamberlain by Pope Pius X. Note: Prior to Vatican II, Papal Chamberlain's provided personal assistance to the Pope on formal state occasions as members of the Papal Court; were required to serve for at least one week per year during official ceremonies, and to take part in Papal processions behind the Sedia Gestatoria. Papal Chamberlains are addressed as 'Very Reverend,' and the higher degrees as 'Right Reverend.'
Papen supports right-wing candidate Paul von Hindenburg over his own Zentrum party's candidate, Wilhelm Marx, in the presidential election.
April 28, 1925:
Field Marshal von Hindenburg is elected President of the Reich on the death of Friedrich Ebert.
March 29, 1930:
Heinrich Brüning becomes the twelfth Chancellor of the Weimar Republic.
March 1, 1932:
The son of a college professor, Ernst Wilhelm Bohle, who had earned a degree in business management at the Handelshochschule in Berlin, joins the NSDAP.
March 10. 1932:
Chancellor Brüning makes one last appeal to the electorate:
Election of a party man, representing one-sided extremist views, who would consequently have the majority of the people against him, would expose the Fatherland to serious disturbances whose outcome would be incalculable. Duty commanded me to prevent this . . . . If I am defeated, I shall at least not have incurred the reproach that of my own accord I deserted my post in an hour of crisis . . . . I ask for no votes from those who do not wish to vote for me. (Shirer)
March 13, 1932:
Hitler receives 30.1% of the vote in the Presidential elections with 11,339,446 votes. Goebbels writes in his diary: "We’re beaten; terrible outlook. Party circles badly depressed and dejected." Communist Ernst Thaelmann captures 13.2%, 4,983,341 votes, while Right-wing candidate Theodor Duesterberg, the candidate of the nationalist right wing, polls 2,557,729 votes, 6.8%. But it is not over yet. 84-year-old Paul von Hindenburg und Beneckendorff polls 49% of the 38 million votes cast, just 170,000 votes short of the absolute majority needed to win outright. A run-off election is scheduled for 19 April.
April 13, 1932:
The SA and SS are banned by Chancellor Brüning after contingency plans for a Nazi coup are discovered.
April 19, 1932:
Hindenburg is elected Reich President with 53.0 percent of the vote. Hitler's percentage improves from 30.1 to 36.8 percent of the electorate.
April 24, 1932:
The Nazi Party increases its share of the vote in the Free State of Prussia to 36.3%, making Hitler's party the largest in the Landtag with 162 seats. The party receives 32.5% in the Bavaria Landtag, 26.4% in the Württemberg Landtag, and 31.2% in the Hamburg City Council. Anhalt, in effect, votes in their first Nazi Minister-President, when they poll 40.9% for the NASDAP.
May 13, 1932:
Goebbels writes in his diary:
For Brüning alone, winter seems to have arrived. He is being secretly undermined and is already completely isolated. He is anxiously looking for collaborators—"My kingdom for a Cabinet Minister!" General Schleicher has declined the Ministry of Defense . . . . Our mice are busily at work gnawing through the last supports of Brüning's position.
May 26, 1932:
Papan, at home in his estate in the Saar, is called to Berlin by General von Schleicher, Brüning's Defense Minister.
May 27, 1932:
Papen arrives in Berlin in the evening and meets with von Schleicher. "There is a Cabinet crisis; we are looking for a Chancellor," von Schleicher tells him. "The President would like to have you form a cabinet." Papen is greatly surprised: "I very much doubt if I am the right man," he replies, and asks for time to think it over.
May 30, 1932:
Papen again meets with Defense Minister von Schleicher.
From Papen's IMT testimony: I went to see Herr von Schleicher again. I said to him: 'I have decided not to accept.' Herr von Schleicher said: 'That won't do you any good, the President wants you under all circumstances.' I answered Herr von Schleicher: 'The President probably has a wrong conception of the political forces which I would bring to him for this government; he probably thinks that the Center would support me politically. But that is out of the question.' On the afternoon of this day I went to see the head of the Center Party. I asked him and he said: 'Herr von Papen, do not accept the office; the party would immediately oppose you.' I said: 'Thank you, that is what I thought.' I then went to see Hindenburg and presented the situation to him. Hindenburg stood up and said: 'I did not call you because I wanted the support of any party through you; I called you because I want a cabinet of independent men.' Then he reminded me of my duty toward the fatherland. When I continued to contradict him, he said: 'You cannot leave me, an old soldier, in the lurch when I need you.' I said: 'No, under these circumstances I will not leave you in the lurch; I will accept.'
May 30, 1932:
At 4:00 o'clock P.M., Reich President von Hindenburg meets with Hitler and Göring. When the aged president asks him if it is true that he has promised to support the new von Papen government, Hitler replies in the affirmative.
May 30, 1932:
Goebbels gloats to his diary:
Hitler's talk with the President went well . . . . The bomb has exploded! . . . . The system is collapsing . . . . The SA ban will be dropped. Uniforms are to be allowed again. The Reichstag will be dissolved. That's the most important of all. v. Papen is foreseen as Chancellor. But that is not so interesting. Voting, voting! Out to the people. We're all very happy.
May 31, 1932:
German President Paul von Hindenburg appoints von Schleicher's choice, Franz von Papen, as the lucky thirteenth chancellor of the Weimar Republic, replacing Heinrich Brüning, the leader of Papen's own party. Schleicher is rewarded with the post of Minister of Defense. Papen has practically no support in the Reichstag except from the DNVP (Conservative German National People's Party). So, he forms a "cabinet of barons" meant to be independent of parties. Two members of the cabinet are corporate CEO's, and five are members of the aristocracy.
M. François-Poncet, the French ambassador in Berlin, wrote: "The President's choice [of von Papen] met with incredulity. No one but smiled or tittered or laughed because Papen enjoyed the peculiarity of being taken seriously by neither his friends nor his enemies . . . . He was reputed to be superficial, blundering, untrue, ambitious, vain, crafty and an intriguer."
Papen's chancellorship has been brought about through the intrigues of General Kurt von Schleicher, who is heard to boast: "I′m not the soul of the cabinet, but I am perhaps its will." When asked "Why Papen?" in private, von Schleicher will say: "In most things there must be a certain frivolity. People sometimes say that Herr von Papen is frivolous. But that is what we need." When it was pointed out that von Papen is a man without a head, the new Reich Minister of Defense explained: "He doesn't need a head. His job is to be a hat."
May 31, 1932:
Konstantin Freiherr von Neurath—a 58-year-old career diplomat serving as the Reich Ambassador to Britain—receives a telegram from the German Foreign Office:
The Reich President requests you, in view of your former promise, to take over the Foreign Ministry in the presidential cabinet now being formed, which will be made up of rightwing personalities free from political party allegiance, and will be supported not so much by the Reichstag, as by the authority of the Reich President. The Reich President addresses an urgent appeal to you not to refuse your services to the fatherland in this difficult hour. Should you not be able to give an affirmative answer immediately, I ask you to return at once.
June 2, 1932:
Konstantin von Neurath is appointed Chancellor von Papen's Reich Minister of Foreign Affairs.
Konstantin von Neurath: Already in 1929, after Stresemann's death, Hindenburg had wanted to appoint me Foreign Minister. At that time I refused, because in view of the party conditions existing in the Reichstag in those days, I saw no possibility for a stable foreign policy. I was not a member of any of the 30 or so parties, so that I would not have been able to have found any kind of support in the Reichstag of those days. Hindenburg, however, obtained my promise that I would answer his call if the fatherland should find itself in an emergency . . . .
June 2, 1932:
I was not the least bit keen on taking over the post of Foreign Minister at that time. I liked my post as Ambassador in London, enjoyed good relations there with the Government and the Royal Family, and I was hoping, therefore, that I could continue to be of service to both countries, Great Britain and Germany. I could not simply overlook Hindenburg's appeal, but even then I did not decide until after I had had a lengthy personal discussion with him, in which I stated my own aims and ideas regarding German foreign policy, and in which I assured myself of his support of a peaceful development, and the means of attaining equality for Germany, the strengthening of her position in the council of nations, and the regaining of sovereignty over German national territory.
In pursuit of their respective agendas, Communists and Nazis combine forces in the Prussian diet and pass a no-confidence motion against the Braun government.
June 3, 1932:
Chancellor von Papen resigns from the Zentrum, just before he is to be expelled for his betrayal of Brüning.
June 3, 1932:
Schleicher travels to Mecklenburg-Schwerin to meet secretly with Hitler, who is campaigning for the upcoming Landtag elections. All is proceeding as planned.
June 4, 1932:
President Hindenburg dissolves the Reichstag, as von Schleicher had promised in his "gentlemen′s agreement" with Hitler. The election is scheduled for July 31, 1932, the latest date allowed by law. Goebbels would have preferred that the election be held sooner: "The longer the contest beforehand, the better for our opponents. We shall have our work cut out to make up for this."
It is during this election cycle that the story of Hitler's antecedents is revealed in a Vienna newspaper, the Sonn-und-Montags Zeitung, under the headline HEIL SCHICKLGRUBER! The spurious story sells many papers, but only voters who are already predisposed against the Nazi Führer pay it much heed.
For the first time as Reich Chancellor, von Papen meets with Hitler. Hitler frankly informs him: "I regard your Cabinet only as a temporary solution and will continue my efforts to make my party the strongest in the country. The Chancellorship will then devolve on me.
From Papen's IMT testimony: The aim of the talk was to determine under what conditions Hitler would be willing to tolerate my Government. My program contained so many points in the social field that an approval of that program by the National Socialists was to be expected. Hitler's condition for such an approval of the Government program was the lifting of the ban on uniforms for the SS; that is, the political equalization of his party with the other parties. I agreed to that at that time; all the more so as the ban of the SS by the Brüning Government was an obvious injustice. The SS, or rather the SA, had been prohibited; but the uniformed formations of the Socialists and the Communists, that is, the 'Rotiront' and the 'Reichsbanner,' had not been prohibited. The result of my promise to Hitler was that Hitler obligated himself to tolerate my Government.
[For a more comprehensive telling of Hitler's rise to power, complete with detailed source notes and references,
, Click here
With the lifting of the SA ban, the political violence in Germany reaches epidemic proportions. Over 500 recorded street battles, mostly between Nazis and Communists, take place in Prussia alone. Deaths amount to 99, and 1,125 are seriously wounded between June 1 and July 20, 1932.
At least least 82 people are killed and 400 wounded in nearly 500 pitched battles between Nazis and Communists in Prussia alone.
June 16, 1932
The Lausanne conference begins as representatives from Great Britain, Germany, and France meet in Lausanne, Switzerland. Also: Reich Chancellor von Papen places a 1 month ban on the wearing of uniforms to political demonstrations.
July 9, 1932:
The Lausanne Conference ends, resulting in an agreement to suspend World War I reparations payments, imposed on the defeated countries by the Treaty of Versailles. However, the elimination altogether of Germany's war reparations, as well as her acquired debt, are effectively contingent on coming to an agreement with the US, whereby the outstanding war debts of Britain, France, and Belgium (among others) would be forgiven as well. When the US Congress, in December 1932, refused to ratify the plan, the terms of the previous agreement, the Young Plan, remained in force. In the event, Germany would make no more payments as the entire structure of the post-war reparations regime is, and remains, in tatters. Germany will, all told, pay only one-fifth of the total owed under the terms of the Treaty of Versailles.
From Papen's IMT testimony: At the conclusion of the Lausanne Conference, I told Macdonald and Herriot, 'You must provide me with a foreign political success, for my Government is the last bourgeois government in Germany. After me there will be only extremists of the Right and the Left.' But they did not believe me, and I returned from Lausanne with only partial success...
In the first place, I had to sign it because otherwise the conference would have ended in a complete failure and Germany would have been confronted with an economic vacuum. We were faced also with the Reichstag election and I had to try to make the best of the situation.
Hjalmar Schacht: From the very first moment, after the reparations were determined in 1921 or so, I fought against this nonsense with the argument that the carrying out of those reparations would throw the entire world into economic chaos. I fought against it and, as time went by, I did succeed in convincing the people of almost all the countries that this was sheer nonsense. Therefore, in July of 1932, if I am not mistaken, the then Reich Chancellor Papen was in a position to affix his signature to an agreement at Lausanne, which reduced reparations, de jure, to a pending sum of 3,000,000,000, and which, de facto, canceled reparations altogether.
July 12, 1932:
Reich Chancellor von Papen on the Lausanne Conference, as quoted in the Trierische Landeszeitung
But just as little as we are unable to erase by a one-sided act the signatures given since 1918 by former governments, just as little was this possible with regard to the solemn obligations which were undertaken by the then governing parties in the name of the German people. The present Government simply had to liquidate a situation which had been created by all the former governments since the signing of the Versailles Treaty. The question as to whether this situation can be liquidated by Germany's denying the validity of her signature and thus, at the same time, placing herself outside the conception of cultural and other standards, must be answered with an emphatic 'no.’
July 17, 1932:
The Altona Bloody Sunday (Altonaer Blutsonntag
) occurs in the independent city of Altona, (now the westernmost urban borough [Bezirk] of Hamburg). Seventeen people die, and sixty-four are injured—most by stray police bullets—when 7,000 Nazi SA and SS units march through the workers' quarter of Prussian Altona, and are attacked by Altona's Communist residents.
July 17, 1932:
In response to the surge in political violence, Chancellor von Papen bans public parades by all parties until after the July 31 election.
July 20, 1932:
Reich Chancellor Franz von Papen issues an emergency decree, declaring martial law, and dismissing the cabinet of the Free State of Prussia under Otto Braun and Carl Severing. General Gerd von Rundstedt, the Reichswehr commander in Berlin, arrests Police Commissioner Grzesinski and his deputy, Bernhard 'Isidor' Weiss, whom Goebbels has made his arch-enemy. Altogether, Weiss had filed seventeen defamation suits against him, none of which will ever come to court.
Papen takes personal control of the Prussian government, and appoints himself Reich Commissioner. Burgomaster Bracht of Essen becomes his Deputy, and Prussian Minister of the Interior. Prussian Communists respond by calling for a general strike. No other party answers the call, and no effective strike materializes. So-called "Red Prussia" is defeated without a shot. Hitler, observing the manner in which the two largest working-class institutions in Germany—the trade unions and the Social Democratic Party—had allowed, with barely a protest, the unconstitutional take-over of Prussia by von Papen's government, draws certain conclusions.
July 23, 1932:
The two-year Geneva "Conference for the Reduction and Limitation of Armaments," which has been in session since February 2, adjourns. No agreement has been reached concerning the demand by Germany to be granted equality of armaments with the other powers. Though the Conference had begun while Brüning was in power, and the aim of equality had originally been his, von Papen had endorsed and adopted this policy. The failure to positively address Germany's aims by the Conference is seen as yet another defeat of von Papen's ineffectual "cabinet of barons" government.
July 26, 1932:
Five days before the Reichstag election, Reich Minister of Defense von Schleicher proclaims:
I am no friend of military dictatorship. I regard the dictatorial government of the armed forces in Germany as absolutely impossible . . . . The government must be supported by a strong popular sentiment . . . . [As to the question of the Junkers], the Reichswehr is not a force to protect any classes or interested persons, and no more does it want to protect any obsolete economic forms or untenable property relations.
From a recorded Hitler speech:
Destiny has given Germany's present rulers more than thirteen years to prove themselves and to show what they can do. They themselves pronounce the most damning judgment on themselves, for by the very nature of their propaganda today they acknowledge the failure of their efforts. Once they wanted to govern Germany better than it had been governed in the past, and all they can say about their art of governing is that Germany and the German People are not yet dead. [For the full text
, Click here
Hjalmar Schacht assists Nazi activist Wilhelm Keppler to organize a petition of industrial leaders, requesting that President Hindenburg nominate Adolf Hitler as Chancellor of Germany. Among those who will sign are the general manager of Vereinigte Stahlwerke
(United Steel), Albert Voegler, and banker Kurt von Schroder.
July 30, 1932:
German Chancellor von Papen vents in public:
The world does not realize that Germany is confronted with a civil war. The world did not help us to overcome our difficulties at Lausanne, and it is unbearable that, 14 years after the end of the war, there is no equality of rights for us.
Papen: When I was Chancellor of Germany, in 1932, Schacht came to see me in July or August while I was at home. He said, "Here’s a very intelligent man." It was in the presence of my wife, and I have never forgotten it. He said, "Give him your position. Give it to Hitler. He is the only man who can save Germany."
July 31, 1932:
Hitler's party wins big in the 7th Reichstag election of the Weimar Republic. 13,745,680 Germans vote for the Nazis, making the NSDAP Germany’s largest political party, with 230 seats. But they still fall far short of a majority in the 608-member body. Walter Funk is elected a Reichstag deputy. Göring, with backing from the Catholic Center Party, assumes the Presidency of the Reichstag. But with no party possessing a majority, no coalition can be formed, to create a governing majority. Papen's minority government thus continues by default, which will lead to yet another election—the fourth in five months—in November.
From Papen's IMT testimony: The election of 31 July brought more than a doubling of the Nazi votes, from 6.4 million to 13.7 million votes, or 230 members of the Reichstag as against 110. The conclusions to be drawn from the results of this election were that no majority could be formed, from the extreme right to the Social Democrats, without the NSDAP. With that, the Party had achieved a parliamentary key position. The Prosecution is trying to ascribe the increase of the Nazi vote to the lifting of the ban on uniforms. That is an explanation which is altogether too simple. Actually, the ban on uniforms was lifted from 16 June till 18 July, for 1 month. And already 2 weeks prior to the election I had issued a decree prohibiting demonstrations. The real reason for the increase in the Nazi votes was the desperate economic situation of Germany and the fact of the general disappointment about the lack of foreign political successes at Lausanne.
August 6, 1932:
Hitler meets with Defense Minister von Schleicher in Furstenberg, fifty miles north of Berlin. Hitler lays out his demands. He must be made chancellor, with Wilhelm Frick in the Interior Ministry, Gregor Strasser in the Labor Ministry, Hermann Göring in the Air Ministry, and a new Ministry for the People's Education (Volkserziehung
) must be created for Josef Goebbels. An Enabling Bill will then be presented to the Reichstag. If they fail to pass it, the Reichstag will be dissolved. Hitler seems to be so certain that this meeting will lead to his chancellorship, that he suggests to von Schleicher that a historical marker will have to be erected there.
August 9, 1932:
Chancellor von Papen issues an emergency decree setting up special courts to try cases of premeditated political murder, a crime calling for death penalty by order of the decree.
August 10, 1932:
Hindenburg arrives in Berlin and meets with Chancellor von Papen, who suggests that Hitler be made chancellor in a "brown-black" parliamentary majority, made up of the Zentrum and the NSDAP. Hindenburg is adamant in his refusal to consider such a thing. He will not, under any circumstance, make that "Bohemian corporal" chancellor of the Reich.
August 11, 1932:
On the thirteenth anniversary of the ratification of the Weimar Constitution, Papen's interior minister, Baron Wilhelm von Gayl, proclaims the cabinet's intention to alter the document by limiting the size of the voter franchise, ending proportional representation, and creating of an upper chamber in order to diminish the power of the Reichstag.
August 13, 1932:
A very contentious noon meeting between von Schleicher, Hitler, Röhm, and Frick breaks out into violent argument, which continues in the presence of Chancellor von Papen, who later recalled only that he had a long discussion with Hitler, impressing upon him "the necessity of his participation, and my own readiness to resign as chancellor in a few months, if the co-operation should prove successful, and after von Hindenburg had gained confidence in Hitler . . . . I made an offer to Hitler that he should enter my Cabinet as Vice-Chancellor. Hitler declined."
August 13, 1932:
At 4:15 P.M., Hitler, Röhm, and Frick, meet with Hindenburg, who is attended by the Chief of the Presidential Chancellery, Otto Meissner, Chancellor von Papen, and Defense Minister von Schleicher. The eighty-five year old Reich President stands, leaning on his cane, throughout the interview, forcing the others to stand as well. Hindenburg is in a no-nonsense mood, taking control of the meeting from the outset. "Herr Hitler, I have only one question to address to you," he begins, "Are you prepared to offer me your collaboration in the Papen cabinet?"
From minutes of the meeting kept by Otto Meissner: Herr Hitler declared that, for reasons which he had explained in detail to the Reich President that morning, his taking any part in cooperation with the existing government was out of the question. Considering the importance of the National Socialist movement, he must demand the leadership of the state to its full extent [die Staatsfuehrung in vollem Umfange] for himself and his party. The Reich President in reply said firmly that he must answer this demand with a clear, unyielding No. He could not justify before God, before his conscience, or before the Fatherland the transfer of the whole authority of government to a single party, especially to a party that was biased against people who had different views from their own. There were a number of other reasons against it, upon which he did not wish to enlarge in detail, such as fear of increased unrest, the effect on foreign countries, etc. Herr Hitler repeated that any other solution was unacceptable to him. To this the Reich President replied: "So you will go into opposition?" Hitler: "I have now no alternative."
At this point Hindenburg, with a certain show of excitement, referred to several recent occurrences—clashes between the Nazis and the police, acts of violence committed by Hitler's followers against those of different opinions, excesses against Jews, and other illegal acts. All these incidents had strengthened him in his conviction that there were numerous wild elements in the Party, beyond effective control. Conflicts with other states had also to be avoided under all circumstances.
Hindenburg proposed to Hitler that he should cooperate with the other parties, in particular with the Right and the Centre, and that he should give up the one-sided idea that he must have complete power. In cooperating with other parties he would be able to show what he could achieve and improve upon. If he could show positive results, he would acquire increasing influence even in a coalition government. This would also be the best way to eliminate the widespread fear that a National Socialist government would make ill use of its power. Hindenburg added that he was ready to accept Hitler and his movement in a coalition government, the precise composition of which could be a subject of negotiation, but that he could not take the responsibility of giving exclusive power to Hitler alone . . . . Hitler, however, was adamant in his refusal to put himself in the position of bargaining with the leaders of the other parties, and of facing a coalition government.
Hindenburg is polite and correct as he dismisses Hitler's bid, which does little to diminish Hitler's barely-controlled rage over the result. As Hitler and his party are leaving the Presidential Chancellery, Chancellor von Papen calls after them: "If you had been prepared to enter the government, you would in any case have been, within three weeks, where you wanted to be today." In the evening, Goebbels tells his diary: "The notion of the Führer as Vice-Chancellor of a bourgeois cabinet is too grotesque to be taken seriously."
August 13, 1932:
Immediately following the meeting with Hindenburg, the Chief of the Presidential Chancellery, Otto Meissner, issues a press release setting forth the government spin on what had occurred. Taking the Nazi Führer to task for going back on his pledge to support the von Papen government, in return for the lifting of the SA ban, Hindenburg had "gravely exhorted Herr Hitler to conduct the opposition on the part of the N.S. Party in a chivalrous manner, and to bear in mind his responsibility to the Fatherland and to the German people." Unless and until the Reich President could be convinced that Hitler's "demand for entire and complete control of the State" would not result in giving power to "a movement which had the intention of using it in a one-sided manner," Hindenburg would continue to deny Hitler the chancellorship. Not surprisingly, Hitler is furious over this press release, as it puts him in a very bad light. With a straight face, he accuses the government of not acting in good faith by releasing its version of the meeting. His whining is taken seriously by hardly anyone. Hitler has lost much face in this exchange, prompting him to vow that a repeat performance will never again occur.
German racial comrades! Anyone amongst you who possesses any feeling for the struggle for the nation's honor and freedom will understand why I am refusing to enter this government. Herr von Papen's justice will in the end condemn perhaps thousands of National Socialists to death. Did anyone think they could put my name as well to this blindly aggressive action, this challenge to the entire people? The gentlemen are mistaken! Herr von Papen, now I know what your bloodstained 'objectivity' is! I want victory for a nationalistic Germany, and annihilation for its Marxist destroyers and corrupters. I am not suited to be the hangman of nationalist freedom fighters of the German people!
August 13, 1932:
Hitler calls an urgent meeting with Röhm and the top available SA leadership. The SA men have been quite restless. For a very long time, they have been expecting the great day when they can bust open the heads of their enemies with impunity. Hitler warns that this current setback could have dangerous consequences among the ranks, and urges them to keep control of their men. We can still take power legally, he assures them, but it will require patience all around. Hitler then orders all units to take a two-week furlough. Goebbels tells his diary: "'Their task is the most difficult. Who knows if their units will be able to hold together. Nothing is more difficult than to tell victory-flushed troops that victory has been snatched out of their hand . . . . The SA Chief of Staff (Röhm) stays with us for a long time. He is extremely worried about the SA."
August 13, 1932:
Formal talks begin between the NSDAP, Brüning, and the Catholic Center Party. Gregor Strasser is enthusiastic, but Hitler, never one for coalitions, refuses to assist Strasser in the endeavor, furthering the split between the two. The meetings will drag on for weeks, to no useful conclusion. In his diary, Goebbels later lays out the possible options that the talks present:
We have got into touch with the Centre Party, if merely by way of bringing pressure to bear upon our adversaries . . . . There are three possibilities. Firstly: Presidential Cabinet. Secondly: Coalition. Thirdly: Opposition . . . . In Berlin, I ascertain that Schleicher already knows of our feelers in the direction of the Centre. That is a way of bringing pressure to bear on him. I endorse and further it. Perhaps we shall succeed thus in expediting the first of these solutions.
August 19-22, 1932:
The trial of the seven SA men charged in the Potempa Murder takes place in Beuthen, Silesia. It is the lead story in all the newspapers, and concludes with 5 of the 7 SA men sentenced to death by hanging. Nazis everywhere raise a fuss.
August 22, 1932:
Adolf Hitler, the leader of Germany's largest political party, sends off a telegram to the five convicted murderers of Konrad Pietrzuch: "My comrades! In view of this most monstrous verdict in blood (Bluturteil), I feel tied to you in unbounded loyalty. Your freedom is from this moment on a question of our honor. The struggle against a government under which this was possible is our duty!" Hitler's picture is said to be displayed on the walls of their prison cells.
August 26, 1932:
Goebbels meets with von Schleicher in Berlin:
Although he [von Schleicher] outwardly betrays nothing, he is, in reality, in deadly fear of a possible union of the Führer with the Centre . . . . He will accept a coalition, but not join it himself. His idea is a Presidential Cabinet; if it comes to nothing, he will resign . . . . I don't know if what he says is true or false. Either way, I have the impression that they want to lure us into a trap again. They are trying in a devious way to obtain the result they failed to achieve on 13 August. They believe they can scare us with the dissolution of the Reichstag—a little nationalist plan that we shall soon frustrate. I report by phone to the Führer; he agrees with everything.
August 28, 1932:
German Chancellor von Papen, who is speaking in Munster on his plans to rule by presidential emergency decree should the next Reichstag prove obstructionist, criticizes Hitler for his August 22 telegram of unity with the Potempa Murderers:
The licentiousness emanating from the appeal of the leader of the National Socialist movement does not comply very well with his claims to governmental power . . . . I do not concede him the right to regard only the minority following his banner as the German nation—and to treat all other fellow countrymen as free game . . . . I shall, if necessary, force recognition of the equal justice that is the right of all German citizens. I am firmly resolved to stamp out the smoldering flame of civil war.
August 29, 1932:
Hitler responds to the Reich Chancellor:
Those of you who possess a feel for the struggle for the honor and freedom of the nation will understand why I refused to enter this bourgeois government. With this deed [the death sentences for the Potempa Murderers], our attitude towards this national cabinet is prescribed once and for all . . . . Herr von Papen, I understand your bloody "objectivity" now. I wish that victory may come to nationalist Germany and destruction upon its Marxist destroyers and spoilers, but I am certainly not fitted to be the executioner of nationalist fighters for the liberty of the German people.
August 29, 1932:
Schacht writes to Hitler:
But what you could perhaps do with in these days, is a kind word. Your movement is carried internally by so strong a truth and necessity that victory in one form or another cannot elude you for long . . . . Wherever my work may take me in the near future, even if you should see me one day behind stone walls, you can always count on me as your reliable assistant . . . . With a vigorous Heil.
August 30, 1932:
Reich President Hindenburg tells Papen that perhaps it would be best to commute the death sentences of the Potempa Murderers to life imprisonment. After all, Hindenburg reasons, since the emergency decree that forms the basis for the sentences was issued mere hours before the murder, the perpetrators could hardly be expected to have been aware of it. Chancellor von Papen, using this shaky logic to save face, commutes the sentences, as Hindenburg suggests. Note: The Potempa Murderers will be pardoned when Hitler gains power in 1933.
August 30, 1932:
At the first sitting of the new Reichstag, Hermann Göring—with backing from the Catholic Center Party, but over the opposition of the Social Democrats and Communists—becomes Reichstag President. Anticipating trouble, Chancellor von Papen convinces Reich President Hindenburg to draw up a dissolution order to be used, should the proceedings threaten his government. Von Papen believes that he has prepared for all contingencies.
September 2, 1932:
Chancellor von Papen pens an article, published this day in the Frankfurter Zeitung
The hope in the hearts of millions of national socialists can be fulfilled only by an authoritarian government. The problem of forming a cabinet on the basis of a parliamentary coalition has again been brought into the field of public political discussion. If such negotiations, in the face of growing distress, are conducted with the [motive] of destroying the political opponent by the failure of his governmental activity, this is a dangerous game against which one cannot warn enough. In the last analysis, such plans can mean nothing else but a tactic [that] counts on the possibility that matters will get worse for the people and that the faith of millions will turn into the bitterest disappointment, if these tactics only result in the destruction of the political adversary.
September 4, 1932:
It is within the nature of such party-tactical maneuvers that they are veiled and will be disclaimed in public. That, however, cannot prevent me from warning publicly against such plans, about which it may be undecided who is the betrayer and who the betrayed one; plans, though, which will certainly cheat the German people out of their hope for improvement of their situation. Nothing can prove more urgently the necessity for an authoritarian government than such a prospect of maneuvers of a tactical game by the parties.
To revitalize the failing economy, Chancellor von Papen issues an emergency decree "involving [an economic stimulus package of] 2,200 million Reichsmarks, with the aim of creating work for many workers." 280,000 unemployed will participate in this program—"voluntary labor service"—working under difficult conditions for little remuneration. They are organized in military formations to provide labor for roads, bridges, and other infrastructure projects. Hitler will use much the same methods during the Third Reich, to build the autobahns and to operate other public works projects, and to help reduce the unemployment rate.
From Papen's IMT testimony: It concerned a program involving 2,200 million Reichsmark with the aim of creating work for many workers. We made this gigantic effort without increasing our foreign debt by a penny. It was, if I may characterize it in these words, the straining of our utmost and our last reserves of strength. The success became noticeable already in the first month through a decrease of 123,000 in the number of unemployed.
September 12, 1932:
At the first working session of the current Reichstag, a series of parliamentary moves of the most cynical sort set in motion a no-confidence vote against the government of Chancellor von Papen. To forestall this move, von Papen enters the Reichstag carrying a red dispatch box, which everyone knows holds a dissolution order signed by Hindenburg. The Reich Chancellor, unless the chamber is actually voting, has, at all times, the privilege of addressing the Reichstag, but Göring, the President of the Reichstag, ignores him and initiates the vote. Out of frustration, von Papen angrily slams the dissolution order on Göring's desk and storms out of the chamber, followed by jeers and catcalls from the legislators.
From Papen's IMT testimony: The new Reichstag met according to the Constitution. My Government...could not obtain a majority; but the formation of any other government without Hitler was quite impossible. Therefore, I was justified in the hope that this Reichstag would give my Government time to test itself, especially as I had submitted to it a comprehensive and decisive economic program. But just then something unexpected and unheard-of happened. The thing that happened was, so to speak, the prostitution of the German Parliament. Herr Göring, the President of the German Reichstag, gave to the Communist delegate, Clara Zetkin, the floor for a vehement attack on my Government.
When I, the responsible Chancellor of this Government, asked for the floor in order to give an account of what I wanted to do, I was refused permission to speak, and the Reichstag President asked for a vote on a motion of no confidence brought in by the Communists, the Socialists and the National Socialists. The fact of this concerted motion on the part of the three parties should really show what would have taken place in Germany if these three parties were to have ruled in Germany together, and should also show how imperative it was for me to try not to crowd National Socialism into the leftist wing, but to bring it into my Government instead. I was forced to put the order for the dissolution of the Reichstag on the table, and to leave.
The Reichstag goes on to uphold the no-confidence vote against the government by a margin of 512 votes to 42. Göring now pretends to notice von Papen's dissolution order for the first time, reads it out loud, and proclaims that it is superfluous; the government is already dissolved by the just-concluded vote in the Reichstag. However, the move is clearly illegal. The government continues in power, as the no-confidence vote had been rendered by a dissolved Reichstag, Göring's parliamentary maneuvers notwithstanding. New Reichstag elections, the 8th such election in the Weimar Republic, are scheduled for November 6. These are the fifth nationwide elections of the year, and very few in Germany are prepared for yet another campaign, Hitler's party in particular.
Goebbels, aware that the party is experiencing a "financial calamity," soon moves his propaganda offices from Munich to the new Nazi District Headquarters in Berlin. Even so, he manages to up the publication of Der Angriff
to twice-daily for the duration of the campaign. Over the next month, he will moan to his diary:
Now we are in for elections again! One sometimes feels this sort of thing is going on for ever . . . . Our adversaries count on our losing morale, and getting fagged out. But we know this and will not oblige them. We would be lost and all our work would have been in vain if we gave in now . . . . even if the struggle should seem hopeless . . . . The organization has naturally become a bit on edge through these everlasting elections. It is as jaded as a battalion [that] has been too long in the trenches, and just as nervy. The numerous difficulties are wearing me out . . . . Money is extraordinarily difficult to obtain. All gentlemen of "Property and Education" are standing by the Government.
September 14, 1932:
Germany notifies the President of the Conference for the Reduction and Limitation of Armaments of its decision to withdraw from the Conference.
Konstantin von Neurath: The Disarmament Conference had been created by the League of Nations for the purpose of bringing about the disarmament of all nations, which was provided for in Article 8 as an equivalent for the German disarmament which had already been carried out by 1927. The negotiations during this Disarmament Conference were, however, suspended after a short time, despite the objections of the German representatives. The preceding negotiations and this adjournment made it quite clear, even at that time, that those states which had not disarmed were not prepared to carry through their own disarmament in accordance with the standards and methods applied to Germany's previous disarmament. This fact made it impossible for Germany to accept a resolution which had been proposed to the Disarmament Conference at this time, and the German representative therefore received instructions to declare that Germany would not participate in the work of the Disarmament Conference as long as Germany's equal right to equal participation in the results of the conference was not recognized.
The number of unemployed in Germany stands at 5,102,000.
October 13, 1932:
Embattled Reich Chancellor von Papen, speaking in Munich, attacks Hitler and his party.
The essence of conservative ideology is its being anchored in the divine order of things. That, too, is its fundamental difference compared with the doctrine advocated by the NSDAP. The principle of 'exclusiveness' of a political 'everything or nothing' which the latter adheres to, its mythical Messiah-belief in the bombastic Führer who alone is destined to direct fate, gives it the character of a political sect. And therein I see the unbridgeable cleavage between a conservative policy born of faith and a national-socialist creed as a matter of politics. It seems to me that today names and individuals are unimportant when Germany's final fate is at stake. What the nation demands is this: it expects of a movement which has written upon its banner the internal and external national freedom that it will act, at all times and under all circumstances, as if it were the spiritual, social and political conscience of the nation. If it does not act that way; if this movement follows merely tactical points of view, democratic-parliamentarian points of view, if it engages in the soliciting of mass support using demagogic agitation as a means of proletarian class struggle then it is not a movement any more, it has become a political party. And, indeed, the Reich was almost destroyed by the political parties. One simply cannot, on one side, despise mercilessly masses and majorities, as Herr Hitler is doing, and on the other hand surrender to parliamentarian democracy; surrender to the extent of adopting resolutions against one's own government together with Bolshevists.
October 19, 1932:
Twenty-one representatives of German industry meet, in a national political conclave, at the Club of Berlin. They agree to immediately raise a political fund of two million marks, as von Papen had requested, to strengthen his hand.
November 2, 1932:
Hitler compares himself to von Papen before a huge crowd at the Sportpalast in Berlin: "There [referring to von Papen] the head of a government which depends on a small circle of reactionaries, a government on which the German people with 512 to 42 votes has given its devastating verdict; here [referring to himself] a leader of his own strength, rooted in the people, who has worked and struggled to gain trust . . . . My opponents deceive themselves above all about my enormous determination. I've chosen my path and will follow it to its end."
November 4, 1932:
Papen addresses an open letter to Hitler:
It is the exclusiveness of your Movement, your demand for everything or nothing, which the Reich President could not recognize and which led to his decision of 13 August. What is at stake today is this: The question is not whether this or that party leader occupies the Chancellor's chair, whether his name is Brüning, Hitler, or Von Papen, but rather that we meet on common ground so that the vital interests of the German people can be assured.
November 6, 1932:
The 8th Reichstag election of the Weimar Republic fails to break the parliamentary deadlock. A very low turnout at the polls, combined with marginal gains by the Communists and the DNVP, cause the NSDAP to lose 2 million voters and 34 seats, retaining 186 seats. 11,737,021 Germans vote Nazi, which is 33.09% of the total. The electoral results are no cause for victory, as Goebbels tells his diary: "A somber mood prevails in the Gau of Berlin. There is widespread despair among the voters."
Again, the formation of a majority in the Reichstag is possible only with Hitler. Without him, no majority can be formed. (Not even the most prescient could have reason to suspect that this is the last free and fair election that will be held in a unified Germany until December of 1990.)
November 8, 1932:
Franklin Delano Roosevelt is elected President of the United States.
November 10, 1932:
In the House of Commons, the British Secretary of Foreign Affairs, Sir John Simon, declares that Britain recognizes, in principle, the German claim to equal military rights.
November 12, 1932:
Hindenburg's office receives a petition asking him to appoint Hitler as his new Chancellor zur Bekampfung des Bolschewismus
(to combat Bolshevism). Thirty-nine prominent German industrialists and businessmen signed the document, but, since it was destroyed during the war, it is not known who they were.
Schacht writes to Hitler: I have no doubt that the present development of things can only lead to your becoming Chancellor. It seems as if our attempt to collect a number of signatures from business circles for this purpose is not altogether in vain.
November 13, 1932:
Papen writes to Hitler:
A new situation has arisen through the elections of November the 6th, and at the same time a new opportunity for a consolidation of all nationalist elements. The Reich President has instructed me to find out by conversations with the leaders of the individual parties concerned whether and how far they are ready to support the carrying out of the political and economic program on which the Reich Government has embarked. Although the National Socialist press has been writing that it is a naive attempt for Reich Chancellor Von Papen to try to confer with personalities representing the nationalist concentration, and that there can only be one answer, 'No negotiations with Papen,' I would consider it neglecting my duties, and I would be unable to justify it to my own conscience, if I did not approach you in the spirit of the order given to me.
November 17, 1932:
I am quite aware from the papers that you are maintaining your demands to be entrusted with the Chancellor's Office, and I am equally aware of the continued existence of the reasons for the decision of August the 13th. I need not assure you again that I myself do not claim any personal consideration at all. All the same, I am of the opinion that the leader of so great a national movement, whose merits for people and country I have always recognized in spite of necessary criticism, should not refuse to enter into discussions on the situation and the decisions required with the presently leading and responsible German statesman. We must attempt to forget the bitterness of the elections and to place the cause of the country which we are mutually serving above all other considerations.
Chancellor von Papen, after admitting to Hindenburg that he has been unable to build a ruling coalition, resigns.
November 17, 1932:
Göring, Rosenberg, and Hjalmar Schacht are in Italy, ostensibly attending a "European Congress" sponsored by the Roman Academy of Sciences. In fact, they were engaged in trying to talk Mussolini into giving the party a loan. Göring is seated next to Mussolini—a seat of honor—at a state banquet, when word reaches him that the von Papen government had fallen.
November 18, 1932:
Early in the morning, Göring asks Mussolini, for the sake of German Fascism, to help expedite his return to Berlin. His Führer needs him to assist with Hindenburg. Göring is flown to Venice on an Italian government plane, to catch a flight to Germany, arriving in Berlin six hours later.
November 18, 1932:
During a meeting with the Reich President, Alfred Hugenberg gives his opinion of the Nazi leader: "His entire manner of handling political affairs makes it very difficult, in my opinion, to give him leadership. At any rate, I have grave doubts." Hindenburg replies: "My dear young friend, you have spoken out of my own heart! . . . . One can't put a house painter in Bismarck's chair."
November 19, 1932:
In the first of a series of face-to-face meetings, Hindenburg allows Hitler a chair, and allows him to speak for nearly an hour before personally appealing to him to participate with the other parties to form a workable majority government. Hitler replies that he has no interest in forming any other government but one headed by himself as Reich Chancellor. Hitler promises that, once he is in power, he will be in the best position of any recent chancellor to obtain a mandate from the Reichstag in the form of an enabling act. In this manner, Hitler vows, the problem of frequent elections will be resolved. Trust me.
November 21, 1932:
Suspecting that von Schleicher is thinking of making Hjalmar Schacht the next chancellor, Hitler has Schacht write a declaration that he will not serve as chancellor, because that job should go to the Nazi Führer. "If Hitler does not become Chancellor today," von Papen wrote, "he will in four months. He can wait."
From Goebbels’ Diary:
"In a conversation with Dr. Schacht, I assured myself that he absolutely shares our point of view. He is one of the few who stand immovable behind the Führer.
November 21, 1932:
During a 10-minute meeting with Hitler, Hindenburg cuts to the chaff:
You have declared that you will only place your movement at the disposal of a government, of which you, the leader of the Party, are the head. If I consider your proposal, I must demand that such a Cabinet should have a majority in the Reichstag. Accordingly, I ask you, as the leader of the largest party, to ascertain, if and on what conditions, you could obtain a secure workable majority in the Reichstag on a definite program.
November 24, 1932:
During the course of another Hitler-Hindenburg meeting, Hitler is offered the office of Vice-Chancellor. Hitler remains adamant that he is entitled to nothing less than the Chancellorship. Hindenburg refuses. Later, he will defend his refusal to give in to Hitler's demands by explaining that 'a presidential cabinet led by Hitler would necessarily develop into a party dictatorship with all its consequences for an extreme aggravation of the conflicts within the German people.'
November 25, 1932:
Reich President Hindenburg receives a report from Monsignor Kaas that the attempt has been in vain, that the leader of the Nazi faction (Frick, at that time) had stated that the Party would not be interested in such discussions. Therefore, it is impossible to form a majority government without Hitler.
Thirty-nine prominent German industrialists and businessmen petition Hindenburg to appoint Hitler as his new Chancellor. Hindenburg again refuses.
December 1, 1932:
Schleicher sends Lieutenant-Colonel Eugen Ott, his key aide, to meet with Hitler in Weimar. Hitler holds to his demands. General von Schleicher now shifts his personal attention to yet another Nazi, with perhaps more potential to advance his schemes. Note: Eugen Ott will one day be Hitler's ambassador to Tokyo.
December 1, 1932:
In the evening, Defense Minister von Schleicher and Chancellor von Papen meet with Reich President Hindenburg. The meeting does not go well for the Reich Chancellor, who later testified as to the meetings details:
From Papen's IMT testimony: The attempt to include the Nazi movement into the Presidential Cabinet of Hindenburg had twice failed. Hitler equally refuses to form a majority government. On the other hand, he is exercising a tremendous amount of opposition and is trying to have all my decrees rescinded by the Reichstag. If therefore there is no possibility to form a parliamentary government or to include Hitler in our Government without making him Chancellor, then a state of emergency has arisen which requires extraordinary measures.
Therefore, I proposed a recess of Parliament for several months and immediate preparation of a constitutional reform bill later to be presented to the Reichstag or to a national assembly. This proposal involved a violation of the Constitution. I emphasized that I knew how the great soldier and statesman cherished the sacredness of his oath, but my conscience led me to believe that a violation of the Constitution seemed to be justified in view of the extraordinary situation, for which the German Constitution provided no remedy. Then Herr Von Schleicher spoke. He said: 'Field Marshal, I have a plan which will make it unnecessary for you to break your oath to the Constitution, if you are willing to put the Government into my hands. I hope that I will be able to obtain a parliamentary majority in the Reichstag by splitting the National Socialist Party.' During the discussion of this plan, I said that it was doubtful to me whether a splitting of the Party which had sworn loyalty to Hitler could be achieved. I reminded the Field Marshal of the fact that he should free himself of weak parliamentary majorities through a basic reform. However, the proposals were thrown overboard through the solution offered by Schleicher.
Defense Minister von Schleicher has Gregor Strasser in mind, as the tool he can use to split the ranks of the Nazi Party. He intends to offer Strasser, and a few of his followers, cabinet positions. Von Schleicher supposes that, in this manner, he can split off an estimated sixty NSDAP Reichstag deputies, and fatally weaken Hitler's party.
December 3, 1932:
In state elections in Thuringia, the NSDAP's share of the vote comes in 40% less than the previous election. Such a poor showing at this moment of government instability makes the party look weak at a time when the opposite effect is desired.
December 3, 1932:
Chancellor von Papen, who is rapidly losing support in the Reichstag, requests a declaration of martial law from the cabinet in order to rule by decree. In response, Defense Minister von Schleicher produces a report detailing the results of a recent war game. The report concludes by saying that if martial law were declared, the Reichswehr would prove unable to defeat the united strength of the paramilitary groups. Von Papen is forced to resign. "My dear Papen," Hindenburg explains, "you'll consider me a cad if I change my mind now. But I am now too old, at the end of my life, to take the responsibility for a civil war. We'll have to let Herr von Schleicher try his luck in God's name." Further, Hindenburg is convinced, by von Schleicher—who will later claim, improbably, that he had resisted the idea—to appoint von Schleicher chancellor. General Kurt von Schleicher thus becomes the fourteenth—and, for all practical purposes, last—Chancellor of the Weimar Republic. The power behind the throne is now in power.
December 3, 1932:
During a meeting in Berlin, Chancellor von Schleicher puts his plan to split the ranks of the Nazis in motion by offering Gregor Strasser the posts of Vice-Chancellor, and Minister President of Prussia.
December 16, 1932:
Former Reich Chancellor Franz von Papen speaks at the Berlin Herrenklub before a crowd of 300. After defending the actions of his own recently-fallen government, he soundly criticizes the cabinet of his successor, Chancellor von Schleicher. Further, he suggests that Hitler's NSDAP should be brought into the government.
After his speech, von Papen has a private talk with Cologne banker and Hitler supporter Baron Kurt von Schröder. Papen requests that the financier arrange to meet secretly with Hitler. Papen will later claim—in his memoirs—that it was von Schröder who had suggested the move, and it may well have been.
January 1, 1933:
Hypnotist Erik Hanussen predicts Hitler will come to power on January 30, 1933. His prediction will be widely ridiculed in the German press.
January 4, 1933:
Hitler attends a secret mid-day meeting with Franz von Papen in the home of Cologne banker, Baron Kurt von Schröder. Hitler arrives in the company of Rudolf Hess, Heinrich Himmler, and manufacturer Wilhelm Keppler, who has been acting as Hitler's adviser on economic matters. Von Papen is surprised when a photographer from the Tagliche Rundschau
captures his arrival on film. Hitler begins the discussion by dressing down von Papen for what Hitler considers to be ill-treatment he had received at Papen's hands during the Potempa murderers kerfuffle. The deposed Chancellor proposes a "Government of National Concentration," to include German National Peoples Party leader Hugenberg, and Hitler's Nazis. Hitler, surprisingly, does not repeat his demand to be made chancellor, and states that he might possibly be prepared to accept some of Papen's supporters in the cabinet. However, he insists, no Jews, Communists, or Social Democrats are to be considered.
From Baron von Schröder's account: Then Hitler made a long speech in which he said, if he were made Chancellor, it would be necessary for him to be the head of the Government, but that supporters of Papen's could go into his Government as ministers, if they were willing to go along with him in his policy of changing many things. The changes he outlined at this time included elimination of the Social Democrats, Communists, and Jews from leading positions in Germany, and the restoration of order in public life. Papen and Hitler reached agreement in principle, so that many of the points which had brought them in conflict could be eliminated, and they could find a way to get together.
Though no agreement is reached, both sides commit to a further meeting and break for lunch. When the story of this meeting appears in the Tagliche Rundschau
newspaper, Hitler and Papen claim that they were merely discussing "the possibility of a great national political unity front," nothing more.
January 9, 1933:
Franz von Papen meets with Chancellor von Schleicher and informs him of his talks with Hitler. “Wir haben Hitler engagiertl
" (We've hired Hitler!) von Papen proclaims, and implies that perhaps the Nazi leader could be talked into joining von Schleicher's cabinet at no greater price than the Defense and Interior Ministries. Believing that a breakthrough had been accomplished, von Schleicher meets with Hindenburg later in the day, telling him that Hitler had expressed a possible willingness to participate in a coalition government. Hindenburg gives von Papen leave to continue the private talks aimed at the formation of a Papen-Hitler-Hugenberg triumvirate, but not a chancellorship for Hitler.
January 9-10, 1933:
At Bielefeld, during a lull in the Lippe-Detmold campaign, Goebbels meets with Hitler, who tells him of the talks with von Papen:
Papen fiercely against Schleicher. Determined to get rid of him. Has the ear of Hindenburg, in whose house he is still living. Arrangements with us prepared. Either the Chancellorship or the powerful ministries. Defence and the Interior. That's still to be heard about. Schleicher does not have the order for the dissolution. He's on the downward path. Very mistrustful. Now much depends on Lippe.
January 10-11, 1933:
During the late-night and early-morning hours, Hitler and von Papen meet in Ribbentrop's home in Dahlem, a suburb of Berlin. When von Papen admits that Hindenburg still will not consider a Hitler chancellorship, the Nazi Fuehrer abruptly ends the meeting, declaring that all further talks are suspended pending the results of the upcoming election in the tiny German state of Lippe.
January 15, 1933:
Election in the small state of Lippe: the NSDAP gains 6,000 votes over the preceding November total but is still 3,000 votes short of its July number. This small success is spun into a triumph by skillful propaganda.
January 16, 1933:
Chancellor von Schleicher, just as had von Papen, presents his cabinet with a plan to convince Hindenburg to dissolve the Reichstag, but postpone elections, thereby enabling his government to retain power. Though the scheme is clearly unconstitutional, no one in the cabinet comes out against it. The plans biggest drawback is that when von Papen had proposed the very same idea to save his own chancellorship, von Schleicher, who had been the Defense Minister at the time, had objected that civil war would result, and that the Reichswehr would be unable to ensure public order. Now he must convince Reich President von Hindenburg to do for him what he had denied von Papen. This will not be easy. Of all his chancellors, von Papen had been Hindenburg's favorite, and he is still the Reich Presidents unofficial adviser.
January 17, 1933:
Hitler and Papen meet with DNVP (German National Peoples Party - Deutschnationale Volkspartei
) president Alfred Hugenberg, to discuss the division of positions and direction of the future "Government of National Concentration."
January 18, 1933:
Hindenburg's son Oskar, Otto Meissner, and von Papen meet with Hitler, in company with Göring, Röhm, Ribbentrop, and Himmler. Emboldened by the perceived electoral success in Lippe, Hitler hardens his position; he must be given the chancellorship, nothing less. When von Papen concedes that Hindenburg remains unwilling to entrust the chancellorship to him, Hitler declares that further discussion is useless.
Frau von Ribbentrop wrote: Hitler insists on being Chancellor. Papen again considers this impossible. His influence with Hindenburg was not strong enough to effect this. Hitler makes no further arrangements for talks. Joachim tentatively suggests a meeting between Hitler and Hindenburg's son.
Hitler later recalled: After the electoral victory at Lippe—a success whose importance it is not possible to over-estimate—the advisers of the Old Gentleman approached me once more. A meeting was arranged at Ribbentrop's house with Hindenburg's son and Herr von Papen. At this meeting I gave an unequivocal description of my reading of the political situation, and declared without mincing words that every week of hesitation was a week irretrievably wasted. The situation, I said, could be saved only by an amalgamation of all parties, omitting, of course, those fragmentary bourgeois parties which were of no importance and which, in any case, would not join us. Such an amalgamation, I added, could be successfully assured only with myself as Reichs Chancellor.
January 19, 1933:
Hitler and Papen meet with industrialist Fritz Thyssen to submit their proposal on the composition of the "Government of National Concentration."
January 20, 1933:
The SA demonstrates outside the Berlin headquarters of the German Communist Party as Chancellor von Schleicher’s attempts to compromise with Hitler and Papen are refused.
January 22, 1933:
As Ribbentrop had suggested 5 days previously, Hitler, von Papen, Göring, Frick, the Reich President's State Secretary, Otto Meissner, and the Reich President's son, Oskar von Hindenburg (with whom Hitler will speak at length privately), hold Sunday evening discussions in Ribbentrop's Berlin home. It is soon apparent that discussions are stalled at the same impasse; Hitler will accept nothing less than the head spot, which Hindenburg still refuses to consider. Hitler's bottom-line position: the chancellorship for himself, the Reich Interior Ministry for Frick, and a cabinet post for Göring. Von Papen says that he considers this reasonable, and proposes himself as Vice-Chancellor. Hitler agrees, and von Papen pledges to work with all his might to convince Hindenburg to acquiesce.
Ribbentrop: I would like to tell about one episode which happened in my house in Dahlem when the question arose whether Hitler was to become Reich Chancellor or not. I know that at that time, I believe, he was offered the Vice Chancellorship and I heard with what enormous strength and conviction—if you like, also brutality and hardness—he could state his opinion when he believed that obstacles might appear which could lead to the rehabilitation and rescue of his people.
Göring later told his version of the "rather lengthy conversation" with Oskar von Hindenburg: I declared to the son that he should tell his father that, one way or another, von Schleicher would lead to shipwreck. I explained to him the new basic conditions for forming a new government, and how I had heard of the Field Marshal's willingness to entrust Hitler with the Chancellorship, thereby regarding the Party as a main basis for a future government majority, if Adolf Hitler were also able to succeed on this occasion in drawing in the German Nationalists [DNVP], and the Stahlhelm—for he wanted to see a definite national basis . . . . I told von Hindenburg's son that he could tell his father that I would undoubtedly bring that about, and the Fuehrer gave me orders to undertake negotiations during the coming week with these parties on the one hand, and with the Reich President on the other.
Otto Meissner later recalled: In the taxi on the way back, Oskar von Hindenburg was extremely silent, and the only remark which he made was that it could not be helped—the Nazis had to be taken into the government. My impression was that Hitler had succeeded in getting him under his spell.
January 23, 1933:
Reich President Hindenburg rejects further support of the Schleicher presidential cabinet; particularly Schleicher's proposal of a declaration of a state of emergency and the prorogation of the Reichstag, which is against the Constitution. He rejects these proposals because von Schleicher had told him the previous December that a violation of the Constitution would mean civil war and a civil war would mean chaos 'because I am not in a position,' he said then, 'to maintain law and order with the Army and with the Police.'
January 24, 1933:
Goebbels writes in his diary: "Schleicher will fall any moment, he who brought down so many others."
January 27, 1933:
President Hindenburg, 84 years old and in poor health, continues to oppose the nomination of Hitler as chancellor, despite criticism from all sides. From Goebbels' diary: "There is still a possibility that Papen will again be made Chancellor." The stress of the continuing negotiations have Hitler in a frazzled state. He is ready to chuck it all and board a train for Munich to get away from the pressure. Göring and Ribbentrop manage to calm his nerves.
Ribbentrop later recalled: I have never seen Hitler in such a state. I proposed to him and Göring that I should see Papen alone that evening and explain the whole situation to him. In the evening I saw Papen, and convinced him eventually that the only thing that made sense was Hitler's Chancellorship, and that he must do what he can to bring this about. Papen declared that the matter of Hugenberg was of secondary importance, and that he was now absolutely in favor of Hitler becoming Chancellor; this was the decisive change in Papen's attitude . . . . This recognition by Papen is, I believe, the turning-point.
Frau von Ribbentrop wrote: Joachim proposes link-up with Hugenberg for a national front. Hitler declares that he has said all there is to say to the field marshal, and does not know what to add. Joachim persuades Hitler that this last attempt should be made, and that the situation is by no means hopeless.
January 27, 1933:
From Goebbels' diary: "There is still a possibility that Papen will again be made Chancellor."
January 28, 1933:
Reich President Hindenburg rejects further support of the von Schleicher presidential cabinet; particularly von Schleicher's proposal of a declaration of a state of emergency and the prorogation of the Reichstag, which is against the constitution. He rejects these proposals primarily because von Schleicher had told him the previous December that a violation of the constitution would mean civil war, and a civil war would mean chaos "because I am not in a position," he said then, "to maintain law and order with the Army and with the Police." "Whether what I am going to do now is right, my dear Schleicher, I don't know; but I shall know soon enough when I am up there, Hindenburg said, pointing upwards. "I already have one foot in the grave and I am not sure that I shall not regret this action in heaven later on." "After this breach of trust, sir," von Schleicher is said to have replied, "I am not sure that you will go to heaven." Von Schleicher has no choice but to resign the chancellorship. "I stayed in power only fifty-seven days," von Schleicher later recalled, "and on each and every one of them I was betrayed fifty-seven times. Don't ever speak to me of 'German loyalty'!"
At noon, the Reich President instructs von Papen to begin negotiations for the formation of a new government.
From Papen's IMT testimony: The instructions given me by von Hindenburg were as follows: Proposal for the formation of a government under the leadership of Hitler, with the utmost restriction of National Socialist influence and within the framework of the Constitution. I should like to add that it was quite unusual for the Reich President to ask any person to form a government which would not be headed by the person himself. In the normal course of events Hindenburg should, of course, have entrusted Hitler himself with the formation of a government; and he entrusted me with this task because he wished to minimize Hitler's influence in the government as far as possible . . . .
January 29, 1933:
The safeguarding measures which I introduced at the request of the Reich President were the following:
1) A very small number of National Socialist ministers in the new cabinet; only 3 out of 11, including Hitler.
2) The decisive economic departments of the cabinet to be placed in the hands of non-National Socialists.
3) Experts to be put into the ministry posts as far as possible.
4) Joint reports of Reich Chancellor Hitler and Vice Chancellor von Papen to Hindenburg in order to minimize the personal influence of Hitler on Hindenburg.
5) I tried to form a parliamentary bloc as a counterbalance against the political effects of the National Socialist Party.
Schleicher sends General von Hammerstein, the commander-in-chief of the Army, to warn Hitler that yet another Papen chancellorship may be in the offing. Should this occur, von Schleicher proposes a joint chancellorship with himself, with backing from the Reichswehr and the SA. Hitler puts him off. He is holding out for the proposed Hitler-led triumvirate with Papen and Hugenberg.
January 29, 1933:
Hitler and Papen have been meeting, separately, with various party leaders, and the Hitler cabinet is beginning to take shape, on paper. Later in the day, Hitler, enjoying coffee and cakes with some of his aides at the Kaiserhof, is joined by Göring who announces triumphantly that Hitler will be named Chancellor on the morrow.
Goebbels, in the published version of his diary, gives a good measure of the credit for the turn of events to Goring: This is surely Goring's finest hour. And rightly so. He has diplomatically and skillfully prepared the ground for the Führer in nerve-racking negotiations for months or even years. His prudence, strong nerves and above all his firmness of character and loyalty to the Führer have been genuine, strong and admirable. His face was turned to stone when, in the very thick of the fight, his beloved wife was torn from his side by cruel death. But he did not flinch for a second. Seriously and firmly he went on his way again, an unshakably devoted shield-bearer to the Führer . . . . This upright soldier with the heart of a child has always remained true to himself; and now he stands before his leader and brings him the greatest piece of news of his life. For a long time we say nothing; and then we rise and solemnly shake each others hands.
Fresh nut cakes, made by Magda Goebbels, are consumed in the ensuing celebration, which is cut short when rumors of a last minute Reichswehr coup reach their ears.
Hitler: My immediate counteraction to this planned [military] putsch was to send for the Commander of the Berlin S.A., Count von Helldorf, and through him to alert the whole SA of Berlin. At the same time I instructed Major Wecke of the Police, whom I knew I could trust, to prepare for a sudden seizure of the Wilhelmstrasse by six police battalions . . . . Finally, I instructed General von Blomberg to proceed at once, on arrival in Berlin at 8 a.m. on 30 January direct to the Old Gentleman to be sworn in, and thus to be in a position, as Commander-in-Chief of the Reichswehr [sic], to suppress any possible attempts at a coup d'état.
January 29, 1933:
Hindenburg gets wind of the false rumors of an impending Army coup in favor of von Schleicher, spread by von Papen and others. Werner von Blomberg, who had been serving on the German delegation of the World Disarmament Conference in Geneva, had received word from President Hindenburg directing him to make his way to Berlin, but without letting von Schleicher know he wass coming. As soon as von Blomberg arrives, on the morning of the next day, Hindenburg names him Reich Minister of Defense.
January 30, 1933:
Since the Reich President's Palace is undergoing renovations, Hitler is scheduled to meet with Hindenburg in the residence at the Reich Chancellery at 11:00 a.m. However, last minute negotiations between Hitler, Hugenberg, and von Papen keep the elderly Reich President waiting until after twelve. Franz von Papen later recalled:
At about half-past ten the members of the proposed Cabinet met in my house and walked across the garden to the Presidential palace, where we waited in Meissner's office. Hitler immediately renewed his complaints about not being appointed Commissioner for Prussia. He felt that this severely restricted his power. I told him . . . the Prussian appointment could be left until later. To this, Hitler replied that if his powers were to be thus limited, he must insist on new Reichstag elections.
This produced a completely new situation and the debate became heated. Hugenberg, in particular, objected to the idea, and Hitler tried to pacify him by stating that he would make no changes in the Cabinet, whatever the result might be . . . . By this time it was long past eleven o'clock, the time that had been appointed for our interview with the President, and Meissner asked me to end our discussion, as Hindenburg was not prepared to wait any longer. We had had such a sudden clash of opinions that I was afraid our new coalition would break up before it was born.
When the group finally appears before Hindenburg, von Papen makes the formal introductions and Hitler gives a pretty speech, promising to uphold the Weimar Constitution and work toward a stable government. This stability will be made a reality after the upcoming elections; the last elections, Hitler contends. Hitler officially becomes the 15th chancellor of the Weimar Republic when Hindenburg gives the new government his blessing with the words: "'And now, gentlemen, forward with God.'"
The First Hitler Cabinet:
Adolf Hitler (NSDAP) - Chancellor
Franz von Papen - Vice Chancellor
Konstantin Freiherr von Neurath - Minister of Foreign Affairs
Wilhelm Frick (NSDAP) - Minister of the Interior
Lutz Graf Schwerin von Krosigk - Minister of Finance
Alfred Hugenberg (DNVP) - Minister of Economics and Food
Franz Seldte - Minister of Labor
Franz Gürtner (DNVP) - Minister of Justice
Werner von Blomberg - Minister of Defense
Paul Freiherr Eltz von Rübenach - Minister of Posts and Transport
Hermann Göring (NSDAP) - Minister without Portfolio
From The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich by William L. Shirer: In this way, by way of the back door, by means of a shabby, political deal with the old-school reactionaries he privately detested, the former tramp from Vienna, the derelict of the First World War, the violent revolutionary, became Chancellor of the great nation. To be sure, the National Socialists were in a decided minority in the government; they had only three of the eleven posts in the cabinet and except for the chancellorship these were not key positions...
January 30, 1933:
Papen himself was Vice-Chancellor of the Reich and Premier of Prussia, and Hindenburg had promised him that he would not receive the Chancellor except in the company of the Vice-Chancellor. This unique position, he was sure, would enable him to put a brake on the radical Nazi leader. But even more: This government was Papen's conception, his creation, and he was confident that with the help of the staunch old president, who was his friend, admirer and protector, and with the knowing support of his conservative colleagues, who outnumbered the obstreperous Nazis eight to three, he would dominate it. But this frivolous, conniving politician did not know Hitler—no one really knew Hitler - nor did he comprehend the strength of the forces which had spewed him up. Nor did Papen, or anyone else beside Hitler, quite realize the inexplicable weakness, that now bordered on paralysis, of existing institutions - the Army, the churches, the trade unions, the political parties—or of the vast non-Nazi middle class and the highly organized proletariat all of which, as Papen mournfully observed much later, would 'give up without a fight.'
From Goebbels' Diary:
It is almost like a dream—a fairytale. The new Reich has been born. Fourteen years of work have been crowned with victory. The German revolution has begun!
[For a more comprehensive telling of Hitler's rise to power, complete with detailed source notes and references
, Click here
January 30, 1933:
From a telegram to Hindenburg from Ludendorff: "By appointing Hitler Chancellor of the Reich you have handed over our sacred German Fatherland to one of the greatest demagogues of all time. I prophesy to you that this evil man will plunge our Reich into the abyss and will inflict immeasurable woe on our nation. Future generations will curse you in your grave for this action.
February 1, 1933:
German Chancellor Adolf Hitler issues his first proclamation:
February 1, 1933:
We recognize no classes, we see only the German people, millions of peasants, bourgeois, and workers who will either overcome together the difficulties of these times or be overcome by them. We are firmly resolved and we have taken our oath. Since the present Reichstag is incapable of lending support to this work, we ask the German people whom we represent to perform the task themselves. Reichspräsident von Hindenburg has called upon us to bring about the revival of the German nation. Unity is our tool. Therefore we now appeal to the German people to support this reconciliation. The National Government wishes to work and it will work. It did not ruin the German nation for fourteen years, but now it will lead the nation back to health. It is determined to make well in four years the ills of fourteen years. But the National Government cannot make the work of reconstruction dependent upon the approval of those who wrought destruction. The Marxist parties and their lackeys have had fourteen years to show what they can do. The result is a heap of ruins. Now, people of Germany, give us four years and then pass judgment. [For the full text
, Click here
Hitler obtains a decree from Hindenburg ordering dissolution of the Reichstag. New elections are called for March 5, 1933.
February 2, 1933:
The Geneva Disarmament Conference resumes.
February 3, 1933:
Hitler, addressing a group of German generals gathered at the Hammerstein-Equord house, proclaims an offensive against the Communists and Pacifists; announces that the Reichswehr will remain independent of the political parties; promises complete rearmament.
February 4, 1933:
Hitler announces a new rule 'for the protection of the German people' which allows the Nazis to forbid meetings of other political groups. He authorizes the Government to ban newspapers and rallies on the pretext that they are distributing false news to harm the State or defame the authorities and civil service.
February 6, 1932:
Hindenburg signs a decree which deprives Braun of his prerogatives with the Council of State to the profit of Von Papen. A dissolution of the Prussian Landtag is thus acquired as Prussia falls under the grip of Interior Minister Göring.
February 11, 1933:
From a speech by Vice-Chancellor von Papen: “Therefore, I consider the circumstance that the present Reich Cabinet is not made up of one single party or movement, but of various groups of the national movement, of free politicians and experts, not a disadvantage, but rather an advantage.”
February 17, 1933:
Göring issues a decree authorizing the Prussian police to fire on demonstrations at will.
February 22, 1933:
Göring convinces the Prussian government to decree the gradual abolition of the interdenominational schools and reintroduce religious instruction in the vocational schools 'for political reasons.'
February 24, 1933:
The Stahlhelm (Steel Helmet), the SA and SS are officially granted auxiliary police status.
February 26, 1933:
During a séance in Berlin, Eric Hanussen predicts that a great fire will soon strike a large building in the Capital. An eagle, he said, will rise from the smoke and flames.
February 27, 1933:
A law is announced recognizing seven Catholic feast days as legal German holidays.
February 27, 1933:
A huge fire destroys the Reichstag, the seat of German government.
February 28, 1933:
The Prussian government announces that it has found communist publications stating that 'Government buildings, museums, mansions and essential plants were to be burned down... . Women and children were to be sent in front of terrorist groups.... The burning of the Reichstag was to be the signal for a bloody insurrection and civil war.... It has been ascertained that today was to have seen throughout Germany terrorist acts against individual persons, against private property, and against the life and limb of the peaceful population, and also the beginning of general civil war.'
February 28, 1933:
Hindenburg signs the 'Decree for the Protection of the People and the State,' which has been quickly drafted by Hitler and his aides. This emergency decree suspends the civil liberties granted by the Weimar Constitution by allowing the Nazis to put their political opponents in prison and establish concentration camps. Hermann Göring orders the arrest of 4,000 Communist functionaries. An excerpt from the Decree: "Restrictions on personal liberty, on the right of free expression of opinion, including freedom of the press; on the rights of assembly and association; and violations of the privacy of postal, telegraphic and telephonic communications; and warrants for house searches, orders for confiscations as well as restrictions on property, are also permissible beyond the legal limits otherwise prescribed."
March 5, 1933:
The last multiparty general election for the Reichstag draws 88.8% of eligible voters to the polls. The Combat Front coalition formed by the NSDAP and Hugenberg’s German National Peoples Party wins a 51.9% majority but falls short of the 2/3rds majority needed to amend the constitution.
From Papen's IMT testimony: This election became extremely significant for later developments. First of all, I should like to state that this election was a truly free one, for it was conducted together with the old functionaries of the Republic; and that it was actually free is also shown by the fact that the votes of the Communists and of the Social Democrats did not decrease at all. I, personally, had expected that the NSDAP would be successful at the polls. In November 1932 I had taken away 36 of its seats in the Reichstag, and I expected that it would regain some of those seats. I had also Hoped that my own voting bloc would be very successful. I hoped that the people would realize the necessity of creating a counterbalance. However, this did not happen.
March 7, 1933:
Austrian Chancellor Dollfuss assumes dictatorial powers.
March 8, 1933:
Dollfuss suspends freedom of the press in Austria.
March 18, 1933:
Vice-Chancellor von Papen visits Cardinal Bertram, inquiring whether the Church would not revise its stand on Nazism. The Cardinal tells him, 'The act of revising has to be undertaken by the leader of the National Socialists himself.'
March 19, 1933:
Papen complains to Hitler about Nazi attacks on foreigners. The Chancellor defends the SA and issues a veiled threat towards the conservatives.
March 20, 1933:
The opening of the Dachau Concentration Camp for political detainees is announced in the press.
March 20, 1933:
Negotiations begin between Hitler and Frick on one side and the Catholic Center Party leaders, Kaas, Stegerwald and Hackelsburger, on the other. The Center demands guarantees regarding Church–State relations including recognition of concordats between the Vatican and the States, maintenance of religious influence in the schools, maintenance of presidential prerogatives and in regards to the judicial system. Brüning requires a written promise. The question is: under what conditions would the Center Party vote for an Enabling Act desired by Hitler? Note: The consent of the Catholic parties is necessary if this act is to receive the required two-thirds majority vote.
March 21, 1933
From the tomb of Frederick the Great at Potsdam, Hitler carefully stages a ceremonial opening of the first Reichstag of the Third Reich. Hitler and Goebbels intentionally fail to attend special Catholic services. An official communiqué explains that they feel obliged to absent themselves because Catholic bishops in a number of recent declarations had called Hitler and members of the NSDAP renegades of the Church, who should not be admitted to the sacraments. 'To this day, these declarations have not been retracted and the Catholic clergy continues to act accordingly to them.'
March 22, 1933:
Negotiations between Hitler, Frick and the Center Party are concluded. Hitler promises to continue the existence of the German states, not to use the new grant of power to change the constitution, and to retain civil servants belonging to the Catholic Center Party. Hitler also pledges to protect the Catholic confessional schools and to respect the concordats signed between the Holy See and Bavaria (1924), Prussia (1929) and Baden (1931). Hitler also agrees to mention these promises in his speech to the Reichstag before the vote on the Enabling Act.
March 23, 1933:
Hitler makes his policy statement to the Reichstag, promising to work for peaceful relations with the Catholic Church:
March 23 1933
The Government of the Reich, which regards Christianity as the unshakable foundation of the morals and moral code of the nation, attaches the greatest value to friendly relations with the Holy See, and is endeavoring to develop them. We feel sympathy for our brother nation in Austria in its trouble and distress. In all their doings the Government of the Reich is conscious of the connection between the destiny of all German races. Their attitude toward the other foreign Powers may be gathered from what has already been said. But even in cases where our mutual relations are encumbered with difficulties, we shall endeavor to arrive at a settlement. But in any case the basis for an understanding can never be the distinction between victor and vanquished. [For the full text
, Click here
In the evening session of the Reichstag, Monsignor Kaas announces that the Catholic Center Party, despite some certain misgivings, will vote for the Enabling Act. The Enabling Act is then passed by the Reichstag, transferring the power of legislation from the Reichstag to the cabinet. The Enabling Act gives Hitler the power to pass his own laws, independent of the President or anyone else, making Hitler more powerful than any Kaiser in German History.
March 23, 1933:
From Vice-Chancellor von Papen's speech to the Reichstag:
While the government is determined to carry through the political and moral purging of our public life, it is creating and insuring prerequisites for a truly religious life. The government sees in both Christian confessions the factors most important for the maintenance of our Völkdom. It will respect agreements concluded between them and the states. However, it expects that its work will meet with a similar appreciation. The government will treat all other denominations with equal objective justice. However, it can never condone that belonging to a certain denomination or to a certain race might be regarded as a license to commit or tolerate crimes. The Government will devote its care to the sincere living together of Church and State.
March 25, 1933:
Cardinal Bertram, who has now joined the group of bishops who favor withdrawing the various prohibitions imposed on the Nazi party, writes a list of proposed instructions to the clergy.
March 28, 1933
Fulda Bishop's Conference:
The German Catholic episcopate withdraws its earlier prohibition against membership in the Nazi party, and admonishes the faithful to be both loyal and obedient to the new Nazi regime.
The high shepherds of the dioceses of Germany in their dutiful anxiety to keep the Catholic faith pure and protect the untouchable aims and rights of the Catholic Church have adopted, for profound reasons, during the last years, an oppositional attitude toward the National Socialist movement, through prohibitions and warnings, which was to be in effect as long and as far as those reasons remained valid. It must now be recognized that there are official and solemn declarations issued by the highest representative of the Reich Government—who at the same time is the authoritarian leader of that movement—which acknowledge the inviolability of the teachings of Catholic faith and the unchangeable tasks and rights of the church, and which expressly assure the full value of the legal pacts concluded between the various German States and the Church. Without lifting the condemnation of certain religious and ethical errors implied in our previous measures, the Episcopate now believes it can entertain the confidence that those prescribed general prohibitions and warnings may not be regarded as necessary any more.
March 30, 1933:
Cardinal Faulhaber agrees to accept the text proposed by Bertram on the 25th (above). Thus this important proclamation appears with the backing of all the German bishops. Ambassador Diego von Bergen who has returned to Berlin from the Vatican is received by Hindenburg, as well as Hitler.
March 31, 1933:
Monsignor Kaas is back in Berlin after being recalled for talks with Hitler.
April 1, 1933:
The Catholic Teacher Organization publishes a declaration noting with approval that Adolf Hitler and his movement have overcome the 'un-German spirit' which triumphed in the revolution of 1918.
April 2, 1933:
Monsignor Kaas has a private talk with Hitler.
April 3, 1933:
The Kreuz und Adler
(Cross and Eagle) organization is founded by Catholic supporters of the new Nazi state. Formation of this group is initiated by Vice-Chancellor Papen, who assumes the title of Protector.
April 4, 1933:
The Central Association of Catholic fraternities withdraws its ban on membership in the Nazi party.
April 6, 1933:
Heinrich Brüning succeeds Monsignor Kaas as leader of the Catholic Center Party. The Paris Journal publishes a story by a correspondent in Berlin reporting that Germany has made overtures to the Vatican concerning a concordat, one of the main points of which is a provision that would forbid Catholic priests to be candidates for political office.
April 7, 1933:
Vice-Chancellor Papen leaves Berlin for Munich. Papen asks Fritz Menshausen to keep the purpose of his trip secret, indicating that he will tell the press he had gone to Rome for a vacation over the Easter holidays. Monsignor Kaas once again leaves Berlin on a trip to Rome.
April 7, 1933:
Vice-Chancellor Papen writes to Hitler:
With the draft of the law for the co-ordination of the states with the Reich, passed today by the Reich Chancellor, legislative work has begun which will be of historical significance for the political development of the German State. The step taken on 20 July 1932 by the Reich Government, which I headed at the time, with the aim of abolishing the dualism between the Reich and Prussia is now crowned by this new interlocking of the interests of the state of Prussia with those of the Reich. You, Herr Reich Chancellor, will now be, as once was Bismarck, in a position to co-ordinate in all points the policy of the greatest of German states with that of the Reich. Now that the new law affords you the possibility of appointing a Prussian Prime Minister, I beg you to inform the Reich President that I dutifully return to his hands my post of Reich Commissioner for Prussia.
April 8, 1933:
Vice-Chancellor Papen secretly meets Monsignor Kaas in Munich. Together they travel on to Rome (Kaas will never again set foot on German soil). Papen offers a treaty (Reichskonkordat) to the Vatican delineating the German state's relationship with the Roman Catholic Church.
April 9, 1933:
Vice-Chancellor Papen, Göring, and Monsignor Kaas arrive in Rome. Kaas is the first to be received by Vatican Secretary of State Pacelli (the future Pope Pius XII) .
From The Devil's Disciples by Anthony Read: Göring relished the idea of acting as an alternative Foreign Minister in place of the veteran diplomat Konstantin von Neurath, who was implacably hostile to the Fascist government. To impress the Italians with his current status, he had arranged that Hitler would telegraph an open message to him on the day of his arrival, 10 April, confirming his appointment as Minister-President of Prussia, despite the embarrassment this would cause Papen, who was accompanying him. The maneuver clearly worked, for he saw Mussolini at least three times, and went home with a sparkling Italian decoration to add to his war medals, the first of what would become a large collection. He also met the Pope, though as a nominal Protestant he was happy to leave most of the talking to Papen, who was a Catholic. Papen's discussions with the Vatican marked a rapprochement with the Church authorities that was sealed in July by a Concordat, signed by Papen for the Reich and the Papal Secretary of State, Monsignor Eugenio Pacelli, former Papel Nuncio to Germany and the future Pope Pius XII, for the Vatican. Guaranteeing the Church's right 'to regulate its own affairs' in return for an undertaking not to interfere in political matters, this effectively silenced Catholic opposition in Germany.
April 10, 1933:
Vice-Chancellor Papen has a morning meeting with Vatican Secretary of State Pacelli. Later in the day, Papen and Göring are received by Pope Pius XI. According to Papen, the Pope tells them that he is pleased the German government now has at its head 'a man uncompromisingly opposed to Communism and Russian nihilism in all its forms.' They then begin laying the groundwork for the concordat. Although the purpose of their visit is still secret, the Italian press openly reports that Papen and Göring have been received with great honor.
April 15, 1933:
Vice-Chancellor Papen and Monsignor Kaas meet again with Vatican Secretary of State Pacelli. Kaas is subsequently instructed to prepare a draft of the concordat.
April 20, 1933:
On Hitler's 44th birthday, Monsignor Kaas sends a telegram of congratulations from Rome that is widely published in the German press. Kaas assures Hitler of 'unflinching cooperation.' This endorsement accelerates the movement of Catholics into the Nazi camp.
April 24, 1933:
The Bavarian ambassador at the Vatican, Baron von Ritter, reports to Berlin that the Papal Secretary of State and Monsignor Kaas are in constant touch with each other. 'There can be no doubt that Cardinal Pacelli approves of a policy of sincere cooperation by the Catholics within the framework of the Christian Weltanschauung (world view) in order to benefit and lead the National Socialist Movement.'
April 26, 1933:
Hitler tells two representatives of the Catholic Church in Germany, Monsignor Steinmann and Bishop Berning, that he is only going to do to the Jews what the Church of Rome has been trying to do without success for over 1,500 years. Hitler states that he has parted company with General Ludendorff, and stresses that Rosenberg's anticlerical book is no concern of his—since it is a private publication. Being a Catholic himself, Hitler adds, he will not tolerate another Kulturkampf and the rights of the Church will be left intact.
May 2-3, 1933:
The central board of the Association of Catholic Young men decides that 'the fact of belonging to the Jungmännerverein
in principle does not rule out membership in the NSDAP, including its various formations (SA, SS etc.). Soon afterward, the Nazi party forbids simultaneous membership in Catholic and National Socialist organizations.
June 15, 1933:
At the first public meeting of the Kreuz and Adler (Cross and Eagle) in Berlin, von Papen calls for the overcoming of liberalism and characterizes the Third Reich as a 'Christian counterrevolution to 1789.'
June 16, 1933:
Papen informs Ambassador Bergen that Hitler has agreed to his going to Rome to complete negotiations for the concordat in person.
June 28, 1933:
Goebbels, threatening force, publicly demands the dissolution of the Catholic Center Party.
June 29, 1933:
Franz von Papen leaves Berlin for Rome.
June 29, 1933:
Brüning tells the British Ambassador in Berlin, Sir Horace Rumbold, that the Catholic Center Party will probably dissolve itself the following day.
July 1, 1933:
Hitler telephones Papen in Rome with instructions, authorizing Papen to tell Pacelli that after the conclusion of the Concordat he 'would arrange for a thorough and full pacification between the Catholic portion of the people and the Reich government,' and that he 'would be willing to put a finish to the story of past political developments.'
July 2, 1933:
Despite the news of continuing arrests of priests in Germany, final agreement on the concordat is reached. Papen reports that Pius XI 'had insisted on the conclusion of the Concordat because he wanted to come to an agreement with Italy and Germany as the countries which, in his opinion, represented the nucleus of the Christian world.''
July 3, 1933:
Papen cables German foreign minister Konstantin von Neurath, "In the discussions which I had with Pacelli, Archbishop Groeber, and Kaas this evening, it developed that with the conclusion of the Concordat, the dissolution of the Center Party is regarded here as certain and is approved."
July 3, 1933:
Statutory religious organizations throughout Germany are forbidden to employ Jews.
July 5, 1933:
The Catholic Center Party publishes its decree of dissolution. Only the Nazis remain as an active political party in the Reichstag. Also: Cardinal Faulhaber complains to the Bavarian Council of Ministers that almost one hundred priests had been arrested in the last few weeks.
July 8, 1933:
In the late hours of the evening, Ambassador Bergen informs the Foreign Ministry by telegram,'Concordat was initialed this evening at 6 o'clock by the Vice Chancellor and the Cardinal Secretary of State.'
July 9, 1933:
The world learns that a Concordat has been initialed by Nazi Germany and the Holy See when Hitler releases a public statement. Public opinion generally regards this as a great diplomatic victory for Hitler and helps to reconcile German Catholics to the new regime.
July 14, 1933:
Hitler's Cabinet approves the Concordat with the Vatican. During the deliberations, Hitler stresses the significance of the Concordat, especially 'in the urgent fight against the international Jews. Possible shortcomings in the Concordat can be rectified later when the foreign policy situation is better.' Also: The new government approves the 'Law for the Prevention of Genetically Diseased Offspring.' It allows for compulsory sterilization in cases of 'congenital mental defects, schizophrenia, manic-depressive psychosis, hereditary epilepsy, and severe alcoholism.' It will not be announced until July 25, so as not to jeopardize the signing of the Concordat.
July 20, 1933
Vice-Chancellor Papen and Pacelli formally sign the Concordat in an elaborate ceremony at the Vatican.
July 22, 1933:
The text of the Concordat is released to the press, though a secret annex is never announced to the public, or even to party members.
July 24, 1933:
In view of the special situation existing in Germany, and in view of the guarantee provided through this Concordat of legislation directed to safeguard the rights and privileges of the Roman Catholic Church in the Reich and its component states, the Holy See will prescribe regulations for the exclusion of clergy and members of religious orders from membership of political parties. [For the full text
, Click here
The Nazi newspaper Völkischer Beobachter describes the Concordat as a most solemn recognition of National Socialism by the Catholic Church.
July 31, 1932:
Six months after the Nazis assumption of power, the first concentration camps are full; 26,789 political prisoners are now in detention.
August 19, 1933:
Mussolini meets with Austrian Chancellor Dollfuss at the Italian-Austrian border.
Genetic Health Courts now being organized through out Germany will eventually order the sterilization of almost 400,000 German citizens: 32,268 during 1934; 73,174 in 1935; 63,547 in 1936. Note: In the U.S. 60,166 people were sterilized from 1907-1958.
September 12, 1933:
Voting in a referendum, 89.9% of the voters approve Hitler's withdrawal from the League of Nations. This first one party election for the Reichstag sees 92.1% of the voters cast ballots. Also: Nazi Minister of the Interior Frick receives a letter of protest concerning the 'Law for the Prevention of Genetically Diseased Offspring' from Cardinal Bertram.
September 15, 1933:
Austrian Chancellor Dollfuss, addressing the Austrian Fatherland Front, proposes a 'Christian German state on Fascist lines,' but without discrimination against Jews.
October 3, 1933:
An assassination attempt is made against Dollfuss.
October 11, 1933:
US Ambassador Dodd criticizes the Nazi regime during an address to the American Chamber of Commerce in Berlin.
October 14, 1933:
Hitler announces he is withdrawing Germany from the League of Nations and Disarmament Conference and that the German people will be called on to ratify the action in a referendum. Also: The bishop of the Nazi Christian Church, Ludwig Müller (Mueller), declares that Christianity has in its origins a war against Jews.
October 19, 1933:
Hitler officially withdraws Germany from the League of Nations.
From Papen's IMT testimony: The withdrawal from the League of Nations was a question on which there could be many differences of opinion. I myself was in favor of remaining in the League of Nations; and I remember that on the day before Hitler decided on this step, I myself traveled to Munich in an effort to persuade him to remain a member of the League. I was of the opinion that we would have gained much by remaining in the League, where we had many good connections dating even from the time of Stresemann. Nevertheless, if we left the League it was perhaps a tactical question insofar as we might then hope that direct negotiations with the major powers would be more promising...
November 2, 1933:
Our withdrawal from the League of Nations was an exceptionally important decision of foreign policy. We wished to emphasize to the world that this withdrawal was not to be construed as a change in our methods of foreign policy. Therefore, Hindenburg and Hitler in free appeals emphasized that the German people should decide by means of a plebiscite the question of whether a withdrawal from the League of Nations would be in the exclusive interests of peace and our equality of rights.
Vice-Chancellor Papen speaks at Essen (from the same platform as Hitler and Gauleiter Terboven) in the course of the campaign for the Reichstag election and the referendum concerning Germany's leaving the League of Nations:
Ever since Providence called upon me to become the pioneer of national resurrection and the rebirth of our homeland, I have tried to support with all my strength the work of the National Socialist movement and its Fuehrer; and just as I at the time of taking over the Chancellorship advocated paving the way to power for the young fighting liberation movement, just as I on January 30 was destined by a gracious fate to put the hands of our Chancellor and Fuehrer; into the hand of our beloved Field Marshal, so do I today again feel the obligation to say to the German people and all those who have kept confidence in me: The good Lord has blessed Germany by giving her in times of deep distress a leader who will lead her through all distresses and weaknesses, through all crises and moments of danger, with the sure instinct of the statesman into a happy future... Let us, in this hour, say to the Fuhrer of the new Germany that we believe in him and his work.
November 3, 1933:
Bishop Berning and Archbishop Groeber report that the government is willing to excuse the directors of Catholic institutions from the duty of applying for the sterilization of patients under their care.
November 13, 1933:
Vice-Chancellor Papen is appointed Plenipotentiary for the Saar.
December 4, 1933:
Cardinal Faulhaber denounces Nazi racial teachings.
December 7, 1933:
German-Americans are urged to act as Nazi propagandists by Vice-Chancellor von Papen.
December 15, 1933:
Catholic leaders encourage Austrians to do their Christmas shopping in non-Jewish stores.
December 23, 1933:
Pope Pius XI condemns the Nazi sterilization program.
January 30, 1934:
Hitler addresses the Reichstag:
June 17, 1934:
There are those political birds of passage who constantly appear wherever it is harvest time. These spineless individuals seize on any opportunity to join a successful movement and, either to forestall questions about their origins and their past activities, or else by way of response, they "protest too much" and indulge in super-correct behavior. The reason why they are dangerous is that they, whilst posing as supporters of the new regime, seek to pursue purely personal and selfish interests. In so doing they become a real burden to a movement for whose sake millions of decent people have for years made enormous sacrifices, without the thought even crossing their minds they might one day be rewarded for the suffering and deprivation which they accepted. [For the full text
, Click here
Vice-Chancellor Papen speaks in Marburg:
We know that rumors and whispering propaganda must be brought out from the darkness where they have taken refuge. Frank and manly discussion is better for the German people than, for instance, a press without an outlet, described by the Minister for Propaganda 'as no longer having a face.' This deficiency undoubtedly exists. The function of the press should be to inform the Government where deficiencies have crept in, where corruption has settled down, where grave mistakes have been committed, where incapable men are in the wrong places, where offenses are committed against the spirit of the German revolution. An anonymous or secret information service, however well organized it may be, can never be a substitute for this task of the press. For the newspaper editor is responsible to the law and to his conscience, whereas anonymous news sources are not subject to control and are exposed to the danger of Byzantinism. When, therefore, the proper organs of public opinion do not shed sufficient light into the mysterious darkness, which at present seems to have fallen upon the German public, the statesman himself must intervene and call matters by their right names...
June 30, 1934
It is a matter of historical truth that the necessity for a fundamental change of course was recognized and urged even by those who shunned the path of revolution through a mass party. A claim for revolutionary or nationalist monopoly by a certain group, therefore, seems to be exaggerated, quite apart from the fact that it disturbs the community...
Domination by a single party replacing the majority party system, which rightly has disappeared, appears to me historically as a transitional stage, justified only as long as the safeguarding of the new political change demands it and until the new process of personal selection begins to function...But one should not confuse the religious State, which is based upon an active belief in God, with a secular State in which earthly values replace such belief and are embellished with religious honors...
Certainly the outward respect for religious belief is an improvement on the disrespectful attitude produced by a degenerate rationalism. But we should not forget that real religion is a link with God, and not substitutes such as have been introduced into the consciousness of nations especially by Karl Marx's materialistic conception of history. If wide circles of people, from this same viewpoint of the totalitarian State and the complete amalgamation of the nation, demand a uniform religious foundation, they should not forget that we should be happy to have such a foundation in the Christian faith...
It is my conviction that the Christian doctrine clearly represents the religious form of all occidental thinking and that with the reawakening of religious forces the German people also will be permeated anew by the Christian spirit, a spirit the profundity of which is almost forgotten by a humanity that has lived through the nineteenth century. A struggle is approaching the decision as to whether the new Reich of the Germans will be Christian or is to be lost in sectarianism and half-religious materialism...
Nor should the objection be made that intellectuals lack the vitality necessary for the leaders of a people. True spirit is so vital that it sacrifices itself for its conviction. The mistaking of brutality for vitality would reveal a worship of force which would be dangerous to a people...They oppose equality before the law, which they criticize as liberal degeneration, whereas in reality it is the prerequisite for any fair judgment. These people suppress that pillar of the State which always-and not only in liberal times-was called justice. Their attacks are directed against the security and freedom of the private sphere of life which the German has won in centuries of hardest struggle...
Great men are not made by propaganda, but rather grow through their deeds and are recognized by history. Even Byzantinism cannot make us believe that these laws do not exist...But we must have no illusions regarding the biological and psychological limits of education. Coercion, too, ends at the will for self-expression of the true personality. Reactions to coercion are dangerous. As an old soldier I know that the most rigid discipline must be balanced by certain liberties. Even the good soldier who submitted willingly to unconditional authority counted his days of service, because the need for freedom is rooted in human nature. The application of military discipline to the whole life of a people must remain within limits compatible with human nature...
The Movement must come to a standstill sometime; a solid social structure must sometime come into existence which is held together by an impartial administration of justice and by an undisputed governmental power. Nothing can be achieved by means of everlasting dynamics. Germany must not go adrift on uncharted seas toward unknown shores...
The Government is well informed on all the self-interest, lack of character, want of truth, un-chivalrous conduct, and arrogance trying to rear its head under cover of the German revolution. It is also not deceived about the fact that the rich store of confidence bestowed upon it by the German people is threatened. If we want a close connection with and a close association among the people, we must not underestimate the good sense of the people; we must return their confidence and not try to hold them everlastingly in bondage. The German people know that their situation is serious, they feel the economic distress, they are perfectly aware of the shortcoming of many laws born of emergency; they have a keen feeling for violence and injustice; they smile at clumsy attempts to deceive them by false optimism. No organization and no propaganda, however good, will in the long run be able to preserve confidence. I therefore viewed the wave of propaganda against the so-called foolish critics from a different angle than many others did. Confidence and readiness to co-operate cannot be won by provocation, especially of youth, nor by threats against helpless segments of the people, but only by discussion with the people with trust on both sides. The people know what great sacrifices are expected from them. They will bear them and follow the Fuehrer in unflinching loyalty, if they are allowed to have their part in the planning and in the work, if every word of criticism is not taken for ill-will, and if despairing patriots are not branded as enemies of the State.
Nacht der Langen Messer:
The same day as the 'Blood Purge' (Night of the Long Knives), Vice-Chancellor von Papen is placed under house-arrest by the SS. Papen's secretary, Herbert von Bose, and his speech writer, Edgar Julius Jung, are murdered.
From Papen's IMT testimony: On the morning of 30 June, I received a telephone call from Minister Göring, asking me to come to have a talk with him. I went to see Göring; he told me that a revolution had broken out in the Reich—an SA revolution—that Hitler was in Munich to put down this uprising there, and that he, Göring, was charged with restoring law and order in Berlin. Herr Göring asked me, in the interests of my own safety, as he said, to return to my apartment and stay there. I protested quite vehemently against this demand, but Herr Göring insisted. On my way back to my apartment, I went first to my office in the Vice Chancellery. On arriving there, I found my office occupied by the SS, and I was permitted only to enter my own room and get my files. I went on home to my apartment, where I found a large number of SS. The telephone was disconnected; the radio was disconnected; and I was completely cut off from the outside world for 3 whole days.
July 3, 1934:
Immediately upon his release, Vice-Chancellor von Papen travels to the Reich Chancellery to hand in his resignation to Hitler.
From Papen's IMT testimony: I finally succeeded, on the third day of my arrest, in contacting Göring by telephone. I demanded to be set free at once. Herr Göring apologized and said that it was only a mistake that I had been kept under arrest for this long period of time. I then went immediately to the Reich Chancellery. There I met Hitler, who was about to start a Cabinet session. I asked him to step into the next room so that I could speak to him and I refused to comply with his request that I should attend the Cabinet meeting. I said to him: "What has happened here to a member of your government is so incredible and fantastic that there is only one answer for me to give: A repetition of my request to resign—and at once.”
July 12, 1934:
Herr Hitler tried to persuade me to remain. He said: "I will explain to you in the Cabinet and later in the Reichstag how everything happened, and why it happened." I said to him: "Herr Hitler, there is no explanation and no excuse for this incident; I demand that the fate of these members of my staff be made the subject of immediate investigation and the facts be cleared up." I demanded that he publish my resignation immediately. When he saw that I could not be persuaded to remain, Herr Hitler told me that he could not make my resignation public because the agitation among the German people was too great. He said that he could not make my resignation public for some 3 or 4 weeks.
Papen praises the so-called 'Night of the Long Knives in a letter to Hitler:
Allow me to say how manly and humanly great of you I think this is. Your courageous and firm intervention have met with nothing but recognition throughout the entire world. I congratulate you for all you have given anew to the German nation by crushing the intended second revolution.
July 13, 1934:
Hitler defends his actions of June 30, 1934 before the Reichstag:
General Schleicher was the man who gave external expression to the secret wish of the Chief of Staff, Röhm. He it was who defined the latter's views in concrete form and maintained that:
. The present regime in Germany cannot be supported.
. Above all the army and all national associations must be united in a single band.
. The only man who could be considered for such a position was the Chief of Staff, Röhm.
. Herr von Papen must be removed and he himself would be ready to take the position of Vice Chancellor, and that in addition further important changes must be made in the Cabinet of the Reich.
As always happens in such cases there now began the search after the men of the new Government, always under view that I myself should at least for the present be left in the position which I now hold. The execution of these proposals of General von Schleicher was bound, as soon as Point 2 was reached, to come up against my unalterable opposition. [For the full text
, Click here
From The Face Of The Third Reich by Joachim C Fest: Papen's famous Marburg speech of 17th June 1934, written by Edgar Jung (and others), which occupies so much space in Papen's apologia (memoirs), was not so much the outcry of a sense of justice outraged by the aims and methods of the National Socialist conquest of power as the outcry of an infuriated accomplice finally brought to realize that he had no chance of putting his own plans into effect and that if he had been given any role at all it was purely as a decorative element in a state which, after a fourteen-year interregnum, he considered as belonging once more to himself and his class and which he had intended to govern. It was not least this claim behind Papen's words that caused Hitler's harsh reaction to the speech and gave the bloodbath of 30th June 1934, a fortnight later, its double intention. We should still be blinded by National Socialist pronouncements if we looked upon the events of that day as solely a showdown between Hitler and Rohm, between party and SA. Far beyond this, the blow was simultaneously aimed at the last remaining claims to power of the conservative and bourgeois interests.
July 25, 1934:
Papen himself was kept under house arrest for a time, while two of his closest colleagues, one of them Edgar Jung, were murdered, so that the Vice-Chancellor 'stood like a melancholy king skittle among blood and corpses'. It is true that like a man of honor he thereupon offered his resignation, but he did not follow the path to resistance which a considerable group from the conservative camp took after this moment of disillusionment. On the contrary, a few weeks later he again offered his services to Hitler, the murderer of his friends, and one wonders whether this decision was the easier because Hitler was at the same time the murderer of his bitterest enemy, General von Schleicher. Ambition and an insatiable self-importance, however, undoubtedly played a greater part in Papen's decision. He found it intolerable, one of his conservative cabinet colleagues later wrote, 'not to be in the game, even if he did not like his fellow players'. Ostensibly after a severe inner struggle, he went to Vienna as an envoy on a special mission—to prepare the way for the Anschluss; but we have only to read what thoughts filled his mind when he was called by Hitler to know how willingly he allowed himself to be defeated in this struggle with himself.
Austrian Chancellor Dollfuss is murdered.
From Papen's IMT testimony: On 25 July, the day of the murder of Dollfuss, Hitler rang me up in the middle of the night, and asked me to go to Vienna at once as his Ambassador. I asked: 'What gave you this odd idea?' He informed me of Dollfuss' murder, of which I had not yet heard, and said: 'It is absolutely essential that someone who knows the conditions there should take over affairs at once.' I replied that I could not possibly give my decision on such a step over the telephone, whereupon he asked me to come to Bayreuth at once to discuss it...
July 26, 1934:
In the discussion in Bayreuth. Hitler put it to me that I was the only available person who could re-establish a favorable situation in Austria, because, of course, Hitler knew my attitude toward that problem from the numerous protests I had raised in the Cabinet against Austria's treatment. He also knew that I had been a friend of the murdered Dr. Dollfuss and that I knew Herr Von Schuschnigg. I stated my conditions and these conditions were: The immediate recall of the Party Gauleiter, Herr Habicht, who was in Austria by Hitler's order. Hitler was of the opinion that if he did this it would amount to an admission of guilt...
Hitler replied that if he recalled this man, it would look like a confession of complicity in the Dollfuss murder. I replied that the whole world was in any case convinced of the complicity of the Party in Germany or its organizations, generally speaking; and that as far as I was concerned, it was only important that those connections should be broken off forthwith. I further demanded an assurance in writing from Hitler that the German-Austrian policy of the future-what is generally termed the Anschluss policy-would move on a purely evolutionary level, that is to say, that no recourse would be had to forcible measures and aggression. Hitler immediately ordered this man Habicht to be recalled and gave me a written assurance with reference to the second question. And finally, I said that I was prepared to take over the pacification program ion Austria, but only until normal and friendly relations had been re-established. This meant that later on in Austria I had the additional line of Ambassador on a Special Mission.
Papen is sent to Vienna as Minister to Austria.
August 2, 1934:
August 19, 1934
The German electorate approves Hitler's merging the two offices of Chancellor and President by 90% of the vote. Hitler is Führer und Reichskanzler.
July 11, 1936:
The Berchtesgaden Agreement regarding the maintenance of Austrian sovereignty is negotiated between von Papen and Austrian Chancellor Schuschnigg.
Being convinced that they are making a valuable contribution towards the whole European development in the direction of maintaining peace, and in the belief that they are thereby best serving the manifold mutual interests of both German States, the Governments of the Federal State of Austria and of Germany have resolved to return to relations of a normal and friendly character. In this connection:
1) The German Government recognizes the full sovereignty of the Federal State of Austria in the spirit of the pronouncements of the German Fuehrer and Chancellor of 21 May 1935.
2) Each of the two Governments regards the inner political order (including the question of Austrian National Socialism) obtaining in the other country as an internal concern of that country, upon which it will exercise neither direct nor indirect influence.
3) The Austrian Federal Government will constantly follow in its policy in general, and in particular towards Germany, a line in conformity with leading principles corresponding to the fact that Austria regards herself as a German State. By such a decision neither the Rome Protocols of 1934 and their additions of 1936, nor the relationships of Austria to Italy and Hungary as partners in these protocols, are affected. Considering that the detente desired by both sides cannot become a reality unless certain preliminary conditions are fulfilled by the Governments of both countries, the Austrian Federal Government and the German Government will pass a number of special measures to bring about the requisite preliminary state of affairs.
From the secret part of this agreement, the most important provisions of which have been summarized by Mr. Messersmith: Austria would (1) appoint a number of individuals enjoying the Chancellor's confidence but friendly to Germany to positions in the Cabinet; (2) would devise means to give the 'National opposition' a role in the political life of Austria and within the framework of the Patriotic Front, and (3) would amnesty all Nazis save those convicted of the most serious offenses.
July 12, 1936:
Papen reports to Hitler on the Berchtesgaden Agreement:
The progress of normalizing relations with Germany at the present time is obstructed by the continued persistence of the Ministry of Security, occupied by the old anti-National Socialistic officials. Changes in personnel are therefore of utmost importance. But they are definitely not to be expected prior to the conference on the abolishing of the Control of Finances Finanzkontrolle at Geneva. The Chancellor of the League has informed Minister de Glaise-Horstenau, of his intention, to offer him the portfolio of the Ministry of the Interior. As a guiding principle Marschroute I recommend on the tactical side, continued, patient psychological manipulations, with slowly intensified pressure directed at changing the regime.
January 3, 1937:
The proposed conference on economic relations, taking place at the end of October will be a very useful tool for the realization of some of our project. Discussion with government officials as well as with leaders of the illegal party (Leopold and Schattenfreh) who conform completely with the concordat of July 11, I am trying to direct the next developments in such a manner to aim at corporatist representation of the movement in the fatherland front Vaterlaendischen Front but nevertheless refraining from putting National- Socialists in important positions for the time being. However such positions are to be occupied only by personalities, having the support and the confidence of the movement. I have a willing collaborator in this respect in Minister Glaise-Horstenau.
Hitler speaks before the Reichstag:
March 14, 1937:
The unreasonable division of the world into peoples who have and peoples who have not does not remove or solve problems. If it is to be the task of the League of Nations only to guarantee the existing state of the world and to safeguard it for all time, then we might as well entrust it also with the task of guarding the high tide and the low tide, or of regulating for the future the direction of the Gulf Stream. Its continued existence depends on the extent to which it is realized that necessary reforms which concern the relations of the nations must be considered and put into practice. [For the full text
, Click here
Pius XI releases the Papal Encyclical Mit Brennender Sorge
May 1, 1937:
When, in 1933, We consented, Venerable Brethren, to open negotiations for a concordat, which the Reich Government proposed on the basis of a scheme of several years' standing; and when, to your unanimous satisfaction, We concluded the negotiations by a solemn treaty, We were prompted by the desire, as it behooved Us, to secure for Germany the freedom of the Church's beneficent mission and the salvation of the souls in her care, as well as by the sincere wish to render the German people a service essential for its peaceful development and prosperity. Hence, despite many and grave misgivings, We then decided not to withhold Our consent for We wished to spare the Faithful of Germany, as far as it was humanly possible, the trials and difficulties they would have had to face, given the circumstances, had the negotiations fallen through. It was by acts that We wished to make it plain, Christ's interests being Our sole object, that the pacific and maternal hand of the Church would be extended to anyone who did not actually refuse it. 4. If, then, the tree of peace, which we planted on German soil with the purest intention, has not brought forth the fruit, which in the interest of your people, We had fondly hoped, no one in the world who has eyes to see and ears to hear will be able to lay the blame on the Church. [For the full text
, Click here
Hitler's Germany is outraged when an Austrian official in the small hamlet of Pinkafeld hauls down a flag of the German Reich.
From Papen's IMT testimony: There was great excitement in the press; I instantly tried to settle the matter amicably with the Austrian Minister for Foreign Affairs. Thereupon I received a telegram to proceed to Berlin at once. I arrived in Berlin and reported to Hitler. Hitler did not receive me. I waited for 3 days. After 3 days, I wrote and told him, 'It appears that you are trying to use the flag incident at Pinkafeld to introduce an aggressive policy against Austria. In that case there is nothing more for me to do, and I beg to hand in my resignation.' A quarter of an hour later he called me to the Reich Chancellery. He gave me a lecture, which lasted half an hour, furious and beside himself with rage over the humiliations which the German Reich could no longer tolerate. After his rage had spent itself I told him that our agreement of 26 June ruled that the policy concerning Austria was to be conducted on evolutionary lines. The Agreement of 11 July emphasized that. 'If you wish to pursue a different policy, then dismiss me,' I said. As a result of this very serious conversation he said, 'No, no. Go back and settle everything; we do not want to change our peaceful policy.' I returned to Vienna, and the incident was settled satisfactorily with the Austrian Minister for Foreign Affairs within 24 hours.
February 4, 1938
Hitler’s Cabinet meets for the final time. Papen is recalled as Minister to Austria. Simultaneously, the German Government is reorganized; von Neurath, von Fritsch, and von Blomberg are purged. In the Foreign Office, Joachim von Ribbentrop replaces Konstantin von Neurath as the Minister of Foreign Affairs. Chancellor Adolf Hitler assumes the Ministry of War portfolio. General Heinrich Brauschitsch becomes the new Wehrmacht commander-in-chief. General Wilhelm Keitel becomes Hitler's representative at the Supreme Command.
February 11, 1938
From the Diary of Alfred Jodl:
In the evening and on 12 February General K (Keitel) with General Von Reichenau and Sperrle at Obersalzberg. Schuschnigg, together with G. Schmidt are being put under the heaviest political and military pressure. At 2300 hours Schuschnigg signs protocol.
February 12, 1938:
The Austro-German Crisis begins as Hitler meets with Austrian Chancellor Kurt Schuschnigg at Berchtesgaden. Schuschnigg's car had been met at the German-Austrian border by Papen, who joins him for the ride up to Hitler's spectacular mountaintop retreat. Papen informs Schuschnigg that Hitler is in a very good mood this morning. But, Papen adds, Hitler hopes that Schuschnigg won't mind if three of Germany's top generals are also present during the day's discussion. At the meeting, the German Fuehrer demands that Schuschnigg lift the ban on political parties, reinstate full party freedoms, release all imprisoned members of the Nazi party and allow them to participate in the government.
February 13, 1938
From Jodl's Diary:
In the afternoon General K asks Admiral C (Canaris) and myself to come to his apartment. He tells us that the Führer's order is to the effect that military pressure, by shamming military action, should be kept up until the 15th. Proposals for these deceptive maneuvers are drafted and submitted to the Führer by telephone for approval.
February 14, 1938
At 2:40 o'clock the agreement of the Führer arrives. Canaris went to Munich to the Counter-Intelligence Office VII and initiates the different measures. The effect is quick and strong. In Austria the impression is created that Germany is undertaking serious military preparations.
February 16, 1938:
Schuschnigg complies with Hitler's demands by appointing Arthur Seyss-Inquart, a pro-Nazi lawyer, as Interior Minister and another Nazi, Edmund Glaise-Horstenau, as a Minister without Portfolio.
February 19, 1938:
Schuschnigg's government extends full amnesty to imprisoned National Socialists and gives the National Socialists access to the Fatherland Front.
February 20, 1938:
In a speech aimed specifically at Czechoslovakia, Chancellor Adolf Hitler proclaims that the German government vows to protect German minorities outside of the Reich.
February 20, 1938:
British Foreign Secretary Anthony Eden resigns in protest of Chamberlain's policy of appeasement with Italy and Germany.
February 24, 1938:
Austrian Chancellor Kurt Schuschnigg, in response to an earlier speech by German Chancellor Adolf Hitler; calls for international support to resist future German demands for Austrian concessions; reaffirms the independence of Austria; promises to protect the ten million Germans living outside of the Reich.
February 28, 1938:
Hitler recalls Papen to Berlin.
March 3 - 9, 1938:
German Chancellor Adolf Hitler begins an official state visit to Rome to soften Mussolini up in anticipation of Hitler's impending move into Austria.
March 4, 1938:
In response to German Chancellor Adolf Hitler's posturing, Czechoslovak Prime Minister Milan Hodza declares that Czechoslovakia will defend itself against foreign interference.
March 9, 1938:
Austrian Chancellor Schuschnigg schedules a plebiscite on the independence of Austria for 13 March. The question is to be: 'Are you for an independent and social, a Christian, German and united Austria?'
From Papen's IMT testimony: The plebiscite announced by Herr Schuschnigg was, of course, a complete surprise. In my view it was contrary to the spirit of the arrangements agreed upon at Berchtesgaden and contrary to the tendency of a peaceful settlement of the tension. The plebiscite was a violation of the Austrian Constitution, too. It was not a decision of the Austrian Government but was a spontaneous measure of the Austrian Chancellor, and in my opinion it was quite evident that those elements in Austria who were in favor of a union of the two States were most displeased with this plebiscite.
March 10, 1938:
Gauleiter Rainer's report to Reichscommissioner Buerckel:
The Landesleitung received word about the planned plebiscite through illegal information services, on 9 March 1938 at 10 AM. At the session which was called immediately afterwards, Seyss-Inquart explained that he had known about this for only a few hours, but that he could not talk about it because he had given his word to keep silent on this subject. But during the talks he made us understand that the illegal information we received was based on truth, and that in view of the new situation, he had been cooperating with the Landesleitung from the very first moment. Klausner, Jury, Rainer, Globocnik and Seyss-Inquart were present at the first talks which were held at 10 a. m. There it was decided that first, the Fuehrer had to be informed immediately; secondly, the opportunity for the Fuehrer to intervene must be given to him by way of an official declaration made by Minister Seyss-Inquart to Schuschnigg; and thirdly, Seyss-Inquart must negotiate with the government until clear instructions and orders were received from the Fuehrer. Seyss-Inquart and Rainer together composed a letter to Schuschnigg, and only one copy of it was brought to the Führer by Globocnik, who flew to him on the afternoon of 9 March 1938.
March 10, 1938
By surprise and without consulting his ministers, Schuschnigg ordered a plebiscite for Sunday, 13, March, which should bring strong majority for the Legitimists in the absence of plan or preparation. Führer is determined not to tolerate it. The same night, March 9 to 10, he calls for Göring. General v. Reichenau is called back from Cairo Olympic Committee. General v. Schebert is ordered to come, as well as Minister Glaise Horstenau, who is with the District leader (Gauleiter) Buerckel in the Palatinate. General Keitel communicates the facts at 1:45. He drives to the Reichskanzlei at 10 o'clock. I follow at 10:15, according to the wish of General v. Viebahn, to give him the old draft. Prepare case Otto. 1300 hours: General K informs Chief of Operational Staff (and) Admiral Canaris. Ribbentrop is being detained in London. Neurath takes over the Foreign Office. Führer wants to transmit ultimatum to the Austrian Cabinet. A personal letter is dispatched to Mussolini and the reasons are developed which force the Führer to take action. 1830 hours: Mobilization order is given to the Command of the 8th Army (Corps Area 3) 7th and 13th Army Corps; without reserve Army.
Adolf Hitler, from Mein Kampf: German Austria must be restored to the great German motherland; and not, indeed, on any grounds of economic calculation whatsoever. No, no. Even if the union were a matter of economic indifference, and even if it were to be disadvantageous from the economic standpoint, still it ought to take place. People of the same blood should be in the same Reich. The German people will have no right to engage in a colonial policy until they shall have brought all their children together in one state. When the territory of the Reich embraces all the Germans and finds itself unable to assure them a livelihood, only then can the moral right arise from the need of the people, to acquire foreign territory. The plough is then the sword; and the tears of war will produce the daily bread for the generations to come...
March 11, 1938:
To demand that the 1914 frontiers should be restored is a glaring political absurdity that is fraught with such consequences as to make the claim itself appear criminal. The confines of the Reich as they existed in 1914 were thoroughly illogical because they were not really complete, in the sense of including all the members of the German nation. Nor were they reasonable, in view of the geographical exigencies of military defense. They were not the consequences of a political plan which had been well considered and carried out, but they were temporary frontiers established in virtue of a political struggle that had not been brought to a finish; and indeed, they were partly the chance result of circumstances.
A meeting in Berlin and at the Reich Chancellery as described by Papen before the IMT:
I met Hitler surrounded by numerous ministers, Herr Göring, Dr. Goebbels, von Neurath, state secretaries, and also military people. He greeted me with the words: "The situation in Austria has become intolerable; Herr Schuschnigg is betraying the German idea and we cannot admit this forced plebiscite." And when I saw how aroused he was, I reminded him again of his promise to me at Bayreuth and warned him urgently against over-hasty decisions. But on this morning he told me, "Either the plebiscite must be canceled or the Government must resign." Today we know from the letter, which he sent to Dr. Seyss by special courier, of this ultimatum to the Austrian Government. At that time he did not inform me of this active intervention on his part. Then during the day I, along with most of the persons present, remained in the large hall while Göring telephoned from Hitler's private office. What was telephoned is something we, who were waiting in the large hall, could only gather fragmentarily; but of course today we know it from the documents here. There is only one incident which I want to mention.
March 11, 1938:
Toward 5 o'clock in the afternoon, the report came from Vienna that Schuschnigg's Government was prepared to resign. Thereupon I pressed Hitler to cancel his military orders. Herr Hitler did that. Between 5 and 6 o'clock in the afternoon the order to the military forces standing by was withdrawn. On that occasion I congratulated General Keitel and General Von Brauchitsch, who were present, on our being spared this issue. But 1 hour later the situation was once more entirely different. When a telephone call came through from Vienna stating that the Federal President refused to nominate a Seyss-Inquart Government, Hitler again issued the orders to the troops. Following that, late in the evening, it was learned that the Austrian Government had requested the entry of German troops, since otherwise they could not control the situation. I can still see Herr Von Neurath standing next to me telling me, "This is such an important report from Vienna that we absolutely have to have it in writing." Thus we were under the impression that this call for assistance came to us from Vienna. The further events of the evening are known, and I can only say that I personally was deeply shaken by this turn of events because it was perfectly clear that marching in with the Army could lead to incidents and to bloodshed, and new bloodshed between our two nations would not only have badly compromised the German problem again, but would also leave the worst possible impression of the conduct of German policy.
From a directive of the Supreme High Command of the Armed Forces (Hitler), initialed by Jodl and Keitel:
1. If these measures prove unsuccessful, I intend to invade Austria with armed forces to establish constitutional conditions and to prevent further outrages against the pro-German population...
March 12, 1938
4. The forces of the Army and Air Force detailed for this operation must be ready for invasion and/or ready for action on 12 March 1938 at the latest from 1200 hours.
I reserve the right to give permission for crossing and flying over the frontier, and to decide the actual moment for invasion. 5. The behavior of the troops must give the impression that we do not want to wage war against our Austrian brothers. It is in our interest that the whole operation shall be carried out without any violence but in the form of a peaceful entry welcomed by the population. Therefore any provocation is to be avoided. If, however, resistance is offered it must be broken ruthlessly by force of arms.
The German Army marches unopposed into Vienna. Hitler announces that a plebiscite will be held April 10 on the question of Germany the annexation of Austria into the Reich.
March 12, 1938
Nazi Minister of Propaganda Goebbels reads an address by Hitler on the radio:
March 14, 1938:
I have therefore decided to offer the millions of Germans in Austria the assistance of the Reich. Since this morning soldiers of the German armed forces have been crossing all of the German-Austrian borders. Armored units, infantry divisions and SS units on the ground and the German Luftwaffe in the skies, summoned by the new National Socialist Government in Vienna, will ensure that the Austrian People are within the very near future finally given the opportunity to determine for themselves their future, and thus their fate, through a genuine plebiscite. And these units are supported by the will and determination of the entire German nation. I myself, as Führer and Chancellor of the German People, will be happy once again to be able to enter the country which is also my homeland as a German and a free citizen. The world, however, shall see for itself that for the German People in Austria these days are filled with hours of blissful joy. [For the full text
, Click here
Hitler's government gives assurances to the Czechoslovak government of the German desire to improve relations between the two states while the French and Soviet governments declare their intentions to honor their treaty obligations for the defense of Czechoslovakia.
March 16-19, 1938:
As most of Europe is preoccupied with the German absorption of Austria, the Polish government issues a series of demands to the Lithuanians. Faced with the threat of war, the Lithuanian government immediately agrees to all of the Polish demands, including recognition of the status quo in eastern Europe. The Lithuanian capitulation prevents the crisis from escalating.
March 22-25, 1938:
German political parties which had joined the Hodza ministry in Czechoslovakia, and the members of the German Activists withdraw from the government. Sudeten Germans are unmoved when Prime Minister Milan Hodza responds by announcing a new Nationality Statute designed to protect Czechoslovakian minorities.
March 25, 1938:
Hitler speaks in Koenigsberg:
I decided not to wait until April 10, but to effect the unification forthwith.That which has happened in those last weeks is the result of the triumph of an idea, a triumph of will, but also a triumph of endurance and tenacity and, above all, it is the result of the miracle of faith: for only faith has availed to move these mountains. I once went forth with faith in the German people and began this vast fight. With faith in me first thousands, then hundreds of thousands, and at last millions have followed after me. With faith in Germany and in this idea, millions of our fellow countrymen in the New Ostmark in the south of our Reich have held their banners high and have remained loyal to the Reich and to the life of the German people. And now I have faith in this 10th of April. I am convinced that on this day for the first time in history in very truth all Germany will be on the march. And on this day I shall be the Leader of the greatest army in the history of the world; for when on this 10th of April I cast my voting paper into the urn, then I shall know that behind me come 50 millions, and they all know only my watchword: One People and one Reich. [For the full text
, Click here
[For a detailed telling of the Anschluss, see
, Austria: The Other Germany
April 10, 1938
In a national plebiscite, Austrian voters register 99.75% in favor of union with Germany: Austria becomes part of the Reich as a new state, divided into seven Gaue (states). Austria withdraws as a member state from the League of Nations because of the republic's incorporation into Germany.
May 17, 1938:
The British and Turkish governments sign an agreement to promote stability in the eastern Mediterranean.
June 16, 1938:
The German Anschluss results in the extension of anti-Jewish laws to former Austrian provinces. Under the new regulations, Austrian Jews have to register all their property, at home and abroad, within a few weeks.
July 3, 1938:
The French and Turkish governments sign an agreement regarding the future of Alexandretta. The future of the province will be settled by an election and each country will send in 2,500 troops to the sanjak to supervise the voting.
July 5, 1938:
The Turkish army dispatches a force to the Sanjak of Alexandretta to help supervise the plebiscite.
September 29, 1938
The Munich Conference takes place.
February 10 , 1939:
Pope Pius XI dies. The new Pope, Pius XII, will not renew Papen's appointment as Papal Chamberlain (granted him by Pope Pius X in 1923), presumably because of Papen's political role in the Hitler régime. (See: July 24, 1959.)
March 15, 1939:
German troops occupy the Sudetenland, Bohemia and Moravia; the Czech government disintegrates.
March 20, 1939:
In response to the occupation of Bohemia and Moravia, FDR recalls the US ambassador to Berlin.
March 23, 1939:
The German government guarantees Lithuanian independence and integrity while the Lithuanians acquiesce to the peaceful transfer of Memel back to Germany. Also: Hitler issues strong demands to the Polish government for the annexation of Danzig and Posen.
Papen becomes Hitler's ambassador in Ankara, Turkey; a post he will retain until August 1944.
From Papen's IMT testimony: I accepted the post, after I had refused it twice, under quite extraordinary circumstances. On the day of Italy's occupation of Albania, Herr von Ribbentrop called me up and urgently asked me to come to Berlin. There he explained to me that the post in Ankara, which had been vacant for 6 months, would have to be filled immediately because of the complications which might arise in the southeast from the occupation of Albania. Before I accepted this post I carefully considered whether I could do and had to do anything more for the Hitler Government. After 15 March, the entry into Prague, we knew that we were sitting on a powder keg. In this European problem there were two possibilities of conflict; one was the Polish problem, where I could do nothing; the other was the southeast problem which had become acute through the occupation of Albania. I felt that I could do something here and could contribute to the maintenance of peace in Europe. For that reason I offered to go to Ankara at this moment.
May 12, 1941:
Following a series of last-minute conferences at Reichsfuehrer Hitler's Obersalzburg retreat, German Ambassador to Turkey Papen resumes his post, arriving in Ankara aboard a large camouflaged Junkers troop transport plane.
Papen negotiates a treaty of friendship with Turkey. In his testimony before the IMT, he defends the treaty:
Turkey was to know that in spite of our alliance with Italy, in spite of the war in the Balkans, in spite of the war with Greece, we would never threaten Turkey. Turkey was also to know that we would not attempt to advance through Turkey to the Suez Canal. The negotiations were very long and difficult, because Herr von Ribbentrop did not want in this treaty any mention of Turkey's contractual obligations to the Allies. I then pointed out to Herr von Ribbentrop by cable that the Turks were faithful to their treaties.
February 24, 1942:
Papen survives a Soviet assassination attempt when a suicide bomber blows himself up without harming anyone else.
December 17, 1942:
United Nations Statement: "...those responsible for these crimes shall not escape retribution...
November 1, 1943
December 24, 1943:
Let those who have hitherto not imbued their hands with innocent blood beware lest they join the ranks of the guilty, for most assuredly the three Allied powers will pursue them to the uttermost ends of the earth and will deliver them to their accusers in order that justice may be done. The above declaration is without prejudice to the case of German criminals whose offenses have no particular geographical localization and who will be punished by joint decision of the government of the Allies. [For the full text
, Click here
FDR delivers a Fireside Chat:
June 6, 1944:
During the last two days in (at) Teheran, Marshal Stalin, Mr. Churchill and I looked ahead—ahead to the days and months and years that (which) will follow Germany's defeat. We were united in determination that Germany must be stripped of her military might and be given no opportunity within the foreseeable future to regain that might. The United Nations have no intention to enslave the German people. We wish them to have a normal chance to develop, in peace, as useful and respectable members of the European family. But we most certainly emphasize that word "respectable"—for we intend to rid them once and for all of Nazism and Prussian militarism and the fantastic and disastrous notion that they constitute the Master Race. [For the full text
, Click here
July 20, 1944:
Hitler survives an assassination attempt (bomb explosion) during a war conference.
July 23, 1944:
Majdanek is liberated.
August 2, 1944:
Turkey breaks off relations with Germany.
From Papen's IMT testimony: I can state that on the day of the severance of relations between Turkey and Germany the British Prime Minister Mr. Churchill said the following in the House of Commons: "The breaking-off of relations between Turkey and Germany will have many consequences, including consequences for Herr Von Papen. On 30 June he escaped the blood bath. This time he will not succeed." As a result, I received requests from the Allies to remain in Turkey. I refused to do so. I said, "I shall return to Germany where I belong. I will not emigrate, for perhaps I might still do something for my fatherland." Thus I returned to Germany. When I arrived there I observed that as a result of the terror methods which had been launched after 20 July there was no possibility at all of doing anything. For the rest of the time a Gestapo guard was placed before my door.
Hitler presents Papen with the Knight's Cross of the Military Merit Order.
September 15, 1944:
A US Colonel in the War Department's Special Project Branch, Murray Bernays, proposes part of the framework that will be used in Nuremburg; that of treating the Nazi regime as a criminal conspiracy.
September 30, 1944
Stalin to Churchill:
I share your conviction that firm agreement between the three leading powers constitutes a true guarantee of future peace and answers to the best hopes of all peace-loving peoples. The continuation of our governments in such a policy in the postwar period as we have achieved during this great war will, it seems to me, have a decisive influence. Of course, I have a great desire to meet with you and the President. I attach great importance to it from the point of view of the interests in our common business. But, as far as I am concerned, I must make one reservation. The doctors advise me not to undertake long journeys. For a certain period I must take account of this. I warmly welcome your wish to come to Moscow in October. We shall have to consider military and other questions, which are of great importance.
October 9, 1944:
Churchill arrives in Moscow. Soon, he and Stalin are discussing spheres of influence in the Balkans. Churchill’s account:
The moment was apt for business, so I said, "Let us settle our affairs in the Balkans. Your armies are in Rumania and Bulgaria. We have interests, missions, and agents there. Don’t let us get at cross-purposes in small ways. So far as Britain and Russia are concerned, how would it do for you to have ninety per cent predominance in Rumania, for us to have ninety per cent of the say in Greece, and go fifty-fifty about Yugoslavia?" While this was being translated I wrote out on half a sheet of paper: Rumania Russia 90% The others 10% Greece Great Britain 90% (in accord with USA) Russia 10% Yugoslavia 50-50% Hungary 50-50% Bulgaria Russia 75% The others 25% I pushed this across to Stalin, who had by then heard the translation. There was a slight pause. Then he took his blue pencil and made a large tick upon it, and passed it back to us. It was all settled in no more time than it takes to sit down…After this there was a long silence. The penciled paper lay in the center of the table. At length I said, "Might it not be thought rather cynical if it seemed we had disposed of these issues, so fateful to millions of people, in such an offhand manner? Let us burn the paper." "No, you keep it," said Stalin.
October 22, 1944
Churchill to FDR:
Major War Criminals. UJ (Churchill and FDR refer to Josef Stalin as Uncle Joe, or UJ, in their correspondence) took an unexpectedly ultra-respectable line. There must be no executions without trial otherwise the world would say we were afraid to try them. I pointed out the difficulties in international law but he replied if there were no trials there must be no death sentences, but only life-long confinements.
October 22, 1944
FDR to Churchill:
Your statement of the present attitude of Uncle J. towards war criminals, the future of Germany, and the Montreux Convention is most interesting. We should discuss these matters, together with our Pacific war effort, at the forthcoming three-party meeting.
November 28, 1944:
Himmler orders the gas chambers at Auschwitz destroyed.
January 4, 1945
Churchill to Eden:
Treatment of Germany after the war. It is much too soon for us to decide these enormous questions. Obviously, when the German organized resistance has ceased the first stage will be one of severe military control. This may well last for many months, or perhaps for a year or two, if the German underground movement is active. 2. We have yet to settle the practical questions of the partition of Germany, the treatment of the Rhur and Saar industries, etc. These may be touched upon at our forthcoming meeting, but I doubt whether any final decision will be reached then. No one can foresee at the present moment what the state of Europe will be or what the relations of the Great Powers will be, or what the tempers of their peoples will be. I am sure that the hatreds which Germany has caused in so many countries will find their counterpart here. 3. I have been struck at every point where I have sounded opinion at the depth of the feeling that would be aroused by a policy of ‘putting poor Germany on her legs again.’ I am also well aware of the arguments about ‘not having a poisoned community in the heart of Europe’…
January 28, 1945:
I remember so well last time being shocked at the savage views of the House of Commons and of the constituencies, and being indignant with Poincare when he sent the French into the Ruhr. In a few years however the mood of Parliament and the public changed entirely. Thousands of millions of money were lent to Germany by the United States. I went along with the tolerant policy towards Germany up to the Locarno Treaty and during the rest of Mr. Baldwin’s Government on the grounds that Germany had no power to harm us. But thereafter a swift change occurred. The rise of Hitler began. And thereafter I once again found myself very much out of sympathy with the prevailing mood.
The liberation of Auschwitz occurs.
April 12, 1945:
President Roosevelt dies; Truman becomes President. The Allies liberate Buchenwald and Belsen concentration camps.
April 13, 1945:
Former US Attorney General and now Associate Justice of the US Supreme Court, Justice Robert Jackson, speaks before the American Society of International Law:
April 18, 1945:
All else will fail unless we can devise instruments of adjudication, and conciliation, so reasonable and acceptable to the masses of people that future governments will have always an honorable alternative to war. The time when these institutions will be most needed will probably not come until the names that signify leadership in today’s world will have passed into history. [For the full text
, Click here
German forces in the Ruhr surrender.
April 21, 1945:
The Red Army reaches Berlin.
April 30, 1945:
An announcement on the German wireless: "It has been reported from the Führer's headquarters that our Führer Adolf Hitler has died this afternoon..."
May 2, 1945:
Executive Order of US President Truman:
May 7-8, 1945
Associate Justice Robert H. Jackson is hereby designated to act as the Representative of the United States and as its Chief of Counsel in preparing and prosecuting charges of atrocities and war crimes against such of the leaders of the European Axis powers and their principal agents and accessories as the United States may agree with any of the United Nations to bring to trial before an international tribunal. [For the full text
, Click here
The Allies formally accept the unconditional surrender of Nazi Germany.
Papen, who has been constantly on the run (first from the Gestapo, then from the Allies) since returning to Germany from his post in Turkey, is run to ground in Westphalia by an American platoon. He is found eating stew with a granddaughter in a rustic lodge in the woods. The Americans wait patiently as he packs a small rucksack. (Tusa)
From The Nuremberg Trial by Ann and John Tusa: Papen's arrest caused consternation at the Foreign Office. It raised in far more acute form than Ribbentrop's the danger of Soviet misinterpretation of his presence behind Western lines. 'I cannot imagine a more unwelcome prisoner,' wrote a Foreign Office official. 'More peace feelers have been associated with his name than almost any other prominent German.' The Foreign Office moved fast to head off any possible Allied misunderstandings. Within six days of his detention, Papen found himself at Eisenhower's headquarters facing the senior British and American military intelligence chiefs in Europe—and two Soviet generals. He told them little of any military or political significance, but demonstrated an amazing self-confidence. 'He was extremely well-dressed, beautiful silk suit, etc., and it was clear that he had intended to fall into the hands of the Americans and had dressed up for the occasion,' said the Foreign Office report on the meeting. He indicated his belief that he still had a role to play in liaising between the Germans and the Allies. When Major General Strong, the British head of Military Intelligence at SHAEF, asked the Foreign Office if he should seek a further, private interview with Papen, he was put sharply in his place: 'Such an interview must under no circumstances take place—Papen is as dangerous as a hamadryad snake—he could do us no good.
[For Part Two, Click here.]
Caution: As always, excerpts from trial testimony should not necessarily be mistaken for fact. It should be kept in mind that they are the sometimes-desperate statements of hard-pressed defendants seeking to avoid culpability and shift responsibility from charges that, should they be found guilty, can possibly be punishable by death.
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