COPY OF DOCUMENT 1760-PS
United Mexican States
Mexico Federal District
Embassy of the United States of America
George S. Messersmith, being first duly sworn, deposes and says:
During the period 1930 to the late spring of 1934, I was Consul General of the United States of America in Berlin. During that period and particularly during the years 1933 and until my departure for Austria in the late spring of 1934, the nature of my work brought me into frequent contact with German Government officials. As background for this statement it is pertinent to state that this contact with German Government officials in the highest categories was necessary by me as Consul General, and some of my principal associates, because of the circumstances of the period.
In the period immediately preceding the coming into power of the National Socialists it was necessary for me and some of my principal associates in the Consulate General to have contact with high officials of the German Government because of unsettled state of affairs in Germany due to the uncertain political situation; this involved difficulties for American firms of various kinds which made the intervention of the Consulate General in the line of its regular duty necessary. In addition to this contact with the officials of the Government, as a matter of further duty I had contact with individuals in all parties in Germany in order to keep myself and therefore our Government currently informed with regard to developments in the political picture in Germany. During that period, and before the National Socialists came into power, I therefore had contact of an informed character with persons in the National Socialist Party for the purpose of securing information as to their aims and objectives, but that contact was, before the access to power of that party, with secondary rather than with the first ranking members thereof.
Immediately after the access to power of the National Socialist Government in the beginning of 1933, all sorts of steps of an arbitrary character were taken by the new Government and by its various agencies and dependencies which affected the rights of American citizens and property and in the carrying through of my official duty as Consul General I had the primary responsibility for the protection of American citizens and property. In consequence of this responsibility I had to see frequently almost all of the high ranking members of the German Government with the exception of Hitler and a very large number of officials below the rank of Minister. The nature of my duties was such that a considerable portion of my days had to be spent in visits on such officials to discuss the protection of American interests and property. Some of these secondary officials I had known before the Party came to power, for information purposes.
It is difficult to explain adequately in a statement of this kind the circumstances under which these officials of the Nazi German Government frequently took occasion to talk to me most frankly about matters of general Nazi policy and to discuss frankly and freely the aims and purposes of the Nazi regime. Frequently our conversations were long and difficult because of the matters which I had to present and on which I had to take the firmest stand. Not infrequently at the end of such official conversations they spoke freely and without any reserve with regard to the aims of the regime.
It is the more important to bring this out in this preliminary section of my statement because I did not at any time conceal from any of these Nazi officials my complete lack of sympathy with the course they were pursuing nor did I hesitate to say to them what I considered was the danger of the course which they were pursuing not only for Germany but for Europe and the rest of the world. Their freedom of expression to me was all the more interesting in view of the fact that I never hesitated to assert in the strongest possible way the rights of the United States and of its citizens when they were violated. It requires a knowledge of the circumstances of the time, of the character and psychology of these high Nazis and secondary Nazi officials to be able to appreciate that the fact that I was forthright in my views and did not hesitate to express them and particularly that we stood out so strongly for the rights of our country and our citizens that led them to respect me and my associates and to reveal to me more than they very probably revealed to other foreign representatives. Whatever the reasons may have been, however, the Nazi Government officials, almost without exception from the highest to the lowest with whom I had contact, were on most occasions amazingly frank in their conversation and without any concealment of their aims.
[Omitted is a part of this affidavit in which Mr. Messersmith lists the names, and states his impressions of, the following:
1. Hermann Goering
2. General Milch
3. Hjalmar Schacht
4. Hans Frank
5. Wilhelm Frick
6. Count Schwerin von Krosigk
7. Joseph Goebbels
8. Richard Walther Darre
9. Robert Ley
10. Hans Heinrich Lammers
11. Otto Meissner
12. Franz von Papen
13. Walther Funk
14. General Wilhelm Keitel
15. Admiral Eric von Raeder
16. Admiral Karl Doenitz
17. Dr. Bohle
18. Dr. Stuckert
19. Dr. Krupp von Bohlen
20. Dr. Davidson]
In the late spring or early summer of 1934, I cannot recall the exact date, I left my post as Consul General at Berlin to go to Vienna where I remained until the late spring of 1937. During my stay in Austria, I had intimate official and personal contact with the highest officials of the Austrian Government as well as with many of the secondary and lower ranking officials. I had this intimate contact with these officials of the Austrian Government from the very outset due, undoubtedly, to the fact that when I came to Austria it was already well known that I was an outspoken opponent of all that the Nazi Government and leaders stood for. In consequence, even though I was the Minister of a country which was considered in Austria as having no immediate concern in Austria's foreign relations, I received much information from the many Austrian officials on developments in Austro-German relations and in their relations with other countries in Europe. Among those whom I saw frequently and from whom I obtained information were the following:
Foreign Minister Berger-Waldenegg
Police President and Minister of Security, Hofrat Skubl.
In addition, I should add that there were both in Berlin and in Vienna a corps of correspondents, many of whom were of outstanding ability and with whom I was in frequent contact.
Finally, I should say that during my stay in Austria I made fairly frequent trips to Berlin and on many of these saw and talked with the same persons whom I had known during my residence there as Consul-General. Thus I maintained my German sources of information as well as acquiring new Austrian ones.
I feel fully qualified, therefore, to speak with authority on the matters which follow in this statement. The specific conversations and events which I recite are, of course, specific facts which I set forth here as facts. As to many of them, I have refreshed my recollection as details from contemporaneous reports and letters which I wrote during this period. The opinions which I offer are, I believe, fully warranted by the sum total of information which I received from all sources.
From the very beginnings of the Nazi Government, I was told by both high and secondary Government officials in Germany that incorporation of Austria into Germany was a political and economic necessity and that this incorporation was going to be accomplished "by whatever means were necessary". Although I cannot assign definite times and places, I am sure that at various times and places every one of the German officials whom I have listed earlier in this statement told me this with the exception of Schacht, von Krosigk and Krupp von Bohlen. I can assert that it was fully understood by everyone in Germany who had any knowledge whatever of what was going on that Hitler and the Nazi Government were irrevocably committed to this end and the only doubt which ever existed in conversations or statements to me was "how" and "when".
At the beginnings of the Nazi regime in 1933, Germany was, of course, far too weak to permit any open threats of force against any country, such as the treat which the Nazis made in 1938. Instead it was the avowed and declared policy of the Nazi Government to accomplish the same results which they later accomplished through force through the methods which had proved so successful for them in Germany-obtain a foothold in the cabinet, particularly in the Ministry of the Interior which controlled the police, and then quickly eliminate the opposition elements. During my stay in Austria I was told on any number of occasions by Chancellor Dollfuss, Chancellor Schuschnigg, President Miklas and other high officials of the Austrian Government that the German Government kept up constant and unceasing pressure upon the Austrian government to agree to the inclusion of a number of Ministers with Nazi orientation. The English and French Ministers in Vienna with whom I was in constant and close contact confirmed this information through statements which they made to me of conversations which they had with high Austrian officials.
In order to compel the Austrian Government to accept their terms the Nazis resorted to almost every conceivable measure, including economic pressure, propaganda, and most important of all, terroristic acts. My information concerning these terroristic outrages came partly from official communiques of the Austrian Government, partly from responsible news sources, and to a very considerable extent from Skubl, the Police President and later Minister of Public Security, whom I saw frequently and knew well. The Austrian secret police under the direction of Skubl, it should be noted, was one of the most efficient in all of Europe.
The outrages were an almost constant occurrence, but there were three distinct periods during which they rose to a peak. During the first two of these periods-in mid-1933, and in early 1934-I was still in Berlin. However, during that period I was told by high Nazi officials in conversation with them that these waves of terror were being instigated and directed by them. I found no concealment in my conversations with high Nazi officials of the fact that they were responsible for these activities in Austria. These admissions were entirely consistent with the Nazi thesis that terror is necessary and must be used to impose the will of the Party not only in Germany but in other countries. I recall specifically that General Milch was one of those who spoke frankly that these outrages in Austria were being directed by the Nazi Party and expressed his concern with respect thereto and his disagreement with this definite policy of the Party.
During the wave of terroristic acts in May and June 1934, I had already assumed my duties as American Minister in Vienna. The bomb outrages during this period were directly primarily at railways, tourist centers, and the Catholic Church, which latter, in the eyes of the Nazis, were one of the strongest organizations opposing them. I recall, however, that these outrages diminished markedly for a few days during the meeting of Hitler and Mussolini in Venice in mid-June 1934. At that time Mussolini was strongly supporting the Austrian Government and was strongly and deeply interested in maintaining Austrian independence and sovereignty and in keeping down Nazi influence and activity in Austria. At that time also Hitler could not afford an open break with Mussolini and undoubtedly agreed to the short cessation of these bomb outrages on the insistence of Mussolini because he, Hitler, wished to achieve as favorable an atmosphere for the meeting between him and Mussolini as possible. The cessation of the bomb outrages during the Hitler-Mussolini conversations was considered by me and by the Austrian authorities and by all observers at that time as an open admission on the part of Hitler and the German Government that the outrages were systematically and completely instigated and controlled from Germany.
While I cannot recall at this time the details of the terroristic acts, they were fully reported in the Legation dispatches of the period. These reports were based upon intimate and frequent contact with high Austrian officials and many of the details I received from the then head of the Austrian Police, Dr. Skubl. While there was no doubt whatever that these outrages had been conducted and directed by Germany, there was ample evidence as to the origin of the outrages from the fact that fragments of the bombs collected by the Austrian police showed that they were of German manufacture and had been introduced from Germany into Austria. While I do not recall having seen any of these bomb fragments myself, I recall specifically having been told by high Austrian authorities that they had been them and that there was no doubt as to the origin of the bombs. A further proof that these outrages were directed from Germany, although in most cases the bombs were actually planted by Austrian Nazis, is found in the fact that the records of the Vienna Police and Courts at the time will show that when some of these Nazis were arrested they declared proudly that they had committed these acts.
At various times I or A. W. Kliefoth, Counselor of the Legation, reported on these outrages because of their significance. Quotations from some of these dispatches are as follows:
Trunks containing inflammable material were placed in the three leading railway stations of Vienna and timed to explode simultaneously on the evening of May 6. The damage was very slight. The police charged the Nazis with the Crime.
An official communique, dated May 10, announced that on the previous evening a bomb was exploded near the Philadelphia Bridge in Vienna, wounding two persons. The same evening a bomb was exploded in one of the local beer gardens, at which a picnic of the Heimwehr was being held, slightly wounding a woman.
Official dispatch from Vienna dated May 15, 1934.
During the past week the continuation of the Nazi terrorist activities in bombing public places and railway lines, with the object of damaging the Austrian tourist trade, some of which are described below, was the source of serious concern to the authorities. This terrorism was carried out according to a well organized plan, undoubtedly conducted by Nazi agents in Germany. The explosives used by the Nazis during the past week, according to the Foreign Office, were all manufactured in Germany and smuggled into Austria.
In a communique dated May 24, the authorities also admitted a number of other bomb outrages at Brannau, Bad Ischl and Dorf an der Pram. While the damage to both life and property was small-no lives were lost-the Government admitted its inability to cope with the situation with the existing measures of security.
The authorities further confirmed officially, on May 25, a bomb explosion on May 23 in the residence of the Archbishop of Salzburg, which caused considerable damage. At Monag, near Salzburg, on May 23, a bomb explosion wrecked a flower-kiosk, causing damages amounting to 10,000 schillings. A nine year old child was severely injured in Anleiten, near Ried.
Official Dispatch from Vienna dated May 29, 1934.
The Nazi terrorist outrages continued during the past week in spite of the Government's notification regarding the application throughout Austria of martial law for crimes of public violence. These crimes, now punishable by death, include malicious acts against public order, and damage to the railway, telegraph, telephone and wireless services of the State.
The new development in the recent outrages was that many of the acts were directed against the property of the Roman catholic Church, which in the eyes of the Nazis was the strongest organization opposing the Nazi regime.
In addition to the attempted bombing of the Archbishop's palace in Salzburg, a few days previously, a bomb was exploded on May 20 in an annex to the archbishop's palace in feldkirch, which caused minor damages. The police charged Nazis with the outrages and arrested a number of suspects. During the night of May 27, a bomb explosion broke windows in the churches and vicarages of St. Paul in Carinthia.
In Linz, on May 26, a bomb exploded before the entrance of one of the schools, breaking 44 windows. The school was empty at the time the outrage was committed. During the same night, an attempt was made to blow up the electric works at Brannau, causing a temporary suspension of the electric service.
Other outrages, not reported by the press, included an attempt to blow up one of the bridges over the Danube in Vienna on May 30, a bomb explosion in one of the popular cafes, and numerous bombings of telephone and newspaper kiosks.
Official Dispatch from Vienna dated June 4, 1934.
The National Socialist terrorism in Austria, which started slowly and cautiously several weeks ago, culminated in a heavy and rather serious outbreak on June 8 to June 11, threatening not only the peace and security of the country, but the foreign tourist trade, an exceedingly important item in Austria's economic life. The attempts to wreck the railway lines near Vienna and in other parts of Austria, as well as terrorist outrages in the principal tourist centers, occupied the attention of the Government above all other matters. After a number of important cabinet sessions, new measures were adopted to counteract the terrorism, and the matter was also the subject of diplomatic conversations between Austria and Germany.
Official Dispatch from Vienna dated June 13, 1934.
The outrages in Austria during the week ending June 23, while almost as numerous as in the week preceding, were less violent in character. The attacks were directed, as heretofore, against the quarters of anti-Nazi associations and persons, public utilities, but less against the railway communications. Additional stores of explosive materials were uncovered in Vienna and elsewhere.
A recent terrorist explosion in the Vienna School of Agronomy caused damages amounting to about 40,000 schillings. As a result of the Nazi outrages, the school has been closed for one week.
In an attempted bomb attack on the post office in Bregenz, the capital of the Province of Vorarlberg, the police seized a supply of explosives bearing labels of "Sprengstoffwerke Kloster Lechfeld, G.m.b.H.", "Dynamit A.G. Hamburg, Alfred Nobel & Co.", and "Fabrik Wurzendorf", explosive factories domiciled in Germany.
Official Dispatch from Vienna dated June 25, 1934.
During the week ending June 30 there were less terrorist outrages of major importance, but the number of small outrages, bomb explosions, attacks on electric, water, and railway establishments had not decreased. The principal attacks were directed against Catholic institutions, ex-National Socialists, and the city of Salzburg. The purpose in the latter case was to frighten foreign tourists away from the Summer Music Festivals at Salzburg.
A bomb which exploded in the Roman Catholic vicarage in Kapfenberg, in the Province of Styria, on June 24, resulted in the death of the Chaplain, reverend Franz Eibel. Several other persons were slightly injured. The death was one of terrorism, although there were several cases of attacks. Likewise there were attacks on other Church institutions in different parts of the country.
A series of outrages were reported on June 28 from Salzburg and adjoining tourist centers. Bombs were exploded in the market place and elsewhere, and attempts were made to blow up the electric and railway communications. The outrages were particularly directed at Salzburg at this time in view of the forth-coming Summer Festivals, which ordinarily attract thousands of non-German tourists. Similar attacks were made the same day in the Provinces of Vorarlberg and Tyrol.
Official Dispatch from Vienna dated July 3, 1934.
A series of lesser outrages were reported from all parts of Austria on Sunday, July 15. A large amount of explosives were stolen from a shop in Gloggnitz; the director of the institution was fined 600 schillings and sentenced to two weeks imprisonment for negligence in guarding the supplies. In Unterkirchen, on July 17, a bomb explosion damaged the local vicarage and the electric works. On July 18 a bomb explosion in Innsbruck injured one person, whereas in St. Kathrein a house was damaged. In Vienna on July 18 a public telephone was damaged, and set on fire. The perpetrator, a National Socialist, was immediately apprehended by the Police. At Edlach, a summer resort about 100 kilometers from Vienna, an attempt was made to bomb the railway. A similar attempt was made in a Tyrolian mountain railway station.
Official Dispatch from Vienna dated July 26, 1934.
In addition to these outrages, the Nazis attempted to bring pressure upon Austria by means of the "Austrian Legion". This organization, a para-military force of several thousand men, was stationed near the Austrian border in Germany as a constant and direct threat of violent action against Austria. It was without any question sanctioned by the Nazi Government of Germany as it could otherwise not have existed, and it was armed by them. It was made up of Austrian Nazis who had fled from Austria after committing various crimes in Austria and by Austrians in Germany who were attracted by the idle life and pay given by the German authorities.
After the July Putsch, in August 1934, in Vienna I was told by the British Military Attache in Vienna of a conservation which he had had with the German Military Attache in Vienna, General Muff. It may be observed here that to my knowledge General Muff was a rather influential person in Germany and one who played a preponderant role in the German Legation in Vienna. General Muff told the British Military Attache that he had just been in Germany and had spent three days with Hitler at Berchtesgaden, during which time he had several conversations with Hitler. He said then-in August 1934-that the Austrian Legion had not yet been dissolved and that Hitler had talked at length with him about the Legion. General Muff did not deem it worth while to conceal to the British Military Attache the fact that the Austrian Legion had been armed and that the Nazis had armed it. I saw General MUff later myself and received the same impression as to these facts although he was not as frank and direct in his statements with me as he had been with the British Military Attache.
The events of the Putsch of July 25, 1934, are too well known for me to repeat them in this statement. I need say here only that there can be no doubt that the Putsch was ordered and organized by the Nazi officials from Germany through their organization in Austria made up of German Nazis and Austrian Nazis. Dr. Rieth, the German Minister in Vienna, was fully familiar with all that was going to happen and that was being planned. The German Legation was located directly across the street from the British Legation and the Austrian secret police kept close watch on the persons who entered the German Legation. The British had their own secret service in Vienna at the time and they also kept a discreet surveillance over people entering the German Legation. I was told by both British and Austrian officials that a number of the men who were later found guilty by the Austrian Courts of having been implicated in the Putsch had frequented the German Legation. In addition, I personally followed very closely the activities of Dr. Rieth and I never doubted on the basis of all my information that Dr. Rieth was in close touch and constant touch with the Nazi agents in Austria; these agents being both German and Austrian. Dr. Rieth could not have been unfamiliar with the Putsch and the details in connection therewith. I recall, too, very definitely from my conversations with the highest officials of the Austrian Government after the Putsch, their informing me that Dr. Rieth had been in touch with von Rintelen, who it had been planned by the Nazis was to succeed Chancellor Dollfuss had the Putsch been successful.
It may be that Dr. Rieth was himself not personally sympathetic with the plans for the Putsch but there is no question that he was fully familiar with all these plans and must have given his assent thereto and connived therein.
As this Putsch was so important and was a definite attempt to overthrow the Austrian Government and resulted in the murder of the Chancellor of Austria, I took occasion to verify at the time for myself various other items of evidence indicating that the Putsch was not only made with the knowledge of the German Government but engineered by it. I found and verified that almost a month before the Putsch, Goebbels told Signor Cerruti, the Italian Ambassador in Berlin, that there would be a Nazi Government in Vienna in a month. On the evening before the Putsch, a pamphlet appeared in the streets of Berlin from which it appeared that the Nazi Government had full knowledge of what was planned the next day in Vienna. An attempt was made by the German authorities in Berlin to suppress this pamphlet and this effort was partly successful but copies of it were available at the time and I recall an officer of our Embassy in Berlin, whose name I cannot specifically recall at this time, informing me that he had seen a copy thereof. Articles also appeared in some of the German papers of July 25, indicating that they had information as to the time that the Putsch was to take place. I will not go into detail as to the character of the evidence but there is no question from the historical record and the facts as known to me from direct knowledge at the time that the Putsch was engineered and directed by the German Government from Berlin and Munich.
For two years following the failure of the July 25 Putsch, the Nazis remained relatively quiet in Austria. Very few terroristic acts occurred during the remainder of 1934 and as I recall in 1935 and most of 1936; this inactivity was in accordance with directives from Berlin as direct evidence to that effect, which came to my knowledge at that time, proved. Early in January, the Austrian Foreign Minister, Berger-Waldenegg, furnished me a document which I considered accurate in all respects and which stated:
"The German Minister here, von Papen, on the occasion of his last visit to Berlin, was received three times by Chancellor Hitler for fairly long conversations, and he also took this opportunity to call on Schacht and von Neurath. In these conversations the following instructions were given to him:
"During the next two years nothing can be undertaken which will give Germany external political difficulties. On this ground, everything must be avoided which could awaken the appearance of Germany interfering in the internal affairs of Austria. Chancellor Hitler will, therefore, also for this reason not endeavor to intervene in the present prevailing difficult crisis in the National Socialist Party in Austria, although he is convinced that order could be brought into the Party at once through a word from him. This word, however, he will, for foreign political reasons, give all the less, as he is convinced that the for him desirable ends may be reached also in another way. Naturally, chancellor Hitler declared to the German Minister here, this does not indicate any disinterestedness in the idea of Austria's independence. Also, before everything, Germany cannot for the present withdraw Party members in Austria, and must, therefore, in spite of the very real exchange difficulties, make every effort to bring help to the persecuted National Socialist sufferers in Austria. As a result, Minister of Commerce Schacht finally gave the authorization that from then on 200,000 marks a month were to be set aside for this end (support of National Socialists in Austria). The control and the supervision of this monthly sum was to be entrusted to Engineer Reinthaler, who, through the fact that he alone had control over the money, would have a definite influence on the Party followers. In this way it would be possible to end most quickly and most easily the prevailing difficulties and division in the Austrian National Socialist Party.
"The hope was also expressed to Herr von Papen that the recently authorized foundation of German 'Ortsgruppen' of the National Socialist Party in Austria (made up of German citizens in Austria) would be so arranged as not to give the appearance that Germany is planning to interfere in Austrian internal affairs.
"He was also informed that an effort would be made through the easing of the Auslandesperre, particularly with reference to the more westerly Austrian Alps sections, so that to the German-Austrian Alpenverein (Alps Association) a particular role was to be given. The easing of the Auslandesperre was naturally only to be accorded to those who obligated themselves to visit the more westerly Austrian Alps sections and to go to fixed towns and live in specified hotels or inns."
This policy of the Nazis was dictated solely by considerations of expediency. The basic aim of achieving Anschluss remained wholly unchanged. The brutal murder of Dollfuss, the Austrian Chancellor, and the unquestioned direct attack on Austrian sovereignty through the Putsch, directed by the German Government from Germany, had so shocked public opinion in Austria and in Europe that the Nazis could not afford for the time being to take open action.
That the policy of Anschluss remained wholly unchanged was confirmed to me by Franz von Papen when he arrived in Vienna as German Minister. It will be recalled that he accepted this assignment as German Minister even though he knew that he had been marked for execution in the St. Bartholomew's massacre on June 30, 1934. When, in accordance with protocol, he paid me a visit shortly after his arrival in Vienna, I determined that during this call there would be no reference to anything of importance and I limited the conversation strictly to platitudes which I was able to do as he was calling on me in my office. I deemed it expedient to delay my return call for several weeks in order to make it clear to von Papen that I had no sympathy with and on the other hand was familiar with the objectives of his mission in Austria. When I did call on von Papen in the German Legation, he greeted me with "Now you are in my legation and I can control the conversation". In the baldest and most cynical manner he then proceeded to tell me that all of Southeastern Europe, to the borders of Turkey, was Germany's natural hinterland, and that he had been charged with the mission of facilitating German economic and political control over all this region for Germany. He blandly and directly said that getting control of Austria was to be the first step. He definitely stated that he was in Austria to undermine and weaken the Austrian Government and from Vienna to work towards the weakening of the Governments in the other states to the South and South East. He said that he intended to use his reputation as a good Catholic to gain influence with certain Austrians, such as Cardinal Innitzer, towards that end. He said that he was telling me this because the German Government was bound on this objective of getting this control of Southeastern Europe and there was nothing which could stop it and that our own policy and that of France and England was not realistic.
The circumstances were such, as I was calling on him in the German Legation, that I had to listen to what he had to say and of course I was prepared to hear what he had to say although I already knew what his instructions were. I was nevertheless shocked to have him speak so baldly to me and when he finished I got up and told him how shocked I was to hear the accredited representative of a supposedly friendly state to Austria admit that he was proposing to engage in activities to undermine and destroy that Government to which he was accredited. He merely smiled and said, of course this conversation was between us and that he would, of course, not be talking to others so clearly about his objectives. I have gone into this detail with regard to this conversation as it is characteristic of the absolute frankness and directness with which high Nazi officials spoke of their objectives.
Nazi activities, forced underground in this period, were by no means neglected. The Party was greatly weakened for a time as a result of the energetic measures taken against the Putsch and as a result of the public indignation. Reorganization work was soon begun. In October 1934 the Austrian Foreign Minister, Berger-Waldenegg, furnished me the following memorandum, which he told me had been supplied to the Austrian Government by a person who participated in the meeting under reference.
"A meeting of the chiefs of the Austrian National Socialist Party was held on the 29th and 30th of September, 1934, at Bad Aibling in Bavaria.
"The meeting occupied itself principally with the reorganization of the Austrian National Socialist Party and particularly with the measures to be taken to this end in the Tirol.
"Measures were decided upon as to the means to be used to create better contact between the party leadership and its members as well as with respect to new propaganda measures.
"One principal point on the agenda had reference to the preparatory measures to be taken for taking over the power in Austria. It was decided to give to all of the Party Headquarters in Austria instructions preparatory to new Terroristic acts. The necessary material, however, is nevertheless until new instructions are issued not to be transported from the German border into Austria, but shall be kept assembled at appropriate places on the German side of the entire Austro-German frontier.
"From a report received by the Party chiefs on the situation in Vienna and upper Styria, it is established that agreements have been concluded with the Communists and with the Socialists with respect to a uniform and common procedure.
"The agents of the Party Direction in Germany have received orders in every Austrian district to prepare lists of all those persons who are known to actively support the present Government and who are prepared closely to cooperate with it.
"When the next action against the Government takes place these persons are to be proceeded against just as brutally as against all those other persons, without distinction of party, who are known to be adversaries of National Socialism.
"In a report of the Party leaders for Austria the following principles have been emphasized:
"A. The taking over of the power in Austria remains the principal duty of the Austrian National Socialist Party. Austria has for the German Reich a much greater significance and value than the Saar. The austrian problem is the problem. All combat methods are consecrated by the end which they are to serve.
"B. We must on every occasion which presents itself appear to be disposed to negotiate, but arm at the same time for the struggle. The new phase of the struggle will be particularly serious and there will be this time two centers of the terror, one along the German frontier and the other along the Yugoslav frontier."
The Austrian Legion was kept in readiness in Germany. Although it was taken back some miles further from the Austrian frontier, it remained undissolved in spite of the engagement which had been taken to dissolve it. The Austrian Government received positive information to this effect from time to time which it passed on to me and I had direct information to the same effect from reliable persons coming from Germany to Vienna who actually saw the Legion.
On the surface, however, German activities consisted principally of efforts to win the support of prominent and influential men through insidious efforts of all kinds, including the use of the German Diplomatic Mission in Vienna and its facilities and personnel. Von Papen as German Minister entertained frequently and on a lavish scale. He approached almost every member of the Austrian Cabinet, telling them, as several of them later informed me, that Germany was bound to prevail in the long run and that they should join the winning side if they wished to enjoy positions of power and influence under German control. Of course, openly and outwardly he gave solemn assurance that Germany would respect Austrian independence and that all that she wished to do was to get rid of elements in the Austrian Government like the chancellor, Schuschnigg and Starhemberg as head of the Heimwehr and others, and replace them by a few "nationally-minded" Austrians, which of course meant Nazis. The whole basic effort of von Papen was to bring about Anschluss.
In early 1935, the Austrian Foreign Minister, Berger-Waldenegg, informed me that in the course of a conversation with von Papen, the latter had remarked "Yes, you have your French and English friends now and you can have your independence a little longer". The Foreign Minister, of course, told me this remark in German but the foregoing is an accurate translation. The Foreign Minister told me that he had replied to von Papen "I am glad to have from your own lips your own opinion which agrees with what your chief has just said in the Saar and which you have taken such pains to deny." Von Papen appeared to be terribly upset when he realized just what he had said and tried to cover his statements, but according to Berger-Waldenegg, kept constantly getting into deeper water.
Von Papen undoubtedly achieved some successes, particularly with men like Glaise-Horstenau and others who had long favored the "Grossdeutschum" idea, but who nevertheless had been greatly disturbed by the fate of the Catholic Church. Without conscience or scruple, von Papen exploited his reputation and that of his wife as ardent and devout Catholics to overcome the fears of these Austrians in this respect.
Developments in the fall of 1935 and the spring of 1936 gave Germany an opportunity to take more positive steps in the direction of the Nazification of Austria. Italy, which had given Austria assurance of support of the most definite character against external German aggression, and on one occasion by mobilizing her forces, had undoubtedly stopped German aggressive action which had been planned against Austria, embarked on her Abyssinian adventure. This and the reoccupation of the Rhineland in 1936 completely upset the balance in Europe. The French and the British Minister informed me that as early as August 1935, they had informed their Governments, on the basis of conversations with the Austrian Foreign Minister, that if there was to be any Danubian Pact, it would have to come into being rapidly for the Austrian Government would be forced to negotiate with Germany even though it would have no confidence that any such agreement arrived at would be respected.
The result of all these forces was the Austro-German accord of July 11, 1936, the public text is as follows:
"Convinced that they are thereby rendering a valuable contribution toward the peaceful development of Europe, and believing that they are thereby doing the best service to the various common interests of the two German States, the Government of the German Reich and the Government of the Austrian Federal State have decided to restore normal and friendly mutual relations.
"It is therefore declared:
"1. In the sense of the statement made by the Fuehrer and Reich Chancellor on May 21, 1935 the German Government recognizes the full sovereignty of the Federal State of Austria.1
"2. Each of these two Governments shall regard the internal political conditions of the other country, including the question of Austrian National-Socialism, as a domestic concern of that country, upon which it will exert neither direct nor indirect influence:
"3. The Austrian Federal State Government's general policy and its policy toward Germany in particular shall be constantly guided by the Principle that Austria recognizes herself to be a German State. The Rome Protocol of 1934, together with its additional clauses of 1936, and the relations of Austria to Italy and Hungary, as partners in the said protocols are not hereby affected.
"Recognizing that the relaxation of tension desired by both parties can be brought about only if in addition certain preliminary conditions are established by the Governments of both countries, the Reich Government and the Austrian Federal Government shall in a series of detailed measures create these required preliminary conditions."
Even more important than the terms of the agreement published in the official communique, was the contemporaneous informal understanding, the most important provisions of which were, that 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. This amnesty was duly announced by the Austrian Government and thousands of Nazis were released, and the first pentration of the deutsche Nationaler into the Austrian Government was accomplished by the appointment of Dr. Guido Schmidt as Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, and of Dr. Edmund Glaise-Horstenau as Minister without portfolio.
1 On May 1935, in a speech in the Reichstag, Hitler had stated with respect to Austria (I quote from Documents on International Affairs, Vol. I, 1935, published by the Royal Institute of National Affairs, (London, 1936) p. 171):
"Germany neither intends nor wishes to interfere in the internal affairs of Austria, to annex Austria, or to conclude an "Auschluss". The German people and the German Government have, however, the very comprehensible desire, arising out of a simple feeling of solidarity due to a common national descent-namely, that the right to self-determination should be guaranteed, not only for foreign nations but to the German people everywhere. I myself believe that no regime which does not rest on public consent and is not supported by the people can continue permanently."
The significance of these arrangements can best be explained by quoting from an official dispatch which I wrote in October 1934 when concern was being expressed with regard to conversations which Chancellor Schuschnigg was reported as having with the "moderate Nazis", Reinthaller and Riehl. I then reported as follows:
"It is obvious, however, that in view of certain well known facts, these conversations will be followed with interest. A major consideration which will not be disregarded is the fact that Chancellor Hitler himself has always been in favor of indirect rather than direct action in bringing Austria into the German picture. It is his belief that the way to be followed is to get representatives of the National Socialist Party into the penetration. It is an indication of political astuteness, for it is quite certain, in the opinion of many objective observers, that if once a militant, even though small, National Socialist minority gets representation in the Cabinet, it will be the forerunner of absorption. To explain why this is so is rather difficult, as it requires a full appreciation of many factors at play in Germany and in Austria. Briefly, however, it may be epitomized in the terroristic policy which is one of the primary principles of National Socialism. Even before July 25, when the Natinoal Socialist Party was legally prohibited, it was very difficult to get proper police and judicial action against National Socialists who committed terroristic acts or who were plotting against the Government. This inaction came, not through sympathy with the movement or through lack of definite knowledge of overt acts, but through fear-through fear of reprisals when a National Socialist regime might come, and that if it did come, those who had proceeded, even though in the line of duty, against National Socialists, would be dealt with with the barbarity and intolerance with which National Socialism has treated its opponents in Germany. The determined attitude of the Government after July 25, strengthened the administration of justice and of the security forces, and this changed attitude came about as a result not only of the feeling within the country that National Socialism would not come now, but also as a result of the action of the powers in support of the independence of Austria. Should the conversations which the Government is having with the National Socialist groups reawaken this fear, or should there be any weakening of the attitude of the Government towards National Socialist be admitted even to indirect or subordinate participation in the Government, it would undoubtedly bring back this fear in an even more acute form and bring into what element of weakness.
"The fact that these conversations are taking place need, therefore, not be considered as being intrinsically a disturbing factor in the internal and external situation of Austria, but should these National Socialist elements in the government, there is reason for the gravest concern, not only so far as the internal situation in Austria is concerned, but this might become the focal point of disturbance without the country"
The sequel of the agreement was the only one which could have been expected in view of all the facts and previous recorded happenings. Active Nazi operations in Austria were resumed under the leadership of a certain Captain Leopold, who it was known definitely was in frequent touch with Hitler. The Nazi program was now to form an organization through which the Nazi could carry on their operations openly and with legal sanction in Austria. There were formed in Austria several organizations which had a legal basis but which were simply a device by which the Nazis in Austria could organize, and later seek inclusion as a unit in the Patriotic Front. The most important of these was the Ostmarkischer Verein, the sponsor of which was the Minister of the Interior Glaise-Horstenau. Through the influence of Glaise-Horstenau and the pro-Nazi Neustadter-Sturmer, this organization was declared legal by the Courts. I made specific mention of the foregoing because it shows the degree to which the situation in Austria had disintegrated as a result of the underground and open Nazi activities directed from Germany.
Even more open recognition of the Nazis was demanded. In January 1937, Captain Leopold submitted a memorandum of Nazi demands, which, though not formally received, were known to and considered by the Austrian Cabinet.
The Leopold memorandum is as follows:
For the Internal Pacification of Austria.
[In Mr. Messersmith's affidavit there appears at this point the body of Captain Leopold's lengthy memorandum. It includes Captain Leopold's statement of the existing situation in Austria. It includes the following demands: (1) An amnesty for all punishments or privations suffered for National Socialist or National activity or sympathy; (2) equal treatment for National Socialists, including freedom of political activity and cultural activity; abolition of laws and sanctions used by the Government against Nazi activity. The memorandum advocates cooperation on the basis of political principles including: A broadening of the Patriotic Front; changes in the Cabinet; an alliance with the Reich; common racial stock as a political aim, and the application of anti-semitic measures; an early plebiscite on Anschluss.]
Later, a petition circulated by Leopold was submitted to the Austrian Government, demanding authorization to form a "nationalistic party", which was to be incorporated as a group in the Political Front. It was a Party which its sponsorship plainly marked as openly Nazi. Pressure for the acceptance of these demands was exercised by staging frequent demonstrations and circulating propaganda, all of which was financed in and from Germany. Even as soon after July 11 as July 29, 1936, when the Olympic Torch was carried through the streets of Vienna, there were violent Nazi disorders. From then on, and until austrian sovereignty was destroyed, there were constant arrests and trials of persons accused of distributing illegal literature or staging illegal demonstrations, accompanied by numerous press comments of more or less violence.
The Austrian Government sought to counteract this pressure in some way by allowing activity in favor of a restoration of the Hapsburgs. On his visit to Vienna in late February 1937, von Neurath took occasion to register Germany's emphatic opposition to any such move. I remember von Neurath's visit very clearly. I had known him well and was on friendly terms with him while I was stationed in Berlin. At that time and after the Nazi came into power, he told both Ambassador Dodd and me that he had remained as Foreign Minister when the Nazi came into power in order that he might exercise "a restraining influence" and render service to his country. This may have been the initial motive of von Neurath but he rapidly became one of the most complete and in some ways effective instruments of the Nazis. If he was not in accord with what they did, he was a perfect instrument in helping to carry it through.
Although I had known him well in Berlin and had on occasions been in his house in small gatherings, when he came to Vienna in 1937, there were a number of ceremonies and receptions given by the Austrian Government to which the Diplomatic Corps was invited. When he met me at these meetings he treated me with great coolness and even disdain, knowing my complete lack of sympathy with the program to which he had committed himself, and this manner of treating me with disdain and open disregard was probably his way of protecting himself and his own feelings of shame. Shortly after the visit of von Neurath, Chancellor Schuschnigg in my conversations with him told me that in his conversations with von Neurath, during the visit, Von Neurath had been just as bad as if Habicht or Frauenfeld had been talking when they had discussed the German demands for the inclusion of Nazis in the Austrian Cabinet.
About the same time, Schuschnigg made some concessions to ease the pressure from the Nazis. In February, he appointed a so-called "Committee of Seven", consisting among others of Dr. Jury and a man named Tavs, to discuss "nationalistic ambitions" with him. In June, following the visit of Glaise-Horstenau and General Kraus and Leopold to Hitler in Berlin, and the increased Nazi activities following, Schuschnigg appointed Seyss-Inquart and Dr. Pembauer to devise a means whereby the "Nationalists" could be incorporated into the Patriotic Front.
Dr. Seyss-Inquart himself was a prominent Vienna Lawyer, who had long been an intimate personal friend of Chancellor Schuschnigg. The Chancellor himself told me on various occasions that Dr. Seyss-Inquart had frequently attempted to convince him that the admission of the Nazi into the Austrian Cabinet would be for the best interest of Austria, in that it would relieve the pressure on Austria by Germany, and that he (Seyss-Inquart) at all times professed a sincere desire to maintain the independence of Austria. I had little personal contact with Seyss-Inquart but I knew from various sources absolutely reliable that while Seyss-Inquart was making these protestations to the Chancellor with whom he had had this intimate friendship, and which the Chancellor repaid by his confidence, Seyss-Inquart was in fact completely insincere. He was known at the time, and I had knowledge of this, to be in frequent contact with many high officials of the German Government and that he had had contact with Hitler himself. My information on this point was obtained not only from sources in Austria but also from acquaintances in Germany. There is only one thing which can be said in favor of Seyss-Inquart at the time and that is that he perhaps did believe the German protestations made to him that Austria's independence would be respected. It is difficult, however, to conceive that a man who was known to have the legal ability and intelligence of Seyss-Inquart could have been completely taken in by these protestations. The probabilities are that at least from the outset he used his friendship with Chancellor Schuschnigg in order to help to destroy the independence of his country in order to make a place for himself.
I left Vienna on July 11, 1937, in order to assume the post of Assistant Secretary of State in Washington. I, therefore, left Vienna before the final tragedy occurred. The final outcome, however, was then already foreseeable. From the tenor of the Italian Minister's conversations with me it was clear that Italy would not or could not any longer defend Austria militarily against German aggression. It was also clear that Austria could not resist the German pressures alone. Although France had given very definite assurances as to her interest in maintaining Austria's independence and England had expressed her interest therein, the Austrian Government was less and less able to be assured of real support. When the Austrian government could no longer expect the full military support of Italy, it knew that its fate was sealed. Hitler was, therefore, free to work his will in Austria. The only question remaining was when he would do it and when he considered it opportune. The work of disintegration, set forth in this statement, had had its effect. Early in 1938, apparently satisfied that England and France would not move and knowing that Italy could not and would not oppose him, Hitler struck the final blow at Austria's independence, bringing to a climax what must be recorded in history as one of the most insidious, dastardly, unjustified and altogether effective series of measures to undermine and bring about the end of a sovereign state, during the course of which machinations and operations the Nazi Government nevertheless consistently openly proclaimed its friendliness towards Austria and its intentions of maintaining its respect for its sovereignty and independence.
[Signed] G. Messersmith
Subscribed and sworn to before me, William L. Brewster, a Vice Consul of the United States of America, duly commissioned and qualified, in Mexico, D.F., Mexico, this 28th day of August 1945.
[Signed] William L. Brewster
Vice Consul of the United States of America
Source: Nazi Conspiracy and Aggression Volume IV Office of the United States Chief Counsel for Prosecution of Axis Criminality Washington, DC : United States Government Printing Office, 1946 USMARC Cataloging Record <../../../marc/nazmarc.htm>