Franz von Papen Memoirs

notes by William P. Meyers

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Notes from Franz von Papen Memoirs, translated by Brian Connell, E. P. Dutton & Company, Inc., New York, 1953 first edition, hardcover

More so than for most autobiographies, the reader is warned that the author may not be truthful. Also, my notes reflect my interest in von Papen's and Hitler's Roman Catholic faith.- William P. Meyers

Franz von Papen indicates that he is still a conservative monarchist at the time his Memoirs are written. He was from a well-off, but not aristocratic, family who owned a salt mine in Werl, Westphalia. His family was Roman Catholic and had long-standing ties to the Holy Roman Empire. His older brother would receive the estate, so he started a military career, becoming a cadet at the age of 11 in 1891. He did well as a cadet, rising to the elite Imperial corps of pages, where he met many of Germany's most powerful men. He also became an excellent horseman. [pages 4-6]

He married well, into a family with connections in France and Belgium, and his wife later inherited an estate that became their home. After rigorous trials he was promoted to membership in the General Staff. Then he was surprised to be sent as military attache to the German embassy to the United States, where he became friends with Franklin D. Roosevelt, among others. He also was simultaneously attache to Mexico, where he observed the civil war, then the U.S. invasion of Mexico in 1914. He was still in Mexico when World War I broke out. [9-14]

He recounts the complex events leading to World War I, a mostly forgotten history now that shows (in his opinion) that Germany was no more responsible for the war's outbreak than Britain, Russia, or France. In particular he recounts the taking of Morocco by France and Libya by Italy, as well as Russian aggression in the Balkans. He admits the invasion of Belgium made Germany look bad, but claims that Belgium was not really neutral because it had a joint war plan with France to invade Germany through Belgium. [24-28]

In the United States, in 1914 and 1915, von Papen says he did what he could to help Germany, but more by trying to keep the U.S. neutral than by organizing sabotage [which he was accused of]. He did organize an unsuccessful attempt to destroy railroad bridges in Canada (which was not neutral), and also unsuccessful attempts to arm Indian nationalists and Irish nationalists to rebel against the British empire. He also arranged to buy and store war materials so they could not be shipped to England and France. He believes Woodrow Wilson and the Democratic Party were pro-British from the start, and engaged in a propaganda campaign to turn American citizens away from neutrality. [29-40]

He points out that America did not complain about being prevented by the British from trading with Germany. He advised against U-boat warfare, argues that it was not a war crime and points out that U.S. Admiral Nimitz admitted at the Nuremberg trials that the U.S. Navy in WWII used identical tactics. He lists the armaments carried by the Lusitania. [41-42]

He was expelled from the U.S. and returned to Germany in December 1915. [51]

He again describes the German posture in World War I as purely defensive. [61]

In Germany his reports that U-boat warfare would lead to the United States entering the war met a mixed reception. The Navy had the Kaiser's ear and did see a way to win the war without U-boats. Papen then sent to the Western front, date not given. [61-65]

Papen reports terrible officer and troop losses for his 4th Guard Infantry Division, but did well enough to be called to consult with Hindenburg and Ludendorff on new tactics. [66-68]

In June 1917 he was appointed operations officer in the Falkenhayn Army Group in Mesopotamia [Turkey/Iraq]. Although British General Townshend had surrendered to the Turks at Kut el Amara, they later took Baghdad. Enver Pasha had become the de-facto leader of Turkey (still the Ottoman Empire). [68]

Because General Allenby was expected to attack Gaza, the expedition to Baghdad was called off and Papen went to advise Turkish commanders, including General Refet Pasha (later Minister of War). The 7th Turkish Army under Mustafa Kemal Pasha (Ataturk) was to reinforce. The Turks ignored the German's advice. Allenby attacked at the end of October, 1917. His artillery tore the Turks to pieces, and cavalry took Beersheba. Ataturk fell out with the Germans and was replaced. The Turks were no match for the British and Canadians. Falkenhayn formed new defensive lines, then took advantage of the British failure to follow up on Beersheba. The 7th outflanked the Brits, brining their advance to a halt. Papen complemented the "fierce steadiness of the individual Turkish soldier." [72-75]

The Germans abandoned Jerusalem after it became clear they would be blamed for any damage to religious sites that resulted from British bombardment. [75-76] Also on the front was "my friend Falkenhausen, known later as Chiang Kai-Shek's advisor." [76]

When the war ended in 1919 Papen resigned from the army. He observes that the Allies had made several treaties dividing up the spoils (notably the Ottoman Empire) long before convening at Versailles. He believes the peace treaty just set the stage for World War II by creating political instability in Germany and in eastern Europe. [88-89]

Papen describes his political and social philosophy post-WWI. Sees Catholicism as supreme over government, favors monarchy but says Marxists over-emphasize the role of government. Claims to be progressive enough to deal with modernization of technology. Favors a paternalistic economic model and endorses the Pope Leo XIII encyclical Rerum Novarum. He criticizes the application of the idea of national self-determination in Europe. [90-95]

Because the French had occupied the Saar he could not live on his wife's estate there. Instead they settled back in Westphalia, at Haus Merfeld. [96] He describes being asked to stand for the Prussian State Parliament and why he chose to join the Zentrum (Catholic Center Party) instead of one of the more conservative parties. [97]

He analyzes the unintended bad outcomes from the new German Constitution. He believes setting up a multi-party system based on the "list system of voting," resulted in politicians being slaves of their party apparatus and not representing their geographic constituents. [98-99]

Within the Zentrum he was on the right wing. He did not have a problem with their original alliance with the Social Democrats to restore order, given the threat from communists, but he recounts several situations where he later tried to push them to the right and out of that alliance. In 1930 he supported Heinrich Bruning (Brüning) for the party leadership and then for Chancellor. This coincided with the new economic crisis. He lumps the Nazis among the right-wing parties. [106-109]

Von Papen was able to buy 47% of shares in the Zentrum Party newspaper, Germania, in 1924 for cheap. He claims he told concerned Zentrum leaders he "would allow all shades of opinion to be expressed." The newspaper board included the Bishop (later Cardinal) of Berlin. It was able to stay independent until October 1938. [111-113]

Papen believes he was chosen Chancellor because he had ties to President Hindenburg, military leaders, and Catholics, as well as a history of working (at times) with both the Social Democrats and the right-wing parties. [114-122]

He claims that because the Army was limited by the peace treaty to 100,000 men, which was insufficient, it had become somewhat militarized by creating reserves connected with a variety of military parties, including both the Social Democrats and the Nazi Party. General Schleicher became the prototype of a political general under these circumstances. [122-123]

Recounts the deal made in 1918, in which Hindenburg (then still head of the Army) recognized the Social Democrats in return for Ebert taking "drastic steps against the Communists." When a division of Red Marines seized Ebert, it was Schleicher who freed him, and he also suppressed the Communists in Saxony and Thuringia. [123]

His position in the Prussian Diet, and within the Zentrum, was based on his ability to hold the more conservative, rural members. [124-125] Industrialist friends included Springorum, Fritz Thyssen and Florien Kloeckner, as well as the Krupp family daughters. [125]

During the 1930's Papen was an active organizer of Catholic VIPs both in Germany and internationally. He says the Zentrum Party received strong support for its political-religious agenda [state funding for Catholic schools] from Monsignor Eugenio Pacelli, Papal Nuncio [ambassador to Germany], who later became Pope Pius XII. Others he talked to included Count (later Cardinal) Galen, French Catholics including Francois Marsal and Louis Rolland. He was also in the Franco-German Study Group. [127-128]

In Chapter VIII Papen recounts in detail the events leading from the Bruning chancellorship, through his own, explaining what he saw as the reason for the sudden growth of the Nazi Party, roughly 1930-1932. The depression forms the background. Bruning's inability to get concessions from France and Britain on war reparations [despite President Hoover's offer of a moratorium] made him unpopular with nationalists. The Social Democrats (SDP) had ruled by emergency decree, and Bruning had to do the same since the SDP would not join his coalition and Bruning refused to creating a right wing coalition. He imposed austerity measures that were unpopular. It became necessary to call elections for September 14, 1930, and because of public anger over the economy and treatment by France, the Nazis expanded their seats in the Reichstag from 12 to 107. The communists gained 23 seats. The Nationalist Party saw its delegation halved, and the Democracy Party practically disappeared. With no one really in charge, no help from abroad, and austerity, the economy continued to fall apart. [pages 131-145]

Papen defends the deal in which he replaced Bruning, who was from his own Zentrum (Catholic Center) Party, as Chancellor. Credits the manipulations to General Schleicher. Says he refused the post, until essentially Hindenburg ordered him to take it. He believed it would alienate his own party, and it did, though some right-wing Zentrum politicians supported him. It was supposed to be a cabinet of non-political specialists to fix the nation's problems. Part of the deal was to repeal the prior ban on Nazi paramilitary groups, notably the SA. Says this was also prearranged by Schleicher as necessary to de-radicalize the Nazis. [146-162][WPM: the choice of von Papen was certainly strange. He was in the Prussian parliament, was not really even a national level politician, had never had that high of a rank in the Army, and was not rich. He was probably chosen by Schleicher because he was acceptable to the military and the Vatican, and would serve as a puppet of Schleicher and Hindenburg.]

Strangely, in denouncing von Paten, the Zentrum official communique demanded "that the situation should be clarified by placing the responsibility for forming a Government in the hands of the National Socialist Party." [161] For Hindenburg & crew the point of a von Papen chancellorship was to appease Hitler while keeping him out of power until his party lost popularity. Parliament was dissolved on June 4, 1932 [Papen became Chancellor on June 1]

"I met Hitler for the first time on June 9, 1932." He did not think much of Adolf Hitler, who made it clear that the plan was for Papen to be temporary, until Hitler was able to gain power. [162]

Because it occurred during his brief Chancellorship, the Lausanne Conference, which ended in failure to reach an agreement, are covered in detail. They started June 15, 1932. He says the British (MacDonold) sabotaged a possible pact between Germany and France. U.S. President Hoover's plan for general disarmament in Europe was rejected by the British and the French. Papen also sought to cancel the Versailles war guilt clause because that was one of Hitler's main rallying points. The final agreement reduced German reparation payments to France to three milliard (billion) marks, with provisions that delayed that payment indefinitely. However, this was used by Hitler and leaders of other parties including Zentrum to claim that Papen sold out Germany again to the French. [172-187]

Under the influence of Schleicher and Hindenburg, von Papen took over the state of Prussia, which had police power over Berlin and much of Germany, in order to prevent a coalition of Communists and the SPD from gaining control on July 20, 1932. [188-192] This alienated almost every legislator and party. He says this did not destroy the Weimar Republic, instead that was done by the voters in the election on July 31, 1932, after Papen had been Chancellor 8 weeks. The Weimar Coalition parties (mainly the SPD and Catholic Center Party) got only 12.9 million votes. The Nazis received 13.7 million votes and 230 seats in the Reichstag. This meant that no majority government could be formed without the Nazis. Results in the Prussian State election were similar. [193]

"The left wing was demanding my resignation, the Zentrum wanted the Government broadened to include the Nazis — but without Hitler — while the right wing wanted Hitler appointed Chancellor." [195] Papen had a seemingly inconsequential meeting on August 12 with Count Helldorf and Roehm, the SA leader. Then he met with Hitler, who again demanded the Chancellorship or nothing. Papen had offered him the Vice-Chancellorship, or to have some Nazis appointed to ministerial posts. Hindenburg backed Papen up. [195-198]

On August 30, 1932 the new Reichstag met and the Zentrum, Bavarian People's party and Nazis combined to choose the President of the Reichstag (like the U.S. Speaker of the House, and distinct from President Hindenburg), Herman Goering. [207] The Communists and SPD then joined in a motion to censure the government (the Papen cabinet), the vote was 412 to 42. Papen argues he had ordered the Reichstag dissolved before the vote, so it was invalid. But Papen continued in control. An economic recovery program was initiated in early October. He points out the Germany's national debt was the lowest in Europe, and believes the key was restoring confidence. [209-210]

However, new elections were held. The Nazis declined to 195 seats, but still had enough that no majority could be formed without them (assuming the Right and Left would not combine). The Socialists were next with 121, Communists 100, Zentrum (Catholics) 70 and German Nationalists 51. The State Party (formerly Democrats) had 2. [211-212]

"But historians may car to note that the Zentrum at this juncture regarded a Cabinet led by Hitler as the only way out of the impasse." [212, Papen's italics]

By November 17, 1932, Papen reported to President Hindenburg that negotiations with the political parties had failed, he could not form a coalition. Schleicher insisted that the entire cabinet resign. [214] On November 19 Hindenburg asked Hitler to form a coalition government, but Hitler refused. He preferred a "Presidential Cabinet" with the same near-dictatorial powers that Papen's had. [215] Papen was willing to remain Chancellor, but Schleicher decided it would be better if he became Chancellor himself. He believed he could split the Nazi Party and work with its left wing led by Gregor Strasser. There was a struggle between Papen and Schleicher; Hindenburg vacillated, then backed Schleicher, who claimed the Army was not capable of stopping a Communist revolution. [216-223]

Schleicher offered Papen the post of Ambassador to Paris, but Papen refused after Hindenburg said he wanted him to stay as an advisor. [223-224]

Papen goes into great detail, to defend himself from accusations, about the "Schroeder Lunch" in Cologne, in which he met Hitler (date not stated, perhaps January 4, 1933). He rejects claims that he or his friends helped finance the Nazis, or made a deal with Hitler other than the basic deal long on the table from Hindenburg & Schleicher. [227-231]

Hindenburg lost confidence in Schleicher, and Strasser was not able to bring over other Nazis with him. Local elections in the Principality of Lippe were supposed to show the Nazis weakening, but instead they showed gains, mainly at a cost to the right-wing parties. The German Nationalist Party decided it was not interested in joining the Schleicher government. [233-234]

"I had no contact whatever with Hitler between January 4 and 22." [236]

On January 23, 1933, Schleicher asked Hindenburg to "declare a state of emergency and dissolve the Reichstag." Hindenburg reminded him that Papen had asked for the same, but Schleicher had said that would mean a civil war. [236] Schleicher resigned on January 28, 1933. [238] Hindenburg asked Papen to help form a cabinet with Hitler as Chancellor but with a minority of Nazi ministers and Papen as Vice-Chancellor. After negotiations Hitler agreed. "I saw Dr. Schaeffer of the Bavarian People's party. he told me that both he and Bruning were prepared to accept ministerial posts under Hitler." [239-240] Hitler "showed moderation" and former members of the Papen cabinet, unconnected to political parties, were willing to join the new Hitler cabinet. Von Blomberg became War Minister. [240]

Papen continued negotiations with Goering and Hitler on January 29. Discusses the role of the Stahlhelm, which he thought would support the government and army, but instead later went over to the Nazis. [241-242] The Hitler cabinet was formed on January 30, 1933, after Hitler pledged to work with the Zentrum and Bavarian People's Party to obtain a majority in the Reichstag. [244]

Papen believes that Hitler's personality was not that bad at the time he was appointed Chancellor, that his truly bad traits came out over time after that. He characterizes the change as just part of a progression that started with the Bruning government deciding to rule by decree in 1930. "Bruning himself remarked on January 30 that he was lad the decision had finally been taken was was convinced that the experiment would soon fail." Hitler was considered to be a moderate Nazi. "At the other pole stood the fanatical revolutionaries within the Nazi Party." [250-252]

"The legend that Hitler came to power through the help of a small group of Junkers, generals and industrialists is pure fantasy." But "Certain industrialists, such as Thyssen, Kirdorf and Schroeder, together, it seems with certain parties abroad, had placed considerable funds at the Nazis' disposal because they saw in the movement an ally against the threat of Bolshevism. But industrial circles on the whole were cool in their attitude." [252]

The chief support for the Nazis came from younger people. Hitler "demanded that the worker should be regarded as an equal member of society and that everyone should work for the common good ... Ever since Pope Leo XIII promulgated his encyclical Rerum Novarum, the Papacy had indicated ways of dealing with the problems of capital and labour." "But when these principles were proclaimed by a man from the working class [Hitler], who had himself experienced the difficulties of earning his daily bread ... doubters became really convinced." [254]

Papen and others had not taken the 25-point program of the Nazi Party very seriously. "The programme spoke of according Jews the rights of aliens. It was no more possible to foresee that this meant their physical liquidation than it was to see that Hitler's demands for revision of the Versailles Treaty meant the waging of aggressive war." [256]

He describes his attempts, and failure, to creating a conservative block that would counterbalance the Nazis. [258-263]

Papen believes Adolph Hitler, even when he became Chancellor, had a positive attitude towards the established (Lutheran and Catholic) churches. Over time he was influenced by anti-church Nazis, notably Goebbels and Rosenberg. But at first Hitler "backed up with enthusiasm my efforts to support the rights of the Churches by special treaties." Also there was an "influx of former Socialists and Communists who flocked to his banners," who brought anti-Christian reinforcements to a Nazi Party that was mainly Catholic and Lutheran. [261]

Papen, in coalition with but opposition to Hitler, stated "Our real task was to rebuild our society ont he basis of Christian ethics." He wished to strengthen the Catholic wing of the Nazi party against the atheist & pagan wing. [267] "We also rejected the racial aspects of Hitler's programme." [268]

Gives his view of Reichstag fire and aftermath. [268-271]

The Nazis triumphed again in the election of March 5, 1933, receiving 17.2 million votes and 288 seats in the Reichstag. SPD 119, Communists 91, Zentrum 73, Papen's conservative bloc 52. Believes it was an honest election, and the vote was still by secret ballot. The Nazis were still short of a majority. [271]

Hitler was delighted with the electoral success and tried hard to recruit von Papen. Hitler gave firm guarantees that his Enabling law was to deal with the economic emergency and would not be abused in his March 21, 1933 speech. Hitler declared Catholicism and Lutheranism "the most essential factors upholding the life of the nation." [273] He also promised the judiciary would remain independent at that peace was the goal of German foreign policy. [274]

The Zentrum (Catholic Center), Bavarian People's Party, Staatspartei, and Christian Socialists all supported the enabling law, which passed with 441 votes out of 647, with many Communists and Social Democrats unable to vote as they had been banned from the Reichstag. [274] Papen believed that President Hindenburg's right to veto would serve as a control, but Hindenburg withdrew himself from the equation (he was old and tired, and would die the next year). [275]

Hitler sent von Papen to negotiate a treaty with Rome, the Concordat. Pope Pius XI "welcomed my wife and myself most graciously, and remarked how pleased he was that the German Government now had at its head a man [Adolph Hitler] uncompromisingly opposed to Communism and Russian nihilism." Papen met and liked Mussolini and "felt he would be a good influence on Hitler ... he [Mussolini] had proved that a Fascist regime could exist in harmony with the Church." Also Dr. Kaas, former leader of the Zentrum, was now working for Vatican Secretary of State Pacelli [soon to be Pius XII]. [279]

The Concordat "conceded complete freedom to confessional schools throughout the whole country." Papen states that at the time he writes the book he is convinced Hitler was completely irreligious [WPM: the standard Roman Catholic line after the defeat in WWII]. But "a conciliatory attitude in Church problems would earn him invaluable support. . . All these aspects of the situation had been freely discussed in Rome, and whatever doubts Cardinal Pacelli and Dr. Kaas may have had, the opportunity to strengthen Christian influences in Germany was too good to be missed." Even Mussolini gave advice. [280]

June saw the leading anti-clerical Nazis, notably Goebbels and Heydrich, start a campaign against immorality in Catholic monasteries and convents. Hitler, pressured by Papen, agreed to stop the campaign. The final Concordat was drafted on July 8, 1933 and signed on the 20th. "In general terms the Concordat was more favourable that any other which the Vatican had signed." But "It is hardly surprising that the anti-clericals were aroused to counter-attack." Hitler rebuked them, had charges against Priests dropped, and expressed hope to come to a similar agreement with Lutherans. [281]

Due to the ongoing struggle for power between Hitler and the Popes, "As time went on, I came to be regarded, even by my fellow Catholics, as the man who had betrayed my Church to the Nazis." While Papen was Vice-Chancellor, until June 30, 1934, Hitler "blamed all excesses on irresponsible elements in the provinces." He believes "after the notorious Bormann became head of the party Chancery, Hitler gradually drifted into the course set by those of his colleagues pledged to eradicate Christianity." [WPM: again, this is the line taken by Catholics after their military defeat.] [282]

Papen takes some credit for reviving the German economy and giving employment to people through programs including sending urban youth to work on farms and other public projects like the creation of the Autobahn. "All these measures were successful, and the contrast with the numbed and hopeless apathy of the period of mass-unemployment enhanced the prestige of the new regime, both among employers and employed." [283]

The principal concern was to "eliminate class warfare," through instituting "principles familiar to Catholics ... [from] Quadragesimo Anno." Describes Strength Through Joy program, which provided education and vacations for workers and helped to revive the tourist industry. [284]

Papen goes on at length about how he protected Jews as best he could. [285-287] He also describes how he tried to rally conservatives against Hitler.

Papen describes the dissolution of political parties by Hitler as part of the "social teachings of the Church." He says the [fascist] corporate state had already succeeded in Italy and Austria. [303] He gave a speech somewhat critical of the Nazi state at Marburg on June 17, 1934, ending with an appeal to Hitler to set things right [307-308]. He then gives a detailed personal account of the Night of the Long Knives (June 30, 1934), or Roehm Putsch, including the murders of his friends and aides von Bose and Edgar Jung, and his own temporary confinement by one Nazi faction that probably prevented his murder by another faction. [305-327] Papen says he resigned mid-June, although that was kept secret until later. To make up for the arrests and murders of Papen's staff, Hitler offered to make Papen ambassador to the Vatican around July 7, 1934, but Papen refused it. [323]

In response to criticism that he should have publicly broken with Hitler after the June 1934 events, von Papen writes: "Neither June 30, nor Hitler's constant disregard of international treaties — the remilitarization of the Rhineland, the reintroduction of conscription, the rejection of the Versailles Treaty, and the annexation of Austria — prevented foreign countries from concluding pacts with him, as long as they saw in him a defense against the threat of Bolshevism." [327]

Franz soon [July 27] accepted an appointment to be German ambassador to Austria. "I took great pains to make sure that ... I enjoyed the full confidence of the Chancellor." He claims his motive was to prevent war. [342-343] He explains how Woodrow Wilson's "national self-determination" idea did not allow the unification of Germany and Austria despite a vote of the Austrian National Assembly for it on November 12, 1918. The Allied Powers in the Treaty of St. Germain determined that Austria would be independent unless given permission by the League of Nations. [344-345]

Papen describes how he was seen by others in Austria: "I was regarded as the man who had broken the back of Germany's Zentrum Party, who had plotted the downfall of Bruning, and raised Hitler to power. I was suspected of having trapped the Vatican into signing the Concordat and of being a 'Catholic in wolf's clothing', against whom everyone must be on their guard." [351]

The Catholic question was even more important in Austria, where there were few Protestants. The Vatican believed the unification of Austria and Germany "might strengthen the Christian front in a Greater Germany." He notes that Austria had a population that was less anti-clerical than Germany's. Papen often had discussions with German Bishop Aloys Hudal, author of The Foundation of National Socialism, in Rome, in which he argued for a more purely Roman Catholic Nazi Party. "at Dr. Hudal's request I presented the first signed copy to Hitler. He accepted it with pleasure and undertook to read it with interest. What is more, he gave an order for it to be imported freely into Germany, where I hoped it would have a sobering effect. Goebbels and, above all, Bormann reacted swiftly. They told Hitler that the book would have a most unfortunate effect on the party, and all my attempts to convince him that open discussions of the problems involved was essential, were nullified by the mere suggestion that the debate raised by the book might endanger the party... the Pope himself, in an encyclical in 1937, still expressed the hope that such a change was possible." [382-383]

Austria was largely a story of anti-Hitler fascists battling it out with pro-Hitler Nazis. Papen wanted a voluntary union of Austria and Germany. He recounts numerous incidents and goes in detail into who the players were. An interesting one: "On May 1 ... German citizens in Austria were allowed to fly their national flag, a right accorded them in the July Agreement. In Pinkafeld ... a young lieutenant of the Austrian Army ... had his attention drawn to a German flag flying. [He ordered] an N.C.O. and two soldiers to take down the flag, which they promptly did by breaking into the house. Within a few hours I was presented with a violent protest from the German colony at this insult to the flag. I feared the worst. It was not the first time I had experienced this sort of thing. In Tampico, in 1914, a Mexican mob had hauled down an American flag; an incident which so inflamed public opinion in the United States that President Wilson declared war." Papen says he talked Hitler out of declaring war at that time. [391-393]

On February 4, 1938 von Papen was notified that he was relieved as Ambassador to Austria. He believes that by that time most outside nations had come to accept that Austria and Germany would merge. However, he gives a detailed account of what he thinks happened between Hitler, himself, and such Austrian leaders as Schuschnigg that eventually resulted in the German occupation of Austria on March 12. Papen defends himself against Nuremberg charges that he set Schuschnigg up, noting that the French, British and Papal ministers had approved their meeting. "Contrary to my fears, not a shot was fired, and the German Army was greeted with jubilation and bouquets... Historians who still speak of the rape of Austria would do well to study the press reports of those days... The referendum on April 10 approved the Anschluss law by an overwhelming majority. [406-430]

"Like everyone else, I was caught up in the general enthusiasm and overwhelmed by the historical magnitude of the occasion. ... I was still in Berlin on March 13 when I received a telegram from Hitler ordering me to go to Vienna the next morning. The same day the German radio announced I had been warded the Gold Medal of the [Nazi] Party." Franz refused the post of Reichs-statthalter of Austria. He met with Hitler in Vienna and urged him to treat the Roman Catholic Church with care and meet with Cardinal Innitzer, which he did, and "Innitzer seemed gratified... He had assured Hitler of the loyalty of Austria's Catholics." [431-433]

"Pope Pius XI, in his encyclical With Burning Anxiety ["Faith in the Church cannot stand pure and true without the support of faith in the primacy of the Bishop of Rome." ] of March 14, 1937, had condemned in strong words the National Socialist doctrine of religious persecution. Even so, he still expressed the desire that some understanding might yet be arrived at." [432]

Papen's "closest and dearest friend" and colleague Wilhelm von Ketteler disappeared on March 13, 1938. Ketteler had urged that Hitler be assassinated, a plan Papen rejected. But Ketteler had gone on a secret mission to Switzerland for Papen, which Papen confessed to Goering while trying to find out if K. were alive. Goering said the Gestapo had likely killed K. The corpse was found at the end of April. [433-437]

Yet Papen still did not break with Hitler. After a time as a private citizen he accepted the post of Ambassador to Turkey on April 7, 1939, and "asked to be placed directly under Hitler's orders." [444-445] Papen goes into vast detail of how he kept Turkey neutral during the war, often having to directly intervene with Hitler to get Turkey specific favors in return for the neutrality.

While on sick leave from Turkey, late in the war, Papen again asked Hitler to stop Nazi attacks on certain Catholic Church leaders. Hitler "placed the whole blame on the hotheads of the party. He had given instructions to the party chief, Martin Bormann, that this 'nonsense' was to stop; he would brook no conflicts in the internal situation. It appears that Bormann told his Gualeiters that these instructions were not to be taken too seriously." [481-482]

Papen claims to have used Baron Lersner to contact the Vatican to propose that peace talks be started on the premise that there would be "a different German regime." The Vatican wanted the Germans to continue fighting Joseph Stalin, who was already unhappy at the British and American failure to create a Western Front to fight. So the Vatican did nothing. [488-490]

Traveling late in the war, Papen spoke to Pierre Laval (a fellow Roman Catholic) and other French fascists. They felt betrayed by Hitler, who they had hoped to work with, rather than under. They believed they could mobilize the French to resist an allied invasion, but would not as long as Hitler treated them badly. [526]

Shortly after the failed assassination attempt on Hitler, on August 5, 1944 von Papen left Turkey and went straight to see Hitler to report. He suggested that Hitler might focus his war on Russia and compromise with the allies, but Hitler rejected the idea, saying he would defeat the British "when our new weapons are ready." [531-532] He returned to civilian life at Wallerfangen, where he believed he was being watched by the Gestapo. He was captured by American forces on April 9, 1945. [533-536]

After whining about how he and fellow prisoners were treated, he arrived at Nuremberg to prepare to stand trial with his codefendants. He obtained Dr. Kubuschok as a lawyer, assisted by his own son, who was released from a POW camp for the duration of the trial. He believes the prison regime was purposefully designed to deprive the accused of sleep and health. He describes the other defendants. [548-555]

He describes the bizarre judicial standards at Nuremberg: denial of normal legal rights, ex-post facto law, trial judges from the injured parties rather than neutrals, etc. "One of the most difficult points of law was involved in Article 9, which granted the Court the right to declare a given organization to be a criminal one. Proven charges against individual members of an organization could be adduced as evidence of the criminal nature of the organization itself." [556-557]

Papen was accused of being a "party to a conspiracy to wage aggressive war," based on the responsible positions he had held in government and on the assertion he had been a member of the Nazi party from 1932 to 1945. He states (and presumably proved) that "I was never a member" of the Nazi party. [558]

At one point Mr. Justice Jackson, to justify preventing political speeches by the defendants, "If we should have a prolonged controversy over whether Germany invaded Norway a few jumps ahead of a British invasion of Norway, or whether France in declaring war was the real aggressor, this trial can do infinite harm for those countries with the people of the United States." [564]

"Total war rendered the provisions of the Hague Convention in 1907 completely out of date. There had been no conception at the time of the role to be played by bombers and atomic weapons. The question must be asked whether the appalling effects of air warfare on the civilian population are to be considered in a different light from the conscription of the population of a defeated country for slave labour ... I am not trying to excuse the atrocities committed by Hitler ... The measures that have had to be adopted against [North Korean] partisans in the Korean war are the same as those adopted by the German High Command in Russia, which formed part of the Nuremberg indictment." [573]

He was one of the few men found not guilty at the original Nuremberg trial of high German officials. [570]

Papen was re-arrested as part of the German denazification program. He was condemned to eight years in a labor camp [under this ex-post facto law] and his property was confiscated. In 1949 he was released subject to unspecified conditions but including being deprived of civic rights for his lifetime. [577-579]

The members of the Franz von Papen German Cabinet of 1932 and the Hitler Cabinet of 1933 are listed on page 603.

[Franz von Papen died on May 2, 1969, aged 89]