German Federal Archive

Light on Nazi Foreign Policy

THIS is not history, but some of the raw material of history. It is the story of Nazi foreign relations as recounted by Germans who had direct parts, frequently principal parts, in the events related. These Germans were interrogated during August to November 1945 by a small group of American officials sent to Germany for the purpose. The present writer, who headed the mission, had served in Germany previously and knew personally in the pre-Nazi days some of those who could now tell parts of the Nazi story. Among the 50 or more interrogated some had been at the very top -- Goering, Ribbentrop, von Papen, Schacht. A second and larger category were former officials of the German Foreign Office and Diplomatic Service. Thirdly, a number of military leaders -- Keitel, Jodl and others -- were questioned on the political and diplomatic aspects of their experiences.

The general disposition among them was to talk freely. Most had been prisoners for some time. Of course, each was making his own case in his own way, but if truth be relative to the individual and the circumstances, there was a rather surprising measure, one felt in the end, of truthful disclosure. When the stories were put together, a coherent tale emerged.


Impressive confirmation was obtained of the degree to which, in a nation of strong personalities, Hitler dominated every situation. The foreign policy of Germany in the Nazi period, as in other periods, was determined first of all, of course, by geographical position and history: but beyond that was influenced during this period, even more than in the time of Frederick the Great or Bismarck, by the personality of one man.

Every decision setting the course of German external relations from 1933 on was made by Hitler personally, and it was he who set the exact timing of every important action. Success in bringing the weakling Nazi group to power in the face of every obstacle and disappointment

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