Konstantin von Neurath

Konstantin von Neurath : Nazi Germany

Konstantin von Neurath was born in Klen-Glattbach, Germany, on 2nd February, 1873. After studying law at the University of Berlin he entered the German foreign service in 1903. He was a member of the consular staff in London from 1903 to 1908, before returning to Berlin.

He joined the German Army in the First World War and as a captain won the Iron Cross. After being badly wounded he returned to diplomatic service in Turkey.

After the war Neurath served as Minister to Denmark and Ambassador to Italy. Following a period as Ambassador to Britain (1930-32) Franz von Papen appointed him Foreign Minister. He retained the post under Kurt von Schleicher and Adolf Hitler.

Neurath held right-wing opinions conservative views but had doubts about Hitler's aggressive foreign policy. Hitler kept him in position as he gave the government respectability. In March 1938 Hitler replaced Neurath with Joachim von Ribbentrop when he complained that the current policy would result in war.

In 1939 Adolf Hitler appointed Neurath as Protector of Czechoslovakia. When Czech students protested against Nazi rule Neurath closed all the universities in the country. He also ordered nine of the students who took part in the rebellion to be executed.

Hitler felt that Neurath did not deal harshly enough with the resistance movement in Czechoslovakia and in September, 1941, replaced him with Reinhard Heydrich.

Neurath was captured by Allied troops at the end of the Second World War. At the Nuremberg War Trial he was found guilty of war crimes and sentenced to fifteen years in prison. After serving eight years he was released on account of his poor health. Konstantin von Neurath died on 14th August, 1956.