The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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The destruction of the free trade unions in Germany, (cf.
Section 5 of Chapter VII), was made possible by the
following Cabinet laws: Law of 4 April 1933 concerning
factory representative councils and economic organizations
(controlling employee representation) (1933
Reichsgesetzblatt, Part I, page 161) (1770-PS); Law of 19
May 1933 concerning Trustees of Labor (abolishing collective
bargaining) (1933 Reichsgesetzblatt, Part I, page 285) (405-
PS); Law of 20 January 1934 regulating National Labor
(introducing leadership principle into industrial relations
(1934 Reichsgesetzblatt, Part I, page 45) (1861-PS); and Law
of 26 June 1935 establishing Reich Labor Service (compulsory
labor service) (1935 Reichsgesetzblatt, Part I, page 769).

Even the anti-Jewish Nurnberg laws of 15 September 1935,
although technically passed by the Reichstag, were
nevertheless worked out by the Ministry of the Interior. Dr.
Franz A. Medicus, who served as Ministerialdirigent in the
Ministry of the Interior, made this statement in a book
published in 1940 (2960-PS):

     "*** The work of the Reich Ministry of Interior forms
     the basis for the three Nurnberg Laws passed by a
     resolution of the Reichstag on the occasion of the
     Reich party meeting of Freedom.
     "The 'Reich Citizenship Law' as well as the 'Law for
     the protection of German blood and German honor' (Blood
     Protection Law) opened extensive tasks for the Ministry
     of Interior not only in the field of administration.
     The same applies to the 'Reich Flag Law' that gives the
     foundation for the complete re-organization of the use
     of the flag ***" (2960-PS).

(b) Decrees of The Council of Ministers. Decrees of the
Council of Ministers similarly supplied the "legal" basis
for other criminal actions of the Nazi conspirators. Among
these laws are the following: Decree of 5 August 1940
imposing a discriminatory tax on Polish workers in Germany (
1940 Reichsgesetzblatt, Part I, page 1077); Decree of 4
December 1941 regarding penal measures against Jews and
Poles in the occupied Eastern Territories (1941
Reichsgesetzblatt, Part I, page 759) (2746-PS); and Decree
of 30 June 1942 concerning

                                                  [Page 117]
the employment of Eastern Workers (1942 Reichsgesetzblatt,
Part I, page 419). (2039-PS)

Almost immediately upon Hitler's coming to power, the
Cabinet participated in the Nazi conspiracy to wage
aggressive war. This fact appears clearly from the minutes
of the second session of the working committee of the
Delegates for Reich Defense, dated 22 May 1933 and signed by
Keitel (EC-177); from a letter dated 24 June 1935 and signed
by von Blomberg, the Reichs Minister of War, which transmits
a copy of the secret, unpublished Reich Defense Law of 21
May 1935 and also a copy of the decision of the Reich
Cabinet of 21 May 1935 in the Council for the Defense of the
Reich (2261-PS); and from a letter dated 5 September 1939
transmitting a copy of the secret, unpublished Reich Defense
Law of 4 September 1938 (a note dated 4 September 1938
attached to this law states that the Reich Defense law of 21
May 1935 and the decisions of the Cabinet previously
mentioned are repeated) (2194-PS). These three documents,
important in the conspiracy to wage aggressive war emphasize
the participation of the Reich Cabinet and Reich Ministers,
through legislative enactments, in the conspiracy.

The Reich Defense Council was a creation of the Cabinet. On
4 April 1933 the Cabinet decided to form that agency (2261-
PS). The circumstances of its creation were discussed at the
meeting of 22 May 1933 (EC-177):

     "Thoughts about a Reich Defense Council
     "All great European powers which are at freedom to arm,
     have a RVR. One does not have to refer to history to
     prove the necessity of this institution. The war has
     shown conclusively that the cooperation with the
     various ministries has not been close enough. The
     consequences did not fail to materialize. The soldier
     is not in a position to have a say in all matters. The
     disadvantages of the past system were caused by
     parallel efforts of the various ministries in matters
     of the Reich defense. To avoid these mistakes a central
     agency has been created which occupies itself already
     in peacetime in the widest sense with the problems of
     Reich Defense. This working staff will continue its
     existence in time of war.
     "In accordance with the cabinet decision of the 4 April
     1933 the Reich Defense Council, which until now had
     been prepared for war emergency, will go into immediate
     "In time of peace its task will be to decide about all
     measures for the preparation of the defense of the
     Reich, while survey-
                                                  [Page 118]
     ing and utilizing all powers and means of the nation."
     The composition of the Reich Defense Council is
     thereupon set out. Hitler was President; the Minister
     of Defense was his deputy; and he, plus six more
     ministers (there were only ten at that time) and the
     Chiefs of the Army and Navy Command Staffs were
     permanent members. The remaining ministers, as well as
     "leading industrialists", were subject to call. Of the
     defendants who were then members of the Council, there
     was von Neurath a Foreign Affairs Minister; Frick as
     Interior Minister, Goering as Air Minister; and Raeder
     as Chief of the Navy Command Staff. (EC-177)

The presence of Cabinet ministers was indispensable. The
cabinet by that time could legislate for the Reich. It had a
definite role to play in this planning, as Keitel pointed
out (EC-177):

     "Col. Keitel:-- Points out once more the urgency of the
     tasks, since it had been possible to do only very little in
     this connection during the last years. He asks the delegates
     to consider the Reich Defense at all times and represent it
     accordingly at the drafting of new laws. Experiences of the
     wars are available and are at the disposal of the various
     ministries; (e.g. Reich Archives, Memorandum of an
     administrative official about gasoline supply). All these
     sources must be taken advantage of for the future. The task
     of the full time delegates is also to bring about a close
     cooperation of the ministries with each other." (EC-177)

Each separate ministry, moreover, was scheduled for a
definite task.

     "*** In the work plans the questions and ideas are laid
     down, which have come up in the Reichswehr Ministry and
     must be considered in case of mobilization. Up to the
     present time the support on the part of other
     Ministries was frequently based only on personal
     helpfulness since any authority from above was lacking.
     The following work plans are finished.
     "a. Work Plan for the Reich Ministry of Economics.
     Work Plan for the Reich Ministry of Food and
     Work Plan for the Reich Ministry of Labor.
     "These three are composed in one work plan for the
     preparation of a war economy.
     "b. Work Plan for the Reich Postal Ministry.
                                                  [Page 119]

     "c. Work Plan for the Reich Traffic Ministry.
     "Request the plans to be worked through carefully by
     the competent Ministries. The plans will be discussed
     beginning of June, when proposals for improvements may
     be made.
     The other Ministries which have no work plans yet will
     receive them later on. The Office of Air Raid
     Protection will work out a work plan in conjunction
     with the Reich Commissariat for Aviation." (EC-177)

The secrecy of all undertakings was stressed:

     "Security and Secrecy."

     "Question has been brought up by the Reich Ministries.
     "The secrecy of all Reich Defense work has to be
     maintained very carefully. Communications with the
     outside by messenger service only, has been settled
     already with the Post Office, Finance Ministry,
     Prussian Ministry of the Interior and the Reichswehr
     Ministry. Main Principle of security: No document must
     be lost since, otherwise, the enemy propaganda would
     make use of it. Matters communicated orally cannot be
     proven; they can be denied by us in Geneva. Therefore;
     the Reichswehr Ministry has worked out security
     directives for the Reich Ministries and the Prussian
     Ministry of the Interior." (EC-177)

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