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Archive/File: imt/tgmwc/judgment/j-accused-organisations.06
Last-Modified: 1997/09/04

                           of the
               International Military Tribunal
                           For The
             Trial of German Major War Criminals

               His Majesty's Stationery Office
                                                   [Page 80]
                      THE REICH CABINET

The Prosecution has named as a criminal organisation the
Reich Cabinet (Die Reichsregierung) consisting of members of
the ordinary cabinet after 30th January, 1933, members of
the Council of Ministers for the Defense of the Reich and
members of the Secret Cabinet Council. The Tribunal is of

                                                   [Page 81]
opinion that no declaration of criminality should be made
with respect to the Reich Cabinet for two reasons: (1)
because it is not shown that after 1937 it ever really acted
as a group or organisation; (2) because the group of persons
here charged is so small that members could be conveniently
tried in proper cases without resort to a declaration that
the Cabinet of which they were members was criminal.

As to the first reason for our decision, it is to be
observed that from the time that it can be said that a
conspiracy to make aggressive war existed the Reich Cabinet
did not constitute a governing body, but was merely an
aggregation of administrative officers subject to the
absolute control of Hitler. Not a single meeting of the
Reich Cabinet was held after 1937, but laws were promulgated
in the name of one or more of the cabinet members. The
Secret Cabinet Council never met at all. A number of the
cabinet members were undoubtedly involved in the conspiracy
to make aggressive war; but they were involved as
individuals and there is no evidence that the Cabinet as a
group or organisation took any part in these crimes. It will
be remembered that when Hitler disclosed his aims of
criminal aggression at the Hoszbach Conference, the
disclosure was not made before the Cabinet and that the
Cabinet was not consulted with regard to it, but, on the
contrary, that it was made secretly to a small group upon
whom Hitler would necessarily rely in carrying on the war.
Likewise no cabinet order authorised the invasion of Poland.
On the contrary, the Defendant Schacht testifies that he
sought to stop the invasion by a plea to the Commander-in-
Chief of the Army that Hitler's order was in violation of
the Constitution because not authorised by the Cabinet.

It does appear, however, that various laws authorising acts
which were criminal under the Charter were circulated among
the members of the Reich Cabinet and issued under its
authority signed by the members whose departments were
concerned. This does not, however, prove that the Reich
Cabinet, after 1937, ever really acted as an organisation.

As to the second reason, it is clear that those members of
the Reich Cabinet who have been guilty of crimes should be
brought to trial; and a number of them are now on trial
before the Tribunal. It is estimated that there are 48
members of the group, that eight of these are dead and 17
are now on trial, leaving only 23 at the most, as to whom
the declaration could have any importance. Any others who
are guilty should also be brought to trial; but nothing
would be accomplished to expedite or facilitate their trials
by declaring the Reich Cabinet to be a criminal
organisation. Where an organisation with a large membership
is used for such purposes a declaration obviates the
necessity of inquiring as to its criminal character in the
later trial of members who are accused of participating
through membership in its criminal purposes and thus saves
much time and trouble. There is no such advantage in the
case of a small group like the Reich Cabinet.

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