The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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

               His Majesty's Stationery Office

                                                   [Page 44]


The evidence relating to war crimes has been overwhelming,
in its volume and its detail. It is impossible for this
Judgment adequately to review it, or to record the mass of
documentary and oral evidence that has been presented. The
truth remains that war crimes were committed on a vast
scale, never before seen in the history of war. They were
perpetrated in all the countries occupied by Germany, and on
the High Seas, and were attended by every conceivable
circumstance of cruelty and horror.

There can be no doubt that the majority of them arose from
the Nazi conception of "total war", with which the
aggressive wars were waged. For in this conception of "total
war", the moral ideas underlying the conventions which seek
to make war more humane are no longer regarded as having
force or validity. Everything is made subordinate to the
overmastering dictates of war. Rules, regulations,
assurances, and treaties all alike are of no moment; and so,
freed from the restraining influence of international law,
the aggressive war is conducted by the Nazi leaders in the
most barbaric way. Accordingly, war crimes were committed
when and wherever the Fuehrer and his close associates
thought them to be advantageous. They were for the most part
the result of cold and criminal calculation.

On some occasions, war crimes were deliberately planned long
in advance. In the case of the Soviet Union, the plunder of
the territories to be occupied, and the ill-treatment of the
civilian population, were settled in minute detail before
the attack was begun. As early as the autumn of 1940, the
invasion of the territories of the Soviet Union was being
considered. From that date onwards, the methods to be
employed in destroying all possible opposition were
continuously under discussion.

                                                   [Page 45]

Similarly, when planning to exploit the inhabitants of the
occupied countries for slave labor on the very greatest
scale, the German Government conceived it as an integral
part of the war economy, and planned and organized this
particular War Crime down to the last elaborate detail.

Other war crimes, such as the murder of prisoners of war who
had escaped and been recaptured, or the murder of Commandos
or captured airmen, or the destruction of the Soviet
Commissars, were the result of direct orders circulated
through the highest official channels.

The Tribunal proposes, therefore, to deal quite generally
with the question of war crimes, and to refer to them later
when examining the responsibility of the individual
defendants in relation to them. Prisoners of war were ill-
treated and tortured and murdered, not only in defiance of
the well-established rules of international law, but in
complete disregard of the elementary dictates of humanity.
Civilian populations in occupied territories suffered the
same fate. Whole populations were deported to Germany for
the purposes of slave labor upon defense works, armament
production, and similar tasks connected with the war effort.
Hostages were taken in very large numbers from the civilian
populations in all the occupied countries, and were shot as
suited the German purposes. Public and private property was
systematically plundered and pillaged in order to enlarge
the resources of Germany at the expense of the rest of
Europe. Cities and towns and villages were wantonly
destroyed without military justification or necessity.

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