The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

The Trial of German Major War Criminals

Sitting at Nuremberg, Germany
7th January to 19th January, 1946

Twenty-Ninth Day: Tuesday, January 8th, 1946
(Part 5 of 10)

[MR. ALBRECHT continues]

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We shall first deal with the individual responsibility of this conspirator for Crimes against Peace. These crimes include Goering's participation in the acquisition and consolidation of power in Germany, the economic and military preparations for war and the waging of aggressive war.

For more than two decades Goering's activities extended over nearly every phase of the conspiracy. He was one of the conspirators associated with Hitler from the very beginning. A member of the Party since 1922, he participated in the Munich "Putsch" of November, 1923, at the head of the S.A., a Nazi organisation shown to have been committed to the use of violence.

He fled the country after the Putsch in order to escape arrest. After his return he became more than a commander of street fighters. He was designated Hitler's first political assistant. A measure of the man may be gleaned from an exhibit already in evidence, namely, Gritzbach's official biography of Goering, in which are recorded his dealings with the Bruning Government, his attempts to break down the barrier around President von Hindenburg, and his coup as Reichstag President in September, 1932, in procuring a vote of no confidence against the von Papen Government just before the Reichstag was dissolved.

His writings show him not to be backward in taking credit for his efforts to advance the cause of the Party. Full credit has also been accorded him by Hitler, and Goering has boasted that no title and no decoration could make him

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so proud as the designation given to him by the German people, and I quote, "the most faithful paladin of our Fuehrer." That short quotation, may it please the Court, comes from our Exhibit USA 233, our Document 2324-PS.

With the advent of the Nazis to power in January, 1933, Goering became Acting Minister of the Interior and Prime Minister of Prussia. In these capacities he proceeded promptly to establish a regime of terror in Prussia designed to suppress all opposition to the Nazi programme.

His chief tool in that connection was the Prussian Police, which remained under his jurisdiction until 1936. As early as February, 1933, he directed the entire police force to render unqualified assistance to the para-military organisations supporting the new government, such as the S.A. and the S.S., and to crush all political opponents with fire-arms, if necessary, and regardless of the consequences. The Tribunal will take judicial notice of the Directives of the 10th and 17th of February, 1933, which are cited on Page 7 of our brief and which appear in that collection of decrees known as the "Ministerialblatt fur dis Preussische Innere Verwaltung" of 1933.

Goering has frequently and proudly acknowledged his personal responsibility for the crimes committed pursuant to orders of this character, and I recall his words which he uttered before thousands of his fellow Germans:

" ... each bullet which leaves the barrel of a police pistol now, is my bullet. If one calls this murder, then I have murdered; I ordered all this, I back it up. I assume the responsibility and I am not afraid to do so."
That quotation, may it please the Tribunal, comes from our Exhibit USA 233, already in evidence, Document 2324-PS.

Soon after he became Prime Minister of Prussia, in pursuance of the conspiracy, Goering began to develop the Gestapo or Secret State Police, the details of which organisation of terror were presented to the Court by my learned colleague, Colonel Storey. As early as the 26th April, 1933, he signed the first law officially establishing the Gestapo in Prussia; and, pursuant to a decree which he signed, he named himself Prime Minister, Chief of the Prussian Secret State Police.

Goering was undoubtedly an efficient conspirator. He was impatient to consolidate the power of the Party at home. Already by the spring of 1933 the concentration camps had been established in Prussia. Men and women, so-called "Marxists" and other political opponents, taken into custody by the Gestapo, were thrown into concentration camps without trial. Goering said, "Against the enemies of the State we must proceed ruthlessly." That statement appears in our Document 2324-PS, which is already in evidence as Exhibit USA 233.

The range of political terrorism under his leadership was almost limitless. A glance at a few of his police directives in those early days will indicate the extent and thoroughness with which every dissident voice was silenced. I ask the Tribunal to take judicial notice of some of these decrees in the same collection I mentioned a short while ago, entitled the "Ministerialblatt fur die Preussische Innere Verwaltung," and we have cited these decrees on Pages 9 and 10 of our brief. These include:

A directive of the 22nd June, 1933, which required all officials to watch the statements of civil servants and to denounce to Goering those who made critical remarks. The failure to make such reports was to be regarded as proof of hostile attitude. Then there was the directive of the 23rd June, 1933, which suppressed all activities of the Social Democratic Party, including meetings and the party press, and ordered the confiscation of its property. There was the directive of the 30th June, 1933, which directed the Gestapo authorities to report to the Labour Trustees on the political attitude of the workers. There was the directive of the 15th January,1934, which ordered the Gestapo and

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the frontier police to keep track of emigres, particularly political emigres and Jews residing in neighbouring countries, and to arrest them and put them in concentration camps if they returned to Germany.

The essential ruthlessness of Goering is further illustrated by a well-known bloody episode. After the elimination of the forces of the opposition, the Nazis felt it necessary to dispose of non-conformists within their own ranks. This they accomplished in what has become known as the Roehm purge of the 30th June, 1934. The defendant Frick, a chief conspirator in his own right, stated in that connection, in an affidavit, that many people were murdered who had nothing to do with the internal S.A. revolt, but who were "just not liked very well."

Goering's role in this sordid affair was related less than two weeks after the event by Hitler in a speech to the Reichstag, and I would like to offer in evidence as Exhibit USA 576 our Document 3442-PS, in which is contained the speech of Hitler made on the 13th July, 1934, in the Reichstag. It is published in "Das Archiv," Vol. 4-6, at Page 505. I quote:

"Meanwhile Minister President Goering had already received my instructions that in case of a purge he was to take analogous measures at once in Berlin and in Prussia. With an iron fist he beat down the attack on the National Socialist State before it could develop."
With the accession of the Nazis to power Goering at once assumed a number of the highest and most influential positions in the Reich also. The proof already presented on the composition and functions of the Reich Cabinet and of the offices he held shows him to have been, in fact, the most important executive of the Nazi State.

A member of the Reichstag since 1928 and its President since 1932, he was a member of the Cabinet from the beginning as Reich Minister without Portfolio. Shortly thereafter he received the portfolio as Reich Minister for Air. When, in an early meeting, the Cabinet discussed the pending Enabling Act, which gave the Cabinet plenary powers of legislation, he offered the suggestion that the required two-thirds majority might be obtained simply by refusing admittance to Social Democratic delegates. I offer in evidence, as Exhibit USA 578, our Document 2962-PS, which contains the minutes of that meeting. If your Honours will note, that meeting was held on the 15th of March, 1933, and there were present, besides the defendant Goering, the defendants von Papen, von Neurath, Frick and Funk. I read from Page 6 of that document:

"Reich Minister Goering expressed his conviction that the Enabling Act would be passed with the necessary two- thirds majority. Possibly a majority could be obtained by banishing several Social Democrats from the hall. Possibly the Social Democrats would even refrain from voting on the Enabling Act."
In 1935, with the unmasking of a secret Luftwaffe, Goering became its commander-in-chief. He sat as a member and the Fuehrer's Deputy on the Reich Defence Council, established by the secret law of the 21st of May, 1933. The purpose of that Council was, as stated by the defendant Frick in an affidavit, that is, in evidence:
"To plan preparations and decrees in case of war, which later on were published by the Ministerial Council for the Defence of the Reich."
His assumption of ever greater responsibility seemed limitless. In 1936 he was made Plenipotentiary for the Four Year Plan, whereby he acquired plenary legislative and administrative powers over all German economic life. In 1938 he became a member of the Secret Cabinet Council, which had been established to act as "an advisory board in the direction of foreign policy."

The Ministerial Council for the Defence of the Reich, created in 1939, took over, in effect, all of the legislative powers of the Cabinet which had not been reserved otherwise, and Goering became its chairman.

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His efficient and ruthless services were recognised by Hitler in 1939, when he designated Goering as his successor, as heir apparent to the "New Order."

In April, 1936, Goering was appointed Co-ordinator for Raw Materials and Foreign Exchange and empowered to supervise all State and Party activities in these fields. I offer in support of that fact, as Exhibit USA 577, our Document 2827- PS, which is an excerpt from Ruhle, "Das Dritte Reich." I read from the fourth paragraph of the excerpt, if your Honour please, which is an excerpt from a decree signed by Hitler, and it reads, as follows:

"Minister President General Goering will take the measures necessary for the accomplishment of the tasks given to him and has the authority to issue decrees and general administrative directives. He, for this purpose, is authorised to question and issue directives to all authorities, including the highest Reich authorities, and all agencies of the Party, its formations and attached organisations."
In this capacity Goering convened the War Minister, the defendant Schacht, as Minister of Economics and President of the Reichsbank, and the Finance Minister for the Reich and the State of Prussia, to discuss inter-agency problems connected with war mobilisation. At a meeting of this group on the 12th May, 1936, when the question of the prohibitive cost of synthetic raw material substitutes arose, Goering decided:
"If we have war to-morrow we must help ourselves by substitutes. Then money will not play any role at all. If that is the case, then we must be ready to create the prerequisites for that in peace time."
A few days later, on the 27th May, 1936, at a meeting of the same group Goering opposed any limitations dictated by orthodox financial policies. He said that "all measures are to be considered from the standpoint of an assured waging of war."

The well-known Four Year Plan was proclaimed by Hitler at the 1936 Nuremberg Party Day. Goering was appointed Plenipotentiary in charge of the programme which was intended to achieve national self-sufficiency. Furthermore Goering commented in 1936 that his chief task as Plenipotentiary was "to put the whole economy on a war footing within four years." I would like to offer into evidence, as Exhibit USA 579, our Document EC-409, so that I may direct the Tribunal's attention to a memorandum, dated the 30th December, 1936, of the Defence Division of the Wehrmacht, entitled " Memorandum on the Four Year Plan and Preparation of the War Economy," and in the third paragraph of the translation, or at Page 2, in the middle of paragraph number 3 in the German original, there is the statement registered in the protocol, in the memorandum, that:

"Minister President General Goering, as Commissioner for the Four Year Plan, by authority of the Fuehrer and Reich Chancellor, granted 18th October, 1936.

As regards the war economy, Minister President General Goering sees it as his task 'within four years to put the entire economy in a state of readiness for war.'"

The exhibit from which I have just read is of interest because of another document that has just been brought to the attention of the prosecution. It is a note for the files, dated 2nd December, 1936, written in longhand on the letterhead of "Minister President General Goering," and is in the handwriting of Colonel Bodanschatz, Goering's Chief 'of Staff. I offer this memorandum as Exhibit USA 580. It is our Document 3474-PS, and I direct the Tribunal's attention to the fact that the date of this document is the 2nd December, 1936. That was a conference, apparently, at which all the chief officers and generals of the Air Force, the German Air Force, met. Besides the defendant Goering,

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there were General Milch, General Kesselring, Rudel, Stumpf, Christiansen, and all the top commanders of the Air Force, and I read:
"World Press excited about the landing of 5,000 German volunteers in Spain. Official complaint by Great Britain; she gets in touch with France.

Italy suggests that Germany and Italy send, each, one division ground troops to Spain. It is, however, necessary that Italy, as interested Mediterranean power, issue a political declaration first. A decision can be expected only after a few days.

The general situation is very serious. Russia wants the war. England rearms speedily. Command therefore: beginning to-day 'hochste Einsatzbereitschaft.'"

Apparently the translator did not see fit to translate that word, which means the "highest degree of readiness" - regardless of financial difficulties. Goering takes over full responsibility.
"Peace until 1941 is desirable. However, we cannot know whether there will be implications before. We are already in a state of war. It is only that no shot is being fired so far."
THE PRESIDENT: Perhaps that would be a convenient time to break off.

(A recess was taken until 14.00 hours.)

MR. ALBRECHT: May it please the Tribunal, two important conferences which have already been referred to by the prosecution show clearly how the defendant Goering inspired and directed the preparation of the German economy for aggressive war. On the 8th July, 1938, he addressed a number of the leading German aircraft producers. He stated that war with Czechoslovakia was imminent and boasted that the German Air Force was already superior in quality and quantity to the English. He said that "if Germany wins the war, she will be the greatest power in the world, dominating the world market, and Germany will be a rich nation. For this goal, risks must be taken." That quotation, may it please the Court, is taken from Document R-140, Exhibit USA 160.

A few weeks after the Munich Agreement, on the 14th October, 1938, at another conference held in Goering's office, he made the statement that Hitler had instructed him to organise a gigantic armament programme which would make insignificant all previous achievements. He indicated that he had been ordered to build as rapidly as possible an Air Force five times as large, to increase the speed of Army and Navy rearmament, and to concentrate on offensive weapons, principally heavy artillery and heavy tanks; and at that meeting he proposed a specific programme designed to accomplish those ends. That is a short summary of facts which appear in Exhibit USA 123, already in evidence, our Document 1301-PS.

In his dual role as Reich Air Minister and Commander-in- Chief of the German Air Force it was Goering's function to develop the Luftwaffe to practical war strength. As early as the 10th March, 1935, in an interview with the correspondent of the London Daily Mail, the mask of hypocrisy was removed and Goering frankly announced to the world that he was in the process of building a true military Air Force.

Two months later, in a speech to one thousand Air Force officers, Goering spoke in a still bolder vein. I offer in evidence from Exhibit USA 437, our Document 3441-PS, which is Goering's "Reden und Aufsdtze," another excerpt that has not yet been read in evidence, from Page 242. Goering said:

"I repeat: I intend to create a Luftwaffe which, if the hour should strike, shall burst upon the foe like a chorus of revenge. The enemy must have the feeling of being lost already even before having fought ...."
In the same year, on the 16th March, 1935, he signed his name to the Conscription Law, which provided for compulsory military service and constituted

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an act of defiance on the part of Nazi Germany in violation of the Versailles Treaty. The Tribunal will take judicial notice of that decree, which is our Document 1654-PS, from which I shall not read, with the permission of the Tribunal, the Law for the Organisation of the Armed Forces; it is cited in 1935 Reichsgesetzblatt, Part 1, Page 369.

As is demonstrated by the affidavit of Ambassador Nessersmith already in evidence, Goering's statements during this period left no doubt in the minds of Allied diplomats that Germany was engaged in full mobilisation of her air power for an impending war.

Goering was, in fact, the central figure in German preparation for military aggression. In German economic development, too, he held the key positions throughout the pre-war period. Although he held no official position in the field of foreign affairs, history records that, as the No. 2 Nazi, he was prominent in all major phases of Nazi aggression between 1937 and 1941.

In the Austrian affair Goering was the prompter and director of the diplomatic "tragicomedy" enacted before a shocked but silent world.

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