The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

The Trial of German Major War Criminals

Sitting at Nuremberg, Germany
21st January to 1st February, 1946

Forty-Second Day: Thursday, 24rd January, 1946
(Part 7 of 7)

[M. DUBOST continues]

[Page 146]

The police and the army were involved in all of these arrests. A telegram in cipher shows that the Minister of Foreign Affairs himself was concerned in the matter. Document 723-PS, which becomes Exhibit RF 295, will be read in this session. It is the third document of the document book. It is addressed to the Minister of Foreign Affairs and is dated Paris, 5 June, 1943:
"In the course of a conference which took place yesterday with the representatives of the High Command of the Western Front and the SD, the following agreement was made concerning measures to be taken: The aim of these measures must be to make impossible, through preventive action, the escape from France of any more well-known soldiers and at the same time to prevent these personages from organising a resistance movement in France itself, in the event of an attempted landing by the Anglo-Saxon powers.

The circle of officers here concerned comprises all who by their rank and experience, or by their names, would considerably strengthen the military command or the political credit of the resisters should they decide to join them. In the event of military operations in France, we must consider them as being of the same importance."

Page 2, fourth paragraph:
"The list has been compiled in agreement with the High Command of the West, the Chief of the Security Police, and the General of the Air Force in Paris."
I will not read the names of the additional high-ranking French officers who were to be arrested, but I will ask you to turn on to Page 4, where the Tribunal will see, in the second paragraph, that the German authorities contemplated causing officers already arrested by the French Government, and under the supervision of the French authorities, to suffer the same fate as, for example, de Lattre de Tassigny, Laure, and Fornel de la Laurencie.

These generals were destined to be literally torn away from the French authorities for deportation.

Paragraph 3:

"Considering the general situation at present and the security measures which are envisaged, all officers present consider it inopportune to keep these generals in French custody, for they might, either through negligence or with the voluntary aid of the guard personnel, escape and recover their freedom."
Page 7, under Roman Numeral IX, concerning reprisals against their families:
"General Warlimont had asked the Commander in Chief of the Western Front to raise the question of reprisal measures to be taken against the families of persons who had become resisters, and to make certain proposals concerning their eventual fate."

President Laval declared himself ready, not long ago, to take measures of this kind on behalf of the French Government, but would limit himself to the families of several outstanding personalities.

I refer to the penultimate paragraph of the telegram No. 3,486 of 29 May 1943: 'We must wait and see whether Laval is really willing to apply reprisal measures in a practical way.'

"All those present at the meetings were in agreement that such measures should be taken in any event, as rapidly as possible, against families of well-known personages who had become resisters, for example, members

[Page 147]

of the families of Generals Giraud, Juin, Georges, the former Minister of the Interior, Pucheu, and of the Inspectors of Finance Couvre de Murville, le Roy- Beaulieu and others.

The measures may also be carried out by the German authorities, since the persons who have become resisters may be considered as foreigners belonging to an enemy power, and the members of their families are also to be considered as such.

In the opinion of those present, the members of these families should be interned; the practical carrying out of this measure and its technical possibilities must be carefully examined."

I omit one paragraph:
"We might also study the question of whether these families should be interned in regions particularly exposed to air attacks, for instance, in the region of dams or in industrial regions which are often bombed.

A list of families who are to be interned is to be drawn up in collaboration with the Embassy."

In this premeditation of criminal arrests we find involved the defendant Ribbentrop, the defendant Goering and the defendant Keitel; for it is their departments which made these proposals, and we know that these proposals were agreed to.

Document 720-PS, submitted as Exhibit RF 296, is the second in your document book -

In conclusion we must point out the participation of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs through the intermediary of the OKW. It is a fact that these arrests were carried out. Members of the family of General Giraud were deported. General Frere was deported and died in a concentration camp. Thus the orders were carried out. They were approved before being carried out, and the approval incriminates the defendants whose names I have mentioned. The arrests affected not only high-ranking officers, but were much more extensive, and a great number of Frenchmen were arrested. We have no exact statistics.

THE PRESIDENT: M. Dubost, did you produce any evidence for your last statement?

M. DUBOST: I shall bring you the proof of the arrest of General Frere, and his death in a concentration camp, when I deal with concentration camps; with regard to the arrest and death of several French generals in the concentration camp in Dachau, the Tribunal must still remember the testimony of Blaha; so far as the family of General Giraud is concerned, I shall endeavour to bring proofs, but I did not think it was necessary, as it is a well-known fact that the daughter of General Giraud was deported.

THE PRESIDENT: I am not sure that we can take judicial notice of all facts which may be public knowledge in France?

M. DUBOST: I shall submit to the Tribunal the supplementary proof concerning the generals who died on deportation when I deal with the question of the camps. General Frere died in Struthof Camp, and we shall explain the circumstances under which he was assassinated. In addition, there exists in your document book a document numbered 417-F, Exhibit RF 297, which was captured from the archives of the German Armistice Commission, which establishes that the German authorities refused to free French generals who were prisoners of war and whose state of health and age made it imperative that they should be released. Paragraph 2:

"So far as this question is concerned, the Fuehrer has always taken a negative line, not only towards their release, but also towards their hospitalisation in neutral countries."
THE PRESIDENT: Are you reading 720 now?

M. DUBOST: That is 417-F, the fourth in your document book.

[Page 148]

THE PRESIDENT: Yes, I have it.

M. DUBOST: "Today there is less question of release and hospitalisation than ever, since the Fuehrer has only recently ordered the transfer to Germany of all French generals living in France."

It is signed by Warlimont, and in the manuscript it is noted, "no reply to be given to the French."

Please bear in mind this last sentence -since the Fuehrer has only recently ordered a transfer to Germany of all French generals living in France." But, as I explained, these arrests went far beyond the comparatively small number of generals or the families of well-known persons as envisaged by the document which I have just read to the Tribunal. Many Frenchmen were arrested. We have no statistics, but we have an idea of the number, which is considerable, according to the figures given of Frenchmen who died in French prisons alone, prisons which had been placed under German command and were supervised by German personnel during the occupation.

We know that forty thousand Frenchmen died in French prisons alone in France. This is shown in a document which will be submitted in the case about atrocities, to be dealt with at the end of my statement, a document which originates from the Ministry of Prisoners of War and Deportees. These are the official figures produced by this Ministry. In the prison registry is written "Protective Custody." My American colleagues have explained to the Tribunal what this protective custody meant, when they read Document 1723-PS, submitted as Exhibit USA 266. It is useless to return to this document. It is sufficient to remind the Tribunal, that imprisonment and protective custody were considered by the German authorities as the strongest measure calculated to educate in a forceful manner any foreigners who would deliberately neglect their duty towards the German community, or compromise the security of the German State; they must act in accordance with the general interests and submit to the discipline of the State.

This protective custody was, as the Tribunal will remember, a purely arbitrary detention. Those who were interned in protective custody enjoyed no rights and could not defend themselves. There were no tribunals before which they could plead their cause.

Now, we know through official documents which were submitted to us, notably by Luxembourg, that protective custody was carried out on a very large scale. The Tribunal will read in Document 229-F, already submitted as Exhibit USA 243, No. 215, a list of twenty-five persons arrested and placed in different concentration camps under protective custody.

The Tribunal will recall that our colleagues drew its attention to the case of the arrest of Ludwig (bottom of the page), because he was strongly suspected of having aided deserters.

A testimony of the application of protective custody in France is given in Document 278-F, submitted as Exhibit RF 300, which is the next in your document book:

"Copy of VAA 7236 - Secret - Ministry for Foreign Affairs, Berlin, 18 September 1941." There is a typing error here. The date is not clear, but we know it is 1941.

"Subject: Report of 30 August, 1941.

The explanations of the Military Commander in France of 1 August 1941 are considered in general to be satisfactory as a reply to the French note.

Here, also, we consider there is every reason to avoid any further discussion with the French concerning preventive arrest, for this would only lead to a limitation of its application by the occupying power, which

[Page 149]

would not be desirable or in the interests of the freedom of action of the military authorities. By order (signed)."

The signature cannot be read; and below: "the representative of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs at the German Armistice Commission at Wiesbaden. - The Ministry for Foreign Affairs - VAA P 7236, SECRET, dated Wiesbaden, 23 September 1941, copy:

"The representative of the Ministry requests to be informed, when convenient, of the reply made to the French note."

The Ministry for Foreign Affairs was still involved in this question of protective custody.

The justification for this custody was as the Ministry for Foreign Affairs admits, and according to the testimony of this document, very weak; nevertheless, the Ministry for Foreign Affairs does not forbid it.

The arrests were carried out under manifold pretexts, but all these pretexts may be summarised under two general conceptions. Arrests were carried out either for political or for racial reasons. The arrests were individual or collective, in both cases.

Pretexts of a political nature

From 1941, the French observed that there was a certain synchronism between the evolution of political events and the rhythm of arrests. Exhibit RF 301, which is at the end of your document book, will show this. Pages 3 to 6.

The Tribunal will be able to follow, Pages 3 to 6. On Page 3, a description is given by the Ministry of Prisoners of war and Deportees of the conditons under which these arrests took place, beginning in 1941; it was a critical period in the German history of the war, since it was from 1941 that Germany was at war with the Soviet Union.

Page 7 of the German translation:

"The synchronism between the evolution of political events and the rhythm of arrests is evident. The suppression of the line of demarcation between the occupied and non-occupied zones, the establishment of resistance groups, the formation of the Maquis - which was the result of forced labour - the landings in North Africa and in Normandy, all had immediate repercussions on the figures for arrests, of which the maximum curve is reached for the period of May to August 1944, especially in the Southern zone and particularly in the region of Lyons.

We repeat that these arrests were carried out by members of all the categories of the German repressive system: the Gestapo in uniform or in civilian clothes, the SD, the Gendarmerie, particularly at the demarcation line, the Wehrmacht and the SS."

Page 4, second paragraph :
"The arrests took on the characteristics of collective operations. In Paris, as a result of an attempted assassination, the 18th Arrondissement was surrounded by the Feldgendarmerie. Its inhabitants, men, women, and children, could not return to their homes and spent the night where they could find shelter. A round-up was carried out in the Arrondissement."
I do not think that it is necessary to read the following paragraph, which deals with the arrests at the University of Clermont-Ferrand, which the Tribunal will certainly remember, and also the arrests in Brittany in 1944, at the time of the invasion. The last paragraph, at the bottom of Page 11:
"I cannot enumerate the cities and villages where, on the pretext of conspiracy or attempted assassinations, whole families were made to suffer. The Germans resorted to round-ups when compulsory labour recruitment no longer furnished them with sufficient workers.

[Page 150]

Round-up in Grenoble, the 24th of December 1943, Christmas Eve

Round-up in Cluny, Saone-et-Loire, in March 1944.

Round-up in Figeac in May 1944.

Most Frenchmen who were rounded up in this way were, in reality, not used for work in Germany, but were deported to be interned in concentration camps."

We might multiply the examples of these arbitrary arrests by delving into official documents which have been submitted by Luxembourg, Denmark, Norway, Holland, and Belgium. These round-ups were never legally justified, they were never even represented as an action taken in accordance with the pseudo- law of hostages to which we have already referred. They were always arbitrary and carried out without any apparent reason, for no apparent reason, or at any rate, without its being possible to motivate them even as a reprisal for the act of any Frenchman, Other collective arrests were made for racial reasons. They were of the same odious nature as those made for political reasons.

On Page 5 of the official document of the Ministry of Prisoners of War and Deportees, the Tribunal may read a few odious details connected with these racial arrests; the third line at the bottom of the page.

"Certain German policemen were especially entrusted to seek out Jewish persons, according to their physiognomy. They called this group 'The Brigade of Physiognomists'. This verification sometimes took place in a public way as far as men were concerned. (At the railway-station at Nice, some were stripped with a revolver pointed at them).

The Parisians remember these roundups in their quarters. The big police buses transported old men, women and children and brought them en masse to the Velodrome D'Hiver, under dreadful sanitary conditions, before taking them to Drancy, where they awaited deportation. The round-up of the month of August 1941, has become infamous for its sad associations. All the exits of the subway of the 11th Arrondissement were closed and all the Jews in that quarter were arrested and imprisoned. The round-up of December 1941 was particularly aimed at intellectual circles. Then there were the round-ups of July 1942.

All the cities in the southern zone, particularly Lyons, Grenoble, Cannes, and Nice, where many Jews had taken refuge, experienced these round-ups after the total occupation of France."

Then there is a revolting detail:
"The Germans sought out all Jewish children who had found refuge with private citizens or with institutions. In May, 1944, they proceeded to arrest the children of the Colony of Eyzieux, and to arrest children who had sought refuge in the Colonies of the U.G.I.F. in June and July 1944."
I do not believe that these children were enemies of the German people, nor that they represented a danger of any kind to the German army in France.

THE PRESIDENT: Perhaps we had better break off now.

(The Tribunal adjourned until 25th January 1946, at 1000 hours.

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