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-Third Day: Friday, 25rd January, 1946
(Part 1 of 7)

[Page 151]



COURT OFFICER: Your Honours, Defendants Kaltenbrunner and Streicher will be absent from this morning's session.

M. DUBOST: Yesterday I was reading from an official French document, which appears in your document book. - permit me to remind you of it - under the title "Report of the Ministry of Prisoners of War and Deportees.". It concerned the seizure by the Germans of Jewish children in France, who were taken from private houses or public institutions where they had been placed.

With your permission I will come back to a statement which I had previously made, concerning the execution of orders given by the German General Staff with the approval of the Reich Minister for Foreign Affairs, to arrest all French generals and, in reprisal, to arrest as well all the families of these generals who might be dissentients, in other words who were on the side of our Allies.

In accordance with Article 21 of the Charter, the Tribunal will not require facts of public knowledge to be proved. In the enormous amount of facts which we submit to you there are many which are known but not of public knowledge. They are few, but there are certain facts, nevertheless, which are both known and also of public knowledge in all countries. There is the famous case of the deportation of the family of General Giraud, and I shall allow myself to recall to the Tribunal the six principal points concerning this deportation. First: we all remember having learned through the Allied radio that Madame Giraud, wife of General Giraud ...

THE PRESIDENT: What is it that you are going to ask us to take judicial notice of with reference to the deportation of General Giraud's family?.

M. DUBOST: I have to ask the Tribunal, Mr. President, to apply as far as these facts are concerned, to Article 21 of the Charter, namely, the provision specifying that the Tribunal will not require facts to be proved which are of public knowledge.

Second: I request the Tribunal to hear my statement of these facts which we consider to be of public knowledge, for they are known not only in France but in America, as the American Army learned something of these events.

THE PRESIDENT: The words of Article 21 are not "of public knowledge" but "of common knowledge". It is not quite the same thing.

M. DUBOST: I have before me the French translation of the Charter. I am interpreting according to the French translation: "The Tribunal will not require that facts of public knowledge ("notoriete publique") be proved."

We interpret these words thus: it is not necessary to bring documentary or testifying proof of facts universally known.

THE PRESIDENT: You say "universally known," but supposing, for instance, the members of the Tribunal did not know the facts? How could it then be taken that they were of common knowledge? The members of the Tribunal may be ignorant of the facts. It is difficult for them to take cognisance of the facts if they do not know them.

M. DUBOST: It is a question of fact which will be decided by the Tribunal. The Tribunal will say whether it does or does not know that these six points which I shall recall to it are correct.

THE PRESIDENT: The Tribunal will retire.

(A recess was taken)

[Page 152]

THE PRESIDENT : The Tribunal is of the opinion that the facts with reference to General Giraud's deportation and the deportation of his family, although they are very probably matters of common knowledge or of public knowledge within France, cannot be said to be of common knowledge or of public knowledge within the meaning of Article 21, which applies generally to the world.

Of course, if the French Prosecution have governmental documents or reports from France which state the facts with reference to the deportation of General Giraud, the matter assumes a different aspect, and if there are such documents the Tribunal will, of course, consider them.

M. DUBOST: I must bring proof that the crimes committed individually by the leaders of the German police in each city and in each region of the occupied authorities, the will of the German Government, a fact which permits us to charge all the defendants one by one. I shall not be able to prove this by submitting documents alone. That you may consider it a fact, it is necessary that you accept as valid the evidence which I am about to read. This evidence was collected by the American and French Armies, and the French Service for Investigation of War Crimes. The Tribunal will excuse me if I am obliged to read numerous documents.This systematic will can only be proved by showing that everywhere and in every case the German police used the same methods concerning patriots whom they interned or detained.

Internment or imprisonment in France was in civilian prisons which the Germans had seized, or in certain sections of French prisons which the Germans had requisitioned, which they occupied, and which all French officials were forbidden to enter. The prisoners in all these penitentiaries were subject to the same regime. We shall prove this by reading to you depositions of prisoners from each of these German penal institutions in France or the Western occupied countries. This regime was absolutely inhuman. It allowed the prisoners to survive only under the most precarious conditions.

In Lyons, at Fort Montluc, the women received as their only food a cup of herb tea at 7 o'clock in the morning and a spoonful of soup with a small piece of bread at 5 o'clock in the evening. This is established by Document 555-F, which you will find the eleventh in your document book, which we submit as Exhibit RF 302.

THE PRESIDENT: One moment. I have not found the document.

M. DUBOST: The eleventh in the document book, Document 555- F, first page of the document.

THE PRESIDENT : Yes, M. Dubost, but you see, these document books are not paged or tabbed in any way. Yes, we have it now.

M. DUBOST: The first page of this document, second paragraph, is an analysis of the depositions which were received. It is sufficient to refer to this analysis. I shall take some lines from the following deposition. The witness declares that at their arrival at Fort Montluc,

"the prisoners who were taken in the round-up by the Gestapo on 20 September 1943, were stripped of all their property.

They were treated in a brutal fashion. The food rations were quite inadequate. The modesty of the women was not respected."

The same deposition, dated 9 October 1944, at Saint Gingolph: This deposition refers to the arrests made at Saint Gingolph, which were carried out in the month of September 1943. The witness relates on page 2, fifth paragraph, at the top of the page:
"After returning from the interrogation the young boys had their toes burned by means of cotton-wool which had been dipped in petrol; others had their calves burned by the flames of a blow-lamp ... others were bitten by police dogs..."

[Page 153]

DR. MERKEL (Counsel for the Gestapo): The French Prosecution submits here documents which do not represent sworn affidavits, and confirmations which do not show who took them. As a matter of principle I have to protest against these mere depositions of persons who did not take an oath, and which do not represent sworn affidavits, being admitted as proof at this trial.

THE PRESIDENT: Is that all you have to say?

DR. MERKEL: Yes, Sir.

THE PRESIDENT: We will hear M. Dubost's answer.

M. DUBOST: Mr. President, the Charter, which goes so far as to admit evidence of public knowledge, has not fixed any rules as to the manner in which this evidence, which shall be submitted to you as proof, shall be presented. The Charter leaves the Tribunal free to decide whether this or that method of investigation is acceptable, or whether the way in which these investigations have been carried out is regular, if it conforms to the customs and usages of my country. As a matter of fact, it is certain that all official records of the police and gendarmerie may be accepted without the witnesses being under oath. Moreover, according to the provisions of the Charter, all investigations for the discovery of war crimes should be deemed to have probative value. Article 21 says:

"The Tribunal shall not require proof of facts of common knowledge but shall take judicial notice thereof. It shall also take judicial notice of official governmental documents and reports of the United Nations, including the acts and documents of the committees set up in the various Allied countries for the investigation of war crimes, and the records and findings of military or other Tribunals of any of the United Nations."
THE PRESIDENT: M. Dubost, is the document that you are reading to us either an official government document or a report, or is it an act or document of a committee set up in France?

M. DUBOST: This report, Mr. President, comes from the Surete Nationale. You can establish that by examining the second sheet of the copy which you have in your hand, at the top to the left: Direction Generale de la Surete Nationale. Commissariat Special de Saint Gingolph. Record of witnesses' testimony.

THE PRESIDENT: May we see the original document?

M. DUBOST: Certainly. This document was submitted to the Secretary of the Tribunal. The Secretary has only to bring that document to you.

THE PRESIDENT: Very well. Is this a certified copy?

M. DUBOST: It is a copy certified by the Director of the Cabinet of the Ministry of Justice.

THE PRESIDENT: M. Dubost, I am told that the French prosecutors have all the original documents and are not depositing them in the way it is done by the other prosecutors. Is that so?

M. DUBOST: The French prosecutors submitted the originals of yesterday's session, and they were handed over this morning to M. Martin.

THE PRESIDENT: Well, we wish to see the original document. We understand it is in the hands of the French Secretary. We should like to see it.

(A document was submitted to the Tribunal)

M. DUBOST: I have sent for it, Mr. President. This document is a certified copy of the original, which is preserved in the archives of the Service for Inquiry into Enemy War Crimes. This certification was made, on the one hand, by the French Delegate of the Prosecution - you will see the signature of M. de Menthon on the document you have - on the other, by the Director of the Cabinet of the Minister of Justice, M. Zambeaux, with the official seal of the French Ministry of Justice.

THE PRESIDENT: It does appear to be a governmental document. It is the

[Page 154]

document of a committee set up by France for the investigation of war crimes, is it not?

M. DUBOST: Mr. President, it is a document which comes from the Office of National Security (Direction Generale de la Surete Nationale), which was set up in connection with an investigation of War Crimes, as prescribed by our French Office for the Investigation of War Crimes.

The original remained in Paris at the War Crimes Office but the certified copy which you have was signed by the Director of the Cabinet of the Ministry of Justice in Paris.

THE PRESIDENT: Yes, M. Dubost, I was not asking whether it was a true copy or not; the question I was asking was whether or not it was, within Article 21, either a governmental document or a report of the United Nations, or an act or a document of a committee set up in France for the investigation of war crimes and I was asking whether it is, and it appears to be so. It is, is it not?

M. DUBOST: Yes, Sir.

THE PRESIDENT: Do you wish to add anything to what you have said?

M. DUBOST: No, I have nothing to add.

THE PRESIDENT: (to Dr. Merkel) Now you may speak, Sir.

DR. MERKEL: I should only like to stress briefly that these reports which are presented here are not reports of an official government agency, and cannot be considered as governmental reports. Rather, they are only minutes which have been taken in police offices, and thus can in no way be authentic declarations of a government or of an investigating committee. I emphasise once more that these declarations, which have certainly been taken, partially at least, in petty police offices, have not been made under oath, and do not represent sworn statements, and I have to protest firmly against their being considered as evidence here.

THE PRESIDENT: Do you wish to add anything?


THE PRESIDENT: Who is M. Binaud? J. Binaud?

M. DUBOST: He is the Police Inspector of the Special Police, who was attached to the Special Commissariat of Saint Gingolph.

I must correct an error made by the defence counsel, who said this was a petty police office. This was a frontier post. The Special Commissariats at the frontier post are all important offices even though they are located in small towns. I think it is similar in all countries.

THE PRESIDENT: Well, M. Dubost, you understand what the problem is? It is a question of the interpretation of Article 21.

M. DUBOST: I understand.

THE PRESIDENT: The Tribunal requires your assistance upon that interpretation, as to whether this document does come under the terms of Article 21. If you have anything to say upon that subject we will be glad to hear it.

M. DUBOST: Mr. President, it seems to me impossible that the Tribunal should rule out this and similar documents which I am going to present, for all these documents bear, for authentication, not only the signature of the French representative at this Tribunal, but that of the Delegate of the Minister of Justice from the War Crimes Commission as well. Examine the imprint beside, the second signature. It is the seal.

THE PRESIDENT: Do not go too fast; tell us where the signatures are.

M. DUBOST: (Indicates on document) Here, your Honours, is a note of the release of this document to the French Prosecutor as an element of proof by the Service for Investigation of War Crimes, and below is the signature of the Director of the Cabinet of the French Minister of Justice, the Keeper of the Seals, and, in addition, over this signature, is the imprint of the Minister of Justice. You may read: Enemy War Crimes Commission.

[Page 155]

THE PRESIDENT: Is this the substance of the matter, that this was an inquiry by the police into these facts, and that police inquiry was recorded, and then the Minister of Justice, for the purposes of this trial, adopted that police report? Is that the substance of it?

M. DUBOST: That is correct, Mr. President. I think that we agree. The Service for Investigation of War Crimes in France is directly attached to the Ministry of Justice. It carries out investigations. These investigations are made by the police authorities, such as M. Binaud, Inspector of Special Police, attached to the Special Commissariat of Saint Gingolph.

THE PRESIDENT: The Tribunal would like to know when the Service for Investigation of War Crimes was established.

M. DUBOST: I cannot give you the exact date from memory, but this Service was set up in France the day after the liberation. It began to function in October 1944.

THE PRESIDENT: Was it established after the police report was made?

M. DUBOST: In the month of September, about the same time.

THE PRESIDENT: September of what year?

M. DUBOST: In September, 1944, this Service for Investigation of War Crimes in France was established, and this Service it was which gave orders.

THE PRESIDENT: Then the police inquiry was held under the Service? You see, the police report is dated 9 October, and therefore the police report appears to have been made after the Service had been set up. Is that right?

M. DUBOST: You have the evidence, Mr. President. If you look at the top of the second page at the left, it shows the beginning of the record and you read: "Purpose: Investigation of atrocities committed by Germans against civilian population."

These investigations were prescribed by the Service for Investigation of War Crimes.

THE PRESIDENT: Yes. That would appear to be so if the Service was established in September, and this police investigation is dated 9 October.

The Tribunal will adjourn for consideration of this question.

(A recess was taken)

[ Previous | Index | Next ]

Home ·  Site Map ·  What's New? ·  Search Nizkor

© The Nizkor Project, 1991-2012

This site is intended for educational purposes to teach about the Holocaust and to combat hatred. Any statements or excerpts found on this site are for educational purposes only.

As part of these educational purposes, Nizkor may include on this website materials, such as excerpts from the writings of racists and antisemites. Far from approving these writings, Nizkor condemns them and provides them so that its readers can learn the nature and extent of hate and antisemitic discourse. Nizkor urges the readers of these pages to condemn racist and hate speech in all of its forms and manifestations.