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-Eighth Day: Friday, 1st February, 1946
(Part 8 of 8)

[Page 370]

A second advantage was the elimination of groups considered especially difficult to assimilate. I should like to quote in this connection - this will be Exhibit RF 749 - what Gauleiter Wagner stated in a speech given at Saverne, according to the Dernieres Nouvelles de Strasbourg, of 15 December 1941.
"Today we must make up our mind. In the moment of our nation's supreme struggle - a struggle in which you, too, must participate - I can only say to anyone who says: 'I am a Frenchman.' 'Get the hell out of here! In Germany there is only room for Germans'."
From the very beginning the Germans proceeded, firstly, to the expulsion of individuals or small groups, especially Jews and members of the teaching profession. Moreover, as is shown by a document which I have already cited this morning as Exhibit RF 701, and which was the first general protest made by the French delegation, under date of 3 September 1940, the Germans authorised the people of Alsace-Lorraine to return to their homes only if they acknowledged themselves to be of German origin. Now, the Tribunal will understand that these restrictions upon the return of refugees were in themselves equivalent to expulsion. Mass expulsions began in September 1940. I now submit in this connection Exhibit RF 750; it is again a note from the French armistice delegation taken from the files of the Court of Justice. I am now reading this document, paragraph 2.
"Since then it has been brought to the knowledge of the French Government that the German authorities are proceeding to mass expulsions of families in the three Eastern departments. Every day French citizens, forced to abandon all of their belongings on the spot, are driven into unoccupied France in groups of 800 to 1,000 persons."
It is only the 19th of September. On the 3rd of November the Germans undertook the systematic expulsion of the populations of the Moselle region. This operation was accomplished with extreme perfidy. The Germans, as a matter of fact, gave the Lorrainers of certain localities the choice of either going to Eastern Germany or to France. They gave them only a few hours to make up their minds. Moreover, they sought to promote the belief that such

[Page 371]

a choice was imposed upon the Lorrainers as a result of an agreement reached with the French authorities.

From the physical point of view, the transport of these people was effected under very difficult conditions. The Lorrainers were allowed to take away only a very small part of their personal belongings and a sum of 2,000 francs, plus 1,000 francs for the children. On 18th November, four trains filled with Lorrainers who had been torn away from their homes were headed for Lyons. The arrival in unoccupied France of these people who had been so sorely tried was for them nevertheless, an opportunity for nobly manifesting their patriotic sentiments. With regard to the facts which I have presented I submit to the Tribunal Exhibit RF 751, which is a note of protest on the part of the French delegation signed by General Doyen, dated 18th November 1940. I shall read excerpts of this Document RF 751, beginning with paragraph 3 of Page 1.

"France is faced with an act of force which is in formal contradiction to the armistice convention as well as the assurances, recently given, of a desire for collaboration between the two countries. On the contrary, in Article 16, which the German commission had frequently invoked, with specific regard to the departments of the East, the armistice convention stipulates the reinstallation of refugees in the regions in which they were domiciled. The creation of new refugees constitutes, therefore, a violation of the armistice convention. France is faced with an unjust act affecting peaceful populations against whom the Reich has no grievance, and who, settled for centuries on these territories, have made of them a particularly prosperous region.

The unexpected decision of the German authorities is likewise an inhuman act. In the very middle of winter, without warning, families have to leave their homes, taking with them only a strict minimum of personal property and a sum of money absolutely insufficient to enable them to live for even a few weeks. Thousands of Frenchmen were thus suddenly hurled into misery without their country, already so heavily tried, and surprised by the suddenness and amplitude of the measures adopted without its knowledge, being in a position to assure them, from one day to the next, a normal livelihood. This exodus and the conditions under which it is taking place causes most painful and sorrowful impressions throughout the French nation. The French people are particularly disturbed by the explanations given to the Lorrainers, according to which the French Government was reputed to be the source of their misfortune.

It is that impression in fact, which the poster in certain villages, where the populations had to choose between leaving for eastern Germany or for unoccupied France, was intended to convey.

The poster is appended hereto, but we are not in possession of it's text.

That also encouraged the belief that these populations had themselves requested permission to leave, following the appeal broadcast by the Bordeaux radio. Even if we admit that such appeals had been made by radio it should be noted that the Bordeaux radio station is under German control. The good faith of the Lorrainers has been deceived as was shown by their reaction on arrival in the free zone."

In spite of these protests, the expulsions continued. They reached a total of about 70,000 people, augmented by the deportation of Alsatians and Lorrainers to Eastern Germany and to Poland. These deportations were meant to create terror; and they particularly affected the families of men who had rightfully decided to refuse the German demand for forced labour and military service. I am presenting, regarding the whole question, a French protest dated 3 September 1942; it is Exhibit RF 752.

Since I do not wish to read to the Tribunal texts dealing with an identical

[Page 372]

subject I submit this document solely to show that this protest was made, and I believe that I can refrain from reading its content.

I shall refer, desiring to give only a short citation, to a document belonging to the American prosecution. This document bears the number R-114. It is a memorandum of the minutes of a meeting which took place between several officials of the SS concerning general directions in regard to the treatment of deported Alsatians.

It will be observed that this document has already been submitted by my American colleagues as Exhibit USA 314, the French Exhibit No. is RF 753. I merely wish to read one paragraph of that document, which may be interpreted as a supplement to this problem of deportation. I must say that these sentences have not been formally read in Court. The passage that I cite is on Page 2 of the document. At the end of that page there is a paragraph which begins with the letter "D":

"The following persons, members of patois-speaking communities, are to be listed for future deportation - The Gauleiter wishes to keep in these zones only the people who adhere to Germanism in their customs, their language and their general attitude, according to the cases provided for in paragraphs A to D above, mentioned. It should be noted that we shall first examine the problem of race and that we shall do so in such a manner that people of racial value will be deported to Germany proper, and people of inferior racial value will be deported to France."
Finally, I should like to read to the Tribunal a few sentences from a newspaper article, which appeared in "Dernieres Nouvelles de Strasbourg," August 31 1942 - We are here dealing with a citation and not a document.
"On the 28th of August the families designated hereafter, of the Arrondissements of Mulhouse and Guebwiller, were deported to the Reich in order that they might recover a trustworthy German ' outlook in National Socialist surroundings. In several cases the persons involved did not conceal their hostility, in that they stirred up sentiments of opposition, spoke French in public in a provocative manner, did not obey the ordinances concerning the education of youth, or, in other ways showed a lack of loyalty."
I would now like to indicate to the Tribunal that deportation or transportation entails also the spoliation of property. This is not merely a fact; for the Germans it is a law. Indeed, there is an ordinance, of 28 January, 1943, which appeared in the Official Bulletin for 1943, Page 40, bearing the title, "Ordinance concerning the Safeguarding of Property in Lorraine as a Result of Transplantation Measures." I have placed this ordinance before you as Exhibit RF 754. I would like to read Article One and the first paragraph of Article Two. I believe that the title itself is a sufficient indication of the contents.

"Article One. The safeguarding of property of people transplanted from Lorraine to the Greater German Reich or to territory placed under the sovereign power of Germany has been entrusted to the Transfer Services for Lorraine under the Chief of the Administration.

Article Two. These services are authorised to put in effective safekeeping the property of the Lothringians who have been transplanted, in order that such property may be administered, and - in so far as orders may have been given for this - exploited."

This ordinance, therefore, still manifests some scruples of form. The intention is to "safeguard," but we now know what the word " safeguard" means in Nazi terminology. We have already seen what safeguarding meant in the case of works of art and Jewish property. Even here, we have been

[Page 373]

specifically warned that the term "safeguard" carries with it the right of disposal or exploitation.

Other texts are even more specific or clear.

Here is Exhibit RF 755. This is the ordinance of 6 November 1940, pertaining to the declaration of property in Lorraine belonging to the enemies of the people and of the Reich. And on the same subject I shall also submit to you Exhibit RF 756, which is the regulation of 13 July 1940, applying to property in Alsace belonging to the enemies of the people and of the Reich. These two texts, one of which applies to Alsace and the other to Lorraine, permit the seizure and confiscation of properties designated as "enemy property." Now, to realise the extent of the property covered by this term, I will read this exhibit: -

"Any objects and rights of any nature whatsoever, without regard to conditions of title, which are used for, or intended for use in, activities hostile to the people of Germany or the Reich will be considered as property belonging to the German people and to the Reich.

Such stipulation shall apply to the entire patrimony:-

(a) of all political parties, as well as of secondary or complementary organisations depending thereon;

(b) of lodges and similar associations

(c) of Jews;

(d) of Frenchmen who have acquired property in Alsace since 11 November 1918;

The Chief of the Administration Department and the Police will decide what patrimony in addition to the property mentioned above is likewise to be considered as property belonging to the enemies of the German people and of the Reich. He will likewise decide on doubtful cases."
We see, therefore, that in spite of the title, we are not dealing here with the measures of sequestration of enemy property taken in all countries within the scope of the laws of war. First of all, these are measures of definite confiscation, and in addition, they are applied to the property of numerous individuals who are in no wise subjects of enemy countries. We also see at this point the absolutely arbitrary power placed in the hands of the administration.

These texts are accompanied by many regulations; although the spoliations are particularly important in Alsace and in Lorraine, I shall not speak of them here in more detail, as the prosecution has already dealt with the subject. I shall merely limit myself to the mentioning of two institutions special to Alsace and to Lorraine, - that is, agricultural colonisation, and industrial colonisation.

In the first place, agricultural colonisation is not a term that has been invented by the prosecution; it is an expression which the Germans used. I submit in this connection, Exhibit RF 757, which is the ordinance of 7 December 1940, "pertaining to the new regime of settlement or colonisation in Lorraine." I shall read the beginning of this Document No. 757.

"Real estate which has been vacated in Lorraine as a result of deportations will serve principally for the reconstitution of a German peasant class and for the requirements of internal colonisation. In this connection, and specifically in order to set up the required programmes, I order, by virtue of the powers which have been conferred upon me by the Fuehrer the following:

Article One. Real estate property of individuals deported from Lorraine shall be seized and confiscated for the benefit of the Chief of the Civil Administration."

I will not cite the second paragraph of Article One, but I will cite Article Two:
"Agricultural properties or forest properties which are seized in con-

[Page 374]

sequence of the ordinance concerning enemy property of the people and the Reich in Lorraine are confiscated. In so far as they are needed, they are included in the methodical organisation of the region."
Article Three:
"In addition to the cases provided for in Articles One and Two, and according to the needs, other real estate property may be included in the programmes for methodical reorganisation if appropriate compensation is provided for.

The Chief of the Civilian Administration and the Services designated by him will decide upon the amount and nature of the compensation. Any recourse to the law on the part of the person involved is forbidden."

Thus the Tribunal can see in a striking manner the processes and the methods pursued by the German authorities.

The first ordinance, cited earlier, spoke only of safeguarding the property of people who had been deported or displaced. A second ordinance now speaks of confiscations. It still refers only to the notion of enemies of the people and of the Reich.

The third ordinance is more complete, since it comprises confiscation prescriptions which are quite formal in their character, and which are no longer qualified as "safeguarding property which has become vacant as the result of deportations."

This agricultural colonisation of which I have spoken assumed a special importance in Lorraine. On the other hand, it is in Alsace that we find the greatest number of measures involving a veritable industrial colonisation. These measures consisted in stripping the French industrial enterprises for the benefit of German firms. On this subject there are protests of the French delegation to the Armistice Commission.

I submit three of these protests as Exhibits RF 758, 759 and 760, which are notes under date of - respectively - 27 April 1941, 9 May 1941 and 8 April 1943. I believe that it is preferable for me not to read these to the Tribunal and that I merely ask the Tribunal to take judicial notice of them, as proof of the existence of these protests, because I fear that such a reading would be a mere repetition to the Tribunal, to whom the matter of economic spoliation has already been explained in sufficient detail.

I shall say, finally, that the Germans carried their audacity to the point of demanding the seizure in unoccupied France and the transportation to Alsace of assets belonging to French companies which were by this means stripped of their property and actually "colonised." I am speaking of assets belonging to companies in the other zone of France, under the control of the regular shareholders of such companies.

I think it is worth while considering just one example of such procedure, contained in a very short document, which I submit to you as Exhibit RF 761. This document appears in the Archives of the French Agencies of the Armistice Commission, to which it had been sent by the director of the company mentioned in the document. It is a paper which is partly written in German and partly translated into French - in the same document - and it is signed by the German Commissioner for a French enterprise called the Societe Alsacienne et Lorraine d'Electricite. In Alsace this enterprise had been placed illegally under the administration of this Commissioner; and the Commissioner - as the document will show - had come to Paris to seize the remainder of the Company's assets. He drafted this document, which he signed, and which he also made the President of the French company sign. This document is of interest as revealing the insolence of German procedure and also the German's odd conception of law. I quote now:

"Today the undersigned has instructed me that in future I am strictly

[Page 375]

forbidden to take legal action with regard to the property of the former Societe Alsacienne et Lorraine d'Electricite. If I should transgress this order in any way, I know that I shall be punished.

Paris, 10 March 1941.
Signed: Kucka.

F. B. Kommissar.
Signed: Garnier."

Now, this German economic colonisation in the areas annexed was to serve as an experiment for the application of similar methods on a broader scale.

There will be submitted to the Tribunal, in this connection, a document concerning a colonisation attempt in the French Department Ardennes. On this procedure of annexation by the Germans of Alsace and of Lorraine, many other items could be cited, and I could submit many more documents - even if I were to deal only with the circumstances and the documents which are useful from the point of view of our own Prosecution.

I want to limit myself in order to save the time of the Tribunal and to comply with the necessities of this trial where so many items have to be discussed. Therefore I have limited myself to the submission of documents, or to examples, which are particularly characteristic. I believe that this documentation will enable the Tribunal to appraise the criminality of the German undertakings which I have brought to its attention - criminality which is particularly characteristic in the matter of military conscription, which is a criminal offence, since it entails death. At the same time I believe the Tribunal can evaluate the grave sufferings that were imposed for five years on the populace of these French provinces, already so sorely tried in the course of history.

I have submitted a few details which may have seemed ridiculous, or facetious, but I did so because I thought it desirable that one should visualise the oppression exercised by the German Administration in all circumstances of life, even in private life, that general oppression characterised by its attempt to destroy and annihilate, and extended in a most complete manner over the departments and regions which were annexed.

I believe that the Tribunal will possibly prefer me to leave until tomorrow my comments with respect to the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg.

I would like, moreover, to have the Tribunal's assent concerning a question of testimony.

I should like to put a witness on the stand, but it is only a little while ago that I gave the Tribunal a letter concerning this request. May I ask to be excused for not having done so earlier because there has been some uncertainty on this point.

If the Tribunal finds it convenient, I should like to have this witness here at tomorrow, Saturday morning's, session. I state that this witness would be M. Koos Vorink, who is of Dutch nationality. I also wish to say for the benefit of the defence, that the question I would like to submit to the witness will deal with certain items concerning Germanisation in the Netherlands.

THE PRESIDENT: Do you wish to call him tomorrow?

M. FAURE: If that is convenient to the Tribunal.

THE PRESIDENT: Yes, certainly, call him tomorrow.

M. FAURE: If it pleases the Tribunal, his testimony could be taken after the recess tomorrow morning.

DR. STEINBAUER (Counsel for defendant Seyss-Inquart): Mr. President, I do not wish to prolong the proceedings, but I believe it will be to the interest of justice if I ask that the Dutch witness be heard, not tomorrow, but Monday, on the assumption that Seyss-Inquart who is now ill may be expected back on that date.

[Page 376]

THE PRESIDENT: Monsieur Faure, would it be equally convenient to you to call him on Monday?

M. FAURE: Mr. President, I do not desire to vex the defence, but the witness might like to leave Nuremberg fairly promptly. Perhaps I might suggest that he be heard tomorrow and that after he has been heard, if counsel for the defendant Seyss-Inquart expresses his desire to cross- examine him, the witness could remain until Monday's session.

If, on the other hand, after having heard the questions involved the counsel considers that there is no need for any cross-examination, then Seyss-Inquart's absence would not matter. But I will naturally accept the decision of the Tribunal.

THE PRESIDENT: That seems a very reasonable suggestion.

DR. STEINBAUER: I am agreeable to the suggestion of the French prosecutor.

THE PRESIDENT: We will adjourn now.

(The Tribunal adjourned until 1000 hours on 2nd February, 1946.)

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