The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

The Trial of German Major War Criminals

Sitting at Nuremberg, Germany
2nd February to 13th February, 1946

Forty-Ninth Day: Saturday, 2nd February, 1946
(Part 2 of 4)

[M. EDGAR FAURE continues]

[Page 5]

The document which I am going to cite concerns one of many cases, where the German authorities compelled private citizens and firms to transfer their assets and the control of their businesses to Germans. That was called colonisation, and consisted in putting German nationals into the businesses with large assets and economic functions. The Reich Minister of Economy himself devised these illicit methods, by which it was intended to plunder private citizens and to Germanise the economy of the country. The document that I am going to read to the Tribunal will be Exhibit RF 813. It is offered as a document by the Luxembourg Government, and it is an original document with signature. It bears the heading "The Reich Minister of Economy," Berlin, 5th January, 1943, and is signed "By order of Dr. Saagor." He is a subordinate who is acting administratively, on the order of his Minister. This letter is marked "Secret," and concerns "Accumulateurs Tudor, S.A., Brussels," and is addressed to the battery factory, for the attention of Herr von Holtzendorf of Berlin, Place Askanienne No. 3. The tribunal will understand that the Minister of Economy is writing to the German firm which is going to benefit by the pressure to be exercised on the Luxembourg firm:
"Referring to our repeated conversations, I confirm that it is in the interest of the Reich and is considered very desirable that your company should obtain a majority of shares in the capital of Tudor Batteries. The interest of the Reich is based in no small degree on economic requirements of national defence.

In order to obtain this majority, the shares belonging to M. Leon Laval, formerly of Luxembourg and now in Bad Mergentheim, are of first importance. It concerns not only the shares which M. Laval possesses personally, but also the 3,000 shares which are in the hands of Sogeco."

[Page 6]

I now come to a very important paragraph:
"I therefore request that the necessary negotiations be started immediately. I would point out that, first of all, you will have to apply to the Gestapo for the authorisation of the State Police to negotiate with M. Laval, and then request them to give their agreement to the transfer of these shares to your Company, if M. Laval should be willing. I have informed the Gestapo of the matter. If the result of your negotiations should make it necessary I am prepared to point out once again to the Gestapo how urgent your mission is."
Now I would like to read to the Tribunal the sequel to this, Exhibit RF 814, which shows the further stage of the manceuvre by which the Reich Minister of Economy, in conjunction with the Gestapo, sought to plunder a private citizen. This is a letter addressed to a private citizen, who was going to be compelled to sell his shares, Dr. Engineer Leon Laval. Here is the text of this letter, which is dated Luxembourg, 14th January, 1942, and which bears the heading of the Einsatzkommando of the Security Police and the S.D. in Luxembourg:
"On the 19th January, 1942, and the following days you must remain at your residence, at the disposal of the representative of the Akkumulatoren Fabrik, A.G., Berlin. Director von Holtzendorf."
I break off the quotation. The Tribunal will recognise the name of von Holtzendorf, who was the recipient of the letter from the Reich Minister of Economy. I continue the quotation:
"Herr von Holtzendorf, who is in possession of a special authorisation from the Reichssicherheitshauptamt, will discuss business matters with you. Heil Hitler. Signed, Hartmann."
The Tribunal will understand, I am sure, that if I have read these two documents it is not because I think it very important in the scope of this trial that the Tudor Battery firm was despoiled, an illicit act which was to their prejudice, but I want especially, and I think it is very important in the trial, to emphasise, and I shall do it each time when the document gives me the opportunity, the co-ordination which existed between the different German services of which the defendants were the leaders. Certain persons are sometimes inclined to believe that all the German crimes must be imputed to the Gestapo, and it is true that the Gestapo was a characteristic criminal organisation; but the Gestapo did not function all by itself. The Gestapo acted on the order of and in conjunction with the civil administration and with the military command. We heard yesterday, in connection with the pontificals of the Bishopric of Strasbourg and also in connection with the University of Strasbourg, of the scheme which allowed the civil minister or his representative to have recourse to the police agents for the enforcement of orders. We also noted this fact when just now I read documents which dealt with economic matters.

I now conclude the first chapter of my brief. I should like to mention that the work on the documentation and the preparation of this chapter was carried out with the aid of my assistant, M. Albert Lentin.

I should like now to hand to the Tribunal the first part of the second chapter, concerning the seizure of sovereignty. This first part includes general ideas which I think I should expound to the Tribunal before supporting them by documents. Consequently, the Tribunal has before them a file entitled "Expose" and for which there is no corresponding document book.

The Germans occupied the territories of five Powers, without counting Luxembourg, which was annexed, and of which I spoke just now. Of these five countries, three kept governmental authority. These were Denmark,

[Page 7]

Norway and France, but even in these three countries the government was entirely different. The Government of Denmark was a legitimate Government; the Government of France was a de facto Government, which at the beginning exercised real authority over non-occupied territories; the Government of Norway was also a defacto Government, and was a typical example of a puppet Government. The two other Powers, Belgium and Holland, retained no governmental authority, but only administrative authorities, of which the highest were the general secretariats of the ministerial departments. In view of these situations, the Germans, as I said previously, varied their methods of domination. On the other hand, they did not establish a specific form of government corresponding to the internal organisation of each country; therefore, looking at it as a whole, it would at first sight seem to be somewhat complex. The usurpation of sovereignty by the occupying Power assumed three different forms. We are speaking here of the external procedure.

First form: Direct exercise of power to legislate or issue regulations. By this we mean the exercise of power above and beyond the limited power to issue regulations accorded to occupation armies by International Law.

Second form: The indirect exercise of power to legislate or issue regulations through local authorities. This was also done in two ways:

(1) By injunction, pure and simple, which is the case when the local authorities are the administrative authorities.

(2) By pressure, which is the case when the local authorities are authorities of a governmental character, either de facto or de jure. It should be noted, moreover, that the pressure is sometimes such that it bears a complete resemblance to an injunction pure and simple. We also understand such pressure to include recourse to the complicity of traitors.

Third form: The third form is purely and simply that of force. We do not mean physical force used in individual cases, for this does not concern us here, but physical force used as a result of the order of a competent occupation authority, which consequently entails the responsibility of a superior.

If we now consider the question of determining who or what the instruments of usurpation were, we observe that these instruments fall into five categories:

(1) In the first place, we have the Reichskommissar, who was appointed in Norway and Holland only, that is to say, in the one case in a country which retained governmental authority, at least in appearance and for a certain length of time, and in the other, in a country which retained administrative authority only.

(2) In the second place, we have the military administration. In all countries the military authorities exercised powers absolutely disproportionate to those which belonged to them lawfully.

I must note here that only these two instruments, the Reichskommissar and the military authority, were able to carry out usurpation by issuing direct legislative or regulatory decrees. In the two countries where there was a Reichskommissar, the powers conferred were naturally shared by the Reichskommissar and the military authority.

(3) A third instrument of usurpation took the form of diplomatic administration which depended on the Foreign Office. Diplomatic representation existed only in countries which had governmental authorities and where there was no Reichskommissar. We refer to Denmark and France.

These diplomatic representatives of the Reich - unlike the Reichskommissar and the military authority - did not have illicit power, but formal power to legislate or issue regulations. However, this does not mean that their role in the usurpation of sovereignty was a secondary one. On the contrary, it was an important one. Their principal activity consisted, naturally, in bringing pressure to bear on the local authorities to whom they were accredited.

[Page 8]

I should like to bring out two points here. It might be thought, from a logical point of view, that in an occupied country such as France, the intervention by the occupying Power in the administration of the local authorities would be the exclusive right of the diplomatic representatives. That is not the case. The military authority also intervened on frequent occasions through direct contact with the French authorities. In their turn, the diplomatic representatives did not limit themselves to the powers conferred by their functions. One of the characteristics of the Nazi method is this exceeding of powers conferred. It is, moreover, when one thinks of it, a necessary result of that method.

In view of the fact that the usurpation of sovereignty in a country which is militarily occupied is an illegal and abnormal thing, it does not come within the normal competency of the categories of public functions as understood by civilised nations. Thus the diplomats, as well as the military authorities, exceeded their powers, and there was also an overlapping of functions. The diplomats and the military authorities dealt with the same things. We see this in regard to propaganda, for instance, and in regard to the persecution of the Jews. Generally speaking, the military authority acted in a more obvious way; the diplomatic administration preferred to act in domains where publicity could be evaded, but there was a constant liaison between them on all questions concerning the occupied country.

(4) The fourth instrument of usurpation was the police administration. The German police were installed in all occupied countries, often under several distinct administrations, and according to the principles which were presented to the Tribunal when the American prosecution revealed the inner workings of the immense, complex and terrible police organism of the Nazis. The police did not have limited or exclusive functions, but acted in close and constant liaison with the other instruments we have defined.

(5) The fifth instrument which we must mention consisted of the local branches of the National Socialist Party and similar organisations which sought to group nationals of the occupied country. These organisations served as auxiliaries to the German authorities, and in a specific case, that of Norway, they provided the foundation of a so-called Government.

I have thought fit to outline this picture, as it seems that the Prosecution may draw from it a conclusion which is of interest in regard to the points I have already touched upon in my statement on Luxembourg.

We have seen in effect that the German line of policy for the usurping of sovereignty was carried out by means of various organs which were associated with this action. In the occupied countries, and we must not forget that this usurpation provided the method for the commission of crimes, this usurpation was not the exclusive work of one official, or of one ambassador, or of one military commander. In countries which had a Reichskommissar there also existed a military administration. A country placed under the sole regulating authority of the Army had also diplomatic agents. In all countries there were police authorities.

In all these occupied countries, as a result of the occupation and the usurpation of sovereignty, there were systematic abuses and crimes. Many of them are already known to the Tribunal. Others have still to be mentioned.

From what I have just said, we see that the responsibility for these abuses does not lie only with one or other of these administrations which we have mentioned, it lies with all of them. It may be true that in Belgium, for instance, there was no diplomatic representation, but there was such representation in France and in Denmark. It therefore follows that the Department of Foreign Affairs and its head could not help being aware of the conditions under the occupation which, as far as the principal features are concerned, were similar in the different countries.

[Page 9]

Moreover, as I have just said, these co-existing administrations had no fixed division of functions. Even if this division of functions had existed, it must be pointed out that the responsibility and the complicity of each in the action of the others would have been sufficiently proved by their knowledge and their approval -- which was at least implicit with regard to this action. However, this division did not exist, and we shall show that all were associated with and accessory to a common action.

Now, this very fact involves a more far-reaching consequence. The association and complicity of these various departments involves all the leaders and all the organisations here accused in a general responsibility.

I will explain this point by giving an example. If, for instance, all the abuses and all the crimes had been committed only by the Army, and no other groups or organisations had participated, perhaps it would be possible for one person or one organisation, with no military functions, to claim that it had no knowledge of these abuses and of these crimes. Even in this case I think this claim would be difficult to uphold, because the vast scope of the organisations which we denounce made it impossible for anyone who exercised a higher authority not to know of these things. However, since several administrations are jointly responsible, it necessarily follows that the other authorities are also responsible, because now no longer is one administration involved or even three, but all the administrations; it involves the consubstantial element of all the authorities of the State.

I shall speak later on of the order concerning the deporting of Jews, and I shall show that this order was the result of a common action of the military administration, the diplomatic administration, and the Security Police in the case of France. It follows that in the first place the Chief of the High Command, in the second place the Minister of Foreign Affairs, and in the third place the Chief of the Security Police and the Reich Security Service were all necessarily informed and necessarily approved this action, for it is clear that their offices did not keep them in ignorance of such plans concerning important affairs, and that, moreover, decisions were agreed upon on the same level in the three different administrations.

Therefore these three personages are responsible and guilty. But is it possible that by an extraordinary chance, among the persons who directed the affairs of the Reich as Ministers or as persons holding equivalent offices, these three persons turned out to be criminals and the only ones to be criminals, and that they had conspired among themselves to hide from the others their criminal actions? This idea is manifestly absurd. In view of the interpenetration of all the executive departments in a modern State, all the leaders of the Reich were necessarily aware of and agreed with the usurpation of sovereignty in the occupied countries, as well as the criminal abuses resulting therefrom.

In this chapter I shall go on to speak first of Denmark, which is a special case. Then I shall speak of the civil administration which existed in Norway and in Holland, and finally I shall speak of the military administration which was the regime in Belgium and in France.

I think it would be a suitable time now for the Tribunal to have a recess, or if the Tribunal prefers, I can continue my brief.

THE PRESIDENT: We will adjourn now.

M. FAURE: After the recess I should like to call the witness of whom I spoke to the Tribunal yesterday. I would like to mention one fact, however. Yesterday the lawyer for Seyss-Inquart requested that he be allowed to cross-examine this witness on Monday. Senator Vorrink, who is my witness. is absolutely obliged to leave Nuremburg this evening. I think, therefore, that the lawyer for Seyss-Inquart might cross-examine him to-day. In any case I should like to notify him of the modification of the request which I made yesterday.

[Page 10]

THE PRESIDENT: Would it not be possible, if the counsel for Seyss- Inquart wants to cross-examine the witness, for the witness to be brought back at some other date?

M. FAURE: My witness can of course be brought back at another date, if it should be necessary.

THE PRESIDENT: That is what I meant. Let him go this evening in accordance with arrangements that he has made, and then at some date convenient to him he could be brought back if the defendant's counsel wants to cross-examine him.

(A recess was taken.)

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