The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

The Trial of German Major War Criminals

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

Fiftieth Day: Monday, 4nd February, 1946
(Part 8 of 8)

[M. EDGAR FAURE continues]

This document shows the close collaboration that existed between the military administration and the administration of foreign affairs, a collaboration which, as I have already said on several occasions, is one of the determining elements for establishing responsibility in this trial, a collaboration of which I shall later on give examples of a criminal character.

[Page 60]

I now wish to mention to the Tribunal that I eliminate the production of the next document, which would have been Exhibit RF 1062. Although I am personally certain of the value of this document, which comes from a French judicial file, I have not the original German text. This being so, the translation might create difficulties. and it is naturally essential that each document produced should present incontestable guarantees. I shall therefore pass directly to the last document, which I wish to put in and which I submit as Exhibit RF 1063. This is a detail - if I may call it such - concerning this problem of the collaboration of the German administrations, but sometimes formal documents concerning details may present some interest. It is a note taken from the German archives in Paris, a note dated 5th November, 1943, which gives the distribution of the numbering of the files in the German Embassy. I shall read only the first three lines of this note: "In accordance with the method adopted by the military administration in France the files are divided into ten chief groups." There follows the enumeration of these methods and groups used for the classification of the files. I simply wish to point out that under their system of close collaboration the German Embassy, a Civil Service department of the Foreign Office, and the Military Command, had adopted filing systems under which all records and all files could be kept in the same way.

I have now concluded my second section, which was devoted to the general examination of this seizure of sovereignty in the occupied territories, and I should like to point out that these files have been established with the collaboration of my assistant, M. Monneray, a collaboration which also included the whole brief which I present to the Tribunal.

I shall now ask the Tribunal to take the files relative to the third section, devoted to the ideological Germanisation, and to propaganda.

When I had occasion to speak to the Tribunal about forced labour and economic pillage, I said that the Germans had taken all available manpower, goods and raw materials from the occupied countries. They drained these countries of their reserves. The Germans acted in exactly the same manner with regard to the intellectual and moral resources. They wished to seize and eliminate the spiritual reserves. This expression "spiritual reserves," which is extremely significant, was not invented by the prosecution. I have borrowed it from the Germans themselves. I have quoted to the Tribunal another extract from a work, which document was submitted as Exhibit RF 5 of the French documentation. This was a book published in Berlin by the Nazi Party. The author was Dr. Friederich Didier. This work has a preface by the defendant Sauckel and is entitled "Working for Europe." The quotation which I would like to make appears in the document book as Exhibit RF 1100, which is simply the order of sequence, as the book itself has already been presented and submitted. The book includes a chapter entitled '1deological Guidance and Social Assistance." The author is concerned with the ideological guidance of the foreign workers who in their millions were taken away to the Reich by force. This preoccupation with the ideological guidance of such an important element of the population of the occupied countries is sufficiently remarkable in itself; but it is, furthermore, quite evident that this preoccupation is general with regard to all the inhabitants of the occupied countries, and the author in this case has simply confined himself to his subject. I have chosen this quotation to begin my section because its wording seemed to me to be particularly helpful in enabling us to get an idea of the German plans in regard to propaganda.

Quotation, Page 69 of the book that has been put in evidence, reads:

"The method of ideological guidance of the foreign worker is not so simple as that used in regard to his German comrade. The elimination, for instance, of the spiritual reserves of the foreign workers is of the

greatest importance. The foreigner must accustom himself to a working atmosphere which is unknown to him. His ideology must be expurgated. The conceptions of the nationals of ex-enemy States must be actively combated as the manifestation of foreign conceptions."

In the occupied countries the Germans undertook to eliminate the spiritual reserves and to expurgate the ideology of each man in order to substitute for them the Nazi conception. Such was the object of the propaganda. This propaganda had already been introduced in Germany and it was carried on there unceasingly. We have seen from the article just quoted that there was also a preoccupation with the ideological guidance of the German worker, although the problem was considered there to be more simple. When we speak to-day of Nazi propaganda we are often tempted to underestimate the importance of this propaganda. There are grounds for underestimating it, but they are false grounds. On the one hand, when we consider the works and the theses of propaganda, we are often struck by their crudeness, their obviously mendacious character, their intellectual or artistic poverty. But we must not forget that the Nazi propaganda utilised all means, 'the crudest as well as the more subtle and skilful methods. From another point of view the crudest affirmations are those that carry most weight with some simple minds.

Finally, we must not forget that if the Germans had won the war these writings, these films which we find ridiculous, would have constituted in the future our chief and very soon our sole spiritual food.

Another remark that is often heard is that German propaganda achieved only very poor results. Indeed, these results are quite insignificant, especially if one takes into account the means which this propaganda had at its disposal. The enslaved peoples did not listen to the news and to the exhortations of the Germans. They threw themselves into the resistance. But here again we must consider that the war continued, that the broadcasts from the countries which had remained free gave out magnificent counter-propaganda, and that finally the Germans after a time suffered military reverses.

If events had been different, perhaps this propaganda would, in the long run, have brought about an acquiescence, on the part of the more important elements of the populations, which would have been worse than the oppression itself. It is fortunate that only a very small minority in the different countries were corrupted by the Nazi propaganda, but however small this minority may have been it is for us a cause for sadness and of just complaint.

The slogans of Nazi propaganda appear to us less childish and less ridiculous when we consider the few wretches who, influenced by it, enrolled in a legion or in the Waffen S.S. to fight against their countries and against humanity. By their death in this dishonourable combat, or after their condemnation, some of these men have expiated their crimes. But Nazi propaganda is responsible for the death of each one of them and for each one of these crimes.

Finally, we are not sure that we know to-day exactly the real effect of Nazi propaganda. We are not sure that we are able to measure all the harm which it has done to us. The nations count their visible wounds, but propaganda is a poison which dissolves in the mental organism and leaves traces that cannot be discerned. There are still men in the world who, because of the propaganda to which they have been subjected, believe, perhaps obscurely, that they have the right to despise or to eliminate another man because he is a Jew or because he is a Communist. The men who believe this still remain accomplices and, at the same time, are victims of Nazism.

One of my colleagues has shown that while the physical health of the occupied peoples was severely undermined, their moral health appears more robust, but it must still be anxiously watched for some time to come.

[Page 62]

For these reasons, the Frencii prosecution has considered that there was room in this accusation for the section on spiritual Germanisation and propaganda. The propaganda is an onslaught which is, in itself, criminal. It is an onslaught against the spiritual condition, according to the definition of M. de Menthon, but it is also a means and an aggravation of the whole of the criminal methods of the Nazis, since it prepared their success and since it was to maintain their success. It was considered by the Germans themselves, as numerous quotations show, as one of the most reliable weapons of total war. It is more particularly a means and an aspect of the Germanisation which we are studying at this moment.

I must add that German propaganda has been constantly developed for many years and over considerable areas. It assumed very diverse forms. We have therefore only to define some of its principal features and to quote merely a few characteristic documents, chiefly from the point of view of the responsibility of certain persons or of certain organisations.

Over a long period of time the Reich had developed official propaganda services in a ministerial department created as early as 1933 under the name of Ministry of Popular Enlightenment and Propaganda, with Gobbels at the head and the defendant Friusche performing important functions. But this Ministry and its department were not the only ones responsible for questions of propaganda. We shall show that the responsibility of the Minister and of the Department of Foreign Affairs is equally involved. We shall likewise show that the Party took an active part in propaganda.

Finally, I mention here that in the occupied countries the Military Commands constituted organs of propaganda and were very active. This fact must be added to all those which show that the German Military Command exercised powers wholly different from what are normally considered to be military powers. By this abnormal extension of their activities, apart from the crimes committed within the framework of their direct competence, the Military Chiefs and the High Command have furnished justification for the allegation of joint responsibility.

The German propaganda always presents two complementary aspects, a negative aspect and a positive aspect: a negative or, in a sense, a destructive aspect, that of forbidding or. of limiting certain liberties, certain intellectual possibilities which existed before; a positive aspect, that of creating documents or instruments of propaganda, of spreading this propaganda, of imposing it on the eyes, on the ears, and on the mind.

An authority has already said that there are two different voices: the voice that refuses truth and the voice that tells lies. This duality of restrictive propaganda and of constructive propaganda exists in the different realms of the expression of thought.

I shall mention now, in my first paragraph, the measures taken by the Germans as regards meetings and associations. The German authorities have always taken measures to suppress the right of assembly and association in the occupied countries. We are here concerned with the question both of political rights and of thought. In France, a decree of 21st August, 1940, which appeared in the Official Gazette of German Decrees of 16th September, 1940, forbade any meeting or association without the authorisation of the German military administration.

It must not be thought that the Germans utilised their powers in this matter only in regard to associations and groups which were hostile to them, or even those whose object was political. They were anxious to avoid any spreading of an intellectual or moral influence which would not be directly subordinated to them. In this connection 1 present to the Tribunal, merely by way of example, a document which becomes Exhibit RF 1101. It is a letter from the MilitAr befelilshaber dated 13th December, 1941, addressed to the General Delegate

[Page 63]

of the French Government and it deals with the Youth groups. Even with regard to associations or groups which should have a general public character, the German authorities gave their authorisation only on condition that they would be able to exercise not only their control over these organisations, but a real influence by means of them.

I shall read the first paragraph:

"The General Secretariat of Youth has notified us, in its communication of 11th November, 1941, of its intention to organise in occupied territory social youth centres whose aim shall be to give to youth a civic education and to safeguard it from the moral degeneracy which threatens it. The creation of these social youth centres, as well as their organisation, must be authorised by the Commander-in-Chief of the Military Forces in France. Before being able to make a final decision as to the creation of these social centres, it appears indispensable that greater details should be furnished, particularly as regards the representatives of these centres in the various communes, the points of view which will prevail when selecting their leaders, the circles where this youth will be specially recruited, and what kind of programmes will be provided for the teaching and education of these young people."
I shall now produce Exhibit RF 1102. This document is a note dealing with ...

THE PRESIDENT (interposing): M. Faure, could you tell us how long you think you will be on this subject of propaganda?

M. FAURE: I expect to speak for about two hours, or two and a half hours.

THE PRESIDENT: What is the programme after you have done with this subject of propaganda?

M. FAURE: Mr. President, as I indicated at the beginning of my presentation, it includes four sections. The propaganda section, about which I am speaking now, constitutes the third section. The fourth section is devoted to the administrative organisation of the criminal action. It corresponds, more exactly, to the second heading under Count 4 of the Indictment relative to the persecution of the Jews in the occupied countries of the West.

After this section I shall have completed my presentation.

Does the Tribunal likewise wish me to indicate what will follow in the programme of the French prosecution?

THE PRESIDENT: Yes, we would like to know.

M. FAURE: M. Mounier will deal with the analytical brief, and the recapitulation of the individual accusations of the prosecution. Then I think M. Gerthoffer is to speak rather briefly about the pillage of art treasures which has not been dealt with; it appears now that it would be suitable to deal with it within the framework of the presentation.

Mr. President, I should like to ask the Tribunal if it is convenient for it to see to-morrow, in the course of my propaganda section, a few projections on the screen of documents which relate to this chapter.

THE PRESIDENT: Yes, I think so. Certainly.

DR. BABEL (counsel for S.S. and S.D.): Regarding the questions which I asked the witness, there is something I did not understand. I did not want, in any case, to speak about the Resistance, or about its methods, which were animated by patriotism. I did not want to judge or even think anything derogatory about it. I wanted only to prove that deeds which are said to have been committed by the German troops were, in many cases, caused by the attitude of the civilian population, and that actions against Germans which were contrary to International Law have not been judged in the same way as lapses laid to the charge of members of the German Welirmacht. I am of the opinion that the Indictment of the Organisations ...

[Page 64]

THE PRESIDENT (interposing): Dr. Babel, will you forgive me for a moment. You concluded your cross-examination some time ago, and the Tribunal does not ...

DR. BABEL (interposing): Yes, Mr. President, but I thought that by this statement I could clarify it for the Tribunal.

THE PRESIDENT: We do not need any clarification at all. We quite understand the point of your cross-examination and we shall hear you when the time comes, very fully in all probability, in support of the arguments which you desire to present.

DR. BABEL: I did so because I thought that you ...

THE PRESIDENT: You must give the Tribunal credit for understanding your cross-examination. We really cannot continue to have interruptions of this sort. We have some 20 defendants and some 20 counsels, and if they are all going to get up in the way that you do and make protests, we shall never get to the end of this trial.

(The Tribunal adjourned until 5th February, 1946, at 10.00 hours.)

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