The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Fifty-First Day: Tuesday, 5th February, 1946
(Part 7 of 14)

I shall speak first of the persecution of persons qualified as Jews by the German code. The Tribunal already knows from other evidence the Nazi

[Page 81]

doctrine on the subject of Jews. The historians of the future will perhaps be able to determine how much of this doctrine was the result of sincere fanaticism and how much was the result of premeditated intent to deceive and mislead public opinion.

It is certain that the Nazis found the theories which led them to undertake the extermination of the Jews extremely convenient.

In the first place, anti-Semitism was an ever-accessible means of averting public criticism and anger. Moreover, it was a method of psychological seduction that was very cleverly calculated to appeal to simple minds. It made it possible to give a certain amount of satisfaction to the most needy and destitute person by convincing him that he was nevertheless of a superior quality and that he could despise and bully a whole category of his fellow-men. Finally, the Nazis were able by this means to whip up the fanaticism of their members, by awakening and encouraging in them the criminal instincts which are always latent to a certain extent in the soul of man.

Indeed, it is a German scientist -- Feuerbach -- who developed the theory that disposition to crime does not necessarily proceed from long preparation. The latent criminal instinct may spring to life in an instant. The Nazis gave to the elite of their servants the possibility of giving free rein to any inclination they might possess for murder or looting. In this way they fully assured themselves of their obedience and of their zeal.

In order to avoid repetition, I shall not speak in detail of the great sufferings endured by the persons qualified as Jews, in France and in the other countries of Western Europe. I should like merely to indicate here that it also caused great suffering to all the other inhabitants of these countries to witness the abominable treatment inflicted upon the Jews. Every Frenchman felt a deep affliction at seeing the persecution of other Frenchmen, many of whom had earned the gratitude of the Fatherland. There is no one in Paris who did not feel deeply ashamed to learn that the dying Bergson had to be carried to the police commissariat to satisfy the census requirements.

THE PRESIDENT: M. Faure, you will forgive my interrupting you, but the Tribunal feels that what you are now presenting to us, however interesting -- and it is interesting -- is really an argument and is not producing evidence to us. And as we have already heard an opening on behalf of the United States, an opening on behalf of Great Britain and an opening on behalf of France, we think that you really ought to address yourself, if possible, to the evidence which you are presenting, rather than to an argument.

I feel sure that, with your readiness to meet the wishes of the Tribunal in expressing your presentation, you will perhaps be able to do that.

M. FAURE: I understand perfectly the feeling of the Tribunal. I simply intended to say a few words referring to the feeling shown by Frenchmen in regard to these persecutions. But these words have now been spoken, and I have just arrived at the object of the demonstration which I am to present to the Tribunal with the documents. To show the Tribunal that the spirit of my presentation is in accordance with the requirements of the Tribunal, I would like to indicate that I am not presenting in this brief any document which constitutes an individual story or even a collective story, nor any document which comes from victims themselves, or even from impartial persons.

I have tried to select only a certain number of German documents, in order to furnish evidence of the execution of a criminal enterprise consisting in the extermination of Jews in France and the Western countries.

I should like to observe first of all that the Nazi persecution of the Jews included two sets of actions. This is important from the point of view of the direct responsibility of the defendants.

The first category of actions is that resulting from the actual texts of laws and regulations, and the second category is that resulting from the way in which these were applied.

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As regards the texts of laws and regulations, it is evident that these texts, which were issued by the German authorities -- either military authorities or commissars of the Reich -- constituted particularly flagrant violations of the sovereignty of the occupied countries.

I do not think that it is necessary for me to present these laws and regulations in detail, for their main features are common knowledge. In order to avoid reading, I have had two tables drawn up, and these are before the Tribunal in the document book, although they are not documents, properly speaking. These documents are to be found in an appendix. I should like to explain what the two tables in this appendix show. The first table, in the left-hand column, is arranged in chronological order; the other columns indicate the names of the different countries. The Tribunal will find arranged in chronological order the measures taken against the Jews in different countries.

The second table classifies them according to subject -- the concept "Jew," economic measures, bullying and petty irritations, and the yellow star, and you will find in this table the appropriate texts, arranged according to subject.

I likewise present in the form of documents a certain number of decrees which were issued in France concerning the Jews, and as these decrees are public acts I shall simply ask the Tribunal to take judicial notice of them.

THE PRESIDENT: Are you depositing these as Exhibit RF 1200?

M. FAURE: Yes, Mr. President.


M. FAURE: I must now make this observation: These texts, taken as a whole, considerably lowered the status of the Jews. Yet there are no texts in existence of German decrees ordering the mass deportation or murder of Jews.

On the other hand, you must remember that this legislation was developed by progressive stages up to 1942, after which a pause ensued. It was during this pause that, as we shall see, genuine administrative measures for the deportation and consequently for the extermination of the Jews were introduced.

This leads us to consider the fact that we are not dealing with two separate actions -- the legislative action, to be ascribed to the military authorities, and the executive action, to be ascribed to the police. The point of view which regards the military authority only as the author of the decrees and, therefore as bearing a lesser degree of criminal responsibility, would be false. In reality we are looking at the development of a continued action which employs by turns different means. The first means, that is to say, the legislative means, are the necessary preparatory measures for putting into force the other, or directly criminal, means.

In order to put into practice their plan of extermination, the Nazis had first of all to single out the Jewish elements in the population and to separate them from the rest of the population of the country. They had to be able to find the Jews easily, and to find them with decreased powers of self- defence and lacking in the material, physical and intellectual resources which would have enabled them easily to avoid persecution.

They had to be able to destroy the whole of this doomed element of the national community at a single blow, and for this reason they had first to put an end to the constant interweaving of interests and activities existing between all the classes of the population.

The Germans wished to prepare public opinion as far as possible; and they could succeed in this by accustoming the public to no longer seeing the Jews, as the latter were practically forbidden to leave their houses.

I shall now present to the Tribunal a few documents bearing on this general extermination deliberately undertaken by the Nazis. I shall first present a series of documents which will be Exhibits RF 1201, 1202, 1203, 1204, 1205 and 1206. I present these documents with reference to a particular question, the emigration of the Jews who tried to leave the occupied territories.

[Page 83]

Inasmuch as the Germans made it quite clear, in every way, that they desired to get rid of the Jews, it would seem logical for them to have looked favorably on the solution offered by emigration.

On the contrary, as we shall see, they forbade emigration, and they did this by a permanent measure, of general application. This is a proof of their determination to exterminate the Jews and the ferocity of the measures employed. Here, to begin with, is Exhibit RF 1201. All these exhibits are submitted to the Tribunal in a series of photostat copies for each member.

This is a letter of 22nd July, 1941, emanating from the Bordeaux Service and requesting certain instructions from Paris. I wish to read the beginning of this message:

"It has just been established that about 150 Jews are still in the territory of the Kreiskommandantur St. Jean de Luz. At the time of our conversation with the Kreiskommandant, Major Henkel, the latter asked that these Jews should leave his district as quickly as possible. At the same time, he stressed that in his opinion it would be preferable to let these Jews emigrate rather than to transfer them to other departments or even to concentration camps."
Here is the reply to this telegram. It is Exhibit RF 1202, dated 26th July, 1941. The second sentence:
"We do not approve Major Henkel's point of view, as the R.S.H.A. has stipulated again, in a decree of general application, that the emigration of Jews residing in the occupied territories of the West, as well as in unoccupied France, is to be prevented."

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