The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Fifty-Second Day: Wednesday, 6th February, 1946
(Part 6 of 6)

[Page 115]


M. MOUNIER: Mr. President, your Honours, Gentlemen of the High Tribunal, we have the honour of appearing before your high jurisdiction in order to submit the conclusions of the French prosecution in connection with the responsibility individually incurred by the defendants brought before this bar of justice. In pursuance of the allotment of the various tasks incumbent on each of the four nations resulting both from the Indictment presented in compliance with the Charter of 8th August, 1945, and the agreements reached between the four delegations, the French prosecution, in its presentation, has particularly applied itself to the study of the War Crimes under the Third Count of the Indictment, i.e., the crimes committed by the defendants in France and in the countries of Western Europe during hostilities and during the German occupation.

It follows quite naturally that, in the explanations about to be presented, the case of some of the defendants will be set aside, although their responsibility will already have been established by the other delegations who are, if I may say so, more interested in the crimes committed by the defendants: which correspond to the First, Second and Fourth Counts of the Indictment. The French prosecution, nevertheless, intends to join in the accusations raised by the other delegations against those of the defendants who concern them directly, especially against the defendants von Neurath and von Ribbentrop. The French delegation associates itself with the statement presented against them by Sir David Maxwell Fyfe. The same holds good as far as the defendants Hess, Kaltenbrunner, Frank, Bormann, Funk, Schacht, von Papen, Baldur von Schirach, Streicher, Raeder, Doenitz and Fritzsche are concerned.

Moreover, Mr. President, your Honours, we should like, in this brief presentation, slightly to deviate from the order of priority in which the defendants appear, both in the Indictment and in the dock, in order to clarify certain points. As a matter of fact, it would appear desirable, when presenting some of the Chiefs of the National Socialist conspiracy, as viewed from the angle of crimes committed in the West, to show how they implemented their philosophical, political economic and, finally, their military conceptions. Consequently, this order will determine the order in which we shall present the case of the defendants.

On the other hand the defendants, in pursuance of the rule governing the proceedings which the Tribunal follows in this trial, have not yet given their oral explanations before the Court, and the hearing of the majority of the witnesses, or at least of the more important witnesses, has not yet taken place.

That is why the French prosecution, with the permission of the Tribunal, reserves the right of completing, at a later date, its statement regarding the individual defendants on the one hand, and the groups accused, according to the expression used by my eminent friend, prosecutor Boissary, of "International Indignity," on the other hand.

Needless to say, the concluding phase of our presentation will be as brief as possible, since the French Delegation is anxious to avoid any unnecessary prolongation of the proceedings.

An imposing number of documents has been submitted to the Tribunal. Their reading, presented in the first instance for the information of the Tribunal, then for the information of the defence, and finally, be it said, for that of universal public opinion, has already taken up a very considerable time. That is why, with the permission of the Tribunal, we shall abstain, as far as possible, from presenting the Tribunal with still more copious documents. Sufficient written evidence has already been furnished by the American, British and French prosecutions, when added to those still to be submitted by the prosecution of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, to convince the Tribunal of the defendants' guilt.

[Page 116]

We shall therefore content ourselves, in general, with quoting documents already produced, in order to correlate the facts which we shall bring forward with the evidence already supplied. I should like, however, Mr. President, before approaching the case of the defendants, whom I wish to accuse individually, to make a statement of a very general nature. It would be idle to pretend that a certain part of this public opinion -- and not the least enlightened part at that -- in the Old as well as in the New World, has not evinced surprise in seeing that this Indictment, which is the basis of the present proceedings, collectively denounces the criminal character of certain organisations, i.e., the Reich Cabinet, the Leadership Corps of the National Socialist Party, the S.S. including the S.D., the Gestapo, the S.A., the General Staff, and the High Command.

In this connection the Tribunal has been good enough to invite the various delegations to present written memoranda in order to establish the validity of the allegations contained in the Indictment. But may I be allowed, before a more complete memorandum is handed to you, to present a few ideas which appear to me to be considered. It appears, as a matter of fact, that this concept of a collective responsibility of the various groups goes hand in hand with the concept of conspiracy constituting the other governing idea of the Indictment.

There is no doubt, as far as this idea of a conspiracy is concerned, as defined in the Indictment, that one finds, in the first instance, in the acts of the defendants, that mystery which generally accompanies any conspiracy, whatever its nature, and that the various documents already supplied to the Tribunal are sufficient to confirm the existence of all the elements which render it possible for me to state that the defendants, their partners and their accomplices had, in fact, conceived and realised the foul agreement which has to enable them to commit crimes against the peace of the world by means contrary to the laws of war, to International Law, and to international morality.

There is no particle of doubt that the Nazi leaders had invested all their meetings with a cloak of secrecy, whether these meetings were regular and administrative, or whether they were of a casual or of an informal kind. This secrecy, in itself, would be an abnormal thing if it could be isolated from all the other elements in the case. But, when added to them, it clearly shows the guilty intent of the conspirators, for this secrecy alone made possible the employment of criminal means, as we shall emphasise.

I shall, however, remind the Tribunal that very often, when orders transmitted were concerned, certain paragraphs were erased so as to leave no trace. The defendant Hermann Goering admitted this in the course of the interrogations. Consequently this fact proves the intent not only to act in the greatest secrecy, but also the intent of doing away with every trace of whatever had happened.

If I may transpose an expression used during the war of 1914-18, an expression applied to the sinking of certain ships of friendly or Allied nations, I should say, where this particular paragraph is concerned, that it was a case of "Spurlos Versenkt," i.e., sunk without trace.

On the other hand, the proof of this foul agreement is evident from the eminently and evidently criminal nature of the decisions taken in these secret councils.

THE PRESIDENT: It is just 1 o'clock now. Would it be convenient for counsel to break off at this time?

M. MOUNIER: I am at the disposal of the Court.


(A recess was taken.)

[Page 117]

THE PRESIDENT: M. Mounier, owing to technical difficulties we will not be able to continue the sitting this afternoon, because these difficulties, we are advised, cannot be remedied for some hours, and under those circumstances, the Tribunal thinks it better to adjourn now. But the Tribunal hopes that you will be able to conclude the case on behalf of the French prosecution to-morrow, and that the case against the defendant Hess will be presented on behalf of the British prosecution.

M. MOUNIER: I understand, Mr. President, and I will get in touch with the British prosecution and we will arrange to conclude that part of the case to-morrow.

THE PRESIDENT: Sir David Maxwell Fyfe, do you wish to say anything?

SIR DAVID MAXWELL FYFE: No, My Lord. We are ready to go on with the presentation against the defendant Hess, and we think that it should take two and a half hours, approximately.

(Whereupon at 15.30 hours the Tribunal adjourned until 10.00 hours on 7th February, 1946.)

[ 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.