The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Fifty-Third Day: Thursday, 7th February, 1946
(Part 1 of 18)

[Page 118]

M. MOUNIER: Mr. President, your Honours, before the adjournment yesterday I had begun to explain to you very briefly the relation which, in our eyes, exists between two of the main themes in the Indictment, to wit, the accusation of conspiracy brought against certain groups designated in the Indictment and which I enumerated yesterday, on the one hand; and, on the other hand, the various acts which enable us to form our conclusions as to the criminal character of the activity of the National Socialist conspirators.

I told you, to begin with, that what appeared to us to be at the bottom of this criminal activity was the profound mystery, the absolute mystery surrounding their meetings, both official and unofficial, a fact which is corroborated by statements made by certain of the defendants in their interrogations from which it frequently emerged that orders emanating from high places were to be suppressed in part or in toto, so as to leave no trace.

We consider, likewise, that proof of the fraudulent collaboration which existed among the conspirators is afforded by the criminal character of the decisions made at these secret councils, which aimed at the conquest of neighboring countries through wars of aggression.

Finally, proof of this fraudulent collaboration is afforded -- in our eyes -- by the way in which these criminal plans were carried out by the employment of all kinds of means, condemned both by international morality and by the letter of the law. For example: in international and diplomatic spheres the most cynical plots, the use in foreign countries of what is known as the "Fifth Column," financial camouflage, the exertion of improper pressure, backed by demonstrations of violence, and finally, when these methods no longer proved effective, the waging of a war of aggression.

As for those individuals who regularly and of their own free will took part in meetings of groups and organisations, such as those denounced in the Indictment, their voluntary membership in these groups, or the live and deliberate part which they took in their activities, suffice to show that they had every intention of giving their active co-operation to these groups in a way which admits of no possible doubt. In view of the aims pursued and the means adopted, this intention could only be a guilty one.

In the eyes of the Prosecution, engaged in seeking the elements constituting the crime, it would appear that this suffices to prove what we call the consilium fraudis, and to enable us to verify the causal link between this will to evil, on the one hand, and the criminal deed on the other, and to make it possible to reassert the criminal character of the understanding between the conspirators, and thereby the criminal character of their individual acts.

Could the Trustee of the Four Year Plan, when he ordered the Plenipotentiary for Manpower to recruit 1,000,000 foreign workers for the Reich, forget that this act was contrary to international conventions, and leave out of consideration the tragic consequences which the execution of this murderous action would entail -- and has in fact entailed -- for these people and for their families?

Could the Minister of Armaments who set up, in agreement with or by order of the Chief of the Air Force, underground aircraft factories in the internment camps -- could he, I say, fail to be aware that using prisoners who were already exhausted under such conditions was equivalent to causing their premature death?

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Could the diplomat who, on various pretexts, treated diplomatic instruments intended to assure the stability and the peace of the world as scraps of paper -- could he lose sight of the fact that these acts would plunge the civilized world into catastrophe?

Whether their conscience was at that moment disturbed by the feeling, more or less obscure, that they were infringing human and divine laws is a question which need not be asked on the juridical plane on which you will be working. But even assuming that we should consider it our moral duty to put this question to ourselves on the psychological plane, we should then have to remember two essential concepts: The first is that the German, as a French writer puts it, at times combines in himself the identity of contraries. Consequently, it is possible that in certain cases he may consciously do evil while remaining convinced that his act is irreproachable from the moral point of view. The second concept is that, according to the law of National Socialist ethics sometimes put into words by certain National Socialist leaders, that which promotes the interests of the Party is good; that which does not promote the interests is evil.

And yet, our personal impression on the occasion of the masterly speech given by M. Francois de Menthon, was that some of his words, striking in their accent of deep humanity, had stirred some consciences. Even to-day, after so many accumulated proofs, we may wonder whether the defendants admit their responsibility as chiefs, as men, as representatives of the incriminated organisations. This will perhaps be revealed in the course of the proceedings.

Mr. President, your Honours, with the permission of the Tribunal we shall now take up the question of the defendant Alfred Rosenberg.

Gentlemen, the young French student who in 1910 had the joy of spending his vacation in Bavaria, then one of the happiest of the German provinces, could hardly suspect that thirty-five years later he would be called upon to apply International Law against the masters of that country. When, after stopping at the Bratwurstgloeckle, he climbed up to the ramparts to look at the sunset from the heights of the Burg, while the lines of a ballad by Uhland rang in his memory, he did not think that evil masters and false prophets would twice in a quarter of a century unchain the lightning over Europe and the rest of the world, and that through them so many treasures of art and beauty would be destroyed, so many human lives sacrificed, so much suffering brought about.

Indeed, when one studies the genesis of this unheard of drama, there can be no question of romanticism; what we have to deal with rather is a perverted romanticism, a morbid perversion of the sense of greatness, and the mind is baffled by the true significance of the ideas of National Socialism, ideas which I shall touch upon only in passing, to show how they led the defendant Rosenberg -- since it is he of whom I am speaking -- and his co-defendants to commit the crimes which are held against them.

The concept of Race, to begin with, which we see arising in a country which in other respects resembles any other, but where the intermingling of ethnic types of every species took place through the centuries on a gigantic scale; this anti-scientific confusion which mixes the physiological features of man with the concept of nations; this neo- paganism which aims at abolishing the moral code, the justice and charity which twenty centuries of Christianity have brought to the world; this myth of Blood which attempts to justify racial discrimination and its consequences: slavery, massacre, looting, and the mutilation of living beings.

I shall not dwell, Mr. President, on what we consider a jumble of nonsense which claims to be philosophy, and in which may be found to be the most heterogeneous fragments of all kinds taken from every source, from the megalomaniac concepts of Mussolini, Hindu legends and the Samurai of Japan, the cradle of Fascism, which swept over the world like a tidal wave. The previous

[Page 120]

presentations have already adequately dealt with these conceptions. I shall simply stress to-day that these pseudo- philosophic conceptions tended solely to set back humanity thousands of years by reviving the clan conception, which assumes the law of might as the supreme law, the "Faustrecht," already formulated by the Iron Chancellor -- the right to cheat others, the right to take the property of others, the right to reduce man to slavery, the right to kill, the right to torture.

But homo sapiens refuses to return to the state of homo lupus. International law is not morality without obligation or sanction. The Charter of 8th August has recalled and specified the obligation; it is for you, Gentlemen, to apply the sanction.

One of the consequences of these theories of the superiority of the so-called "Germanic Race" was to lead certain of the conspirators, notably the defendant Rosenberg, of whom we are speaking, to turn plunderer; and it is this aspect of the activities of the defendant Rosenberg which I should like very briefly to stress, for it concerns France and the occupied countries of the West, and had deeply harmful consequences for their artistic, intellectual and merely utilitarian heritage.

I wish to speak of all the measures decreed or applied by Rosenberg with the aim of removing from France and the Western countries cultural treasures, works of art and property belonging to groups or individuals, and transferring to Germany all these riches.

Gentlemen, owing to the limited time which we have at our disposal, I shall confine myself to-day to recalling how certain organisations were made to collaborate in this pillaging through orders from higher quarters. I shall indicate, first of all, the part played by the Gestapo, which was ordained by a decree issued by the defendant Keitel, dated 5th July, 1940, which is Document 137-PS, and which was submitted by the American delegation, under Exhibit USA-379, on 18th December, 1945, and which I submit as Exhibit RF 1400.

I refer likewise to a second order dated 30th October, 1940, which strengthened and detailed the orders given in regard to pillaging by what was known as the "Einsatzstab Rosenberg." This is Exhibit Number RF 1304, which was quoted by the Economic Section of the French Prosecution.

Thus, Keitel and Rosenberg went back to the conception of a booty exacted by the triumphant German people from the Jewish people, with regard to whom it was not bound by the conditions of the Compiegne Armistice. This intervention by the Chief of the Army, as indicated by the orders to which I have just referred, suffices, in my opinion, to prove the important part played by the German Army in this looting, and the Tribunal will not fail to remember that, when it makes its decision as to the guilt of the defendant Keitel and the defendant Goering.

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