The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Fifty-Third Day: Thursday, 7th February, 1946
(Part 9 of 19)

[M. QUATRE continues]

Hitler represented the exclusive right to make decisions (see Page 9 of my presentation) but the two defendants who shared his everyday life during the period of hostilities brought his decisions into being, elaborated them, and ensured their execution.

Jodl fulfilled this role of counsellor, although in theory his authority was by no means equal to Keitel's. This did not prevent him from intervening in matters outside the field of pure operations, but in which he likewise engaged his personal responsibility.

This responsibility of the two defendants has a bearing on the preparation and execution of plans of aggression. We shall not come back to this point. In this matter our British colleague, Mr. Roberts, has perfectly brought out the role played by Wilhelm Keitel and Alfred Jodl, and we shall consider more particularly their responsibility in the conduct of the war.


First of all, their responsibility for the murder and ill- treatment of civilians, collective sanctions, and the murder of hostages (Page 13 of my presentation).

From the beginning of the war, and keeping pace with the occupation of new territories by the German armies, there appeared measures against the civilian population, in violation of the laws of war and of the law of nations. These violations range from the apparently harmless to the most severe sanctions, the most cruel treatment, the most senseless and inhuman executions.

If we turn to the occupied territories in the East, towards Norway, towards the Western countries, we find everywhere the same reaction everywhere, the same scrupulous execution of the same directives. On 16th September, 1941, Keitel signed an order regarding the suppression of Communist insurrectionary movements in the occupied territories. This is Exhibit RF 1432, 389-PS. If the Tribunal will permit me, I should like to read briefly from this document.

Keitel's directives are the following:

"Every case of insurrection against the German occupying power is to be attributed to Communist initiative, irrespective of the particular circumstances. The most severe measures are to be taken to check the rising at the first signs, so as to uphold the authority of the Forces of Occupation and to prevent such movements from spreading. Moreover, it must not be forgotten that in the countries in question, human life often means nothing and that intimidation can be achieved only by unusual severity. In this case, the death penalty must as a general rule be considered a fitting reprisal for the death of a German soldier."
THE PRESIDENT: We have had this read already.

M. QUATRE: I am sorry, Mr. President. On 5th May, 1942 -- as regards Belgium and France in particular -- Keitel ordered hostages to be taken and

[Page 140]

executed in these two countries. They were to be chosen from the Nationalists, the Democrats and the Communists. This is Exhibit RF 1433, 1590-PS, the original of which is now in the hands of the prosecution of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, which will not fail to submit it in the course of its presentation. This order merely confirms previous directives, since orders given in August and September, 1941, by General von Stuelpnagel, Commander-in- Chief in France, already decreed the execution of hostages. This is Exhibit RF 1434, 1588-PS, submitted 29th January, 1946, by the French prosecution as Exhibit RF 274.

To impose order in the occupied territories and to protect the members of the German Army from attempted violence, Keitel did not hesitate to violate the stipulations of Articles 46 and 50 of the Hague Convention, which forbid the use by the occupying power of all means of coercion or collective reprisals and which, on the contrary, impose respect for the lives of individuals.

These were not isolated cases of violation; the same things are repeated in all the occupied countries. These preventive arrests were built up into a system. They are well suited to the goal that the High Command had set itself: that of assuring in this manner a certain attitude on the part of the population which should be advantageous from a military point of view. The terms of Exhibit RF 1433, which I have just quoted, are perfectly definite:

"All military commanders should always have on hand a certain number of hostages of various political leanings. It is important that these should include personalities in the public eye; in cases of attempted violence, hostages belonging to the same group as the guilty person are to be shot...."
The reign of terror thus instituted was to reach its climax in the regulations for applying the decree "Nacht und Nebel," issued by Keitel on 12th December, 1941. This is Exhibit RF 1436 which I submit to-day, Document 669-PS. If the Tribunal will allow me, I shall read a few characteristic lines indicating Keitel's intentions.

THE PRESIDENT: I think we had it more than once already.

M. QUATRE: I apologise, Mr. President, and I shall go on. This is the starting point of the deportations to which France, among other countries, has contributed to such a great extent. It is unnecessary to labour the point. You know the treatment inflicted upon these women and men, torn from their homes in contempt of every law; and the atrocities committed on them are present in all our minds.

Let us likewise call attention to Exhibit RF 1437, 20-UK, submitted 9th January, 1946, as Exhibit GB 163. That is an order of 26th May, 1943, signed on his behalf in which Keitel prescribed in paragraph 3 that detailed investigations are to be made in given cases regarding the relatives of Frenchmen fighting for the Russians, if these relatives reside in the occupied zone of France. If the investigation reveals that these relatives have helped to facilitate their flight from France, severe measures are to be taken.

On 22nd September, 1943, the High Command of the Army, this time over Jodl's signature, sent the Commander-in-Chief in Denmark a telegram which is interesting from two points of view. It is Exhibit RF 1438, 56-UK, already submitted on 31st January, 1946, as Exhibit RF 335. The first paragraph authorises the enrolment of Danish Nationals in the military formations of the occupying army, in S.S. formations. Apart from being injurious to the honour of the individuals, it contravenes the terms of the preamble of the Hague Convention, which stipulates that, in cases not included in the regular provisions, the population and the belligerents must remain under the safeguard of the laws of humanity and the exigencies of the public conscience. This

[Page 141]

attempt at Germanisation ignored completely the exigencies of the public conscience.

As for the second paragraph, ordering the Jews to be deported from Denmark, that is the application of the general principle of the deportation of Jewish populations which was to lead to their utter extermination. The Tribunal is sufficiently informed on this point, so it is unnecessary to labour it.


I now come to the unwarranted devastation and destruction of cities, towns, and villages (Page 20 of my presentation). The policy of terrorism carried on by the German armies in France against the Resistance movement, against the Free French Forces, broke all bounds when the occupying power took steps, not against the members of the Resistance forces themselves, but against the inhabitants of villages and towns suspected of harboring these Resistance forces or giving them aid. I quote in this connection from a brochure put out by the High Command of the German Army under the date of 6th May, 1944, which bears the signature of the defendant Jodl in the name of the Chief of the O.K.W. This is Exhibit RF 1439, formerly 665-F submitted 31st January, 1946, as Exhibit RF 411. Paragraph 161 of this notice reads as follows:

"The cleaning up of villages suspected of concealing bands needs experience. The forces of the Security Service and the rural Secret Police are to be employed. The real helpers of the bands are to be identified and the most rigorous measures taken against them. Collective measures against the populations of entire villages, including the burning of the places in question, can be ordered only in exceptional cases and then only by divisional commanders, S.S. leaders, or chiefs of police." (Page 21 of my presentation.)
But what the defendant Jodl had ordered as an exceptional measure became the general rule in France in the spring and in the summer of 1944. Actions which had been exceptional when this order was signed now took on the aspect of large- scale operations, ordered and carried out in violation of the law of nations, by Army units assisted by the forces of the Security Service and the rural Secret Police.

On the pretext of investigating or making reprisals against local Resistance elements, German officers and men scrupulously carried out the orders given by the Chief of the General Staff of Operations.

So that when the German armies in France were driven back, their route was marked by dead towns such as those which bore the names of Oradour-sur-Glane, Maille, Cerisay, Saint- Die and Vassieux-en-Vercors. Jodl is responsible for these "mopping-up" operations, which began with the most arbitrary arrests and went on by progressive stages to torture, the wholesale massacre of men, women, old people, and children - - even infants in arms -- and the looting and burning of the villages themselves. No distinction was made among the inhabitants; all of them, even the babies, were "auxiliaries."

Never have the necessities of war justified such measures, all of which violate Article 46 and 50 of the Hague Convention.

I come now (Page 23 of my presentation) to the mobilisation of civilian workers and to the deportation of civilians for forced labour. The decree appointing Sauckel"Plenipotentiary for Manpower," under date of 21st March, 1942, is signed by Hitler, Lammers, Chief of the Reich Chancellery, and the defendant Keitel. This is Exhibit RF 1440, 1666-PS, submitted by the American prosecution on 12th December, 1945, as Exhibit USA 208.

The first paragraph provides for the recruiting of all available civilian labour for employment in the German war industry and particularly in the armament industry. All unemployed workers in Germany, the Protectorate, the Government General and all the occupied territories were liable to this. This constitutes a violation of Article 52 of the Hague Convention.

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