The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Fifty-Fourth Day: Friday, 8th February, 1946
(Part 6 of 22)

[Page 174]


(a) Military Preparation for Attack on the U.S.S.R.

GENERAL RUDENKO: May it please the Tribunal, I will now describe the crimes committed by the Hitlerite aggressors against my own country, against the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. On 22nd June, 1941, the U.S.S.R. was perfidiously attacked by Hitlerite Germany. However, it is not this date that should be considered as the actual beginning of the execution of Hitlerite Germany's plan of aggression against the Soviet Union. What took place on 22nd June, 1941, was conceived, prepared, and planned long before that.

The Hitlerite conspirators pursued these preparations continuously. All Germany's aggressive actions against a number of European States, during the period between 1938 and 1941, were actually only preliminary measures for the main blow in the East.

For Fascist Germany had conceived the criminal design of seizing the territory of the Soviet Union in order to plunder and to exploit the peoples of the U.S.S.R.

We need not seek confirmation thereof in Hitler's "Mein Kampf" or in the writings of the Hitlerite ringleaders, which, as is known, contained, together with a direct menace to the U.S.S.R., indications that the aggression of German imperialism must be directed toward the East in order to conquer the so-called "living space." This tendency of predatory German imperialism is expressed in the well-known formula: "Drang nach Osten."

I revert for evidence to the official documents of the Hitlerite Government, which fully disclose the defendants' guilt in committing the criminal actions with which they are charged under the present Indictment.

I beg to be allowed to refer, in the first case, to the document entitled, "Report Concerning the Conference of 23rd May, 1939." As can be seen from this document, this conference took place in Hitler's study, at the new Reich Chancellery, and the minutes were taken down by Lieutenant- Colonel Schmundt of the German General Staff. There were present at this conference Hitler, Goering, Raeder, Brauchitsch, Keitel, General Milch, General of the Artillery Halder, and other representatives of the German High Command. The report states that the subject of the conference was, "Instructions concerning the present situation and the objects of our policy." Speaking at this conference, Hitler frequently broached the subject of the seizure of territory in the East. He declared:

"If fate forces us into a conflict with the West, it would be desirable that we possess more extensive space in the East."
And further:
"Our problem is to extend our living space in the East, secure our food supplies and solve the Baltic problem. As regards food supplies, we can only rely upon the thinly populated areas. The thoroughness of German agriculture, together with the fertility of the soil, will show itself favorably in the manifold increase of food production."
In another document known as the "Minutes of the Fuehrer's Conference with the Commander-in-Chief on 23rd November, 1939," Hitler stressed the necessity of solving the problem of the struggle for oil, rubber and useful minerals; and at that conference, Hitler formulated the main tasks as follows:
"...adapt the living space to the density of the population....

This is an eternal problem, to establish the necessary balance between the number of Germans and their territory, and to secure the necessary living space. Sharp ingenuity can be of no avail here. The problem can be solved only by the sword."

[Page 175]

At this conference Hitler, with complete frankness, disclosed his plans concerning the drive to the East. Boasting of his successful seizures of Moravia, Bohemia and Poland he no longer kept secret his intentions of pursuing his aggression Eastwards:

"I did not resurrect the Armed Forces," said Hitler, "for the purpose of keeping them inactive. The determination to act has always been alive in me. I always meant to solve this problem."

Moreover, the Nazi Government felt itself in no way restrained by the existence of a non-aggression pact signed between Germany and U.S.S.R., on 23rd November, 1939. However, Hitler's cynical declaration that treaties need only be respected as long as they serve a purpose is now universally known.

My American colleague has already quoted in his address the speech made by the Defendant Jodl at the conference held by the Reich Gauleiter in Munich in January, 1943. In his speech the Defendant Jodl said: "Hitler informed me, while we were still fighting in the West, of his plans to fight the U.S.S.R." In his turn, the Defendant Raeder, at his preliminary examination, testified that the idea of a military campaign against the U.S.S.R. had been born in Hitler's mind long ago, and it grew ever stronger with the decrease of the probability of an invasion of England in June, 1940.

According to the Defendant Keitel's statement, Hitler had decided to attack the U.S.S.R. at the end of 1940. As early as the spring of 1940, a plan of assault had been worked out. Conferences on this subject had been held in the summer. In July, 1940, at a military conference in Reichenhall, the plan of attack on the U.S.S.R. was examined. This is also confirmed by the statement of the defendant Jodl, who at his preliminary examination testified that the plans of attack on the U.S.S.R. were actually worked out in the months of November-December, 1940, and that during that period the first directives were given to the Army, to the Navy and to the Air Force. Speaking of these directives, Jodl refers to a document known as the "Case Barbarossa." This document is signed by Hitler, Jodl and Keitel.

This directive, intended only for the High Command of the German Army, contains an elaborate and detailed plan for a sudden attack on the U.S.S.R.

I quote:

"The German Armed Forces must be prepared to crush Soviet Russia in a quick campaign before the end of the war against England.

For this purpose the Army will have to employ all available units with the reservation that the occupied territories will have to be safeguarded against any surprises."

Directive "Case Barbarossa" emphasizes that "Great caution has to be exercised that the intention of an attack will not be recognised."

The directive further states that, if occasion arises, the order for attack against Soviet Russia will be given eight weeks in advance of the intended beginning of operations, and that "preparations requiring more time to start are -- if this has not already been done -- to begin at once and are to be completed by 15th May, 1941."

And, finally, the same directive contains a detailed strategic plan of an attack on the U.S.S.R., which plan already contemplated the actual form of participation on the part of Roumania and Finland in this aggression. In particular, the directive says bluntly:

"Probable Allies and their tasks.

1. At the flanks of our operations the active participation, in the war against Soviet Russia, of Roumania and Finland may be counted upon."

[Page 176]

The directive also states that: "we may rely on the use of Swedish railroads and highways which will become available for the transportation of the German Group `North' not later than the start of actual operations."

Thus, it is incontestable that the Hitlerite Government at this time had already secured the assent of the Roumanian and Finnish Governments for the participation of these countries, together with Germany, in the aggression against the U.S.S.R.

This situation is apparent not only from the text of the directive, "Case Barbarossa," but also from the other facts at our disposal. For example, in a statement by the German General of the Infantry, Buschenhagen, which we shall present to the Tribunal the following appears:

"At the end of December, 1940 (approximately on the 20th), I, as the Chief of Staff of the German Forces in Norway, with the rank of Colonel, was invited to take part in a conference of the Chiefs of Staff of the Armies at the O.K.H. (High Command of the Army) at Zossen (near Berlin) which lasted several days. At this meeting the Chief of the General Staff, General Halder, expounded the plan `Barbarossa,' which envisaged the attack on the Soviet Union. Present at Zossen, at the time of the meeting, was the Chief of the General Staff of the Finnish Army, General Heinriks, who was conferring with General Halder...."

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