The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)
Nuremberg, war crimes, crimes against humanity

The Trial of German Major War Criminals

Sitting at Nuremberg, Germany
14th February to 26th February, 1946

Fifty-Ninth Day: Thursday, 14th February 1946
(Part 11 of 15)

[COLONEL L. N. SMIRNOV continues]

[Page 27]

Evidence will be submitted to the Tribunal as follows:-

(1) With regard to the deliberate encouragement by the major war criminals of the lowest instincts of German officers, men and officials detailed to the Eastern areas, where they were incited to murder the civilian population and to indulge in every form of violence against it; where they created that atmosphere of impunity which surrounded the murderers, and legalized the regime of terror.

(2) With regard to the special training and selection of units seconded to put into effect both the mass murders and the regime of terror inflicted on the civilian population.

(3) With regard to the extent of the crime, the ubiquity and the immense degree of the German fascist atrocities.

(4) With regard to the gradual development and perfection of methods for the execution of the monstrous crimes, from the first shootings to the creation of the special "extermination camps".

(5) With regard to attempts to conceal all traces of the crimes and the special measures taken for that purpose by order of the higher authorities.

I will now submit documents to prove the first two of the points just mentioned.

The Tribunal has already received evidence that the actual orders, circulars, and the so-called "laws", promulgated by the Hitlerite criminals for the legalisation of terror directed against the peaceful population, and for the justification of rape and murder, are directly connected with the inhuman theories of fascism. The Chief

[Page 28]

Prosecutor for the USSR has twice quoted from a book by the former President of the Danzig Senate, at one time a very close friend of Hitler's, Hermann Rauschning, published in 1940 in New York under the title of "The Voice of Destruction". This book was published in various other countries under different titles, such as, "What Hitler Told Me", or "Conversations with Hitler", and so on (Exhibit USSR 378).

Two quotations were made from Rauschning's book, which I have submitted to the Tribunal, in the speech of the Chief Prosecutor of the USSR. The first is on Page 225 of the original. Your Honours will find it in the last paragraph of Page 14. The contents of this quotation can be summarised as follows: Hitler told Rauschning that he was freeing mankind from the humiliating restrictions imposed by the "chimera of conscience and morality". The second quotation is also extremely important. I will try to verify, by a series of concrete facts, the apparently abstract contents of this quotation. You will find it on Pages 137-138. It concerns a conversation between Hitler and Rauschning on the subject of "a special technique of depopulation, essential for the physical extermination of entire nations, and about the right of the victor to exterminate entire populations".

And indeed, in order to murder millions of innocent and defenceless people, it was necessary not only to develop the technical formula of "Cyclone 'A'," to construct gas chambers and the crematorium ovens, or to devise an elaborate procedure for mass shootings.

It was also essential to educate many thousands who would carry out these policies "not in the letter, but in the spirit" (as stated by Himmler in one of his speeches). It was necessary to train persons without heart or conscience, perverted creatures who had deliberately cut themselves off from the basic conceptions of morality and law. It was necessary to legalize and "theoretically establish" the conformity to law of the substitution of the concept of "guilt" by the concept of "preventive purge of undesirable elements for political purposes", of the concept of "justice" by the concept of "the right of the master" and of the concept of "law" by an apologia of arbitrary administration and police terror.

It was necessary, by orders, regulations and decrees, to instill in the minds of hundreds of thousands of human beings, trained as the bloodhound is trained, to carry out the premeditated atrocities of the major criminals, that they were in no-wise responsible for the crimes committed. That is why Hitler freed them from the "chimera called conscience." But the theoretical foundations laid down for the purpose still did not constitute official instructions, nor did they introduce definite retaliatory measures against those who were unduly mild and those who did not fully recognize the "joys of cruelty".

This is why, even before the beginning of the war with the Soviet Union, the German fascist criminals issued a number of so-called "hand-books", "sermons", and similar documents to the Germans who were being sent East. I submit one of these documents to the Tribunal. Of all the documents in my possession I have deliberately selected this small one, and I dwell on it because it is not intended for the S.S. or police. It is intended for the so-called "agricultural leaders". This document is entitled, "The Twelve Commandments for the Behavior of Germans in the East and for Their Treatment of the Russians."

I submit this document to the Tribunal as Exhibit USSR 89, and Your Honours will find it on Page 17 of the document book. From these "Twelve Commandments" I shall quote just one, the sixth, which has a direct bearing on my present theme -

DR. NELTE (Counsel for defendant Keitel): Mr. President, the words: "Twelve Commandments for the Behavior of the Germans in the East and

[Page 29]

for Their Treatment" have been written on Document USSR 89. That is all that is in my copy. This document has no heading and no signature. As the question of responsibility is involved, it would surely be desirable for the Prosecution to name the author of these "Twelve Commandments". So I respectfully ask the Tribunal to decide whether this document is admissible as evidence in its present form.

THE PRESIDENT: Can you inform us what the source of the document is?

COLONEL SMIRNOV: This document is included in the documentation of the Extraordinary State Commission of the Soviet Union for the Investigation and Determination of German fascist atrocities. It was received from the following sources - Counsel for the defence has pointed out that this document bears no signature. If Your Honour will turn to the original of this document, which I have submitted to you, you will find the signature of a certain Backe. Unfortunately I cannot say who this Backe was, but I discovered this signature on a whole series of German, or rather of German fascist, documents which, in rather peculiar juxtaposition, usually discussed two subjects - cattle breeding and the Russian soul. Evidently the author of this document was considered equally competent to deal with both questions. But what his official position was I really cannot say.

I repeat, this document was captured by field units of our army, in the region of Rossospy, handed to the Extraordinary State Commission and the original of this document is now being submitted to the Tribunal.

THE PRESIDENT: I have the original before me now. It is dated Berlin, 1 June, 1941, and has a signature which looks like B-a-c-k-e. Perhaps Counsel for the Defence would like to see the original document. It is, as I understand from the prosecuting counsel, made a part of the Soviet Government report; and if so, we must take notice of it.

COLONEL SMIRNOV: That is so. I have information concerning Backe's official position. He was Minister of Food and Food Supplies. I did not know that before, because in practice I did not have the occasion to come across this branch of German fascist life.

DR. NELTE: Mr. President, I believe I can identify the signature as "Backe". Backe was in the Ministry of, was indeed State Secretary at the time.

THE PRESIDENT: Perhaps this would be a convenient time to break.

(A recess was taken.)

COLONEL SMIRNOV: I now quote the Sixth Commandment of the twelve which have just been submitted to the Tribunal. This Sixth Commandment which is on Page 17 of the document book of the Tribunal, reads as follows:-

"6. The areas just opened up must be permanently acquired for Germany and Europe; everything will depend upon your behavior. You must realize that you are the representatives of Greater Germany and the standard-bearers of the National Socialist Revolution and of the New Europe for centuries to come. You must, therefore, carry out with dignity even the hardest and most ruthless measures required by the necessities of the state. Weakness on the part of an individual will, on principle, be considered as just cause for his recall. Anyone who has been recalled for this reason will no longer be eligible for a responsible position in the Reich."
For what "hardest and most ruthless" measures the criminal Hitlerite Government was preparing those whom it named "The Standard-Bearers of the National Socialist Revolution" and what crimes were committed by them, we will show later on.

[Page 30]

In this manner the theoretical discussions were followed up by official orders quite definite and allowing of no ambiguity.

Execution squads were trained in special educational institutions, into which all but the lowest ranks were admitted.

I will submit to the Tribunal the indictment drawn up for the Prosecutor of the USSR by the examining magistrate of most important affairs on the subject of German fascist atrocities in the city and region of Kharkov. This document has already been fully confirmed by the judgment of the court martial, which has also been submitted to the Tribunal. The Tribunal will find this verdict on Page 30 of your document book.

The indictment and judgment are submitted to the Tribunal as Exhibit USSR 32.

There is on the first page of the indictment an extract from the testimony of the Defendant Retzlav. It is on Page 24 of your document book, last paragraph:-

"The accused senior corporal of the German Army, Reinhard Retzlav, who received his training in the special battalion 'Altenburg', testified in the course of his interrogation:-

The course of training even included several lectures by leading officials of the G.F.P. - "Secret Field Police" - who definitely declared that the peoples of the Soviet Union, especially those of Russian nationality, were sub-human and should be destroyed for the greater part, although an appreciable number were to be employed by the German landowners as slaves. These directives were the result of the policy of the German Government toward the peoples of the occupied territories and, it must be confessed, were put into practice by every member of the Armed Forces, myself included."

Such were the courses dedicated to the training and education of junior police officers.

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