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

The Trial of German Major War Criminals

Sitting at Nuremberg, Germany
12th March to 22nd March, 1946

Eighty-Eighth Day: Friday, 22nd March, 1946
(Part 7 of 7)

[Page 359]

SIR DAVID MAXWELL FYFE: My Lord, I object to this evidence. I was not quite sure whether Dr. Stahmer had finished dealing with this evidence with regard to the air war, or whether he was illustrating his argument. I want to make it quite clear that I object to the first part of it as being too remote; that is, the evidence about the various conferences which took place with regard to the regulation of aerial warfare.

With regard to the second part of the evidence, I object to the documents which purport to show that Great Britain attacked non-military targets. Where I have been able to check the allegations, I find there is a complete dispute as to whether the targets were military or non-military targets, and therefore I cannot accept the German official reports as being evidence of any purported value on their part, and I respectfully submit that unless the Tribunal had authority from the Charter it ought to take the same line.

I make these two additional points to the points raised by my learned friends, General Rudenko and Mr. Justice Jackson, on the general question. I do not want to take up more time with the argument by developing that point. I will be pleased to help with any aspect of it.

THE PRESIDENT: It seems to me, Dr. Stahmer, that this matter stands upon exactly the same footing as the matter upon which we have just ruled.

DR. STAHMER: That is right. I believe that from this book on aerial warfare one document is of importance in my opinion; which is quoted on Page 27. It is merely a statement by the French General, Armengaud, concerning the fact that the German Air Force operated in Poland in accordance with the laws of warfare and attacked military targets exclusively. I believe there will be no objection to reading at least this quotation. It is Page 27.

THE PRESIDENT: Page 27 of the trial brief?

DR. STAHMER: Page 27 of the trial brief. There I give a quotation of General Armengaud, the French Air Attache in Warsaw of 14th September, 1939.

[Page 360]


DR. STAHMER: There it says: After the outbreak of war the German Air Force under its Commander-in-Chief, Goering, did not, by order of Hitler, attack any open cities in Poland; this has been confirmed by Mr. Butler, the British Under- Secretary for Foreign Affairs, on 6th September, 1939, and by the French Air Attache in Warsaw in 14th September, 1939 (Documents 41 and 46 of the White Book). The latter, General Armengaud, says literally:

"I must emphasise that the German Air Force acted according to the laws of war; it attacked military targets only and, if civilians were often killed or wounded, this happened because they were near these military targets. It is important that this should be known in France and in England, so that no reprisals will be taken where there is no cause for reprisals, and so that total aerial warfare will not be let loose by us."
THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Stahmer, what is the origin of that?

DR. STAHMER: May I have a look? It is contained in the Document Book 46 concerning the bombing war, "Report of the French Air Attache in Warsaw, General Armengaud." It is dated 14th September, 1939, and then comes the report, from which I have already quoted.


DR. STAHMER: I have submitted it.


DR. STAHMER: And now I proceed to Page 30 of the trial brief. And in paragraph 10 I refer to the creation of the Secret State Police (Gestapo) by the defendant Goering. A passage is quoted there from the book "Hermann Giving, the Man and his Work," Document Book 2, Pages 53 and 54. I submit it as Document 44 and I quote from it the following passage:

"It can be seen from the big Stettin trial, and also from others, that Goering took ruthless measures against men who acted on their own authority against his instructions.

The Prime Minister looked into hundreds of individual cases in connection with the supervision of political prisoners. He did not wait until he was asked; the offer was made on his own initiative.

... On the occasion of the Christmas amnesty of 1933, he ordered the release of nearly 5,000 prisoners from the concentration camps. 'Even they must be given a chance.' It would have been only too understandable if those released had found doors and gates closed to them whichever way they turned. That, however, would not be in keeping with the spirit of this act of mercy. Nobody was to consider himself shut out. Therefore, Goering, in a clearly worded decree, ordered that no difficulties by the authorities or the public were to be placed in the way of those released. If this action were to have any point, every effort must be made to take back these people, who had sinned against the State, into the community again as full fellow Germans."

And from the last paragraph I read the second sentence:
"In September, 1934, he ordered the release of an additional 2,000 prisoners in a second big amnesty."
In this connection I beg to offer a telegram which I received a few days ago, and I request that it be admitted into evidence. It is an unsolicited telegram originating from a certain Hermann Winter, Berlin, W.20, Eisenach Street 118. It has been included in the document book which I submit. I believe it is the last document in it.

MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: If we are to examine unsolicited correspondence or telegrams, if it is to become evidence, I have a basketful of it in my office that, if that kind of material could be used as evidence in this case without any

[Page 361]

verification, I could bring here in rebuttal. It does seem to me that we should know something about this more than just a wire has come in from some unknown person, who may not even have been the signatory; maybe it is an assumed name. I think we are entitled to a little better foundation than that.

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Stahmer, have you any other basis?

DR. STAHMER: I have no other basis, and I beg to have your decision whether this telegram is admissible as evidence.

THE PRESIDENT: Well, I do not think we could admit it simply as a telegram which has been received by you from an unknown person.

DR. STAHMER: I request your decision; is it being denied? I am coming to the end, Page 34.

THE PRESIDENT: Of the trial brief?

DR. STAHMER: Page 34 of the trial brief (12). With respect to the question of whether one could blame the defendants for having had confidence in Hitler and following him, it is important to know Churchill's attitude, expressed in his book "Step by Step," and I am quoting two passages, Document Book 2, Page 46.

MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: This is in 1937, before the events with which we have mainly being dealing here. I do not think it is very important. Mr. Churchill's speeches are well known, but I do think that we waste time going into Mr. Churchill's opinions back in 1937, before the event, when he is doubtless in the same position as Dahlerus, the witness, with reference to his knowledge of what was going on behind the scenes.

THE PRESIDENT: In as much as we have already received this book and some passages from it, you may state this.

DR. STAHMER: I may state it? Thank you. On Page 187, in an article, "Friendship with Germany," of 17th September, 1937, is written:

"One can condemn Herr Hitler's system and still marvel at its patriotic achievement. Should our country be defeated, I could only desire that we would find an equally indomitable champion who would give us our courage again...."
THE PRESIDENT: I only said that you could read it because you had read from this book by Mr. Churchill, but at the same time it seems to be absolutely irrelevant.

DR. STAHMER: I did not ... Oh, I see. May I refer to the quotation on Page 323, which is also a description of Hitler's personality. I consider it of particular importance because I attach considerable weight in particular to Churchill's judgement. It says: "Our leadership must at least ..."

THE PRESIDENT: But, Dr. Stahmer, do you not think we have heard sufficient about Hitler's personality?

DR. STAHMER: Yes, but not from that source. If the Tribunal...

THE PRESIDENT: Presumably the defendant Goering knows more about Hitler than Mr. Churchill.

DR. STAHMER: If the Tribunal does not wish it to be read, then of course, I will abide by that wish.

THE PRESIDENT: I think it is cumulative.

DR. STAHMER: Well, in that case I have finished. I may still, of course, keep in reserve the evidence which I have not been able to submit up to now, about which I spoke this morning. I said this morning I had a certain amount of evidence which I have not been able to submit because I have not received it yet.


MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: Would this be a convenient time, if your Honour pleases, to classify the documents which I was to offer formally for the record?

THE PRESIDENT: I do not quite follow? What documents are you referring to?

[Page 362]

MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: The ones used in cross-examination -

THE PRESIDENT: Yes, certainly.

MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: - which your Honour spoke to me about.


MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: I understand they have been handed to the Secretary and they have been marked.

The affidavit of Halder is US 779. It is offered.

Document 3700-PS is offered as Exhibit USA 780.

Document 3775-PS is offered as Exhibit USA 781.

Document 3787-PS is offered as Exhibit USA 782.

Document 2523-PS is offered as Exhibit USA 783.

Document 014-PS is offered as Exhibit USA 784.

Document 1193-PS is offered as Exhibit USA 785.

Document EC-317 is offered as Exhibit USA 786.

Document 3786-PS is offered as Exhibit USA 787.

Document 638-PS is offered as Exhibit USA 788.

Document 1742-PS is offered as Exhibit USA 789.

M. CHAMPETIER DE RIBES: Mr. President, Dr. Stahmer in his presentation did not speak of Document 26. It concerns a note from the German Government to the French Government concerning the treatment of German prisoners of war in France dated 30th May, 1940. The reasons which made us reject the White Book from the discussion make it necessary to reject this document too. I gather that Dr. Stahmer realised that and, therefore, did not speak of it again, but I would like him to be assured that this document has been definitely rejected from the discussion.

DR. STAHMER: I have not mentioned the document. I withdraw it.

THE PRESIDENT: I call on counsel for the defendant Hess.

DR. SEIDL (counsel for the defendant Rudolf Hess): Mr. President and your Honours: Before commencing the submission of evidence I have to make the following remarks upon request of the defendant.

The defendant Hess contests the jurisdiction of the Tribunal in so far as other than war crimes proper are the subject of the trial. However, he specifically assumes full responsibility for all laws or decrees which he has signed. Furthermore, he assumes responsibility for all orders and directives which he, in his capacity as Deputy of the Fuehrer and Minister of the Reich, has issued. For these reasons he does not desire to be defended against any charges which refer to the internal affairs of Germany as a sovereign State. That applies in particular to the relations between Church and State and similar questions. I shall, therefore, submit evidence only with reference to questions in the clarification of which other countries can have a justified interest. This applies, for instance, to the tasks and activities of the foreign organisation of the N.S.D.A.P. Beyond that, evidence will be submitted to the Tribunal only in so far as this is necessary to ascertain the historical truth. This applies, among other things, to the motives which caused Rudolf Hess to fly to England and to the purposes for which he was doing it.

The evidence which I have prepared is collected in three document books. Considering the acceleration of the trial desired by the Tribunal, I shall forgo the quoting of any documents whatsoever from the first book and ask the Tribunal to take cognisance only of those parts of the document book which have been marked in red. I shall only read the affidavit which is at the end of the document book, and that is the affidavit of the former secretary of the defendant Rudolf Hess, Hildegard Fath, and I shall read, furthermore -

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Seidl, if you are passing from your opening remarks and going to deal with the documents, I think it is right to point out to you that there can be no challenge to the jurisdiction of this Court here. Article 3 provides that the Tribunal shall not be challenged by the prosecution or by the

[Page 363]

defendants or their counsel, and the Tribunal cannot hear any argument upon that subject. Now you can go on with your documents.

DR. SEIDL: There will furthermore be read from the second volume the record of a conversation between the defendant Rudolf Hess and Lord Simon, which took place on 10th June, 1941, in England. So as to prevent interruption in the reading of the documentary evidence, I shall to-day only read the affidavit of the witness Hildegard Fath, Page 164 of the document book. The affidavit reads as follows:

"Having been advised of the consequences of a false affidavit, I declare the following which is to be submitted to the International Military Tribunal in Nuremberg under oath."
Then come the "Personal Data"; and I am now quoting literally from figure 2:
"I was employed as private secretary of the Fuehrer's deputy, Rudolf Hess, in Munich, from 17th October, 1933, until his flight to England on 10th May, 1941.

Beginning in the summer of 1940 - I cannot remember the exact time - I had, by order of Hess, to obtain secret weather reports about weather conditions over the British Isles and the North Sea, and to forward them to Hess. I received the reports from a Captain Busch. In part I also received reports from Fraulein Sperr, the secretary of Hess, with his liaison staff in Berlin.

Hess left a letter behind on his departure by air for England, which was handed to the Fuehrer at a time when Hess had already landed in England. I read a copy of this letter. The letter began with words like this: 'My Fuehrer, when you receive this letter, I shall be in England.' I do not remember the exact wording of the letter. Hess occupied himself in the letter mainly with the proposals which he wanted to submit in England in order to achieve peace. I can no longer remember the details of the proposed settlement. I can, however, state definitely that no word was mentioned about the Soviet Union or about the idea that a peace treaty should be concluded with England in order to have the rear free on another front. If this had been discussed in the letter, it certainly would have been impressed upon my memory. From the content of the letter the definite impression was to be gained that Hess undertook this extraordinary flight in order to prevent further bloodshed, and in order to create favourable conditions for the conclusion of a peace.

In my capacity as secretary of long standing, I have come to know Rudolf Hess quite well and his attitude towards certain questions. If I am told now that, in a letter of the Reich Minister of Justice to the Reich Minister and Chief of the Reich Chancellery, Dr. Lammers, of 17th April, 1941, it is mentioned that the Fuehrer's Deputy had discussed the introduction of corporal punishment against Poles in the annexed Polish territories, then I cannot believe that this attitude of the department headed by Hess was due to a personal decision of his. Such a proposal would be totally contradictory to the behaviour and attitude which the Fuehrer's Deputy displayed with regard to similar questions on other occasions."

I shall refrain from reading the affidavit of the witness Ingeborg Sperr, Page 166 of the document book. From the first two volumes of the document book I wish still, as I have already said, to read only parts from a discussion between Hess and Lord Simon. However, in order to prevent the report of this discussion from being interrupted, I ask permission of the Tribunal to read this document to the Tribunal next Monday.

[Page 364]

THE PRESIDENT: Yes, certainly. You mean not to go on any more now?

DR. SEIDL: With the permission of the Tribunal, I shall stop now.

THE PRESIDENT: Have you no other document you wish to produce?

DR. SEIDL: I beg your pardon? Yes, there are some documents in Document Book 3, but I should prefer to submit these documents coherently to the Tribunal.

THE PRESIDENT: Very well, Dr. Seidl, if you wish it, we will adjourn now.

(The Tribunal adjourned until 23rd March, 1946, at 10.00 hours.)

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