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

The Trial of German Major War Criminals

Sitting at Nuremberg, Germany
2nd July to 15th July 1946

One Hundred and Seventy-Sixth Day: Thursday, 11th July, 1946
(Part 7 of 9)

[Page 304]


This position signified the co-ordinated establishment of the entire civil administration for the purpose of Reich defence. According to documents which have been submitted to the Tribunal, it may have been that Hitler already wanted war at the time when he authorized the second Reich Defence Law, but it is nevertheless relevant for the defence of the defendant whether Frick at that time was able to recognize the aggressive intentions of Hitler from the law itself and from its preliminary tasks or from other evidence or information which was communicated to him then.

From the law itself it cannot be discerned that Hitler's intention was to use it in the sphere of civil life as an instrument of preparation for a war of aggression.

The kind of tasks which were given to the defendant Frick in his capacity as Plenipotentiary General for Reich Administration had to do merely with the concentration of the domestic administration of Germany in case of a possible war or of a threat of war, and nothing else can be seen from Document 3787-PS, Exhibit USA 782, which was submitted subsequently.

The law is so expressed that it always speaks only about the defence of the Reich in case of war. It speaks about the "state of defence" and mentions the case of a "surprise threat to the Reich territory," in the event of which certain measures must be taken.

On the other hand, the law does not give any hints of this, which was in keeping with Hitler's oft-repeated principle not to divulge any more of his plans to anyone than was necessary for him to know for the purpose of performing the task given to him - a principle which was strictly adhered to even with his closest collaborators. In view of this principle, it should not be assumed, nor has it been at all proved, that when the order for this law was given to the Ministry of the Interior, any other information was imparted than the necessity for taking precautionary measures, by concentrating the full strength of the domestic administration of the country, against a surprise threat to Reich territory through a possible attack by other States.

It is not necessary for me to state in detail that such a measure cannot be considered as a premeditated preparation for a war of aggression when the competent authorities of the domestic administration are told that it is essential for the defence of the Reich against the threatened attack by another State. Hitler knew very well how to dissemble to all those who had no need to know about his secret plans, but who, nevertheless, had to carry out the armament and the organization of the State ordered by him for the eventuality of war.

I will deal now very briefly with some further documents, the subject of which is the activity of the defendant Frick as Plenipotentiary General for Reich Administration.

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Frick, in his speech of 7th March, 1940, referred to this position - Document 2608-PS, Exhibit .USA 714 - and stated that the planned preparation of the administration for the possible event of war had been already effected during peace time by the appointment of a Plenipotentiary General for Reich Administration.

This speech therefore merely confirms that which is already revealed by the text of the law. The same applies to Document 2986-PS, Exhibit USA 409, an affidavit by the defendant to the same effect.

Therefore, according to this law, the position of the General Plenipotentiary for Reich Administration, combined with the appointment of a General Plenipotentiary for Economy, and the post of Chief of the OKW, cannot be described as a "Triumvirate" holding governmental authority in Germany.

Nothing has ever been known either inside or outside Germany of a government by such a triumvirate, and the witness Lammers too has referred to the strictly subordinate tasks performed by these persons by means of ordinances - tasks which had nothing to do with the preparation of a war of aggression.

Another field of the defendant's activity is likewise appraised by the prosecution as participation in preparation for a war of aggression, namely, Frick's work for the Association for Maintaining Germanism Abroad. I refer to Document Frick, Exhibit 4, and Document 3258-PS, the latter submitted as Exhibit GB 262. Both documents reveal that Frick supported the said Association as a union for the fostering of German cultural relations abroad and promoted its cultural efforts. It cannot, however, be gathered from the documents that Frick engaged in any capacity whatsoever for the furtherance of the aims of a so-called "Fifth Column" abroad. Another document, from which the prosecution deduced the approval of the policy of aggressive war by Frick, is the affidavit of Messersmith, Document 2385-PS, Exhibit USA 68. This affidavit has been characterised by several defendants as inaccurate, and the defendant Schacht in particular showed at his examination that in essential points it cannot be correct at all. The prosecution was not able to cross-examine the witness.

I protest on behalf of Frick against any use of the affidavit, all the more so as an additional clarifying interrogation of the witness through a written questionnaire only led to the result that the witness, by using general phrases, avoided giving concrete answers to the questions put to him. The answers to the questionnaire show plainly enough that Messersmith cannot make concrete statements at all and that in his affidavit he obviously was himself considerably deceived as to the extent of his memory.

I do not believe that his affidavit, which has been refuted in essential points, can be made use of for passing legal judgement. As to the question whether the defendant Frick participated consciously in preparations for a war of aggression, the prosecution submitted a further document - D- 44-Exhibit USA 428. From this document it is seen that the Reich Ministry of the Interior is supposed to have issued a directive in the year 1933 that official publications were not to be drawn up in a form which might enable people abroad to infer an infraction of the Versailles Treaty from such publications. This document does not reveal whether the directive aimed at masking actual treaty violations, or whether it was only a matter of avoiding the appearance of treaty violations.

The same problem arises in the case of Document 1350-PS, Exhibit USA 742. This contains the minutes of a conference between the Staff of the SA and the Reich Defence Minister, who proposed to the SA in 1933 that budgetary funds of the Reich should be set aside by the Reich Ministry of the Interior for the military training of the SA. The document does not throw any light upon the attitude of the Reich Ministry of the Interior towards this proposal and, if it had accepted it, this again would have proved only that the Reich Ministry of the Interior furthered the restoration of the Wehrmacht, a fact which, apart from this, is already proved.

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Thus, all these documents do not furnish proof that the defendant Frick recognized as a preparation for war of aggression the measures ordered by Hitler as necessary for the defence of the Reich.

During the war, in the year 1941, a few days before the start of the war with the Soviet Union, a conference certainly took place between the defendant Rosenberg and representatives of various ministries concerning measures to be taken in the event of a possible occupation of parts of the Soviet Union. This is shown in Document 1039-PS, Exhibit USA 146, Rosenberg's report concerning these discussions in which it is stated that negotiations took place with "Reich Minister Frick (State Secretary Stuckart)." These parentheses mean that-the Reich Ministry of the Interior was represented in these negotiations by State Secretary Stuckart, therefore that Frick did not personally participate in the negotiations. As the negotiations took place only a few days before the beginning of the war in the East, it is not proved by the document that Frick himself was informed about the negotiations before the beginning of the war, which, as is generally known, was afterwards proclaimed by Hitler as a necessary measure of defence against an imminent attack by the Soviet Union. It has been made clear by a mass of evidence in this trial how far Hitler kept his true aggressive intentions secret, and how well he knew how to cover up the true aim of all his. political measures for years with thousands of convincing reasons to justify the individual measures of his policy of aggression.

There was a very small circle of collaborators whom Hitler informed about his war plans, but this circle was not selected according to the position of the person concerned in the Cabinet, or according to his position in the Party hierarchy, but exclusively from the point of view of whether it was necessary for the person concerned, with respect to his own tasks in the field of preparations for the war, to know the aggressive character of Hitler's general policy or even his detailed plans of aggression.

Document 386-PS, Exhibit USA 25, shows how effectually the principle of secrecy was kept, even as regards the older members of the Party and the administrators of important departments in the Reich Cabinet.

Whoever, such as the Minister of the Interior, had merely to carry out measures within the framework of preparations for war, which could well be similar to tasks of a purely defensive character, was, in accordance with Hitler's principle, not informed of the latter's aggressive intentions.

For this reason, the presence of the defendant Frick is not shown in even a single one of these secret conferences in which Hitler informed a circle of selected men about his plans for foreign policy and his war aims. In the Document 386-PS, just mentioned, Hitler especially emphasized, and gave reasons for, the exclusion of the Reich Cabinet as a body to which such plans should be made known.

In another record concerning a similar conference - Document L-79, Exhibit USA 27 - the additional principle is laid down that no one should be told anything concerning the war plans who did not need to know of them for the accomplishment of his actual work.

Frick's name is not only missing from the list of those present at Hitler's conferences on his policy of aggression, which took place before the war, but the same applies also to the numerous conferences concerning Hitler's further war aims and aggressive intentions which were held during the war. The defendant Frick was also not informed of the later attacks or employed in their preparation, as is shown by the list of those present at Hitler's lectures concerning his plans, which have in part been submitted here.

Frick, purely an expert in domestic administration, who was not considered competent for military questions and questions of foreign policy, was good enough for organising the civilian administration for the eventuality of any possible war, but in Hitler's opinion, his (Hitler's) foreign policy and military plans were none of Frick's business. However, the prosecution asserts further that after the conquest of foreign territories and their occupation, the defendant Frick shaped

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the administrative policy in those territories and that he is responsible for it. The prosecution considers this activity of the defendant, according to Article 6 (a) of the Charter, as "Participation in the execution of wars of aggression." According to the submission of the prosecution, Frick exercised an overall control of the occupied territories, especially in his capacity as chief of the "Central Office" for the occupied territories.

On the basis of the same function, he is also said to be responsible for all war crimes and crimes against humanity which were committed in the occupied and incorporated territories before and during the war, until his recall as Reich Minister of the Interior on 20th August, 1943.

It is a question of legal interpretation whether the activity in the administration of occupied territories, pursuant to Article 6 (a) of the Charter, is to be considered as the "execution of wars of aggression," or whether criminality comes into consideration only under the point of view of crimes against the rules of war or against humanity. In deciding this question, it appears important to me that it is not one of the tasks of an official of a civil administration to examine, after the conclusion of military operations, whether a legal or illegal occupation according to the standards of International Law is in question. The duty of such an examination would mean overburdening the department of the civil administration as well as the administrative chief, whose activity cannot be described as illegal because the territory administered by him had been annexed a short or even a long time ago in violation of the regulations of International Law. There is no obligation for such examination in the practice of civil administration. The Charter, moreover, does not demand such an interpretation since, if freely construed, the military operations themselves might be understood to constitute an execution of wars of aggression, but not the later civil administration of conquered territories.

The punishment of crimes which occurred in the administration of the occupied territories would not be made impossible through such an interpretation. These crimes are likewise subject to punishment as crimes against humanity or against the rules of war according to the Charter. And now mention must be made of those territories in particular for which the defendant Frick bears a responsibility.

First of all there are the territories which were incorporated, in accordance with constitutional law, into the German Reich, which are therefore called the "incorporated territories." By their constitutional incorporation into the Reich these territories came under his administration, but only to that extent. That is, they came under the authority of the Reich Minister of the Interior. Consequently the defendant Frick bears the constitutional responsibility of a minister for the internal administration of these territories up to 20th August, 1943. In the East, it is mainly a question of the territories of West-Prussia-Posen-Danzig, in other words, the so-called returned Eastern territories which belonged, until the Versailles Treaty, to Germany. In the East the Memel district came under the same constitutional treatment; in the West the Eupen-Malmedy district; and in the South-east, the Sudetenland. Furthermore, the country of Austria was incorporated into the German Reich. For all those territories Frick had a share in the laws and administrative measures relative to the incorporation. He bears the usual responsibility of a Minister of the Interior for the domestic administration of these territories up to the time of his dismissal in August, 1943. For the territory of Bohemia and Moravia, on the other hand, there was a special protectorate government which was described as autonomous in the decree concerning the establishment of the protectorate - Document 2119-PS - and it therefore was not controlled by the Reich Ministry of the Interior. In a similar way, an administration not dependent on the Reich Ministry of the interior existed in the Polish territories which were collectively designated "Government General" and were put under the jurisdiction of a "Governor General." In contrast to the so-called "incorporated Eastern territories," the Reich Ministry of the Interior had no right to issue orders or to handle administrative matters m the Government General

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- Document 3079-PS - which contains Hitler's decree concerning the administration of the occupied Polish territories. This appears in numerous other documents, among them Exhibit USSR 223, the Frank diary, in which Frank states that no Reich central offices are authorized to intervene in the government of his territory.

The same applies to all other occupied territories for which a special administration was established under any legal form.

These separate administrations were not dependent on the corresponding administrative ministries in the Reich at any given time, but they were under the jurisdiction of the administrative chief of the corresponding territories and he himself was directly subordinate to Hitler.

This applies to the occupied Soviet Russian territories, the entire administration of which was under the jurisdiction of a Reich Minister for the Occupied Eastern Territories. The same applies to Norway, where a Reich Commissioner was appointed. In a similar way, a Reich Commissioner was appointed for the Netherlands who was also independent of the Reich Ministry of the Interior, and was directly subordinate to Hitler.

In Luxemburg, in Alsace and in Lorraine, there were also chiefs of civil administrations who were not subordinate to the Reich Ministry of the Interior, whilst in Belgium and Northern France there was a military administration which was also not dependent on the Reich Ministry of the Interior.

In the same way the administrative chiefs of the territories which were occupied in the South-east of Europe were completely independent of the Reich Ministry of the Interior. For part of the occupied territories there exists in the decree issued at the time, concerning the creation of a separate civil administration, the stipulation that the Reich Minister of the Interior was to be appointed as the central agent, and from this formulation the prosecution has deduced a responsibility of the defendant Frick for the administration of all the territories, as is stated in the Indictment.

The actual tasks of the central agency were shown in the order concerning the establishment of a central agency for Norway - Document 3082-PS, or 24 in the Frick document book. The witness, Dr. Lammers, has given a further explanation of the tasks. At that time it was the primary task of the central agency to put on request personnel at the disposal of the chiefs of the civil administrations in the occupied territories. Therefore, if a civil official was needed for any district, the administration of the district concerned applied to the central agency in the Reich Ministry of the Interior, which then put some official from the Reich at the disposal of the chief of the civil administration. The Reich Ministry of the Interior was especially fitted for this, as it had at its disposal numerous officials of the domestic administration in Germany.

But the transfer of an official from his own department to another office, which alone gives its orders to that official from that moment on, does not establish responsibility for the further activity of that official in his new department, to which the Reich Ministry of the Interior could issue no orders whatsoever. To take as an example: If the Minister of justice transfers one of his officials to the Foreign Minister, naturally the Foreign Minister only is responsible for the further activity of this official. This activity of the central agency therefore does not justify the assumption of responsibility for the administration of the occupied territories by Frick.

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