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-Seventh Day: Friday, 12th July, 1946
(Part 3 of 8)

[Page 327]

By DR. HANNS MARX, Continued:

However, evidence in this respect has shown that Reichsfuehrer SS Himmler - who was entrusted by Hitler with the mass assassinations - and his close collaborators shrouded all these events in deepest secrecy. By threatening with the most severe punishments any violations of the command of absolute silence which was imposed, they managed to lower, before the events in the East and in the extermination camps, an iron curtain which hermetically sealed off those facts from the public.

Hitler and Himmler prevented even the corps of the highest leaders of the Party and State from gaining any insight and information. Hitler did not hesitate to give false information to even his closest collaborators, like Reich Minister Dr. Lammers who was heard here as a witness, and to make him believe that the removal of the European Jews to the East meant their settlement in the Eastern territories but by no means their extermination. Although the statements of the defendants may differ in many points, yet in this connection they all agree so completely with one another and with the statements of other witnesses, that the veracity of their testimonies simply cannot be questioned. If it was not possible for even the defendant Frank in his capacity as Governor General of Poland to get through to Auschwitz, because without Hitler's special consent even he was denied entrance, then this fact speaks for itself.

If even the leading personalities of the Third Reich, with the exception of a very small circle, were not informed, and if even they had at best very vague information, then how could the public at large have known about it? Under these circumstances the possibilities for finding out what was going on in the camps were extremely slight.

For the majority of the people, foreign news was eliminated as a source of information. Listening to foreign radio stations was punishable with the heaviest penalties and, therefore, did not take place. And if it did, the news broadcasts by foreign radio stations concerning events in the East, although, or rather because they corresponded to facts, were so gross, so horribly beyond any human understanding, that they were bound to appear to any normal individual, and in fact did, as intentional propaganda.

Really, Germany could only gain knowledge of the extermination measures against the Jews from people who either were working in the camps themselves or came in contact with the camps or their inmates, and, lastly, from former concentration camp inmates.

There is no need to explain that members of the camp personnel who were concerned with these happenings kept silent, not only because they were under stringent orders to do so, but also in their own interest. Furthermore, it is known that Himmler had threatened the death penalty for information from the camps and for spreading news about the camps and that not only the actual culprit, but also his relatives, were threatened with this punishment. Finally, it is known that the extermination camps themselves were so hermetically sealed off from any contact with the world that nothing concerning the events which took place in them could penetrate to the public.

The prisoners in the camps who came into contact with fellow- workers in their work kept silent because they had to. People who came to the camps were also under the threat of this punishment in so far as they could obtain any insight into things at all, which was all but impossible in the extermination camps.

From these sources, therefore, no knowledge could come for the German people.

[Page 328]

But the order for absolute silence was compulsory to a still greater measure for every concentration camp inmate who had been released. Hardly anybody ever, came back to life from the actual murder camps; but if, once in a while, a man or woman were released, in addition to the other threatened punishments; the threat of being sent back to the camp hung over them if they infringed the order for silence. And this renewed detention would have meant gruesome death.

It was therefore nearly impossible to learn from released concentration camp. prisoners positive facts concerning the occurrences in the camps. If this was the case with regard to normal concentration camps in Germany, it applied in a, still greater measure to the extermination camps.

Every lawyer who, as I did, defended people before their detention in a concentration camp, and who was visited by them again after their release, will be able to confirm that it was not possible, even in such a position of trust and under the protection of professional legal secrecy, to get former concentration camp inmates, to talk.

If men such as Severing who testified here - a Social Democrat of long standing who was highly trusted by his party comrades and who was, because of this, in touch with many former concentration camp inmates - came to know of the real facts connected with the extermination of the Jews only very late, and even then; to a very restricted extent, then such considerations must apply even more to any normal German.

It can be derived with absolute certainty from these facts that the Government, that Hitler and Himmler, wanted under all circumstances to keep secret the extermination of the Jews, and this forms the basis for another argument - in my. opinion, a cogent one - against the anti-Semitism of the German people asserted; by the prosecution.

If the German people had indeed been filled with such hatred of Jewry as the prosecution affirms, then such rigorous methods for secrecy would have been superfluous.

If Hitler had been convinced that the German nation saw in the Jews its principal enemy, that it approved of and desired the extermination of Jewry, then he would needs have been forced to publish the planned and also the effected extermination of this very enemy. As a sign of the total war constantly advocated by Hitler, and Goebbels, there would indeed have been no better means to strengthen the faith in victory and the will of the people to fight than the information that Germany's principal enemy, these very Jews, had already been annihilated.

Such an unscrupulous propagandist as Goebbels certainly would not have failed to use such a striking argument if he could have taken as a basis the necessary presupposition, that is the German people's absolute will to exterminate the Jews.

However, the "final solution" of the Jewish question had by all possible means to be kept secret even from the German people who had for years been under the heaviest pressure by the Gestapo. Even leading men of State and Party were not; allowed to be told of it.

Hitler and Himmler were evidently themselves convinced that even in the midst of a total war, and after decades of education and gagging by National Socialism, the German nation and above all its armed forces would have reacted most: violently on the publication of such a policy against the Jews.

The policy of secrecy followed here cannot be explained by any considerations of the foreign enemy nations. In the years 1942 and 1943 the whole world was already engaged in a bitter war against National Socialist Germany.

An intensification of this struggle hardly seemed possible, at any rate not by publishing facts which had long since become known abroad. Apart from this, considerations of making a still worse impression on the enemy countries could hardly influence men such as Hitler, Goebbels and Himmler.

If they had expected to achieve even the slightest definite results by proclaiming to the German people the extermination of the Jews, they would certainly not have omitted to proclaim them. On the contrary, they would have tried in every

[Page 329]

way to strengthen by this means the German people's faith in victory. The fact that they did not do this is the best proof that even they did not consider the German people radically anti-Semitic, and it is also the best proof that there can be no question of such anti-Semitism on the part of the German people.

I may therefore sum up by saying that all this is in contradiction to the prosecution's assertion that the defendant Streicher brought the German people to hate the Jews and so made them approve the extermination of Jewry.

Therefore, even if the defendant by means of his proclamations had aimed at achieving such an end, he was not successful.

In this connection, light should be thrown upon the part attributed by the prosecution to the defendant Streicher, namely that he had educated German youth in the spirit of anti-Semitism and had injected the poison of anti-Semitism so deeply into their hearts that these pernicious effects would be felt long after his, Streicher's, actual death.

The main reproach made against the defendant in this connection is based on the fact that young people, as a result of. Streicher's education in hatred toward the Jews, are supposed to have been ready to commit crimes against Jews which otherwise they would not have committed, and that youth thus educated might be expected to perpetrate such crimes in the future too.

There the prosecution relies mainly on the books for the young published by Der Sturmer, and some announcements addressed to youth which appeared in this paper.

Far be it from me to gloss over these products or to defend them. Evaluation of them can and must be left to the Tribunal. In accordance with the basic principle of the defence, the only question to be taken up here will be whether or not the defendant in any way influenced the education of youth in a manner to promote criminal hatred of Jews.

As for the books which have been mentioned here, it must be said that German youth scarcely knew of their existence - and much less did they read them. No evidence has been produced in support of the prosecution's assumption to the contrary.

The common sense of German youth refused such stuff. German boys and girls preferred other reading material. It may be emphasized in this connection that neither the text nor the illustrations in these books could attract youth in any way. They were, on the contrary, bound to be avoided.

Of special importance in regard to this point is the fact that defendant Baldur von Schirach, the man responsible for educating the whole body of German youth, testified under oath that the aforementioned books for the young published by this company were not circulated by the Hitler Youth leaders and did not find a circle of readers among the Hitler Youth.

The witness made the same assertions in regard to Der Sturmer. One of his closest co-workers, the witness Lauterbacher, stated in this connection that Der Sturmer was actually banned for the Hitler Youth by the defendant von Schirach.

It is clear that even the style and illustrations of Der Sturmer were ill adapted to attract the interest of young persons or to offer them ethical support. The step taken by the Reich Youth Leaders is therefore quite understandable.

Although some of the Der Sturmer articles submitted by the prosecution seem to indicate that Der Sturmer was read in youth circles and produced a certain effect there, it must be borne in mind that these were typical works, that is, works commissioned for propaganda purposes. There is no evidence whatsoever to support the prosecution's assertion that German youth harboured criminal hate toward Jews. Therefore, neither the German people nor its youth -

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Marx, perhaps this would be a convenient time to break off.

(A recess was taken.)

[Page 330]

One might now be tempted to assume that Der Sturmer exercised a particularly strong influence upon the Party organizations - the SA and SS - but this was not the case either.

The SA, the largest mass organization of the Party, rejected Der Sturmer just as did the mass of the people. Its publications were The SA Leader and The SA. The mass of the SA took these as the foundation of their ideology. These publications do not contain even one article from the pen of the defendant Streicher If the latter had really been, as the prosecution believes, the most authoritative and influential propagandist of anti-Semitism, he would of necessity have been called upon to collaborate in these publications, which were issued to instruct the SA on the Jewish question. A publication intended to provide ideological instruction could never have dispensed with the collaboration of such a man.

The fact that not one word by Julius Streicher himself ever appeared in these papers demonstrates afresh that the picture drawn of him by the prosecution does not correspond in any way with the actual facts. The defendant Streicher could gain no influence over the SA through his paper and the columns of The SA Leader and The SA were closed to him. Even the highest SA leaders refused to advocate his ideas. The SA deputy chief of staff, SA Obergruppenfuehrer Juttner, testifying before the commission on 21st May, 1946, made the following statement in this connection:

"At a leader conference, the former SA chief of staff, Lutze, stated that he did not want propaganda for Der Sturmer in the SA. In certain groups Der Sturmer was even prohibited. The contents of Der Sturmer disgusted and repelled most of the SA men. The policy of the SA with regard to the Jewish question was in no way directed at the extermination of the Jews it aimed at preventing a large-scale immigration of Jews from the East."
The ideology of Der Sturmer was thus rejected on principle by the individual SA man as well as by the SA leaders, and there is therefore no question of Streicher having influenced the SA.

Not only was the defendant Streicher not asked to collaborate in SA publications but his articles did not appear in any other newspapers and publications. He was given no chance of contributing either to the Volkischer Beobachter or to other leading organs of the German Press, although the Propaganda Ministry intended enlightenment on the Jewish question to form one of the noblest tasks of the German Press.

The defendant Streicher was given no opportunity, either by the State leadership or by the Propaganda Ministry, of impressing his ideas upon a wider circle. The defendant Fritzsche, the man who shared the decisive authority in the Propaganda Ministry, testified that Streicher never exerted any influence upon propaganda and that he was completely disregarded. In particular, he was not entrusted with radio talks, although talk given over the radio would have had much stronger effect on the masses than an article in Der Sturmer, which necessarily reached only a limited circle. The fact that even the official propaganda of the Third Reich made no use of the defendant Streicher makes it clear that no results could be expected of his activities, and that, in fact, he had no influence at all. The official German State Government recognized Streicher as being what he actually was the insignificant publisher of an entirely insignificant weekly.

It must be stressed once more as clearly as possible that the fundamental attitude of the German people was no more radically anti-Semitic than that of the German youth or the Party organizations.

Success in instigating and inciting to criminal anti-Semitism is, therefore, not proven.

I now come to the last and decisive part of the accusation, i.e., to the examination of the question: who were the chief persons responsible for the orders given for the mass extermination of Jewry; how was it possible that men could be four who were ready to execute these orders and whether without the influence of the defendant Streicher such orders would not have been given or executed.

[Page 331]

The main person responsible for the final solution of the Jewish question - the extermination of Jewry in Europe-was without doubt Hitler himself. Though this greatest of all trials in world history suffers from the fact that the chief offenders are not sitting in the defendant's box because they are either dead or not to be found, the facts ascertained have, nevertheless, resulted in cogent conclusions concerning the actual responsibility.

It can be considered as proved beyond any doubt that Hitler was a man of unique and even demoniacal brutality and ruthlessness, who, in addition, later lost all sense of proportion and all self-control.

The fact that his chief characteristic was ruthless brutality became apparent for the first time in its full force when the so-called Roehm putsch was suppressed in June, 1934.

On this occasion Hitler did not hesitate to have his oldest fellow combatants shot without any kind of trial. His unrestrained radicalism was further revealed in the way in which the war with Poland was conducted. He ordered the ruthless extermination of leading Polish circles merely because he feared an antagonistic attitude toward Germany on their part. The orders which he gave at the beginning of the Russian campaign were still more drastic. Even at that time he ordered partial operations, for the extermination of Jewry.

These examples show beyond doubt that respect for any principle of humanity was alien to this man. Furthermore, the proceedings, by the depositions of all the defendants, have clearly established the fact that in basic decisions Hitler was not open to any outside influence.

Hitler's basic attitude towards the Jewish question is well known. He had already become an anti-Semite during the time he spent in Vienna in the years before the First World War. There is, however, no actual proof that Hitler, from the very beginning, had in mind such a radical solution of the Jewish question as was finally effected in the annihilation of European Jewry. When the prosecution declares that from the book Mein Kampf there leads a direct road to the crematories of Mauthausen and Auschwitz, it is only an assumption; and no evidence for it has been given. The evidence rather suggests the fact that Hitler wanted to see the Jewish problem in Germany also solved by way of emigration. This thought, as well as the position of the Jewish part of the population under the laws governing aliens, formed the official State policy of the Third Reich.

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