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 4 of 8)

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By DR. HANNS MARX, Continued:

Many of the leading anti-Semites considered the Jewish question as settled after the laws of 1935 had been passed. The defendant Streicher shared this opinion. The stiffening of Hitler's attitude to the Jewish question cannot be traced back beyond the end of 1938 or the beginning of 1939. Only then did it become apparent that in case of war - which he believed was propagated by the Jews - he was planning a different solution.

In his Reichstag speech on 30th January, 1939, he predicted the extermination of Jewry should a Second World War be let loose against Germany.

He expressed the same ideas in a speech made in February, 1942, on the occasion of the twentieth anniversary of the day on which the Party was founded. And, finally, his testament, too, confirms his exclusive responsibility for the murdering of European Jewry as a whole.

Though Hitler had adopted a more implacable attitude to the Jewish question ever since the beginning of the war, there is nothing to show that he visualised the extermination of the Jews in the early stages of the war. His final resolution to this effect was undoubtedly formed when, probably as early as 1942, he saw that it was impossible to secure a victory for Germany.

It can be assumed almost with certainty that the decision to exterminate the Jews originated - as did almost all of Hitler's plans - exclusively with himself. It cannot be ascertained with certainty how far others who were closely attached to Hitler brought their influence to bear on him. If such influence did exist, it can only have come from Himmler, Bormann and Goebbels. It can at least be stated beyond any doubt that, during the decisive period from September, 1939, to October,

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1942, Streicher neither influenced nor, in the circumstances, could have influenced e him. At that time Streicher was living - deprived of all his offices and completely left in the cold - at his farm at Pleickershof. He had no connection with Hitler either personally or by correspondence. This has been proved beyond all doubt by the statements made by the witnesses Fritz Herrwerth and Adele Streicher and by the statement under oath of the defendant himself.

It cannot, however, be maintained in earnest that his reading of Der Sturmer induced Hitler to give orders for wholesale murder.

From this it is clear that the defendant Streicher had no influence at all on the man who made the decision to exterminate Jewry or on the orders issued by him.

In October, 1942, Bormann's decree ordering the extermination of Jewry was issued (Document PS-3244). It has been established beyond all question that this order came from Hitler and went to Reichsfuehrer SS Heinrich Himmler, who was charged with the actual extermination of the Jews.

He, for his part, charged Chief of the Gestapo Muller and his commissioner for Jewish Affairs Eichmann with the final execution of the order. These three men are the three who are chiefly responsible, next to Hitler.

It has not been proved that Streicher had any possibility of influencing theme or that he did actually influence them. He states - and the contrary cannot be proved - that he never knew either Eichmann or Muller, and that his relations with Himmler were slight and far from friendly.

It is necessary only to mention the fact that Himmler was one of the most radical anti-Semites of the Party. From the beginning he had advocated a merciless fight against the Jews; and he was, moreover, judging by what we know of him, not the man to allow himself to be influenced by others in matters of principle. Apart from that, however, a comparison of the two personalities shows that Himmler was in every way the stronger man of the two, so that for this reason alone the exertion of any influence by the defendant Streicher on Himmler may be ruled out.

I believe I may refrain from further illustration of this point.

I now come to the question of whether the activity of the defendant Streicher had a decisive influence on the men who actually carried out the orders; that is, on members of special purpose groups (Einsatzgruppen) on the one hand and on the executive commandos in the concentration camps on the other; and whether any spiritual and intellectual preparation was necessary to make these men willing to execute such measures.

In his speeches in Nikolajew, Posen and Charkow - which have often been mentioned here - the Reichsfuehrer SS stated unequivocally not only that he, with Hitler, was responsible for the final solution of the Jewish question, but also that the execution of the orders was only made possible by the employment of forces which he himself had selected from among the SS.

We know from Ohlendorf's testimony that the so-called Einsatzgruppen consisted of members of the Gestapo and the SD, companies of the Waffen SS, members of the police force with long service records, and natives.

It must be stated as a matter of principle that the defendant Streicher never had the slightest influence on the ideological attitude of the SS. The extensive evidentiary material of this trial contains no shadow of proof that Streicher had any connections with the SS. The alleged enemy No. 1 of the Jews, the great propagandist of the persecution of the Jews - as he has been pictured by the prosecution - the defendant Streicher never had the opportunity of writing for the periodical Das Schwarze Korps (The Black Corps) or even for SS Leithefte (SS Guide Magazine). These periodicals alone, however, as the official mouthpieces of the Reichsfuehrer SS, determined the ideological attitude of the SS. These SS periodicals determined their attitude toward the Jewish question. In these circles Der Sturmer had just as small a public; it was rejected, just as it was in other circles. Himmler himself rejected Streicher ironically as an ideologist. Therefore, the defendant Streicher could not have had any influence on the ideology of

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the SS members of the Einsatzgruppen, much less on the old members of the police, and least of all on the foreign units. Nor could he dictate the ideology of the execution squads in the concentration camps. Those men originated for the most part from the Totenkopfverbande (Death's Head Units), that is, the old guard units, of whom the above statement is true in a greater degree. Added to this is the fact that the experienced members of the police, as well as the SS men with long service records, were trained in absolute obedience to their leaders. Absolute obedience to a Fuehrer command was a matter of course for both.

Even those experienced policemen, however, accustomed as they were to, absolute obedience, even the experienced SS - could not simply be charged by Himmler with carrying out the executions of the Jews. Himmler had rather to select men whom he trusted to lead these execution squads and to make them, personally responsible for their assignments, pointing out explicitly that he would, take all responsibility and that he himself was only passing on a definite order from Hitler.

Even these men, who the prosecution alleges to have been the elite of Nazism, were so far from becoming enemies of the Jews in the meaning of the Indictment that the entire authority of the head of State and the Fuehrer, and of his most brutal follower, Himmler, was required to force upon the men responsible for carrying out the execution orders the conviction that their order was based on the will of the authoritarian head of the State; an order which, according to their conviction, had the power of a fundamental State law and therefore was above all criticism.

The men charged to carry out the annihilation, therefore, obeyed their orders, not for ideological reasons and not because they were incited to do so by Streicher, as the prosecution contends, but solely in obedience to an order from Hitler transmitted to them through Himmler, and knowing that disobedience to a Fuehrer order, meant death.

In this respect, too, therefore, Streicher's influence has not been proved.

The accusations brought against the defendant by the prosecution are herewith exhausted. But, in order to reach a conclusion and to form a judgement of the defendant which will take the actual findings fully into account; it seems advisable to give once more a short account of his personality and his activities under the Hitler regime.

The prosecution considers him to be the leading anti-Semite and the leading advocate of a ruthless determination to annihilate Jewry.

This conception, however, does justice neither to the part played by the defendant and the influence actually exercised by him nor to his personality. The manner of the defendant's employment in the Third Reich and the way in which he was called upon to co-operate in the propagation and final solution of the Jewish question shows the prosecution's conception to be false. The only occasion on which the defendant was called upon to take an active part in the fight against Jewry was in his capacity as chairman of the action committee for the Anti-Jewish. Boycott Day on 1st April, 1933. His attitude on that day is in direct opposition to his violent utterances in Der Sturmer and makes it evident that the passages in his paper which have been attacked were pure propaganda. Although on that day he could have used the whole power of State and Party against Jewry, he was content to order that Jewish places of business be marked as such and put under guard. In addition, he gave explicit instructions that any molestation of the Jews or acts of violence committed on them, or any damage done to Jewish property, was forbidden and would be punished. In the later stages no further use at all was made of the defendant. He was not even consulted on the ideological basis, for the settlement of the Jewish question. He was unable to voice his ideas in the Press or over the air. He was not asked to write on the clarification of the Jewish question, either in the training letters (Schulungsbriefen) of the Party or the periodicals belonging to the organizations.

Not he but the defendant Rosenberg was charged by Hitler with the ideological. training of the German people. Rosenberg was responsible for the Institute for

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Research into the Jewish Question, set up in Frankfurt, and not the defendant. Streicher, who was, in fact, not even considered as a collaborator in this Institute. The defendant Rosenberg was commissioned with the arrangement of an anti-Jewish world congress in 1944. It is true that this assembly did not take place, but it is significant that the plans made for it did not include the participation of the defendant Streicher.

The whole of the anti-Jewish laws and decrees of the Third Reich were drafted without his participation. He was not even called in to draft the racial laws proclaimed at the Party rally in Nuremberg in 1935. The defendant Streicher did not take part in a single conference on even moderately important questions in either peace or war time. His name does not appear on any list of participants or any protocol. Not even in the course of the discussions themselves is one single reference made to his name.

The fight against Jewry in the Third Reich grew more and more rigorous from year to year, especially after the outbreak of war and during its course. In contrast to this, however, the influence of the defendant Streicher grew yearly weaker. Even in 1939 he was almost entirely pushed aside, had no relations with Hitler or other leading men of State and Party. In 1940, he was relieved of his office as Gau-leader and after that he played no further part in political life.

If the defendant Streicher had really been the man the prosecution believes him to be, his influence and his activity would have increased automatically with the intensification of the fight against the Jews. His career would not have ended, as it actually did, in political impotency and banishment from the scene of action, but with the commission to carry out the destruction of Jewry.

It cannot be denied that by writing ad nauseam on the same subject for years in a clumsy, crude and violent manner, the defendant Streicher has brought upon himself the hatred of the world. By so doing, he has created a strong feeling against himself which led to his importance and influence being rated far higher than they actually were, and which now involves him in the danger that the extent of his responsibility will be similarly misjudged.

The defence counsel, who in this case had a difficult and thankless task, had to, limit himself to presenting those aspects and facts which allow the true significance of this man and the role he played in the tragedy of National Socialism to be recognized. But it cannot be the task of the defence to deny indisputable facts and to defend acts for which absolutely no excuse exists.

The fact remains, therefore, that this defendant took part in the demolition of the Main Synagogue of Nuremberg and thus allowed a place of religious worship to be destroyed.

The defendant states as an excuse that his aim in so doing was not the demolition of a building meant for religious worship, but the removal of an edifice which appeared out of place in the Old Town of Nuremberg, and that his opinion had been shared by art experts. The truth of this is proved by the fact that he left the second Jewish house of worship untouched until it finally, and without his connivance, went up in flames during the night of 9th to 10th November. However that may be, the defendant shows the same lack of scruple here as he does in his other actions. He alone must account here for his actions in this connection; the defence cannot shield him. But here, too, the fact that the population of Nuremberg disapproved of these actions clearly and unmistakably must be stressed. It was clear to any impartial observer that the people viewed such actions with icy coldness and that only brute force could compel them to tolerate such measures and to look on at such senseless proceedings.

It is just as impossible for the defence to express any opinion on the revival of the ritual murder myth. No interest whatsoever was taken in these articles; but their tendency is clear. The only point in the defendant's favour, apart from the good faith with which we must credit him, is the fact that the author of these articles was not himself but Holz; he must, however, admit the charge against him that he allowed it to happen.

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It must appear incomprehensible that the defendant continued to play a part in the publication of Der Sturmer long after he had been politically crippled and vanished from the scene of action. This very fact reveals his one-track mind better than anything else.

When the prosecution accuses the defendant of having aimed at the physical annihilation of the Jews and prepared the way for this later result by means of his publications, I would like to refer to the statements made by the defendant under oath at his interrogation to which I am here referring in their entirety.

The defendant claims that in the long series of articles published by Der Sturmer since its foundation there were none demanding actual deeds of violence against the Jews. He also claims that among the issues, of which there were over a thousand, only about fifteen were found to contain expressions which could form the basis for a charge against him in the meaning of the Indictment.

On the contrary, the defendant argued that his articles and speeches had always shown an unmistakable tendency to achieve a solution of the Jewish problem in its entirety, since any kind of partial solution would serve no useful purpose and did not reach the heart of the problem. Even from this point of view, he had always expressed himself unequivocally as opposed to any kind of violence, and he would never have approved of an action as that finally carried out by Hitler in such a gruesome manner.

This must raise serious doubts as to whether the defendant can be proved to have agreed with the mass murders practised on Jewry, and I leave this decision to the Tribunal. In any case, he himself refers to the fact that he had no reasonably certain knowledge of these wholesale murders until 1944, a fact corroborated by the statements of the witnesses Adele Streicher and Hiemer.

He considered the articles published in the Israelitisches Wochenblatt as propaganda and consequently did not believe them. In this connection, the fact that up to the autumn of 1943 he did not in any article express satisfaction concerning the fate of Jewry in the East is in his favour. Although he wrote then on the disappearance of the Jewish reservoir in the East, there is nothing to show that he had any reliable source of information at his command. He might, therefore, very well have believed that this process of disappearance was not identical with physical annihilation but might represent the evacuation of the Jewish population assembled there to neutral countries or the territory of the Soviet Union. As no evidence has been presented to show that the defendant had received hints from any quarter in regard to the intended extermination of Jewry, he could not have conceived of such a satanic occurrence, which appears to be utterly inconceivable to the human mind. And it certainly cannot be assumed that the mental capacity of the defendant should have enabled him to foresee a solution of the Jewish question such as could only have originated in the brain of a person who was no longer of sane mind.

The defendant describes himself as a fanatic for the truth. He professes to have written nothing and to have expressed nothing in his speeches which he had not taken from some authentic source and properly confirmed.

There is no doubt that he was a fanatic. The fanatic, however, is a man who is so possessed or convinced of an idea or allusion that he is not open to any other consideration, and is convinced of the correctness of his own idea and no other. A psychiatrist might regard it as a sort of mental cramp. Fanaticism of any kind is not far from maniacal obsession. As a rule it goes along with considerable over-estimation of oneself and over-evaluation of one's own personality and its influence on the world around it.

Not one of the defendants here on trial shows such a wide discrepancy between fact and fancy as does defendant Streicher.

The prosecution showed him as he appeared to the outside world. What he really was - and is - has been shown by the trial.

But only actual facts can form the basis for the judgement. Base your judgement also, gentlemen, on the fact that the defendant in his position as Gau-leader of

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Franconia also showed many humane characteristics - that he had a large number of political prisoners released from concentration camps, which even caused criminal proceedings to be started against him. It should also be borne in mind that treated the prisoners of war and the foreign labourers working on his estate very well in every respect.

Whatever the judgement against the defendant Streicher may be, it will concern the fate of one individual only.

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