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

The Trial of German Major War Criminals

Sitting at Nuremberg, Germany
16th July to 27th July 1946

One Hundred and Eighty-Fifth Day: Wednesday, 24th July, 1946
(Part 7 of 11)


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For this decree unequivocally expresses that the German Security Police, and thereby also the Gestapo, was not subordinated to the Reich Protector. This is already evident in itself from the fact that the decree completely separates the two departmental spheres - administration and police - by dealing in Part 1 with the building up of a German administration in the Protectorate subordinated to the Reich Protector, and then dealing entirely separately in Part II with the German Security Police. This Security Police is not under the jurisdiction of the Reich Protector but, as was already reserved in Article V, paragraph 5 of the decree of

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16th March, 1939, is taken over by the administration of the Reich itself, that is to say, it receives its orders direct from the Chief of Police in Berlin, i.e.; Himmler, and m part also from the Higher SS and Police Chief in Prague. The second sentence of paragraph 11 describes the relationship of the police toward the Reich Protector. Its wording is as follows:
"The organs of the German Security Police are to collect and make use of the results of their investigations, in order to notify the Reich Protector and his subordinated offices accordingly about important events and to keep him informed and give him suggestions."
This signifies that the Reich Protector legally and actually did not have the possibility of influencing the activities of the police in any form whatsoever. He could not oppose their orders, emanating from Berlin, prior to their execution; quite apart from the fact that he never saw them, he had no authority whatsoever to oppose them. He had but one claim and that was to be subsequently informed by the police about measures already taken by them and even that happened - as was proved by the evidence - only in the rarest cases.

He did not have any right or any possibility whatsoever of issuing orders to the police themselves.

In consequence of this separation of powers and in view of the totally different attitude of Frank toward the Czech people as compared to Herr von Neurath's, the sharpest differences and contradictions were inevitably bound to result. For Frank, as a Sudeten German and one of the leaders of the Sudeten Germans, was filled with hatred and revenge against anything that was Czech. He did not want to hear of a reconciliation or an understanding between the German and the Czech peoples, and, gave free rein to this anti-Czech frame of mind from the first day of his activity.

At first, that is to say, up to the time of the outbreak of the war, the activity of the police was actually slight, so that these opposing viewpoints were not so apparent. Herr von Neurath could consequently assume that this opposition would gradually diminish, and that Frank would conform to his wishes and aspirations and would show himself to be accommodating and he, the defendant, did not yet recognize the necessity of exerting a lawfully-founded influence upon the police through Frank. When, however, he finally realised - from the gradually increasing activity of the police and their excesses - that his expectations were not being fulfilled, he protested to Hitler orally and by letter, time and time again - as confirmed by the testimony of the witnesses Dr. Volkers and von Holleben - and implored him to alter this ominous state of affairs and to subordinate the police to him, and him only.

However, all Hitler's promises and assurances proved to be false, and the subordination of the police to Herr von Neurath did not take place. Yet, he did not want to relinquish the fight so soon, nor despair of the task taken over by him. Now, more than ever, he wanted to try to impose his ideas and policy, and, should he not be successful, at least to diminish and alleviate subsequently the consequences and harshness of the measures taken by the police. That for this purpose he had the most detailed account given to him personally in all cases of measures and action taken by the police, such as arrests and other excesses in so far as he received information about them, mostly from Czech sources, and that, wherever he could, he exerted his influence for the release of arrested persons and for other mitigations is evident from the testimony of all witnesses produced by me; above all, from the testimony of Dr. Volkers, who, as head of the defendant's office, was continually engaged in receiving such complaints.

This is moreover evident from documents submitted by the prosecution itself, such as the notes of the defendant about his conference with President Hacha of 26th March, 1940 - - App. 5 to supplement No. 1 USSR 60 - and even from the testimony of Bienert, which is attached to the special accusation, who himself was

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arrested by the police but released in a very short time upon the intervention of the defendant.

With the one exception of the testimony of Frank of 7th March, 1946, submitted during the hearing of evidence, the testimony of all witnesses corresponds on the question of responsibility of the defendant for the measures taken by the police. Frank's testimony, however, is an indirect contradiction to his own earlier testimony.

At his interrogation on 30th May, 1945 - Document Book V, No. 153 - Frank said the following, and I quote:

"The police, however, was not under the control of the offices of the Reich Protector. Both, Gestapo and Security Police, received their directions and orders directly from the Reichssicherheitshauptamt in Berlin."
Frank's statement of 5th May, 1945, concerning the student riots - Document Book V, No. 152 - is also typical for the manner in which the police received their instructions directly from Berlin, over the head of the Reich Protector. Frank speaks therein of the report about the first demonstrations which he had sent to Berlin and in which he had asked for instructions; he had received them by return mail from the Fuehrer's headquarters through the Security Police in Prague, to which office they had been sent by Berlin directly; and he, Frank, received them from there. There is no mention whatever of the person or even of the office of the Reich Protector during the entire proceedings, it is an internal affair of the police involving Frank and the Higher SS and Police Leader. Because of the importance of this point, I would like to refer explicitly to the statements made by the witnesses von Burgsdorff and Volkers, who both were, on the basis of their official position, thoroughly conversant with this question during the entire time the defendant was in office. Burgsdorff testified that the police were under Frank, who received his orders directly from Himmler. Volkers, said that the defendant had no influence on Frank's activities, and thereby on the police. In practice, from the very start; the police and, therefore, also State Secretary Frank took their measures completely independently of the defendant. This was legally confirmed later through the ordinance of 1st September, 1939. All witnesses also in their written testimonies testify that the relations between the defendant and Frank had been as bad as can be imagined.

It is entirely impossible in such a state of affairs that the chief of the SD and the Security Police should have been active as political adviser to the defendant. The defendant cannot at all remember a decree of May, 1933, about the appointment of this man, to which reference is made in the document by the chief of Security Police (USSR 487). In any case, according to his definite statement, he never performed any duties. The document USSR 487 therefore does not appear to be conclusive as evidence. The copy handed to me by the prosecution is dated 21st July, 1943. That alone proves that the SD leader, if his appointment occurred at all, did not carry out any duties during the defendant's entire time in office. Apart from the date, however, the "Reference" of the letter shows that this appointment does not at all concern a political adviser to the Reich Protector himself but to the State Secretary for the Security Service, that is, Frank. The address "Der Herr Reichsprotektor" is not to be understood to mean the person but rather the office. In German Government circles it was customary to speak of the Herr Reichsminister, etc., even though he was not meant personally but some department of his office. It is entirely credible and probable that the SD leader was appointed political adviser to the State Secretary, who at the same time was State Secretary to the office of the defendant and the independent State Secretary for the Security Service.

Precisely from the so-called "warning" given at the end of August, 1939, with which the prosecution charged my client, it can be seen how he himself felt about the ways and means of easing the minds of the population and of hindering, that is, preventing acts of violence and insubordination on their part. According to his sworn testimony, the defendant thereby intended to discourage the population

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from committing acts of violence and especially to prevent acts of sabotage, which were to be expected in this time of political high tension before the war, thus preventing harsh police or legal measures which would only serve to embitter the population even more. It is doubtless more human to issue such a warning and thereby to prevent the committing of crimes, instead of allowing crimes to be committed without previous warning and afterwards meting out severe punishment. The fact that acts of sabotage, if it was impossible to prevent them, had to be severely punished in those times, would certainly have been acknowledged also in any other country and is taken for granted.

As the defendant testified, the warning fulfilled its purpose. No special punishments were threatened or determined; it contained no special threats of punishment whatever, but referred, as the wording proves, to criminal law already in force.

The sentence, that the responsibility for all acts of sabotage affected not only the culprit but the entire Czech population, is, of course, concerned only with the moral responsibility and not the penal one, as was also confirmed by the defendant.

It means that in the case of repeated serious acts of sabotage, general measures would be taken in the respective territories, as for example, earlier curfew, ban on going out, or general stoppage of traffic or electric current, under which the entire population would have to suffer. A responsibility in the penal sense would have had to be formulated much more concretely. It was expressly mentioned at the beginning of the proclamation that everyone who committed the cited crimes thereby proved himself to be an enemy of the Reich and would be punished accordingly. This sentence especially shows that the penal treatment of such sabotage acts was to be applied individually.

At that time nobody in Prague, not even the chief of police, would have thought of the idea to decree collective punishments, or even, as the prosecution asserted without any evidence whatever, to introduce the hostage system. In this connection, I also wish to refer to the statement made by the witness von Holleben, Document Book V, No. 158, in which he states:

"Neurath, therefore, always refused to make a person responsible for acts committed by somebody else."
From all that has been said previously, we see that the defendant von Neurath cannot be made responsible for the arrests made at the time of the occupation of the Czech territory nor for the arrests made at the outbreak of the war of, as the prosecution asserts, 8,000 prominent Czechs as hostages and their removal to concentration camps, or for their execution.

These arrests, according to the defendant's testimony, with which Frank's testimony agrees, were made on direct order from Berlin without knowledge and information of not only the defendant, but also of Frank himself.

Bienert's contradicting testimony presented by the prosecution is factually incorrect and is based on completely illogical and false deductions. His deduction that this entire action was under the defendant's direction, because his order for Bienert's release had been issued only four hours after his arrest, is without any logic and is objectively wrong.

Finally, on the basis of the evidence, it is irrefutable that the defendant is also not responsible for the order to shoot nine students and to arrest approximately 1,200 students during the night from 16th to 17th November, 1939; that these measures, rightly to be called terror actions, had been ordered during his absence from Prague without his knowledge by Hitler personally and had been carried out on his direct order by Frank, and that also the proclamation of 17th November, 1939 announcing it, was neither issued nor signed by him, that on the contrary his name under it had been misused.

It is definitely proved by the testimony of the defendant himself, and by that of the witness Dr. Volkers, who accompanied the defendant on his trip to Berlin on 16th November, 1939, the day after the student riots, and had returned from Berlin

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to Prague with him only on the afternoon of 17th November, furthermore by the written testimony of Herr von Holleben and finally by the affidavit of the defendant's secretary, Fraulein Friederich (Document Book V, No. 159) and of the Baroness Ritter, that the defendant, during the night of 16th to 17th November, when the shootings and arrests took place, was not even in Prague but in Berlin, and, the publication of these incidents was already posted on the house walls of Prague when the defendant returned to that city.

The defendant is not in the least responsible for these atrocities. The order for them as well as the simultaneous order for the closing of the universities had, on the contrary, been given direct to Frank by Hitler in Berlin and this, as the witness Volkers expressly affirms, in the absence and without the knowledge of the defendant. What value can, in consideration of this, be ascribed to Dr. Havelka's testimony, presented by the prosecution, is self- evident.

The credibility of this witness Havelka, as well as of all the other Czech testimony submitted by the prosecution, must in general be examined with the very greatest caution. It is subject from the first to two very serious objections. Firstly, all these witnesses are members of the former autonomous Czech Government, i.e., the so-called collaborationists who are in jail today for this reason and are awaiting sentence. It is humanly only too readily understandable if today they not only see the conditions prevailing then in a different light, and judge them differently from what they really were and involuntarily confuse the terrible things which happened after Herr von Neurath had left Prague with the events while he was there. This results in a confused memory. We must also not overlook the fact that, as is quite natural, they hope by incriminating Herr von Neurath to clear themselves. Added to this is the fact, which is almost more important still, that they had no knowledge whatsoever and could have none of the internal factual and legal conditions and competences within the office of the Reich Protector, and that they, therefore, are not able to judge to what extent the defendant himself was really the man who issued the individual decrees and orders or brought them about. One example shows this very clearly.

In the witness Kalfus's testimony it is alleged that the defendant was responsible for the customs union between the Protectorate and the German Reich. I hereby wish to refer only to the fact that already in Hitler's decree of 16th March, 1939, it had been expressly announced that the Protectorate belonged to the customs district of the Reich. The witness Bienert further asserts that it was Herr von Neurath who subordinated to the Germans the political administration of Bohemia and Moravia, which means State as well as communal administration. This is, however, also objectively wrong. As I have already proved, this subordination was ordered by the decree of 1st September, 1939, which was not issued by the defendant but by the Council of Ministers for the Defence of the Reich.

These examples should suffice to show how little credibility can be attached to all these testimonies and how little the witnesses were informed about the actual conditions of organization and authority within the office of the Reich Protector.

The repeated assertion of the witnesses that the arrests and many other measures of force by the Gestapo against the Czech population were carried out on the order or instruction of the defendant personally is, for example, either a deliberate falsehood or proof of their ignorance of even the published decrees announced in the Czech official gazette.

For the Gestapo, as I have already proved, was not under the jurisdiction of the defendant. The conclusions to be drawn from this, as to the credibility of all the witnesses, are self-evident. It is obvious that in contrast thereto the sworn testimony of the defendant and of the witnesses presented by me, together with the submitted decrees pertaining thereto, deserve far more credibility.

The allegation of the Czech Indictment and of the testimony on which it is based that Herr von Neurath, in the middle of November, 1939, ordered the closing of the universities has thus been disproved as objectively wrong. In fact, the closing

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of the universities took place on the express order of Hitler. As the evidence has shown beyond any doubt, the defendant immediately protested to Hitler and succeeded in obtaining his promise to reopen the universities after one year instead of only after three years. The defendant cannot be blamed for the fact that Hitler did not keep his promise. His efforts for the revocation of the closing of the universities prove, however, how much he was interested in maintaining the educational standard and the intellectual classes of the Czech nation.

And just as in this case the defendant did whatever he could for the Czech nation as a whole and for the individual. This applies especially to the harmful activity of the Gestapo as far as he received information about it. According to his own testimony, which is confirmed by that of the witness Dr. Volkers, immediately after the arrest of the students in the middle of November, 1939, he used all his influence energetically and continually for their release, and, as we have heard here, not only out of his own mouth, but also from Dr. Volkers, he succeeded in obtaining the release of almost all the students up to the time he left Prague on 27th September, 1941. And he worked in the same way continuously for the release of about 8,000 prominent Czechs who were arrested at the beginning of the war. As proved by his own testimony, these arrests were ordered by Berlin direct, and not by the defendant, as the Czech witnesses Bienert, Krejci, and Havelka untruthfully maintain, nor even by Frank or by any other Higher SS or Police Chief in the Protectorate.

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