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-Seventh Day: Friday, 26th July, 1946
(Part 8 of 12)


[Page 413]

The diary of the Minister of Justice for 1935 provides ample instances of the sort of behaviour which was being encouraged by the Hitler Youth under the defendant Schirach and the defendant Rosenberg. The Hitler Jugend, whose membership increased from just under 108,000 in 1932 to nearly 8,000,000 in 1939 was organized on a military basis. The close collaboration between Keitel and Schirach in their military education has been described; the special arrangement between Schirach and Himmler, by which the Hitler Jugend became the recruiting organization for the SS, is in evidence. You will not have forgotten the words of Schirach's deputy:
"In the course of years we want to ensure that a gun feels just as natural in the hands of a German boy as a pen."
What a horrible doctrine!

The terrorisation, murder and persecution of political opponents, the dissolution of all organizations affording opportunity for opposition criticism or even free speech, the systematic perversion of youth and training for war, would not, however, have sufficed without persecution of the Jews.

Let no one be misled by the metaphysical explanations which are put forward for this most frightful crime. What Hitler himself in this very town described as the fanatical combat against the Jews was part and parcel of the policy of establishing "ein Volk" - "ein Herrenvolk", which would dominate Europe and the world.

And so the persecution of the Jews was popularised throughout the country. It provided the cement which bound the people to the regime. It gave youth a butt to bully and so to acquire practical schooling in brutality.

With the accession to power the persecution of the Jews increased in violence. The final solution of mass murder had then been conceived. In Mein Kampf, the Bible of the Nazis, Hitler had regretted that poison gas had not been employed to exterminate the German Jews during the last war, and as early as 1925 Streicher said:

[Page 414]

"Let us make a new beginning today, so that we can annihilate the Jew."
It may be that he, even before Hitler, Himmler, or the others, had visualised the annihilation of the Jews, but the Nazis were not at first ready completely to defy world opinion, and they confined themselves to persecution and to making life in Germany unbearable for Jews. To the never- ceasing accompaniment of Der Sturmer and the official Nazi Press the campaign of Jew-baiting was fostered and encouraged. Rosenberg, von Schirach, Goering, Hess, Funk, Bormann, Frick joined hands with Streicher and Goebbels. The boycott in April, 1933, celebrated the Nazi accession to power and provided only a taste of what was to follow. It was accompanied by demonstrations and window-smashing - action "mirror" as it has been referred to in this Court. Accounts of typical incidents are given in the affidavit of the witness Geist who describes the events in Berlin on 6th March, 1933:
"Wholesale attacks on the Communists, Jews and those who were suspected of being either; mobs of SA men roamed the streets, beating up, looting and even killing persons."
In 1935 followed the infamous Nuremberg Decrees. In 1938 the so-called spontaneous demonstrations ordered throughout Germany resulted in the burning of the synagogues, the throwing of 20,000 Jews into concentration camps with the accompaniment of penalties, of aryanization of property, and the wearing of a yellow star.

The cynicism of these men and the merciless character of their policy towards the Jews appeared at Goering's meeting of 12th November, 1938, when they vied with each other in suggesting methods of degrading and persecuting their helpless victims. Neither Hitler nor Himmler, whom today they seek to blame, was present, but who, reading the record of that meeting, can doubt the end in store for the Jews of Europe? At that meeting Heydrich reported on the events which occurred on the night of the 9th November: 101 synagogues destroyed by fire, 76 demolished and 7,500 stores ruined throughout the Reich. The approximate cost of replacing broken glass alone was estimated at RM. 6,000,000 and the damage to one store alone in Berlin at RM. 1,700,000. Heydrich also reported Boo cases of looting, the killing of 35 Jews, and estimated the total damage of property, furniture and goods at several hundred million Reichsmarks.

You will recall Heydrich's order for the riot, including the arrests of the Jews and their removal to concentration camps. After referring to the fact that demonstrations were to be expected in view of the killing of a German Legation official in Paris that night, he instructs the police on the prospective burning of synagogues, destruction of business and private apartments of Jews, and in their duty to refrain from hindering the demonstrators.

"The police have only to supervise compliance with the instructions."
And finally:
"In all districts as many Jews, especially rich ones, are to be arrested as can be accommodated in the existing prisons. For the time being only healthy men, not too old, are to be arrested. Upon their arrest, the appropriate concentration camps should be contacted immediately in order to confine them in these camps as quickly as possible."
We now know, from the evidence with regard to the seizure of the houses of Jews by Neurath and Rosenberg, why the orders were to concentrate upon the richest.

These events were neither secret nor hidden. Ministers were writing to each other and discussing them. Long before 1939 they were common knowledge not only to Germany but to the whole world. Every one of these defendants must have heard again and again stories similar to that of Sollmann. Almost all of them have sought to gain credit from helping one or two Jews; and you will remember the evidence of a special office in Goering's Ministry to deal with protests, and his witness Koerner, who stated with pride that Goering had always intervened

[Page 415]

on behalf of individuals. Perhaps it afforded them some gratification or eased their conscience in some way occasionally to demonstrate their influence by exempting some unhappy individual who sought their favour from the general horror of the regime which they continued to uphold. But these men participated in a government which was conducted without any regard for human decency or established law. There is not one of them who, being a member of the Government during that period, has not got the blood of hundreds of his own countrymen on his hands.

Goering and Frick established the concentration camps; the witness Severing and the documents quoted testify to the murders which took place in them at a time when these two were directly responsible. Even Goering could not defend all the murders of 30th June, 1934. He shares with Hess and Frick the responsibility for the Nuremberg Laws. The record of the meeting of the 12th November, 1938, and Goering's initials on Heydrich's order of the 9th November, require no comment.

As Ambassador in England, Ribbentrop must have been well aware of the facts, if only from the English papers, whilst his delegate Weermann assented to the atrocities reported to the meeting of the 12th November, 1938. The previous owner of his country house, Herr von Remiz, was placed in a concentration camp, and he expressed his sentiments towards the Jews to M. Bonnet, on 8th December, 1938, in the following terms:

"The German Government had therefore decided to assimilate them (the Jews) with the criminal elements of the population. The property which they had acquired illegally would be taken from them. They would be forced to live in districts frequented by the criminal classes."
Hess; who set up an office for racial policy in 1933, shares responsibility for the Nuremberg Decrees.

At the meeting of 12th November, 1938, a full report was given of similar measures against the Jews in Austria, and it seems certain that the defendant Kaltenbrunner, as a faithful member of the Party, was giving full support to the necessary measures. The evidence that Seyss-Inquart was playing his part is before the Tribunal. Rosenberg was writing The Myth of the Twentieth Century and taking his full share in the struggle against the Church and in the anti-Semitic policy of the Government: whilst even Raeder, on Heroes' Day, 1939, was speaking of "the clear and inspiring summons to fight Bolshevism and international Jewry whose race-destroying activities we have sufficiently experienced on our own people ".

Frick, as Minister of the Interior, bears a responsibility second to none for the horrors of the concentration camps and for the Gestapo, whilst Frank, as Minister of Justice for Bavaria, was presumably receiving the reports on the murders in Dachau. He was the leading jurist of the Party, a member of the Central Committee which carried out the boycott of the Jews in March, 1933, and he spoke on the wireless in March, 1934, justifying racial legislation and the elimination of hostile political organizations. He also was present at Goering's meeting.

The Tribunal will not require to be reminded of the part played by Streicher. It was in March, 1938, that Der Sturmer began consistently to advocate extermination in the first article of a series which was to continue throughout the next seven years. This began with an article signed by Streicher ending with the words:

"We are approaching wonderful times - a Greater Germany without Jews."
Funk, as Vice-President of the Reich Chamber for Culture, from 1933 had participated in the policy for the elimination of the Jews; he was present at and assented to the recommendations at Goering's November meeting in 1938, at which it will be remembered Goering suggested that it would have been better to kill 200 Jews, whereupon Heydrich mentioned that in fact the number was a mere fifty-five.

[Page 416]

Schacht himself admitted that as early as the second half of 1934 and the firs t half of 1935 he found that he was wrong in thinking that Hitler would bring the "Revolutionary" force of the Nazis into a regulated atmosphere, and that he discovered that Hitler, having done nothing to stop the excesses of individual Party members or Party groups, was in fact pursuing a "policy of terror". Nevertheless he remained in office and accepted the Golden Party Badge in January, 1937, when von Eltz refused it.

Schirach has confirmed his part in ensuring that the younger generation of Germany grew up rabid anti-Semites under his teaching. He cannot escape responsibility for training the youth to bully Jews; to persecute the Church; to prepare for war. This perversion of children is perhaps the basest crime of all.

Sauckel, who had joined the Party in 1921, filled the post of Gauleiter of Thuringia. He cannot have been ignorant of the persecution of the Church, of the trade unions, of other political parties and of the Jews, throughout this important Gau, and there is every reason to suppose that he gave the fullest support to these policies and thus enhanced his reputation with the Nazis. Papen and Neurath were in a better position to judge these matters than any of the other defendants, since it was their political associates who were being persecuted, whilst, in the case of Papen, some of his own staff were killed and he himself arrested. He was lucky to escape with his life.

Neurath's attitude to the Jews is shown by his speech in September, 1933:

"The stupid talk about purely internal affairs, as for example the Jewish question, will quickly be silenced if one realizes that the necessary cleaning up of public life must temporarily entail individual cases of personal hardship, but that nevertheless it only served to establish all the more firmly the authority of justice and law in Germany."
What prostitution of these great words !

Of the remainder, all were men of intelligence and already held positions of considerable authority. None of them can have been ignorant of what the whole world knew, yet not one of them has suggested that he made any effective protest against this regime of brutality and terror. All of these men continued in their spheres of government and in the highest positions of responsibility. Each in his part - and each a vital part - these men built up the evil thing, the ultimate purpose of which was so well known to them, and instilled the evil doctrines which were essential to the achievement of that purpose. It was Lord Acton - that great European - who, eighty years ago, in expressing his conviction of the sanctity of human life, said:

"The greatest crime is homicide. The accomplice is no better than the assassin: the theorist is the worst."
I shall return if I may, later, to the question of conspiracy and to the part these men played in it, but no conclusion upon the conspiracy charge in the first Count of this Indictment is really possible until the specific crimes set out in the subsequent Counts have been considered. And first of these is the Crime Against Peace, set out in Count 2. I say first, first in its place in the Indictment. Moralists may argue which is greatest in moral guilt. But this perhaps should be said at the very outset. It is said that there is no such crime as a crime against peace, and those superficial thinkers who, whether in this Court or in armchairs elsewhere, have questioned the validity of these proceedings have made much of this argument. Of its merits I shall have something to say presently. But let it be said plainly now, that these defendants are charged also as common murderers. That charge alone merits the imposition of the supreme penalty, and the joinder in the Indictment of this Crime Against Peace can add nothing to, the penalty which may be imposed on these individuals. Is it, then, a mere work of supererogation to have included this matter in the Indictment at all? We think not, for the very reason that more is at stake here than the fate of these individuals. It is the crime of war which is at once the object and the parent of

[Page 417]

the other crimes; the crimes against humanity, the war crimes, the common murders. These things occur when men embark on total war as an. instrument of policy for aggressive ends.

Moreover, taking this crime, the CRIME AGAINST PEACE, in isolation, it was responsible for the deaths in battle of ten million men, and for bringing to the very edge of ruin the whole moral and material structure of our civilisation. Although it may be that it may add nothing to the penalty which may be imposed upon these men, it is a fundamental part of these proceedings to establish for all time that International Law has the power, inherent in its very nature, both to declare that a war is criminal, and to deal with those who aid and abet their States in its commission. I shall come back to the Law: let me first refer to the facts.

You have had from defence counsel an elaborate but a partial and a highly controversial account of foreign relations leading up to 1939. I do not propose to follow them in that examination, nor am I concerned to say that as events have turned out, the policies pursued by the democratic powers may not sometimes have been weak, vacillating, and open to criticism. Defence counsel have sought to base some argument on the protocol attached to the German-Soviet Pact. They argue that it was wrong. I am not concerned with that, and, of course, I do not concede it. But let them argue that it was wrong. Do two wrongs make a right? Not in that International Law which this Tribunal will administer.

The review which defence counsel have made entirely overlooks the two basic facts in this case, that from the time of Mein Kampf on, the whole aim of Nazi policy was expansion, aggression, domination, and that the democratic powers had to deal with a Germany of which that was, in spite of occasional lip service to peace, the fundamental aim. If peace was contemplated at all, it was peace only at Germany's price. And knowing that that price would not be and could not be paid voluntarily, the Germans were determined to secure it by force.

Whilst the German people were being psychologically prepared for war, the necessary measures of rearmament were taken simultaneously. At his conference on 23rd November, 1939, Hitler summed up this period of preparation in these words:

"I had to reorganise everything, beginning with the mass of the people and extending it to the armed forces. First internal reorganisation, eradication of appearances of decay and of defeatist ideas, education to heroism. While reorganizing internally, I undertook the second task - to release Germany from its international ties ... secession from the League of Nations and denunciation of the Disarmament Conference .... After that the order for rearmament. In 1935 the introduction of compulsory armed service. After that militarisation of the Rhineland."
The conspirators set out first to get rid of the political restraints which prevented rearmament. In October, 1933, Germany left the League of Nations, and in March, 1935, renounced the Armament Clauses of Versailles and informed the world of the establishment of an air force, of a large standing army, and of conscription. Already the Reich Defence Council had been set up and its Working Committee had had its second meeting as early as 26th April, 1933, with representatives from every department. It is difficult, is it not, to believe that reading the minutes of these meetings, as they must have done, Neurath, Frick, Schacht, Goering, Raeder, Keitel and Jodl, the last two being generally present, can have supposed that the regime did not intend war.

On the economic side Schacht, already President of the Reichsbank and Minister of Economics, was made General Plenipotentiary for War Economy in May, 1935 The appointment was to be a complete secret. His contribution is best expressed in his own words:

"It is possible that no bank of issue in peace time carried on, such a daring credit policy as the: Reichsbank since the seizure of power by National Socialism. With the aid of this credit policy, however, Germany created an

[Page 418]

armament second to none and this armament in turn made possible the results of our policy."
Schacht's speech on 29th November, 1938, is seen to be no boast when the report of his deputy, which has been put in evidence, is considered.

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