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-Eighthth Day: Saturday, 27th July, 1946
(Part 4 of 8)


[Page 449]

Such were the plans for the Soviet Union, for Poland and for Czechoslovakia. Genocide was not restricted to extermination of the Jewish people or of the gipsies. It was applied in different forms to Yugoslavia, to the non-German inhabitants of Alsace-Lorraine, to the people of the Low Countries and of Norway. The

[Page 450]

technique varied from nation to nation, from people to people. The long-term aim was the same in all cases.

The methods followed a similar pattern: first a deliberate programme of murder, of outright annihilation. This was the method applied to the Polish intelligentsia, to gipsies and to Jews. The killing of millions, even by the gas chambers and mass shootings, was no easy matter. The defendants and their confederates also used methods of protracted annihilation, the favourite being to work their victims to death, hence Himmler's bond with the Minister of Justice in September, 1942, under which anti-social elements were handed over to the SS "to be worked to death". On the 14th of the same month Goebbels was recommending this method in terms:

"With regard to the destruction of social life Dr. Goebbels has the opinion that the following groups should be exterminated: Jews and gipsies unconditionally, Poles who have to serve three or four years of penal servitude, and Czechs and Germans who are sentenced to death or penal servitude for life or to security custody for life. The idea of exterminating them by labour is the best."
Another favourite technique of extermination was by starvation. Rosenberg, the great architect of this policy of national murder, told his collaborators in June, 1941:
"The object of feeding the German people stands this year without a doubt at the top of the list of Germany's claims on the East, and there the southern territories and the Northern Caucasus will have to serve as a balance for the feeding of the German people. We see absolutely no reason for any obligation on our part to feed also the Russian people with the products of that surplus territory. We know that this is a harsh necessity bare of any feelings. A very extensive evacuation will be necessary without any doubt, and it is sure that the future will hold very hard years in store for the Russians."
The method applied in Alsace was deportation. A captured report reads:
"The first expulsion action was carried out in Alsace in the period from July to December, 1940: in the course of it, 105,000 persons were either; expelled or prevented from returning. They were in the main Jews, gipsies and other foreign racial elements, criminals, anti-social and incurably insane persons, and in addition Frenchmen, and Francophiles. The patois-speaking population was combed out by these series of deportations in the same way as the other Alsatians.
The report goes on to state that new deportations are being prepared and after reciting the categories affected, sums up the measures being taken:
"The problem of race will be given first consideration and this in such a manner that persons of racial value will be deported to Germany proper, and racially inferior persons to France."
The Nazis also used various biological devices, as they have been called, to achieve genocide. They deliberately decreased the birth-rate in the occupied countries by sterilisation, castration and abortion, by separating husband from wife and men from women and obstructing marriage. I quote:
"We are obliged to depopulate," said Hitler to Rauschning, "as part of our mission of preserving the German population. We shall have to develop a technique of depopulation. If you ask me what I mean by depopulation, I mean the removal of entire racial units. And that is what I intend to carry out - that, roughly, is my task. Nature is cruel: therefore, we, too, must be cruel. If I can send the flower of the German nation into the hell of war without the smallest pity for the spilling of precious German blood, then surely I have the right to remove millions of an inferior race that breeds like vermin."
You have seen Neurath's use of this biological device in his plan for Czechoslovakia. Listen to Bormann's directives for the Eastern Territory summarised by one of Rosenberg's subordinates. I quote:

[Page 451]

"The Slavs are to work for us. In so far as we don't need them, they may die. Therefore, compulsory vaccination and German Health Services are superfluous. The fertility of the Slavs is undesirable. They may use contraceptives or practise abortion; the more the better. Education is dangerous. It is enough if they can count up to a hundred. At best an education which produces useful stooges for us is admissible."
Himmler speaks with the same voice:
"We must be honest, decent, loyal and comradely to members of our own blood, to nobody else. What happens to a Russian, a Czech, does not interest me in the slightest. What the nations can offer in the way of good blood of our type we will take. If necessary by kidnapping their children and raising them here with us. Whether nations live in prosperity or starve to death interests me only in so far as we need them as slaves for our Kultur; otherwise it is of no interest to me."
The converse to methods designed to decrease the birth-rate in occupied territories was the artificial increase in the birth-rate of Germans. In February, 1941, the defendant Seyss-Inquart organized a system of giving away Dutch girls to German soldiers. In violation of Article 43 of the Hague Convention, he ordered changes in the law of the Netherlands so that he could assume parental and guardianship rights over girls, substituting himself for their parents if the parents refused their daughters permission to marry German soldiers.

This policy of Seyss-Inquart's was later confirmed by the supreme authorities of the German Reich, Hitler, Keitel and Lammers, on 28th July, 1942. A decree was issued granting subsidies and employment privileges for Dutch and Norwegian women bearing children to members of the German armed forces. And they have the impudence to talk now about the holiness of the individual. This was simply a plan to transfer, as if it were some mercantile commodity, the biological resources of Holland and Norway to the use of the German people. Himmler was one of the advocates of stealing children: as he said on the 14th October, 1943:

"Obviously in such a mixture of peoples there will always be some racially good types. Therefore I think that it is our duty to take their children with us, to remove them from their environment, if necessary by robbing, or stealing them. Either we win over any good blood that we can use for ourselves and give it a place in our people or we destroy this blood."
In the case of Russia, Keitel, who had learned the phrase "Shrewdness and severity" as the maxim for the exploitation of Poland, paved the way by his orders of the 13th May and 23rd July, 1941. I quote from the latter, drafted on his own admission by Jodl:
"In view of the vast size of the occupied areas in the East the forces available for establishing security in these areas will be sufficient only if all resistance is punished not by legal prosecution of the guilty but by the spreading of such terror by the armed forces as is appropriate to eradicate every inclination to resist among the population. Commanders must find the means of keeping order - not by demanding more security forces but by applying suitable draconic methods."
The immediate needs of the war machine no doubt saved the western territories from similar destruction but the Tribunal have ample evidence of the plunder of France, the Low Countries and the other territories which these men exploited to the utmost possible extent. In view of the nature of their murderous policy, it is not surprising that the men charged by the defendants to carry it out were brutes. In Rosenberg's domain, for instance, there was Koch, who was recommended by Rosenberg for the post of Commissar in Moscow because of the very fact of his "absolute ruthlessness". It was Koch who caused the slaughter of several hundred innocent human beings in the Zuman wood area so that he

[Page 452]

could have a private hunting reserve. Another of Rosenberg's agents was Kube, who wrote:
"We have liquidated in the last ten weeks about 55,000 Jews in White Ruthenia. In the territory Minskland, Jewry, has been eliminated without endangering the manpower demands; in the pre-eminently Polish territory Lida 16,000 Jews, in Klin 8,000 Jews and so forth have been liquidated."
As to Poland, the orders given to Frank were as follows:
"Ruthless expansion - reduction of entire Polish economy to absolute minimum necessary for bare existence. The Poles shall be the slaves of the greater German World Empire."
And we know how he carried it out. In January, 1940, he records:
"Cheap labour must be removed from the Government General by hundreds of thousands. This will hamper the native biological propagation."
In May he speaks of:
"Taking advantage of the focusing of world interest on the Western Front by wholesale liquidations of thousands of the Poles, first the leading representatives of the Polish intelligentsia."
And in December:
"Poles must feel they have only one duty; to work and to behave. We must carry out all measures ruthlessly; rely on me -"
We who try to understand the problems of Eastern Europe must try to understand this: The details of the martyrdom of Poland simply cannot be described: A third of the people murdered; millions left impoverished, sick, maimed and helpless; liberation was just in time to save this ancient people from the terrible fulfilment of the programme which these men had plotted.

Would this be a convenient moment to -


(A recess was taken.)

There is one group to which the method of annihilation was applied on a scale so immense that it is my duty to refer separately to the evidence. I mean the extermination of the Jews. If there were no other crime against these men, this one alone, in which all of them were implicated, would suffice. History holds no parallel to these horrors.

As soon as the prospect of a Second World War became a certainty, Streicher, who had preached this infamous doctrine as far back as 1925, began in earnest to advocate annihilation. As he, on his own admission, had been instrumental in effecting the Nuremberg Decrees by years of propaganda in favour of racial laws, so now, in January, 1939, anticipating the war which was to come, he began, in articles published in Der Sturmer with "the full support of the highest Reich authority", to demand with all vehemence the physical extinction of the Jewish race. Unless words have completely lost their meaning, what do these words mean but murder:

"They must be exterminated root and branch."

"Then will the criminal race be for ever eradicated."

"Then will they slay the Jews in masses."

"Prepare a grave from which there can be no resurrection."

Almost immediately after the war had started the organized extermination of the Jewish race began: Hoess has told you:
"The final solution of the Jewish question means the complete extermination of all Jews in Europe. I was ordered to establish extermination facilities in Auschwitz in June, 1941. At that time there were already in the General Government three other extermination camps, Belzec, Treblinka and Wolzek."

[Page 453]

Already the Jews in Germany and Poland had been concentrated in the ghettoes of the Government General. Over dinner in the Fuehrer's apartment in October, 1940, Frank had explained and I quote:
"The activities in the Government General could be termed very successful. The Jews in Warsaw and other cities were now locked up in ghettoes, Cracow very shortly would be cleared of them. Reichsleiter von Schirach remarked that he still had more than 50,000 Jews in Vienna whom Dr. Frank would have to take over from him."
When the order actually came, therefore, the preparatory measures, so far as they affected Poland and Germany, had already been taken. Of the destruction of the ghettoes and the slaughter of their populations General Stroop's report on the Warsaw action is eloquent evidence. But the fate of the Jews in Warsaw was only typical of the fate of the Jews in every other ghetto in Poland.

When they were not slaughtered in the ghettoes themselves they were transported to the gas chambers. Hoess, Commandant of Auschwitz, described the procedure:

"I visited Treblinka to find out how they carried out their exterminations. The Camp Commandant at Treblinka told me that he had liquidated 80,000 in the course of one half-year. He was primarily concerned with the liquidation of the Jews from the Warsaw ghetto."
Hoess describes the improvements that he made at Auschwitz. He introduced the new gas, Cyclone B, which:
"Took from three to fifteen minutes to kill the people in the death chamber, dependent upon climatic conditions. We knew when the people were dead because their screaming stopped .... Another improvement we made over Treblinka was that we built our gas chambers to accommodate 2,000 people at a time, whereas at Treblinka their ten gas chambers only accommodated 200 people each."
And he describes the selection of the victims from the daily transports that arrived:
"Those who were fit for work were sent into the camp. Others were sent immediately to the extermination plant. Children of tender years were invariably exterminated since, by reason of their youth, they were unable to work. Still another improvement we made over Treblinka was that at Treblinka the victims almost always knew they were to be exterminated, and at Auschwitz we endeavoured to fool the victims into thinking that they were going through a delousing process. Of course, frequently they realised our true intentions. Very frequently the women would hide their children under their clothes but of course when we found them we would send the children in to be exterminated. We were required to carry out these exterminations in great secrecy, but of course the foul and nauseating stench from the continuous burning of bodies permeated the entire area and all the people living in the surrounding communities knew that exterminations were going on at Auschwitz."
So also must they have known in the districts surrounding Belzec, Treblinka, Wolzek, Mauthausen, Sachsenhausen, Flossenburg, Neuengamme, Gusen, Natzweiler, Lublin, Buchenwald and Dachau.

I do not repeat these things in order to make the blood run cold. It is right that a few of these typical matters should be extracted from the great mass of the evidence which is accumulated here so that one may see this thing in its true perspective and appreciate the cumulative effect of what has been proved.

Whilst the German armies surged into Russia and the Baltic States, the Einsatz Commandos followed in their wake. Their dreadful work had been planned and prepared in advance. In the file describing the operations of the Task Force A there is a map of the Baltic countries showing the number of Jews that were living in each State who were to be hounded out and killed. Another map shows the

[Page 454]

results achieved after those two or three months' work - a total of 135,567 Jews destroyed. In another report on their operations during October, 1941, it is proudly stated that they continued "on the march with the advancing troops into the sectors which have been assigned to them".

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