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

The Trial of German Major War Criminals

Sitting at Nuremberg, Germany
9th August to 21st August 1946

Two Hundred and Eighth Day: Wednesday, 21st August, 1946
(Part 1 of 8)

[Page 312]

THE PRESIDENT: One moment, Dr. Pelckmann, perhaps you can help me.

In view of a letter which has been addressed to the Tribunal signed by most of counsel for the organizations but not, I think, by Dr. Servatius, dated a 5th August, 1946, the Tribunal would be glad to know from a counsel for the organizations how long they anticipate those who remain to present their documents and affidavits think they will take in doing so, and in what order they propose to make their speeches; also whether they are ready or will be ready when the time comes to make these speeches, because the Tribunal is very anxious not to have to postpone the presentation of these speeches.

Therefore, the Tribunal thinks it is proper at this time to ascertain, as far as possible, whether the speeches will be ready in due time.

I see that Dr. Kubuschok is not here. Dr. Pelckmann is here and perhaps he can tell us as far as he is concerned and Dr. Servatius.

DR. PELCKMANN: Perhaps I will need two more hours today. I believe my colleague, Dr. Laternser, will need one day for his speech, as he has already said. How long the SA will take I do not know. As to how long we shall take with the pleas, I can only repeat what was said in the letter because we were, of course, very busy with the taking of testimony, the interrogation of witnesses, and with the presentation of documents and affidavits until just a few days ago. But I believe that on Monday we could all begin with our pleas. As far as I know, my colleague Dr. Servatius - I do not know whether he is here - is ready to begin his plea now.

We announced in the letter that We could hand in our pleas at the and of the week as desired; if we count three days for the translation and mimeographing, possibly one or the other of us could hand in the manuscript on Friday, and we could begin on Monday or Dr. Servatius might even begin at the end of the week. I, personally, if I may say so, would not be ready before Monday.

THE PRESIDENT: You will be ready by Monday?

DR. PELCKMANN: Not before Monday.

THE PRESIDENT: I think I ought to point out to counsel for the organizations that the letter was addressed to the Tribunal on 15th August, which is six days ago, so that they have had six days since then in which to get their speeches ready. I have also pointed out to each of the counsel for the organizations that it is quite unnecessary, and it is wasting the time of the Tribunal, to take so much time in commenting upon their affidavits and other documents; and the time would have been very much better spent in preparing their speeches. But I gather from what you say - and perhaps Dr. Servatius will be able to tell the Tribunal whether he agrees with it, and Dr. Laternser, too - that counsel for the organizations will in all probability be ready to go on with their speeches on Monday and not request any delay after that. Dr. Servatius, I understand, is ready to go on at once.

DR. PELCKMANN: Your Lordship, perhaps I may say one more thing. That the documents and affidavits are being commented on at somewhat greater length than seems necessary to the Tribunal is due - if I recall correctly - to the following

[Page 313]

specification of the Tribunal. When the time of the speeches was set at three hours, it was said at the same time that counsel would have an opportunity to make comments during their presentation of affidavits and the documents, so that they would have the full time of three hours for their speeches, etc., at their disposal. We concluded from that that we would have an opportunity to comment on the evidence now, during the presentation of documents and affidavits.

THE PRESIDENT: Yes, but counsel for the organizations must realize that all these affidavits are summarised in writing before us; and therefore simply to repeat the summary which we have in writing, of course, does not really help us at all.

You have mentioned in the absence of Dr. Laternser, who I see is now present, that Dr. Laternser, you think, would be likely to take one day on these documents.

DR. PELCKMANN: Yes, he told me last night that he would probably need a day.

THE PRESIDENT: Let me hear what he is going to say. Dr. Laternser, in your absence, what I was saying was that the Tribunal had had this letter of 15th August, which was written six days ago, and that the Tribunal would like to know how long counsel for the organizations anticipate they will take over their documents, and whether they would be ready to go on with their speeches immediately thereafter. In answer to that, Dr. Pelckmann told me that he would take two more hours and that he heard from you that you would be likely to take one day.

I think the Tribunal would be very disinclined, very much disinclined, to listen for one whole day upon the documents.

DR. LATERNSER: Mr. President, I believe that I will certainly need a day. Please consider the following: The American prosecution used two days to present their evidence. The Russian prosecution used many days for their evidence against the General Staff. Now, having faced considerable difficulties in procuring evidence within the framework assigned to me, I do not believe I am asking for too much when I say I need a day, which is a fraction of the time which the prosecution used to present the evidence against the General Staff.

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Laternser, you are altogether leaving out consideration of the fact that we have set up these Commissions and the fact that you have been before these Commissions not only for one day but for many days.

DR. LATERNSER: Mr. President, I presented the affidavits to the Commission, but this was more a matter of form. The purpose of my presentation of evidence is to bring a certain order to it so that the Tribunal may see to what points of the Indictment the individual affidavits are to apply.

MR. DODD: Mr. President, I would like to point out to the Tribunal that Dr Laternser spent between nine and ten days before the Commission on the General Staff; and, of course, he called witnesses here in the courtroom as well, two, I believe, or three - I have forgotten the number.

DR. LATERNSER: Mr. President, that was not quite correct. I used several days to examine witnesses but not to present documents; and I must be in a position to present this written evidence to the Tribunal in a certain order. Otherwise it cannot be effective.

THE PRESIDENT: You say you must be in a position to present it in a certain order. Well, nobody wishes you to present the affidavits in the order in which they are numbered on the document; but you can group them, presumably, unless they all deal with different subjects. I rather gather that you have a very great number of affidavits; and I feel quite certain that a great many of them deal with the same topic; and, therefore, in a very short time-probably in the course of an hour - anybody could go through that list of affidavits and could see which affidavits relate to the same subject and could, therefore, group them. It is perfectly simple; and the Tribunal will not under any circumstances be prepared to

[Page 314]

have their time taken up four longer than half a day in the presentation of documents by your organization or by any other organization.

DR. LATERNSER: Mr. President, may I say something else on this point?

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Laternser.

DR. LATERNSER: I ask the Tribunal to consider that the Russian prosecution used several days to bring the most serious charges against the military leadership; and I ask that I may have approximately the same opportunity to answer these charges -

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Laternser, Mr. Dodd has just pointed out that you have been before the Commission for nine or ten days; and you have already spent two days here. We have the very able and laborious work which has been performed by these Commissioners all before us in writing. I have before me at this moment a document. I do not know whether it is in consecutive numbers - or nearly consecutive numbers - but any rate it goes up to the number of 3,172 affidavits which have been summarised. If not consecutive numbers it is at any rate a bundle this thick of affidavits, which have been summarised in writing by these Commissioners.

You, counsel for the organizations, have had the opportunity of reading the report which has been made by the principal Commissioner on these affidavits and have, as I understand, not commented adversely upon any remark in that report. All these matters are before the Tribunal; and in my opinion the Tribunal have granted to the organizations the fullest possible and most adequate opportunity of being heard before the Tribunal; and the Tribunal think that they have heard enough on this subject; and they adhere to the decision which I have announced.

All right, Dr. Pelckmann.

DR. PELCKMANN: High Tribunal, I shall now give a short presentation of the last group of individual affidavits.

First, I present Affidavit number 108.

MR. DODD: Mr. President, I am sorry to interrupt, but we are a little bit confused. Sir David and I both feel that there may be some misunderstanding about the position of Dr. Pelckmann. We are rather of the opinion, from listening to him, that he means that he will be ready only to submit his speech for translation on Monday, and we wondered if the Tribunal did not understand him to say that he would be ready to make his speech on Monday, and thus avoid a delay of three days.

THE PRESIDENT: Certainly, the way I understood you, Dr. Pelckmann, was that you would be prepared to make your speech on Monday; not that it would necessarily come on Monday because, of course, Dr. Servatius's speech will come before yours. Presumably, unless you make other arrangements amongst yourselves, the speeches will be made in the order in which the documents and the witnesses have been presented. Doubtless you can make arrangements among yourselves - which the Tribunal will be only too glad to assent to - if one is ready and the other is not, but they will expect that there will be no delay.

DR. PELCKMANN: I believe, your Lordship, that that will be all right. As stated in the letter, we will present the manuscripts for translation and mimeographing by the end of the week. If, for example, I hand them in on Friday afternoon, I believe I can speak on Monday afternoon or Tuesday morning.

THE PRESIDENT: Wait a minute. That is all very well, but the Translating Division are human, and I do not see any reason why they should work on Sundays. I may be wrong, but I think I remember that you have assistants who are helping you and who, presumably, have been helping you ever since the 15th August, on which day this document was presented. As I have pointed out already, that is

[Page 315]

six days ago. Some parts of the speech ought to be ready now and ought to be in the hands of the Translating Division.

I see by the list, that has just been handed to me, that you have four assistants or that Dr. Babel has four assistants and four secretaries, and that you have one associate counsel and a secretary. I do not understand why the speech, or some parts of it, should not have been handed to the Translating Division already, and the same with the other counsel appearing on behalf of the organizations.

DR. PELCKMANN: But we are still in the presentation of evidence, Mr. President. So far it has not been possible for me to prepare a complete plea before the end of the presentation of evidence even after all my practical experience. But may I make a suggestion, Mr. President? I can hand in the manuscript of my plea for the Translating Section on Friday afternoon, and I can probably hand in a considerable part of it before that time.

THE PRESIDENT: All I am prepared to say is this, that I will not, on behalf of the Tribunal, order the Translating Division to work any more than the officer in command of that Division thinks proper; and the Tribunal expects that the speeches will go on without any delay. Is that clear?

DR. PELCKMANN: I was just dealing with SS Affidavit 108. From this it can be seen that the SS had nothing to do with the drive for the seizure of manpower.

Affidavits 102 and 103 prove that the so-called "Voluntary Self-Protection," abbreviated FS - which the prosecution considers a Fifth Column - had no connection with the SS and was never armed in Slovakia and the Sudetenland.

Affidavits 106 and 111 deal with the nature of the organisational book of the NSDAP and with that of the NS Year-Book. The prosecution quotes from these books to prove official opinions of the Party. These affidavits, however, state that the organisational book and the NS Year-Book were not official publications and that they are therefore no proof for organisational questions.

SS Affidavit 109 deals with the charge of the prosecution that SS men were protected by the regime when they committed crimes. It proves that when SS members committed punishable actions, before the establishment of the SS Courts in 1939, the SS officers saw to it that no difficulties were put in the way of the regular course of justice when such actions were brought to their attention.

Finally, there is a last group, Affidavits 90, 30, 91, and 92.

Affidavit 30 is available only in the French translation. It is an answer to the assertion of the prosecution that the whole SS organization and its members knew that the SS was a criminal organization.

The affidavits state, to mention an example, that there were particularly good relations between the foreign Diplomatic Corps and the SS, so that the SS members could not assume that this organization was criminal.

Now I wish to deal briefly with the affidavits which I mentioned at the beginning, and of which no digest is available.

THE PRESIDENT: What did you mean by saying that there was a group, which I took down as being 90, 31 or 30, or possibly both of them, and 92? By the document which is before me, Affidavits numbers 90, 91, and 92 have been withdrawn. Is that a mistake?

DR. PELCKMANN: I had made application in the Commission to have them admitted, and the prosecution did not want to have them admitted. As far as I can recall, no decision was reached by the Commission and it was postponed. But I heard two days ago that Colonel Neave, who was presiding in the Commission at that time, said that they had definitely not been admitted. That is new to me. If this should be the case, then I would ask for a decision of the Tribunal whether these affidavits can be admitted. This decision need not be given at once.

[Page 316]

THE PRESIDENT: You just cited them as a group. Have they got any relation to number 30? Number 30, you say, refers to the relationship between the SS and the foreign Diplomatic Corps. Do 90 and 92 refer to that?

DR. PELCKMANN: Yes, 30 was approved and is available in the French translation. The English translation -

THE PRESIDENT: We can take it then, and we will consider the application. We can take it that 90 and 92 deal with the same subject, is that right?


THE PRESIDENT: That is quite sufficient. I do not want any more.

DR. PELCKMANN: Now I shall deal again with Affidavits 68, 64, and 69. I must refute the assertion of the prosecution that ill-treatment, individual killings, and mass exterminations in the concentration camps can be charged against the SS as a whole because, as the prosecution asserts, they were known to most of the SS men. The very important and elucidating records of the trials of the Allied Military Courts against members of the concentration camp Kommandanturen, and against guards - for example, the trials at Belsen, Mauthausen, Dachau, Neuengamme, Celle, and Rasstadt - I was not able to obtain. A systematic examination of the witnesses and a part of the affidavits from the camps made it possible for me to ascertain facts sufficient to refute the assertion of the prosecution.

On 29th January, the President said that witnesses and evidence from the defense were especially wanted on the point concerning concentration camps. The President said on the same day, in answer to the question of the French Prosecutor Dubost, whether the Tribunal was convinced that the same terrible conditions prevailed in all camps which two witnesses had testified to: "If you want prove that, M. Dubost, it is necessary to call a witness from each of the hundreds of camps." I refer to the transcript. And, therefore, for purposes of defence, I have a number of affidavits from guards, members of the Kommandanturen and inmates of camps, and also from visitors to the concentration camps. I have submitted them as contra- evidence. Now, I refer only to an affidavit which see very important to me, number 68.

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