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

The Trial of German Major War Criminals

Sitting at Nuremberg, Germany
August 23, 1946

Two Hundred and Tenth Day: Friday, 23rd August, 1946
(Part 2 of 10)

[Page 45]


As to the testimony of the Gauleiter and Kreisleiter as a whole, it is to be remarked that only a few witnesses have been examined, and that only a few affidavits could be taken out of the mass of material available. However, it is no doubt established that in general the Political Leaders did not follow the criminal suggestion. In spite of the embitterment, despair, and misery at the destruction of many human lives, violation of the rules of warfare was prevented.

Affidavit 61 summarizes approximately 11,000 individual statements. These statements not only bear witness to a passive rejection of this dangerous method, but in many cases confirm that definite steps were taken to protect airmen against the excited population.

Finally, the Political Leadership Corps has been accused by the prosecution of having worked through the Foreign Organization of the NSDAP as a fifth column abroad. Evidence for this has neither been produced during the hearing before this Tribunal when the case of Hess was dealt with, nor during the hearing of evidence before the Commission. The Foreign Organization merely served in drawing together the Party members of German citizenship abroad and it was meant to maintain in them an understanding for Germanism. It was expressly prohibited for members of the Foreign Organization to make propaganda for the National Socialist ideology amongst the inhabitants of the foreign countries, or to co- operate with political groups abroad even if those represented National Socialist or Fascist ideas. For that reason, it was also forbidden for them to collaborate with the American-German union; this prohibition was also strictly observed. (Proof: examination of the witness von Roedern.)

On the strength of the experiences of Germans living abroad during the First World War, they were, as testified by witness von Roedern, against every policy of expansion They had no other goal but that of maintaining peace with every and for that reason it was out of the question that they could be used for

[Page 46]

fifth column purposes. Members of the Foreign Organization were prohibited from any collaboration with the German Secret Service by order of their Chief, Bohle. If individual members of the Foreign Organization infringed this order, then they did not do so on behalf of the Foreign Organization, but against its explicit instructions. This becomes apparent from the fact that the foreign States concerned, for instance England, never prohibited the Foreign Organization in spite of such instances; on the contrary, the legal character of the Foreign Organization was repeatedly and expressly recognized by foreign States. That the Foreign Organization never acted as a fifth column becomes finally apparent from the fact that it remained operative in neutral countries until the end, even at a time when no difficulties of a diplomatic nature could have arisen for these States if they had prohibited it.

I have commented on the individual points of the charges. The question now is: what overall picture results? It is to be examined whether the cases investigated were individual occurrences, or whether they were represented by a mutual bond, and thus indicate the criminal character of the Political Leaders.

The prosecution has pointed out that it has presented particularly extensive evidence. One must admit that, on the basis of the occupation of all of Germany, and the activity of the authorities, the last nook and cranny has been searched, and the evidence has been brought here, but for that very reason the material surprises one, on closer examination, because of its scantiness; it is shown that the scope of the prosecution's charge is not substantiated.

Not fragmentary evidence but only systematic evidence can bring conviction that occurrences which happened once at one place necessarily happened constantly everywhere else. The individual occurrences could be designated systematic if activated by a conspiracy which demonstrates their criminal character, but if it exactly the existence of such a conspiracy which should first be proved.

The documents of the prosecution are contradicted by the testimony of the defense witnesses.

The prosecution has questioned the credibility of the witnesses on the grounds that they are all witnesses on their own behalf.

They were reproached for having remained in office until the end.

If one were to follow this line of thought, the possibility of legal hearing of the members, guaranteed by the Charter, would be void of meaning. The witnesses are not appearing on their own behalf, but as witnesses with a general knowledge of occurrences and conditions which can only be clarified by the members of the organization themselves. Their credibility must be shown by the uniformity of many testimonies.

One cannot in general reject testimony when the express purpose of the proceedings is to eliminate evidence on those points in later proceedings. There every individual would be able to bring witnesses for the correctness of the testimony, but too late. If specific testimony is said to be untrustworthy, this must be proved in the individual case; that evidence cannot, however, be, given by a witness drawing conclusions which he cannot draw correctly due to his lack of insight and knowledge. Only a few witnesses were heard before the Commission and the Tribunal.

The testimony of individual witnesses has no compelling force to establish the criminal character of an organization. The witness can generally give little testimony about conditions as a whole which are under examination. Even if he has an extensive knowledge of things his testimony remains only fragmentary.

Only a comprehensive inquiry can bring clarification. The prosecution had a good opportunity for this in the camps. That all internees were examined is shown by the individual trials which were carried out as a result of this examination, but crime as a general phenomenon could not be established.

The defense for its part gathered together all available evidential material by means of a sort of Enquete. In the proceedings before the Tribunal Enquetes

[Page 47]

were admitted on principle in the form of governmental reports. To prove general occurrences they in fact do not seem superfluous.

The weaknesses of the Enquete are well known; their main danger lies in the choice of witnesses. In the present case, however, the circle of witnesses is limited to camp inmates. The affidavits of approximately 38,000 persons which were submitted are not a selection from the camps, but a digest.

The second difficulty of the Enquete is the impossibility for outsiders to check the statements, because of their extent. Under the prevailing circumstances, however, this very checking is assured; the circumstances of all witnesses from the camps are known and confirmed through investigations. The statements of the witnesses can be checked at any time. That such an examination is possible is shown by the establishment of Denazification Courts.

If one denies the evidential value of the testimony of witnesses and the affidavits in their totality, without having examined their actual value, this trial cannot lead to any real result.

If the testimony of witnesses is given even a little evidential value, then the uniform picture is destroyed on which the prosecution has based its plea.

Another question is whether, through the responsibility of all Political Leaders, based on their position or based on their knowledge and approval, a joint responsibility can arise.

The practical question is whether a Kreisleiter in the country is jointly affected through occurrences in an Ortsgruppe in the city, and whether someone who was a Political Leader in 1930 is affected by events which have occurred during the war. The question is whether a Blockleiter is affected by the circumstance that on the basis of secret instructions human beings were removed by mercy deaths.

It appears obvious that differences must be considered here.

First of all, a difference with regard to time.

The conspiracy which connects individual actions, according to the statement of the Prosecutor of the Soviet Union, cannot be proved with certainty before the year of 1933. According to Appendix A of the Indictment of the Organization, the Reich Government is held responsible for a conspiracy only after 1934. Only one of the documents used against the Political Leaders refers to the year 1933; it is 374-PS, and deals with a local Jewish boycott.

All other documents concern events after 1938. The majority of documents only deal with the period of the war.

When ascertaining the incriminating period, no individual case can be decisive, but only events which at the time when they took place bore a general character.

If the prosecution maintain their plea for the entire period of the existence of the Party, then I believe that this position is untenable.

It is furthermore impossible to follow the train of thought according to which the honorary Blockleiter is supposed to be equally responsible with a Reichsleiter or Gauleiter. A difference must be made according to the position held.

A Gauleiter has different possibilities for gaining insight, and his knowledge and experience is greater than that of a local group leader. The professional Political Leader must be judged differently to one who is acting in a honorary capacity.

Only if proof of a joint conspiracy is furnished could they be put on the same level, But that conspiracy in particular is yet to be established.

When examining the incriminating documents, the difference of this responsibility becomes evident. There are instructions given at the higher level of which merely the smallest circle had gained knowledge; there are instructions meant to be communicated generally to Political Leaders, which, however, did not pass through the entire channel of orders; there are instructions which, issued in a certain part of the Reich independently, did not become known in other Gaue. There are measures carried out by the highest Political Leaders which only became known to them because of special State positions and which therefore had no contact with the machinery of the Party.

[Page 48]

The difference in position has in fact been recognized by the prosecution in its indictment of the Political Leaders, and accordingly the members of the Ortsgruppen staffs and the auxiliaries of the Zellen- and Blockleiter have been omitted from the proceedings. It is in accordance with this principle that in addition the degree of responsibility on the part of the remaining groups must be examined.

That Zellen- and Blockleiter are still included in the proceedings, whereas members of the staffs of the Ortsgruppen who held a similar or even higher rank are not included, is due to the fact that in the organization manual they have been described as "functionaries" ("Hoheitstrager").

The significance of the organization manual is misunderstood by the prosecution. The book was a theoretical work which was described as such by the personal adviser of the Reich Organization Leader, Ley.

The designation "Hoheitstrager" was given to Zellen- and Blockleiter merely constructive reasons, because in that way they could be included in the territorial organization.

This interpretation has the result that a Blockleiter appears as an important functionary whereas a Reichsleiter lacks this same characteristic; on the other hand, the Blockleiter, as a Hoheitstrager, falls into the same category as the Fuehrer himself as a functionary of the Reich. I call your attention to Affidavit Hederich No. 27, Affidavit Schmidt No. 25, and Affidavit Foertsch No. 26. These are witnesses who were active in the organization as organizational leaders.

Accordingly, in the book of Oberreichsleiter Dr. Lingg, entitled Administration of the NSDAP, which appeared in 1940, Zellen- and Blockleiter are not listed as Hoheitstrager. The designation Hoheitstrager only goes down as far as the Ortsgruppenleiter.

In the same manner a decree of the Party Chancellery, dated 8th October, 1937, does not include the Zellen- and Blockleiter among the Hoheitstrager (Document 2-PL). There only four spheres of official jurisdiction are mentioned and they end with the Ortsgruppe.

In addition there is an announcement by Hitler dated 25th April, 1941, regarding authority to enter damaged property after an air raid. There again Zellen- and Blockleiter are not listed amongst the Hoheitstrager.

Equally, the periodical Der Hoheitstrager, submitted by the prosecution as Document 2660-PS, for the purpose of proving the special character of the Zellen- and Blockleiter shows that the periodical was only dispatched as far as to Ortsgruppenleiter.

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Servatius, are your pages in the German the same the English pages or not?

DR. SERVATIUS: I have not been able to check them; they ought to be the same. I am now on Page 54.

THE PRESIDENT: Yes. I want you to go back to Page 53 for a moment. I did not understand your argument at the bottom of Page 53. This is says in the English: "The designation 'Hoheitstrager' was given to Zellen- and Blockleiter for merely constructive reasons ...." I do not know what the word "constructive" means there; and it goes on: " ... because in way they could be included in the territorial organization. This construction led to it that a Block Leader appears as an important Hoheitstrager, whereas a Reich Leader lacks this same characteristic ...." What do you mean by "Reich Leader"? Is that the same as a "Reichsleiter"?

DR. SERVATIUS: Reichsleiter; it must be Reichsleiter.

THE PRESIDENT: Then on the next page, Page 54, you go on to say in the third paragraph: "In the same manner a decree of the Party Chancellery, dated 8th of October, 1937, does not include the Zellen- and Blockleiter among the

[Page 49]

Hoheitstrager (Document 2-PL). There only four spheres of official jurisdiction are mentioned and they end with the Ortsgruppe." Well, that is equivalent to saying, is it not, that the Reichsleiter are Hoheitstrager?

DR. SERVATIUS: No. On the Reich level there is only one Hoheitstrager and that is Adolf Hitler himself, as Fuehrer, whereas Reichsleiter are not Hoheitstrager since they themselves have no allotted territories. The Fuehrer, Hitler, requested that, and that is how it was constructed: the Reich; the Fuehrer and then come the Gauleiter, Kreisleiter and Ortsgruppenleiter, and there it ends. There is no Reich for Block- and Zellenleiter.

I continue with the last paragraph.

Further instructions of the Party Chancellery were issued on 7th December, 1943, in which the Block- and Zellenleiter were not counted among the Hoheitstrager (Document 24-PL). But not only as regards their position but also with regard to their activities, the Zellen- and Blockleiter were not persons to whom special privileges and authority were granted. Their activities have been described by witnesses examined before this Tribunal and consisted of practical assistance. These Political Leaders were active in the administration of the Party or during war to an ever- increasing degree, carrying on social work in order to alleviate distress after air attacks, to which was added practical assistance in resettlement and the prevention of damage during air raid alerts. Self-sacrificing and strenuous work was demanded of these people.

These Political Leaders did not occupy a particularly predominant position. Interesting in this connection is Document 9-PL, the appendix to the announcement by the Deputy of the Fuehrer, dated 12th July, 1940. It appears from this that unlike the actual Hoheitstrager, the political reliability of Zellen- and Blockleiter had still to be established if they applied for a marriage loan or any other type of assistance.

That such people could not be regarded as generally suitable for the duties of a spy is a certainty.

It also becomes clear that they had no tasks of political leadership; they were mostly ordinary people who lacked the time and the knowledge for such work. The fact that from certain more highly educated circles individual persons were appointed as Blockleiter, also shows that it was not their political ability which was to be used.

Particularly important in this connection is the Document 24- PL just mentioned, regarding "Hints for Leadership from the Party Chancellery." These "Hints for Leadership" are issued, as is stated in the document, "for the speedy political enlightenment of the Hoheitstrager (that is, the Gau-, Kreis- and Ortsgruppenleiter) and for assistance in their leadership work." In order to inform the junior leaders of the formations and affiliated organizations, the Hoheitstrager are, each in his own sphere (Gau, Kreis and Ortsgruppe), to acquaint the corresponding leaders of formations and affiliated organizations with these leadership hints.

Block- and Zellenleiter, therefore were neither the regular recipients of leadership instructions, nor were Ortsgruppenleiter allowed to acquaint them with these. This proves that Zellen- and Blockleiter were excepted from the political instruction which was meant to be achieved by these leadership hints, and that they had no, or very small tasks of a leadership nature, and that it was not considered essential to aid them by means of these leadership hints.

The fact also that, particularly during war time, Zellen- and Blockleiter were simply appointed to their offices, speaks against the political significance of their positions.

[ Previous | Index | Next ]

Home ·  Site Map ·  What's New? ·  Search Nizkor

© The Nizkor Project, 1991-2012

This site is intended for educational purposes to teach about the Holocaust and to combat hatred. Any statements or excerpts found on this site are for educational purposes only.

As part of these educational purposes, Nizkor may include on this website materials, such as excerpts from the writings of racists and antisemites. Far from approving these writings, Nizkor condemns them and provides them so that its readers can learn the nature and extent of hate and antisemitic discourse. Nizkor urges the readers of these pages to condemn racist and hate speech in all of its forms and manifestations.