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

The Trial of German Major War Criminals

Two Hundred and Fourteenth Day: Thursday, 29th August, 1946
(Part 2 of 14)

[Page 249]


(5) There is one further matter upon which I ought to say a word of explanation. It has been argued by the defence that a great number of the Amtsleiter on the staffs of the various Hoheitstrager ought not to be included in any declaration of criminality that you make against the Corps of Political Leaders. In the same way as the Blockleiter were said to be innocent, harmless messenger boys, so, too, it is said that these Amtsleiter were harmless and innocent expert advisers to their respective Gau-, Kreis- or Ortsgruppenleiter. They may have been expert advisers, but they were much more besides, and they certainly were neither innocent nor harmless. They were properly appointed political leaders - persons who were "completely politically reliable" and supporters of the Nazi Party. All of them, just as the Hoheitstrager themselves, took their annual oath of allegiance binding them in blind obedience to their Fuehrer. All of them, although naturally they received their instructions concerning their particular fields of activity from the State Department to which they belonged, nevertheless were subject to the orders of their Hoheitstrager upon all political matters of Party discipline. You may think that these men exercised as dangerous an influence as any other political leader, because between them they were in closest contact with all grades of society and all professions and trades. We have not documents directly implicating every class of these so- called non-political Political Leaders, but a great many are directly involved by the documents you have seen. I will not enumerate them now. I shall draw your attention to them as I discuss the evidence. It is the submission of the prosecution that from that evidence and from the general evidence of the conditions in Germany and of the influence of the Political Leaders, you are entitled and, indeed, compelled to draw the inference that if the purpose and activity of that organization was criminal, then every member of the staffs of the Gau-, Kreis- and Ortsgruppen ought to be included. Let it not be thought that because we have deliberately excluded those members of the Ortsgruppenleiter's staffs, we have done so on account of their innocence. That decision was taken for practical rather than any other reasons, and it may well be that that decision is wrong.

It has been suggested by the defence that there were officers in the various Party organizations such as the DAF, NSV, Students' and Women's organizations who were also known as Politische Leiter. Their numbers are given as 1,500,000. Let me once again make it clear that if such Political Leaders existed the prosecution do not seek a declaration of criminality against them. We include only Reichsleiter, Gauleiter, Kreisleiter, Ortsgruppenleiter, Zellenleiter and Blockleiter and the Amtsleiter or heads of offices on the staffs of the Reichsleitung, Gauleitung and Kreisleitung - those political leaders who, organized on a geographical basis, were responsible for the political control of the people and the execution and administration of Nazi policy. All others are excluded.

You have had a schedule showing the numbers that are thus involved. According to the Party Organization Book for 1943 they number 600,000. It is said by the defence that that figure allows for no replacements and that the total figure of all

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who have at any time held these positions is much greater. Upon that I make two points. First, the figures given in the Organization Book show the maximum establishment allowed for each Gau and Kreis. In practice not all these offices were filled - in urban districts there would be no Agricultural Amt: in Gaue where there were no universities there would be no Political Amtsleiter for university teachers. Secondly, the 1943 figure of 600,000 includes the Political Leaders of nine foreign Gaue - six Austrian, two Polish and one in the Sudetenland - none of which had existed before 1938, so that during the first five years of the Nazi regime the total possible number of Political Leaders must have been considerably less than 600,000. The extract submitted by the defence from the pamphlet Der Hoheitstrager illustrates the increase which took place in the Hoheitstrager alone between 1935 and 1939: the figure rose from 291,671 to 581,650. In view of these considerations it is submitted that, allowing for replacements, the total number of persons who at any time held those positions in the Corps of Political Leaders which we include for the purposes of a declaration of criminality, cannot have greatly exceeded the figure of 600,000 which we have submitted. And it was those men and women who constituted the very core of the National Socialism which led the 48,000,000 voters of Germany in the ways and to the end which we have seen.

Let us consider the evidence against them under its main headings. We will see not only how they themselves directly participated in crime, but also how they actively and knowingly assisted and co-operated with the other organizations in the execution of their common criminal purpose.

Bormann, writing to Gauleiter in June, 1941, stated:

"For the first time in German history the Fuehrer consciously and completely, has the leadership of the people in his own hand."
We see one of the ways in which the Leadership Corps assisted in putting the leadership of the people into the Fuehrer's own hand, from the evidence of the Political Leaders' activity during the voting in 1936 and 1938, and we see here the participation of all ranks of Political Leaders.

We have a complete file from the Kreis of Erfurt, Thuringia, in connection with the plebiscite of 1938. Stutzpunktleiter were to report beforehand all persons in their district whom they might assume with certainty would vote "no." The orders were issued by the SD jointly to the Stutzpunktleiter and to all heads of sections of the Security Service. The heads of sections were to support the Stutzpunktleiter locally as much as possible. It was said by the defence that the Stutzpunktleiter referred to in that file were Stutzpunktleiter of the SD and not of the Political Leadership. Even if you accept that explanation it makes no difference for it was expressly stated that the whole matter was to be "carried out with closest collaboration with the Ortsgruppenleiter of the Party." The Political Leaders could hardly have had any doubts as to what was in store for the people whom they reported when the orders contain the significant paragraph:

"The tremendous responsibility which the Stutzpunktleiter have, in particular with regard to this report, is stressed once more. The Stutzpunktleiter must clearly understand the potential consequences for the persons contained in their report."
The Tribunal will remember the reports that were rendered by the SD after the plebiscite had taken place, showing the means by which the voting papers of suspected persons were checked by the use of skimmed milk and colourless typewriters. You will remember also the methods employed to force doubtful supporters of the Party to vote:
"The wife of the Jew Bielschowski who was dragged along just before closing time and voted 'no,' as can be proved."

"The labourer Otto Wiegand had to be requested four times to record his vote on the day of the election and finally only voted under force."

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"The husband ... recorded his vote. To be sure this was probably exclusively for fear of renewed arrest."
And yet again in what must be, perhaps, one of the most dreadful documents in all this trial:
"The Jehovah's Witness Robert Siering and his wife deposited their votes after both had been advised of their duty to vote by the police in Griefstedt and had been threatened with the removal of their child in case of non-participation."
No one can pretend that these things were happening only in Erfurt. In the Gau Coblenz the Kreisgeschaftsfuehrer of Kochem, "where supervisory control was ordered in several Ortsgruppen," assured the SD that it was mostly women who voted "no" or invalidly.

In Rothenburg, the Party carried out demonstrations against the Bishop who had refused to vote, demonstrations which Mr. Justice Jackson so vividly described in his opening speech. (1.) Nor was it only in the 1938 plebiscite that the Political Leadership was active. It will be remembered that in Bremen, Kreisleiter, Ortsgruppenleiter and Stutzpunktleiter were concerned in reporting all civil servants who did not vote in the election which took place on 29th March, 1936.

Dr. Servatius brushes this evidence aside with a comment for which there is no scrap of evidence in support. He says:

"It is shown that the commanding agency of the Party in no way enters into action. These are merely individual measures of other agencies. No general practice or knowledge can be deduced from that."
It is unnecessary for me to say more.

The control and supervision of the German people was as much the task of the Political Leaders as of the SD and Gestapo. Of all the Political Leaders the Blockleiter were the most essential for this purpose. They kept their index cards of every householder, index cards which formed the basis of the "political judgment," which the Blockleiter, Zellenleiter and Ortsgruppenleiter, in co-operation with each other, were to pronounce. Again and again the defence both before the Commission and before the Tribunal have bridled at and denied the suggestion that Blockleiter were used as spies. But what else were they when their index cards were to be completed from information which they would "have sufficient opportunity to obtain by means of conversations with the Germans"? They too were urged to make certain of the accuracy of their reports.

There is other evidence to show this wretched role the Blockleiter played. In the Party Organization book the Blockleiter is directed that:

"It is his duty to find people disseminating damaging rumours and to report them to the Ortsgruppe so that they may be reported to the respective State authorities."
We see him spying again when we review the evidence of the part played by the Political Leaders in the persecution of the Churches. In co-operation with the Gestapo and SD the Political Leaders from the highest to the lowest took an active part in suppressing the influence of the Churches. How can we doubt that it was the generally accepted policy of all Political Leaders when, whatever Hitler may have said in the Party Programme about a "positive Christianity," Bormann was writing to Gauleiter in 1941 after his notorious denunciation of Christianity:
"National Socialist and Christian concepts are irreconcilable."
Gauleiter Kaufmann was at pains to explain that that directive had been withdrawn

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a week later. But there is no mention of such withdrawal in the letter from the SD concerning it, written six months later in December, 1941. And you may think that it is remarkably similar to the policy of the Fuehrer's deputy Hess, as it was explained to Rosenberg two months earlier in April, 1941:
"We are inducing schools more and more to reduce and abolish religious morning services. Similarly the confessional and general prayers in several parts of the Reich have already been replaced by National Socialist mottoes."
There is abundant other evidence of the policy being pursued by the higher ranks of the Political Leaders in regard to the Church, with which I need not , worry the Tribunal. Let me confine myself to the lowest ranks, the Ortsgruppenleiter, Blockleiter and Zellenleiter. You will remember the file of reports for February, 1939, of the Ortsgruppenleiter in Darmstadt on ecclesiastical questions:
"Blockleiter and Party member Kiel informs me that meetings of the confessional front are again taking place."
And another one in connection with a Pastor Strack:
"This gentleman should really be rapped on the knuckles seriously for once."
You will remember also the action taken by the Kreisleiter on those reports. The SD and the Gestapo were informed about the confessional front meetings reported by the Blockleiter. So also was the unfortunate Pastor Strack, the priest who was:
"sufficiently well known and ripe for the concentration camp or special court."
Can you doubt that it was also the Blockleiter and Zellenleiter in Thuringia who would have had to make the reports required on the way in which the results of the 1938 plebiscite were received by the people "particularly in small towns and villages"?

Who else but Blockleiter and Zellenleiter would be employed to find out what the Catholic and Protestant clergy were saying about the Anschluss during their services? Who else but they were in a position to report whether the church bells were rung in the evening after the Anschluss speech in Vienna?

Lastly upon this subject you have the evidence of demonstrations being organized to disrupt the service in Freising Church in 1935, in which the Kreisleiterin of the Nazi Party Women's Organization was taking a leading part.

It was only by acquiring complete control of the State and of the people that the Nazi Government was enabled to carry out its criminal aims. The Political Leaders were an essential element in the acquisition of this control. They first supported and executed the orders of a government which they knew from the first pursued policies which were wrong, by methods that were criminal. All knew of their avowed purpose to persecute the Jews. All knew of the Gestapo, the concentration camps and the Nazi practice of arrest and incarceration without trial. Yet they continued actively to support that Government and to tighten its stranglehold upon the German people. The whole of Dr. Servatius's argument as to the position of the Political Leaders after 1933 shows the grip in which Germany was held by the iron framework of the Party - a political "Iron Maiden" squeezing a people to their death.


When the persecution of the Jews was an openly recognized policy and practice of the Nazi Party, the fact that men voluntarily served their Party in an executive position is in itself sufficient to prove their participation in criminal activity. But we have concrete evidence of the direct participation in the persecution of the Jews by Political Leaders - and again, by Political Leaders of all ranks. Within less than a year of the Nazi Government coming to power there is evidence that the Corps of Political Leaders were inciting the people of Germany to persecute the Jews. It is hardly possible to imagine that in a civilized State in the year 1933 instructions should be issued to the Political Leaders under the title "Jew Baiting." Yet that was happening. Kreisleiter in Gau Coblenz were to check lists of Jewish firms and businesses in their district. Once again the importance of accuracy is emphasized. Committees were to be set up within the various Kreise, Ortsgruppen

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and Stutzpunkte which had "the task of directing and supervising the communities" in Jew baiting. They were to continue the policy which had been inaugurated by the Party with the boycott in April of that year:
"The Kreisleiter will point out in all gatherings of members or in all public gatherings that the Jew in all countries is again carrying on a low attack which is greatly harmful to Germany. It must be made clear to the masses that no German may buy from a Jew."
In view of this evidence; in view of Dr. Servatius's admission that there was no objection on the part of the Political Leaders to the Nuremberg Decrees, and that they welcomed measures which tended to restrict the influence of the Jews; in view of the part we know they played in the 1938 demonstrations, can there be any doubt that throughout those years they were actively participating in the continuous slander and persecution of the Jewish people? It would be strange indeed were it not so when we see Heydrich's order to the SD issued on the night of 9th-10th November, 1938:
"The Chiefs of the State Police or their deputies must get in telephonic contact with the Political Leaders (Gauleitung or Kreisleitung) who have jurisdiction over their districts, and must arrange a joint meeting with the appropriate inspector or commander of the Ordnungspolizei to discuss the organization of the demonstration. At these discussions the Political Leaders have to be informed that the German Police have received from the Reichsfuehrer SS the following instructions, in accordance with which the political leaders should adjust their own measures."
It is indeed curious that those instructions should have been issued, if all the Gauleiter had been so strongly opposed to such measures as Gauleiter Kaufmann, Streicher, Sauckel and Wahl say they were.

Whatever these witnesses you have heard may say of the attitude of the political leaders at those demonstrations, we know that 36 Jews were killed. Of those 36 killed, 4 were murdered either by Ortsgruppenleiter or Blockleiter. It was a Court composed of Gauleiter and other Political Leaders, who saw fit to suspend or pronounce only minor punishments in the cases of all the murders committed during those demonstrations by members of the Party, the SS, the SA, and of the Corps of Political Leaders. And for what reasons.

"In such cases as when Jews were killed without an order or contrary to orders, ignoble motives could not be determined. At heart the men were convinced that they had done a service to their Fuehrer and to the Party."
If those witnesses for the defence that you have heard here did not understand who was responsible for those demonstrations, it was perfectly clear to the members of the Supreme Party Court.

In France lists of Jews for "collective expatriation" - which meant, of course, deportation to the East - were made out in agreement with the Hoheitstrager. But knowledge of these deportations and of the treatment of Jews in the occupied territories was not confined to the Political Leaders in France. The August, 1944, edition of the information circular Die Lage contained exact particulars of what was happening in Hungary.

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