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 13 of 14)

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[MR DODD, Continued]

The oppression, persecution, discrimination and brutality at the hands of the Leadership Corps, the Reich Cabinet and the SA were only the beginnings of the dreadful fate that the Nazis prepared for the Jews. In this fashion, the way was paved for the sinister activities of the Gestapo when it came into play. Now these secret policemen moved in with their wraith-like methods. Trembling Jews were hauled from their beds in the middle of the night and dispatched without semblance of accusation to concentration camps, and often their family awoke to find them missing. Thousands of Jewish people so disappeared never to be seen or heard of again, and all over Europe today surviving family remnants with aching hearts are seeking clues or indications of the fate that befell them. Sad to relate, the only answer to most of the searching is to be found in the records of this Tribunal, in the captured documents of the SS, the SD and the Gestapo, and in the death books of the gas chambers, the mass graves and the crematoria.

By this time the Nazis were astride much of Central Europe. Wallowing in their early bloody successes and puffed up with premature confidence in their ability to dominate the Continent, they dropped all sham about the Jew in Germany and laid bare his ultimate doom. The Jew was to be wiped from the face of Europe - not by migration, not by mass movement, but by annihilation. It was Goering who ordered Heydrich, as chief of the Security Police and SD, to work out a "complete solution" of the Jewish problem in the areas occupied by the Reich. And it was Heydrich, as chief of the Security Police and SD and acting upon Goering's order, who instructed the Gestapo to murder all Jews who

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could not be used for slave labour. Gestapo men, under the leadership of Eichmann, went into the occupied territories and, with the assistance of local officers of the Security Police and SD, succeeded in herding virtually all of the Jews of Europe into concentration camps and annihilation centres. With unabated fury the Nazis plunged from Goering's "complete solution" to Himmler's "final solution." This was the last responsibility, and who but Himmler as head of the SS could fulfil this unholy mission. In his foul hands and those of his SS was placed the assignment for the complete destruction of the Jew. He warmed to his task. His SS men, having been tested and proved in the Warsaw ghetto and in the clearing of the Jews from Galicia, were ready for the refinements of the extermination plants. And with Hitler's order to Himmler, SS exterminator Hoess opened the largest murder mart in history.

Two thousand human beings at a time perished in his modern slaughter house. All over German-occupied Europe SS plants of the Hoess-Auschwitz design gassed living Jews with dispatch, and destroyed their remains in ovens streamlined for mass operation. Thus the SS made it possible for Himmler to declare in his speech at Posen:

"I also want to talk to you quite frankly on a very grave matter ... I mean the clearing out of the Jews, the extermination of the Jewish race . this is a page of glory in our history..."
At the close of the war in Europe, an incredulous world recoiled from the fact of this crime - a crime that can never be completely understood, completely explained, or properly requited. Slowly mankind moved to its sad and sober acceptance. But this was not the end, for the Nazis, through propaganda conduits, had piped their racial and religious poison into most of Europe and to a large part, of the world. To restore the moral health of Central Europe is not enough, seepage from Nazi sewers of slander has polluted many of man's Pierian springs and the virus of hate and bigotry and intolerance has fouled the waters. It will take, generations of mental and moral sanitation to stamp out this Nazi plague. Thus the crime lives after the criminals - these defendants and these organizations.

The transition from maltreatment of political opponents, of racial and religious groups, to the abuse and the killing of prisoners of war in violation of the rules of warfare, was not difficult for the members of the indicted organizations. These offences were the result of the aggressive war aims for which the Reich Cabinet had a direct responsibility. The history of mistreatment of honourable soldiers who had surrendered is too well known to this Tribunal to require detailed discussion here. Yet it is worth while to recall to mind that Reichleiter Goebbels and Bormann, speaking for the Leadership Corps of the Nazi Party, were those who instituted the policy of the lynching of allied airmen by the German populace. This savage policy was carried out by the Leadership Corps of the Nazi Party, while, at the same time, military units of the SS wantonly executed prisoners of war on every battlefield. To the Gestapo and the SD was given the first responsibility for carrying out the barbaric Hitler order of 18th October, 1942, and its' subsequent amendments calling for the summary execution of allied commandos and paratroopers. Nor should it be forgotten that throughout the war the Gestapo screened prisoner-of-war camps for Jews and those of the Communist political faith, who were then deliberately murdered. The Tribunal will recall the document concerning the screening of prisoner-of- war camps, introduced in the later stages of the Trial, which proved conclusively that local Gestapo offices at Munich, Regensburg, Furth and Nuremberg screened prisoner-of- war camps in Bavaria for classes of prisoners of war to be sent to Dachau for liquidation by SS guards, and that these Gestapo offices were criticized by the High Command for failure to screen as effectively as the High Command desired. This crime has been carefully avoided by counsel in pleading the case for the implicated organizations. It is one of the clearest cases of willful premeditated murder of prisoners of war in violation of established International Law. It is positive demonstration of the

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complete savagery of the responsible organizations with respect to the treatment of prisoners of war. The infamous Bullet Decree, under which the Gestapo sent recaptured officer prisoners of war to Mauthausen Concentration Camp for execution by SS guards, is additional proof of the criminal character of these organizations.

The Nazis always knew that the Christian Church was an insurmountable obstacle to their evil intentions, but, with characteristic cunning, they first moved against it under the disguise of necessary emergency legislation, which was enacted by the Reich Cabinet and which laid the groundwork for the later enabling legislation placing all manner of restrictions on usual Church activities. This was the first and the decisive step, and once it had been taken, the fate of the Christian Church was sealed; only time and the turn of events remained for its fulfillment. In the entire Reich Cabinet of that time, made up almost exclusively of men who pretended to wear the badge of Christianity, only one (Baron Eltz von Rubenach) stood up for the faith. So clear was the intention of the Cabinet decrees that he had no hesitancy in asserting that Nazism and Christianity could never be reconciled. But for one Eltz von Rubenach, there were many who were willing to play the Nazi game. For a mess of political pottage, they denied their faith and handed to the political leadership its first weapon for use against the clergy. From these first steps, much of the hitherto unexplained moral decadence of the times undoubtedly springs. From these beginnings came the speedily declining influence of the Church. The Nazis wanted it that way. In their political philosophy there was no place for both Caesar and God. Schirach and Rosenberg as Reichsleiter and members of the Leadership Corps, together with countless associates, hammered away at all spiritual forces - never by a frontal attack but always from the flank, while the hounds of the Leadership Corps carried out systematic slandering of the clergy and constant undermining of sacred religious practices. Soon the anti-clerical campaign was expanded to the confiscation of Church properties, and in the later years broke out into open suppression of religious education and even of simple spiritual activities. There can be no doubt as to the real attitude towards the Christian Church, for it clearly appears in the organized espionage system instituted against the clergy by the Gestapo and the SD. For this shabby task, members of these two organizations were carefully schooled in a deceitful course of conduct framed to establish a record, as a later basis, for the complete abolition of the Christian Church in Germany when the war was over. Lying, falsification and entrapment were fundamental methods for the building up of this fabricated evidence. The Gestapo, not content with breaking up Church organizations and prohibiting Church groups from social gatherings, or with its task of preparing false testimony, made wholesale arrests of clergymen, placed them in protective custody, and finally lodged them in concentration camps. From a programme of such basic evil, it was not to be expected that the SS would remain aloof. Although heavily occupied with wrong-doing all over Europe, it found time to confiscate Church properties and monasteries on its own responsibility, and had Catholic priests by the hundred cruelly murdered in the Dachau concentration camp.

So some Christians and numberless Jews were united in a community of suffering; and thus, in a strange arrangement of circumstances, the Nazis who tried to destroy both may have founded the beginnings of an understanding that can grow best because it has survived the worst.

The concentration camp was the master weapon in the Nazi arsenal of tyranny. To the SA belongs the disgrace of having first established and maintained such camps, to which it sent persons whom it had illegally arrested. Even SA meeting- places were used for the confinement of potential opponents, who were beaten and abused by SA men. SA members served as guards of the State concentration camps during the first months of the Nazi regime, and there applied the technique of brutality which they had acquired in operating their own illegal camps. Although

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the legal basis for protective custody was the extorted decree of the Reich President for the protection of the State in 1933, which suspended clauses of the Weimar Constitution guaranteeing civil liberties to the German people, the Reich Cabinet soon obliged with ready legislation which made more expeditious the internment of political enemies and other undesirables under the concentration camp system. So interested in the establishment of these camps were members of the Reich Cabinet that Frick, Rosenberg and Funk, while serving in that body, inspected them, and the Reich Cabinet budget set aside 125 million Reichsmark for the SS and for the management and maintenance of the concentration camps. In order to achieve domination of the German people, the concentration camp system was placed at the disposal of the Leadership Corps, and it made use of the camps as a dumping- ground for thousands of Jews who were apprehended under Leadership Corps auspices during the pogroms of November, 1938. As shown by the affidavit of the defence witness Karl Weiss, Gauleiter frequently put pressure upon the Gestapo to commit political enemies to concentration camps or to prevent their release in proper time.

The co-operating military men had a direct interest in the concentration camp system; Soviet prisoners of war were sent to concentration camps to be employed in the armament industries of the Reich, and officers of the OKW worked out with the Gestapo the plans for sending returned Soviet prisoners of war to the concentration camp Mauthausen, where they were put to death for honourable attempts to escape from their captors.

But the two organizations which were most directly concerned with and implicated in the concentration camp system were the Gestapo and the SS. In the early days the concentration camps were under the political direction of the Gestapo, which issued orders for punishment to be inflicted upon the inmates. The decree of 1936 declared that the Gestapo should administer the concentration camps, but it was the SS which furnished guards from the Death's Head Battalions, and ultimately became responsible for all internal administration of the camps. The Gestapo remained the sole authority in the Nazi State empowered to commit political prisoners to concentration camps, although the SD joined the Gestapo in committing Poles who did not qualify for Germanisation. The Gestapo sent thousands upon thousands of persons to concentration camps for slave labour and shipped millions of persons to annihilation centres for extermination.

The atrocities committed by the SS within the concentration camps are in themselves adequate to convict the SS as a criminal organization. The witness Hoess testified that toward the end of the war approximately 35,000 members of the Waffen SS were employed as guards in concentration camps.

In his never-to-be-forgotten confession in this courtroom he said that in Auschwitz alone, during the time he was commandant, the SS exterminated 2,500,000 men, women, and children by gassing and burning, and that another 500,000 died from starvation and disease, and among those killed were 20,000 Soviet prisoners of war. When the SS did not murder bedridden patients they drafted them for labour which they could perform in their beds. It ordered woman prisoners to be beaten by other prisoners, and, in its unrestrained savagery, killed, maimed, and tortured inmates of concentration camps by carrying out what were called medical experiments, but which were in fact sojourns in sadism.

The concentration camp system was the heart of the Nazi scheme for tyranny. Conditions in these camps were cruel, because the Nazis required the force of fear to perpetuate their hold over the common people. Behind every Nazi law and decree stood the spectre of concentration camp confinement. The agencies which created, maintained, directed and utilized these camps were the organizations named in the Indictment.

In addition to the crimes of waging aggressive war, persecution of the Jews, forced labour, persecution of the Churches, and concentration camps, which have been considered, the indicted organizations participated in many other crimes in

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aid of the conspiracy. The Leadership Corps was active in destroying the free trade union movement, and the SA took the initial direct action against the trade unionists. The art treasures of Europe were seized and despoiled by the Einsatzstab Rosenberg of the Leadership Corps in conjunction with the Gestapo and the SD.

The SS carried out the vicious Germanisation programme under which citizens of occupied territories were driven from their homes and lands to make way for racial Germans. The Gestapo and officers of the OKW conceived and carried out the hellish "Night and Fog" Decree, by which hapless civilians of occupied countries disappeared into the Reich, never to be heard of again. Thus, by a crime of which only the Nazis were capable, the awful anguish of relatives and friends was added to wanton murder.

In no respect can the criminal activities of these organizations be better illustrated than in the murderous work of the Einsatz Groups of the Security Police and the SD, which were first organized by the SS in September of 1938 in anticipation of the invasion of Czechoslovakia. With their leaders drawn from the SD and the Gestapo and staffed by members of the Waffen SS, they coordinated slaughter and pillage with military manoeuvres, and reports of their activities were forwarded to the Political Leaders through the Reich Defence Commissioners. Even the SA participated in these jackal anti-partisan expeditions in the East.

When the German armies broke into Czechoslovakia and Poland, into Denmark and Norway, the Einsatz bandits followed, for the purpose of striking down resistance, terrorizing the population, and exterminating racial groups. So well did these terror specialists do their work that four new units were set up before the attack on the Soviet Union, one of them headed by the infamous Chief of the SD Ohlendorf, who testified in this courtroom to the incredible brutality of his accomplishments, and to the shocking details of the operations carried out in co-ordination with branches of the Army. His testimony will be remembered for its cold account of callous murder, enslavement and plunder, and most of all for the horrible programme of destroying men, women, and children of the Jewish race. Mankind will not soon forget his sickening story of the murder of women and little children in gas vans, nor of the evil, hardened killers whose stomachs turned at the awful sight when they unlatched the doors of the death cars at gravesides. These were the men who sat at the edge of anti-tank ditches, cigarette in mouth, calmly shooting their naked victims in the back of the neck with their machine guns. These were the men who, according to their own corpse accountants, murdered some two million men, women and children. These were the men of the SD. The organization chart of the Security Police and the SD now before the Tribunal was prepared and certified to by SD official Schellenberg, the Chief of Office VI of the RSHA, and by SD official Ohlendorf, Chief of Office III of the RSHA. This chart shows that these Einsatz Groups were an integral part of the Security Police and SD under the supreme command of the defendant Kaltenbrunner and not, as has been argued, independent organizations responsible directly to Himmler. The officers of these groups were drawn from the Gestapo and the SD, and, to a lesser extent, from the Criminal Police. They received their orders from the various offices of the RSHA, that is, from Office III or VI as to matters pertaining to the SD and from Office IV as to matters pertaining to the Gestapo. They filed their reports with these offices and these offices made up consolidated reports which were distributed to higher police officials and Reich Defence Commissioners, and several examples of these have been introduced in the course of these proceedings.

Counsel for the Gestapo argued that the Gestapo was erroneously blamed for the crimes committed in the occupied territories and that the SS was responsible for them. Counsel for the SS said that the SS was erroneously blamed and that the SD was to blame. Counsel for the SD said that the SD was erroneously blamed and the Gestapo was really to blame. Counsel for the SS said that the

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Gestapo also wore the feared black uniform and that therefore Gestapo men were frequently mistaken for SS men. Counsel for the SS blamed the Gestapo for the running of the concentration camps, and counsel for the Gestapo blamed the SS. The fact is that all of these executive agencies participated in the commission of these vast Crimes Against Humanity. Counsel do not point to any agencies other than those indicted here as the guilty organizations; the defence of each organization has been simply to fasten the responsibility on one of the other indicted organizations. The conclusion is irresistible: that all of the organizations participated in the commission of these great crimes.

It is a strange feature of this Trial that counsel for the respective organizations have not sought to deny these crimes, but only to shift responsibility for their commission. The military defendants blame the Political Leaders for initiating wars of aggression; the Gestapo blames the soldiers for the murder of escaped prisoners of war; the SA blames the Gestapo for concentration camp murders; the Gestapo blames the Leadership Corps for anti- Jewish pogroms; the SS blames the Cabinet for the concentration camp system; and the Cabinet blames the SS for exterminations in the East.

The fact is that all of these organizations united in carrying out the criminal programme of Nazi Germany. As they complemented each other it is unnecessary to define as a matter of precise proof the borders of their own devilry. When the Reich Cabinet promulgated the decree for "securing the unity of the Party and State," it insolubly bound those organizations for good and evil. When the membership of those organizations swore an unconscionable oath of obedience to Hitler, they united themselves for all time with him, his work, and his guilt.

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