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

The Trial of German Major War Criminals

Two Hundred and Sixteenth Day: Saturday, 31th August, 1946
(Part 5 of 7)

[Page 397]

THE PRESIDENT: I call upon the defendant Erich Raeder.

DEFENDANT RAEDER: This Trial, now that the evidence has been concluded, has had a beneficial result for the German nation, but an unexpected one for the prosecution. Unimpeachable testimony has cleared the German people - and with them all the persons in the same situation as myself - of the most serious charge, the charge that they had known of the killing of millions of Jews and other people, even if they had not actually participated in it. The attempt of the prosecution, who through earlier interrogations had known the truth for a long time, and who nevertheless continued and repeated its accusations - with the raised finger of the preacher of morals - in the Trial Brief and during cross- examinations, this attempt to defame the entire people has collapsed.

The second result of this Trial, which is general and therefore of interest for me also, is the fact that on the basis of the evidence the German Navy's cleanness and decency in battle were fundamentally confirmed. The German Navy stands before this Court and before the world with a clean shield and an unstained flag.

With a clear conscience we can most emphatically refute Shawcross's attempts in his final speech to place the submarine warfare on the same level as atrocities, because according to the clear results of the evidence they are untenable. In particular, the charge that the German Navy "never had the intention to observe the laws of naval warfare," as Shawcross said, has been completely invalidated. It has likewise been proved that the naval command staff and its chief never showed "contempt for International Law" (Dubost's final speech), but on the contrary made an honest endeavour from the first to the very last moment to bring the conduct of modern naval warfare into harmony with the requirements of International Law and humanity - on the same basis as our opponents.

I regret that the prosecution tried again and again to defame the German Navy and myself, as was shown by the submission of its second, altered Trial Brief, which only differs from the first version in that the number and severity of insulting statements have been increased. This fact shows that the Prosecutors themselves felt that the factual accusations were too weak. But it is also my conviction that the British and American prosecution have rendered ill service to their own navies by morally depreciating and characterizing as inferior the opponent against whom the Allied naval forces waged a years-long, serious and honourable naval war. I am convinced that the admiralties of the Allied Powers understand me and that they know that they have not fought against a criminal.

The only way I can explain to myself this attitude adopted by the prosecution is by assuming that its representatives, as I necessarily perceived again and again, revealed only very little judgment regarding the principles of truly soldier-like conduct and military leadership and that, therefore, they hardly seem qualified to judge soldierly honour.

To sum up: I have done my duty as an officer because it was my conviction that this was the best way for me to serve the German people and fatherland, for which I have lived and for which I am prepared to die at any moment. If I have incurred guilt in any way, then this was chiefly in the sense that, in spite of my purely naval position, I should perhaps have been not only an officer, but also up to a certain point even a politician, which, however, was in contradiction to my entire career and the tradition of the German armed forces. This would have been a guilt, a moral guilt, towards the German people but could never at any time brand me as a war criminal. It would not have been guilt before a human criminal court, but rather guilt before God.

THE PRESIDENT: I call upon the defendant Baldur von Schirach.

[Page 398]

DEFENDANT VON SCHIRACH: On the 24th of May I made a statement here for which I answer before God and my conscience and which I fully stand by ever today at the end of the Trial, because it is in accordance with my honest, innermost conviction.

In his final speech the British Prosecutor made the following statement:

"Schirach corrupted millions of German children so that they became what they really are today, the blind instruments of that policy of murder and domination which these men have carried out."
If this charge were justified I would not say a word in my defence. However, it is not justified; it is untrue. Whoever in any way takes into consideration the results of the evidence in this Trial and honestly appraises it can never under any circumstances raise the accusation against me that I "had corrupted the youth ands poisoned their souls through my educational work." The principles and aims which I set for the youth and which were binding on the community which our youth built up with their own strength under my leadership were the following: Self-sacrificing love of fatherland, the overcoming of social snobbery and class hatred, planned health supervision, physical training by means of hiking, games and sports, promotion of professional education, and, particularly, comradely understanding with the youth of other countries. Ever since my own youth I have kept these principles and aims before my eyes as the ideals of a national German education. These principles and aims were not dictated to me by the Party or by the State, and if Hitler were present here this would be completely unimportant for my defence, because as German Youth Leader I do not appeal to his authority but to my own.

These educational principles, however, which were demonstrated a thousand times in all my speeches, writings and directives, and to which as Reich Lead I have always remained faithful, are, according to my firm conviction, the principles of every leader of youth who is conscious of his duty toward his people and its youth. The achievements of our youth and its moral attitude have proved me right and prove that it was never corrupt and that it was not corrupted by me, either. German youth was and is industrious and decent, honest and idealistic. In peace it contributed honourably toward its higher education, and in war it bravely did its duty towards our nation, and our German fatherland, to the utmost.

In this hour when I can speak for the last time to the Military Tribunal of the four victorious Powers I should like, with a clear conscience, to confirm the following on behalf of our German youth: that it is completely innocent of the abuses and degeneration of the Hitler regime which were established during this Trial, that it never wanted this war, and that neither in peace nor in war did it participate in any crimes. As the leader of German youth for many years, I know the development, the opinions and the conduct of our younger generation. Who could know it better than I? I always had my friends amongst this youth; in their midst I was always happy and at all times I have been proud of them.

I knew that in all the years when I was German Youth Leader, in spite of the fact that its membership counted millions, the youth, as a matter of principle and without exception, kept itself apart from any actions of which it would have to be ashamed today. It knew nothing of the innumerable atrocities which were committed by Germans, and just as it knew of no wrongs, it did not wish any wrong. It can and should not be overlooked that even during the greatest embitterment of the period following the war, nobody could consider indicting the organization of German youth and its leaders as criminal. Unselfish comradeship in a youth movement which showed the greatest love for the poorest children of the people, loyalty to the homeland, pleasure in sport and honest understanding with the youth of other nations, that was the aim of our youth and the content of its training from the first to the last day of my term as Reich Youth Leader. This youth has not deserved the hard fate which has come upon it.

[Page 399]

My personal fate is of secondary importance, but the youth is the hope of our nation. And if I may express a wish in this last moment, then it is this:

Will you, as judges, help to remove the distorted picture of German youth which the world still has today in many, places and which cannot stand up under historical investigation? Tell the world in your judgment that the libellous writings of a Gregor Ziemer, used by the prosecution, contain nothing but the evil slanders of a man who has transferred his hatred against everything German to the German youth also. Will you, as judges, also help so that the youth organizations of your nations will once more resume their co- operation with the German youth at the point where, through no fault of the younger generation, it was interrupted in 1939?

With a grateful heart our youth has listened to the words of Lord Beveridge who has advocated, with farsightedness and passion, that German youth be declared free of guilt. Joyfully it will grasp the hand which is stretched out to it across the ruins and debris.

Will you, gentlemen of the Tribunal, contribute through your judgment towards creating an atmosphere of mutual respect among the younger generation, an atmosphere which is free of hatred and revenge?

That is my last request, a heartfelt request on behalf of our German youth!

THE PRESIDENT: The Tribunal will adjourn.

(A recess was taken until 1400 hours.)

THE PRESIDENT: The Tribunal has today received a further application from Dr. Seidl for a further examination of the condition of the defendant Hess. As the Tribunal announced on the 20th of August, the Tribunal had received and considered the report of Captain G. M. Gilbert, dated the 17th of August, on the defendant Hess; and it then considered it was unnecessary to have any further report. The Tribunal remains of that opinion but will, of course, consider all the matters contained in Dr. Seidl's application, including the medical reports and the statement made by the defendant Hess today.

I now call upon the defendant -

DR. NELTE: Mr. President, we have been informed that the High Tribunal considers this time suitable for submitting evidence which has not yet been formally introduced. In the session of 22nd August, 1946 -

THE PRESIDENT: Very well, yes. The interrogatories which have come to hand, you mean?

DR. NELTE: Or affidavits which have been approved. In the session of 22nd August, I was given permission to submit two affidavits by the defendant Keitel and General Reinecke as soon as the translations were ready. In the meantime these translations have been made, and after discussing this matter, and with the agreement of the prosecution, which has raised no objections and which specifically expressed its approval through Sir David Maxwell Fyfe in the session of 22nd August, I shall submit two documents, K-26 and K-27, without reading them; and I ask the Tribunal to accept these two documents in evidence.

THE PRESIDENT: Yes, they will be considered.

DR. SERVATIUS (for the defendant Sauckel): Mr. President, I have one more document to submit which has been granted me for the Political Leaders. It is an affidavit by Sauckel, PL- 69. Then I also have an excerpt from the book entitled Party Statistics, which is involved in the estimate on the number of members, which I submitted to the Tribunal in a letter of 17th August. I have discussed this matter with the British prosecution, and I ask permission to submit this page from that book also.

[Page 400]

DR. KUBUSCHOK (for the defendant von Papen): In the case of von Papen, I have my answer to the interrogatories sent to the Dutch Ambassador Visser. It concerns Papen's efforts on behalf of peace in 1939, which the witness confirms. I should like to submit the answer as Exhibit No. 107.

THE PRESIDENT: Yes, Dr. Kubuschok.

DR. STEINBAUER (for the defendant Seyss-Inquart): Mr. President, a No. 115 I am submitting the sworn questions and answers which were admitted by the Tribunal, as well as the cross-examination of Dr. Alfred Bolle, the harbour construction engineer of Hamburg. I am submitting this in German and in a certified English translation, and with respect to the accusation that Seyss-Inquart was responsible for the catastrophic famine in September, 1944, I quote merely one sentence on Page 3 of the transcript:

"Practically speaking, therefore, as soon as the strike commenced, all inland shipping in Holland was taken over by the army and was thereby withdrawn from the influence of the administration and the Reich Trans Ministry."
Furthermore, under No. 116 I submit the affidavit of the defendant Seyss-Inquart which was granted me yesterday, and I should like to ask that the entire contents be accepted as evidence.

I have only one correction to make: Documents 3640-PS and 3645-PS, which we had not been able to submit to Seyss- Inquart, according to the affidavit, were immediately placed at my disposal in photostat form upon my return by the French Delegation in their usual considerate manner, and the French prosecution is ready to submit both of these documents in the original, as desired by the Tribunal.

DR. FLAESCHNER (counsel for the defendant Speer): Mr. President, the interrogatories which were granted me in the spring of this year I have eventually received three more answers, which I should like to submit now as Speer Exhibits 41, 48, and 49. These are the interrogatories of the witnesses von Poser, Melzacher, and Baumbach.

THE PRESIDENT: Then I call upon the defendant Sauckel.

DEFENDANT FRITZ SAUCKEL: Gentlemen of the Tribunal:

I have been shaken to the very depths of my soul by the atrocities revealed in this Trial. In all humility and reverence, bowing before the victims and the fallen of all nations and before the misfortune and suffering of my own people, I make the following statement.

I originate from a social level of a completely different nature from that of my comrades accused with me. In my nature and thinking I remained a sailor and a worker.

After the First World War, the course of my life was determined through my own experience of the sorrows and needs of the masses of my people who were struggling for their existence. Inner conflicts forced me into politics. I could be nothing else but a Socialist. But I could not embrace the Communist manifesto. I was never anti-religious or even irreligious, but quite the contrary. I fought a hard struggle with myself before I turned to politics.

And so I finally dedicated myself to Socialism to obtain justice for those whose only wealth is their labour and, at the same time, to the service of my nation. I in this saw the only possible connection between Socialistic thinking and a true love of country. This belief alone determined my life and my actions.

I saw here no contradiction to the laws of humanity. I recognized no arbitrary dictatorship or tyranny in the principle of leaders and loyal followers. My error was perhaps the excess of my feelings and my confidence, as well as my great veneration of Hitler. I knew him only as the champion of the German people's

[Page 401]

right to existence and saw him as the man who was kind to workers, women, and children and who promoted the vital interests of Germany.

The Hitler of this Trial I could not recognize. Perhaps my loneliness and submersion in the world of my imagination and my work was a further defect.

I seldom had social contact with the occupants of high positions in the Reich; the little spare time I had belonged to my family. I was and am happy that my wife is the daughter of a worker, who himself was and remained a Social Democrat.

In these, my last words, I solemnly assure you that I was completely surprised by all foreign political events and the beginning of all military actions. Under no circumstances would I have co-operated as a German worker - and for German workers - to help in, the mad plan of unleashing a war of aggression.

I only became a National Socialist because I condemned class struggle, expropriation and civil war, and firmly believed in Hitler's absolute desire for peace and an understanding with the rest of the world and in his work of reconstruction. Because I was a worker, I always did everything possible in my own field of activity to prevent excesses, arbitrary acts and brutality of any kind. I was sufficiently naive, against the opposition of Himmler and Goebbels, to put through my manifesto and many other decrees for the utilization of labour, which prescribed humane and correct treatment of foreign workers as compulsory for all offices. I never would have been able to bear the knowledge of these terrible secrets and crimes without protest; nor, with such knowledge, would I have been able to face my people or my ten innocent children.

I had no part in any conspiracy against peace or against humanity, nor did I tolerate murders or mistreatment. During the war itself I had to do my duty. I received the position of Plenipotentiary-General for the Utilization of Labour in 1942, at a time of a grave military crisis, and it came as a complete surprise to me. I was bound by the existing labour laws, the orders of the Fuehrer, and the decrees of the Ministerial Council for the Defence of the Reich. I do not know why it was just I who received this task. In my own Gau I had particularly gained the confidence of the workers, farmers and artisans, and even before 1933, that is, before Hitler assumed power, I had been elected by a large majority in free parliamentary elections as the Chief of the State Government there.

I believe that providence endowed me with a good talent for organization and practical work, as well as a capacity for enthusiasm. Perhaps that was the reason why I received my task. It was a heavy burden for me. The soil of Berlin was completely alien to me. Because I am a worker, I newer thought of making slaves of foreign human beings. My requirement that people be managed economically did not in any way mean their inhuman exploitation, but rather their economic, rational, and correct employment.

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