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

The Trial of German Major War Criminals

Sitting at Nuremberg, Germany
December 3 to December 14, 1945

Twelfth Day: Tuesday, 4th December, 1945
(Part 8 of 8)

[Page 84]

Germany kept up the pretence of friendliness and, on the 10th January, 1941, well after the Plan Barbarossa for the invasion of Russia had been decided upon, Germany signed the Russo-German Frontier Treaty. Less than a month later, on the 3rd February, 1941, Hitler held a conference, attended by the defendants Keitel and Jodl, at which it was provided that the whole operation against Russia was to be camouflaged as if it were part of the preparation for the plan "Seeloewe," as the plan for the invasion of England was described.

By March Of 1941 plans were sufficiently advanced to include provision for dividing the Russian territory into nine separate States to be administered under Reich Commissars, under the general control of the defendant Rosenberg; and at the same time detailed plans for the economic exploitation of the country were made under the supervision of the defendant Goering, to whom the responsibility in this matter - and it is a serious one - had been delegated by Hitler.

You will hear something of the details of these plans. I remind you of one document which has already been referred to in this connection.

It is significant that on the 2nd May, 1941, a conference of State Secretaries took place in regard to the Plan Barbarossa, and in the course of that it was noted:

"1. The war can only be continued if all Armed Forces are fed out of Russia in the third year of the war.

2. There is no doubt that, as a result, many millions of people will be starved to death if we take out of the country the things necessary for us."

But that apparently caused no concern. The plan Oldenberg, as the scheme for economic organisation was called, went on. By the 1st May, 1941, the D-day of the operation had been fixed. By the 1st June preparations were virtually complete and an elaborate timetable was issued. It was estimated, that although there would be heavy frontier battles, lasting perhaps four weeks, after that no, serious opposition was to be expected.

On the 22nd June, at 3.30 in the morning, the German armies marched again. As Hitler said in his proclamation to them:

"I have decided to give the fate of the German people and of the Reich and of Europe again into the hands of our soldiers."
The usual false pretexts were, of course, given. Ribbentrop stated, on the 28th June, that the step was taken because of the threatening of the German frontiers by the Red Army. It was a lie, and the defendant Ribbentrop knew it was a lie.

On the 7th June, 11941, Ribbentrop's own ambassador in Moscow was reporting to him, and I quote, that "All observations show that Stalin and Molotov, who are alone responsible for Russian foreign policy, are doing everything to avoid a conflict with Germany." The staff records which

[Page 85]

you will see make it clear that the Russians were making no military preparations and that they were continuing their deliveries under the trade Agreement to the very last day. The truth is, of course, that the elimination of Russia as a political opponent, and the incorporation of the Soviet territory in the German Lebensraum had been one of the cardinal features of Nazi policy for a very long time, subordinated latterly for what the defendant Jodl called diplomatic reasons.

And so, on the 22nd June, the Nazi armies were flung against the Power with which Hitler had so recently sworn friendship, and Germany embarked upon that last act of aggression in Europe, which, after long and bitter fighting, was eventually to result in Germany's own collapse.

That, then, is the case against these defendants, as amongst the rulers of Germany, under Count 2 of this Indictment.

It may be said that many of the documents which have been referred to were in Hitler's name, and that the orders were Hitler's orders, and that these men were mere instruments of Hitler's will. But they were the instruments without which Hitler's will could not be carried out; and they were more than that. These men were no mere willing tools, although they would be guilty enough if that had been their role. They are the men whose support had built Hitler up into the position of power he occupied; they are the men whose initiative and planning often conceived and certainly made possible the acts of aggression done in Hitler's name; and they are the men who enabled Hitler to build up the Army, the Navy, the Air Force, the war economy, the political philosophy, by which these treacherous attacks were carried out, and by which he was able to lead his fanatical followers into peaceful countries to murder, to loot and to destroy. They are the men whose co-operation and support made the Nazi Government of Germany possible.

The government of a totalitarian country may be carried on without representatives of the people, but it cannot be carried on without any assistance at all. It is no use having a leader unless there are also people willing and ready to serve their personal greed and ambition by helping and following him. The dictator who is set up in control of the destinies of his country does not depend upon himself alone either in acquiring power or in maintaining it. He depends upon the support and backing which lesser men, themselves lusting to share in dictatorial power, anxious to bask in the adulation of their leader, are prepared to give.

In the criminal courts of our countries, when men are put upon their trial for breaches of the municipal laws, it not infrequently happens that of a gang indicted together in the dock, one has the master mind, the leading personality. But it is no excuse for the common thief to say, "I stole because I was told to steal," for the murderer to plead, "I killed because I was asked to kill." And these men are in no different position, for all that it was nations they sought to rob, and whole peoples which they tried to kill. "The warrant of no man excuseth the doing of an illegal act." Political loyalty, military obedience, are excellent things, but they neither require nor do they justify the commission of patently wicked acts. There comes a point where a man must refuse to answer to his leader if he is also to answer to his conscience. Even the common soldier, serving in the ranks of his army, is not called upon to obey illegal orders. But these men were no common soldiers: they were the men whose skill and cunning, whose labour and activity, made it

[Page 86]

possible for the German Reich to tear up existing treaties, to enter into new ones and to flout them, to reduce international negotiations and diplomacy to a hollow mockery, to destroy all respect for and effect in International Law and, finally, to march against the peoples of the world to secure that domination in which, as arrogant members of their self-styled master race, they professed their belief.

If these crimes were in one sense the crimes of Nazi Germany, they also are guilty as the individuals who aided, abetted, counselled, procured and made possible the commission of what was done.

The total sum of the crime these men have committed - so awful in its comprehension - has many aspects. Their lust and sadism, their deliberate slaughter and degradation of so many millions of their fellow creatures that the imagination reels, are but one side of this matter. Now that an end has been put to this nightmare, and we come to consider how the future is to be lived, perhaps their guilt as murderers and robbers is of less importance and of less effect to future generations of mankind than their crime of fraud - the fraud by which they placed themselves in a position to do their murder and their robbery. That is the other aspect of their guilt. The story of their "diplomacy", founded upon cunning, hypocrisy and bad faith, is a story less gruesome but no less evil and deliberate. And should it be taken as a precedent of behaviour in the conduct of international relations, its consequences to mankind will no less certainly lead to the end of civilised society. Without trust and confidence between nations, without the faith that what is said is meant and what is undertaken will be observed, all hope of peace and security is dead. The Governments of the United Kingdom and the British Commonwealth, of the United States of America, of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and of France, backed by and on behalf of every other peace-loving nation of the world, have therefore joined to bring the inventors and perpetrators of this Nazi conception of international relations before the bar of this Tribunal. They do so, that these defendants may be punished for their crimes. They do so also, that their conduct may be exposed in all its naked wickedness, and they do so in the hope that the conscience and good sense of all the world will see the consequences of such conduct and the end to which inevitably it must always lead. Let us once again restore sanity and with it also the sanctity of our obligations towards each other.

THE PRESIDENT: Mr. Attorney, would it be convenient to the prosecutors from Great Britain to continue?

SIR HARTLEY SHAWCROSS: The proposal was that my friend, Mr. Sidney Alderman, should continue with the presentation of the case with regard to the final acts of aggression against Czechoslovakia and that, that being done, my British colleagues would continue. As the Tribunal will appreciate, Counts One and Two are in many respects complementary, and

[Page 87]

the United States and ourselves are working in closest co- operation in presenting the evidence affecting those counts.

THE PRESIDENT: Mr. Alderman, would it be convenient for you to go on until five o'clock?

MR. ALDERMAN: Yes. May it please the Tribunal, it is quite convenient for me to proceed. I can but feel that it will be quite an anti-climax after the address to which you have just listened.

When the Tribunal rose yesterday afternoon, I had just completed an outline of the plans laid by the Nazi conspirators in the weeks immediately following the Munich Agreement. These plans called for what the German officials called "the liquidation of the remainder of Czechoslovakia". You will recall that three weeks after Munich, on 21st October, the same day on which the administration of the Sudetenland was handed over to the civilian authorities, Hitler and Keitel had issued an order to the Armed Forces. This Document is C-136, Exhibit USA 104.

In this order, Hitler and Keitel ordered the beginning of preparations by the Armed Forces for the conquest of the remainder of Czechoslovakia. You will also recall that two months later, on 17th December, the defendant Keitel issued an appendix to the original order directing the continuation of these preparations. This Document is C-138, Exhibit USA 105, and both these documents have already been introduced.

Proceeding on the assumption that no resistance worth mentioning was to be expected, this order emphasised that the attack on Czechoslovakia was to be well camouflaged so that it would not appear to be a warlike action, "To the outside world" it said - and I quote - "it must appear obvious that it is merely an action of pacification and not a warlike undertaking."

Thus, in the beginning of 1939, the basic plan for military action against the mutilated Czechoslovak Republic had already been carried out by the German High Command.

I turn now to the underhand and criminal method used by the Nazi conspirators to ensure that no resistance worth mentioning would, in fact, be met by the German Army. As in the case of Austria and the Sudetenland, the Nazi conspirators did not intend to rely on the Wehrmacht alone to accomplish their calculated objective of liquidating Czechoslovakia. With the German minority separated from Czechoslovakia, they could no longer use the cry, "Home to the Reich." One sizeable minority, the Slovaks, still remained within the Czechoslovak State.

I should mention at this point that the Czechoslovak Government had made every effort to conciliate Slovak extremists in the months after the cession of the Sudetenland. Autonomy had been granted to Slovakia, with an autonomous Cabinet and Parliament at Bratislava. Nevertheless, despite these concessions, it was in Slovakia that the Nazi conspirators found fertile ground for their tactics. The picture which I shall now draw of Nazi operations in Slovakia is based on the Czechoslovakian official Government Report, Document 998-PS, already admitted in evidence as Exhibit USA 91, of which the Court has already taken judicial notice.

Nazi propaganda and research groups had long been interested in maintaining close connection with the Slovak Autonomist Opposition. When Bela Tuka, who later became Prime Minister of the puppet State of Slovakia, was tried for espionage and treason in 1929, the evidence established that

[Page 88]

he had already established connections with Nazi groups within Germany. Prior to 1938 Nazi aides were in close contact with the Slovak traitors living in exile and were attempting to establish more profitable contacts in the semi- fascist Catholic Peoples Party of Monsignor Andrew Hlinka. In February and July, 1938, the leaders of the Henlein Movement conferred with top men of Father Hlinka's party and agreed to furnish one another with mutual assistance in pressing their respective claims to autonomy. This understanding proved useful in the September agitation when at the proper moment the Foreign Office in Berlin wired the Henlein leader, Kundt, in Prague, to tell the Slovaks to start their demands for autonomy.

This telegram, our Document 2858-PS, Exhibit USA 97, has already been introduced in evidence and read.

By this time - mid-summer, 1938 - the Nazis were in direct contact with figures in the Slovak Autonomist Movement and had paid agents among the higher staff of Father Hlinka's party. These agents undertook to render impossible any understanding between the Slovak Autonomists and the Slovak parties in the Government of Prague.

Hans Karmasin, later to become Volksgruppenfuehrer, had been appointed Nazi leader in Slovakia and professed to be serving the cause of Slovak autonomy, while actually on the Nazi pay-roll. On 22nd November, the Nazis indiscreetly wired Karmasin to collect his money at the German Legation in Prague, and I offer in evidence Document 2859-PS as Exhibit USA 107, captured from the German Foreign Office files. I read this telegram which was sent from the German Legation at Prague to Pressburg:

"Delegate Kundt asks to notify State Secretary Karmasin he would appreciate it if he could personally draw the sum which is being kept for him at the treasury of the Embassy. /signed/ Hencke."
Karmasin proved to be extremely useful for the Nazi cause. Although it is out of its chronological place in my discussion, I should like now to offer in evidence Document 2794-PS, a captured memorandum of the German Foreign Office which I offer as Exhibit USA 108, dated Berlin, 29th November, 1939.

This document, dated eight months after the conquest of Czechoslovakia, throws a revealing light both on Karmasin and on the German Foreign Office, and I now read from this memorandum:

"On the question of payments to Karmasin.

Karmasin receives 30,000 marks from the V.D.A. (Peoples League for Germans Abroad) until 1st April, 1940; from then on 15,000 marks monthly.

Furthermore, the Central Office for Racial Germans (Volksdeutsche Mittelstelle) had deposited 300,000 marks for Karmasin with the German mission in Bratislava (Pressburg) on which he could fall back in an emergency.

Furthermore, Karmasin has received money from Reichsminister Seyss-Inquart; for the present it has been impossible to determine what amounts have been involved, and whether the payments still continue.

Therefore, it appears that Karmasin has been provided with sufficient money; thus one could await whether he would put up new demands himself.

Herewith presented to the Reich Foreign Minister. /signed/ Wormann."

[Page 89]

This document shows the complicity of the German Foreign Office in the subsidisation of illegal organisations abroad. More important, it shows that the Germans still considered it necessary to supply their under-cover representatives in Pressburg with substantial funds, even after the declaration of the so-called Independent State of Slovakia.

Sometime in the winter of 1938-1939, the defendant Goering conferred with Durcansky and Mach, two leaders in the Slovak extremist groups, who were accompanied by Karmasin. The Slovaks told Goering of their desire for what they called independence, with strong political, economic and military ties to Germany. They promised that the Jewish problem would be solved as it had been solved in Germany; that the Communist Party would be prohibited. The notes of the meeting report that Goering considered that the Slovak efforts towards independence were to be supported, but as the document will show, his motives were scarcely altruistic.

I now offer Document 2801-PS as Exhibit USA 109, undated minutes of a conversation between Goering and Durcansky. This document was captured among the files of the German Foreign Office.

I now read these minutes, which are jotted down in somewhat telegraphic style:

"To begin with Durcansky (Deputy Prime Minister) reads out declaration. Contents: 'Friendship for the Fuehrer; gratitude, that through the Fuehrer, autonomy has become possible for the Slovaks'. The Slovaks never want to belong to Hungary. The Slovaks want full independence with strongest political, economic and military ties to Germany. Bratislava to be the capital. The execution of the plan only possible if the army and police are Slovak.

An independent Slovakia to be proclaimed at the meeting of the first Slovak Diet. In the case of a plebiscite the majority would favour a separation from Prague. Jews will vote for Hungary. The area of the plebiscite to be up to the March, where a large Slovak population lives.

The Jewish problem will be solved similarly to that in Germany. The Communist Party to be prohibited.

The Germans in Slovakia do not want to belong to Hungary but wish to stay in Slovakia.

The German influence with the Slovak Government considerable; the appointment of a German Minister (member of the Cabinet) has been promised.

At present negotiations with Hungary are being conducted by the Slovaks. The Czechs are more yielding towards the Hungarians than the Slovaks.

The Fieldmarshal" - that is Fieldmarshal Goering - "considers that the Slovak negotiations towards independence are to be supported in a suitable manner. Czechoslovakia without Slovakia is still more at our mercy.

Air bases in Slovakia are of great importance for the German Air Force for use against the East."

On 12th February a Slovak Delegation journeyed to Berlin. It consisted of Tuka, one of the Slovaks with whom the Germans had been in contact, and Karmasin, the paid representative of the Nazi conspirators in Slovakia. They conferred with Hitler and the defendant Ribbentrop in the Reich Chancellery in Berlin on Sunday, 12th February, 1939.

[Page 90]

I now offer in evidence Document 2790-PS as Exhibit USA 110, the captured German Foreign Office minutes of that meeting.


"After a brief welcome Tuka thanks the Fuehrer for granting this meeting. He addresses the Fuehrer with 'My Fuehrer' and he voices the opinion that he, though only a modest man himself, might well claim to speak for the Slovak Nation. The Czech courts and prison give him the right to make such a statement. He states that the Fuehrer has not only opened the Slovak question but that he has been also the first one to acknowledge the dignity of the Slovak Nation. The Slovakian people will gladly fight under the leadership of the Fuehrer for the maintenance of European civilisation. Obviously future association with the Czechs has become an impossibility for the Slovaks from a moral as well as an economic point of view."
Then, skipping to the last sentence:
"'I entrust the fate of my people to your care,'" addressing that to the Fuehrer.
During the meeting the Nazi conspirators apparently were successful in planting the idea of insurrection with the Slovak Delegation. I refer to the final sentence of the document, which I have just read, the sentence spoken by Tuka: "I entrust the fate of my people to your care."

It is apparent from these documents in mid-February, 1939, that the Nazis had a well disciplined group of Slovaks at their service, many of them drawn from the ranks of Father Hlinka's party. Flattered by the personal attention of such men as Hitler and the defendant Ribbentrop, and subsidised by German representatives, these Slovaks proved willing tools in the hands of the Nazi conspirators.

In addition to Slovaks, the conspirators made use of the Germans still remaining within the mutilated Czechoslovak Republic. Kundt, Henlein's deputy who had been appointed leader of this German minority, created as many artificial "focal points of German culture" as possible. Germans from the districts handed over to Germany were ordered from Berlin to continue their studies at the German University in Prague and to make it a centre of aggressive Nazism. With the assistance of German civil servants, a deliberate campaign of Nazi infiltration into Czech public and private institutions was carried out, and the Henlein Movement gave full co-operation to Gestapo agents from the Reich who appeared on Czech soil. The Nazi political activity was designed to undermine and to weaken Czech resistance to the commands from Germany.

In the face of continued threats and duress on both diplomatic and propaganda levels, the Czech Government was unable to take adequate measures against these trespassers upon its sovereignty.

I am using as the basis of my remarks the Czechoslovak official Government Report, Document 998-PS.

In early March, with the date for the final march into Czechoslovakia already close at hand, Fifth Column activity moved into its final phase. In Bohemia and Moravia the F.S., Henlein's equivalent of the S.S., were in touch with the Nazi conspirators in the Reich and laid the groundwork of the events of 14th and 15th March.

[Page 91]

I now offer in evidence Document 2826-PS as Exhibit USA 111. This is an article by S.S. Group Leader Karl Hermann Frank, published in Bohmen und Mahren, the official periodical of the Reich Protector of Bohemia and Moravia, edition May, 1941, Page 179.

This is an article written by one of the Nazi leaders in Czechoslovakia at the moment of Germany's greatest military successes. It is a boastful article and reveals with a frankness rarely found in the Nazi Press both the functions which the F.S. and the S.S. served, and the pride the Nazi conspirators took in the activities of these organisations. It is a long quotation.

THE PRESIDENT: Are you going on with this tomorrow, Mr. Alderman?


THE PRESIDENT: Will you take the whole day?

MR. ALDERMAN: No, not more than an hour and a half.

THE PRESIDENT: And after that the British prosecutors will go on?


(The Tribunal adjourned to 1000 hours on 5th December, 1945.)

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