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

The Trial of German Major War Criminals

Sitting at Nuremberg, Germany
27th February to 11th March, 1946

Seventy-Third Day: Monday, 4th March, 1946
(Part 4 of 7)

[Page 140]

THE PRESIDENT: But the books are not books of any legal authority. You can only cite, surely, to a Court of International Law, books that are authorities on international law. You can, of course, collect ideas from other books which you can incorporate in your argument. You cannot cite them as authorities.

DR. THOMA: Gentlemen, by submitting quotations from the works of well-known philosophers who presented ideas similar to Rosenberg's I propose to prove that this ideology is to be taken quite seriously. In the second place I want to prove that those features of Rosenberg's ideology which have been branded as immoral and harmful are extravagances and abuses of this ideology, and in my opinion it is most important for the Tribunal to know from a consideration of the history of philosophy, that even the best ideas - such as the French Revolution - can degenerate. I should like to point out the historical parallels to National Socialism and to Rosenberg's ideology.

I also need these books to prove that Rosenberg was concerned only with the spiritual combating of alien ideologies and that he was not in a position to protest any more energetically against the brutal application of his ideology in National Socialism but that as a matter of principle he allowed scientific discussions of his works to proceed freely and never called in the Gestapo against his theological opponents.

He assumed that his ethnic ideas were not to be carried through by force, but that every people should preserve its own racial character and that intermingling was only permissible in the case of kindred races. He believed that this ideology was for the good of the German people and in the interest of humanity generally.

For these reasons I believe that the Tribunal, in order to have a vivid picture of the background of the development of National Socialism, should inform itself of the spiritual conditions of that time.

[Page 141]

THE PRESIDENT: The Tribunal will consider the argument you have addressed to it.

SIR DAVID MAXWELL FYFE: With regard to the document No. 7, that is, excerpts from certain books, the first five are from Rosenberg's own works, and the last is a book by another author on Hitler.

Again I submit that if Dr. Thoma wants to support the thesis contained in the first half of his note - that "the defendant Rosenberg does not see individual and race, individual and community at contrast but represents the new romantical conception that the personality finds its perfection and its inner freedom by having the community of the racial spirit developed and represented within itself" - if Dr. Thoma will give any of the extracts from Rosenberg's works on which he bases that argument, then he can present them at whatever part of his case is convenient, and similarly, with regard to the specific points set out in the second part of his note, there again, if he will give the relevant extracts, they can be considered and their relevancy for the purpose of this Tribunal dealt with when he introduces them in his presentation. But again I take general objection to the fact that either the Tribunal or the prosecution should read all these works and treat them as evidence. I developed that in the case of the previous documents.

DR. THOMA: Gentlemen, if I quote Rosenberg's actual words and ask the Tribunal to take official notice of them, I shall be in the fortunate position of being able to show that Rosenberg's philosophy and ideology differ basically from the extravagances and abuses which were attributed to him and to which he took exception.

I am in a position to show that it is clear from his works that Rosenberg intended the leadership principle to be restricted by a special council exercising an authoritative, advisory function. I shall also be able to show that the Myth of the Twentieth Century was a purely personal work of Rosenberg's which Hitler did not by any means accept without reserve. More especially, I am in a position to prove that Rosenberg, as his works will show, would have nothing to do with the physical destruction of the Jews and that, as far as his writings show, he took no part in the psychological preparations for war and that, as far as his writings show, he worked for a peaceful international settlement, especially between the four great European powers of the period. Therefore I beg the Tribunal to allow me to submit the real, genuine quotations from his writings as material evidence.

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Thoma, the Tribunal will consider the whole question of the production of and the citation from these books.

SIR DAVID MAXWELL FYFE: No. 8, my Lord, falls into a rather different field. The first eleven documents seem to be books and writings containing Jewish views of an anti-national character. The prosecution reminds the Tribunal that the questions at issue are: Did the defendants as co- conspirators embark on a policy of persecution of the Jews: secondly, did the defendants participate in the later manifestations of that policy, the deliberate extermination of the Jews? Within the submission of the prosecution, it is remote and irrelevant to these important and terrible accusations that certain Jewish writings, spread over a period of years, contained matters which were not very palatable to Christians.

DR. THOMA: Gentlemen, I should like to reply to this point as follows: I am not interested in showing that the Nazi measures against the Jews were justified, I am interested only in making clear the psychological reasons for anti-Semitism in Germany; and I think I am justified in asking you to listen to some quotations of this kind taken from newspapers, since they must by their very nature offend the patriotic and Christian susceptibilities of very many people.

I must go rather more deeply into this question, too, in order to show the reason for the existence of the so-called Jewish problem in history and religion and the reason for the tragic opposition between Jewry and other races. I should like to quote both Jewish and theological literature on the point.

[Page 142]

THE PRESIDENT: The Tribunal will consider the question.

SIR DAVID MAXWELL FYFE: My Lord, I think the Tribunal can take the remaining documents, 9 to 14, together. They seem to deal with specific and, if I may say so without the least intention of offence, more practical matters, in that they deal with the government of the Eastern territories, for which this defendant was responsible; and the prosecution has no objection to my friend using these documents in such a way as it seems fit to him.

DR. THOMA: I should like to mention the following points in connection with the documents:

I have had four additional documents allowed in part by the Tribunal. I have not been able to submit them because they have not yet been handed over to me; but I would like to tell the Tribunal what they are: First, a letter written by Rosenberg to Hitler in 1924, containing a request by Rosenberg not to be accepted as a candidate for the Reichstag:

Secondly, a letter written by Rosenberg to Hitler in 1931 regarding his dismissal from the post of editor-in-chief of the Volkischer Beobachter, the reason being that Rosenberg's Myth of the Twentieth Century created a tremendous stir among the German people. Rosenberg asked at the time that his work be considered a purely personal work, something which it actually was, and that if his writing was in any way detrimental to the Party, he would ask to be released from his position as editor of the Volkischer Beobachter.

Thirdly, I should like to include a directive from Hitler to Minister for the Eastern Occupied Territories Rosenberg dated June 1943, in which Hitler instructed Rosenberg to limit himself to matters of principle.

Fourthly, an eight-page letter from Hitler to Rosenberg, written by hand and dated in the year 1925.

THE PRESIDENT: And the fourth one? Will you state the fourth one, the fourth document?

DR. THOMA: I am dealing with that.

The fourth document is a letter written by Hitler to Rosenberg in 1925, in which Hitler stated his reasons for refusing on principle to take part in the Reichstag elections. Rosenberg's view at that time was that the Party should enter the Reichstag and co-operate practically with the other Parties. I have just learned that this letter is dated 1923.

Gentlemen, this is something of decisive importance. From the very beginning, Rosenberg wanted the NSDAP to co-operate with the other Parties. That could constitute the exact opposite of a conspiracy from the start. May I present to the Tribunal a copy of my four applications?

SIR DAVID MAXWELL FYFE: My Lord, these seem to be individual documents whose relevancy can be finally dealt with when Dr. Thoma shows their purpose in his exposition. I do not stress that the Tribunal need not make any final decision on them at the present time.

DR. THOMA : I should like to refer to the fact that I have already asked the General Secretary to admit these documents.

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Thoma, have you the documents in your possession?

DR. THOMA: Yes, my Lord. The only documents that are lacking are the four I have just mentioned. They are still in the hands of the prosecution.

THE PRESIDENT: They are in the hands of the prosecution, are they?


SIR DAVID MAXWELL FYFE: I had not appreciated that. If Dr. Thoma wants the documents we will do our best to find them. The first time I heard of them, of course, was when Dr. Thoma started speaking a few minutes ago. If the prosecution has them or can find them, they will let Dr. Thoma have them or have copies of them.

[Page 143]

THE PRESIDENT: May I ask you, Dr. Thoma, why it is that you have not put in a written application for these four ?

DR. THOMA: I have made such a request, my Lord, several days or a week ago. I made the first request in November.

THE PRESIDENT: For these four documents?

DR. THOMA: It's like this: The first two documents were granted me already in November or December 1945, but I have not as yet received them.

THE PRESIDENT: Very well, we will consider that.

Well, that finishes your documents, does it not?


SIR DAVID MAXWELL FYFE: My Lord, with regard to the witnesses, it might be convenient if I indicated the view of the prosecution on the, say, first six. The prosecution has no objection to the first witness, Riecke, the State Secretary of the Ministry of Agriculture, or to Dr. Lammers, who is being summoned for a number of the defendants, or to Ministerialrat Beil, who is the Deputy Chief of the main Department of Labour and Social Policy in the Eastern Ministry.

With regard to the next one, No. 4, Dr. Stellbrecht, the prosecution suggests that that is a very general matter which does not seem very relevant and they say that Dr. Stellbrecht should be cut out or at the most that that point be dealt with by a short interrogatory.

We also object to five and six, General Dankers and Professor Astrowski. General Dankers is sought to say that certain theatres and museums of art in Latvia remained untouched and that hundreds of thousands of Latvians begged to be able to come into the Reich.

There are papers about certain laws. The prosecution submits that that evidence does not really touch the matters that are alleged against the defendant Rosenberg and again they make objection.

Professor Astrowski, who is alleged to be the Chief of the White Ruthenian Central Council and whose whereabouts are still unknown, who was last in Berlin, is to be called to prove that the General Commissioner in Minsk exerted all efforts in order to save White Ruthenian cultural life. There again the prosecution says that that is a very general and indefinite allegation and, if the defendant and certain of his officials are called to give evidence as to his policy and administration, it is suggested that the witnesses five and six are really unnecessary.

I might also deal with No. 7, because the first seven witnesses are the subject of a note by Dr. Thoma. No. 7 is Dr. Haiding, who is the Chief of the Institute for German Ethnology, and it is sought to call him in order to prove that in the Baltic countries cultural institutions were advanced and new ones founded by Rosenberg. That witness, the prosecution submits, falls into the same category as Dankers and Astrowski. But, with regard to him, if there is any general point, they say that he could be dealt with by interrogatories but certainly should not be called.

It is relevant for the Tribunal to read the note under No. 8 dealing with these witnesses. Dr. Thoma says:-

"The witnesses can present evidence for the refutation of the Soviet accusation that Rosenberg participated in the planning of a world ideology for the extermination of the Slavs and for the persecution of all dissenters."
The Prosecution submits that the three witnesses that they have suggested, coupled with the interrogatories, if necessary in the case of Stellbrecht and Haiding, should cover these points amply.

DR. THOMA: I agree with Sir David that as far as Dr. Haiding and Dr. Stellbrecht are concerned an interrogatory will be sufficient. Regarding witnesses Nos. 5 and 6, I was interested in bringing in as witnesses people who actually lived in these countries and who have their personal impressions of Rosenberg's cultural activities; and I request that these witnesses be granted.

[Page 144]

THE PRESIDENT: Very well, the Tribunal will consider that.

SIR DAVID MAXWELL FYFE: The witness Scheidt comes into the story of the defendant Rosenberg's connection with Quisling, and this has been dealt with by interrogatories by the defence and by certain cross-interrogatories by the prosecution. This is obviously an important part of the case, and I suggest that the Tribunal does not decide as to the personal summoning of Scheidt until the answers to the interrogatories are before the Tribunal.

No. 10 is Robert Scholtz, the Department Chief in the Special Staff of "Creative Art," and roughly the evidence is to show that the defendant did not take the works of art for his personal benefit. The Tribunal ordered the calling of this witness on 14th of January, but on 24th of January the application for this witness was withdrawn, and it is now renewed by Dr. Thoma. If the Tribunal will look at the way in which it is put in Dr. Thoma's application, which is limited and guided by certain specific acts on which Herr Scholtz can speak - the prosecution suggests that the Tribunal might think the most convenient way was again to get a set of interrogatories on Herr Scholtz, and see how he can deal with the many individual points put to him.

DR. THOMA: Gentlemen of the Tribunal, the case of the witness Wilhelm Scheidt touches the question of Norway. Scheidt is the decisive witness as to the reports made by Quisling of his own volition without being invited to do so, either through the Central Department of the Reich for Foreign Policy or through the Reich Ministry for Foreign Affairs. I believe that a personal hearing, a cross- examination, of this witness Scheidt is extremely important, because he can give a great deal of detailed information which is decisive for the question of whether or not Hitler conducted a war of aggression against Norway.

I have been granted an interrogatory for the witness, Departmental Director Scheidt, and I have already taken steps to confer with the prosecution in this connection.

The witness Wilhelm Scheidt has not made an affidavit; but I must point out to the Tribunal that I should have to be present when the affidavit is made and that I should be allowed to question the witness myself, in common with the prosecution. I should like to repeat my request to cross- examine this Wilhelm Scheidt as a witness.

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