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

The Trial of German Major War Criminals

Sitting at Nuremberg, Germany
29th July to 8th August 1946

One Hundred and Eighty-Ninth Day: Monday, 29th July, 1946
(Part 2 of 12)


[Page 5]

Frank said:
"I have never founded extermination camps for Jews. I was never in favour of the existence of these camps, but if Adolf Hitler placed this terrible responsibility on the shoulders of his people, I, too, share in it; for we conducted a campaign against the Jews for years, we made all kinds of statements against them ......"
In his last few words, Frank condemns, along with himself, all those who pursued the campaign of incitement against the Jews in Germany and elsewhere. Let us remember Frank's answer to the question put to him by his defence counsel as to the charges brought against him in the Indictment. It is true of all the defendants and still more of those who were closer to Hitler than he himself:
"As to these charges, I have only this to say: I ask the Tribunal to determine the extent of my guilt at the end of these proceedings; but I should like to say on my own account that after all I have seen in the course of these five months of the trial, which have given me a general view of all the atrocities that have been committed, I myself feel thoroughly guilty."
Von Schirach for his part stated:
"This is the crime for which I am answerable before God and the German people. I trained the youth of our country for the man who, for years and years, I considered the head of our country. I trained our youth to have the same regard for him that 1 had myself. My crime lies in the fact that I trained our youth for a man who was a murderer, who killed millions of people . . . Any German who, after Auschwitz, still adheres to the racial policy, is guilty ... I feel it my duty to say this."
Such cries of conscience were rare in the course of this trial and more frequently, copying Goering's quibbling vanity, the defendants tried to extricate themselves by invoking a policy of neo-Machiavellism which would free the leaders of the State of all personal responsibility. Let us simply state that no such provisions exist in the laws of any civilized country, and that, on the contrary, arbitrary and aggressive acts aimed at personal liberty, at civic rights or at the Constitution, are all the more severely punished in cases where they have been committed by a public functionary or high-ranking Government official; and that the most severe penalties are reserved for the Ministers themselves (Articles 114 and 115 of the French Penal Code).

But let us limit ourselves on this point. We aim only at recalling that each of the principal deeds charged against the defendants may be considered by itself as violating the criminal laws or one or other of the positive internal laws of every civilized country, or as violating that common International Law which M. de

[Page 6]

Menthon has already interpreted and which has been submitted here as the root of international custom, and that the punishment of each of these deeds is therefore not without foundation; on the contrary, even if we restrict ourselves to this preliminary analysis; the heaviest penalties have already been incurred.

We must, however, go farther; for while it does not omit any culpable fact as such, the analysis of the defendants' guilt in the light of internal law is only a first approximation which would enable us to prosecute the defendants merely as accomplices and not as principal authors. And we are anxious to prove that they were in reality the principal culprits.

We hope to succeed in this by developing the following three points:

1. The defendants' acts are elements in a criminal political plan.

2. The co-ordination of the various departments headed by these men implies close co-operation between them for the realization of their criminal policy.

3. They must be judged as functioning within the scope of this criminal policy.

The acts of the defendants are the elements of a criminal political plan.

The defendants have been active in widely differing spheres. As politicians, diplomats, soldiers, sailors, economists, financiers, jurists, or propagandists, they represent practically every form of liberal activity. We recognize unhesitatingly, however, the tie that binds them together. They have all put the best -- or the worst -- of themselves at the service of the Hitlerite State. To a certain extent they represent the brains of that State; but they themselves were not the whole brain. Nevertheless, no one can doubt that they were an important part of it. They conceived the policy of that State. They wanted to transform their thoughts into action and all contributed in almost the same degree toward its realization. This is true, no matter whether it applies to Hess or Goering, professional politicians who admit never having practised any other profession but that of agitator or statesman; or to Ribbentrop, Neurath, Papen, the diplomats of the regime; or to Keitel, Jodl, Doenitz or Raeder, the fighting men; to Rosenberg, Streicher, Frank or Frick, the inventors -- if that term can be applied to them -- of the ideology of the system; to Schacht and Funk, the financiers without whom the system would have gone bankrupt and collapsed in the resulting inflation before it could rearm; to jurists like Frank , to publicists and propagandists like Fritzsche and - again - Streicher, devoted to the dissemination of the common idea; or to technicians like Speer or Sauckel, without whom the idea could never have been translated into action as it has been; to policemen such as Kaltenbrunner who destroyed morale by terror; to ordinary Gauleiter like Seyss-Inquart, Schirach, or - again - Sauckel; to administrators and high-ranking officials as well as politicians, who gave definite shape to the common policy conceived by the whole State and Party machine.

I know very well that the shadow of those who are absent looms over this machine, and today's defendants are perpetually reminding us of them:

"Hitler wanted this, Himmler wanted this, Bormann wanted this." They say: "I only obeyed," and their defence counsels outbid them. Hitler, the monstrous tyrant, the fanatic visionary, imposing his will with an irresistible magnetic power. This is too simple. This is too sweeping. No man is entirely unreceptive to suggestion, insinuation, and influence; and Hitler escaped that law no more than any other man. We have had irrefutable proof of this in all the glimpses afforded us by these proceedings of the struggle for influence which went on in the "great man's " entourage. Malicious underhand calumnies were circulated, there were intrigues which reminded us at times, during the proceedings, of the little courts of the Italian Renaissance. All the elements were present, even to murder. Did not Goering, before he himself fell into disgrace, rid himself of Roehm. and Ernst, who had plotted, not against their master, but against him, as Gisevius told us. So much imagination, such perseverance in evil, but also such efficiency, show us that Hitler was not blind to the actions and intrigues of the men

[Page 7]

around him. What a pity that these intrigues did not work in the right direction! But we have direct evidence of Hitler's responsiveness to influences and it is given us by Schacht who, at the same time apart from these men, raises the question of the German masses, whose good sense they had contributed to warp and whose worst passions they roused. Did not Schacht say of Hitler in Court:
"I believe that at first his tendencies were not wholly evil; he undoubtedly believed that his intentions were only good, but little by little he became the victim of the charm he exerted over the masses; for he who begins by seducing the masses is in the end himself seduced by them, so that this relation between chief and disciple helped to lead him into the erroneous ways of mob instincts, which every political chief should strive to avoid."
What was then the great idea behind it all ? It was indisputably that of the conquest of living-space by any and every means, even the most criminal.

At a time when Germany was still disarmed and when discretion was still necessary, Schacht, who was at Hitler's side, asked for colonies. We remember Hirscheid's testimony. He dissembled, however, and in part disguised the master conception of the State machine to which he belonged, and we could not denounce this idea so easily were it not for the disconcerting naivete of the "great man" who had laid his entire plan of campaign open to the inspection of the whole world ten years before.

Indeed we read in Mein Kampf:

(Excerpt from Page 641.)

"Thus the German nation could assure its own future only by being a world Power. For nearly two thousand years the defence of our national interests was a matter of world history, as can be seen from our more or less successful activities in the field of foreign politics. We ourselves have been witnesses to this, seeing that the gigantic struggle that went on from 1914 to 1918 was only the struggle of the German people for their existence on this earth, and it was carried out in such a way that it has become known in history as the World War. When Germany entered this struggle it was presumed that she was a world Power. I say presumed, because in reality she was no such thing. In 1914, if there had been a different proportion between the German population and its territorial area, Germany would have been really a world Power, and, if we leave other factors out of account, the war would have ended in our favour."
(Excerpt from Page 647.)
"In regard to this point I should like to make the following statement: To demand that the 1914 frontiers should be restored is a glaring political absurdity that is fraught with such consequences as to make the claim itself appear criminal. The confines of the Reich as they existed in 1914 were thoroughly illogical, because they were not really complete, in view of the geographical exigencies of military defence. They were not the consequences of a political plan which had been well considered and carried out. They were temporary frontiers established in virtue of a political struggle that had not been brought to a finish; and indeed they were partly the chance result of circumstances."
(Excerpt from Page 649.)
"For the future of the German nation the 1914 frontiers are of no significance. They did not serve to protect us in the past, nor do they offer any guarantee for our defence in the future. With these frontiers the German people cannot maintain themselves as a compact unit, nor can they be assured of their maintenance. From the military viewpoint these frontiers are not advantageous or even such as not to cause anxiety. And while we are bound to such frontiers it will not be possible for us to improve our present positions

[Page 8]

in relation to the other world Powers, or rather in relation to the real world Powers."
(Excerpt from Page 650.)
"Against this we National Socialists must stick firmly to the aim that we have set for our foreign policy; namely, that the German people must be assured the territorial area which is necessary for it to exist on this earth. And only for such action as is unddrtaken to secure those ends can it be lawful in the eyes of God and our German posterity to allow the blood of our people to be shed once again before God, because we are sent into this world with the commission to struggle for our daily bread, as creatures to whom nothing is donated and who must be able to win and hold their position as lords of the earth only through their own intelligence and courage.

And this justification must be established also before our German posterity on the grounds that for each one who has shed his blood the life of a thousand others will be guaranteed to posterity. The territory on which one day our German peasants will be able to bring forth and nourish their sturdy sons will justify the blood of the sons of the peasants that has to be shed today. And the statesmen who will have decreed this sacrifice may be persecuted by their contemporaries, but posterity will absolve them from all guilt for having demanded this offering from their people."

(Excerpt from Page 687.)
"A State which, in an epoch of racial adulteration, devotes itself to the duty of preserving the best elements of its racial stock must one day become ruler of the earth."
(Excerpt from Page 135.)
"A stronger race will oust that which has grown weak, for the vital urge, in its ultimate form, will burst asunder all the absurd chains of this so-called humane consideration for the individual and will replace it with the humanity of nature, which wipes out what is weak in order to give place to the strong."
And then the machinery of State and Party gathered force. The Army, secretly reorganized, was soon strong enough to allow Germany to rearm openly. Who, at that time, would have dared to interfere with the monstrous growth of this biological materialism? Hitler expounded his theories to a small circle, and those who heard his words are by no means all Nazis. Informed of their master's aims, they were still willing to stay by his side, and that condemns them. Is this not the case with Raeder?
"It is not a question of conquering populations but of conquering territories suitable for cultivation..."
Hitler, in conference with von Blomberg, von Fristch and Raeder, 5th November, said:
"Expansion cannot be achieved without smashing human lives and without taking risks...."
After the disgrace of von Fritsch and von Blomberg, Keitel and Jodl, chosen for their servile attitude to the regime, had a solid weapon in their hands. The rearmament went on. On the eve of the conflict Hitler reiterated his ideas:
"Circumstances must rather be adapted to aims. This is impossible without invasion of foreign States, or attacks on foreign property.

Living-space, in proportion to the magnitude of the State, is the basis of all power. One may refuse for a time to face the problem, but finally it is solved one way or the other. The choice is between advancement or decline. In fifteen or twenty years' time we shall be compelled to find a solution. No German statesman can evade the question longer than that.

We are at present in a state of patriotic fervour, which is shared by two other nations: Italy and Japan.

[Page 9]

The period which lies behind us has indeed been put to good use. All measures have been taken in the correct sequence and in harmony with our aims.

After six years, the situation is today as follow:

The national-political unity of the Germans has been achieved, apart from minor exceptions. Further successes cannot be attained without the shedding of blood.

Danzig is not the subject of the dispute at all. It is a question of expanding our living-space in the East and of securing our food supplies....

The population of non-German areas will perform no military service, and will be available as a source of labour.

The Polish problem is inseparable from conflict with the West."

Extract from minutes of a conference held at the Reich Chancellery on 23rd May, 1939, in the presence of Hitler, Goering, Raeder, Keitel and others. (Document L-79, Exhibit USA 27.)

And then came the war; and in a few months' time all Germany was led to believe that her strength was irresistible and that she was on the way to the conquest oftheworld. All that was implied by Hitler's cruel and monstrous words:

"We must keep firmly to the aim of our former policy: To. secure for the German people the territory to which it is entitled. And this act is the sole act which, before God and our German posterity, justifies bloodshed ...."
All the cruel and monstrous implications of these words were elaborated here.

Speech by Hitler on the Eastern territories, 16.7.41:

"We shall emphasize again that we were forced to occupy, administer and secure a certain area.... Nobody shall be able to recognize that it initiates a final settlement. This need not prevent us taking all necessary measures -- shooting, deportation... etc."
"Partisan warfare will have one advantage for us; it enables us to eradicate all those who oppose us ......"

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