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 Ninetieth Day: Tuesday, 30th July, 1946
(Part 2 of 11)

[GENERAL RUDENKO continues.]

[Page 67]

Constantine von Neurath's part in the consolidation of the Nazi conspirators' power and in the preparation and realization of aggressive plans is a remarkable one.

Over a period of many years, whenever traces had to be covered up, or acts of aggression veiled by diplomatic manipulations, it was von Neurath - Nazi diplomat and SS general - who came to the help of the Hitlerites, bringing them his great experience of world affairs.

I will recall the official evaluation of Neurath's activity, as it appeared in all the newspapers of Fascist Germany on the 2nd February, 1943:

"The departure from the Geneva disarmament conference on 14th October, 1933, the return of the Saar territory, and the proclamation and denunciation of the Locarno treaty will rank among the most outstanding political events since the coming to power of the Nazi regime. In these, Baron von Neurath played a decisive part and his name will always be connected with them."
In his capacity of Reich Protector of Bohemia and Moravia Neurath represented to the Nazi conspirators those " firm and reliable hands " of which General Frederici wrote in his memorandum, and which were to transform the Czechoslovak Republic into an "indissoluble part of Germany." In order to attain that object, Neurath established the notorious "new order," the nature of which is now known to all present.

Neurath attempted to assert, here, that all the atrocities were committed by the police and Gestapo, upon Himmler's direct order, and that he knew nothing of them. It is quite comprehensible that Neurath should say so, but one can hardly agree with him.

Interrogated on 7th March, 1946, Karl Frank testified that Neurath received regularly the reports of the Chief of Security Police, as well as those of Frank himself, regarding the "most important events in the Protectorate, pertaining to the Security Police." He stated also that it was possible for Neurath to issue directives to the Gestapo, and that he did indeed do so; whilst, as far as the SD was concerned, his rights were still more vast, depending in no way upon the consent of the Main Reich Security Office (RSHA).

I wish also to recall to your memory paragraphs 11, 13 and 14 of the order issued on 1st September, 1939, by the Reich Defence Council, which proves that the Reichsfuehrer SS and Chief of the German Police carried out administrative measures in Bohemia and Moravia with the knowledge of the Protector, and that the German Security Police agencies in the Protectorate were obliged to inform the Reich Protector as well as the offices subordinated to him, and to keep them aware of all major events.

If I add that, on 5th May, 1939, the defendant Neurath appointed an SD Fuehrer and Plenipotentiary of the Security Police to the post of political case reporter; if we recall the testimony of Richard Wienert, the former Premier of Bohemia and Moravia under Neurath, which has been read before the Court, to the effect that the Gestapo carried out arrests on orders of the Reich Protector, we can hardly have any doubt but that Neurath gave his sanction to the mass arrests, summary executions and other inhuman acts committed by the Gestapo and police in Czechoslovakia.

I will pass on to the events of 17th November, 1939, when nine students were shot without trial, whilst over a thousand were hurled into concentration camps and all the Czech high schools and universities were closed for three years.

Neurath said that he heard of these acts of terror post factum. But we have submitted to the Tribunal a report on the shooting and arrests of the students, which bears Neurath's signature. Neurath then seeks another loop-hole: he declares that Frank signed this report in his, Neurath's name, and to be more

[Page 68]

convincing, he even adds that later he heard from an official that Frank often misused his name in documents. Are Neurath's statements to be credited? One has only to analyse briefly the actual facts, in order to answer this question in the negative: Neurath says that Frank misused his name. What did Neurath do in answer to this? Did he demand Frank's resignation or his punishment for fraud? No. Did he, perhaps, report this forgery officially to somebody? No. On the contrary, he continued to collaborate with Frank as before.

Neurath says that he heard of Frank's misuses "from an official." Who is that official? What is his name? Why was not any application made to call him to the witness stand, or, at least to secure his written testimony? Simply because nobody spoke to Neurath of Frank having forged his signature on the documents and nobody could have done so, for there was no forgery.

On the contrary, the Tribunal has evidence which confirms the fact that the report of 17th November, 1939, was signed by Neurath and that the terroristical measures mentioned therein were actually sanctioned by Neurath. I am speaking of two statements of Karl Frank, who directly participated in these bloody events.

During his interrogation on 26th November, 1945, Karl Frank testified:

"This document was dated 17th November, 1939, and was signed by von Neurath, who did not protest either against the shooting of the nine students or against the deportation of numerous students to the concentration camps."
I quote Karl Frank's second testimony on this matter, dated 7th March, 1946:
"By countersigning the official reports which informed him of the shooting of the students, the Reich Protector von Neurath sanctioned this action. I informed von Neurath in detail of the course of the investigation and he signed the report. Had he not agreed and had he demanded a modification of the penalty or its mitigation, and he had a right to do so, I would have been obliged to give in to his opinion.
In August, 1939, in connection with the "special decree" by which he proclaimed Bohemia and Moravia to be an "integrant part of the Greater German Reich," Neurath issued a so-called "warning," wherein he stipulated that "not only single persons but the entire Czech population would be responsible for all acts of sabotage." Thereby he established the principle of collective responsibility and introduced the hostage system. The eventsof 17th November, 1939, considered in the light of this directive of Neurath, supply more irrefutable proof against the defendant.

Starting from 1st September, 1939, some 8,000 Czechs were arrested as hostages in Bohemia and Moravia. The majority were sent to concentration camps, many were executed or died of hunger and torture. On this subject you have heard, your Honours, the testimonies of Wienert, Kreitchi and Gavelka.

There is no doubt that these terror acts against the Czech intellectuals were carried out in conformity with Neurath's "warning."

I do not need to relate in detail all the events which took place at Lidice, and later in the village of Lejaki, as they are already well known. Were not the German occupants acting in accordance with Neurath's " warning, " did they not conform themselves to his principle that the entire Czech population, and not the individual persons, must bear the responsibility?

It was Neurath who initiated mass terror against the Czechoslovak population in August, 1939. He has on his hands the blood of many thousands of women and men, children and old people, murdered and tortured to death. And I see no difference between Baron von Neurath and the other ringleaders of the criminal Nazi regime.

The defendant Hans Fritzsche's part in the conspiracy, the War Crimes and the Crimes Against Humanity, is certainly greater than it might appear at first glance.

The criminal activity of Friesche, who was Goebbels's closest assistant, carried out systematically, day after day, was a very important link in the general plan or con-

[Page 69]

spiracy and it contributed singularly to the creation of the conditions under which the numerous crimes of the Nazi were conceived and cultivated.

All the attempts made by the defendant himself and his counsel in order to minimize his importance and the part he played in the perpetration of these crimes have clearly failed.

In Mein Kampf, Hitler describes the very special part attributed to mendacious propaganda in Nazi Germany.

He writes: "The problem of the revival of German might is not 'How we will make weapons' but 'How we will create the spirit which will make our people capable of bearing weapons.' If this spirit pervades the people, the will-power shall discover thousands of ways, and each of them will lead to weapons" (I am quoting from Pages 365-366 of Mein Kampf, 64th edn. 1933). Neither is it by chance that the following slogans were proclaimed at the Congress of the Nazi Party in 1936 at Nuremberg:

"Propaganda helped us to come to power";
"Propaganda will help us to keep power";
"Propaganda will help us to conquer the world".
Owing to his position, the defendant Fritzsche was certainly one of the notorious propagandists and also one of the best-informed persons in Nazi Germany. In addition he enjoyed Goebbels's particular confidence.

As we know, from 1938 till 1942 Friesche was head of one of the key departments of the Propaganda Ministry, that of the German Press. And ever since 1942 and until the defeat of Nazi Germany, he was head of the German radio.

Having grown up as a journalist of the reactionary Press of Hugenberg, Friesche, who was a member of the Nazi Party since 1933, in his capacity of Goverment spokesman, played, with his personal propaganda, an important part in the dissemination of Nazism throughout Germany, and in the political and moral depravation of the German people.

This was testified to, in detail, by witnesses such as former Field- Marshal Ferdinand Schoerner and former Vice-Admiral Hans Voss.

The defendant Fritzsche's broadcasts, intercepted by the BBC, and submitted to the Tribunal as Document 3o64 and USSR Exhibit 496, fully confirm these charges of the prosecution.

German propaganda in general, and the defendant Fritzsche in particular, made good use of provocative methods, lies and slanderous statements, and this was especially the case when Nazi Germany's acts of aggression had to be justified.

Did not Hitler himself write in Mein Kampf, Page 302:

"that with the help of a propaganda skilfully and continuously applied even heaven can be represented as hell to the people and, on the contrary, the most miserable life can be represented as heaven."
Fritzsche turned out to be the best man to carry out this dirty work.

In his declaration to the Tribunal on 7th January, 1946, Fritzsche gave a detailed description of the provocative methods applied on such a vast scale by German propaganda and by him, personally, in connection with the acts of aggression against Austria, the Sudetenland, Bohemia and Moravia, Poland and Jugoslavia.

On 9th April and 2nd May, 1940, Fritzsche broadcast mendacious explanations of the reasons which led to the occupation of Norway by Germany, He declared: "Nobody was wounded, not one house was destroyed, life and work continued unhindered as before."

Meanwhile, the official report presented by the Norwegian Government states:

"The German attack against Norway on 9th April, 1940, brought war to Norway for the first time in 126 years. For two months, war was fought throughout the country, causing destruction. Over forty thousand houses were damaged or destroyed and about a thousand civilians were killed."
German propaganda and Fritzsche, personally, spread insolent slander in connection with the sinking of the British passenger steamer Athenia.

[Page 70]

But German propaganda was particularly active on the occasion of Nazi Germany's treacherous attack upon the Soviet Union.

The defendant Fritzsche has attempted to assert that he first heard of the attack upon the Soviet Union when he was called on 22nd June, 1941, at 5 a.m. to a Press conference held by Foreign Minister von Ribbentrop. As far as the aggressive purposes of this attack were concerned, he allegedly had learned of them only through his personal observations in 1942.

However, these statements are refuted by such documentary evidence as the report of defendant Rosenberg. This document establishes the fact that a long time before the attack upon the USSR Fritzsche knew of the appropriate measures which were being taken, and that in his capacity of representative of the Propaganda Ministry, he participated in the working out of propaganda measures for the East by the Ministry for the Occupied Eastern Territories.

In answer to the questions put to him by the Soviet prosecution, during his cross-examination, Fritzsche stated that he would not have gone with Hitler had he had knowledge of the Nazi Government's criminal orders, of which he heard for the first time here in Court. And here again Fritzsche told the International Military Tribunal a lie.

Thus he was compelled to admit that he had knowledge of the criminal Nazi orders regarding the extermination of Jews and the shooting of Soviet commissars as early as 1942. And yet he continued to remain at his post and to spread mendacious propaganda.

In his broadcasts on 16th June and Ist July, 1944, Fritzsche advertised largely the utilization of new weapons, doing his best to rouse the army and the people to further senseless resistance.

And even on the eve of the collapse of Nazi Germany, on 7th April, 1945, Friesche broadcast an appeal to the German people to continue their resistance to the Allied armies and to participate in the Werwolf movement.

Thus, the defendant Fritzsche remained true to the last to the criminal Nazi regime.

He gave his entire self to the task of realizing the Nazi conspiracy and of perpetrating all the crimes which were planned and carried out with the object of putting that conspiracy into effect.

As an active participant in all the Nazi crimes, he must bear the fullest responsibility for them.

Your Honours, all the defendants have passed before you-men without honour or conscience; men who hurled the world into an abyss of misery and suffering and brought enormous calamities upon their own people.

Political adventurers, who stopped at no evil deed in order to achieve their criminal designs; cheap demagogues, who concealed their predatory plans behind a veil of mendacious ideas; henchmen, who murdered millions of innocent people, these men joined in a gang of conspirators, seizing power and transforming the German State machinery into an instrument of their crimes.

Now, the hour of reckoning has come.

For the past nine months, we have been observing the former rulers of Fascist Germany. In the dock, before this Court, they have suddenly become meek and humble. Some of them, even, actually condemned Hitler. But they blame Hitler, not for the launching of a war, nor for the extermination of peoples and the plundering of States; the only thing that they cannot forgive him is - Defeat. Together with Hitler, they were ready to exterminate millions of human beings, to enslave the elite of mankind in order to achieve their criminal aim of world domination.

But fate ruled otherwise: victory did not follow upon the steps of crime. Victory came to the freedom-loving nations. Truth triumphed and we are proud to say that the justice which is meted out by the International Military Tribunal will be the justice of the righteous cause of peace-loving nations.

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