The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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                                                  [Page 437]

HUNDRED AND EIGHTY-EIGHTH DAY

SATURDAY, 27th JULY, 1946

SIR HARTLEY SHAWCROSS: May it please the Tribunal:

Yesterday when we recessed I had been dealing with the war
crimes and in particular with the murder of the R.A.F.
officers from Stalag Luft III.

I want now very shortly to consider the question of the
employment of prisoners of war. Under Article 31 of the
Geneva Convention it might have been permissible to employ
prisoners on certain work in connection with the raw
materials of the armament industry. But the statement made
by Milch at the Central Planning Board on the 16th of
February, 1943, in the presence of Speer and Sauckel had no
legal justification at all. He said, if you will remember,
and I quote:

  "We have made a request for an order that a certain
  percentage of men in the Ack-Ack artillery must be
  Russians. 50,000 will be taken altogether. 30,000 are
  already employed as gunners. This is an amusing thing
  that Russians must work the guns."

That was quite obviously flagrantly illegal. Nobody could
have had the faintest doubt about it. The minutes record no
protest whatever. It has not been suggested that Goering or
any of the others who must have read the minutes and known
what was going on regarded this outrage by the effective
head of the German air force as being in any way unusual.

Himmler's cynical words spoken at Posen on the 4th October,
1943, on the subject of the Russian prisoners captured in
the early days of the campaign ought again to be put on
record for history. I quote:

  "At that time we did not value the mass of humanity as we
  value it today as raw material, as labour. What, after
  all, thinking in terms of generations is not to be
  regretted but is now deplorable, by reason of the loss of
  labour, is that the prisoners died in tens and hundreds
  of thousands of exhaustion and hunger."

I turn now to the murder of the commandos.

The evidence with regard to the Commando Order of 18th
October, 1942, directly involves Keitel, Jodl, Donitz,
Raeder, Goering and Kaltenbrunner, by Article 30 of the
Hague Rules, and I quote:

  "A spy taken in the act shall not be punished without
  previous trial."

And even the regulations printed in the book of every German
soldier provide, and I quote:

  "No enemy can be killed who gives up, not even a partisan
  or a spy. These will be brought to punishment by the
  Courts."

These men were not spies: they were soldiers in uniform. It
is not suggested that any man dealt with under this Order
was ever given a trial before he was shot. Legally there can
be no answer to the guilt of any of those defendants who
passed on or who applied this wicked order, an order which
Jodl admitted to be murder and in respect of which Keitel,
confessing his shame, admitted its illegality.

Raeder admitted that it was an improper order. Even Donitz
stated that now he knew the true facts he no longer regarded
it as correct. The only defences put forward have been that
the individual in question did not personally carry it out,
that they regarded the statement in the first paragraph of
the order as

                                                  [Page 438]

justifying the action by way of reprisal, that they did
their best to minimise its effect and that it teas not up to
the individual to question the directives of a superior. But
no one has seriously disputed that handing over to the SD,
in the context here, meant shooting without a trial.

The answer to these defences, in so far as the defences are
not purely dishonest, is that the security precautions
provided in the order itself were the plainest indication
that the facts stated in the first paragraph did not
constitute any justification which would bear the light of
day. No higher degree of precaution accompanied the Kugel
Order, Nacht and Nebel Order, or any other of their brutal
orders. That the shackling incident at Dieppe had nothing to
do with it appears from Jodl's staff memorandum of the 14th
October, 1942, which states that the Fuehrer's aim was to
prevent the commando method of waging war by dropping small
detachments who did great damage by demolitions, etc., and
then surrendered.

The cancellation of the order in 1945 is further evidence
that those responsible for it recognized their guilt, guilt.
which was perhaps best summarised by the entry in the War
Diary of the Naval War Staff with regard to the shooting of
the commandos taken in uniform at Bordeaux; "Something new
in International Law." Yet Raeder and his Chief of Staff
were prepared to initial that entry. Kaltenbrunner's
knowledge is clearly shown by his letter to the Armed Forces
Planning Staff of the 23rd January, 1945, referring to it in
detail and disputing its application to particular
categories.

Other men have already been sentenced to death for execution
of this order, men whose only defence was that they obeyed
an order from their superiors. I refer to the members of the
SD who were executed for the murder of the crew of Motor
Torpedo Boat 345 in Norway and General Dostler in Italy.
Innumerable instances from their own records have been
proved against these defendants: Shall they escape? You will
remember the attitude of the Nazi People's Court, in 1944,
to the plea of superior orders.

The Commando Order cannot compare in wickedness or brutality
with the Nacht and Nebel Order (Night and Fog Order) of the
7th December, 1941. The Hitler directive signed by Keitel,
after prescribing the death penalty for offences endangering
the security or state of readiness of the occupying Powers,
orders the  removal to Germany of offenders, other than
those whose execution could be completed in a very short
time, under circumstances which would deny any information
with regard to their fate. And Keitel's covering letter of
the 12th December gives the reason:

  "Efficient and enduring intimidation can only be achieved
  either by capital punishment or by measures by which the
  relatives of the criminals and the population do not know
  the fate of the criminal. This aim is achieved when the
  criminal is transferred to Germany."

It is interesting to contrast that statement, written when
Keitel thought that Germany was winning the war, with his
evidence before the Tribunal. He said, you will remember:

  "Penal servitude would be considered dishonourable by
  these patriots. By going to Germany they would suffer no
  dishonour."

This decree was still being enforced in February, 1944, when
the commanders of some eighteen concentration camps were
being reminded of its purpose and how to dispose of the
bodies of the "Night and Fog" prisoners without revealing
the place of death. The treatment of these prisoners was
described by the Norwegian witness, Cappelen, and members of
the Tribunal will not have forgotten his account of the
transport of between 2,500 and 2,800 Nacht and Nebel
prisoners from one concentration camp to another in 1945
when 1,347 died on the way. When we talk about the dignity
of man let us remember this and I quote it again (Cappelen
speaking):

                                                  [Page 439]

  "Feeble as we were, we could not walk fast enough and
  when they took their guns, the line of five, the line
  just before us - they took their guns and smashed in the
  heads of all five of them and they said:
  
     'If you don't walk in an intelligent way see what will
     happen to you.'
  
  But at last after six to eight hours we came to a railway
  station. It was very cold and we only had prison clothes
  on and bad boots, but we said, 'Oh, we are glad that we
  have come to a railway station. It is better to stand in
  a cattle truck than to walk, in the middle of winter. It
  was very cold, ten to twelve degrees, I suppose, very
  cold. There was a long train with open trucks. In Norway
  we call them sand trucks, and we were kicked on to those
  trucks about 80 to each truck .... In these trucks we sat
  for about five days without food - cold - without water:
  When it was snowing we did this (indicating) just to get
  some water in the mouth and after a long, long time, it
  seemed to me like years, we came to a place which I
  afterwards learnt was Dora which is in the neighbourhood
  of Buchenwald. They kicked us down from the trucks, but
  many were dead. The man who sat by me, he was dead, but I
  was not allowed to leave. I had to sit with a dead man
  for the last day. I did not know the number, but about
  half of us were dead, getting stiff, and they said that -
  I heard it stated afterwards in Dora - that the number of
  dead on our train was 1,347. Well, from Dora I do not
  remember much, because I was more or less dead. I have
  always been a man of good humour and high-spirited, ready
  to help myself and my friends, but I had nearly given up.
  And then at the end of our sufferings we were rescued and
  brought to Neuengamme near Hamburg, and when we arrived
  there were some of my old friends, the student from
  Norway who had been deported to Germany, other prisoners
  who came from Sachsenhausen and other camps and the few,
  comparatively few, Norwegian Night and Fog prisoners, who
  were living in very bad conditions. Many of my friends
  are still in hospital in Norway, some died after coming
  home."

In July, 1944, a yet more drastic order followed that of the
Night and Fog. On the 30th of that month Hitler issued the
Terror and Sabotage decree providing that all acts of
violence by non-German civilians in occupied territories
should be combated as acts of terrorism and sabotage. Those
not overcome on the spot were to be handed over to the SD,
women put to work, only children spared. Within a month
Keitel extended the order to cover persons endangering
security or war preparedness by any means other than acts of
terrorism or sabotage, the usual secrecy requirements were
laid down, restricting distribution in writing to a minimum.
He then ordered that the Terror and Sabotage decree was to
form the subject of regular emphatic instruction to all
personnel of the armed forces, SS and police: it was to be
extended to crimes affecting German interests, but not
imperilling the security or war preparedness of the
occupying Power. New regulations could be made by the
agreement of particular commanders and higher SS chiefs. In
other words any offence by any person in the occupied
territories could be dealt with under this decree.

On the 9th September, 1944, a meeting was held between
representatives of the High Command and the SS to discuss
the relationship of the Night and Fog Order to the Terror
and Sabotage decree. It was considered that the Night and
Fog Order had become superfluous and the meeting went on to
consider the transfer of the 24,000 non-German civilians
held under it by the SS to the SD. The meeting discussed the
problem of certain neutrals who had been held under this
order by mistake. The German word "Vernebelt" justifies the
statement of the witness Blaha that the special and
technical expressions used in concentration camps can only
be expressed in German and cannot really be translated into
any other language. It is perhaps superfluous to remind the
Tribunal that when the Luftwaffe General in Holland asked
for authority to shoot railwaymen on strike, since the
procedure of handing over to the SD under the decree was too
roundabout,

                                                  [Page 440]

Keitel, in a reply, copies of which were sent both to the
Admiralty and to the Air Ministry as well as to the
principal commanders in occupied territories, agreed at once
that if there was any difficulty in handing over to the SD,
said:

  "Other effective measures are to be taken ruthlessly and
  independently."

In other words, General Christiansen could shoot the
railwaymen if he thought fit.

Let us not forget when we consider the problems of Europe in
these days, that it is not easy for anyone who has not had
to live in territory occupied by the Germans to realize the
suffering and the state of terror and constant apprehension
in which the peoples of Europe lived through those long
years of subjection. It was Frank who, writing on the 16th
December, 1941, said:

  "As a matter of principle we shall have pity only for the
  German people - and for no one else in the world."

Save that they had no pity even for their own people, how
faithfully these men carried out that principle!

I turn now to the attack on the partisans. If any doubt
remained that the German armed forces were directed not by
honourable soldiers but by callous murderers, it must be
dissipated by the evidence as to the appalling ruthlessness
with which it was sought to put down the partisans. The
witness Ohlendorf said that the direction of anti-partisan
warfare was the subject of a written agreement between the
German War Office, the High Command, and the SS. As a result
of that agreement an Einsatz group was attached to each army
group H.Q. and directed the work of the Einsatz Commandos
allotted to the group in co-ordination and agreement with
the military authorities. If confirmation of the Army's
support, knowledge and approval were needed, one has only
got to look at the report of the Einsatz Group A on its
activities during the first three months of the campaign
against the Soviet Union.

I quote:

  "Our task was to establish hurriedly personal contact
  with the commander of the armies and with the commander
  of the army of the rear area. It must be stressed from
  the beginning that co-operation with the armed forces was
  generally good, in some cases ... it was very close,
  almost cordial."

And again, speaking of the difficulty of dealing with the
partisans in a particular area:

  "After the failure of purely military activities such as
  the placing of sentries and combing through the newly
  occupied territories with whole divisions, even the armed
  forces had to look out for new methods. The action group
  undertook to search for new methods. Soon therefore the
  armed forces adopted the experiences of the Security
  Police and their methods of combating the partisans."

One of these methods is described in the same report in
these words:

  "After a village had been surrounded, all the inhabitants
  were forcibly shepherded into the main square. The
  persons suspected, on account of confidential
  information, and the other villagers were interrogated
  and thus it was possible in most cases to find the people
  who helped the partisans. Those were either shot off-
  hand, or, if further interrogations promised useful
  information, taken to headquarters. After the
  interrogation they were shot. In order to obtain a
  deterring effect the houses of those who had helped the
  partisans were burnt down on several occasions."

And then, after stating that villagers were always
threatened with the burning of the whole village, the report
adds:

  "The tactics to put terror against terror succeeded
  marvellously."

The Einsatz Commandos were, as Ohlendorf stated, under
Kaltenbrunner's command, but the orders under which they
were acting cannot have exceeded in severity those which
were issued by Keitel. The Fuehrer  order issued by him on
16th December, 1942, on the combating of partisans states:

                                                  [Page 441]

  "If the fight against the partisans in the East as well
  as in the Balkans is not waged with the most brutal
  means, we will shortly reach the point when the available
  forces are insufficient to control this area. It is
  therefore not only justifiable but it is the duty of the
  troops to use all means without restriction - even
  against women and children so long as it ensures
  success."

Three days later he and Ribbentrop were informing their
Italian opposite numbers at breakfast that:

  "The Fuehrer  had declared that the Serbian conspirators
  were to be turned out and that no gentle methods might be
  used in doing this."

Keitel interjected:

  "Every village in which partisans were found had to be
  burnt down."

Two months later Ribbentrop was urging the Italian
Ambassador in Berlin to greater brutality in dealing with
the partisans in Croatia. I quote:

  "The gangs had to be exterminated and that included men,
  women and children, as their continued existence
  imperilled the lives of German and Italian men, women and
  children."

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