The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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As a consequence of such a doctrine, the upsetting of the
human status appears to be not only a means to which one has
recourse in the presence of temporary opportunities, such as
those arising from war, but also an aim both necessary and
desirable. The Nazis propose to classify mankind in three
main categories: that of their adversaries, or persons whom
they consider inadaptable to their peculiar constructions -
this category can be bullied in all sorts of ways and even
destroyed; that of higher man, which they claim is
distinguishable by his blood or by some arbitrary means;
that of inferior man, which does not deserve destruction and
whose vital power should be used in a regime of slavery for
the well-being of the "overlords," the masters.

The Nazi leaders proposed to apply this conception wherever
they could, in territories more and more extended, to
populations ever more numerous, and, in addition, they
demonstrated a frightful ambition to succeed in imposing it
on intelligent people, to convince their victims and to
demand from them, in addition to so many sacrifices, an act
of faith. The Nazi war is a war of fanatic religion in which
one can exterminate infidels and equally as well impose
conversion upon them. It should further be noted that the
Nazis aggravated the excesses of those horrible times, for
in a religious war converted adversaries were received like
brothers, whereas the Nazis never gave their pitiable
victims the chance of saving themselves, even by the most
complete recantation.

It is by virtue of these conceptions that the Germans
undertook the Germanisation of occupied territories, and
had, without doubt, the intention

                                                  [Page 366]

of undertaking to Germanise the whole world. This
Germanisation can be distinguished from the ancient theories
of Pan-Germanism in so far as it is both a Nazification and
an actual return to barbarism.

Racialism classifies occupied nations into two main
categories; Germanisation means for some a National
Socialist assimilation, and for others disappearance or
slavery. For human beings of the so-called "higher race,"
the most favoured condition assigned to them comprises the
falling-in with the new concepts of the Germanic community.
For human beings of the so-called "inferior race" it was
proposed either to abolish all rights while waiting or
preparing their physical destruction, or to assign them to
servitude. For both, racialism means acceptance of the Nazi
myths.

This twofold programme of absolute Germanisation was not
carried out in its entirety nor in all the occupied
countries. The Germans had conceived it as a lengthy piece
of work which they intended to carry out gradually, by a
series of successive measures. This progressive approach is
always characteristic of the Nazi method. It fits in
apparently, both with the variety of obstacles encountered,
with the hypocritical desire of sparing public opinion, and
with a horrid lust for experimenting and scientific
ostentation.

When the countries were liberated, the state of the
Germanisation varied a great deal according to the different
countries, and in each country according to such and such
category of the population. At times the method was driven
on to its extreme consequences; elsewhere, one only
discovers signs of preparatory arrangements. But it is easy
to note everywhere the trend of the same evil, interrupted
at different moments in its development, but everywhere
directed by the same inexorable movement.

As regards national status, the Germans proceeded to an
annexation pure and simple in Luxembourg, in the Belgian
cantons of Eupen and of Malmedy, and in the French
departments of Alsace and of Lorraine. Here the criminal
undertaking consisted both in the abolition of the
sovereignty of the State, natural protector of its
nationals, and in the abolition for those nationals of the
status they had as citizens of this State, a status
recognised by domestic and International Law.

The inhabitants of these territories thereby lost their
original nationality, ceasing to be Luxembourgers, Belgians
or French. They did not acquire, however, full German
nationality; they were admitted only gradually to this
singular favour, on the further condition that they furnish
certain justifications therefor.

The Germans sought to efface in them even the memory of
their former country. In Alsace and in Moselle the French
language was banned; names of places and of people were
Germanised.

New citizens or mere subjects were equally subjected to the
obligations, relating to the Nazi regime: to forced labour,
as a matter of course, and soon to military conscription. In
case of resistance to these unjust and abominable orders -
since it was a matter of arming the French against their
allies and in reality against their own country - sanctions
were brought to bear, not only against the parties
concerned, but even against the members of their families,
following the theses of Nazi law, which brushes aside the
fundamental principles of law against repression.

Persons who appeared recalcitrant to Nazification, or even
those who seemed of little use to Nazi enterprises, became
victims of large-scale expulsions, driven from their homes
in a few short hours with the scantiest of baggage, and
despoiled of their property.

Yet this inhuman evacuation of entire populations, which
will remain one of the horrors of our century, appears as
favourable treatment when compared to the deportations which
were to fill the concentration camps, in particular the
Stuthoff camp in Alsace.

                                                  [Page 367]

At the same time that they oppressed the population by force
and in contravention of all law, the Nazis undertook,
according to their method, to convince the people of the
excellence of their regime. The young people especially were
to be educated in the spirit of National Socialism.

The Germans did not proceed to the annexation, properly
speaking, of other areas than those we have named; it is
beyond doubt, however, and confirmed by numerous
indications, that they proposed to annex territories much
more important by applying to them the same regime, if the
war had ended in a German victory. But everywhere they
prepared for the abolition or the weakening of the national
status by debarring or damaging the sovereignty of the State
involved, and by forcing the destruction of patriotic
feelings.

In all the occupied countries, whether or not there existed
an apparent governmental authority, the Germans
systematically disregarded the laws of occupation. They
legislated, regulated, administered. Besides the territories
annexed outright, the other occupied territories also were
in a state that might be defined as a state of pre-
annexation.

This leads to a second aspect, which is the attack on
spiritual security. Everywhere, although with variation in
time and space, the Germans applied themselves to abolishing
the public freedoms, notably the freedom of association, the
freedom of the Press; and they endeavoured to trammel the
essential freedoms of the spirit.

The German authorities subordinated the Press to the
strictest censorship, even in matters devoid of military
character, a Press, many of whose representatives, moreover,
were inspired by them. Manifold restrictions were imposed on
industry and on the moving picture business. Numerous works
altogether without political character were banned, even
textbooks: Religious authorities, themselves, saw their
clerical realm invaded, and words of truth could not be
heard.

After having curtailed freedom of expression even beyond the
degree that a state of war and occupation have justified,
the Germans developed their National Socialist propaganda
systematically through the Press, radio, film, meetings,
books and posters.

All these efforts achieved so little result that one might
attempt to-day to minimise their importance. Nevertheless,
the propaganda conducted by means most contrary to the
respect due to human intelligence, and on behalf of a
criminal doctrine, must go down in history as one of the
disgraces of the National Socialist regime.

No less did the Germanisation programme compromise human
rights in the other broad aspects that we have defined:
right of the family, right of professional and economic
activity, juridical guarantees. These rights were attacked,
these guarantees were curtailed.

The forced labour and the deportations infringed the rights
of the family, as well as the rights of labour. The
arbitrary arrests suppressed the most elementary legal
guarantees. In addition, the Germans tried to impose their
own methods on the administrative authorities of the
occupied countries and sometimes, unfortunately, succeeded
in their attempts.

It is also known that racial discriminations were provoked
against citizens of the occupied countries who were
catalogued as Jews, measures particularly hateful, damaging
to their personal rights and to their human dignity.

All these criminal acts were committed in violation of the
rules of international Law and, in particular, of The Hague
Convention, which limits the rights of armies occupying a
territory.

The fight of the Nazis against the human status completes
the tragic and monstrous totality of war criminality of Nazi
Germany, by placing her under the banner of the abasement of
man, deliberately brought about by the National

                                                  [Page 368]

Socialist doctrine. This gives it its true character of a
systematic undertaking of a return to barbarism.

Such are the crimes which National Socialist Germany
committed while waging the war of aggression that she
launched. The martyred peoples appeal to the justice of
civilised nations and request your High Tribunal to condemn
the National Socialist Reich in the person of its surviving
chiefs.

Let the defendants not be astonished at the charges brought
against them, and let them not dispute at all this principle
of retroactivity, the permanence of which was guaranteed,
against their wishes, by democratic legislation. War crimes
are defined by International Law and by the national law of
all modern civilisations. The defendants knew that acts of
violence against the persons and property and human status
of enemy nationals were crimes for which they would have to
answer before international justice.

The Governments of the United Nations have addressed many a
warning to them since the beginning of the hostilities.

On 25th October, 1941, Franklin Roosevelt, President of the
United States of America, and Winston Churchill, Prime
Minister of Great Britain, announced that the war criminals
would not escape just punishment:

   "The massacres of France," said Churchill, "are an
   example of what Hitler's Nazis are doing in many other
   countries under their yoke. The atrocities committed in
   Poland, Yugoslavia, Norway, Holland, Belgium, and
   particularly behind the German front in Russia, exceed
   anything that has been known since the darkest and most
   bestial ages of humanity. The punishment of these crimes
   should now be counted among the major goals of the war."

During the autumn of 1941, the representatives of the
governments of the occupied countries met in London upon the
initiative of the Polish and Czech Governments. They worked
out an Inter-Allied declaration which was signed on 13th
January, 1942. May I remind the Tribunal of its terms:

   "The undersigned, representing the Governments of
   Belgium, of Czechoslovakia, the National Committee of
   Free France, the Governments of Greece, of Luxembourg,
   of the Netherlands, of Poland and of Yugoslavia;
   
   Whereas Germany, from the beginning of the present
   conflict, which was provoked by her policy of
   aggression, set up in the occupied countries a regime of
   terror characterised, among other things, by
   imprisonment, mass expulsions, massacres, and execution
   of hostages;
   
   Whereas these acts of violence are committed equally by
   the allies and associates of the Reich, and in certain
   countries by citizens collaborating with the occupying
   power;
   
   Whereas international solidarity is necessary in order
   to prevent these deeds of violence from giving rise to
   acts of individual or collective violence, and finally
   in order to satisfy the spirit of justice in the
   civilised world;
   
   Recalling to mind that International Law and, in
   particular, The Hague Convention signed in
   1907,conceming the laws and customs of land warfare, do
   not permit belligerents to commit acts of violence
   against civilians in occupied countries, or to violate
   laws which are in force or to overthrow national
   institutions;
   
   Affirming that acts of violence thus committed against
   civilian populations have nothing in common with the
   conceptions of an act of war or a political crime as
   this is understood by civilised nations;
   
   Taking note of the declarations made in this respect on
   25th October, 1941, by the President of the United
   States of America and the British Prime Minister;
   
   Placing among their chief war aims, the punishment by
   means of organised justice of those guilty of, or
   responsible for, these crimes, whether they ordered,
   perpetrated, or shared in them;
   
                                                  [Page 369]

   Having decided to see to it in a spirit of international
   solidarity that:
   (a) those guilty or responsible, whatever their
   responsibility, shall be sought out, brought to justice,
   and be judged; (b) that the sentences pronounced shall
   be executed;
   
   In faith of which, the undersigned, being duly
   authorised, to this effect have signed this
   declaration."

The leaders of National Socialist Germany received other
warnings. I refer to the speech of General de Gaulle of 13th
January, 1942; that of Churchill on 8th September, 1942; the
note of M. Molotov, Commissar of the People for Foreign
Affairs of the Soviet Union, of 14th October, 1942; and the
second Inter-Allied declaration of 17th December, 1942. The
latter was made simultaneously in London, Moscow and
Washington after receipt of information according to which
the German authorities were engaged in exterminating the
Jewish minorities in Europe. In this declaration, the
Governments of Belgium, Czechoslovakia, Greece, Luxembourg,
the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, the United States of
America, the United Kingdom, the Soviet Union, Yugoslavia,
and the French National Committee, which represented the
continuation of France, solemnly reaffirmed their will to
punish the war criminals who are responsible for this
extermination.

(A recess was taken.)

M. DE MENTHON: The premises for a just punishment arc thus
fulfilled. The defendants, at the time when they committed
their crimes, knew the will of the United  Nations to bring
about their punishment. The warnings which were given to
them contain a definition which precedes the punishment.

The defendants, moreover, could not be ignorant of the
criminal nature of their activities. The warnings of these
Allied Governments in effect translated in a political form
the fundamental principles of International Law and of
national law which permit the punishment of war criminals to
be established on positive precedents and positive rules.

The creators of International Law had a presentiment of the
concept of war crime, particularly Grotius who elucidated
the criminal character of needless acts of war. The Hague
Conventions, after the lapse of several centuries,
established the first generally binding standards for laws
of war. They regulated the conduct of hostilities and
occupation procedures; they formulated positive rules in
order to limit recourse to force and to bring the
necessities of war into agreement with the requirements of
human conscience. War Crimes thus received the first
definition under which they may be considered; they became a
violation of laws and customs of war as codified by The
Hague Convention.


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