The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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DR. THOMA, Continued:

The Markull memorandum is the truest possible reflection of
Rosenberg's personality and influence, as it shows the
anxious subordinate trying to conjure up the spirit of his
Minister as he had come to know and to love him in his work,
and to dispel an alien phantom who seemed to have taken his
place. It says there that the train of thought conforms with
the policy of Reich Commissioner Koch but not with the
decrees of the Reich Minister and the conception of at least
80 per cent of the regional commissioners and specialists,
who were counting on their Minister, and who considered that
the Eastern population should be treated decently and with
understanding; for it evinced a surprisingly high capacity
for culture, its efficiency in work was good, and we were
about to waste a precious stock of gratitude, love and
confidence. The controversy between the Minister and the
Reich Commissioner was well known among the high authorities
of the Reich and it was no secret that the Ministry was
unable to carry out its policies in opposition to the Reich
Commissioners, who considered the Eastern Ministry as
entirely superfluous; the writings of Bormann would disavow
the entire policy of the Eastern  Minister up to now and one
had the impression that Koch had been considered by Hitler
as being right in his opposition to the Minister. Since its
foundation the Ministry had to complain about an ever-
increasing loss of power. The higher SS and police officials
refused to render to the General Commissioner the normal
honours such as reports, etc. One jurisdiction of the
Eastern Minister after another was being taken away by other
highest Reich offices; in the offices in Berlin it was
openly said that the remodelling of the Ministry into a mere
Operations Staff (Fuehrungsstab) was to be expected. On the
other hand, the Reich Ministry for the Occupied Eastern
Territories, due to the personality of its leader, enjoyed
the exceptional esteem of the public.

                                                  [Page 250]

Dr. Markull implores the Minister to stand by his original
ideas, saying that the unfortunate master complex should be
as much avoided as the opinion that the intelligentsia were
alien to the masses. The influence of spiritual forces
should be taken into consideration. Germany should prove a
"righteous judge", acknowledging the national and cultural
rights of nations. Such had been the ideas of the Minister
before and such they should remain.

Rosenberg's attitude did not change in fact, as at that very
time he was working on the great School Programme
(Schulverordnung). Later on he effected the reopening
primarily of the medical faculties in colleges. And then
came the conflict with the Fuehrer in May, 1943.

On 12th October, 1944, Rosenberg tendered his resignation
through Lammers to the Fuehrer (Document Ro. 14), because
the German Eastern policies in general and the political
psychological treatment of Eastern nations in particular
were still opposed to the point of view which he had had
from the very beginning, his plan of autonomy of the Eastern
nations and of the cultural development of their capacities
as part of an all-European conception of a family of nations
on the continent. Now he had made up his mind, seeing a
great statesmanlike programme destroyed.

All he could do in regard to the policy of enslavement and
looting which was going on in his country was to accept
memoranda from his colleagues in the Ministry or at best
indulge in a futile paper war with people like Koch. He had
not been strong enough against the plans which blind forces
in the East wanted to carry out and he was powerless against
their influence, being in addition totally unaware at that
time of all the police and military orders which were
presented here to the Tribunal.

When Rosenberg once reminded Hitler of the creation of a
university in Kiev, Hitler apparently agreed; after
Rosenberg had left and he was alone with Goring, Hitler
said: "This fellow has special worries. We have more
important matters on our minds than universities in Kiev."
No episode can illustrate better than all the documents the
theme: "Rosenberg and reality in the East," and the other
theme: "Rosenberg as the alleged inspirer of Hitler."

As Rosenberg did not receive any reply to his request for
resignation, he tried many times to talk with Hitler
personally. It was all in vain.

On 11th December, 1945, Mr. Dodd said:

  "This system of hatred, savagery and denial of individual
  rights, which the conspirators erected into a philosophy
  of government within Germany, into what we may call the
  Nazi Constitution, followed the Nazi armies as they swept
  over Europe ... and foreign labourers became the serfs of
  the master race - they were being deported and enslaved
  by the million."

And on 8th February, 1946, General Rudenko said:

  "Outstanding in the long chain of vile crimes committed
  by the German-Fascist invaders is the forced deportation
  to Germany of peaceful citizens - men, women, and
  children - for slave and serf labour."

He said that Goering, Keitel, Rosenberg and Sauckel were
particularly responsible for the inhuman and barbaric
instructions, directives and orders of the Hitler
Government, whose purpose was the carrying out of the
deportation of Soviet people into German slavery.

I have already spoken of the formal and individual
responsibility of Rosenberg as Reich Minister for the
Occupied Eastern Territories. I have already explained, too,
that in the field of labour employment it was not Rosenberg
but Sauckel who, as General Plenipotentiary for the
Mobilization of Labour, was the highest authority and the
responsible person, by virtue of the Fuehrer's decree of
21st March, 1942 (Document 580-PS). Thus Sauckel in this
field was Rosenberg's superior.

He wrote to Rosenberg on 3rd October, 1942 (Document 017-

  "The Fuehrer has drawn up new and most urgent armament
  programmes which require the speediest employment of 2
  million additional foreign

                                                  [Page 251]

  workers. For the execution of his decree of 21st March,
  1942; the Fuehrer has given me more authority for my
  further tasks, particularly empowering me to use my own
  judgement in taking all measures in the Reich and in the
  Occupied Eastern Territories in order to ensure the
  organized employment of labour for the German armament
  industry under all circumstances."
In his "Programme for the Mobilization of Labour" of 24th
April, 1942 (Document 016-PS), he emphasized that the State
and local labour offices are in charge of all technical and
administrative matters in connection with labour
mobilization which come under the exclusive competence and
responsibility of the General Plenipotentiary for the
Mobilization of Labour. The defence of Sauckel is not my
task. But may I point out that he also did not take over
his great and difficult task with a feeling of hatred and
the intention of enslavement. In his programme for the
mobilization of labour just mentioned he says, for

  "Everything has to be avoided which, beyond the shortages
  and hardships caused by war conditions, would aggravate
  and even cause unnecessary suffering to foreign male and
  female workers during their stay in Germany. It stands to
  reason that we should make their presence and their work
  in Germany, without any loss for ourselves, as bearable
  as possible."

On that point Sauckel and Rosenberg shared the same opinion.

Neither is it my task to state and to prove that many
hundreds of thousands of foreign workers found good
conditions in Germany, that in fact numberless persons were
better off here than in their fatherland. I am only
concerned with the bad conditions which have been charged to
the defendant Rosenberg.

I come now to the "Central Agency for Nationals of the
Eastern Territories."

Gentlemen of the Tribunal, several days ago I read the
affidavit of Dr. Albert Beil. Essentially it contains an
authoritative statement of whatever can be said about that
subject. Therefore, I should like to omit this subject,
"Central Agency for Nationals of the Eastern Territories,"
and ask the Tribunal to consider it as having been

To refute the charge that Rosenberg was active as
protagonist of the system of hatred and barbarism, of
denying human rights, of enslavement, I must add the
following. Rosenberg received further unfavourable reports,
one being the report of 7th October, 1942, about the bad
treatment of Ukrainian skilled workers (Document, Exhibit
USA 198). Abuses in recruiting and during transportation
were pointed out; the workers were frequently dragged out of
their beds at night and locked up in cellars until the time
of their departure; threats and blows by the rural militia
were a matter of course; food brought from home was often
taken by the militia; during transportation to Germany
neglect and transgressions on the part of the escorting
units occurred, etc.

Rosenberg had no authority whatsoever to intervene in those
matters, but he tried to do so in a letter of 21st December,
1942, to Sauckel. Rosenberg first emphasises his fundamental
accord with Sauckel, but after a few tactical and polite
cliches, he complains seriously and urgently about the
methods used in the employment of labour. I quote:

  "I must emphatically request, in view of my
  responsibility for the Occupied Eastern Territories, that
  for supplying the required contingents methods should be
  avoided which might one day cause me or my associates to
  be charged with having connived at them and with being
  responsible for their consequences."

Rosenberg further states that he empowered the Reich
Commissioner for the Ukraine to make use, so far as
required, of his sovereign rights and to give attention to
the elimination of recruiting methods which were running
counter to the interests of warfare and war economy in the
occupied territories. He, Rosenberg, and the Reich
Commissioners could not help being surprised that in
numerous instances measures which should have been rejected
by civilian authorities were first communicated to him by
the police or other offices. Without co-ordination of their
mutual wishes, - he, Rosenberg, was unfortunately unable to
accept the joint

                                                  [Page 252]

responsibility for consequences resulting from these
reported conditions. In conclusion Rosenberg expressed the
wish to put an early end to such conditions for the sake of
their common interest.

Rosenberg also tried personal consultations with Sauckel,
and got Sauckel to promise that he would do everything to
bring about a fair solution of all these questions
(conference of 14th April, 1942). It was beyond Rosenberg's
power and authority to do more. His secret opponent,
supported by higher authorities, was Reich Commissioner
Koch, who was indeed one of the culprits chiefly responsible
for the cruel methods of recruiting and employment of
Eastern workers and whose influence Rosenberg was unable to

When the Prosecutor (M. Brudno on 9th January, 1946) charges
the defendant with protesting against these methods not for
humanitarian reasons but out of political expediency, I can
only say that in my opinion one cannot, without some sound
reasons, simply maintain that the defendant Rosenberg is
devoid of any human qualities.

As an example of the defendant's particular bestiality, the
so-called "Hay-Action" has been repeatedly pointed out by
the prosecution (Document 031-PS). It concerned the
intention of Army Group "Centre" to evacuate 40 to 50
thousand juveniles from the area of operations, as they
represented a considerable burden to the area of operations
and, besides, were for the most part without any parental
supervision. Villages for children were to be established
behind the front lines under native supervision; one of
these villages had already proven its value. It was expected
that through the Organization Todt, it being a particularly
appropriate organization due to its technical and other
possibilities, the juveniles would be placed at the disposal
of German handicraft industries first as apprentices, in
order to employ them as skilled workers after two years'
training. At first Rosenberg, as Reich Minister for the
Occupied Eastern Territories, was against it, because he
feared that the action might be considered as a deportation
of children, and on the other hand because the juveniles did
not represent a considerable increase of military strength.
The chief of the Political Operations Staff approached
Rosenberg again, stating that Army Group "Centre" attached
particular importance to the fact that the children should
reach the Reich not by authority of the General
Plenipotentiary for the Mobilization of Labour but through
the agency of the Reich Minister for the East, as it was
felt that only then could they be assured of correct
treatment. The Army Group wanted the action to be carried
out under the most loyal conditions and wanted special
regulations to be issued with regard to caring for mail
service between them and their parents, etc. In the event of
a possible reoccupation of the territory, the Eastern
Ministry could then let the children go back. Together with
their parents they would certainly form a positive element
during the subsequent reconstruction of the territory.

Finally, as reason for the second request addressed to the
Minister, it was stated in addition that the children, to be
sure, would not essentially contribute to strengthening the
military power of the enemy, but that the important factor
in this case was the long-range weakening of the biological
strength of the enemy; not only the Reichsfuehrer SS but
also the Fuehrer had expressed themselves to this effect.
Rosenberg finally gave his consent to this action.

With regard to this it may be said: a field is concerned
which was not at all within the jurisdiction of Rosenberg's
administration; he did not want to destroy a foreign element
even if biological weakening was given him as a reasons a
reason which he himself did not recognize. Instead he wanted
to have the children educated and trained in order to bring
them with their parents back to their homes later on. That
is virtually contrary to the crime which the defendant is
charged with. Later on (in the late summer of 1944),
Rosenberg visited the Junkers plant in Dessau where
approximately 4,700 young White Ruthenian craftsmen were
employed, and also visited a White Ruthenian children's
camp. The clothing of the workmen was irreproachable; they
were industrious, enjoyed the best treatment and got along
very well with the German workers. As Rosenberg was able

                                                  [Page 253]

to see for himself, the young people were taught languages
and mathematics by Russian teachers. The children were cared
for in their forest camp by White Ruthenian mothers and
woman teachers. The figure of 40,000, moreover, was never
attained, in fact, barely half of it.

The attempt of the prosecution in this instance to appeal
especially to considerations of humanity in order to
discredit the defendant cannot be successful in my
estimation. For it is exactly this example which compels me
to point out the following in particular: We were in the
midst of a war which was being conducted with terrible
intensity on both sides. Is not war in itself "monstrous
bestiality"? The "weakening of the biological strength of
nations" is truly a fitting expression for the goal and
purpose of the whole war, for that is what the thoughts and
efforts of both belligerent parties are aimed at. It is
impossible to think that one should want to forget this in
judging the actions of the defendants, and that one should
hold the defendants responsible, not only for unleashing the
war but in addition for the fact that war in its very
essence constitutes a great crime on the part of mankind,
both against itself and against the laws of life.

The prosecution contends that Rosenberg is guilty also in so
far as it was he who issued the inhuman and barbaric decrees
which aimed at carrying out the deportation of Soviet people
into German slavery. This causes me to discuss the question
as to whether the compulsory labour decree of 19th December,
1941, and Rosenberg's other decrees concerning compulsory
labour for the inhabitants of the Eastern territories were
contrary to International Law.

The Eastern territories administered by Rosenberg were
militarily occupied during the war. Through this occupation
bellica Germany realised a complete domination and had the
same sovereignty as over her own territory. While according
to previous conceptions of International Law the occupying
power could act arbitrarily without consideration of rights
and laws, recent developments in International Law
eliminated the principle of force and brought victory to the
principles of humanity and culture. Therefore, the formerly
unlimited might of the occupying power was altered to
limited rights. The Hague Rules of Land Warfare stipulated
in particular the legal duties of the occupying power.

On the other hand, it is also not true that the rules of
land warfare set up only certain rights for the occupying
powers. They merely set up a limit to the intrinsically
unlimited right of the occupying power to exercise all
powers deriving from territorial sovereignty over an
occupied territory.

THE PRESIDENT: Would that be a convenient time to break off?

(The Tribunal adjourned until 10th July, 1946 at 1000 hours.)

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