The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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Last-Modified: 2001/02/26

[SIR DAVID MAXWELL FYFE, Continued]

It needs little imagination to see the abuses to which a
decree such as that might be put, abuses which might well
prove a convenient weapon for the Nazi Party. That letter
from a Gauleiter went to all Gauamtsleiter, Gau Inspectors
and Kreisleiter in his Gau. From the fact that it is stated
that the Department for National Health was to carry out
preparations for cases to be put before the Gauleiter, it is
clear that the Amtsleiter for that Department of National
Health were also closely involved.

You will remember the evidence of the extent to which mercy
killing became general knowledge within a few months of its
commencement.

By July, 1940, Bishop Wurm was writing to Frick. In August
he was writing to the Minister of Justice. In September,
having obtained no satisfaction, he was writing again both
to Frick and to the Minister of Justice.

Bishop Wurm was talking about events in Wurttemberg. They
were not confined to Wurttemberg, to Stuttgart and
Nuremberg. Several hundred miles away the same thing was
happening in Stettin, as the letters of the Stettin
Supervisor to the Ministry of Justice and to Lammers, of 6th
September, 1940, and Lammers's letter to the Minister of
Justice of 2nd October, 1940, indicate. By August of next
year the same thing was happening around Wiesbaden, as we
see from the Bishop of Limbourg's letter to Frick, the
Minister of Justice and the Minister for Church Affairs. It
was happening in Franconia also, and we happen to have a
file which shows the part the Political Leaders of Franconia
were taking. Can one doubt, when one reads those letters,
that the same thing must have been happening in every other
area in Germany where these murderous commissions were at
work? Bormann writes to the Gauleiter of Franconia and one
of his Kreisleiter on 24th September, 1940:

                                                  [Page 260]

  "It is natural that the representatives of Christian
  ideology speak against the Commission's measures: it must
  be equally natural that all Forty offices should, as far
  as necessary, support the work of the Commission."

How can Dr. Servatius say of this evidence that it shows the
Political Leaders had no part in the carrying out of these
measures, and that they had no knowledge of them? That one
sentence from Bormann's letter is alone sufficient to
justify a declaration of criminality against the Corps of
Political Leaders, the corps which provided the heads of the
Party offices which were to support those commissions.

It was questioned during the cross-examination of the
defence witnesses for the Corps of Political Leaders as to
whether this crime of euthanasia came within the
jurisdiction of this Tribunal under Article 6 of the
Charter. Surely there can be no serious doubt that the
murder of 270,000 persons is a Crime Against Humanity.
270,000 corpses may pale into insignificance beside the
slaughter in the occupied territories and the concentration
camps; it is, nevertheless, a crime of almost unimaginable
proportions. Neither can there be any doubt that it was a
crime committed in connection with aggressive war. From
Bishop Wurm's letter to Frick on 19th July, 1940, we learn
that these murders were taking place on the orders of the
Reich Defence Council. Goering, Keitel, Frick, Raeder, Funk,
Hess and Ribbentrop were members of the Reich Defence
Council. When the Bishop wrote again on 5th September, 1940,
he stated:

  "If the leadership of the State is convinced that it is a
  question of an inevitable war measure, why does it not
  issue a decree with legal force?"

The purpose of these crimes is clear, as it was clear to the
Catholic population of Absburg whom the Ortsgruppenleiter
reported as asserting:

  "The State must be in a bad way now, or it could not
  happen that these poor people should simply be sent to
  their death solely in order that the means which until now
  have been used for the upkeep of these people may be made
  available for the prosecution of the war."

I merely remind the Tribunal, in the shortest terms, of
Bormann 's remarks to similarly worded letters to various
families, {LINK-BORMANNLET} of the Gaustabsamtsleiter of
Nuremberg demanding notification in a more skilful form when
30,000 had been dispatched and four times as many were
waiting; {LINK-PATIENTS} of the doubts of the Kreisleiter of
Erlanger, {LINK-ERLANGER} of the grave difficulties as to
notification which faced the Kreisleiter of Ansbach.{LINK-
ANSBACH} Neither the Kreisleiter nor any of the others
appear to have felt

                                                  [Page 261]

any concern at the fact that they themselves were actively
supporting an administration conducting mass murder. If
their oath of allegiance to their Fuehrer absolved them from
qualms of conscience, can it also acquit them of moral or
criminal guilt? Kreisleiter from all over Franconia were
reporting in similar terms. The Kreisleiter from Lauf wrote
to the Gaustabsamtsleiter:

  "The doctor also informed me that it was well known that
  the Commission consisted of one SS doctor and several
  subordinate doctors, that their patients were not even
  examined and that they only pronounced the verdict in
  accordance with the medical history noted down."

Mrs. Marie Kehr lost two of her sisters in that way, and
wrote to ask the Reich Minister of the Interior under what
decree they had been killed. Frick's office passed the
matter on to the Gaustabsamtsleiter in Nuremberg:

  "I request that you investigate whether Kehr is
  politically reliable, especially whether she does not have
  Church connections. In case this should be so, for my part
  there are no misgivings if you give Kehr the desired
  information orally."

The Gaustabsamtsleiter passed that letter on to the
Kreisleiter. The Kreisleiter passed it on to the
Ortsgruppenleiter, who reported "that one can inform Mrs.
Kehr. She is calm and circumspect."

In February, 1941, the Ortsgruppenleiter of Absburg reported
on the "wildest scenes imaginable" which had occurred in his
village when the local sanatorium had been cleared of
patients. You may think his attitude was typical of the
great mass of Political Leaders:

  "These incidents during this action, which is after all
  necessary, are to be condemned all the more because even
  Party members themselves did not shrink from joining in
  the lamentations of the other weeping spectators. It is
  even said that these poor victims - as they are regarded
  by the clergy and the religious inhabitants of Absburg -
  were taken to the Catholic Church for confession and
  communion shortly before their departure. It seems
  absolutely ridiculous to want to take away by an oral
  confession the possible sins of people, some of whom
  completely lack all mental power."

It has become manifest during these proceedings that other
Political Leaders share the views of that Ortsgruppenleiter
as to the absurdity of any oral confession.

It is unnecessary for me to remind you of the other reports,
except to mention that in addition to the
Gaustabsamtsleiter, the Kreisleiter and Ortsgruppenleiter,
the Gauorganizationleiter also becomes involved. The
Leadership Corps was up to the elbows in this bloody
business.

WAR CRIMES

The Corps of Political Leaders take their share of
responsibility for the maltreatment of prisoners of war. In
September, 1941, Bormann circulated to Gauleiter and
Kreisleiter the regulations of the OKW for the treatment of
Soviet prisoners of war. From the receipt stamp of that
document it appears that the Gauschulungsleiter was the
official of the Gau staff chiefly concerned with these
matters. You remember the directives contained in those
regulations. They were based on the fact that:

  "Bolshevism is the deadly enemy of Nazi Germany .... The
  Bolshevist soldier has therefore lost all claim to
  treatment as an honourable opponent in accordance with the
  Geneva Convention ... the feeling of pride and superiority
  of the German soldier ordered to guard Soviet prisoners of
  war must at all times be visible even in public. The order
  for ruthless and energetic action must be given at the
  slightest indication of insubordination especially in the
  case of Bolshevist fanatics ... With Soviet prisoners of
  war it is necessary, for reasons of discipline, that the
  use of arms should be severe."

                                                  [Page 262]


You will remember the special Einsatz groups set up by the
SD to screen Soviet prisoners of war in the P.W. camps in
order to discover and eliminate their leaders and
intelligentsia. These orders circulated to Gauleiter and
Kreisleiter explain the purpose and the method of work of
those special purpose units and state:

  "The armed forces must rid themselves of all those
  elements among the prisoners of war which must be
  considered as the driving force of Bolshevism. The special
  conditions of the Eastern campaign demand special
  measures, which can be carried out on their own
  responsibility free from bureaucratic and administrative
  influences."

No Gauleiter or Kreisleiter can tell this court that he did
not know that Russian prisoners of war were being murdered.

It was not only for their information that Political Leaders
received those instructions. Bormann, writing to all
Reichleiter, Gauleiter, Verbandefuehrer and Kreisleiter in
September, 1944, emphasized:

  "The co-operation of the Party in the commitment of
  prisoners of war is, inevitable. Therefore the officers
  assigned to the prisoner-of-war system, have been
  instructed to co-operate most closely with the
  Hoheitstrager; the commanders of the prisoner-of-war camps
  have to detail immediately liaison officers to the
  Kreisleiter; thus the opportunity will be afforded the
  Hoheitstrager to alleviate existing difficulties locally,
  to exercise influence on the behaviour of the guard units
  and better to proportion the commitment of the prisoners
  of war to the political and economic demands."

It was to be the task of the Political Leaders to orientate
both the guards and the plant owners "again and again
politically and ideologically" and this was to be done in co-
operation with the DAF.

It is unnecessary to repeat the evidence of the treatment of
Russian and other prisoners of war employed by Krupp. The
Political Leaders were as callous of their prisoner-of-war
slaves when they died as they had been while they lived.
Gauleiter and Kreisleiter received from Bormann Frick's
instructions for the burial of Soviet prisoners of war.
Tarred paper was to make do for coffins, no burial
ceremonies or decorations of the graves were to be allowed,
costs were to be kept as low as possible and the "transfer
and burial is to be carried out unobtrusively, if a number
of corpses have to be disposed of the burial will be carried
o in a communal grave."

What did the last rites of those whom they had worked to
death matter to the Nazi Government and its Political
Leaders? They mattered as little as any recognized form of
simple decency or honour.

As early as March, 1940, Hess had circularized the Political
Leaders with directives for behaviour in case of landings of
enemy planes or parachutists. You will remember the order:

  "Likewise enemy parachutists are immediately to be
  arrested or made harmless."

In view of less ambiguous orders which were to follow, and
of the extraordinary precautions to maintain secrecy in
respect of that order, can you now doubt what that somewhat
ambiguous phrase was intended to convey? You remember that
it was to be disseminated orally only to Kreisleiter,
Ortsgruppenleiter, Zellen- and Blockleiter. Transmittal of
the order by official orders, poster, Press or radio was
prohibited, and amongst the other security precautions it
was declared to be a State secret document. You will
remember also that in addition to all the Hoheitstrager
being informed, the order went to the Reich Organization
Directorate, the Reich Propaganda Directorate and the Reich
Student Leadership offices, which each had their own
representative included in the Amtsleiter of the Gau, Kreis
and Ortsgruppen staffs, and that it went also to SS
Gruppenfuehrer Heydrich.

THE PRESIDENT: Sir David, would that be a good time to break
off?

SIR DAVID MAXWELL FYFE: Yes, my Lord.

                                                  [Page 263]

THE PRESIDENT: The Tribunal will adjourn.

(A recess was taken.)

In August, 1943, Himmler instructed the police that it was
not their task to interfere in clashes between Germans and
terror flyers. Gauleiter were to be informed verbally.

In May, 1944, Goebbels was writing to the Volkischer
Beobachter that it was not bearable to use German police to
protect murderers. The next day Bormann directed the
attention of all Gauleiter, Verbandefuehrer, Kreisleiter and
Ortsgruppenleiter to the fact that several instances had
occurred in which aircraft crews who had baled out or had
made forced landings had been lynched on the spot by the
incensed populace.

  "No police measures or criminal proceedings were involved
  against the German civilians who participated in these
  incidents."

It was hardly necessary for us, in order to understand the
purpose of that letter, to have captured a Gauleiter's order
taking advantage of the invitation that Bormann had
extended. In February, 1945, the Gauleiter for Westfalen-
South expressly directed his Kreisleiter to encourage the
lynching of Allied airmen:

  "Fighter-bomber pilots," he wrote, "who are shot down are,
  on principle, not to be protected against the indignation
  of the people. I expect from all police offices that they
  will refuse to lend their protection to these gangster
  types."

You will have seen Gauleiter Hoffmann's evidence before your
Commissioners upon this matter, and you will pay such
attention to it as you think it deserves.

Let me conclude this review of the evidence against the
Corps of Political Leaders by reminding you of the evidence
of two witnesses called in defence of the organizations, one
Eberstein, whom you yourselves heard give evidence for the
SS, and the other Wahl, a Gauleiter who testified before
your Commissioners.

You know the evidence that all the Political Leaders have
given as to concentration camps - they had nothing to do
with them, they knew nothing of what was happening inside
them. But what did the witness Eberstein tell you? I quote
from his evidence:

  "In the beginning of March, 1945, the Gauleiter and Reich
  Defence Kommissar Giesle in Munich ordered me to come to
  him, and demanded that I should influence the Kommandant
  of Dachau to the effect that when the American troops
  approached, the prisoners - there were 25,000 people there
  at the time - were to be shot. I refused this demand with
  indignation, and I pointed out that I could not give any
  orders to the Kommandant, whereupon Giesle said to me that
  he, as Reich Defence Kommissar, would see to it that the
  camp would be bombed by our own forces. I told him that I
  considered it impossible that any German air force
  commander would be willing to do this. Then Giesle said he
  would see to it that something would be put into the soup
  of the prisoners. That is, he threatened to poison them.
  From my own initiative I sent an inquiry to the inspector
  of the concentration camp by teletype, and asked for a
  decision from Himmler as to what was to be done with the
  prisoners in case the American troops approached. Shortly
  thereafter the news came that the camps were to be
  surrendered to the enemy. I showed that to Giesle. He was
  quite indignant because I had frustrated his plans."

And lastly the witness Wahl, Gauleiter of Schwaben, gave
this evidence:

  "Q. Witness, I was asking you about the conversation which
  you had with your wife on the question whether or not you
  should resign your position as Gauleiter. Is not the
  implication to be drawn from that conversation this: that
  you were ashamed of what other Gauleiter were doing and
  that all around you saw things going on of which you
  disapproved and from which you wanted to dissociate
  yourself?

                                                  [Page 264]

A. Yes.

Q. That is true, is it not?

A. Yes, that is true."

And in answer to another question he said:

  "I want to stress the point that it is not my task and not
  my wish here to justify all the Gaue. Among the Gauleiter,
  as everywhere else, there were maniacs and bloodthirsty
  fools."


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