The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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DR. STAHMER, Continued:

The witnesses Eichborn and Oberhauser did not move into
these quarters near the site of the deed until the 20th of
September, 1941, and they can only testify as to what they
themselves observed from that date on. But from the end of
July there was an advance unit near the castle, and from
August, a regimental staff. It is, however, quite out of the
question that within the period of time of perhaps six weeks
this act could have been perpetrated. The few people who
were at their disposal were so overburdened with military
tasks that in this short period of time it would have been
quite impossible for them not only to kill 11,000
prisoners, but also to dispose of the bodies.

According to the statement of the prosecution, Russian
prisoners of war allegedly helped with the disposal of the
bodies. That has not been proved. None of the Russian
population had ever seen such prisoners. In no case could
all traces of the deed be erased so quickly, and the site so
speedily made unrecognisable, that the witnesses Oberhauser
and Eichborn on their frequent trips to the Dnieper Castle
would not have noticed some suspicious signs.

The testimony of the witness for the prosecution who was
heard here on this matter is not sufficient. He merely heard
a story of such shootings from a certain Monchagin who
cannot be found now. This witness did not make any personal
observations. He himself did not see any Poles. He was told
by students that they had seen Poles, but they did not know
the number of Poles or where they were being kept. Testimony
which is so inadequate in every respect is worthless, and
the testimony given by the two doctors heard as witnesses
are not suitable for use in the sense of the Indictment.

                                                  [Page 133]

Within the scope of the evidence admitted by the Tribunal,
it would not have been possible to clarify completely all
the medical questions which were decisive for the experts in
the facts you have established. Therefore, the defence has
also refrained from calling a medical expert to exonerate
the defendant.

There is one thing, however, which cannot be overlooked in
this connection. The expert opinion obtained by the German
Government was given by twelve members of a commission of
leading representatives of forensic medicine from European
universities, while the expert opinion referred to by the
prosecution was deposed by a group of Russian experts only.
The first expert opinion is to be preferred, since it was
compiled by experts who were completely non-political.

The witness Professor Markov, in his examination, deviated
from the opinion contained in the report of the 30th of
April, 1943. Allegedly, even at that time, due to his
findings upon making an autopsy on the bodies, he did not
agree with the report that the shootings took place in the
months of March and April, 1940, and in this respect the
testimony must be met with misgivings.

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Stahmer, you realize, of course, that you
have not offered in evidence the report of this German
commission. You expressly refrained, as I understand it,
from offering the report of the German commission. And you -

DR. STAHMER: Mr. President, that is a mistake. I did not
refrain from doing so. I was not permitted to submit the
White Book, but I was permitted to submit the report of the
30th of April, 1943. However, I could not submit it
immediately, for it was contained in the White Book and I
was to have copies made. These copies were made and
submitted. I used some of the passages from the protocol,
with the express approval of the High Tribunal.

THE PRESIDENT: I know you did, and of course, if you want to
offer it, there will be no objection to your offering it,
but certainly I understood that you were only offering in
evidence the parts which you read to the witness. That, I
think, was put to you at the time you were cross-examining
the witnesses on behalf of the defence.

That is what I understood, but if you say that your
interpretation was different, and that you want to offer the
whole of the report, then that matter will be considered by
the Tribunal, if the Tribunal has not already considered it.

Are you saying that the Tribunal has already allowed the
whole of that report to be offered in evidence?

DR. STAHMER: Mr. President, unfortunately the book -

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Stahmer, what you are desiring to offer
in evidence is the conclusion of the report or the protocol
or whatever it is called, is that right? That, I take it, is
not a very long document, is it?

DR. STAHMER: No, Mr. President. May I explain again? I am
sorry, but I have not received the minutes of the session.
Therefore, I do now know just what is contained in this
protocol, but I do recall - and one of my colleagues
confirmed this to me just now - that at the time I was
permitted to submit the entire so-called report of the
commission and I quoted certain passages not only from the
conclusion, but from the whole report, and with the
permission of the High Tribunal, I proposed to submit the
entire report later.

THE PRESIDENT: Well, I do not know what you mean by the
whole report, or what you mean by the protocol.

DR. STAHMER: Mr. President, may I describe it once more.

This was a rather comprehensive protocol which described the
findings of the investigations. It contained the entire
facts of the case, and it concluded with a general opinion
of experts. It is composed, as I have stated, of facts and
reasons. It contains, first of all, a very comprehensive
statement in which the facts which the experts there were
considering are described individually. The fact that

                                                  [Page 134]

they interrogated the Russian population on the spot,
checked over the site of the graves, held a post-mortem -
all of these things were presented by me from the record
with the permission of the High Tribunal.

Mr. President, may I be permitted to make one more remark to
clarify these matters? I remember this incident very
particularly because you, Mr. President, first mentioned it
and asked whether I had another copy of this protocol. I
said, "No, I have only the 'White Book'." Then that was
submitted to the witness, and thereupon I suggested that the
other witness be called in immediately so that I could have
a copy made of this protocol. Then you, Mr. President,
thought it had better not be so, but that I should take the
book back and then afterwards submit a copy.

THE PRESIDENT: Well, the Tribunal will look at the record to
see exactly what happened.

DR. STAHMER: As I said, I have not seen the record myself.
If it was not taken down like that, then the record is not
complete. However, I do remember quite clearly that that is
what took place.

THE PRESIDENT: We will continue then.

DR. STAHMER: The statement of the witness is subject to
considerable doubt. The witness could not give any
satisfactory explanation as to why, in view of his attitude
concerning the form of the protocol of 30th April, 1943, he
did not immediately contest it and refuse to sign it, and
why he did not, at a later date, at least tell the other
experts who participated his true, scientific conviction.

Through this testimony the German experts' opinion cannot
lose its weight and become weakened, especially as the other
eleven experts obviously endorsed the statements set forth
in this report.

Because of this state of affairs, it will not be necessary
to set forth the individual reasons which support the
correctness of the statements contained in the German "White
Book" of April 30th 1943.

The time given by the Russian experts for the shooting, that
is the autumn of 1941, is determined arbitrarily, and it
cannot be true in any case, for the corpses wore winter
clothing, a fact the witness Markov noticed in the cases of
the corpses upon which he performed an autopsy. The fact
that ammunition for pistols of German make was found in the
graves does not permit the conclusion that this shooting was
necessarily carried out by Germans. In the German White Book
it has already been pointed out that the German factory
which produced this ammunition delivered a great deal to
other countries, especially to the East.

In conclusion, it can be said that the task of this
proceeding is solely to determine whether the 11,000 Polish
officers were shot after the capture of Smolensk by the
Germans, so that this deed could only have been committed by
the Germans. The prosecution have not succeeded in proving
this fact, and therefore, this accusation will have to be
stricken from the Indictment.

Mr. President, I come now to my closing sentences, my
conclusion. I imagine it will take me roughly a little more
than ten minutes, and think it would be best to give this
conclusion in continuity. Either I will have to speak until
after one o'clock, or, if I may be permitted to make a
suggestion, the Tribunal might recess now.

Shall I continue now?

THE PRESIDENT: If you can finish in ten minutes we will go
on until you finish, Dr. Stahmer.

DR. STAHMER: I will not have quite finished in ten minutes,
and I should like to stress that I would not like to have to
interrupt my concluding remarks.

THE PRESIDENT: Perhaps if it would be more convenient to you
- we will do whichever you like, we will recess now, if you
like. It is a very hot day, and we will recess now if you

                                                  [Page 135]

DR. STAHMER: I would prefer to have the recess now. I do
feel the heat a little today, Mr. President.


(A recess was taken until 1400 hours.)

DR. STAHMER: I come now to the summary.

If we now review the personality and life of the defendant
Goering, the following viewpoints must be considered for the
appraisal of his actions:

With a good educational background and training in
character, he received the impressions which determined his
future attitude as a young officer and combat airman during
World War I, in which he proved his outstanding worth,
receiving the highest award for bravery, the order of Pour
le merite. He experienced the collapse of the German war
effort as a consequence of, as he saw it, German treachery
from within.

After the rule of the Kaiser had been overthrown, the German
people wanted to give themselves a new constitution on a
democratic basis and then hoped to be able to work their way
up again by industry and perseverance. In this, the
confidence in the far-sightedness of the victorious powers
of that time, and especially in the fourteen points of
Wilson, played a great part.

But when the Treaty of Versailles utterly frustrated these
hopes, the Weimar democratic Government fell into disfavour.
This, together with the subsequent world economic crisis,
formed the prerequisites which paved the way to the seizure
of power by Hitler.

At first, the "fight against Versailles" made his rise as a
party leader possible. Goering as witness described how he
agreed with Hitler during their first meeting that nothing
could be achieved by written protests.

The powerlessness of the German democracy had now become
apparent to the entire world. Goering, like Hitler, was
convinced that Germany inevitably must become a victim of
Bolshevism unless the Communists were vigorously opposed,
the economic conditions of the people improved and the self-
confidence of the German nation restored. The continuation
of the "fight against Versailles" was a matter of course.
But in this, Hitler's view was that Germany belonged
basically to the West, culturally, economically and even
politically. He believed that the Bolshevist danger, which
at first was directed against Germany, would ultimately also
threaten the Western countries. He, therefore, was of the
opinion that he would be able to gain gradually their
recognition and support if he took up the ideological
struggle against the East.

From this basic attitude alone, is it possible to explain
his entire policy until the actual collapse. One may rightly
condemn it today as having been a failure from the outset,
but one cannot ignore the fact that, at first, many things
in the development clearly seemed to justify it. And this
explains how Hitler succeeded in gaining ever-increasing
support from the German people.

Goering firmly believed that salvation could come only
through Hitler. He recognized in him the born national
leader who knew how to influence and to guide the masses,
and whose hypnotic will-power could not be intimidated by
any obstacle. He realised that under a democratic
constitution only such a man of demoniacal-demagogic talent
was able to prevail. And therefore he joined him.

Because Goering was a true and honest German, inspired only
by love for the Fatherland, he did not even think of using
Hitler only as a tool for his own advancement. On the
contrary, from the beginning, he freely and sincerely
accepted Hitler as the man who' alone decides, in other
words, as the "Fuehrer", and was willing to be satisfied
with a subordinate role. Therefore, the famous air force
captain and holder of the order Pour le merite, did not
hesitate to swear the oath of allegiance to the then still
unknown Hitler, an oath which was to hold good for the rest
of his life and actually did so.

                                                  [Page 136]

It is tragic that a crusade such as led by Goering and
Hitler could be so completely misunderstood as to be
considered from the very outset as a conspiracy for the
purpose of committing crimes.

His aim was at first directed to freeing Germany from the
shackles of the Treaty of Versailles. The Weimar Government
had made repeated attempts to be released from the most
onerous obligations of this treaty. However, Germany was not
successful in her endeavours for a revision.

No progress was made by negotiating.

Did not International Law appear to be only an instrument in
the hands of the victors of Versailles to keep Germany down
permanently? Was it not still true in the world that might
came before right, and that the Germans would achieve
something only if they had the courage to strike an
inflexible attitude?

Such considerations appear absolutely understandable from
the situation of that time. To construe from them a proof
for the conspiracy alleged by the prosecution would mean a
complete misunderstanding of the facts. Actually, the
development after 1933 seemed at first to prove Hitler
completely right. He easily achieved with his methods much
more than what - if given freely - would have kept the
Weimar Government in power.

From the willingness of the foreign countries not only to
conclude treaties with Hitler - such as the Naval Agreement
of 1935 and the Munich Pact of September, 1938 - but also to
participate to the end in the Party rallies, the German
people could only, conclude that Hitler had chosen the
correct road for reaching international understanding.

This impression and this judgement were absolutely correct
until the autumn of 1938. Had Hitler afterwards observed
loyally the Munich Agreement, then he would probably have
rendered abortive the arguments for the "stop" policy which
was initiated against him. Not only would the peace have
been kept, but Hitler could also have harvested the fruits
of his domestic and foreign policy carried out until then
and recognized by all Powers.

Basically, the argument today only centres in the question
whether the developments since then and their catastrophic
consequences are to be charged solely to him or to others.
All Germans who followed Hitler at any time and in any way
are accused. It is said by the prosecuting nations, above
all, by those who put no trust in him from the outset and
who denied the legitimacy of his government from the
beginning - "It could be foreseen that he would end as he
did!" Therefore, everyone who supported him at any time, and
in any way, also shares the guilt.

To this accusation it must be objected that out of the sad
results it constructs, in retrospect, an obligation which
would destroy all belief not only in freedom, but also in
the wisdom of man. Of course, Hitler himself did not desire
the end as it came. He frequently announced at the beginning
that he was not out for the laurels, of war, but wished to
devote the rest of his life to peaceful construction work.

From a truly objective point of view, one can reproach him
only for not having limited his aims when he realised he
could not effect their achievement by peaceful and humane

If by such means, that is, by renouncing force of any kind,
he could have achieved his aims, then he would not have had
to go his own way and would not have had to seek a new
solution. In the circumstances, a certain play with force,
up to the point where it does not get out of hand, must be
regarded as permissible. Where the excesses in force began
can only be determined, due to lack of other proof, by the
results of his policy. He certainly did not foresee and
intend the bad results. However, the basis of his
criminality must be regarded as the fact that he would never
let himself be taught by his failures, but instead let
himself be led on to still greater extremes. But how much of
this guilt can and may be charged also to his followers?

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