The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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DR. THOMA, Continued:

I wanted to present to the Tribunal a selection of Jewish
literary attacks on the national feeling at that time, but
the Tribunal ruled my application out as irrelevant; as
these writings were not introduced as evidence, I cannot
speak about them. It is, however, an injustice to Rosenberg
to assert that blind hatred of the Jewish

                                                  [Page 272]

race had driven him into that controversy. He had before his
eyes concrete factual evidence of the seditious activities
of Jews.

It appeared as if the Party programme of placing Jews under
a generous law for aliens would be realised.

It is true that Goebbels at that time called for a day's
boycotting of Jewish stores. Rosenberg, however, declared in
his speech of 28th June, 1932, on the anniversary of the
Versailles Treaty, in the Assembly Hall of the Reichstag in
the Kroll Opera House, that it was no longer necessary that
in the capital of the Reich 74 per cent of all lawyers
should be Jews and that 80 to 90 per cent of the physicians
in Berlin hospitals should be Jewish; about 30 per cent of
Jewish lawyers in Berlin would do amply. In his speech at
the Party Rally in September, 1933, Rosenberg stated in

  "In the most chivalrous way, the German Government has
  excluded from the percentage stipulations those Jews who
  have fought for Germany at the front or who have lost a
  son or a father in the war." (Document Book I, Page

In his speech at the Kroll Opera House, Rosenberg gave the
reason for this measure, saying that not an entire nation
should thereby be discriminated against, but that it was
necessary that our younger German generation, who for years
had to starve or beg, should now be able to obtain bread and
work too. But despite his strong opposition to the Jews, he
did not want the extermination of Jewry, but advocated as
the farthest aim the political expatriation of Jews, i.e.,
by classifying them by law as aliens and giving them
protection as such. In addition, he granted to the Jews a
percentage access to non-political professions which still
by far exceeded the actual percentage of Jews in the German
population. Of course, his final aim was the total
emigration of the Jews from Aryan nations. He had no
understanding and appreciation of how great a loss to the
Aryan nations themselves such an emigration would be in
cultural, economic and political respects. But one must
admit that he meant that such emigration would prove useful
to the Jews themselves, first, because they would be set
free from all anti-Semitic attacks, and then because in
their own settlement they might live unhampered according to
their own ways.

The dreadful development which the Jewish question took
under Hitler, and which was justified by him as being a
reaction against the policy pursued by the emigrants, was
never more regretted by anyone than by Rosenberg himself,
who blames himself for not having protested against the
attitude of Hitler, Himmler and Goebbels as much as he
protested against Koch's actions in the Ukraine. Rosenberg
also does not hesitate to admit that his suggestion to
Hitler to shoot 100 Jews instead of 100 Frenchmen after the
recurring murders of German soldiers was an injustice born
of a momentary feeling - despite his belief in its formal
admissibility - because, from the purely human standpoint,
the real basis for such a suggestion was lacking, namely the
active participation of those Jews.

I have returned to this case again, as in my opinion it is
the only instance where Rosenberg demanded retribution by
killing Jews. On the other hand, one must insist with the
greatest emphasis that there is no proof of Rosenberg having
been aware of the extermination of five million Jews. The
prosecution accuses him of making preparations for an anti-
Semitic congress as late as 1944, which did not take place
only because of the course of the war. What sense could such
a congress have had, had Rosenberg known that the majority
of the Jews in Europe had been exterminated already?

Rosenberg had no faith in democracy, because it meant for
Germany a splitting up into numerous parties and a constant
change of government, finally making the formation of an
efficient government quite impossible. Another reason for
his not having faith in democracy was that non-German
democratic powers did not stand by their democratic
principles in some cases when they could have been of
benefit to Germany, for instance, in 1919, when Austria was
willing to be annexed to Germany and later on at the
referendum in Upper Silesia. But Rosenberg

                                                  [Page 273]

did not turn towards tyranny for that reason. Referring to
paragraph 25 of the Party Programme he said in his comments
on Page 46:

  "This central power" - in this case the Fuehrer's power
  is meant - "should have as advisers representatives of
  the people as well as trade chambers developing out of
  organic life." (Document Book III, Page 6.)

And in his speech in Marienburg on 30th April, 1934, "The
Order of the German State," he said that the National
Socialist State must be "a monarchy on a republican
foundation." I quote:

  "From that standpoint the State will not become a deified
  end in itself, neither will its leader become a Caesar, a
  God or a substitute for God." (Document Book I, Page

In his speech "German Law" of 18th December, 1934, Rosenberg

  "In our eyes the Fuehrer is never a tyrannical
  commander." (Document Book 1, Page 135.)

Only in such expressions was a protest against the
development of tyranny possible.

The development went beyond Rosenberg and degenerated.
Rosenberg himself learned this while acting as Minister for
the East. Rosenberg was an idealist, but he was not the
unscrupulous man who inspired the State and the Fuehrer to
commit crimes. I believe, therefore, that he should not be
included in Mr. Justice Jackson's accusation (Page 8), that
Rosenberg belonged to those men in Germany who have been
"living symbols of racial hatreds, of terrorism and
violence, and of the arrogance and cruelty of power."

In looking over Rosenberg's writings, one more often finds
statements and expressions which give a decided impression
of tolerance.

He says, for example, in his Myth of the 20th Century, of
the national Church which he aspired to:

  "The German Church cannot pronounce compulsory dogmas
  which every one of its followers is compelled to believe,
  even at the risk of losing his eternal salvation."

In his speech "Ideology and Dogma" in the University of
Halle-Mittenberg, he called for tolerance toward all
denominations with a demand for "inner respect for every
real denomination." In his speech "On German Intellectual
Freedom" of 6th July, 1935, he also spoke up for the freedom
of conscience. There was no document presented which
contained a proposal by Rosenberg for criminal persecution
of one of his numerous ideological opponents, although he
might easily have been prompted to this by their sharp
attacks on his opinions.

Further, the prosecution accused him of militarism and a
fondness for soldiering. Rosenberg was indeed an admirer of
the soldier's profession, and his heroic attitude toward
life, but he also admired the peasant's standards as the
basis of the national character. He advocated the creation
of a people's army, first as the outward expression of
Germany's unity and then for the purpose of strengthening
and educating the people at home. However, he denies that he
thought of world conquest. On this point I can refer to his
speech, "Germany's Position in the World," of 30th October,
1933. There he offered peace to Russia on the occasion of
the German withdrawal from the League of Nations. (Document
Book I, Page 147.) I shall quote this part for it proves
also that National Socialism did not want to interfere in
the affairs of other countries:

  "We are ready at any time to maintain absolutely correct
  relations with Soviet Russia, because we, of course, do
  not necessarily want to change the values of an ideology
  in the field of foreign policy and foreign relations."

In the same speech he emphasises that the avowal of racial
theory, which he calls an ideology, is "not meant to be an
expression of racial hatred, but an expression of racial
respect." ("Blood and Honour," Page 377.)

Mr. Justice Jackson called Rosenberg's nationalism a "wild"
one. Rosenberg was passionate, but he wanted thereby to
overcome class-conflict in the nation, which threatened its
existence. For a clearer understanding of the facts it may
also be said -

                                                  [Page 274]

THE PRESIDENT (interposing): Dr. Thoma, the Tribunal would
like you to finish your speech before lunch, if you could
possibly summarize some parts of it. I do not know whether
that is possible.

DR. THOMA: I shall try to do that, Mr. President.

I once more refer to Mr. Jackson's statement that
Rosenberg's "nationalism" was a wild one. In this connection
I should like to refer only to the fact that such
nationalism was a compensatory symptom, which is easily
found in a conquered country.

The accusation dealing with anti-Christianity and Neo-
paganism is something which I have already mentioned, and I
should just like to refer to it.

I have referred to the words "Master Race," mentioning the
fact that these words are not found in Rosenberg's works at

Concerning the Party Programme, I stated that Rosenberg did
not draft it, but rather supplied only a commentary upon it,
and that we are not concerned with the things contained in
the Party Programme, but rather with what its effect was.

I referred to the witness Funk, who stated that his first
action and his first programme as Minister of Economics did
not refer to the Party Programme in any way, but was simply
democratic and liberal.

The Party Programme was adhered to neither in a positive nor
a negative sense. The government was carried on just as it
was in other States, on the basis of general necessity.

May it please the Tribunal, I shall turn to the charge that
Rosenberg was the deputy of the Fuehrer for the supervision
of all education and spiritual ideology under the NSDAP. In
reading the affidavit of Dr. Eppe, I referred to the fact
that Rosenberg, as head of this office, had no executive
power and that Rosenberg interpreted the duties of his
office in such a way that he published magazines on all
cultural and scientific topics, especially the "NS-
Monatshefte" the polemic-political contents of which, after
1933, were more and more superseded by historical,
scientific, and cultural subjects. On the basis of all the
literature which is at our disposal, it is not in accordance
with the facts that Rosenberg interpreted his position as
one from which to sow hatred. After 1933 he mainly
endeavoured to clarify and promote new political documents.
I have said in addition that this foreign political office
concentrated its efforts on exercising a regulating and
disposing influence on all noble and cultural values which
manifested themselves.

May it please the Tribunal, I shall now turn to the subject:
"Morality as the basis of the accusation." I should like to
ask the High Tribunal, even though I do not read this
matter, to consider it as having been presented by me. I
refer to Pages 82-a to 82-g, and I should like to ask the
High Tribunal for permission not to read this matter and yet
to have it considered as having been submitted in its
entirety and read into the, record. I shall now sum up

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Thoma, all the speech will be taken as
being presented to the Tribunal. By your summarising it, you
are not excluding it from the record of the Tribunal. The
Tribunal will take note of it all.

DR. THOMA: Thank you, Mr. President.

I shall now sum up in conclusion, and I should like to point
out the following (Page 83):

Rosenberg was caught up in the destiny of his nation in a
period of heavy foreign political oppression and internal
dissension. He struggled for cultural purity social justice
and national dignity and rejected vehemently all that which
did no admit these high values or which consciously attacked
them in an irreverent manner With respect to foreign policy,
he stood for an agreement between the four central powers of
the European continent, being aware of the grave
consequences of a lost war. He acted in all loyalty and
respect towards a personality who appeared t give political
shape and increasing power to his ideals. After the
political victor at home, Rosenberg proposed that the
polemics and other aspects of the period

                                                  [Page 275]

of struggle be subdued. He stood for a chivalrous solution
of the existing Jewish problem, for spiritual and cultural
instruction of the Party on a high plane and, contrary to
the statements of the prosecution, he opposed any form of
religious persecution. He cannot be blamed for emphasizing a
definite religious-philosophical conviction of his own.

The practical utilization of many of his views was practised
to an increasing degree by authoritative agencies of the
Party, but they were disregarded, especially after the
beginning of the war. Finally, as has been discovered now,
they were often turned into the opposite of what Rosenberg
fought for.

Until 17th July, 1941, Rosenberg was excluded from
participation in any national legislation. Considered from
the point of view of personal responsibility, all his
speeches and writings up to that time come within the scope
of unofficial journalistic activity which every politician
and writer must admittedly be free to engage in - a freedom
which the Tribunal has fundamentally acknowledged with
regard to all utterances by the statesmen of all other
countries during the unofficial period of their career. It
seems to be all the more significant that Rosenberg as a
private citizen did not call for war or for the commission
of any inhuman or violent acts.

As Minister for the East, he advocated a generous solution
taking into consideration the understandable national and
cultural aspirations of the Eastern European peoples. He
fought for this concept as long as there were any prospects
for its realization. Ultimately realising that Hitler
refused to be persuaded, he requested his dismissal. The
fact that Rosenberg could not prevent many outrages from
happening in the East cannot be charged against him in the
criminal sense. Neither the Wehrmacht nor the police nor the
Arbeitseinsatz programme were subject to his authority.
Whenever injustices or excesses came to his knowledge, he
did everything he could to counteract them.

For almost a whole year, Rosenberg endeavoured to keep
labour recruiting on a voluntary basis. When several age
groups were later drafted, he protested against every abuse
by executive agencies and always demanded redressing
measures. Quite apart from the legitimate requirements of
the occupation power, his labour legislation for the Eastern
territories was necessary for the establishment of order and
the repression of arbitrary measures as well as of dangerous
idleness, increasing sabotage and the growing number of
murders. It was war time, and it was a war area, not a post-
armistice period or by any means a period subsequent to
final capitulation.

So far as he was informed of things and commanded any
influence, Rosenberg fought for his convictions. The fact
that adverse powers became stronger than he was, cannot be
brought up as a charge against him. One cannot punish for
offences and at the same time punish those who revolted
against them. In view of the terrible extermination orders
which have now been disclosed, it is certainly possible to
raise the point whether Rosenberg could not have exerted
much stronger opposition. To expect this would, however,
suppose an earlier knowledge of things which he only learned
about after the collapse. Should he be charged with any
carelessness, it must not be forgotten that he felt the duty
of serving the German Reich and engaged in the struggle far
its existence, and that terrible injuries were also
inflicted upon the German nation, injuries which Rosenberg
too was unable to recognize as war necessities.

Official tasks, as for example, the duties of the
Einsatzstab in the West and East, were carried out by
Rosenberg without compromising his personal integrity. The
requisitioning of artistic and cultural objects he always
carried out provisionally, subject to final decisions of
supreme headquarters and, as far as it was at all possible,
in connection with identification of the proprietor.
Moreover, in the use of unclaimed furniture for the benefit
of air raid victims in Germany, provisions were made for the
subsequent indemnification of the owners based upon a
precise inventory.

In considering his entire personality we see that Rosenberg
followed with belief and love an ideal of social justice
combined with national dignity. He

                                                  [Page 276]

fought for it openly and honourably, went to prison and
risked his life for it. He did not only step in when
National Socialism afforded the opportunity to begin a
career, but at a time when it was dangerous and asked only
for sacrifice. In his speeches after 1933, he took his stand
in favour of deeper spiritual forms, a new cultural
education, personality, values and respect for every form of
honest work. He accepted the sombre days of that time as
unfortunate, but inevitable accompanying phenomena of a
revolution without bloodshed, without having in fact learned
of the secret details.

He fully believed that good forces and ideas would prevail
over these other human imperfections. During the war he was
conscientiously at the service of the Reich.

For twenty-five years, throughout the revolution and the
events of the war, he maintained his personal integrity and
untainted character. He had to experience with deep sorrow
how a great idea in the hands of those possessed with the
lust for power was gradually abused, and in 1944, at Party
meetings, he protested against this abuse of power entrusted
to its holders. During this trial he had to his dismay and
horror to see the evidence of the degeneration of his life's
ideal; but he knows that his aspirations and the aspirations
of many millions of other Germans have been honourable and
decent. Today, too, he adheres to his honourable, honest and
humanly irreproachable conduct, and, full of sorrow for the
wounds inflicted upon all nations and for the downfall of
the Reich, he awaits the sentence of a just Tribunal.

(The Tribunal adjourned until 11th July, 1946, at 1000 hours.)

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