The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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  But it is above all the air of mystery
  which gives rise to the thought that something is
  happening which is contrary to justice and ethics and
  cannot therefore be defended by the Government. This
  point is continually stressed by simple people as well as
  in the numerous oral and written statements which come to
  us."

Frick's ears were deaf to pleas for justice and ethics such
as that. A year later, in August, 1941, the Bishop of
Limbourg wrote to the Reich Ministries of the Interior, of
Justice and Church Affairs:

  "About 8 km. from Limbourg in the little town of Hadamar,
  on a hill overlooking the town, there is an institution
  which formerly served various purposes and of late has
  been used as a nursing home. This institution was
  renovated and furnished as a place in which, by consensus
  of opinion, the above-mentioned euthanasia had been
  systematically practised for months, approximately since
  February, 1941. The fact has become known beyond the
  administrative district of Wiesbaden .... Several times a
  week buses arrive in Hadamar with  considerable number
  of such victims. School children of the vicinity know
  this vehicle and say: 'There comes the murder box again.'
  After the arrival of the vehicles citizens of Hadamar
  watch the smoke rise out of the chimney and are tortured
  with the thoughts of the misery of the victims,
  especially when repulsive odours annoy them. The effects
  of the principles at work here are that children call
  each other names and say: 'You are crazy, you will be
  sent to the baking ovens in Hadamar.' Those who do not
  want to marry or find no opportunity say: 'Marry, never!
  Bring children into the world so that they can be put
  into the bottling machine!' You hear old folks say:
  'Don't send me to a State Hospital: after the feeble-
  minded have been finished off the next useless eaters
  whose turn it will be are the old people' ... Officials
  of the Secret State Police, it is said, are trying to
  suppress discussion of the Hadamar occurrences by means
  of severe threats. In the interests of public peace this
  may be well intended, but the knowledge and the
  conviction and the indignation, of the population,

                                                  [Page 459]

  cannot be changed by it. The conviction will be increased
  with the realization that discussion is prohibited with
  threats but that the actions themselves are not
  prosecuted under penal law. Facta loquantur."

If the common people of Germany knew and were complaining of
these relatively insignificant murders, when the Ministries
of Justice, of the Interior and of Church Affairs were
receiving protests from the Bishops of two districts far
removed from each other, on what was common knowledge in
their dioceses, how much greater were the security problems
of the Einsatz Commandos in the East. In May, 1942, an SS
leader reporting to Berlin on a tour of inspection of the
progress of the extermination drive wrote of the gas vans:

  "By having small windows introduced, one on each side of
  the smaller van and two on each side of the bigger van,
  such as one sees often on peasants' houses in the
  country, I have had the vehicles in group D disguised to
  look like vans for living in. The cars are so well known
  that not only the authorities but also the civilian
  population allude to it as the 'Death Car' as soon as one
  of these vehicles appears. In my opinion even with
  camouflage it cannot be kept secret for any length of
  time."

Can these defendants have remained in ignorance? What
peculiar dispensation of providence was there that protected
them from knowledge of these matters, matters which were
their concern?

This slaughter of the aged and imbeciles - the subject of
gossip throughout Germany and of articles in the world Press
- must have been known to every one of these men. How much
more then must they have known of the concentration camps
which, during those years, covered like a rash the whole of
Germany and the occupied territories. If only they could
acquiesce in the mercy killings, with what favour they must
have regarded the extermination of the Jews.

In 1939 there had been six main concentration camps -
Dachau, Sachsenhausen, Buchenwald, Mauthausen, Flossenburg
and Ravensbruck. Frick's budget for the Ministry of the
Interior for that year includes a sum of RM. 21,155,000 for
armed SS and concentration camps - no less than a fifth of
the total budget. By April, 1942, there had been added to
those six camps nine more, and more were to follow
afterwards.

But these were only the core of the system. Like planets,
each of them had its attendant satellites. Ziereis has given
you some idea of the extent of this system. He describes the
subsidiary camps that were based on Mauthausen alone. Thirty-
three of them he mentioned by name, giving the numbers of
prisoners at each - a total of over 102,000. Besides those
thirty-three, there were another forty-five, also all under
the authority of the Mauthausen commandant.

You have seen the map of Europe showing the location of as
many of these main subsidiary concentration camps as are
known. Over 300 of them are marked on that map.

By August, 1944, there was a total of 1,136,000 prisoners,
which included 90,000 from Hungary, 60,000 from the police
prison and ghetto of Litzmannstadt, 15,000 Poles from the
Government General, 10,000 convicts from Eastern
territories, 17,000 former Polish officers, 400,000 Poles
from Warsaw, and between 15,000 - 20,000 continually
arriving from France.

These were only the physically fit and therefore permanent
residents - permanent, at least, until through physical
exhaustion their productive capacity was no longer worth the
nuisance that their continued existence meant. Then they
took their place in the daily detail for the gas chambers.

Day after day the chimneys of the crematoria belched their
nauseating stench over the countryside. When the Bishop of
Limbourg could write to Frick of the repulsive odours from
the comparatively insignificant ovens at Hadamar, can we
doubt the evidence of Hoess that I mentioned?

                                                  [Page 460]


  "The foul and nauseating stench from the continuous
  burning of bodies permeated the entire area and all the
  people living in the surrounding communities knew that
  exterminations were going on at Auschwitz."

Day after day trainloads of victims travelled over the
railways of the whole Reich on their way to the
extermination centres or their own slavery. Many arrived
dying and even dead through the appalling conditions under
which they journeyed. An official at the railway station at
Essen has described the arrival of workers from Poland,
Galicia and the Ukraine:

  "They came in goods wagons in which potatoes, building
  materials and also cattle had been transported. The
  trucks were jammed full with people. My personal view was
  that it was inhuman to transport people in such a manner.
  The people were squashed closely together and they had no
  room for free movement. It was enraging to every decent
  German to see how the people were beaten and kicked and
  generally maltreated in a brutal manner. In the very
  beginning, as the first transports arrived, we could see
  how inhumanly these people were treated. Every wagon was
  so over-full that it was incredible that such a number
  could be jammed into one wagon .... The clothing of
  prisoners of war and civilian workers was catastrophic.
  It was ragged and ripped and the footwear was the same.
  In some cases they had to go to work with rags round
  their feet. Even in the worst weather and bitterest cold
  I have never seen that any of the wagons were heated."

Those men were not destined for concentration camps, that
was certain. How much worse the conditions of those who
were! Great columns, too, trekked on foot along the highways
of the Reich. They walked until they could walk no more;
then they died by the side of the road. Ziereis, Commandant
of Mauthausen, in his dying confession said:

  "In the presence of Baldur von Schirach and others I
  received the following order from Himmler:
  
     "'All Jews of localities in the south-east, working on
     the so-called fortification commands, are to be sent on
     foot to Mauthausen.'
  
  "In consequence of this order we were expecting to
  receive 60,000 Jews at Mauthausen, but in fact only a
  small fraction of this number arrived. I remember that
  out of one convoy of 4,500 Jews which started out from
  somewhere in the country, only 180 arrived. The women and
  children had been without shoes and clothes and were very
  verminous. In that convoy complete families had started
  out together but an immense number had died on the way
  from exposure, weakness, etc."

Now whatever may have been hidden from view behind the
stockades of the concentration camps, these things were open
for all to see. Every one of these defendants must have seen
them and the thousands of concentration camp prisoners
working in the fields and factories adorned in their striped
pyjamas - a uniform that was as familiar as any other in
Germany.

How possibly could any one of these defendants, had he even
a spark of human pity, have continued to take active part in
support of a system that was responsible for such suffering?
But they had no pity - and by their ideology and teaching
they had deprived the German people of pity.

Ziereis describes the frightful end that Kaltenbrunner
contemplated for the concentration camps and their inmates
when the advancing Allied armies brought with them the
danger of capturing those dumps and of disclosing the guilt
of the Nazi Government:

  "Prisoners were to be led into the tunnels of the factory
  Bergkristall and the only entrance was to be blown up by
  the use of explosive and the death of the prisoners was
  to be effected in this manner."

Even Ziereis, murderer of Mauthausen's 65,000 dead, objected
to and refused that order.

                                                  [Page 461]

That evidence is corroborated beyond question by the written
order issued by the Commandant of the SIPO and SD in the
Government General, which has been put in as evidence:

  "Should the situation at the front necessitate it, early
  preparations are to be made for the total clearance of
  prisoners. Should, the situation develop suddenly, in
  such a way that it is impossible to evacuate the
  prisoners, the present inmates are to be liquidated and
  their bodies disposed of as far as possible (burning,
  blowing up the building, etc.). If necessary, Jews still
  employed in the armament industry or on other work are to
  be dealt with in the same way. The liberation of
  prisoners or Jews by the enemy, be it the Western enemies
  or the Red Army, must be avoided under all circumstances.
  Nor may they fall into their hands alive."

And Kaltenbrunner himself saw to it that these orders should
be carried out. With this evidence before us, there can be
only one meaning to that teleprint message which was found
among his papers on his arrest:

  "Please inform the Reichsfuehrer SS and report to the
  Fuehrer that all arrangements against Jews, political and
  concentration camp internees in the Protectorate have
  been taken care of by me personally today."

The proposition which you are asked to accept is that a man
who was either a Minister or a leading executive in a State
which, within the space of six years, transported in
horrible conditions some 7,000,000 men, women and children
for labour, exterminated 275,000 of its own aged and
mentally infirm and annihilated in the gas chambers or by
shooting what must, at the lowest computation be 12,000,000
people, remained ignorant of or irresponsible for these
crimes. You are asked to accept that the horrors of the
transports, of the conditions of this slave labour, deployed
as it was in labour camps throughout the country, the smell
of the burning bodies, all of which were known to the world,
were not known to these twenty-one men by whose orders such
things were done. When they spoke or wrote in support of
this horrible policy of genocide you are asked to accept
that their utterances were made in ignorance of the facts,
as part of their general duty to support the policy of their
Government, or finally, should be regarded merely as
tactical - that is to say, that only by talking or writing
in such a way could they divert Hitler from cruelty or
aggression. It is for you to decide.

Goering, Hess, Ribbentrop, Keitel, Kaltenbrunner, Rosenberg,
Frank, Frick, Streicher, Funk, Schacht, Donitz, Raeder,
Schirach, Sauckel, Jodl, Von Papen, Seyss-Inquart, Speer,
Von Neurath, Fritzsche, Bormann - these are the guilty men.

Let me make brief comments upon each one of them, but in
particular upon those whose close complicity in the most
sordid crimes of all, the bestial murders, has possibly been
less manifest.

Goering's responsibility in all these matters is scarcely to
be denied. Behind his spurious air of bonhomie, he was as
great an architect as any in this satanic system. Who, apart
from Hitler, had more knowledge of what was going on, or
greater influence to affect its course? The conduct of
government in the Nazi State, the gradual build-up of the
organization for war, the calculated aggression, the
atrocities - these things do not occur spontaneously or
without the closest co-operation between the holders of the
various offices of State. Men do not advance into foreign
territory, pull the trigger, drop their bombs, build the gas
chambers, collect the victims, unless they are organized and
ordered to do it. Crimes on the national and systematic
scale which occurred here must involve anyone who forms a
part of the necessary chain, since without that
participation, plans for aggression here, mass murder there,
would become quite impossible. The Fuehrer principle by
which the Nazis placed their bodies and their very souls at
the disposal of their leader was the creation of the Nazi
Party, and of these men. When I addressed you at the opening
of this trial, I remarked that there comes a time when a man
must choose between his conscience and his leader. No one
who

                                                  [Page 462]

chose, as these men did, to abdicate their consciences in
favour of this monster of their own creation can complain
now if they are held responsible for complicity in what that
monster did.

And least of all, Hess. The role Hess played in the Nazi
Party is well established. But not content with creating the
monster, he aided it in every aspect of its monstrous work.

I mention only one instance. You will recall, in connection
with the extermination of the Eastern peoples, his direction
to Party officials to support recruitment for the Waffen SS.
He said:

  "It consists of National Socialists who are more suitable
  than other armed units for the specific tasks to be
  solved in the occupied Eastern territories, owing to
  their intensive, National Socialist training in regard to
  questions of race and nationality."

Ribbentrop's part, also, is clear. No one in history has so
debauched diplomacy: no one been guilty of meaner treachery.
But he, like the rest of them, is just a common murderer.
Ribbentrop it was who, since 1940, had been directing the
minions in his embassy and legations throughout Europe to
accelerate the execution of such "political measures," that
is, measures of racial extermination. It was not Himmler,
but the Reich Foreign Minister, who proudly reported to the
Duce in February, 1943, that:

  "All Jews had been transported from Germany and from the
  territories occupied by her to reserves in the East."

His bald recommendations to Horthy two months later and the
record of the conference called by Steengracht, his
permanent Under Secretary of State, betray the meaning of
these ghastly euphemisms.

No one was more insistent on merciless action in the
occupied territories than Ribbentrop. You will remember his
advice to the Italians on how to deal with strikes:

  "In such a case only merciless action is any good. In the
  occupied territories we would not get anywhere with soft
  measures in the endeavour to reach an agreement."

Advice which he proceeded to reinforce by referring with
pride to the successes of "brutal measures" in Norway,
"brutal action" in Greece, and in France and Poland the
success of "Draconian measures".

Were Keitel and Jodl less involved in murder than their
confederates? They cannot deny knowledge of or
responsibility for the operations of the Einsatz Commandos
with whom their own commanders were working in close and
cordial co-operation. The attitude of the High Command to
the whole question is typified by Jodl's remark about the
evacuation of Danish Jews:

  "I know nothing of this. If a political measure is to be
  carried out by the Commander, Denmark, the OKW must be
  notified by the Foreign Office."

You cannot disguise murder by calling it a political
measure.


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