Archive/File: imt/ tgmwc/judgment/j-war-crimes-civilians Last-Modified: 1997/09/13 Judgment of the International Military Tribunal For The Trial of German Major War Criminals London His Majesty's Stationery Office 1951 [Page 48] MURDER AND ILL-TREATMENT OF CIVILIAN POPULATION Article 6 (b) of the Charter provides that "ill-treatment ..of civilian population of or in occupied territory.. killing of hostages ..wanton destruction of cities, towns, or villages" shall be a war crime. In the main, these provisions are merely declaratory of the existing laws of war as expressed by the Hague Convention, Article 46, which stated: "Family honor and rights, the lives of persons and private property, as well as religious convictions and practice must be respected." The territories occupied by Germany were administered in violation of the laws of war. The evidence is quite overwhelming of a systematic rule of violence, brutality, and terror. On 7th December, 1941 Hitler issued the directive since known as the "Nacht und Nebel Erlass" (Night and [Page 49] Fog Decree), under which persons who committed offenses against the Reich or the German forces in occupied territories, except where the death sentence was certain, were to be taken secretly to Germany and handed over to the SIPO and SD for trial for punishment in Germany. This decree was signed by the defendant Keitel. After these civilians arrived in Germany, no word of them was permitted to reach the country from which they came, or their relatives; even in cases when they died awaiting trial the families were not informed, the purpose being to create anxiety in the minds of the family of the arrested person. Hitler's purpose in issuing this decree was stated by the defendant Keitel in a covering letter, dated 12th December, 1941, to be as follows: "Efficient and enduring intimidation can only be achieved either by capital punishment or by measures by which the relatives of the criminal and the population do not know the fate of the criminal. This aim is achieved when the criminal is transferred to Germany." Even persons who were only suspected of opposing any of the policies of the German occupation authorities were arrested, and on arrest were interrogated by the Gestapo and the SD in the most shameful manner. On 12th June, 1942 the Chief of the SIPO and SD published, through Mueller, the Gestapo Chief, an order authorising the use of "third degree" methods of interrogation, where preliminary investigation had indicated that the person could give information on important matters, such as subversive activities, though not for the purpose of extorting confessions of the prisoner's own crimes. This order provided: "... Third degree may, under this supposition, only be employed against Communists, Marxists, Jehovah's Witnesses, saboteurs, terrorists, members of resistance movements, parachute agents, anti-social elements, Polish or Soviet Russian loafers or tramps; in all other cases my permission must first be obtained .... Third degree can, according to circumstances, consist amongst other methods of very simple diet (bread and water), hard bunk, dark cell, deprivation of sleep, exhaustive drilling, also in flogging (for more than twenty strokes a doctor must be consulted)." The brutal suppression of all opposition to the German occupation was not confined to severe measures against suspected members of resistance movements themselves, but was also extended to their families. On 19th July, 1944 the Commander of the SIPO and SD in the district of Radom, in Poland, published an order, transmitted through the Higher SS and Police Leaders, to the effect that in all cases of assassination or attempted assassination of Germans, or where saboteurs had destroyed vital installations, not only the guilty person, but also all his or her male relatives should be shot and female relatives over 16 years of age put into a concentration camp. In the summer of 1944 the Einsatz Commando of the SIPO and SD at Luxembourg caused persons to be confined at Sachsenhausen concentration camp because they were relatives of deserters, and were therefore "expected to endanger the interest of the German Reich if allowed to go free." The practice of keeping hostages to prevent and to punish any form of civil disorder was resorted to by the Germans; an order issued by the defendant Keitel on the 16th September, 1941, spoke in terms of fifty or a hundred lives from the occupied areas of the Soviet Union for one German life taken. The order stated that "it should be remembered that a human life in unsettled countries frequently counts for nothing, and a deterrent effect can be obtained only by unusual severity." The exact number of persons killed as a result [Page 50] of this policy is not known, but large numbers were killed in France and the other occupied territories in the West, while in the East the slaughter was on an even more extensive scale. In addition to the killing of hostages, entire towns were destroyed in some cases; such massacres as those of Oradour-sur-Glane in France and Lidice in Czechoslovakia, both of which were described to the Tribunal in detail, are examples of the organized use of terror by the occupying forces to beat down and destroy all opposition to their rule. One of the most notorious means of terrorizing the people in occupied territories was the use of concentration camps. They were first established in Germany at the moment of the seizure of power by the Nazi Government. Their original purpose was to imprison without trial all those persons who were opposed to the Government, or who were in any way obnoxious to German authority. With the aid of a secret police force, this practice was widely extended, and in course of time concentration camps became places of organized and systematic murder, where millions of people were destroyed. In the administration of the occupied territories the concentration camps were used to destroy all opposition groups. The persons arrested by the Gestapo were as a rule sent to concentration camps. They were conveyed to the camps in many cases without any care whatever being taken for them, and great numbers died on the way. Those who arrived at the camp were subject to systematic cruelty. They were given hard physical labor, inadequate food, clothes and shelter, and were subject at all times to the rigors of a soulless regime, and the private whims of individual guards. In the report of the war crimes Branch of the Judge Advocate's Section of the Third US Army, under date the 21st June, 1945, the conditions at the Flossenburg concentration camp were investigated, and one passage may be quoted: "Flossenburg concentration camp can best be described as a factory dealing in death. Although this camp had in view the primary object of putting to work the mass slave labor, another of its primary objects was the elimination of human lives by the methods employed in handling the prisoners. Hunger and starvation rations, sadism, inadequate clothing, medical neglect, disease, beatings, hangings, freezing, forced suicides, shooting, etc. all played a major role in obtaining their object. Prisoners were murdered at random; spite killings against Jews were common, injections of poison and shooting in the neck were everyday occurrences; epidemics of typhus and spotted fever were permitted to run rampant as a means of eliminating prisoners; life in this camp meant nothing. Killing became a common thing, so common that a quick death was welcomed by the unfortunate ones." A certain number of the concentration camps were equipped with gas chambers for the wholesale destruction of the inmates, and with furnaces for the burning of the bodies. Some of them were in fact used for the extermination of Jews as part of the "final solution" of the Jewish problem. Most of the non-Jewish inmates were used for labor, although the conditions under which they worked made labor and death almost synonymous terms. Those inmates who became ill and were unable to work were either destroyed in the gas chambers or sent to special infirmaries, where they were given entirely inadequate medical treatment, worse food if possible than the working inmates, and left to die. The murder and ill-treatment of civilian populations reached its height in the treatment of the citizens of the Soviet Union and Poland. Some four weeks before the invasion of Russia began, special task forces of the SIPO [Page 51] and SD, called Einsatz Groups, were formed on the orders of Himmler for the purpose of following the German Armies into Russia, combating partisans and members of Resistance Groups, and exterminating the Jews and communist leaders and other sections of the population. In the beginning, four such Einsatz Groups were formed, one operating in the Baltic States, one towards Moscow, one towards Kiev, and one operating in the south of Russia. Ohlendorf, former Chief of Amt III of the RSHA, who led the fourth group, stated in his affidavit: "When the German army invaded Russia, I was leader of Einsatzgruppe D, in the southern sector, and in the course of the year during which I was leader of the Einsatzgruppe D it liquidated approximately 90,000 men, women, and children. The majority of those liquidated were Jews, but there were also among them some communist functionaries." In an order issued by the defendant Keitel on the 23rd July, 1941, and drafted by the defendant Jodl, it was stated that: "In view of the vast size of the occupied areas in the East, the forces available for establishing security in these areas will be sufficient only if all resistance is punished, not by legal prosecution of the guilty, but by the spreading of such terror by the Armed Forces as is alone appropriate to eradicate every inclination to resist among the population .... Commanders must find the means of keeping order by applying suitable Draconian measures." The evidence has shown that this order was ruthlessly carried out in the territory of the Soviet Union and in Poland. A significant illustration of the measures actually applied occurs in the document which was sent in 1943 to the defendant Rosenberg by the Reich Commissar for Eastern Territories, who wrote: "It should be possible to avoid atrocities and to bury those who have been liquidated. To lock men, women, and children into barns and set fire to them does not appear to be a suitable method of combating bands, even if it is desired to exterminate the population. This method is not worthy of the German cause, and hurts our reputation severely." The Tribunal has before it an affidavit of one Hermann Graebe, dated 10th November, 1945, describing the immense mass murders which he witnessed. He was the manager and engineer in charge of the branch of the Solingen firm of Josef Jung in Spolbunow, Ukraine, from September,1941, to January, 1944. He first of all described the attack upon the Jewish ghetto at Rowno: ".. Then the electric floodlights which had been erected all around the ghetto were switched on. SS and militia details of four to six members entered or at least tried to enter the houses. Where the doors and windows were closed, and the inhabitants did not open upon the knocking, the SS men and militia broke the windows, forced the doors with beams and crowbars, and entered the dwelling. The owners were driven on to the street just as they were, regardless of whether they were dressed or whether they had been in bed.. Car after car was filled. Over it hung the screaming of women and children, the cracking of whips and rifle shots." Graebe then described how a mass execution at Dubno, which he witnessed on the 5th October, 1942, was carried out: [Page 52] ".. Now we heard shots in quick succession from behind one of the earth mounds. The people who had got off the trucks, men, women, and children of all ages, had to undress upon the orders of an SS man, who carried a riding or dog whip .... Without screaming or crying, these people undressed, stood around by families, kissed each other, said farewells, and waited for the command of another SS man, who stood near the excavation, also with a whip in his hand. .... At that moment the SS man at the excavation called something to his comrade. The latter counted off about 20 persons, and instructed them to walk behind the earth mound. ....I walked around the mound and stood in front of a tremendous grave; closely pressed together, the people were lying on top of each other so that only their heads were visible. The excavation was already two-thirds full; I estimated that it contained about a thousand people.. Now already the next group approached, descended into the excavation, lined themselves up against the previous victims and were shot." The foregoing crimes against the civilian population are sufficiently appalling, and yet the evidence shows that at any rate in the East, the mass murders and cruelties were not committed solely for the purpose of stamping out opposition or resistance to the German occupying forces. In Poland and the Soviet Union these crimes were part of a plan to get rid of whole native populations by expulsion and annihilation, in order that their territory could be used for colonization by Germans. Hitler had written in Mein Kampf on these lines, and the plan was clearly stated by Himmler in July, 1942, when he wrote: "It is not our task to Germanize the East in the old sense, that is to teach the people there the German language and the German law, but to see to it that only people of purely Germanic blood live in the East." In August, 1942, the policy for the Eastern Territories as laid down by Bormann was summarized by a subordinate of Rosenberg as follows: "The Slavs are to work for us. In so far as we do not need them, they may die. Therefore, compulsory vaccination and Germanic health services are superfluous. The fertility of the Slavs is undesirable." It was Himmler again who stated in October, 1943: "What happens to a Russian, a Czech, does not interest me in the slightest. What the nations can offer in the way of good blood of our type, we will take. If necessary, by kidnapping their children and raising them here with us. Whether nations live in prosperity or starve to death interests me only in so far as we need them as slaves for our Kultur, otherwise it is of no interest to me." In Poland the intelligentsia had been marked down for extermination as early as September, 1939, and in May, 1940 the defendant Frank wrote in his diary of "taking advantage of the focusing of world interest on the Western Front, by wholesale liquidation of thousands of Poles, first leading representatives of the Polish intelligentsia." Earlier, Frank had been directed to reduce the "entire Polish economy to an absolute minimum necessary for bare existence. The Poles shall be the slaves of the Greater German World Empire." In January, 1940, he recorded in his diary that "cheap. labor must be removed from the General Government by hundreds of thousands. [Page 53] This will hamper the native biological propagation." So successfully did the Germans carry out this policy in Poland that by the end of the war one third of the population had been killed, and the whole of the country devastated. It was the same story in the occupied area of the Soviet Union. At the time of the launching of the German attack in June, 1941, Rosenberg told his collaborators: "The object of feeding the German People stands this year without a doubt at the top of the list of Germany's claims on the East, and there the southern territories and the northern Caucasus will have to serve as a balance for the feeding of the German People .... A very extensive evacuation will be necessary, without any doubt, and it is sure that the future will hold very hard years in store for the Russians." Three or four weeks later Hitler discussed with Rosenberg, Goering, Keitel, and others his plan for the exploitation of the Soviet population and territory, which included among other things the evacuation of the inhabitants of the Crimea and its settlement by Germans. A somewhat similar fate was planned for Czechoslovakia by the defendant von Neurath, in August, 1940; the intelligentsia were to be "expelled", but the rest of the population was to be Germanized rather than expelled or exterminated, since there was a shortage of Germans to replace them. In the West the population of Alsace were the victims of a German "expulsion action." Between July and December, 1940, 105,000 Alsatians were either deported from their homes or prevented from returning to them. A captured German report dated the 7th August, 1942, with regard to Alsace states that: "The problem of race will be given first consideration, and this in such a manner that persons of racial value will be deported to Germany proper, and racially inferior persons to France." THE PRESIDENT: The Tribunal will adjourn for ten minutes. (A recess was taken) THE PRESIDENT: I now ask General Nikitchenko to continue the reading of the judgment. GENERAL NIKITCHENKO: Article 49 of the Hague Convention provides that an occupying Power may levy a contribution of money from the occupied territory to pay for the needs of the army of occupation, and for the administration of the territory in question. Article 52 of the Hague Convention provides that an occupying Power may make requisitions in kind only for the needs of the army of occupation, and that these requisitions shall be in proportion to the resources of the country. These articles, together with Article 48, dealing with the expenditure of money collected in taxes, and Articles 53, 55, and 56, dealing with public property, make it clear that under the rules of war, the economy of an occupied country can only be required to bear the expense of the occupation, and these should not be greater than the economy of the country can reasonably expected to bear. Article 56 reads as follows: "The property of municipalities, of religious, charitable, educational, artistic, and scientific institutions, although belonging to the State, is to be accorded the same standing as private property. All pre-meditated seizure, destruction, or damage of such institutions, historical monuments, works of art and science, is prohibited and should be prosecuted." [Page 54] The evidence in this case has established, however, that the territories occupied by Germany were exploited for the German war effort in the most ruthless way, without consideration of the local economy, and in consequence of a deliberate design and policy. There was in truth a systematic "plunder of public or private property", which was criminal under Article 6 (b) of the Charter. The German occupation policy was clearly stated in a speech made by the defendant Goering on the 6th August, 1942, to the various German authorities in charge of occupied territories: "God knows, you are not sent out there to work for the welfare of the people in your charge, but to get the utmost out of them, so that the German People can live. That is what I expect of your exertions. This everlasting concern about foreign people must cease now, once and for all. I have here before me reports on what you are expected to deliver. It is nothing at all, when I consider your territories. It makes no difference to me in this connection if you say that your people will starve." The methods employed to exploit the resources of the occupied territories to the full varied from country to country. In some of the occupied countries in the East and the West, this exploitation was carried out within the framework of the existing economic structure. The local industries were put under German supervision, and the distribution of war materials was rigidly controlled. The industries thought to be of value to the German war effort were compelled to continue, and most of the rest were closed down altogether. Raw materials and the finished products alike were confiscated for the needs of the German industry. As early as 19th October, 1939, the defendant Goering had issued a directive giving detailed instructions for the administration of the occupied territories; it provided: "The task for the economic treatment of the various administrative regions is different, depending on whether the country is involved which will be incorporated politically into the German Reich, or whether we will deal with the Government- General, which in all probability will not be made a part of Germany. In the first mentioned territories, the.. safeguarding of all their productive facilities and supplies must be aimed at, as well as a complete incorporation into the Greater German economic system, at the earliest possible time. On the other hand, there must be removed from the territories of the Government- General all raw materials scrap materials, machines, etc., which are of use for the German war economy. Enterprises which are not absolutely necessary for the meager maintenance of the naked existence of the population must be transferred to Germany, unless such transfer would require an unreasonably long period of time, and would make it more practicable to exploit those enterprises by giving them German orders, to be executed at their present location." As a consequence of this order, agricultural products, raw materials needed by German factories, machine tools, transportation equipment, other finished products, and even foreign securities and holdings of foreign exchange were all requisitioned and sent to Germany. These resources were requisitioned in a manner out of all proportion to the economic resources of those countries, and resulted in famine, inflation, and an active black market. At first the German occupation authorities attempted to suppress the black market, because it was a channel of distribution keeping local products out of German hands. When attempts at suppression failed, a German purchasing agency was organized to make purchases for Germany on the black market, thus carrying out the [Page 55] assurance made by the defendant Goering that it was "necessary that all should know that if there is to be famine anywhere, it shall in no case be in Germany." In many of the occupied countries of the East and the West, the authorities maintained the pretense of paying for all the property which they seized. This elaborate pretense of payment merely disguised the fact that the goods sent to Germany from these occupied countries were paid for by the occupied countries themselves, either by the device of excessive occupation costs or by forced loans in return for a credit balance on a "clearing account" which was an account merely in name. In most of the occupied countries of the East even this pretense of legality was not maintained; economic exploitation became deliberate plunder. This policy was first put into effect in the administration of the Government General in Poland. The main exploitation of the raw materials in the East was centered on agricultural products and very large amounts of food were shipped from the Government General to Germany. The evidence of the widespread starvation among the Polish people in the Government General indicates the ruthlessness and the severity with which the policy of exploitation was carried out. The occupation of the territories of the U.S.S.R. was characterized by premeditated and systematic looting. Before the attack on the U.S.S.R. an economic staff -- Oldenburg - - was organized to ensure the most efficient exploitation of Soviet territories. The German Armies were to be fed out of Soviet territory, even if "many millions of people will be starved to death." An OKW directive issued before the attack said: "To obtain the greatest possible quantity of food and crude oil for Germany -- that is the main economic purpose of the campaign." Similarly, a declaration by the defendant Rosenberg of the 20th June, 1941, had advocated the use of the produce from Southern Russia and of the Northern Caucasus to feed the German People, saying: "We see absolutely no reason for any obligation on our part to feed also the Russian People with the products of that surplus territory. We know that this is a harsh necessity, bare of any feelings." When the Soviet territory was occupied, this policy was put into effect; there was a large scale confiscation of agricultural supplies, with complete disregard of the needs of the inhabitants of the occupied territory. In addition to the seizure of raw materials and manufactured articles, a wholesale seizure was made of art treasures, furniture, textiles, and similar articles in all the invaded countries. The defendant Rosenberg was designated by Hitler on the 29th January, 1940, Head of the Center for National Socialist Ideological and Educational Research, and thereafter the organisation known as the "Einsatzstab Rosenberg" conducted its operations on a very great scale. Originally designed for the establishment of a research library, it developed into a project for the seizure of cultural treasures. On the 1st March, 1942, Hitler issued a further decree, authorising Rosenberg to search libraries, lodges, and cultural establishments, to seize material from these establishments, as well as cultural treasures owned by Jews. Similar directions were given where the ownership could not be clearly established. The decree directed the co-operation of the Wehrmacht High Command, and indicated that Rosenberg's activities in the West were to be conducted in his capacity as Reichsleiter, and in the East in his capacity as Reichsminister. Thereafter, Rosenberg's activities were extended to the occupied countries. The report of Robert Scholz, Chief of the special staff for Pictorial Art stated: [Page 56] "During the period from March, 1941 to July, 1944, the special staff for Pictorial Art brought into the Reich 29 large shipments including 137 freight cars with 4,174 cases of art works." The report of Scholz refers to 25 portfolios of pictures of the most valuable works of the art collection seized in the West, which portfolios were presented to the Fuehrer. Thirty- nine volumes, prepared by the Einsatzstab, contained photographs of paintings, textiles furniture, candelabra, and numerous other objects of art, and illustrated the value and magnitude of the collection which had been made. In many of the occupied countries private collections were robbed, libraries were plundered, and private houses were pillaged. Museums, palaces, and libraries in the occupied territories of the U.S.S.R. were systematically looted. Rosenberg's Einsatzstab, Ribbentrop's special "Battalion", the Reichscommissars and representatives of the Military Command seized objects of cultural and historical value belonging to the People of the Soviet Union, which were sent to Germany. Thus the Reichscommissar of the Ukraine removed paintings and objects of art from Kiev and Kharkov and sent them to East Prussia. Rare volumes and objects of art from the palaces of Peterhof, Tsarskoye Selo, and Pavlovsk were shipped to Germany. In his letter to Rosenberg of 3rd October, 1941, Reichscommissar Kube stated that the value of the objects of art taken from Byelorussia ran into millions of rubles. The scale of this plundering can also be seen in the letter sent from Rosenberg s department to von Milde- Schreden in which it is stated that during the month of October, 1943 alone, about 40 box-cars loaded with objects of cultural value were transported to the Reich. With regard to the suggestion that the purpose of the seizure of art treasures was protective and meant for their preservation, it is necessary to say a few words. On 1st December, 1939 Himmler, as the Reich Commissioner for the "strengthening of Germanism", issued a decree to the regional officers of the secret police in the annexed eastern territories, and to the commanders of the security service in Radom, Warsaw, and Lublin. This decree contained administrative directions for carrying out the art seizure program, and in Clause 1 it is stated: "To strengthen Germanism in the defense of the Reich, all articles mentioned in Section 2 of this decree are hereby confiscated .... They are confiscated for the benefit of the German Reich, and are at the disposal of the Reich Commissioner for the strengthening of Germanism." The intention to enrich Germany by the seizures, rather than to protect the seized objects, is indicated in an undated report by Dr. Hans Posse, director of the Dresden State Picture Gallery: "I was able to gain some knowledge on the public and private collections, as well as clerical property, in Cracow and Warsaw. It is true that we cannot hope too much to enrich ourselves from the acquisition of great art works of paintings and sculptures, with the exception of the Veit-Stoss altar, and the plates of Hans von Kulnback in the Church of Maria in Cracow .... and several other works from the National Museum in Warsaw."
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