The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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The deportees were sent to Germany, almost always to
concentration camps, but sometimes also to prisons.

Admitted to the prisons were those deportees who had been
condemned or were awaiting trial. The prisoners there were
crowded together under inhuman conditions.

Nevertheless, the prison regime was generally less severe
than conditions in the camps. The work there was less out of
proportion to the strength of the prisoners, and the prison
wardens were less hard than the S.S. in the concentration
camps.

It appears to have been the plan followed by the Nazis in
the concentration camps, gradually to do away with the
prisoners, but only after their working strength had been
used to the advantage of the German war effort.

The Tribunal has been told of the almost inconceivable
treatment inflicted by the S.S. on the prisoners. We shall
take the liberty of going into still further detail, during
the course of the statement of the French Prosecution, for
it must be fully known to what extent of horrors the
Germans, inspired by National Socialist doctrine, could
stoop.

The most terrible aspect was perhaps the desire to create
moral degradation and debasement in the prisoner until he
lost, if possible, all semblance of a human individual.

The usual living conditions imposed on the deportees in the
camps were sufficient to ensure slow extermination through
inadequate feeding, bad sanitation, cruelty of the guards,
severity of discipline, strain of work out of proportion to
the strength of the prisoner, and haphazard medical service.
Moreover, you already know that many did not die a natural
death, but were put to death by injections, gas chambers or
inoculations of fatal diseases.

But more speedy extermination was often the case; it was
often brought about by ill treatment: communal ice-cold
showers in winter in the open air, prisoners left naked in
the snow, cudgelling, attacks by dogs, hanging by the
wrists.

Some figures will illustrate the result of these various
methods of extermination. At Buchenwald, during the first
quarter of 1945 there were 13,000 deaths

                                                  [Page 362]

out of 40,000 internees. At Dachau, 13,000 to 15,000 died in
the three months preceding the liberation. At Auschwitz, a
camp for systematic extermination, the number of murdered
persons came to several millions.

As to the total number of those deported from France, the
official figure is as follows:

  of 250,000 deported only 35,000 returned.

The deportees served as guinea pigs for numerous medical,
surgical or other experiments which generally led to their
death. At Auschwitz, at Struthoff, in the prison at Cologne,
at Ravensbruck, at Neuengamme, numerous men, women and
children were sterilised. At Auschwitz, the most beautiful
women were set apart, artificially fertilised and then
gassed. At Struthoff, a special barracks, isolated from the
others by barbed wire, was used to inoculate men, in groups
of 40, with fatal illnesses. In the same camp women were
gassed whilst German doctors observed their reactions
through a peephole arranged for this purpose.

Extermination was often directly effected by means of
individual or collective executions. These were carried out
by shooting, by hanging, by injections, by gas lorry or gas
chamber.

I should not wish to stress further the facts, already so
numerous, submitted to your High Tribunal during the
preceding days by the American Prosecution, but the
representative of France, so many of his people having died
in these' camps after horrible sufferings, could not pass in
silence over this tragic example of complete inhumanity.
This would have been inconceivable in the twentieth century,
had not a doctrine of return to barbarism been established
in the very heart of Europe.

Crimes committed against prisoners of war, although less
known, bear ample testimony to the degree of inhumanity
which Nazi Germany had attained.

To begin with, the violations of international conventions
committed against prisoners of war are numerous. Many were
forced to travel on foot, almost without food, for very long
distances. Many camps had no respect for even the most
elementary rules of hygiene. Food was very often
insufficient; thus a report from the O.K.W. of the N.F.S.P.,
dated 11th April, 1945, and annotated by the defendant
Keitel, shows that 82,000 prisoners of war interned in
Norway received the food strictly indispensable to the
maintenance of life on the assumption that they were not
working, whereas 30,000 of them were really employed on
heavy work.

In agreement with the defendant Keitel, acting at the
request of the defendant Goering, camps for prisoners
belonging to the British and American Air Forces were
established in towns which were exposed to air raids.

In violation of the text of the Geneva Convention, it was
decided, at a conference held at the Fuehrers headquarters
on the 27th January, 1945, in the presence of the defendant
Goering, to punish by death all attempts to escape made by
prisoners of war when in convoy.

Besides all these violations of the Geneva Convention,
numerous crimes, were committed by the German authorities
against prisoners of war: execution of captured Allied
airmen, murder of Commando troops, collective extermination
of certain prisoners of war for no reason whatsoever, for
example the matter of 120 American soldiers at Malmedy on
27th January, 1945. Parallel with "Nacht und Nebel," an
expression for the inhuman treatment inflicted on civilians,
can be put down the "Sonderbehandlung," a "special
treatment" of prisoners of war, in which these disappeared
in great numbers.

The same barbarism is found in the terroristic activity
carried out by the German Army and police against the
Resistance.

The order of the defendant Keitel of 16th September, 1941,
which may be considered as a basic document, certainly has
as a purpose the fight against the Communist movements, but
it anticipates that resistance to the Army

                                                  [Page 363]

of Occupation can come from other than Communist sources and
decides that every case of resistance is to be interpreted
as having a Communist origin. As a matter of fact, in
carrying out this general order to annihilate the Resistance
by every possible means, the Germans arrested, tortured and
massacred men of all ranks and all classes.

To be sure, the members of the Resistance rarely complied
with the conditions laid down by The Hague Conventions,
which would qualify them to be considered as regular combat
forces; they could be sentenced to death as francs-tireurs
and executed. But they were assassinated without trial in
most cases, often after having been terribly tortured.

After the Liberation, numerous charnel-houses were
discovered and the bodies examined by doctors: they bore
obvious traces of extreme brutal treatment, cranial tissue
had been pulled out, the spinal column had been dislocated,
the ribs had been so badly fractured that the chest had been
entirely crushed and the lungs perforated, hair and nails
had been pulled out.

It is impossible to determine the total number of the
victims of German atrocities in the fight against the
Resistance. It is certainly very high. In the department of
the Rhone alone, for example, the bodies of 713 victims were
discovered after the Liberation.

An order of 3rd February, 1944, of the Commander-in-Chief of
the Forces in the West, signed "By order, General Sperrle,"
laid down for the fight against the terrorists immediate
reply by firearms and the immediate burning down of all
houses from which shots had come. "It is of little
importance," the text adds, "if innocent people should
suffer. It will be the fault of the terrorists. All
commanders of troops who show weakness in repressing the
terrorists will be severely punished. On the other hand,
those who go beyond the orders received and are too severe
will incur no penalty."

The war diary of von Brodowski, commanding the Liaison
Headquarters, No. 588, at Clermont-Ferrand, gives
irrefutable examples of the barbarous forms which the
Germans gave to the struggle against the Resistance. Those
caught resisting were almost all shot on the spot. Others
were turned over to the S.D. or the Gestapo to be subjected
first to torture. The diary of Brodowski mentions "the
cleaning up of a hospital" or "liquidation of an infirmary."

The struggle against the Resistance had the same atrocious
character in all the occupied territories of the West.

The last months of the German occupation were characterised
in France by a strengthening of the policy of terrorism
which multiplied the crimes against the civilian population.
The crimes which we are going to consider were not isolated
acts committed from time to time in this or that locality,
but were acts perpetrated in the course of extensive
operations, the high number of which can only be explained
by general orders.

The perpetrators of these crimes were frequently members of
the S.S., but the Military Command shares responsibility for
them. In a directive entitled "Fight Against the Partisan
Bands," dated 6th May, 1944, the defendant Jodl states that
"the collective measures to be taken against the inhabitants
of entire villages (including the burning down of these
villages) are to be ordered exclusively by the division
commanders or the heads of the S.S. troops and of the
police."

The war diary of von Brodowski mentions the following:

   "It is understood that the leadership of the Sipo and of
   the S.D. shall be subordinate to me."

These operations are supposedly measures of reprisal which
were caused by the action of the Resistance. But the
necessities of war have never justified the plundering and
heedless burning down of towns and villages, nor the blind
massacres of innocent people. The Germans killed, plundered,
and burned ,down, very often without any reason whatsoever,
whether in the regions and

                                                  [Page 364]

departments of the Ain, in Savoy, Lot, Tarn-and-Garonne, in
Vercors, Correze or Dordogne. Entire villages were burned
down at a time when the nearest armed groups of the
Resistance were tens of kilometres away and the population
of these villages had not made a single hostile gesture
towards the German troops.

The two most typical examples are those of Maille (in Indre-
et-Loire), where on 25th August, 1944, 52 buildings out of
60 were destroyed and 124 people were killed; and that of
Oradour-sur-Glane (in the Haute-Vienne). The war diary of
von Brodowski makes mention of the latter act in the
following manner:

   "All the male population of Oradour was shot. The women
   and children took refuge in the church. The church
   caught fire from explosives which were stored in the
   church. (This assertion has been shown to be false.) All
   the women and all the children perished."

In the scale of criminal undertakings, perpetrated in the
course of the war by the leaders of National Socialist
Germany, we finally meet a category which we have called:
Crimes against Human Status (la condition humaine).

First of all it is important that I should clearly define
for the Tribunal the meaning of this term: this classical
French expression belongs both to the technical vocabulary
of law and to the language of philosophy. It signifies all
those faculties, the exercising and developing of which
rightly constitute the meaning of human life. Each of these
faculties finds its corresponding expression in the order of
man's existence in society. His belonging to at least two
social groups - the nearest and the most extensive - is
translated by the right to family life and to nationality.
His relations with the powers constitute a system of
obligations and guarantees. His material life as producer
and consumer of goods is expressed by the right to work in
the widest meaning of this term. Its spiritual aspect
implies a combination of possibilities to give out and to
receive the expressions of thought, whether in assemblies or
associations, in religious practice, in teachings given or
received, by the many means which progress has put at his
disposal for the dissemination of work of intellectual
value: books, Press, radio, cinema. This is the right of
spiritual liberty.

Against this human status, against the status of public and
civil rights of the human beings in occupied territories,
the German Nazis directed a systematic policy of corruption
and demoralisation. We shall treat this question last
because it is this undertaking which presents a character of
the utmost gravity and which has assumed the most widespread
prevalence. Man is more attached to his physical integrity
and to life than to his property. But in all high
conceptions of life, man is even less attached to life than
to that which makes for his dignity and quality, according
to the great Latin maxim: " Et propter vitam vitandi perdere
causas. " On the other hand, if, in the territories occupied
by them, the Germans did not, in spite of the importance and
extent of their crimes, plunder all the property and goods,
and if they did not kill all the people, there remains not a
single man whose essential rights they did not change or
abolish, and whose condition as a human being they did not
violate in some way.

We can even say that in the entire world and as regards all
people, even those to whom they reserved the privileges
belonging to the superior race and even as, regards
themselves, their agents and accomplices, the Nazi leaders
committed a major offence against the conscience which
mankind has to-day evolved from his status as a human being.

The execution of the enterprise was preceded by its plan:
this is manifest in the entire Nazi doctrine and we shall
content ourselves by recalling a few of its dominant
features. The human status expresses itself, we say, in
major statutes, every one of which comprises a complex
apparatus of very different provisions. But these statutes
are inspired in the laws of civilised countries by a
conception

                                                  [Page 365]

essential to the nature of man. This conception is defined
in two complementary ideas: The dignity of the human being
considered in each and every person individually, on the one
hand; and on the other hand, the permanence of the human
being considered within the whole of humanity.

Every juridical organisation of the human being in a state
of civilisation proceeds from this essential, twofold
conception of the individual, in each and in all, the
individual and the universal.

Without doubt, to Occidentals this conception usually
appears connected with the Christian doctrine, but, if it is
exact that Christianity is bound up with its affirmation and
diffusion, it would be a mistake to see in it only the
teachings of one or even of certain religions. It is a
general conception which imposes itself quite naturally on
the spirit: it was professed since ancient pre-Christian
times, and, in more recent times, the great German
philosopher Kant expressed it in one of his most forceful
formulas, "A human being should always be considered as an
end and never as a means."

The role, as we have already exposed, of the zealots of the
Hitlerian myth was to protest against the spontaneous
affirmation of the genius of mankind and to pretend to break
at this point the continuous progress of moral intelligence.
The Tribunal is already acquainted with the abundant
literature of this sect. Without a doubt, nobody expressed
himself more clearly than the defendant Rosenberg when he
declared in the "Myth of the Twentieth Century," Page 539:

   "Peoples whose health is dependent on their blood do not
   know individualism as a criterion of values any more
   than they recognise universalism. Individualism and
   universalism, in the absolute sense and historically
   speaking, are the metaphysics of decadence."

Nazism professes, moreover, that:

   "The distance between the lowest human being still
   worthy of this name, and our higher races, is greater
   than that between the lowest type of mankind and the
   best educated monkey."

Thus it is not only a question of abolishing the truly
divine conception which religion sets forth as regards man,
but even of setting aside all purely human conceptions and
substituting for it an animalistic conception.


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