The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Shofar FTP Archive File: imt/tgmwc/tgmwc-06/tgmwc-06-50.07

Archive/File: imt/tgmwc/tgmwc-06/tgmwc-06-50.07
Last-Modified: 1999/09/17

M. FAURE: I ask the Tribunal kindly to take the presentation file
and the document book constituting the end of the section on the
seizure of sovereignty, which bears the title "France."

France, like Belgium, was placed under the regime of the military
occupation administration. There was, moreover, in France a
diplomatic representation. Finally, it must be noted that the police
administration always played an important role there. It became
increasingly important and was extended particularly during the
period which followed the appointment of General Oberg in 1942.

As regards this last part of my section on the seizure of
sovereignty, I should like to limit myself to mentioning a few
special features of these usurpations in France, and certain
original methods employed by the Germans in that country, for this
question has already been extensively dealt with, and will be

                                                           [Page 55]

further dealt with, by me under the heading, Consequences of German
Activities in France.

I wish to draw the attention of the Tribunal to four considerations.
Firstly, the German authorities in France, at the very beginning got
possession of a special key to sovereignty. I speak of the splitting
up of the country into five different zones. This splitting up of
the country by the Germans compensated to a certain extent for the
special situation which the existence of unoccupied French
territories created for them.

I have already indicated that the Armistice Convention of 22nd June,
which has already been deposited with the Tribunal, provided for the
establishment of a line of demarcation between the occupied zone and
the so-called unoccupied zone. It might have been thought at that
time that this demarcation was chiefly drawn to meet the necessity
of military movements in the occupied zone. It might also have been
concluded that the separation of the zones would be manifested only
through the exercise in the occupied zone of the ordinary rights of
an armed force occupation. I have already had occasion to quote to
the Tribunal a document, the testimony of M. Leon Noel, which
contained the verbal assurances given in this respect by General
Keitel and by General Jodl, who are now defendants before you.

Now, in fact, this demarcation of zones was interpreted and applied
with extreme rigour and in a manner that was wholly unforeseen. We
have already seen the far-reaching consequences of this from the
point of view of the economic life of the country. There were also
serious consequences from the point of view of local administration,
which was continually hampered in its tasks, and from the point of
view of the life of the population, which could move from one part
of French territory to another only with great difficulty. In this
way the Germans acquired a first means of pressure on the French
authorities. This means of pressure was all the more effective as it
could be used at any time and was very elastic. At times the Germans
could relax the rules of separation of the zones, at others they
could apply them with the greatest severity.

By way of example, I quote an extract from a document which 1
present in evidence as Exhibit RF 1051.

This document is a letter of 20th December, 1941, addressed by
Schleier, of the German Embassy, to the French Delegate de Brinon, a
letter concerning passes to German civilians wishing to enter the
unoccupied zone. The French authorities of the de facto Government
had protested against the fact that the Germans obliged the French
authorities to allow any person provided with German passes to enter
the unoccupied zone where they could, as one may imagine, take on
any kind of work, particularly spying.

The letter which I quote is in answer to this French protest, and I
wish to mention only the last paragraph, which is the second
paragraph on Page 2 of this document.

     "In case the French Government should create difficulties
     concerning requests for passes presented with the German
     approval, it will no longer be possible to exercise that same
     generosity as shown hitherto when granting passes to French

But what I have just said is only a beginning as regards the
division of the country. This first division had as basis an
instrument which was the Armistice Convention, although this basis
was exceeded and was contestable. On the other hand, the other
divisions which I am going to mention were simply imposed by the
Germans without warning of any kind, and without the enunciation of
any plausible pretext.

I must recall that a first supplementary division was that which
separated the annexed departments of the Haut Rhin, the Bas Rhin,
and the Moselle

                                                           [Page 56]

from the rest of France; and in this connection I have already
proved that they had been really annexed.

A second division affected the departments of the North and the Pas
de Calais. These departments were in fact attached to the German
military administration of Belgium. This fact is shown by the
headings of the German Military Command decrees, which are submitted
to the Tribunal in the Belgian Official Gazette. Not only did this
separation exist from the point of view of the German Military
Command administration, but it also existed from the point of view
of the French administration. This last-mentioned administration was
not excluded in the departments under consideration, but its com
munications with the central services were extremely difficult.

As I do not wish to develop this point at length, I would like
simply to quote a document which will serve as an example, and which
I submit as Exhibit RF 1052. This is a letter from the
Militaerbefehlshaber under date of 17th September, 1941, which
communicates his refusal to re-establish telegraphic and telephonic
communications with the rest of France. I quote the single sentence
of this letter:

     "According to the decision of the High Military Command it is
     still not yet possible to grant the request for the
     establishment of direct telegraphic communication between the
     Vichy Government and the two departments of the North."

A third division consisted in the creation within the unoccupied
zone of a so-called forbidden zone. The conception of this forbidden
zone certainly corresponded to the future projects of the Germans as
to the annexation of larger portions of France. In this connection I
produced documents at the beginning of my presentation. This
forbidden zone did not have any special rules of administration, but
special authorisation was required to enter or to leave it. The
return to this zone of persons who had left it in order to seek
refuge in other regions was possible only in stages, and with great
difficulty. Administrative relations, in the same way as economic
relations between the forbidden zone and the other zones, were
constantly hampered. This fact is well known. Nevertheless, I wish
to quote a document, also as an example, and I submit this document
as Exhibit RF 1053. It is a letter from the Militaerbefehlshaber,
dated 22nd November, 1941, addressed to the French Delegation. I
shall simply summarise this document by saying that the German
Command agreed to allow a Minister of the defacto Government to go
into the occupied zone, but refused to allow him to go into the
forbidden zone.

In order that the Tribunal may realise the situation of these five
zones which I have just mentioned, I have attached to the document
book a map of France indicating these separations. This map of
France was submitted as Exhibit RF 1054, but I think it is not
necessary for me to produce it as a document properly speaking. It
is intended to enable the Tribunal to follow this extreme
partitioning by looking, first at the annexed departments, and then
at Nord and the Pas de Calais, the boundaries of these departments
being indicated on the map; then at the forbidden unoccupied zone,
which is indicated by a first line, and finally at the line of
demarcation with the unoccupied zone. This is, by the way, a
reproduction of the map which was published and sold in Paris during
the occupation by the publishers, Girard & Barere.

To conclude this question of the division I should like to remind
the Tribunal that on 11th November, 1942, the German Army invaded
the so-called un-occupied zone. The German authorities declared at
that time that they did not intend to establish a military
occupation of this zone, and that there would simply be what was
called a zone of operations.

The German authorities did not respect the juridical conception that
they had thought out any more than they had respected the rules of
the law of the occupation, and the proof of this violation of law in
the so-called operational

                                                           [Page 57]

zone has already been produced in a number of circumstances, and
will be produced again in the final parts of this presentation.

Apart from this division, the inconveniences of which can well be
imagined for a country which is not very extensive and whose life is
highly centralised, I shall mention the second seizure of
sovereignty, which consisted in the control by the Germans of the
legislative acts of the French de.facto Government.

Naturally, the German military administration, in conformity with
its doctrine, constantly exercised by its own decrees, a real
legislative power in regard to the French. On the other hand -- and
it is this fact which I am dealing with now -- in respect to the
French power the sovereignty of which the Germans pretended still to
recognise, they exercised a veritable legislative censorship. I
shall produce several documents by way of example and proof of this

The first, which I submit as Exhibit RF 1055, is a letter from the
Commander-in-Chief of the Military Forces in France to the French
Delegate General, dated 29th December, 1941. We see that the
signature on this letter is that of Dr. Best, of whom I spoke this
morning in connection with Denmark, where he went subsequently and
where he was given both diplomatic and police functions. I think it
is not necessary for me to read the text of this letter. I shall
read only the heading: "Subject: Bill concerning the French Budget
of 1942, and the New French Finance Law."

The German authorities considered that they had the right to take
part in the drawing up of the French de facto Government's budget,
although this bore no relation to the necessities of their military
occupation. Not only did the Germans check the contents of the laws
prepared by the defacto Government, but they made peremptory
suggestions. I shall not quote any document on this point at the
moment, as I shall be producing two: one in connection with
propaganda and the other in connection with the regime imposed upon
the Jews.

The third seizure of sovereignty which the Germans exercised
consisted in their intervention in the appointment and assignment of
officials. According to the method which I have already followed, I
submit documents by way of example. First I submit a document which
will be Exhibit RF 1056, a letter of 23rd September, 1941, from the
Commander-in-Chief von Stuelpnagel to de Brinon. This letter puts
forth various considerations, which it is not necessary to read, on
the sabotage of harvests and the difficulties of food supplies. I
read the last paragraph:

     "Consequently, I demand absolutely that a single direction
     assure the food supplies of the population, and this to me
     seems impossible to realise except under the control of an
     energetic and competent man who will take in hand the two

It was, therefore, a case of interference on the very plane of the
composition of a Ministry, of an authority supposedly governmental.
As regards the control of apnointments, I produce Exhibit RF 1057,
which is a letter from the Military Command of 29th November, 1941.
I shall merely summarise this document by indicating that the German
authorities objected to the appointment of the President of the
Liaison Committee for the Manufacture of Beet Sugar. You see,
therefore, how little this has to do with military necessities.

I next produce Exhibit RF 1058, which is likewise a letter from the
Military Command. It is brief and I shall read it by way of example:

     "I beg you to take the necessary measures in order that the Sub-
     prefect of St. Quentin, M. Planacassagne, be relieved of his
     functions and replaced as soon as possible by a competent
     official. M. Planacassagne is not capable of carrying out his

I shall now quote a text of a more general scope. I produce Exhibit
RF 1059, which is a secret circular of 10th May, 1942, addressed by
the Military

                                                           [Page 58]

Command Administrative Staff to all the chief town majors. Here
again we find the signature of Dr. Best:

     "Control of French policy as regards personnel in the occupied
     territories: The remodelling of the French Government presents
     certain possibilities for exercising a positive influence on
     French policy as regards personnel in the occupied territories.
     I therefore, ask you to designate those French officials who
     from the German point of view, appear particularly usable and
     whose names could be submitted to the French Government when
     the question of appointing holders for important posts arises."

Thus we see in the process of formation this general network of
German control and German usurpation. I now produce Exhibit RF 1060.
This document is an interrogatory of Otto Abetz, who had the
function of German Ambassador in France. This interrogatory took
place on 17th November, 1945, before the Commissioners Berger and
Saulas at the General Information Bureau in Paris. This document
confirms German interferences in French administration and likewise
gives details about the duplications of these controls by the
Militaerbefehlshaber and the Gestapo. I quote:

     "The Militaerbefehlshaber in France, basing himself on the
     various conventions of International Law" -- this is Otto Abetz
     who is speaking and it is not necessary to say that we in no
     way accept his conception of International Law -- "considered
     himself the responsible and supreme judge for the maintenance
     of order and public security in the occupied zone. This being
     so, he claimed the right to give his approval for appointment
     or the retaining of all French officials nominated to occupy
     posts in the occupied zone. As regards officials residing in
     the free zone who were obliged by reason of their functions to
     exercise them subsequently in the occupied zone, the
     Militaerbefehlshaber also stressed the necessity for his
     approval of their nomination. In practice the
     Militaerbefehlshaber made use of the right thus claimed only
     when the officials were nominated and solely in the sense of a
     right to veto -- that is to say, he did not intervene in the
     choice of officials to be nominated and contented himself with
     making observations on certain names proposed. These
     observations were based on information which the
     Militaerbefehlshaber received from his regional and local
     commanders, from his various administrative and economic
     departments in Paris and from the police and the Gestapo, which
     at that time were still under the authority of the
     From 11th November, 1942 on, this state of things changed
     because of the occupation of the free zone. The German military
     authorities settled in this zone demanded that they should give
     their opinion in regard to the nomination of officials in all
     cases where the security of the German Army might be affected.
     The Gestapo for its part acquired in the two zones a de ficto
     independence with regard to the regional and local military
     chiefs and with regard to the Militaerbefehlshaber. It claimed
     the right to intervene in connection with any appointment which
     might affect the carrying out of their police tasks.
     Having been recalled to Germany from November, 1942, to
     December, 1943, I did not myself witness the conflicts which
     resulted from this state of things and which could not fail to
     compromise, in the highest degree, the so-called sovereignty of
     the Vichy Government. When I returned to France the situation
     was considerably worse because the Gestapo claimed, in the
     occupied as well as in the unoccupied zone, the right to make
     the nomination of prefects subject to its consent. It even went
     so far as to propose itself the officials to be nominated by
     the French Government. Seconded by me, the Militaerbefehlshaber
     took up again the struggle against these abusive demands and
     succeeded in part in restoring the situation to what it was
     before November, 1942."

                                                           [Page 59]

The document which I have just read constitutes a transition to the
fourth consideration which I should like to submit to the Tribunal.
In putting this consideration I would like to stress the
juxtaposition and the collaboration of the various agents of
usurpation, that is to say, the Military Command, the embassy, and
the police. As regards the latter I shall deal at greater length
with its role in the last part of my brief.

With regard to the setting up of the German Embassy in France, I
produce before the Tribunal Exhibit RF 1061. This document was in my
file as a judicial translation of a judicial document in the file
concerning Otto Abetz in Paris. On the other hand, it is also
contained in the American documentation as Document 3614-PS. It has
not, however, as yet been submitted to the Tribunal. It deals with
the official appointment of Otto Abetz as ambassador.

I should like to read this document:

     "Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 3rd August, 1940.
     In answer to a question of the General Quartermaster, addressed
     to the High Command of the Armed Forces and transmitted by the
     latter to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Fuehrer had
     appointed Abetz, up to now Minister, as Ambassador and on the
     strength of my report has decreed the following:
     (1) Ambassador Abetz has the following functions in France:
          (a) To advise the military agencies in political matters.
          (b) To maintain permanent contact with the Vichy
          Government and its representatives in the occupied zone.
          (c) To influence in a way favourable to us the important
          political personalities in the occupied zone and in the
          unoccupied zone.
          (d) To guide from the political point of view the Press,
          the radio, and the propaganda in the occupied zone and to
          influence the responsible elements in the formation of
          public opinion in the unoccupied zone.
          (e) To concern himself with the German, French and Belgian
          citizens returning from internment camps.
          (f) To advise the secret military police and the secret
          State police on the seizure of documents that are
          important from the political point of view.
          (g) To place in safety all public and private art
          treasures, and particularly those belonging to Jews, on
          the basis of special instructions relating thereto.
     (2) The Fuehrer has expressly ordered that Ambassador Abetz
     shall alone be responsible for all political questions in
     occupied and unoccupied France, insofar as his functions
     concern military interests. Ambassador Abetz shall act only in
     agreement with the Military Command in France.
     (3) Ambassador Abetz will be attached as my delegate to the
     Military Command in France. His domicile shall continue to be
     in Paris as hitherto. He will receive from me instructions for
     the accomplishment of his tasks and will be responsible solely
     to me. I shall greatly appreciate it if the Supreme Command of
     the Armed Forces (the O.K.W.) will give the necessary orders to
     the military agencies concerned as quickly as possible.
                                               (Signed Ribbentrop.)"

Home ·  Site Map ·  What's New? ·  Search Nizkor

© The Nizkor Project, 1991-2012

This site is intended for educational purposes to teach about the Holocaust and to combat hatred. Any statements or excerpts found on this site are for educational purposes only.

As part of these educational purposes, Nizkor may include on this website materials, such as excerpts from the writings of racists and antisemites. Far from approving these writings, Nizkor condemns them and provides them so that its readers can learn the nature and extent of hate and antisemitic discourse. Nizkor urges the readers of these pages to condemn racist and hate speech in all of its forms and manifestations.