The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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Last-Modified: 2001/01/10

[DR. SERVATIUS, CONTINUED]

The attempt, repeatedly made during the war, to refuse
acceptance of such an office also shows considerable
pressure on the part of the Party to force such acceptance.
It has become clear, on the other hand, that the refusal did
not place because the tasks which had to be fulfilled were
considered criminal;

                                                   [Page 50]

it was the effort and the work involved in addition to
strenuous professional activity in war time which were the
cause for such refusal.

It is an error of the prosecution, arising from the
Organization Book, to assume that a Zellen- or Blockleiter
had the power to issue orders or institute disciplinary
action, or that he had powers similar to those of the
police. (See Official Party Information, Document 29.) It is
furthermore not correct that he had the right to call upon
the SA, SS, or the Hitler Youth to aid him. The evidence
taken before the Commission has established this fact. I
draw your attention to the examination of the witnesses
Hirt, Engelbert, Schneider and Kuehn. Additional affidavits
confirm this fact. Everything corresponds to the official
Party instructions, Documents 26 and 27.

A Zellen- or Blockleiter, on the basis of his actual
position, could have no knowledge of events which are
criminal according to the Indictment; furthermore, general
activity of that type cannot be proved.

The knowledge of an ordinary Political Leader was no greater
than that of every Party member. I draw your attention to
Document 47-PL.

His duty to support the Party and the State was no greater
than that of every civil servant (see Document 37-PL). That
there have been individual actions by Political Leaders
which are very incriminating is something which everyone
knows who has lived in Germany, but it is equally well known
that this did not represent the typical attitude of the
majority of Blockleiter.

From the point of view of time, too, this group requires
special examination.

Until 1st December, 1933, every Party member was under an
obligation to the Party alone to comply with a request to
take over an office in the Party. With the introduction of
the Law for the Safeguarding of the Unity of Party and State
on 2nd December, 1933, this duty to co-operate, until then
in the nature of a private contract, became a legal
obligation toward the State. In Article 5 of this law,
detention and arrest are threatened in the event of failure
to comply with duty, that is, penalties which, according to
German law, could only be imposed in the event of violations
of legal regulations.

By Article I, paragraph 1, of the enactment decree of the
Law for Safeguarding the Unity of the Party and the State,
the charter of the NSDAP was given an official character.
Thereby also Article IV, paragraph 2b, of the statute was
given an official character, which formed the basis for the
obligation, previous based on civil law, to take over a
function in the Party.

The fact that, with the coming into force of the law dated
1st December, 1933, the acceptance of an office in the Party
became a lawful duty is shown, arguementum e contrario, in a
specific statement contained in Article 20 of the Reich
Labour Law dated 26th June, 1935; it is expressly stated
that members of the Reich Labour Service are entitled to
refuse the acceptance of an honorary function in the Party.
But special legislation would not have been necessary
regarding the exception of Reich Labour Service members from
the duty of taking over a function in the Party, if the duty
of co-operating in the Party had not been compulsory.

In practice the duty to co-operate amounted to coercion.
Anyone refusing to comply with instructions to take over an
office would without a doubt have been ejected from the
Party by the Party tribunal (see Documents 63, 64-PL and 8).
Exclusion from the Party would have meant the loss of one's
means of livelihood with all its consequences (that is
Document 65-PL). Apart from this, a Party member who refused
to accept such a function was liable to be deprived of his
liberty (Document 63-PL). Therefore, the coercion to accept
a function in the Party was tantamount to physical coercion.

Anyone working in the Party before the seizure of power was
probably doing so for idealistic reasons. Anyone who was
given a function after the seizure of power probably
accepted it in most cases without enthusiasm, particularly
since he, as shown by the evidence, was taking upon himself
burdens and unpleasantness, without gaining any advantages.
Without doubt, however, almost without exception

                                                   [Page 51]

all those who became Party officials after the beginning of
the war accepted a Party function only on account of the
existing legal regulations. Those men not called up for the
armed forces were either physically unfit or professionally
so overburdened that they neither had the time nor the
inclination to take over a function in the Party. This
explains the fact that instructions from the Fuehrer and the
Party Chancellery, in which the Party offices were
instructed to call upon Party members for their co-
operation, became more and more rigorous and even urged that
Party court proceedings be instituted against anyone
refusing to collaborate in the Party (that is Documents 61
and 62). During the war the legal and physical coercion
regarding co-operation in the Party existed not only on
paper; indeed this possibility was being made use of to the
largest possible degree, which is proved by Document 8.

The assumption is justified, therefore, that if anyone
became a functionary and Political Leader during the war,
this was regularly the outcome of legal prescriptions and
the result of the threat of being prosecuted by the Party
court. This applied in practice to all the Block- and
Zellenleiter and members of the Ortsgruppen staffs appointed
during the war.

The prosecution has asserted that, on the contrary, this
compulsion to work in the Party was merely the result of a
voluntary entry into the Party. This would lead to the
conclusion that membership in the Party would in itself be
punished; on the other hand, one cannot argue, as has been
done, that the Party members concerned could have avoided
the compulsion to collaborate in the Party, that they ought
to have accepted a position in one of the affiliated
organizations, for instance the NSV, in good time. The
incorrectness of this conception becomes apparent when one
realizes that in this way collaboration in the Party is
still being recommended.

In the case of civil servants there was further coercion in
the shape of pressure exercised by the superior departments
and ministries (compare Documents 67 to 70).

The result was that civil servants could also be forced to
work with the Party. If a civil servant refused to comply
with this request, then he would have to reckon with evil
consequences for himself; he had to fear that disciplinary
action would be started against him by his superior
department, which would lead to the loss of his livelihood
and perhaps to the starvation of his entire family.

If, on the other hand, he wanted to escape this danger by
first of all leaving the Party, he would likewise suffer the
loss of his livelihood (see Document 71). Civil servants
therefore found themselves in a particularly difficult
situation.

In view of these circumstances, we cannot consider this
group of people as a freely constituted body.

The tasks of the Zellenleiter and Blockleiter, and,
therefore, also the importance of their positions, varied
according to the times.

Whoever was a Zellenleiter and Blockleiter before the
seizure of power in 1933 must certainly have been more
active politically than the person who accepted these
positions at a time when only practical tasks could be
performed. During the war, persons were employed in these
offices as auxiliaries who by reason of their age or their
occupation had not been drafted for military service. It is
obvious these persons were Quite troops of the Party,
destined to spread fear and dread, and who played at being
little Caesars.

If, in addition, one considers the difference of situation
between town and country, one cannot conclude that these
1,200,000 persons included in this group were essentially
criminal.

The prosecution has excluded the members of the Ortsgruppen
staff from the proceedings. The point of view is presumably
that they, as honorary helpers of the Ortsgruppe, held a
position of less importance. It would be well to examine
whether the members of the Kreis and Gau staffs could be
excluded on the same grounds. Their connection with the
influential Hoheitstrager puts them under

                                                   [Page 52]

more serious suspicion. The nature of this connection must
be examined closely.

The leading political offices of the staffs were the Staff
Office, the Propaganda Office, the Training Office, the
Organization Office, and the Personnel Office. Their
personnel consisted mainly of paid officials.

The treasurer was another member of the staff. He was not
responsible, however, to the Hoheitstrager but to the Reich
Treasurer.

The Party finance administration had created an independent
control and accounting system which functioned in a purely
bureaucratic manner and was of a non-political nature. It
comprised about 70,000 Political Leaders.

In addition to the political offices, there were consultant
Political Leaders. There were the four following categories:
A representative of the different sections of the NS Women's
Association, NS Professorial Association, and the NS Student
Association; a representative of the Welfare Associations,
NSV and NSKPV;  the leaders of the professional
organizations for teachers, officials, physicians, and
members of the legal profession; and the representatives of
the technical offices: DAF, industry and commerce, agrarian
policy, etc.

In order to gain a correct impression of the scope of these
offices, it must be pointed out that they generally had no
staff of their own and very often no office space. Sometimes
they were not even in the same building as the staff, but
some distance away.

There was little practical co-operation with the Gauleitung
and Kreisleitung. A number of affidavits corroborate that
these agencies were hardly ever visited by the Hoheitstrager
(see Affidavit 39-PL), and that they did not work with them
(see Affidavits 48 to 50). During the war, some of these
agencies were dissolved because they had become superfluous,
e.g. the Legal Office (Rechtsamt) in 1942, and the Office
for Officials (Amt fuer Beamte) in 1943. The task of these
offices was mainly technical, and their officials therefore
received instructions not from the Hoheitstrager but from
the competent superior agencies (Document 72-PS).

No direct accusations have been made by the prosecution
against the activity of these staff members.

Physicians have been accused in connection with mercy
killing and concentration camp atrocities, but these are not
physicians of the Public Health Office. Agreements between
the Reich Minister of Justice and Himmler and Goebbels
regarding a special criminal law and extermination through
labour have been mentioned. The Kreis and Gau Offices for
justice are in no way connected with this.

These offices certainly represented the National Socialist
ideology within the staffs, for this was their task, but
here it is important to establish how far the Political
Leaders were concerned, outside their official activity, in
a conspiracy aimed at a war of aggression or the commission
of war crimes.

One cannot declare them to be criminal on the grounds of a
general supposition that they might have had some knowledge
of these facts. First of all there exists for us the
important task of verification, and this must not be passed
on to a court sitting at a later date.

The verdict of the Tribunal will mean the condemnation of
two-thirds of these men. It is to be feared that during the
subsequent trials individual guilt may be too easily
presupposed upon the assumption of their general guilt.

In judging the technical offices, it must not be forgotten
that about 140,000 persons are concerned who were employed
in an honorary capacity.

THE PRESIDENT: What is the evidence for that statement that
140,000 persons were employed in an honorary capacity?

DR. SERVATIUS: These are the members in the technical
department , who worked on the various staffs of the Kreise,
Gaue and Ortsgruppen. In the case of the Ortsgruppen, the
prosecution has left these people out of the proceedings. I
want to establish that these people in the higher staffs
were also honorary specialists

                                                   [Page 53]

who had no part in the crimes against peace or in the war
crimes. They did not come under the Gauleiter, but received
instructions directly from their superiors in the technical
sections. Their activities appear rather intense in the
field -

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Servatius, you have not answered my
question. What is the evidence for the statement, and I want
to ask a second question, what do you mean by honorary
capacity?

DR. SERVATIUS: By honorary capacity, I mean people who were
not paid for their work. Honorary means without payment.

THE PRESIDENT: You said they were technical experts?

DR. SERVATIUS: Yes, they came from their organizations:
jurists, doctors and teachers, all were represented; or they
were the representatives of the welfare organizations or the
Labour Front. Each one of these was an expert in his own
field, who was consulted on an honorary basis.

THE PRESIDENT: Again I ask you, Dr. Servatius, what is the
evidence that there were 140,000?

DR. SERVATIUS: That figure is carefully calculated on the
basis of the Organization Book. I can supply more complete
details later; it would take too long now and, besides, I am
not at the moment in a position to present the figures. I
have stated with respect to each subject how many people
were concerned in order to give a general picture.

THE PRESIDENT: Go on.

DR. SERVATIUS: We still have to examine the group of the
real Hoheitstrager, who made up the nucleus of the Party.
Their special position and their political authority set
them apart from the other Political Leaders, but their
positions vary considerably.

Whereas the Ortsgruppenleiter is restricted in his
sovereignty to the circle of his Ortsgruppe, the authority
of the "Higher Party Leaders" ("Hoehere Parteifuehrer") goes
beyond Party limits, affecting the rights of those who do
not belong to the Party.

Only the Kreis- and Gauleiter bad the right to exercise
political judgment toward outsiders and in that way
determine the fate of those outsiders. At the same time they
exerted great influence on the life of all the people in
this way.

The decisions which they made were based on their own
judgment. This fact is indicative of their personal
responsibility. The Ortsgruppenleiter were only asked to
furnish evidence for the judgment. They were only
instruments of execution without any independence.

Externally the difference is indicated by the fact that the
Ortsgruppenleiter acted only on an honorary basis, that is,
without pay. Their profession prevented them from concerning
themselves in a comprehensive manner with all that was
happening. This was especially the case during the war when
necessity directed all one's thoughts and powers towards
one's own problems.

The 70,000 Ortsgruppenleiter were members of the lower
middle class who had not previously been active in politics
and who lacked experience in this dangerous sphere.

Most of the Ortsgruppen were in the country, where
agricultural work proceeded alongside the superimposed
activity. The testimony given by witness Wegscheider before
this Tribunal gave a true picture of the situation.

The position of the Ortsgruppenleiter becomes particularly
clear when we compare their responsibility with that of the
higher Party Leader, who was appointed by Hitler directly.

Because of their connection with the highest leadership, the
possibility of more extensive knowledge was greater with the
higher Party Leaders.

                                                   [Page 54]

This trial has shown that the separation of departments and
the artificial breaking apart of administration and police
has played an important role. But, because of the merging of
many functions, and because many strings were gathered in
one hand, at least the highest Party Leaders could see when
something was not as it should be.

The question is whether a Gau- or Kreisleiter could, because
everything was as it should be in his sector, with a clear
conscience remain inactive when a questionable incident was
taking place outside his domain or his department.

We have to answer this question in the negative. He had to
acquaint himself with the facts of the case because of the
sovereign rights he possessed, for he had deprived others of
the possibility of concerning themselves with these things.
He had the right, and therewith also the obligation, to be
active because of his office.


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