The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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M. FAURE: Mr. President and your Honours, I propose to
submit to the Tribunal an introduction dealing with the
first and the second part of the French case.

The first part relates to forced labour; the second part to
economic looting. These two overall questions are
complementary to each other and form a whole. Manpower on
the one hand and material property on the other constitute
the two aspects of the riches of a country and the living
conditions in that country. Measures taken with regard to
the one necessarily react on the other, and it is
understandable that in the occupied countries German policy
with regard to manpower and economic property was inspired,
from the very beginning, by common directing principles.

For this reason the French Prosecution has deemed it logical
to submit successively to the Tribunal those two briefs
corresponding to the letters "H" and "E" of the Third Count
of the Indictment. My present purpose is to define the
initial directives covering the German procedure in regard
to manpower and to material in the occupied territories.

When the Germans occupied the territories of Denmark,
Norway, Holland, Belgium, Luxembourg, and, in part,
continental France, they thereby assumed a material power of
constraint with regard to the inhabitants and a material
power of acquisition with regard to its property. They thus
had, in fact, the possibility of utilising these dual
resources on behalf of the war effort.

On the other hand, legally they were confronted with precise
rules of International Law relating to the occupation of
territories by the military forces of a belligerent State.
These rules very strictly limit the occupant, who may
requisition property and services solely for the needs of
the Army of Occupation. I here allude to the regulation
annexed to the Convention Concerning the Laws and Customs of
War signed at The Hague on 18th October, 1907, Section 111,
and in particular to Articles 46, 47, 49, 52 and 53. If it
please the Tribunal, I shall merely cite the paragraph of
Article 52 which defines in a perfectly exact manner the
lawful conditions of requisition of persons and property:

   "Requisitions in kind and of services may be demanded of
   communities or of inhabitants only for the needs of the
   Army of Occupation. They will be proportionate to the
   resources of the country and of such a nature that they
   do not imply for the population the obligation of taking
   part in war operations against their native country."

                                                  [Page 379]

These various articles must, moreover, be considered in the
general spirit defined in the preamble of the Convention,
from which I take the liberty of reading the last paragraph
to the Tribunal:

   "Until such time as a more complete code of the laws of
   war can be enacted, the High Contracting Parties deem it
   opportune to state that in cases not included in the
   regulations adopted by them, populations remain under
   the safeguard and direction of the principles of the law
   of nations derived from the established usages among
   civilised nations, the laws of humanity and the
   requirements of public conscience."

From this point of view it is very evident that the total
exploitation of the resources of occupied countries for the
benefit of the enemy's war economy is absolutely contrary to
the law of nations and to the requirements of public

Germany signed The Hague Convention, and it must be pointed
out that she made no reservations at that time except with
regard to Article 44, which relates to the supply of
information to the belligerents. She made no reservation
with regard to the articles which we have cited, nor with
regard to the preamble. These articles and the preamble,
moreover, reiterate the corresponding text of the previous
Hague Convention of 28th July, 1899.

German official ratifications of the Conventions were given
on 4th September, 1900, and 27th November, 1909. I have
purposely recalled these well-known facts in order to
emphasise that the Germans could not fail to recognise the
constant principles of International Law to which they
subscribed on two occasions, long before their defeat in
1918 and consequently outside the alleged pressure to which
they referred in regard to the Treaty of Versailles.

While on this subject of juridical theory may I point out
that in the agreement signed at Versailles on 28th June,
1919, in connection with the military occupation of the
territories of the Rhine, reference is made, in Article 6,
to The Hague Convention in the following terms:

   "The right of requisition in kind and in services as
   formulated by The Hague Convention of 1907 will be
   exercised by the Allied and associate armies of

Thus the governing principles of the rights of requisition
by the occupiers is confirmed by a third International
Agreement subscribed to by Germany, who in regard to the
occupation of her own territory is here the beneficiary of
this limitation.

What, then, will the conduct of the Germans be like in view
of this factual situation, which involves power and
temptation, and of the legal situation which involves a

The Tribunal is already aware, by virtue of the general
presentation of the American Prosecution, that the conduct
of the Germans was to profit by the fact and to ignore the

The Germans systematically violated international rules and
the law of nations, as far as we are concerned, both by
forced labour and by spoliation. Detailed illustrations of
these acts in the Western countries will be laid before you
in the briefs which will follow my own. For my part I
propose to concentrate for a moment on the actual concepts
which the Germans had from the outset. In this connection I
shall submit to the Tribunal three complementary

First proposition. From the very beginning of the
occupation, the Germans decided, in the interests of their
war effort, to seize in any way possible all the resources,
both material and human, of the occupied countries. Their
plan was not to take any account of legal limitations. It
was not under the spur of occasional necessity that they
subsequently perpetrated their illicit acts, but in
pursuance of a deliberate intention.

                                                  [Page 380]

Second proposition. However, the Germans took pains to mask
their real intentions, they did not make known that they
rejected international juridical rules. On the contrary,
they gave assurance that they would respect them.

The reasons for this camouflage are easy to understand. The
Germans were anxious from the beginning to spare public
opinion in the occupied territory. Brutal proceedings would
have aroused immediate resistance which would have hampered
their actions. They also wished to deceive world opinion and
more particularly American public opinion, since the United
States of America had at that time not yet entered the war.

The third proposition which I lay before the Tribunal
results from the first two. As the Germans contemplated
achieving their aims and masking their intentions, they were
of necessity bound to organise a system of roundabout means,
whilst maintaining an appearance of legality. The complexity
and the technical character of the procedure they used
enabled them easily to conceal the real state of affairs
from the uninitiated or the merely uninformed. These
disguised means proved, in fact, just as efficient and
perhaps even more so than would have been brutal seizure.
They moreover enabled the Germans to have recourse to such
brutal action whenever they deemed that this would yield
them more advantages than disadvantages.

We are of the opinion that this analysis of the German
intentions is of interest to the Tribunal for, on the one
hand, it demonstrates that the illegal acts were
premeditated, and that their authors were aware of their
reprehensible character and, on the other hand, it enables
one to understand the scope and extent of these acts,
despite the precautions taken to mask them.

The evidence which the prosecution will submit to the
Tribunal refers chiefly to the second and third
propositions, for as regards the first, that is to say, the
criminal intention and premeditation, it is demonstrated by
the discrepancy between the facade and reality.

I say in the first place that the Germans at the time of the
occupation made a pretence of observing the rules of
International Law. Here is, by way of example, a
proclamation to the French population, signed by the
Commander-in-Chief of the German Army. This is a public
document which is reproduced in the Official Journal
containing the decrees issued by the military governor for
occupied territories, No. 1, dated the 4th July, 1940.

I submit to the Tribunal this document, which will be
Exhibit RF-1 of the French documentation, and from it I cite
merely the following sentence:

   "The troops have received the order to treat the
   population with regard and to respect private property
   provided the population remains calm."

The Germans proceeded in identical manner in all the
occupied countries. I also submit to the Tribunal the text
of the same proclamation, dated the 10th May, 1940, which
was published in the Official Journal of the Commander-in-
Chief in Belgium and in the North of France, No. 1, Page 1,
under the title: "Proclamation to the Population of
Belgium." The German text, as well as the Flemish text,
bears the more complete title: "Proclamation to the
Population of Holland and Belgium." In view of the identical
nature of these texts, this copy may be considered as No. 1
of the French documentation.

I now submit another proclamation entitled: "To the
Inhabitants of Occupied Countries," dated 20th June, 1940,
and signed "The Military Governor of France." This is
likewise published in the Official Journal of German
decrees. This will be Document RF-2 of the French
documentation. I will cite the first two paragraphs:

   "The Commander-in-Chief of the German Army has given me
   authority to announce the following: First, the German
   Army guarantees the inhabitants full personal security
   and the safeguard of their property. Those who behave
   peacefully and quietly have nothing to fear."

                                                  [Page 381]

I also quote passages from paragraphs V, VI and VII:

   "V. The administrative authorities of the State,
   communities, the police and schools shall continue their
   activities. They therefore remain at the service of
   their own population.
   VI. All enterprises, businesses and banks will continue
   their work in the interest of the population.
   VII. (Finally.) Producers of goods of prime necessity,
   as well as, merchants, shall continue their activities
   and place their goods at the disposal of the public."

The passages which I have just quoted are not the literal
reproduction of international conventions, but they reflect
their spirit. Repetition of the terms:
"At the service of the population," "In the interest of the
population," "At the disposal of the public," must
necessarily be construed as an especially firm assurance
that the resources of the country and its manpower will be
preserved for that country and not diverted in favour of the
German war effort.

I now submit, as Exhibit RF-2, the text of the same
statement signed by the Commander-in-Chief of the Army Group
and published in the Official Journal of the Commander-in-
Chief in Belgium, numbered as above, Page 3.

Finally, on 22nd June, 1940, an armistice convention was
signed by the representatives of the German Government and
by the representatives of the de facto authority which was
at that time assuming the Government of France. This
convention is likewise a public document. It will be
submitted to the Tribunal at a later stage as Document
L.D.F. Eco. I. At this stage I merely wish to cite the first
sentence of paragraph 3, which reads as follows:

   "In the occupied districts of France the German Reich
   exercises an the rights of an occupying Power."

This constitutes, then, a very definite reference to
International Law. Moreover, the German plenipotentiaries
gave in this respect complementary oral assurances. On this
matter I submit to the Tribunal, in the form of French
Document RF-3, an extract from the deposition made by
Ambassador Leon Noel in the course of proceedings before the
French High Court of Justice. This extract is reproduced
from a book entitled "Transcript in extenso of the sessions
of the trial of Marshal Petain," printed in Paris in 1945 at
the printing office of the Official Journals, and
constitutes a document acceptable in proof in accordance
with the Charter of the Tribunal, Article 21. This is the
statement of M. Leon Neol, which I desire to cite to the
Tribunal. M. Leon Noel was a member of the French Armistice

THE PRESIDENT: Are you going to present this document to us?

M. FAURE: This document is presented to the Tribunal. We
have given to the Tribunal the transcript of the
proceedings, and in the book of documents the Tribunal will
find the excerpt I am now quoting.

THE PRESIDENT: We are not in possession of it at present. I
do not know where it is.

M. FAURE: I think that possibly this document was handed to
the Secretariat of the Tribunal rather late, but it will be
here immediately. May it please the Tribunal, I merely
intend to read a short extract from this document to-day.

THE PRESIDENT: We will have it to-morrow, I hope?

M. FAURE: Certainly, Mr. President.

   "I have also obtained a certain number of replies from
   German generals which, I believe, could have been
   subsequently used; from General Jodl, who, in the month
   of May last, signed, at Rheims, the unconditional
   surrender of Germany and from General, subsequently
   Marshal, Keitel, who, a few weeks later, was to sign, in
   Berlin, the ratification of this surrender. In this way
   I got them to declare in the most categorical manner
   that in no event would they interfere with
   administration, that the rights which they claimed for
   themselves under the convention were purely and

                                                  [Page 382]

   simply those which in similar circumstances
   International Law and international usage concede to
   occupation armies, that is to say, those indispensable
   for the maintenance of security, transportation and the
   food supply needs of these armies."
These assertions and promises on the part of the Germans
were therefore formal. Now even at that time they were not
sincere. Indeed, not only did the Germans subsequently
violate them, but from the very beginning they organised a
system whereby they were enabled to accomplish these
violations in the most efficacious manner and at the same
time in a manner which enabled them to some extent to mask

As far as economy and labour are concerned, this German
system comes from a very simple idea. It consisted in
supervising production at its beginning and its end.

On the one hand the Germans embarked immediately upon the
general requisitioning of all raw materials and all goods in
the occupied countries.

Thenceforth, it would depend upon them to supply or not to
supply raw materials to national industries. They were thus
in a position to develop one branch of production rather
than another, to favour certain undertakings, and,
conversely, to oblige other undertakings to close down. As
events and opportunities demanded, they organised this
appropriation of raw materials, principally with a view to
facilitating their distribution in their own interest, but
the principle was continuously maintained. They thus held,
as it were, the key of entrance to production.

On the other hand, they also held the exit key, that is to
say, of finance. By securing the financial means in the form
of the money of an occupied country, the Germans were able
to purchase products and to acquire, under the pretence of
legality, the output of the economic activity of the
country. In point of fact, the Germans obtained for
themselves, from the outset, such considerable financial
means that they were easily able to absorb the entire
productive capacity of each country.

If the Tribunal finds it suitable, I will stop at this

(The Tribunal adjourned until 10.00 hours on 18th January,

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