The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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It may well be said that Hitler's final crime was against
the land he had ruled. He was a mad "messiah" who started
the war without cause and prolonged it without reason. If he
could not rule he cared not what happened to Germany. As
Fritzsche has told us from the stand, Hitler tried to use
the defeat of Germany for the self-destruction of the German
people. (154.) He continued the fight when he knew it could
not be won, and continuance meant only ruin. Speer, in this
courtroom, has described it as follows:

  "... The sacrifices which were made on both sides after
  January, 1945, were senseless. The dead of this period
  will be the accusers of the man responsible for the
  continuation of that fight, Adolf Hitler, and the ruined
  cities which in this last phase lost tremendous cultural
  values and in which a colossal number of dwellings were
  destroyed .... The German people remained faithful to
  Adolf Hitler until the end. He betrayed them knowingly.
  He finally tried to throw them into the abyss ...."

Hitler ordered everyone else to fight to the last and then
retreated into death by his own hand. But he left life as he
lived it, a deceiver; he left the official report that he
had died in battle. This was the man whom these defendants
exalted to a Fuehrer. It was they who conspired to get him
absolute authority over all of Germany. And in the end he
and the system they had created for him brought the ruin of
them all. As stated by Speer in cross-examination:

  "... the tremendous danger of the totalitarian system,
  however, only became really clear at the moment when we
  were approaching the end. It was then that one could see
  what the principle really meant, namely, that every order
  should be carried out without criticism. Everything that
  has become known during this trial, especially with
  regard to orders which were carried out without any
  consideration, has proved how evil it .was in the end....
  Quite apart from the personality of Hitler, on the
  collapse of the totalitarian system in Germany it became
  clear what tremendous dangers there are in a system of
  that kind. The combination of Hitler and this system has
  brought about these tremendous catastrophes in the
  world." (156.)

But let me for a moment turn devil's advocate. I admit that
Hitler was the chief villain. But for the defendants to put
all blame on him is neither manly nor true. We know that
even the head of the State has the same limits to his senses
and to the hours of his days as do lesser men. He must rely
on others to

                                                  [Page 405]

be his eyes and ears as to most that goes on in a great
empire. Other legs must run his errands; other hands must
execute his plans. On whom did Hitler rely for such things
more than upon these men in the dock? Who led him to believe
he had an invincible air armada if not Goering? Who kept
disagreeable facts from him? Did not Goering forbid Field-
Marshal Milch to warn Hitler that in his opinion Germany was
not equal to the war upon Russia? (157.) Did not Goering,
according to Speer, relieve General Gallant of his air force
command for speaking of the weaknesses and bungling of the
air force? (158.) Who led Hitler, utterly untravelled
himself, to believe in the indecision and timidity of
democratic peoples if not Ribbentrop, von Neurath, and von
Papen? Who fed his illusion of German invincibility if not
Keitel, Jodl, Raeder, and Donitz? Who kept his hatred of the
Jews inflamed more than Streicher and Rosenberg? Who would
Hitler say deceived him about conditions in concentration
camps if not Kaltenbrunner, even as he would deceive us?
These men had access to Hitler and often could control the
information that reached him and on which he must base his
policy and his orders. They were the Praetorian Guard, and
while they were under Caesar's orders, Caesar was always in
their hands.

If these dead men could take the witness stand and answer
what has been said against them, we might have a less
distorted picture of the parts played by these defendants.
Imagine the stir that would occur in the dock if it should
behold Adolf Hitler advancing to the witness box, or Himmler
with an armful of dossiers, or Goebbels, or Bormann with the
reports of his Party spies, or the murdered Roehm or
Canaris. The ghoulish defence that the world is entitled to
retribution only from the cadavers is an argument worthy of
the crimes at which it is directed.

We have presented to this Tribunal an affirmative case based
on incriminating documents which are sufficient, if
unexplained, to require a finding of guilt on Count One
against each defendant. In the final analysis, the only
question is whether the defendants' own testimony is to be
credited as against the documents and other evidence of
their guilt. What, then, is their testimony worth? The fact
is that the Nazi habit of economising in the use of truth
pulls the foundations out from under their own defences.
Lying has always been a highly approved Nazi technique.
Hitler, in Mein Kampf, advocated mendacity as a policy. Von
Ribbentrop admits the use of the "diplomatic lie". (159.)
Keitel advised that the facts of rearmament be kept secret
so that they could be denied at Geneva. (160.) Raeder
deceived about rebuilding the German Navy in violation of
Versailles. (161.) Goering urged Ribbentrop to tell a "legal
lie" to the British Foreign Office about the Anschluss, and
in so doing only marshalled him the way he was going. (162.)
Goering gave his word of honour to the Czechs and proceeded
to break it. (163.) Even Speer proposed to deceive the
French into revealing the specially trained among their
prisoners. (164.)

Nor is the lie direct the only means of falsehood. They all
speak with a Nazi double meaning with which to deceive the
unwary. In the Nazi dictionary of sardonic euphemisms "Final
solution" of the Jewish problem was a phrase which meant
extermination; "Special treatment" of prisoners of war meant
killing; "Protective custody" meant concentration camp;
"Duty labour" meant slave labour; and an order to "take a
firm attitude" or "take positive measures" meant to act with
unrestrained savagery. Before we accept their word at what
seems to be its face value, we must always look for hidden
meanings. Goering assured us, on his oath, that the Reich
Defence Council never met "as such". (165.) When we produced
the stenographic minutes of a meeting at which he presided
and did most of the talking, he reminded us of the "as such"
and explained this was not a meeting of the Council "as
such" because other persons were present. (166.) Goering
denies "threatening" Czechoslovakia. He only told President
Hacha that he would "hate to bomb the beautiful city of
Prague". (167.)

                                                  [Page 406]

Besides outright false statements and those with double
meanings, there are also other circumventions of truth in
the nature of fantastic explanations and absurd professions.
Streicher has solemnly maintained that his only thought with
respect to the Jews was to resettle them on the island of
Madagascar. (168.) His reason for destroying synagogues, he
blandly said, was only because they were architecturally
offensive. (169.) Rosenberg was stated by his counsel to
have always had in mind a "chivalrous solution" to the
Jewish problem. (170.) When it was necessary to remove
Schuschnigg after the Anschluss, Ribbentrop would have had
us believe that the Austrian Chancellor was resting at a
"villa". It was left to cross-examination to reveal that the
"villa" was Buchenwald concentration camp. (171.) The record
is full of other examples of dissimulations and evasions.
Even Schacht showed that he, too, had adopted the Nazi
attitude that truth is any story which succeeds. Confronted
on cross-examination with a long record of broken vows and
false words, he declared in justification - and I quote from
the record:

  "I think you can score many more successes when you want
  to lead someone if you don't tell them the truth than if
  you tell them the truth." (172.)

This was the philosophy of the National Socialists. When for
years they have deceived the world, and masked falsehood
with plausibilities, can anyone be surprised that they
continue that habit of a lifetime in this dock? Credibility
is one of the main issues of this trial. Only those who have
failed to learn the bitter lessons of the last decade can
doubt that men who have always played on the unsuspecting
credulity of generous opponents would not hesitate to do the
same now.

It is against such a background that these defendants now
ask this Tribunal to say that they are not guilty of
planning, executing, or conspiring to commit this long list
of crimes and wrongs. They stand before the record of this
trial as bloodstained Gloucester stood by the body of his
slain King. He begged of the widow, as they beg of you: "Say
I slew them not." And the Queen replied, "Then say they were
not slain. But dead they are ...." If you were to say of
these men that they are not guilty, it would be as true to
say that there has been no war, there are no slain, there
has been no crime.

THE PRESIDENT: I call upon the Chief Prosecutor for the
United Kingdom of Great Britain.

MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: Would it be agreeable, your Honours, if
Sir Hartley Shawcross should start his address after the

THE PRESIDENT: Yes. Then we will sit again at a quarter to

MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: And may I add this for the purpose of
the record. I have filed with the Tribunal and furnished to
counsel copies of the summation with footnotes to the
record. [NB. See appendix.] These footnotes are designed, of
course, to direct the attention of adversaries and of the
Tribunal to the supporting data in the record. I thought
they might be helpful in reading it.


THE PRESIDENT: I call on the Chief Prosecutor of the United
Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

SIR HARTLEY SHAWCROSS: May it please the Tribunal; like my
distinguished colleague whose succinct, able and eloquent
speech I cannot hope to emulate, I desire on behalf of the
British Prosecutors at this trial to lay before the Tribunal
some comment, I am afraid it is of some length, on those
salient and outstanding features of the evidence which, in
our submission, make clear the guilt of these defendants.
Although throughout these proceedings the representatives of
the prosecuting powers have worked in the closest co-
operation and

                                                  [Page 407]

agreement and although there are certain matters which I
shall be laying before the Tribunal on behalf of all of us,
we all thought it right at this final stage, even at the
cost of some inevitable repetition and overlapping, that we
should prepare our final submissions quite independently, so
that the Tribunal and our own countries might know exactly
the grounds on which we seek the condemnation of these men;
and if it turns out that several of us point to the same
evidence or reach similar conclusions, as no doubt it will,
that very coincidence reached independently may perhaps add
force to our submissions that each of these defendants is
legally guilty.

I say "legally guilty".

That these defendants participated in and are morally guilty
of crimes so frightful that the imagination staggers and
reels back at their very contemplation is not in doubt. Let
the words of the defendant Frank, which were repeated to you
this morning, be well remembered: Thousands of years will
pass and this guilt of Germany will not be erased". Total
and totalitarian war, waged in defiance of solemn
undertakings and in breach of treaties; great cities, from
Coventry to Stalingrad, reduced to rubble, the countryside
laid waste, and now the inevitable aftermath of war so
fought - hunger and disease stalking through the world;
millions of people homeless, maimed, bereaved. And in their
graves, crying out, not for vengeance but that this shall
not happen again, ten million who might be living in peace
and happiness at this hour, soldiers, sailors, airmen and
civilians killed in battles that ought never to have been.

Nor was that the only or the greatest crime. In all our
countries when, perhaps in the heat of passion or for other
motives which impair restraint, some individual is killed,
the murder becomes a sensation, our compassion is aroused,
nor do we rest until the criminal is punished and the rule
of law is vindicated. Shall we do less when not one but on
the lowest computation twelve million men, women and
children are done to death. Not in battle, not in passion,
but in the cold, calculated, deliberate attempt to destroy
nations and races, to disintegrate the traditions, the
institutions and the very existence of free and ancient
States. Twelve million murders. Two-thirds of the Jews in
Europe exterminated, more than six million of them on the
killers' own figures. Murder conducted like some mass-
production industry in the gas chambers and the ovens of
Auschwitz, Dachau, Treblinka, Buchenwald, Mauthausen,
Maidanek and Oranienburg.

And is the world to overlook the revival of slavery in
Europe, slavery on a scale which involved 7,000,000 men,
women and children taken from their homes, treated as
beasts, starved, beaten and murdered?

It may be that the guilt of Germany will not be erased, for
the people of Germany share it in large measure, but it was
these men who, with a handful of others, brought that guilt
upon Germany and perverted the German people. "It is my
guilt" - confessed the defendant Schirach - "that I educated
the German youth for a man who committed murders a

For such crimes these men might well have been proceeded
against by summary executive action, and had the treatment
which they had been parties to meting out against so many
millions of innocent people been meted out to them, they
could hardly have complained. But this Tribunal is to
adjudge their guilt not on any moral or ethical basis alone,
but according to law. That natural justice which demands
that these crimes should not go unpunished, at the same time
insists that no individual should be punished unless patient
and careful examination of the facts shows that he shared
the guilt for what has been done. And so, during these many
months, this Tribunal has been investigating the facts, and
has now to apply the law in order both that justice may be
done to these individuals as to their countless victims, and
also that the world may know that, in the end, the
predominance of power will be driven out and law and justice
shall govern the relations between States.

                                                  [Page 408]

For the effects of this trial will reach out far beyond the
punishment of a score or so of guilty men. Issues are at
stake far greater than their fate, although upon their fate
those issues, in some measure, depend. In the pages of
history it will count for nothing whether this trial lasted
for two months or for ten. But it will count for much that
by just and patient examination the truth has been
established about deeds so terrible that their mark may
never be erased, and it will count for much that law and
justice have been vindicated in the end.

Within the space of a year evidence far exceeding that
previously presented to any Tribunal in history has been
collected, sifted and placed before you. Almost all that
evidence consists of the captured records and documents of
the Government to which these men belonged, and much of it
directly implicates each one of them with knowledge of, and
participation in, one or other aspect of the crimes
committed by the Nazi State. This evidence has not been
refuted and it will remain for ever to confront those who
may hereafter seek to excuse or mitigate that which has been
done. Yet now that this mass of evidence has been presented
to you, I shall invite you for a little to detach your minds
from its detail to consider the cumulative effect and to
review this overwhelming case as a whole. It is only by
chance that their own captured papers have enabled us to
establish these crimes out of the very mouths of the
criminals. But the case against these men can be established
on a broader basis than that, and must be looked at in the
light of its historical background.

When one considers the nature and the immensity of the
crimes committed, the responsibility of those who held the
highest positions of influence and authority in the Nazi
State is manifest beyond doubt. For years, in a world where
war had itself been declared a crime, the German State was
organized for war; in a world where we proclaim the equality
of men, for years the Jews were boycotted, deprived of their
elementary rights of property, liberty, life itself; for
years honest citizens lived in fear of denunciation and
arrest by one or other of the organizations, criminal as we
allege them to be, through which these men ruled Germany;
for years throughout the German Reich millions of foreign
slaves worked in farm and factory, were moved like cattle on
every road, on every railway line.

These men, with Hitler, Himmler, Goebbels and a few other
confederates, were at once the leaders and the drivers of
the German people; it was when they held the highest
positions of authority and of influence that these crimes
were planned and perpetrated. If these men are not
responsible, who are? If minions who did no more than obey
their orders, Dostler, Eck, Kramer and a hundred others,
have already paid the supreme penalty, are these men less
responsible? How can it be said that they and the offices of
State which they directed took no part? Lammers, their own
witness, Head of the Reich Chancellery, said in 1938:

  "Despite the total basic concentration of power of
  authority in the person of the Fuehrer, no excessively
  strong and unnecessary centralisation of administration
  in the hands of the Fuehrer results in the governmental
  administration ... The subordinate leaders, the
  Unterfuehrer authority directed downwards, forbids
  interference with every individual order he may issue.
  This principle is manipulated by the Fuehrer in his
  governmental leadership in such a way that, for example,
  the position of Reich Ministers is actually much more
  independent today than formerly, even though today the
  Reich Ministers are subordinated to the Fuehrer's
  unlimited power of command. Willingness to bear
  responsibility, ability to make decisions, aggressive
  energy and real authority - these are the qualities which
  the Fuehrer demands primarily of his subordinate leaders.
  Therefore he allows them the greatest freedom in the
  execution of their affairs and in the manner in which
  they fulfil their tasks."

Let them now, accused murderers as they are, attempt to
belittle the power and influence they exercised. how they
will, we have only to recall their ranting,

                                                  [Page 409]

as they strutted across the stage of Europe dressed in their
brief authority, to see the part they played. They did not
then tell the German people or the world that they were
merely the ignorant, powerless puppets of their Fuehrer. The
defendant Speer has said:

  "Even in a totalitarian system there must be total
  responsibility ... it is impossible after the catastrophe
  to evade this total responsibility. If the war had been
  won, the leaders would also have assumed total

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