The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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The diary of the Minister of Justice for 1935 provides ample
instances of the sort of behaviour which was being
encouraged by the Hitler Youth under the defendant Schirach
and the defendant Rosenberg. The Hitler Jugend, whose
membership increased from just under 108,000 in 1932 to
nearly 8,000,000 in 1939 was organized on a military basis.
The close collaboration between Keitel and Schirach in their
military education has been described; the special
arrangement between Schirach and Himmler, by which the
Hitler Jugend became the recruiting organization for the SS,
is in evidence. You will not have forgotten the words of
Schirach's deputy:

  "In the course of years we want to ensure that a gun
  feels just as natural in the hands of a German boy as a

What a horrible doctrine!

The terrorisation, murder and persecution of political
opponents, the dissolution of all organizations affording
opportunity for opposition criticism or even free speech,
the systematic perversion of youth and training for war,
would not, however, have sufficed without persecution of the

Let no one be misled by the metaphysical explanations which
are put forward for this most frightful crime. What Hitler
himself in this very town described as the fanatical combat
against the Jews was part and parcel of the policy of
establishing "ein Volk" - "ein Herrenvolk", which would
dominate Europe and the world.

And so the persecution of the Jews was popularised
throughout the country. It provided the cement which bound
the people to the regime. It gave youth a butt to bully and
so to acquire practical schooling in brutality.

With the accession to power the persecution of the Jews
increased in violence. The final solution of mass murder had
then been conceived. In Mein Kampf, the Bible of the Nazis,
Hitler had regretted that poison gas had not been employed
to exterminate the German Jews during the last war, and as
early as 1925 Streicher said:

                                                  [Page 414]

  "Let us make a new beginning today, so that we can
  annihilate the Jew."

It may be that he, even before Hitler, Himmler, or the
others, had visualised the annihilation of the Jews, but the
Nazis were not at first ready completely to defy world
opinion, and they confined themselves to persecution and to
making life in Germany unbearable for Jews. To the never-
ceasing accompaniment of Der Sturmer and the official Nazi
Press the campaign of Jew-baiting was fostered and
encouraged. Rosenberg, von Schirach, Goering, Hess, Funk,
Bormann, Frick joined hands with Streicher and Goebbels. The
boycott in April, 1933, celebrated the Nazi accession to
power and provided only a taste of what was to follow. It
was accompanied by demonstrations and window-smashing -
action "mirror" as it has been referred to in this Court.
Accounts of typical incidents are given in the affidavit of
the witness Geist who describes the events in Berlin on 6th
March, 1933:

  "Wholesale attacks on the Communists, Jews and those who
  were suspected of being either; mobs of SA men roamed the
  streets, beating up, looting and even killing persons."

In 1935 followed the infamous Nuremberg Decrees. In 1938 the
so-called spontaneous demonstrations ordered throughout
Germany resulted in the burning of the synagogues, the
throwing of 20,000 Jews into concentration camps with the
accompaniment of penalties, of aryanization of property, and
the wearing of a yellow star.

The cynicism of these men and the merciless character of
their policy towards the Jews appeared at Goering's meeting
of 12th November, 1938, when they vied with each other in
suggesting methods of degrading and persecuting their
helpless victims. Neither Hitler nor Himmler, whom today
they seek to blame, was present, but who, reading the record
of that meeting, can doubt the end in store for the Jews of
Europe? At that meeting Heydrich reported on the events
which occurred on the night of the 9th November: 101
synagogues destroyed by fire, 76 demolished and 7,500 stores
ruined throughout the Reich. The approximate cost of
replacing broken glass alone was estimated at RM. 6,000,000
and the damage to one store alone in Berlin at RM.
1,700,000. Heydrich also reported Boo cases of looting, the
killing of 35 Jews, and estimated the total damage of
property, furniture and goods at several hundred million

You will recall Heydrich's order for the riot, including the
arrests of the Jews and their removal to concentration
camps. After referring to the fact that demonstrations were
to be expected in view of the killing of a German Legation
official in Paris that night, he instructs the police on the
prospective burning of synagogues, destruction of business
and private apartments of Jews, and in their duty to refrain
from hindering the demonstrators.

  "The police have only to supervise compliance with the

And finally:

  "In all districts as many Jews, especially rich ones, are
  to be arrested as can be accommodated in the existing
  prisons. For the time being only healthy men, not too
  old, are to be arrested. Upon their arrest, the
  appropriate concentration camps should be contacted
  immediately in order to confine them in these camps as
  quickly as possible."

We now know, from the evidence with regard to the seizure of
the houses of Jews by Neurath and Rosenberg, why the orders
were to concentrate upon the richest.

These events were neither secret nor hidden. Ministers were
writing to each other and discussing them. Long before 1939
they were common knowledge not only to Germany but to the
whole world. Every one of these defendants must have heard
again and again stories similar to that of Sollmann. Almost
all of them have sought to gain credit from helping one or
two Jews; and you will remember the evidence of a special
office in Goering's Ministry to deal with protests, and his
witness Koerner, who stated with pride that Goering had
always intervened

                                                  [Page 415]

on behalf of individuals. Perhaps it afforded them some
gratification or eased their conscience in some way
occasionally to demonstrate their influence by exempting
some unhappy individual who sought their favour from the
general horror of the regime which they continued to uphold.
But these men participated in a government which was
conducted without any regard for human decency or
established law. There is not one of them who, being a
member of the Government during that period, has not got the
blood of hundreds of his own countrymen on his hands.

Goering and Frick established the concentration camps; the
witness Severing and the documents quoted testify to the
murders which took place in them at a time when these two
were directly responsible. Even Goering could not defend all
the murders of 30th June, 1934. He shares with Hess and
Frick the responsibility for the Nuremberg Laws. The record
of the meeting of the 12th November, 1938, and Goering's
initials on Heydrich's order of the 9th November, require no

As Ambassador in England, Ribbentrop must have been well
aware of the facts, if only from the English papers, whilst
his delegate Weermann assented to the atrocities reported to
the meeting of the 12th November, 1938. The previous owner
of his country house, Herr von Remiz, was placed in a
concentration camp, and he expressed his sentiments towards
the Jews to M. Bonnet, on 8th December, 1938, in the
following terms:

  "The German Government had therefore decided to
  assimilate them (the Jews) with the criminal elements of
  the population. The property which they had acquired
  illegally would be taken from them. They would be forced
  to live in districts frequented by the criminal classes."

Hess; who set up an office for racial policy in 1933, shares
responsibility for the Nuremberg Decrees.

At the meeting of 12th November, 1938, a full report was
given of similar measures against the Jews in Austria, and
it seems certain that the defendant Kaltenbrunner, as a
faithful member of the Party, was giving full support to the
necessary measures. The evidence that Seyss-Inquart was
playing his part is before the Tribunal. Rosenberg was
writing The Myth of the Twentieth Century and taking his
full share in the struggle against the Church and in the
anti-Semitic policy of the Government: whilst even Raeder,
on Heroes' Day, 1939, was speaking of "the clear and
inspiring summons to fight Bolshevism and international
Jewry whose race-destroying activities we have sufficiently
experienced on our own people ".

Frick, as Minister of the Interior, bears a responsibility
second to none for the horrors of the concentration camps
and for the Gestapo, whilst Frank, as Minister of Justice
for Bavaria, was presumably receiving the reports on the
murders in Dachau. He was the leading jurist of the Party, a
member of the Central Committee which carried out the
boycott of the Jews in March, 1933, and he spoke on the
wireless in March, 1934, justifying racial legislation and
the elimination of hostile political organizations. He also
was present at Goering's meeting.

The Tribunal will not require to be reminded of the part
played by Streicher. It was in March, 1938, that Der Sturmer
began consistently to advocate extermination in the first
article of a series which was to continue throughout the
next seven years. This began with an article signed by
Streicher ending with the words:

"We are approaching wonderful times - a Greater Germany
without Jews."

Funk, as Vice-President of the Reich Chamber for Culture,
from 1933 had participated in the policy for the elimination
of the Jews; he was present at and assented to the
recommendations at Goering's November meeting in 1938, at
which it will be remembered Goering suggested that it would
have been better to kill 200 Jews, whereupon Heydrich
mentioned that in fact the number was a mere fifty-five.

                                                  [Page 416]

Schacht himself admitted that as early as the second half of
1934 and the firs t half of 1935 he found that he was wrong
in thinking that Hitler would bring the "Revolutionary"
force of the Nazis into a regulated atmosphere, and that he
discovered that Hitler, having done nothing to stop the
excesses of individual Party members or Party groups, was in
fact pursuing a "policy of terror". Nevertheless he remained
in office and accepted the Golden Party Badge in January,
1937, when von Eltz refused it.

Schirach has confirmed his part in ensuring that the younger
generation of Germany grew up rabid anti-Semites under his
teaching. He cannot escape responsibility for training the
youth to bully Jews; to persecute the Church; to prepare for
war. This perversion of children is perhaps the basest crime
of all.

Sauckel, who had joined the Party in 1921, filled the post
of Gauleiter of Thuringia. He cannot have been ignorant of
the persecution of the Church, of the trade unions, of other
political parties and of the Jews, throughout this important
Gau, and there is every reason to suppose that he gave the
fullest support to these policies and thus enhanced his
reputation with the Nazis. Papen and Neurath were in a
better position to judge these matters than any of the other
defendants, since it was their political associates who were
being persecuted, whilst, in the case of Papen, some of his
own staff were killed and he himself arrested. He was lucky
to escape with his life.

Neurath's attitude to the Jews is shown by his speech in
September, 1933:

  "The stupid talk about purely internal affairs, as for
  example the Jewish question, will quickly be silenced if
  one realizes that the necessary cleaning up of public
  life must temporarily entail individual cases of personal
  hardship, but that nevertheless it only served to
  establish all the more firmly the authority of justice
  and law in Germany."

What prostitution of these great words !

Of the remainder, all were men of intelligence and already
held positions of considerable authority. None of them can
have been ignorant of what the whole world knew, yet not one
of them has suggested that he made any effective protest
against this regime of brutality and terror. All of these
men continued in their spheres of government and in the
highest positions of responsibility. Each in his part - and
each a vital part - these men built up the evil thing, the
ultimate purpose of which was so well known to them, and
instilled the evil doctrines which were essential to the
achievement of that purpose. It was Lord Acton - that great
European - who, eighty years ago, in expressing his
conviction of the sanctity of human life, said:

  "The greatest crime is homicide. The accomplice is no
  better than the assassin: the theorist is the worst."

I shall return if I may, later, to the question of
conspiracy and to the part these men played in it, but no
conclusion upon the conspiracy charge in the first Count of
this Indictment is really possible until the specific crimes
set out in the subsequent Counts have been considered. And
first of these is the Crime Against Peace, set out in Count
2. I say first, first in its place in the Indictment.
Moralists may argue which is greatest in moral guilt. But
this perhaps should be said at the very outset. It is said
that there is no such crime as a crime against peace, and
those superficial thinkers who, whether in this Court or in
armchairs elsewhere, have questioned the validity of these
proceedings have made much of this argument. Of its merits I
shall have something to say presently. But let it be said
plainly now, that these defendants are charged also as
common murderers. That charge alone merits the imposition of
the supreme penalty, and the joinder in the Indictment of
this Crime Against Peace can add nothing to, the penalty
which may be imposed on these individuals. Is it, then, a
mere work of supererogation to have included this matter in
the Indictment at all? We think not, for the very reason
that more is at stake here than the fate of these
individuals. It is the crime of war which is at once the
object and the parent of

                                                  [Page 417]

the other crimes; the crimes against humanity, the war
crimes, the common murders. These things occur when men
embark on total war as an. instrument of policy for
aggressive ends.

Moreover, taking this crime, the CRIME AGAINST PEACE, in
isolation, it was responsible for the deaths in battle of
ten million men, and for bringing to the very edge of ruin
the whole moral and material structure of our civilisation.
Although it may be that it may add nothing to the penalty
which may be imposed upon these men, it is a fundamental
part of these proceedings to establish for all time that
International Law has the power, inherent in its very
nature, both to declare that a war is criminal, and to deal
with those who aid and abet their States in its commission.
I shall come back to the Law: let me first refer to the

You have had from defence counsel an elaborate but a partial
and a highly controversial account of foreign relations
leading up to 1939. I do not propose to follow them in that
examination, nor am I concerned to say that as events have
turned out, the policies pursued by the democratic powers
may not sometimes have been weak, vacillating, and open to
criticism. Defence counsel have sought to base some argument
on the protocol attached to the German-Soviet Pact. They
argue that it was wrong. I am not concerned with that, and,
of course, I do not concede it. But let them argue that it
was wrong. Do two wrongs make a right? Not in that
International Law which this Tribunal will administer.

The review which defence counsel have made entirely
overlooks the two basic facts in this case, that from the
time of Mein Kampf on, the whole aim of Nazi policy was
expansion, aggression, domination, and that the democratic
powers had to deal with a Germany of which that was, in
spite of occasional lip service to peace, the fundamental
aim. If peace was contemplated at all, it was peace only at
Germany's price. And knowing that that price would not be
and could not be paid voluntarily, the Germans were
determined to secure it by force.

Whilst the German people were being psychologically prepared
for war, the necessary measures of rearmament were taken
simultaneously. At his conference on 23rd November, 1939,
Hitler summed up this period of preparation in these words:

  "I had to reorganise everything, beginning with the mass
  of the people and extending it to the armed forces. First
  internal reorganisation, eradication of appearances of
  decay and of defeatist ideas, education to heroism. While
  reorganizing internally, I undertook the second task - to
  release Germany from its international ties ... secession
  from the League of Nations and denunciation of the
  Disarmament Conference .... After that the order for
  rearmament. In 1935 the introduction of compulsory armed
  service. After that militarisation of the Rhineland."

The conspirators set out first to get rid of the political
restraints which prevented rearmament. In October, 1933,
Germany left the League of Nations, and in March, 1935,
renounced the Armament Clauses of Versailles and informed
the world of the establishment of an air force, of a large
standing army, and of conscription. Already the Reich
Defence Council had been set up and its Working Committee
had had its second meeting as early as 26th April, 1933,
with representatives from every department. It is difficult,
is it not, to believe that reading the minutes of these
meetings, as they must have done, Neurath, Frick, Schacht,
Goering, Raeder, Keitel and Jodl, the last two being
generally present, can have supposed that the regime did not
intend war.

On the economic side Schacht, already President of the
Reichsbank and Minister of Economics, was made General
Plenipotentiary for War Economy in May, 1935 The appointment
was to be a complete secret. His contribution is best
expressed in his own words:

  "It is possible that no bank of issue in peace time
  carried on, such a daring credit policy as the:
  Reichsbank since the seizure of power by National
  Socialism. With the aid of this credit policy, however,
  Germany created an

                                                  [Page 418]

  armament second to none and this armament in turn made
  possible the results of our policy."

Schacht's speech on 29th November, 1938, is seen to be no
boast when the report of his deputy, which has been put in
evidence, is considered.

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