The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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In 1934 Papen was writing sycophantic letters to Hitler and
shortly afterwards we find him in Austria working for a man
he knows to be a murderer undermining a regime for which he
professed outward friendship. Even after the Anschluss he
was still working for a regime which he knew used murder as
an instrument of policy and after losing yet another
secretary by murder he was ready to accept a post in Turkey.
The Concordat with his own Church which he had himself
negotiated is treated as "a scrap of paper", to use his own
words, and Catholics from archbishops to simple believers
were outraged. He has said:

  "Hitler was the greatest crook that ever lived."

The case for the prosecution in a sentence is that, knowing
this only too well, von Papen gave Hitler his support and co-
operation because his greed for power and office made it
"better to reign in hell than to serve in heaven".

Defence counsel have sought to portray Papen as an advocate
of peace. If he preferred to attain the objects of the
conspiracy by the methods of assassination, bullying and
blackmail rather than open war, the reason may be that
provided by him in his own evidence, namely that he feared

  "If a world war were to break out, Germany's situation
  would be hopeless."

As to Seyss-Inquart, you will remember Goering's
instructions to him on the 26th March, 1938, to institute
anti-Semitic measures in Austria, followed by the Progress
Report on 12th November by one of his officials. As far as
concerns the Jews in the Netherlands, he admits that he knew
they were being deported but says he was powerless to stop
it as it was ordered from Berlin. He has further said that
he knew they went to Auschwitz but he says he sent there to
inquire about them, was told they were well off and arranged
for them to send mail from Auschwitz to Holland. Is it
likely that Seyss-Inquart who admits knowledge of large-
scale crimes against the Jews in the Netherlands, for

  "A drive to force the Jews to be sterilised",

who admits that many and grave excesses occurred in the
Netherlands concentration camps and indeed that in war time

  "Considered that almost inevitable",

who pleads that in comparison with camps elsewhere:

  "It was perhaps not quite so bad in the Netherlands,"

is it possible that he was really deceived as he says into
thinking the people in Auschwitz were:

  "Comparatively well off"?

One comes next to the defendants Speer and Fritzsche, who
have appeared in this trial as experts. Speer has admitted
that his responsibility for conscription of labour helped to
bring up the total number of workers under him to
14,000,000. He stated that when he took over office in
February, 1942, all the perpetrations or violations of
International Law of which he could be accused had already
been realised. Nevertheless he went on to say:

  "The workers were brought into Germany against their
  will. I had no objection to their being brought to
  Germany against their will. On the contrary, during the
  first period until autumn of 1942 I certainly used my
  energy that as many workers as possible should be brought
  to Germany in this manner."

Further, workers were placed at his disposal by Sauckel and
he was responsible for their allocation priorities.

He acknowledged the receipt of 1,000,000 Soviet labourers in
August, 1942. On 4th January, 1944, he demanded 1,300,000
workers for the coming year. Speer produced no defence of
this conscription of labour but he did assert that from 1943
he had supported the retention of French workers in France,
which is a mere matter of mitigation. The moderation of
Speer's manner ought not to hide the

                                                  [Page 468]

fact that this policy, which he cheerfully adopted and
applied, was one that meant the most appalling misery and
suffering for millions of Soviet and other families.

It displays once again the complete disregard of the fate of
other people which s runs like a sordid thread through the
evidence in this trial, and no moral awakening regarding the
interest of the German people (I repeat "the German people")
at the end of the war can offset the participation in this
horrible action.

With regard to the treatment of foreign workers Speer's
general point was that the evidence for the prosecution is
simply that of individual bad instances and should not be
taken as the general condition. If it were the general
condition he would accept responsibility. The prosecution
submit that their evidence, viewed as a whole, is conclusive
evidence of general bad conditions.

Neurath, who has told the Tribunal that he joined Hitler's
Government to keep it peace-loving and respectable, knew
within a few weeks that the Jews were being persecuted, that
reputable foreign papers and reputable German papers too,
for that matter, were quoting official figures of ten to
twenty thousand internees. He knew that the opposition, the
Communists, the trade unionists and Social Democrats were
being destroyed as political forces. The blood purge
followed, yet he went on and seconded Hitler in his breaches
of the Treaty of Versailles. We have the evidence of Paul
Schmidt that the murder of Dollfuss and the attempted putsch
in Austria seriously disturbed the career personnel of the
Foreign Office, whilst they regarded the mutual assistance
pact between France and the Soviet Union as a further very
serious warning as to the potential consequences of German
foreign policy:

  "At this time the career officials at least expressed
  their reservation to the Foreign Minister Neurath. I do
  not know whether or not Neurath in turn related these
  expressions of concern to Hitler."

Yet when Raeder was issuing orders about the danger of
showing "enthusiasm for war", von Neurath would have you
believe that he had failed to realize its growth. He, as
much as Raeder, saw and took part in the events which
followed, the secret meetings, the treatment of von Blomberg
and von Fritsch, he it was at the time of the Anschluss who,
though no longer Foreign Minister, gave the support of a
name, not yet notably tarnished, to Hitler's action by
transmitting untruths in denial of the British Note and by
reassuring the Czechs. That reassurance ought never to be
forgotten-there can be few things more grimly cynical than
von Neurath who had listened to the Hoszbach meeting
solemnly telling M. Mastny that Hitler would stand by the
Arbitration Treaty with Czechoslovakia. As soon as Hitler
had marched into Prague, he it was who became protector of
Bohemia and Moravia. You have heard his admission that he
applied all decrees for the treatment of the Jews which had
appeared in Germany between 1933 and 1939.

Fritzsche's work was to organize the entire German Press so
that it became "a permanent instrument of the Propaganda
Ministry". Propaganda was the most: potent factor in all
Nazi strategy. Here in turn that factor made all the Press
its most potent weapon. The fact that he knew and
participated in the use of his organization is shown by his
attempt to whitewash the successive propaganda actions which
led up to each of the various aggressions mentioned in his
affidavit.  As he said:

  "All news checked by me was full of tendency while not

It is incredible that when he was called upon time after
time to conduct what was specifically referred to as actions
and when each time he saw the practical results he did not
realize the dishonesty with which the German policy was
being conducted or that the aim of the Nazi Government was
aggressive war. His personal ability as a broadcaster caused
him to become virtually an official commentator. To quote
his own words:

  "May I add that it is known to me that in the far corners
  of German colonies abroad my radio speeches were, shall
  we say, the political comments."

                                                  [Page 469]

He has emphasized that in these comments he had a free hand.
Is it to be doubted that this was because he was prepared to
broadcast whatever lie Goebbels wanted? He himself says, in
dealing with the uses to which his influence was put:

  "Again and again I was requested to awaken hatred against
  individuals and against systems."

You have seen a sample in his broadcast on the Athenia. As
early as 1940 he broke far enough away from the restraint
which he tried to picture in the witness box to call the
Poles "under people" and "beasts in human form".

On the 18th December, 1941, he referred to the fate of
European Jews in the following words:

  "The fate of Jewry in Europe has turned out to be as
  unpleasant as the Fuehrer  predicted it would be in the
  event of a European war. After the extension of the war
  instigated by the Jews, this unpleasant fate may also
  spread to the New World, for you can hardly assume that
  the nations of the New World will pardon the Jews for the
  misery of which the nations of the Old World did not
  absolve them."

There were few more dreadful or hate-provoking accusations
among the whole miasma of Nazi lies against the Jews than
that of instigating the war which brought such misery to
humanity, yet this educated and thoughtful defendant
deliberately made it.

It is difficult to imagine any more fulsome or callous
adulation of Hitler's aggression than his speech on 9th
October, 1941, which contained the words:

  " ... and we are particularly grateful for these
  lightning victories because - as the Fuehrer  emphasized
  last Friday - they gave us the possibility of embarking
  on the organization of Europe and of lifting the
  treasures of this old continent even in the middle of a
  war, without having to keep millions and millions of
  German soldiers on guard ...."

Perhaps the key to Fritzsche's readiness to conceal the war
crimes of his masters is revealed by the basic principle of
his propaganda. I quote:

  "But the decisive for us for such a news machine is not
  the detail but the final fundamental basis on which
  propaganda is built. Decisive is the belief in the purity
  of the leaders of the State on which every journalist
  must rely."

Fritzsche maintained until practically the very end the most
excellent relation with Dr. Goebbels. When the Tribunal
considers the picture of total extremism and violent anti-
Semitism which the other defendants have painted of
Goebbels, it is difficult to imagine that the worship of his
closest collaborator could have been based on innocent

The prosecution submits that it is laughable that such a man
should try to persuade you that it was in ignorance of these
horrors that he went on exhorting and persuading the German
people to tread the path to their doom. Fritzsche shares
with Streicher, Rosenberg, Schirach the responsibility for
the utter degradation of the German people so that "they
shut the gates of mercy on mankind." It was because of them
that such scenes as that in the Jewish cemetery at Schwetz
on that Sunday morning in October, 1939, occurred, when 200
of Keitel's decent Wehrmacht soldiers watched without a
murmur the murder of that lorry-load of women and children.
You will remember the story as three of them have told it:

  "On Saturday evening I heard from a comrade in my company
  that on that day a number of Poles had been shot in the
  Jewish cemetery. The talk about these facts went through
  the whole company like lightning. On the following
  morning ... I went to the cemetery at 8 o'clock with two
  of my comrades from my company. There I found a great
  number of soldiers belonging to the companies of our
  battalion and also from troops who were stationed in
  Schwetz. There were roughly 200 to 300 soldiers at the
  cemetery .... At 9.30 hours the bus arrived loaded with
  women and

                                                  [Page 469]

  children. I stood near the mass graves which had been
  prepared beforehand and I saw a woman holding one little
  boy by the right hand and one or two girls by the other,
  walking from the bus to the grave. I then saw a few
  seconds later how the woman stood in the grave and one of
  the boys was handed down to her by the SS men. We then
  turned round and left because I did not want to, nor
  could, witness the shooting of these children.
  Immediately after that I heard the shots .... Shortly
  after that another bus arrived, loaded with Poles. An SS
  man shouted to the soldiers who stood around, 'Now you
  can all come in and watch.' Then I went in once more and
  saw a group of four men step into the same mass grave in
  which the woman had been shot previously. They were
  ordered to lie down and then they were liquidated by
  shooting through the back of their heads from a very
  short distance. Flesh, brains and sand were flung around
  over the grave and dirtied the uniforms of the soldiers
  who were watching. About eighty soldiers stood too close
  to the edge of the grave. These happenings could also be
  seen by the civilian population from the windows of their
  houses opposite the Jewish cemetery."

You are asked to believe that these twenty-one ministers and
leading officers of State did not know about these matters -
were not responsible. It is for you to decide.

Years ago Goethe said of the German people that some day
fate would strike them:

  "Would strike them because they betrayed themselves and
  did not want to be what they are. It is sad that they do
  not know the charm of truth, detestable that mist, smoke
  and berserk immoderation are so dear to them, pathetic
  that they ingenuously submit to any mad scoundrel who
  appeals to their lowest instincts, who confirms them in
  their vices and teaches them to conceive nationalism as
  isolation and brutality."

With what a voice of prophecy he spoke - for these are the
mad scoundrels who did those very things.

Some it may be are more guilty than others; some played a
more direct and active part than others in these frightful
crimes. But when those crimes are such as you have to deal
with here - slavery, mass murder and world war, when the
consequences of the crimes are the deaths of over 20,000,000
of our fellow-men, the devastation of a continent, the
spread of untold tragedy and suffering throughout the world,
what mitigation is it that some took less part than others,
that some were principals and others mere accessories? What
matters it if some forfeited their lives only a thousand
times whilst others deserved a million deaths?

In one way the fate of these men means little: their
personal power for evil lies for ever broken; they have
convicted and discredited each other and finally destroyed
the legend they created round the figure of their leader.
But on their fate great issues must still depend, for the
ways of truth and righteousness between the nations of the
world, the hope of future international co-operation in the
administration of law and justice are in your hands. This
trial must form a milestone in the history of civilisation,
not only bringing retribution to these guilty men, not only
marking that right shall in the end triumph over evil, but
also that the ordinary people of the world (and I make no
distinction now between friend and foe) are now determined
that the individual must transcend the State. The State and
the law are made for man, that through them he may achieve a
fuller life, a higher purpose and a greater dignity. States
may be great and powerful. Ultimately the rights of men,
made as all men are made in the image of God, are
fundamental. When the State, either because as here its
leaders have lusted for power and place, or under some
specious pretext that the end may justify the means,
affronts these things, they may for a time become obscured
and submerged. But they are immanent and ultimately they
will assert themselves more strongly, still, their immanence
more manifest. And so, after this ordeal to which mankind

                                                  [Page 471]

has been submitted, mankind itself - struggling now to re-
establish in all the countries of the world the common,
simple things - liberty, love, understanding - comes to this
Court and cries: "These are our laws - let them prevail."

Then shall those other words of Goethe be translated into
fact, not only, as we must hope, of the German people but of
the whole community of man:

  " ... thus ought the German people to behave - giving and
  receiving from the world, their hearts open to every
  fruitful source of wonder, great through understanding
  and love, through mediation and the spirit - thus ought
  they to be; that is their destiny."

You will remember when you come to give your decision the
story of Gruber, but not in vengeance - in a determination
that these things shall not occur again.

  "The father" - do you remember? - pointed to the sky,
  "and seemed to say something to his boy."

THE PRESIDENT: The Tribunal will adjourn.

(The Tribunal adjourned until Monday, 29th July, 1946, at 10.00 hours.)

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