The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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                  MONDAY, 29th JULY, 1946.

THE PRESIDENT: I call on the Chief Prosecutor of the Provisional
Government of the Republic of France, M. Champetier de Ribes.

M. CHAMPETIER DE RIBES: Mr. President and gentlemen of the Tribunal:

On presenting the final address of the French Public Prosecutor, I beg
the Tribunal to permit me to express the admiration and the gratitude of
my country for the objectivity and calm with which these proceedings
have been conducted.

In the course of the last nine months, the events of more than fifteen
years of history have been evoked at this bar.

Germany's archives, those of them that the Nazis were unable to burn
before their defeat, have yielded up their secrets.

We have heard numerous witnesses, whose testimony would have been lost
to history but for the present trial.

All the facts have been presented with strict objectivity, leaving no
room for passion nor even for sentiment. The Tribunal has excluded from
the proceedings everything that in its opinion seemed insufficiently
proved, everything that might have appeared to be dictated by a spirit
of vengeance.

For the chief concern of this trial is above all that of historical

Thanks to it the historian of the future, as well as the chronicler of
today, will know the truth of the political, diplomatic and military
events of the most tragic period of our history; he will know the crimes
of Nazism as well as the irresolution, the weaknesses, the omissions of
the peace-loving democracies.

He will know that the work of twenty centuries of a civilization was
almost destroyed by the return of ancient barbarism in a new guise, all
the more brutal because more scientific.

He will know that the progress of mechanical science, modern means of
propaganda, and the most devilish practices of a police which defied the
most elementary rules of humanity, enabled a small minority of criminals
within a few years to distort the collective conscience of a great
people, and to transform the nation described by Dr. Sauter, at the
conclusion of his speech in defence of von Schirach, as loyal, upright
and full of virtue, into that of Hitler, Himmier, and Goebbels.

He will know that the real crime of these men was the conception of the
gigantic plan of world domination and the attempt to realize it by every
possible means.

By every possible means -- that is, of course, by the breaking of
pledges and by unleashing the worst of all wars of aggression, but,
above all, by the scientific and systematic extermination of millions of
human beings and more especially of certain national or religious groups
whose existence hampered the hegemony of the Germanic race.

This is a crime so monstrous, so undreamt of in history throughout the
Christian era up to the birth of Hitlerism, that the term "genocide" has
had to be coined to define it and an accumulation of documents and
testimonies has been needed to make it credible.

The perfect collaboration of the four Public Prosecutors has enabled it
to be proved that this crime was possible; and, within the limits of
those counts of the

                                                                [Page 2]

Indictment reserved for herself, France believes that she has done her
part in the common task.

While the defendants and their counsel have said a great deal before the
Tribunal regarding the protection to which the innocent civilian
population is entitled, and have referred to this as to an obvious
principle, we have established the fact that the defendants have
deliberately violated this principle by treating these civilian
populations with the most complete disregard for human life. Is it
necessary to recall the terrible words of the defendant Keitel, "human
life is worth less than nothing in the occupied territories"?

By reverting to the taking of hostages the defendants revived a
tradition which symbolizes the most primitive practices of warfare. They
put their signatures to general orders decreeing the capture and
execution of thousands of martyrs. In France alone, 29,000 hostages were
shot. We know that the champions of the resistance movement, whose
patriotism is now admired by the defendants, were massacred, tortured
and imprisoned with a view to their slow extermination. We know, too,
that, on the pretext of reprisals, in execution of orders or by the
cruelty of individuals covered by the complicity of the authorities,
civilians were taken at random and executed and that whole villages were
burnt down:

Oradeur-sur-Glane, Maille in France, and Putten in Holland have, not
risen again from their ruins.

The atrocious orders issued in Marshal Kesselring's operational sector,
for combating partisan activity by terror, are in all our minds. There
we saw that one officer ordered the execution Of 50 or 100 men or even
of the entire male population of a region as a reprisal for isolated
acts directed against the German Army. The execution of that order was
authorized by instructions from the commander of the theatre of
operations, who was himself acting on more general instructions issued
by the defendant Keitel. This is an example of the perfect collaboration
existing between the National Socialist cadre and the State and is an
argument, if such be still necessary, for the joint responsibility of
the leading personalities of the regime.

We know that thousands of men were forcibly taken from their homes and
compelled to make arms to be used against their own country.

The harsh treatment given to soldiers shocked us even more deeply,
because Germany, be it the traditional Germany, the Nazi Germany when it
was in power, or the Germany which is now presenting the paltry
arguments for its defence in the prisoners' dock, has always claimed to
uphold the universal rules governing military honour and the respect due
to all combatants. In spite of this, we have seen Keitel himself, who
championed these ideas to such a degree that he even referred to them
again at the conclusion of his testimony in the witness box, urge the
Wilhelmstrasse and.his co-defendant Goering to approve his criminal
proposals for the treatment of airmen who fell into their hands.

Documents such as the testimony of Grunner leave no room for doubt that
criminal orders to exterminate and lynch airmen were given in the
customary way and transmitted to those responsible for their execution.

No doubt is possible as to the principles which governed the drafting of
the order concerning the commandos, nor as to the execution of this
order in the various theatres of operations. The prosecution has
produced a striking collection of evidence on this point.

Our consternation was even greater when it was ascertained with
certainty that cruel decrees had been issued for execution or
imprisonment for the purpose of extermination of men already reduced to
a state of helplessness by their internment m prisoner-of-war camps. The
sinister affair of Sagan, often evoked in the course. Of this trial, is
present in our mifids. The defendants themselves attempt only to evade
personal responsibility without denying the atrocity or the truth of the
facts. We have shown how rebellious escaped officers and
non-commissioned officers, whose past records and attitude are proof of
their moral strength, were exterminated by "action Kugel."

                                                                [Page 3]

At length, Nazi Germany unveiled her plans for expansion and world
domination by organizing the systematic extermination of the peoples
whose territories shehad occupied.

This operation was carried out at first, as we have shown, by the
political, economic and moral destruction of the occupied countries. The
methods employed were the brutal or gradual seizure of power, or
carefully calculated infiltration of German authority in every sphere,
the preparation of a programme of economic pillage and its pitiless
execution, so as to lead to the exhaustion of the occupied country and
to put it at the absolute mercy of the occupying Power; in a word, the
Nazification of the State and the people, as well as the destruction of
cultural and moral values.

But this methodical extermination was carried out also in a concrete way
by the systematic massacre of the people.

Is it necessary to recall the mass extermination of groups considered
impossible of assimilation into the National Socialist world, the vast
graveyard of the concentration camps, where 15,000,000 people perished,
the abominable achievements of the "Einsaegruppen" (special purposes
groups), described with irrefutable precision by General Ohlendorff ?

We consider we have also established proof of those pernicious attempts
at extermination, which on examination are seen to be one of the most
perfect examples of the defendants' policy. I refer to the deliberate
under-nourishment to which were subjected those non-Germans who for any
reason whatsoever came under Nazi authority -- whole nations starved by
way of reprisal -- civilian rations in occupied territories ruthlessly
cut to enable the plan for the pillage of the territory to be carried
out. The Tribunal will recall Goering's speech to the Gauleiter:

"It is absolutely immaterial to me if you say that your people are
fainting from hunger. Let them faint, as long as no German starves."

And again, with reference to Holland:

"It is not our mission to feed a nation which turns from us in spirit.
If its people are so weak that they cannot even raise a hand where they
are not employed to work for us, so much the better ......

Famine, bodily misery and the resulting reduction of the potential of
life are all included, together with the slow exhaustion of political
internees and prisoners of war, in the plan for the extermination of
populations in order to free German living-space.

The same idea is behind the detention in captivity or semi-captivity, as
in the case of labour deportees, of healthy young men whose presence at
home was of vital importance for the future of their country.
All this has been confirmed by the latest census results.

These reveal that all the countries occupied by Germany show a decrease
in their population varying from 5 per cent to 25 per cent, whereas
Germany herself is the only country in Europe which shows an increase.
We have proved all these crimes. After the submission of our documents,
the hearing of the witnesses, the projection of films which the
defendants themselves could not see without shuddering with horror,
nobody in the world can possibly claim that the extermination camps, the
executed prisoners, the slaughtered peoples, the mounds of corpses, the
human herds maimed in body and soul, the instruments of torture, the gas
chambers and crematoria -- no one can claim that all these crimes
existed only in the imagination of anti-German propagandists.

Indeed, none of the defendants have challenged the truth of the facts we
have reported. Unable to deny them, they try only to evade their own
responsibility by placing the gnilt on those of their accomplices who
committed suicide.

"We knew nothing of those horrors," they say, or else: "We did
everything we could to prevent them, but Hitler, who was all-powerful,
gave the orders and allowed no one to disobey or even resign from

                                                                [Page 4]

What a poor defence! Who is likely to believe that they alone were
ignorant of what the whole world knew and that their monitoring stations
never reported to them the solemn warnings which were broadcast
repeatedly -- by the heads of the United Nations?

They could not disobey Hitler's order, they could not even resign from
office ? Indeed! Hitler might have governed their bodies but not their
souls. By disobeying him they might perhaps have lost their liberty or
even their lives, but they would at least have saved their honour.
Cowardice has never been an excuse, nor even an extenuating

The truth is that having taken part in its elaboration, they all knew
perfectly well the doctrine of National Socialism and its will to
universal domination. They were very well aware of the monstrous crimes
to which it inevitably led its adepts and its exponents, and that all
accepted the responsibility in the same way that all accepted the
material and moral advantages which it lavished upon them.

But they thought themselves sure of impunity because they were certain
of victory, and that in the face of force triumphant no questions would
be asked about the justice of the cause. They persuaded themselves, as
they had done after the war of 1914, that no international jurisdiction
could ever indict them. They thought that Pascal's pessimistic judgment
on human justice in international relationship would always be true:
"justice can be disputed; force is easily recognizable and cannot be
disputed. So, as right cannot be made into might, might has been made
into right."

They are mistaken. Since Pascal's day, the concepts of morality and
justice have slowly,but surely taken shape and been incorporated in the
international customs of civilized nations.

The Tribunal will doubtless remember that at the conclusion of his
presentation of the charges made in the Indictment, the French
Prosecutor stated in precise terms the responsibility of all the
defendants, who are "guilty of having, in their role as the chief
Hitlerian leaders of the German people, conceived, willed, ordained or
merely tolerated by their silence that assassinations or other inhuman
acts should be systematically committed, that violent treatment should
be systematically imposed on prisoners of war or civilians, that
devastations without justification be systematically committed as a
deliberate instrument for the accomplishment of their purpose of
dominating Europe and the world through terrorism and the extermination
of entire populations, in order to enlarge the living-space of the
German people."

All that is left to us now is to demonstrate that.the proceedings which
have taken place before you have served only to confirm and reinforce
the accusations and the statements formulated at the beginning of these
proceedings against the major criminals, whom, in execution of the
Charter and to satisfy the demands of justice, the United Nations have
corrunitted for trial by your Tribunal.

I ask the Tribunal to allow M. Dubost, the Chief Prosecutor, to present
his final statement.

M. DUB0ST: Such are the facts set forth by the French Delegation. It was
necessary to recall them in order to establish our contribution to the
trial. We do not intend, however, to deal with our own work apart from
the whole resulting from the presentations of the other three
delegations and the general proceedings. It is on the basis of this work
as a whole that we shall proceed with our Indictment and examine the
personal responsibility of the defendants.

Taking one by one the deeds for which they are responsible,, there are
found to be murder, indictable theft and other serious offences against
persons and property which are always punishable in civilized countries.
M. de Menthon has already shown this in his introductory address.

The defendants did not actually commit the crimes, they were content to
decree them. According to our French law, they are therefore accomplices
in the technical sense of the term. Allowing for certain differences
which are mostly only differ-

                                                                [Page 5]

ences of form, the perpetrators of serious offences and their
accomplices are subject in most countries to capital punishment or to
very severe penalties, such as forced labour or solitary confinement.

That is the Anglo-Saxon practice. This also holds good in France from
the application of Articles 221 ff, 379 fF, 59 ff of the French Penal
Code. In Germany, Article 211 provides for the punishment of homicide;
Article 212 relates to murder; Articles 225 to 226 to torture, Article
229 to poisoning and murder by gas. Article 234 covers slavery,
reduction to serfdom, incorporation with a view to military service
abroad; Articles 242 and 243 cover theft and pillage; Article 130 deals
with the incitement of the populace to violence. The position of
accomplices and co-originators is covered by Articles 47 and 49 of
German law.

Similar provisions exist in Soviet legislation as well as in the
legislation of all great civilized countries.

The fact that, as leaders of the Reich and accomplices of the Fuehrer,
these men are all responsible for the. crimes committed under their
regime, and that in the eyes of all men of conscience their
responsibility is heavier than that of those who carried out their
orders, has been admitted by two of the defendants: Frank and Schirach.

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