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Archive/File: holocaust/germany/nuremberg waffen-ss.001
Last-Modified: 1994/12/20

   "Less amusing but no more credible than any other part of the SS
   case was the argument that the Waffen-SS should be excluded from
   any declaration of criminality. These fighting units of the SS
   which had included 18,000 men at the beginning of the war and
   550,000 by the end, were described as purely military formations,
   under the command of the Armed Forces and subject to the SS only
   for administration, discipline and equipment. It was claimed they
   were increasingly conscripted, fully instructed in the Hague and
   Geneva Conventions and had fought as decent soldiers. Yet
   prosecution evidence suggested that the defense argument could be
   turned back on its head; far from the Waffen-SS being innocent
   because unconnected with other SS crimes, the SS as a whole was
   contaminated by the outrages of this section for which it was
   ultimately responsible. Evidence had certainly made it clear that
   there had been no rigid division between the Waffen-SS and the rest
   of the organization: members frequently rotated between branches;
   all units co-operated in the Einsatzgruppen, partisan warfare, the
   shooting of prisoners and hostages. No one denied that the
   Waffen-SS had provided many guards for extermination camps - their
   claim that this was at the end of the war and when the men were
   unfit for combat did not make their work any better.

   The witnesses began by vociferously pleading the innocence of the
   Waffen-SS and soon fell back defending themselves only. The prime
   example was SS General Hauser who was 'no longer in command' of the
   units which destroyed Lidice; he had 'not yet' taken command of
   those who massacred every inhabitant of Oradour; he was 'not
   actually in Yugoslavia when his division in a single action
   murdered families whose names took up three pages in a prosecution
   document; and he was 'surprised' to hear what an active part the
   Waffen-SS had played in the destruction of the Warsaw Ghetto - only
   at Nuremberg had he learnt it had in fact been destroyed. Given
   virtual admissions like these in widespread, constant criminal
   activity, let alone previous prosecution evidence, it is hardly
   surprising that the Tribunal refused to accept a United Nations War
   Crimes Commission report summarizing charges against Waffen-SS. The
   reason they gave was that it was being submitted too late. In fact
   it must have seemed merely cumulative." (Tusa, 434-5)

                             Work Cited

   Tusa, Ann & John.  The Nuremberg Trial.  Birmingham, Alabama: The
   Notable Trials Library, Division of Gryphon Editions, Inc., 1990



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