The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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   Nazi Conspiracy & Aggression, Volume II, Chapter XV

                                                  [Page 316]

In one respect the General Staff and High Command of the
German Armed Forces is to be distinguished from the other
groups and organizations against which the prosecution seeks
declaration of criminality. The Leadership Corps of the
NSDAP, for example, was the instrument by which Hitlerism
rose to full power in Germany. The SA and the SS were
branches -- large branches to be sure -- of the Nazi Party.
The German police had certain roots and antecedents which
antedated Hitlerism, but was almost entirely a creature of
the party and the SS. The Reichs Cabinet was, in essence,
merely a committee or set of committees of Reichs Ministers,
and when the Nazis came to power these ministerial positions
were filled for the most part by Nazis. All those groups and
organizations, accordingly, either owe their origin and
development to Naziism, or automatically became nazified
when Hitler came to full power.

That is not true of this group, the General Staff and High
Command of the German Armed Forces. It is common knowledge
that German armed might and the German military tradition
antedate Hitlerism by many decades. The war of 1914-18, the
Kaiser, and the "scrap of paper" are modern witnesses to
this fact.

                                                  [Page 317]

As a result of the German defeat in 1918 and the Treaty of
Versailles the size and activities of the German armed
forces were severely restricted. The last few years have
made it abundantly apparent that these restrictions did not
destroy or even seriously undermine German militarism. The
full flowering of German military strength came about
through collaboration between the Nazis and the career
leaders of the German Armed Forces -- the professional
soldiers, sailors, and airmen. When Hitler came to power in
1933, he did not find a vacuum in the field of military
affairs; he found a small Reichswehr and a body of
professional officers with a morale and outlook nourished by
German military history.

The leaders of these professional officers constitute the
group named in the Indictment -- the General Staff and High
Command of the German Armed Forces. This part of the case
concerns that group of men. Needless to say, it is not the
prosecution's position that it is a crime to be a soldier or
sailor, or to serve one's country as a soldier or sailor in
time of war. The profession of arms is an honorable one, and
can be honorably practiced. But it is too clear for argument
that a man who commits crimes cannot plead as a defense that
he committed them in uniform.

It is not in the nature of things, and it is not the
prosecution's position, that all members of this group were
wicked men, or that they were all equally culpable. But this
group not only collaborated with Hitler and supported many
Nazi objectives. They furnished one thing which was
essential and basic to the success of the Nazi program for
Germany -- skill and experience in the development and use
of armed might.

Why did this group support Hitler and the Nazis ? The answer
is simple. The answer is that they agreed with the basic
objectives of Naziism, and that Hitler gave the generals the
opportunity to play a major part in achieving those
objectives. The generals, like Hitler, wanted Germany to
aggrandize at the expense of neighboring countries, and to
do so if necessary by force or threat of force. Force --
armed might -- was the keystone of the arch, the thing
without which nothing else would have been possible.

As they came to power and when they had attained power, the
Nazis had two alternatives: to collaborate with and expand
the Reichswehr, or to ignore the Reichswehr and build up a
separate army of their own. The generals feared that the
Nazis might do the latter. So they were the more ready to
play along with the Nazis. Moreover, the Nazis offered the
generals the chance of achieving much that the generals
wished to achieve in the expan-

                                                  [Page 318]
sion of German armies and frontiers. And so the generals
climbed onto the Nazi bandwagon. They saw it was going in
their direction for the present. No doubt they hoped later
to take over the direction themselves. In fact, it was
ultimately they who were taken over by the Nazis. Hitler
attracted the generals to him with the glitter of conquest
and then succeeded in submerging them politically. As the
war proceeded they became his tools.

But if the leaders of the Armed Forces became the tools of
Naziism, it is not to be supposed that they were unwitting,
or that they did not participate fully in many of the
actions which are charged as criminal. The willingness,
indeed eagerness, of German officers to become partners of
the Nazis will be fully developed.

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