Archive/File: imt/ tgmwc/judgment/j-regime-consolidation Last-Modified: 1997/09/11 Judgment of the International Military Tribunal For The Trial of German Major War Criminals London His Majesty's Stationery Office 1951 [Page 7] THE CONSOLIDATION OF POWER The NSDAP, having achieved power in this way, now proceeded to extend its hold on every phase of German life. Other political parties were persecuted, their property and assets confiscated, and many of their members placed in concentration camps. On 26th April, 1933, the Defendant Goering founded in Prussia the Geheime Staatspolizei, or Gestapo, as a secret police, and confided to the deputy leader of the Gestapo that its main task was to eliminate political opponents of National Socialism and Hitler. On 14th July, 1933, a law was passed declaring the NSDAP to be the only political party, and making it criminal to maintain or form any other political party. In order to place the complete control of the machinery of Government in the hands of the Nazi leaders, a series of laws and decrees were passed which reduced the powers of regional and local governments throughout Germany, transforming them into subordinate divisions of the Government of the Reich. Representative assemblies in the Laender were abolished, and with them all local elections. The Government then proceeded to secure control of the Civil Service. This was achieved by a process of centralization, and by a careful sifting of the whole Civil Service administration. By a law of 7 April it was provided that officials "who were of non-Aryan descent" should be retired; and it was also decreed that "officials who because of their previous political activity do not offer security that they will exert themselves for the national state without reservation shall be discharged." The law of 11th April, 1933, provided for the discharge of "all civil servants who belong to the Communist Party." Similarly, the judiciary was subjected to control. Judges were removed from the bench for political or racial reasons. They were spied upon and made subject to the strongest pressure to join the Nazi Party as an alternative to being dismissed. When the Supreme Court acquitted three of the four defendants charged with complicity in the Reichstag fire, its jurisdiction in cases of treason was thereafter taken away and given to a newly established "People's Court" consisting of two judges and five officials of the Party. Special courts were set up to try political crimes and only party members were appointed as judges. Persons were arrested by the SS for political reasons, and detained in prisons and concentration camps; and the judges were without power to intervene in any way. Pardons were granted to members of the Party who had been sentenced by the judges for proved offenses. In 1935 several officials of the Hohenstein concentration camp were convicted of inflicting brutal treatment upon the inmates. High Nazi officials tried to influence the Court, and after the officials had been convicted, Hitler pardoned them all. In 1942 "judges' letters" were sent to all German judges by the Government, instructing them as to the "general lines" that they must follow. In their determination to remove all sources of opposition, the NSDAP leaders turned their attention to the trade unions, the churches, and the Jews. In April, 1933, Hitler ordered the late Defendant Ley, who was then staff director of the political organisation of the NSDAP, "to take over the trade unions." Most of the trade unions of Germany were joined together in two large federations, the "Free Trade Unions" and the "Christian Trade Unions." Unions outside these two large federations contained only 15% of the total union membership. On 21st April, 1933, Ley issued an NSDAP directive announcing a "coordination action" to be carried out on [Page 8] 2ND May, against the Free Trade Unions. The directive ordered that SA and SS men were to be employed in the planned "occupation of trade union properties and for the taking into protective custody of personalities who come into question." At the conclusion of the action the official NSDAP press service reported that the National Socialist Factory Cells Organisation had "eliminated the old leadership of Free Trade Unions" and taken over the leadership themselves. Similarly, on 3rd May, 1933, the NSDAP press service announced that the Christian trade unions "have unconditionally subordinated themselves to the leadership of Adolf Hitler." In place of the trade unions the Nazi Government set up a German Labour Front (DAF), controlled by the NSDAP, and which, in practice, all workers in Germany were compelled to join. The chairmen of the unions were taken into custody and were subjected to ill- treatment, ranging from assault and battery to murder. In their effort to combat the influence of the Christian churches, whose doctrines were fundamentally at variance with National Socialist philosophy and practice, the Nazi Government proceeded more slowly. The extreme step of banning the practice of the Christian religion was not taken, but year by year efforts were made to limit the influence of Christianity on the German people, since, in the words used by the Defendant Bormann to the Defendant Rosenberg in an official letter, "the Christian religion and National Socialist doctrines are not compatible." In the month of June, 1941 the Defendant Bormann issued a secret decree on the relation of Christianity and National Socialism. The decree stated that: "For the first time in German history the Fuehrer consciously and completely has the leadership in his own hand. With the Party, its components and attached units, the Fuehrer has created for himself and thereby the German Reich Leadership, an instrument which makes him independent of the Treaty .. More and more the people must be separated from the churches and their organs, the pastor .. Never again must an influence on leadership of the people be yielded to the churches. This influence must be broken completely and finally. Only the Reich Government and by its direction the Party, its components and attached 0units, have a right to leadership of the people." From the earliest days of the NSDAP, anti-Semitism had occupied a prominent place in National Socialist thought and propaganda. The Jews, who were considered to have no right to German citizenship, were held to have been largely responsible for the troubles with which the Nation was afflicted following on the war of l914 to 18. Furthermore, the antipathy to the Jews was intensified by the insistence which was laid upon the superiority of the Germanic race and blood. The second chapter of Book 1 of Mein Kampf is dedicated to what may be called the "Master Race" theory, the doctrine of Aryan superiority over all other races, and the right of Germans in virtue of this superiority to dominate and use other peoples for their own ends. With the coming of the Nazis into power in 1933, persecution of the Jews became official state policy. On 1st April, 1933, a boycott of Jewish enterprises was approved by the Nazi Reich Cabinet, and during the following years a series of anti- Semitic laws was passed, restricting the activities of Jews in the civil service, in the legal profession, in journalism and in the armed forces. In 9/1935, the so-called Nuremberg Laws were passed, the most important effect of which was to deprive Jews of German citizenship. In this way the influence of Jewish elements on the affairs of Germany was extinguished, and one more potential source of opposition to Nazi policy was rendered powerless. In any consideration of the crushing of opposition, the massacre of 30th June, 1934 must not be forgotten. It has become known as the "Roehm Purge" or "the blood bath", and revealed the methods which Hitler and [Page 9] his immediate associates, including the Defendant Goering, were ready to employ to strike down all opposition and consolidate their power. On that day Roehm, the Chief of Staff of the SA since 1931, was murdered by Hitler's orders, and the "Old Guard" of the SA was massacred without trial and without warning. The opportunity was taken to murder a large number of people who at one time or another had opposed Hitler. The ostensible ground for the murder of Roehm was that he was plotting to overthrow Hitler, and the Defendant Goering gave evidence that knowledge of such a plot had come to his ears. Whether this was so or not it is not necessary to determine. On 3 July the Cabinet approved Hitler's action and described it as "legitimate self-defense by the State." Shortly afterwards Hindenburg died, and Hitler became both Reich President and Chancellor. At the Nazi-dominated plebiscite, which followed, 38 million Germans expressed their approval, and with the Reichswehr taking the oath of allegiance to the Fuehrer, full power was now in Hitler's hands. Germany had accepted the dictatorship with all its methods of terror, and its cynical and open denial of the rule of law. Apart from the policy of crushing the potential opponents of their regime, the Nazi Government took active steps to increase its power over the German population. In the field of education, everything was done to ensure that the youth of Germany was brought up in the atmosphere of National Socialism and accepted National Socialist teachings. As early as 7th April, 1933, the law reorganizing the civil service had made it possible for the Nazi Government to remove all "subversive and unreliable teachers"; and this was followed by numerous other measures to make sure that the schools were staffed by teachers who could be trusted to teach their pupils the full meaning of the National Socialist creed. Apart from the influence of National Socialist teaching in the schools, the Hitler Youth Organisation was also relied upon by the Nazi Leaders for obtaining fanatical support from the younger generation. The Defendant Von Schirach, who had been Reich Youth Leader of the NSDAP since 1931, was appointed Youth Leader of the German Reich in June, 1933. Soon all the youth organisations had been either dissolved or absorbed by the Hitler Youth, with the exception of the Catholic Youth. The Hitler Youth was organized on strict military lines, and as early as 1933, the Wehrmacht was cooperating in providing pre- military training for the Reich Youth. The Nazi Government endeavored to unite the Nation in support of their policies through the extensive use of propaganda. A number of agencies was set up, whose duty was to control and influence the press, the radio, films, publishing firms, etc., in Germany, and to supervise entertainment and cultural and artistic activities. All these agencies came under Goebbels' Ministry of the People's Enlightenment and Propaganda, which together with a corresponding organisation in the NSDAP and the Reich Chamber of Culture, was ultimately responsible for exercising this supervision. The Defendant Rosenberg played a leading part in disseminating the National Socialist doctrines on behalf of the Party, and the Defendant Fritzsche, in conjunction with Goebbels, performed the same task for the State. The greatest emphasis was laid on the supreme mission of the German People to lead and dominate by virtue of their Nordic blood and racial purity; and the ground was thus being prepared for the acceptance of the idea of German world supremacy. [Page 10] Through the effective control of the radio and the press, the German People, during the years which followed 1933, were subjected to the most intensive propaganda in furtherance of the regime. Hostile criticism, indeed criticism of any kind, was forbidden, and the severest penalties were imposed on those who indulged in it. Independent judgment, based on freedom of thought, was rendered quite impossible.
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