The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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In the meantime, of course, and particularly during the last
month, desperate attempts were being made by the Western
Powers to avert war. You will have details of them in
evidence. Of the intervention of the Pope. Of President
Roosevelt's message. Of the offer by the British Prime
Minister, Mr. Chamberlain, to do our utmost to create the
conditions in which all matters in issue could be the
subject of free negotiations, and to guarantee the resultant
decisions. But this and all the other efforts of honest men
to avoid the horror of a European conflict were predestined
to failure. The Germans were determined that the day for war
had come. On the 31st August, Hitler issued a top secret
order for the attack to commence in the early hours of the
1st September.

The necessary frontier incidents duly occurred. Was it,
perhaps, for these that Keitel had been instructed by Hitler
to supply Heydrich with Polish uniforms? And thus without a
declaration of war, without even giving the Polish
Government an opportunity of seeing Germany's final demands
- and you will hear the evidence of the extraordinary
diplomatic negotiations, if one can call them such, that
took place in Berlin - without giving the Poles any
opportunity at all of negotiating or arbitrating demands
which Nazi Germany was making, the Nazi troops invaded

On the 3rd September, Hitler sent a telegram to Mussolini
thanking, him for his intervention but pointing out that the
war was inevitable and that the most promising moment had to
be picked after cold deliberation. And

                                                   [Page 73]

so Hitler, and his confederates now before this Tribunal,
began the first of their wars of aggression for which they
had prepared so long and so thoroughly. They waged it so
fiercely that within a few weeks Poland was overrun.

On the 23rd November, 1939, Hitler reviewed the situation to
his military Commanders and in the course of what he said he
made this observation:

    "One year later Austria came; this step was also
    considered doubtful. It brought about a tremendous
    reinforcement of the Reich. The next step was Bohemia,
    Moravia and Poland. This step also it was not possible
    to accomplish in one campaign. First of all the Western
    fortifications had to be finished. Then followed the
    creation of the Protectorate, and with that the basis
    of action against Poland was laid. But I was not quite
    clear at the time whether I should start first against
    the East, and then in the West, or vice versa. The
    decision came to fight with Poland first. One might
    accuse me of wanting to fight again and again. In
    struggle, I see the fate of all human beings."

He was not sure when to attack first. But that, sooner or
later, he would attack-whether it was in the East, or
whether it was in the West-was never in doubt, and he had
been warned not only by the British and French Prime
Ministers, but even by his confederate Mussolini that an
attack on Poland would bring England and France into the
war. He chose what he thought was the opportune moment, and
he struck.

Under the circumstances, the intent to wage war against
England and France, and to precipitate it by an attack on
Poland, is not to be denied. Here was defiance of the most
solemn treaty obligations. Here was neglect of the most
pacific assurances. Here was aggression, naked and
unashamed, which was indeed to arouse the horrified and
heroic resistance of all civilised peoples, but which,
before it was finished, was to tear down many of the pillars
of our civilisation.

Once started upon the active achievement of their plan to
secure the domination of Europe, if not of the world, the
Nazi Government proceeded to attack other countries, as
occasion offered. The first actually to be attacked,
actually to be invaded, after the attack upon Poland were
Denmark and Norway.

On the 9th April, 1940, the German Armed Forces invaded
Norway and Denmark without any warning, without any
declaration of war. It was a breach of the Hague Convention
of 1907. It was a breach of the Convention of Arbitration
and Conciliation signed between Germany and Denmark dated
2nd June, 1926. It was, of course, a breach of the Briand-
Kellogg Pact of 1928. It was a violation of the Non-
Aggression Treaty between Germany and Denmark made the 31st
May, 1939. And it was a breach of the most explicit
assurances which had been given. After his annexation of
Czechoslovakia had shaken the confidence of the world,
Hitler had attempted to reassure the Scandinavian States. On
the 28th April, 1939, he affirmed that he had never made any
request to any of them which was incompatible with their
sovereignty and independence. On the 31st May, 1939, he
signed a non-aggression pact with Denmark.

On the 2nd September, 1939, the day after he had invaded
Poland and seized Danzig, he again expressed his
determination, so he said, to observe the inviolability and
integrity of Norway in an aide-memoire which was handed to
the Norwegian. Foreign Minister by the German Minister in
Oslo, on that day.

                                                   [Page 74]

A month later, in a public speech on the 6th October, 1939,
he said:

    "Germany has never had any conflicts of interest or
    even points of controversy with the Northern States,
    neither has she any today. Sweden and Norway have both
    been offered non-aggression pacts by Germany, and have
    both refused, solely because they do not feel
    themselves threatened in any way."

When the invasion of Denmark and Norway was already begun in
the early morning of 9th April, 1940, a German memorandum
was handed to the Governments of those countries attempting
to justify the German action. Various allegations against
the Governments of the invaded countries were made. It was
said that Norway had been guilty of breaches of neutrality.
It was said that she had allowed and tolerated the use of
her territorial waters by Great Britain. It was said that
Britain and France themselves were making plans to invade
and occupy Norway and that the Government of that country
was prepared to acquiesce in such an event.

I do not propose to argue the question whether or not these
allegations were true or false. That question is irrelevant
to the issues before this Court. Even if the allegations
were true-and they were patently false-they would afford no
conceivable justification for the action of invading without
warning, without declaration of war, without any attempt at
mediation or conciliation. Aggressive war is none the less
aggressive war because the State which wages it believes -
rightly or wrongly - that other States might, in the future,
take similar action. The rape of a nation is not justified
because it is thought she may be raped by another. Nor even
in self-defence are warlike measures justified except after
all means of mediation have been tried and failed, and force
is actually being exercised against the State concerned.

But the matter is irrelevant because, in actual fact, with
the evidence which we now possess, it is abundantly clear
that the invasion of these two countries was undertaken for
quite different purposes. It had been planned long before
any question of breach of neutrality or occupation of Norway
by England could ever have occurred, and it is equally clear
that the assurances repeated again and again throughout 1939
were made for no other purpose than to lull suspicion in
these countries, and to prevent them taking steps to resist
the attack against them which was all along in active

For some years the defendant Rosenberg, in his capacity as
Chief of the Foreign Affairs Bureau - A.P.A. - of the
N.S.D.A.P., had interested himself in the promotion of fifth
column activities in Norway and he had established close
relationship with the "Nasjonal Samling," a political group
headed by the now notorious traitor, Vidkun Quisling. During
the winter of 1938-1939, A.P.A. was in contact with
Quisling, and later Quisling conferred with Hitler and with
the defendants Raeder and Rosenberg. In August, 1939, a
special 14-day course was held at the school of the Office
of Foreign Relations in Berlin for 25 followers whom
Quisling had selected to attend it. The plan was to send a
number of selected and "reliable" men to Germany for a brief
military training in an isolated camp. These "reliable" men
were to be area and language specialists to German special
troops who were taken to Oslo on coal barges to undertake
political action in Norway. The object was a coup in which
Quisling would seize his leading opponents in Norway,
including the King, and prevent all military resistance from
the beginning.
Simultaneously with those fifth column activities Germany
was making her military preparations. On the 2nd September,
1939, as I said, Hitler

                                                   [Page 75]

had assured Norway of his intention to respect her
neutrality. On 6th October he said that the Scandinavian
States were not menaced in any way. Yet on the 3rd October
the defendant Raeder was pointing out that the occupation of
bases, if necessary by force, would greatly improve the
German strategic position. On the 9th October Donitz was
recommending Trondheim as the main base, with Narvik as an
alternative base for fuel supplies. The defendant Rosenberg
was reporting shortly afterwards on the possibility of a
coup d'etat by Quisling, immediately supported by German
military and naval forces. On the 12th September, 1939, the
defendant Raeder advised Hitler, in the presence of the
defendants Keitel and Jodl, that if Hitler were favourably
impressed by Quisling, the O.K.W. should prepare for the
occupation of Norway, if possible with Quisling's
assistance, but if necessary entirely by force. Hitler
agreed, but there was a doubt whether action should be taken
against the Low Countries or against Scandinavia first.
Weather conditions delayed the march on the Low Countries.
In January, 1940, instructions were given to the German Navy
for the attack on Norway. On 1st March a directive for the
occupation was issued by Hitler. The general object was not
said to be to prevent occupation by English forces but, in
vague and general terms, to prevent British encroachment in
Scandinavia and the Baltic and " to guarantee our ore bases
in Sweden and to give our Navy and Air Force a wider start
line against Britain." But the directive went on:

    " . on principle we will do our utmost to make the
    operation appear as a peaceful occupation, the object
    of which is the military protection of the Scandinavian
    States. It is important that the Scandinavian States as
    well as the Western opponents should be taken by
    surprise by our measures.... In case the preparations
    for embarkation can no longer be kept secret, the
    leaders and the troops will be deceived with fictitious

The form and success of the invasion are well known. In the
early hours of the 9th April, seven cruisers and fourteen
destroyers and a number of torpedo boats and other small
craft carried advance elements of six divisions, totalling
about 10,000 men, forced an entry and landed troops in the
outer Oslo Fjord, Kristiansand, Stavanger, Bergen, Trondheim
and Narvik. A small force of troops was also landed at
Arendal and Egersund on the southern coast. In addition,
airborne troops and aircraft were landed near Oslo and
Stavanger. The German attack came as a complete surprise.
All the invaded towns along the coast were captured
according to plan and with only slight losses. Only the plan
to capture the King and Parliament failed. But brave as was
the resistance which was hurriedly organised  throughout the
country, nothing could be done in the face of the long-
planned surprise attack, and on the 10th June military
resistance ceased. So another act of aggression was brought
to completion.

Almost exactly a month after the attack on Norway, on the
10th May, 1940, the German Armed Forces, repeating what had
been done 25 years before, streamed into Belgium, the
Netherlands, and Luxembourg according to plan - a plan, that
is, of invading without warning and without any declaration
of war.

What was done was, of course, a breach of the Hague
Convention, and is so charged. It was a violation of the
Locarno Agreement of 1925, which the Nazi Government
affirmed in 1935, only illegally to repudiate it a couple of
years later. By that agreement all questions incapable of
settlement by

                                                   [Page 76]

ordinary diplomatic means were to be settled by arbitration.
You will see the comprehensive terms of those treaties. It
was a breach of the Treaty of Arbitration and Conciliation
signed between Germany and the Netherlands on 20th May,
1926. It was a breach of a similar treaty with Luxembourg on
11th September, 1929. It was a breach of the Briand-Kellogg
Pact. But those treaties had not perhaps derived in the
minds of the Nazi rulers of Germany any added sanctity from
the fact that they had been solemnly concluded by the
governments of pre-Nazi Germany. Let us then, consider the
specific assurances and undertakings which the Nazi rulers
themselves gave to these States which lay in the way of
their plans against France and England and which they had
always intended to attack. Not once, not twice, but eleven
times the clearest possible assurances were given to
Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg. On those
assurances, solemnly given and formally expressed, these
countries were entitled to rely and did rely. In respect of
their breach these defendants are charged. On the 30th
January, 1937, Hitler said:

    "As for the rest, I have more than once expressed the
    desire and the hope of entering into similar good and
    cordial relations with our neighbours. Germany has, and
    here I repeat this solemnly, given the assurance time
    and time again, that, for instance, between her and
    France there cannot be any humanly conceivable points
    of controversy. The German Government has further given
    the assurance to Belgium and Holland that it is
    prepared to recognise and to guarantee the
    inviolability and neutrality of these territories."

After Hitler had remilitarised the Rhineland and had
repudiated the Locarno Pact, England and France sought to re-
establish the position of security for Belgium which
Hitler's action had threatened. They, therefore, gave to
Belgium on the 24th April, 1937, a specific guarantee that
they would maintain in respect of Belgium, the undertakings
of assistance which they had entered into with her both
under the Locarno Pact and the Covenant of the League of
Nations. On the 13th October, 1938, the German Government
also made a declaration assuring Belgium of its intention to
recognise the inviolability and integrity of that country.

It is, perhaps, convenient to deal with the remaining
assurances as we review the evidence which is available as
to the preparations and intentions of the German Government
prior to their actual invasion of Belgium on the 10th May,

As in the case of Poland, as in the case of Norway and
Denmark, so also here the dates speak for themselves.

As early as August, 1938, steps were being made to utilise
the Low Countries as bases for decisive action in the West
in the event of France and England opposing Germany in the
aggressive plan which was on foot at that time against

In an Air Force letter dated 25th August, 1938, which deals
with the action to be taken if England and France should
interfere in the operation against Czechoslovakia, it is

    "It is not expected for the moment that other States
    will intervene against Germany. The Dutch and the
    Belgian area assumes in this connection much more
    importance for the prevention of the war in Western
    Europe than during the world war. This is to be mainly
    an advance base for the air war."

                                                   [Page 77]

In the last paragraph of that order it is stated:

    "Belgium add the Netherlands, when in German hands,
    represent an extraordinary advantage in the prosecution
    of the air war against Great Britain as well as against

That was in August, 1938. Eight months later (on the 28th
April, 1939), Hitler is declaring again,

    "I was pleased that a number of European States availed
    themselves of this declaration by the German Government
    to express and emphasise their desire to have absolute

A month later, on the 23rd May, 1939, Hitler held the
conference in the Reich Chancellery, to which we already
referred. The Minutes of that meeting report Hitler as

    "The Dutch and Belgian air bases must be occupied by
    armed force. Declarations of neutrality must be
    ignored. If England and France enter the war between
    Germany and Poland they will support Holland and
    Belgium in their neutrality .... Therefore, if England
    intends to intervene in the Polish war, we must occupy
    Holland with lightning speed, We must aim at securing
    new defence lines on Dutch soil up to the Seder Zee."

Even after that, he was to give his solemn declarations that
he would observe the neutrality of these countries. On the
26th August, 1939, when the crisis in regard to Danzig and
Poland was reaching its climax, on the very day he had
picked for the invasion of Poland, declarations assuring the
Governments concerned of the intention to respect their
neutrality were handed by the German Ambassadors to the King
of the Belgians, the Queen of the Netherlands and to the
Government of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, in the most
solemn form. But to the Army, Hitler was saying:

    "If Holland and Belgium are successfully occupied and
    held, a successful war against England will be

On the 1st September, Poland was invaded, and two days later
England and France came into the war against Germany, in
pursuance of the Treaty obligations already referred to. On
the 6th October, Hitler renewed his assurances of friendship
to Belgium and Holland, but on the 9th October, before any
kind of accusation had been made by the German Government of
breaches of neutrality, Hitler issued a directive for the
conduct of the war.

And he said this:

    "(1) If it becomes evident in the near future that
    England, and France acting under her leadership, are
    not disposed to end the war, I am determined to take
    firm and offensive action without letting much time
    (2) A long waiting period not only results in the
    ending of the advantage of Belgian and perhaps also of
    Dutch neutrality, but also strengthens the military
    power of our enemies to an increasing degree, causes
    confidence of the neutrals in final German victory to
    wane, and does not help to bring Italy to our aid as
    (3) I therefore issue the following orders for the
    further conduct of military operations :
        (a) Preparations should be made for offensive
        action on the Northern flank of the Western front
        crossing the area of Luxembourg, Belgium and
        Holland. This attack must be carried out as soon
        and as forcefully as possible.
                                                   [Page 78]
        (b) The object of this attack is to defeat as many
        strong sections, of the French Fighting Army as
        possible, and her ally and partner in the fighting,
        and at the same time to acquire as great an area of
        Holland, Belgium and Northern France as possible,
        for use as a base offering good prospects for
        waging aerial and sea warfare against England and
        to provide ample coverage for the vital district of
        the Ruhr."

Nothing could state more clearly or more definitely the
object behind the invasion of these three countries than
that document.

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