The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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M. FAURE: I should like first of all to point out to the Tribunal that,
with its permission, I shall examine this afternoon the witness van der
Essen, concerning whom a formal request has already been submitted.

                                                                 [Page 31]


M. FAURE: This witness can then be called at the beginning of the
afternoon session.

The observations which I have just presented had to do with Norway.

In the Netherlands, unlike what happened in Norway, the Nazis did not
utilise the local party as an official instrument of government. The
governmental authority was completely in the hands of the Reichskommissar,
who set up a sort of Ministry, including four German General Kommissaere,
respectively competent for administration, justice, finance and economic
affairs. This organisation was created by a decree of 3rd June, 1940
(Official Gazette for Holland, 1940, No. 5). I point out that, as the
Dutch Official Gazette has already been submitted in evidence to the
Tribunal, I shall not again submit each of these texts, which are a part
of it. I shall, therefore, simply ask the Tribunal to take judicial notice
of them and to consider them as proved.

The holders of the posts of General Kommissaere were appointed by the same
decree of 5th June, 1940.

The local authorities were represented at the higher level only by the
Secretaries General of the Ministries, who were entirely under the
authority of the Reichskommissar and of the German Kommissaere.

The decree of 29th May, 1940, which is in the Dutch Official Gazette,
1940, Page 8, lays down in its first article:

     "The Government Kommissaere will exercise the powers invested until
     now in the King and the Government."

And in Article 3:

     "The Secretaries General of the Dutch Ministries are responsible to
     the Reichskommissar."

If the Nazi Party did not constitute the Government, it nevertheless
received the official blessing.

I shall quote to the Tribunal in this connection the decree of 30th
January, 1943, which likewise is in the Dutch Official Gazette, 1943, Page
63. I read the following passage:

     "The representative of the political will. of the Dutch people is the
     National Socialist movement of the Netherlands. I have decreed that
     all the German offices under my orders, with a view to co-ordinating
     the tasks of the administration and those of the National Socialist
     movement, shall maintain close relations with the Leader of the
     movement, for the execution of important administrative measures and
     particularly for all matters concerning personnel."

The Tribunal knows already, for it is common knowledge, as far as was
necessary through the witness who has already been heard, how outrageously
untrue it was to claim that the Dutch National Socialist Party represented
the political will.of the people of this country.

Having commented on these two forms of utilisation of the local party as
agents of sovereignty, I should now like to point out to the Tribunal the
main features of these usurpations which were committed by the Germans.
A first line of action is exemplified by the attempt to induce the
occupied countries to participate in the war, or, at the very least, to
initiate recruitment for the German Army. In Norway the Nazis created the
"S.S. Norge," a formation which later was called the "Germanske S.S.
Norge." I submit as evidence Exhibit RF 926, which is the decree of 21st
July, 1942, concerning the "Germanske S.S. Norge," and I quote paragraph 2
of this decree, which is a Quisling decree.

     "2. 'The Germanske S.S. Norge' is a National Socialist order of
     soldiers which must be composed of men of Nordic blood and ideas. It
     is an
                                                                 [Page 32]
     independent subdivision of the Nasjonal Samling, directly under the
     N.S. Fuehrer (N.S. Leader) and responsible to him. It is, at the same
     time, a section of the 'Storgermanske S.S.' (the S.S. of Greater
     Germany) and must contribute to the carrying out of the following
     To lead the Germanic peoples towards a new future and create the
     basis of a Germanic community."

We see again, by this example, that the interventions of the so-called
Norwegian Government were perfectly obvious methods of Germanisation.

In order to facilitate the recruiting into this legion, the German or
Norwegian Nazis did not hesitate to upset the civil legislation and to
abolish the abiding principles of family rights by making a law which
exempted minors from having to obtain the consent of their parents. This
isalawof the 1st February, 1941, Norwegian Official Gazette, 1941, Page
153, which I submit in evidence as Exhibit RF 927.

In the Netherlands the Germans were obliged to upset the national
legislation even more in order to permit military recruitment. As they did
not create a fictitious Government, and as the legitimate Government was
still at war with the Reich, the volunteers came under Article 101 and the
following articles of the Dutch penal code, which decree punishment for
those who enlist in the Army of a foreign Power at war with the
Netherlands, and likewise those who give aid to the enemy.

By reason of the defacto occupation of the country there was little chance
of these penalties being effectively applied, but it is very curious and
very revealing that the Reichskommissar issued a decree of 25th July,
1941, Dutch Official Gazette, 1941, No. 1135. This decree states that the
taking of Dutchmen for service in the German Army, the Waffen S.S. or the
Legion of Netherlands Volunteers does not bring them under the provisions
of the penal texts mentioned above, and this decree is declared
retroactive to 10th May, 1940. It is therefore very convenient, when one
commits a criminal act according to the general code, to be able to modify
the law to suppress the crime in question.

Another decree of 25th July, 1941, Official Gazette for 1941, Page 548,
stipulates that enrolment in the German Army will no longer involve loss
of Dutch nationality.

Finally, a decree of 8th August, 1941, Official Gazette for 1941, Page
622, declares that the acquisition of German nationality no longer entails
the loss of Dutch nationality except in cases of express renunciation.
Although this last text seems to bring out a point in detail, it may be
regarded as an initial attempt to create a dual Dutch and German
nationality, which will fit into the general procedures for the
advancement of the whole plan of Germanisation.

In regard to these measures for military recruitment, I should like to
state precisely the attitude of the Prosecution as a result of the
examination and cross-examination of the witness Vorrink, who was heard on
Saturday. The Prosecution does not consider that the criminal character of
this military recruitment is established only by the fact of having
recruited persons by force or by pressure upon their will. This pressure
and this constraint are an aggravating and characteristic aspect but not a
necessary aspect of the criminal action which we reprehend. The fact of
having recruited persons, even on a voluntary basis, in the occupied
countries for service in the German Army is considered by us as a crime,
and one which is, moreover, punishable under the internal legislation of
all these countries, which legislation covers such acts as those committed
in these countries, in accordance with the rules of law in matters of
legislative competence.

It is even relatively of small importance -- except for knowing all the
details -- whether the recruiting of traitors was favoured or not by
particular pressure according to the situation in which these traitors
found themselves.

                                                                 [Page 33]

I should like also to indicate in a more general way that the prosecution
does not consider that the recruiting of traitors, either for service in
the Army or in other activities, is for the Nazi leaders an extenuating
circumstance or an exonorating one. On the contrary, it is one of the
characteristics of their criminal activity, and the responsibility of the
traitors in no way exempts them from responsibility. On the contrary, we
hold against thern the corruption which they attempted to spread in the
occupied countries by appealing to those elements of weak morality which
may be found among the population of a country, and by instilling in the
mind of each person the thought of possible immoral and criminal activity
against his country.

This was a first line of action for German usurpation: namely, the
enrolment of troops.

A second line of action is identified with the whole of the measures
designed to abolish civil liberties and to set up the Fuehrer principle. I
shall quote some of these measures by way of example.

In Norway, suppression of political parties, German decree of 25th
September, 1940, which is in the Official Gazette for 1940, Page 19; a
decree forbidding all activity in favour of the legitimate dynasty, decree
of 7th October, 1940, in the Official Gazette for 1940, Page 10; and the
suppression of the guarantees under the statutory rules for officials --
they could be transferred or dismissed for political reasons -- German
decree of 4th October, 1940, Page 24. Finally, a Norwegian law of 18th
September, 1943, setting up a characteristic institution, that of
Departmental Chief representing the Party, and responsible to the Minister
President and to no other authority of the State (Exhibit RF 928). He
exercised in the department the supreme political control over all public
authorities of the department.

All professions came under the system of compulsory membership with
application of the Fuehrer principle.

In Holland we likewise observe the suppression of elected bodies, decree
of 11th August, 1941, Official Gazette, 1941, Page 637, which confirms the
decree of 21st June, 1940, Official Gazette of 1940, Page 54; the
dissolution of political Parties, decree of 4th July, 1941, Official
Gazette, 1941, Page 583; creation of the Labour Front, decree of 30th
April, 1942, Official Gazette, 1942, Page 211 ; setting up of the Peasant
Corporation, decree of 22nd October, 1941, Official Gazette, 1941, Page

I have given only a few examples of this principle, and to conclude I
shall quote a decree of 12th August, 1941, Official Gazette, 1941, Page
34, which created a special judicial competence for all offences and
infringements committed against political peace and against political
interests, or committed for political motives. In fact, the Justices of
the Peace charged with exercising these oppressive powers were always
chosen from among the members of the Nazi Party.

Finally a third line of action in this usurpation can be defined as a
systematic campaign against the fflte of the country and against its
spiritual life. In fact it is always in this sphere that the Nazis met
with the greatest resistance to their designs. They attacked the
universities and teaching establishments.

In Holland a decree of 25th July, 1941, Official Gazette, 1941, Page 559,
gives the administration the right to close arbitrarily all private
institutions. In the Netherlands the University of Leyden was closed on
11th November, 1941.

By a decree of the Reichskommissar of 10th May, 1943, Official Gazette,
1943, Page 127, the students were forced to sign a declaration of loyalty
drawn up in the following terms:

     "The undersigned hereby solemnly declares on his word of honour that
     he will conscientiously conform to the laws, decrees and other
                                                                 [Page 34]
     in force in Dutch occupied territory, and will abstain from any act
     directed against the German Reich or the Dutch authorities or engage
     in any activity which might imperil public order in the higher
     teaching institutions in view of the present circumstances and

In Norway rigorous measures were taken against the University of Oslo. I
offer in evidence Exhibit RF 933. I point out to the Tribunal that this is
not in strict order and that it is the last in the document book.

This is an article in the "Deutsche Zeitung" of 1st December, 1943,
reproduced in a Norwegian newspaper. It is entitled, "A cleaning-up
measure necessary in Oslo. Purge in the Student World." I shall read only
a few paragraphs of this article. I begin with the second one:

"The students of the University of Oslo" -- will the Tribunal excuse me. I
shall read also the first paragraph:

     "By order of the Reichskommissar, Terboven, the S.S.
     Obergruppenfuehrer and General of the Police Rediess made the
     following announcement to the students in the lecture room of the
     University of Oslo on Tuesday afternoon:
     The students of the University of Oslo have attempted since the
     occupation of Norway, that is, since 1940, to offer resistance to the
     German Army of Occupation, and to the Norwegian Government recognised
     by the Reich."

I shall end the quotation here, and continue at paragraph 5:

     "To protect the interests of the occupying Power and to assure the
     maintenance of peace and order within this country, rigorous measures
     are indispensable. Therefore, in the name of the Reichskommissar, I
     must make known to you the following:
     (1) The students of the University of Oslo will be transferred to a
     special camp in Germany.
     (2) The women students will be dismissed from the University and must
     return by the quickest means to their original place of residence,
     where they will immediately report to the police. Until further
     notice they are forbidden to leave these places without permission
     from the police."

I break off the quotation here and continue at the last paragraph but one,
on the second page of this document, 933:

     "You must be thankful to the Reichskommissar that other much more
     draconian measures are not being applied. Moreover, thanks to this
     measure, most of you have escaped for the future the danger of losing
     your lives and your property."

As concerns religious life, the Germans multiplied their harassing
methods. By way of example, I offer in evidence Exhibit RF 929, which I
shall read:

     "Oslo, 22nd May, 1941: to the Commanders of the Sipo and the S.D in
     Bergen, Stavanger, Trondheim, Tromsoe. Subject: Surveillance of
     Religious Services during the Whitsuntide Feasts. Incidents: nothing.
     You will watch the religious services and send in a report here on
     the result.
     B.d.S. (Commander) of the Sipo and the S.D., Oslo. Signature
     illegible -- S.S. Hauptsturmfuehrer."

Now here is the report following this order to watch the church services.
I offer this in evidence as Exhibit RF 930. It is very short.

     "Trondheim, 5th June, 1941.
     The surveillance of religious services during the Whitsuntide Feasts
     showed no new essential elements. Domprobst Fjellbu continues his
     activity as a tendentious preacher, but in a sufficiently skilful
     manner to

                                                                 [Page 35]

     enable him to defend each turn of phrase as having a religious and
     not a political interpretation."
The rest of the letter is partly burned.

Finally I should like -- in order not to dwell on this matter too long --
to quote two examples which show, on the one hand, the constant immorality
of the German methods, and, on the other hand, the just protests to which
they gave rise on the part of the most qualified authorities. The first
example concerns the Netherlands.

The Dutch magistrates were roused to righteous indignation by the German
practice of arbitrary detentions in concentration camps. They found the
opportunity of making known their disapproval in a manner which came
within the normal carrying out of their judical functions. Thus, in
connection with a particular case, the Court of Appeal at Leetiwarden took
a decision of which I wish to read an extract to the Tribunal. This is
submitted as Exhibit RF 931. I will read to you an extract from this

     WHEREAS the Court cannot declare itself in agreement in the matter of
     the penalty inflicted upon the accused by the Chief Judge and his
     presentation of motives, the Court is of the opinion that this
     penalty should be determined as follows:
     WHEREAS as regards the penalty to be inflicted:
     The Court desires to take into account the fact that for some time
     various penalties of detention inflicted by the Dutch Judge upon
     delinquents of masculine sex, contrary to legal principles and
     contrary to the intention of the Legislator and of the Judge, have
     been executed, or are being executed, in camps in a manner which
     aggravates the penalty to a degree such as it was impossible for the
     Judge to foresee or even to suppose when determining the degree of
     the punishment.
     WHEREAS the Court, taking into account the possibility of this manner
     of executing the penalty to be inflicted at present, will abstain,
     for conscience sake, from condemning the suspect to a period of
     detention in conformity, in this case, with the gravity of the
     offence committed by the defendant, because the latter would be
     exposed to the possibility of an execution of the penalty as
     indicated here above.
     WHEREAS the Court, on the strength of this con ' sideration, will
     confine itself to condemning the suspect to a penalty of detention to
     be determined hereafter, after deducting the time spent by him in
     preventive detention, and the duration of which is such that the
     penalty at the moment of the pronouncing of the penalty will have
     almost entirely expired during the period of preventive detention."

This example is especially interesting, because I now have to indicate
that as a result of this decision of the Court of Appeal the defendant
Seyss-Inquart dismissed the President of the Court by a decree of 9th
April, 1943, which is likewise submitted in evidence under the same
document number, 931. These two documents constitute a whole:

     "By virtue of paragraph 3 of my decree," etc., "I dismiss from his
     office as Counsellor of the Court of Appeal at Leeuwarden, such
     dismissal to take effect immediately, Doctor of Law F.F. Viehoff."
     Signed, "Seyss-Inquart."

The second example which I give in conclusion will be taken from Norway.
It is a solemn protest made by the Norwegian bishops. The special occasion
which called forth this protest is the following: The Minister for Police
had issued a decree, dated 13th December, 1940, by which he arrogated to
himself the right to suppress the obligation of professional secrecy for
priests, and provided that priests who refused to break the secrecy of the
confession would ,be subjected to imprisonment.

                                                                 [Page 36]

On 15th January, 1941, the Norwegian bishops addressed themselves to the
Ministry of Public Education and Religious Affairs, and handed to it a
memorandum. In this memorandum they made known their protests against this
extraordinary demand by the police, and at the same time they protested
against other abuses; violent acts committed by Nazi organisations, and
illegal acts in judicial matters. This protest of the Norwegian bishops is
transcribed in a pastoral letter addressed to their parishes in February,
1941. I submit it as Exhibit RF 932. I should like to quote an extract
from this document on Page 9, top of the page:

     "The decree of the Ministry of the Police, dated 13th December, 1940,
     just published, gravely affects the mission of the priests. According
     to this decree, the obligation of professional secrecy for priests
     and ministers may be suppressed by the Ministry of the Police.
     Our obligation to maintain professional secrecy is not only
     established by law, but has always been a fundamental condition for
     the work of the Church and of the priests in the exercise of their
     care of souls, and when they receive the confession of persons in
     distress. It is an unalterable condition for the work of the Church
     that a person may have absolute and unlimited confidence in the
     priest, who is unreservedly bound by his obligation to keep
     professional secrecy, as it has been formulated in the Norwegian
     legislation and in the regulations of the Church at all times and in
     all Christian countries.
     To abolish this 'Magna Charta' of the conscience is a blow at the
     very heart of the work of the Church, and one which is all the more
     serious because paragraph 5 of the decree stipulates that the
     Ministry of the Police may imprison the priest in question, and thus
     obtain by force an explanation, without the case having been
     submitted to a tribunal."

Yet all this was happening during the first year of the occupation.
Already the highest spiritual authorities of Norway found themselves in a
position of having not only to protest against a particularly intolerable
act, but also to enunciate a judgment upon the whole of the methods of the
occupation, which judgment appears on Page 16 of the pastoral letter, and
which I shall read to the Tribunal (last paragraph):

     "For this reason the bishops of the Church have placed before the
     Ministry some of the acts and official proclamations in regard to the
     ruling of society during these latter times; acts and proclamations
     which the Church finds in contradiction with the Commandments of God,
     and which give the impression that there exists a revolutionary state
     in the country, and not a state of occupation under which the laws
     are maintained to the extent that they are not directly incompatible
     with the state of occupation."

This is a very correct juridical analysis; and now, if it please the
Tribunal, I should also like to read the last sentence which preceded
this, on Page 16:

     "When the public authority of society permits violence and injustice
     and exercises pressure over souls, then the Church becomes the
     guardian of consciences. A human soul is of more importance than the
     whole world."

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