The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Shofar FTP Archive File: imt/tgmwc/tgmwc-06/tgmwc-06-50.04

Archive/File: imt/tgmwc/tgmwc-06/tgmwc-06-50.04
Last-Modified: 1999/09/17

I shall now ask the Tribunal to take the file entitled "Belgium." I point
out immediately to the Tribunal that this file does not include any
document book. This statement, which deals with very general facts, will
be supported as being evidence by the report of the Belgian Government,
which has already been submitted by my colleagues as Exhibit RF 394. The
section which I now take up is a general section concerning military
administration in Belgium and France, and I shall begin with the file
concerning Belgium.

In Belgium the usurpations of national sovereignty by the occupying Power
can be imputed to the military command which committed them either by

                                                                 [Page 37]

Concerning the setting up of this apparatus of usurpation I shall read out
to the Tribunal two paragraphs of the Belgian report, Chapter 4,
concerning Germanisation and Nazification. Page 3, paragraph 3:

     "The legal Government of Belgium having withdrawn to France, then to
     London, it was the Secretaries General of the Ministries, that is to
     say, the highest officials in the hierarchic order, who, by virtue of
     Article 5 of the law of 10th May, 1940, exercised within the
     framework of their professional activity and in cases of urgency, all
     the powers of the highest authority."

In other words, these high officials, animated, at least during the first
months of the occupation, by the desire to keep the occupying authorities
as far removed as possible from the administration of the country, took
upon themselves governmental and administrative powers. At the order of
the Germans this administrative power after a time became a real
legislative power.

This regime of the Secretaries General pleased the Germans, who adopted
it. In appointing to these posts Belgians who were in their pay they could
introduce into Belgium, under the appearance of legality, absolutely
radical reforms, which would make of this country a National Socialist
vassal State.

It is interesting to note at this point that in order to strengthen their
hold on the public life through the local authorities, the Germans did not
hesitate, by a decree of 14th May, 1942, which is referred to in the
official report, to suppress the jurisdictional control of the legality of
the orders of the Secretaries General, which was a violation of Article
107 of the Belgian Constitution. The Belgian report states in the
following paragraphs where the responsibility lies in this matter of
breaches of public order, and I shall quote here the actual terms of this
report on Page 4, paragraph 3:

     "In conclusion, whether the transformation of the legal institutions
     be the consequence of German decrees or that of orders emanating from
     the Secretaries General makes no diFlerence. It is the Germans who
     bear the responsibility for these, the Secretaries General being, in
     relation to them, only faithful agents for carrying out their

I think that it will likewise be interesting to read the three following
paragraphs of the report, for they reveal characteristic facts as to
German methods in their seizure of sovereignty.
     "If it is necessary to furnish a new argument to support this thesis
     further, it is sufficient to recall that the occupying Power employed
     all means to introduce into the structure which was to be
     transformed, from top to bottom, devoted National Socialist agents.
     This was real termites' work.
     The decree of 7th March, 1941, under the pretext of bringing younger
     men into the administration, provided for the removal of a great
     number of officials. They would naturally be replaced by
     Finally, the Germans set up, at the head of the Ministry of the
     Interior, one of their most devoted agents, who arrogated to himself,
     as we shall see subsequently, the right to designate aldermen,
     permanent deputies, burgomasters, etc., and used his powers in the
     case of certain appointments of district commissioners, for instance
     by putting into office tools of the enemy."

The Belgian report then analyses in a remarkably clear manner the
violations by the Germans of Belgian public order, classifying these under
two headings. The first is entitled "Modifications made in the original
constitutional structure."

Under this heading we find particular mention of the decree of 18th July,
1940, which immediately abolished all public activity; then a series of
decrees by which

                                                                 [Page 38]

the Germans suppressed the election of aldermen and decided that these
aldermen would henceforth be designated by the central authority. This
meant the overthrow of the traditional democratic order of communal

In the same way the Germans, in violation of Article 3 of the Belgian
Constitution, ordered by the decree of 26th January, 1943, the absorption
of numerous communes into great urban areas.

The report then mentions here the fiscal exemptions granted, in violation
of the Constitution, to persons engaged in the service of the German Army
or the Waffen S.S. We find here a fresh example of the German criminal and
general methods of military recruitment in the occupied countries.

The second heading of the report reads: "Introduction into Belgian public
life of new institutions inspired by National Socialism and the idea of
the State." Such institutions were, in fact, created by the German
authorities. The most remarkable are the National Agricultural and Food
Corporation and the Central Merchandise Offices. The report analyses the
characteristics of these institutions and proves that they aimed at
destroying traditional liberties. They were organs of totalitarian
inspiration in which the "Fuehrer Prinzip" was applied, as we have seen
was the case in similar institutions in the Netherlands..

I should like now to read the brief but revealing conclusion of the
Belgian report on Germanisation. We think that it has been sufficiently
established by the preceding statement that the Belgian Constitution and
laws were deliberately violated by the German occupying Power, and this
with the purpose, not of assuring its own security, which is obvious, but
with the skilfully pre-meditated intention of making of Belgium a National
Socialist State, and, consequently, capable of being annexed, seeing that
two nationalist States that are neighbours must necessarily exclude each
other, the stronger absorbing the weaker.

This policy was carried out in violation of International Law and customs,
of the Declaration of Brussels of 1874, and of The Hague Regulations of

I shall not give detailed indications concerning other applications of the
usurpation in connection with Belgium, because many indications have been
furnished to the Tribunal already, notably in the economic statement and
likewise in M. Dubost's presentation, and because the regime in Belgium
was closely bound up with the regime in France. The indications which I
shall give in the two other sections of my brief will relate particularly
to these two countries, France and Belgium.

However, before concluding the presentation which I am now making, I
should like to mention the abuses committed by the Germans against the
universities of Belgium. We find here again the same phenomenon of
hostility  -- very understandable of course -- on the part of the
doctrinaires and Nazi leaders against the centres of culture, and this
hostility showed itself especially. in regard to the four great Belgian
universities, which have such a fine tradition of spiritual life. I must
point out to the Tribunal that the observations which I intend to present
on this point have been taken from the appendices to the Belgian report,
of which I read some extracts. I must point out that these appendices have
not been submitted as documents, although they are attached to one of
these originals, which marks their authenticity. I shall have these
appendices translated and submitted later and I shall ask the Tribunal,
therefore, to consider the indications which I shall give it as
affirmations, the proof of which will be furnished, on the one hand, by
the deposit of documents, and, on the other hand, by oral evidence, since
I have called a witness on the subject of these questions. If this method
satisfies the Tribunal, and I beg to be excused for the fact that the
appendices have not been actually presented with the document, I shall
continue my statement on this point.

THE PRESIDENT: M. Faure, what are the appendices to which you are

                                                                 [Page 39]

M. FAURE: They are documents which are in the appendix to the Belgian

The subject-matter of this report is to be found in the Belgian report
itself, which has already been submitted. On the other hand, another copy
of the same section has been established as the original with a series of
appendices For this reason the appendices were not translated and
submitted at the same, time as the main report, of which they, were only a
part. They are appended notes which trace events that occurred in
university life. But, as I indicated to the Tribunal, I propose to prove
these points by the hearing of a witness. I thought, therefore, that I
could make a statement which would constitute an affirmation of the
Prosecution, and on which I would produce oral evidence. On the other
hand, I shall submit the appendices as soon as they have been translated
into German, which has not yet been done.

THE PRESIDENT: Yes. The Tribunal is satisfied with the course which you
propose, M. Faure.

M. FAURE: I shall mention first that in the University of Ghent the
Germans undertook special propaganda among the students, with a view to
Germanising them. They utilised, for this purpose, an organisation called,
"Gentsch Studenten Verband," but their efforts to develop this did not
achieve the success they had hoped. They set up in this University and in
others a real espionage system under the cover of an ingenious formula,
namely, that of "invited professors," German professors who were supposed
to have been invited and who were observers and spies.

The report of one of these "invited professors" has been found in Belgium.
This report shows the procedure adopted as well as the complete failure of
the German efforts to exert influence.

In all the universities, the Germans made arrests and deported professors
and students, and this action was resorted to particularly when the
students refused -- and rightly so -- to obey the illegal German orders
which compelled them to enter the labour service.

As regards the University of Brussels, it should be pointed out that this
University had been, from the beginning, provided with a German Kommissar,
and that fourteen professors had been irregularly dismissed. Later, the
University of Brussels was obliged to discontinue its courses, and this as
a result of a characteristic incident:

On the occasion of the vacancy of three chairs at the University, the
Germans refused to accept the nomination of the candidates proposed in the
usual way. and decided that they would appoint professors whose views
suited them. This clearly shows the generally applied German method of
interfering in everything and putting into office everywhere agents under
their influence.

On 22nd November, 1941, the German military administration notified the
President of the University of this decision. Therefore, the University
decided to go on strike, and, in spite of all the efforts of the Germans
this strike of the University of Brussels lasted until the liberation.

On this question of the Belgian universities, I should like now to read
something to the Tribunal. This concerns the University of Louvain. Before
reading this, I must indicate to the Tribunal the circumstances.

The Germans had in this University, as in the others, imposed upon the
students compulsory labour. This we already know. But what I am going to
read has to do with an additional requirement which is utterly shocking.

The Germans wished to force the Rector of the University, Mgr. van
Wayenberg, to give them a complete list with the addresses of those
students who were liable to compulsory service and who evaded it. They
wished, therefore, to impose upon the Rector an act whereby he would
become an informer, and this under threat of very severe penalties. The
Cardinal Archbishop of Malines intervened on this occasion, and on 4th
June, 1943, addressed

                                                                 [Page 40]

a letter to General von Falkenhausen, Military Commander in Belgium. I
should like to read this letter to the Tribunal. The letter is to be found
in a book which I have here and which is published in Belgium, which is
entitled "Cardinal van Roey and the German Occupation in Belgium." I do
not submit this letter as a document. I ask the Tribunal to consider it as
a quotation from a publication. This is what Cardinal van Roey writes:

     "By an oral communication, of which I have asked in vain for the
     confirmation in writing, the Chief of the Militaerverwaltung, Reeder,
     has informed me that in case the Rector of the Catholic University of
     Louvain should persist in refusing to furnish the list with the
     addresses of the first year students, the occupying authority will
     take the following measures: close down the University; forbid the
     students to enrol in another University; subject all the students to
     forced labour in Germany and, should they evade this measure, take
     reprisals against their families.
     This communication is all the more surprising, as a few days
     previously, following a note addressed to your Excellency by
     Monseigneur the Rector, the latter received from the Kreiskommandant
     of Louvain a notification that the academic authority would have no
     further trouble with regard to the lists. It is true that the Chief
     of Military Administration, Reeder, informed me that this answer was
     due to a misunderstanding.

     As President of the Board of the University of Louvain, I have
     informed the Belgian bishops who make up this board of the serious
     nature of the communication which I have received, and I have the
     duty to inform you, in the name of all the bishops, that it is
     impossible for us to advise Monseigneur the Rector to hand over the
     lists of his students, and that we approve the passive attitude which
     he has observed up to now. To furnish the iists would, in effect,
     imply positive co-operation in measures which the Belgian bishops
     have condemned in the pastoral letter of 15th March, 1943, as being
     contrary to International Law, to natural rights, and to Christian
     If the University of Louvain were subjected to sanctions because it
     refuses this co-operation, we consider that it would be punished for
     carrying out its duty, and that however hard and painful the
     difficulties it would have to undergo temporarily, its honour at
     least would not be sullied. We believe, with the famous Bishop of
     Milan, St. Ambrose, that honour is above everything -- 'Nihil
     praeferandum honestati.'
     Moreover, your Excellency cannot be ignorant of the fact that the
     Catholic University of Louvain is a dependency of the Holy See.
     Canonically established by the Papacy, it is under the authority and
     the control of the Roman Congregation of Seminaries and Universities,
     and it is the Holy See which approved the appointment of Mgr. van
     Wayenberg as Rector Magnifique of the University. If the measures
     announced were to be carried out, it would constitute a violent
     attack on the rights of the Holy See. Consequently His Holiness the
     Pope will be informed of the extreme dangers which threaten our
     Catholic University."

I shall end here the quotation of the letter, but I must point out to the
Tribunal that in spite of this protest, and any considerations of simple
practical interest which the Germans might have had in maintaining correct
attitude in this matter, the Rector Magnifique was arrested on 5th June,
1943, and was condemned by the German military court to eighteen months'

Having recalled the painful facts which the Tribunal has just heard, I
should like to observe that they might almost give us the impression that
such an event as the arrest and sentence of a prelate, rector of a
university, for a wrongful reason, was, since there were no tragic
consequences -- of relatively secondary importance. But I think we should
not subordinate our intellectual judgment

                                                                 [Page 41]

to the direct test of our sensibility, now grown so accustomed to horrors,
and if we reflect upon it we must conclude that such an outrage is in
itself very characteristic, and the fact that such treatment should have
been considered by the Germans as the expression of justice is truly
characteristic of the plan of Germanisation with its repercussions on the

           (A recess was taken until 14.00 hours.)

MARSHAL OF THE COURT: May it please the Court, I desire to announce that
the defendant Kaltenbrunner will be absent from this afternoon's session
on account of illness.

M. FAURE: May it please the Tribunal, I should like to call the witness
van der Essen.


(M. VAN DER ESSEN took the stand.)


Q. What is your name?

A. Van der Essen.

Q. Do you swear to speak without hate or fear, to speak the truth, all the
truth, and only the truth?

Raise your right hand and say "I swear."

A. I swear.

THE PRESIDENT: You may sit, if you wish.


Q. M. van der Essen, you are a professor of history of the Faculty of
Letters at the University of Louvain?

A. Yes.

Q. You are the General Secretary of the University of Louvain?

A. Yes.

Q. You have stayed in Belgium during the whole period of the occupation?

A. To the end, from the end of July, 1940, I scarcely left Belgium.

Q. Can you give any information on the destruction of the Libraryof

A. It will be remembered that in 1914 this library -- which was certainly
one of the best university libraries in Europe, containing many early
printed books, manuscripts and books of the sixteenth and seventeenth
centuries -- was systematically destroyed by means of incendiary materials
by the German soldiers of the Ninth Reserve Corps, commanded by General
von Ston. This time, in 1940, the same thing happened again. This library
was systematically destroyed by the Cern an Army, and in order that you
tray understand I must first say that the fire began, according to all the
witnesses, during the night of 16th-17th May, 1940, at about 13.00 hours.
It was on the 17th at dawn that the English Army made the necessary
withdrawal manceuvre to leave the Q.W. line of defence. On the other hand,
it is absolutely certain that the first German troops entered only on the
morning of the 17th, about 8 o'clock. This interval between the departure
of the British troops on the one hand, and the arrival of the Germans on
the other, enabled the latter to make it appear as if the library had been
systematically destroyed by the British troops. I must here categorically
give the lie to such a version: The library of the University of Louvain
was systematically destroyed by German gunfire.

Two batteries were posted, one in the village of Corbek and the other in
the village of Lovengule. These two batteries, on each side,
systematically directed their fire on the library, and nothing but the
library. The best proof of this is that all the shells fell on the
library; only one house near the library received a chance hit. The tower
was hit eleven times, four times by the battery which fired from Lovengule
and seven times by the battery which fired from Corbek.

Home ·  Site Map ·  What's New? ·  Search Nizkor

© The Nizkor Project, 1991-2012

This site is intended for educational purposes to teach about the Holocaust and to combat hatred. Any statements or excerpts found on this site are for educational purposes only.

As part of these educational purposes, Nizkor may include on this website materials, such as excerpts from the writings of racists and antisemites. Far from approving these writings, Nizkor condemns them and provides them so that its readers can learn the nature and extent of hate and antisemitic discourse. Nizkor urges the readers of these pages to condemn racist and hate speech in all of its forms and manifestations.