The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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                                                  [Page 116]


FRIDAY, 5th JULY, 1946


DR. STAHMER: I continue.

2. If there had been a conspiracy to commit war crimes, then
the war would have been waged, from the beginning, with
utter ruthlessness and disregard of rules of war. Just the
contrary happened. In fact, in the first years of the war -

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Stahmer, the Tribunal thinks you got a
little bit farther with your speech.

DR. STAHMER: I had gone somewhat farther, that is true, but
in order to get this into the context again, I had to start
at No. 2, but if the Tribunal wishes, I can continue where I

Especially in the beginning, one endeavoured to wage war
with decorum and chivalry. If any evidence is needed, a look
into the orders of the German High Command regulating the
behaviour of the soldiers in Norway, Belgium, Holland is
sufficient proof. Moreover, a leaflet with "ten commandments
for the conduct of the German soldier in wartime" was issued
to the soldiers when they went into the field. Field-Marshal
Milch has read them out from his pay-book, during this
trial. They all obliged the soldier to act loyally and
according to International Law.

A gang of conspirators at the head of a State which plans to
wage a war without any consideration of right and morals
would really not send their soldiers into the field with a
detailed written order directing just the opposite.

I think, if the prosecution believes that these twenty-two
men are conspirators and conspired against peace, the laws
of war and humanity, it is completely mistaken.

It remains for the defence counsel of the individual
defendants to show what relationship their client could have
had with the alleged conspiracy.

I just mentioned that Reichsmarschall Goering was the second
man in the State. During the trial the prosecution also
referred repeatedly to this elevated position of Goering and
tried to make it the basis of a special charge against the
defendant, pointing out that Goering by virtue of this
special position, knew about everything, even the most
secret matters, and had the possibility of intervening
independently in a practical way in the course of Government

This opinion is wrong and is based on ignorance of the
meaning of his position. It meant: According to rank,
Goering was the second man in the State.

This rank was due to the fact that Hitler, in the autumn of
1934, made a will and by a secret Fuehrer order had
designated Goering as his successor in the Government. In
1935 or 1936, this succession was confirmed in an
unpublished Reich law which was signed by all the ministers.

On 1st September, 1939, Hitler announced this law in the
Reichstag. In this way the nomination of Goering as
successor became known to the German people.

Goering's task of deputising for the Fuehrer in the
Government now followed, but only in the event of Hitler
being incapacitated by illness, or in the event of his
absence from Germany - thus this occurred when in March,
1938, Hitler spent a few days in Austria.

During Hitler's presence, that is as long as Hitler
exercised his office himself, Goering derived no special
powers from his position as deputy.

                                                  [Page 117]

During this time, his authority was limited to the offices
directly under him, and he was not entitled to issue any
official directives to other offices.

The consequence was:

As second man in the State, Goering could neither rescind,
nor change, nor supplement Hitler's orders. He could give no
orders whatsoever to offices of which he was not directly in
charge. He had no possibility of giving any binding orders
to any other office, whether it was an office of the Party,
the police, the army or navy, nor could he interfere in the
authority of these offices which were not his own.

This position as second man in the State cannot, therefore,
be used as especially incriminating Goering; it is,
furthermore, not competent to serve as a basis for the
assumption of a conspiracy.

The defendant Goering never participated in the drafting or
execution of a Common Plan or Conspiracy which was concerned
with the crimes stated in the Indictment.

As already emphasized, the participation in such a
conspiracy presupposes in the first place that a common plan
existed and that accordingly, the participants agreed, and
had the intention, to carry out the crimes of which they are
accused. These presuppositions are not in evidence in the
case of Goering. One has to assume the contrary. It is true
that Goering wanted to do away with the Treaty of Versailles
and to secure again a position of power for Germany. But he
believed he could obtain this goal, if not with the legal
means of the League of Nations, at least with political
means alone. The purpose of the rearmament was only to give
more weight to the voice of Germany. The Weimar Government,
which could not even express the self-determination of the
Germans after 1918 in the surely very modest form of a
German-Austrian customs union, though they advocated this
determination themselves, owed the lack of success of their
foreign policy in Goering's opinion, as also in Hitler's
opinion, mainly to the lack of respect for the German means
of "backing" its demands. Goering hoped, strengthened in his
belief by Hitler's surprising initial successes, that a
strong German Army, by its mere existence, would make it
possible to secure German aims peacefully, as long as these
aims kept within reasonable limits. In politics, a State can
only have its say and make its voice heard if it has a
strong army to back it up, one which commands the respect of
other States. Only recently, the American Chief of Staff,
Marshall, said in his second annual report: "The world does
not seriously consider the wishes of the weak. Weakness is
too big a temptation for the strong ...."

There was no arming for an aggressive war; even the Four-
Year Plan, the purpose and aim of which have been clearly
explained by the defendant himself and the witness Korner
was not a planning for an aggressive war.

Both General Field-Marshals Milch and Kesselring agreed in
their testimony, that the air force created by the armament
programme was only a defensive air force, which was not fit
for an aggressive war and which was therefore called by them
a "risky" air force ("Risiko Luftwaffe"). Such a modest
rearmament does not allow for any conclusions of aggressive

From all this it is clear that Goering did not want a war.

According to his character, he was an opponent of war.
Outwardly also, in his conferences with foreign diplomats
and in his public speeches, at every opportunity, he has
expressed with all possible clearness his opposition to war.

The testimony of General Bodenschatz explains most
positively the attitude of Goering toward war. He knew him
especially from the First World War, and he has exact
knowledge of the attitude of Goering to war, from frequent
conversations he has had with him. Bodenschatz states that
Goering repeatedly told him that he knew the horrors of war
very well from the First World War. His aim was a peaceful
solution of all conflicts, to spare the German people as far
as possible the horrors of a war; a war was always an
uncertain and hazardous thing, and it

                                                  [Page 118]

would not be possible to burden with a second war a
generation which had already experienced the horrors of one
great world war and its bitter consequences.

General Field-Marshal Milch also knows from conversations
with the defendant Goering that the latter opposed a war,
and that he advised Hitler in vain against a war with

In public, the defendant Goering, in his many speeches since
1933, frequently emphasized how much he had his heart set on
maintaining the peace, and that the rearmament had only been
undertaken to make Germany strong outwardly and to enable
her to play a political role again.

His serious and honest will for peace can be seen best from
the speech which he made at the beginning of July, 1938, in
Karinhall, before all the Gauleiter of the German Reich. In
this speech he emphasized energetically that the foreign
policy of Germany had to be directed in such a way that it
would under no circumstances lead to war. The present
generation had still to get over the last world war; another
war would shock the German people. Goering had not the
slightest reason to hide his true opinion before this
gathering, which consisted exclusively of the highest Party
leaders. For that reason, this speech is a valuable and
reliable proof of the fact that Goering really and truly
wanted peace.

THE PRESIDENT: I'm afraid the two voices are coming together
in such a way that it is impossible to understand it. You
had better stop for a minute, Dr. Stahmer.


How deeply the defendant Goering was interested in
maintaining good relations with England is shown by his
conduct at the conference with Lord Halifax in November,
1937, at Karinhall, when Goering with full candour, put
before Lord Halifax the aims of German foreign policy:

(a) Incorporation of Austria and the Sudetenland into

(b) Return of Danzig to Germany with a reasonable solution
of the corridor problem.

He pointed out at the same time that he did not want war for
these aims, and that England could contribute to a peaceful

The meeting in Munich in the autumn of 1938 was arranged at
his suggestion. The conclusion of the Munich Pact is
essentially due to his influence.

When, due to the occupation of the remainder of
Czechoslovakia in March, 1939 the relations with England had
deteriorated considerably, as England was very angry about
this step of Hitler which was a violation of the Munich
Pact, Goering made serious efforts for the restoration of
normal relations.

In order to achieve this goal, he arranged the meeting,
described by the witness Dahlerus, with English
industrialists at the beginning of August, 1939, in the
Sonke-Nissen-Kog. In an address he pointed out that under no
circumstances must it come to a war with England, and he
asked those present to contribute to the best of their
ability to the restoration of the good relations with

When, after the often quoted speech of Hitler to the
commanders-in-chief of the armed forces on the Obersalzberg
on 22nd August, 1939, the danger of a war became imminent,
Goering summoned immediately - that is on the following day
- the witness Dahlerus from Sweden and attempted, on his own
responsibility, by-passing the Foreign Office, to reach an
agreement with England for the prevention of war.

The objection has been raised here that Goering left
Dahlerus in the dark as to his true intentions; that his
efforts were not aimed at the maintaining of peace, but only
at persuading England to deny to the Poles the support
guaranteed to them and thus to separate England from Poland,
which would have enabled Germany after this separation to
exert pressure on Poland to submit to the German demands; or
to attack Poland and to realize her plans towards Poland
without any risk. The doubts about the honest will for peace
are unjustified; the imputed intention was far from
Goering's thoughts.

                                                  [Page 119]

If this objection is based on the fact that Goering did not
inform the witness Dahlerus of the content either of the
Fuehrer's speech of 23rd May, 1939, or of that of the 22nd
August, 1939, this objection is not relevant and nothing is
gained by it.

Under no circumstances could Goering inform a third person -
and especially a foreigner - of those strictly confidential
speeches without exposing himself to the accusation of high
treason. These speeches were all without significance as far
as the task given to the witness was concerned, especially
as the peculiar situation arose here that Goering - after
the efforts of the diplomats had reached a deadlock - as a
last resort, knew of no other way out than to use his
personal influence and his personal prestige.

The only thing that mattered for the activity of Dahlerus
was that the foreign political situation, which had become
dangerously critical through the quarrel between Germany and
Poland, and of which the witness was fully aware, had to be
straightened out if possible by an appropriate action on the
part of England.

That Goering's aim was not to separate England from Poland
has been clearly proven by the fact that Goering, to begin
with, had transmitted to the British Ambassador in Berlin,
Henderson, the text of the note which contained the
propositions made by Germany to Poland - propositions which
were called moderate by Henderson - and that, thereby, he
tried to effect direct negotiations with Poland. Poland,
however, obviously did not want an agreement with Germany.
Several circumstances point to that.

The conflict with Poland existed for almost one year. Why
did Poland not ask for a decision by a court of arbitration
on the basis of the concluded arbitration agreement? Why did
Poland not appeal to the League of Nations? Obviously Poland
did not want any arbitration regarding Danzig and the

The statement of the Polish Ambassador Lipski to Counsellor
to the Legation Forbes, which was testified to by the
witness Dahlerus, is even more proof of the unwillingness of
Poland to come to an understanding. Lipski said he was not
interested in any note or proposition by Germany; he was
convinced that, in the event of a war, there would soon be a
revolt in Germany and the Polish Army would march in triumph
to Berlin.

This intransigent and incomprehensible attitude of Poland
obviously finds its explanation in the fact that she felt
too strong and secure as a result of England's assurance.

The reference to the imminent revolt makes one believe that
Poland was informed of the plans of the Canaris group. There
can, therefore, be no question of an ambiguous attitude or
false play on the part of Goering.

The serious desire of the defendant Goering, to maintain
peace and to restore good relations with England is
expressly recognized by Ambassador Henderson, who, due to
his thorough knowledge of the German conditions and his
connections with the leading men of Germany, had the right
opinion also of Goering, I refer here to his book, Failure
of a Mission, in which on Page 83 he says:

  "I would like to express here my belief that the Field-
  Marshal, if it had depended on him, would not have
  gambled on war as Hitler did in 1939. As will be related
  in due course, he came down decisively on the side of
  peace in September, 1938."

Lord Halifax also, according to the information he gave, had
no doubts that Goering's efforts to prevent war were

That after the outbreak of the war, which he had wanted to
prevent with all the means at his disposal, but had been
unable to prevent, Goering as Commander-in-Chief of the Air
Force, exerted all his strength to win the victory for
Germany, is not contrary to the sincerity of his efforts to
avoid the war. From the outbreak of the war on, he knew only
his duty as a soldier to his Fatherland.

At different times, Hitler made addresses to the commanders-
in-chief of the armed forces, as for instance, in November,
1939, on 3rd May, 1939, and on 22nd August, 1939. The
defendant Goering at his personal interrogation, gave

                                                  [Page 120]

exhaustive explanations as to the importance and the purpose
of these addresses. It is important for the question at
issue, whether the fact that he was present at these
addresses might constitute perhaps a complicity in a
conspiracy in the sense of the Indictment. On these
occasions, Hitler solely expressed his own, opinion about
military and political questions. The participants were only
informed as to what possible political developments Hitler
expected. The participants were never asked for their
opinion, nor was it possible for them to express their
criticism of Hitler's opinion. Hitler did not ask his
generals to understand his orders. All he asked of them was
to carry them out.

His autocratic leadership of the State was exclusively
directed by the principle Sic voleo, sic jubeo, which he
carried through to the last consequence.

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