The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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In contrast to thought of war there were strong foundations
for a positive policy of peace. For all those who fought for
Socialism and who believed in the realisation of peace
plans, the fact that Hitler himself had been a worker was of
primary importance. The elimination of unemployment appeared
as the greatest possible accomplishment of peace; a success
which was convincing for everyone who regained employment.
It was not Hitler's demonic magic which brought seven
millions of unemployed and the same number of partially
employed people with their families to his ranks, but what
moved the masses was the fact that he gave them work and
bread again.

It cannot be denied that the position of the worker was
improved to something beyond a bare existence and that his
social standing was raised. At the beginning of the war a
great social work was in the process of construction,
namely, the universal old-age insurance system. To the
Political Leaders this did not look like aggressive war.

There is still one more important reason why the occurrences
and their motives were not generally known: it is the system
of secrecy.

                                                   [Page 32]

The means of preserving secrecy are known to the Tribunal
from the evidence they have heard. I would like to emphasise
another point which helped in a particular way to preserve
secrecy; it is the confidence which Hitler enjoyed.

This confidence was nourished from the huge reservoir of
social success which he had gained by eliminating the
unemployment which had brought human beings to the edge of
despair. To this were added his successes in foreign policy,
which had been recognised abroad.

Everything was supported by the traditional authority of the
State and by emphasising that tradition; these are both
things which have much influence on the people.

To that was added a hitherto unknown frankness of speech in
matters of foreign policy, which the French Prosecutor has
called "naivete." Within Germany this frankness brought
about the conviction that Hitler would not instigate
anything secretly. That picture was enlarged for the
millions of followers by the facade of respectability and
dignity which was kept up by that very circle around Hitler
from which criticism and warnings were first to be expected.

From all this one has to conclude that the Political Leaders
could not have gained knowledge of any aggressive

The assumption by the prosecution that special information
had been given about these plans also seems untenable in the
light of the evidence submitted during the trial. The
prosecution's allegation presumably rests on their original
assumption that it was a part of the normal business routine
to inform all Hoheitstrager, whereas it has now been
established that only a very small circle was initiated.

The situation is different with regard to the War Crimes:
Here the deciding factor is not proof of the motives for
known occurrences, but the knowledge of the facts
themselves. It is certain that War Crimes, because of their
despicable motives, are kept secret as a matter of course.
In the course of testimony the Tribunal has learned of the
ring of silence which was drawn around the worst atrocities.
Other War Crimes with which the defendants are charged are
individual cases which did not become publicly known. We
shall comment on these in connection with the individual
points of the accusations.

A number of happenings have been adduced by the prosecution
which, according to the Charter itself, do not constitute

Evidence has been given concerning the development of the
Party, the seizure of power, and the maintenance of power.
These are occurrences, the general nature of which has not
been denied. The creation of a dictatorial State and the
prohibition of other Parties is a measure of home policy
which every State may take according to its judgement.

To allege that these methods were created for a war of
aggression and that they are therefore criminal is an
unnatural construction of the facts. Proof for any such
assumption is lacking.

The organisation of the State along dictatorial lines may be
necessary for the establishment of Socialism as well as for
a war of aggression. Thus, the direction of the economy can
serve good as well as evil.

The British Prosecutor has shown us another point of view.
He has stated that intervention is possible in order to
protect citizens against their own government; from this he
concludes that even war can be waged out of humanitarian

The Charter does not confer such a right of intervention, as
has already been stated in the beginning. But even
International Law has hitherto never recognised any right of
intervention upon moral grounds. Crusades are not

If the so-called methods of the Party are commented upon
here it is because its abuses are connected with the crimes
in the Charter.

Four documents have been submitted which are connected with
Political Lead and concern the influencing of elections.

                                                   [Page 33]

The most important one is Document D-43 from the year 1936.
It concerns an inquiry by the Reich Minister of the Interior
as to which officials did not fulfil their obligations to
vote. The Ortsgruppenleiter are asked to comment upon this.
This is a letter from the Kreisleiter's office in Bremen.
Another Kreisleiter, the witness Kuehl, declared before the
Commission that he did not receive any such inquiry. The
general character of this inquiry is thus put in doubt.

One document, R-142, dating from the year 1938, is of purely
local importance. It originates from the Koblenz SD Sector
and mentions the statement of the Kreis Manager
(Kreisgeschaftsfuehrer) about the reasons for the bad
election results, being personal quarrels. Both documents
deal with the results of the election after the vote.

Two further documents - D-897 and D-902 - dating from the
year 1938, are letters exchanged between the lowest offices
of the SD in Erfurt about supervision of the election.
Concerning this, the closest possible co-operation with the
Ortsgruppenleiter is ordered.

As far as the proceedings against the Political Leaders are
concerned it is shown that the order-issuing apparatus of
the Party in no way intervened here.

These are merely independent, isolated measures by other
offices. No general practice or knowledge, therefore, can be
deduced from that.

Another charge is that of police spying.

The pretext for this is in a passage of the Organisations
Book, Page 101 of the 1940 edition, according to which
Blockleiter are to report persons spreading dangerous
rumours. In connection with this the keeping of household
card index files is mentioned, as practised in the Cologne
Gau, and the inclusion of far-reaching supervisory measures.

The question now is whether this was generally handled by
the Political Leaders in this way and whether it was done in
conformity with Party directives.

The Party directives to the Political Leaders specify the
exact opposite. See Decree No. 127 of the 5th of October,
1936, in the orders of the Fuehrer's Deputy (Document PL.-

The witnesses examined in connection with this question have
testified that these instructions were followed and that the
card indexes known to them contained nothing resembling
police spying. This confirms the fact that there existed no
general order like the system in the Cologne Gau which was
binding on all Gaue.

In this connection we refer particularly to the testimony of
the witness Dr. Kuehn who, as counsellor of the Superior
Provincial Court (Oberlandesgerichtsrat) was the qualified
adviser for the Subversive Activities Law (Heimtuckegesetz)
in the Ministry of Justice.

The witness declared in his interrogation on 10th July,
1946, that the proceedings instituted could mostly be traced
back to statements by hostile neighbours or other informers
and only very rarely originated with Political Leaders. The
only concrete testimony about cases of police spying which
the prosecution has submitted is Document L-901, in which a
Block Leader and janitor of a parish hall reports a secret
meeting of the members of the Confessional Church in his

The charge of police spying is also coupled with that of
causing persons to be placed in protective custody and sent
to concentration camps.

That political adversaries in a State should be declared
enemies of the State and arrested seems to be a prescriptive
right which politicians arrogate to themselves. It is based
upon reciprocity and represents in this case a retaliation
for the losses in the political struggle.

A connection with a war of aggression is not established.
The charges of the prosecution will, therefore, be directed
against misuse of office through excesses and atrocities.

It was not the Party which was competent in this sphere, but
the State agencies.

                                                   [Page 34]

In accordance with orders by the chief of the Security
Police and SD of 10th March, 1940, Document PL-100, arrests
were solely the functions of the Gestapo. Any interference
on the part of Political Leaders was strictly forbidden,
Document PL-(29). In this manner secrecy was assured from
the very beginning.

The real conditions in the concentration camps were
concealed from the Political Leaders through the fact that
orders were issued and carried out that even after their
release political prisoners and their families should remain
under thorough supervision. This is Document PL-100, which
creates such astonishment when read today. When the witness,
Count von Roedern, was interrogated before the Commission
concerning knowledge about conditions in the concentration
camps he said that, in the beginning of 1943, the
Landesgruppenleiter of the Party Foreign Organisation had
visited the concentration camp at Sachsenhausen, and had
gained the impression on that occasion that the rumours
about concentration camps which were circulating abroad at
that time were without foundation.

The witness, Sieckmeier, states in Affidavit PL-57 that in
the spring of 1939 he visited the concentration camp at
Buchenwald with 150 American guests, and the witness
Wuensche states in Affidavit PL-57B that in June, 1938, he
visited the concentration camp at Sachsenhausen with a class
of the Berlin Zollschule (School for customs officials).
Both state that the quarters and the food of the prisoners
were in conformity with the regulations. Thirty-five more
statement by Political Leaders who had visited such camps
are contained in the collective affidavits. They are all to
the same effect.

Fourteen thousand statements summarised in Affidavit PL-57
show that these Political Leaders knew nothing about the
conditions in the concentration camps, that in seven cases
they received no answer to their inquiries, but that
satisfactory answers were received in 102 cases.

Then incriminating documents about euthanasia were

It has been shown that the Political Leaders had no part in
carrying out these measures, and that they had no general
knowledge of them.

Document 630-PS, a letter of Hitler's of 1st September,
1939, shows that was a so-called "special secret order,"
which was given directly to Reichsleiter without portfolio
Buehler and Dr. Brandt. Neither the Reichsleiter nor the
Gauleiter were informed about any such special secret order
(Proof: Document 59A, Hederich Affidavit).

According to Document D-906, (3) and (6), the medical
commission concerned seems to have established contact with
the Gauleiter or Kreisleiter in individual cases. It is
noteworthy, however, that this very document mentions that
the Hoheitstrager are not included since the regulations do
not contemplate this.

Confirmation of these facts is given by the collective
affidavits PL-59 of Karl Richard Adam, who states that 7,642
Political Leaders executed affidavits to the effect that
they had not received any orders, and had not been involved
in carrying out such measures.

All other measures were also taken to preserve secrecy about
this matter, which had already become known here and there
and given rise to many rumours. This is shown by the special
notes recommending secrecy in the incriminating documents.
The witness Meyer-Wendeborn stated before the Tribunal that
upon his inquiry he was told that these were only rumours;
and a physician, Dr. Engel (PL-59B), and Kreisleiter Dr.
Dietrich (PL-590) confirm this official denial of the mercy

Were these measures in any way connected with the conduct of
the war?

It is certain that euthanasia was already being discussed in
1934, as shown by Document M-152.

Carefully worded articles were published in the Press, which
encouraged this idea from the viewpoint of eugenics
(Zuchtwahl) and which referred to the custom in ancient
Greece of exposing and abandoning the unfit.

                                                   [Page 35]

Any connection with warlike intentions, however, is
difficult to establish, even though the member of a Gau
staff defines mercy killing in case of war as a war measure
in Document D-906.

I now come to the events which became public knowledge:
smashing of the labour unions, conflict with the Churches
and persecution of the Jews.

The smashing of the free trade unions was well known. It was
a revolutionary act. It was permissible or impermissible, as
in any revolution. It was an event which happened only once
and for which the responsibility is clear. The political
leaders did not have a direct part in its execution, but
they knew of the event and approved it.

The question must be examined whether it was a measure
anticipating war, or whether other reasons were decisive.

The 150 large and small labour unions, which included 30 per
cent of the workers, were already at the end of their
strength before they were dissolved. Economically, the
majority of them were facing collapse; the many years of
unemployment had depleted their treasuries, but increased
the demands upon them. The political parties which dominated
the unions had been helpless in the face of the economic
crisis; they had been powerless against Hitler, and so had
resigned. Mass withdrawals which began at the end of 1932
and the beginning of 1933 had thus made the unions mere
shadows. On the other hand, the workers transferred to the
NSBO, and thereby aligned themselves with the idea of labour
peace and of community which was clearly preparing the way
for the solution of the economic crisis. In the same way the
employers' organisations were compelled to maintain labour
peace, and were dissolved.

The purpose of the elimination of all organisations was to
reach a settlement between labour and capital; the class
struggle was replaced by the duty to care for the workers on
the one hand, and the duty of loyalty on the other as a key
to the elimination of economic distress.

That the proceeding was so understood and approved by the
workers is shown by their smooth co-operation; thus the
economic-political proceeding was justified after the event.

Then the Church question is also an incriminating point. It
is well known that the Churches lived in constant strife
with National Socialism. It is not known that the cause of
this strife lay in the opposition of the Churches to an
intended war of aggression.

Following initial differences about power politics, it was
later reasons of Christian morality which impelled the
Church in an ever-increasing degree to fight against
National Socialism. In general, the Churches were
indifferent to the foreign policy of nations, in accordance
with the principle, "Give the State that which belongs to
the State."

Conflict with the Church was contrary to the Party
programme, and Hitler himself never preached it, but would
probably have preferred to win over the Churches. He tried
to do so through the Concordat and had some successes
through the proclamation of the Fulda Conference of Bishops
and the proclamation of the Austrian Bishops after the

Propaganda against the Church was kept at a minimum, and was
directed against members of the clergy who interfered in
politics. There was no real, organised fight against the
Church. The separation of Church and State was demanded to
overcome the division of the people through various

Thus, Hitler told the witness Count Wolf-Metternich
immediately after the seizure of power in 1933 that a
campaign against the Christian Church would be Inexcusable
(Affidavit PL-62c), and the witness Fabricius, a professor
of theology, confirms this attitude (Affidavit PL-62A).

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