The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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For the Political Leaders this conviction manifested itself
in the fact that even before 1933 many theological students,
professors of theology and churchmen had joined the Party.
After 1933 there began, among those who had left the

                                                   [Page 36]

Church under the influence of Marxism, a strong movement
towards rejoining the Church. Retroactive marriage and
christening ceremonies took place in large numbers, as is
shown by Affidavits PL-62A and 62B - Prof. Fabricius and
Buth, a theologian.

The witness Schoen confirms in Affidavit PL-62, that out of
500 political leaders whose testimony he examined 42 per
cent simultaneously held Church offices. The witnesses
Wegscheider and Kaufmann, who were examined before the
Tribunal, also testified that numerous Political Leaders
held a Church office. The Bishops Dr. Groeber and Dr. Boming
were appointed to the State Council (Staatsrat), as shown by
the affidavit of Count Wolf-Metternich, PL-62C.

The actual picture is shown by the collective affidavit of
the witness Schoen (PL-62) who, after examining 21,131
affidavits, noted that in the former Ortsgruppen (local
Party districts) Church life remained undisturbed and that
the Party occasionally participated in Church life
officially, and, in some cases, in uniform. Accordingly, in
the individual local districts there were good relations
with the clergy, and this found public expression at

On the other hand, there was a campaign led by a small anti-
Church groups whose activities and statements were in
contradiction to the general Party line. The leader of the
group was Bormann.

Of twenty-three documents which were submitted by the
prosecution against the Political Leaders on the Church
question, no less than nine documents are statements of
opinion by Bormann. Seven documents concern the SS as well
as the SD and the Gestapo. Four documents deal with three
local occurrences, and one document consists of the personal
opinion of Gauleiter Florian. There follows a quotation from
the Mythos, and a document with directives for the Reich
Labour Service.

All these documents do not show that the Political Leaders
participated as a unit in the elimination of the Church.

I shall comment on the individual documents:

The most incriminating document is the secret decree of
Bormann to the Gauleiter on "National Socialism and
Christianity." On this subject there is an affidavit by the
witness Hederich, of the Party Chancellery. According to
this, Bormann issued this decree on his own authority and
Hitler instructed him to recall and destroy this circular.
The witness Gauleiter Kauffmann confirmed before the
Tribunal here that this decree actually was recalled. The
same thing is shown by the testimony of the witness Hoffmann
before the Commission on 3rd July, 1946. In affidavit PL-62B
the witness Buth, a theologian, states that the defendant
Rosenberg likewise rejected the decree and raised an

Document 098-PS is a letter from Bormann to Rosenberg and
deals with a so-called National Socialist Catachism. It is a
personal opinion of Bormann. There is no answer of Rosenberg

In this letter a meeting of the Reichsleiter is suggested.
The affidavit of the witness Hederich states that such a
meeting never took place.

There follow a number of documents which show Bormann's
constant personal efforts in the direction of the separation
of Church and State. Document 070-PS regarding school
devotions lies in this direction; as also Document  840-PS,
admission of theologians into the Party; and 107-PS,
instructions for the participation of the Reich Labour
Service in Church ceremonies. The following documents, 100-
PS and 101-PS, are letters from Bormann to Rosenberg
expressing the wish for their own literature for soldiers;
Rosenberg is here attacked because of the attitude which he
took in favour of a book in a religious vein by Reich Bishop
Mueller. This proves Bormann's purely personal activity.

In the same field there is Document 064-PS, again a letter
from Bormann to Rosenberg. It requests his opinion on an
enclosed letter from Gauleiter Florian of 23rd September,
1940, who had objected to a religious writing by General

                                                   [Page 37]

Rabenau. It is a personal opinion which is not typical of
the general attitude of the political Leaders.

A further action of Bormann is shown by Document 116-PS, a
letter to Rosenberg of 24th January, 1939, about the
restrictions imposed on the theological faculties. Here
Rosenberg is not instructed to carry this out, as the
prosecution erroneously assumes; but another letter is
merely sent to him for his information, in which a
restriction of the faculties was welcomed.

The continuation of his efforts to win Rosenberg over to his
views is shown by a letter of Bormann's of 17th May, 1939 to
Rosenberg. Here Bormann forwards a plan of the Reich
Education Minister on the restriction of the theological
faculties, likewise only with a request for his opinion, and
not, as the prosecution assumes, for the immediate execution
of the measure under consideration.

Then the Political Leaders are charged here with Gestapo
activities, on the basis of the files of a conference of
Gestapo Church specialists.

This cannot be taken as evidence of proof of the anti-Church
attitude of the political Leaders themselves.

Nor did the Political Leaders have any direct connection
with the confiscation of Church property.

The submitted Document R-101 (correspondence of the RSHA)
shows confiscation by the Reich Statthalter and Gauleiter
and by the Eastern German Agriculture Company (Ostdeutsche
Lanwirtschaftsgesellschaft GmbH) in Warthegau. Both acted in
their capacity as State offices, so that this is not a
general measure making use of the Party machinery, with the
knowledge of all Political Leaders.

Document 072-PS, a letter from Bormann to Rosenberg of 19th
April, 1941, expressly emphasises that it is not the
business of Political Leaders to confiscate Church property.

There follow the public campaigns against the Church, which
the prosecution has brought forward. Documents 849-PS and
848-PS deal with excesses against Bishop Sproll in
Rottenburg. It is evident that this action was carried out
by forces foreign to the local Party.

Document 1507-PS deals with incidents on the occasion of a
sermon by Cardinal Faulhaber at Freising. The records show
that the Political Leaders were given explicit instructions
not to interfere with the religious services held there,
even if the Cardinal should deliver a sermon against
National Socialism. As a matter of fact, there was no
interference with the service by Political Leaders. It is
noteworthy that according to the records, Cardinal Faulhaber
declared himself willing to officiate a few months later in
the same church, and this was "through the mediation of
Mayor Lederer of Freising, who was at the same time
Kreisleiter and Standartenfuehrer in the SA."

It hereby appears that the measures seem more extensive than
they were in reality and that the Political Leaders could
not have had any real idea of what happened.

Nor could the Mythos give them any information on the Church
question. This book was hard to understand and never
received the official Party stamp of approval. The witness
Count Wolff-Metternich has stated that Hitler expressly
characterised the book as a private work of Rosenberg, which
did not please him. This is Affidavit PL-62c.

The persecution of the Jews was the most obvious event. It
can be explained quite apart from any war of aggression. The
details are well known: Economic repression of the Jews,
defamation by the Jewish Star, and elimination from social
life, the issuance of the Nuremberg laws, evacuation toward
the East, and finally, extermination. Here it can only be a
question of investigating the extent of the active
participation of the Political Leaders and their knowledge
of the nature and extent of the measures.

                                                   [Page 38]

The legal measures were taken without consulting the
Political Leaders. In so far as they were directed toward
restricting the influence of the Jews, they were welcomed by
them and were in keeping with the Party programme.

Nor was there any objection to the Nuremberg Laws, but the
Jewish Star was considered shameful. Opposition, however,
commenced with the confiscation of property and the

This history of the 9th of November, 1938, is known to the
Tribunal through the examination of witnesses. It was a
surprise manoeuvre prepared by Goebbels when the Gauleiter
were absent from their Gaue. The Party machinery was
avoided, because opposition could be expected here. As far
as the political leaders had any opportunity to interfere,
many Gauleiter refused to obey or issued counter-orders, as
soon as they learned of the operation. The witness Gauleiter
Kaufmann has confirmed this for Hamburg; the witness
Gauleiter Wahl has testified the same before the Commission
about the Swabian Gau; and the attitude of the Gauleiter for
Koblenz-Trier is corroborated in Affidavit PL 54-P.

On the level of the Kreis and Ortsgruppenleiter, no planned
use of the Political Leaders has been established, either.
Here the testimony of all witnesses confirms that the event
was received with surprise, opposition and disunity.

Hitler repudiated it, Goering repudiated it, and even
Heydrich declared before the Gauleiter and Gau judges on the
20th of November, 1938, that the severest measures would be
taken against all who participated in it. The report of the
Supreme Party Judge, Buch, submitted by the prosecution,
according to which the punishment was permitted to become a
mere farce, remained unknown. The light penalties imposed by
the court were explained by saying that one could not
condemn the little man as long as Goebbels the instigator
went free.

The rejection of any solution by violence in connection with
these events led to a belief in the sincerity of the
resettlement plans, which in reality were the preliminary
steps for extermination.

When the decision for extermination was made is unknown. An
affidavit, PL-54-h, signed by the witness Albert, says that
even in 1942 Himmler pretended in a memorandum that he was
striving for a legal and humane solution of the Jewish
problem at a cost of twenty-five to thirty milliards of

The obvious reason for all these measures was not waging
war, but exclusively the solution of the racial question.
The real happenings in the East came through only as distant
rumours and because of their monstrous nature were not
believed, but were regarded as enemy propaganda. In this
connection, the "explanation" issued by the Party
Chancellery on 9th October, 1942, is significant. This is
Document PL-49. Here the Political Leaders were given an
official denial of the atrocities.

Document D-998 containing the periodical Die Lage of 23rd
August, 1944, contains a reference to the Jewish problem in
Hungary, but does not mention any actual events. Because of
its small circulation and the fact that this appeared only
toward the end of the war, it was not of a sort to affect
the fundamental judgement of the public.

The attitude of the majority of the Political Leaders on the
Jewish question, irrespective of their rank and district, is
clearly shown by Affidavit PL-54, which contains a summary
of 26,000 sworn declarations.

The next question to be examined is the indictment of the
Political Lead war crimes.

Primarily, this is a Jewish question, again, in so far as
foreign Jews were affected. The majority of the Political
Leaders cannot be assumed to have known of events which took
place outside the territory of the Reich. It was announced
in the Press that the governments of other countries, such
as Hungary, France and Italy adopted measures similar to
those of the Germans. What really happened remained unknown
in Germany. A document, PL-49, confidential information

                                                   [Page 39]

issued by the Party Chancellery concerning "Rumours about
the Situation of the Jews in the East," served to cover up
and deny the facts.

Three documents were submitted to the witness Hirt before
the Tribunal concerning the Germanization of Slavic

Exhibit USSR 143 concerns the removal of Slovenian street
names and the use of the German language for officials.
Closer examination, however, shows that this was a measure
of the Styrian Homeland League (Heimatbund) which issued
circulars to its local districts. The Styrian Heimatbund was
not a party organisation. These events concerned a little
town called Pettau, which was inhabited by Germans before
the 1918 peace treaty.

Exhibit USSR 449 also deals with the recovery of territory
in Carinthia and Carnida, which formerly was inhabited by
German settlers, and Exhibit USSR 191 shows that these were
measures taken by the SD in the border regions of Styria.

All documents lack the basis of any general knowledge of
these orders, the carrying out of which remained unknown to
the Political Leaders.

Much space is occupied by charges against the Political
Leaders concerning the administration in the East. Whether
these charges are generally justified cannot yet be judged
on the basis of the proceedings to date. However, the
question can be examined as to what knowledge the Political
Leaders could have had of these events and to what extent
they were responsible for them.

Document 1058-PS contains Rosenberg's speech before the
beginning of the eastern campaign, and his defence counsel
has commented upon it in detail. This speech was secret and
known only to a small circle.

Document L-221 of 16th July, 1941, concerns the Crimea.
These are secret marginal notes by Bormann concerning a
discussion in the Fuehrer's headquarters.

A memorandum concerning a conversation between Rosenberg and
Hitler on the Crimea was likewise unknown to the public.

Frank's diary is the basis of the charges against the
Political Leaders on the food situation in the Government
General. General knowledge of the fact that 4o per cent of
the population suffered from malnutrition during the year
1941 cannot be assumed without further question. As far as
food difficulties had become known in the border region,
they can be attributed to other causes, especially after a
lost war.

Document R-36 shows Bormann's horrible instructions as to
the treatment of the population in the eastern territories.
It is a comment by Dr. Markull, of the Ministry for the
Occupied Eastern Territories, dated 19th August, 1942,
addressed to Rosenberg. The frank and vigorous language, as
well as his indignant opposition and refusal to obey,
specifically prove that Bormann's views were not accepted
and that other measures were taken. The very fact of this
free appeal to Rosenberg proves that there was no doubt that
the latter agreed with the refusal.

Other incidents became known to a fairly large number of
people. Document 1130-PS contains the oft-quoted speech by
Reich Commissar Koch in Kiev on the 1st of April, 1945, on
the "Master Race." That Koch himself knew that his opinions
were not shared is revealed by documents, according to which
he said that his chiefs of sections fell into two groups,
one working openly against him, the other secretly.

Document R-112 contains decrees by Himmler in his capacity
as Reich Commissar for the Strengthening of Germanism,
dating from February and June, 1942. They refer to the re-
Germanization of former German nationals in the item
Territories, which in itself was not prohibited. One of
those decrees is addressed, among others, to the Gauleiter
for their information. It contains no references whatsoever
to any criminal measures.

The prosecution concludes from Document 327-PS that the
Gauleiter took in the liquidation of "enormous fortunes" in
the East. A closer examination shows that this was a
question of the liquidation of German firms which had been
set up as state enterprises at the cost of considerable
subsidies. In a letter of

                                                   [Page 40]

17th October, 1944, the Gauleiter are requested not to
interfere with the liquidation which was meanwhile taking
place on German territory. All this goes to show that the
Political Leaders as a whole could not have had any special
knowledge of criminal occurrences.

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Servatius, the Tribunal will adjourn
tomorrow, Friday, at four o'clock in the afternoon.

(The Tribunal adjourned until 23rd August, 1946, at 10.00 hours.)

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