The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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I am most thoroughly convinced that by such black and white
painting the High Tribunal would have been betrayed in its
search for the real truth. I did not see my task in doing
so, although the principles of the Charter would have given
me the right to do so. In such a trial, concerned with the
very basis of humanity, with the fate of the German people
and the future of the world, it cannot be left to the
cleverness of methods in the contradicting use of
prosecution and defence to decide whether the Tribunal
considers the truth to lie half-way between. It is not the
task of the defence to gain tactical successes by
emphasizing the one and suppressing the other argument -
nay, incorruptibly we have to find clarity - "Clarte" as
demanded by the fanatic seeker for truth, Henry Barbusse.
That is the rule in accordance with which I selected my
witnesses. I particularly remind you of Reinecke and Morgen,
the evidence of whom I shall evaluate later.

It was my endeavour to assist the Tribunal in ascertaining
the historic truth.

In doing so I was guided by the simple and therefore
beautiful German medieval proverb, "What is done cannot be

Those words do not only imply all the tragedy of what is
done because there is no undoing. Those words have a deeper

Past events do not bear nor tolerate a retrospective study;
that means no deed can correctly be grasped and understood
if speculated upon ex post. No, one has to look at it as it
offered itself to the contemporaries at the time of its
performance, from the beginning to the end.

One has to examine all the circumstances surrounding the
deed and the person who performed it as well as his
psychological situation at the time of its performance. The
judges must familiarize themselves most thoroughly with the
personality of the perpetrator to measure the extent of his

This is equally true for this trial. Nations judge another
nation; the family of peoples judges one people which has
brought deep suffering to the world, a State which has
committed Crimes Against Humanity. In the organizations
there have been indicted huge formations, large sectors of
the German people have been put in the dock, and, therefore,
it seems necessary that the judges of these millions of
people acquaint themselves most thoroughly with the lives,
the knowledge, the hopes and beliefs of these masses at the
moment when the ideas and accomplishments of National
Socialism were becoming effective and its criminal excesses
were beginning. Hence, the judges of the four largest, and
for the decision of this world war, most important nations
of all the world, will have to make the attempt to decide
just as in a case before any normal jury - "How did the deed
come about?" In what situation did the defendant find
himself at that time? Which speculations and sentiments
drove him to commit the act? Did he have any intention of
doing anything illegal? Is it possible that he himself was
deceived? Was he at all able to recognize the illegal nature
of his doing - and if he learned of it only gradually - was
he in a position to adjust his action in accordance with
that insight? It is extremely difficult for the judge even
in normal criminal proceedings to free himself from the ex
post reflection and to evaluate correctly the circumstances
of the deed, the milieu of the deed, and the personality of
the one who performed it. How exorbitant are the demands for
justice for the judge when he has to pass sentence on a man
who has transgressed against a member of his, the judge's,
family. Every one of the four nations sitting in this Court
has suffered tremendous damages by the crimes of the Nazi
regime, for which millions of members of the organizations
have to account now. But in accordance with the statements
made by Justice Jackson in his opening speech,

                                                   [Page 99]

I venture to hope that you, High Tribunal, will succeed in
this titanic undertaking to be free of feelings of revenge
and seek justice and nothing but justice. Will you, as non-
Germans, who have not yourselves lived through the unique
historic phenomenon of a mass psychosis and a tyranny of
continental proportions - will you be able to grasp and to
explain to yourselves how such things could happen? Can you
conceive that crimes were not committed by the mass of the
members, that they were not consciously organized by them -
that they were not even known to them?

The Charter rightly states, and the Tribunal has acted
accordingly, that it is not the task of this Court to
ascertain which inner causes - whether justified or not -
led to this war. The decisive question is only: Was it an
aggressive war? Nevertheless, in the cases of the individual
defendants, evidence was allowed to be admitted as to how
the historical development psychologically led them since
the First World War to this new murder of nations. How
infinitely more is one justified, when endeavouring to
establish the guilt and the crime of the organizations in
their very incipiency, in examining the historical
background, the political situation as a whole in and around
Germany. The masses have no clear thoughts or sentiments.
They are moved by vague emotions, emanations of a phenomenon
which the scientists have called "mass-soul." They are
moulded by the pictures and promises offered by their

One of the Prosecutors in his final speech against the
individual defendants stressed how enormous was their guilt
and how disastrous the consequences of their acts, because
of the clever use of the masses, the seducing of the soul of
the people by the glittering magic of slogans and the
promise of a Utopian development. Do not these very words
give the best proof that the mass of the members desired
only the good and the non-criminal?

Already in its very beginnings, even before 1933, the
principles of the SS were identical with the programme of
the NSDAP. Not only before this Tribunal has the question
been discussed whether that programme and the means and
methods of its realization were criminal. This question
stirred the public, the authorities of the German Republic,
and the best heads and hearts of our people for many years
before 1933. Were the motives criminal if the masses
followed a politician, who did not promise them easy
predatory incursions at home and abroad, but rather work and
bread, when he rallied them to national unity as contrasted
to the pell-mell of a parliamentary system turned to
ridicule by forty-one parties and a democracy which brought
about its own death by weakness and half-measures?

It is the German people's deep tragedy that it could not
sublimate its consciousness, that it came too late when the
riches of the world were distributed by strengthening and
improving its recognized position in the world of intellect
and applied sciences. The German is a romantic -
particularly in the field of politics. This romanticism
circles around vague concepts of fate and doom and the dream
of power once held in the "Holy Roman Empire of Germans" of
a thousand years ago. This belief in destiny has been
fostered by an absolutely incorrect presentation of German
history for more than a hundred years, so that it needed
only a skilful sorcerer to send once more millions of German
youth to death and destruction by suppressing the real

But the great seducer, Hitler, had not gone so far yet.

At first, the protestations of peaceful intentions towards
his own people were more important than those towards
foreign countries, which did not yet enter into the picture.
As is the fault of all large political parties and their
armies, and because of the weakness of the republican
government, the inner political life had changed to an ever-
increasing degree into a real state of war in the streets.
Nevertheless, the secret parliamentary elections were
carried through without terror or deceit. Through these
elections the citizen could observe a steady increase of
strength of the extreme parties of the Right and of the
Left. He could

                                                  [Page 100]

not consider it a crime to join the extreme party of the
Right, the NSDAP, or its SS, which in contrast to the SA,
which ruled the streets, was mainly concerned with the
protection of the speakers during the partisan warfare among
the political adversaries of those days.

Every German who lived through those days knows with what
tension the question was discussed, whether the NSDAP and
its formations were planning undertakings which signified
high treason, or which aimed at overthrowing the Government
by force. In 1923, in the early days of the Party, Hitler
had attempted a coup d'etat which had failed. Now, for many
years, he had been advocating "legality." When in September,
1930, three young officers of the army of 100,000 were
indicted before the German Supreme Court for high treason
for having attempted to found National Socialist cells in
the Army, Hitler as a witness testified under oath that his
revolution was one of the spirit and that his aim was to
come to power by legal means. This appeared in all the
papers in huge headlines and impressed itself on the enemies
and the followers of Hitler alike. Dr. Kempner, then
Oberregierungsrat in the Prussian Ministry of the Interior,
now a member of the American prosecution, was one of the few
who considered that oath perjury. He submitted to his
Ministry a detailed report, which ended with the conclusion
that the NSDAP was guilty of high treason. But even that
seeker after truth had to admit in his description of the
situation as it existed then (Volume XIII, No. 2, June,
1945, "Research Studies of the State College of Washington,"
Page 120) that even ministerial officials of the German
Republic did not consider Hitler a liar at that time, 1930.
That was how Hitler's clever propaganda influenced such
critical, hostile circles. Should one be surprised that the
masses of the SS put their trust in him. Incidentally, at
that time they numbered only a few thousand. Well, matters
went even farther.  When Dr. Kempner denounced the Nazi
Party in 1930, after a thorough investigation before the
Supreme Court, the Chief Public Prosecutor ruled in August,
1932, that there existed no reason to prosecute or dissolve
it. (Compare Kempner's study, Page 133.) What other effect
could such statements, voiced by the highest authorities of
the Republic, have had on the masses? The effects were
reflected in ever-increasing election returns for the Nazis.

But the most striking feature is - and that is of decisive
importance for the inner attitude of those thousands who
joined the SS just after 30th January, 1933 - that Hitler
actually did not break his oath. Although it is quite true
that Dr. Kempner's prophecies in regard to the further
development were correct in general - this was not
recognized until much later - he was mistaken in his early
predictions. The Nazi Party in fact remained a legal one; it
did not seize power by a coup d'etat, but Hitler was asked
by Hindenburg to form a cabinet in accordance with
parliamentary rules.

What is it that those ministerial officials who had refused
to believe the pessimist, Dr. Kempner, were able to say? Is
it not likely that they would be triumphant because they had
been right? Was their conscience not set at rest? After all,
that man Hitler was not as bad as people had said. Now that
he had entered the Government he would become a moderate -
as opposition after gaining power always did. And was it not
true, too, that the great mass of Hitler's followers were
proud that they had succeeded in, coming to power by
peaceful means after an election fight whose propaganda
machine was almost of American proportions?

In viewing that period of time, one question inevitably
arises: were the mass of Hitler's followers, the mass of SS
men, at that time able to recognize that that point of the
Party Programme which probably was the most clear cut,
namely anti-Semitism, contained a criminal element?

Anti-Semitism is not a new phenomenon; neither is it, if one
studies its spiritual basis, something typically German. In
my opinion it is based on the inferiority complex of the
average man, on his mistrust of the Jews' superiority

                                                  [Page 101]

in certain intellectual fields. Neither is the refutation of
anti-Semitism by all civilized nations and individuals
anything new either. It culminates in the pope's statement,
"He who discriminates between Jews and other human beings
does not believe in God and is in conflict with the Divine
commands." But the enigma which we cannot pass by when
discussing the question of criminality is that there should
exist at all a Jewish problem which is not based on
religious differences, but on race. The enigma is that there
still exists a race problem which leads continuously to
conflicts in our modern world which has grown so small. Is
it not puzzling that the Polish Cardinal Hlond, who went
through all the horrors of the Nazi regime, only a few weeks
ago tried to justify to some extent Polish anti-Semitism by
referring to the leading role played by Jews in the Polish
Government? Is it not puzzling that even today, after the
horrible experiences of the Hitler regime, the Arabs act
against the Jews in their traditional homeland, Palestine,
and particularly against their influx, and that mutual acts
of violence are committed? The situation is similar in
Europe. Race problems, not only anti-Semitism, still exist
in all other corners of the globe.

All of them cry out for a just solution and it can be found
only in the granting of equal rights to all races. Some
progressive nations have made anti-Semitism a criminal
offence. But was it criminal when the State, under the
influence of those false ideas, sought the solution by
prohibiting the races to mix and to influence public life?
Here again much is to be explained by what was happening in
those days. The bad example of a few Jewish immigrants from
Eastern European countries, such as the notorious swindlers
Barmat and Kutisker, was in sharp contrast to that of the
great German Jew and unforgettable statesman, Walter
Rathenau, who long ago had issued to his brethren a call to
their moral consciousness. This situation offered the basis
for a collective mood, for a mass psychosis against the
Jews, aided by the external economic distress which always
occurs in the course of great political and social
upheavals, and just as in this present trial it is about to
happen again by creating collective injustice against
certain categories of people. The demand to put this anti-
Semitic principle into practice by legal means could not
have been a crime, because the State appeared to be the
guarantor that the principle would be applied without hatred
and personal revenge. In a way it was merely another version
and anachronistic aggravation of the American legal
principle of -

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Pelckmann, I do not want to interrupt
you, but you will not lose sight of the fact that you are
only going to be allowed half a day for the speech, and I
observe that it is said to occupy 100 pages, and I only
interrupt you at the present stage to point out to you that
the matters which you are dealing with now are matters of a
general nature and to which our attention has been drawn
throughout the course of this Trial, and it may be in your
interest to shorten this part of your speech rather than
other parts of it. That is the only reason why I interrupt
you now.

DR. PELCKMANN: Yes, your Lordship, I have already considered
abbreviating the speech.

The demand to put this anti-Semitic principle into practice
by legal means could not have been a crime, because the
State appeared to be the guarantor that the principle would
be applied without hatred and revenge. That in all this
Hitler was inwardly moved by hatred - as revealed by his
most trusted mouthpiece, Rauschnigg, in his book, Hitler
Speaks - Page 91 -  was not known to the masses. That
hatred, which sprang from the feeling of inferiority of one
who recognized the superiority of the penetrating intellect
over dark impulses, remained concealed; for anti-Semitism
was preached to the SS men merely as the other side of race
eugenics on which emphasis was laid. By a skilful use of
those race emotions which spring from a country's history,
so difficult for the non-European to understand, and which
were bound up with such conceptions as "Ordens-

                                                  [Page 102]

prinzip," "Mannerbunde," and "Sippengemeinschaft" - I refer
to Documents SS Nos. 1, 2, and 3, with all their twisted
romanticism dressed up in modern clothes - Hitler
endeavoured to create in the SS a breed of men who by their
bearing and self-discipline would represent an "elite" for
purposes of raising his own people to a high level. This
tendency, though very alien to modern Europeans, or
cosmopolitans, can hardly be called criminal - I am
referring to the pertinent questions asked by the High
Tribunal - and it did exclude automatically an anti-Semitic
tendency of the nature of the Sturmer or even of the brand
of the less vulgar SA. It is also significant that the
prosecution has not charged the SS with one single case of
brutality towards Jews before 1933. The so-called
"Leithefte," the monthly publication of the SS, and the
evidence given before the Commission by the witness Schwalm
concerning the training of the SS, testify to the restrained
attitude of the SS to the Jewish question. Later it was
reaffirmed by the non-participation by the SS in the anti-
Jewish pogroms of 1938, which I shall describe in another
connection. I shall also demonstrate how the atrocities
committed during the war against Jews and the mass killings
were in conflict with the original tendency of the SS, and
how they were made possible by direct secret orders from
Hitler and Himmler through criminal individuals and groups,
and how they were kept secret from the masses of SS members.

From the wealth of points of the Party Programme which the
SS accepted as a matter of course, I would like to pick out
only the elimination of the Versailles Treaty and the demand
for living-space, because those two things might be
important factors for the alleged preparation of an
aggressive war. Nowhere has the prosecution said how, at
that stage, the mass of SS members could assume that those
demands were criminal, that is, that they should be
accomplished by an aggressive war.

I have shown how Hitler by his legal assumption of power
strengthened the confidence not only of his SS men but how
he gained the trust of new men who never would have trod
with him the road to crime. May I respectfully request the
High Tribunal to read the testimony of State Secretary
Grauert before the Commission and learn how a man with the
best intentions entered the Hitler administration and the
SS, and did not leave it until 1936, when he, an experienced
legal administrator, realized that the suspension of the
historic principle of the separation of powers -

THE PRESIDENT: Will you spell the name?

DR. PELCKMANN: G-R-A-U-E-R-T, Grauert.


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