The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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Last-Modified: 2001/02/26

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SIR DAVID MAXWELL FYFE: If your Lordship pleases, when the
Court adjourned I was dealing with some points in the
memorandum of Dr. Klefisch, and I continue to deal with that

Much emphasis has been laid by Dr. Klefisch and by all
defence counsel on the serious consequences which will
accrue to the persons affected by a declaration of guilt,
not only to those against whom subsequent proceedings may be
taken but to the others besides. It is said "that the stigma
inflicted upon members of organizations declared criminal
would ... prove indelible .... Millions of members of
organizations declared criminal would remain branded for the
rest of their lives. One would point at them saying 'Look,
there goes an SA criminal'." But if they are guilty, if they
have supported and assisted in a system which entailed
throwing the world into war, reviving the horrors of
slavery, persecution and mass murder, ought they not to be
so branded? This can be no injustice: it is less - far less
- than their desert. It is the only hope for Germany and the
world that her people realize and repent their
responsibility for what has happened. Dr. Servatius has
asked you to excuse Ortsgruppenleiter because they were
members of the lower middle class who lacked political
experience. Can it really be that only the upper classes of
the German people are able to recognize aggressive war for
world domination, slavery, murder and persecution as crimes?

Yet there may be more truth in this than any dare to think.
You have now seen and heard many witnesses who - some on
their own admission - were themselves deeply involved in
hideous crime. Have you been able to discern a sense of
guilt or shame or repentance? Always it is someone who gave
the orders that is to blame: never he who puts those orders
into execution. Always it is some other agency of the State
who was responsible: to support that State and cooperate
with those other agencies is without criticism. If this is
the mind of these people today, there can be no more
pressing need nor greater justification for branding these
guilty men as criminal. If we cannot teach the German people
to appreciate their responsibility to mankind; if we cannot
teach them to know the difference between what is right and
wrong, at least we can show them what, according to the
concepts of every other civilized State, is the duty of the
individual citizens. And we can and ought to show them what
the whole world accepts as right and wrong.


It is my intention to discuss the evidence in respect of
those three organizations for which the British Delegation
has taken particular responsibility and which, in the
considered submission of all the four prosecuting Powers,
are criminal. But before dealing with that evidence, I trust
the Tribunal will bear with me if I make one or two general
observations upon the defence which has been put forward on
behalf of all these organizations.

No one can say hereafter that every opportunity has not been
afforded them for their defence. An elaborate procedure has
been evolved to obtain and place before you their evidence.
One hundred and two witnesses have been heard before your
Commissioners - witnesses selected by defence counsel from
the many thousands of members of the organizations
available. You have the transcripts of their evidence. Of
those witnesses defence counsel have selected twenty who
have given evidence in this Court and whom you have seen and
heard yourselves. In addition to this oral testimony, you
have also had submitted to you the substance of no less than
136,213 affidavits for the SS, 155,000 for the

                                                  [Page 246]

Political Leaders, 2,000 for the Gestapo, 10,000 for the SA
and 7,000 for the SD, a total of 310,213. And you have also
had presented before your Commissioners another 1,809
affidavits either in substance or in whole, the majority of
which are now contained in the transcript of the
Commissioners' proceedings.

On the face of it, the evidence which has been given by
almost all the witnesses called before your Commissioners is
untrue. You yourselves have seen and heard some of those
witnesses, selected by defence counsel presumably because
they were thought to be the most reliable and the ones most
likely to impress you. Their evidence is no better.

You will remember Sievers, called for the SS, who denied
knowledge of and participation in the experiments on human
beings and was presented with a file of his own
incriminating correspondence.

The witness Morgen described the variety theatre, the
cinema, the bookstalls and the other amenities of
Buchenwald. Dachau, he said, was a recreation camp. Brill,
who had served as an Obersturmbannfuehrer (Lieut.-Colonel)
in the S Division Leibstandarte from June until August,
1941, on the Eastern front, knew nothing of the
Einsatzgruppen, the slaughter of Jews in the Eastern
territories or of the treatment of the peoples of Poland and
Russia taken into captivity for forced labour. Had the
conditions in June become so changed from what they had been
two months before, when Himmler had said to all the officers
of that division:

  "Very frequently the member of the Waffen SS thinks about
  the deportation of this people here. These thoughts come
  to me today when watching the very difficult work out
  there performed by the Security Police, supported your
  men, who help them a great deal. Exactly the same thing
  happened in Poland in weather 40 degrees below zero, where
  we had to haul away thousands, tens of thousands, hundreds
  of thousands; where we had to have the toughness - you
  should hear this but also forget it again immediately - to
  shoot thousands of leading Poles."

General Hausser, one-time commander of the SS Division "Das
Reich" and subsequently commander of a corps, army and army
group, knew nothing of SS atrocities. He had never heard of
the massacre of Lidice.

Gauleiter Hoffmann, who gave evidence before your Commission
to explain away his order of 25th February, 1945,
encouraging the lynching of Allied pilots, said that the
order "slipped out" from his command post after he had
refused to issue the draft submitted to him by his staff

Hupfauer of the German Labour Front, supervising the work of
that organization in Essen during the latter part of the
war, and himself responsible for circulating Himmler's
orders to ensure "the discipline and output of foreign
workers," denied all knowledge of the brutal treatment of
slave labour.

Rathcke, called for the SA before your Commissioners,
described how, "in the spring of 1933, the SA in all German
localities streamed into the churches."

Schneider, another Political Leader called before your
Commission, aged 55, denied ever having heard of the boycott
of April, 1933.

Best, the enslaver of Denmark, gave evidence before you for
the Gestapo. Having seen the documents that were presented
to him in cross-examination, can you believe one word of
what he said?

Examples of evidence of this kind could be quoted from the
transcript of almost every witness that has been called to
defend these organizations.

Consider this evidence from another angle. We know that so-
called "demonstrations" were organized and carried out
throughout the whole Reich against the Jews on the night of
9th-10th November, 1938, during the course of which 35 Jews
were murdered, and 20,000 seized and incarcerated, for no
other offence than that they were Jews; we know that 177
synagogues were destroyed by fire or demolished, that 7,500
stores were destroyed and that the cost of damage to glass
windows alone amounted to six million Reichsmark. Even the
Supreme Party Court reported:

                                                  [Page 247]

  "The public, down to the last man, realizes that political
  drives like those of 9th November were organized and
  directed by the Party, whether this is admitted or not.
  When all the synagogues burn down in one night, it must
  have been organized by the Party."

"Whether this is admitted or not." Can you find one single
man among the 102 witnesses that have been called on behalf
of the Party organizations who is prepared to admit it - or
anything like it? Can you find one word of admission from
among the affidavits that have been submitted by over
312,000 members of these Party organizations? If it was not
the Political Leaders, if it was not the SA or the SS, if it
was not the Gestapo or SD - what in the name of all common
sense was it that organized and directed those

We know that slave labour was employed and brutally
maltreated throughout Germany. We know that in 1943 it even
became necessary - necessary only in order to increase
production and for no reasons of humanity - to alter "the
hitherto prevailing treatment of Eastern workers" and for
the Party Chancellery and the RSHA to issue orders to all
Political Leaders down to Ortsgruppenleiter and presumably
to all stations of the SD and Gestapo that "injustices,
insults, trickery, maltreatment, etc., must be discontinued.
Punishment by beating is forbidden." But can you find one
single one from among the 102 witnesses and the persons who
have sworn affidavits on oath who has ever seen or heard of
the maltreatment of foreign labourers, save only in one or
two exceptional instances?

The evidence of all of them is the same. They are asked if
they knew of the persecution and annihilation of the Jews,
of the dread work of the Gestapo, of the atrocities within
the concentration camps, of the ill-treatment of slave
labour, of the intention and preparation to wage aggressive
war, of the murder of brave soldiers, sailors and airmen.
And they reply with "the everlasting No." You may be
reminded of the words of a great Irishman:

   "Falsehood has a perennial spring."

Let me turn to consider those three organizations for which
I am responsible - the Corps of Political Leaders, the SA
and the SS.


Certain general points have been made by counsel and
witnesses for the defence which it is convenient to mention
before dealing with the evidence.

(1) It is said that Zellen- and Blockleiter ought not to be
included as Political Leaders; that they were never regarded
as such and had no authority or political tasks; that they
were subordinate to the staff officers in the Ortsgruppe
whom the prosecution has agreed to exclude; that they were
completely unimportant and in practice little more than the
messenger boys of their Ortsgruppenleiter.

We submit that there is overwhelming evidence that this was
not so. When you examine the evidence you find them
implicated in criminal activities of many kinds. I would ask
you particularly to bear this in mind - that it was the
normal procedure in the Corps of Political Leaders to pass
nothing in writing below the rank of Ortsgruppenleiter. The
Organization Book of the Party prescribes:

  "In principle the Blockleiter will settle his official
  business verbally and he will receive messages verbally
  and pass them on in the same way. Correspondence will only
  be used in cases of absolute necessity and

The witness Meyer-Wendeborn confirmed that this was so in

  "Between the Blockleiter and Zellenleiter on one side and
  the Ortsgruppenleiter and the staff on the other side,
  there were supposed to be no written instructions in order
  not to make too much work for these people of lower rank
  or position."

In view of that you may well think it remarkable that we
have happened to find as many written documents as we have
which directly implicate the Zellen- and Blockleiter. In
dealing with the evidence I shall draw your attention to

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documents. But I would also emphasize the other evidence you
have of the vitally important role the Zellen- and
Blockleiter played.

It has been argued that they were not Hoheitstrager as the
prosecution suggest, and various documents have been
submitted by defence counsel to establish this contention.
Be it right or wrong, it matters little. You will remember
that they are included as Hoheitstrager in the Party's
Organization Book which states:

  "Among the Politische Leiter the bearers of sovereignty
  assume a special position."

It is answered that the Organization Book is inaccurate. The
same is said of the SA Mann - an equally inconvenient
publication for the members of the SA. Is there any official
publication issued by the official Party publishers which is

The fact is that by whatever title they may have been known,
the Zellen- and Blockleiter formed the essential basis of
the whole Party system. Gauleiter Kaufmann admitted:

  "Blockleiter and Zellenleiter were the executive organs of
  the Ortsgruppenleiter."

Zellenleiter Schneider was asked:

  "Would you agree with me that without the Zellenleiter and
  Blockleiter the Ortsgruppenleiter could never have carried
  on the tasks they had to perform?"

and answered:

  "Yes, that is correct."

They were much more than the messenger boys they are now
made out to have been. Hirt stated, that only persons who
were "completely politically reliable" were appointed either
as staff officers in the Gaue, Kreise and Orte or as Zellen-
or Blockleiter, and that the people who held the positions
of Zellen- and Blockleiter appeared to be supporters of the
Nazi Party. The evidence shows the kind of task with which
they were entrusted, which included the responsibility of
assisting in forming the "political judgment" of the members
of their area.

(2) It has been suggested that Political Leaders -
particularly in war time - were compelled against their will
to assume their appointments. But the whole basis of the
system was voluntary service, paid or unpaid, and it is
confirmed by their own witness Meyer Wendeborn. Let me quote
from his cross-examination before the Commission:

  "Q. May I take it that all Political Leaders voluntarily
  occupying their offices?
  A. Yes.
  Q. And that also applies, does it not, to the Zellenleiter
  and Blockleiter?
  A. The Zellenleiter and Blockleiter were appointed through
  the Ortsgruppenleiter after he had had a discussion with
  the staff. However, if a person considered himself not up
  to the part, or that he was unable to do the job or that
  he had not the time, we looked for another one."
  Q. And it was decidedly voluntary on the part of the
  Zellenleiter or Blockleiter whether or not they accepted
  the position?
  A. Yes."

If pressure was brought to bear on some, as the witness Hirt
suggested, it could only have happened in the most
exceptional cases. If the holders of these offices were
required to be "completely politically reliable" it would be
remarkable to find among them many opponents of the Party
forced unwillingly to act.

(3) It is said also that because, as in peace time, their
appointments were not confirmed, their oath taken only at
irregular intervals, and because they were given no uniform,
they were not, in the words of the Indictment, "according to
common Nazi terminology Politische Leiter of any grade or

I submit that there can be no substance in such an argument.
They performed the same tasks, were regarded as the same
officials and held the same authority and influence as those
whom they replaced.

                                                  [Page 249]

 (4) It is suggested that there was no "corps" or
organization of Political Leaders; but the evidence shows
that Politische Leiter of all classes formed a close and
well-defined corps. They are described as a "corps" in the
Organization Book. Together they had a common purpose:

  "the complete penetration of the German nation with the
  National Socialist spirit."

They wore a common uniform. They were issued with a common
identity card - common to themselves but distinct from the
rest of the population. Yearly they took their common oath
to their Fuehrer:

  "I pledge eternal allegiance to Adolf Hitler. I pledge
  unconditional obedience to him and the Fuehrers appointed
  by him."

And, as the Organization Book says of each one of them:

"The Political Leader is inseparably tied to the ideology
and the organization of the NSDAP."

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