The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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You know already the form of education and training that the
SS men received - a training for "the racial struggle" which
Himmler commanded them to prosecute "without mercy." Racial
theories, geopolitics, eugenics - this was their curriculum.
Mein Kampf was their Bible. Their basic philosophy was
expressed by Himmler:

  "It must be a matter of course that the most copious
  breeding should be from this racial super-stratum of the
  Germanic people. In twenty to thirty years we must really
  be able to present the whole of Europe with its leading
  class. If the SS, together with the farmers ... then run
  the colony in the East on a grand scale, without any
  restraint, without any question about any kind of
  tradition but with nerve and revolutionary impetus, we
  shall in twenty years push the national boundary 500 km.

The propagation of ideas like these could only have
accustomed SS men to the conception of a world in which the
destruction, enslavement and the degradation of "inferior"
peoples were regarded as an honourable duty. Pangs of
conscience did not, could not, trouble these men. The
Tribunal will remember

                                                  [Page 285]

the words of Bach Zelewski when he was asked whether the
murder of 90,000 Jews by one small Einsatz group (to which,
incidentally, the Waffen SS provided most of the killers)
was in keeping with Nazi philosophy. He said:

  "I am of the opinion that when, for years, for decades;
  the doctrine is preached that the Slav race is an inferior
  race and Jews not even human, then such an outcome is

Not only were SS generals like Bach Zelewski and Ohlendorf
themselves infected by this poison. It is our submission
that it did - and must have- poisoned the ordinary SS man
who did the killing. Their extermination of the Jews was
regarded as "A page of honour in our history."

Honour! Cold-blooded mass murder regarded as honour! Do we
need further evidence to prove the type of man this filthy
education bred? Long before they had enrolled themselves in
the SS their members had been saturated with racial hatred
and Fuehrer worship. SS training was only a more advanced
course. When they joined the SS, to whatever part they went
they saw the practical application of all that they had
learnt before. Everywhere, in every office, in every unit,
murder was the trade, and wherever murder was to be done it
was the members of the SS that were enrolled to do it.


The Ahnenerbe was a department of the SS. Its list of
members included the names of over l00 professors and other
educated men - all SS members, who relied upon the murderous
business of hundreds of other SS members to supply them with
the bodies for their experiments and the specimens for their
collections - bodies of commissars who were to be taken
alive and then decapitated, care being taken that "the head
should not be damaged." Professor Hirt wrote:

  "By procuring the skulls of the Jewish Bolshevik
  Commissars who represent the prototype of the repulsive
  but characteristic sub-human, we have the chance now to
  obtain a scientific document."

The Office for the Consolidation of German Folkdom was an
office of the SS, the office responsible for the awful crime
of genocide and all that it entailed. The RSHA and the WVHA,
controlling and responsible for the concentration camps,
were manned by SS. The crimes of the SS in the concentration
camps need no further mention except to emphasize that the
inquiries instituted by the SS judicial system, of which the
witness Morgen gave evidence, were not inquiries into mass
murder but into cases of corruption by SS officials. That
witness is another who, I have already suggested, is
unworthy of belief. How can the story of an investigation by
an SS judge into the murders by Hoess at Auschwitz, which
were interrupted by the advance of the Allies, be taken
seriously? What further investigation could have been needed
when Morgen himself knew all the details of the Auschwitz
killings some time in 1943 or 1944? Do you doubt that had
the Allies lost the war Hoess would still be committing mass
murder in that concentration camp and that SS judges would
still be investigating corruption and isolated crimes?

The Einsatz Commandos were primarily SS. They show in
miniature the co-operation between the various branches of
Himmler's system and the unity of the whole SS. Action Group
"A" was composed as follows:

  Waffen SS                   34.4 per cent.
  SD                          3.5     "    "
  Criminal Police             4.1     "    "
  Gestapo                     9.0     "    "
  Auxiliary Police            8.8     "    "
  Other Police                13.4   "    "

Dr. Gawlik told you on Tuesday that the total of all Einsatz
Commandos together was 1,000 men. That is not correct. We
have the strength of Einsatz Commando Group "A" alone, set
out as 990 in the report of its activities for

                                                  [Page 286]

October, 1941. You will remember that there were three other
similar groups, B, C and D, so that we are justified in
assuming that the total number of persons employed in these
Commandos must have been some 4,000. That does not, of
course, include the administrative offices that must have
been required to organize and administer these units.

The system of exterminating Jewry was handled by SS. The
Warsaw ghetto is but one example. The deportation, murder
and robbery of the Poles and other peoples occupying
territory which was required for German settlement was
undertaken by SS.[LINK-POPULATION} You will remember the
Globocnik report, the action in which thousands of Poles
were removed from their homes, and 178 million Reichsmark
acquired for the WVHA, and which in the words of Globocnik
himself, was "carried out within the framework of the SS
.... Only the decency and honesty as well as the
surveillance of the SS men used for this purpose could
guarantee a complete delivery." One is surprised he did not
add pecunia non olet (the money does not smell).

The Waffen SS came to be the spearhead of Nazi wars of
aggression, particularly in the invasion of the Soviet
Union, and exemplified the tyranny and slaughter which were
inherent in Nazi domination.

  "We will never let that excellent weapon, the dread
  terrible reputation which preceded us in the battles for
  Kharkov, fade, but will constantly add new meaning to it,"
  said Himmler to the officers of three SS divisions in
  Kharkov in 1943.

The Waffen SS succeeded in constantly adding new meaning to
its reputation for terror. Numerous instances have been
submitted to the Tribunal of the commission of War Crimes
and Crimes Against Humanity by units of the Waffen SS. They
are fresh in the Tribunal's mind and I will not recapitulate
them. I would only remind the Tribunal that some of the
worst atrocities took place in 1943 and 1944, at which time
a proportion of the Waffen SS were conscripts.


How can it be contended that the members of the SS, and
particularly of the Waffen SS, were merely soldiers -
soldiers who had no knowledge of and took no part in these
crimes? How can it be said that it was not they whose aims
were criminal? Wherever we find Nazi crimes being committed
we find SS men involved. Always it is said that those SS men
were something special, members of the SD or some other
particular branch, members of the SS who had been drafted
away to serve with special units such as the Einsatz
Commandos, members

                                                  [Page 287]

of the SS who were not really SS men at all but doctors or
police. Can this be really so? Let us ignore the evidence of
the concentration camps, of the Einsatz Commandos, of the
vast and brutal crimes against the populations of the
invaded territories, of the mass exterminations of Jews
throughout half the countries of Europe, of the legion
instances of individual crime and sadism, of the legion
other instances of murder in battle and of every other
breach of the laws of warfare. Let us ignore the evidence of
all these crimes, although each one of them was committed by
different SS men in different towns and villages throughout
the length and breadth of the Greater Reich. Let us ignore
them, although they did not constitute one sudden wave of
crime but were being done day after day over the years. Let
us ignore the fact that in almost no instance of crime of
which we have heard were any other than SS men involved. Let
us ignore all this if you wish. Without it the criminality
of the SS from the highest to the lowest is established by
the records which we have of these three speeches that
Himmler made to the officers of his SS units.

In April of 1941 he was talking to all the officers of the
SS Division Leibstandarte. In October, 1943, he was
addressing his major-generals at Posen. In the same month
the commanding officers of every regiment in three of his SS
divisions were listening to what he said at Kharkov. Those
speeches have been quoted to you again and again and you
know the sentiments that were expressed and the subject
matter that they covered. Will you try to imagine a general
from your own countries talking to all the officers of one
of your own divisions, of hauling into slavery "thousands,
tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands" of people; of
shooting "thousands of leading Poles." Will you try to
imagine a British or an American or a Soviet or a French
army commander telling his major-generals:

  "What happens to a Russian, to a Czech, does not interest
  me in the slightest .... Whether 10,000 Russian females
  fall down from exhaustion while digging an anti-tank ditch
  interests me only in so far as the anti-tank ditch for
  Germany is finished."

Or saying this:

  "I also want to talk to you, quite frankly, on a very
  grave matter .... I mean the clearing out of the Jews, the
  extermination of the Jewish race. It is one of those
  things it is easy to talk about - 'The Jewish race is
  being exterminated,' says one Party member, 'that is quite
  clear, it is in our programme - elimination of the Jews,
  and we are doing it, exterminating them.' And then they
  come, 80 million worthy Germans, and each one has his
  decent Jew. Of course the others are vermin, but this one
  is an A1 Jew. Not one of all those who talk this way has
  witnessed it, not one of them has been through it. Most of
  you must know what it means when 100 corpses are lying
  side by side, or 500 or 1,000. To have stuck it out and at
  the same time - apart from exceptions caused by human
  weakness - to have remained decent fellows, that is what
  has made us hard."

Can you see him telling all the commanding officers of one
of his divisions:

  "Anti-Semitism is exactly the same as delousing. Getting
  rid of lice is not a question of ideology, it is a matter
  of cleanliness. In just the same way anti-Semitism for us
  has not been a question of ideology but a matter of

If you can imagine so much, can you imagine what you would
say of the officers, and of the men that they commanded? Is
it possible that officers and men in these Waffen SS
divisions who could be spoken to in such a way were high-
minded, clean-living, decent and honourable soldiers? Such
men, be they from Germany or from any other country in the
world, would not tolerate these words. Those speeches have
become hackneyed enough during the course of this Trial, but
they never lose their significance. They show that every
member of these SS units was a prototype of his SS Fuehrer.
If it were not so, Goering could not have said, after
telling Mussolini the horrors of Germany's method in
fighting the partisans:

                                                  [Page 288]

  "Members of the Party discharge this task much more
  harshly and efficiently .... The SS, the guard of the old
  fighters of the Party, who have personal ties with the
  Fuehrer and who form a special elite, confirm this

If it were not so Hess could not have written:

  "The units of the Waffen SS ... are more suitable than
  other armed units for the specific tasks to be solved in
  the occupied Eastern territories, because of their
  intensive National Socialist training in regard to
  questions of race and nationality."

We know what Hitler had in mind as the future role of the
Waffen SS - State Police to impose German authority in the
conquered countries; State Police who would never fraternize
with the proletariat and underworld. That was their destined
role which all the Army knew because, by order of the OKW,
it had received the "greatest publicity." We know enough of
the Nazi State Police, of the education and training of the
Waffen SS and of the practical application of that training
during these years of war to fit them for the task that lay
ahead of them, to know also the sort of methods which they
would have employed. It is those men, the men who were
intended and had been trained to police and terrorize
Europe, who compose the organization of the SS which we ask
you to convict as criminal.


Such are the main considerations in connection with these
three organizations, the Corps of Political Leaders, the SA
and the SS, to which I desire to draw your attention. It was
these organizations which provided the machinery by which
the crimes which these defendants conceived were executed.
These three organizations were not separate and distinct
from each other as their counsel have attempted to portray
them. It was their members who together constituted - and
still do - the fundamental and dangerous core of National
Socialism. As the separate branches of the National
Socialist elite, their aims and purposes were the same and
they worked and co-operated with each other using the same
methods, which were criminal for all to see. From the outset
this was so and continued so until the end. Nothing more
clearly demonstrates these things than the evidence of how
the National Socialist Party and Government debased the
concepts of law and order and corrupted the judicial
practice of their Courts, in order to protect themselves and
their followers in the criminal courses they were pursuing.

Hardly had the Nazi Government come to power before the Nazi
ministers, Nazi police and Nazi judiciary were condoning
violence and murder committed by the SA and the SS and the
Gestapo. And for what reasons? Reasons which must have
demonstrated to all Germany and must demonstrate to all the
world today the very rottenness of National Socialism:

   "As the deed did not originate from ignoble motive but
   rather served the achievement of an exceedingly patriotic
   aim and the advance of the National Socialist State, the
   quashing of the proceedings ... does not seem
   incompatible with the orderly administration of criminal

Such was the opinion of the Public Prosecutor to the
Provincial Court in Nuremberg in respect of the SA men who
had beaten a Communist to death - beaten him until the soles
of his feet were so swollen "owing to the mass of blood
gathered there, that after the blood had been drained off by
incision, pockets nearly the size of a fist were formed."

In Munich the State Minister of the Interior was giving
similar reasons for quashing proceedings against SS guards
in Dachau who had beaten a prison on the head until he died:

"As a reason it is pointed out that the conducting of
investigations would cause great harm to the prestige of the
National Socialist State, since these proceedings would be
directed against members of the SA and SS, and thus

                                                  [Page 289]

  the SA and SS, as the chief protagonists of the National
  Socialist State, would be immediately affected."

Nazi judges were suspending proceedings against members of
the SA in agreement with the supreme leadership of that

  "The deeds and intentions of the SA men were only aimed at
  the well-being of the National Socialist movement.
  Political reason and the purity of the intention is thus
  beyond doubt."

When judges not yet accustomed to these new conceptions of
law did convict SA guards who "not only attempted to wring
confessions from inmates but acted in sheer lust for
torture," they were at once expelled from the Party; the
prosecutor who happened himself to be a member of the SA was
warned that he should resign, and the Gauleiter wrote to the
Supreme Court advising that a pardon should be substituted
for the sentence that had been imposed.

Can there be any doubt that candidates for membership of
these organizations, knew that membership afforded them
license to murder?

Nor were these concepts of law confined to the State and
Party Courts. The military could not resist anything so
attractive. By 1939 a military judge was granting to an SS
man extenuating circumstances "because he was induced to
participate in the shooting by a corporal handing him a
rifle. He was in a state of irritation owing to numerous
atrocities committed by Poles against persons of German
race. As an SS man, particularly sensitive at the sight of
Jews and to the hostile attitude of Jewry to the Germans, he
therefore acted quite thoughtlessly in a youthful spirit of

Those SS soldiers had been sentenced to imprisonment for
"manslaughter" which the army commander refused to confirm.
It was for "manslaughter" of a kind known only to National
Socialists - to National Socialists who, as we have seen in
this Court, display a curious sensitiveness to the word
"murder." This they called manslaughter:

  "After about 50 Jews, who had been used during the day to
  repair a bridge, had finished their work in the evening,
  these two men drove them into a synagogue and shot them
  all without reason."

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