The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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It takes character to stand up against great evil - this has
always been so. It may be necessary for a man to brave some
humiliation and some sacrifice, in order to refuse to do the
evil bidding of an evil master. But responsibility for the
crimes of these organizations should not be evaded by the
application of a dry, technical or meaningless concept of


From the establishment of the Nazi Party in 1920, until the
conclusion of the war in 1945, these organizations were used
by the conspirators for the execution of their schemes, and
each committed one or more of the crimes described in
Article 6 of the Charter, and participated in the general
conspiracy. The Leadership Corps was the first of the
organizations to appear on the stage. The next step was the
creation in 1920 of a semi-military organization, the SA, to
secure by violence a predominant place for the Party in the
political scene. Out of this group, the more select and
fanatical SS was formed in 1925, to replace the SA while the
latter was banned, and then to join with it in laying the
groundwork for the revolution. Upon the seizure of power in
1933, the next organization, the Reich Cabinet, took its
place in the conspiracy. With the Government in their hands,
the conspirators hastened to suppress all potential
opposition, and to that end they created the Gestapo and the
SD. Internal security having been guaranteed, they then
obtained for promotion of their plans of aggrandizement the
last of their implements - in the form of the military.

Each of these was necessary to the successful execution of
the conspiracy - the Leadership Corps to direct and control
the Party through which political power had to be seized;
the SA and SS to oppose political opponents by violence and,
after 1933, to fasten the Nazis' control on Germany by extra-
legal activities; the Cabinet to devise and enact the laws
needed to insure continuance of the regime; the Gestapo and
the SD to detect and suppress internal opposition; and some
servile soldiery to prepare and carry out the expansion of
the regime through aggressive war.

Each of the organizations continued to play a necessary and
vital part at all times throughout the conspiracy. The
programme of the Nazi regime sprang from the Nazi Party. As
Hitler said in 1933, "It is not the State which gives orders
to us, it is we who give orders to the State." Again in 1938
Hitler stated, "National Socialism possesses Germany
entirely and completely since the day when, five years ago,
I left the house in Wilhelmplatz as Reich Chancellor ... The
greatest guarantee of the National Socialist revolution lies
in the complete domination of the Reich and all of its
institutions and organizations, internally and externally,
by the National Socialist Party." It was the Leadership
Corps that formulated the policy of that Party. It was the
Leadership Corps that held the Party together. It was the
Leadership Corps, through its descending hierarchy of
Fuehrer, down to the Blockleiter, who controlled forty
households, that kept a firm grip upon the entire populace.
Every crime charged in the Indictment was a crime committed
by a regime controlled by the Party, and it was the
Leadership Corps which controlled the Party and made it

While the Party, through the Political Leaders, gave orders
to the State, it was the Reich Cabinet - the law-making,
executive and administrative representative of the State -
that transformed those orders into laws. Just as the
Leadership Corps made the Party function, so the Cabinet
made the State function. Every crime which we have proved
was a crime of the Nazi State, and the Reich Cabinet was the
highest agency for political control and direction within
the Nazi State.

But policy and laws are not enough. They must be put into
effect and carried into operation. The four other
organizations were the executive agencies of the
                                                  [Page 300]

Party and the State. When it was a question of enforcing
laws, of detecting, apprehending, imprisoning and
eliminating opponents or potential opponents, the SD, the
Gestapo, the SS and the machinery of concentration camps
came into play. The close relationship between the SD and
the Gestapo, and the importance of the former in selection
of Nazi officials, is disclosed by the defence affidavit of
Karl Weiss, who averred that all political police officials
were screened by the SD before being accepted into the
Gestapo, and the SD violated the integrity of German
elections by reporting how the people voted in secret
ballots. Special units of the SA were used to supplement the
police in arresting Communists and in the course of
interrogations, men were beaten to death. Such brutal
conduct was consistently excused by decrees of amnesty,
under which the purposes of the interrogators were alone
decisive. When the policy called for war, the paramilitary
organizations like the SA and SS laid the foundation, and
top militarists prepared the plans for a powerful German
Army. When it became a question of exterminating the
population of conquered territories, of deporting them for
slave labour and confiscating their property, the OKW and
the SS had to plan joint operations and, in collaboration
with the Gestapo, to carry them into effect. Thus, the Party
planned, the Cabinet legislated, and the SS, SA, Gestapo and
the military leaders executed. The manner in which this was
done can be illustrated by taking up a number of the
principal crimes alleged in the Indictment and showing how
the five organizations participated in the commission of
each crime.

The basic programme for aggression is to be found in the
Nazi Party Programme of Twenty-five Points proclaimed by
Hitler in 1920 and declared unalterable. It included demands
for the unification of all Germans in Greater Germany, for
the abrogation of the treaties of Versailles and St.
Germain, for land and colonies, and for the creation of a
national army.

As the Party Manual shows, this platform was the table of
commandments and from it was drawn the dogma for every
Political Leader. All members of the Leadership Corps bound
themselves to follow these precepts and to spread this

As early as April, 1933, the Cabinet, by resolution, created
the Reich Defense Council, a body of cabinet members whose
function was to prepare the nation for war. In October,
1933, the Cabinet proclaimed Germany's withdrawal from the
League of Nations and the Disarmament Conference. A year and
a half later, in March, 1935, it re-established the
Wehrmacht and provided for compulsory military service. Its
war planning measures were carried further by its enactment
in May, 1935, of a secret unpublished Reich Defence Law,
providing for the appointment of a plenipotentiary-general
for war economy with sweeping powers, and its decision that
the plenipotentiary should begin his work at once, even in
peace time. In February, 1938, on the eve of the seizure of
Austria, a second component of the Reich Cabinet, the Secret
Cabinet Council, was created to advise Hitler in conducting
foreign policy, and it was the defendant von Neurath, the
President of that council, who took diplomatic steps to
justify and excuse this aggressive action. After the seizure
had been accomplished, it was the Cabinet which provided for
the reunion of Austria with the Reich. Six months later, in
September, 1938, by another secret and wholly unpublished
law, the Cabinet provided for a three-man Council of
Plenipotentiaries whose function was to have prepared at all
times complete plans and ready measures for the sudden and
not-to-be-declared war. In November, 1938, it was a Cabinet
law which provided for the integration of the Sudetenland
with Germany, and in March, 1939, for the incorporation of
Memel into Germany. The Tribunal will remember the dramatic
meeting of the Reich Defence Council held in June of 1939,
where preparations were completed for the coming war and
detailed plans were approved, such as using prisoners of war
and concentration camp inmates for war production,
compulsory work for women in war time, and the bringing of
hundreds of thousands of workers from the Protectorate to be
housed together in hutments. In August,

                                                  [Page 301]

1939, on the eve of the attack on Poland, the Ministerial
Council for the Defence of the Reich, the third component of
the Reich Cabinet, was created out of members of the
Cabinet, to act as a smaller working group in the exercise
of legislative and executive war-time powers. Thereafter, it
was this component of the Reich Cabinet, rather than the
ordinary Cabinet, which enacted most of the legislation for
carrying on the war, but with the knowledge and
participation of the entire membership of the ordinary

While the Cabinet was thus preparing the legal and
administrative framework for aggression, the other
organizations were actively engaged in related preparations
to the same end; an aggressive militaristic psychology on
the part of the people and the building up of a powerful
army were essential to prepare the nation for war. To the
attainment of those ends the SA assiduously devoted itself.
First in 1933 by engaging in an intensive propaganda
campaign demanding colonies, Lebensraum, the abrogation of
the Treaty of Versailles; falsely attributing aggressive
designs to Germany's neighbours; and generally spreading the
now well-known party bromides. Almost simultaneously, it
organized a training programme for German youth in the
technique of modern war, at first in dark secrecy, but
finally in the open, when it felt itself sufficiently
prepared and was sure of no outside interference. But the SA
did not confine itself to mere preparations. When the first
aggressive action, that against Austria, was taken, units of
the SA marched through the streets of Vienna and seized the
principal government buildings, and, in the plans for the
seizure of the Sudetenland, the SA formed a part of the
Henlein Free Corps, and furnished it with supplies and

The activities of the SS were similar to the SA and even
more widespread; like the SA, it served as a para-military
organization in the years preceding 1939. Like the SA, it
took part in the aggression against Austria and in the
conspiracy to undermine Czechoslovakia, through the Henlein
Free Corps. Its activities are distinguishable from those of
the SA in these matters only because it played the more
important part. Its professional combat forces joined with
the Army in marching into the Sudetenland and Bohemia-
Moravia, and in the invasion of Poland. One of its main
departments, the Volksdeutsche Mittelstelle, was a centre
for Fifth Column activities. The SD of the Reichsfuehrer SS
operated a network of spies throughout the world, and its
agents were spying in the United States before Germany
declared war upon America. The largest branch of the SS, the
Waffen SS, was created and developed for the sole purpose of
carrying on the war, and participated, as an SS army, in all
phases of the war in the East and in the West. Its shameful
record of war atrocities needs no amplification here. The
Gestapo and SD were likewise involved in the commission of
Crimes Against Peace. The very incident that served as an
excuse for the invasion of Poland, and thus set off the
entire war, was executed by the Gestapo and the SD. I refer
to the simulated Polish attack on the radio station at
Gleiwitz, where concentration camp prisoners were dressed in
Polish uniforms, murdered and left as evidence of a Polish
raid, so as to afford Hitler a justification for the attack
upon Poland. Of course the professional military clique
planned and participated in all aggressions, from the
militarisation of the Rhineland in 1936 to the attack on
Soviet Russia in 1941.

The waging of those wars of aggression was possible for
Germany only by the utilization of-millions of enslaved
workers, and the slave labour programme was possible only
with the assistance of these organizations. Sauckel was the
master slaver, but he needed a million Party whips to
enforce his merciless dictates. The SS, the Gestapo and the
SD, at his bidding, drove the foreign serfs within the Reich
borders under the lash of deceit, of kidnapping, or heart-
breaking family separations, of arson, of torture and of
murder. The Leadership Corps, in cooperation with the Nazi
Labour Front and with industrial management, were Sauckel's
receiving agents for these unfortunate ones. At the Reich
level and at

                                                  [Page 302]

the Gau level members of the Leadership Corps helped to
arrange for the conditions of bedding, feeding and
restraining those wretched human beings, giving them less
attention and showing them less decent concern than
primitive man often gave to his brutes. The Gauleiter,
functioning as Reich Defence Commissars, at the order of
Speer and Sauckel, and under the most revolting transport
conditions, shunted the slaves from receiving depots to
armament industries, where, like stanchioned beasts, they
were submitted to sub-human indignities and worked to death.
Medical care and even the most simple medical supplies were
refused them. Denied even the social advantages of the
barnyard they struggled under less than good stable
standards. With a coarseness unknown to ordinary domestic
animal care, directives providing for the abortion of female
labourers were distributed to Gauleiter and Kreisleiter and
their staffs. Their keepers were of the Gestapo and the SD,
and the cells of the concentration camp awaited anyone who
chafed under the cruelty. Urged on by Speer, the Gauleiter
utilized prisoners of war for slave labour purposes, and
Rosenberg's minions in the Eastern territories, under the
spur of Sauckel's demands, gleaned new millions for
thraldom. The Army harnessed thousands for the construction
of military fortifications and for military production, and
Keitel carried out Hitler's orders by hitching honourable
soldier prisoners of war to machines that made materials for
war. The greedy Goering sought prisoners of war as slaves
for his air armament industries, and suggested new uses for
old orders violating recognized codes of warfare, and his
aide Milch thought of the forced use of Russian prisoners of
war to man anti-aircraft batteries as comedy relief for the
oppressive madness of the times. Depravity supplanted
degradation and death became the declared objective of
concentration camp labour establishments under the SS. Of
necessity all of this went on with high Cabinet approval as
the impact of all this terrible programme created new
problems for Germany.

So suffered the slaves in the midst of the German
population, as thousands of them were farmed out for better
or for worse to householders, to great and to small
industries, until at last, in the closing hours of the
conflict, under pressure of the grim necessities of the war
situation and solely to increase the war effort, the Nazi
Government itself was forced to issue an order to slacken
the violence against those who were in chains. The great
significance of this order cannot be overstated. By its own
terms, it makes perfectly clear that cruelty to the slaves
was a State policy carried out by the German people. It is
damning evidence against the whole German nation. It is, in
our judgment, one of the most important documents in this
case. It is shocking to realize that it came from the Party
Chancellery and the Reich Security Main Office - both high
State agencies; and it was directed, in writing, to all
Political Leaders down to Ortsgruppenleiter, and to the
lowest level of German society by word of mouth.

The extent of the crimes committed against the Jewish people
is too great for the human mind to grasp completely. Our
mental processes are conditioned by our whole experience in
living. We shudder at one bestial murder, we shrink from a
few disgusting crimes, but when confronted with mass horror
we find ourselves groping for adequate reaction. We simply
cannot comprehend six million murders. In the regular course
of life it is good that this is so; but in weighing the
evidence in this case it is something of a handicap for all
parties except the guilty. Of some facts, however, we do
have full knowledge and full understanding. They are all in
evidence before this Tribunal. We know that these indicted
organizations all share responsibility for the vast crimes
committed against the Jewish people. We know that the evil
geniuses of the Nazi plan understood how to nurture a nation
for hatred. They began easily by the Leadership Corps
writing into the Party platform that only a member of the
race could be a citizen. Thus they laid the groundwork for
the basic premise upon which Jews were deprived of human
rights in Germany. Then the same Leadership Corps began the
work of directing a campaign of abuse against the whole

                                                  [Page 303]

Jewish people. Every man's failure, all worry, each
disappointment, any fear, was resolved in the crucible of
Jewish responsibility. Throughout the Reich, Jew-baiting
committees were established under the direction of various
Political Leaders. Led by Gauleiter Streicher, Party members
first engaged in open violence against Jews and their
property by destroying the synagogue here in Nuremberg. Then
came the hideous occurrences on the night of 10th November,
1938, under the incitement of Party propaganda leader
Goebbels and with the open assistance of the Leadership
Corps and the SA. To add mockery to malefaction, the Nazis
set up a Supreme Party Court to investigate these outrages
and although it found that instructions for carrying out
these pogroms had been telephoned by the Gauleiter to their
subordinate leaders, it ruled that, in the killing of Jews
without orders or contrary to orders: "at heart the men were
convinced that they had done a service to their Fuehrer and
to their Party." Under the guise of this judicial hypocrisy,
none of the participants was so much as expelled from the

Throughout the years, as this hate movement progressed, all
manner of discriminatory legislation was enacted to restrict
the mobility of the Jew, to impoverish him, and to degrade
him. Great numbers of these legislative monstrosities, all
of them the creations of the Reich Cabinet, are in evidence
in this record. With quickened pace the Nazis moved to new
cruelties and, from a confused policy which demanded the
departure of the Jew and called for his detention in German
concentration camps, they approached the depths of shame in
a Reich Cabinet proposal for the sterilization of even half-
Jews. In a cold setting of sadism and sin, the Reich Cabinet
reviewed the manner in which half-Jews were to be treated,
and the recommendations of the Cabinet were submitted to
Hitler for final action. The SA men were among the first to
apply direct force and brutality against the Jewish people
in Germany. The witness Severing has told the Tribunal from
the witness-stand that during the years after 1921 the SA
engaged in organized terror against the Jews. These street
ruffians, having nearly completed their orgies against
ordinary political opponents, now found new uses for their
clubs and whips and new outlets for their perverse
propensities. Any Jew was fair game and it was open season
the year round for Jew-hunting. They smashed into private
homes and abused the terrified Jewish inhabitants without
any pretence of cause or provocation. And they interlaced
their physical violence with their constant tirade of
slanderous anti-Jewish propaganda.

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