The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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The oppression, persecution, discrimination and brutality at
the hands of the Leadership Corps, the Reich Cabinet and the
SA were only the beginnings of the dreadful fate that the
Nazis prepared for the Jews. In this fashion, the way was
paved for the sinister activities of the Gestapo when it
came into play. Now these secret policemen moved in with
their wraith-like methods. Trembling Jews were hauled from
their beds in the middle of the night and dispatched without
semblance of accusation to concentration camps, and often
their family awoke to find them missing. Thousands of Jewish
people so disappeared never to be seen or heard of again,
and all over Europe today surviving family remnants with
aching hearts are seeking clues or indications of the fate
that befell them. Sad to relate, the only answer to most of
the searching is to be found in the records of this
Tribunal, in the captured documents of the SS, the SD and
the Gestapo, and in the death books of the gas chambers, the
mass graves and the crematoria.

By this time the Nazis were astride much of Central Europe.
Wallowing in their early bloody successes and puffed up with
premature confidence in their ability to dominate the
Continent, they dropped all sham about the Jew in Germany
and laid bare his ultimate doom. The Jew was to be wiped
from the face of Europe - not by migration, not by mass
movement, but by annihilation. It was Goering who ordered
Heydrich, as chief of the Security Police and SD, to work
out a "complete solution" of the Jewish problem in the areas
occupied by the Reich. And it was Heydrich, as chief of the
Security Police and SD and acting upon Goering's order, who
instructed the Gestapo to murder all Jews who

                                                  [Page 304]

could not be used for slave labour. Gestapo men, under the
leadership of Eichmann, went into the occupied territories
and, with the assistance of local officers of the Security
Police and SD, succeeded in herding virtually all of the
Jews of Europe into concentration camps and annihilation
centres. With unabated fury the Nazis plunged from Goering's
"complete solution" to Himmler's "final solution." This was
the last responsibility, and who but Himmler as head of the
SS could fulfil this unholy mission. In his foul hands and
those of his SS was placed the assignment for the complete
destruction of the Jew. He warmed to his task. His SS men,
having been tested and proved in the Warsaw ghetto and in
the clearing of the Jews from Galicia, were ready for the
refinements of the extermination plants. And with Hitler's
order to Himmler, SS exterminator Hoess opened the largest
murder mart in history.

Two thousand human beings at a time perished in his modern
slaughter house. All over German-occupied Europe SS plants
of the Hoess-Auschwitz design gassed living Jews with
dispatch, and destroyed their remains in ovens streamlined
for mass operation. Thus the SS made it possible for Himmler
to declare in his speech at Posen:

  "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 . this is a page of
  glory in our history..."

At the close of the war in Europe, an incredulous world
recoiled from the fact of this crime - a crime that can
never be completely understood, completely explained, or
properly requited. Slowly mankind moved to its sad and sober
acceptance. But this was not the end, for the Nazis, through
propaganda conduits, had piped their racial and religious
poison into most of Europe and to a large part, of the
world. To restore the moral health of Central Europe is not
enough, seepage from Nazi sewers of slander has polluted
many of man's Pierian springs and the virus of hate and
bigotry and intolerance has fouled the waters. It will take,
generations of mental and moral sanitation to stamp out this
Nazi plague. Thus the crime lives after the criminals -
these defendants and these organizations.

The transition from maltreatment of political opponents, of
racial and religious groups, to the abuse and the killing of
prisoners of war in violation of the rules of warfare, was
not difficult for the members of the indicted organizations.
These offences were the result of the aggressive war aims
for which the Reich Cabinet had a direct responsibility. The
history of mistreatment of honourable soldiers who had
surrendered is too well known to this Tribunal to require
detailed discussion here. Yet it is worth while to recall to
mind that Reichleiter Goebbels and Bormann, speaking for the
Leadership Corps of the Nazi Party, were those who
instituted the policy of the lynching of allied airmen by
the German populace. This savage policy was carried out by
the Leadership Corps of the Nazi Party, while, at the same
time, military units of the SS wantonly executed prisoners
of war on every battlefield. To the Gestapo and the SD was
given the first responsibility for carrying out the barbaric
Hitler order of 18th October, 1942, and its' subsequent
amendments calling for the summary execution of allied
commandos and paratroopers. Nor should it be forgotten that
throughout the war the Gestapo screened prisoner-of-war
camps for Jews and those of the Communist political faith,
who were then deliberately murdered. The Tribunal will
recall the document concerning the screening of prisoner-of-
war camps, introduced in the later stages of the Trial,
which proved conclusively that local Gestapo offices at
Munich, Regensburg, Furth and Nuremberg screened prisoner-of-
war camps in Bavaria for classes of prisoners of war to be
sent to Dachau for liquidation by SS guards, and that these
Gestapo offices were criticized by the High Command for
failure to screen as effectively as the High Command
desired. This crime has been carefully avoided by counsel in
pleading the case for the implicated organizations. It is
one of the clearest cases of willful premeditated murder of
prisoners of war in violation of established International
Law. It is positive demonstration of the

                                                  [Page 305]

complete savagery of the responsible organizations with
respect to the treatment of prisoners of war. The infamous
Bullet Decree, under which the Gestapo sent recaptured
officer prisoners of war to Mauthausen Concentration Camp
for execution by SS guards, is additional proof of the
criminal character of these organizations.

The Nazis always knew that the Christian Church was an
insurmountable obstacle to their evil intentions, but, with
characteristic cunning, they first moved against it under
the disguise of necessary emergency legislation, which was
enacted by the Reich Cabinet and which laid the groundwork
for the later enabling legislation placing all manner of
restrictions on usual Church activities. This was the first
and the decisive step, and once it had been taken, the fate
of the Christian Church was sealed; only time and the turn
of events remained for its fulfillment. In the entire Reich
Cabinet of that time, made up almost exclusively of men who
pretended to wear the badge of Christianity, only one (Baron
Eltz von Rubenach) stood up for the faith. So clear was the
intention of the Cabinet decrees that he had no hesitancy in
asserting that Nazism and Christianity could never be
reconciled. But for one Eltz von Rubenach, there were many
who were willing to play the Nazi game. For a mess of
political pottage, they denied their faith and handed to the
political leadership its first weapon for use against the
clergy. From these first steps, much of the hitherto
unexplained moral decadence of the times undoubtedly
springs. From these beginnings came the speedily declining
influence of the Church. The Nazis wanted it that way. In
their political philosophy there was no place for both
Caesar and God. Schirach and Rosenberg as Reichsleiter and
members of the Leadership Corps, together with countless
associates, hammered away at all spiritual forces - never by
a frontal attack but always from the flank, while the hounds
of the Leadership Corps carried out systematic slandering of
the clergy and constant undermining of sacred religious
practices. Soon the anti-clerical campaign was expanded to
the confiscation of Church properties, and in the later
years broke out into open suppression of religious education
and even of simple spiritual activities. There can be no
doubt as to the real attitude towards the Christian Church,
for it clearly appears in the organized espionage system
instituted against the clergy by the Gestapo and the SD. For
this shabby task, members of these two organizations were
carefully schooled in a deceitful course of conduct framed
to establish a record, as a later basis, for the complete
abolition of the Christian Church in Germany when the war
was over. Lying, falsification and entrapment were
fundamental methods for the building up of this fabricated
evidence. The Gestapo, not content with breaking up Church
organizations and prohibiting Church groups from social
gatherings, or with its task of preparing false testimony,
made wholesale arrests of clergymen, placed them in
protective custody, and finally lodged them in concentration
camps. From a programme of such basic evil, it was not to be
expected that the SS would remain aloof. Although heavily
occupied with wrong-doing all over Europe, it found time to
confiscate Church properties and monasteries on its own
responsibility, and had Catholic priests by the hundred
cruelly murdered in the Dachau concentration camp.

So some Christians and numberless Jews were united in a
community of suffering; and thus, in a strange arrangement
of circumstances, the Nazis who tried to destroy both may
have founded the beginnings of an understanding that can
grow best because it has survived the worst.

The concentration camp was the master weapon in the Nazi
arsenal of tyranny. To the SA belongs the disgrace of having
first established and maintained such camps, to which it
sent persons whom it had illegally arrested. Even SA meeting-
places were used for the confinement of potential opponents,
who were beaten and abused by SA men. SA members served as
guards of the State concentration camps during the first
months of the Nazi regime, and there applied the technique
of brutality which they had acquired in operating their own
illegal camps. Although

                                                  [Page 306]

the legal basis for protective custody was the extorted
decree of the Reich President for the protection of the
State in 1933, which suspended clauses of the Weimar
Constitution guaranteeing civil liberties to the German
people, the Reich Cabinet soon obliged with ready
legislation which made more expeditious the internment of
political enemies and other undesirables under the
concentration camp system. So interested in the
establishment of these camps were members of the Reich
Cabinet that Frick, Rosenberg and Funk, while serving in
that body, inspected them, and the Reich Cabinet budget set
aside 125 million Reichsmark for the SS and for the
management and maintenance of the concentration camps. In
order to achieve domination of the German people, the
concentration camp system was placed at the disposal of the
Leadership Corps, and it made use of the camps as a dumping-
ground for thousands of Jews who were apprehended under
Leadership Corps auspices during the pogroms of November,
1938. As shown by the affidavit of the defence witness Karl
Weiss, Gauleiter frequently put pressure upon the Gestapo to
commit political enemies to concentration camps or to
prevent their release in proper time.

The co-operating military men had a direct interest in the
concentration camp system; Soviet prisoners of war were sent
to concentration camps to be employed in the armament
industries of the Reich, and officers of the OKW worked out
with the Gestapo the plans for sending returned Soviet
prisoners of war to the concentration camp Mauthausen, where
they were put to death for honourable attempts to escape
from their captors.

But the two organizations which were most directly concerned
with and implicated in the concentration camp system were
the Gestapo and the SS. In the early days the concentration
camps were under the political direction of the Gestapo,
which issued orders for punishment to be inflicted upon the
inmates. The decree of 1936 declared that the Gestapo should
administer the concentration camps, but it was the SS which
furnished guards from the Death's Head Battalions, and
ultimately became responsible for all internal
administration of the camps. The Gestapo remained the sole
authority in the Nazi State empowered to commit political
prisoners to concentration camps, although the SD joined the
Gestapo in committing Poles who did not qualify for
Germanisation. The Gestapo sent thousands upon thousands of
persons to concentration camps for slave labour and shipped
millions of persons to annihilation centres for

The atrocities committed by the SS within the concentration
camps are in themselves adequate to convict the SS as a
criminal organization. The witness Hoess testified that
toward the end of the war approximately 35,000 members of
the Waffen SS were employed as guards in concentration

In his never-to-be-forgotten confession in this courtroom he
said that in Auschwitz alone, during the time he was
commandant, the SS exterminated 2,500,000 men, women, and
children by gassing and burning, and that another 500,000
died from starvation and disease, and among those killed
were 20,000 Soviet prisoners of war. When the SS did not
murder bedridden patients they drafted them for labour which
they could perform in their beds. It ordered woman prisoners
to be beaten by other prisoners, and, in its unrestrained
savagery, killed, maimed, and tortured inmates of
concentration camps by carrying out what were called medical
experiments, but which were in fact sojourns in sadism.

The concentration camp system was the heart of the Nazi
scheme for tyranny. Conditions in these camps were cruel,
because the Nazis required the force of fear to perpetuate
their hold over the common people. Behind every Nazi law and
decree stood the spectre of concentration camp confinement.
The agencies which created, maintained, directed and
utilized these camps were the organizations named in the

In addition to the crimes of waging aggressive war,
persecution of the Jews, forced labour, persecution of the
Churches, and concentration camps, which have been
considered, the indicted organizations participated in many
other crimes in

                                                  [Page 307]

aid of the conspiracy. The Leadership Corps was active in
destroying the free trade union movement, and the SA took
the initial direct action against the trade unionists. The
art treasures of Europe were seized and despoiled by the
Einsatzstab Rosenberg of the Leadership Corps in conjunction
with the Gestapo and the SD.

The SS carried out the vicious Germanisation programme under
which citizens of occupied territories were driven from
their homes and lands to make way for racial Germans. The
Gestapo and officers of the OKW conceived and carried out
the hellish "Night and Fog" Decree, by which hapless
civilians of occupied countries disappeared into the Reich,
never to be heard of again. Thus, by a crime of which only
the Nazis were capable, the awful anguish of relatives and
friends was added to wanton murder.

In no respect can the criminal activities of these
organizations be better illustrated than in the murderous
work of the Einsatz Groups of the Security Police and the
SD, which were first organized by the SS in September of
1938 in anticipation of the invasion of Czechoslovakia. With
their leaders drawn from the SD and the Gestapo and staffed
by members of the Waffen SS, they coordinated slaughter and
pillage with military manoeuvres, and reports of their
activities were forwarded to the Political Leaders through
the Reich Defence Commissioners. Even the SA participated in
these jackal anti-partisan expeditions in the East.

When the German armies broke into Czechoslovakia and Poland,
into Denmark and Norway, the Einsatz bandits followed, for
the purpose of striking down resistance, terrorizing the
population, and exterminating racial groups. So well did
these terror specialists do their work that four new units
were set up before the attack on the Soviet Union, one of
them headed by the infamous Chief of the SD Ohlendorf, who
testified in this courtroom to the incredible brutality of
his accomplishments, and to the shocking details of the
operations carried out in co-ordination with branches of the
Army. His testimony will be remembered for its cold account
of callous murder, enslavement and plunder, and most of all
for the horrible programme of destroying men, women, and
children of the Jewish race. Mankind will not soon forget
his sickening story of the murder of women and little
children in gas vans, nor of the evil, hardened killers
whose stomachs turned at the awful sight when they unlatched
the doors of the death cars at gravesides. These were the
men who sat at the edge of anti-tank ditches, cigarette in
mouth, calmly shooting their naked victims in the back of
the neck with their machine guns. These were the men who,
according to their own corpse accountants, murdered some two
million men, women and children. These were the men of the
SD. The organization chart of the Security Police and the SD
now before the Tribunal was prepared and certified to by SD
official Schellenberg, the Chief of Office VI of the RSHA,
and by SD official Ohlendorf, Chief of Office III of the
RSHA. This chart shows that these Einsatz Groups were an
integral part of the Security Police and SD under the
supreme command of the defendant Kaltenbrunner and not, as
has been argued, independent organizations responsible
directly to Himmler. The officers of these groups were drawn
from the Gestapo and the SD, and, to a lesser extent, from
the Criminal Police. They received their orders from the
various offices of the RSHA, that is, from Office III or VI
as to matters pertaining to the SD and from Office IV as to
matters pertaining to the Gestapo. They filed their reports
with these offices and these offices made up consolidated
reports which were distributed to higher police officials
and Reich Defence Commissioners, and several examples of
these have been introduced in the course of these

Counsel for the Gestapo argued that the Gestapo was
erroneously blamed for the crimes committed in the occupied
territories and that the SS was responsible for them.
Counsel for the SS said that the SS was erroneously blamed
and that the SD was to blame. Counsel for the SD said that
the SD was erroneously blamed and the Gestapo was really to
blame. Counsel for the SS said that the

                                                  [Page 308]

Gestapo also wore the feared black uniform and that
therefore Gestapo men were frequently mistaken for SS men.
Counsel for the SS blamed the Gestapo for the running of the
concentration camps, and counsel for the Gestapo blamed the
SS. The fact is that all of these executive agencies
participated in the commission of these vast Crimes Against
Humanity. Counsel do not point to any agencies other than
those indicted here as the guilty organizations; the defence
of each organization has been simply to fasten the
responsibility on one of the other indicted organizations.
The conclusion is irresistible: that all of the
organizations participated in the commission of these great

It is a strange feature of this Trial that counsel for the
respective organizations have not sought to deny these
crimes, but only to shift responsibility for their
commission. The military defendants blame the Political
Leaders for initiating wars of aggression; the Gestapo
blames the soldiers for the murder of escaped prisoners of
war; the SA blames the Gestapo for concentration camp
murders; the Gestapo blames the Leadership Corps for anti-
Jewish pogroms; the SS blames the Cabinet for the
concentration camp system; and the Cabinet blames the SS for
exterminations in the East.

The fact is that all of these organizations united in
carrying out the criminal programme of Nazi Germany. As they
complemented each other it is unnecessary to define as a
matter of precise proof the borders of their own devilry.
When the Reich Cabinet promulgated the decree for "securing
the unity of the Party and State," it insolubly bound those
organizations for good and evil. When the membership of
those organizations swore an unconscionable oath of
obedience to Hitler, they united themselves for all time
with him, his work, and his guilt.

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