The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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Last-Modified: 2001/03/01

THE PRESIDENT: M. Champetier de Ribes, I think you can
hardly finish your speech before the adjournment. I think
perhaps we had better adjourn now.

(A recess was taken until 1400 hours.)

M. CHAMPETIER DE RIBES: Mr. President and gentlemen, the
defence submits a second argument.

The organizations, it says, were independent and did not
know each other. Some were subject to the State, others to
the Party; and State and Party exerted their activity in
different domains. Within the organizations themselves,
watertight compartments divided the various sections
composing them, and acted quite independently. At the risk
of sacrificing the most compromised cells, the defence
counsel are trying to clear from responsibility the greatest
possible number of these supposedly isolated groups.

But this argument is contradicted by all we know of the
general organization of the Reich's administrative services.
In establishing the personal responsibility of each
individual defendant, M. Dubost showed that the close
interlocking of the organizations and the services is beyond

The National Socialist State was totalitarian. Its officials
as well as its services derived their inspiration from a
common ideology and pursued common aims. Unity of action was
ensured by the penetration of the Party, the expression of
the political will of the people throughout the whole State

In their writings this unification of State and Party was
realized by the law of 1st December, 1933: "The National
Socialist Party has become the representative of the
conception of the German State and is indissolubly bound to
the State."

Public services had to co-operate with the Party services.

In fact, this interpenetration and unification of State and
Party was realized by the concentration in the same hands of
the powers emanating from both.

Hitler was simultaneously head of the State, the Army and
the Party.

Himmler, chief of the SS, which was subject to the Party,
was simultaneously head of the police, which was subject to
the State.

The Gauleiter, Party officials, in most cases also
represented the State in their capacity of governors of the
Reich or Chief Administrators of Prussia.

The Chief of the Party Chancery had a part in the
elaboration of important laws and in appointing higher State

The law of 7th April, 1933, provided for the purging of
State officials suspected of insufficient devotion to the
Party, and we know with what brutality this purging was
carried out in the High Command.

Thus, in their acts as in their writings, the
interdependence of State, Party and Army was realized to the
utmost extent, and in the sum total of their activity it is
impossible to distinguish what share of responsibility
belongs to the one or to the other.

                                                  [Page 337]

Is it necessary to give examples of this? We have already
furnished many, and fear to weary the Tribunal.

Will it suffice to recall the close co-operation between the
Gestapo, the SD, the SS and the Army in the common
elaboration of general instructions and in the execution of
operations against resistance forces, reprisals against
civil populations and the extermination of the Jews?

Do we not find a convincing proof of it in Hitler's
instruction of 30th July, 1944, which has frequently been

  "All acts of violence committed by non-German civilians
  in the occupied territories against the 'Wehrmacht' the
  SS and the police and against the installations which
  they use, must, as acts of terror or sabotage, be fought
  in the following way:

     (a) The troops and each individual member of the
     Wehrmacht, SS and police must kill on the spot
     terrorists and saboteurs caught in the act.
     (b) Anyone caught afterwards must be transferred to the
     nearest local station of the Security Police and the
     Security Service ... "

By mentioning the Wehrmacht, the SS and the police three
times, side by side, does not Hitler stress the close co-
operation existing between these organizations?

Is it necessary to recall once more Keitel's numerous
instructions, Marshal Kesselring's order of 14th January,
1944, and General von Brodowski's diary of operations, which
place the Army at the disposal of the police or the police
at the disposal of the Army for the savage repression of the
actions of the resistance forces?

Is it necessary to recall Keitel's orders to the commanding
generals in France, Holland and Belgium - that the Army
should be made to participate in the pillage of art
treasures organized and directed by Rosenberg?

Did not the witness Hoffmann - quoted by the Gestapo -
declare to the Tribunal on 1st August that the "Nacht and
Nebel" Decree was the work of the collaboration between the
High Command and the Ministry of Justice?

The defence therefore tries in vain to lessen these
responsibilities by dividing them between the State and the
Party agencies, between the so-called independent

It is no more successful when it tries to establish the
existence of watertight compartments separating, within the
same organization, the various sections composing it. For
example, whom does it expect to believe that the
administrative officials of the SD (Security Police) and of
the Gestapo were unaware of the vast scale of the
deportations, when they had to solve the difficult problem
of arranging the convoys; or that the offices of supply
could fail to know of the exterminations carried out by
chemical means, when they had to repair the gas vans?

In fact, all the departments of the Gestapo, the SD, the SS.
and the High Command, are jointly responsible for the crimes
committed in common; and what is true of these organizations
is true also of the Reich Cabinet and the political chiefs,
as has been shown by my honourable colleagues of the

Are organizers less guilty than those who committed the
deeds; is the brain less responsible than the arm?

We therefore consider we have proved the joint culpability
of all those organizations which we request you to declare
as criminal.

Does that mean that our purpose is to obtain from the
competent tribunals the most severe sentences against all
members of these organizations?

Certainly not. In requesting of your justice the moral
condemnation of the organizations, without which the crimes
of National Socialism could not have been perpetrated, we
are not asking you to condemn without hearing men who, on
the contrary, can plead their case in person before you.

Moreover, although the Charter of your Tribunal decrees that
"in cases where a group or organization is declared criminal
by the Tribunal ... its criminal nature is. considered
proved and shall not be questioned," is does not say

                                                  [Page 338]

that all members of such groups or organizations must be
arraigned before competent authorities, and in our opinion
only those should be prosecuted who, having knowledge of the
criminal activity of the group or organization, deliberately
joined it, thus participating personally in the crimes
committed by all collectively.

We think, on the other hand, that in the interest of
impassive justice, and in the hope of universal
pacification, the penalties must be made proportionate to
the gravity of the offences charged, and that if the most
severe penalties are justly attendant upon the crimes of
which a member of an organization is found personally
guilty, mere affiliation, even voluntary, to one of these
groups should only be punished by penalties involving loss
of freedom or even only by loss of all or some civil or
political rights.

If the Tribunal shares this opinion, nothing in the Charter
prohibits it from saying so in whatever form it deems most

Your verdict therefore will not be, as Dr. Steinbauer seemed
to fear in his final pleading for Seyss-Inquart, the
conclusion of a "trial of the vanquished by the victor." It
will be the solemn and calm manifestation of eternal

In this same final pleading, in an attempt to contrast the
words of M. de Menthon with the attitude of one of the most
heroic chiefs of the French Resistance, who has since become
President of the Government of the Republic, Dr. Steinbauer
recalled M. Georges Bidault's words while visiting severely
wounded German after the liberation. "Comrades," he said to
them, "I wish you a speedy recovery and a happy return to
your country."

Seyss-Inquart's defence counsel was wrong. There is no
contradiction between the words of Francois de Menthon and
those of Georges Bidault, and French people, just as, I am
sure, the free citizens of the United Nations, all agree to
reconcile the severity necessary for the culprits with pity
for those who, perhaps were only the victims.

In declaring the collective organizations criminal in order
to enable the competent authorities to punish the guilty -
but only the guilty - in solemnly reminding the world that
before the arbitrary rule of men and governments a moral law
existed, imposing itself on public figures as well as on
private persons, on nations as well as individuals, and
which it is criminal to violate, your sentence will
contribute powerfully to the great work of universal
pacification which is being undertaken in the organization
of the United Nations, as well as at the Peace Conference,
in New York as well as in Paris, by the representatives of
the free peoples "in the great expectation of plain men of
upright heart."


GENERAL R. A. RUDENKO: Your Lordship, your Honours: We have
now come to the final stage of the Trial which has been
carried out with exceptional care and with great skill. The
prosecution has already presented exhaustive proofs in the
individual cases of the major war criminals now in the dock.
We too fully support the charges against the criminal
organizations - the Government of Fascist Germany, the
General Staff and the High Command of the German Armed
Forces, the Leadership Corps of the German National
Socialist Party, the State Secret Police (Gestapo), the
Security Detachments of the German National Socialist Party
(SS), the Security Service (SD), and the Storm Detachment

As has been established by legal proceedings, a gang of
conspirators was at the head of Hitler's Germany, which
seized all Government power and the administration of the
whole country.

A group of conspirators of this nature, acting in a State
with a population of many millions, at the centre of a huge
machinery of State, could not exist without a whole system
of subsidiary criminal organizations, connecting the
conspirators with the outlying districts, the leaders of the
high roads with the leaders of the

                                                  [Page 339]

streets and byways. Therefore, in Hitlerite Germany, a
network of organizations endowed with great powers worked
under the unceasing and immediate leadership of the
conspirators. These organizations were the Leadership Corps
of the NSDAP, the Gestapo, the SS, the SD, etc.

The law of 1933, according to which the machinery of the
Fascist Party was merged into the State machinery of
Hitler's Germany, was a public and legal recognition of the

To strengthen the union between the governing gang and the
organization, each of the conspirators acted several parts,
and their activities were manifold; Goering was a Minister,
a Commander of the Air Force, a Plenipotentiary for the Four-
Year Plan, Reichsleiter and the Supreme Leader of the SA;
Hess was a Minister, Hitler's Deputy in the Party and
General of the SS and SA; Rosenberg was Reichsleiter of the
National Socialist Party on questions of ideology and
foreign policy and Minister and Obergruppenfuehrer of SA,
etc. As Goering the Minister is inseparable from Goering the
Obergruppenfuehrer of SA, so the Gestapo and other criminal
organizations cannot be separated from Hitler's regime. We
can envision Hitlerite Germany without libraries, without
schools, even without hospitals, but Hitlerite Germany could
not have existed without the SS and the Gestapo.

Reflecting this political actuality the Charter of the
International Military Tribunal provides for two kinds of
participation in Hitler's criminal associations: Article 6
of the Charter refers to Participation in the Criminal
Conspiracy, and Articles 9-10 refer to the Participation in
the Criminal Organizations. Both standards are organically
and indissolubly connected, for they reflect, in terms of
penal legislation, that correlation and connection which
factually existed between the conspiracy and the
organizations in Hitlerite Germany.

Having closely connected these two forms of participation by
the Hitlerites in the international crimes - i.e.,
Participation in the Conspiracy and Participation in the
Organizations - the Charter of the International Military
Tribunal has established with full reason different criminal
legal consequences for one or the other form of

Participation in the conspiracy which, by its very nature,
cannot include any very considerable number of persons, is
provided for by the Charter as an independent criminal

On the other hand, the question of responsibility for
participation in the criminal organizations, comprising
hundreds of thousands of members, is solved by the Charter
in a different sense. Based entirely on principles of law
and justice, the Charter of the Tribunal leaves it to the
competence of the National Tribunals, associated with the
examination of the criminality of a large number of
individual persons, to determine the individual
responsibility of the members of the organization.

According to Article 10 of the Charter "if the Tribunal
considers one or another organization as criminal, the
National Courts have a right to prosecute separate
individuals for belonging to criminal organizations."

In accordance with the instructions of Article 10 of the
Charter, the Tribunals of USSR, USA, Great Britain and
France and of eighteen States which joined the London
Agreement may finally condemn, but they also have the right
to come to the conclusion that the defendant is not a member
of the organization at all, or only belongs to it as a
matter of form and was in fact far from the organization,
and on the strength of such a conclusion they may give a
verdict of acquittal. All these and allied questions were
and remained entirely within the competence of the National
Courts. These Courts are only limited in one principally and
profoundly important respect: If the International Tribunal
finds that the organization is criminal, the National Courts
can neither deny nor even contest the criminal character of
such an organization.

                                                  [Page 340]

This delimitation of the competence of the International
Tribunal and the National Courts is extremely important for
the understanding of the regulations of the Charter of the
Tribunal in connection with the criminal organizations.

Indeed, it is precisely because the Tribunal will only have
to decide the general question of the criminality of the
organization, and not separate questions about the
individual responsibility of these organizations, that the
Charter does not offer any hard and fast ideas concerning
the interpretation of the concept "organization" and in this
case it does not bind the Tribunal by any formal

The absence, in the Charter, of any detailed definition of a
criminal organization is, therefore, not an omission in the
Charter, but its basic position which follows from the above-
mentioned fact, consigning the elucidation of the
concreteness of these questions to the agencies of national
justice. Attempts therefore to demand some kind of definite
indication (voluntary membership, mutual information, etc.)
are not only unsupported by the Charter but differ from it
by their entire structure. The main and sole task presenting
itself to the Tribunal does not consist in similar
investigations, such as have been and will be dealt with by
the National Courts, but the establishing of one decisive
fact: whether by its criminal activities the organization
participated in the realization of the plan of Hitler's

It is precisely in compliance with this task that the
Charter defined the order of the proceedings for the
prosecution of organizations.

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