The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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Could I have been the friend of the Dutch, the overwhelming
majority of whom were against my countrymen, who, in turn,
were fighting for their existence? My only regret is that I
did not go to the country as a friend. But I was neither a
hangman nor, of my own will, a plunderer, as the Soviet
prosecution contends. My conscience is untroubled with
regard to that as the biological condition of the Dutch
people during the period of my full responsibility - that
is, up to the middle of 1944 - was better than in the First
World War, when Holland was neither occupied nor blockaded.
This is evidenced by the statistics of marriages and births
and by the mortality and illness figures. This is certainly
largely to be attributed to the effects of a number of
measures instituted by me, for example, an

                                                  [Page 406]

extensive health insurance, contributions to married couples
and children, graduation of the income tax according to
social position, etc. Finally, I did not carry out the order
to destroy the country, which was issued to me, and, on my
own initiative, I put an end to the occupation for defence
purposes when resistance in Holland had become senseless.

I have two more statements regarding Austria.

If the Germans in Austria wish their common destiny with the
Germans in the Reich to become a reality, then no
authoritarian obstacle ought to be opposed to this wish, nor
scope given for interference by non-German forces in this
decision. Otherwise, the whole German people would follow
the most radical trend towards Anschluss without considering
how the rest of the political programme of such a movement
might be constituted.

Secondly, on the question of the effectiveness of provisions
of International Law during a war: From the point of view of
her own interest Germany cannot desire any war. She must
even see to it that no weapons are forced into her hands.
The -other nations do not want a war, either, but the
possibility of one is not absolutely out of the question
unless nations abhor it. It is, therefore, wrong to try to
minimize a future war and reduce the defensive forces in the
nations by creating the impression that a future world war
could in some way be kept within the framework of the Hague
Conventions on Land Warfare, or some other international

And now I probably still owe an explanation regarding my
attitude to Adolf Hitler. Since he saw the measure of all
things only in himself, did he prove himself incapable of
fulfilling a decisive task for the German people, indeed,
for Europe itself, or was he a man who struggled, although
in vain, even to the point of committing unimaginable
excesses, against the course of an inexorable fate? To me he
remains the man who made Greater Germany a fact in German
history. I served him and remained loyal to him. I cannot
today cry "Crucify him," when yesterday I cried "Hosanna."

Finally I thank my counsel for the care and circumspection
he has employed in my defence.

My last words express the principle by which I have always
acted and to which I will hold to my last breath: "I believe
in Germany."

THE PRESIDENT: I call on the defendant Albert Speer.

DEFENDANT SPEER: Mr. President, may it please the Tribunal:
Hitler and the collapse of his system have brought a time of
tremendous suffering upon the German people. The useless
continuation of this war and the unnecessary destruction
make the work of reconstruction more difficult. Privation
and misery have come to the German people. After this trial,
the German people will despise and condemn Hitler as the
proved author of its misfortune. But the world will learn
from these happenings not only to hate dictatorship as a
form of government, but to fear it.

Hitler's dictatorship differed in one fundamental point from
all its predecessors in history. His was the first
dictatorship in the present period of modern technical
development, a dictatorship which made a complete use of all
technical means in a perfect manner for the domination of
its own country.

Through technical devices like the radio and the
loudspeaker, eighty million people were deprived of
independent thought. It was thereby possible to subject them
to the will of one man. The telephone, teletype and radio
made it possible, for instance, that orders from the highest
sources could be transmitted directly to the lowest ranking
units, by whom, because of the high authority, they were
carried out without criticism. From this it resulted that
numerous offices and headquarters were directly attached to
the supreme leadership, from which they received their
sinister orders directly. Another result was the far-
reaching supervision of the citizens of the State and the
maintenance of a high degree of secrecy for criminal events.

                                                  [Page 407]

Perhaps to the outsider this machinery of the State may
appear like the cables of a telephone exchange - apparently
without system. But, like the latter, it could be served and
dominated by one single will.

Earlier dictators during their work of leadership needed
highly qualified assistants, even at the lowest level, men
who could think and act independently. The totalitarian
system in the period of modern technical development can
dispense with them; the means of communication alone make it
possible to mechanize the lower leadership. As a result of
this there arises the new type of the uncritical recipient
of orders.

We had only reached the beginning of the development. The
nightmare of many a man that one day nations could be
dominated by technical means was all but realized in
Hitler's totalitarian system.

Today the danger of being terrorized by technocracy
threatens every country in the world. In modern dictatorship
this appears to me inevitable. Therefore, the more technical
the world becomes, the more necessary is the promotion of
individual freedom and the individual's awareness of himself
as a counterbalance.

Hitler not only took advantage of technical developments to
dominate his own people - he nearly succeeded, by means of
his technical lead, in subjugating the whole of Europe. It
was merely due to a few fundamental shortcomings of
organization, such as are typical in a dictatorship because
of the absence of criticism, that he did not have twice as
many tanks, aircraft, and submarines before 1942.

But if a modern industrial State utilizes its intelligence,
its science, its technical developments and its production
for a number of years in order to gain a lead in the sphere
of armament, then, even with a sparing use of its manpower,
it can, because of its technical superiority, completely
overtake and conquer the world, if other nations should
employ their technical abilities during that same period
only on behalf of the cultural progress of humanity.

The more technical the world becomes, the greater this
danger will be, and the more serious will be an established
lead in the technical means of warfare.

This war ended with remote-controlled rockets, aircraft with
the speed of sound, new types of submarines, torpedoes which
find their own targets, with atom bombs, and with the
prospect of a horrible kind of chemical warfare.

Of necessity the next war will be overshadowed by these new
destructive inventions of the human mind.

In five to ten years the technique of warfare will make it
possible to fire rockets from continent to continent with
uncanny precision. By atomic fission it can destroy one
million people in the centre of New York in a matter of
seconds with a rocket manned, perhaps, by only ten men,
invisible, without previous warning, faster than sound.
Science is able to spread pestilence among human beings and
animals and to destroy crops by insect warfare. Chemistry
has developed terrible weapons with which it can inflict
unspeakable suffering upon helpless human beings.

Will there ever again be a nation which will use the
technical discoveries of this war for the preparation of a
new war, while the rest of the world is employing the
technical progress of this war for the benefit of humanity,
thus attempting to create a slight compensation for its

As a former minister of a highly developed armament system,
it is my last duty to say the following:

A new large-scale war will end with the destruction of
human culture and civilization. Nothing prevents unconfined
technique and science from completing the work of
destroying human beings, which it has begun in so dreadful
a way in this war.

Therefore, this Trial must contribute towards preventing
such degenerate wars in the future and towards establishing
rules whereby human beings can live together.

                                                  [Page 408]

Of what importance is my own fate after everything that has
happened in comparison with this high goal?

During the past centuries the German people have contributed
much towards the creation of human civilization. Often they
have made these contributions in times when they were just
as powerless and helpless as they are today. Worthwhile
human beings will not let themselves be driven to despair.
They will create new, lasting values and, under the
tremendous pressure brought to bear upon everyone today,
these new works will be of particular greatness.

But if the German people create new cultural values in the
unavoidable period of their poverty and weakness - but at
the same time in the period of their reconstruction - then
they will, in that way, make the most valuable contribution
to world events which their position allows them to.

It is not war alone which shapes the history of humanity,
but also, in a higher sense, the cultural achievements which
one day will become the common property of all humanity. But
a nation which believes in its future will never perish. May
God protect Germany and the culture of the West.

THE PRESIDENT: I call upon defendant Constantin von Neurath.

DEFENDANT VON NEURATH: Firm in the conviction that truth and
justice will prevail before this High Tribunal over all
hatred, slander and misrepresentation, I believe that I
should add only this one thing to the words of my defence
counsel: My life was consecrated to truth and honour, to the
maintenance of peace and the reconciliation of nations, to
humanity and justice. I stand with a good conscience not
only as regards myself, but before history and the German

If, in spite of this, the Tribunal should find me guilty, I
shall be able to bear even this and regard it as a last
sacrifice on behalf of my people, to serve whom was the
substance and purpose of my life.

THE PRESIDENT: I call upon the defendant Hans Fritzsche.

DEFENDANT FRITZSCHE: May it please the Tribunal: The Chief
Prosecutors in their final speeches have repeated several of
the accusations against me, although in my opinion they were
clearly refuted by the evidence.

I have summarized some of these points in writing. I do not
propose to read them. If it is not contrary to the rules of
this Tribunal and if it please the Tribunal, then I shall
request that they take judicial notice of this summary,
which amounts to six pages. They are available in

I should not like to waste the great opportunity for the
final word in this Trial by enumerating details, all of
which can be found in the transcripts and documents. I must
turn to the sum total of all the crimes, since the
prosecution alleges that I was connected with all these
crimes through a conspiracy.

To this charge I can only say that if I had spread the kind
of propaganda in my radio talks which the prosecution now
accuses me of, if I had advocated the doctrine of the master
race, if I had preached hatred against other nations, if I
had incited people to wars of aggression, acts of violence,
murder, and inhumanity, if I had done all that, then,
gentlemen of the Tribunal, the German nation would have
turned from me and would have repudiated the system for
which I spoke.

If I had done this merely in a disguised form, my listeners
would have noticed it and repudiated it.

But the misfortune lies precisely in the fact that I did not
advocate all the doctrines and ideas which were secretly
guiding the actions of Hitler and a small circle, according
to the testimony of the witnesses Hoess, Reinecke and
Morgen, among others, and are now slowly emerging from the
mist in which they were hidden.

I believed in Hitler's assurances of a sincere desire for
peace. Thereby I strengthened the trust of the German people
in them.
                                                  [Page 409]

I believed in the official German denials of all foreign
reports of German atrocities. And with my belief I
strengthened the belief of the German people in the
uprightness of the German State leadership.

That is my guilt, no more, no less.

The Prosecutors have expressed the horror of their nations
at the atrocities which occurred. They did not expect any
good from Hitler, and they are shattered by the extent of
what really happened. But try for a moment to understand the
indignation of those who expected good from Hitler and who
then saw how their trust, their good will, and their
idealism were misused. I find myself in the position of a
man who has been deceived, together with many, many other
Germans, of whom the prosecution says that they could have
recognized all that happened from the smoke rising from the
chimneys of the concentration camps, or from the mere sight
of the prisoners, and so on.

I feel that it is a great misfortune that the prosecution
has pictured these matters in such a way as if all of
Germany had been a tremendous den of iniquity. It is a
misfortune that the prosecution is generalizing the extent
of the crimes, which are in themselves horrible enough. But
opposed to this I must say that if anyone once believed in
Hitler during the years of peaceful reconstruction, he only
needed to be loyal, courageous and self-sacrificing to go on
believing in him, until, by the discovery of carefully
hidden secrets, he could recognize the devil in him. This is
the only explanation for the struggle which Germany carried
on for sixty-eight months. Such a willingness to sacrifice
does not grow from crime, but only from idealism and good
faith, as well as from clever and apparently honest

I regret that the prosecution has undertaken to generalize
the crimes, because it is bound to add still more to the
mountain of hatred which exists in the world. But the time
has come to interrupt the perpetual cycle of hatred which
has dominated the world up to now. It is high time to call a
halt to the alternate sowing and reaping of new harvests of
hatred. Finally, the murder of five million people is an
awful warning, and today humanity possesses the technical
means for its own destruction. Therefore, in my judgment,
the prosecution should not replace one hatred by another.

I have a right to say this with a clear conscience, because
I have not preached hatred, as the prosecution asserted, nor
have I closed the door to pity. On the contrary, many times,
even in the middle of the bitterest struggle, I have raised
the voice of humanity. This is proved by the vast majority
of my speeches, which one can compare at any time with the
statements of my enemies. Even if my addresses could not be
submitted here before the Tribunal, they cannot have simply
vanished from this earth.

It is perfectly possible, perhaps even understandable, that
the storm of indignation which swept the world because of
the atrocities which were committed might sweep away the
limits of individual responsibility. If that happens, if
collective responsibility is to be attached even to those
who were misused in good faith, your Honours, I beg you to
hold me responsible. As my defence counsel has emphasized, I
do not hide behind the millions who acted in good faith and
were misused. I place myself before those for whom my good
faith was once an additional guarantee of the purity of
purpose of the system. But this responsibility of mine only
applies for those who acted in good faith, not for those who
originated, assisted in, or knew of these atrocities,
beginning with murder and ending with the selection of
living human beings for anatomical collections.

Between these criminals and myself there is only one
connection: they merely misused me in a different way to
which they misused those who became their physical victims.

It may be difficult to separate German crime from German
idealism. It is not impossible. If this distinction is made,
much suffering will be avoided for Germany and for the

                                                  [Page 410]

THE PRESIDENT: The Tribunal will carefully consider the
statements which the defendants have made.

The Tribunal is now about to adjourn for the consideration
of its judgment. Before doing so, the Tribunal wishes to
express its appreciation of the way in which counsel for the
prosecution and counsel for the defence have performed their

The Tribunal has been informed that the defendants' counsel
have been receiving letters from Germans improperly
criticizing their conduct as counsel in these proceedings.
The Tribunal will protect counsel in so far as it is
necessary so long as the Tribunal is in session, and it has
no doubt that the Control Council will protect them
thereafter against such attacks. In the opinion of the
Tribunal, defence counsel have performed an important public
duty in accordance with the high traditions of the legal
profession, and the Tribunal thanks them for their

The Tribunal will now adjourn until 30th September, in order
to consider its judgment. On that date the judgment will be
announced. If any postponement should be necessary, due
notice will be given.

(The Tribunal adjourned until the 30th of September, 1946,
at 1000 hours.)

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