The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Nazi Conspiracy & Aggression
Volume I, Preface
(Part 2 of 4)


It is important that it be clearly understood what this collection of documents is not. In the first place, it is neither an official record nor an unofficial transcript of the trial proceedings. It is not designed to reproduce what has taken place in court. It is merely the documentary evidence prepared by the American and British prosecuting staffs, and is in no wise under the sponsorship of the Tribunal. It is presented in the belief that this collection containing the full text of the documents, classified under appropriate subjects, may be more useful to students of the Nurnberg trial than the official record, when prepared, may be.

The reason for this goes back to the first few days of the trial, when the Tribunal ruled that it would treat no written matter as in evidence unless it was read in full, word by word, in court. The purpose of the ruling was to enable the documentary material which the American and British staffs had translated from German into English to be further translated into Russian and French through the simultaneous interpreting system in the courtroom. The consequence, however, was to enforce upon the American and British prosecution the task of trimming their evidence drastically unless the trial was to be protracted to an unconscionable length.

Counsel therefore had to content themselves in most instances with introducing, by reading verbatim, only the most vital parts of the documents relied upon. Only these evidentiary minima appear in the daily transcript, and presumably, since no more is officially in evidence under the Tribunal's ruling, no more can properly be included in the official record. It has frequently been the case, furthermore, that different parts of certain documents were read in proof of different allegations, and hence are scattered throughout the transcript. American counsel, in several instances read only sketchy portions of some documents, leaving other portions, at the request of the French and Soviet dele-

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gations, to be read later as a part of their case. Still other portions of the same document will undoubtedly be read later on by the defense. It is an unavoidable consequence that the transcript itself will be a thing of shreds and patches, and that any comprehensive and orderly notion of the documentary evidence must e obtained elsewhere. The documentary excerpts, when accompanied by the explanation of the trial counsel, are of course sufficient for the trial and for the judgement of the Tribunal. But the purposes of historians and scholars will very likely lead them to wish to examine the documents in there entirety. It is to those long-range interests that these volumes are in the main addressed.

Secondly, this collection of documents is not the American case. It is at once more and less than that. It is less, because it o course cannot include the captured motion picture and still photographic evidence relied upon, and because it contains only a few of the organizational charts and visual presentation exhibits utilized at the trial. It is more, because although it does contain alI the evidence introduced either in part or in whole by the American staff in proof of Count I, it also includes many documents not introduced into evidence at all. There were various reasons for not offering this material to the Tribunal: the documents were cumulative in nature, better documents were available on the same point, or the contents did not justify the time required for reading. (The document index at the end of Volume VIII is marked to indicate which documents were introduced, either in whole or in part, in evidence.)

Of more than 800 American documents so far introduced in evidence, a small number were received through judicial notice or oral summarization, while some 500 were read, in part or in whole, in court. Approximately 200 evidence in the first few days of the trial, under an earlier ruling of the Tribunal which admitted documents without reading, an merely on filing with the court after proof of authenticity. Of the documents not now in evidence and thus not before the Tribunal for consideration in reaching its decision, many have been turned over to the French and Soviet prosecuting staffs an, by the time these volumes are published, will have been introduced in the course of their cases. Others will have been put before the Tribunal by the American case in rebuttal or utilized in crossexamining witnesses called by the defense.

This publication includes a series of affidavits prepared under the direction of Col. John Harlen Amen, chief of the OCC Interrogation Division. Those which were introduced into evidence are listed among the documents in the PS series. A number of affidavits which were not offered to the Tribunal are printed in a

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separate section at the end of the document series. Affidavits of the latter type were prepared in an attempt to eliminate surprise by delineating clearly the testimony which the affiant might be expected to give in court, should it be decided to call him as a witness. In the case of the affiants who testified in court, their affidavitS represent a substantially accurate outline of their testimony on direct examination. Others of the affiants may, by the time of publication, have been called as rebuttal witnesses for the prosecution. In addition, there are included selected statements of certain defendants and prisoners written to the prosecutors from prison.

It should be mentioned in this connection that as a result of many months of exhaustive questioning of the defendants, prisoners of war, and other potential witnesses, the Interrogation Division has harvested approximately 15,000 typewritten pages of valuable and previously unavailable information on a variety of subjects. These extensive transcripts represent approximately 950 individual interrogations and are presently being edited and catalogued in Nurnberg so that the significant materials may be published in a useful form and within a manageable scope, as a supplement to these present volumes.

This collection also includes approximately 200 documents obtained and processed by the British prosecuting staff, known as the British War Crimes Executive, and presented in substantiation of Count II of the Indictment, which the British delegation assumed the responsibility of proving. It seems altogether fitting that these documents should be included in these volumes since, in proving illegal acts of aggression, they naturally supplement the American documents proving the illegal conspiracy to commit aggression. The American prosecuting staff is grateful to Sir Dand Maxwell- Fyfe, the British Deputy Chief Prosecutor from whom and from the goodly company of whose associates there has ever been the most generous cooperation, for consent to the publication of the British documents by the United States Government.

Under the division of the case agreed on by the Chief Prosecutors of the four Allied nations, the French and Soviet delegates are responsible for the presentation of evidence bearing on the proof of Count III (War Crimes) and Count IV (Crimes against humanity) of the Indictment. The French case will concern itself with these crimes when committed in the West, while the Russian evidence will concern the commission of these crimes in the East. None of the documents obtained by these two prosecuting nations are included in these volumes. The reason is that, this writing, the French case has just commenced and the e case will not be reached for several weeks. Since one of

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the objects of this undertaking is to acquaint the American public at the earliest opportunity with the character of the evidence produced by its representatives, there seems no justification in delaying publication until the close of the French and Russian cases, when all the prosecution documents will be available. As is indicated by the title of these present volumes, Nazi Conspiracy and Aggression, this collection relates only to Counts I and II of the Indictment, or one-half of the prosecution case. It is to be hoped, however, that supplementary volumes containing the French and Soviet documents may be published at a later time.

Finally, this collection, by its nature limited to a part of the prosecution case, does not of course purport to present the whole story of the evidence adduced at Nurnberg. The evidence and arguments of defense counsel will not be presented for some time, and the text of these matters will, if possible, be included in any additional volumes, which it may become possible to publish.

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