The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Nazi Conspiracy & Aggression
Volume I Chapter VII
Means Used by the Nazi Conspiractors in Gaining Control of the German State
(Part 22 of 55)

B. The Nazi conspirators used the legislative and judicial powers of the German Reich to terrorize all political opponents.

(1) They created a great number of new political crimes. The decree of 28 February 1933 punished the inciting of disobedience to orders given out by State or Reich Government authorities or the provocation of acts "contrary to public welfare." (1390-PS) A month later, in order to give themselves legal justification for murdering by judicial process their political enemies, the Nazi conspirators passed a law making the provisions of the above decree applicable retroactively to acts committed during the period from 31 January 1933 to 28 February 1933. (2654-PS)

Referring to these laws, the defendant Goering stated:

"Whoever in the future raises a hand against a representative of the National Socialist movement or of the State, must know that he will lose his life in a very short while. Furthermore, it will be entirely sufficient, if he is proven to have intended the act, or, if the act results not in a death, but only in an injury." (2494-PS)

On 21 March 1933 a decree was issued which provided for penitentiary imprisonment up to two years for possessing a uniform of an organization supporting the government of the Nationalist movement without being entitled thereto, or circulating a statement which was untrue or greatly exaggerated, or which was apt to seriously harm the welfare of the Reich or the reputation of the Government, or of the Party or organizations supporting the Government. (1652-PS)

The Nazi conspirators caused a law to be enacted punishing whoever undertook to maintain or form a political party other than the NSDAP. (1388-PS)

The Nazi conspirators enacted a law which made it a crime deliberately to make false or grave statements calculated to injure the welfare or the prestige of the Reich, or to circulate a statement manifesting a malicious or low-minded attitude toward leading personalities of the State or the Party. The law also applied to statements of this kind which were not made in public, provided the offender counted on his statements being eventually circulated in public. (1393-PS)

[Page 243]

In commenting on the above law, one of the leading Nazi conspirators, Martin Bormann, stated:

"Although it must absolutely be prevented that martyrs are created, one must take merciless action against such people, in whose attacks a bad character or attitude, decisively inimical to the State, can be recognized. For this purpose, I request the Gauleiters to report here briefly all crimes, which must absolutely be punished, and which have become known to the districts, regardless of the report to be made to the district attorney's office *******.

"The district and local leaderships are to be notified accordingly. However, if it should be decided from wherein this or that punishable case, that the miscreant is to be given a simple or strong reprimand by the court, I shall give the directive for the future, that the Districts are informed of the names of the persons.

"I therefore request, to see to it, that these compatriots be especially watched by the Ortsgruppen, and that it be attempted, to influence them in the National Socialist sense. Otherwise, it will be necessary to place the activities of such persons, who do not want to be taught, under exact control. In these cases, it will eventually be necessary, to notify the Secret State Police." (2639-PS)

On 24 April 1934 the Nazi conspirators passed a law imposing the death penalty for "any treasonable act." Included in the law was a declaration to the effect that the creating or organizing of a political party, or continuing of an existing one was a treasonable act. (2548-PS)

(2) By their interpretation and changes of the penal law, the Nazi conspirators enlarged their terroristic methods. After the enactment of these new political crimes, the Nazi conspirators introduced into the penal law the theory of punishment by analogy. This enabled them legally to punish any act injurious to their political interests even if no existing statute forbade it. The culpability of the act and the punishment was determined by the law most closely relating to or covering the act which was in force at the time. (1962- PS)

In interpreting this law, Dr. Guertner, Reich Minister of Justice, stated:

"National Socialism substitutes for the idea of formal wrong, the idea of factual wrong. *******Even without the threat of punishment, every violation of the goals toward which the community is striving is a wrong per se. As a

[Page 244]

result, the law ceases to be an exclusive source for the determination of right or wrong." (2549-PS)

Referring to the penal code of Nazi Germany, the defendant Frank stated in 1935:

"the National Socialist State is a totalitarian State, it makes no concessions to criminals, it does not negotiate with them; it stamps them out." (2552-PS)

The Nazi conspirators also revised the criminal law so that the State could, within one year after a decree in a criminal case had become final, apply for a new trial, and the application would be decided by members of a Special Penal Chamber appointed by Hitler personally. Thus, if a defendant should be acquitted in a lower court, the Nazi conspirators could rectify the situation by another trial. (2550-PS)

In direct contrast to the severity of the criminal law as it affected the general population of Germany, the Nazi conspirators adopted and endorsed a large body of unwritten laws exempting the police from criminal liability for illegal acts done under higher authority. This principle was described by Dr. Werner Best, outstanding Nazi lawyer, in the following terms:

"The police never act in a lawless or illegal manner as long as they act according to the rules laid down by their superiors up to the highest governing body. According to its nature, the police must only deal with what the government wants to know is being dealt with. What the Government wants to know is being dealt with by the police is the essence of the police law and is that which guides and restricts the actions of the police. As long as the police carry out the will of the Government, it is acting legally." (1852-PS)

The original plaintext version of part one or part two of this file is available via ftp.

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