The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Nazi Conspiracy & Aggression
Volume I Chapter IX
Launching of Wars of Aggression
(Part 1 of 14)

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The aggressive war phase of the case against the Nazi conspirators is, in the view of the American prosecution, the heart of the case. Everything else in this case, however dramatic, however sordid, however shocking and revolting to the common instinct of civilized peoples, is incidental or subordinate to, the fact of aggressive war.

All the dramatic story of what went on in Germany in the early phases of the conspiracy -- the ideologies used, the techniques of terror used, the suppressions of human freedom employed in the seizure of power, and even the concentration camps and the crimes against humanity, the persecutions, tortures and murders committed -- all these things would have had little international juridical significance except for the fact that they were the preparation for the commission of aggressions against peaceful neighboring peoples. Even the aspects of the case involving "war crimes" in the strict sense are merely the inevitable, proximate result of the wars of aggression launched and waged by these conspirators, and of the kind of warfare they waged. It was total war, the natural result of the totalitarian party- dominated state that waged it; it was atrocious war, the natural result of the doctrines, designs and purposes of the Nazi conspirators.

The substantive rule of law which is controlling on this part of the case is stated in Article 6 of the Charter of the International Military Tribunal, which, so far as is pertinent here, reads as follows:

"Article 6. The Tribunal established by the Agreement referred to in Article 1 hereof for the trial and punishment of the major war criminals of the European Axis countries shall have the power to try and punish persons who, acting in the interests of the European Axis countries, either as individuals or as members of organizations, committed any of the following crimes.

"The following acts, or any of them, are crimes coming within the jurisdiction of the Tribunal for which there shall be individual responsibility:

"(a) Crimes against peace: namely, planning, preparation, initiation or waging of a war of aggression, or a war in violation of international treaties, agreements or assurances, or participation in a common plan or conspiracy for the accomplishment of any of the foregoing ***"

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"Leaders, organizers, instigators and accomplices participating in the formulation or execution of a common plan or conspiracy to commit any of the foregoing crimes are responsible for all acts performed by any persons in execution of such plan."

Five important principles are contained in these portions of the Charter:

(1) The Charter imposes "individual responsibility" for acts constituting "crimes against peace";

(2) The term "Crimes against peace" embraces planning, preparation, initiation, or waging of illegal war;

(3) The term "Crimes against peace" also embraces participation in a common plan or conspiracy to commit illegal war;

(4) An illegal war consists of either a war of aggression, or a war in violation of international treaties, agreements, or assurances; (these two kinds of illegal war might not necessarily be the same; it will be sufficient for the prosecution to show either that the war was aggressive irrespective of breach of international treaties, agreements or assurances, or that the war was in violation of international treaties, agreements or assurances irrespective of whether or not it was a war of aggression; but the American prosecution will undertake to establish that the wars planned, prepared, initiated, and waged by the Nazi conspirators were illegal for both reasons);

(5) Individual criminal responsibility of a defendant is imposed by the Charter not merely by reasons of direct, immediate participation in the crime. It is sufficient to show that a defendant was a leader, an organizer, instigator, or accomplice who participated either in the formulation or in the execution of a common plan or conspiracy to commit crimes against peace. In this connection, the Charter declares that the responsibility of conspirators extends not only to their own acts but also to all acts performed by any persons in execution of the conspiracy.

It is familiar law in the United States that if two or more persons set out to rob a bank in accordance with a criminal scheme to that end, and in the course of carrying out their scheme one of the conspirators commits the crime of murder, all the participants in the planning and execution of the bank robbery are guilty of murder, whether or not they had any other personal participation in the killing. This is a simple rule of law declared in the Charter. All the parties to a common plan or conspiracy re the agents of each other and each is responsible as principal far the acts of all the others as his agents.

The documentary evidence assembled on this aggressive war

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aspect of the case will show the following:- (1) the conspiratorial nature of the planning and preparation which underlay the Nazi aggressions already known to history; (2) the deliberate premeditation which preceded those acts of aggression; (3) the evil motives which led to the attacks; (4) the individual participation of named persons in the Nazi conspiracy for aggression; (5) the deliberate falsification of the pretexts claimed by the Nazi aggressors as they arose for their criminal activities.

The critical period between the Nazi seizure of power and the initiation of the first war of aggression was very short. This critical period of illegal preparation and scheming, which ultimately set the whole world aflame, covered 6 years, from 1933 to 1939. Crowded into these 6 short years is the making of tragedy for mankind.

A full understanding of these 6 years, and the 6 years of war that followed, requires that this period be divided into phases that reflect the development and execution of the Nazi master plan. These phases may be said to be six. The first was primarily preparatory, although it did involve overt acts. That phase covers roughly the period from 1933 to 1936. In that period the Nazi conspirators, having acquired government control of Germany by the middle of 1933, turned their attention toward utilization of that control for foreign aggression. Their plan at this stage was to acquire military strength and political bargaining power to be used against other nations. In this they succeeded.

The second phase of their aggression was shorter. As the conspiracy gained strength it gained speed. During each phase the conspirators succeeded in accomplishing more and more in less and less time until toward the end of the period, the rate of acceleration of their conspiratorial movement was enormous. The second phase of their utilization of control for foreign aggression involved the actual seizure and absorption of Austria and Czechoslovakia, in that order. By March 1939 they had succeeded in this phase.

The third phase may be measured in months rather than years, from March to September 1939. The previous aggression being successful and having been consummated without the necessity of resorting to actual war, the conspirators had obtained much desired resources and bases and were ready to undertake further aggressions by means of war, if necessary. By September 1939 war was upon the world.

The fourth phase of the aggression consisted of expanding the war into a general European war of aggression. By April 1941 the war which had theretofore involved Poland, the United King-

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dom, and France, had been expanded by invasions into Scandinavia and into the Low Countries and into the Balkans.

In the next phase the Nazi conspirators carried the war eastward by invasion of the territory of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. The sixth phase consisted of collaboration with and instigation of their Pacific ally, Japan, and precipitated the attack on the United States at Pearl Harbor.

The essential elements of the crime of aggressive war can be made out by a mere handful of captured German documents. These documents will leave no reasonable doubt concerning the aggressive character of the Nazi war or concerning the conspiratorial premeditation of that war. After the corpus of the crime has been demonstrated in this way, the documentary evidence will be discussed in subsequent sections, in a more or less chronological and detailed presentation of the relevant activities of the conspirators from 1933 to 1941.

Each of the ten documents which will be discussed in this section has been selected to establish the basic facts concerning a particular phase of the development of the Nazi conspiracy for aggression. Each document has met three standards of selection: each is conspiratorial in nature; each is believed to have been hitherto unknown to history; and each is self-contained and tells it own story.

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