The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Nazi Conspiracy & Aggression
Individual Responsibility Of Defendants
Joachim von Ribbentrop
(Part 9 of 10)


[Page 509]

The sense of this seems to be that if they were-not lynched under the first scheme, by the crowd, then they were to be kept from prisoners of war, where they would be subject to the protecting power's intervention. And if the suspicion was confirmed, they would be handed over to the SD to be killed.

The conference reached a decision on what would be regarded as justifying lynch law:

"At a conference with Colonel von Brauchitsch, representing the C-in-C, Air Force, on the 6th of June, it was settled that the following actions were to be regarded as terror actions justifying lynch law:

"Low-level attacks with aircraft armament on the civilian population, single persons as well as crowds.

"Shooting our own men in the air who had bailed out.

"Attacks with aircraft armament on passenger trains in the public service.

"Attacks with aircraft armament on military hospitals, hospitals, and hospital trains, which are clearly marked with the Red Cross."

These were to be the subject of lynching and not, as Ribbentrop had suggested, the case of the bombing of a city.

In the latter part of this report there occurs a somewhat curious comment from Keitel:

"If one allows the people to carry out lynch law, it is difficult to enforce rules!

"Minister Director Berndt got out and shot the enemy aviator on the road. I am against legal procedure. It doesn't work out."

That is signed by Keitel.

[Page 510]

The remarks of Jodl then appear:

"This conference is insufficient. The following points must be decided quite definitely in conjunction with the Foreign Office:

"1. What do we consider as murder?

"Is RR in agreement with point 3b?

"2. How should the procedure be carried out?

"a. By the people?

"b. By the authorities?

"3. How can we guarantee that the procedure be not also carried out against other enemy aviators?

"4. Should some legal procedure be arranged or not?

"Signed) Jodl" (735-PS) .

It is important to note that Ribbentrop and the Foreign Office were fully involved in these breaches of the laws and usages of war. The clarity with which the Foreign Office perceived that there were such violations is indicated by a document from the Foreign Office, approved of by Ribbentrop and transmitted by one of his officials, Ritter (728-PS). The approval of Ribbentrop is specifically stated in a memorandum of 30 June 1944 (740-PS). The Foreign Office document

"In spite of the obvious objections, founded on international law and foreign politics, the Foreign Office is basically in agreement with the proposed measures.

"In the examination of the individual cases, a distinction must be made between the cases of lynching and the cases of special treatment by the Security Service, SD.

"1. In the cases of lynching, the precise establishment of the circumstances deserving punishment, according to points of the communication of 15 June, is not very essential. First, the German authorities are not directly responsible, since death had occurred before a German official became concerned with the case. Furthermore, the accompanying circumstances will be such that it will not be difficult to depict the case in an appropriate manner upon publication. Hence, in cases of lynching, it will be of primary importance correctly to handle the individual case upon publication.

"2. The suggested procedure for special treatment by the S.D., including subsequent publication, would be tenable only if Germany, on this occasion, simultaneously would openly repudiate the commitment of International Law, presently in force, and still recognized by Germany. When an enemy aviator is seized by the Army or by the Police, and is delivered to the Air Forces (P.W.) Reception Camp Oberursel,

[Page 511]

he has received, by this very fact, the legal status of a prisoner of war.

"The Prisoner of War Treaty of 27 July 1929 establishes definite rules on the prosecution and sentencing of the Prisoner of War, and the execution of the death penalty, as for example in Article 66: Death sentences may be carried out only three months after the protective power has been notified of the sentence; in Article 63: a prisoner of war will be tried only by the same courts and under the same procedure as members of the German Armed Forces. These rules are so specific, that it would be futile to try to cover up any violation of them by clever wording of the publication of an individual incident. On the other hand the Foreign Office cannot recommend on this occasion a formal repudiation of the Prisoner of War Treaty.

"An emergency solution would be to prevent suspected fliers from ever attaining a legal Prisoner of War status, that is, that immediately upon seizure they be told that they are not considered Prisoners of War but criminals; that they would not be turned over to the agencies having jurisdiction over Prisoners of War; hence not go to a Prisoner of War Camp, but that they would be delivered to the authorities in charge of the prosecution of criminal acts and that they would be tried in a summary proceeding. If the evidence at the trial should reveal that the special procedure is not applicable to a particular case, the fliers concerned may subsequently be given the status of Prisoner of War by transfer to the Air Forces (P.W.) Reception Camp Oberursel.

"Naturally, not even this expedient will prevent the possibility that Germany will be accused of the violation of existing treaties, and maybe not even the adoption of reprisals upon German prisoners of war. At any rate this solution would enable us clearly to define our attitude, thus relieving us of the necessity of openly having to renounce the present agreements or of the need of having to use excuses, which no one would believe, upon the publication of each individual case."

*******

"It follows from the above, that the main weight of the action will have to be placed on lynchings. Should the campaign be carried out to such an extent that the purpose, to wit 'the deterrence of enemy aviators', is actually achieved, which goal is favored by the Foreign Office, then the strafing attacks by enemy fliers upon the civilian populations must

[Page 512]

be stressed in a completely different propagandist manner than heretofore." (728-PS).

Those words show clearly Ribbentrop's point of view:

"Ambassador Ritter has advised us by telephone on 29 June that the Minister for Foreign Affairs has approved this draft." (740-PS)

Thus, on the treatment of aviators, Ribbentrop furthered the deliberate adoption of a procedure evading International Law.


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