The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Nazi Conspiracy & Aggression
Individual Responsibility Of Defendants

Martin Bormann

(Part 3 of 3)

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Bormann's broad powers over all political aspects of the war as a member of the Reich Cabinet and the Ministers' Council for the Defense of the Reich, and as executive head of the Party, were buttressed by the creation of the post of Secretary of the Fuehrer, to which he was appointed on 12 April 1943 (2981-PS). In that position Bormann participated in all Hitler's conferences and became involved in the planning of war crimes by his co-conspirators.

Even before April 1943, however, Bormann took part in planning the basic war policies of the conspiracy. Thus, on 16 July 1941, just three weeks after the invasion of USSR Territory, Bormann participated in a conference at Hitler's field headquarters with Goering, Rosenberg, Keitel, and Reich Minister Lammers. This conference resulted in the adoption of detailed plans for the enslavement, depopulation, and annexation of extensive territories in Russia and other countries of Eastern Europe. In his report on this conference, Bormann included numerous sug-

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gestions of his own for the effective execution of these plans. (L-221)

During subsequent years, Bormann took a prominent part in the implementation of this conspiratorial program. A conference on Eastern Territories between Hitler, Rosenberg, Lammers, and Bormann on 8 May 1942, concerned inter alia the suppression of religious freedom, the forceable resettlement of Dutch peasants in Latvia, the extermination program in Russia, and the economic exploitation of Eastern Territories (1520-PS). Rosenberg and Bormann corresponded concerning the confiscation of property, especially art treasures, in the East (072-PS; 071-PS). A secret Bormann letter of 11 January 1944 discussed large-scale organization for the withdrawal of commodities from occupied territories for the use of the bombed-out population in Germany. (061-PS; see also 327-PS)

At the same time, Bormann issued a series of orders establishing Party jurisdiction over the treatment of prisoners of war, especially when employed as forced labor (232-PS). In the exercise of that jurisdiction, he called for excessively harsh and brutal treatment of Allied Prisoners of War. Bormann issued instructions on 5 November 1941 prohibiting decent burials with religious ceremonies for Russian Prisoners of War (D-163). A Bormann circular of 25 November 1943 demanded harsher treatment of prisoners of war-and the fuller utilization of their man-power (228-PS). In a secret circular transmitting OKH instructions of 29 January 1943, Bormann provided for the enforcement of labor demands on Prisoners of War through the use of fire-arms and corporal punishment. (656-PS)

These instructions issued by Bormann culminated in the decree of 30 September 1944, signed by him. This decree took jurisdiction over all prisoners of war out of the hands of the OKW, handed them over to the control of Himmler, and provided that all prisoner of war camp commanders should be under the orders of the local SS Commanders (058-PS). Through this order, Himmler was enabled to proceed with his program of extermination of Prisoners of War. Bormann also bears part of the responsibility for the organized lynching of Allied airmen. As early as March 1940 Hess had ordered all Party leaders to instruct the civilian population to "arrest or liquidate" all bailed-out allied fliers (062-PS). In order to assure the success of this scheme Bormann issued a secret circular prohibiting any police measure or criminal proceedings against civilians who had lynched British or American fliers (057-PS). or the execution of these de-

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crees, regulations were issued to cover the systematic application of Lynch Law against captured Allied airmen (75- PS). That such lynchings actually took place has since been fully established in a series of American Military Commission proceedings, which resulted in the conviction of German civilians for the murder of Allied fliers. (2559-PS; 2560-PS;


Bormann played an important role in the administration of the forced labor program. A Bormann circular of 5 May 1943 contained detailed directions as to the treatment of foreign workers, stating especially that they were subject to SS control for all security matters and that differentiation between them-and Germans was all-important (205-PS). At a conference held on 4 September 1942 it was decided that recruiting, mobilization, and treatment of 500,000 female domestic workers from the East would be handled exclusively by Sauckel, Himmler, and Bormann. (025-PS; see also D-226)

Bormann also imposed his views on the administration of the occupied areas and insisted on the ruthless exploitation of the subjected populations in the East. His views were stated in an official memorandum of the Ministry for the Eastern Territories, headed by Rosenberg, in which they were described as governing actual administrative practice in the East:

"The Slavs are to work for us. In so far as we don't need them, they may die. Therefore compulsory vaccination and German health services are superfluous. The fertility of the Slavs is undesirable. They may use contraceptives or practice abortion, the more the better. Education is dangerous. It is enough if they can count up to 100. At best an education which produces useful stooges for us is admissible. Every educated person is a future enemy. Religion we leave to them as a means of diversion. As for food they won't get any more than is necessary. We are the masters, we come first." (R-36)

A secret conference on 12 January 1943 discussed Bormann's order of 12 August 1942 under which all Party agencies were placed at Himmler's disposal for the latter's program of forced resettlement and denationalization of occupied populations (705-PS). Correspondence from the Office of the Fuehrer's Deputy reveals Bormann's demands that non-German populations of occupied territories be subjected to a special discriminatory legal regime

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(R-139). An agreement between Thierack and Himmler was made at Bormann's suggestion, under which all Eastern populations are subjected to brutal police regime, and under which all disputes between the parties to the agreement are to be settled by Bormann. (654-PS)

In issuing these orders Bormann took a large part in the conspiracy to exterminate millions of people in the Eastern occupied areas.


Martin Bormann, only 45 years old at the time of Germany's defeat, devoted his entire adult life to the Nazi conspiracy. When he joined the Nazi Party at the age of 25 he had already been active for several years in conspiratorial and terroristic organizations working secretly to prepare Germany for war, and had spent one year in jail for his participation in a political murder.

Bormann's important contribution to the conspiracy remained throughout in the sphere of the Nazi Party. First, as Chief of Staff to Hess, the Fuehrer's Deputy, then as Head of the Party Chancery, he managed the entire organization of the Party in the service of the conspiracy. He was responsible for channelling the Party's demands concerning legislation, education, civil service, and all other fields of public and private life to Hess, who was a member of the Reich Cabinet, which was then Germany's legislative, administrative, and judicial organ. Thus, Bormann advanced the Party's conspiratorial program through the control of his co- conspirators over the German government machinery. He used this power for various criminal purposes, among them the persecution of the independent churches, demanding their complete elimination from German life on the ground that Christianity and National Socialism were irreconcilable.

After having acceded in 1941 to the highest position in the Nazi Party, directly under Hitler, Bormann exercised the broadest influence in the direction of Germany's aggressive wars. Here he acted in two

(1) As executive head of the Party he commanded the Party Gauleaders who, as District Defense Commissioners, controlled all civilian and political war activities in German and the annexed territories. In that position he became responsible for the multiple war crimes committed by the German civilian population, especially the lynching of allied flying personnel, and the cruel mistreatment of forced laborers.

(2) As Secretary to the Fuehrer, Bormann took an active part

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in the policy-making conferences and discussions of Hitler and his political and military staffs. Here, Bormann became jointly responsible for the illegal annexation of Allied territories, the enslavement and spoliation of the civilian population in occupied countries, and the planned persecution and extermination of the populations in Eastern territories especially the Jews.

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