The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Nazi Conspiracy & Aggression
Individual Responsibility Of Defendants

Constantin Von Neurath

(Part 5 of 6)

[Page 1025]


By accepting and occupying the position of Reich Protector of Bohemia and Moravia, von Neurath personally adhered to the aggression against Czechoslovakia. As Protector he further actively participated in the conspiracy for world aggression, and assumed a position of leadership in the execution of policies involving violations of the laws of war and the commission of crimes against humanity.

Von Neurath's responsibility for these crimes derives from the legal position which he assumed. Von Neurath assumed the position of Protector under a sweeping grant of powers. Article V of the act creating the Protectorate provided:

"1. As trustee of Reich interests, the Leader and Chancellor of the Reich shall nominate a Reich Protector in Bohemia and Moravia. His seat of office will be Prague.

"2. The Reich Protector, as representative of the Leader and Chancellor of the Reich and as Commissioner of the Reich Government, is charged with the duty of seeing to the observance of the political principles laid down by the Leader and Chancellor of the Reich.

"3. The members of the Government of the Protectorate shall be confirmed by the Reich Protector. The confirmation may be withdrawn.

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"4. The Reich Protector is entitled to inform himself of all measures taken by the Government of the protectorate and to give advice. He can object to measures calculated to harm the Reich and, in case of danger, issue ordinances required for the common interest.

"5. The promulgation of laws, ordinances and other legal announcements and the execution of administrative measures and legal judgments shall be annulled if the Reich Protector enters an objection." (2119-PS)

At the very outset of the Protectorate, von Neurath's supreme authority was implemented by a series of basic decrees. These established the alleged legal foundation for the policy and program which resulted, all aimed toward the systematic destruction of the national integrity of the Czechs. Among these decrees were:

(1) The decree granting "Racial Germans" in Czechoslovakia a supreme order of citizenship (2119-PS);

(2) An act concerning the representation in the Reichstag of Greater Germany of German Nationals Resident in the Protectorate (13 April 1939);

(3) An order concerning the acquisition of German citizenship by former Czechoslovakian citizens of German origin (20 April 1939)

Another series of decrees granted "Racial Germans" in Czechoslovakia a preferred status at law and in the courts:

(1) An order concerning the Exercise of Criminal Jurisdiction in the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia (14 April 1939);

(2) An order concerning the Exercise of Jurisdiction in Civil Proceedings (14 April 1939);

(3) An order concerning the Exercise of Military Jurisdiction (8 May 1939).

The Ordinance on Legislation in the Protectorate (7 June 1939) also granted to the Protector broad powers to change by decree the autonomous law of the Protectorate.

Finally, the Protector was authorized, with the Reich Leader SS and the Chief of the German Police (Himmler) "to take, if necessary, such (police) measures which go beyond the limits usually valid for police measures." It is difficult to imagine what can be police measures "beyond the limits usually valid for police measures" in view of the police measures in Germany between 1933 and 1939. (See Section 4 of Chapter VII on Purge of Political Opponents and Section 6 of Chapter XV on the Gestapo and SD.) But presumably such increase was believed to be pos-

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sible, and was given to von Neurath to use for coercion of the Czechs.

The original plaintext version of this file is available via ftp.

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