The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

The Trial of German Major War Criminals

Sitting at Nuremberg, Germany
November 20 to December 1, 1945

Sixth Day: Tuesday, 27th November, 1945
(Part 6 of 6)

[MR. ALDERMAN continues]

[Page 204]

We have this captured document in our series, C-140, which I offer in evidence as exhibit USA 51. It is a directive dated 25th October, 1933, eleven days after the withdrawal from the Disarmament Conference and the League of Nations.
"Paragraph 1: "The enclosed directive gives the basis for preparations of the armed forces in the case of sanctions being applied against Germany.

Paragraph 2. I request the Chiefs of the Army and Navy High Commands and the Reichsminister for Air to carry out the preparations in accordance with the following points:- a) Strictest secrecy. It is of the utmost importance that no facts become known to the outside world from which preparation for resistance against sanctions can be inferred, or which are incompatible with Germany's existing obligations in the sphere of foreign policy regarding the demilitarised zone. If necessary, the preparations must take second place to this necessity."

I think that makes the point without further reading.

One of the immediate consequences of the action was that following the withdrawal from the League of Nations, Germany's armament programme was still further increased.

I introduced this morning document C-153, as exhibit USA 43, so that is already in. From that, at this point, I wish to read paragraph 5. That, as you recall, was a document dated 12th May, 1934.

Paragraph 5: "Owing to the speed of military political development, since Germany quitted Geneva, and based on the progress of the army, the new A-Plan will only be drawn up for a period of two years. The third "A" phase lasts accordingly from 1st April, 1934, to 31st March, 1936."
Then the next allegation of the Indictment, if the Tribunal please
"On 10th March, 1935, the defendant Goering announced that Germany was building a Military Air Force."
That is an historical fact of which I ask the Court to take judicial notice, and I am quite certain that the defendant Goering would not dispute it.

We have a copy of the German publication known as "Das Archiv" - I suppose that is the way they pronounce it - for March, 1935, and it is page 1890 to which I refer, and I would offer that in evidence, identifying it as our number 2292-PS; I offer it as exhibit USA 52. It is an announcement concerning the German Air Force:-

"The Reich Minister for Aviation, General of the Airmen, Goering, in his talk with the special correspondent of the Daily Mail, Ward Price, expressed himself on the subject of the German Air Force.

General Goering said:-

In the extension of our National Defence (Sicherheit) it was necessary, as we repeatedly told the world, to take care of defence in the air. As far as that is concerned, I restricted myself to those measure which were absolutely necessary. The guiding line of my actions was, not the creation of an aggressive force which would threaten other nations, but merely the completion of a military aviation which would be strong enough to repel, at any time, attacks on Germany."

Then, at the end of that section of the article in "Das Archiv":
"In conclusion,

[Page 205]

the correspondent asks whether the German Air Force will be capable of repelling attacks on Germany. General Goering replied to that exactly as follows:-

The Germany Air Force is just as passionately permeated with the will to defend the Fatherland to the last as it is convinced, on the other hand, that it will never be employed to threaten the peace of other nations."

As I said, I believe, this morning, when we cite assurances of that kind from Nazi leaders, we take it that we are not prevented from showing that they had different intentions from those announced.

The next allegation of the Indictment is the promulgating of the law for compulsory military service, universal military service.

Having gone as far as they could on rearmament and the secret training of personnel, the next step necessary to the programme for aggressive war was a large-scale increase in military strength. This could no longer be done under disguise and camouflage, and would have to be known to the world. Accordingly, on 16th March, 1935, there was promulgated a law for universal military service, in violation of Article 173 of the Versailles Treaty.

I ask the Court to take judicial notice of that law as it appears in the Reichsgesetzblatt, which is the official compilation of laws, in the Title I of Volume 1, yearly volume 1935, or Jahrgang, at page 369, and I think I need not offer the book or the law in evidence.

The text of the law itself is very brief, and I might read that; it is right at the end of the article. I should refer to that as our document 1654-PS, so as to identify it.

"In this spirit the German Reich Cabinet has to-day passed the following laws Law for the Organisation of the Armed Forces of 16th March, I935.

The Reich Cabinet has passed the following law which is herewith promulgated:

Section 1.
Service in the Armed Forces is based upon compulsory military duty.

Section 2.
In peace-time, the Germany Army, including the police troops transferred to it, is organised into: 12 Corps and 36 Divisions."

There is a typographical error in the English version of that. It says "16 Divisions," but the original German says 36 Divisions.

"Section 3.
The Reich Minister of War is charged with the duty of submitting immediately to the Reich Ministry detailed laws on compulsory military duty."

Signed, Berlin, 16th March, 1933."

It is signed first by the Fuehrer and Reich Chancellor Adolf Hitler, and then by many other officials, including the following defendants in this case:-

von Neurath; Frick; Schacht; Goering; Hess; and Frank.

Does the Court contemplate a short recess?

THE PRESIDENT: We will adjourn for ten minutes.

(A recess was taken)

COLONEL STOREY: If the Tribunal please, the prosecution expects, to-morrow, to offer in evidence some captured enemy moving pictures and in order to give defence counsel an opportunity to see them before they are offered in evidence - and in response to their request made to the Tribunal some time ago - the showing of these films for defence counsel will be held in this Court Room this evening at 8 o'clock.

THE PRESIDENT Very well, Colonel Storey.

MR. ALDERMAN May it please the Tribunal, I have reached now Paragraph IV, F, 2(e) of the Indictment, which alleges: "On 21st May, 1935, they falsely announced to the world, with intent to deceive and allay fears of aggressive intentions, that they would respect the territorial limitations of the Versailles Treaty and comply with the Locarno Pact."

[Page 206]

As a part of their programme to weaken resistance in possible Enemy States, the Nazis followed a policy of making false assurances, thereby tending to create confusion and a false sense of security. Thus on the same date on which Germany renounced the armament provisions of the Versailles Treaty, Hitler announced the intention of the German Government to respect the territorial limitations of Versailles and Locarno.

I offered in evidence this morning, as exhibit USA 38, our document 2288-PS, the pertinent volume of the issue of the Volkischer Beobachter containing Hitler's speech in the Reichstag on that date.

In that speech he said:-

"Therefore, the Government of the German Reich shall absolutely respect all other articles pertaining to the co-operation "Euzammenleben" really meaning the living together in harmony of the various nations, including territorial agreements. Revisions which will be unavoidable as time goes by, it will carry out by way of a friendly understanding only.

The Government of the German Reich has the intention not to sign any treaty which it believes itself not to be able to fulfil. However, it will live up to every treaty signed voluntarily even if it was composed before this Government took over. Therefore it will in particular adhere to all the allegations under the Locarno Pact, as long as other partners of the pact also adhere to it."

For convenient reference, the territorial limitations in the Locarno and Versailles Treaties, include the following:-

The Rhine Pact of Locarno, 16th October, 1935, Article 1:-

"The High Contracting Parties, collectively and severally, guarantee, in the manner provided in the following Articles ; the maintenance of the territorial status quo, resulting from the frontiers between Germany and Belgium, and between Germany and France, and the inviolability of the said frontiers, as fixed by, or in pursuance of the Treaty of Peace, signed at Versailles, on 28th June, 1919, and also the observance of the stipulations of Articles 42 and 43 of the said Treaty, concerning the demilitarised zone."
That has reference, of course, to the demilitarised zone of the Rhineland.

Then from the Versailles Treaty, 28th June, 1919, Article 42

"Germany is forbidden to maintain or construct any fortifications, either on the left bank of the Rhine or on the right bank, to the West of the line drawn fifty kilometres to the East of the Rhine.

Article 43: In the area defined above, the maintenance and the assembly of armed forces, either permanently or temporarily and military manoeuvres of any kind, as well as the upkeep of all permanent works for mobilisation, are in the same way forbidden."

The next allegation of the indictment (f):
"On 7th March, 1936, they reoccupied and fortified ,he Rhineland, in violation of the Treaty of Versailles and the Rhine Pact of Locarno of 16th October, 1925, and falsely announced to the world that 'we have no territorial demands to make in Europe.' "
The demilitarised zone of the Rhineland obviously was a sore wound with the Nazis ever since its establishment, after World War I. Not only was this a blow to their increasing pride, but it was a bar to any effective strong position which Germany might want to take on any vital issues. In the event of any sanctions against Germany, in the form of military action, the French and other Powers would get well into Germany, East of the Rhine, before any German resistance could even be put up. Therefore, any German plans to threaten or breach international obligations or for any kind of aggression, required the preliminary reoccupation and refortification of this open Rhineland territory. Plans and preparations for the reoccupation and refortification of the Rhineland started very early.

[Page 207]

We have a document, a German captured document, in German script, which we identify as C-139, and which appears to be signed in the handwriting of Blomberg. I offer it in evidence as exhibit USA 53.

The document deals with what is called "Operation Schulung," meaning schooling, or training. It is dated 2nd May, 1935, and even refers to prior Staff discussions on the subject. It is addressed to the Chief of the Army Command, who at that time, I believe, was Fritsch; the Chief of the Navy High Command, Raeder ; and the Reich Minister for Air, Goering.

It does not use the name "Rhineland" and does not, in terms, refer to it. It is our view that it was a military plan for the military reoccupation of the Rhineland, in violation of the Treaty of Versailles and the Rhine Pact of Locarno.

I read from the first part of the document which is headed "Top Secret."

For the operation, suggested in the last Staff Talks of the Armed Forces, I lay down the code name "Schulung" (training).

The supreme direction of operation 'Schulung' rests with the Reich Minister of Defence as this is a joint undertaking of the three services.

Preparations for the operation will begin forthwith according to the following directives:-

I. General.

(1) The operation must, on issue of the code word "Carry out Schulung," be executed by a surprise blow at lightning speed. Strictest secrecy is necessary in the preparations and only the very smallest number of officers should be informed and employed in the drafting of reports, drawings, etc., and these officers only in person.

(2) There is no time for mobilisation of the forces taking part. These will be employed in their peace-time strength and with their peace-time equipment.

(3) The preparation for the operation will be made without regard to the present inadequate state of our armaments. Every improvement of the state of our armaments will make possible a greater measure of preparedness and thus result in better prospects of success."

The rest of the Order deals with military details and I think it is unnecessary to read it.

There are certain points, in the face of this Order, which are inconsistent with any theory that it was merely a training order, or that it might have been defensive in nature. The operation was to be carried out as a surprise blow at lightning speed (Schlagartig als Ueberfall).

The Air Forces were to provide support for the attack. There was to be reinforcement by the East Prussian division. Furthermore, this document is dated 2nd May, 1935, which is about six weeks after the promulgation of the Conscription Law on 16th March, 1935, and so it could hardly have been planned as a defensive measure against any expected sanctions which might have been applied by reason of the passage of the Conscription Law.

Of course the actual reoccupation of the Rhineland did not take place until 7th March, 1936, so that this early plan must necessarily have been totally revised to suit the existing conditions and specific objectives. As I say, although the plan does not mention the Rhineland, it has all of the indications of a Rhineland Operation Plan. That the details of this particular plan were not ultimately the ones that were carried out in reoccupying the Rhineland, does not at all detract from the vital fact that, as early as 2nd May, 193S, the Germans had already planned that operation, not merely as a Staff plan but as a definite operation. It was evidently not on their timetable to carry out the operation so soon if it could be avoided. But they were prepared to do so, if necessary, to resist French sanctions against their Conscription Law.

[Page 208]

It is significant to note that the date of this document is the same as the date of the signature of the Franco-Russian Pact, which the Nazis later asserted as their excuse for the Rhineland reoccupation.

The military orders on the basis of which the Rhineland reoccupation was actually carried into execution, on 7th March, 1936, were issued on 2nd March, 1936, by the War Minister and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, Blomberg, and addressed to the Commander-in-Chief of the Army, Fritsch, the Commander-in-Chief of the Navy, Raeder, and Air Minister and C.-in-C. of the Air Force, Goering. We have that order signed by Blomberg, headed, as usual, "Top Secret," identified by us as document C-159. I offer it in evidence as exhibit USA 54.

The German copy of that document bears the defendant Raeder's initial in green pencil, with a red pencil note "To be submitted to the C-in-C of the Navy."

The first part of the Order reads:-

"Supreme Command of the Navy:

The Fuehrer and Reich Chancellor has made the following decision:

By reason of the Franco-Russian alliance, the obligations accepted by Germany in the Locarno Treaty, as far as they apply to Articles 42 and 43, of the Treaty of Versailles which referred to the demilitarised zone, are to be regarded as obsolete.

2. Sections of the Army and Air Force will therefore be transferred simultaneously in a surprise move to garrisons of the demilitarised zone. In this connection, I issue the following orders:"

There follow the detailed orders for the military operation.

We also have the orders for Naval co-operation. The original German document which we have identified as C-194, was issued on 6th March, 1936, in the form of an order on behalf of the Reich Minister for War, Blomberg, signed by Keitel, and addressed to the Commander-in-Chief of the Navy, Raeder, setting out detailed instructions for the Commander-in-Chief of the Fleet and the Admirals commanding the Baltic and North Sea. I offer the document in evidence as exhibit USA 55.

The short covering letter is as follows:

"To C-in-C Navy:

The Minister has decided the following after the meeting:-

1. The inconspicuous air reconnaissance in the German bay, not over the line Texel-Doggerbank, from midday on Z- Day onward, has been approved. C-in-C Air Force will instruct the air command VI from midday 7th March to hold in readiness single reconnaissance aircraft to be at the disposal of the C-in-C Fleet.

2. The Minister will reserve the decision to set up a U- boat reconnaissance on line, until the evening Of 7th March. The Immediate transfer of U-boats from Kiel to Wilhelmshafen has been approved.

3. The proposed advance measures for the most part exceed Degree of Emergency A, and therefore are out of the question as the first counter-measures to be taken against military preparations of neighbouring States. It is far more essential to examine the advance measures included in Degree of Emergency A, to see whether one or other of the especially conspicuous measures could not be omitted."

That is signed "Keitel."

The rest of the documents are detailed naval orders, operational orders, and I think I need not read further.

For the historical emphasis of this occasion, Hitler made a momentous speech on 7th March, 1936. I have the volume of the "Vo1kischer Beobachter," Berlin, Sunday, 8th March, 1936, our document 2289-PS, which I offer in evidence as exhibit USA 56.

This is a long speech which the world remembers and of which I shall only read a short portion.

"Men of the German Reichstag! France has replied to the repeated friendly offers and peaceful assurances made by Germany, by infringing the Rhine-Pact

[Page 209]

through a military alliance with the Soviet Union, exclusively directed against Germany. In this manner, however, the Locarno-Rhine-Pact has lost its inner meaning and ceased in practice to exist. Consequently, Germany regards herself, for her part, as no longer bound by this dissolved Treaty. The German Government are now constrained to face the new situation created by this alliance, a situation which is rendered more acute by the fact that the French-Soviet Treaty has been supplemented by a Treaty of Alliance between Czechoslovakia and the Soviet Union exactly parallel in form. In accordance with the fundamental right of a nation to secure its frontiers and ensure its possibilities of defence, the German Government have to-day restored the full and unrestricted sovereignty of Germany in the demilitarised zone of the Rhineland."

The whole matter of the German re-occupation of the demilitarised zone of the Rhineland caused extensive international repercussions. As a result of the protests lodged with the League of Nations, the Council of the League made an investigation and announced the following finding, of which I ask the Tribunal to take judicial notice, as being carried in the League of Nations Monthly Summary, March, 1936, Volume 6, page 78, and it is also quoted in an article by Quincy Wright, in the American journal of International Law, page 487, 1936.

The finding is this:-

"That the German Government has committed a breach of Article 43 of the Treaty of Versailles, by causing On 7th March, 1936, military forces to enter and establish themselves in the demilitarised zone, referred to in Article 42 and the following articles of that Treaty, and in the Treaty of Locarno. At the same time, on 7th March, 1936, as the Germans reoccupied the Rhineland in flagrant violation of the Versailles and Locarno Treaties, they again tried to allay the fears of other European powers, and lead them into a false sense of security, by announcing to the world 'We have no territorial demands to make in Europe.'"
That appears in this same speech of Hitler's, which I have offered in evidence as exhibit USA 56, which is document 2369-PS. The language will be found on page 6, column 1, "We have no territorial claims to make in Europe. We know above all that all the tensions resulting either from false territorial settlements or from the disproportion of the numbers of inhabitants to their living spaces cannot, in Europe, be solved by war."

Most of the acts set forth in the paragraph of the Indictment, which I have been discussing, do not, I think, need judicial proof, because they are historical facts. We have been able to bring you a number of interesting documents, illuminating that history. The existence of prior plans and preparations is indisputable from the very nature of things. The method and sequence of these plans and their accomplishment are clearly indicative of the progressive and increasingly aggressive character of the Nazi objectives, international obligations and considerations of humanity notwithstanding.

The detailed presentation of the violations of Treaties and International Law will be presented by our British colleagues, in support of Count Two of the Indictment.

In clear relief there is shown the determination of the Nazi conspirators to use whatever means were necessary to abrogate and overthrow the Treaty of Versailles and its restrictions upon the military armament and activity of Germany. In this process, they conspired and engaged in secret rearmament and training, in the secret production of munitions of war, and they built up an air force. They withdrew from the International Disarmament Conference and the League of Nations on 14th October, 1933. They instituted universal military service on 16th March, 1935. On 21st May, 1935, they falsely announced that they would respect the territorial limitations of Versailles and Locarno. On 7th March, 1936, they re-occupied and fortified the Rhineland and at the same time, falsely announced that they had no territorial demands in Europe.

The objectives of the conspirators were vast and mighty, requiring long and

[Page 210]

extensive preparations. The process involved the evasion, circumvention and violation of international obligations and Treaties: They stopped at nothing.

The accomplishment of all those things, together with getting Versailles out of the way, constituted an opening of the gates toward the specific aggressions which followed.

I pass next, if the Tribunal please, to the presentation of the story of the aggression against Austria. I do not know whether your Honour desires me to start on that or not. I am perfectly willing to do so.

THE PRESIDENT: Are you going to use this volume of documents marked "H" to-morrow?

MR. ALDERMAN: There will be a new one marked "N."

THE PRESIDENT: The Tribunal will adjourn until 10.00 o'clock to-morrow morning.

(The Tribunal adjourned until 28th November, 1945, at 10.00 hours.)

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