The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

The Trial of German Major War Criminals

Sitting at Nuremberg, Germany
7th January to 19th January, 1946

Twenty-Ninth Day: Tuesday, January 8th, 1946
(Part 1 of 10)

[Page 45]

COLONEL WHEELER: The Nazis did not overlook other sects or denominations in their efforts to suppress Christian religion in Germany. They persecuted the "Bibelforscher" or Bible research workers as well. There has already been introduced and read into evidence Document D-84, Exhibit USA 236, showing that members of this sect were not only prosecuted in the courts, but also seized and sent to concentration camps, even after serving or remitting of their judicial sentences.

In Document 2928-PS, Exhibit USA 239, included in U.S.A. Document Book A, further evidence of persecution of "Bibelforscher" appears.

THE PRESIDENT: I think you are going a little bit fast. We are not going to refer to D-84?

COLONEL WHEELER: I am not going to read from it, sir.

THE PRESIDENT: Then you go to 2928-PS?

COLONEL WHEELER: 2928-PS; it is in the document book, sir.

THE PRESIDENT: Are you going to read from there?

COLONEL WHEELER: I was going to read a few lines from that.


COLONEL WHEELER: This document is an affidavit by Matthias Lex, Vice-President of the National Union of Shoemakers. In describing his experience in Dachau concentration camp he says, and I quote from the third page of his affidavit: ...

"I include in the political prisoners the Bible-researchers (Bibelforscher) whose number I estimate at over 150."
I want to read further from the last line of that page and the next few lines of the next page:
"The following groups were kept entirely isolated: The members of the so-called 'Punishment-Companies' (Strafkompanien) who were in a concentration camp for a second time, and after about 1937 also the 'Bibelforscher.' Members of the 'Punishment-Companies' were such prisoners as had committed disciplinary or slight offences against the camp regulations. The following groups lived separately but could mix with the other groups during the day, either while working or while strolling through the camp: Political prisoners, Jews, Anti-Socials, Gypsies, Felons, Homosexuals, and, before 1937, also the Bible-researchers."
I refer also to Document 1531-PS - this is not in the document book - Exhibit USA 248, which is already in evidence. This was an order by the R.S.H.A., in 1942, authorising third-degree methods against Jehovah's Witnesses. That was read by Colonel Storey.

I now turn to acts of suppression in the annexed and occupied territories. In Austria, Bishop Rusch of Innsbruck has written an illuminating report on this subject. I offer this sworn statement in evidence-Document 3278-PS, Exhibit USA 569. This is a report on the fighting of National Socialism in the Apostolic Administration of Innsbruck- Feldkirch, of Tyrol and Vorarlberg. In this the Bishop declares, and I start on the first page of the English text and of the German translation:

"After having seized power, National Socialism immediately showed a tendency to exclude the Church from publicity."

[Page 46]

The expression "Publicity" - this was written in English by the Bishop - evidently means "public activities." I continue to quote:
"At Corpus Christi, in 1939, the customary solemn procession was forbidden. In the summer of the same year all ecclesiastical schools and kindergartens were disbanded. Daily newspaper and weekly reviews of "Christian Thinking" were likewise removed. In the same years all kinds of ecclesiastical organisations, especially youth organisations, such as Boy Scouts, were disbanded, and all activity forbidden.

The effect of these prohibitions came soon: the clergy took opposition against them, they could not do otherwise. Then a great wave of priest arresting followed. About a fifth of them were eventually arrested. Reasons for arrests were:

1. The "Pulpit prohibition' - when Party actions were mentioned or criticised even in the humblest manner.

2. The practice of taking care of young people. A specially heavy prohibition was instituted in November, 1939. Children's or youth's mass or services were forbidden. Religion or faith lessons were not allowed to be given in the Church except lessons of preparing for first communion or confirmation. Teaching of religion at school was very often forbidden without any reason.

Priests, because of their conscience, could not fall in with this public proscription and this explained the great number of their arrests. Finally, they were arrested on account of their charitable work. It was, for instance, forbidden to give anything to foreigners or prisoners. A priest was arrested because he gave a cup of coffee and some bread to two hungry Dutchmen. This charitable act was seen to favour elements foreign to the race.

In 1939 and 1940 a new activity began. Cloisters and abbeys were seized and disbanded, and many churches belonging to them closed. Among these, two nunneries were disbanded: the cloister of the Dominican Sisters of Kludenz and that of the 'Perpetual Adoration' of Innsbruck. In the latter the Sisters were dragged, one by one, out of the cloister by the Gestapo. In the same way ecclesiastical property such as Association-Houses, Parish and Youth Homes were seized. A list of these closed churches, disbanded cloisters and ecclesiastical institutions is attached.

Despite all these measures the results were not satisfactory, and so priests were then not only arrested, but also deported to concentration camps. Eight priests of Tyrol and Vorarlberg have been imprisoned, among them the Provicar Monsignore Dr. Charles Lampert. One died there on account of the ill- treatment, the others returned. Provicar Lampert was released but required to remain in Stettin, where later he was re-arrested, and was executed in November, 1944, after having been condemned to death by secret proceedings."

There is attached to this report a three-and-a-half page list entitled: "List of churches, nunneries, monasteries and ecclesiastical objects of Tyrol and Vorarlberg, seized, that is, confiscated, and of the institutions, confessional schools, etc., disbanded." Unless the Tribunal requires it, I shall not read these names.

I offer in evidence Document 3274-PS, Exhibit USA 570, received from Cardinal Innitzer of Vienna and authenticated by him. This is the first joint Pastoral Letter of the Archbishops and Bishops of Austria after liberation, dated 17th October, 1945. I quote from Page 1, second paragraph of the English and German texts, which sums up the Nazi conspirators' campaign in Austria:

"A war which has raged terribly and horribly, like none other in past epochs of the history of humanity, is at an end. At an end also is an

[Page 47]

intellectual battle, the goal of which was the destruction of Christianity and the church among our people; a campaign of lies and treachery against truth and love, against divine and human rights, and against International Law."
I quote further from the fourth and following paragraphs:
"Direct hostility to the church was revealed in regulations against orders and monasteries, Catholic schools and institutions, against religious foundations and activities, against the buildings of ecclesiastical houses and institutions; without the least rights to defend themselves they were declared enemies of both people and State and their existence destroyed.

Religious instruction and education of children and youth were purposely limited, frequently entirely prevented. They encouraged in every manner all efforts hostile to religion and the church and thus sought to rob the children and youth of our people of their most valuable treasure of holy faith and of true morality born of the Spirit of God. Unfortunately, the attempt succeeded in innumerable cases to the permanent damage of young people.

Spiritual care of souls in churches and ecclesiastical houses, in hospitals and other institutions was seriously obstructed. It was made ineffectual in the Armed Forces and in the Labour Service, in the sending of youth to the country and, beyond that, even in individual families and among numerous persons, to say nothing of the prohibition of spiritual ministration to people of another nationality and of other races.

How often was the divine service as such, also sermons, folk missions, communion days, retreats, processions, pilgrimages, limited for the most impossible reasons and made entirely impossible.

Catholic literature, newspapers, periodicals, church papers, religious writings were stopped, books and libraries destroyed.

What an injustice occurred in the dissolution of many Catholic societies, in the destruction of numerous church activities.

Individual Catholic and Christian believers, whose religious confession was allegedly free, were spied upon, criticised on account of their belief, and scorned on account of their Christian activity. How many local officials, teachers, public and private employees, labourers, businessmen and artisans, indeed, even peasants were put under pressure and terror. Many lost their jobs, some were pensioned off, others dismissed without pension, demoted, deprived of their real professional activity. Often enough such people as remained loyal to their convictions were discriminated against, condemned to hunger or tortured in concentration camps. Christianity and the Church were continually scorned and exposed to hatred.

The apostasy movement found every assistance. Every opportunity was used to induce many to withdraw from the Church."

In assessing responsibility for these acts of suppression in Austria, the Court will recall that the defendant, von Schirach, was Gauleiter of Vienna from 1940 to 1945.

I now come to the acts of suppression in Czechoslovakia, where, the Court will recollect, the defendant, von Neurath, was Reich Protector for Bohemia and Moravia from 1939 to 1943 and was succeeded by the defendant Frick. These acts have been summarised in an official Czech Government report. I refer to Document 998-PS, Exhibit USA 91, already in evidence. These are excerpts not previously read or referred to from the "Czech Official Report for the Prosecution and Trial of the German Major War Criminals by the International Military Tribunal established according to the Agreement of the Four Great Powers of 8th August, 1945." Since this is an official Government document or report of one of the United Nations, I ask that the Tribunal take

[Page 48]

judicial notice of it under Article 21 of the Charter and I suggest that I be permitted to summarise rather than read it.

It describes the maltreatment of Catholic priests-four hundred and eighty-seven of whom were sent to concentration camps as hostages-dissolution of religious orders, suppression of religious instruction in Czech schools, suppression of Catholic weekly and monthly publications, dissolution of the Catholic gymnastic organisation of 800,000 members, and seizure of Catholic Church property. It describes the entire prohibition of the Czechoslovak National Church and confiscation of all its property in Slovakia and its crippling in Bohemia. The report describes the severe restriction on freedom of preaching b the Protestants, and the persecution and imprisonment and execution of ministers, and the suppression of Protestant Church youth organisations and theological schools, and shows the complete subordination and, later, the dissolution of the Greek Orthodox Church. It states that all Evangelical education was handed over to the civil authorities, and that many Evangelical teachers lost their employment.

The repressive measures adopted by the Nazi conspirators in Poland against the Christian Church were even more drastic and sweeping.

The Vatican documents now to be introduced describe persecutions of the Catholic Church in Poland in three areas: first, the Incorporated Territories, especially the Warthegau; second, the Government General; and third, the Incorporated Eastern Territories.

The Court will recall that the incorporated territories comprised territories adjacent to the old Reich, chiefly the Reich District Wartheland or Warthegau, which included particularly the cities of Poznan and Lodz and the Reich district Danzig, West Prussia.

The occupied Polish territories which were organised into the Government General comprised the remainder of Poland, seized by the German forces in 1939 and extending to the new boundary with the Soviets, formed at that time. This included Warsaw and Cracow. After the Nazis attacked the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics in June, 1941, the parts of old Poland lying farther to the East, and then overrun, were included in the so-called Occupied Eastern Territories.

For the purpose of tying in the defendants' responsibility for the persecutions occurring in their respective areas, the Court will bear in mind that the defendant Frick was the official chiefly responsible for the reorganisation of the Eastern territories. The defendant Frank was head of the Government General from 1939 to 1945. The defendant Seyss- Inquart was Deputy Governor General there from 1939 to 1940, and the defendant Rosenberg was Reich Minister for the Occupied Eastern Territories from 17th July, 1941, to the end.

I now offer in evidence Document 3263-PS, Exhibit USA 571, headed "Memorandum of the Secretariat of State to the German Embassy regarding the Religious Situation in the 'Warthegau,' 8th October, 1942." This document bears a certificate of authenticity from the Vatican signed by the Papal Secretary of Extraordinary Ecclesiastical Affairs corresponding to that accompanying Document 3261-PS, read in evidence a few minutes ago. Unless, the Court requires otherwise, I suggest that it is not necessary to read each of these certificates, which are all similar. I quote from Document 3263-PS, the first paragraph:

"For quite a long time the religious situation in the region called 'Warthegau' has given cause for very grave and ever-increasing anxiety. There, in fact, the Episcopate has been little by little almost completely eliminated; the secular and regular clergy have been reduced to proportions that are absolutely inadequate, because they have been in large part deported and exiled; the education of clerics has been forbidden; the Catholic education of youth is meeting with the greatest opposition; the

[Page 49]

nuns have been dispersed; insurmountable obstacles have been put in the way of affording people the help of religion; very many churches have been closed; Catholic intellectual and charitable institutions have been destroyed; ecclesiastical property has been seized."
On 2nd March, 1943, the Cardinal Secretary of State addressed to the defendant von Ribbentrop, Foreign Minister of the Reich, a note setting forth in detail the persecution of bishops, priests and other ecclesiastics and the suppression of the exercise of religion in the occupied Polish provinces. This document is so explicit and so authoritative that it deserves extensive quotation. I accordingly offer it in evidence, Document 3264-PS, Exhibit USA 572. It is headed: "A Note of His Eminence the Cardinal Secretary of State to the Foreign Minister of the Reich about the Religious Situation in the 'Warthegau' and in the Other Polish Provinces Subject to Germany." It bears a Vatican certificate of authenticity like that of Document 3261-PS. It is signed "L. Card. Maglione," meaning "Luigi Cardinal." I quote from this note, starting with Page 1, the third paragraph of the English mimeographed text and of the German translation:
"The place where, above all, the religious situation, because of its unusual gravity, calls for special consideration is the territory called the 'Reichsgau Wartheland.'

Six bishops resided in that region in August, 1939; now there is left but one. In fact, the Bishop of Lodz (Litzmannstadt) and his Auxiliary were, in the course of the year 1941, first confined in a small district of the diocese and then expelled and exiled in the Government General.

Another bishop, Mgr. Michael Kozal, Auxiliary and Vicar General of Wladislavia, was arrested in the autumn of 1939, detained for some time in a prison in the city and later in a religious house in Lad, and finally was transferred to the concentration camp at Dachau.

Since His Eminence the Cardinal Archbishop of Gniezno and Poznan and the Bishop of Wladislavia, who had gone away during the period of military operations, were not allowed to return to their sees, the only bishop who now remains in the 'Warthegau' is His Excellency Mgr. Valentina Dymck, Auxiliary of Poznan; and he, at least up to November, 1942, was interned in his own house."

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