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 8 of 10)

[Page 77]

Now, armed with the information thus secured, the Nazi conspirators were fully prepared to take the next step. The killing of von Rath, a German Legation Secretary, in Paris on 9th November, 1938, was made the pretext for widespread "spontaneous" riots, which included the looting and burning of many Jewish synagogues, homes and shops, all carefully organised and supervised by the Nazi conspirators. The defendant Goering was fully informed of the measures taken. The teletype orders of 10th November, 1938, given by Heydrich are already in evidence (Page 364, Part 2). A letter which Heydrich wrote to Goering on the following day has also been read. It is our Document 3058-PS, Exhibit USA 508. In it Himmler summarises the so-called "spontaneous" riots that had taken place. He reported the day after the riot that, in so far as the official reports from the district police were concerned, he was able to state that 815 shops were destroyed, 171 dwelling houses set on fire or destroyed, and that all this indicated only a fraction of the actual damage caused, as far as arson is concerned. He also said that:
"Due to the urgency of the reporting, the reports received to date are entirely limited to general statements such as 'numerous' or 'most shops destroyed.'"
Therefore the figures given must have been exceeded considerably.
"191 synagogues were set on fire and another 76 completely destroyed. In addition, 11 parish halls, cemetery chapels and similar buildings were set on fire and 3 more completely destroyed.

20,000 Jews were arrested."

36 deaths were reported, and those seriously injured numbered a further 36. Immediately after these so-called "spontaneous" riots of 9th November, Goering acted as chairman at the Reich Ministry of Air of a meeting devoted to the Jewish question, which meeting was also attended by the defendant Funk and other conspirators. The stenographic report on that meeting is an extraordinary document, and it does not make pretty reading. It is our Document 1816-PS, already offered as Exhibit USA 261. I should like to read certain passages that have not as yet been read into the Record. I read from the top of the first page, the first two paragraphs of Page 1 of the German original; Goering speaks:
"Gentlemen, to-day's meeting is of a decisive nature. I have received a letter written on the Fuehrer's order by the Stabsleiter of the Fuehrer's Deputy Bormann, requesting that the Jewish question be now, once and for all, co-ordinated and solved one way or another. And yesterday once again the Fuehrer requested me by phone to take co-ordinated action in the matter.

[Page 78]

Since the problem is mainly an economic one, it is from the economic angle that it will have to be tackled. Naturally a number of legal measures will have to be taken, which fall into the sphere of the Minister of Justice, and into that of the Minister of the Interior; and certain propaganda measures will be taken care of by the office of the Minister of Propaganda. The Minister of Finance and the Minister of Economic Affairs will take care of problems falling into their respective departments."
Specific measures to effect the Aryanisation of Jewish business were then discussed. A representative of German insurance companies was called in to assist in the solving of the difficulties created by the fact that most of the Jewish stores and other property destroyed in the rioting were, in fact, insured, in some cases, ultimately by foreign insurance companies. All present were agreed that it would be unfortunate to pass a law which would have the effect of allowing foreign insurance companies to escape liability. The defendant Goering then suggested a characteristic solution, and I pass to Page 10. In German it is the third full paragraph on Page 311. Goering said:
"No, I do not even dream of refunding the insurance companies the money. The companies are liable. No, the money belongs to the State. That is quite clear. That would indeed be a present for the insurance companies. You make a wonderful petitum there. You will fulfil your obligations; you may count on that."
It is superfluous to quote further from the extensive discussion of all phases of persecution of the Jews that took place at this meeting. It is sufficient to point out that on the same day the defendant Goering, over his own signature, promulgated three decrees, putting into effect the most important matters decided at this meeting. In the first of these decrees a collective fine of one billion Reichsmark was placed on all German Jews. I ask the Tribunal to take judicial notice of that decree, which is our Document 1412-PS and appears in 1938 Reichsgesetzblatt, Part 1, Page 1579.

The second decree, entitled "A Decree on Elimination of Jews from German Economic Life" barred Jews from trades and crafts. I ask the Tribunal to notice judicially that decree, which is our Document 2875-PS, cited in 1939 Reichsgesetzblatt, Part 1, Page 1580.

The third decree, entitled "Decree for the Restoration of the Appearance of the Streets of Jewish Economic Enterprise" took care of the insurance question raised in the morning's meeting by providing that insurance due to the Jews for various losses sustained by them was to be collected by the State.

I ask the Court to notice judicially that decree also. It is our Document 2694-PS and appears in 1938 Reichsgesetzblatt, Part 1, Page 1591.

THE PRESIDENT: Shall we break off for ten minutes there?

(A recess was taken.)

THE PRESIDENT: Mr. Albrecht, the Tribunal thinks that these methods, which are really methods which we have already had under consideration, might be presented in a more summary way than you have given them, and if you can possibly shorten the matters with which you are dealing now by summarising more than you are, it will be more useful to the Tribunal and will save time.

MR. ALBRECHT: My Lord, I think I am practically through with this point with which I am dealing, and I think I shall not have to take more than five or ten minutes.

THE PRESIDENT: Very well, but I may say that the same observation will apply to those who follow.

MR. ALBRECHT: May it please the Tribunal, the material I alluded to before the recess is, we feel, merely illustrative of the energetic manner in which Goering took part in driving the Jews from economic life at this period. Two other documents would seem to be pertinent on this point.

[Page 79]

I would like to offer our Document 069-PS as Exhibit USA 589, which is a circular letter dated 17th January, 1939, signed by the defendant Bormann, distributing a directive of the defendant Goering with respect to certain discriminations to be applied in the housing of the Jews. I will be content with the summarisation, if the Court please, and I do not intend to read further from that document.

The second document I desire to offer is 1208-PS, which I offer as Exhibit USA 590. That is an order of the defendant Goering as Commissioner for the Four Year Plan, dated 10th December, 1938, prescribing the manner in which exploitation of Jewish property is to be undertaken and warning that any profit resulting from the elimination of Jews from economic activity is to go to the Reich.

There is no need, I believe, to read excerpts from the document, except that I do wish to call the attention of the Tribunal to the fact that the Goering letter is addressed to all the chief agencies of the Reich, to all the political leaders and leaders of the affiliated organisations of the Party, to all Gauleiter, to all Reichsstatthalter, or Governors, and to the various local heads of the German Lander and subdivisions thereof.

As the German armies moved into other countries, the anti- Jewish laws were extended, often in a more stringent form, to the occupied territories. Many of the decrees were not signed by the defendant Goering himself, but were issued on the basis of decrees signed by him.

Nevertheless, in his capacity as Commissioner for the Four Year Plan or as Chairman of the Ministerial Council for National Defence, Goering did himself sign a number of anti- Jewish decrees for occupied territories, including the decrees enumerated on Pages 47 and 48 of our brief, of which I ask the Tribunal to take judicial notice.

During the later years of the war the programme of the Nazi conspirators for the complete physical annihilation of all Jews in Europe achieved its full fury. While the execution of this anti-Jewish programme was for the most part handled by the S.S. and the Security Police, the defendant Goering remains implicated to the last in the final efforts to achieve a Nazi "solution" of the Jewish problem.

On 31st July, 1941, he wrote a letter to the conspirator Heydrich, which is the final document to which I wish to draw the Tribunal's attention. It is a fitting climax to our presentation on this defendant, your Honour. The reason why it was addressed to the notorious Heydrich, the predecessor of the defendant Kaltenbrunner, need not strain our imagination. This Document, 710-PS, which has already been admitted as Exhibit USA 509, in connection with the case on the Gestapo. While it has already been read into evidence, I would like, with the Court's permission, to close my presentation with the reading of that letter. Goering writes to Heydrich:

"Complementing the task that was assigned to you on 24th January, 1939, which dealt with arriving at a thorough furtherance of emigration and evacuation, a solution of the Jewish problem as advantageous as possible, I hereby charge you with making all necessary preparations in regard to organisational and financial matters for bringing about a complete solution of the Jewish question in the German sphere of influence in Europe. Wherever other governmental agencies are involved, these are to cooperate with you.

I charge you furthermore to send me, before long, an overall plan concerning the organisational, factual and material measures necessary for the accomplishment of the desired solution of the Jewish question."

The presentation made to the Tribunal on the individual responsibility of the defendant Goering has been intended to be merely illustrative of the mass of documentary evidence which reveals the leading part played by this conspirator

[Page 80]

in every phase of the Nazi conspiracy. Thus, we submit that his responsibility for the crimes with which he has been charged under Count One of the Indictment has been established.

May it please the Tribunal, this completes the presentation of the responsibility of the defendant Goering. We will now proceed with the arrangement made with the British delegation on the presentation showing the individual responsibility of the defendant von Ribbentrop, by Sir David Maxwell Fyfe.

SIR DAVID MAXWELL FYFE: May it please the Tribunal, if the Tribunal would be good enough to look at Appendix A of the Indictment on page 28 of the English Text, they will find the particulars relating to the defendant, this defendant, and they will find that the allegations regarding him fall into three divisions.

After reciting the offices which he held, the appendix of the Indictment goes on to say that the defendant Ribbentrop used the foregoing positions, his personal influence, and his intimate connection with the Fuehrer in such a manner that he promoted the accession to power of the Nazi conspirators as set forth in Count One of the Indictment, and permitted preparation for war as set forth in Count One of the Indictment.

In the second section he participated in the political planning and preparation of the Nazi conspirators for Wars of Aggression and Wars in Violation of International Treaties, Agreements and Assurances as set forth in Count One and Count Two of the Indictment.

In accordance with the Fuehrer's principle, he executed and assumed responsibility for the execution of the foreign policy plans of the Nazi conspirators, as set forth in Count One of the Indictment.

Then the third section: he authorised, directed and participated in War Crimes, as set forth in Count Three of the Indictment, and Crimes against Humanity, set forth in Count Four of the Indictment, including, moreover, the crimes against persons and property in occupied territories. I hope it might be useful to the Tribunal if I follow that order. In regard to these allegations in the Indictment we collected the evidence for each of them in turn, and I therefore proceed to put in first the allegation that this defendant promoted the accession to power of the Nazi conspirators.

The Tribunal notes already that the defendant held various offices and these are listed in his own certified statement, which has already been put in as Exhibit USA 5, Document 2829-PS. And I think it would be convenient if I very briefly explained the different activities and offices of the defendant which are dealt with in that list. It will be seen that he became a member of the Nazi Party in 1932, but, according to the semi-official statement in the archives, he had begun to work for that Party before that time. That semi- official statement goes on and says that he succeeded in extending his business connections to political circles. Having joined in 1930 the service of the Party, at the time of the final struggle for power in the Reich, Ribbentrop played an important, if not strikingly obvious, part in the bringing about of the decisive meetings between the representatives of the President of the Reich and the heads of the Party, who had prepared the entry of the Nazis into power on 30th January, 1933. Those meetings, as well as those between Hitler and von Papen, took place in Ribbentrop's house in Berlin-Dahlem.

This defendant was therefore present and active at the inception of the Nazi securing of power after that. For a short period he was adviser to the Party on questions of foreign affairs. His title was first "Collaborator to the Fuehrer on matters of Foreign Policy" and he later became representative in matters of foreign policies of the Staff of the Deputy. This was followed by membership in the Nazi Reichstag in November, 1933, and in the Party organisations be became an Oberfuehrer in the S.S. and was subsequently promoted to Gruppenft1hrer and to Obergruppenfuehrer. Thereafter he obtained the official governmental positions.

[Page 81]

On the 24th April he was appointed Delegate of the Reich Government on matters of Disarmament. It was after Germany had left the disarmament conference. In this capacity he visited foreign capitals. He was then given a more important, and certainly a more designing, title: the German Minister Plenipotentiary at Large; and it was in that capacity that he negotiated the Anglo-German Naval Agreement of 1935.

In March, 1936, after the Nazi Government had reoccupied the Rhineland, which had been demilitarised in accordance with the terms of the Versailles and Locarno Treaties, and the matter was brought before the Council of the League of Nations, the defendant addressed the Council in defence of the action of Germany. His next position began on 11th August, 1936, when he was appointed Ambassador in London. He occupied that position for a period of some eighteen months, and his activities there, while having their own interest, are not highly relevant to the matters now before the Tribunal. In his capacity as German Minister Plenipotentiary at Large - an office still held by him - he signed the original Anti-Comintern Pact with Japan in November, 1936, and also the additional pact by which Italy joined it in 1937.

Finally, so far as this part of these cases is concerned, in February, 1938, this defendant was appointed Foreign Minister in place of the defendant von Neurath and simultaneously was made a member of the Secret Cabinet Council (Geheimer Kabinettsrat) established by decree of Hitler of that date. That takes us up to the period of his holding the office of Foreign Minister, and his action in that capacity will be dealt with in detail later on.

I refer the Tribunal, without reading further, because I have already summarised it, to the extract from "Das Archiv," Document D-472, which I now put in as Exhibit GB 130; also to the membership extract of the S.S., which consists in the examination of the descent of S.S. leaders - D-636 - and which I insert as Exhibit GB 131. Again I shall not trouble the Tribunal with the details which show his rank, which I have already mentioned. There is no question of any honorary rank. It stated the rank of Gruppenfuehrer, and, of course, it gives his ancestry in detail, in order to deal with the law relating to that subject. It also deals with the adoption of the "von," but the defendant's evidence is now to deal with much more serious matters than barren controversies with the Almanach de Gotha.

[ Previous | Index | Next ]

Home ·  Site Map ·  What's New? ·  Search Nizkor

© The Nizkor Project, 1991-2012

This site is intended for educational purposes to teach about the Holocaust and to combat hatred. Any statements or excerpts found on this site are for educational purposes only.

As part of these educational purposes, Nizkor may include on this website materials, such as excerpts from the writings of racists and antisemites. Far from approving these writings, Nizkor condemns them and provides them so that its readers can learn the nature and extent of hate and antisemitic discourse. Nizkor urges the readers of these pages to condemn racist and hate speech in all of its forms and manifestations.