The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

The Trial of German Major War Criminals

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

Thirtieth Day: Wednesday, January 9th, 1946
(Part 10 of 10)

[Page 130]

On 16th July, 1941, the day before Rosenberg's appointment as Minister of the Occupied East, he attended a conference at the Fuehrer's headquarters, the minutes of which have been introduced as Document L-221, Exhibit USA 317. At that time Hitler stated: "The Crimea has to be evacuated by all foreigners and to be settled by Germans alone."

He further stated that Germany's objectives in the East were threefold, first, to dominate it; second, to administer it; third, to exploit it.

Thus, the character of the administration which was contemplated for the Occupied East was well established before Rosenberg took office as Minister. He knew of these plans and was in accord with them. Persecution of the Jews, forced labour of prisoners of war, Germanisation and exploitation, were all basic points of policy, which Rosenberg knew of at the time he assumed office.

On 17th July, 1941, Rosenberg was appointed Reichminister for the Occupied Eastern Territories. The decree by which he was appointed is in evidence as document 1997-PS, Exhibit USA 319.

I would like now to examine the organisational structure and the chain of responsibility which existed within the Ministry for the Occupied East.

The organisational structure was such as will show that Rosenberg was not merely a straw man. He was the supreme authority with full control.

Document 1056-PS is a mimeographed treatise, entitled "The Organisation of The Administration of the Occupied Eastern Territories." It is undated and unsigned, but we can obtain further information regarding it by reference to EC-347, which is Goering's "Green Folder," already in evidence as Exhibit USA 320.

It is noted that Part II, sub-section A of Document EC-347, is entitled, and I quote:

"Excerpts from the Directives of the Reich Minister for the Occupied Eastern Territories for the Civil Administration," and then in parentheses, "Brown Folder, Part 1, Pages 25 to 30."
The two paragraphs which follow are identical to two paragraphs found at the top of Page 9 of the translation of Document 1056-PS. Thus Document 1056-PS is identified as being a mimeograph of Part I of the Brown Folder which was mentioned in the Green Folder, and was issued by the Reich Minister for the Occupied Eastern Territories.

I now offer Document 1056-PS as Exhibit USA 605. I offer this document for the purpose of proving, from the directives issued by the Rosenberg Ministry itself, the extent of Rosenberg's authority; that he was the supreme civilian authority in the Eastern Territories. The document will show that there was a continuous chain of command from Rosenberg down to the regional administrative officials, a chain of command which extended even to the local prison warden.

[Page 131]

The document also will show the relationship which existed between the Rosenberg Ministry and other German agencies, a relationship which varied from full control by Rosenberg to full co-operation with them, made mandatory by his directives and by Hitler's orders.

Finally, the document will show that the various subdivisions of the Ministry were required to submit periodic reports of the situation within their jurisdiction, so that the numerous reports of unspeakable brutality which Rosenberg received, and which are already in the record, were submitted to him pursuant to his orders.

The first paragraph of this significant document states as follows:

"The newly-occupied Eastern Territories are subordinated to the Reich Minister for the Occupied Eastern Territories. By directive of the Fuehrer he established a civil administration there, upon withdrawal of the military administration. He heads and supervises the entire administration of this area and represents the sovereignty of the Reich in the Occupied Eastern Territories."
At the top of Page 2 of the translation is stated, and I quote:
"To the Reich Ministry is assigned a deputy of the Reich Leader S.S. and Chief of the German Police in the Reich Ministry of the Interior."
Part III on Page 2 of the translation defines the responsibility of the Reich Commissars as, and I quote:
"In the Reich Commissariats, Reich Commissars are responsible for the entire civil administration under the supreme authority of the Reich Ministry for the Occupied Eastern Territories. According to the instructions of the Reich Minister for the Occupied Eastern Territories, the Reich Commissar, as a functionary of the Reich, heads and supervises, within his precincts, the entire civil administration. Within the scope of these instructions he acts on his own responsibility."
And then the chain of command is outlined: Subordinate offices, General Commissariats, Main Commissariats, District Commissariats, etc.

In the second last paragraph on Page 3 of the translation it is stated again:

"The Higher S. S. and Police Leader is directly subordinated to the Reich Commissar. However, the Chief of Staff has the general right to secure information from him also.

Great stress is to be placed on close co-operation between him, the Chief of Staff, and the other main department head of the Office of the Reich Commissar, particularly with the one for policies."

To digress from this document a moment, I ask that the Court take judicial notice of the decree signed by Rosenberg, dated 17th July, 1941, and found in the "Verordnungsblatt" of the Reich Minister for the Occupied East, 1942, number 2, Pages 7 and 8.

"This decree provides for the creation of Summary courts for decisions on crimes committed by non-Germans in the East. The courts are to be presided over by a police officer or an S.S. Leader, who have authority to order the death sentence or confiscation of property, and those decisions are not subject to appeal.

The general commissar is given the right to reject a decision.

Thus, the determination of the S.S., of these Summary courts, is made subordinate to the authority of a representative of the Rosenberg Ministry.

At Page 4 of the translation of Document 1056-PS, the position of the General Commissar is defined. It is stated here that:

"The General Commissar forms the administrative office of intermediate appeal."

[Page 132]

Three paragraphs down it is stated, and I quote:
"The S.S. and Police Leader assigned to the General Commissar is directly subordinated to him. However, the Chief of Staff has the general right of requiring information from him."
The document goes on to describe the function of the various subdivisions of the Ministry, concluding with Regional Commissars who preside over the local administrative districts. They, too, have police units assigned to them and directly subordinated to them.

THE PRESIDENT: Well, Mr. Brudno, surely that could have been stated in a sentence without referring us to all these passages in this document. I mean, Rosenberg was the Minister for the Eastern Territories. He had under him Reich Commissars and S.S. units, who had the full administration - civil administration - of the Eastern Territories.

If you had stated that, surely that would have been sufficient.

MR. BRUDNO: Very well, your Honour.

I will proceed from that point, then, to merely point out that the economic exploitation of the territory was undertaken in the fullest co-operation with the Commissioner of the Four Year Plan, as shown by paragraph 2 of Page 7 of the translation. It is stated there that the economic inspectorates of the Commissioner of the Four Year Plan will be substantially absorbed in the agencies of the civil administration, after its establishment.

I also wish to call your Honour's attention to the first paragraph on Page 6, which reads as follows:

"The various commissars," it says, "are, aside from the military agencies, the only Reich authorities in the Occupied Eastern Territories. Other Reich authorities may not be established alongside them. They handle all questions of administration of the area which is subordinate to their sovereignty, and all affairs which concern the organisation and activity of the administration, including those of the police, in the supervision of the native agencies and organisation and of the population."
I now turn briefly to the second section of the document which is entitled, "Working Directives for the Civil Administration." The first two paragraphs on Page 9 have been read into the record as part of Document EC-347, Exhibit USA 320. I call particular attention to the statement that the " Hague Rules of Land Warfare, which deal with the administration of a country occupied by a foreign armed power, are not valid."

I continue quoting at, the last paragraph on Page 9:

"The handling of cases of sabotage is a concern of the Senior S.S. and Police Leader, or of the Police Leaders of the lower echelon. In so far as collective measures against the population appear appropriate, the decision about them rests with the competent commissar.

To inflict penalties in cash or kind, as well as to order the seizure of hostages and the shooting of inhabitants of the territory in which the acts of sabotage have taken place, rests only with the General Commissar, unless the Reich Commissar himself intervenes."

I finish with this document by quoting the first sentence at the top of Page 13:
"The District Commissars are responsible for the supervision of all prisons, unless the Reich Commissars intervene."
I will not take the time of the Tribunal, nor burden the record, with a detailed account of the manner in which Rosenberg's plenary authority and power were wielded. There is evidence in the record, and there will be additional evidence presented by the Soviet prosecutor, as to the magnitude of the War Crimes

[Page 133]

and the Crimes against Humanity perpetrated against the peoples of the Occupied East.

However, merely to illustrate the manner in which Rosenberg participated in the criminal activities conducted within his jurisdiction, I would like to refer briefly to a few examples.

I call your attention to the document numbered R-135, which was previously introduced as Exhibit USA 289. In this document the prison warden of Minsk reports that 516 German and Russian Jews had been killed, and called attention to the fact that valuable gold had been lost due to the failure to knock out the fillings of the victims' teeth before they were done away with.

These activities took place in the prison at Minsk, a prison which, your Honour will recall from Document 1056, was directly under the supervision of the Ministry for the Occupied East.

For my next illustration I wish to offer Document 018-PS. This has already been introduced as Exhibit USA 186. I would like to read to the Tribunal the first paragraph of Document 018-PS, which has not yet been read into the record. The document reveals that Rosenberg wrote to Sauckel on 21st November, 1942, in the following terms:

"I thank you very much for your report on the execution of the great task given you, and I am glad to hear that in carrying out your mission you have always found the necessary support, even from the civilian authorities, in the Occupied Eastern Territories. For myself and the officials under my command, this collaboration was and is self-evident, especially since both you and I have, with regard to the solution of the labour problem in the East, represented the same points of view from the beginning."
As late as 11th July, 1944, the Rosenberg Ministry was actively concerned with the continuation of the forced labour programme, in spite of the retreat from the East.

THE TRIBUNAL (Mr. Biddle): After making this generality, Rosenberg goes on to object, at the last here, to the methods used. You have not mentioned that.

MR. BRUDNO: Quite right, your Honour. Those objections are already in the record, Sir, and I was merely referring to this document to show that Rosenberg favoured recruitment from the East, and that his civilian administrators co- operated with the recruitment in spite of the methods used, the methods which were known to Rosenberg, as he reports in the letter himself.

DR. ALFRED THOMA (Counsel for the defendant Rosenberg): High Tribunal. I must, in this connection, protest that the prosecution did not finish reading paragraph I just quoted. For it is declared in the following sentence that an agreement existed between Sauckel and Rosenberg regarding

THE PRESIDENT: I do not think you can have heard, that the United States member of the Tribunal has just made this very point which you are now making to counsel for the United States, and has pointed out to him that he ought to have read there, or drawn attention, at any rate, to the other paragraphs in this document which showed that Rosenberg was objecting to the methods used.

DR. THOMA: High Tribunal. I would like to point to the fact that the prosecution quoted just the first two sentences of a paragraph - the same paragraph continues, however, stating that there was an agreement between him and Sauckel according to which workers were to be treated well in Germany, and for this purpose welfare organisations were to be created. The presentation of the prosecution creates the impression that the defendants Sauckel and Rosenberg had agreed on the use of forced labour without restraint, and on the deportation of the workers from the East.

[Page 134]

THE PRESIDENT: As counsel for the United States pointed out, the other passages in the document have already been read. And, naturally, the whole document will be treated as being in evidence.

The Tribunal fully realises the point you are making, that it is not fair to read one passage of a document when there are other passages in the document which show that the passage read is not a full or proper statement of the document.

MR. BRUDNO: If your Honour please, I was not attempting to delude the Tribunal; it was merely in the interest of time that I did not read the balance. The rest is in the record.

THE PRESIDENT: I realise that.

We will adjourn now.

(The Tribunal adjourned until 10th January, 1946, at 1000 hours.)

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