The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

The Trial of German Major War Criminals

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

Thirty-Fifth Day: Wednesday, January 16th, 1946
(Part 5 of 11)


[Page 307]

In his report on this conference, set forth in Document L- 221, Bormann included numerous proposals of his own for the execution of these plans.

Later the defendant Bormann took a prominent part in implementing the conspiratorial programme. The attention of the Tribunal is invited to Document 072-PS, previously put in as Exhibit USA 357. The Tribunal will recall that this is a letter from the defendant Bormann to the defendant Rosenberg, dated 19th April, 1941, dealing with the confiscation of cultural property in the East. I quote merely the last two paragraphs of the English translation of Document 072-PS, which reads as follows:

"The Fuehrer emphasised that in the Balkans the use of your experts" - I parenthetically insert that that is the experts of the Einsatzstab Rosenberg organisation, the plundering organisation - "the use of your experts would not be necessary, since there were no objets-d'art to be confiscated. In Belgrade, only the collection of Prince Paul existed, which would be returned to him completely. The remaining material of the lodges, etc., would be seized by the men of S.S. Gruppenfuehrer Heydrich.

The libraries and objets d'art of the monasteries, confiscated in the Reich, were to remain for the time being in these monasteries, in so far as the Gauleiters had not determined otherwise. After the war, a careful examination of the stock could be undertaken. Under no circumstances,

[Page 308]

however, should a centralisation of all the libraries be undertaken. Signed Bormann."
I now offer in evidence Document 061-PS, Exhibit USA 692. This is a secret letter from Bormann, dated 11th January, 1944, in which Bormann discloses - and we stress this, very important as it seems to us, - the existence of large-scale operations to drain off commodities from German-occupied Europe for delivery to the bombed-out population in Germany. The Tribunal knows that the Hague Regulations and the laws of war permit the requisitioning of goods and services only for the use of the Army of Occupation and for the needs of the administration of the area. This proposal and this action represents the requisitioning of materials in occupied areas for the use of the folk at home, of the Home Front.

I now quote the first two paragraphs of the English translation of Bormann's letter of 11th January, 1944, set forth in the English translation of our Document 061-PS, which reads as follows:

"Since the supply of textiles and household goods for the bombed populations is becoming increasingly difficult, the proposition was repeatedly made to effect purchases in the occupied territories in greater proportions. Various district leaders (Gauleiter) proposed to let these purchases be handled by suitable private merchants who know these districts and have corresponding connections.

I have brought these proposals to the attention of the Reich Minister of Economics, and am quoting his reply of 16th December, 1943, on account of its fundamental importance: 'I consider it a specially important task to make use of the economic power of the occupied territories for the Reich. You are aware of the fact that, since the occupation of the Western territories, purchases in these countries have been affected in very large proportions. Raw materials, semi-finished products and stocks in finished goods have been rolling into Germany for months; valuable machines were sent to our armaments industry. Everything was done at that time to increase our armament potentialities. Later on the shipments of these important economic goods were replaced by the so-called distribution of orders from industry to industry."

I shall end the quotation there. The rest is not material to the matter.

In the course of the war - and this is of utmost importance, in the view of the prosecution -

THE PRESIDENT: Is it clear that that was confiscation?

LIEUTENANT LAMBERT: It was not suggested, Sir, that it was confiscation. Our point was that The Hague Regulations allow requisitions in return for payment only for the needs of the Army of Occupation and for the needs of administration of the occupied area. This represents, as it seems to us, a requisitioning programme for the needs of the Home Front. It is on that point that we offer it.

We come now to what the prosecution considers a most important point against the defendant Bormann. In the course of the war Bormann issued a series of orders establishing Party jurisdiction over the treatment of prisoners of war, especially when employed as forced labour.

The Tribunal knows that, under the Geneva Convention of 1929 relating to prisoners of war, prisoners of war are the captives, not of the troops who take them, or even of the army which captures them, but of the capturing power; and it is the capturing power which has jurisdiction over and responsibility for them.

By the series of decrees now to be put in, Bormann asserts and establishes Nazi Party jurisdiction over Allied prisoners of war. In the exercise of that Party jurisdiction he called for excessively harsh and brutal treatment of such prisoners.

[Page 309]

I now offer in evidence Document 232-PS as Exhibit USA, 643, This is a decree of the defendant Bormann, dated 13th September, 1944, addressed, will the Tribunal please note, to all Reichsleiter, Gauleiter, and Kreisleiter, and leaders of, the Nazi affiliated organisations-numerous levels, that is, of the Leadership Corps of the Nazi Party-a decree establishing Nazi Party jurisdiction over the use of prisoners of war for forced labour.

I quote the first three paragraphs of Bormann's order set forth on Page 1 of the English translation of Document 232- PS, which reads as- follows:

"The regulations, valid until now, on the treatment of prisoners of war, and the tasks of the guard units, are no longer justified in view of the demands of the total war effort."
The prosecution would intrude to ask the question: Since when do the exigencies of the war effort repeal or modify the provisions of International Law?
"Therefore, the Supreme Command (O.K.W.) of the Armed Forces, on my suggestion, issued the regulation, a copy of which is enclosed. The following observations are made on its contents:

(1) The understanding exists between the Chief of the Supreme Command of the Armed Forces (O.K.W.) and myself, that the co-operation of the Party in the commitment of prisoners of war is inevitable. Therefore, the officers assigned to the prisoner of war system have been instructed to co-operate most closely with the bearers of sovereignty (Hoheitstrager). The commandants of the prisoner-of-war camps have to detail, immediately, liaison officers to the Kreisleiter.

Thus the opportunity will be afforded the Hoheitstrager to alleviate existing difficulties locally, to exercise influence on the behaviour of guards units - and this is the point we underline - and to better assimilate the commitment of prisoners of war to the political and economic demands."

Will the Tribunal permit me to observe that on the face of this order, addressed to Reichsleiter, Gauleiter and Kreisleiter, and to the officials of the Leadership Corps, in the terms of the order itself, Hoheitstrager are referred to as co-operating media in this scheme.

The Tribunal has graciously given me an opportunity to observe that this decree is addressed to Reichsleiter, Gauleiter, Kreisleiter, and to the leaders of the affiliated and controlled Nazi organisations. As the Tribunal knows, within the Leadership Corps of the Nazi Party, the Kreisleiter is a pretty low level. He is a county leader. On the face of the decree itself the co-operation of the Hoheitstrager is directed, and the Tribunal knows, under the evidence presented against the Leadership Corps, that Hoheitstrager range all the way from the Reichsleiter on the top, down to and including the 500,000 or so Blockleiter implicated.

I next offer in evidence Document D-163-PS, as Exhibit USA 694. This is a letter of the defendant Bormann, dated 5th November, 1941, and addressed, the Tribunal will please note, to all Reichsleiter, Gauleiter and Kreisleiter (the last just mere county leaders), transmitting to these officials of the Leadership Corps of the Nazi Party the instructions of the Reich Minister of the Interior, prohibiting decent burials with religious ceremonies for Russian prisoners of war. I quote the pertinent portions of these instructions, beginning with the next to the last sentence of Page 1 of the English translation of D-163, which reads as follows:

"To save costs, Service Departments of the Army will generally be contacted regarding transport of corpses (furnishing of vehicles) whenever possible. No coffins will be indented for the transfer and burial. The body will be completely enveloped with strong paper (if possible, oil, tar, asphalt paper) or other suitable material. Transfer and burial is to be carried out unobtrusively. If a number of corpses have to be

[Page 310]

disposed of, the burial will be carried out in a communal grave. In this case, the bodies will be buried side by side (but not on top of each other) and in accordance with the local custom regarding depth of graves. Where a graveyard is the place of burial a distant part will be chosen. No" - we repeat - "No burial ceremony or decoration of graves will be allowed."
I now offer in evidence Document 228-PS, Exhibit USA 695. This is a Bormann circular, dated 25th November, 1943, issued from the Headquarters of the Fuehrer demanding harsher treatment of prisoners of war and the increased exploitation of their manpower. I now quote the Bormann circular which is set forth on Page 1 of the English translation of Document 228-PS, which reads as follows:
"Individual Gau-administrations often refer in reports to a too indulgent treatment of P.W.'s on the part of the guard personnel. In many places, according to these reports, the guarding authorities have even developed into protectors and caretakers of the P.W.'s.

I informed the Supreme Command of the Armed Forces of these reports, with the comment that the productive German working population absolutely cannot understand it, if, in a time in which the German people is fighting for existence or non-existence, P.W.'s - hence our enemies - are leading a better life than the German working man, and that it is an urgent duty of every German who has to do with P.W.'s, to bring about a complete utilisation of their manpower.

The Chief of P.W. affairs in the Supreme Command of the Armed Forces has now given the unequivocal order, attached hereto in copy form, to the commanders of P.W.'s in the military districts. I request that this order be brought orally to the attention of all party office holders in the appropriate manner.

In case complaints about unsuitable treatment of P.W.'s still come to light, they are to be immediately communicated to the commanders of the P.W.'s with a reference to the attached order."

The Tribunal will note, of course, that, on the face of the decree, Bormann instructs that these orders be communicated orally to all Party officials, and that surely must include the members of the Leadership Corps of the Nazi Party.

THE PRESIDENT: Speaking for myself, I do not see anything particularly wrong in that communication.

LIEUTENANT LAMBERT: On that point, Sir, we submit that if you take a document which says: "We wish to utilise all the possible labour power of P.W.'s under our control, and to get this result by suitable means" probably it tends to appear unexceptional. But viewing this document in relation to the other evidence already in and to be presented, which show a concerted and settled policy by Bormann and his co- conspirators to -

THE PRESIDENT: Well, it is not necessary to argue it.

LIEUTENANT LAMBERT: Yes, Sir. Thank you, Sir.

The attention of the Tribunal is invited to Document 656-PS, previously put in as Exhibit USA 339. The Tribunal will recall that this is a secret Bormann circular transmitting instructions of the Nazi High Command of 29th January, 1943, providing for the enforcement of labour demands on Allied prisoners of war through the use of weapons and corporal punishment. I quote a brief excerpt from these instructions, beginning with the third sentence of the third numbered paragraph of Page 2 of the English translation of Document 656-PS, which reads as follows, and I quote:

"Should the prisoner of war not fulfil his order, then he" - that is the guard unit, the guard personnel - "then he has, in the case of the most pressing need and danger, the right to force obedience with arms

[Page 311]

if he has no other means. He can use arms as much as is necessary to attain his goal. If the assistant guard is not armed, then he is authorised to force obedience by other applicable means."
The Tribunal knows that under the Geneva Prisoners of War Convention of 1929, when prisoners of war prove derelict and refuse to carry out proper orders of the captive power or its forces, such prisoners of war are subject to court martial and military proceedings as if they were serving under their own forces. Here is a decree which, on its face, authorises or attempts to authorise guard personnel to use the rifle or other suitable means of violence, and, of course, your Lordship will understand it was this type of document we had in mind when we suggested that the decree of Bormann should be considered in the light of his other orders relating to the treatment of prisoners of war.

THE PRESIDENT: The Tribunal will adjourn now.

(A recess was taken.)

LIEUTENANT LAMBERT: The Tribunal will recall that at the close of the morning session I had been putting in a series of decrees of the defendant Bormann in which he called for increasingly harsh and severe treatment of Allied prisoners of war. These instructions issued by the defendant Bormann culminated in his decree of 30th September, 1944. The attention of the Tribunal is invited to Document 058-PS, previously put in as Exhibit USA 456. The Tribunal will recall that this decree of the defendant Bormann removed jurisdiction over all prisoners of war from the Nazi High Command and transferred it to Himmler. The decree also provided that all P.W. camp commanders should be under the orders of the local S.S. commanders. By virtue of this order, Hitler was enabled to proceed, with his programme of inhuman treatment and even extermination of Allied prisoners of war.

We now proceed to put in what the prosecution conceive to be extremely important and extremely, incriminating evidence against Bormann and the co-conspirators, that is, the responsibility of the defendant Bormann for the organised lynching of Allied airmen. I offer in evidence Document 062- PS, Exhibit USA 696, and I very respectfully request the Tribunal to turn to this document. On its face it is an order dated 13th March, 1940, by the defendant Hess addressed to Reichsleiters, Gauleiters and other Nazi officials and organisations. In this order these Party officials are instructed by the defendant Hess to direct the German civil population to arrest or liquidate all baled-out Allied fliers. I call the attention of the Tribunal to the third paragraph on the first page of the English translation of Document 062-PS. In the third paragraph Hess directs that these instructions, which I shall soon read, are to be passed out only orally to all - will the Tribunal please mark that - to all District Leaders or Kreisleiters, Ortsgruppenleiters, Zellenleiters and even the Block Leaders; that is to say, this order must be passed out by all the officials of the Leadership Corps to the Hoheitstrager, ranging from Reichsleiter down to and including the Blockleiter.

Now turn to Document 062-PS, and the Tribunal will find the instructions which Hess demanded be disseminated by the Leadership Corps orally: the lynching of Allied fliers. These directions are headed: "About behaviour in case of landings of enemy planes or parachutists." The first three instructions I omit, as not material to the basic point now being made. Instruction 4 reads, and I quote:

"Likewise enemy parachutists are immediately to be arrested or liquidated."

[Page 312]

It speaks for itself and requires no further comment from the prosecution.

Now in order to ensure the success of this scheme ordered by the defendant Hess, Bormann issued a secret letter, dated 30th May, 1944, to the officials - if the Tribunal will please mark - of the Leadership Corps of the Nazi Party, prohibiting any police measures or criminal proceedings against German civilians who had lynched or murdered Allied airmen. This document, our 057-PS, has been previously put in and received by the Tribunal in connection with the prosecution's case against the alleged criminal organisation, the Leadership Corps of the Nazi Party.

Now, may it please the Tribunal, that such lynchings, organised, authorised and consented to by defendant Bormann, actually took place, has since been fully and indisputably demonstrated by, trials by American Military Commissions, which have resulted in the conviction of German civilians for the murder of Allied fliers. I request the Tribunal to take judicial notice of Military Commission Order No. 2, Headquarters 15th U.S. Army, dated 23rd June, 1945. This order is our Document 2559-PS. This order imposed the sentence of death upon a German civilian for violation of the laws and usages of war in murdering an American airman who had baled out and landed without any means of defence.

The Tribunal will note, from that order of the American Military Commission, the 15th August, 1944, as the date of the crime; Bormann's order was dated May, 1944.

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