The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

The Trial of German Major War Criminals

Sitting at Nuremberg, Germany
21st January to 1st February, 1946

Fortieth Day: Tuesday, 22nd January, 1946
(Part 8 of 8)

[M. GERTHOFER continues]

[Page 73]

I now come to the Eighth section, which concerns miscellaneous levies.

(1) Spoliations in Tunisia.

The Germans went into Tunisia on 10 November 1942, and were driven out by the Allied Armies in May 1943. During this period they indulged in numerous acts of spoliation.

THE PRESIDENT: Do you think that it is necessary to go into details of the seizures in this part of the country, if they are on the same sort of level as they were in other parts of the country?

M. GERTHOFFER: Mr. President, it is similar; there is only one detail, and that concerns the amount. I believe the principle cannot be contested by anyone; therefore I shall go on.

Gentlemen, I shall also pass over the question of compulsory labour. I shall conclude my summary, however, by pointing out to the Tribunal that French economy suffered losses from the deportation of workers, a subject which was discussed by my colleague. We have calculated the losses in working hours and we estimate - and this will be my only remark - that French economy lost 12,550,000,000 working hours through the deportation of workers, a figure which does not include the number of workers who were more or less forced to work for the Germans in companies in France.

If you will permit me, gentlemen, I shall conclude this presentation concerning France by giving you a general review of the situation, and I shall refer once more to Hemmen, the economic dictator who actually ruined my country upon the orders of his masters, the defendants.

In the first five reports submitted, despite their apparently technical nature, the author shows the assurance of the victor who can allow himself to do anything. In the last report, of 15 December 1944, at Salzburg - the only one I shall refer to - Hemmen sought visibly, while giving his work a technical quality, to plead the case of Germany, that of his Nazi masters and his own case, but he succeeded, unwittingly, only in bringing forth an implacable accusation against the nefarious work with which he was entrusted. Here are some short extracts, gentlemen, of Hemmen's final report.

On Page 1 of his report, Page 2 of the French text, he implied the co-responsibility of the German leaders, and of Goering particularly. He writes as follows:

"According to the directive lines formulated on 5 July 1940 by the Reichsmarschall in charge of the Four-Year Plan, concerning the existing legal basis, the Armistice Convention does not give us rights in the economic domain in the part of France which is not occupied, not even when loosely interpreted."
A little farther on he admits blackmail in regard to the boundary lines, with these words, Page 3 of the translation:
"The Petain Government manifested from the beginning a strong desire, on the one hand, to rapidly re-establish the destroyed economy by means of German support, and on the other hand, to find work for the French workers in order to avoid the danger of unemployment, but above all the strong desire to see these two French zones, which were separated by this boundary line, once more joined together, to bring about an economic and administrative unity. It declared itself, at the same time, willing, to a great extent, to direct this unity under French management but in accordance with the German economic system, and to reorganise it completely according to the German model."

[Page 74]

Then Hemmen adds:
"In order substantially to mitigate the demarcation line, the Armistice Delegation has come to an agreement with the French Government to introduce German law in monetary matters into French legislation."
Farther on, concerning pressure, on Page 4 and Page 7 of the translation Hemmen wrote:
"Thereby the prices, which rose automatically, together with an unhindered development of the black market, were felt all the more strongly, because the salaries remained fixed by force."
I pass over the passage in which Hemmen speaks of French resistance. However, I should like to point out to the Tribunal that, on Page 13 and Page 29 of the translation, Hemmen tries to show, through financial evaluations and most questionable arguments, that the cost of the war per head was heavier for the Germans than for the French. He himself destroys with one word the whole system of defence which he had built up, by writing at the end of his bold calculations that "from autumn, 1940, to February 1944, the cost of living increased 166 per cent in France while in Germany it increased only 7 per cent." Now, gentlemen, it is, I am quite sure, through the increase in the cost of living that one measures the impoverishment of a country.

Last of all, on Page 4, and this is my last quotation from the Hemmen report, he admits the German crime in these terms:

"Through the removal, for years, of considerable quantities of property of every kind without economic compensation, a perceptible decrease in substance had resulted, with a corresponding increase in monetary circulation, which had led evermore noticeably to the phenomena of inflation, and especially to a devaluation of money and a lowering of purchasing power."
These material losses, one may say, can be repaired. Through work and saving we can re-establish, in a more or less distant future, the economic situation of the country. That is true, but there is one thing which can never be repaired, the results of privations upon the physical state of the population.

If the other German crimes, such as deportations, murders, massacres, make one shudder with horror, the crime which consisted of deliberately starving whole populations is no less odious.

In the occupied countries, in France notably, many persons died solely because of undernourishment and because of lack of heat. It is estimated that people require from 3,000 to 3,500 calories a day, and manual labourers about 4,000. From the beginning of the rationing in September 1940 only 1,800 calories per person per day were distributed. Successively the ration decreased to 1,700 calories in 1942, then to 1,500, and finally fell to 1,200 and 900 calories a day for adults and to 1,380 and 1,300 for manual labourers; old persons were given only 850 calories a day.

But the true situation was still worse than the ration theoretically allotted through ration cards, for, in fact, frequently a certain number of coupons were not honoured.

The Germans could not fail to recognise the disastrous situation as far as public health was concerned, since they themselves estimated in the course of the war of 1914-1918 that the distribution of 1,700 calories a day was a regime of slow starvation, leading to death.

What aggravated the situation still more was the quality of the rations which were distributed. Bread was of the poorest quality; milk, when there was any, was skimmed to the point where the percentage of fat content amounted to only 3 per cent. The small amount of meat given to the population was of bad quality. Fish had disappeared from the market. If we add to that an almost total lack of clothing, shoes and fuel- frequently neither schools nor

[Page 75]

hospitals were heated-one may easily understand what the physical condition of the population was.

Incurable diseases such as tuberculosis developed, and will continue to extend their ravages for many years. The growth of children and adolescents is seriously impaired. The future of the race is a cause for the greatest concern.

The results of economic spoliation will be felt for an indefinite period.

THE PRESIDENT: Could you tell me what evidence you have for your figures of calories?

M. GERTHOFFER: I am going to show you this at the end of my presentation. It is a report of a professor at the Medical School of Paris who has been specially commissioned by the Dean of the University to make a report on the results of undernourishment. I am to quote it at the end of my statement. I am almost there.


The results of this economic spoliation will be felt for an indefinite length of time. The exhaustion is such that, despite the generous aid brought by the United Nations, the situation of the occupied countries, taken as a whole, is still alarming. In fact, the complete absence of stocks, the insufficiency of the means of production and of transportation, the reduction of livestock and the economic disorganisation, do not permit the allotting of sufficient rations at this time. This poverty, which strikes all occupied countries, can disappear only gradually over a long period of time, the length of which no one can yet determine.

If, in certain rich agricultural regions, the producers were able, during occupation, to have, and still do have a privileged situation from the point of view of food supply, the same is not true in the poorer regions nor in urban centres.

If we consider that in France the urban population is rather more numerous than the rural population, we can state clearly that the great majority of the French population was, and still remains subject to a food regime definitely insufficient.

Professor Guy Laroche, delegated by the Dean of the Faculty of Medicine of Paris to study the consequences of undernourishment in France as a result of German levies, has just sent a report on this question.

I do not wish to prolong my explanation by reading the entire report. I shall ask the Tribunal's permission to quote the conclusion, which I submit as Exhibit RF 284-bis. I received the entire report only a few days ago. It is submitted in its entirety, but I have not been able to have 50 copies made of it. Two copies have been made and are being submitted. Here are Dr. Laroche's conclusions:

"We see how great was the crime of rationing, which was imposed by the Germans upon the French during the occupation period from 1940 to 1944. It is difficult to give exact figures for the number of human lives lost due to excessive rationing. We would need general statistics, and these we have been unable to establish.

Nevertheless, without overestimating, we may well believe that, including patients in institutions, the loss of human life from 1940 to 1944 amounted to at least 150,000 persons. We must add a great number of cases, which were not fatal, of physical and intellectual decline, often incurable, of underdevelopment of children, and so forth.

We think that we can draw from this presentation, which unfortunately is incomplete, three conclusions:

(1) The German occupation authorities deliberately sacrificed the lives of patients in public institutions and hospitals.

(2) Everything happened as if they had wished to organise, in a rational

[Page 76]

and scientific fashion, the weakening of the health of adolescents and adults.

(3) Unweaned children and young children received a normal ration it is probable that this privileged position can be explained by the fact that the Nazi leaders hoped to spread their doctrine more easily among beings who would not have known any other conditions of life and who would, because of a planned education, have accepted their doctrine, since they knew they could not expect to convince adolescents and adults through use of force."

The report is signed by Professor Guy Laroche.

This report, gentlemen, has attached to it a photograph, which you will find at the end of the document book. I permit myself to hand it to you. The unfortunate beings that you see in that picture are not the victims of a concentration or reprisal camp. They are simply the patients of an asylum in the outskirts of Paris who fell into this state of physical weakness as a result of undernourishment. If these men had had the diet of the asylum prior to rationing, they would have been as strong as normal people. Unfortunately for them they were reduced to the official rationing and were unable to obtain the slightest supplement.

Let not my adversaries say that the German people have reached any such degree of starvation.

I should reply that, in the first place, this is not correct. The German was not cold for four years; he was not undernourished. On the contrary, he was well fed, warmly clothed, warm, with products stolen from the occupied countries, at the expense of the minimum which was necessary for the existence of the peoples of these countries.

Remember, gentlemen, the words of Goering when he said "If famine is to reign, it will in any case not reign in Germany."

Secondly I should say to my adversaries, if they made such an objection that the Germans and their Nazi leaders wanted the war which they launched, but had no right to starve other peoples in order to carry out their attempt at world domination. If today they are in a difficult situation, it is the result of their conduct, and they seem to have no right to plead the famous sentence: "I did not want that."

I have concluded my explanatory remarks. If you will permit me, I will finish in two minutes the whole of this presentation, by reminding the Tribunal, in a few words, what the premeditated crime was, of which the German administrators have been accused from the economic point of view.

The application of racial theories and theories of living space was to engender an economic situation which could not be solved and which was to force the Nazi leaders to war.

In a modern society, because of the division of work, of its concentration and of its scientific organisation, the concept of national capital takes on more and more a primary importance, whatever may be the social principles of its distribution between nationals, or its possession in all or in part by States.

Now, national capital, public or private, is constituted by the joint effort of labour and of savings of successive generations.

Saving, or the putting in reserve of the products of labour as a result of privations which were freely consented to, must exist in proportion to the needs of the concentration of industrial enterprises of the country.

In Germany, a country highly industrialised, this equilibrium did not exist. In fact, the expenditures, private or public, of this country surpassed its means; saving was insufficient. The establishment of a system of compulsory savings was formulated only through the creation of new taxes, and has never replaced true savings.

[Page 77]

As a result of the war of 1914-1918, after having freed herself of the burden of reparations, (and I shall point out that two-thirds of the sum remained charged to France as far as that country is concerned) Germany, who had established her gold reserve in 1926, began a policy of foreign borrowing, and spent without counting. Finding it impossible to keep her agreements, she could find no more creditors.

After Hitler's accession to power her policy became more definite. She isolated herself in a closed economic system, utilising all her resources for the preparation of a war which would permit her - or at least that is what she hoped - to take, through force, the property of her Western neighbours, and then to turn against the Soviet Union in the hope of exploiting, for her own profits, the immense wealth of that great country.

This is the application of the theories formulated in "Mein Kampf" which had as a corollary the enslavement and then the extermination of the populations of conquered countries.

In the course of the occupation, the invaded nations were systematically pillaged and brutally enslaved, and this would have permitted Germany to obtain her war aims, that is to say, to take the patrimony of the invaded countries, and to exterminate their populations gradually, had the valour of the United Nations not freed them.

Instead of becoming enriched from the looted property, Germany had to sink into a war, which she had provoked, until the very moment of her collapse.

Such actions, knowingly perpetrated and executed by the German leaders contrary to International Law, and clearly contrary to the Hague Conventions, as well as the general principles of penal law in force in all civilised nations, constituted War Crimes, for which they must answer before your High Jurisdiction.

Mr. President, I should like to add that the French Prosecution had intended to present a statement on the pillage of works of art in the occupied countries of Western Europe. But this question has already been discussed in two briefs of our American colleagues, briefs which seem to us to establish beyond any question the responsibility of the defendants. In order not to prolong the hearing, the French Prosecution feels that it is its duty to refrain from presenting this question again, but we remain respectfully at the disposal of the Tribunal in case in the course of the trial they feel they need further information on this question.

The presentation of the French Prosecution is concluded. I shall give the floor to Captain Sprecher of the American Delegation, who will give a statement on the responsibility of the defendant Fritzsche.

CAPTAIN SPRECHER: May it please the Tribunal, I notice that Dr. Fritz, the defendant's attorney, is not here, and, in view of the late hour, it would be agreeable if we hold it over until tomorrow.

THE PRESIDENT: It is five o'clock, so we shall adjourn in any event now.

(The Tribunal adjourned until 1000 hours on 23 January 1946)

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