The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

The Trial of German Major War Criminals

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

Forty-Second Day: Thursday, 24rd January, 1946
(Part 4 of 7)

[Page 132]

M. DUBOST: "The population of these communities must expect that reprisals will be taken against private property, and that houses or whole blocks will be destroyed."

THE PRESIDENT: M. Dubost, are you reading from C-46?

M. DUBOST: I have only submitted it.

THE PRESIDENT: Are you reading from some other document?

M. DUBOST: I quote now from another document, the warning of Seyss-Inquart to Holland.

THE PRESIDENT: What number is that?

M. DUBOST : Exhibit RF 152, in your document book concerning German justice, which will be submitted for the hearing tomorrow.

THE PRESIDENT: M. Dubost, are you now proposing to read from some document which is not in our document book?

M. DUBOST: I shall postpone it until tomorrow, Mr. President.

THE PRESIDENT: Very well, you will read it tomorrow.

M. DUBOST: For Norway and Denmark we have several documents which establish that the same policy of execution of hostages was followed. We have, notably, Document C-48, from which I read a short time ago.

All those special orders for each of the occupied regions of the West are the result of the general order of Keitel, which my American colleagues have already read, and on which I merely commented this morning. The responsibility of Keitel in the development of the policy of execution of hostages is total. He was given warning: German generals even told him that this policy went beyond the aim pursued and might become dangerous.

On 16 September 1942, General Falkenhausen addressed a letter to him, from which I extract the following passage: it is Document 1594-PS, which I submit as Exhibit RF 281:

I quote:

"In the Appendix is forwarded a table of the shootings of hostages which have taken place until now in my area, and the occurrences on account of which these shootings took place.

In a great number of cases, particularly the most serious, the perpetrators were apprehended and sentenced.

This result is doubtless unsatisfactory to a great degree. It acts not so much as a deterrent, as an instrument for inciting the feelings of the population under communist influence with the rest of the population. All circles become joined with a common feeling of hatred toward the occupying forces, and effective inciting material is given to enemy propaganda. Thereby military dangers and general political reactions of an entirely unwanted nature follow. Signed: Falkenhausen."

Further there is Document 1587-PS, a further letter from the same German General, and he seems to make himself quite clear-third paragraph of the fourth sheet.
"In several cases the authors of aggression or acts of sabotage were discovered when the hostages had already been shot, shortly after the criminal acts had been committed according to instructions. Moreover, the real culprits often did not belong to the same circles as the hostages. There is no doubt that in such cases the execution of hostages does not inspire terror in the population, but indifference to repressive measures, and even resentment on the part of some sections of the population, who until then had displayed a passive attitude. The result for the occupying power is therefore negative, as planned and intended by the English agents, who were often the instigators of these acts. It will therefore be necessary to prolong the delays in cases where there is hope that we may arrest the culprits. I therefore request that you leave to me

[Page 133]

the responsibility for fixing such delays, in order that the greatest possible success in the fight against terrorist acts may be obtained."
THE PRESIDENT: Is the date of that document known?

M. DUBOST: It is after 16 September 1941. We do not know the exact date. The document is appended to another, the date of which is illegible, but it is after Keitel's order, since it accounts for the executions of hostages, carried out in compliance with that order. It points out that after the execution of the hostages the culprits were found, and that the effect was deplorable and aroused the resentment of some of the population.

You will find also in this Document 1587-PS, on Page 2 - but this time it is an extract from the monthly report of the Commander of the Wehrmacht in the Netherlands, the report for the month of August, 1942,- a new warning to Keitel:

"B. Special events and the political situation:

On the occasion of an attempt against a leave train, due to arrive in Rotterdam, a Dutch rail guard was seriously wounded by touching a wire connected with an explosive charge, thus causing an explosion. The following repressive measures were announced in the Dutch Press:

The expiration of the time appointed for the arrest of the perpetrators, with the help of the population, is fixed at 14 August, midnight. A reward of 100,000 florins is offered for a denunciation, which will remain confidential. If the culprits are not arrested within the time appointed, arrests of hostages are threatened; railway lines will be guarded by Dutchmen.

Since, despite this summons, the perpetrator did not report and was not otherwise discovered, the following persons, among whom some had already been in custody for several weeks as hostages, were shot on the order of the Higher SS and Police Fuehrer ... "

I will pass over the enumeration of the names. I omit the next paragraph.
"Public opinion was particularly impressed - "
THE PRESIDENT: Could you read the names and the titles? M. DUBOST: "Ruys, Willem, Director General, Rotterdam; Count E.O. G. van Limburg-Stirum, Arnheim; Baelde, Robert, Doctor of Law, Rotterdam Bennekers, Christoffel, former Inspector General of the Police at Rotterdam Baron Alexander Schimmelpennink van der Oye-Noordgouwe, Zeeland."

One paragraph further on:

"Public opinion was particularly impressed by the execution of these hostages. The enclosed reports express the opinion that, from the beginning of the occupation, no stroke inflicted by the Germans was more deeply felt. Many anonymous letters, and even some signed letters, were sent to the Commander of the Wehrmacht, who was considered as responsible for this 'unheard-of event,' an opinion which certainly prevailed among the mass of the Dutch people. From the bitterest insults to pious petitions and prayers - not to resort to the extreme, no nuance was lacking which did not, in one way or another, indicate, to say the least, complete disapproval and misunderstanding, both of the threat, and of the actual execution of the hostages. Reproaches of the most severe infractions of law (which were based on a serious argument and must have been carefully considered) and also expressions of disappointment on the part of idealists, who, in spite of all that had occurred in the political sphere, still believed in an understanding between Germans and Dutch - all this was found in the correspondence. In addition, the reproach was voiced that such methods were only doing the work of the communists

[Page 134]

who must have been jubilant at their achievement as the real instigators and saboteurs, in adding to the success of their sabotage the pleasure of seeing 'such hostages' disposed of.

In short: such disapproval even in the ranks of the very few really pro-German Dutch had never been seen, so much hatred at one time had never been felt.

Signed : Schneider, Captain."

Despite these warnings proffered by conscientious subordinates, neither the General Staff nor Keitel ever gave any order to the contrary. The order of 16 September 1941, always remained in force. When I have shown you examples of executions of hostages in France you will see that a number of facts which I shall refer to are dated 1942, 1943 and even 1944.

(A recess was taken)

COURT OFFICER May it please your Honour, the defendants Kaltenbrunner and Streicher will continue to be absent during this afternoon's session.

M. DUBOST: This morning I had finished presenting the general rules which prevailed during the five years of occupation, in the matter of the execution of numerous hostages in the occupied countries of the West. I bring the evidence before you by reading a series of official German documents, proving that the highest authorities of the Army, of the Party and of the Nazi Government, had deliberately chosen to practise a terroristic policy through the seizure of hostages.

Before passing to the examination of a few particular cases, it seems to me to be necessary to say exactly whereof this policy consisted, in the light of the texts which I have quoted.

According to the circumstances, people belonging by choice or ethnically to the vanquished nations were apprehended, and held as a guarantee for the maintenance of order in a given sector, or after a given incident of which the enemy army had been the victim. They were apprehended and held with a view to forcing the vanquished population to carry out acts determined by the occupying authority, such as: denunciation, payment of collective fines, the handing over of perpetrators of assaults committed against the German Army, and the handing over of political adversaries. The persons thus arrested were very often massacred subsequently by way of reprisal.

From such methods the following appears: Any human being is subject, at the will of the enemy, to seizure as a hostage, and so becomes a private guarantor for the conduct of his fellows.

How contrary is this to the rights of individual liberty, of human dignity?

All the members of the German Government are jointly responsible for this iniquitous concept and for its application in our vanquished countries. No member of the German Government can throw this responsibility on to subordinates by claiming that they merely executed clearly determined orders with an excess of zeal.

I have shown you that upon many occasions, on the contrary, the persons who carried out the orders reported to the Chiefs the moral consequences resulting from the application of the terroristic policy of hostages. And we know that in no case were contrary orders given. We know that the original orders were always maintained.

I shall not endeavour to enumerate fully all the cases of executions of hostages for our country. In France alone, there were 29,660 executions. This is proved in Document RF 420 dated Paris, 21 December 1945, the original of which will be submitted as Exhibit RF 266.

It is at the beginning of the document book, the second document. You see

[Page 135]

there in detail, region by region, the number of the hostages who were executed.

For the region of:

Clermont Ferrand..441


I shall limit my presentation to a few typical cases of executions which unveil the political plan of the General Staff which prescribed these executions - plans of terror, plans that were intended to create and accentuate the division between Frenchmen, or, more generally, between citizens of the occupied countries.

You will find in your document book a brief quoted 133-F, which I submit as Exhibit RF 288. This is called "Posters of the Paris Region," Document 133-F. At the head of the page you will read, "Pariser-Zeitung." This document reproduces a few of the very numerous posters and bills, and some of the numerous notices inserted in the Press from 1940 to 1945, announcing the arrest of hostages in Paris, in the Region of Paris and in France. I shall read only one of these documents, which you will find on the second page. It is the one entitled No. 6, 19 September 1941. You will see in it an appeal to inform, an appeal to treason, you will see means of corruption, means which systematically applied to all the countries of the West for years, all tended to demoralize them to an equal extent:

"21 August. Appeal to the population of occupied territories. On 21 August a German soldier was shot in an attack by cowardly murderers. In consequence, I ordered, on 23 August, that hostages be taken, and threatened to have a certain number of them shot, in the case of such an assault being repeated. New crimes have obliged me to put this threat into effect.

In spite of this, new assaults have taken place.

I recognise that the great majority of the population is conscious of its duty, which is to help the authorities in their unremitting effort to maintain calm and order in the country, in the very interest of this population."

And here is the appeal to denunciation.
"But among you there are agents paid by powers hostile to Germany, Communist criminal elements who have only one aim, which is to sow discord between the occupying power and the French population. These

[Page 136]

elements are completely indifferent to the consequences for the entire population which result from their activity.

I will no longer allow the lives of German soldiers to be threatened by these assassins. I shall stop at no measure in order to fulfil my duty, however stringent it may be.

But it is likewise my duty to make the whole population responsible for the fact that, up to the present, it has not yet been possible to lay hands on the cowardly murderers, and to impose upon them the penalty which they deserve.

That is why I have found it necessary - first of all for Paris - to take measures, which - unfortunately - will hinder the everyday life of the entire population. Frenchmen, it depends on you whether I am obliged to increase the severity of these measures, or whether they can again be suspended.

I appeal to you all, to your administration and to your police, to cooperate, through your extreme vigilance and your active personal intervention, in the arrest of the guilty. It is necessary, by anticipating and denouncing the criminal activities, to avoid the creation of a critical situation which would plunge the country into misfortune.

He who fires in ambush on German soldiers who are only doing their duty here, and who are safeguarding the maintenance of a normal life, is not a patriot, but a cowardly assassin and the enemy of all decent people.

Frenchmen! I count on you to understand these measures which I am taking, which are only in your own interests. Signed von Stulpnagel."

Numerous notices follow which all have to do with executions.

Under No. 8 on the following page you will find a list of twelve names, among which are three of the best known lawyers of the Paris Bar, who are characterised as militant Communists : Pitard, Hajje and Rolnikas.

In file 21, submitted by my colleague M. Gerthoffer, in the course of his economic presentation, you will find a few notices which are similar, published in the official German newspaper "VOBIF."

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