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-Eighth Day: Friday, 1st February, 1946
(Part 4 of 8)

[M. EDGAR FAURE continues]

[Page 352]

I should like to make one citation of an article which is particularly significant, published in the "Dernieres Nouvelles de Strasbourg" on the 30 March 1943. This is not introduced as a document; it is merely a quotation of a published article. When we read this article, we think it at first a joke, but we see, subsequently, that it is quite serious, because actual reprisals are there extolled against people who sabotaged the German language.

I cite:

"Germans greet one another with ' Heil Hitler.' We do not want any more French greetings, which we still hear constantly in a thousand different forms. The elegant salutation 'Bonjour' is not made for the rough Alsatian throats, accustomed to the German tongue since the distant epoch of Osfried von Weissenburg. The Alsation hurts our ears when he says 'beschurr!' When he says 'Au Revoir', the French think they are listening to an Arabic word, which sounds like 'arwar.' Sometimes they say 'Adje ' (Adieu).

These phonetic monstrosities which disfigure our beautiful Alsatian Germanic dialect resemble a thistle in a flower bed. Let us weed them out! They are not worthy of Alsace. Do you believe feminine susceptibility is wounded by saying 'Frau' instead of 'Madame'? We are sure that Alsatians will drop the habit of linguistic whims so that the authorities will not have to use rigorous measures against saboteurs of the German language."

After this attack on the language, the National Socialists attack music. This is the purpose of a decree of 1st March 1941, signed by Dressler, the Chief of Administration for Alsace, Department of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda.

This is Exhibit RF 704, published in the German Official Journal (Verordnungsblatt) Page 170, of the year 1941. I shall cite only the title of this decree: "Concerning Undesirable and Unwholesome Music." The first lines are:

"Musical works contrary to the cultural will of National Socialists will be placed on a list of undesirable and unwholesome music, by the Department for Public Enlightenment and Propaganda."
After music, now, we have the question of headgear. In this regulation the ridiculous constantly disputes supremacy with the odious. I would almost like to ask the Tribunal to pardon me, but, truly, nothing in this is invented by us.

Here is Exhibit RF 705. It is a decree of December 13, 1941, published in the Official Bulletin of 1941, Page 744. It concerns the wearing of French berets (Basque: berets in Alsace).

I read only the first paragraph:

"The wearing of French berets (Basque berets) is forbidden in Alsace. Under this prohibition are included all berets which by form or appearance resemble French berets."
I may add that any violation of this decree was punishable by fine or prison.

The leaders also undertook a long struggle against French flags which the inhabitants kept in their homes. I cite as an example Exhibit RF 706, a German administrative document which we found in the archives of the Gau Administration of Strasbourg. It is dated 19 February 1941. I read three paragraphs of this document.

"The Gauleiter desires that through the organisation of Block and Zellenleiter (Section Heads) it be recommended to the Alsatian population

[Page 353]

that they unstitch French flags which they still have in their possession and use them in an adequate way for household needs.

By the 1st of May next no French flag should be in private hands. This operation must be carried out in the following way. The Blockleiter (Section heads) will visit the houses one by one and recommend that the families use flags for household needs.

It must also be pointed out that after the 1st of May next we will draw the proper conclusion concerning the attitude of proprietors or householders in whose homes we still find French flags in private hands."

The following document, submitted as Exhibit RF 707, is also an administrative memorandum on the same subject, dated Strasbourg, April 26, 1941, of which I should like to read only the last sentence:
"If, after 1st June 1941, Alsatians still are found to have French flags in their possession, they will have to spend one year in a concentration camp."
The Nazis feared French influence to such a degree that they even took a special measure to prevent the coming to Alsace of French workers among the labourers brought into this territory for compulsory labour service. This is the purpose of a memorandum of the 7 September 1942 of the civil administration in Alsace, submitted as Exhibit RF 708, which was also found in the archives of the Gauleiteung of Strasbourg. I read the first few lines:
"Given the general situation of the labour market, the Chief of the Civil Administration has decided that foreign labour from all European countries could, in the future, be used in Alsace. There is an exception, however, for French and Belgians, who cannot be employed in Alsace."
The German undertaking against the French sentiment of Alsatians.

THE PRESIDENT: The translation which came through to me was "must." It came through that the foreign workers of all countries of Europe must in the future, be used. The word is "pouvait." That does not mean "must," does it? It is "pouvait." Does that not mean "could?"

M. FAURE: "Could," according to necessity; the interesting aspect is that those who are French may not work there, even if labour is needed in Alsace.

The German undertaking against the French sentiments of the Alsatians found its complementary aspect in the attempt also to destroy anything which might be an indication of Alsace belonging to the Motherland, France. I shall cite one example in relation to this point. This is our Document RF 709.

It is a letter of the German Ambassador in Paris, May 7, 1941, which is reproduced in a memorandum of the General Delegation of the French Government, found in the archives of the government. I read this Document 709, which is short:

"The German Embassy has the honour to point out the following to the General Delegation of the French Government in occupied territory.

The German Embassy has been informed that in a series of reports on a theme concerning the Fatherland, a French radio station in the nonoccupied territory, on 16 or 17 April 1941, about 21 hours, is said to have made a broadcast about the village of Brumath."

As Brumath, near Strasbourg, is in a German language territory, the German Ambassador requests that they inform him if such a broadcast was actually made."

There exist numerous protests of this kind, which fortunately have often had an anecdotic character. We must now cite two especially serious cases, for they included assault, flagrant violations of sovereignty, and even crimes.

The first case concerns the seizure and profanation of the treasure of the cathedral of Strasbourg. I shall submit, concerning this subject, Exhibit

[Page 354]
RF 710, which is a letter of protest of 14 August 1943, written by General Berard, President of the French delegation of the Armistice Commission. I read the beginning of the letter and repeat that the date is 14 August 1943:
"Dear General,

From the beginning of the war, the treasure of Strasbourg Cathedral and the property of certain parishes of this diocese had been entrusted by Monsiegneur Ruch, Bishop of Strasbourg, to the Beaux- Arts Department. This Department had put them in a safe place in the castles of Hautefort and of Bourdeilles in Dordogne, where they still were on the date of 20 May 1943.

The treasures and this property included in particular, the pontificalia reserved for the exclusive use of the Bishop, several of which were his personal property; the relics of saints; and vessels or objects for the performance of ceremonies.

After having sought on several occasions, but in vain, to obtain the consent of Monseigneur Ruch, the Ministerial Counsellor Kraft on the 20th of May, requested not only the prefect of Dordogne, but also the director of religious matters, for authority to remove the objects deposited. Faced with the refusal of these high officials, he declared that the repatriation to Alsace of the property of the Catholic Church would be entrusted to the Sicherheitspolizei.

As a result, at dawn on 21 May, the castles of Hautefort and Bourdeilles were entered and occupied by troops, despite the protests of the guardian. The sacred objects were placed in trucks and taken to an unknown destination.

This seizure, moreover, was extended to consecrated vases, vessels and ceremonial objects, and the relics of saints worshipped by the faithful. The seizure of these sacred objects by laymen not legally authorised, and the conditions under which the operation was carried out, aroused the emotion and unanimous reprobation of the faithful"

Relative to this document I would like to emphasise to the Tribunal one fact which we shall find frequently hereafter, and which is, in our opinion, very important in this trial. It is the constant collaboration of different or diverse German administrations. Thus, the Tribunal must through this document, see that Ministerial Counsellor Kraft, belonging to the civilian service dealing with national education, appeals to the police of the SS to obtain objects which he cannot obtain through his own efforts.

The second case which I would like to cite concerns the University of Strasbourg.

From the beginning of the war, the University of Strasbourg, which was one of the finest in France, had withdrawn to Clermont-Ferrand to continue its teaching there. After the occupation of Alsace, and since this occupation really meant annexation, it was not reinstated in Strasbourg but remained in its city of refuge. The Nazis expressed their great disapproval of this in numerous, threatening memoranda.

We would like to submit Exhibit RF 711 relative to this. In this we shall again come across the Ministerial Counsellor, Herbert Kraft, about whom I spoke in the preceding document. The document which is an original memorandum signed by Kraft, was found in the archives of the German Embassy.

In this memorandum, which is dated 4 July 1941, Counsellor Kraft expresses his disappointment at the result of steps which he had undertaken with the rector of the University of Strasbourg, M. Danjon.

I believe that it is adequate if I read a very short passage of this memorandum in order to show the insolence and the threatening methods which the Germans

[Page 355]

used, even in that part of France which was not yet occupied. The passage which I am going to read will be the last paragraph on page 2. Mr. Kraft relates the end of his conversation with the rector. I cite:
"I cut the conversation short, arose, and asked him if, by chance, the decisions of Admiral Darlan did not represent for him an order from his government. As I went out I added, 'I hope that they will arrest you.' He ran after me, made me repeat my remark, and as I went off he said to me, ironically, that it would be for him a great honour."
This document gives an amusing impression, but the matter as a whole was very serious.

The 15 June 1943, the German Embassy wrote a note which I submit as Exhibit RF 712. This is an extract from the archives of the High Court and has been certified by the clerk of that jurisdiction. Here is the text. I shall not read the beginning of it.

"The German Embassy feels that it is extremely desirable to find a solution of the affair of the University of Strasbourg at Clermont-Ferrand.

We would be happy to learn that no further publication would appear under the heading 'University of Strasbourg' so that new disagreements may not result from publications of that kind.

The German Embassy has taken note of the fact that the Ministry of National Education can no longer fill vacant professorial chairs.

We request that in the future no examination certificate mentioning 'University of Strasbourg' be awarded."

I must, in concluding this subject of the University of Strasbourg, point out to the Tribunal a fact which is notorious. On Thursday, 25 November 1943, the German police took possession of the buildings of the University of Strasbourg in Clermont-Ferrand, arrested the professors and students, screened them, and deported a great number of persons. During this operation, they even shot at two professors; one was killed and the other seriously wounded.

I will be able to produce a document relative to this, but I think that is not indispensable since there is not any proof for the prosecution that these murders were committed under orders which definitely show governmental responsibility.

THE PRESIDENT: M. Faure, did you say that you had or had not got proof of the facts that you have just stated about the seizure of the property of the university?

M. FAURE: I said just this, Mr. President: We consider that these facts are facts of public knowledge, because of the interpretation which was given by the Tribunal. I have considered that it would be better to prove it by a document. As this document was not added to my file at that time, it will be submitted as an appendix. I am going to read a passage of this document, but I should like to explain that it is not found in its proper place as I added it to the brief after the statement of the Tribunal the other day on the interpretation of facts of "public knowledge."

THE PRESIDENT: The Court will adjourn now.

Tomorrow being Saturday, the Tribunal will sit from 1000 o'clock in the morning until 0100 o'clock. We will then adjourn.

DR. KAUFFMANN (Counsel for the defendant Kaltenbrunner): It was said that this afternoon there will be a witness. I would like to ask that this testimony be postponed to another day. I believe that we have reached a so-called silent agreement that we will be notified in advance as to whether there will be witnesses and what the subject of their evidence will be.

I do not know whether there will be cross-examination, but the possibility exists, of course, and pertinent questions can only be put when we know, first of all, who the witness is to be, and secondly, what the subject will be on which the witness is to be cross-examined, just a clue perhaps.

[Page 356]

THE PRESIDENT: The Tribunal does not think it is necessary to postpone the evidence of this witness. As a matter of courtesy on the part of the prosecution, it would be well, perhaps, that the subject matter - not necessarily the name, but the subject matter upon which the witness is to give evidence - should be communicated to the defence so that they may prepare themselves upon that subject matter for any cross-examination.

I understand that this afternoon you propose to call a witness who will deal with the circumstances in respect to the German occupation of Luxembourg. That is right, is it not?

M. FAURE: Yes, Mr. President.

THE PRESIDENT: Perhaps you will give the defendant's counsel the subject matter upon which they can prepare themselves for cross-examination. I am told that this subject matter has already been communicated to the defendants and is on their bulletin board at the present moment.

(A recess was taken)

MARSHAL OF THE COURT: May it please the Court, I desire to announce that the defendants Kaltenbrunner, Seyss-Inquart and Streicher will be absent from this afternoon's session on account of illness.

THE PRESIDENT: The question which was raised this morning about certain documents has been investigated, and the Tribunal understands that the documents were placed in the defence counsel's Information Centre yesterday, but it may be that the misunderstanding arose owing to those documents not having been in any way indexed, and it would, I think, be very helpful to the defence counsel if prosecuting counsel could, with the documents, deposit also some sort of index which would enable the defence counsel to find them.

M. FAURE: It is understood that we shall present a table of contents of the documents to the German defence.

THE PRESIDENT: I think if you could, yes.

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