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 6 of 8)

[Page 361]

I shall not go into details regarding these German procedures for voluntary recruitment. I should like simply to give, by way of example, the subject matter of Exhibit RF 733. It is an appeal posted in Alsace on the 15 of January 1942 and constitutes one of the appendices of the governmental report, which was submitted under Document UK 72. In this document, I shall read only the first sentence of the second paragraph:
"Alsatians: Since the beginning of the campaign in the East, hundreds of Alsatians have freely decided to march as volunteers, side by side with the men of the other German regions against the enemy of civilisation and European culture," etc.
For anyone who knows German propaganda and its technique of exaggeration, the term "Hundreds" which is used in this document immediately betrays the failure of the Nazi recruiters. "Hundreds " may obviously be translated by "tens," and it must be admitted that this was a very poor supply for the Wehrmacht.

During the period that I am speaking of, the Nazis practised, in regard to nationality, a policy similar to their policy in recruiting military forces, i.e. a policy of nationalisation by choice. They appealed for volunteers for German nationality. It is desirable to quote in this regard an ordinance of 20 January 1942, a general ordinance of the Reich, not a special one for the annexed territories.

This ordinance, in its first article, increases the possibilities of naturalisation which until then had been extremely limited, in accordance with the Reich statute book. In Article 3 it gives the following provision: (This ordinance is not produced in the document book, for it is an ordinance of the German Reich, and, therefore, a public document.)

"The Reich Minister of the Interior may, by means of a general regulation, grant German nationality to categories of foreigners established on a territory placed under the sovereign power of Germany or having their origin in such territory."
In connection with this earlier period, it is necessary to stress that natives of Alsace-Lorraine who did not become German citizens did not retain their French nationality either. They are all considered as German subjects. They are qualified in the documents of the period as "members of the German community (Volksdeutsch)" and are consequently liable for German labour service. I submit Exhibit RF 734 in this connection, "Regulation of 27 August 1932, on compulsory military service and on labour service in Alsace." I shall return to this document presently with regard to military service, but I would like to quote now the passage relating to service in the Hitler Youth - one of which bears an earlier date - the ordinance of 2 January 1942 for Alsace, and ordinance of 4 August 1942 for Lorraine.

The German policy regarding nationality and military recruiting reaches its turning point in the month of August 1942. At this moment, on account of military difficulties and the need for extensive recruiting, the Germans instituted compulsory military service in Lorraine by an ordinance of 19 August, 1942, and in Alsace by an ordinance of 25 August 1942. These two ordinances, relative to the introduction of compulsory military service, constitute Exhibit RF 735, ordinance for Lorraine, and Exhibit RF 736, ordinance for Alsace. At the same time, the Germans promulgated an ordinance of 23 August

[Page 362]

1942 on German nationality in Alsace, Lorraine and Luxembourg. This text is the subject of a circular issued by the Reich Minister of the Interior, which constitutes Exhibit RF 737. I should like simply to summarise for the Tribunal the provisions of the various texts, which it would take too long to read. These provisions are the following:

Full rights of nationality are acquired by natives of Alsace and Lorraine and Luxembourgers in the following cases:

Firstly, when they have been or will be called upon to serve in the armed forces of the Reich or in SS armed formations; secondly, when they are recognised as having acted as good Germans.

As concerns the expression "of German origin," which is used in these texts, this concerns Alsatians and Lorrainians who have become French either through the Treaty of Versailles or subsequently, on condition of having previously been German nationals, or having transferred their domicile from Alsace or Lorraine to the territory of the Reich after 1st September 1939; and finally, children, grandchildren, and wives of the preceding categories of persons are likewise considered as of German origin.

Lastly, it was anticipated that the Alsatians, Lorrainians and Luxembourgers who did not acquire German nationality absolutely could obtain it provisionally.

I should like to mention, to complete this question of nationality, that an ordinance of the 2 February 1943 gave details as to the German nationality laws applicable in Alsace, and that an ordinance of the 2 November 1943 likewise conferred German nationality upon persons who had been in concentration camps during the war.

The German texts indicate that, on the one hand, German nationality was imposed upon a great number of persons; and, on the other hand, that Alsatian and Lothringians who were French were forced to comply with the exorbitant and truly criminal requirements of military service in the German Army against their own country. These military obligations were constantly extended by the calling-up of successive classes, as far as the 1908 class.

These German exigencies provoked a solemn protest on the part of the French National Committee, which in London represented the Free French government authority. I should like to read to the Tribunal the text of this protest, which is dated 16 September 1942, and which I submit as Exhibit RF 739. I shall merely read the three paragraphs of the official protest, which constitute the beginning of this document of the Information Agency in London.

"After having proclaimed, in the course of the war, the annexation of Alsace and Lorraine, banished and robbed a great number of the inhabitants and enforced the most rigorous measures of Germanisation, the Reich now constrains Alsatians and Lothringians, declared German by the Reich, to serve in the German Armies against their own compatriots and against the allies of France.

The National Committee, defender of the integrity and of the unity of France, and trustee of the principle of the rights of peoples, protests, in the face of the civilised world, against these new crimes committed in contempt of international conventions against the will of populations ardently attached to France. It proclaims as inviolable the right of Alsatians and of Lorrainians to remain members of the French family."

This protest could not have been unknown to the Germans, for it was read and commented on over the radio by the French National Commissioner of Justice, Professor Fene Cassin, on a number of occasions.

In regard to this solemn protest on the part of France, I shall allow myself to quote the "justification," if one may use this term, which was furnished in a speech by Gauleiter Wagner delivered in Colmar on 20 June, 1943.

[Page 363]

This quotation is drawn from the Muehlhaeuser Tageblatt of 21 June 1943. In view of its importance I shall not deal with it simply as a quotation, but I produce it as a document and submit it as Exhibit RF 740. The clerk has been given this paper. I read the "explanations" of Gauleiter Wagner, as they are reproduced in this newspaper under the title " Alsace will not Stand Aloof":
"The decisive event for Alsace in 1942 was thus the introduction of compulsory military service. It cannot be my intention to justify from the juridical point of view, a measure which strikes so deeply at the life of Alsace. There is no need for such a justification. Every decision which here touches the Greater German Reich has a motive and cannot be attacked as to its juridical and its defacto form."
Naturally, the Alsatians and Lorrainians refused to accept the criminal orders of the German authorities, and they undertook to avoid these by every means. The Nazis then decided to compel them by means of merciless measures. The frontiers were strictly guarded, and the guards had orders to fire on the numerous recalcitrants who attempted to escape across the border. I should like to quote in this connection a sentence from a newspaper article which appeared in the Dernieres Nouvelles de Strasbourg of 28 August 1942. This will become Exhibit RF 741. This article deals with the death of one of these men who refused to serve in the German Army, and it concludes with the following sentence: "We insist most particularly on the fact that it is suicidal to attempt to cross the frontier illegally."

Naturally, judicial penalties were applied with great severity in a large number of cases. I do not consider that I should bring to the Tribunal instances of all these cases, for that would take too long, but I should like just to insist on the principle that governed this form of repression.

I shall quote first of all a document which is entirely characteristic of the conception which the German administration had of justice and of the independence of judicial power. This is submitted as Exhibit RF 742. It is a part of a series of documents discovered in the files of the Gauleitung, It is a teletype message dated Strasbourg, June 1944, addressed by Gauleiter Wagner to the Chief of the Court of Appeals in Karlsruhe. I shall read paragraph 2, Page 1:

"It is particularly necessary in Alsace that the penalties pronounced against those who refuse to do military service shall produce the effect of intimidation, but the effect of intimidation upon those who are recalcitrant through the fear of personal danger can only be achieved by the death penalty. All the more so, as an Alsatian who emigrates with the intention of escaping military service generally counts on an early coming victory for the enemy powers and, in the case of conviction and consequent loss of freedom, on the very early cancellation of the penalty. Consequently, in the case of all attempts at illegal emigration to escape military service after 6 June 1944, apart from any other judicial proceeding in force in the old Reich, the death penalty must be applied as the only penalty provided."
But I wish to indicate that the consideration of personal risk, however great, even that of being killed at the frontier or condemned to death, was not sufficient to make the people of Alsace and Lorraine acknowledge the obligation for military service. Thus the Nazis decided to have recourse to the only threat which could be effective - the threat of reprisals against families. On 4 September 1942, there appeared in the Dernieres Nouvelles de Strasbourg a notice entitled "Severe Sanctions against those who fail to Appear before the Revision Council" An extract from this notice will be submitted as Exhibit RF 743. I shall read from it:
"In the cases mentioned above it has been shown that parents have not given proof of authority in this regard. They have thus proved that they


do not yet understand the requirements of the present time, which can tolerate in Alsace only reliable persons. The parents of the above named young men will therefore shortly be deported to the Altreich in order to re-acquire in a National Socialist atmosphere an attitude in conformity with the German spirit."
Thus the deportation of families was decreed, not to punish a definite insubordination, but to punish failure to appear before the recruiting board.

In order to avoid repeated readings, I shall now present to the Tribunal as Exhibit RF 744, the ordinance of 1st October 1943, to check failure to perform military service (Official Bulletin for 1943, Page 152). I shall read the first two articles:

"Article 1: The chief of the civil administration in Alsace may refuse the right of residence in Alsace to deserters and to persons who fail to fulfil their military obligations or those of the compulsory labour service, as well as to members of their families. This prohibition entails, for persons of German origin whom it may effect, transplantation to Reich territory by the delegate of the Reichsfuehrer of the SS, Reich commissioner for the strengthening of Germanism. Measures to be taken in regard to property, seizure, indemnity, etc. are prescribed in the ordinance of 2 February 1943, concerning property measures to be applied in the case of persons of German origin transferred from Alsace to Reich territory.

Article 2. Independently of the preceding measures, proceedings may be instituted under the penal code for violation of the provisions of the penal laws."

THE PRESIDENT: Exactly what did "German origin" mean? How far did it go?

M. FAURE: The term "Souche Allemande", German origin, applies, as indicated in connection with the preceding text, to the following categories of persons: In the first place, persons who were in Alsace and Lorraine before the Treaty of Versailles and who became French through the Treaty. In the second place, persons whose nationality before 1919 was German, are considered as of German origin, as well as their children, their grandchildren, and their spouses. This affects the great majority of the population of the three departments.

I continue reading paragraph 2 of Article 1:

"Independently of the foregoing measures, penal prosecutions may be brought for violation of the provisions of the penal laws."
According to Article 52, paragraph 2, of the Reich Penal Code, members of the family who bring proof of their genuine efforts to prevent or dissuade the fugitive from committing his act, or avoiding the necessity of flight, shall not be punishable.

These abominable measures - compulsory denunciation, punishment inflicted upon families - permitted the German authorities to carry out the enlistment of Alsatians and Lorrainians, which for many of them had fatal consequences, and which was for all of them a particularly tragic ordeal.

I must finally indicate, to conclude this part, that the Germans proceeded to the mobilisation of women for war work. I produce as Exhibit RF 745 the ordinance of the 26 January 1942, completing the war organisation of labour service for the young women of Lorraine.

Then we find an ordinance of the 2 February 1943 - which will become Exhibit RF 746 concerning the declaration of men and women for the accomplishment of tasks pertaining to national defence. This is taken from the German official bulletin, 1943, Page 26. This ordinance concerns Alsace.

The following Exhibit RF 747, deals with Lorraine. This is an ordinance of 8 February 1943, concerning the enrolment of men and women for tasks

[Page 365]

relating to the organisation of labour. The Tribunal will note that the ordinance concerning Alsace used the expression " tasks of interest to national defence", whereas the ordinance relative to Lorraine specifies simply "tasks concerning the organisation of labour", but in principle these are the same. Article 1 of this second ordinance, refers to the ordinance of the General Delegate for the Organisation of Labour, relative to the declaration of men and women for tasks of interest to national defence, etc. It is thus a case of making not only men, but also women, work for the German war effort. I shall read for the Tribunal an extract from a newspaper article which comments on this legislation and likewise on the measures which Gauleiter Wagner proposed to undertake in this connection. This constitutes Exhibit RF 748, taken from the newspaper Dernieres Nouvelles de Strasbourg, dated 23rd February 1943.
"In his Karlsruhe speech Gauleiter Robert Wagner stressed that measures of total mobilisation would be applied to Alsace, and that the authorities would abstain from any bureaucratic working method. The Alsatian labour offices have already invited the first category of mobilisable young women to fill out the enlistment."
Here is the second passage of the same article.
"In principle, all women who until the present have worked only at home, who have had to care only for their husbands and who have no other relatives, shall work a full day, Many married men who until now had never offered to help their wives with the household work will be obliged to put their shoulder to the wheel. They will work in the household and do errands. With a little goodwill, everything will work out. Women who have received a professional education will be put, if possible, to tasks related to their professions, on condition that they have an important bearing on the war effort. This prescription applies only to all feminine professions which imply care given to other persons."
Here again a rather comical or clumsily worded presentation should not prevent one from perceiving the odious character of these measures, which obliged French women to work for the German war effort.

THE PRESIDENT: We will adjourn now for ten minutes.

(A recess was taken)

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