The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Fifty-First Day: Tuesday, 5th February, 1946
(Part 13 of 14)

[Page 95]

But these extraordinary crimes involve in the most incredible way other persons responsible besides Himmler himself. The Danish police were able to arrest Guenther Pancke, who exercised the functions of Chief of Police in Denmark from November, 1943.

The inquiry was established by the Court of first Instance in Copenhagen and is in the Danish report. It contains an account of the interrogation of Guenther Pancke on 25th August, 1945.

It is necessary for me to read to the Tribunal an extract from this document, which involves several of the defendants.

THE PRESIDENT: You are going to read some new document, are you not?

M. FAURE: It is the same document, Mr. President. It is the official Danish report, which includes all the documents and particularly the original of the Copenhagen Court. But I pointed out just now, this bulky Danish report was handed to you the other day as Exhibit RF 901, and I apologise for asking for it to be handed to you again. We have only a limited number.

THE PRESIDENT: Yes, you were referring just now to a letter from Himmler thanking these murders. That is on Page 11, is it not?

M. FAURE: It is Appendix 14 of the Danish report and there is a copy of it under Page 11 of my brief.

THE PRESIDENT: What are you going to offer after that?

M. FAURE: I submit Appendix 7 of the Danish report. This is Guenther Pancke's interrogation; and you will find on Page 12 a copy of the extract which I would like to submit. The whole of the Danish document has already been offered in evidence so that these are parts documents already submitted.

I quote:

"On 30th December, 1943, Pancke and Best were present at a meeting at the Fuehrer's H.Q. attended by Hitler, Himmler, Kaltenbrunner, General von Hannecken, Keitel, Jodl, Schmundt and others. This agrees with Best's diary for 30th December, 1943. There is a copy of this. A representative of the German Foreign Office also attended; but Pancke does not remember his name nor whether the person in question made a speech. During the first part of the meeting, Hitler was in a very bad temper, and everything led one to believe that the information that he had obtained concerning the situation in Denmark was rather exaggerated."
I should like to omit the following page, which is not indispensable, and go on to Page 14 of my brief. In the passage which I am omitting, the witness Pancke reports that he and Dr. Best advised that saboteurs be fought in a legal way. He also points out on Page 14 that Hitler -- I quote his actual words -- "was strongly opposed to the proposals of Pancke and Best, declaring there could be absolutely no question of judging saboteurs before a court."

He then said that such methods would lead to those condemned being considered as heroes.

I resume the quotation on Page 15, Line 3:

"There was only one way of dealing with saboteurs, namely, to kill them -- preferably, at the moment when the crime was committed, otherwise, on arrest.

Both of them received strict orders from Hitler personally to start 'compensatory' murders. Pancke replied that it was very difficult and dangerous to shoot people on arrest, as they could not be sure when the arrest was made if the person arrested was really a saboteur. Hitler demanded compensatory murders in the proportion of at least five to one. In other words: Five Danes were to die for every German killed."

The rest of the document shows that General Hannecken made a report on the military situation. I shall read this paragraph -- Page 16 of my brief:

[Page 97]

"Moreover, General Keitel took part in the conversation, but he confined himself to a proposal to reduce food rations in Denmark to the same level as rations in Germany. This proposal was rejected by all the three representatives in Denmark. As a result, the meeting ended with Hitler's express order to Pancke to start compensatory murders and counter-sabotage. After this meeting, Pancke had a conversation alone with Himmler, who told him that he, Pancke, had now been told by the Fuehrer, himself how to act, and that he thought that he could rely on Pancke to execute the order which he had received. It seemed that up to now he had executed only Himmler's orders. Pancke knows that Best had a conversation with Ribbentrop immediately after the meeting, but does not remember the result."
The document then shows that these compensatory murders were carried out, not in the proportion of five to one, but in the proportion of one for one. It shows that reports on these compensatory murders were sent to Berlin.

I read on Page 18 of my brief, second paragraph:

"Pancke explained that in his opinion these murders were decreed deliberately by the supreme authority in Germany as being necessary for the protection of Germans stationed in Denmark, and Danes working for Germany, and so Pancke had to obey the order. Bovensiepen stated the facts and made suggestions when subjects of importance were raised. Pancke does not know whether Bovensiepen selected his own subjects in every case, or whether in certain cases the subjects were selected by his subalterns; but he, too, said that he was subjected to strong pressure from the military side, especially from General von Hannecken, although General von Hannecken was at first opposed to terror reprisals. Later, still more pressure was exercised by General Lindemann. When soldiers were killed or damage was caused to military objectives, Pancke was immediately asked what steps he had taken and what they were to report to G.H.Q. -- i.e., to Hitler himself -- from a military point of view. Pancke had to give a satisfactory reply; and he also had to take action."
I end my quotation here. Pancke then explains how these terror groups were organised.

I must now say that the Danish police were also able to arrest Dr. Best, the German Plenipotentiary, and make an inventory of his papers. Among them they found Dr. Best's private diary. This diary has one page dated 30th December, 1943, which agrees with the information given in the preceding testimony about the meeting held on that day in the Fuehrer's house -- see Page 21;

"Lunch with Adolf Hitler, Himmler, Dr. Kaltenbrunner, S.S. Obergruppenfuehrer Pancke, S.S. Gruppenfuehrer, Field-Marshal Keitel, General Jodl, General von Hannecken, Lt.-General Schmundt, Brigadefuehrer Scherff. Lunch and discussions on the Danish question lasted from 14.00 to 16.30 hours."
Dr. Best was naturally interrogated on the subject.

From official Danish documents, extracts from which are found on Page 23 of my brief, it appears that Dr. Best corroborated the note in his diary dated 30th December which I have just cited. With regard to the fundamental questions concerned, here, at the bottom of Page 23, is what Dr. Best says:

"Pancke does not remember if Hitler, who spoke at considerable length, said anything about compensatory murders being carried out in the proportion of five to one. Himmler and Kaltenbrunner agreed with Hitler. The rest of those present apparently expressed no opinion."
The names given by Best agree with Pancke's list.
"The Ministry of Foreign Affairs was not represented, so that Sonnleitner did not attend the conference. After the conference, Best had a conversation alone with Ribbentrop, to whom he explained what had taken place.

[Page 98]

Ribbentrop shared his opinion that some protest should be made against such methods, but that, after all, nothing could be done."
It is proved, therefore, that the defendants Kaltenbrunner, Keitel and Jodl were present at a meeting of departments where it was decided that murder, pure and simple, should be organised in Denmark. The witnesses certainly do not say that the defendants Keitel and Jodl showed any enthusiasm for this proposal, but it is established that they were present and that they were present in the exercise of their functions, along with their subordinate, the Military Commander of Denmark. This is a question of responsibility for several hundred murders abominable in themselves but undoubtedly constituting only a small part of the crimes implied by the prosecution and carried out on millions of victims. I think, however, that it is important to learn that the military and diplomatic leaders knew and accepted the systematic organisation of acts of banditry and murders committed by professional killers who fled when they had committed their crimes.

The document which I have just cited are the last of the series which I wanted to present to the Tribunal. I shall not follow them up by commentary. I think that there is so much monotony, but at the same time so many shades of variety in the innumerable crimes committed by the Nazis, that the human mind finds it difficult to grasp their whole extent. Each of these crimes has in itself all the intensity of horror and reflects the distorted values of the doctrine underlying them. If it be true that life has any meaning whatsoever, if there is around and within us anything else than "sound and fury," such a doctrine must be condemned, together with the men who originated and implemented it.

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