The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Fifty-Third Day: Thursday, 7th February, 1946
(Part 5 of 18)

[Page 127]

M. MOUNIER: Mr. President, your Honours, considering the strictly limited time at my disposal, I see that in dealing with the defendant Goering, of whom I shall have the honour to speak to you, I shall be compelled to omit Pages 1, 2, 3 of my presentation. I would ask the Court now to turn to Page 3 of my statement on Goering.

I should like to put before the Tribunal the question of the responsibility of the defendant Goering for the measures taken against the Commandos and against Allied airmen who fell into the hands of the Germans during their operations.

During the Trial we have on several occasions mentioned an order given by Hitler on 18th October, 1942, which was first submitted by the American delegation on 2nd January, 1946, as Exhibit USA 501 which is our Exhibit RF 1417. It is an order detailing the measures to be taken against Commandos in operations in Europe and Africa. They were to be exterminated to the last man, even if they were in uniform, and no matter how they came, by boat, plane or parachute. Orders were given to take no prisoners. In the occupied territories, isolated members of Commandos who might fall into the hands of the German Forces were to be handed over immediately to the Sicherheitsdienst, R.S.H.A. branch. This order did not apply to enemy soldiers who were captured, or who surrendered in open battle or within the fighting zone.

Among those notified was the C.-in-C. of the Air Force. Consequently, the defendant Goering knew of this order in his capacity as Commander-in-Chief of the Air Force, as well as in his capacity as Commander-in-Chief of one of the three military Services, he has joint responsibility with the Cs.- in-C. of the other Services.

We know, also, that on the same date, 18th October, 1942, Hitler had a memorandum distributed, annotating the previous instructions to the effect that if one or two prisoners were spared for the time being, so that information might be obtained from them, they were to be put to death as soon as they had been interrogated.

I refer to Document 503-PS (Exhibit RF 1418). The American prosecution which produced this document has also submitted to the Tribunal -- and I shall not come back to this fact -- and a certain number of cases proving that this order was frequently carried out.

On the other hand, the Tribunal is already aware that numerous Allied airmen who found themselves in German territory after losing their planes were ill treated and lynched by the Germans with the connivance of the authorities.

As evidence we present only the order of 10th August, 1943, by which Himmler forbade the police to take part in these lynchings and forbade them equally to oppose them.

I refer to Exhibit USA 333 (Exhibit FR 1419).

Goebbels, in an article in the "Voelkischer Beobachter," intervened in the same way. Bormann, in a memorandum of 30th May, 1944, confirmed these instructions and stipulated that they should be passed on to the administrative authorities, not in writing but by word of mouth only. I refer to Exhibit

[Page 128]

USA 329, cited on 17th December, 1945, by the American delegation (Exhibit RF 1420).

These instructions were carried out to the letter, to such an extent that the American Forces have brought to trial since the capitulation a considerable number of German civilians who had murdered unarmed Allied airmen.

But the defendant Goering was not satisfied with merely letting these things happen. At a conference which took place on 15th and 16th May, 1944, he stated that he would suggest to the Fuehrer that not only parachutists, but also American or English crews who indiscriminately attacked cities and civilian trains in motion, should be put to death forthwith. This is Document 166-L, cited on the 31st January, 1946, as Exhibit USA 377 by the American prosecution (Exhibit RF 1421).

In fact, Goering saw Hitler between 20th and 22nd May, 1944. The Air Force General, Korten, sent the defendant Keitel a memorandum pointing out that Hitler had decided that enemy airmen who were shot down should be put to death without trial if they had participated in acts described as terroristic.

This is Document Number 731-PS, which we submit to the Court in the form of a photostatic copy. I ask the Tribunal's permission not to read this document. I think the Tribunal will prefer to read it itself. However, I am at its disposal if it wishes me to read it.

THE PRESIDENT: No; it has already been put in, has it not?

M. MOUNIER: Yes, Mr. President.

In consequence, an agreement was made with the O.K.W. that Himmler, Goering, and Ribbentrop should be consulted on the measures to be taken in this matter. Ribbentrop proposed that any attack upon German cities should be considered as an act of terrorism. General Warlimont, in the name of the O.K.W., proposed two measures; lynching and what he called special treatment, which consisted in delivering the parties concerned to the Sicherheitsdienst, where they were subjected to several methods of handling, one of the most notorious being the well-known Kugel action, of which the Tribunal has already heard, and which was simply a way of doing away with all those in question. Exhibit GB 151 was submitted to this effect on 9th January, 1946.

On 17th June, 1944, Keitel wrote to Goering asking him to approve the definition of acts of terrorism drawn up by Warlimont. On 19th June, 1944, Goering replied through his aide-de-camp that the population should be forbidden to act as it had done against enemy airmen, and that these enemy airmen should be brought to trial, unless the Allied Governments had forbidden their airmen to commit acts of terrorism.

I refer here to Document 732-PS, which I submit to the Tribunal as Exhibit RF 1405.

Moreover, I draw the Tribunal's attention to this document, dated 26th June, 1944. Reich Marshal Goering declared that he would support the bringing to trial of these airmen. Remember this date, 19th June, 1944, because it is important.

But on 26th June, 1944, the defendant Goering's aide-de-camp telephoned to the Armed Forces Operations Staff, who had insisted upon a definite reply, and notified them that his chief, Reich Marshal Goering, was in agreement with their definition of acts of terrorism, and the procedure proposed which, as far as I remember, included two alternatives: the handing over of those in question for special treatment or their immediate execution.

I refer to Documents 733-PS and 740-PS, cited on 31st January, 1946, by the French prosecution, under the numbers 374 and 375 RF (Also RF-1423-4).

In a memorandum dated 4th July, 1944, Hitler made it known that since the British and the Americans had bombed small towns of no military importance

[Page 129]

as a reprisal for V-1, he was asking the German radio and Press to announce that all enemy airmen shot down in an attack of that kind would be put to death as soon as they were caught.

Such are the facts found in these absolutely irrefutable documents, and if I cite in detail the reply made on 19th June, 1944, by the defendant Goering, or to be more exact, by his aide-de-camp, it is because I am anxious to the documents concerning this question in their entirety.

But I see that in spite of the initial attitude in his reply of 19th June, 1944, I am obliged to infer the full responsibility of the defendant Hermann Goering.

In fact, the defendant Hermann Goering states that he never agreed to these measures, and that Captain Breuer, who telephoned to the Armed Forces Operations Staff, acted -- according to the defendant Goering -- without having previously consulted him. He added, in the statements which he made, that he could not be held responsible for all the absurd or insignificant actions carried out by his subordinates.

But, Gentlemen, without reference to the famous "Fuehrerprinzip"-- for I see no reason to apply German law in any way -- the defendant Goering is in any case responsible in his capacity as leader. Responsibility begins with authority.

Moreover, what did he do to stop the massacre of airmen by people whom he had ordered to do the opposite, according to orders which it was forbidden to formulate in writing?

Even if we consider the position which he took in his reply of the order dated 19th June, 1944, to which I have referred as establishing accurately his views at that date on the massacre of airmen and parachutists, we cannot fail to see that at that date, 19th June, 1944, even in Germany, the most shortsighted knew that the German forces would soon succumb to the weight of the Allied Armies.

Allied airmen were put to death in Germany throughout the war. Moreover, if the defendant Hermann Goering maintains that the letter of 19th June, 1944, was written by his aide- de-camp, he is obliged to admit that the letter of 26th June, 1944, also written by the aide-de-camp, can be imputed to him, although signed by one of his subordinates. We consider, then, that this document signed by an aide-de-camp involves Goering as much as if he had signed it himself.

Mr. President and Gentlemen, I shall not enlarge upon the responsibility of the defendant Goering for compulsory labor, but I respectfully beg the Tribunal to refer in due course to certain aspects of the case that I have tried to emphasise in this brief in order to clarify the position of the defendant in this matter.

I shall make no further mention of the employment of prisoners of war and internees from concentration camps, which I detailed on Page 10 of my brief. I should like simply to say a word concerning economic plunder and the looting of art treasures. These questions are dealt with at the bottom of Page 11 of my brief.

Concerning economic plunder, Gentlemen, I shall not stress the considerable part played by the defendant Goering as leader of the Four Year Plan in all the measures which contributed to strip literally all the Western countries of their substance. I shall simply point out one fact which, I believe, has not yet been brought to your knowledge, but which is found in the penultimate sub-heading on Page 12. It is the following:

After the Armistice in 1940, the defendant Goering had brought about, through Roechling, the official sequestrator, the cession to the "Hermann Goering Werke" of all the factories of Lorraine belonging to the family of Wendel.

This is connected with all the operations of economic pillaging about which the Economic Section of the French prosecution have already informed the Tribunal.

[Page 130]

With regard to this, the Court will not fail to realise that the defendant Goering shares jointly with the defendants Rosenberg, Ribbentrop and Seyss-Inquart -- for the Netherlands -- the responsibility for this spoliation.

As to the looting of works of art, Gentlemen, we have documents which permit us to draw our conclusions with regard to this matter, which is obviously unpleasant for a man who has occupied the position of the defendant Goering, namely, that a part of the works of art and objects of value which were looted from the Western countries were reserved for him without any kind of compensation. I shall not discuss the exact qualification of this act in civil law; I leave it to the Tribunal to apply the proper legal terms to it, when it delivers its judgment.

But what I should like to say to-day is that the appropriation of works of art by the defendant Hermann Goering, for his private purposes, is proved in documents which cannot be contested and which have already been submitted to the Tribunal. I refer particularly to Exhibit USA 368 cited on 18th December, 1945. This document was submitted by the Economic Section of the French prosecution as Exhibit RF 1309.

I may rapidly recall that this document prescribes that works of art brought to the Louvre are to be classified in a certain way:

"Firstly, those works of art regarding which the Fuehrer has reserved for himself the right of disposal. Secondly, those works of art destined to complete the collection of the Reich Marshal" etc.
I shall not read the rest of the document.

What followed these appropriations? Did the defendant Goering pay anything?

The opposite seems to be the case; for in the interrogation of the defendant Rosenberg, which was submitted as Exhibit RF 1330, and to which I referred, it is pointed out that the defendant Goering made his selection from the works of art assembled by Rosenberg's special staff, and made no corresponding payment to the Reich Treasury.

Not to abuse the patience of the Tribunal, I respectfully beg it to go back to Page 10 of the transcript previously cited, where it will see the part played by the defendant Goering in the appropriation of works of art, and the fact that no money was paid in return.

I simply emphasise, in passing, that at the top of Page 11 you will find this statement, in reply to a question asked by Colonel Hinkel.

THE PRESIDENT: You are referring to Page 10 and Page 11 of which document?

M. MOUNIER: Page 11, Mr. President, of Document 1403, which was submitted yesterday as Exhibit RF 1330, by my colleague M. Gerthoffer.


M. MOUNIER: It is not there, for reasons which I have already pointed out to the Tribunal.

Colonel Hinkel, at the bottom of Page 10, asked the following question:

"Does not the last paragraph of this letter say that you don't think that Goering should pay for these articles, because he had chosen them in order to put them in an art gallery?"
The reply of the defendant Rosenberg: "Not exactly. I should like to add what follows, which I consider important:
"I was rather annoyed when I heard for the first time that Goering had appropriated for his own use a part of the collections which the Special Staff had sent to Germany..."
That is all, Gentlemen, I shall say no more. I merely want to point out to you the annoyance which the Chief of the "Einsatzstab" himself felt, on learning this fact.

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