The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Fifty-Third Day: Thursday, 7th February, 1946
(Part 12 of 18)

[Page 147]

M. QUATRE: I had reached, Gentlemen, Page 36 of my brief, concerning the treatment of Allied airmen who were prisoners of war.

This point had already been discussed at some length before you ----

THE PRESIDENT: Perhaps I ought to say that the Tribunal will be willing to sit this evening until half-past five, in order that the case against the defendant Hess may be concluded, but it is very important that the case should be concluded to-night, against the defendant Hess, because the Soviet prosecution will require the whole day for their presentation to-morrow.

M. QUATRE: Mr. President, I shall be very brief. I shall pass straight on to my conclusion. I shall say nothing about the treatment of Allied airmen. You know the circumstances, as well as the treatment of Commando troops, and I once more beg the Tribunal's pardon for having unintentionally spoken at such length. I shall now conclude.

It is definitely the conception of criminal intention which was present in the drafting of the orders and directives which we have just examined. The reality of the acts perpetrated as a result of these decisions cannot be denied, nor should we overlook or underestimate this moral element, qualified by French penal law, to use the formula of an eminent jurist as "knowledge on the part of the agent" of the illicit character of the acts performed by him. The two defendants were fully cognisant of the illicit nature of orders which they knew would be scrupulously carried out.

With Keitel and Jodl the systematic rejection of the laws and customs that mitigate the horrors of war and the restoration, as a matter of principle, of the most barbarous practices are the reflection of the forms and precepts of National Socialism and its leader, for whom any International Law, any conventions, any ethical law represented an intolerable restraint, an obstacle to the goal to be attained, inasmuch as they interfered with the higher interests of the German community.

It is not a matter of indifference to know whether Keitel and Jodl were urged by personal ambition or whether, true to the Pan-German tradition of the German General Staff, they yielded to the National Socialist frenzy in the hope of one day seeing the arrogant pretensions of Germany fully realised.

The most important point, in our eyes, is the personal contribution which they consciously and voluntarily made to the enterprise of destruction carried out by the Third Reich.

For 10 years Keitel was the key man of the German Army, and from 1936 onward, Jodl did not cease to be his collaborator. Before the war they worked to promote the war, and during the war they deliberately flouted the rules of law and justice, the sole safeguards of fighting men, held the dignity of mankind in utter contempt and thus failed to do their duty as soldiers.

"Nacht und Nebel," the "Kugelaktion," the "Sonderbehandlung," the destruction of our cities -- all this will be forever associated with the names of these men, and particularly with the name of Keitel, who dared to proclaim that human life was less than nothing.

[Page 148]

And at this moment we cannot prevent our thoughts from turning towards the countless absent ones, who for that reason sacrificed their lives.

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