The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Fifty-Fourth Day: Friday, 8th February, 1946
(Part 14 of 22)


[Page 191]

(d) Destruction of Towns and Villages, Plunder of Public and Private Property

In carrying out their plans of aggression and plunder, the Hitlerites systematically destroyed towns and villages, destroyed the treasures created by the work of many generations and plundered the peaceful population.

Together with their accomplices -- the criminal Governments of Finland and Roumania -- the Hitlerites developed their plans for the destruction of the largest cities of the Soviet Union.

A document, emanating from the Naval War Staff, dated 29th September, 1941, and entitled "The Future of the City of Petersburg," contains the following statement:

"The Fuehrer has decided to wipe the city of Petersburg from the face of the earth. Finland has also declared clearly that she is not interested in the further existence of the city in the immediate vicinity of her new boundary."
On 5th October, 1941, Hitler addressed a letter to Antonescu, the special object of which was to co-ordinate their plans for seizing and destroying the city of Odessa.

An order of the German Commander-in-Chief, dated 7th October, 1941 and signed by the defendant Jodl, prescribed that Leningrad and Moscow should be wiped from the face of the earth.

"In the case of all other towns, too," states the order, "the rule should hold that, prior to their occupation, they should be reduced to ruins by artillery fire and by air raids. It is inadmissible that a German soldier's life should be risked in order that Russian towns be saved from fire."
The directives of central German authorities were widely applied by military commanders of all ranks. Thus an order to the 512th German Infantry Regiment, signed by Colonel Schietnog, prescribes that the regions and districts seized by the Hitlerites be turned into a desert area. In order that this crime should lead to the most destructive results, the order gives a detailed plan for the annihilation of inhabited localities.
"Preparations for the destruction of inhabited localities," the order states, "should be made in such a manner that: (a) no suspicion be aroused among the civilian population, prior to announcement; (b) it should be possible to start the destructions at once, by one blow, at an appointed time.... On the day designated, particularly strict watch should be kept on inhabited localities so as not to allow any civilians to leave them, especially from the moment the announcement regarding the destruction is made."
An order by the commander of the 98th German Infantry Division, dated 24th December, 1941, is even entitled, "Program of Destructions." This order gives concrete directions regarding the destruction of a number of inhabited localities and suggests that:

[Page 192]

"Available stocks of hay, straw, food supplies, et cetera, are to be burnt. All stoves in homes should be put out of action by hand grenades so that their further use be made impossible. On no account is this order to fall into the hands of the enemy."
Special squads of fire raisers -- torch bearers -- were formed, which set fire to the treasures created by the labour of generations.

Your Honours, I wish to draw your attention to the document known as "Directives for the Control of Economy in the Newly Occupied Eastern Territories" ("Green File"). Goering is the author of these directives. This secret document is dated -- "Berlin, June, 1941." I will quote only a few excerpts from it. The first quotation is:

"Pursuant to the Fuehrer's orders, it is necessary to take all measures for the immediate and full exploitation of the occupied territories for Germany's benefit. To obtain for Germany the largest possible amount of food supplies and crude oil, such is the main economic objective of the campaign. At the same time, German industry must also be supplied with other kinds of raw materials from the occupied territories. The first task is to supply the German armies with the utmost speed entirely from the resources of the occupied territories."
Second quotation:
"The opinion that the occupied territories should be restored to order as soon as possible, and their economy re-established, is quite out of place. The restoration of order must take place only in those areas from which we can obtain considerable supplies of agricultural products and crude oils; in others, economic activity must be limited to the exploitation of such stocks as are discovered."
Third quotation:
"All raw materials, semi-manufactured, and finished goods must be withdrawn from the markets by means of orders, requisitions, and confiscations. Platinum, magnesium and rubber should be collected immediately and removed to Germany. Foodstuffs, as well as articles of domestic and personal use, and clothing discovered in the combat zone and in the rear areas, are to be placed, in the first instance, at the disposal of the economic detachments to satisfy the needs of the armies. What is rejected by them will be passed on to the next highest war-economy agency."
As I have already said at the beginning, the main objective of the German aggression against the Soviet Union was to plunder the Soviet country in order to obtain the economic resources necessary for Hitlerite Germany, without which she could not carry out her imperialistic plans of aggression.

Goering's "Green File" represented the extensive program, developed beforehand by the Fascist conspirators, for the organised plunder of the Soviet Union.

This program laid down in advance concrete plans for plunder: The forcible confiscation of valuables, the organisation of slave labour in our cities and villages, the abolition of ages in industrial establishments, the uncontrolled issue of completely insecure currency, etc. To materialise this program of plunder, the creation of special machinery was provided, with its own economic command, economic staffs, its own intelligence, inspectorates, Army units, detachments for collecting means of production, detachments for collecting raw materials, military agronomists, agricultural officers, etc.

Together with the advancing German armies there also moved detachments of the economic departments of the Army, whose task was to determine the available supplies of grain, cattle, fuel and other property. These detachments were subordinated to a special economic inspectorate which had its seat in the rear areas.

[Page 193]

Soon after the attack on the U.S.S.R., Hitler's decree of 29th June, 1941, placed the entire control of the loot of occupied territories in the hands of the defendant Goering. By this decree Goering was given the right to take "all measures necessary for the maximum utilisation of all stocks discovered and of the country's economic capacity in the interests of German war economy." The defendant Goering directed the predatory activities of the German military and economic detachments with the greatest zeal.

At a conference held on 6th August, 1942, with the Reich Commissars and representatives of the military command, Goering demanded that the plunder of occupied territories be intensified: "You are sent there," Goering pointed out, "not to work for the benefit of the peoples entrusted to you, but in order to pump out of them all that is possible."

And further on: "I intend to plunder and to plunder effectively."

As established by the Extraordinary State Commission, these directives of Goering were carried out by the Reich Ministers and representatives of German firms, under whose control were various kinds of economic groups, technical battalions, economic staffs and economic inspectorates. Particularly active in the plunder of property of the Soviet Union were the German firms Friedrich Krupp & Co., Hermann Goering, Siemens Schuckert, the Mining and Metallurgical Company Ost, the Corporation Nord, Heinrich Lanz, Landmaschinenbauindustrie, I. G. Farbenindustrie and many others.

While they plundered and pillaged State and private property, the Hitlerite invaders doomed to starvation and death the population of the districts thus plundered. Field Marshal Reichenau's order of 10th October, 1941, which was distributed as a model among all German units together with a note saying that Hitler considered it an excellent order, contained the following incitement to plunder and exterminate the population, "To supply local inhabitants and prisoners of war with food is an act of unnecessary humanity."

The "Notes" on the conference held in Rovno, from (from 26th to 28th August, 1942), which were discovered in defendant Rosenberg's files, state:

"The object of our work is to make the Ukrainians work for Germany; -- we are not here to make these people happy. The Ukraine can give us what is lacking in Germany. This object must be achieved irrespective of losses."
Following the directives of the defendant Goering, the local authorities mercilessly and completely plundered the population of the occupied territories. An order discovered at a number of places in the Kursk and Orel districts by units of the Red Army contains a list of property to be handed over to the military authorities. Things like scales, sacks, salt, lamps, saucepans, oilcloth, blinds, and gramophones with records, are mentioned in the order. "All this property," the order states, "must be delivered to the Commander. Those guilty of infringing this order will be shot."

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