The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Fifty-Sixth Day: Monday,11th February, 1946
(Part 6 of 14)

[Page 233]

DR. NELTE (counsel for defendant Keitel): I would like to ask the Tribunal for a ruling as to a general question of submission of evidence. The Soviet delegation has submitted books which contain statements by generals and statesmen, without these statements being accompanied by an official remark by the Soviet authorities.

The documents which have been given to me to-day -- USSR 149, 150 and 294 -- are only photostats of handwritten manuscripts. They contain neither a marking which could qualify them as affidavits, nor do they represent testimonies taken before a Soviet official or officer, nor do they represent governmental or official declarations.

I should be grateful to the Tribunal if it would make a decision on this question in accordance with Article 21 of the Charter. The opinion of the defence counsel is that such statements have only the value of a personal presentation by the prosecution but no probative value.

THE PRESIDENT: May I see the documents?

The Tribunal have no objection to the course taken by Dr. Nelte in drawing their attention to these documents at this stage. But they think it will be better for them to wait until the documents are actually offered in evidence before they consider whether or not they will admit them. If and when the documents are offered in evidence, they will then consider whether they will admit them or not.

COL. POKROVSKY: With the permission of the Tribunal, I wish to present Major General Zorya, State Councillor of Justice of the 3rd Class, who will present the evidence on the following theme of "Aggression against the Soviet Union."

DR. LATERNSER (Counsel for the General Staff): I should like to point out that the decision of the Tribunal, that every defendant's counsel should receive, sufficiently in advance, a copy of all documents which are to be submitted as evidence in the course of the proceedings, has not been complied with. It is, therefore, difficult for the defence to follow the proceedings because the documents submitted have not been distributed in sufficient quantity.

THE PRESIDENT: I don't think the Tribunal have ever imposed upon the prosecution the duty of supplying a copy of every document to every member of defendants' counsel.

You no doubt have before you a copy of the Tribunal's order upon the subject, and I believe that the order is posted upon the board in the defendants' Information Center. If I remember correctly, it is, that a certain No. of originals or photostatic copies shall be deposited in the Information Center, and that a certain No. of copies of the documents shall be supplied to the defendants' counsel, and that, for the rest, the defendants' counsel must rely upon the fact that every document or part of a document which is put in evidence is read in open court and, therefore, comes through the earphones to defendants' counsel and will appear in the shorthand notes. We have provided that copies of the shorthand notes shall be supplied to defendants' counsel as soon as possible after the day on which the evidence is given. Beyond that we have not thought it right to impose a duty upon the prosecution to supply documents to the defendants' counsel.

[Page 234]

Is that not in accordance with your recollection?

DR. LATERNSER: Mr. President, the American prosecution, the British prosecution and also the French prosecution, in the course of the proceedings, handled this in such a way that enough copies of all documents were made available to the defence for each defendant's counsel to have one copy before him. I believe that what is possible for the other prosecutions should also be possible for the Soviet prosecution, in order to facilitate the work.

THE PRESIDENT: That is a belief on your part which is not strictly in accordance with the Tribunal's orders. The Tribunal has not made that order, and it may be that the United States and Great Britain have gone beyond the Tribunal's orders, and have supplied a copy to each defendant's counsel. But, as I say, the Tribunal has not as yet seen fit to impose that duty upon the prosecution.

I suppose you don't really know exactly how many copies of these Soviet documents have been deposited in the Information Center?

DR. LATERNSER: I don't know the exact No.. At any rate, there were not enough for each defendant's counsel to get a copy of each document, as was the case, so far, with the other prosecutions.

THE PRESIDENT: Well, you no doubt understand the very great difficulties of making translations and making copies. I am sure that the Soviet prosecutors will do everything in their power to assist defendants' counsel, but, as I say, we have not imposed upon the prosecution the duty of supplying one copy of a translation into German of each document for each defendants' counsel. I can only express the hope that the Soviet prosecutors will do the best they can.

DR. LATERNSER: Mr. President, I remember, when the fact became known that the press had received 250 copies of the documents, you, Mr. President, expressed the opinion that it should then also be possible to distribute 25 copies to the defendants' counsel. That was, at that time, the opinion of the Tribunal.

THE PRESIDENT: The Tribunal's orders on this subject are in writing and you will find them in the defendants' Information Center. I have stated my recollection of them; if I am wrong, you can bring me a copy of the document and I will withdraw my statement.

MAJOR-GENERAL ZORYA: May it please your Honours, it is my task to present the documentary evidence dealing with the aggression against the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, organised by the Fascist war criminals now sitting in the dock.

This charge of the crime, mentioned in sub-paragraph (a), Article 6 of the Charter of the International Military Tribunal, was formulated in paragraph 6, Section 4, Count 1, of the Indictment in the present case, and in Section IV of the opening statement by the Chief Prosecutor from the U.S.S.R., General Rudenko.

Among the many criminal wars which German Fascism, with predatory aims, waged against the freedom-loving nations, the attack on the Union of the Soviet Socialist Republics occupies a place by itself.

It can be safely said that the predatory war against the Soviet Union was the keynote of the entire Fascist conspiracy against the world. The aggressive actions on the part of German Fascism committed prior to the attack on the U.S.S.R., and in part the German aggression against Czechoslovakia, Poland and Yugoslavia, were, as has been demonstrated by my colleague, Colonel Pokrovsky, merely stages on the road to the attack on the Soviet Union.

Ukrainian wheat and coal from the Don Basin, nickel from the Kola Peninsula, and oil from the Caucasus, the fertile steppes o the pre-Volga region and the forests of Byelorussia all played a decisive part in the criminal schemes of the Fascist aggressors.

The war against the Union of the Soviet Socialist Republics was also waged by Fascist Germany with the intent of enslaving and exploiting the Soviet peoples.

[Page 235]

In the war of Fascist Germany against the Soviet Union, the animal hatred of the Hitlerites against the Slav peoples found its full horrifying expression.

And finally, German imperialism, appearing in its Fascist guise, saw in the seizure of the wealth of the Soviet Union and in its incalculable resources of food and raw materials a base for the realisation of their far-reaching aggressive aims to achieve, first, ascendancy over Europe, and, later on, ascendancy over the whole world.

The well-known formula of German imperialism, "Drang nach Osten," mentioned in the opening statement of the Chief Prosecutor of the U.S.S.R., was at different times and in many different ways disguised by the Fascist criminals, but always, in all their aggressive plans, pride of place was given to the attack on the Soviet Union.

"If new territory is desired" wrote Hitler in his book, "Mein Kampf," in substance it can be secured at the expense of Russia. The new empire must move along the paths trodden by the knights of old." (Hitler, Adolf, Mein Kampf, Munich edition, 1930, Page 742.)
The fact that, having definitely brought Fascist aggression to a head in 1939, Hitler began the war in the West, did not substantially change anything in this basic conception of Fascism.

Under Document 789-PS the American prosecution submitted to the Tribunal the transcript of the conference held on 23rd November, 1939, between Hitler and the members of the German High Command.

At this conference, Hitler, according to his own expression, gave a "survey of the thoughts influencing him in connection with the events to come."

In the course of this survey he declared -- you will find the passage I am now reading on Page 3 in the document book lying on the table of the Tribunal:

"For a long time I hesitated whether I should not begin with an attack in the East, and only then with the one in the West. It came about by force of events that for the immediate future the East dropped out of the picture." (Page 2 of the Russian text.)
This statement by Hitler bore witness to the fact that the attack on the Soviet Union remained within the plans of Fascist aggression, and the whole question was reduced only to the problem of selecting the most favorable moment for this attack.

It should be noted that this "Western" version of the start of Fascist aggression was not considered as the most favorable version by the authors of the aggression.

This same Hitler, exactly five months prior to the above- mentioned conference, at another conference of 23rd May, 1939 (Document 79-L), while briefing his accomplices on the present situation and political aims, had said (the passage I am now quoting is Page 6 of the document book):

"If fate forces us into a conflict with the West, it would be desirable that we, by that time, possess more expanse in the East."
The vast expanses in the East, according to the aspirations of Hitler's conspirators, were to play a decisive part during the conflict in the West.

Therefore, when the Fascist hordes were unable to force the Channel, stopped at its shores and were obliged to seek new ways of aggression, the conspirators immediately began to prepare for an attack on the Soviet Union. This attack was the basis of all their plans of aggression, without which they could not materialise.

I believe it is not necessary to refer to documents of an earlier period, and particularly to quote any further from Hitler's book, "Mein Kampf," where questions connected with the predatory attack on the Soviet Union were formulated long before 1939.

[Page 236]

This book has already been presented to the Tribunal, and relevant passages from it were quoted as evidence by our American and British colleagues.

The Soviet prosecution desires to submit to the Tribunal a series of documents which bear witness to the fact that the aggression of Fascist Germany against the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics was committed with malice aforethought.

Among these documents there are files from various archives captured by units of the advancing Red Army, statements by Fascist leaders published in the Press, including those by several of the defendants, and depositions by persons who were in possession of reliable information as to how the preparations for the attack on the Soviet Union were actually carried out.

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