The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)
Nuremberg, war crimes, crimes against humanity

The Trial of German Major War Criminals

Sitting at Nuremberg, Germany
14th February to 26th February, 1946

Sixtieth Day: Friday, 15th February, 1946
(Part 3 of 8)

[Page 51]

THE PRESIDENT: Shouldn't that be 1942?

COLONEL SMIRNOV: 16 December, 1943, Mr. President. One minute - I will check that.

THE PRESIDENT: It reads "1942" in our document.

COLONEL SMIRNOV: Your Honour, evidently the translator put the wrong date into the text before you. I repeat that, in accordance with the text in my possession, this statement was made by Frank on 16 December, 1943, at a Government meeting in Cracow. If you will permit me I shall again verify the text of the quotation.

THE PRESIDENT: Well, in our statement of the document itself it is translated as 16 December, 1942. Evidently it is wrong in one place or the other.

COLONEL SMIRNOV: In the testimony itself, in paragraph 1, Korbonski mentions that in the beginning of December, 1943, the Germans posted these lists on the walls of the houses. If the Tribunal will refer to the original of the document it will find "at the beginning of December, 1943".

THE PRESIDENT: I see, it is 1943 - It was wrongly translated in the first place.

COLONEL SMIRNOV: Yes, 1943. May I continue?


COLONEL SMIRNOV: Thank you, Sir. I shall speak of the change in the procedure of the executions. It was on the Polish territory that the criminal code introducing special rights for the "Master Race" and Draconic laws for the other nations whom the fascist "masters" considered completely vanquished, was put into practice for the first time.

The report of the Polish Government, which had already been submitted to the International Military Tribunal by my colleagues as irrefutable evidence in accordance with Article 21 of the Charter, gives a brief description of the regime of lawlessness and despotism which reigned in occupied Poland under the guise of special legislation.

To characterise this legislation I shall take the liberty, if your Honours please, to refer to two excerpts from the report of the Government of the Polish Republic, which has already been presented to the Tribunal by my colleagues as Exhibit USSR 93.

I shall first read into the record a paragraph which will be found on Page 110 in the document book in possession of the Tribunal, the section dealing with "Germanisation of the Polish Law". It is the fourth paragraph after the heading, and I shall quote only two paragraphs of this section:

"In the Government General the machinery of justice was changed in particular by the decree of 26 October, 1939, which bears Frank's signature.

The Polish law courts were subordinated to German law courts, which had been established within the Government General. Their jurisdiction was

[Page 52]

limited only to such cases which were outside the jurisdiction of the German law courts. New principles of law were introduced. Penalties could be imposed according to intuition; the defendant was deprived of the right to choose a defence counsel and of the right of appeal. German law was introduced and Polish law was Germanised."
I omit the entire section of the report which deals with this subject and continue the quotation on Page 51 of the Russian text. The Tribunal will find it on Page 129 in the document book in the third paragraph of the text under "Murders". That is Page 129, the third paragraph of the text.
"(a) On 4 December, 1941, Goering, Frick and Lammers signed a decree which virtually outlawed all Poles and Jews in the incorporated Polish territories. The decree made Poles and Jews a different and second-rate group of citizens. According to this decree, Poles and Jews were obliged to obey unconditionally the German Reich, but on the other hand, as second-rate citizens, they were not entitled to the protection of the law which was accorded to others."
I omit one paragraph and I continue the quotation of the part which deals with the application of death sentences. It begins this way:-
"Death sentences can be imposed also in the following cases:-

1. For removing or publicly damaging posters set up by the German authorities.

2. For acts of violence committed against members of the German armed forces.

3. For insulting the dignity of the Reich or harming its interests.

4. For damage to property belonging to German authorities.

5. For damage to objects intended for public works.

6. For causing disobedience to regulations and orders issued by German authorities."

And some other cases which could in fact only justify a sentence of a short term imprisonment.

I shall omit one passage and I shall limit my quotation to the following two paragraphs:-

"(b) The Poles were forbidden, in accordance with the official directives of the Nazis, to have relations with German girls, in order not to stain the noble blood of the Herrenvolk. Whoever dared or attempted to do this inevitably risked his life. It was not only the court - the German law-court - which was called upon to pass sentence in these cases. It was considered unnecessary to have long proceedings, and a simple order by the police was sufficient to deprive people of their lives."
I conclude this quotation and pass on to a subject which, in my opinion, is very correctly referred to as the "Judicial Terror" of the German fascists in Czechoslovakia in the report of the Czechoslovak Government.

In this country we can systematically follow the ever- increasing destruction by the Hitlerites of all the accepted moral and legal standards.

The report of the Czechoslovak Government, already submitted to the Tribunal by my colleagues as Exhibit USSR 60, describes this process in detail, beginning with the so- called "people's courts", up to the organisation of the so- called "Standgerichte". I do not know what would be a correct translation of this term, so I shall use the term "Standgerichte" throughout. They are already familiar to us as organs of the Nazi arbitrary rule in Poland.

This process of the deterioration or rather collapse of the entire juridical system under the fascist rule is described in the report in great detail; I shall quote only a few short excerpts. I shall begin my quotation on Page 162 of the document book in the possession of the Tribunal, the last paragraph:-

"The power to proclaim a state of emergency was exercised not later than 28 September, 1941. In accordance with a decree issued on the same date

[Page 53]

and signed by Heydrich a state of civil emergency was proclaimed in the 'Oberlandrat' district in Prague, and, a few days later, in the remaining, parts of the Protectorate.

'Standgerichte,' which were set up immediately, were active during the entire period, and pronounced 778 death sentences. All were executed, and 1,000 people were turned over to the Gestapo, that is, sent to concentration camps."

I omit the end of the paragraph, and I quote the following paragraph:-
"The only directive as to the administration, organisation, personnel and rules of procedure at the 'Standgerichte' is contained in the decree of 28 September, 1941."
I omit the rest of the paragraph and I continue the quotation on Page 163, fifth paragraph of the book of documents.
"The decree does not indicate who may fill the position of judge in 'Standgerichte', whether the judges should be professional people or laymen, and whether the sentences are to be pronounced by a jury or by the judge alone. The decree merely states:-

'Standgerichte' may be set up by the Reichsprotektor; he is competent to choose people who are to perform the duties of a judge."

I omit the rest and continue the quotation on Page 163 of the book of documents, the last paragraph:-
"On the basis of the information that we have at hand at present the judges at the 'Standgerichte' were professional judges only in exceptional cases. As a rule, the most important attribute was political reliability. This is the reason why the judges were, one could almost say without exception' members and executives of the N.S.D.A.P. or other National Socialist organisations, that is, people who in almost every case, possessed not the slightest knowledge of law, and had no experience in criminal trials."
I omit the following excerpts and continue the quotation on Page 166 of the document book, at the beginning of the last paragraph; from there I go on to Page 167:-
"'Standgerichte' were never held publicly. Inasmuch as the public was excluded from the preliminary investigations of the 'Standgerichte' the very existence of this tribunal increased the feeling of insecurity under the existing law. There was no appeal against sentences passed by 'Standgerichte'. The records of the investigation of the 'Standgerichte' contain only a list of names of the judges, defendants and witnesses as well as a description of the crime and the date of the sentence (Section 4, paragraph 2 of the decree).

Directives permitting and even encouraging such meagre records can have only one aim - to prevent any control and to keep secret everything that took place during the investigation, thus covering up all traces of what had been done.

According to Section 4, paragraph 1 of the directive, the 'Standgerichte' could only pass death sentences or turn over the defendants to the Gestapo."

I omit the following paragraphs containing certain general comments on the same matter and continue my quotation on Page 169, the first paragraph:-
"Sentences passed by the 'Standgerichte' must be carried out immediately. (Section 4, paragraph 3 of the decree). Numerous examples demonstrate that this brutal Socialist legislation was never toned down.

At the end of the so-called trial, it was left to the judges to decide whether the condemned should be shot or hanged (Section 4, paragraph 3, of the decree). The condemned person was not granted even a short respite to prepare for death. There was not even a question in the decree about a reprieve. In any case, the brutal haste with which the sentence was carried out made any reprieve impossible ..."

[Page 54]

I conclude this excerpt, as well as the entire section devoted to the terrorist legislation of the Hitlerites in Czechoslovakia, with a quotation from Page 169, the fourth line from the top, and further. It is stated there:-
"It is quite evident that the 'Standgerichte' did not possess the characteristics which, in accordance with the general opinion, are those of a tribunal, and that the trials of the 'Standgerichte' in reality violated all the principles which should be observed in the legislations of all civilised people. 'Standgerichte' cannot be called tribunals and their proceedings cannot be called a trial and a decision. I think the proper term would be 'verdict'.

The executions being the result of the verdicts of the 'Standgerichte' differ in no way from executions performed without trial. They should be classified as murders.

It is impossible to find in the regulations which determined the methods of procedure of the 'Standgerichte' even a trace of humaneness. For instance, the rule which imposed immediate execution and accorded practically no time to the condemned to prepare for death, is a form of cruelty which, just as the entire institution of the 'Standgerichte', had as its aim the terrorisation of the population."

I shall conclude the quotation with this excerpt, and I shall take the liberty of remarking that the institution of the "Standgerichte" did not countermand or exclude simple police sentences passed by means of a procedure similar to the one which was established by Frank in Poland.

It seems to me that all the laws which were cited by me above testify to the fact that the Hitlerites tried to turn the legislation intended to punish crimes into one which commits crimes. This is the sole reason why their "laws" were created.

If your Honours please, I shall now turn to the terroristic laws and directives of Hitlerite criminals which were issued for the civilian population of the Soviet Union.

Having started the criminal war against the USSR, the German fascist gang of bandits considered even these laws and "legal" principles, especially created for the justification of their crimes, insufficient.

Most of these documents have already been submitted to the Tribunal and I shall commit myself to some very brief quotations. With the Tribunal's permission I shall read only three lines from a previously submitted document. I am referring to Document L-221 submitted to the Tribunal by the American prosecution. It contains a brusque reply made by Hitler to Goering at a meeting on 16 July, 1941. The Tribunal will find the place on Page 189 in the document book in the first paragraph, first line.

THE PRESIDENT: That document has been read already.

COLONEL SMIRNOV: Yes, your Honour. I shall take the liberty of quoting only three lines.

THE PRESIDENT: Well, go on, but I think that the rest of the page which you are reading is all comment, and you could go straight on to the next document. Read these three lines and then I think you will find -

COLONEL SMIRNOV: This is not quite correct, but I shall now quote those three lines.

Hitler said: "The gigantic territory must be pacified as soon as possible." I am quoting from the next sentence, where Hitler said: "The best way to attain this objective is to shoot everyone, even those who only cast an ugly look."

I am citing these lines because they are the leitmotiv which runs through all the directives and orders of the Hitlerites.

THE PRESIDENT: Now, what I am suggesting to you is that the rest of the page to which you are now passing in our translation is quite unnecessary to read

[Page 55]

and you can go straight on, at any rate, to the directive of Keitel of 16th September, 1941.

COLONEL SMIRNOV: All right, sir.

THE PRESIDENT: Assuming that it hasn't been read already.

COLONEL SMIRNOV: May I continue?


COLONEL SMIRNOV: I quote a directive of Keitel. This directive was submitted to the Tribunal by the American prosecution as Document C-148. I quote, on Page 190 of your document book, paragraph 3, line 4.

"One must bear in mind that human life in the countries concerned is of no value whatever, and that deterrent effect can be obtained only by extraordinary cruelty."
I am further presenting to the Tribunal a photostat of the document which was already submitted as 459-PS. I shall not quote a single excerpt from it, but I shall take the liberty to remind the Tribunal that point 6 of this document states: "Any sort of resistance will be broken, not by means of juridical punishment, but by instilling in the population a fear which is the only thing capable," as it is said in the directive, "of depriving the population of any will to resist."

I take the liberty to confirm this by quoting very briefly just two lines from the directive of the Commander of the Sixth Army, General Field Marshal von Reichenau, which has already been presented to the Tribunal by my colleague as Exhibit USSR 12. The Tribunal will find it on Page 194 of the document book, line 19 from the top. It is said there:-

"The fear of German counter-measures must be stronger than the threats from Bolshevist stragglers."
I wanted to read into the record one document which bears the seal of the pseudo-legal argumentation and which is so characteristic of the ordinances and directives of Hans Frank, but it has been pointed out that this document has already been presented to the Tribunal. I am referring to the circular order of the Main Office of the State Security No. 567 (42-176), dated 5 November, 1942. It appears that this document has already been presented by my American colleagues as L-316. I just wish to remind the Tribunal that it states that even the principles used for determining the activities of non-Germans should be different and that any actions of a non-German should be examined not from the point of view of justice but exclusively from the point of view of prevention. I think that this document is well known to the Tribunal and I shall refrain from quoting it.

Thus in those territories of the occupied countries where the S.S. followed in the footsteps of the aggressors' troops, the peaceful population was abandoned to the arbitrary will of the specially trained and fierce representatives of the police forces of German fascism.

I shall take the liberty, while presenting the photostat of the document previously submitted to the Tribunal as 447-PS, to quote only one line of this document, which the Tribunal will find on Page 197 of the document book, fifth paragraph, after the heading, "The Region of the Operations". It deals with the special powers of the Reichsfuehrer S.S. and indicates that "Within the scope of these assignments the Reichsfuehrer S.S. shall act independently and under his own responsibility".

It is well known what the Reichsfuehrer S.S. really was. Of the many statements of Himmler, I shall limit myself to only one quotation which is, however, rather characteristic as a leading directive to the responsible officials of the S.S. who were subordinate to him.

On 4 October, 1943, there was a conference of the S.S. Gruppenfuehrer at Poznan. The relative document was submitted to the Tribunal by the American prosecution as 1919-PS and was read into the record on 19 December, 1945, and I shall quote

[Page 56]

six lines from Page 23 of the photostat thereof. The Tribunal will find the document on Page 201 in the document book. I now quote a statement made at that conference by Himmler.

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