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

The Trial of German Major War Criminals

Sitting at Nuremberg, Germany
16th April to 1st May, 1946

One-Hundred-and-Ninth Day: Tuesday, 16th April, 1946
(Part 1 of 10)

[Page 1]



BY DR. THOMA (Counsel for Rosenberg):

Q. Herr Rosenberg, you were the official appointed by the Fuehrer for the supervision of the entire Spiritual and Ideological Education of the NSDAP and all its affiliated organizations. Did you exert any influence on national law- making in that capacity?

A. The Fuehrer once spoke to me in this connection and explained to me that in the leadership of a large movement and of a State three points of view had to be considered. First, there were men who, because of their nature, being impelled to, and best qualified for, studious examination of problems as they arose, would have to expound them in lectures and suggest solutions. Secondly, the leadership - or he himself - would have to select those which contained possibilities of realization; and thirdly, there were those people who had the task of taking the selected ideas and, by dint of painstaking labour, giving practical expression to them in the economic, sociological and political spheres.

He conceived my task as coming under the first heading and entrusted to me the supervision of education, with the idea that I should adopt a constructive attitude, taking into account my knowledge of the movement. The executive and law- giving powers were in the hands of the corresponding ministries; that is, the Ministry of Education and the Reich Propaganda Ministry, and the general representation of the Party was in the hands of the Party Chancellery. The Party Chancellery occasionally asked me to define my position with regard to this or that question but was not obliged to take my views into consideration.

Q. Herr Rosenberg, did you have any influence on National Socialist school policies?

A. I did not have any direct influence on school policies. The school systems were an affair of the Reich Ministry for Education - the actual internal organization of the schools is not to be confused with the Party training - and the organization of the universities was the task of another ministry.

Q. There were National Socialist educational institutions. Can you tell me something about the centres, and what your function was in, that connection?

A. The so-called National Socialist Educational Institutions were special foundations under the leadership and direction of the Ministry for Education and of the Reichsfuehrer S.S. Himmler, intended for the training of a particular, disciplined elite, and the inspection of these educational institutions was in the hands of a special S.S. leader in the Ministry of Education.

Q. Herr Rosenberg, you are also accused of religious persecution, especially as it finds expression in your "Myth of the 20th Century." Do you admit that on occasions you were a little too severe towards the church?

A. Of course I will allow that, as far as traditional confessions were concerned, I uttered rather severe, critical judgement. I would like to emphasize

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in this connection, that in the introduction to my book I described it as a work dealing with personal opinions. Secondly, that this book was not addressed to the church- going public, as is shown in the quotation on Page 125 of the Document Book, Part 1; and thirdly, that I rejected a policy of withdrawal from the church, as can be seen in the Document Book, Part 1, Page 122, and that I opposed political interference by the State in purely religious confessions of faith, which is also shown unequivocally in this book. I further rejected many proposals to have my book translated into foreign languages. Only a Japanese translation was submitted to me although I was not able to recall having given my approval for the translation.

Q. Herr Rosenberg, you were not trained in theological matters. Don't you believe that in some judgements as to theological questions you were wrong?

A. I naturally never assumed that this book, which deals with many problems, did not contain errors. I was, to an extent, grateful to receive criticism with reference to my book, and I made certain corrections, but some attacks I could not consider justified, and I thought that later I would certainly thoroughly revise this work, which, of course, also contained political comments.

Q. Did you at any time use State Police measures against your opponents in theology and science?

A. No. I would like to state here that this work was published two and a half years before the assumption of power and that it was naturally open to criticism from all sides; but that the main criticism arose after the assumption of power. I answered these attacks in two pamphlets but I never made use of the police to suppress these attacks or persecute the authors of them.

Q. Herr Rosenberg, in the R.S.H.A. (Reich Security Main Office) there was an office for the persecution of political churches. Did you have any connection with this department?

A. I know only that a co-worker of mine was in contact with many Party offices as a matter of policy and, of course, was also in touch with the S.S. Through him I received many circular letters from churches, pastoral letters, the circular letters of the Fulda Conference of Bishops, and many others. No arrests of individual church leaders came to my attention although, of course, later on I did find out that during the war many monasteries had been confiscated, ostensibly for political reasons, but I never was able to find out in detail the political reasons involved. I must mention that in the year 1935 a bishop sent an official letter to the administrative head of his province asking him to prohibit me from delivering speeches in that province. That, to be sure, was of no avail; however, this church dignitary was not harmed either by me or by anybody else.

Q. What was your attitude toward the churches in the Eastern provinces?

A. After the entry of German troops in the Eastern Territories the Wehrmacht of its own accord reinstated the freedom of religious denominations, and when I was made Minister for the East I officially acknowledged that religious freedom, which was already being tolerated and carried out practically, through a special "church tolerance" edict at the end of December, 1941.

Q. The prosecution has presented quite a number of documents, almost all of them letters by the Leader of the Party Chancellery, to support their contention of religious persecution. I would like to have you state your attitude toward these documents, which have been submitted under numbers 107, 116, 122, 129, 101. Document 107 Exhibit USA 351, Document 116 Exhibit USA 685 ...

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Thoma, you are going too fast for us to get these numbers down. 107-PS, do you mean?


THE PRESIDENT: Will you kindly say PS if you mean PS; 107- PS, 116-PS;

[Page 3]

DR. THOMA: Yes, I will add the USA Exhibit numbers, Document 107-PS - Exhibit USA 351.

THE PRESIDENT: Well, I would rather have the PS number, if you will give me the PS numbers or whatever the numbers are as part of the exhibit number. 107-PS - 116-PS.

DR. THOMA: Yes, 116, 122, 129, 101, 100, 089, 064, 098, 072, 070.

THE WITNESS: Document 107-PS was submitted by the prosecution as proof of persecution of the churches. This was a circular letter sent out by the Party Chancellery and written by the leader of the Reich Labour Service. In this circular, on Page 1, it is decreed that denominational discussions were to be prohibited within the Reich Labour Service. I believe that was done so that, particularly in the Reich Labour Service, where young people of all classes and backgrounds were taken in, denominational and religious discussions would be avoided.

On Page 2 it says:

"It is not the affair of the Reichsarbeitsdienst to forbid its individual members to have a church wedding or funeral, but the Reichsarbeitsdienst must definitely avoid taking part, as an organization, in church ceremonies which exclude Germans of other beliefs."
I considered this decree as the strictest adherence to religious freedom, for it meant that members of the Protestant faith could not be forced to attend Catholic services and vice versa; furthermore, that persons who perhaps belonged to any religious denomination could not, on order of their organisation, be forced to attend the services of one denomination or the other. Therefore, I cannot see that in this case we are concerned with religious persecution.

Document 116-PS concerns itself with a letter of the Leader of the Reich Chancellery sent to the Reich Minister for Science and Education, and is dated 24 January, 1939. This document was submitted to me for my information, I emphasise, "for my information." It refers to correspondence between the Party Chancellery and this Ministry regarding the limitation of theological faculties, in which it is emphasised firstly: that the terms of concordats and church agreements would have to be taken into consideration; secondly that it was necessary to methodically reorganise the entire higher educational system; and finally, it states that newly created fields of research, such as racial research and archaeology, were also to be taken into consideration.

I could not see why, after six years of National Socialist revolution, new fields of specialisation in scientific research should not be included and should not receive due consideration within the curriculum as a whole. I personally was interested in seeing that the subjects of agrarian sociology and the early history of Germany received proper consideration, specifically with regard to Germanic intellectual and spiritual history.

The same applies to Document 122, also dated April, 1939, into which I do not need to go in detail. It sets forth similar views by the Minister for Science, Education, and National Culture, while emphasising how many theological faculties are to be retained as necessary.

Document 129-PS is a letter of the Reich Church Minister to a well-known German author, Dr. Stapel, who was especially interested in religious reform. In this letter the Reich Church Minister expresses the view that a common religious denomination should be especially promoted which would affirm the ideology of the National Socialist State in particular and at the same time could enjoy and rely upon the support of the Reich Church Minister.

In the preliminary interrogation a letter of mine was submitted to me, written to the Party Chancellery relative to this matter, in which I declared myself against the calling of such a church congress by the Reich Church Minister on the principal ground that it was not the function of a Minister of Churches to

[Page 4]

join a religious denomination whose direct, even if undeclared, head he was, or at least appeared to be. To me he appeared to be in exactly the same position as myself. If, in addition to publicising my own views, I had had the intention of establishing or leading a religious denomination, then I would have had to give up all my functions, offices, and activities in the Party. That followed from a point of view of principle which I held. The Minister of Churches as a National Socialist Minister was, in my opinion, obliged to be independent of all religious denominations and ought not to promote a religion to which he was sympathetic.

Document 101-PS is a letter from the Head of the Party Chancellery, at that time also Chief of Staff and Deputy of the Fuehrer, in which the protest is made that many denominational writings tended to impair the resistance of the troops, and he suggested that it would be better that my office should issue such publications. An answer by me has not been presented here - has not been shown to me. My opinion had always been that, being in a Party office, it was not for me to write religious treatises, but that, of course, it ought to be left to every person individually, if he had something pertinent to say, to put it in writing.

Document 100-PS is a reproach from the former Chief of Staff of the Deputy of the Fuehrer, Bormann, that I had stated in the presence of the Fuehrer that the Protestant Reich Bishop, Muller, had written a very good book for the German soldiers. Reichsleiter Bormann said that this book by Muller did not appear suitable to him because, after all, it was denominational propaganda in disguise. I do not believe that the reproach directed at me for unhesitatingly approving of Reich Bishop Muller 's expression of opinion given in a proper way, and corresponding with his line of thought, can be interpreted as religious persecution by me.

Document 089-PS is a letter by Bormann, which he sent to me for my information, in Which he told me that he had proposed to Reichsleiter Amann that, because of the general scarcity of paper, religious writings, which had decreased by only 10 per cent., should be further curtailed. I didn't know to what extent the curtailment of all periodicals was undertaken at that time, I can only state that in the course of the war even the publications about art, music, folk- lore, German dramaturgy, etc., which were published by my office, were constantly curtailed and abbreviated along with the rest of the periodicals in the German Reich.

Document 064-PS is a letter of the head of the Party Chancellery, in which I am informed about the letter of a Gauleiter referring to an article by General von Ravenau entitled "The Spirit and Soul of the Soldier." This Gauleiter criticised the very denominationally bound viewpoint of General von Ravenau and he protested against the fact that this letter appeared in a series of articles published by the Party. In that connection I would like to say that this article by General von Ravenau appeared in a series published by my Party office, and that I read this letter personally beforehand and gave him the opportunity to voice his opinion in this series, which contained many political articles of a generally historical nature. I did not withdraw this article.

Document 098-PS contains a new reproach against me by the leader of the Party Chancellery. He said that Reich Bishop Muller claimed that he had had directions from me to work out basic principles for the organisation of religious instruction in the schools.

Bormann set forth at great length that it was not a task of the Party to engage in reform measures with respect to religious instruction in schools. To this I would like to say the following. I could not give any instructions at all to Reich Bishop Muller on this topic, but the Reich Bishop visited me on two occasions, and on one occasion he told me, virtually with tears in his eyes, that he got no proper response to his work. I told him, "Your Excellency, as a military pastor, you are simply not well enough known to the public. It

[Page 5]

would be quite appropriate if you would write a detailed work setting forth your views and your objectives so that the various units of the Evangelical, Church might get to know your ideas, and in that way you can make your influence felt in the manner you wish." The Reich Bishop may well have spoken about this, and probably made a few additional remarks. However, I do not believe that this accusation made by Bormann can be construed as persecution of the churches either.

Document 075-PS is a special circular letter by the Chief of the Party Chancellery, setting forth his personal views on the relationship of National Socialism to Christendom. As far as I remember, this document deals with the following: I had once heard that Bormann, who had sent a writing of the contents to a Gauleiter, also sent copies to all the Gauleiters. I asked him to inform me of this. After much delay I finally received this circular letter. I did not consider it proper as a Party circular. I wrote Bormann - and I believe the letter I sent to him should be found in my records - that I did not consider a circular letter of that sort suitable or proper. In addition I added in my own handwriting, so that it would be taken seriously, that in my opinion the Fuehrer would not approve of a circular letter of this sort. Later I spoke with Bormann about this personally and told him that each one of us had the right to define his position towards this problem, but official Party circulars, and especially in this form, were impossible in my opinion. After this conversation Bormann was greatly embarrassed and, as I incidentally heard from my co- defendant Schirach, this circular letter, according to him, was rescinded and declared null and void. However, I can make no statement about that.

DR. THOMA : Mr. President, I would like to call attention to the fact that I gave the number 075 to this document, but it should actually be D-75.

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