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-Sixteenth Day: Monday, 29th April, 1946
(Part 2 of 12)

[Page 311]

THE WITNESS: I will now answer your question, not with reference to the book. You asked me whether Adolf Hitler had discussed the Jewish problem with me. The answer is "Yes." Adolf Hitler always discussed the Jewish problem in connection with Bolshevism. It is perhaps of importance in answering that question to ask whether Adolf Hitler wanted a war with Russia. Did he know long in advance that a war would come, or not? When he was with us, Adolf Hitler spoke of Stalin as a man whom he respected, as a man of action, but that he was actually surrounded by Jewish leaders, and that Bolshevism ...


Q. (Interposing) Herr Streicher, that is going too far again. The question which I put was quite exact, and I am asking you not to go so far afield. You have heard the Tribunal object to it, and in the interest of not delaying the proceedings you must not go into so many details. You must not make speeches.

GENERAL RUDENKO: Mr. President, I believe that some time ago Mr. Justice Jackson remarked, quite justly, quite reasonably, that the defendant Streicher became so intoxicated by his own speeches that he did not answer the questions put to him or the charges made against him. I therefore invite the attention of the Tribunal to this fact, and suggest that the defendant abstain from making lengthy speeches and merely give brief replies to the charges brought against him.

THE PRESIDENT: Will you go on, Dr. Marx, and try to keep the witness to an answer to the questions which you have no doubt prepared.

DR. MARX: Very well, Mr. President.

THE WITNESS: May I, please, as a defendant, say a few words, here? The question was ...

THE PRESIDENT: (Interposing) No, you may not. You will answer the questions, please.


Q. Next question. Is there reason for the assumption that Hitler, when he decided to have the Jews in Europe killed in masses, was subject to any influence, or what is to be considered the motive for that dreadful decision?

A. The Fuehrer could not be influenced. If somebody had gone to him and said that Jews should be killed, then he would have turned him down. And, if, during the war, somebody had gone to him and said, "I have learned that you are giving the order that mass killings are to be carried out," then he would have turned that man down too, as I know the Fuehrer. I therefore answer your question by saying that the Fuehrer could not be influenced.

[Page 312]

Q. In other words, you want to say that the decision in this matter was made entirely on his own initiative.

A. I have already said that that becomes clear from his will.

Q. In August, 1938, the main synagogue in Nuremberg was demolished. Was this done on your orders?

A. Yes. In my Gau there were approximately 15 synagogues, in Nuremberg one main synagogue, a somewhat smaller one, and I think several other prayer rooms. The main synagogue stood within the walls of the "Old City." Even before 1933, during the so-called period of struggle, when we still had the other government, I stated publicly during a meeting that it was a disgrace that there should have been placed in the "Old City" such an oriental monstrosity of a building. After the seizure of power I told the Mayor (Oberburgermeister) that he should have the synagogue destroyed and at the same time the planetarium. I might point out that after the World War, in the middle of the park grounds laid out for the recreation of the citizens, a planetarium had been built, an ugly brick building. I gave the order to destroy that building and said that the main synagogue, too, should be destroyed. If it had been my intention to deprive the Jews of their synagogue, as a church, or if I had wanted to give a general signal, then I would have given the order, after the seizure of power, that every synagogue in my Gau should be destroyed. Then I would likewise have had all the synagogues in Nuremberg destroyed. But it is a fact that in the spring of 1938 only the main synagogue was destroyed; the synagogue in the Essenweinstrasse, in the new town, remained untouched. That the order was then given in November of that year to set fire to the synagogues, that is no fault of mine.

Q. In other words, you want to say that you did not order the destruction of these buildings for anti-Semitic reasons but because they did not conform to the architectural style of the city?

A. For reasons of city architecture. I wanted to submit a photograph to the Tribunal on this, but I have not received any.

Q. Yes, we have a photograph.

A. But you can't see the synagogue in it. I do not know whether the Tribunal wants to see the photograph. It actually shows only the old houses, but the front of the synagogue facing the Maxplatz is not visible. I do not know whether I may submit the photograph to the Tribunal.

THE PRESIDENT: Yes, certainly, the photograph can be put in. Let us see it.

DR. MARX: In that case, I will submit it to the Tribunal as evidence, and I am asking you to accept it accordingly.

THE PRESIDENT: What will it be, exhibit what?

DR. MARX: I cannot say at the moment, Mr. President. I shall take the liberty of stating the number later, and for the moment I confine myself to submitting it. I could not present it any earlier because it had not come into my possession. It was only in the last days ...

THE PRESIDENT: Yes, go on.


Q. In your action in connection with the main synagogue did you rely on any statements of art experts?

A. I had frequent opportunities to discuss the subject with architects. Every architect said that there must have been a city council which had no feeling for city architecture, that it was impossible to explain it.

These statements were not in any way directed against the synagogue as a Jewish church, but rather against such a building in this part of the city. Strangers, too, whom I guided - for on Party rally days I used to accompany British and American people across the Maxplatz - and I remember only one case where when I said "Don't you notice anything?," that person did not.

[Page 313]

But all other strangers to our city said: "How could that building be there in the midst of these medieval buildings?" I could also have submitted a book, written in 1877, which is in the prison library, where a Professor Berneis who was an authority, wrote to the author, Uhde, in Switzerland, that he had now seen the Maxplatz ...

Q. Herr Streicher, that is enough now. In other words, you have indicated that you believed you could rely on the judgement of architects who seemed to you to be authorities?

A. Yes.

Q. At the time when the synagogue was demolished, did you make a speech?

A. Yes, but I want to point out that the prosecution have submitted an article, a report from a daily paper, that was written by an uninformed young man. I want to state that this article does not contain a true representation of the statements which I made.

Q. I now come to the demonstrations on the night of 9 November, 1938. What can you say concerning those demonstrations and what role did you play in that connection? Were those demonstrations initiated by the population?

A. Every year the Gauleiter and S.A. and S.S. leaders met the Fuehrer in Munich on the occasion of the historic day of 9 November. On 9 November we sat down to dinner in the old Town Hall, and it was customary for the Fuehrer to make a short speech after the dinner. On 9 November, 1938, I didn't feel very well. I participated in the dinner and then I left; I drove back to Nuremberg and went to bed. Towards midnight I was awakened. My chauffeur told me that the S.A. leader, von Obernitx [sic], wanted to talk to the Gauleiter. I received him and he said the following: "Gauleiter, you had already left when the Minister of Propaganda, Dr. Goebbels, took the floor and said" - I can now repeat it only approximately - said, "Embassy Counsellor von Rath has been murdered in Paris. That is now the second murder abroad of a prominent National Socialist. This murder is not the murder of the Jew Gruenspan; this is rather the execution of a deed which has been desired by all Jewry. Something should now be done." I do not know now whether Goebbels said the Fuehrer had ordered it; I remember only that von Obernitz told me that Goebbels had stated that the synagogues were to be set on fire; and I cannot now remember exactly, but I think he told me that the windows of Jewish places of business were to be smashed and that houses were to be demolished.

Then I said to Obernitz - for I was surprised - "Obernitz, I think it is wrong that synagogues be set on fire, and at this moment I think it is wrong that Jewish business houses be demolished; I think these demonstrations are wrong. If people are let loose during the night, deeds can be perpetrated for which one cannot be responsible." I said to Obernitz that I considered the setting on fire of synagogues particularly wrong because abroad, and even among the German people the opinion might arise that National Socialism had now started the fight against religion. Obernitz replied: "I have the order." I said: "Obernitz, I will not assume any responsibility in this case." Obernitz left and the action took place. What I have said under oath here, I have previously stated in several interrogations and my chauffeur will confirm it, for he was a witness to this night's conversation and shortly afterwards, when he went to bed, told his wife what he had heard in my bedroom.

Q. Have you finished?

A. Yes, but you asked another question ...

Q. Yes, whether it was a spontaneous act of force initiated by the masses of the people?

A. Yes. In the National Socialist Press there appeared after this action an article to the same effect, which stated that a spontaneous demonstration of the people had revenged the murder of von Rath. It had, therefore, been

[Page 314]

deliberately ordered from Berlin that there should be a public statement to the effect that the demonstration of 1938 was spontaneous. That this was not the case I was also able to learn in Nuremberg, and it is remarkable that the indignation at what had happened during those demonstrations expressed itself even here in Nuremberg, including the Party members.

The prosecution has submitted an article which is a report on a speech which I made on 10 November; and that is a remarkable piece of evidence of the fact that the people were against this action. I was forced, because of the atmosphere which prevailed in Nuremberg, to make a public speech and say that one should not have so much sympathy for the Jews. Such was the affair of November, 1938.

Perhaps it might also be important for you to ask me how I, of all people, should have turned down the idea of these demonstrations.

Q. I thought you had explained that already. Good. Who gave the order then for the burning down of the synagogue still standing on Essenweinstrasse?

A. I do not know who gave the order; I believe it was S.A. Leader von Obernitz. I do not know the details.

Q. A further question: Did you yourself express publicly your disapproval of these brutalities?

A. Yes. In a small circle of leading Party members I said what I have always said, what I have always said publicly: I stated that this was wrong. I talked to lawyers during a meeting - I do not know whether my defence counsel himself was there - I believe it was as early as November, 1938, that I stated to the Nuremberg lawyers at a meeting that what had happened here during that action was wrong; that it was wrong with regard to the people and with regard to foreign countries. I said then that anyone who knew the Jewish question as I know it would understand why I considered this demonstration a mistake. I do not know whether this was reported to the Fuehrer at that time, but after November, 1938, I was never again called to the Hotel Deutscher Hof when the Fuehrer came to Nuremberg. Whether this was the reason I do not know, but at any rate I did criticise these demonstrations publicly.

Q. It is assumed by the prosecution that in 1938 a more severe treatment of the Jews was introduced. Is that true, and what is the explanation?

A. Yes. In 1938 the Jewish question entered a new phase; that is shown, indeed, by the demonstration. I myself can say in this connection only that there was no preliminary conference, I assume that the Fuehrer, impulsive as he was, and, acting on the spur of the moment, said, on November 9 for the first time to Dr. Goebbels, "Tell the organisations that the synagogue must be burned down." As I said, I myself did not attend such a meeting, and I do not know what happened to bring this about.

Q. On 12 November, 1938, the decree was published according to which the Jews were to be excluded from the economic life of the country. Was there a connection between the orders for the demonstrations of 9 November and the further degree of 12 November, and would that connection be due to the same reason?

A. Well, here I can say only that I am convinced that there was a connection. The order, rather the decrees, which were to have such an extensive effect in the economic field, came from Berlin. We did not have any conference. I do not remember any Gauleiter meetings in which this was discussed. I do not know of any. That happened just as everything happened; we were not previously informed.

Q. How was it that not you, but the defendant Rosenberg, was given the task of attending to this matter?

A. Rosenberg was the spiritual trustee of the Movement, but he was not given this particular task, not the organising of the demonstration nor that of economic matters.

[Page 315]

Q. No, we are talking of different points. Rosenberg was the one given the work by the leaders of the State of taking care, as it was called, of racial-political and other enlightenment questions; and you were not. How can that be explained? How can it be explained that you were not chosen?

A. Rosenberg, as he himself said, met the Fuehrer very early and was, intellectually, and because of his knowledge, suited to take over this work. I devoted myself more to popular enlightenment.

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Marx, he has told us that he wasn't given the work. Unless he had some communication with Rosenberg he can't tell us anything more about it except that he wasn't given the duty. All the rest is mere comment and argument.

DR. MARX: Yes.


Q. I now put the next question to you: Was there, during the year 1939, an order issued forbidding you to make speeches?

A. Yes. In the autumn of 1939 my enemies went so far that the Fuehrer, without my being consulted beforehand, issued a written order through Party Member Hess forbidding me to make speeches. The threat of immediate arrest was made should I act against this order.

Q. Is it also correct that in 1938 an effort was evidently made to stop further publication of "Der Sturmer" - I mean in government circles?

A. Such intentions existed quite often, and also at that time. Perhaps I might refer to two other documents in this connection in order to save time.

The prosecution has submitted copies of a letter from Himmler and Baldur von Schirach. I can give an explanation now. At that time, in 1939, there were intentions of prohibiting "Der Sturmer." Bormann had even issued some such order. Then the chief editor of "Der Sturmer" wrote to prominent members of the Party, asking them to state their opinion about "Der Sturmer." And thereupon letters were also received from Himmler and von Schirach. Altogether, I think about fifteen letters were received from prominent members of the Movement; they were merely kind replies to an inquiry.

Q. That is sufficient. Is it true that at the outbreak of the war you were not made Armed Forces District Commissioner (Wehrkreis-Kommissar) in your own Gau?

A. Yes.

Q. How can that be explained?

A. Well, maybe that is not so important; that is how conditions were at the time. There were certain personal feelings, etc. It is of no significance. At any rate, I did not become Armed Forces District Commissioner.

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