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

The Trial of German Major War Criminals

Sitting at Nuremberg, Germany
2nd July to 15th July 1946

One Hundred and Seventy-Fourth Day: Tuesday, 9th July, 1946
(Part 11 of 11)

[Page 249]

DR. THOMA, Continued:

The Markull memorandum is the truest possible reflection of Rosenberg's personality and influence, as it shows the anxious subordinate trying to conjure up the spirit of his Minister as he had come to know and to love him in his work, and to dispel an alien phantom who seemed to have taken his place. It says there that the train of thought conforms with the policy of Reich Commissioner Koch but not with the decrees of the Reich Minister and the conception of at least 80 per cent of the regional commissioners and specialists, who were counting on their Minister, and who considered that the Eastern population should be treated decently and with understanding; for it evinced a surprisingly high capacity for culture, its efficiency in work was good, and we were about to waste a precious stock of gratitude, love and confidence. The controversy between the Minister and the Reich Commissioner was well known among the high authorities of the Reich and it was no secret that the Ministry was unable to carry out its policies in opposition to the Reich Commissioners, who considered the Eastern Ministry as entirely superfluous; the writings of Bormann would disavow the entire policy of the Eastern Minister up to now and one had the impression that Koch had been considered by Hitler as being right in his opposition to the Minister. Since its foundation the Ministry had to complain about an ever- increasing loss of power. The higher SS and police officials refused to render to the General Commissioner the normal honours such as reports, etc. One jurisdiction of the Eastern Minister after another was being taken away by other highest Reich offices; in the offices in Berlin it was openly said that the remodelling of the Ministry into a mere Operations Staff (Fuehrungsstab) was to be expected. On the other hand, the Reich Ministry for the Occupied Eastern Territories, due to the personality of its leader, enjoyed the exceptional esteem of the public.

[Page 250]

Dr. Markull implores the Minister to stand by his original ideas, saying that the unfortunate master complex should be as much avoided as the opinion that the intelligentsia were alien to the masses. The influence of spiritual forces should be taken into consideration. Germany should prove a "righteous judge", acknowledging the national and cultural rights of nations. Such had been the ideas of the Minister before and such they should remain.

Rosenberg's attitude did not change in fact, as at that very time he was working on the great School Programme (Schulverordnung). Later on he effected the reopening primarily of the medical faculties in colleges. And then came the conflict with the Fuehrer in May, 1943.

On 12th October, 1944, Rosenberg tendered his resignation through Lammers to the Fuehrer (Document Ro. 14), because the German Eastern policies in general and the political psychological treatment of Eastern nations in particular were still opposed to the point of view which he had had from the very beginning, his plan of autonomy of the Eastern nations and of the cultural development of their capacities as part of an all-European conception of a family of nations on the continent. Now he had made up his mind, seeing a great statesmanlike programme destroyed.

All he could do in regard to the policy of enslavement and looting which was going on in his country was to accept memoranda from his colleagues in the Ministry or at best indulge in a futile paper war with people like Koch. He had not been strong enough against the plans which blind forces in the East wanted to carry out and he was powerless against their influence, being in addition totally unaware at that time of all the police and military orders which were presented here to the Tribunal.

When Rosenberg once reminded Hitler of the creation of a university in Kiev, Hitler apparently agreed; after Rosenberg had left and he was alone with Goring, Hitler said: "This fellow has special worries. We have more important matters on our minds than universities in Kiev." No episode can illustrate better than all the documents the theme: "Rosenberg and reality in the East," and the other theme: "Rosenberg as the alleged inspirer of Hitler."

As Rosenberg did not receive any reply to his request for resignation, he tried many times to talk with Hitler personally. It was all in vain.

On 11th December, 1945, Mr. Dodd said:

"This system of hatred, savagery and denial of individual rights, which the conspirators erected into a philosophy of government within Germany, into what we may call the Nazi Constitution, followed the Nazi armies as they swept over Europe ... and foreign labourers became the serfs of the master race - they were being deported and enslaved by the million."
And on 8th February, 1946, General Rudenko said:
"Outstanding in the long chain of vile crimes committed by the German-Fascist invaders is the forced deportation to Germany of peaceful citizens - men, women, and children - for slave and serf labour."
He said that Goering, Keitel, Rosenberg and Sauckel were particularly responsible for the inhuman and barbaric instructions, directives and orders of the Hitler Government, whose purpose was the carrying out of the deportation of Soviet people into German slavery.

I have already spoken of the formal and individual responsibility of Rosenberg as Reich Minister for the Occupied Eastern Territories. I have already explained, too, that in the field of labour employment it was not Rosenberg but Sauckel who, as General Plenipotentiary for the Mobilization of Labour, was the highest authority and the responsible person, by virtue of the Fuehrer's decree of 21st March, 1942 (Document 580-PS). Thus Sauckel in this field was Rosenberg's superior.

He wrote to Rosenberg on 3rd October, 1942 (Document 017- PS):

"The Fuehrer has drawn up new and most urgent armament programmes which require the speediest employment of 2 million additional foreign

[Page 251]

workers. For the execution of his decree of 21st March, 1942; the Fuehrer has given me more authority for my further tasks, particularly empowering me to use my own judgement in taking all measures in the Reich and in the Occupied Eastern Territories in order to ensure the organized employment of labour for the German armament industry under all circumstances."
In his "Programme for the Mobilization of Labour" of 24th April, 1942 (Document 016-PS), he emphasized that the State and local labour offices are in charge of all technical and administrative matters in connection with labour mobilization which come under the exclusive competence and responsibility of the General Plenipotentiary for the Mobilization of Labour. The defence of Sauckel is not my task. But may I point out that he also did not take over his great and difficult task with a feeling of hatred and the intention of enslavement. In his programme for the mobilization of labour just mentioned he says, for instance:
"Everything has to be avoided which, beyond the shortages and hardships caused by war conditions, would aggravate and even cause unnecessary suffering to foreign male and female workers during their stay in Germany. It stands to reason that we should make their presence and their work in Germany, without any loss for ourselves, as bearable as possible."
On that point Sauckel and Rosenberg shared the same opinion.

Neither is it my task to state and to prove that many hundreds of thousands of foreign workers found good conditions in Germany, that in fact numberless persons were better off here than in their fatherland. I am only concerned with the bad conditions which have been charged to the defendant Rosenberg.

I come now to the "Central Agency for Nationals of the Eastern Territories."

Gentlemen of the Tribunal, several days ago I read the affidavit of Dr. Albert Beil. Essentially it contains an authoritative statement of whatever can be said about that subject. Therefore, I should like to omit this subject, "Central Agency for Nationals of the Eastern Territories," and ask the Tribunal to consider it as having been presented.

To refute the charge that Rosenberg was active as protagonist of the system of hatred and barbarism, of denying human rights, of enslavement, I must add the following. Rosenberg received further unfavourable reports, one being the report of 7th October, 1942, about the bad treatment of Ukrainian skilled workers (Document, Exhibit USA 198). Abuses in recruiting and during transportation were pointed out; the workers were frequently dragged out of their beds at night and locked up in cellars until the time of their departure; threats and blows by the rural militia were a matter of course; food brought from home was often taken by the militia; during transportation to Germany neglect and transgressions on the part of the escorting units occurred, etc.

Rosenberg had no authority whatsoever to intervene in those matters, but he tried to do so in a letter of 21st December, 1942, to Sauckel. Rosenberg first emphasises his fundamental accord with Sauckel, but after a few tactical and polite cliches, he complains seriously and urgently about the methods used in the employment of labour. I quote:

"I must emphatically request, in view of my responsibility for the Occupied Eastern Territories, that for supplying the required contingents methods should be avoided which might one day cause me or my associates to be charged with having connived at them and with being responsible for their consequences."
Rosenberg further states that he empowered the Reich Commissioner for the Ukraine to make use, so far as required, of his sovereign rights and to give attention to the elimination of recruiting methods which were running counter to the interests of warfare and war economy in the occupied territories. He, Rosenberg, and the Reich Commissioners could not help being surprised that in numerous instances measures which should have been rejected by civilian authorities were first communicated to him by the police or other offices. Without co-ordination of their mutual wishes, - he, Rosenberg, was unfortunately unable to accept the joint

[Page 252]

responsibility for consequences resulting from these reported conditions. In conclusion Rosenberg expressed the wish to put an early end to such conditions for the sake of their common interest.

Rosenberg also tried personal consultations with Sauckel, and got Sauckel to promise that he would do everything to bring about a fair solution of all these questions (conference of 14th April, 1942). It was beyond Rosenberg's power and authority to do more. His secret opponent, supported by higher authorities, was Reich Commissioner Koch, who was indeed one of the culprits chiefly responsible for the cruel methods of recruiting and employment of Eastern workers and whose influence Rosenberg was unable to counteract.

When the Prosecutor (M. Brudno on 9th January, 1946) charges the defendant with protesting against these methods not for humanitarian reasons but out of political expediency, I can only say that in my opinion one cannot, without some sound reasons, simply maintain that the defendant Rosenberg is devoid of any human qualities.

As an example of the defendant's particular bestiality, the so-called "Hay-Action" has been repeatedly pointed out by the prosecution (Document 031-PS). It concerned the intention of Army Group "Centre" to evacuate 40 to 50 thousand juveniles from the area of operations, as they represented a considerable burden to the area of operations and, besides, were for the most part without any parental supervision. Villages for children were to be established behind the front lines under native supervision; one of these villages had already proven its value. It was expected that through the Organization Todt, it being a particularly appropriate organization due to its technical and other possibilities, the juveniles would be placed at the disposal of German handicraft industries first as apprentices, in order to employ them as skilled workers after two years' training. At first Rosenberg, as Reich Minister for the Occupied Eastern Territories, was against it, because he feared that the action might be considered as a deportation of children, and on the other hand because the juveniles did not represent a considerable increase of military strength. The chief of the Political Operations Staff approached Rosenberg again, stating that Army Group "Centre" attached particular importance to the fact that the children should reach the Reich not by authority of the General Plenipotentiary for the Mobilization of Labour but through the agency of the Reich Minister for the East, as it was felt that only then could they be assured of correct treatment. The Army Group wanted the action to be carried out under the most loyal conditions and wanted special regulations to be issued with regard to caring for mail service between them and their parents, etc. In the event of a possible reoccupation of the territory, the Eastern Ministry could then let the children go back. Together with their parents they would certainly form a positive element during the subsequent reconstruction of the territory.

Finally, as reason for the second request addressed to the Minister, it was stated in addition that the children, to be sure, would not essentially contribute to strengthening the military power of the enemy, but that the important factor in this case was the long-range weakening of the biological strength of the enemy; not only the Reichsfuehrer SS but also the Fuehrer had expressed themselves to this effect. Rosenberg finally gave his consent to this action.

With regard to this it may be said: a field is concerned which was not at all within the jurisdiction of Rosenberg's administration; he did not want to destroy a foreign element even if biological weakening was given him as a reasons a reason which he himself did not recognize. Instead he wanted to have the children educated and trained in order to bring them with their parents back to their homes later on. That is virtually contrary to the crime which the defendant is charged with. Later on (in the late summer of 1944), Rosenberg visited the Junkers plant in Dessau where approximately 4,700 young White Ruthenian craftsmen were employed, and also visited a White Ruthenian children's camp. The clothing of the workmen was irreproachable; they were industrious, enjoyed the best treatment and got along very well with the German workers. As Rosenberg was able

[Page 253]

to see for himself, the young people were taught languages and mathematics by Russian teachers. The children were cared for in their forest camp by White Ruthenian mothers and woman teachers. The figure of 40,000, moreover, was never attained, in fact, barely half of it.

The attempt of the prosecution in this instance to appeal especially to considerations of humanity in order to discredit the defendant cannot be successful in my estimation. For it is exactly this example which compels me to point out the following in particular: We were in the midst of a war which was being conducted with terrible intensity on both sides. Is not war in itself "monstrous bestiality"? The "weakening of the biological strength of nations" is truly a fitting expression for the goal and purpose of the whole war, for that is what the thoughts and efforts of both belligerent parties are aimed at. It is impossible to think that one should want to forget this in judging the actions of the defendants, and that one should hold the defendants responsible, not only for unleashing the war but in addition for the fact that war in its very essence constitutes a great crime on the part of mankind, both against itself and against the laws of life.

The prosecution contends that Rosenberg is guilty also in so far as it was he who issued the inhuman and barbaric decrees which aimed at carrying out the deportation of Soviet people into German slavery. This causes me to discuss the question as to whether the compulsory labour decree of 19th December, 1941, and Rosenberg's other decrees concerning compulsory labour for the inhabitants of the Eastern territories were contrary to International Law.

The Eastern territories administered by Rosenberg were militarily occupied during the war. Through this occupation bellica Germany realised a complete domination and had the same sovereignty as over her own territory. While according to previous conceptions of International Law the occupying power could act arbitrarily without consideration of rights and laws, recent developments in International Law eliminated the principle of force and brought victory to the principles of humanity and culture. Therefore, the formerly unlimited might of the occupying power was altered to limited rights. The Hague Rules of Land Warfare stipulated in particular the legal duties of the occupying power.

On the other hand, it is also not true that the rules of land warfare set up only certain rights for the occupying powers. They merely set up a limit to the intrinsically unlimited right of the occupying power to exercise all powers deriving from territorial sovereignty over an occupied territory.

THE PRESIDENT: Would that be a convenient time to break off?

(The Tribunal adjourned until 10th July, 1946 at 1000 hours.)

[ Previous | Index | Next ]

Home ·  Site Map ·  What's New? ·  Search Nizkor

© The Nizkor Project, 1991-2012

This site is intended for educational purposes to teach about the Holocaust and to combat hatred. Any statements or excerpts found on this site are for educational purposes only.

As part of these educational purposes, Nizkor may include on this website materials, such as excerpts from the writings of racists and antisemites. Far from approving these writings, Nizkor condemns them and provides them so that its readers can learn the nature and extent of hate and antisemitic discourse. Nizkor urges the readers of these pages to condemn racist and hate speech in all of its forms and manifestations.