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-Fifth Day: Wednesday, 10th July, 1946
(Part 5 of 5)

[Page 271]

DR. THOMA, Continued:

I wanted to present to the Tribunal a selection of Jewish literary attacks on the national feeling at that time, but the Tribunal ruled my application out as irrelevant; as these writings were not introduced as evidence, I cannot speak about them. It is, however, an injustice to Rosenberg to assert that blind hatred of the Jewish

[Page 272]

race had driven him into that controversy. He had before his eyes concrete factual evidence of the seditious activities of Jews.

It appeared as if the Party programme of placing Jews under a generous law for aliens would be realised.

It is true that Goebbels at that time called for a day's boycotting of Jewish stores. Rosenberg, however, declared in his speech of 28th June, 1932, on the anniversary of the Versailles Treaty, in the Assembly Hall of the Reichstag in the Kroll Opera House, that it was no longer necessary that in the capital of the Reich 74 per cent of all lawyers should be Jews and that 80 to 90 per cent of the physicians in Berlin hospitals should be Jewish; about 30 per cent of Jewish lawyers in Berlin would do amply. In his speech at the Party Rally in September, 1933, Rosenberg stated in addition:

"In the most chivalrous way, the German Government has excluded from the percentage stipulations those Jews who have fought for Germany at the front or who have lost a son or a father in the war." (Document Book I, Page 153a.)
In his speech at the Kroll Opera House, Rosenberg gave the reason for this measure, saying that not an entire nation should thereby be discriminated against, but that it was necessary that our younger German generation, who for years had to starve or beg, should now be able to obtain bread and work too. But despite his strong opposition to the Jews, he did not want the extermination of Jewry, but advocated as the farthest aim the political expatriation of Jews, i.e., by classifying them by law as aliens and giving them protection as such. In addition, he granted to the Jews a percentage access to non-political professions which still by far exceeded the actual percentage of Jews in the German population. Of course, his final aim was the total emigration of the Jews from Aryan nations. He had no understanding and appreciation of how great a loss to the Aryan nations themselves such an emigration would be in cultural, economic and political respects. But one must admit that he meant that such emigration would prove useful to the Jews themselves, first, because they would be set free from all anti-Semitic attacks, and then because in their own settlement they might live unhampered according to their own ways.

The dreadful development which the Jewish question took under Hitler, and which was justified by him as being a reaction against the policy pursued by the emigrants, was never more regretted by anyone than by Rosenberg himself, who blames himself for not having protested against the attitude of Hitler, Himmler and Goebbels as much as he protested against Koch's actions in the Ukraine. Rosenberg also does not hesitate to admit that his suggestion to Hitler to shoot 100 Jews instead of 100 Frenchmen after the recurring murders of German soldiers was an injustice born of a momentary feeling - despite his belief in its formal admissibility - because, from the purely human standpoint, the real basis for such a suggestion was lacking, namely the active participation of those Jews.

I have returned to this case again, as in my opinion it is the only instance where Rosenberg demanded retribution by killing Jews. On the other hand, one must insist with the greatest emphasis that there is no proof of Rosenberg having been aware of the extermination of five million Jews. The prosecution accuses him of making preparations for an anti- Semitic congress as late as 1944, which did not take place only because of the course of the war. What sense could such a congress have had, had Rosenberg known that the majority of the Jews in Europe had been exterminated already?

Rosenberg had no faith in democracy, because it meant for Germany a splitting up into numerous parties and a constant change of government, finally making the formation of an efficient government quite impossible. Another reason for his not having faith in democracy was that non-German democratic powers did not stand by their democratic principles in some cases when they could have been of benefit to Germany, for instance, in 1919, when Austria was willing to be annexed to Germany and later on at the referendum in Upper Silesia. But Rosenberg

[Page 273]

did not turn towards tyranny for that reason. Referring to paragraph 25 of the Party Programme he said in his comments on Page 46:
"This central power" - in this case the Fuehrer's power is meant - "should have as advisers representatives of the people as well as trade chambers developing out of organic life." (Document Book III, Page 6.)
And in his speech in Marienburg on 30th April, 1934, "The Order of the German State," he said that the National Socialist State must be "a monarchy on a republican foundation." I quote:
"From that standpoint the State will not become a deified end in itself, neither will its leader become a Caesar, a God or a substitute for God." (Document Book I, Page 131.)
In his speech "German Law" of 18th December, 1934, Rosenberg stressed:
"In our eyes the Fuehrer is never a tyrannical commander." (Document Book 1, Page 135.)
Only in such expressions was a protest against the development of tyranny possible.

The development went beyond Rosenberg and degenerated. Rosenberg himself learned this while acting as Minister for the East. Rosenberg was an idealist, but he was not the unscrupulous man who inspired the State and the Fuehrer to commit crimes. I believe, therefore, that he should not be included in Mr. Justice Jackson's accusation (Page 8), that Rosenberg belonged to those men in Germany who have been "living symbols of racial hatreds, of terrorism and violence, and of the arrogance and cruelty of power."

In looking over Rosenberg's writings, one more often finds statements and expressions which give a decided impression of tolerance.

He says, for example, in his Myth of the 20th Century, of the national Church which he aspired to:

"The German Church cannot pronounce compulsory dogmas which every one of its followers is compelled to believe, even at the risk of losing his eternal salvation."
In his speech "Ideology and Dogma" in the University of Halle-Mittenberg, he called for tolerance toward all denominations with a demand for "inner respect for every real denomination." In his speech "On German Intellectual Freedom" of 6th July, 1935, he also spoke up for the freedom of conscience. There was no document presented which contained a proposal by Rosenberg for criminal persecution of one of his numerous ideological opponents, although he might easily have been prompted to this by their sharp attacks on his opinions.

Further, the prosecution accused him of militarism and a fondness for soldiering. Rosenberg was indeed an admirer of the soldier's profession, and his heroic attitude toward life, but he also admired the peasant's standards as the basis of the national character. He advocated the creation of a people's army, first as the outward expression of Germany's unity and then for the purpose of strengthening and educating the people at home. However, he denies that he thought of world conquest. On this point I can refer to his speech, "Germany's Position in the World," of 30th October, 1933. There he offered peace to Russia on the occasion of the German withdrawal from the League of Nations. (Document Book I, Page 147.) I shall quote this part for it proves also that National Socialism did not want to interfere in the affairs of other countries:

"We are ready at any time to maintain absolutely correct relations with Soviet Russia, because we, of course, do not necessarily want to change the values of an ideology in the field of foreign policy and foreign relations."
In the same speech he emphasises that the avowal of racial theory, which he calls an ideology, is "not meant to be an expression of racial hatred, but an expression of racial respect." ("Blood and Honour," Page 377.)

Mr. Justice Jackson called Rosenberg's nationalism a "wild" one. Rosenberg was passionate, but he wanted thereby to overcome class-conflict in the nation, which threatened its existence. For a clearer understanding of the facts it may also be said -

[Page 274]

THE PRESIDENT (interposing): Dr. Thoma, the Tribunal would like you to finish your speech before lunch, if you could possibly summarize some parts of it. I do not know whether that is possible.

DR. THOMA: I shall try to do that, Mr. President.

I once more refer to Mr. Jackson's statement that Rosenberg's "nationalism" was a wild one. In this connection I should like to refer only to the fact that such nationalism was a compensatory symptom, which is easily found in a conquered country.

The accusation dealing with anti-Christianity and Neo- paganism is something which I have already mentioned, and I should just like to refer to it.

I have referred to the words "Master Race," mentioning the fact that these words are not found in Rosenberg's works at all.

Concerning the Party Programme, I stated that Rosenberg did not draft it, but rather supplied only a commentary upon it, and that we are not concerned with the things contained in the Party Programme, but rather with what its effect was.

I referred to the witness Funk, who stated that his first action and his first programme as Minister of Economics did not refer to the Party Programme in any way, but was simply democratic and liberal.

The Party Programme was adhered to neither in a positive nor a negative sense. The government was carried on just as it was in other States, on the basis of general necessity.

May it please the Tribunal, I shall turn to the charge that Rosenberg was the deputy of the Fuehrer for the supervision of all education and spiritual ideology under the NSDAP. In reading the affidavit of Dr. Eppe, I referred to the fact that Rosenberg, as head of this office, had no executive power and that Rosenberg interpreted the duties of his office in such a way that he published magazines on all cultural and scientific topics, especially the "NS- Monatshefte" the polemic-political contents of which, after 1933, were more and more superseded by historical, scientific, and cultural subjects. On the basis of all the literature which is at our disposal, it is not in accordance with the facts that Rosenberg interpreted his position as one from which to sow hatred. After 1933 he mainly endeavoured to clarify and promote new political documents. I have said in addition that this foreign political office concentrated its efforts on exercising a regulating and disposing influence on all noble and cultural values which manifested themselves.

May it please the Tribunal, I shall now turn to the subject: "Morality as the basis of the accusation." I should like to ask the High Tribunal, even though I do not read this matter, to consider it as having been presented by me. I refer to Pages 82-a to 82-g, and I should like to ask the High Tribunal for permission not to read this matter and yet to have it considered as having been submitted in its entirety and read into the, record. I shall now sum up -

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Thoma, all the speech will be taken as being presented to the Tribunal. By your summarising it, you are not excluding it from the record of the Tribunal. The Tribunal will take note of it all.

DR. THOMA: Thank you, Mr. President.

I shall now sum up in conclusion, and I should like to point out the following (Page 83):

Rosenberg was caught up in the destiny of his nation in a period of heavy foreign political oppression and internal dissension. He struggled for cultural purity social justice and national dignity and rejected vehemently all that which did no admit these high values or which consciously attacked them in an irreverent manner With respect to foreign policy, he stood for an agreement between the four central powers of the European continent, being aware of the grave consequences of a lost war. He acted in all loyalty and respect towards a personality who appeared t give political shape and increasing power to his ideals. After the political victor at home, Rosenberg proposed that the polemics and other aspects of the period

[Page 275]

of struggle be subdued. He stood for a chivalrous solution of the existing Jewish problem, for spiritual and cultural instruction of the Party on a high plane and, contrary to the statements of the prosecution, he opposed any form of religious persecution. He cannot be blamed for emphasizing a definite religious-philosophical conviction of his own.

The practical utilization of many of his views was practised to an increasing degree by authoritative agencies of the Party, but they were disregarded, especially after the beginning of the war. Finally, as has been discovered now, they were often turned into the opposite of what Rosenberg fought for.

Until 17th July, 1941, Rosenberg was excluded from participation in any national legislation. Considered from the point of view of personal responsibility, all his speeches and writings up to that time come within the scope of unofficial journalistic activity which every politician and writer must admittedly be free to engage in - a freedom which the Tribunal has fundamentally acknowledged with regard to all utterances by the statesmen of all other countries during the unofficial period of their career. It seems to be all the more significant that Rosenberg as a private citizen did not call for war or for the commission of any inhuman or violent acts.

As Minister for the East, he advocated a generous solution taking into consideration the understandable national and cultural aspirations of the Eastern European peoples. He fought for this concept as long as there were any prospects for its realization. Ultimately realising that Hitler refused to be persuaded, he requested his dismissal. The fact that Rosenberg could not prevent many outrages from happening in the East cannot be charged against him in the criminal sense. Neither the Wehrmacht nor the police nor the Arbeitseinsatz programme were subject to his authority. Whenever injustices or excesses came to his knowledge, he did everything he could to counteract them.

For almost a whole year, Rosenberg endeavoured to keep labour recruiting on a voluntary basis. When several age groups were later drafted, he protested against every abuse by executive agencies and always demanded redressing measures. Quite apart from the legitimate requirements of the occupation power, his labour legislation for the Eastern territories was necessary for the establishment of order and the repression of arbitrary measures as well as of dangerous idleness, increasing sabotage and the growing number of murders. It was war time, and it was a war area, not a post- armistice period or by any means a period subsequent to final capitulation.

So far as he was informed of things and commanded any influence, Rosenberg fought for his convictions. The fact that adverse powers became stronger than he was, cannot be brought up as a charge against him. One cannot punish for offences and at the same time punish those who revolted against them. In view of the terrible extermination orders which have now been disclosed, it is certainly possible to raise the point whether Rosenberg could not have exerted much stronger opposition. To expect this would, however, suppose an earlier knowledge of things which he only learned about after the collapse. Should he be charged with any carelessness, it must not be forgotten that he felt the duty of serving the German Reich and engaged in the struggle far its existence, and that terrible injuries were also inflicted upon the German nation, injuries which Rosenberg too was unable to recognize as war necessities.

Official tasks, as for example, the duties of the Einsatzstab in the West and East, were carried out by Rosenberg without compromising his personal integrity. The requisitioning of artistic and cultural objects he always carried out provisionally, subject to final decisions of supreme headquarters and, as far as it was at all possible, in connection with identification of the proprietor. Moreover, in the use of unclaimed furniture for the benefit of air raid victims in Germany, provisions were made for the subsequent indemnification of the owners based upon a precise inventory.

In considering his entire personality we see that Rosenberg followed with belief and love an ideal of social justice combined with national dignity. He

[Page 276]

fought for it openly and honourably, went to prison and risked his life for it. He did not only step in when National Socialism afforded the opportunity to begin a career, but at a time when it was dangerous and asked only for sacrifice. In his speeches after 1933, he took his stand in favour of deeper spiritual forms, a new cultural education, personality, values and respect for every form of honest work. He accepted the sombre days of that time as unfortunate, but inevitable accompanying phenomena of a revolution without bloodshed, without having in fact learned of the secret details.

He fully believed that good forces and ideas would prevail over these other human imperfections. During the war he was conscientiously at the service of the Reich.

For twenty-five years, throughout the revolution and the events of the war, he maintained his personal integrity and untainted character. He had to experience with deep sorrow how a great idea in the hands of those possessed with the lust for power was gradually abused, and in 1944, at Party meetings, he protested against this abuse of power entrusted to its holders. During this trial he had to his dismay and horror to see the evidence of the degeneration of his life's ideal; but he knows that his aspirations and the aspirations of many millions of other Germans have been honourable and decent. Today, too, he adheres to his honourable, honest and humanly irreproachable conduct, and, full of sorrow for the wounds inflicted upon all nations and for the downfall of the Reich, he awaits the sentence of a just Tribunal.

(The Tribunal adjourned until 11th 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.