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-Seventh Day: Friday, 12th July, 1946
(Part 1 of 8)

[Page 318]

THE PRESIDENT: The Tribunal will adjourn today at 4 o'clock.

Dr. Marx?

DR. HANNS MARX (counsel for defendant Streicher):

Mr. President, with the permission of the Tribunal I shall now continue with the presentation of the final plea for the defendant Streicher.

Yesterday I had come to the point where the individual accusations against Streicher had been summarised, and I had taken the liberty of explaining that these accusations are subdivided into three different paragraphs:

1. Support of seizure of power and consolidation of the power of the NSDAP after its entry into the Government.

2. Preparation of aggressive wars by propaganda aimed at the persecution of the Jews.

3. Intellectual and spiritual preparation and education of the German people and German youth to effect the destruction of Jewry and to encourage hatred of the Jews.

As regards Count 1 of the Indictment, the defendant does not deny that as regards the Party's later seizure of power he supported and promoted it with all his might from the very beginning. His support went to the extent of a whole movement which he had built up personally in Franconia, and which he put at the disposal of Adolf Hitler's Party, which was quite small after the First World War and limited to Southern Bavaria only. Furthermore, after Hitler's release from the fortress of Landsberg he immediately joined him again and subsequently championed his ideas and aims with the greatest determination.

Until 1933, the defendant's activity was limited to propaganda for the NSDAP and its aims, particularly in the field of the Jewish question.

There is nothing criminal to be seen in this attitude of the defendant as such. The participation in a party within a State, which allows such an opposition party, can be regarded as criminal only if, first of all, the aims of such a party are objectively criminal, and if, subjectively, a member of such a movement knows, approves of, and thereby supports these criminal aims.

The foundation of the entire charges against all the defendants lies in this very fact, that the NSDAP is accused of having had criminal aims from the very beginning. According to the assertion of the prosecution, the members of this Party started out with the plan of subjugating the world, of annihilating foreign races, and of setting the German master-race above the whole world. They are accused of having harboured the will to carry out these aims and plans from the very outset by means of aggressive wars, murder and violence.

If, therefore, defendant Streicher's mere participation in the NSDAP and his support of it are to be ascribed to him as a crime, it must be proved that the Party had such plans and that the defendant knew and approved of them. The gentlemen who spoke before me have already demonstrated sufficiently that such a conspiracy with such aims did not exist. Therefore I can save myself the trouble of making further statements on this subject and I can refer to what has already been set forth by the other defence counsel. I have only to deal with the point; that the defendant Streicher did not in any case participate in such a conspiracy, if the latter should be considered by the High Tribunal to have existed.

[Page 319]

The official Party programme strove to attain power in a legitimate way. The aims advocated therein cannot be considered as criminal. Thus, if such aims did actually exist, they could only - given the nature of a conspiracy - be known in a restricted circle.

The Party programme was not kept secret, but was announced at a public meeting in Munich, so that not only the whole public of Germany but also that of the entire world could be informed about the aims of the Party.

Therefore, there is an absence of that momentum given by the secret agreement in a common aim, which is usually the characteristic sign of a conspiracy.

The evidence, too, has shown nothing to the effect that at that time already there existed a plan for a war of revenge or aggression, connected with the previous or simultaneous extermination of the Jews. If nevertheless a conspiracy should have existed, the latter would have confined itself to the narrow circle which revolved exclusively around Hitler. But the defendant Streicher did not belong to that circle. None of the offices he occupied provides the least proof of that. As an old Party Member he was just one among many thousands. As honorary Gauleiter, as honorary SA Obergruppenfuehrer, he was also only an equal among equals. Thus one cannot find in any of the offices he held any link or complicity with the innermost circle of the Party. It is also impossible to discern after the end of 1938 any personal relations with the leading men of the movement, either with Hitler himself, or with the defendant Goering, or with Goebbels, Himmler or Bormann.

The prosecution did not offer any evidence on this point, nor did the proceedings produce any proof to that effect. Of all the material presented during all these months of the Trial, nothing can be taken as even a shadow of proof that the defendant Streicher was so closely connected with the authority of the Party that he could have or even must have known its ultimate aims.

Also in the Jewish question the final aims of the Party - the effects of which were manifest in the concentration camps - had not been formulated and fixed the way they appeared in the end, neither before the seizure of power nor several years after. The Party programme itself provided for Jews to be placed under an aliens' law, and so laws issued in the Third Reich also followed this line. Only later on, it can be said here, the programme in this as in many other points became more harsh and finally somersaulted altogether, under the influence of war. But any proof that the defendant Streicher knew of other aims than those of the official Party programme has not been offered.

Consequently it has not been proved that the defendant supported the seizure of power of the Party being aware of its criminal aims, and only on such a basis could a criminal charge be brought against him.

The fact that the defendant, as Gauleiter, further endeavoured to increase and maintain the power of the Party after the seizure of power, is not disputed by him. But here, too, the defendant's conduct can only be considered punishable if he knew at that time the objectionable aims of the Party.

As a matter of actual fact it must be said here that the defendant Streicher, in contrast to almost all the other defendants, did not remain in his position until the end, not even until the war. Officially he was dismissed in 1940 from his position of Gauleiter, but actually and practically he had been without any influence and power for more than a year before that time. But while he could still work within the modest framework of his capacity of Gauleiter, no criminal plans of the NSDAP were recognizable. In any case not as regards anybody who, like the defendant Streicher, was outside the close circle surrounding Adolf Hitler.

Count II of the Indictment, brought against the defendant Streicher, namely the persecution of Jews as a means of preparation for a war of aggression, can be included here. Up to 1937 the existence of a plan for a war of aggression was in no way recognizable. In any case, if Hitler had had any intention in that direction, he did not allow it to be recognized from the outside. If, however, anybody had, been taken into his confidence at that time, it would have been the leading men in

[Page 320]

politics and the Wehrmacht, who belonged to the closest circle around him. To those, however, the defendant Streicher by no means belonged. It is especially significant here that at the outbreak of the war Streicher was not even appointed Wehrkreiskommissar (Commissioner of military administrative HQ) of his Gau. The individual conferences, from which the prosecution derives the evidence for the planning of the war which broke out later, did not see the defendant Streicher taking part in any case. His name does not appear anywhere, neither in any written decree, nor in any protocol. Consequently no proof has been offered that Streicher knew of such alleged plans for waging war.

This does away with the accusation that he preached hatred against the Jews in order to facilitate thereby the conduct of the war planned for some later time.

In this connection the following must be said:

One of the main points in the programme of the NSDAP was the cry: "Away with Versailles." The defendant adopted this point of the programme which, however, does not mean that he planned to do away with the Treaty by means of war.

Even the former German democratic governments, in the course of their negotiations with their former opponents in the world war, stressed the fact at all times that the Versailles Treaty presented no proper basis for a permanent world peace and particularly for an economic adjustment. Not only in Germany but everywhere in the rest of the world, clear thinking economic circles were against the Versailles Treaty. We may point especially to the United States of America as an example of this.

Almost all the German political parties in Germany, irrespective of their other aims, agreed that the Treaty of Versailles should be revised. Neither was there any contention that such revision was possible only on the basis of a new agreement. Even to consider any other possibility of solution would seem Utopian for the German Reich lacked all military power. The NSDAP also strove, at any rate as far as could be seen from outward signs, to find a solution to the problem in this way. The supporting of such an aim, however, cannot be looked upon as a violation of treaty obligations, and therefore cannot be made the object of a charge against the defendant. No proof has been offered that he thought of warlike complications or that he desired them. I now come to the matter of the defendant's attitude in the Jewish question. He is accused of having incited and instigated through decades the persecution of the Jews, and of being responsible for the final extermination of Europe's Jewry.

It is clear that this accusation constitutes the decisive point of the Indictment against Julius Streicher and perhaps the decisive point of the total Indictment, for in this connection the attitude of the German people to this question must be tried and judged as well. The prosecution takes the point of view that there is just as little doubt as to the responsibility of the defendant as there is doubt about the guilt in which the German people are involved. As evidence of this the prosecution put forward:

(a) The speeches by Streicher before and after the seizure of power, particularly one speech in April, 1925, in which he spoke about the extermination of the Jews. In the Prosecutor's opinion, herein is the first evidence to be seen regarding the final solution of the Jewish question planned by the Party, namely the extermination of all Jews.

(b) Active rise of the person and authority of the defendant, namely on the "Boycott Day" on 1st April, 1933.

(c) Numerous articles published in the weekly paper, Der Sturmer, among theta especially those dealing with ritual murder and with quotations from the Talmud. He is said to have knowingly and intentionally described therein the Jews as a criminal and inferior race, and created and wished to create hatred of these people and the wish to exterminate them. The defendant's reply to these points is as follows:

He states that he worked merely as a private writer.

[Page 321]

His aim was to enlighten the German people on the Jewish question, as he saw it. His description of the Jews was merely intended to show them as a different and a foreign race and to make it clear that they live according to laws which are alien to the German conception. It was far from his intention to incite or inflame his circle of listeners and readers. Moreover, he always only propagated the idea that the Jews, because of their alien character, should be removed from German national and economic life and withdrawn from the close association with the body of the German people.

Further, he always had in mind an international solution of the Jewish question; he looked on a German or even European partial solution as worthless, and rejected it. So it was in this way that he suggested in an editorial in Der Sturmer in the year 1941 that the French island of Madagascar should be considered as a place of settlement for the Jews. Consequently, he did not see the final solution of the Jewish question in the physical extermination of the Jews, but in their resettlement.

It cannot be the aim of the defence to go into further details of the defendant's actions as journalist and speaker, particularly with regard to Der Sturmer and his reply to the accusations raised against him. His ideology and convictions shall likewise remain unexplained, unexcused and undefended, as also his manner of writing and speaking. Examination and judgement in this respect rest with the Tribunal alone. That much only may be said, that between the defendant's actions and the expressions frequently employed by him there is an antithesis which cannot be bridged over. It can be stated that the defendant never let coercive measures be used against the Jewish population, as might necessarily be expected of him if the accusations made by the prosecution were true.

I consider it my duty as defence counsel to examine and lay open the question as to whether the defendant Streicher with his speeches, his actions, and with his publications, not only strove for the success as claimed by the prosecution, but actually attained it.

Next, therefore, the question should be examined as to whether Streicher actually educated the German people to a degree of anti-Semitism which made it possible for the leadership of the German nation to commit such criminal acts as actually occurred.

Furthermore, it must be examined whether the defendant filled German youth with hatred against the Jews to the extent that is charged by the prosecution.

Finally, the question must be examined whether Streicher actually was the man who spiritually and morally prepared for their deeds the executive organs for the persecution of the Jews.

At the beginning of this exposition it seems important to point out that a great many of Der Sturmer articles, from which the prosecution endeavours to deduce an incitement to stamp out and annihilate the Jews, were not written by Streicher himself, but by his collaborators, especially by the deputy Gauleiter Karl Holz, who was well known for his extremely radical tendencies.

Even though the defendant Streicher bears formal responsibility for these articles, which responsibility he expressly assumed before the Tribunal, this point of view nevertheless appears very important for the extent of his criminal responsibility.

Further, it may be said in this connection that, according to the unrefuted statement of the defendant, the most biting articles were written in reply to articles and writings in the foreign Press, which contained very radical suggestions for the destruction of the German nation - also, no doubt, due to the existing war psychosis.

The defendant Streicher - it cannot be denied and shall not be defended - continually wrote articles in Der Sturmer and also made speeches in public which were strongly anti-Jewish and which at least aimed at the elimination of Jewish influence in Germany.

During the first years Streicher found a comparatively favourable soil for his anti-Jewish tendencies. The First World War finished with Germany's defeat, but wide circles did not wish to admit the fact of a military victory of Germany's

[Page 322]

opponents of that time. They attributed this defeat exclusively to a breaking down of the national will of defence and resistance from within, and depicted Jewry as being the main culprit for this inner undermining. In doing this they intentionally overlooked the errors which had been committed by the Government of that time before and during the war with respect to domestic and foreign policy, as well as the errors of strategy.

A scapegoat was sought on which to lay the blame for the loss of the war and it was thought to have been found in the Jews. Jealousy, envy, and also disregard of their own shortcomings accomplished the rest in influencing feelings unfavourably towards the Jewish population. In addition to that came the inflation and, in the following years, the economic depression with its steadily increasing misery, which, as experience shows, makes any nation ripe for any form of radicalism.

On this ground and from these surroundings Der Sturmer arose. For these reasons it met at first with a certain amount of interest and attracted a considerable number of readers. But even in the last years before the seizure of power it did not have great influence. Its distribution hardly went beyond Nuremberg and its close vicinity. By means of attacks on persons known locally in Nuremberg and in other places, it managed to arouse in these localities from time to time a certain amount of interest and thereby to extend its circle of readers. Certain parts of the population were interested in the propagation of such scandal and for that reason subscribed to Der Sturmer.

But a criminal mode of action can only be seen here - and this is probably the opinion of the prosecution also - if this type of literary and oral activity led to criminal results. Now was the German nation really filled with hatred for the Jews, by Der Sturmer and by Streicher's speeches, in the sense and to the extent asserted by the prosecution?

The prosecution produced the evidence on this point in a very brief manner. It draws conclusions but it has not produced actual evidence. It draws conclusions but cannot produce actual evidence in support.

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