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 July to 27th July 1946

One Hundred and Eighty-Seventh Day: Friday, 26th July, 1946
(Part 9 of 12)


[Page 418]

That report shows that under Schacht's guidance 180,000 industrial plants had been surveyed as to usefulness for war purposes. Economic plans for the production of 200 basic materials had been worked out. A system for the letting of war contracts had been revised, allocations of coal, motor fuel and power had been determined, RM. 248,000,000 had been spent on storage facilities alone, evacuation plans for skilled workers and war materials and military zones had been worked out; 80,000,000 war-time ration cards had already been printed and distributed to local areas and a card index on the skill of some 20,000,000 workers had been prepared.

The most detailed and thorough preparations which that report sets out were not made without the knowledge of every member of the Government, and no more graphic illustration of the common purpose and awareness of the aim which permeated all departments of the State is to be found than the second meeting of the Reich Defence Council itself, held on 25th June, 1939, under the presidency of the defendant Goering, the head of the Four-Year Plan. The defendants Frick, Funk, Keitel and Raeder were present and Hess and Ribbentrop were represented. The methodical detail in the plans which were being worked out; the preparations in respect of manpower, involving the use of concentration camp workers and the unfortunate slaves of the Protectorate, are eloquent testimonies to the size of the struggle upon which these men knew that Germany was about to embark.

The major share in rearmament must be attributed to the defendants Goering, Schacht, Raeder, Keitel and Jodl, but the others, too, each in his sphere, played their parts: Rosenberg, Schirach and Streicher in education, Donitz in the preparation of the U-boat fleet, Neurath and Ribbentrop in the field of foreign affairs.

Funk and Fritzsche were reorganizing propaganda and news systems until the former succeeded Schacht and became Minister of Economics and in September, 1938, General Plenipotentiary for Economics. As Plenipotentiary Funk was charged with ensuring the economic conditions for the production of the armament industry, according to the requirements of the High Command. Frick as Plenipotentiary for the Reich administration, with Funk and Keitel, formed the three-man college planning the necessary steps and decrees in case of war.

It is unnecessary, in assessing this work of rearmament, to do more by way of summary than to quote the words of Hitler himself in the memorandum which Jodl described as written during two nights of work by the Fuehrer personally and which he sent to the defendants Raeder, Goering, and Keitel. In that memorandum of 9th October, 1939, Hitler finally disposes of the evidence of these, defendants that Germany was never adequately prepared for war.

"The military application of our people's strength has been carried through to such an extent that, within a short time at any rate, it cannot be markedly improved upon by any manner of effort."
And again:
"The warlike equipment of the German people is at present larger in quantity and better in quality, for a great number of German divisions, than in the year 1914. The weapons themselves, taking a substantial cross-section, are more modern than is the case with any other country in the world at this time. They have just proved their supreme war-worthiness in a victorious campaign. In the case of the armaments of other countries this has yet to be demonstrated. In some arms Germany today possesses clear indisputable superiority of weapons."

[Page 419]

And then, speaking of the ammunition available after the conclusion of the Polish campaign:
"There is no evidence available to show that any country in the world disposes of a better total ammunition stock than the German Reich . The Air Force at present is numerically the strongest in the world .... The AA artillery is not equalled by any country in the world."
That, then, was the practical result of six years of intensive rearmament carried out at the expense and with the knowledge of the whole of the German people.

Meanwhile the youth of Germany was educated and drilled in semi-military formations for war and then, on reaching the age for conscription, was called up for more intensive training. This was going on throughout the Reich, together with the enormous work of economic preparation. Is it to be believed that any one of these men did not guess - did not, indeed, know - the purpose of this terrific effort?

If, indeed, any of them was in doubt, the successful actions in which, to use the words of one of Neurath's witnesses, "the Nazis were able to reap cheap laurels without war through the successfully practised tactics of bluff and sudden surprise," must have opened their eyes.

The first step was the Rhineland, and the technique became the model for each subsequent move. On 21st May, 1935, Hitler gave a solemn assurance that the stipulations of Versailles and Locarno were being observed. Yet three weeks earlier, on the very day of the conclusion of the Franco- Soviet pact, later to become the official excuse for the reoccupation of the Rhineland and the defence for it before this Tribunal, the first directive had been issued to the Service Chiefs. The defendant Jodl, having perhaps noted the significance of the date, has sought to persuade the Tribunal that his first admission, that "Operation Schulung" referred to the reoccupation of the Rhineland, was wrong, and that it applied to some military excursion in the Tyrol. Yet on 26th June he himself was addressing the Working Committee of the Reich Defence Council on the plans for reoccupation and revealing that weapons, equipment, insignia and field grey uniforms were being stored in the zone under conditions of the greatest secrecy. Can anyone who reads his words doubt that this process had been going on at least for seven weeks?

Any representative of the innumerable departments who attended that meeting and heard Jodl's remarks on 26th June, 1935, or who subsequently read the minutes, knew what to expect. On 2nd March the final orders were given and passed to the Navy four days later. The defendants Keitel, Jodl, Raeder, Frick, Schacht and Goering were all involved in the necessary executive action and, when his U-boats complied with the instruction of the 6th March, the defendant Donitz as well.

From the beginning, at every stage you see the common plan worked out - and worked out as it could only be if each of those men played his allotted part. First the period of apparent quiet, during which treaties are concluded, assurances given and protestations of friendship made, while beneath the surface the Auslandsorfamt under Hess and Rosenberg begins to undermine and disrupt. The victim is deceived by open promises and weakened by underhand methods. Next, the decision to attack is taken and military preparations are hastened. If the victim shows signs of suspicion, the assurances of friendship are redoubled.

Meanwhile, the finishing touches are put to the work accomplished by the Fifth Column. Then, when all is prepared, what Hitler called "the propagandist cause for starting the war" is chosen, frontier incidents are faked, abuse and threats take the place of fair words, and everything is done to terrify the victim into submission. Finally, the blow is struck without warning.

The plan varies in detail from case to case, but, essentially, it is the same, the perfect example repeated again and again, of treachery, intimidation and murder.

[Page 420]

The next step was Austria. First, the Nazis arranged the murder of Dollfuss in 1934. After the evidence in the case of the defendant Neurath, there can be little doubt as to his assassination being plotted in Berlin and arranged by Habicht and Hitler some six weeks before. The failure of that putsch made it necessary to temporise, and accordingly in May, 1935, Hitler gave a complete assurance to Austria. At the same time the defendant Papen was sent to undermine the Austrian Government. With the occupation of the Rhineland, Austria was next on the programme but Hitler was still not yet ready, hence the solemn agreement of July, 1936. By the autumn of 1937 Papen's reports showed progress and accordingly the plot was divulged at the Hoszbach meeting. A slight delay was necessary for the removal of the refractory Army leaders, but in February, 1938, Papen having completed his plotting with Seyss-Inquart, Schuschnigg was lured to Berchtesgaden and bullied by Hitler, Ribbentrop and Keitel. Shortly afterwards the final scene took place, Goring playing his part in Berlin. The defendants Goering, Hess, Keitel, Jodl, Raeder, Frick, Schacht, Papen and Neurath were all aware of this Austrian plot, Neurath and Papen from the very beginning of it.

With the exception of Goering, each one of them has attempted to put forward a defence of ignorance which cannot be regarded as other than ludicrous in the light of the documents. Not one of them has suggested that he protested, each one of them remained in office thereafter.

Already the plan for Czechoslovakia was ready; it had been discussed at the Hoszbach meeting in November, 1937; within three weeks of the Munich Agreement the directive to prepare the march-in had been given and on the 15th March, 1939, President Hacha having been duly bullied by Hitler, Ribbentrop, Goering, and Keitel, Prague was occupied and the Protectorate established by Frick and Neurath. You will remember the astonishing admission of Goering, that although he certainly threatened to bomb Prague he never really intended to do it. Ribbentrop also seems to have considered that in diplomacy any lie is permissible.

The stage was now set for Poland.

As Jodl explained:

"The solution of the Czech conflict and the annexation of Czechoslovakia rounded off the territory of Greater Germany so that it was possible to consider the Polish problem on a basis of more or less favourable strategic premises."
And now the time had come when, to use Hitler's words:
"Germany must reckon with its two hateful enemies, England and France."
And accordingly followed the policy laid down by Ribbentrop in January, 1938, "the formation in great secrecy but with wholehearted tenacity of a coalition against England ".

In the case of Poland, however, the German Foreign Office had already advised Ribbentrop as long ago as a month before Munich in the following terms:

"It is unavoidable that the German departure from the problems of victories in the south-east and their transfer to the east and north-east must make the Poles sit up. The fact is that, after the liquidation of the Czech question, it will be generally assumed that Poland will be the next in turn. But the later this assumption sinks in in international politics as a firm factor the better.

In this sense, however, it is important for the time being to carry on German policy under the well-known and proved slogans of, the right to autonomy and racial unity. Anything else might be interpreted as pure imperialism on our part, and create resistance to our plan by the Entente at an earlier date and more energetically than our forces could stand up to."

In this case, therefore, the usual assurances were reiterated and again and again Hitler and Ribbentrop made the most explicit statements. Meanwhile the usual steps were taken, and following the meeting of 23rd May, 1939, which Raeder

[Page 421]

described as an academic lecture on war, the final military economic and political preparations for war against Poland were taken, and in due time war was commenced; and you get that cynical quotation that you have heard so often, and which ought to be remembered for all time:
"The victor shall not be asked later on whether we were telling the truth or not. In starting and making a war, not the right is what matters, but victory."
These were Hitler's words, but those men echoed and implemented them at every stage. That was the doctrine underlying Nazi policy. Step by step the conspirators had reached the crucial stage and had launched Germany upon an attempt to dominate Europe and involve the world in untold horror. Not one of these men had turned against the regime. Not one of them except Schacht - to whose vital contribution to the creation of the Nazi monster I shall return later - had resigned, and even he continued to lend his name to the Nazi Government.

Would this be a convenient place to adjourn?

THE PRESIDENT: Yes, we will adjourn now.

(A recess was taken.)

SIR HARTLEY SHAWCROSS: If it please the Tribunal:

Holland having been overrun, the course of the war soon showed that Germany's military aims and the interests of her strategy would be improved by further aggression. I do not propose to take time now by tracing again the various steps. As Hitler said at the meeting in November, 1939:

"... Breach of the neutrality of Belgium and Holland is meaningless. No one will question that when we have won we shall not bring about a breach of neutrality as in 1914."
Norway and Denmark were invaded. No kind of excuse, then or now, has been put forward for the occupation of Denmark, but a strenuous attempt has been made in the course of this trial to suggest that Norway was invaded only because the Germans believed that the Allies were about to take a similar step. Even if it were true, it would be no answer, but the German documents completely dispose of the suggestion that it was for such a reason that the Germans violated Norwegian neutrality.

Hitler, Goering, and Raeder had agreed as early as November, 1934, and I quote:

"No war could be carried on if the Navy was not able to safeguard the ore imports from Scandinavia."
Accordingly, as the European struggle drew near, a non- aggression pact was made with Denmark on 31st May, 1939, following the usual assurance to both Norway and Denmark which had already been given a month earlier. At the outbreak of the war a further assurance was made to Norway, followed by another on 6th October. On 6th September, four days after his assurance, Hitler was discussing with Raeder the Scandinavian problem and his political intentions in regard to the Nordic States, expressed in Admiral Assmann's diary as "a north Germanic community with limited sovereignty in close dependence on Germany".

On 9th October, three days after his most recent assurance, in his memorandum for the information of Raeder, Goering, and Keitel, Hitler was writing of the great danger of the Allies blocking the exits for U-boats between Norway and the Shetlands and of the consequent importance of "the creation of U-boat strongpoints outside these constricted home bases". Where outside the constricted home bases if not in Norway?

It is significant that the very next day Donitz submitted a report on the comparative advantages of the different Norwegian bases, having discussed the matter with Raeder some six days before. The strategic advantages were apparent to all these men, and the hollowness of the defence that the invasion of Norway was decided upon because it was believed that the Allies were going to

[Page 422]

invade is completely exposed when you consider the statement in Hitler's memorandum preceding the passage I have just quoted, that:
"Provided no completely unforeseen factors appear, their neutrality in the future is also to be assured. The continuation of German trade with these countries appears possible even in a war of long duration."
Hitler saw no threat from the Allies at that time.

Rosenberg and Goering's deputy, Koerner, had been in touch with Quisling and Hagelin as early as June and it is clear from Rosenberg's subsequent report that Hitler had been kept fully informed. In December the time for planning had arrived and the decision to prepare for invasion was accordingly taken at a meeting between Hitler and Raeder. It was not long before Keitel and Jodl issued the necessary directives and in due course, as necessary, Goering, Donitz and Ribbentrop were involved.

On 9th October, as I have already said, Hitler was confident that there would be no danger to the Nordic States from the Allies. All the alleged intelligence reports contain no information which comes within miles of justifying an anticipatory invasion based - you might think it is laughable - on the doctrine of self-preservation. It is true that in February, 1940, Raeder pointed out to him that if England did occupy Norway the whole Swedish supply of ore to Germany would be endangered, but on 26th March he advised that the Russo-Finnish conflict having ceased, the danger of an Allied landing was no longer considered serious. None the less he went on to suggest that the German invasion, for which all the directives had been issued, should take place at the next new moon, on 7th April. It is interesting to note that Raeder's own war diary signed by himself and his Chief of Staff Operations records a similar' opinion four days earlier. If further evidence were needed to show that the actual step was taken regardless of any risk of interference from the West, it is to be found in telegrams from the German Ministers at both Oslo and Stockholm and from the German Military Attache at Stockholm, advising the German Government that, far from being worried over invasion by the British, the Scandinavian Governments were apprehensive that it was the Germans who intended to invade.

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