Nuremberg, war crimes, crimes against humanity

The Trial of German Major War Criminals

Sitting at Nuremberg, Germany
29th July to 8th August 1946

One Hundred and Eighty-Ninth Day: Monday, 29th July, 1946
(Part 5 of 12)

[M. Charles Dubost continues.]

[Page 21]

When the first draft was drawn, the drawer added extension drafts so calculated that the last fell due in January or March, 1942. When we look back, the full significance of the date chosen becomes evident. The year 1942 was the date fixed by Schacht for the full extent of his fraudulent enterprise, in the hope that by that time the war would have solved the problem for him. The original draft was discounted by the Reichsbank. Bills were not subject to fiscal taxes, so as to prevent any evaluation of the amount in circulation by means of a control in the yield of the taxes. Operations were conducted with the utmost secrecy. Even as early as 1935, all available Reichsmark credits were utilized by the Reichsbank for these armament drafts. At the end of 1938 there were six milliards of MEFO drafts in the assets of the Reichsbank and six milliards to discount, of which three milliards were short-dated. When the drafts fell due, Schacht could not but but be aware that there were only three possible solutions:
1. Consolidation of the debt by foreign loans, which would not be extended to Nazi Germany, already armed to excess.

2. An inflation comparable to that of 1923, which would mean the end of the regime.

3. War.

The scope of the rearmament operations financed by Schacht up to 31st December, 1938, is revealed by calculations made by M. Gerthofer of our Delegatior (we attach his report hereto). Let us not forget that Hitler, in his letter to Schacht dated 19th January, 1939, wrote: "Your name will be connected above all and for all time with the first period of national rearmament." We may take note of that. From April, 1935, to 31st December, 1938, there were spent 345,415,000,000 francs on the rearming of Germany. During the same period France spent only thirty- five milliard nine hundred and sixty-four million francs. Such a discrepancy shows quite clearly what Schacht's aim was. This was Schacht's doing and his alone. On the battlefields of France in 1940 we find again the same ratio of ten German armoured divisions to one French division.

Schacht's retirement from the Reichsbank and the Ministry of Economics can in no way speak in his favour. Difficulties arose between Goering and himself in regard to the realization of the Four-Year Plan. Schacht would not admit Goering as his superior. He resigned from the Ministry of Economics on 26th November, 1937, but remained President of the Reichsbank and Minister without Portfolio. On 7th January, 1939, he handed Hitler a memorandum pointing out that the volume of the MEFO drafts in circulation through his own fault was threatening the stability of the currency. Technically speaking, his position at the Reichsbank had become untenable. His retirement, therefore, was due to questions of economic organization and not to political reasons. In any case, he retained the functions of Minister without Portfolio, and did not give up this post until January, 1943, at the time of the Stalingrad defeat, when both the Party-State machine and the Reich were beginning to break down. Obviously he no longer served any useful purpose, but it is equally obvious that he might have again done so at some later date, in the capacity of negotiator of a peace compromise.

Are his further political troubles due to the intrigue by Hitler's advisers which we can now well imagine, or were they due to Machiavellism on his art, or to sheer bad fortune? What is the significance of the part played by this ill-starred man who succeeded in gathering round him the whole of the great financiers and industrialists with pan-Germanic leanings, who helped Hitler to power, whose presence inspired confidence in Nazi Germany, whose financial wizardry provided Germany with the most powerful war machine of the age, and who did all this to enable the Party-State machine to hurl itself forward to the conquest of living-space ? This man was among those mainly responsible for the criminal activities of the Party-State machine. His financial genius was that of the Nazi State; and there is no doubt of his participation in its crimes. It is of fundamental importance. The measure of his guilt is full, his responsibility complete.

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As for the last of Hitler's confidants, Bormann, we know that he was responsible for the mass extermination of the Jews. There is no need to say more.

I have now reached the end of my demonstration of the guilt of each individual defendant. Not that the subject is exhausted, but the time allowed by the Tribunal for each representative of the prosecution to address the Tribunal only permits us to sketch the outline of a presentation which deserves more systematic treatment. A multiplicity of examples could be found to illustrate our presentation. All the facts submitted during the last nine months by all four Delegations fit of their own accord into our plan; and this in itself is sufficient to prove that our logic is unimpeachable and that our conclusions are in strict accordance with the truth.

We consider, therefore, that proof has been furnished that all these men have been parties to the crimes of the German State, that all these men were in fact united in pursuit of the same political aim and that all of them have in one way or another participated in the greatest crime of all, genocide, the extermination of the races or peoples at whose expense they intended to conquer the living-space they held necessary for the so-called Germanic race.

We have all heard the objections raised by the counsel for the defence. It is Dr. Seidl who stated them most forcibly (Page 25 of his speech for Frank).

"The law in force," he said, " is based on the fundamental principle that International Law deals solely with the sovereign State and not with the isolated individual ......"
In conclusion he denies the right to sentence these men. First let us say that not one of the defendants was an "isolated individual" of whom Dr. Seidl speaks. We think that we have demonstrated their co-operation and solidarity, strengthened by the Party system beyond the usual intercourse between the ministers and principal administrators of any democratic country.

We may observe in addition that it seems intolerable to every sensitive human being that men, who put their intelligence and their good will at the disposition of the "State" entity in order to make use of the power and the material resources of this entity to slaughter, as they have done, millions of human beings in the execution of a criminal policy long since determined, should be assured of immunity. The principle of State sovereignty which might protect these men is only a mask. This mask removed, the men's responsibility reappears! Dr. Seidl knows that as well as we do. But he says: "Such is the International Law in force." What respect on his part for the law in force, but how surprising in his mouth the words which follow! A few moments later, examining the Hague Conventions of 1907, which, we must remember, have not been denounced by any of the signatories, not even by Germany, he complacently points out that they were inspired by the experiences made during the wars of the nineteenth century, and are no longer valid in the twentieth. Modern wars were no longer subject to the restrictions of the Hague.Conventions. He states further:

"One cannot make use of the prescriptions of the Hague Convention with regard to land warfare - even if interpreted in the widest sense and adapted in a suitable manner to base personal penal responsibility thereon."
Dr. Seidl therefore considers International Law as static when he believes that this will enable him to draw favourable conclusions therefrom; but when this condemns his client, it must be considered as still in process of evolution.

Dialectics of this kind, which make use of paralogism, are specious. Dr. Seidl is well versed in the art of sophism, but he convinces no one.

The immunity of the Chiefs of State and their associates was hardly conceivable when they allowed war to be subject to the rules and restrictions of custom, convention and International Law.

This immunity became intolerable from the moment that they freed themselves from every rule, and pressure from the universal conscience gave rise to new developments in international custom in order to oppose it. I have already shown this at the end of my statement last February; I shall not revert to that point. It

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should suffice to add that the Charter of 7th August, 1945, taking in consideration the work of the various War Crimes Commissions from 1940 up to the capitulation, upheld the conclusions drawn by a Frenchman, M. de Lapradelle, at the War Guilt Commission, 1919. The defendants are arraigned before you on account of the acts they committed on behalf of the German State, and if it is necessary that law should reinforce the authority of custom, the Statute of London, drawn up on the basis of Common Law in course of formation, still justifies our study of the defendants' responsibility in regard to the crimes of the German State. In fact, Article 6 of the Statute deals only with crimes committed on account of the State.

The impression we draw from the final pleadings is that most of the defence counsel put all their hopes in a concise juridical or pseudo- juridical process of reasoning.

Many questions were debated. Are there just and unjust wars, defensive wars and wars of aggression, is there a world-wide juridical conscience? Are there unequivocal criteria of aggression? This is what worries the defence; and not the question of the extent to which those who have collaborated in the work of extermination should be punished.

When the defence counsel speak of "law in force," they do so for the purpose of denying this Tribunal the right to condemn, and Dr. Jahrreiss denied all authority to the law "such as it should be conceived" in the light of morality and progress. All of them forget that the law in force is not only the law of the past, the only one to which they themselves appeal, but that the law in force is also that which the judges invoke in a concrete manner from the bench. All of them forget that jurisprudence is subject to the laws of evolution. Where no written law exists one can only speak of the former tendencies and ascertain whether they are still valid and can be invoked.

But let us stop here. We would ourselves confuse the issue.

The unique fact of this trial, the fact that stands out above all others, the methodical, systematic extermination of all those who occupied the space coveted by Germany.

Other crimes have certainly been committed, but only as means are tempted to describe them as secondary and accessory overwhelming is the atrocity of the latter.

We must realize the full magnitude of these atrocious the danger to humanity which is constituted adequate punishment.

Atrocity of the State-committed Crime

We have already shown that the crime committed by these men is not a simple crime. The common criminal knows his victim; he sees him with his own eyes. He himself strikes and knows the effect of his blow. Even if he is only an accomplice, he is never sufficiently dissociated, morally and psychologically speaking, from the chief perpetrator, not to share to a certain extent his apprehensions and reactions when the blow is delivered and the victim falls.

Genocide, murder or any other crime becomes anonymous when it is committed by the State. Nobody bears the chief responsibility. Everybody shares it: those who by their presence maintain and support the administration, those who conceived the crime and those who ordained it, as well as he who issued the order. As for the executioner, he says to himself: "Befehl ist Befehl" : "An order is an order," and carries out his hangman's task.

Those who make the decision do so without shuddering. It is possible that they have no accurate and concrete picture in their minds of the consequences of their orders. The stupefaction of some of the accused immediately after the showing of the film about the camps is understandable in the light of this reflection. As for those who promote the execution of the crime by their general co-operation

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in the work of Party and State, they feel that they are passive spectators of a scene which does not concern them. They have, in any case, no punishment to fear. In the German sphere the Stale and the Party are strong, and determined to remain so for a thousand years. They have destroyed justice. In the international sphere, the prevailing code ensures - or, at least, is believed to ensure - immunity. Moreover, there is no permanent international jurisdiction capable of opposing the gangster States. The possibility of a military defeat is not taken into consideration, since the precautions takeff are apparently so thorough. It is a remarkable fact that, allowance made for the delay necessary for the installation of gas chambers, the peak of the murders coincides with the period in which the State and the regime believe in certain victory, or have not yet taken seriously the omens of defeat. It is really the perfect anonymous crime imagined by the French moralist when he propounded the case of the mandarin as a test of moral conscience. And all the conditions favour the absence of a reaction. The facts have demonstrated that none of those men has experienced the decisive revulsion in those circumstances.

Most of them did feel that they had played a part in the tragedy. They have, I think, been more intent on relieving their consciences than on attempting to deceive their judges by shelving guilt on to their neighbours. Few of them have had the courage to acknowledge, as did Schirach and Frank, that they were component parts of the whole system, and as such could not evade responsibility. The others deny it at the risk of letting the guilt fall upon the German people who were incapable of throwing off the yoke of their evil masters. They attempt, in the exposition of their case, to minimize their responsibility in the hope of conjuring it away, but since Severing's statement and those made previously by the Mayor of Oranienburg and the Mayor of Buchenwald and confirmed by Frank are true, viz., that there were rumours all over Germany that people died in these camps, as everybody now knows, do they expect to make us believe that they alone were in ignorance thereof?

The less guilty among them, if one can establish different categories of "major criminals," did not dare to object, but their criminal cowardice had such appalling consequences that they cannot possibly justify any lessening of the penalty.

As we now see, crime committed by the State in a regime in which State and Party are one, and in which popular control is prevented by the absence of freedom of thought, freedom of expression and free elections, is, from the point of view of the criminal, the easiest to commit. Moreover, technical progress all over the world has harnessed almost every natural force in the service of mankind. His capacity to work evil has been considerably increased thereby.

Moral restraint has at the same time been relaxed by the pursuit of materialistic gratification which is also the corrupt fruit of material progress not controlled by intellect.

Generally speaking, crime seems to be on the increase in every State, in spite of highly improved methods of repression. In the international scheme of things, the process is similar. The only difference is that it is on a larger scale, because as yet there is no international means of repression. The industrial revolution and the development of natural sciences have multiplied the virtual power of States. If the State keeps in its own hands natural wealth and its exploitation, accentuates its grip on credit by monetary operations, increase in taxation, the levying of additional loans, whether voluntary or forced, by binding its people even more firmly to it by developing public welfare institutions, influencing their mental life by means of radio propaganda; by employing, with this end in view, eloquent propagandists capable of arousing the blind passions of the mob within men most peacefully disposed and most widely scattered - if this State at the same time takes away from its opponents every possibility of expressing their views, prevents any control by the people and every form even of private criticism, it becomes an

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absolute ruler possessed of tremendous means of action for better or worse. Every criminal technique is within its reach, and it can make unrestrained use of them unless, gentlemen, you introduce the element of sanctions in International Law. It must be possible henceforth to put an end to the criminal activities of a gangster State through the power of a super-State organization directed by a legal institution of the same kind, otherwise the freedom of nations is doomed. The weapons of revolt fell from their hands as soon as States - and States alone - could possess methods of destruction against which the courage of individual citizens was unavailing. Operated by a small number of men devoted to the criminal regime, those arms, which are the property of the State, can drown in blood the slightest attempts at resistance, and although revolt against tyranny is still the most sacred of duties, such revolt is now hopeless. This is the danger, and Germany succumbed to it. It is true that every favourable condition was present at the same time. Under the impulse of the industrial revolution, which from 1850 onwards was more violent in this country than in any other, social standards have changed enormously; and at the same time the population itself has changed from rural and agricultural to urban and industrial. This has resulted in a lowering of its mental level which has brought with it disastrous consequences, since the bourgeoisie had received no political education under the Empire.

Deliberately kept at a distance from public affairs by their former rulers, the German masses were interested, as regard the industrialist upper class and proletariat, only in the economic development of the Reich, and, as regards the middle class, only in the Army and the future Reich. When, after the First World War, the Germans had to endure the disappointment of defeat; when to shabby and commonplace surroundings were added all the rancour and resentment described by the defendant Goering at the beginning of his testimony, in addition to the bitter consciousness of social and material downfall; when youth in particular strove to make its hopes a concrete reality, Pan-Germanism awoke, was disseminated and brought down to the level of the mob and then came within reach of all the discontented elements. At the same time, the old antithesis between vital force and intellectualism, culture and civilization, healthy eagerness and decadent lassitude, the cult of life and the cult of intellect was brought to life and given definite shSpe for the use of simple and puerile minds in the form of the dynamic antithesis between the Nordic Aryan and the Semitic Jew.

With the help of appropriate education this biological materialism was easily imposed. The ground had long been prepared. The German is particularly attracted by inculcated doctrine because it alone can supply the lack of personal, independent discipline which is characteristic of him on the intellectual and moral plane. He loves anything that can be recited as a universally acknowledged creed, a stereotyped phrase suitable for use on all occasions. For this reason, young Germans learned for their Abitur examination the six races admitted by Guenther just as they learned grammar, and no more dreamed of doubting the former than they doubted the latter. And when the German mentality accused nations as much alive and as strongly attached to their land, their traditions and their flexible and varied human culture, as England and France, of being content to possess only a puny and artificial intellectual life, when it accused them with the crime against life - and Dr. Stahmer echoed this - the German mind created for itself, by reason of the coarse and facile creed which it claimed to impose upon all alike, an intellectualism differing from ours in its danger and its artificiality. The result of these so-called ethics of life was a practice and a doctrine of pure opportunism - collective or social, pseudo-scientific, biological-materialistic - which resulted in the sterilization, the physiological observations made in the camps, and 13,000,000 dead. The reflection of the old French philosopher comes irresistibly to our minds when we are confronted with this result: "Science without conscience is but ruin of the soul." A neo- Machiavellism, an example of which was afforded us by Goering in his statement, took root....

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I read lately somewhere in a final pleading that right in itself does not exist, and that efforts to establish a dividing line between right and wrong are guided by historical and national standards (Dr. Nelte). Hitler had already said: " Right is what is profitable to the nation," and, according to his defence counsel, Frank paraphrased this statement as follows: " What is profitable for the people is right. Collective interests take precedence over individual interests." On reading this, I thought of the answer which would have been given by the absolutist, Bossuet, who knew how to determine human standards. The defence counsel compared French absolutism with Nazism. Here is my answer:
"Politics sacrifice the individual to the common good, and this is right to a certain extent: It is good that one man should die for the people. By that, Caiphas understood that an innocent person could be sentenced to the supreme penalty for the sake of the common good, which is never allowed, for, on the contrary, innocent blood cries for vengeance against those who shed it."
We know what consequences the Nazi precepts could produce. The witness Roser reported the words of this young German soldier who, after describing a massacre in a ghetto, concluded: " Ah, my dear friend, it was horrible, but ... an order is an order." The Tribunal will find Kramer's terrible words at the end of Document F 655, which is in one of the document books submitted by the French Delegation. Before he was made Commandant of the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, Kramer commanded the Natzweiler camp in Alsace, where he himself asphyxiated eighty persons by gas. This has been proved. In answer to the question: "What would you have done if they had not all been dead?" he said: "I should again have tried to asphyxiate them by letting a second dose of gas into the room. I did not feel any emotion while carrying out these acts, for I had received orders to execute the eighty internees in the way I told you. After all, I have been trained in that way." What a terrible charge against the system ! Before becoming a murderer by order, this man had been a bookkeeper in Augsburg. How many peaceful bookkeepers so trained are still in Germany today ? And now " innocent blood cries for vengeance."


You know the crime. You know why and by what means it was perpetrated! This heinous and unprecedented crime is that of the National Socialist "Party-State," but the defendants, in their capacity of chiefs of the National Socialist Party and high State officials, have all accepted major responsibility in the conception and perpetration of this crime. Their participation in the crime of the "Party-State" is their own personal fault and brings with it no claim whatsoever to immunity! Proof has now been brought against them!

They must be punished; you know also the dangers to which the world is exposed by their crime and the misery and misfortune it has brought to mankind.

You must hit hard without pity. It is enough that the verdict be just! To be sure, there are degrees in their guilt. Does it follow that there must be degrees in the penalties themselves, when those whom we consider the least guilty merit the death penalty! Tomorrow, this international trial at an end and the principal war criminals sentenced, we shall go back to our own countries where we may have to prosecute before our own tribunals those who merely carried out the orders of the National Socialist State, who only played the part of hangman.

How could we demand the death penalty for another Kramer, or another Hoess, or for the camp commandants who have on their conscience the deaths of millions of human creatures whom they killed by order, if we hesitated today to demand the supreme penalty for those who were the driving force of the.criminal State which gave the orders ?

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The fate of these men lies entirely with your conscience ! It is now out of our hands, our task is finished. Now it is for you in the silence of your deliberations to heed the voice of innocent blood crying for justice.

THE PRESIDENT: The Tribunal will adjourn.

(A recess was taken.)

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