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

The Trial of German Major War Criminals

Sitting at Nuremberg, Germany
August 22, 1946

Two Hundred and Ninth Day: Thursday, 22nd August, 1946
(Part 9 of 9)

[DR. SERVATIUS continues]

[Page 35]

For the Political Leaders this conviction manifested itself in the fact that even before 1933 many theological students, professors of theology and churchmen had joined the Party. After 1933 there began, among those who had left the

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Church under the influence of Marxism, a strong movement towards rejoining the Church. Retroactive marriage and christening ceremonies took place in large numbers, as is shown by Affidavits PL-62A and 62B - Prof. Fabricius and Buth, a theologian.

The witness Schoen confirms in Affidavit PL-62, that out of 500 political leaders whose testimony he examined 42 per cent simultaneously held Church offices. The witnesses Wegscheider and Kaufmann, who were examined before the Tribunal, also testified that numerous Political Leaders held a Church office. The Bishops Dr. Groeber and Dr. Boming were appointed to the State Council (Staatsrat), as shown by the affidavit of Count Wolf-Metternich, PL-62C.

The actual picture is shown by the collective affidavit of the witness Schoen (PL-62) who, after examining 21,131 affidavits, noted that in the former Ortsgruppen (local Party districts) Church life remained undisturbed and that the Party occasionally participated in Church life officially, and, in some cases, in uniform. Accordingly, in the individual local districts there were good relations with the clergy, and this found public expression at celebrations.

On the other hand, there was a campaign led by a small anti- Church groups whose activities and statements were in contradiction to the general Party line. The leader of the group was Bormann.

Of twenty-three documents which were submitted by the prosecution against the Political Leaders on the Church question, no less than nine documents are statements of opinion by Bormann. Seven documents concern the SS as well as the SD and the Gestapo. Four documents deal with three local occurrences, and one document consists of the personal opinion of Gauleiter Florian. There follows a quotation from the Mythos, and a document with directives for the Reich Labour Service.

All these documents do not show that the Political Leaders participated as a unit in the elimination of the Church.

I shall comment on the individual documents:

The most incriminating document is the secret decree of Bormann to the Gauleiter on "National Socialism and Christianity." On this subject there is an affidavit by the witness Hederich, of the Party Chancellery. According to this, Bormann issued this decree on his own authority and Hitler instructed him to recall and destroy this circular. The witness Gauleiter Kauffmann confirmed before the Tribunal here that this decree actually was recalled. The same thing is shown by the testimony of the witness Hoffmann before the Commission on 3rd July, 1946. In affidavit PL-62B the witness Buth, a theologian, states that the defendant Rosenberg likewise rejected the decree and raised an objection.

Document 098-PS is a letter from Bormann to Rosenberg and deals with a so-called National Socialist Catachism. It is a personal opinion of Bormann. There is no answer of Rosenberg available.

In this letter a meeting of the Reichsleiter is suggested. The affidavit of the witness Hederich states that such a meeting never took place.

There follow a number of documents which show Bormann's constant personal efforts in the direction of the separation of Church and State. Document 070-PS regarding school devotions lies in this direction; as also Document 840-PS, admission of theologians into the Party; and 107-PS, instructions for the participation of the Reich Labour Service in Church ceremonies. The following documents, 100- PS and 101-PS, are letters from Bormann to Rosenberg expressing the wish for their own literature for soldiers; Rosenberg is here attacked because of the attitude which he took in favour of a book in a religious vein by Reich Bishop Mueller. This proves Bormann's purely personal activity.

In the same field there is Document 064-PS, again a letter from Bormann to Rosenberg. It requests his opinion on an enclosed letter from Gauleiter Florian of 23rd September, 1940, who had objected to a religious writing by General

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Rabenau. It is a personal opinion which is not typical of the general attitude of the political Leaders.

A further action of Bormann is shown by Document 116-PS, a letter to Rosenberg of 24th January, 1939, about the restrictions imposed on the theological faculties. Here Rosenberg is not instructed to carry this out, as the prosecution erroneously assumes; but another letter is merely sent to him for his information, in which a restriction of the faculties was welcomed.

The continuation of his efforts to win Rosenberg over to his views is shown by a letter of Bormann's of 17th May, 1939 to Rosenberg. Here Bormann forwards a plan of the Reich Education Minister on the restriction of the theological faculties, likewise only with a request for his opinion, and not, as the prosecution assumes, for the immediate execution of the measure under consideration.

Then the Political Leaders are charged here with Gestapo activities, on the basis of the files of a conference of Gestapo Church specialists.

This cannot be taken as evidence of proof of the anti-Church attitude of the political Leaders themselves.

Nor did the Political Leaders have any direct connection with the confiscation of Church property.

The submitted Document R-101 (correspondence of the RSHA) shows confiscation by the Reich Statthalter and Gauleiter and by the Eastern German Agriculture Company (Ostdeutsche Lanwirtschaftsgesellschaft GmbH) in Warthegau. Both acted in their capacity as State offices, so that this is not a general measure making use of the Party machinery, with the knowledge of all Political Leaders.

Document 072-PS, a letter from Bormann to Rosenberg of 19th April, 1941, expressly emphasises that it is not the business of Political Leaders to confiscate Church property.

There follow the public campaigns against the Church, which the prosecution has brought forward. Documents 849-PS and 848-PS deal with excesses against Bishop Sproll in Rottenburg. It is evident that this action was carried out by forces foreign to the local Party.

Document 1507-PS deals with incidents on the occasion of a sermon by Cardinal Faulhaber at Freising. The records show that the Political Leaders were given explicit instructions not to interfere with the religious services held there, even if the Cardinal should deliver a sermon against National Socialism. As a matter of fact, there was no interference with the service by Political Leaders. It is noteworthy that according to the records, Cardinal Faulhaber declared himself willing to officiate a few months later in the same church, and this was "through the mediation of Mayor Lederer of Freising, who was at the same time Kreisleiter and Standartenfuehrer in the SA."

It hereby appears that the measures seem more extensive than they were in reality and that the Political Leaders could not have had any real idea of what happened.

Nor could the Mythos give them any information on the Church question. This book was hard to understand and never received the official Party stamp of approval. The witness Count Wolff-Metternich has stated that Hitler expressly characterised the book as a private work of Rosenberg, which did not please him. This is Affidavit PL-62c.

The persecution of the Jews was the most obvious event. It can be explained quite apart from any war of aggression. The details are well known: Economic repression of the Jews, defamation by the Jewish Star, and elimination from social life, the issuance of the Nuremberg laws, evacuation toward the East, and finally, extermination. Here it can only be a question of investigating the extent of the active participation of the Political Leaders and their knowledge of the nature and extent of the measures.

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The legal measures were taken without consulting the Political Leaders. In so far as they were directed toward restricting the influence of the Jews, they were welcomed by them and were in keeping with the Party programme.

Nor was there any objection to the Nuremberg Laws, but the Jewish Star was considered shameful. Opposition, however, commenced with the confiscation of property and the evacuations.

This history of the 9th of November, 1938, is known to the Tribunal through the examination of witnesses. It was a surprise manoeuvre prepared by Goebbels when the Gauleiter were absent from their Gaue. The Party machinery was avoided, because opposition could be expected here. As far as the political leaders had any opportunity to interfere, many Gauleiter refused to obey or issued counter-orders, as soon as they learned of the operation. The witness Gauleiter Kaufmann has confirmed this for Hamburg; the witness Gauleiter Wahl has testified the same before the Commission about the Swabian Gau; and the attitude of the Gauleiter for Koblenz-Trier is corroborated in Affidavit PL 54-P.

On the level of the Kreis and Ortsgruppenleiter, no planned use of the Political Leaders has been established, either. Here the testimony of all witnesses confirms that the event was received with surprise, opposition and disunity.

Hitler repudiated it, Goering repudiated it, and even Heydrich declared before the Gauleiter and Gau judges on the 20th of November, 1938, that the severest measures would be taken against all who participated in it. The report of the Supreme Party Judge, Buch, submitted by the prosecution, according to which the punishment was permitted to become a mere farce, remained unknown. The light penalties imposed by the court were explained by saying that one could not condemn the little man as long as Goebbels the instigator went free.

The rejection of any solution by violence in connection with these events led to a belief in the sincerity of the resettlement plans, which in reality were the preliminary steps for extermination.

When the decision for extermination was made is unknown. An affidavit, PL-54-h, signed by the witness Albert, says that even in 1942 Himmler pretended in a memorandum that he was striving for a legal and humane solution of the Jewish problem at a cost of twenty-five to thirty milliards of marks.

The obvious reason for all these measures was not waging war, but exclusively the solution of the racial question. The real happenings in the East came through only as distant rumours and because of their monstrous nature were not believed, but were regarded as enemy propaganda. In this connection, the "explanation" issued by the Party Chancellery on 9th October, 1942, is significant. This is Document PL-49. Here the Political Leaders were given an official denial of the atrocities.

Document D-998 containing the periodical Die Lage of 23rd August, 1944, contains a reference to the Jewish problem in Hungary, but does not mention any actual events. Because of its small circulation and the fact that this appeared only toward the end of the war, it was not of a sort to affect the fundamental judgement of the public.

The attitude of the majority of the Political Leaders on the Jewish question, irrespective of their rank and district, is clearly shown by Affidavit PL-54, which contains a summary of 26,000 sworn declarations.

The next question to be examined is the indictment of the Political Lead war crimes.

Primarily, this is a Jewish question, again, in so far as foreign Jews were affected. The majority of the Political Leaders cannot be assumed to have known of events which took place outside the territory of the Reich. It was announced in the Press that the governments of other countries, such as Hungary, France and Italy adopted measures similar to those of the Germans. What really happened remained unknown in Germany. A document, PL-49, confidential information

[Page 39]

issued by the Party Chancellery concerning "Rumours about the Situation of the Jews in the East," served to cover up and deny the facts.

Three documents were submitted to the witness Hirt before the Tribunal concerning the Germanization of Slavic territory.

Exhibit USSR 143 concerns the removal of Slovenian street names and the use of the German language for officials. Closer examination, however, shows that this was a measure of the Styrian Homeland League (Heimatbund) which issued circulars to its local districts. The Styrian Heimatbund was not a party organisation. These events concerned a little town called Pettau, which was inhabited by Germans before the 1918 peace treaty.

Exhibit USSR 449 also deals with the recovery of territory in Carinthia and Carnida, which formerly was inhabited by German settlers, and Exhibit USSR 191 shows that these were measures taken by the SD in the border regions of Styria.

All documents lack the basis of any general knowledge of these orders, the carrying out of which remained unknown to the Political Leaders.

Much space is occupied by charges against the Political Leaders concerning the administration in the East. Whether these charges are generally justified cannot yet be judged on the basis of the proceedings to date. However, the question can be examined as to what knowledge the Political Leaders could have had of these events and to what extent they were responsible for them.

Document 1058-PS contains Rosenberg's speech before the beginning of the eastern campaign, and his defence counsel has commented upon it in detail. This speech was secret and known only to a small circle.

Document L-221 of 16th July, 1941, concerns the Crimea. These are secret marginal notes by Bormann concerning a discussion in the Fuehrer's headquarters.

A memorandum concerning a conversation between Rosenberg and Hitler on the Crimea was likewise unknown to the public.

Frank's diary is the basis of the charges against the Political Leaders on the food situation in the Government General. General knowledge of the fact that 4o per cent of the population suffered from malnutrition during the year 1941 cannot be assumed without further question. As far as food difficulties had become known in the border region, they can be attributed to other causes, especially after a lost war.

Document R-36 shows Bormann's horrible instructions as to the treatment of the population in the eastern territories. It is a comment by Dr. Markull, of the Ministry for the Occupied Eastern Territories, dated 19th August, 1942, addressed to Rosenberg. The frank and vigorous language, as well as his indignant opposition and refusal to obey, specifically prove that Bormann's views were not accepted and that other measures were taken. The very fact of this free appeal to Rosenberg proves that there was no doubt that the latter agreed with the refusal.

Other incidents became known to a fairly large number of people. Document 1130-PS contains the oft-quoted speech by Reich Commissar Koch in Kiev on the 1st of April, 1945, on the "Master Race." That Koch himself knew that his opinions were not shared is revealed by documents, according to which he said that his chiefs of sections fell into two groups, one working openly against him, the other secretly.

Document R-112 contains decrees by Himmler in his capacity as Reich Commissar for the Strengthening of Germanism, dating from February and June, 1942. They refer to the re- Germanization of former German nationals in the item Territories, which in itself was not prohibited. One of those decrees is addressed, among others, to the Gauleiter for their information. It contains no references whatsoever to any criminal measures.

The prosecution concludes from Document 327-PS that the Gauleiter took in the liquidation of "enormous fortunes" in the East. A closer examination shows that this was a question of the liquidation of German firms which had been set up as state enterprises at the cost of considerable subsidies. In a letter of

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17th October, 1944, the Gauleiter are requested not to interfere with the liquidation which was meanwhile taking place on German territory. All this goes to show that the Political Leaders as a whole could not have had any special knowledge of criminal occurrences.

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Servatius, the Tribunal will adjourn tomorrow, Friday, at four o'clock in the afternoon.

(The Tribunal adjourned until 23rd August, 1946, at 10.00 hours.)

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