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

The Trial of German Major War Criminals

Two Hundred and Fourteenth Day: Thursday, 29th August, 1946
(Part 9 of 14)

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You know already the form of education and training that the SS men received - a training for "the racial struggle" which Himmler commanded them to prosecute "without mercy." Racial theories, geopolitics, eugenics - this was their curriculum. Mein Kampf was their Bible. Their basic philosophy was expressed by Himmler:

"It must be a matter of course that the most copious breeding should be from this racial super-stratum of the Germanic people. In twenty to thirty years we must really be able to present the whole of Europe with its leading class. If the SS, together with the farmers ... then run the colony in the East on a grand scale, without any restraint, without any question about any kind of tradition but with nerve and revolutionary impetus, we shall in twenty years push the national boundary 500 km. eastwards."
The propagation of ideas like these could only have accustomed SS men to the conception of a world in which the destruction, enslavement and the degradation of "inferior" peoples were regarded as an honourable duty. Pangs of conscience did not, could not, trouble these men. The Tribunal will remember

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the words of Bach Zelewski when he was asked whether the murder of 90,000 Jews by one small Einsatz group (to which, incidentally, the Waffen SS provided most of the killers) was in keeping with Nazi philosophy. He said:
"I am of the opinion that when, for years, for decades; the doctrine is preached that the Slav race is an inferior race and Jews not even human, then such an outcome is inevitable."
Not only were SS generals like Bach Zelewski and Ohlendorf themselves infected by this poison. It is our submission that it did - and must have- poisoned the ordinary SS man who did the killing. Their extermination of the Jews was regarded as "A page of honour in our history."

Honour! Cold-blooded mass murder regarded as honour! Do we need further evidence to prove the type of man this filthy education bred? Long before they had enrolled themselves in the SS their members had been saturated with racial hatred and Fuehrer worship. SS training was only a more advanced course. When they joined the SS, to whatever part they went they saw the practical application of all that they had learnt before. Everywhere, in every office, in every unit, murder was the trade, and wherever murder was to be done it was the members of the SS that were enrolled to do it.


The Ahnenerbe was a department of the SS. Its list of members included the names of over l00 professors and other educated men - all SS members, who relied upon the murderous business of hundreds of other SS members to supply them with the bodies for their experiments and the specimens for their collections - bodies of commissars who were to be taken alive and then decapitated, care being taken that "the head should not be damaged." Professor Hirt wrote:

"By procuring the skulls of the Jewish Bolshevik Commissars who represent the prototype of the repulsive but characteristic sub-human, we have the chance now to obtain a scientific document."
The Office for the Consolidation of German Folkdom was an office of the SS, the office responsible for the awful crime of genocide and all that it entailed. The RSHA and the WVHA, controlling and responsible for the concentration camps, were manned by SS. The crimes of the SS in the concentration camps need no further mention except to emphasize that the inquiries instituted by the SS judicial system, of which the witness Morgen gave evidence, were not inquiries into mass murder but into cases of corruption by SS officials. That witness is another who, I have already suggested, is unworthy of belief. How can the story of an investigation by an SS judge into the murders by Hoess at Auschwitz, which were interrupted by the advance of the Allies, be taken seriously? What further investigation could have been needed when Morgen himself knew all the details of the Auschwitz killings some time in 1943 or 1944? Do you doubt that had the Allies lost the war Hoess would still be committing mass murder in that concentration camp and that SS judges would still be investigating corruption and isolated crimes?

The Einsatz Commandos were primarily SS. They show in miniature the co-operation between the various branches of Himmler's system and the unity of the whole SS. Action Group "A" was composed as follows:

Waffen SS................ 34.4 per cent.
SD ...............................3.5
Criminal Police .........4.1
Gestapo .....................9.0
Auxiliary Police ......... 8.8
Other Police ............ 13.4
Dr. Gawlik told you on Tuesday that the total of all Einsatz Commandos together was 1,000 men. That is not correct. We have the strength of Einsatz Commando Group "A" alone, set out as 990 in the report of its activities for

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October, 1941. You will remember that there were three other similar groups, B, C and D, so that we are justified in assuming that the total number of persons employed in these Commandos must have been some 4,000. That does not, of course, include the administrative offices that must have been required to organize and administer these units.

The system of exterminating Jewry was handled by SS. The Warsaw ghetto is but one example. The deportation, murder and robbery of the Poles and other peoples occupying territory which was required for German settlement was undertaken by SS. (27) You will remember the Globocnik report, the action in which thousands of Poles were removed from their homes, and 178 million Reichsmark acquired for the WVHA, and which in the words of Globocnik himself, was "carried out within the framework of the SS .... Only the decency and honesty as well as the surveillance of the SS men used for this purpose could guarantee a complete delivery." One is surprised he did not add pecunia non olet (the money does not smell).

The Waffen SS came to be the spearhead of Nazi wars of aggression, particularly in the invasion of the Soviet Union, and exemplified the tyranny and slaughter which were inherent in Nazi domination.

"We will never let that excellent weapon, the dread terrible reputation which preceded us in the battles for Kharkov, fade, but will constantly add new meaning to it," said Himmler to the officers of three SS divisions in Kharkov in 1943.
The Waffen SS succeeded in constantly adding new meaning to its reputation for terror. Numerous instances have been submitted to the Tribunal of the commission of War Crimes and Crimes Against Humanity by units of the Waffen SS. They are fresh in the Tribunal's mind and I will not recapitulate them. I would only remind the Tribunal that some of the worst atrocities took place in 1943 and 1944, at which time a proportion of the Waffen SS were conscripts.


How can it be contended that the members of the SS, and particularly of the Waffen SS, were merely soldiers - soldiers who had no knowledge of and took no part in these crimes? How can it be said that it was not they whose aims were criminal? Wherever we find Nazi crimes being committed we find SS men involved. Always it is said that those SS men were something special, members of the SD or some other particular branch, members of the SS who had been drafted away to serve with special units such as the Einsatz Commandos, members

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of the SS who were not really SS men at all but doctors or police. Can this be really so? Let us ignore the evidence of the concentration camps, of the Einsatz Commandos, of the vast and brutal crimes against the populations of the invaded territories, of the mass exterminations of Jews throughout half the countries of Europe, of the legion instances of individual crime and sadism, of the legion other instances of murder in battle and of every other breach of the laws of warfare. Let us ignore the evidence of all these crimes, although each one of them was committed by different SS men in different towns and villages throughout the length and breadth of the Greater Reich. Let us ignore them, although they did not constitute one sudden wave of crime but were being done day after day over the years. Let us ignore the fact that in almost no instance of crime of which we have heard were any other than SS men involved. Let us ignore all this if you wish. Without it the criminality of the SS from the highest to the lowest is established by the records which we have of these three speeches that Himmler made to the officers of his SS units.

In April of 1941 he was talking to all the officers of the SS Division Leibstandarte. In October, 1943, he was addressing his major-generals at Posen. In the same month the commanding officers of every regiment in three of his SS divisions were listening to what he said at Kharkov. Those speeches have been quoted to you again and again and you know the sentiments that were expressed and the subject matter that they covered. Will you try to imagine a general from your own countries talking to all the officers of one of your own divisions, of hauling into slavery "thousands, tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands" of people; of shooting "thousands of leading Poles." Will you try to imagine a British or an American or a Soviet or a French army commander telling his major-generals:

"What happens to a Russian, to a Czech, does not interest me in the slightest .... Whether 10,000 Russian females fall down from exhaustion while digging an anti-tank ditch interests me only in so far as the anti-tank ditch for Germany is finished."
Or saying this:
"I also want to talk to you, quite frankly, on a very grave matter .... I mean the clearing out of the Jews, the extermination of the Jewish race. It is one of those things it is easy to talk about - 'The Jewish race is being exterminated,' says one Party member, 'that is quite clear, it is in our programme - elimination of the Jews, and we are doing it, exterminating them.' And then they come, 80 million worthy Germans, and each one has his decent Jew. Of course the others are vermin, but this one is an A1 Jew. Not one of all those who talk this way has witnessed it, not one of them has been through it. Most of you must know what it means when 100 corpses are lying side by side, or 500 or 1,000. To have stuck it out and at the same time - apart from exceptions caused by human weakness - to have remained decent fellows, that is what has made us hard."
Can you see him telling all the commanding officers of one of his divisions:
"Anti-Semitism is exactly the same as delousing. Getting rid of lice is not a question of ideology, it is a matter of cleanliness. In just the same way anti-Semitism for us has not been a question of ideology but a matter of cleanliness."
If you can imagine so much, can you imagine what you would say of the officers, and of the men that they commanded? Is it possible that officers and men in these Waffen SS divisions who could be spoken to in such a way were high- minded, clean-living, decent and honourable soldiers? Such men, be they from Germany or from any other country in the world, would not tolerate these words. Those speeches have become hackneyed enough during the course of this Trial, but they never lose their significance. They show that every member of these SS units was a prototype of his SS Fuehrer. If it were not so, Goering could not have said, after telling Mussolini the horrors of Germany's method in fighting the partisans:

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"Members of the Party discharge this task much more harshly and efficiently .... The SS, the guard of the old fighters of the Party, who have personal ties with the Fuehrer and who form a special elite, confirm this principle."
If it were not so Hess could not have written:
"The units of the Waffen SS ... are more suitable than other armed units for the specific tasks to be solved in the occupied Eastern territories, because of their intensive National Socialist training in regard to questions of race and nationality."
We know what Hitler had in mind as the future role of the Waffen SS - State Police to impose German authority in the conquered countries; State Police who would never fraternize with the proletariat and underworld. That was their destined role which all the Army knew because, by order of the OKW, it had received the "greatest publicity." We know enough of the Nazi State Police, of the education and training of the Waffen SS and of the practical application of that training during these years of war to fit them for the task that lay ahead of them, to know also the sort of methods which they would have employed. It is those men, the men who were intended and had been trained to police and terrorize Europe, who compose the organization of the SS which we ask you to convict as criminal.


Such are the main considerations in connection with these three organizations, the Corps of Political Leaders, the SA and the SS, to which I desire to draw your attention. It was these organizations which provided the machinery by which the crimes which these defendants conceived were executed. These three organizations were not separate and distinct from each other as their counsel have attempted to portray them. It was their members who together constituted - and still do - the fundamental and dangerous core of National Socialism. As the separate branches of the National Socialist elite, their aims and purposes were the same and they worked and co-operated with each other using the same methods, which were criminal for all to see. From the outset this was so and continued so until the end. Nothing more clearly demonstrates these things than the evidence of how the National Socialist Party and Government debased the concepts of law and order and corrupted the judicial practice of their Courts, in order to protect themselves and their followers in the criminal courses they were pursuing.

Hardly had the Nazi Government come to power before the Nazi ministers, Nazi police and Nazi judiciary were condoning violence and murder committed by the SA and the SS and the Gestapo. And for what reasons? Reasons which must have demonstrated to all Germany and must demonstrate to all the world today the very rottenness of National Socialism:

"As the deed did not originate from ignoble motive but rather served the achievement of an exceedingly patriotic aim and the advance of the National Socialist State, the quashing of the proceedings ... does not seem incompatible with the orderly administration of criminal justice."
Such was the opinion of the Public Prosecutor to the Provincial Court in Nuremberg in respect of the SA men who had beaten a Communist to death - beaten him until the soles of his feet were so swollen "owing to the mass of blood gathered there, that after the blood had been drained off by incision, pockets nearly the size of a fist were formed."

In Munich the State Minister of the Interior was giving similar reasons for quashing proceedings against SS guards in Dachau who had beaten a prison on the head until he died:

"As a reason it is pointed out that the conducting of investigations would cause great harm to the prestige of the National Socialist State, since these proceedings would be directed against members of the SA and SS, and thus

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the SA and SS, as the chief protagonists of the National Socialist State, would be immediately affected."
Nazi judges were suspending proceedings against members of the SA in agreement with the supreme leadership of that organization:
"The deeds and intentions of the SA men were only aimed at the well-being of the National Socialist movement. Political reason and the purity of the intention is thus beyond doubt."
When judges not yet accustomed to these new conceptions of law did convict SA guards who "not only attempted to wring confessions from inmates but acted in sheer lust for torture," they were at once expelled from the Party; the prosecutor who happened himself to be a member of the SA was warned that he should resign, and the Gauleiter wrote to the Supreme Court advising that a pardon should be substituted for the sentence that had been imposed.

Can there be any doubt that candidates for membership of these organizations, knew that membership afforded them license to murder?

Nor were these concepts of law confined to the State and Party Courts. The military could not resist anything so attractive. By 1939 a military judge was granting to an SS man extenuating circumstances "because he was induced to participate in the shooting by a corporal handing him a rifle. He was in a state of irritation owing to numerous atrocities committed by Poles against persons of German race. As an SS man, particularly sensitive at the sight of Jews and to the hostile attitude of Jewry to the Germans, he therefore acted quite thoughtlessly in a youthful spirit of adventure."

Those SS soldiers had been sentenced to imprisonment for "manslaughter" which the army commander refused to confirm. It was for "manslaughter" of a kind known only to National Socialists - to National Socialists who, as we have seen in this Court, display a curious sensitiveness to the word "murder." This they called manslaughter:

"After about 50 Jews, who had been used during the day to repair a bridge, had finished their work in the evening, these two men drove them into a synagogue and shot them all without reason."

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