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

The Trial of German Major War Criminals

Two Hundred and Sixteenth Day: Saturday, 31th August, 1946
(Part 1 of 7)

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THE PRESIDENT: Article 24 (j) provides that each defendant may make statement to the Tribunal. I therefore now call upon the defendants who wish - whether they wish to make statements. Defendant Hermann Wilhelm Goering.

DEFENDANT HERMANN WILHELM GOERING: The prosecution in its final speeches have treated the defendants and their testimony as completely worthless. Statements made under oath by the defendants were accepted as absolutely true when they could serve to support the Indictment, but were characterized as perjury when they refuted the Indictment. That is very elementary, but it is not a convincing basis for demonstration of proof.

The prosecution uses the fact that I was the second man of the State as proof that I must have known everything that happened. But it does not present any documentary or other convincing proof in cases where I have denied under oath that I knew about certain things, or even desired them. Therefore, it is only a conjectural query when the prosecution says, "Who should have known that if not Goering, who was the successor of the Fuehrer?"

But repeatedly we have heard here how the worst crimes were veiled with the utmost secrecy. I wish to state expressly that I condemn utterly these terrible mass murders and so that there shall be no misunderstanding in this connection, I wish to state emphatically and quite clearly once more before the High Tribunal that I have never decreed the murder of a single individual at any time nor decreed any other atrocities nor tolerated them, while I had the power and the knowledge to prevent them.

The new allegation presented by Mr. Dodd in his final speech that I had ordered Heydrich to kill the Jews lacks any proof and is not true. There is not a single order signed by me or signed on my behalf that enemy airmen should be shot or should be turned over to the SD. And not a single case has been established where units of my Luftwaffe carried out things like that.

The prosecution has repeatedly submitted documents which contain alleged statements reported, and written down at third and fourth hand, without my having seen these statements previously, in order to correct erroneous ideas or to preclude misunderstandings.

How easily completely distorted reports can arise from third- hand notes is also proved by, among other things, the stenographic transcript of the proceedings in this Court which often needed correction when checked.

The prosecution brings forward individual statements made over a period of twenty-five years, made under completely different circumstances and without any consequences arising from them at the time, and quotes them as proof of intent and guilt. Such statements can easily be made in the excitement of the moment in an atmosphere such as prevailed at the time. There is probably not one leading personage on the opposing side who did not speak or write similarly in the course of a quarter of a century.

Out of all the happenings of these twenty-five years, from conferences, speeches, laws, actions and decisions, the prosecution proves that everything was desired and intended from the beginning according to a deliberate sequence and an

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unbroken connection. This is an erroneous conception which is entirely devoid of logic and which will be rectified some day by history, after the proceedings here have proved the incorrectness of these allegations.

Mr. Jackson in his final speech points out the fact that the signatory States are still in a state of war with Germany and that because of the unconditional surrender merely a state of truce prevails now. Now, International Law is uniform. The same must apply to both sides. Therefore, if everything which is being done in Germany today on the part of the occupying Powers is admissible under International Law, then Germany was formerly in the same position, at least as regards France, Holland, Belgium, Norway, Yugoslavia and Greece. If today the Geneva Convention no longer has any validity so far as Germans are concerned, if today in all parts of Germany industry is being dismantled and other great assets in all spheres can be carried away to the other States, if today the property of millions of Germans is being confiscated and many other serious infringements on freedom and property are taking place, then measures such as those taken by Germany in the countries mentioned above cannot have been criminal according to International Law, either.

Mr. Jackson stated further that you cannot accuse and punish a State, but rather that you have to hold the leaders responsible. It seems to be forgotten that Germany was a sovereign State and that her legislation within the German nation was not subject to the jurisdiction of foreign countries. No State ever gave notice to the Reich at the proper time, pointing out that the activity for National Socialism would be made subject to punishment and persecution. If individuals, and, first of all, we leaders, are called to account and condemned, very well, but you cannot punish the German people at the same time. The German people placed their trust in the Fuehrer and, under his authoritarian government, had no influence on events. Without knowledge of the grave crimes which have become known today, the people, loyal, self-sacrificing and courageous, fought and suffered through the life-and-death struggle which had broken out against their will. The German people are free of guilt.

I did not want a war, nor did I bring it about. I did everything to prevent it by negotiations. After it had broken out, I did everything to assure victory. Since the three greatest Powers on earth, together with many other nations, were fighting against us, we finally succumbed to their tremendous superiority.

I stand behind the things that I have done, but I deny most emphatically that my actions were dictated by the desire to subjugate foreign peoples by wars, to murder them, to rob them, or to enslave them, or to commit atrocities or crimes.

The only motive which guided me was my ardent love for my people, and my desire for their happiness and freedom. And for this I call on the Almighty and my German people as witnesses.

THE PRESIDENT: I call on the defendant Rudolf Hess.

DEFENDANT RUDOLF HESS: First of all, I should like to make a request to the High Tribunal that I may remain seated because of my state of health.


DEFENDANT RUDOLF HESS: Some of my comrades here can confirm the fact that at the beginning of the proceedings I predicted the following:

1. Witnesses would appear who, under oath, would make untrue statements and, at the same time, would be able to create an impression of absolute reliability, and would be highly thought of.

2. It was to be reckoned with that the Tribunal would receive affidavits containing untrue statements.

3. The defendants would be astonished and surprised by some German witnesses.

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4. Some of the defendants would act rather strangely. They would make shameless utterances about the Fuehrer; they would incriminate their own people; they would partially incriminate each other, and wrongly. Perhaps they would even incriminate themselves, and also wrongly.
All of these predictions have come true, and as far as the witnesses and affidavits are concerned, in dozens of cases; cases in which statements under the unequivocal oath of the defendants stand in opposition to statements formerly sworn by them.

In this connection I shall only mention the name Messersmith, Mr. Messersmith, who, for example, says that he spoke to Grand Admiral Doenitz in Berlin at a time when the latter was, to my knowledge, in the Pacific Ocean or the Indian Ocean.

I made these predictions, however, not only here at the beginning of the Trial, but had already made them months before the beginning of the Trial, in England, to among others, Dr. Johnston, the physician who was with me in Abergavenny.

At the same time I put these statements down in writing, as proof. I based my predictions on some events in countries outside Germany. In this connection I should like, in mentioning these incidents, to emphasize now that I have been convinced from the beginning that the governments concerned knew nothing about them. Therefore, I am not raising any accusation against these governments.

In the years 1936 to 1938, political trials were taking place in one of these countries. These were characterized by the fact that the defendants accused themselves in an astonishing way. For example, they cited great number of crimes which they had committed or which they claimed to have committed. At the end, when death sentences were passed upon them, they clapped in frenzied approval, to the astonishment of the world.

But some foreign correspondents reported that one had the impression that these defendants, through some means hitherto unknown, had been put into an abnormal state of mind, as a result of which they acted in the way they did.

These incidents were recalled to my mind by a certain happening in England. There it was not possible for me to get the reports of the trial at that time, any more than here. However, the corresponding years of the Volkischer Beobachter were at my disposal there. While looking through these numbers I came across in the number of 8th March, 1938, a report from Paris, dated 7th March, 1938, of revelations made in the well-known Paris newspaper, Le Jour, about the means which were apparently used in these trials. These are rather mysterious means. I quote literally what the Volkischer Beobachter printed from Le Jour:

"These means make it possible for the selected victims to be made to act and speak according to the orders given them."
I emphasize and point out that this report in Le Jour not only says: to make them "speak according to orders given them," but also to make them "act according to orders given them." The latter point is of tremendous importance in connection with the actions, the hitherto inexplicable actions of the personnel in the German concentration camps, including the scientists and physicians who made these frightful, atrocious experiments on the prisoners; actions which normal human beings, especially physicians and scientists, could not possibly carry out.

But this is also of equally great significance in connection with the actions of the persons who undoubtedly gave the orders and directions for the atrocities in the concentration camps, and who gave the orders for shooting prisoners of war, for lynch justice and other such things, up to the Fuehrer himself.

I recall that the witness Field-Marshal Milch testified here that he had the impression that the Fuehrer was not normal mentally during the last years, and a number of my comrades here have told me, independently of each other and without having any knowledge of what I intended to say here now, that during the last years the Fuehrer's eyes and facial expression had something cruel in them and even had a tendency towards madness. I can name the comrades in question as witnesses.

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I said before that a certain happening in England caused me to think of the reports of the earlier trials. This was that the people around me during my imprisonment acted towards me in a peculiar and incomprehensible way, in a way which led me to conclude that these people somehow were acting in an abnormal state of mind. Some of them - these persons and people around me - were changed from time to time. Some of the new ones who came to me in place of those who had been changed had strange eyes. They were glassy and like eyes in a dream. This symptom, however, lasted only a few days and then they made a completely normal impression. They could no longer be distinguished from normal human beings. I - not only I alone noticed these strange eyes, but also the physician who attended me at the time, Dr. Johnston, a British Army doctor, a Scotsman.

In the spring of 1942 I had a visitor, a visitor who quite obviously tried to provoke me and acted towards me in a strange way. This visitor also had these strange eyes. Afterwards, Dr. Johnston asked me what I thought of this visitor. He told me - I told him I had the impression that for some reason or other he was not completely normal mentally, whereupon Dr. Johnston did not protest, as I had expected, but agreed with me and asked me whether I had not noticed those strange eyes, those eyes with a dreamy look. Dr. Johnston did not suspect that he himself had exactly the same eyes when he came to me.

The essential point, however, is that in one of the reports of the time, which must still be in the Press files on the proceedings - this was in Paris - about the Moscow trial - it said that the defendants had had strange eyes. They had had glazed and dreamy eyes! I have already said that I am convinced that the governments here concerned knew nothing of these happenings. Therefore, it would not be in the interest of the British Government, either, if my statements about what I experienced during my imprisonment were denied publicity in any way, for that would give the impression that something was actually supposed to be concealed here, or - and that the British Government had actually had a finger in the pie.

On the contrary, however, I am convinced that both the Churchill Government and the present Government gave instructions that I was to be treated fairly and according to the rules of the Geneva Convention. I am conscious of the fact that what I have to say about the treatment which I received will at first glance appear incredible. Fortunately for me, however, prison guards at a very much earlier time had already treated their prisoners in a way which at first appeared absolutely incredible when the first rumours about it reached the outside world. These rumours were to the effect that prisoners had been deliberately allowed to starve to death; that ground glass, among other things, had been put in the meagre food which had been given them, and that the physicians who attended the prisoners who had been made sick in this way had added harmful substances to their medicine, which increased their sufferings. As a matter of fact, all of these rumours afterwards proved to be true. It is an historical fact that a monument was erected to 26,370 Boer women and children who died in British concentration camps, and who, for the most part, died of hunger. Many Englishmen at that time, among others Lloyd George, protested strongly against these happenings in British concentration camps, and likewise an English eyewitness, Miss Emily Hopfords.

However, at that time the world was confronted with an insoluble riddle, the same riddle which confronts it today with regard to the happenings in the German concentration camps.

Then the English people were confronted with an incomprehensible riddle, the same riddle which today confronts the German people with regard to the happenings in the German concentration camps. Indeed, at that time the British Government itself was confronted with a riddle regarding the happenings in the South African concentration camps, with the same riddle which today confronts

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the members of the late Reich Cabinet and the other defendants, here and in other trials, regarding the happenings in the German concentration camps.

Obviously it would have been of the utmost importance if I had stated under oath what I have to say about the happenings during my own imprisonment in England. However, it was impossible for me to persuade my defence counsel to declare himself willing to put the proper questions to me. It was likewise impossible for me to get another defence counsel to agree to put these questions to me. But it is of the utmost importance that what I am saying be said under oath. Therefore I now declare once more: I swear by God, the Almighty and Omniscient, that I will speak the pure truth, that I shall leave out nothing and add nothing. I ask the High Tribunal, therefore, to consider everything which I shall say from now on as under oath. Concerning my oath; I should also like to say that I am not a churchgoer; I have no spiritual relationship with the Churches, but I am a deeply religious person. I am convinced that my belief in God is stronger than that of most other people. I ask the High Tribunal to give all the more weight to everything which I declare under oath, expressly calling God as my witness.

In the spring of 1942 -

THE PRESIDENT: I must draw the attention of the defendant Hess to the fact that he has already spoken for twenty minutes, and the Tribunal has indicated to the defendants that it cannot allow them to continue to make statements of great length at this stage of the proceedings.

We have to hear all the defendants. The Tribunal, therefore, hopes that the defendant Hess will conclude his speech.

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