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 3 of 7)

[Page 388]


The chart shown here of the different groups and the chain of command leading from them is wrong and misleading. Himmler, who understood in a masterly way how the SS, which for a long time no longer formed an organizational and ideological unit, could be split up into very small groups and brought under his immediate influence, so far as it served his purpose, committed crimes together with Muller, the Chief of the Gestapo, which we know about today. Contrary to public opinion, I emphatically and vehemently state that I learned about only a very small fraction of the activities of these offices, which were actually under Himmler and his accomplices, and only in so far as it concerned my own special work.

In the Jewish question, I was just as much deceived as other high officials. I never approved or tolerated the biological extermination of Jewry. The anti-Semitism found in Party and State laws was still to be considered in time of war as an emergency defence measure. The anti-Semitism of Hitler, as we understand it today, was barbarism. I did not participate in either of these and I maintain, as I shall show, that the discontinuance of the extermination of the Jews is to be traced to my influence on Hitler.

[Page 389]

After the presentation of oral evidence, several photographs were submitted which allegedly showed my knowledge of crimes in concentration camps, such as in Mauthausen, and my knowledge of the criminal tools used there. I never set foot in Camp Mauthausen, or rather only in that part of the camp where the stone quarry was located, where hardened criminals were employed according to law, but not Jews or political prisoners. The pictures show an administration building and nothing else. Affidavit USA 909, pictures 894 to 897 F, are therefore factually impossible and wrong. The picture with Hitler shows the visit to a building site in Linz, 35 kilometres away from Camp Mauthausen.

The statement of the witness Dr. Morgen seems essentially true, but it needs to be supplemented as far as my person and my reactions to this are concerned. In the emergency of his own arrest and defence, the witness is too much concerned with himself and does not say that he was transferred by the chief of the main office of the SS Court to Amt V of the RSHA upon my request, so that as a juridical official he could supplement the special commission which was established there by the chief of the criminal police and myself for the investigation of the concentration camps. He cannot testify about my knowledge of the subsequent events; as to what I - dumbfounded by his report, in contrast to Muller who raged like one who had just been unmasked - did after reading it. On the same day a written report was sent to Hitler at headquarters. Days later I was ordered to appear, and I flew there. After my long report, Hitler agreed to an investigation of Himmler and Pohl. He ordered the establishment of a special Court competent for all subsequent investigations and necessary measures. Pohl was to be dismissed from his office at once. In front of me, Hitler gave orders to Fegelein, who was liaison director for Himmler, that Himmler was to be called to him, and he promised me that he would take all possible measures that very day against any further misdeeds.

He refused my request to be released and sent to the front, pointing out that I was indispensable in the intelligence service. Eichmann was to be arrested and detained; the decree by Himmler in October of 1944, which confirms and puts in final form that which I have just testified, is in its wording one of Himmler's last devilish actions.

Does not the prosecution even now see any discrepancy in the fact that Amt V of the RSHA exposed crimes of Amt IV of the RSHA and its secret criminal clique? In this I see proof of the fact that I never knew what was really going on, and, at the moment when I realized what was taking place, protested in my own office.

Should I have shirked responsibility at that time by feigning illness, or was it my duty to fight with all my powers to have this unparalleled barbarity brought to a halt? That is the only thing to be decided here as my guilt.

The other defamations raised by the prosecution against me do not alter that, either. The letter written to the Mayor of Vienna, which seems to be so highly incriminating here, and which I do not remember having signed, has been explained for me today.

All of the 12,000 people who at that time, together with tens of thousands of German men and women, were used to fortify the region east of Vienna, and an additional 2,000 persons in Gunskirchen in Upper Austria, were cared for by the International Red Cross through my mediation and led to freedom. Owing to the speed and excitement of the cross- examination, I did not recall that, at the time when the commission of Amt V had long been active in the camps, I could no longer believe that there was no danger to Jewish life. My credibility has been doubted ever since then but it would have been restored immediately if thorough inquiry had been made by the prosecution at the International Red Cross Headquarters, Geneva.

If, however, I am asked: "Why did you remain even after you knew that your Superiors were committing crimes?" I can answer only that I could not set myself

[Page 390]

up as their judge, and that, indeed, not even this Tribunal here will be in a position to ask for expiation of these crimes.

In the final days, the prosecution accused me of participating in the murder of a French general. I heard about the murder of a German General Bredowski and the order given by Hitler to investigate the question of reprisals. I heard about the murder for the first time a few days ago. Panzinger was Chief of the War Investigation Division in the Reich Criminal Police Office and was subordinate to no one except Himmler, in his capacity as Chief of the Prisoner-of- War Systems and of the Replacement Training Army. He was not, as the prosecution maintains, an official of the Secret State Police.

Concerning the teletype message of the 30th of December, 1944, signed with my name, in which the method of carrying out the plan was reported by Berlin to Himmler at the latter's headquarters, I should like to say that from the 23rd of December until the 3rd of January I was in Austria with my family and could not have seen and signed this teletype.

In November, 1944, I was merely ordered to check the report of Reich Press Chief Dietrich on the murder of a German general in France. The results were sent to headquarters by the offices there.

I regretted the fact that Hitler, in a situation such as I found when I assumed office in 1943, did not have a better relation with the Churches, which in every State are a factory for order which cannot be ignored. My remonstrances had no effect. I made an honest effort, as the presentation of evidence has shown, but even from this the prosecution has not drawn any favourable conclusions.

I know only that in my belief in Adolf Hitler I put all my strength at the disposal of my people. As a German soldier, I could only put myself at the service of the defence against those destructive forces which had once before brought Germany close to the abyss, and which today, after the collapse of the Reich, are still threatening the world.

If I have made mistakes in my work through a false conception of obedience, if I carried out orders all of which, in-so-far as they are alleged to be cardinal orders were issued before my time of office, then they are part of a fate which is stronger than myself and which is carrying me along with it.

I am accused here because substitutes are needed for the missing Himmler and other elements which were completely contrary to me. Whether my point of view and explanation are accepted or rejected, I ask you not to connect the fate and honour of hundreds of thousands of the living and dead of the General SS, of the Waffen SS, and of the officials who, believing in their ideal, bravely defended their Reich to the last, with your just cause against Himmler. Like myself, they believed that they were acting according to law.

THE PRESIDENT: The Tribunal will adjourn.

THE PRESIDENT: I call on the defendant Alfred Rosenberg.

DEFENDANT ALFRED ROSENBERG: Besides repeating the old accusations, the prosecution has raised new ones of the strongest kind; thus they claim that we all attended secret conferences in order to plan a war of aggression. Besides that, we are supposed to have ordered the alleged murder of 12,000,000 people. All these accusations have been collectively described as "genocide" - the murder of peoples. In this connection I wish to summarize as follows.

I know my conscience to be completely free from any such guilt, from any complicity in the murder of peoples. Instead of working for the dissolution of the culture and national sentiment of the Eastern European nations, I attempted to improve the physical and spiritual conditions of their existence; instead of destroying their personal security and human dignity, I opposed with all my might, as has been proved, every policy of violent measures, rigorously demanded correct behaviour on the part of the German officials and a humane treatment of the

[Page 391]

Eastern workers. Instead of practising "child slavery," as it is called, I saw to it that young people from territories endangered by the fighting were granted protection and special care. Instead of exterminating religion, I reinstated the Freedom of the Churches in the Eastern territories by a decree of tolerance.

In Germany, in pursuance of my ideological convictions, I demanded freedom of conscience, granted it to every opponent, and never instituted a persecution of religion.

The thought of a physical annihilation of Slavs and Jews, that is to say, the actual murder of entire peoples, has never entered my mind and I most certainly did not advocate it in any way. I was of the opinion that the existing Jewish question would have to be solved by the creation of a minority right, emigration, or by settling the Jews in a national territory over a ten-year period of time. The White Paper of the British Government of 24th July, 1946, shows how historical developments can bring about measures which were never previously planned.

The practice of the German State Leadership in the war, as proved here during the Trial, differed completely from my ideas. To an ever-increasing degree Adolf Hitler drew persons to himself who were not my comrades, but my opponents. With reference to their pernicious deeds, I must state that they were not practising the National Socialism for which millions of believing men and women had fought, but rather shamefully misusing it. It was a degeneration which I very strongly condemned.

I frankly welcome the idea that a crime of genocide is to be outlawed by international agreement and placed under the severest penalties, with the natural provision that neither now nor in the future shall genocide be permitted in any way against the German people, either.

Among other matters, the Soviet Prosecutor stated that the entire "so-called ideological activity" had been a "preparation for crime." In that connection I should like to state the following: National Socialism represented the idea of overcoming the class struggle which was disintegrating the people, and uniting all classes in a large national community. Through the Labour Service, for instance, it restored the dignity of manual labour on mother earth, and directed the eyes of all Germans to the necessity of a strong peasantry. By the work of the Winter Aid Association, it created a comradely feeling among the entire nation for all fellow-citizens in need, irrespective of their former party membership. It built homes for mothers, youth hostels, and community clubs in factories, and acquainted millions with the yet unknown treasures of art.

For all that, I too worked.

But along with my love for a free and strong Reich I never forgot my duty towards venerable Europe. In Rome, as early as 1932, I appealed for its preservation and peaceful development, and I fought as long as I could for the idea of internal gains for the peoples of Eastern Europe when I became Eastern Minister in 1941. Therefore, in the hour of need, I cannot renounce the ideal of my life, the ideal of a socially peaceful Germany and a Europe conscious of its values, and I will remain true to it.

Honest service for this ideology, considering all human shortcomings, was not a conspiracy, and my actions were never criminal. I understood my struggle, just as it was understood by many thousands of my comrades, to be one conducted for the noblest idea, an idea which had been fought for under flying banners for over a hundred years.

I ask you to recognize this as the truth, in which case no persecution of beliefs could arise from this Trial; then, in my conviction, a first step would be taken for a new, mutual understanding among nations, without prejudice, without ill- feeling, and without hatred.

THE PRESIDENT: I call upon the defendant Hans Frank.

[Page 392]


Adolf Hitler, the chief defendant, left no final statement to the German people and the world. Amid the deepest distress of his people he found no comforting word. He became dumb and did not discharge his office as a Fuehrer, but went down into darkness, a suicide. Was it stubbornness, despair, or spite against God and men? Perhaps he thought: "If I must perish, then let the German people fall into the abyss also." Who will ever know?

We - and if I now use the term "we," then I mean myself and those Nation Socialists who will agree with me in this confession, and not those fellow-defendants on whose behalf I am not entitled to speak - we do not wish to abandon the German nation to its fate in the same way without a word; we do not wish to say simply: Now you will just have to see how you can get along with this collapse which we have left you." Even now, perhaps as never before, we still bear a tremendous spiritual responsibility.

At the beginning of our course, we did not suspect that our turning away from God could have such disastrous, deadly consequences and that we would necessarily become more and more deeply involved in guilt. At that time we could not realize that so much loyalty and willingness to sacrifice on the part of the German people would be so badly directed by us.

Thus, by turning away from God, we were overthrown and had to perish. It was not because of technical deficiencies and unfortunate circumstances alone that we lost the war, nor was it misfortune and treason. Before all, God pronounced and executed judgment on Hitler and the system which we served with minds far from God. Therefore, may our people, too, be called back from the road on which Hitler - and we with him - have led them.

I beg our people not to continue in this direction, not even a single step; because Hitler's road was the way without God, the way of turning from Christ, and, in the last analysis, the way of political foolishness, the way of disaster, and the way of death. His path became more and more that of a frightful adventurer without conscience or honesty, as I know today at the end of this Trial.

We call upon the German people, whose rulers we were, to return from this road which, according to the law and justice of God, had to lead us and our system into disaster and which will lead everyone into disaster who tries to walk on it, or continue on it, anywhere in the whole world.

Over the graves of the millions of dead of this frightful Second World War rose this international Trial, this epilogue of the war, lasting for many months, and the spirits of the dead have passed accusingly through this courtroom.

I am grateful that I was given the opportunity to prepare a defence and justification against the accusations raised against me.

In this connection I am thinking of all the victims of the violence and horror of the dreadful events of war. Millions had to perish unquestioned and unheard. I surrendered my war diary, containing my statements and activities, in the hour when I lost my liberty. If I was ever really severe, then it was above all toward myself, at this moment when my actions in the war were made public.

I do not wish to leave behind me in this world any hidden guilt which I have not accounted for. I assumed responsibility on the witness-stand for all those things for which I must answer. I have also acknowledged that degree of guilt which attaches to me as a champion of Adolf Hitler, his movement, and his Reich.

I have nothing to add to the words of my defence counsel.

However, there is still one statement of mine which I have to rectify.

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