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A Collection of Documentary Evidence and Guide Materials Prepared by the American and British Prosecuting Staffs for Presentation before the International Military Tribunal at Nurnberg, Germany, in the case of
THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, THE FRENCH REPUBLIC, THE UNITED KINGDOM OF GREAT BRITAIN AND NORTHERN IRELAND, and THE UNION OF SOVIET SOCIALIST REPUBLICS
HERMANN WILHELM GOERING, RUDOLF HESS,
CRIMINALITY OF GROUPS AND ORGANIZATIONS
1. THE LAW UNDER WHICH NAZI ORGANIZATIONS ARE
ACCUSED OF BEING CRIMINAL
The following argument on the law and policy involved in the prosecution's charge that certain Nazi groups and organizations should be declared criminal, was delivered by Justice Jackson before the Tribunal on 28 February 1946.
May it please the Tribunal:
The unconditional surrender of Germany created, for the victors, novel and difficult problems of law and administration. Since it is the first such surrender of an entire and modernly organized society, precedents and past experiences are of little help in guiding our policy toward the vanquished. The responsibility implicit in demanding and accepting capitulation of a whole people must of necessity include a duty to discriminate justly and intelligently between opposing elements of the population which bore dissimilar relations to the policies and conduct which led to the catastrophe. This differentiation is the objective of those provisions of the Charter which authorize this Tribunal to declare organizations or groups to be criminal. Understanding of the problem which the instrument attempts to solve is essential to its interpretation and application.
A. The Problem of the Nazi Organizations.
One of the sinister peculiarities of German society at the time of the surrender was that the State itself played only a subordinate role in the exercise of political power, while the really drastic controls over German society were organized outside its nominal government. This was accomplished through an elaborate network of closely knit and exclusive organizations of selected volunteers oath-bound to execute, without delay and without question, the commands of the Nazi leaders.
These organizations penetrated the whole German life. The country was subdivided into little Nazi principalities of about 50 households each, and every such community had its recognized party leaders, party police, and its undercover party spies. These were combined into larger units with higher ranking leaders, executioners and spies. The whole formed a pyramid of power out