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in other governments. It met frequently as a cabinet in the early days of the Nazi regime, 10 and when meetings thereafter became uncommon, it continued to function as a group in passing on decrees and laws through the procedure of circulating drafts of proposed enactments to all its members.11 An example of this procedure is before the Tribunal in the form of a memorandum from the Defendant Frick to the Chief of the Reichs Chancellory.11a The same cohesion and unified function is found in the Council of Ministers for the Defense of the Reich, which was established in 1939. Like the ordinary cabinet, its members consulted together in actual meetings as shown by the minutes of such meetings in September, October, and November 1939.12 And, like the ordinary cabinet, it also functioned by using the circulation procedure, a typical instance of which is the letter from Dr. Lammers, September 17, 1939, to members of the Council of Ministers for the Defense of the Reich.13 The Secret Cabinet Council, an advisory body on foreign policy, consisting of eight members, was an identifiable unified aggregation as appears from the decree which created it.14 The inclusion of these three classes under the single designation "Reichsregierung” is not an attempt to create an artificial relationship among three separate and independent entities. Actually, the three were collectively as much a group as each was independently, for the Council of Ministers for the Defense of the Reich and the Secret Cabinet Council were really committees formed out of the ordinary cabinet. The decrees creating these two committees15 demonstrate that the entire personnel was composed of individuals who were in the ordinary cabinet. Not only in personnel, but in action, functions, and purpose as well, the ordinary cabinet and its committees were unified. Members of the ordinary cabinet who were not members of these committees were, nevertheless, present at meetings of the Council of Ministers, as shown by minutes of such meetings and, under the circulation procedure, received drafts of decrees prepared by the Council of Ministers.17 This aggregation—the cabinet and the committees formed of some of its members—had a single collective purpose, that of governing the Reich in such a fashion as to carry out the schemes of the Nazi conspirators.
The SA, which was created in 1920, is one of the simplest examples of the type of group or association contemplated by the provisions of the Charter. It was defined by a German Law18 as a component of the Party, having its own legal personality, and it was characterized by the Nazi Party Organization Bookio as a distinct entity. It had an identifiable membership from 1,500,000 to 2,000,000 members, bound together by common standards, wearing a common and distinctive uniform, having common aims and objectives, and carrying on common activities. The general
purpose of the SA, to which the whole membership was devoted, was stated in the Organization Book of the Party, "to be the bearer of National Socialists armed will20 and, according to the same Party manual, a member had to withdraw if he no longer agreed with the SA views or was not in a position to fulfill completely the duties imposed upon him as a member of the SA.21
Like the SA, the SS was beyond question a unified organization. It was established by German law22 as a component of the Party having its own legal personality. It was described in the Organization Book of the Party23 as a “homogeneous firmly welded fighting force
bound by ideological oaths." It had a clearly identifiable membership which rose to about 600,000 toward the end of the war, composed of persons who met the same basic uniform standards of race ideology.24 Despite its many functions and activities, and its numerous departments and offices and branches, it was an integrated and unified organization and it was, according to Himmler's tirade to the SS Gruppenfuehrers on October 4, 1943,25 "One bloc, one body, one organization.” It had of course its own uniform and enjoyed special privileges while pursuing the general purposes of the Nazi conspirators running all the way from neighborhood bullying through political, racial, and religious barbarities to the waging of wars of aggression, and the most violent and revolting crimes against humanity.
From its earliest days, the Nazis always regarded that portion of the police forces called the “Gestapo" or Secret State Police, as a separate group, a clearly identifiable aggregate performing a common function. The very purpose of Goering's decree of April 26, 1933,26 establishing the Gestapo in Prussia was to create in that province a single body of secret political police, separated from the other Prussian police forces, an independent force having its own particular task, on which he could entirely rely. The same motives led to the establishment of similar identifiable groups of secret political police in other German provinces. The steps by which these groups were all consolidated into a single secret political police force for the whole Reich are fully detailed in the decrees and laws which have been cited to the Tribunal.27 When the RSHA, the Reich Main Security Office, was created in 1939 the Gestapo was not dispersed, but became a distinct department of that central office, as shown by the Chart of RSHA introduced in evidence,28 and by the testimony of the witnesses Ohlendorf29 and Schellenberg.30 They easily estimated the number of persons in the Gestapo at from 30,000 to 40,000.
Throughout these proceedings, the Gestapo and the SD have been considered together due to the fact that the criminal enterprises with which each is chargeable were supported, to a greater
or lesser degree, by both. The Indictment charges the Gestapo with criminality as a separate and independent group or organization. The Indictment includes the SD by special reference as a part of the SS, since it originated as part of the SS and always retained its character as a Party organization as distinguished from the Gestapo which was a State organization. The SD, of course, had its own organization, an independent headquarters with posts established throughout the Reich and in occupied territories and with agents in every country abroad.31 It had a membership of from 3,000 to 4,000 professionals assisted by thousands of honorary informers, known as V-men, and by spies in other lands,32 but we do not include honorary informers who were not members of the SS. In 1939, the main offices of the SD and the Gestapo were consolidated in the RSHA, but the SD at all times preserved its independent identity.
Surely the prosecution has met the requirements of group proof as to these organizations, not only by the standards which it has imposed upon itself but as well by every ordinary rule of reason and experience.
II. Membership in Each of the Five Organizations was Voluntary.
Membership in the Leadership Corps was indisputably voluntary. No one was compelled to join the NSDAP much less to become one of the leaders of the Nazi Party.:4 We do not doubt that many joined the Leadership Corps for business, social or other selfish reasons. These are the commonplace motives for cheap political prestige but they cannot and do not amount to legal compulsion.
No one was drafted into the Reich Cabinet. Moreover, some of its members resigned when they found themselves in conflict with its aims and objectives. Schlegelberger left because of the infringement of the independence of the judiciary; 35 Schmitt resigned because he was convinced that Hitler's course was the way to war; 36 Eltz von Ruebenach resigned because of Hitler's policies against the Christian Churches.37 A place in the Cabinet circle with its titles and tinsel was the high ambition of most of the Nazis. Competition for these places was fierce and any present effort to fend off a declaration of criminality against this group with a pretense of membership by force is ludicrous.
So free of compulsion was membership in the SA that the Party Organization Book, as late as 1943, urged SA men to withdraw from the organization if they felt they were unable to agree with the aims and ideology and to fulfill all the duties imposed upon them.38 Party members were not forced into the SA lists. The controls and the disciplines imposed on SA members within the
framework of the organization have nothing to do with the voluntary character of the membership itself. The willing submission of the SA man to the SA command is not the same thing as compulsory and involuntary entry into the organization.
Applicants for the SS not only were volunteers but in addition they had to meet the strictest standards of selection, as is illustrated in the SS Soldiers Manual,39 and by Himmler's insistence on free and voluntary' applications for membership as set out in his letter of 1943 to Kaltenbrunner.40 The SS characterized itself as an elite and select corps, advertised that it carefully weeded out every applicant who did not conform to its racial, biological, and ideological standards, and made it plain to everyone that unusual qualifications were required for membership. Such in fact was Himmler's boast to the Wehrmacht, "Should I succeed in selecting from the German people for the organization as many as possible who possess this desired blood and in teaching them military discipline and in the understanding of the value of blood and the entire ideology resulting from it, then it would be possible actually to create such an elite organization as should successfully hold its own in all cases of emergency.” 41 The “elite” were required to establish Nordic descent, in the case of an officer applicant as far back as the year 1750 and for regular applicants to the year 1800.42 In addition unusual physical standards of height and odd requirements of Nordic appearance were set up and the political and ideological background of every "elite" candidate was carefully scrutinized. It is highly significant that we have proof of insistence on these racial and ideological qualifications as late as 1943, even in the Waffen SS. 43 It has been argued that because some men were conscripted into the Waffen SS in the last desperate stages of the war, the organization as a whole was not a voluntary one. Those who were actually forced into divisions of the Waffen SS may have an adequate defense in subsequent hearings, but we insist that compulsion born of a frantic effort to stave off defeat in the closing hours of the war does not change the essentially voluntary aspect of the membership as a whole. Whatever pressures may have been exerted to expand the membership of this organization, it originated and remained basically voluntary and selective.
The SD as a part of the SS was composed of SS men with special qualifications. The deeds of this organization best explain the nature of these qualifications for the record in this case is replete with horrible tales of their doings. The SD man was simply a surcharged SS man. If the membership of the SS was basically and fundamentally voluntary, then it follows automatically that the SD membership was likewise 'voluntary.
The Gestapo was at all times a State organization, a branch of the government similar in all usual respects to other branches of the government. In considering the voluntary character of its membership, all other considerations are secondary to this basic determination of the Gestapo as an agency of State. If membership in the Gestapo was compulsory, membership in the Order Police, and in the Department of Safety, and in the Department of Finance must have been compulsory. When the Gestapo was created, following the seizure of power, it is true that many members of the previously existing political police system of the various Laender were transferred to it. But they were under no legal compulsion to join. As the Gestapo affiant Losse stated, "If they had refused, they would have had to reckon with a dismissal from the service without pension so that unemployment would have threatened them." 44 The witness Schellenberg stated that new members of the Gestapo were taken on a voluntary basis.45 Any one of them could have resigned and sought employment in other branches of the Government or in positions disassociated from Government service. To become a member of the Secret State Police, a person applied for a position just as in any other branch of Government. The witness Hoffman, in testifying before the Commission, stated that he applied for a job in three branches of the Government of which the Gestapo was one.46 The Gestapo accepted his application and in that way he became a member of the organization. There was nothing to prevent a Gestapo official from resigning his position if the aims and activities and methods of the organization became repugnant to him. The witness Tesmer testified before the Commission that if an officer refused to carry out a criminal order he probably would be removed from his employment.47 Even after the war began, when all Governmental officials were more or less frozen in their positions, members of the Gestapo were able to resign. The witness Tesmer himself resigned from the Gestapo during the war, 48 and the witness Straub testified that a person could resign his position in the Gestapo at the risk of going to the front in active military service.49. Surely this was not compulsion in any legal sense. The sacrifices which members of the political police might face upon resignation, such as loss of seniority and forfeiture of pension rights may have seemed decisive to those who remained in the Gestapo, but such considerations could under no circumstances be construed as legal compulsion justifying continued membership in an organization of such notorious criminality. There may be particular instances where some members of the army secret field police were later transferred from the military to the Gestapo. In such instances, these individuals