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It may be that the guilt of Germany will not be erased for the people of Germany share it in large measure, but it was these men who, with a handful of others, brought that guilt upon Germany and perverted the German people. “It is my guilt”—confessed the defendant Schirach—"that I educated the German youth for a man who committed murders a millionfold.”
For such crimes these men might well have been proceeded against by summary executive action and had the treatment, which they had been parties to meting out against so many millions of innocent people, been meted out to them they could hardly have complained. But this Tribunal is to adjudge their guilt not on any moral or ethical basis alone, but according to law. That natural justice, which demands that these crimes should not go unpunished, at the same time insists that no individual should be punished unless patient and careful examination of the facts shows that he shared the guilt for what has been done. And so, during these many months, this Tribunal has been investigating the facts and has now to apply the law in order both that justice may be done to these individuals as to their countless victims, and also that the world may know that in the end the predominance of power will be driven out and law and justice shall govern the relations between States.
For the effects of this trial will reach out far beyond the punishment of a score or so of guilty men. Issues are at stake far greater than their fate, although upon their fate those issues, in some measure, depend. In the pages of history it will count for nothing whether this trial lasted for two months or for ten. But it will count for much that by just and patient examination the truth has been established about deeds so terrible that their mark may never be erased, and it will count for much that law and justice have been vindicated in the end.
Within the space of a year evidence far exceeding that previously presented to any Tribunal in history has been collected, sifted, and placed before you. Almost all of that evidence consists of the captured records and documents of the Government to which these men belonged, and much of it directly implicates each one of them with knowledge of, and participation in, one or other aspect of the crimes committed by the Nazi State. This evidence has not been refuted and it will remain forever to confront those who may hereafter seek to excuse or mitigate that which has been done. Yet now that this mass of evidence has been presented to you, I shall invite you for a little to detach your minds from its detail to consider the cumulative effect and to review this overwhelming case as a whole. It is only by chance that their own captured papers have enabled us to establish these crimes out of
the very mouths of the criminals. But the case against these men can be established on a broader basis than that, and must be looked at in the light of its historical background.
The General Conspiracy
(A) THE NAZI AIMS When one considers the nature and the immensity of the crimes committed, the responsibility of those who held the highest positions of influence and authority in the Nazi State is manifest beyond doubt. For years, in a world where war had itself been declared a crime, the German State was organized for war; in a world where we proclaim the equality of men, for years the Jews were boycotted, deprived of their elementary rights of property, liberty, life itself; for years honest citizens lived in fear of denunciation and arrest by one or other of the organizations, criminal as we allege them to be, through which these men ruled Germany; for years throughout the German Reich millions of foreign slaves worked in farm and factory, were moved like cattle on every road, on every railway line.
These men, with Hitler, Himmler, Goebbels, and a few other confederates were at once the leaders and the drivers of the German people; it was when they held the highest positions of authority and of influnce that these crimes were planned and perpetrated. If these men are not responsible, who are? If minions who did no more than obey their orders, Dostler, Eck, Kramer, and a hundred others have already paid the supreme penalty, are these men less responsible? How can it be said that they and the offices of State which they directed took no part? Lammers, their own witness, Head of the Reich Chancellory, said in 1938:
"Despite the total basic concentration of power of authority in the person of the Fuehrer, no excessively strong and unnecessary centralization of administration in the hands of the Fuehrer results in the governmental administration * * * directed downwards, forbids interference with every individual order he may issue. This principle is manipulated by the Fuehrer in his governmental leadership in such a way that, for example, the position of Reich Ministers is actually much more independent today than formerly even though today the Reich Ministers are subordinated to the Fuehrer's unlimited power of command. Willingness to bear responsibility, ability to make decisions, aggressive energy and real authority—these are the qualities which the Fuehrer demands primarily of his subordinate leaders. Therefore he allows them the greatest freedom
in the execution of their affairs and in the manner in which they
fulfill their tasks" (3863-PS, GB 320).
Let them now, accused murderers as they are, attempt to belittle the power and influence they exercised how they will, we have only to recall their ranting, as they strutted across the stage of Europe dressed in their brief authority, to see the part they played. They did not then tell the German people or the world that they were merely the ignorant, powerless puppets of their Fuehrer. The Defendant Speer has said:
"Even in a totalitarian system there must be total responsibility *** it is impossible after the catastrophe to evade this total responsibility. If the war had been won, the leaders would also have assumed total responsibility".
Had the war been won is it to be supposed that these men would have retired to the obscurity and comparative innocence of private citizenship? That opportunity was denied to them before the war had they wished to disassociate themselves from what was taking place. They chose a different path. From small beginning, at a time when resistance instead of participation could have destroyed this thing, they fostered the Hitler legend, they helped to build up the Nazi Power and ideology and to direct its activities until, like some foul octopus, it spread its slime over Europe and extended its tentacles throughout the world. Were these men ignorant of the ends sought to be achieved during that period of the rise to power? Paul Schmidt, Hitler's interpreter, a witness of great knowledge, has testified:
“The general objectives of the Nazi leadership were apparent from the start-namely, the domination of the European continent to be achieved first by the incorporation of all German speaking groups in the Reich, and secondly, by territorial expansion under the slogan of 'Lebensraum'” (3308-PS, GB
288) That slogan "Lebensraum”—that entirely false idea that the very existence of the German people depended upon territorial expansion under the Nazi flag—was from the earliest days an openly avowed part of the Nazi doctrine--yet any thinking person must have known that it would lead inevitably to war.
It was the justification Hitler offered to his fellow conspirators at those secret meetings on the 5th November 1937, 23rd May and 23rd November 1939, at which the fate of so many countries was sealed (386-PS, USA 25; L-79, USA 27; 789-PS, USA 23).
Although less concrete it was no less false than the demand for a revision of the Treaty of Versailles. The so-called injustice of Versailles so cunningly exploited to provide a popular rallying
point under the Nazi banner had succeeded in uniting behind the Nazis many Germans who would not otherwise have supported some of the rest of the Nazi program.
And the effect of that propaganda can be judged from the repeated efforts here made by the Defense to develop the alleged injustice of the Treaty. Unjust or not, it was a Treaty and no Government content to live at peace need have complained of its provisions. Even if the complaints were justified, there was comparatively soon no ground left for them. The provisions of the Treaty could have been in some respects they were—revised by peaceful negotiations. By 1935, four years before the world was plunged into war, these men had publicly renounced the Treaty, and by 1939 not only were they free of nearly all the restrictions of which they had complained, but they had seized territory which had never belonged to Germany in the whole of European history. The cry of Versailles was a device for rallying men to wicked and aggressive purposes.
But it was
a device less diabolical than the cry of anti-Semitism and racial purity, by which these men sought both to rally in their own country and to sow discord and antagonism amongst the people of foreign lands. Rauschning reports Hitler's statement:
"Anti-Semitism is a useful revolutionary expedient. AntiSemitic propaganda in all countries is an almost indispensable medium in the extension of our political campaign. You will see how little time we shall need in order to upset the ideas and criteria of the whole world simply and solely by attacking Judaism. It is beyond question the most important weapon in my propaganda arsenal” (USSR 378)
And as a result of this wicked propaganda, I would remind you of the words of Bach Zelewski who, when he was asked how Ohlendorf could admit that the men under his command had murdered 90,000 people, replied:
"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 outcome is inevitable.”
And so, from the earliest day, the aims of the Nazi movement were clear and beyond doubt: expansion, European domination, elimination of the Jews, ultimate aggression, ruthless disregard of the rights of any people but themselves.
Such were the beginnings. I shall not pause to trace the Nazi Party's growth to power; how, as the writer of the History of the SA has said they found that
“Possession of the streets is the key to power in the State” (2168-PS, USA 411)
or how, by the organized terror which the witness Severing has described the storm troops of Brownshirts terrified the people whilst the Nazi propaganda, headed by “Der Sturmer”, villified all opponents and incited people against the Jews.
I shall not examine that period, grave as are the lessons which democratic peoples ought to learn from it, for it may not be easy to say exactly at what date each of these Defendants must have realized, if, indeed, he had not known and gloried in it all from the beginning, that Hitler's apparently hysterical outpourings in Mein Kampf were intended in all seriousness and that they formed the very basis of the German plan. Some, no doubt, such as Goering, Hess, Ribbentrop, Rosenberg, Streicher, Frick, Frank, Schacht, Schirach, and Fritzsche realized it very early. In the case of one or two, such as Doenitz and Speer, it may have been comparatively late. Few can have been ignorant after 1933— all must have been active participants by 1937. When one remembers the apprehension caused abroad during that period there can be no doubt, in our submission, that these men, almost all of whom were the rulers of Germany from 1933 onwards, Hitler's intimate associates, admitted to his secret meetings, with full knowledge of plans and events not only acquiesced in what was taking place, but were active and willing participants.
May I then examine, in a little more detail, the period of the "build up"—the position of domestic government in Germany between 1933 and 1939; because what happened then makes clear the criminal involvement of these men in what was done later. What I say now has some special reference to the first Count in the Indictment, for it is against this general background that must be considered the allegation that these men were common conspirators to commit the crimes (such as crimes against peace and the crime against humanity), which are more specifically charged in the later Counts.
(B) THE NAZI BUILD UPS
Totalitarian Government brooks no opposition. Any means justifies the end and the immediate end was ruthlessly to gain complete control of the German State and to brutalize and train its people for war. What stood in the way in January 1933 ? Firstly, the members of the other political parties; secondly the democratic system of election and of public assembly, the organization of trade unions; thirdly the moral standards of the German people, and the Churches which fostered them.
Accordingly, the Nazis set out, quite deliberately, to eliminate