(6 of 6)
Niktchenko: By our formula we should not give those who committed criminal acts the possibility of considering themselves political criminals. If we were to try to set forth in detail the various crimes committed by the Nazis, we might very well make a mistake. It is quite impossible to give an exhaustive list of the crimes. If, on the other hand, we should confine ourselves to a few matters, that too would not be right. Therefore we should work out a formula which would make it possible to bring to trial and punish those who have committed all the various atrocities...July 31, 1945 From the letters of Thomas Dodd, Executive Trial Counsel for the Prosecution at Nuremberg:
Much gossip is abroad about friction between the US, Great Britain, France and Russia over these trials. The truth is there is no trouble between US, Britain and France--but the Russians are just holding up the whole proceeding. They are impossible, in my opinion. I do not know the details but I do know they are not cooperative on this problem so far. I believe they want to put on another Russian farce for a trial. If that happens, I go home, and promptly! The English appointed their chief counsel 21 days after the US appointed Jackson (who was the first to be appointed). The French followed soon after. Thus far no one has been appointed for Russia. Our people meet with certain Russian representatives but nothing happens. When representatives of the United Nations went to Nuremberg to look it over as a possible site for the trial only the Russians failed to make the trip.August 2, 1945 International Conference on Military Trials: During this days Four Power conference session:
Lord Chancellor: I confess that I am very anxious that we shall succeed in carrying out the Moscow declaration that the major war criminals shall be punished by joint decision of the governments of the Allies, but I think we shall all agree that the time has now come when we must finalize the thing or realize that we shall have to adopt some other procedure. So I am very anxious to see this morning whether or not we can come to some conclusion satisfactory to all...August 12, 1945: Colonel Andrus and his 15 Ashcan prisoners are loaded onto a US C-47 transport plane bound for Nuremberg. As they fly above Germany, Goering continually points out various geographical features below, such as the Rhine, telling Ribbentrop to take one last look as he is unlikely to ever get the opportunity again. Streicher becomes air-sick. (Tusa)
Today I visited the jail where Goering and the others are kept. After lunch we went to the Justice Building--or what is left of it--and we interrogated Alfred Rosenberg all afternoon. He was the minister in charge of culture and occupied countries and he directed the stealing of art treasures. He was a notorious anti-Semite. He is short, plump, blue-eyed, fair, very keen minded, sly, cagy. He is dressed in an old brown suit, khaki shirt, no tie, heavy shoes. I thought how the mighty have fallen. Here is this city where he strutted in his fancy Nazi clothes. He is now a jailbird in the ruins. He once called this 'the heart of Nazism'--the most German of all German cities. We talked with him all afternoon and believe me it was a most interesting session. I was aware of the drama of it--and the importance of it--and we heard some interesting statements. Some day I will tell you about it.August 25, 1945 International Conference on Military Trials: Representatives of the Big Four (Jackson, Fyfe, Gros, and Niktchenko), agree on a list of 22 defendants, 21 of which are in custody. The 22nd, Martin Bormann, is presumed to be in Soviet custody, but Niktchenko cannot confirm it. The list is scheduled to be released to the press on August 28. (Conot)
Grave precedents are being set. For the first time the leaders of a state are being tried for starting a war and breaking treaties. We may expect after this that at the end of any future war the victors--whether they have justice on their side or not, as this time we firmly believe we have--will try the vanquished.August 30, 1945: The Glasgow Herald reacts to the release of the list of defendants:
Scanning this list, one cannot but be struck by the completeness of the Nazi catastrophe. Of all these men, who but a year ago enjoyed wide influence or supreme power, not one could find a refuge in a continent united in hate against them.September 17, 1945 From the letters of Thomas Dodd:
Yesterday, Jackson told the press that the US would be ready to start the trial on November 1. By the way, the Russian representative [Niktchenko] had been suddenly withdrawn. No explanations--mere notice that he will no longer represent Russia in this matter. After weeks of negotiating, weeks of work with him as chief counsel for Russia, he simply goes home and does not come back. These Russians are impossible. What effect this will have on the trial or the trial; date no one knows, but you can imagine the confusion that may arise out of it.September 21, 1945 From the letters of Thomas Dodd:
In the afternoon, I questioned Alfred Rosenberg--one of the top-flight Nazis. He is a sly, evasive and cunning man. He evaded direct answers and placed blame on Hitler whenever he could do so. He even denied, so to speak, his own book, The Myth of the Twentieth Century, which was next to Mein Kampf the most authoritative book on Nazi Germany. Dr Walsh of Georgetown sat in to hear the questioning and he was interested when Rosenberg said, 'I was not against the Catholic Church--only against the Jesuits.' Why the Jesuits? "Because they represent the international political aspects of the Catholic Church."October 5, 1945: Andrus loses his first German prisoner to suicide; Dr Leonard Conti, Hitler's Head of National Hygiene.
The representative of the United States has found it necessary to make certain reservations as to the possible bearing of certain language in the Indictment upon political questions which are considered to be irrelevant to the proceedings before this Tribunal. However, it is considered appropriate to disclose such reservations that they may not be unknown to the Tribunal in the event they should at any time be considered relevant. For that purpose, the foregoing copy is filed.
Dear Sirs: In the Indictment of German War Criminals signed today, reference is made to Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and certain other territories as being within the area of the USSR. This language is proposed by Russia and is accepted to avoid the delay which would be occasioned by insistence on an alteration in the text. The Indictment is signed subject to this reservation and understanding: I have no authority either to admit or to challenge on behalf of the United States of America, Soviet claims to sovereignty over such territories. Nothing, therefore, in this Indictment is to be construed as a recognition by the United States of such sovereignty or as indicating any attitude, either on the part of the United States or on the part of the undersigned. toward any claim to recognition of such sovereignty. Respectfully submitted, Robert H. Jackson, Chief of Counsel for the United States.
The Defense consider it their duty to point out at this juncture another peculiarity of this Trial which departs from the commonly recognized principles of modern jurisprudence. The Judges have been appointed exclusively by States that were the one party in this war. This one party to the proceeding is all in one: creator of the statute of the Tribunal and of the rules of law, prosecutor and judge. It used to be until now the common legal conception that this should not be so...November 20, 1945 Nuremberg Tribunal: On day 1 of the historic trial, the prosecutors take turns reading the Indictment in court. Unfortunately, no one had given any thought to the prisoners lunch break, so, for the first and only time during 218 days of court, the defendants eat their midday meal in the courtroom itself. This is the first opportunity for the entire group to mingle, and though some know each other quite well, their are many who've never met. (Tusa, Conot)
November 21, 1945 Nuremberg Tribunal: Immediately following the pleas of the defendants, Justice Jackson delivers his opening statement:
Jackson: The nature of these crimes is such that both prosecution and judgment must be by victor nations over vanquished foes. The worldwide scope of the aggressions carried out by these men has left but few real neutrals. Either the victors must judge the vanquished or we must leave the defeated to judge themselves. After the First World War, we learned the futility of the latter course. The former high station of these defendants, the notoriety of their acts, and the adaptability of their conduct to provoke retaliation make it hard to distinguish between the demand for a just and measured retribution, and the unthinking cry for vengeance which arises from the anguish of war. It is our task, so far as humanly possible, to, draw the line between the two ...November 21, 1945 Nuremberg Tribunal: On day 3, Major Frank Wallis, Assistant Trial Counsel for the United States, presents the case known as the Common Plan or Conspiracy:
Wallis: As a means of implementing their master race policy and as a means of rallying otherwise discordant elements behind the Nazi banner, the conspirators adopted and publicized a program of relentless persecution of Jews. This program was contained in the official, unalterable 25 points of the Nazi Party, of which 6 were devoted to the master race doctrine. The Defendants Goering, Hess, Rosenberg, Frank, Frick, Streicher, Funk, Schirach, Bormann, and others, all took prominent parts in publicizing this program. Upon the Nazis coming into power, this Party program became the official State program ...November 29, 1945 Nuremberg Tribunal: The prosecution presents as evidence a film shot by US troops as they were liberating various German concentration camps.
Jones: The Norwegian invasion is, in one respect, not a typical Nazi aggression in that Hitler had to be persuaded to embark upon it. The chief instruments of persuasion were Raeder and Rosenberg. Raeder because he thought Norway strategically important and because he coveted glory for his Navy, Rosenberg because of his political connections in Norway which he sought to develop. As the Tribunal will shortly see, in the Norwegian Vidkun Quisling the Defendant Rosenberg found a very model of the Fifth column agent, the very personification of perfidy...December 7, 1945 Nuremberg Tribunal: On day 15, Elwyn Jones wraps up the Case on Aggressive Wars Against Denmark and Norway:
Jones: The submission of the Prosecution is that that and other documents which have been submitted to the Court tear apart the veil of the Nazi pretenses. These documents reveal the menace behind the good-will of Goering; they expose as fraudulent the diplomacy of Ribbentrop; they show the reality behind the ostensible political ideology of tradesmen in treason like Rosenberg...December 10, 1945 Nuremberg Tribunal: Kaltenbrunner, who had been hospitalized with a cranial hemorrhage since two days before the trial began, returns to court. From a press release by the Tribunal's public relations office:
Ernst Kaltenbrunner received a cool welcome from his co-defendants when he made his initial appearance at the trial Monday afternoon. Entering the prisoners' dock just before the afternoon session began, no welcoming hands were proffered to greet him. When he offered to shake hands with some of the defendants there was a noticeable reluctance on their part. Taking his seat in the dock between Wilhelm Keitel and Alfred Rosenberg, he tried to engage his neighbors in a conversation without much luck. ... When he was approached by his own defense council, Kaltenbrunner held out his hand. His lawyer had, however, with studied casualness locked his hands behind his back.December 11, 1945 Nuremberg Tribunal: On the trial's 17th day, prosecution presents as evidence a four-hour movie, The Nazi Plan, compiled from various Nazi propaganda films and newsreels. The film opens with Rosenberg, plump in his Party uniform, providing the pompous narration for Triumph of the Will. Far from viewing the film as another nail in their coffins, the defendants enjoy it hugely. From the diary of Dr. Victor von der Lippe: "Goering was visibly delighted to see himself once more "in the good times." Ribbentrop spoke of the gripping force of Hitler's personality, another defendant declared himself happy that the Tribunal would see him at least once in full uniform, and with the dignity of his office. (Taylor, Conot)
Dodd: We shall also show in this presentation that the Defendant Goering, as Plenipotentiary General for the Four-Year Plan, is responsible for all of the crimes involved in the Nazi slave labor program. Finally, we propose to show that the Defendant Rosenberg, as Reich Minister for the Occupied Eastern Territories, and the Defendant Frank, as Governor of the Government General of Poland, and the Defendant Seyss-lnquart, as Reich Commissar for the occupied Netherlands, and the Defendant Keitel, as Chief of the OKW, share responsibility for the recruitment by force and terror...December 13, 1945 Nuremberg Tribunal: On day 19, Major William Walsh, Assistant Trial Counsel for the United States, begins presentation of the Case on Persecution of the Jews:
Major Walsh: I offer in evidence a copy of a memorandum from Defendant Rosenberg's file entitled, Directions for Handling of the Jewish Question: . . . . The first main goal of the German measures must be strict segregation of Jewry from the rest of the population. The presupposition of this is, first of all, the registration of the Jewish population by the introduction of a compulsory registration order and similar appropriate measures . . . . And then, in the second sentence, in the second paragraph, on Page 2, I continue: ... all rights of freedom for Jews are to be withdrawn. They are to be placed in ghettos and at the same time are to be separated according to sexes. The presence of many more or less closed Jewish settlements in White Ruthenia and in the Ukraine makes this mission easier. More over, places are to be chosen which make possible the fun use of the Jewish manpower as a consequence of present labor programs. These ghettos can be placed under the supervision of a Jewish self-government with Jewish officials. The guarding of the boundaries between the ghettos and the outer world is, however, the duty of the police. "Also, in the case in which a ghetto could not yet be established, care is to be taken through strict prohibition and similar suitable measures that a further intermingling of blood of the Jews and the rest of the populace does not continue...December 20, 1945 Nuremberg Tribunal: After this days session, the trial adjourns for a Holiday break until Wednesday, the 2nd of January.
Brudno: The Indictment ... charges the Defendant Rosenberg under all four Counts of the Indictment....Rosenberg played a particularly prominent role in developing and promoting the doctrinal techniques of the conspiracy, in developing and promoting beliefs and practices incompatible with Christian teaching, in subverting the influence of the churches over the German people, in pursuing the program of relentless persecution of the Jews, and in reshaping the educational system in order to make the German people amenable to the will of the conspirators and to prepare the people psychologically for waging an aggressive war...The political career of the Defendant Rosenberg embraced the entire history of National Socialism...January 10, 1946 Nuremberg Tribunal: On day 31, the prosecution continues its case against Rosenberg:
Brudno: Rosenberg played a particularly prominent role in developing and promoting the doctrinal techniques of the conspiracy, in developing and promoting beliefs and practices incompatible with Christian teaching, in subverting the influence of the churches over the German people, in pursuing the program of relentless persecution of the Jews, and in reshaping the educational system in order to make the German people amenable to the will of the conspirators and to prepare the people psychologically for waging an aggressive war...January 28, 1946 From the diary of the British Alternate Judge, Mr. Justice Birkett:
The evidence is building up a most terrible and convincing case of complete horror and inhumanity in the concentration camps. But from the point of view of this trial it is a complete waste of valuable time. The case has been proved over and over again.February 7, 1946 Nuremberg Tribunal: On day 53, the French prosecution presents its case against Rosenberg:
... a perverted romanticism, a morbid perversion of the sense of greatness, and the mind is baffled by the true significance of the ideas of National Socialism--ideas which I shall touch upon only in passing to show how they led the Defendant Rosenberg, since it is he of whom I am speaking, and his co-defendants to commit the crimes which are held against them. The concept of race, to begin with, which we see arising in a country which in other respects resembles any other but where the intermingling of ethnic types of every variety took place through the centuries on a gigantic scale; this anti-scientific confusion which mixes the physiological features of man with the concept of nations; this neo-paganism which aims at abolishing the moral code, the justice, and security which twenty centuries of Christianity have brought to the world; this myth of blood which attempts to justify racial discrimination and its consequences: slavery, massacre, looting, and the mutilation of living things...February 8, 1946 Nuremberg Tribunal: On day 54, the Russian prosecution presents its case against Goering:
Rudenko: For the purpose of successful execution of their criminal plans these conspirators--Goering, Hess, Rosenberg, Fritzsche, Schirach, and the other defendants-developed a fiendish theory of the superior or master race., By means of this so-called theory they had in mind to justify the claims of German fascism for the domination of other nations which were declared by their theory to be nations of inferior race. It followed from this theory that Germans, since they belonged to the "master race," have the "right" to build their own welfare on the bones of other races and nations. This theory proclaimed that German fascist usurpers are not bound by any laws or commonly accepted rules of human morality. The "master race" is permitted to do anything. No matter how revolting and shameless, cruel, and monstrous were the actions of those individuals, they were based on the idea of the superiority of his race...February 8, 1946 Nuremberg Tribunal: The defendants react with scorn to the speech of the Russian Prosecutor. Goering, who, along with Hess had removed his earphones in disgust during Rudenko's presentation, declares during the lunch break: "I did not think that they [the Soviets] would be so shameless as to mention Poland." And later: "You will see--this trial will be a disgrace in 15 years." (Gilbert)
Yesterday, Friday, opened the Russian case. General Rudenko made his statement and the Russian photographers were all over the place. It lasted most of the day and about 4 o'clock the Russkies began presenting evidence. I conferred with the Justice about segregating Goering from the other defendants for he is browbeating and threatening them--and particularly those who might admit some guilt. He wants all to hang together--and to prove that Roosevelt was the cause of the war! Well, we will take care of that defense all right but I do not think he is entitled to go on intimidating people as he has done for much of his life.February 15, 1946 From the diary of Mr. Justice Birkett:
The presentation of the case dealing with crimes against the civilian population of various countries overrun by the German armies has been most detailed, and is contained for the most part in official documents which purport to record judicial hearings of the evidence. The impression created on my mind is that there has been a good deal of exaggeration, but I have no means of checking this. But no doubt can remain in any dispassionate mind that great horrors and cruelties were perpetrated. I think, also, that there is a good deal of evidence to show that the Nazi hierarchy used calculated cruelty and terror as their usual weapons. But it is impossible to convict an army generally, and no doubt many of the terrible excesses were those of a brutal and licentious soldiery, to quote Gibbon. The only importance of the evidence is to convict the members of the Cabinet and the military leaders of calculated cruelty as a policy.February 15, 1946 Nuremberg Tribunal: Colonel Andrus tightens the rules for the defendants by imposing strict solitary confinement. This is part of a strategy designed to minimize Goering's influence among the defendants. (Tusa)
[The defendants showed] tremendous excitement. Hess suddenly stopped playing the amnesiac and reminded us how often he had predicted a great turning point that would put an end to the trial, rehabilitate all of us, and restore us to our ranks and dignities. Goering, too, was beside himself; he repeatedly slapped his thighs with his palms and boomed: "History will not be deceived. The Führer and I always prophesied it. This coalition had to break up sooner or later." (Speer II)March 15, 1946 Nuremberg Tribunal: On day 82, Hermann Goering is cross-examined by Rosenberg's defense counsel:
Dr Thoma: Rosenberg was chief of the Office of Foreign Affairs of the NSDAP until 1940. Did he in this capacity, or otherwise personally, have an influence on Hitler's decisions concerning foreign policy?
Goering: I believe that the Party's Central Department for Foreign Policy after the seizure of power was never once consulted by the Fuehrer on questions of foreign policy. It was established earlier only so that certain questions on foreign policy which arose within the Party could be dealt with centrally. I am not informed in detail about the methods of that office. As far as I know Rosenberg was certainly not consulted on questions of foreign policy after the accession to power.
Dr Thoma: Therefore, you do not know any details as to whether Rosenberg had a certain influence on Hitler in the Norwegian question?
Goering: That I do not know. I stated yesterday what I know concerning the question of Quisling and also of Rosenberg.
Dr Thoma: When you were Prime Minister did Rosenberg become conspicuous to you as advocating the political or police persecution of the Church?
Goering: He could not advocate the persecution of the Church by the police, because he had nothing to do with the police, and I would not have permitted any interference by him.
Dr Thoma: Do you know whether Rosenberg urged you to evacuate the Jews to Lublin, among other places?
Goering: Rosenberg did not speak to me about that.
Dr Thoma: Did Hitler express to you his satisfaction that Rosenberg had not raised any objection to the Non-Aggression Pact with the Soviet Union, concluded at that time?
Goering: One cannot exactly say that Hitler expressed his satisfaction. If Rosenberg had raised any objection, Hitler would probably have expressed his dissatisfaction in a very unmistakable manner...
Maxwell-Fyfe: At any rate, in the spring of 1941, your office joined in the preparations for the attack on the Soviet Union, did it not?
Ribbentrop: I do not know precisely when, but in the spring things came to a head and there must have been conferences between some offices that dealt with the possibility of a conflict with the Soviet Union. However, I do not recall details about that any more.
Maxwell-Fyfe: I see. Again, I do not want to occupy too much time over it, but it is right, is it not, that in April of 1941 you were co-operating with Rosenberg's office in preparing for the taking over of Eastern territories, and, on the 18th of May, you issued a memorandum with regard to the preparation of the naval campaign?
Ribbentrop: So far as the preparations with Rosenberg are concerned, that is in error. I spoke, according to my recollection about this matter to Rosenberg only after the outbreak of war...
Lammers: The position of Reich Minister Rosenberg was made particularly difficult through the fact that the difference of opinion which existed between him and Minister Goebbels in the field of propaganda was especially detrimental for him. For in the Fuehrer's opinion Rosenberg was to decide on the Eastern policy and Goebbels was to decide on the propaganda, and these two things could not always be coordinated. There were strong differences of opinion between Rosenberg and Goebbels which could be settled only after lengthy negotiations. But the practical success was always slight, because the difference of opinion, which had scarcely been settled, arose again without delay in the next few weeks.April 9, 1946 Nuremberg Tribunal: Day 103; US Chief Prosecutor Jackson begins the morning session with one of his patented temper tantrums:
Jackson: We received from the General Secretary's office an order to print and have printed a Document Book Number I for Rosenberg. That document book does not contain one item in its 107 pages that, by any stretch of the imagination, can be relevant to this proceeding. It is violent anti-Semitism and the United States simply cannot be put in the position, even at the order--which I have no doubt was an ill-considered one--of the Secretary of the Tribunal, of printing and disseminating to the press just plain anti-Semitism; and that is what this document is. Now, I ask you to consider what it is. I should say it consists of two kinds of things: anti-Semitism and what I would call, with the greatest respect to those who think otherwise, rubbish. And this is an example of the rubbish we are required to print at the expense of the United States and I simply cannot be silent any longer about this: 'The philosophic method suited to bourgeois society - the critical one. That holds true in a positive as well as a negative sense. The domination of purely rational form, the subjugation of nature, the freeing of the autonomous personality, all that is contained in the method of thinking classically formulated by Kant, likewise, the isolation of the individual, the inner depletion of nature and community life, the connection with the world of form which is contained in itself and with which all critical thinking is concerned.' Now, what in the world are we required to print that for?...April 13, 1946 Nuremberg Tribunal: From the diary of the British Alternate Judge, Mr. Justice Birkett:
The subject (printing documents; see above item) was unimportant, but the manner of Jackson's appearance was revealing and disturbing. He is a thoroughly upset man because of his failure in cross-examining Goering.April 13, 1946 Nuremberg Tribunal: From an account by Mr. Francis Biddle, Chief Judge for the United States:
Bob Jackson came to see [Judge] Parker and me after lunch in a very wild and uncontrolled mood. Apparently the criticism of his cross-examination of Goering has got under his skin. He threatens to resign--this is not new; talks about refusing any printing of documents he does not approve (irrespective, apparently, of what we order!); says Lawrence [The President] always rules against the Americans (this is absurd); says immense trouble has been caused to the moral of his organization by Katherine's (Biddle's wife) coming over (to which I say perhaps but that was authorized by the President) . . . . Bob still contends that the defendants are engaged in active propaganda, and the Tribunal is falling into disrepute, that Thoma violated an order (he doesn't know the facts). Parker and I tried to cool him off, said we'd help to prevent unnecessary printing, and agreed that Lawrence is too easy-going. Bob certainly has it in for me. He's very bitter. He seems to me very unfair and unhappy. I am sorry for him.
From Justice at Nuremberg by Robert E. Conot: "He [Rosenberg] ought to be glad I have NOT presented so many documents to show what a vicious anti-Semite he is," Thoma confided to Gilbert. "I have found the most damaging documents against him myself, and he ought to be glad I have NOT presented them! I told him, 'For gods sake, Rosenberg, you want me to make them think that you disapprove of the extermination, and didn't know anything about it, and yet you want me to present the documents to show that the extermination was justified!' He makes me sick."
"The old boy wants to talk about the philosophy of the French Revolution," Biddle commented wryly, after the Tribunal rejected Rosenberg's request to trace the history of anti-Semitism. Fyfe, objecting to a number of witnesses Rosenberg wanted to call, remarked: "The only evidence is that Rosenberg wouldn't hurt a fly, and that the witnesses have seen him not hurting flies."
Rosenberg was a master of euphemism, a bureaucratic pedant, whose seemingly endless sentences snaked about, intertwined, and stuck to each other like over-boiled spaghetti; even Thoma had difficulty deciphering his answers. By his rationalization, sophistry, and halfhearted attempts at justification of Nazi barbarism, he created, in his own fashion, as negative an impression as Kaltenbrunner . . . . Rosenberg had planned the pillage and exploitation of Russia, he had projected that millions of people would die as a result, he had been informed early of the brutal slaughter of all kinds of men under the Commissar Order, and even when he had objected to the insensate barbarism because it was bad politics he had not had the spine to take action.
"I did not see in Hitler a tyrant," Rosenberg told the court, "but like many millions of National Socialists I trusted him personally on the strength of the experience of a fourteen-year-long struggle. I served Adolf Hitler loyally, and what the party may have done during those years, that was supported by me too." In a conversation with Fritzsche he was even more emphatic: "No matter how often I go over everything in my mind, I still cannot believe that there was a single flaw in that man's character."
Yesterday, we had a session of court until 1 PM. I worked all afternoon getting ready for the Rosenberg cross-exam. Just before recess I argued the question of admissibility of Rosenberg's documents. There is so much to do to get ready for Rosenberg. He was the Nazi philosopher (as well as minister for the occupied territories) and not an easy one to examine.April 15, 1946 Nuremberg Tribunal: On day 108, as Rosenberg testifies on his own behalf:
The President: Dr. Thoma, would you try to confine the witness to the charges which are against him? The charges against the defendants are not that they attempted to reconstruct Germany, but that they used this form of reconstruction with a view to attacking outside-races and nations outside.
Dr Thoma: But, in my opinion, we have to devote some time to Rosenberg's train of thought to determine the motives for his actions; but I will now ask him this: Did you realize that these questions of socialism and the questions of labor and capital were in truth international questions? And why did you fight against democracy as a matter of international struggle?
Dodd: Mr. President, I think this is a continuation of this same line of examination, and I should like to say that no one in the Prosecution has made any charge against this defendant for what he has thought. I think we are all, as a matter of principle, opposed to prosecuting any man for what he thinks. And I say with great respect that I feel very confident that is the attitude of this Tribunal. Therefore, we think it is entirely unnecessary to spell out whatever thoughts this defendant had on these subjects, or on any other, for that matter.
Dr Thoma: To my knowledge, the defendant is also accused of fighting democracy; and that is why I believe I should put this question to him.
The President: What is the question?
Dr Thoma: Why he was fighting democracy--why National Socialism and he himself fought against democracy.
The President: I do not think that has got anything to do with his case...
Rosenberg: . . . . I should like to remark in that connection, first of all, that the 20 year independence, after the Soviet attack in 1919, was broken by the marching in of the Red Army in 1940, a standpoint that is...
General Rudenko: Mr. President, it seems to me that the document which is now being looked over by the Defendant Rosenberg, naturally gives him a basis for replying to the concrete accusations of his criminal activity while he was Reich Minister for the Occupied Eastern Territories. However, I am of the opinion that what the Defendant Rosenberg has said just now is plain fascist propaganda and has naturally nothing to do with the matter.
Dr. Thoma: Mr. President, if the Defendant Rosenberg makes a few introductory remarks to his statement on the document from which he wants to quote, I ask that he not be interrupted right away. We will deal with a few pertinent statements taken from the document.
Rosenberg: So far as Point 2 is concerned, I would like to remark . . .
The President: Is this document he is dealing with, a document that he wrote himself or had anything to do with? I haven't got the document before me.
Dr. Thoma: The document has been submitted by the USSR and it contains charges against Rosenberg-charges of having undertaken demolitions and expropriations in these territories, and he is entitled to state his position with regard to this.
The President: But when you say "his question," can't he say what he did in connection with the document, or the subject of the document? I mean, when you say "state his position," it is such a very wide phrase it may mean almost anything. If you ask him what he did in connection with the subject of the document it is different, but it is more concrete and special...
From The Nuremberg Trial by Ann and John Tusa: With Kaltenbrunner's defense completed, the Nuremberg court on the afternoon on 15 April became the reluctant audience for an outpouring of philosophical thought that sounded altogether meaningless after the terrible evidence of the slaughter of millions. Alfred Rosenberg had taken the stand. 'Philosophical thought' was only a courtesy title for the jumble of prejudice, irrationality and half-understood plagiarized ideas which stuffed Rosenberg's brain. He believed he approached the question of race scientifically--in fact he had too many preconceived ideas for any of the objective assessment of evidence required by science, and scientists had provided him with no data to back his theories. He also boasted that he provided a historical perspective for his views--but he merely picked at historical events like a myopic jackdaw, then crammed the bits and pieces, with a vain attempt at a fit, into the rickety pile he called an ideology . . . .
For a day and a half Rosenberg gushed hot air in the dock. An explanation for his wobbly mind began to occur--it was set in a wobbly head; he had to keep seizing his chin with his right hand to jam his head still. If he had ever been capable of a clear thought he might have realized that it was possible to mount a defense based on the undoubted fact that few Nazis had ever taken him seriously and that he had always been bypassed by more able competitors such as Goering, Goebbels, Bormann or Himmler. But Rosenberg took himself too seriously and had too high an estimate of his work to assess, let alone admit, his own insignificance. So for a day and a half, slumped in his chair, he more or less admitted the charges against him. Having accepted the charges, he had plenty of time left to browbeat a new audience with his Great Thoughts. For hours he maundered on. It was no more possible to grasp what he was saying than to seize a handful of cloud.
Mr Dodd: Briefly, I want to remind you, while we are on this subject, that you acknowledged yesterday that you did consent to the taking of children as young as 10, 12, and 14 years old and removing them to Germany, and I think you told us that at first it did disturb you, but when you found out there were happy recreational circumstances, your mind was eased. Is that a fair statement of your position on forcing those children from the East?
Rosenberg: No, that is not correct. I do not know just what the translation of the document was, but the opposite was true. I wanted to prevent anything from happening in any action in the operational zone which might, under certain circumstances, be of gravest importance for many children. Then, upon the request of the Army Group Center--which anyway would have done it on its own--I took over the care of these children on condition that I take most scrupulous care of them and care for their own mothers, that they have contact with their parents, and so that they might be returned to their homeland again later on. That is certainly the exact opposite of what the Prosecution has submitted from this document here.
Mr Dodd: Well, I don't want to dwell much longer on it except to remind you that that document which you have seen and which you discussed yesterday, states, among other things, that by removing these children out of the East you will be doing more than one thing; you will be destroying the biological potentiality of those people in the East. That is what you approved among other things, isn't it?
Rosenberg: Yes. That is contained in the first point of the Prosecution and it was already read. I have made it clear by reading the whole document that my approval did not depend at all on that point, that in the first report I definitely refused that as an argument, and that only after hearing other information did I find a method, for which the women thanked me...
Two more days are gone. I cross-examined Alfred Rosenberg this morning and think I did an adequate job--everyone seemed highly pleased with it. I had many compliments from all sides. I did it in about two hours and thereby set a new record here--and I trust a new pattern for the rest of the case. He was most difficult to examine--an evasive lying rogue, if ever I saw one. I actually dislike him--he is such a faker, such a complete hypocrite. The Russians took him on afterwards and did very poorly. They will insist on cross-examining--even when it has been thoroughly done by someone else. They, of course, do not know cross-examination--it is unknown in their practice. They have learned something about it from observation, but they have no sense of timing or restraint--or of the real purposes of the practice. We also finished the whole Rosenberg case today--which is again a new record--only two days for the whole Rosenberg defense.May 21, 1946 From the letters of Thomas Dodd:
I am continually shocked at the appearance of former German admirals, generals, cabinet officers, bankers, etc., who get on the witness stand under oath and proceed to lie in the most shameful manner. Little wonder that catastrophe attended them.May 24, 1946 Nuremberg Tribunal: On day 138, Schirach is cross-examined by Counsel for Defendant Rosenberg:
Dr Thoma: Witness, did you read Rosenberg's Myth of the Twentieth Century? And if so, when?
Schirach: No, I began to read it, but I did not read the whole book.
Dr Thoma: Did this Rosenberg's Myth make any impression on the young people or did other leaders have experiences similar to your own?
Schirach: The youth leaders certainly did not read the Myth of the Twentieth Century...
Dr Thoma: When a minister or general, following the instructions of the head of the State, elaborates plans or takes preparatory measures of an organizational nature, for later eventualities, this activity cannot be considered as criminal even when the interests of other countries are affected thereby and even when the plans, preparations, and measures are intended for war. Only when the minister or general in question directs his activity toward things which have to be considered as criminal according to sound common sense and an international sense of decency and justice can he be held individually responsible. Rosenberg has consistently proved by word and deed that the traditional conceptions of right are his conceptions also and that he desired to enforce them. But his position was particularly difficult...
From The Anatomy of the Nuremberg Trials by Telford Taylor: After the preceding and rather apologetic presentations, Rosenberg's counsel, Dr Thoma, approached the lectern apparently full of faith in Rosenberg's innocence of anything either of them regarded as criminal. Rosenberg was an avowed devotee of Hitler and an acknowledged anti-Semite, and had played a minor part in the decision to occupy Norway. But Thoma rightly concluded that nothing in his client's record, prior to Hitler's decision to attack the Soviet Union, would matter very much. Rosenberg's fate depended on the Tribunal's assessment of his conduct as Reich Minister of the Occupied Territories--the highest German civil authority east of Poland. So Thoma plunged right into Rosenberg's Eastern administration, taking more than half of his long presentation. Despite its length, Lawrence (The President) did not even interject a request for shortening the argument, which was well organized and, throughout, clearly relevant, with no Rosenberg in the witness box to muddy the waters . . . .
Thoma next undertook an explanation of the source and limits of Rosenberg's anti-Semitism, which aroused Rudenko to accuse him of 'Fascist propaganda' and ask the Tribunal to 'take appropriate action.' Lawrence brushed aside Rudenko's complaint and told Thoma to proceed with his argument. The gist of it was that Rosenberg himself was never the instigator of anti-Jewish actions, but that he was 'a true follower of Hitler, who took up Hitler's (anti-Semitic) slogans and passed them on.' All in all, Thoma's script was a remarkable combination of boldness and frankness.
Acknowledging most of Rosenberg's most damning statements, Thoma made it at least plausible that Rosenberg was not anti-Russian, that he was in fact pro-Ukrainian, and that he had no intention of treating brutally the inhabitants of his enormous domain. But at the outset Rosenberg had heard Hitler describe his own truly murderous program, and with full knowledge Rosenberg had taken the plunge. His situation was rather like, but far more dangerous than, Neurath's in Prague. Both men had found themselves with impressive titles and heavy responsibilities, without the power to fulfill them. Ever faithful to the Fuehrer, Rosenberg did not even try to resign until October 1944. Hitler ignored the request. At Nuremberg Rosenberg, like Goering, refused to attack Hitler or Nazism. Dr Thoma, who defended Rosenberg so stoutly, portrayed his client to Dr Gilbert as an 'arrogant heathen' and a 'vicious anti-Semite.'
From a court source ... the rumor went round today that, irrespective of the final pleas, the Tribunal was so far advanced with its findings that, as things stood, death sentences must be reckoned with except for Schacht, Papen and Fritzsche.July 22, 1946 Nuremberg Tribunal: On day 187, US Justice Jackson details Prosecutions closing arguments against Rosenberg.
Jackson: Defendant Rosenberg even wrote dreary treatises advocating a new and weird Nazi religion . . . . In the beginning, fanaticism and political opportunism played a principal part, for anti-Semitism and its allied scapegoat, mythology, was a vehicle on which the Nazis rode to power. It was for this reason that the filthy Streicher and the blasphemous Rosenberg were welcomed at Party rallies and made leaders and officials of the State or Party. But the Nazis soon regarded the Jews as foremost among the opposition to the police state with which they planned to put forward their plans of military aggression. Fear of their pacifism and their opposition to strident nationalism was given as the reason that the Jews had to be driven from the political and economic life of Germany. Accordingly, they were transported like cattle to the concentration camps, where they were utilized as a source of forced labor for war purposes . . . .
It was Rosenberg, the intellectual high priest of the "master race," who provided the doctrine of hatred which gave the impetus for the annihilation of Jewry, and who put his infidel theories into practice against the Eastern Occupied Territories. His woolly philosophy also added boredom to the long list of Nazi atrocities . . . . Unquestionably there were conspiracies within the conspiracy, and intrigues and rivalries and battles for power Schacht and Goering disagreed, but over which of them should control the economy, not over whether the economy should be regimented for war. Goering' claims to have departed from the plan because through Dahlerus he conducted some negotiations with men of influence in England just before the Polish war.
But it is perfectly clear that this was not an effort to prevent aggression against Poland but to make that aggression successful and safe by obtaining English neutrality. Rosenberg and Goering may have had some differences as to how stolen art should be distributed but they had none about how it should be stolen. Jodl and Goering may have disagreed about whether to denounce the Geneva Convention, but they have never disagreed about violating it. And so it goes through the whole long and sordid story. Nowhere do we find a single instance where any one of the defendants stood up against the rest and said: "This thing is wrong and I will not go along with it." Wherever they differed, their differences were as to method or disputes over jurisdiction, but always within the framework of the common plan.
Dubost: We are aware of Rosenberg's important position in the Third Reich. A department bore his name. Moreover, he was Minister for the Occupied Eastern Territories and an exponent of the Nazi doctrine. In "Blood and Honor" (Blut und Ehre), in particular, he revived and elaborated the theory of living space to which the so-called German race was entitled. He started with the unfounded statements that "the evolution of humanity owes its entire meaning to the irradiation of Nordism" and that "a decline takes place wherever this Nordic culture, instead of condemning Asiatic’s and Jews to permanent enslavement, mingles with these impure elements..." He concluded by saying that the continent must be subjected to the German philosophy and race...July 29, 1946 Nuremberg Tribunal: On day 189, General Rudenko, Chief Prosecutor for the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, details Prosecutions closing arguments:
Rudenko: In spite of Rosenberg's efforts to minimize both his role and his importance, in spite of his efforts to juggle with historical facts and events, he cannot deny that he was the official ideologist of the Nazi Party; that already a quarter of a century ago, he had laid the "theoretical" foundations of the fascist Hitlerite State, which during this whole period morally corrupted millions of Germans, preparing them "ideologically" for the monstrous crimes committed by the Hitlerites--crimes unprecedented in history, and which are the subject of this Trial.
When, at the Trial, Rosenberg was asked: "Were you not one of Hitler's closest collaborators?" he did not even speak-he shouted in reply: "That is not true, I never was." But however hard Rosenberg tried to deny his "Fuehrer," he has not succeeded in washing away the stigma of being "one of the oldest and the most faithful of Hitler's comrades-in-arms." For 25 years Rosenberg, first acting as Hitler's collaborator and afterward under his direction, worked out and assisted in the realization of the fantastic plan for world supremacy, having chosen, for the justification of this criminal plan, the misanthropic theory of racism...
Final Statement of Alfred Rosenberg: Besides repeating the old accusations, the prosecutors have 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 have the following to declare in summary. 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 proven, every policy of violent measures, and I rigorously demanded a just attitude on the part of the German officials and a humane treatment of the Eastern Workers. Instead of practicing "child slavery," as it is called, I saw to it that young people from territories endangered by combat 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, by 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 24 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 proven 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 practicing the National Socialism for which millions of believing men and women had fought, but rather, shamefully misusing it. It was a degeneration which I, too, 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 Labor Service, for instance, it restored the dignity of manual labor on mother earth, and directed the eyes of all Germans to the necessity of a strong peasantry. By the Winter Relief Work 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 served.
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 idea 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 a crime, but I understood my struggle, just as the struggle of 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 that 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.
Yesterday, the defendants said farewell to their relatives . . . . Rosenberg is calm and composed. He has made some pen-and-ink drawings for his daughter showing scenes from his house on the Baltic. He is convinced that he is dying as a martyr for an ideology which will inevitably prevail. Today he asked that Father Gerecke should help his womenfolk with food for their journey. His wife and daughter were too proud to accept the food offered by the Americans in the Palace of Justice and lived off their ration cards in Nuremberg. The good father will find it difficult to obtain anything now but I am sure that he has done all he can. (Maser)
September 30, 1946 Nuremberg Tribunal: On day the penultimate day of this historic trial, the final judgements are read in open court.
Final Judgement: Rosenberg is indicted on all four Counts. He joined the Nazi Party in 1919, participated in the Munich Putsch of 9 November 1923, and tried to keep the illegal Nazi Party together while Hitler was in jail. Recognized as the Party's ideologist, he developed and spread Nazi doctrines in the newspapers Voelkischer Beobachter and NS Monatshefte, which he edited, and in the numerous books he wrote. His book Myth of the Twentieth Century had a circulation of over a million copies. In 1930 Rosenberg was elected to the Reichstag and he became the Party's representative for Foreign Affairs. In April 1933 he was made Reichsleiter and head of the Office of Foreign Affairs of the NSDAP (The APA). Hitler, in January 1934, appointed Rosenberg his deputy for the supervision of the entire spiritual and ideological training of the NSDAP. In January 1940, he was designated to set up the "Hohe Schule," the center of National Socialist ideological and educational research, and he organized the "Einsatzstab Rosenberg" in connection with this task. He was appointed Reich Minister for the Occupied Eastern Territories on 17 July 1941.
Crimes against Peace: As head of the APA, Rosenberg was in charge of an organization whose agents were active in Nazi intrigue in all parts of the world. His own reports, for example, claim that the APA was largely responsible for Romania's joining the Axis. As head of the APA, he played an important role in the preparation and planning of the attack on Norway. Rosenberg, together with Raeder, was one of the originators of the plan for attacking Norway. Rosenberg had become interested in Norway as early as June 1939, when he conferred with Quisling. Quisling had pointed out the importance of the Norwegian coast in the event of a conflict between Germany and Great Britain and stated his fears that Great Britain might be able to obtain Norwegian assistance. As a result of this conference Rosenberg arranged for Quisling to collaborate closely with the National Socialists and to receive political assistance by the Nazis. When the war broke out Quisling began to express fear of British intervention in Norway. Rosenberg supported this view and transmitted to Raeder a plan to use Quisling for a coup in Norway.
Rosenberg was instrumental in arranging the conferences in December 1939 between Hitler and Quisling which led to the preparation of the 'attack on Norway and at which Hitler promised Quisling financial assistance. After these conferences Hitler assigned to Rosenberg the political exploitation of Norway. Two weeks after Norway was occupied, Hitler told Rosenberg that he had based his decision to attack Norway "on the continuous warnings of Quisling as reported to him by Reichsleiter Rosenberg." Rosenberg bears a major responsibility for the formulation and execution of occupation policies in the Occupied Eastern Territories. He was informed by Hitler, on 2 April 1941, of the coming attack against the Soviet Union, and he agreed to help in the capacity of a "Political Adviser."
On 20 April 1941 he was appointed Commissioner for the Central Control of Questions Connected with the East European Region. In preparing the plans for the occupation, he had numerous conferences with Keitel, Raeder, Goering, Funk, Ribbentrop, and other high Reich authorities. In April and May 1941 he prepared several drafts of instructions concerning the setting up of the administration in the Occupied Eastern Territories. On 20 June 1941, two days before the attack on the USSR, he made a speech to his assistants about the problems and policies of occupation. Rosenberg attended, Hitler's conference of 16 July 1941, in which policies of administration and occupation were discussed. On 17 July 1941, Hitler appointed Rosenberg Reich Minister for the Occupied Eastern Territories and publicly charged him with responsibility for civil administration.
War Crimes and Crimes against Humanity: Rosenberg is responsible for a system of organized plunder of both public and private property throughout the invaded countries of Europe. Acting under Hitler's orders of January 1940 to set up the "Hohe Schule," he organized and directed the "Einsatzstab Rosenberg," which plundered museums and libraries, confiscated art treasures and collections, and pillaged private houses. His own reports show the extent of the confiscation’s. In "Aktion-M" (Moebel), instituted in December 1941 at Rosenberg's suggestion, 69, 619 Jewish homes were plundered in the West, 38,000 of the in in Paris alone, and it took 26,984 railroad cars to transport the confiscated furnishings to Germany. As of 14 July 1944, more than 21,903 art objects, including famous paintings and museum pieces, had been seized by the Einsatzstab in the West.
With his appointment as Reich Minister for the Occupied Eastern Territories on 17 July 1941, Rosenberg became the supreme authority for those areas. He helped to formulate the policies of Germanization, exploitation, forced labor, extermination of Jews and opponents of Nazi rule, and he set up the administration which carried them out. He took part in the conference of 16 July 1941, in which Hitler stated that they were faced with the task of "cutting up the giant cake according to our needs in order to be able: first, to dominate it, second, to administer it, and third, to exploit it," and he indicated that ruthless action was contemplated. Rosenberg accepted his appointment on the following day.
Rosenberg had knowledge of the brutal treatment and terror to which the Eastern people were subjected. He directed that the Hague Rules of Land Warfare were not applicable in the Occupied Eastern Territories. He had knowledge of and took an active part in stripping the Eastern territories of raw materials and foodstuffs, in which were sent to Germany. He stated that feeding the German people was first on the list of claims on the East, and that the Soviet people would suffer thereby. His directives provided for the segregation of Jews, ultimately in ghettos. His subordinates engaged in mass killings of Jews, and his civil administrators in the East considered that cleansing the Eastern Occupied Territories of Jews was necessary.
In December 1941, Rosenberg made the suggestion to Hitler that in a case of shooting 100 hostages, Jews only be used. Rosenberg had knowledge of the deportation of laborers from the East, of the methods of "recruiting" and the transportation horrors, and of the treatment Eastern laborers received in the Reich. He gave his civil administrators quotas of laborers to be sent to the Reich, which had to be met by whatever means necessary. His signature of approval appears on the order of 14 June 1944, for the "Heu Aktion," the apprehension of 40,000 to 50,000 youths, aged 10-14, for shipment to the Reich. Upon occasion Rosenberg objected to the excesses and atrocities committed by his subordinates, notably in the case of Koch, but these excesses continued and he stayed in office until the end.
Conclusion: The Tribunal finds that Rosenberg is guilty on all four Counts.
From Nuremberg: A Nation on Trial by Werner Maser, translated by Richard Barry: Some time before the members of the Tribunal had made up their minds on the sentences, the thirty-two American journalists present had made up theirs. On a blackboard in the foreign press room industrious pollsters had chalked up the correspondents' forecasts in columns headed 'Guilty,' 'Not Guilty,' 'Death Sentence' and 'Prison.' The pressmen were unanimous on the death sentence only for Goering, Ribbentrop and Kaltenbrunner; as regards the rest, bets on the death sentence were: Keitel and Sauckel 29, Hans Frank 27, Seyss-Inquart 26, Rosenberg 24, Hess 17, Raeder 15, Dönitz and Streicher 14, Jodl 13, Frick 12, Speer 11, von Schirach 9, von Papen 6, Schacht 4, von Neurath 3 and Fritzsche 1.
[Justice] Jackson ... had also made his 'calculation.' In a secret meeting with his closest associates he had even proposed that, since the defendants had so continuously incriminated each other during their period under arrest, they should themselves vote on the guilt or innocence of each of them. It may be regarded as fairly certain that, had this happened, none of them would have escaped the gallows. The Tribunal, however, worked on other hypotheses. The last stage now having been reached, most of the defendants awaited the judgements with calm and composure, some of them even cheerfully. The trial had revealed details and events against which no argument could carry weight, yet it seems that, when the trial ended, none of the defendants was really clear as to what sentence awaited him in Room 600 of the Palace of Justice. After the reading of the Judgement, awaited with impatience by the numerous press correspondents, the defendants were led back to their cells, each handcuffed to a US soldier."
On October 6 the last employees leave to go back home and the rest of us are allowed out. We can move about freely for the first time. It is a curious feeling to walk down the street and watch the heavy traffic. It is easy to lose one's way. The number of well-dressed people is striking. The damage in Nuremberg makes one inexpressibly sad. (Maser)October 13, 1946: Justice Jackson reports to President Truman:
The trial began on November 20,1945 and occupied 216 days of trial time. 33 witnesses were called and examined for the prosecution. 61 witnesses and 19 defendants testified for the defense; 143 additional witnesses gave testimony by interrogatories for the defense. The proceedings were conducted and recorded in four languages--English, German, French, and Russian--and daily transcripts in the language of his choice was provided for each prosecuting staff and all counsel for defendants. The English transcript of the proceedings covers over 17,000 pages. All proceedings were sound-reported in the original language used.
In preparation for the trial over 100,000 captured German documents were screened or examined and about 10,000 were selected for intensive examination as having probable evidentiary value. Of these, about 4,000 were translated into four languages and used, in whole or in part, in the trial as exhibits. Millions of feet of captured moving picture film were examined and over 100,000 feet brought to Nuremberg. Relevant sections were prepared and introduced as exhibits. Over 25,000 captured still photographs were brought to Nuremberg, together with Hitler's personal photographer who took most of them. More than 1,800 were selected and prepared for use as exhibits. The Tribunal, in its judgment, states: "The case, therefore, against the defendants rests in large measure on documents of their own making...
A guard goes from cell to cell. He asks whether we want to make use of our right to a daily walk on the ground floor. The yard is still barred to us. I have to get out; the cell is beginning to feel unbearably oppressive. So I ask to go. But I shudder at the prospect of seeing the men on death row (Note: The 11 condemned men are housed in cells on the ground floor; the 7 sentenced to prison time are being kept in an upper tier of cells). The guard holds out the chrome handcuffs. Linked together, we have some difficulty descending the winding staircase. In the silence, every step on the iron stairs sounds like a thunderclap. On the ground floor I see eleven soldiers staring attentively into eleven cells. The men inside are eleven of the surviving leaders of the Third Reich . . . .
Alfred Rosenberg, the complicated thinker and party philosopher, was ridiculed by everyone, including Hitler; to the surprise of all of us, Rosenberg's defense during the trial was able to prove that he had considered the ferocious policy of annihilation in the East a fatal error, although he had remained devoted to Hitler . . . .
As the rules prescribe, most of them are lying on their backs, hands on the blanket, heads turned toward the inside of the cell. A ghostly sight, all of them in their immobility; it looks as though they have already been laid on their biers ... I cannot stand it for long. Back in my cell, I decide not to go back down again.
Note: German author Werner Maser, in Nuremberg: A Nation on Trial, comments critically on the above passage by Speer:
These and the comments immediately following are typical of Speer's usual fanciful descriptions. Since he was handcuffed to a guard, he could not have seen what was going on in the cells. His remarks on his fellow-defendants speak for themselves.
At some hour of the night I woke up. I could hear footsteps and indistinguishable words in the lower hall. Then silence, broken by a name being called out: "Ribbentrop!" A cell door is opened; then scraps of phrases, scraping of boots, and reverberating footsteps slowly fading away. Scarcely able to breathe, I sit upright on my cot, hearing my heart beat loudly, at the same time aware that my hands are icy. Soon the footsteps come back and I hear the next name: "Keitel!" Once more a cell door opens, once more noises and the reverberation of footsteps. Name after name is called ... (Speer II)
From The Face Of The Third Reich by Joachim C Fest: He [Rosenberg] did not think things out to their logical conclusions, like so many who expressed a literary contempt for reason and humanity and mused upon folk truths in fashionable intellectual twilight. Very little in his hazy constructions, which defy translation into any practical program, entered the real world of the National Socialist dictatorship, beyond the restricted areas placed under his personal influence. True, the accusation against him in the Nuremberg court-room related not to what he had thought but to what he had done. But everything he did was rather that which was done in his name, because he was incapable, either personally or in administrative technique, of living up to his own unfortunate predilection for executive activity. He remained 'Almost Rosenberg.'
The evidence before the Nuremberg court, which unequivocally proves that he knew about and indirectly took part in the measures for the extermination of the Jews, makes his horror over Auschwitz and Theresienstadt highly incredible. But if it was genuine, so certainly was the dull-wittedness with which he lied his way out of it, speaking of a "great disease of National Socialism," a temporary degeneration for which he blamed above all Goebbels, Himmler, Bormann and officials like Erich Koch. To the end he never realized that the injustices of National Socialism were inherent in it, that the terrible practice grew in the soil of a terrible theory. Within this broader framework, ideology and reality ultimately did correspond.
And if Rosenberg, shortly before his death, expressed the hope that the idea of National Socialism would never be forgotten and would be "reborn from a new generation steeled by suffering," this too merely indicates that he never grasped the largely false nature of totalitarian ideologies, which as they lose the external power in which they embody themselves also lose their power over men's minds. Thus no one so mistook the character and significance of National Socialist ideology as this man who considered himself one of its founders and authoritative exponents. The final sentence in the notes written in his Nuremberg cell admits, characteristically, his inability "to understand all that in its deepest meaning."
Caution: As always, these excerpts from trial testimony should not necessarily be mistaken for fact. It should be kept in mind that they are the sometimes-desperate statements of hard-pressed defendants seeking to avoid culpability and shift responsibility from charges that, should they be found guilty, can possibly be punishable by death.
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