Summation for the Prosecution by Justice Robert Jackson
[July 26, 1946]
THE PRESIDENT: I call on the chief prosecutor, the
MARSHAL: May it please the Tribunal, the Defendant Hess is absent.
MR. JUSTICE ROBERT H. JACKSON (Chief of Counsel for the
It is common to think of our own time as standing at the apex of civilization, from which the deficiencies of preceding ages may patronizingly be viewed in the light of what is assumed to be "progress." The reality is that in the long perspective of history the present century will not hold an admirable position, unless its second half is to redeem its first. These two-score years in the twentieth century will be recorded in the book of years as one of the most bloody in all annals. Two World Wars have left a legacy of dead which number more than all the armies engaged in any way that made ancient or medieval history. No half-century ever witnessed slaughter on such a scale, such cruelties and inhumanities, such wholesale deportations of peoples into slavery, such annihilations of minorities. The terror of Torquemada pales before the Nazi Inquisition. These deeds are the overshadowing historical facts by which generations to come will remember this decade. If we cannot eliminate the causes and prevent the repetition of these barbaric events, it is not an irresponsible prophecy to say that this twentieth century may yet succeed in bringing the doom of civilization.
Goaded by these facts, we were moved to redress the blight on the record of our era. The defendants complain that our pace is too fast. In drawing the Charter of this Tribunal, we thought we were recording an accomplished advance in international law. But they say we have outrun our times, that we have anticipated an advance that should be, but has not yet been made. The Agreement of London, whether it originates or merely records, at all events marks a transition in international law which roughly corresponds to that in the evolution of local law when men ceased to punish crime by "hue and cry" and began to let reason and inquiry govern punishment. The society of nations has emerged from the primitive "hue and cry," the law of "catch and kill." It seeks to apply sanctions to enforce international law, but to guide their application by evidence, law, and reason instead of outcry. The defendants denounce the law under which their accounting is asked. Their dislike for the law which condemns them is not original. It has been remarked before that: "No thief e'er felt the halter draw with good opinion of the law."
I shall not labor the law of this case. The position of the
In interpreting the Charter, however, we should not overlook the
emergent character of this body as an International Military Tribunal.
It is no
part of the constitutional mechanism of internal justice of any of the
Of one thing we may be sure. The future will never have to ask, with misgiving, what could the Nazis have said in their favor. History will know that whatever could be said, they were allowed to say. They have been given the kind of a Trial which they, in the days of their pomp and power, never gave to any man.
But fairness is not weakness. The extraordinary fairness of these hearings is an attribute of our strength. The Prosecution's case, at its close, seemed inherently unassailable because it rested so heavily on German documents of unquestioned authenticity. But it was the weeks upon weeks of pecking at this case, by one after another of the defendants, that has demonstrated its true strength. The fact is that the testimony of the defendants has removed any doubt of guilt which, because of the extraordinary nature and magnitude of these crimes, may have existed before they spoke. They have helped write their own judgment of condemnation.
But justice in this case has nothing to do with some of the
forth by the defendants or their counsel. We have not previously and we
not now discuss the merits of all their obscure and tortuous
philosophy. We are
not trying them for the possession of obnoxious ideas. It is their
they choose, to renounce the Hebraic heritage in the civilization of
We charge unlawful aggression but we are not trying the motives,
frustrations which may have led
Let me emphasize one cardinal point. The
I perhaps can do no better service than to try to lift this case out of the morass of detail with which the record is full and put before you only the bold outlines of a case that is impressive in its simplicity. True, it’s thousands of documents and more thousands of pages of testimony deal with an epoch and cover a continent, and touch almost every branch of human endeavor. They illuminate specialties, such as diplomacy, naval development and warfare, land warfare, the genesis of air warfare, the politics of the Nazi rise to power, the finance and economics of totalitarian war, sociology, penology, mass psychology, and mass pathology. I must leave it to experts to comb the evidence and write volumes on their specialties, while I picture in broad strokes the offenses whose acceptance as lawful could threaten the continuity of civilization. I must, as Kipling put it, "splash at a 10-league canvas with brushes of comet's hair."
The Crimes of the Nazi Regime.
The strength of the case against these defendants under the
Count, which it is the duty of the
The charge requires examination of a criminal policy, not of a multitude of isolated, unplanned, or disputed crimes. The substantive crimes upon which we rely, either as goals of a common plan or as means for its accomplishment, are admitted. The pillars which uphold the conspiracy charge may be found in five groups of overt acts, whose character and magnitude are important considerations in appraising the proof of conspiracy.
1. The Seizure of Power and Subjugation of
The Nazi Party seized control of the
The Nazi junta in the early days lived in constant fear of overthrow. Goring, in 1934, pointed out that its enemies were legion and said:
"Therefore, the concentration camps have been created, where we have first confined thousands of Communists and social democrat functionaries"
In 1933 Goring forecast the whole program of purposeful cruelty and oppression when he publicly announced:
"Whoever in the future raises a hand against a representative of the National Socialist movement or of the State must know that he will lose his life in a very short while" (2494-PS).
New political crimes were created to this end. It was made a treason, punishable with death, to organize or support a political party other than the Nazi Party (2548-PS). Circulating a false or exaggerated statement, or one which would harm the State or even the Party, was made a crime (1652-PS). Laws were enacted of such ambiguity that they could be used to punish almost any innocent act. It was, for example, made a crime to provoke "any act contrary to the public welfare" (1390-PS).
The doctrine of punishment by analogy was-introduced to enable conviction for acts which no statute forbade (1962-PS). Minister of Justice Gurtner explained that National Socialism considered every violation of the goals of life which the community set up for itself to be a wrong per se, and that the acts could be punished even g though it was not contrary to existing "formal law" (2549-PS).
The Gestapo and the SD were instrumentalities of an espionage system which penetrated public and private life (1680-PS). Goring controlled a personal wire-tapping unit. All privacy of communication was abolished (1390-PS). Party Blockleiter appointed over every 50 householders spied continuously on all within their ken (1893-PS).
Upon the strength of this spying individuals were dragged off to "protective custody" and to concentration camps without legal proceedings of any kind (1956-PS) and without statement of any reason therefore (2533-PS). The partisan Political Police were exempted from effective legal responsibility for their acts (2347-PS).
With all administrative offices in Nazi control and with the Reichstag reduced to impotence, the judiciary remained the last obstacle to this reign of terror (2469-PS). But its independence was soon overcome and it was reorganized to dispense a venal justice (784-PS) Judges were ousted for political or racial reasons and were spied upon and put under pressure to join the Nazi Party (2967-PS). After the Supreme Court had acquitted three of the four men whom the Nazis accused of setting the Reichstag fire, its jurisdiction over treason cases was transferred to a newly established "People's Court" consisting of two judges and five Party officials (2967-PS). The German film of this "People's Court" in operation, which we showed in this chamber, revealed its presiding judge pouring partisan abuse on speechless defendants (3054-PS). Special courts were created to try political crimes, only Party members were appointed judges (2065-PS), and "judges' letters" instructed the puppet judges as to the "general lines" they must follow (D-229).
The result was the removal of all peaceable means either to resist
change the Government. Having sneaked through the portals of power, the
slammed the gate in the face of all others who might also aspire to
Since the law was what the Nazis said it was, every form of opposition
rooted out and every dissenting voice throttled.
2. The Preparation and Waging of Wars of Aggression.
From the moment the Nazis seized power, they set about feverish but stealthy efforts, in defiance of the Versailles Treaty, to arm for war. In 1933 they found no air force. By 1939 they had 21 squadrons, consisting of 240 echelons or about 2,400 first-line planes, together with trainers and transports. In 1933 they found an army of 3 infantry and 3 cavalry divisions. By 1939 they had raised and equipped an army of 51 divisions, 4 of which were fully motorized and 4 of which were Panzer divisions. In 1933 they found a navy of 1 cruiser and 6 light cruisers. By 1939 they had built a navy of 4 battleships, 1 aircraft carrier, 6 cruisers, 22 destroyers, and 54 submarines. They had also built up in that period an armament industry as efficient as that of any country in the world (EC-28).
These new weapons were put to use, commencing in September 1939, in
of undeclared wars against nations with which
We need not trouble ourselves about the many abstract difficulties that can be conjured up about what constitutes aggression in doubtful cases. I shall show you, in discussing the conspiracy, that by any test ever put forward by any responsible authority, by all the canons of plain common sense, these were unlawful wars of aggression in breach of treaties and in violation of assurances.
The third group of crimes was: Warfare in Disregard of International Law.
It is unnecessary to labor this point on the facts. Goring asserts
Rules of Land Warfare were obsolete, that no nation could fight a total
within their limits. He testified that the Nazis would have denounced
It was, however, against the Soviet people and Soviet prisoners that Teutonic fury knew no bounds, in spite of a warning by Admiral Canaris that the treatment was in violation of international law.
We need not, therefore, for the purposes of the conspiracy Count, recite the revolting details of starving, beating, murdering, freezing, and mass extermination admittedly used against the Eastern soldiery. Also, we may take as established or admitted that the lawless conduct such as shooting British and American airmen, mistreatment of Western prisoners of war, forcing French prisoners of war into German war work, and other deliberate violations of the Hague and Geneva Conventions, did occur, and in obedience to highest levels of authority (R-110).
The fourth group of crimes is: Enslavement and Plunder of Populations in Occupied Countries.
The Defendant Sauckel, Plenipotentiary General for the Utilization
(1666-PS), is authority for the statement that "out of 5,000,000
workers who arrived in
Sauckel ordered that "all the men must be fed, sheltered, and
in such a way as to exploit them to the highest possible extent at the
conceivable degree of expenditure" (054-PS). About two million of these
were employed directly in the manufacture of armaments and munitions
The director of the Krupp locomotive factory in
Populations of occupied countries were otherwise exploited and
unmercifully. Terror was the order of the day. Civilians were arrested
charges, committed without counsel, executed without hearing. Villages
destroyed, the male inhabitants shot or sent to concentration camps,
sent to forced labor, and the children scattered abroad (3012-PS). The
of the slaughter in
"If I wanted to have a poster put up for every seven Poles who were shot, the forests of Poland would not suffice for producing the paper for such posters" (2032-PS).
Those who will enslave men cannot be expected to refrain from
them. Boastful reports show how thoroughly and scientifically the
occupied lands were sucked into the German war economy, inflicting
hunger, and inflation upon the inhabitants (EC-317). Besides this grand
aid the German war effort there were the sordid activities of the
Einsatzstab which pillaged art treasures for Goring and his
(014-PS). It is hard to say whether the spectacle of
International law at all times before and during this war spoke with precision and authority respecting the protection due civilians of an occupied country and the slave trade and plunder of occupied countries was at all times flagrantly unlawful.
And the fifth group of crimes is: Persecution and Extermination of Jews and Christians.
The Nazi movement will be of evil memory in history because of its persecution of the Jews, the most far-flung and terrible racial persecution of all time. Although the Nazi Party neither invented nor monopolized anti-Semitism, its leaders from the very beginning embraced it, incited it, and exploited it. They used it as "the psychological spark that ignites the mob." After the seizure of power it became an official state policy. The persecution began in a series of discriminatory laws eliminating the Jews from the civil service, the professions, and economic life. As it became more intense it included segregation of Jews in ghettos, and exile. Riots were organized by Party leaders to loot Jewish business places and to burn synagogues. Jewish property was confiscated and a collective fine of a billion marks was imposed upon German Jewry. The program progressed in fury and irresponsibility to the "final solution." This consisted of sending all Jews who were fit to work to concentration camps as slave laborers, and all who were not fit, which included children under 12 and people over 50, as well as any others judged unfit by an SS doctor, to concentration camps for extermination (2605-PS).
Adolf Eichmann, the sinister figure who had charge of the extermination program, has estimated that the anti-Jewish activities resulted in the killing of 6 million Jews. Of these, 4 million were killed in extermination institutions, and 2 million were killed by Einsatzgruppen, mobile units of the Security Police and SD which pursued Jews in the ghettos and in their homes and slaughtered them by gas wagons, by mass shooting in antitank ditches and by every device which Nazi ingenuity could conceive. So thorough and uncompromising was this program that the Jews of Europe as a race no longer exist, thus fulfilling the diabolic "prophecy" of Adolf Hitler at the beginning of the war (2738-PS).
Of course, any such program must reckon with the opposition of the
Church. This was recognized from the very beginning. Defendant Bormann
all Gauleiters in 1941 that "National Socialism and Christian concepts
irreconcilable," and that the people must be separated from the
and the influence of the churches totally removed (D-75). Defendant
The Gestapo appointed "Church specialists" who were instructed that the ultimate aim was "destruction of the confessional churches" 1815-PS). The record is full of specific instances of the persecution of clergymen (1164-PS, 1521-PS, 848-PS, 849-PS), the confiscation of Church property (1481-PS), interference with religious publications (1498-PS), disruption of religious education (121-PS) and suppression of religious organizations (1481-PS, 1482-PS, R-145).
The chief instrumentality for persecution and extermination was the concentration camp, sired by the Defendant Goring and nurtured under the over-all authority of Defendants Frick and Kaltenbrunner.
The horrors of these iniquitous places have been vividly disclosed by documents (2309-PS, 3870-PS) and testified to by witnesses.
The Tribunal must be satiated with ghastly verbal and pictorial
From your records it is clear that the concentration camps were the
worst weapon of Nazi oppression used by the
These, then, were the five great substantive crimes of the Nazi regime. Their commission, which cannot be-denied, stands admitted. The Defendant Keitel, who is in a position to know the facts, has given the Tribunal what seems to be a fair summation of the case on the facts:
"The defendant has declared that he admits the contents of the general Indictment to be proved from the objective and factual point of view (that is to say, not every individual case) and this in consideration of the law of procedure governing the Trial. It would be senseless, despite the possibility of refuting several documents or individual facts, to attempt to shake the Indictment as a whole."
I pass now to the inquiry as to whether these groups of criminal acts were integrated in a Common Plan or Conspiracy.
The Prosecution submits that these five categories of premeditated crimes were not separate and independent phenomena but that all were committed pursuant to a Common Plan or Conspiracy. The Defense admits that these classes of crimes were committed but denies that they are connected one with another as parts of a single program.
The central crime in this pattern of crimes, the kingpin which holds them all together, is the plot for aggressive wars. The chief reason for international cognizance of these crimes lies in this fact. Have we established the Plan or Conspiracy to make aggressive war?
Certain admitted or clearly proven facts help answer that question.
the fact that such war of aggression did take place. Second, it is
that from the moment the Nazis came to power, every one of them and
of the defendants worked like beavers to prepare for some war. The
therefore comes to this: Were they preparing for the war which did
were they preparing for some war which never has happened? It is
that in their early days none of them had in mind what month of what
would begin, the exact dispute which would precipitate it, or whether
impact would be
The plans of Adolf Hitler for aggression were just as secret as Mein
of which over six million copies were published in
Goring has testified in this courtroom that at his first meeting with Hitler, long before the seizure of power, quoting:
"I noted that Hitler had a definite view of the impotency of protest
and, as a second point, that he was of the opinion that
Immediately after the seizure of power the Nazis went to work to
these aggressive intentions by preparing for war. They first enlisted
industrialists in a secret rearmament program. Twenty days after the
power Schacht was host to Hitler, Goring, and some 20 leading
Among them were Krupp von Bohlen of the great Krupp armament works and
representatives of I. G. Farben and other
Some 2 months after Schacht had sponsored his first meeting to gain the support of the industrialists, the Nazis moved to harness industrial labor to their aggressive plans. In April 1933 Hitler ordered Dr. Ley "to take over the trade unions," numbering some six million members. By Party directive Ley seized the unions their property and their funds. Union leaders, taken into "protective custody" by the SS and SA, were put into concentration camps (2283-PS, 2271-PS, 2335-PS, 2334-PS, 2928-PS, 2277-PS, 2332-PS 2333-PS). The free labor unions were then replaced by a Nazi organization known as the German Labor Front, with Dr. Ley at its head. It was expanded until it controlled over 23 million members (2275-PS). Collective bargaining was eliminated, the voice of labor could no longer be heard as to working conditions and the labor contract was prescribed by "trustees of labor" appointed by Hitler (405-PS). The war purpose of this labor program was clearly acknowledged by Robert Ley 5 days after war broke out, when he declared in a speech that:
"We National Socialists have monopolized all resources and all our energies during the past 7 years so as to be able to be equipped for the supreme effort of battle" (1939-PS).
The Nazis also proceeded at once to adapt the Government to the needs of war. In April 1933 the Cabinet formed a Defense Council, the working committee of which met frequently thereafter. In the meeting of 5/23/1933 at which Defendant Keitel presided the members were instructed that:
"No document must be lost since otherwise the enemy propaganda would
make use of it. Matters communicated orally cannot be proven; they can
denied by us in
In January 1934and, Your Honors, dates in this connection are important with Defendant Jodl present, the Council planned a mobilization calendar and mobilization order for some 240,000 industrial plants. Again it was agreed that nothing should be in writing so that "the military purpose may not be traceable" (EC-404).
On 5/21/1935, the top secret Reich Defense Law was enacted. Defendant Schacht was appointed Plenipotentiary for War Economy with the task of secretly preparing all economic forces for war and in the event of mobilization, of financing the war (2261-PS).
Schacht's secret efforts were supplemented in October 1936 by the appointment of Defendant Goring as commissioner of the Four Year Plan, with the duty of putting the entire economy in a state of readiness for war within 4 years (EC-408).
A secret program for the accumulation of the raw materials and foreign credits necessary for extensive rearmament was also set on foot immediately upon seizure of power. In September of 1934, the Minister of Economics was already complaining that:
"The task of stockpiling is being hampered by the lack of foreign currency; the need for secrecy and camouflage also is a retarding influence" (EC-128).
Foreign currency controls were at once established. Financing was delegated to the wizard Schacht, who conjured up the mefo bill to serve the dual objectives of tapping the short-term money market for rearmament purposes while concealing the amount of these expenditures (EC-436).
The spirit of the whole Nazi administration was summed up by Goring at a meeting of the Council of Ministers, which included Schacht, on 5/27/1936, when he said,
"All measures are to be considered from the standpoint of an assured waging of war" (1301-PS).
The General Staff, of course, also had to be enlisted in the war plan. Most of the generals, attracted by the prospect of rebuilding their armies, became willing accomplices. The hold-over Minister of War Von Blomberg and the Chief of Staff General Von Fritsch, however, were not cordial to the increasingly belligerent policy of the Hitler regime, and by vicious and obscene plotting they were discredited and removed in January 1938. Thereupon, Hitler assumed for himself Supreme Command of the Armed Forces and the positions of Blomberg and of Von Fritsch were filled by others who became, as Blomberg said of Keitel, "a willing tool in Hitler's hands for every one of his decisions." The generals did not confine their participation to merely military matters. They participated in all major diplomatic and political maneuvers, such as the Obersalzberg meeting where Hitler, flanked by Keitel and other top generals, issued his virtual ultimatum to Schuschnigg (1780-PS).
As early as 11/5/1937 the plan to attack had begun to take
to time and victim. In a meeting which included the Defendants Raeder,
and Von Neurath, Hitler stated the cynical objective: "The question for
Six months later, emboldened by the bloodless Austrian conquest,
a secret directive to Keitel, stated his "unalterable decision to smash
On the same day, Jodl noted in his diary that the Fuhrer had stated
final decision to destroy
All along the line preparations became more definite for a war of
on the assumption that it would result in a worldwide conflict. In
1938 Admiral Carls officially commented on a "Draft Study of Naval
"2. Both requirements can only be fulfilled in opposition to
Anglo-French interests and will limit their positions as world powers.
unlikely that they can be achieved by peaceful means. The decision to
"3. War against
"It can only be justified and have a chance of success if it is prepared economically as well as politically and militarily and waged with the aim of conquering for Germany an outlet to the ocean" (C-23).
This Tribunal knows what categorical assurances were given to an
world after the Anschluss, after
As early as 4/15/1938 Goring pointed out to Mussolini and Ciano that
possession of those territories would make possible an attack on
"After the settlement of the Czechoslovakian question, it will be
generally assumed that
Hitler, after the Polish invasion, boasted that it was the Austrian
Czechoslovakian triumphs by which "the basis for the action against
By May of 1939 the Nazi preparations had ripened to the point that Hitler confided to the Defendants Goring, Raeder, Keitel, and others his readiness "to attack Poland at the first suitable opportunity," even though he recognized that "further successes cannot be attained without the shedding of blood." The larcenous motives behind this decision he made plain in words that echoed the covetous theme of Mein Kampf:
"Circumstances must be adapted to aims. This is impossible without invasion of foreign states or attacks upon foreign property. Living space in proportion to the magnitude of the state is the basis of all power further successes cannot be attained without expanding our living space in the East..." (L-79).
While a credulous world slumbered, snugly blanketed with perfidious
assurances of peaceful intentions, the Nazis prepared not as before for
but now for the war. The Defendants Goring, Keitel, Raeder, Frick, and
with others, met as the Reich Defense Council in June of 1939. The
authenticated by Goring, are revealing evidences of the way in which
of Nazi planning dovetailed with every other. These five key
months before the first Panzer unit had knifed into Poland, were laying
for "employment of the population in wartime," and had gone so far as
to classify industry for priority in labor supply after "5 million
servicemen had been called up." They decided upon measures to avoid
"confusion when mobilization takes place," and declared a purpose
"to gain and maintain the lead in the decisive initial weeks of a
war." They then planned to use in production prisoners of war, criminal
prisoners, and concentration camp inmates. They then decided on
"compulsory work for women in wartime." They had already passed on
applications from 1,172,000 specialist workmen for classification as
indispensable, and had approved 727,000 of them. They boasted that
workers to report for duty "are ready and tied up in bundles at the
offices." And they resolved to increase the industrial manpower supply
It is the minutes of this significant conclave of many key
disclose how the plan to start the war was coupled with the plan to
war through the use of illegal sources of labor to maintain production.
in announcing his plan to attack
Here also comes to the surface the link between war labor and
camps, a manpower source that was increasingly used and with increasing
cruelty. An agreement between Himmler and the Minister of Justice
1942 provided for "the delivery of antisocial elements from the
of their sentence to the Reichsfuhrer SS to be worked to death"
An SS directive provided that bedridden prisoners be drafted for work
to be performed
in bed (1395-PS). The Gestapo ordered 46,000 Jews arrested to increase
"recruitment of manpower into the concentration camps" (1472-PS). One
hundred thousand Jews were brought from
The use of prisoner-of-war labor as then planned in that meeting also grew with German needs. At a time when every German soldier was needed at the front and forces were not available at home, Russian prisoners of war were forced to man anti.aircraft guns against Allied planes. Field Marshal Milch reflected the Nazi merriment at this flagrant violation of international law, saying: ". . . this is an amusing thing, that the Russians must work the guns" (R-124).
The orders for the treatment of Soviet prisoners of war were so ruthless that Admiral Canaris, pointing out that they would "result in arbitrary mistreatments and killing," protested to the OKW against them as breaches of international law. The reply of Keitel was unambiguous. He said:
"The objections arise from the military conception of chivalrous warfare! This is the destruction of an ideology! Therefore, I approve and back the measures" (C-338).
The Geneva Convention would have been thrown overboard openly except that Jodl objected because he wanted the benefits of Allied observance of it while it was not being allowed to hamper the Germans in any way.
Other crimes in the conduct of warfare were planned with equal thoroughness as a means of insuring victory of German arms. In October 1938, almost a year before the start of the war, the large scale violation of the established rules of warfare was contemplated as a policy, and the Supreme Command circulated a "most secret" list of devious explanations to be given by the Propaganda Minister in such cases (C-2). Even before this time commanders of the Armed Forces were instructed to employ any means of warfare so long as it facilitated victory (L-211). After the war was in progress the orders increased in savagery. A typical Keitel order, demanding the use of the “most brutal means," provided that: ". . . It is the duty of the troops to use all means without restriction, even against women and children, so long as it insures success."
The German naval forces were no more immune from the infection than the land forces. Raeder ordered violations of the accepted rules of warfare wherever necessary to gain strategic successes (C-157). Donitz urged his submarine crews not to rescue survivors of torpedoed enemy ships in order to cripple merchant shipping of the Allied Nations by decimating their crews (D-642).
Thus, the war crimes against Allied forces and the crimes against humanity committed in occupied territories are incontestably part of the program for making the war because, in the German calculations, they were indispensable to its hope of success.
Similarly, the whole group of prewar crimes, including the
"The first question was to achieve and establish a different
With these purposes, Goring admitted that the plan was made to
From Goring's cross-examination we learn how necessarily the whole program of crime followed. Because they considered a strong state necessary to get rid of the Versailles Treaty, they adopted the Fuhrerprinzip. Having seized power, the Nazis thought it necessary to protect it by abolishing parliamentary government and suppressing all organized opposition from political parties (L-83). This was reflected in the philosophy of Goring that the opera was more important than the Reichstag. Even the "opposition of each individual was not tolerated unless it was a matter of unimportance." To insure the suppression of opposition a secret police force was necessary. In order to eliminate incorrigible opponents, it was necessary to establish concentration camps and to resort to the device of protective custody. Protective custody, Goring testified, meant that:
"People were arrested and taken into protective custody who had
committed no crime but who one might expect, if they remained in
do all sorts of things to damage the
The same war purpose was dominant in the persecution of the Jews. In
beginning, fanaticism and political opportunism played a principal
anti-Semitism and its allied scapegoat, mythology, was a vehicle on
Nazis rode to power. It was for this reason that the filthy Streicher
blasphemous Rosenberg were welcomed at Party rallies and made leaders
officials of the State or Party. But the Nazis soon regarded the Jews
foremost among the opposition to the police state with which they
put forward their plans of military aggression. Fear of their pacifism
their opposition to strident nationalism was given as the reason that
had to be driven from the political and economic life of
At a meeting held on 11/12/1938, 2 days after the violent anti-Jewish pogroms instigated by Goebbels and carried out by the Party Leadership Corps and the SA, the program for the elimination of Jews from the German economy was mapped out by Goring, Funk, Heydrich, Goebbels, and the other top Nazis. The measures adopted included confinement of the Jews in ghettos, cutting off their food supply, "Aryanizing" their shops, and restricting their freedom of movement (1816-PS). Here another purpose behind the Jewish persecutions crept in, for it was the wholesale confiscation of their property which helped finance German rearmament. Although Schacht's plan to have foreign money ransom the entire race within Germany was not adopted, the Jews were stripped to the point where Goring was able to advise the Reich Defense Council that the critical situation of the Reich exchequer, due to rearmament, had keen relieved "through the billion Reichsmark fine imposed on Jewry, and through profits accrued to the Reich in the Aryanization of Jewish enterprises" (3575-PS).
A glance over the dock will show that, despite quarrels among themselves, each defendant played a part which fitted in with every other, and that all advanced the common plan. It contradicts experience that men of such diverse backgrounds and talents should so forward each other's aims by coincidence.
The large and varied role of Goring was half militarist and half
He stuck his pudgy finger in every pie. He used his SA musclemen to
the gang into power. In order to entrench that power he contrived to
have the Reichstag
burned, established the Gestapo, and created the concentration camps.
equally adept at massacring opponents and at framing scandals to get
stubborn generals. He built up the Luftwaffe and hurled it at his
neighbors. He was among the foremost in harrying Jews out of the land.
mobilizing the total economic resources of
The parts played by the other defendants, although less comprehensive and less spectacular than that of the Reichsmarshal, were nevertheless integral and necessary contributions to the joint undertaking, without any one of which the success of the common enterprise would have been in jeopardy. There are many specific deeds of which these men have been proven guilty. No purpose would be served nor indeed is time available to review all the crimes which the evidence has charged up to their names. Nevertheless, in viewing the conspiracy as a whole and as an operating mechanism, it may be well to recall briefly the outstanding services which each of the men in the dock rendered to the common cause.
THE PRESIDENT: Would that be a convenient time to adjourn?
MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: Entirely, Your Honor.
[A recess was taken.]
The zealot Hess, before succumbing to wanderlust, was the engineer tending the Party machinery, passing orders and propaganda down to the Leadership Corps, supervising every aspect of Party activities, and maintaining the organization as a loyal and' ready instrument of power. When apprehensions abroad threatened the success of the Nazi regime for conquest, it was the duplicitous Ribbentrop, the salesman of deception, who was detailed to pour wine on the troubled waters of suspicion by preaching the gospel of limited and peaceful intentions. Keitel, the weak and willing tool, delivered the Armed Forces, the instrument of aggression, over to the Party and directed them in executing its felonious designs.
Kaltenbrunner, the grand inquisitor, took up the bloody mantle of
to stifle opposition and terrorize compliance, and buttressed the power
National Socialism on a foundation of guiltless corpses. It was
intellectual high priest of the "master race," who provided the
doctrine of hatred which gave the impetus for the annihilation of
who put his infidel theories into practice against the
Streicher, the venomous vulgarian, manufactured and distributed obscene racial libels which incited the populace to accept and assist the progressively savage operations of "race purification." As Minister of Economics Funk accelerated the pace of rearmament and as Reichsbank president banked for the SS the gold teeth fillings of concentration camp victims probably the most ghoulish collateral in banking history. It was Schacht, the facade of starched respectability, who in the early days provided the window dressing, the bait for the hesitant, and whose wizardry later made it possible for Hitler to finance the colossal rearmament program, and to do it secretly.
Donitz, Hitler's legatee of defeat, promoted the success of the Nazi aggressions by instructing his pack of submarine killers to conduct warfare at sea with the illegal ferocity of the jungle. Raeder, the political admiral, stealthily built up the German Navy in defiance of the Versailles Treaty, and then put it to use in a series of aggressions which he had taken a leading part in planning. Von Schirach, poisoner of a generation, initiated the German youth in Nazi doctrine, trained them in legions for service in the SS and Wehrmacht, and delivered them up to the Party as fanatic, unquestioning executors of its will.
Sauckel, the greatest and cruelest slaver since the Pharaohs of
produced desperately needed manpower by driving foreign peoples into
of bondage on a scale unknown even in the ancient days of tyranny in
kingdom of the
Seyss-Inquart, spearhead of the Austrian fifth column, took over the
government of his own country only to make a present of it to Hitler,
moving north, brought terror and oppression to the
The activities of all these defendants, despite their varied
talents, were joined with the efforts of other conspirators not now in
dock, who played still other essential roles. They blend together into
consistent and militant pattern animated by a common objective to
". . .There were no specialists among the National Socialists for the particular tasks. Most of the National Socialist collaborators did not previously follow a trade requiring technical education."
It was the fatal weakness of the early Nazi band that it lacked technical competence. It could not from among its own ranks make up a government capable of carrying out all the projects necessary to realize its aims. Therein lies the special crime and betrayal of men like Schacht and Von Neurath, Speer and Von Papen, Raeder and Donitz, Keitel and Jodl. It is doubtful whether the Nazi master plan could have succeeded without their specialized intelligence which they so willingly put at its command. They did so with knowledge of its announced aims and methods, and continued their services after practice had confirmed the direction in which they were tending. Their superiority to the average run of Nazi mediocrity is not their excuse. It is their condemnation.
The dominant fact which stands out from all the thousands of pages of the record of this Trial is that the central crime of the whole group of Nazi crimes the attack on the peace of the world was clearly and deliberately planned. The beginning of these wars of aggression was not an unprepared and spontaneous springing to arms by a population excited by some current indignation. A week before the invasion of Poland Hitler told his military commanders:
"I shall give a propagandist cause for starting war never mind whether it be plausible or not. The victor shall not be asked later on whether we told the truth or not. In starting and making a war, it is not the right that matters, but victory (1014-PS).
The propagandist incident was duly provided by dressing
inmates in Polish uniforms, in order to create the appearance of a
attack on a German frontier radio station (2751-PS). The plan to occupy
Thus, the follow-up wars were planned before the first was launched. These were the most carefully plotted wars in all history. Scarcely a step in their terrifying succession and progress failed to move according to the master blueprint or the subsidiary schedules and timetables until long after the crimes of aggression were consummated.
Nor were the war crimes and the crimes against humanity unplanned,
or spontaneous offenses. Aside from our undeniable evidence of their
it is sufficient to ask whether 6 million people could be separated
population of several nations on the basis of their blood and birth,
destroyed and their bodies disposed of, except that the operation
the general scheme of government. Could the enslavement of 5 millions
laborers, their impressment into service, their transportation to
their allocation to work where they would be most useful, their
slow starvation can be called maintenance, and their guarding have been
accomplished if it did not fit into the common plan? Could hundreds of
concentration camps located throughout Germany, built to accommodate
of thousands of victims, and each requiring labor and materials for
construction, manpower to operate and supervise, and close gearing into
could such efforts have been expended under German autocracy if they
suited the plan? Has the Teutonic passion for organization suddenly
famous for its toleration of nonconforming activity? Each part of the
fitted into every other. The slave-labor program meshed with the needs
industry and agriculture, and these in turn synchronized with the
machine. The elaborate propaganda apparatus geared with the program to
the people and incite them to a war their sons would have to fight. The
armament industries were fed by the concentration camps. The
camps were fed by the Gestapo. The Gestapo was fed by the spy system of
Nazi Party. Nothing was permitted under the Nazi iron rule that was not
accordance with the program. Everything of consequence that took place
regimented society was but a manifestation of a premeditated and
purpose to secure the
The defendants meet this overwhelming case, some by admitting a limited responsibility, some by putting the blame on others, and some by taking the position in effect that while there have been enormous crimes there are no criminals. Time will not permit me to examine each individual and particular defense, but there are certain lines of defense common to so many cases that they deserve some consideration.
Counsel for many of the defendants seek to dismiss the conspiracy or common planning charge on the ground that the pattern of the Nazi plan does not fit into the concept of conspiracy applicable in German law to the plotting of a highway robbery or a burglary. Their concept of conspiracy is in the terms of a stealthy meeting in the dead of night, in a secluded hideout, in which a small group of felons plot every detail of a specific crime. The Charter forestalls resort to such parochial and narrow concepts of conspiracy taken from local law by using the additional and nontechnical term, "common plan." Omitting entirely the alternative term of "conspiracy," the Charter reads that "leaders, organizers, instigators, and accomplices participating in the formulation or execution of a common plan to commit any of the described crimes are responsible for all acts performed by any persons in execution of such plan."
The Charter concept of a common plan really represents the conspiracy principle in an international context. A common plan or conspiracy to seize the machinery of a state, to commit crimes against the peace of the world, to blot a race out of existence, to enslave millions, and to subjugate and loot whole nations cannot be thought of in the same terms as the plotting of petty crimes, although the same underlying principles are applicable. Little gangsters may plan which will carry a pistol and which a stiletto, who will approach a victim from the front and who from behind, and where they will waylay him. But in planning a war, the pistol becomes a Wehrmacht, the stiletto, a Luftwaffe. Where to strike is not a choice of dark alleys, but a matter of world geography. The operation involves the manipulation of public opinion, the law of the state, the police power, industry, and finance. The baits and bluffs must be translated into a nation's foreign policy. Likewise the degree of stealth which points to a guilty purpose in a conspiracy will depend upon its object. The clandestine preparations of a state against international society, although camouflaged to those abroad, might be quite open and notorious among its own people. But stealth is not an essential ingredient of such planning. Parts of the common plan may be proclaimed from the housetops, as anti-Semitism was, and parts of it kept under cover s rearmament for a long time was. It is a matter of strategy how much of the preparation shall be made public, as was Goring's announcement in 1935 of the creation of an air force, and how much shall be kept covert, as in the case of the Nazis' use of shovels to teach "labor corps" the manual of arms (3054-PS). The forms of this grand type of conspiracy are amorphous, the means are opportunistic, and neither can divert the law from getting at the substance of things.
The defendants contend, however, that there could be no conspiracy involving aggressive war because: (1) None of the Nazis wanted war; (2) rearmament was only intended to provide the strength to make Germany's voice heard in the family of nations and (3) the wars were not in fact aggressive wars but were defensive against a "Bolshevik menace."
When we analyze the argument that the Nazis did not want war it comes down, in substance, to this: "The record looks bad indeed objectively but when you consider the state of my mind subjectively I hated war. I knew the horrors of war. I wanted peace." I am not so sure of this. I am even less willing to accept Goring's description of the General Staff as pacifist. However, it will not injure our case to admit that as an abstract proposition none of these defendants liked war. But they wanted things which they knew they could not get without war. They wanted their neighbors' lands and goods. Their philosophy seems to be that if the neighbors would not acquiesce, then they are the aggressors and are to blame for the war. The fact is, however, that war never became terrible to the Nazis until it came home to them, until it exposed their deceptive assurances to the German people that German cities, like the ruined one in which we meet, would be invulnerable. From then on, war was terrible.
But again the defendants claim, "To be sure, we were building guns. But not to shoot. They were only to give us weight in negotiating." At its best this argument amounts to a contention that the military forces were intended for blackmail, not for battle. The threat of military invasion which forced the Austrian Anschluss, the threats which preceded Munich, and Goring's threat to bomb the beautiful city of Prague if the President of Czechoslovakia did not consent to a Protectorate, are examples of what the defendants have in mind when they talk of arming to back negotiation.
But from the very nature of German demands, the day was bound to come when some country would refuse to buy its peace, would refuse to pay danegelt, "for the end of that game is oppression and shame, and the nation that plays it is lost."
Did these defendants then intend to withdraw German demands, or was
But some of the defendants argue that the wars were not aggressive
only intended to protect
At the outset this argument of self-defense falls because it
ignores This damning combination of facts clearly established in the
First, the enormous and rapid German preparations for war; second, the
repeatedly avowed intentions of the German leaders to attack, which I
previously cited; and third, the fact that a series of wars occurred in
German forces struck the first blows, without warning, across the
other nations. Even if it could be shown which it cannot that the
was really defensive, such is demonstrably not the case with those wars
preceded it. It may also be pointed out that even those who would have
It is not necessary to examine the validity of an abstract principle which does not apply to the facts of our case. I do not doubt that if a nation arrived at a judgment that it must resort to war in self-defense, because of conditions affording reasonable grounds for such an honest judgment, any tribunal would accord it great and perhaps conclusive weight, even if later events proved that judgment mistaken. But the facts in this case call for no such deference to honest judgment because no such judgment was ever pretended much less honestly made.
In all the documents which disclose the planning and rationalization
these attacks, not one sentence has been or can be cited to show a
fear of attack. It may be that statesmen of other nations lacked the
forthrightly and fully to disarm. Perhaps they suspected the secret
Minister of War Von Blomberg, in his 1937 directive prescribing general principles for the preparation for war of the Armed Forces has given the lie to these feeble claims of self-defense. He stated at that time:
"The general political situation justifies the supposition that
Nevertheless, he recommended:
". . . a continuous preparation for war in order to (a) counterattack at any time, and (b) to enable the military exploitation of politically favorable opportunities should they occur"
If these defendants may now cynically plead self-defense, although no good-faith need of self-defense was asserted or contemplated by any responsible leader at that time, it reduces nonaggression treaties to a legal absurdity. They become additional instruments of deception in the hands of the aggressor, and traps for well-meaning nations. If there be in nonaggression pacts an implied condition that each nation may make a bona fide judgment as to the necessity for self-defense against imminent threatened attack, it certainly cannot be invoked to shelter those who never made any such judgment at all.
In opening this case I ventured to predict that there would be no serious denial that the crimes charged were committed, and that the issue would concern the responsibility of particular defendants. The defendants have fulfilled that prophecy. Generally, they do not deny that these things happened, but it is contended that they "just happened," and that they were not the result of a common plan or conspiracy.
One of the chief reasons the defendants say there was no conspiracy
argument that conspiracy was impossible with a dictator. The argument
they all had to obey Hitler's orders, which had the force of law in the
This argument is an effort to evade Article 8 of the Charter, which provides that the order of the Government or of a superior shall not free a defendant from responsibility but can only be considered in mitigation. This provision of the Charter corresponds with the justice and with the realities of the situation, as indicated in Defendant Speer's description of what he considered to be the common responsibility of the leaders of the German nation:
". . . with reference to utterly decisive matters, there is total responsibility. There must be total responsibility insofar as a person is one of the leaders, because who else could assume responsibility for the development of events, if not the immediate associates who work with and around the head of the State?"
Again he told the Tribunal:
". . . 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."
Like much of Defense Counsel's abstract arguments, the contention that the absolute power of Hitler precluded a conspiracy crumbles in the face of the facts of record. The Fuhrerprinzip of absolutism was itself a part of the common plan, as Goring has pointed out. The defendants may have become the slaves of a dictator, but he was their dictator. To make him such was, as Goring has testified, the object of the Nazi movement from the beginning. Every Nazi took this oath:
"I pledge eternal allegiance to Adolf Hitler. I pledge unconditional obedience to him and the Fuhrers appointed by him" 1893-PS).
Moreover, they forced everybody else in their power to take it This
illegal under German law, which made it criminal to become a member of
in which obedience to "unknown superiors or unconditional obedience to
known superiors is pledged." These men destroyed free government in
What these men have overlooked is that Adolf Hitler's acts are their acts. It was these men among millions of others, and it was these men leading millions of others, who built up Adolf Hitler and vested in his psychopathic personality not only innumerable lesser decisions but the supreme issue of war or peace. They intoxicated him with power and adulation. They fed his hates and aroused his fears. They put a loaded gun in his eager hands. It was left to Hitler to pull the trigger, and when he did they all at that time approved. His guilt stands admitted, by some defendants reluctantly, by some vindictively. But his guilt is the- guilt of the whole dock, and of every man in it.
But it is urged that these defendants could not be in agreement on a
plan or in a conspiracy because they were fighting among themselves or
to different factions or cliques. Of course, it is not necessary that
should agree on everything in order to agree on enough things to make
liable for a criminal conspiracy. Unquestionably there were
the conspiracy, and intrigues and rivalries and battles for power
Goring disagreed, but over which of them should control the economy,
whether the economy should be regimented for war. Goring claims to have
departed from the plan because through Dahlerus he conducted some
with men of influence in
Some of the defendants also contend that in any. event there was no
conspiracy to commit war crimes or crimes against humanity because
members never met with the military to plan these acts. But these
only the inevitable and incidental results of the plan to commit the
for Lebensraum purposes. Hitler stated, at a conference with his
that: "The main objective in
Reichskommissar Koch in the
This was Lebensraum on its seamy side. Could men of their practical
intelligence expect to get neighboring lands free from the claims of
tenants without committing crimes against humanity? The last stand of
defendant is that even if there was a conspiracy, he was not in it. It
therefore important in examining their attempts at avoidance of
to know, first of all, just what it is that a conspiracy charge
punishes In conspiracy we do not punish one man for another man's
seek to punish each for his own crime of joining a common criminal plan
which others also participated. The measure of the criminality of the
therefore of the guilt of each participant is, of course, the sum total
crimes committed by all in executing the plan. But the gist of the
participation in the formulation or execution of the plan. These are
which every society has found necessary in order to reach men, like
defendants, who never get blood on their own hands but who lay plans
result in the shedding of blood. All over
Each of these men made a real contribution to the Nazi plan. Each man had a key part. Deprive the Nazi regime of the functions performed by a Schacht, a Sauckel, a Von Papen, or a Goring and you have a different regime. Look down the rows of fallen men and picture them as the photographic and documentary evidence shows them to have been in their days of power. Is there one who did not substantially advance the conspiracy along its bloody path toward its bloody goal? Can we assume that the great effort of these men's lives was directed toward ends they never suspected?
To escape the implications of their positions and the inference of guilt from their activities, the defendants are almost unanimous in one defense. The refrain is heard time and again: These men were without authority, without knowledge, without influence without importance. Funk summed up the general self-abasement of the dock in his plaintive lament that: "I always, so to speak, came up to the door, but I was not permitted to enter."
In the testimony of each defendant, at some point there was reached the familiar blank wall: Nobody knew anything about what was going on. Time after time we have heard the chorus from the dock: "I only heard about these things here for the first time."
These men saw no evil, spoke none, and none was uttered in their presence. This claim might sound very plausible if made by one defendant. But when we put all their stories together, the impression which emerges of the Third Reich, which was to last a thousand years, is ludicrous. If we combine only the stories of the front bench, this is the ridiculous composite picture of Hitler's Government that emerges. It was composed of:
A Number 2 man who knew nothing of the excesses of the Gestapo which he created, and never suspected the Jewish extermination program although he was the signer of over a score of decrees which instituted the persecutions of that race;
A Number 3 man who was merely an innocent middleman transmitting Hitler's orders without even reading them, like a postman or delivery boy;
A foreign minister who knew little of foreign affairs and nothing of foreign policy;
A field marshal who issued orders to the Armed Forces but had no idea of the results they would have in practice;
A security chief who was of the impression that the policing functions of his Gestapo and SD were somewhat on the order of directing traffic;
A Party philosopher who was interested in historical research and had no idea of the violence which his philosophy was inciting in the twentieth century;
A governor general of
A Gauleiter of Franconia whose occupation was to pour forth filthy writings about the Jews, but who had no idea that anybody would read them;
A minister of interior who knew not even what went on in the interior of his own office, much less the interior of his own department, and nothing at all about the interior of Germany;
A Reichsbank president who was totally ignorant of what went in and out of the vaults of his bank;
And a plenipotentiary for the war economy who secretly marshaled the entire economy for armament, but had no idea it had anything to do with war.
This may seem like a fantastic exaggeration, but this is what you would actually be obliged to conclude if you were to acquit these defendants.
They do protest too much. They deny knowing what was common knowledge. They deny knowing plans and programs that were as public as Mein Kampf and the Party program. They deny even knowing the contents of documents they received and acted upon.
Nearly all the defendants take two or more conflicting positions. Let us illustrate the inconsistencies of their positions by the record of one defendant who, if pressed, would himself concede that he is the most intelligent, honorable, and innocent man in the dock. That is Schacht. And this is the effect of his own testimony but let us not forget that I recite it not against him alone, but because most of its self-contradictions are found in the testimony of several defendants:
Schacht did not openly join the Nazi movement until it had won, nor
desert it until it had lost. He admits that he never gave it public
but asserts that he never gave it private loyalty. When we demand of
him why he
did not stop the criminal course of the regime in which he was a
says he had not a bit of influence. When we ask why he remained a
member of the
criminal regime, he tells us that by sticking on he expected to
program. Like a Brahmin among untouchables, he could not bear to mingle
the Nazi socially, but never could he afford to separate from them
Of all the Nazi aggressions by which he now claims to have been shocked
not one that he did not support before the world with the weight of his
and prestige. Having armed Hitler to blackmail a continent, his answer
Schacht always fought for his position in a regime he now affects to despise. He sometimes disagreed with his Nazi confederates about what was expedient in reaching their goal, but he never dissented from the goal itself. When he did break with, them in the twilight of the regime, it was over tactics, not principles. From then on he never ceased to urge others to risk their positions and their necks to forward his plots, but never on any occasion did he hazard either of his own. He now boasts that he personally would have shot Hitler if he had had the opportunity, but the German newsreel shows that even after the fall of France, when he faced the living Hitler, he stepped out of line to grasp the hand he now claims to loathe and hung upon the words of the man he now says he thought unworthy of belief. Schacht says he steadily "sabotaged" the Hitler Government. Yet the most relentless secret service in the world never detected him doing the regime any harm until long after he knew the war to be lost and the Nazis doomed. Schacht, who dealt in hedges all his life, always kept himself in a position to claim that he was in either camp. The plea for him is as specious on analysis as it is persuasive on first sight. Schacht represents the most dangerous and reprehensible type of opportunism that of the man of influential position who is ready to join a movement that he knows to be wrong because he thinks it is winning.
These defendants, unable to deny that they were the men in the very top ranks of power, and unable to deny that the crimes I have outlined actually happened, know that their own denials are incredible unless they can suggest someone who is guilty.
The defendants have been unanimous, when pressed, in shifting the blame on other men, sometimes on one and sometimes on another. But the names they have repeatedly picked are Hitler, Himmler, Heydrich, Goebbels, and Bormann. All of these are dead or missing. No matter how hard we have pressed the defendants on. the stand, they have never pointed the finger at a living man as guilty. It is a temptation to ponder the wondrous workings of a fate which has left only the guilty dead and only the innocent alive. It is almost too remarkable.
The chief villain on whom blame is placed some of the defendants vie with each other in producing appropriate epithets is Hitler. He is the man at whom nearly every defendant has pointed an accusing finger.
I shall not dissent from this consensus, nor do I deny that all these dead and missing men shared the guilt. In crimes so reprehensible that degrees of guilt have lost their significance they may have played the most evil parts. But their guilt cannot exculpate the defendants. Hitler did not carry all responsibility to the grave with him. All the guilt is not wrapped in Himmler's shroud. It was these dead men whom these living chose to be their partners in this great conspiratorial brotherhood, and the crimes that they did together they must pay for one by one.
It may well be said that Hitler's final crime was against the land
ruled. He was a mad messiah who started the war without cause and
without reason. If he could not rule he cared not what happened to
" . . . The sacrifices which were made on both sides after January 1945 were without sense. The dead of this period will be the accusers of the man responsible for the continuation of that fight, Adolf Hitler, just as much as the destroyed cities, destroyed in that last phase, who had lost tremendous cultural values and tremendous numbers of dwellings.... The German people” he said” remained faithful to Adolf Hitler until the end. He has betrayed them knowingly. He has tried to throw them into the abyss. . ."
Hitler ordered everyone else to fight to the last and then retreated
death by his own hand. But he left life as he lived it, a deceiver; he
official report that he had died in battle. This was the man whom these
defendants exalted to a Fuhrer. It was they who conspired to get him
authority over all of
". . . the tremendous danger, however, contained in this totalitarian system only became abundantly clear at the moment when we were approaching the end. It was then that one could see what the meaning of the principle was, namely, that every order should be carried out without any criticism. Everything . . . you have seen in the way of orders which were carried out without any consideration, did after all turn out to be mistakes . . . This system let me put it like this to the end of the system it had become clear what tremendous dangers are contained in any such system, as such quite apart from Hitler's principle. The combination of Hitler and this system, then, brought about this tremendous catastrophe to this world."
But let me for a moment turn devil's advocate. I admit that Hitler
chief villain. But for the defendants to put all blame on him is
nor true. We know that even the head of the state has the same limits
senses and to the hours of his days as do lesser men. He must rely on
be his eyes and ears as to most that goes on in a great empire. Other
run his errands; other hands must execute his plans. On whom did Hitler
for such things more than upon these men in the dock? Who led him to
had an invincible air armada if not Goring? Who kept disagreeable facts
him? Did not Goring forbid Field Marshal Milch to warn Hitler that in
If these dead men could take the witness stand and answer what has
against them, we might have a less distorted picture of the parts
these defendants. Imagine the stir that would occur in the dock if it
behold Adolf Hitler advancing to the witness box, or Himmler with an
dossiers, or Goebbels, or Bormann with the reports of his Party spies,
murdered Rohm or Canaris. The ghoulish defense that the world is
retribution only from the cadavers is an argument worthy of the crimes
it is directed. We have presented to this Tribunal an affirmative case
incriminating documents which are sufficient, if unexplained, to
finding of guilt on Count One against each defendant. In the final
the only question is whether the defendant's own testimony is to be
against the documents and other evidence of their guilt. What, then, is
testimony worth? The fact is that the Nazi habit of economizing in the
truth pulls the foundations out from under their own defenses. Lying
always been a highly approved Nazi technique. Hitler, in Mein Kampf,
mendacity as a policy. Von Ribbentrop admits the use of the "diplomatic
lie." Keitel advised that the facts of rearmament be kept secret so
they could be denied at
"I think you can score many more successes when you want to lead someone if you don't tell them the truth than if you tell them the truth."
This was the philosophy of the National Socialists. When for years they have deceived the world, and masked falsehood with plausibilities, can anyone be surprised that they continue their habits of a lifetime in this dock? Credibility is one of the main issues of this Trial. Only those who have failed to learn the bitter lessons of the last decade can doubt that men who have always played on the unsuspecting credulity of generous opponents would not hesitate to do the same, now.
It is against such a background that these defendants now ask this
to say that they are not guilty of planning, executing, or conspiring
this long list of crimes and wrongs. They stand before the record of
THE PRESIDENT: I call upon the chief prosecutor for the United Kingdom of Great Britain.
MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: Would it be agreeable, Your Honors, if Sir Hartley Shawcross should start his address after the recess?THE PRESIDENT: Yes. Then we will sit again at a quarter to 2.