International Military Tribunal
Incorrect Judgment With Regard to the Reich Cabinet
The Prosecution has posed before the Tribunal the question of declaring the Reich Cabinet a criminal organisation. The verdict rejects the claim of the Prosecution, unfoundedly refusing to declare the Hitler Government a criminal organisation.
With such a decision I cannot agree.
The Tribunal considers it proven that the Hitlerites have committed innumerable and monstrous crimes.
The Tribunal also considers it proven that these crimes, were as a rule committed intentionally and on an organised scale, according to previously, prepared plans and directives. (" Plan Barbarossa ", " Night and Fog ", " Bullet ", etc.)
The Tribunal has declared several of the Nazi mass organisations criminal, the organisations founded for the realisation and putting to practice the plans of the Hitler Government.
In view of this it appears particularly untenable and rationally incorrect to refuse to declare the Reich Cabinet, the directing organ of the State with a direct and active role in the working out of the criminal enterprises, a criminal organisation. The members of this directing staff had great power, each headed an appropriate government agency, each participated in preparing and realising the Nazi programme.
In confirmation it is deemed proper to cite several facts:
1. Immediately after the Nazi ascent to power on the 24th of March, 1933 there was a law passed entitled " The Law of Defense of the People and the State " whereby the Reich Cabinet, besides the Reichstag, received the right of issuing new legislature.
On the 26th May, 1933, the Reich Government issued a decree ordering the confiscation of the property of all Communist organisations and on the 14th of June, the same year, it also confiscated the, property of the Social Democrat organisations. On the 1st December, 1933, the Reich Government issued the law " Ensuring Party and State Unity ".
Following through its programme of liquidating democratic institutions, in 1934, the Government passed a law of the " Reconstruction of the Reich " whereby democratic elections were abolished for both central and local representative bodies. The Reichstag thereby became an institution without functional meaning. (Transcript, Afternoon Session, 22nd November. 1945. pp. 2325.)
By the law of 7th April, 1933, and others, all Reich government employees, including judges, ever noted for any anti-Nazi tendencies or ever having belonged to leftish organisations, as well as all Jews, were to be removed from the government service and substituted by Nazis. In accordance with the "Basic Positions of the German Law on Government Employees" of the 26th January, 1937, "the inner harmony of the official and the Nazi party is a necessary presupposition of his appointment to his post . . . government employees must be the executors of the will of the National Socialist State, directed by the NSDAP". (Defense Exhibit No. 28, p. 59.)
On the 1st May, 1934, there was created the Ministry of Education instructed to train students in the spirit of militarism, of racial hatred, and in terms of reality thoroughly falsified by Nazi ideology. (PS-2078.)
Free trade unions were abolished. their property confiscated, and the majority of the leaders jailed.
To suppress even a semblance of resistance the Government created the Gestapo and the concentration camps. Without any trial or even a concrete charge hundreds of thousands of persons were arrested and then done away with merely on a suspicion of an anti-Nazi tendency.
There were issued the so-called Nuremberg Laws against the Jews. Hess and Frick, both members of the Reich Government, implemented these by additional decrees.
It was the activity of the Reich Cabinet that brought on the war which took millions of human lives and caused inestimable damage in property and in suffering borne by the many nations.
On the 4th February, 1938, Hitler organised the Secret Council of Ministers defining its activity as follows: " To aid me by advice on problems of foreign policies I am creating this Secret Council ". (" Reichsgesetzblatt" for 1938 Part I, p. 112, P2031.) The foreign policy of the Hitler Government was the policy of aggression. For this reason the members of the Secret Council should be held responsible for this policy. There were attempts in court to represent the Secret Council as a fictitious organisation, never actually functioning. This however, is an inadmissible position. It is sufficient to recall Rosenberg's letter to Hitler where the former insistently tried to be appointed member of the Secret Council of Ministers-to appreciate fully the significance of the Council.
Even more important practically in conducting aggressive warfare was the Reich Defense Council headed by Goering. The following were members of the Defense Council, as is well known: Hess, Frick, Funk, Keitel, Raeder, Lammers. S-2194 and 2018.) Goering characterised the function of the Defense Council and its role in war preparations as follows, during the Court Session of 23rd June, 1939: " The Defense Council of the Reich was the deciding Reich organ on all questions concerning preparation for war" (PS-3787, US-782.)
At the same time Goering emphasised the fact that " the meetings of the Defense Council always took place for the purpose of making the most important decisions". From the minutes of these meetings, submitted as evidence by the Prosecution, it is quite clear that the Council made very important decisions indeed. The minutes also show that other Cabinet ministers sometimes took part in the meetings of the Council for the Defense alongside the members of the Council when war enterprises and war preparedness were discussed.
For example, the following Cabinet ministers took part in the meeting of 23rd June, 1939: of Labour, of Food and Agriculture, of Finance, of Communications and a number of others, while the minutes of the meeting were sent to all the members of the Cabinet. (US-782.)
The verdict of the Tribunal justly points out certain peculiarities of the Hitler Government as the directing organ of the State, namely: the absence of regular "Cabinet meetings, the occasional issuance of laws by the individual ministers having unusual independence of action, the tremendous personal power of Hitler himself. These peculiarities do not refute but on the contrary further confirm the conclusion that the Hitler Government is not an ordinary rank-of-the-file Cabinet but a criminal organisation.
Certainly Hitler had an unusual measure of personal power but this in no way frees of responsibility the members of his Cabinet who were his convinced followers and the actual executors of his programme until and when the day of reckoning arrived.
I consider that there is every reason to declare the Hitler Government a criminal organisation.
International Criminal Court
Published online by Equipo Nizkor and Derechos Human Rights - 27 May 2002