Trial of German Major War Criminals
Opinion and Judgment of the Nürnberg
International Military Tribunal


War Crimes and Crimes Against Humanity


The evidence relating to war crimes has been overwhelming, in its volume and its detail. It is impossible for this Judgment adequately to review it, or to record the mass of documentary and oral evidence that has been presented. The truth remains that war crimes were committed on a vast scale, never before seen in the history of war. They were perpetrated in all the countries occupied by Germany, and on the High Seas, and were attended by every conceivable circumstance of cruelty and horror. There can be no doubt that the majority of them arose from the Nazi conception of " total war ", with which the aggressive wars were waged. For in this conception of "total war", the moral ideas underlying the conventions which seek to make war more humane are no longer regarded as having force or validity. Everything is made subordinate to the overmastering dictates of war. Rules, regulations, assurances and treaties all alike are of no moment, and so, freed from the restraining influence of international law, the aggressive war is conducted by the Nazi leaders in the most barbaric way. Accordingly, war crimes were committed when and wherever the Fuehrer and his close associates thought them to be advantageous. They were for the most part the result of cold and criminal calculation.

On some occasions, war crimes were deliberately planned long in advance. In the case of the Soviet Union, the plunder of the territories to be occupied, and the ill-treatment of the civilian population, were settled in minute detail before the attack was begun. As early as the Autumn of 1940, the invasion of the territories of the Soviet Union was being considered. From that dateonwards, the methods to be employed in destroying all possible opposition were continuously under discussion.

Similarly, when planning to exploit the inhabitants of the occupied countries for slave labour on the very greatest scale, the German Government conceived it as an integral part of the war economy, and planned and organised this particular war crime down to the last elaborate detail.

Other war crimes, such as the murder of prisoners of war who had escaped and been recaptured, or the murder of Commandos or captured airmen, or the destruction of the Soviet Commissars, were the result of direct orders circulated through the highest official channels.

The Tribunal proposes, therefore, to deal quite generally with the question of war crimes, and to refer to them later when examining the responsibility of the individual defendants in relation to them. Prisoners of war were ill-treated and tortured and murdered, not only in defiance of the well-established rules of international law, but in complete disregard of the elementary dictates of humanity. Civilian populations in occupied territories suffered the same fate. Whole populations were deported to Germany for the purposes of slave labour upon defence works, armament production and similar tasks connected with the war effort. Hostages were taken in very large numbers from the civilian populations in all the occupied countries, and were shot as suited the German purposes. Public and private property was systematically plundered and pillaged in order to enlarge the resources of Germany at the expense of the rest of Europe. Cities and towns and villages were wantonly destroyed without military justification or necessity.

(A) Murder and Ill-treatment of Prisoners of War

Article 6 (b) of the Charter defines war crimes in these words:

" War crimes: namely, violations of the laws or customs of war, Suchiolations shall include, but not be limited to, murder, ill-treatment or deportation to slave labour or for any other purpose of civilian population of or in occupied territory, murder or ill-treatment of prisoners of war or persons on the seas, killing of hostages, plunder of public or private property, wanton destruction of cities, towns, or villages, or devastation not justified by military necessity."

In the course of the war, many Allied soldiers who had surrendered to the Germans were shot immediately, often as a matter of deliberate, calculated policy. On the 18th October, 1942, the defendant Keitel circulated a directive authorised by Hitler, which ordered that all members of Allied " Commando " units, often when in uniform and whether armed or not, were to be " slaughtered to the last man ", even if they attempted to surrender. It was further provided that if such Allied troops came into the hands of the military authorities after being first captured by the local police, or in any other way, they should be handed over immediately to the SD. This order was supplemented from time to time and was effective throughout the remainder of the war, although after the Allied landings in Normandy in 1944 it was made clear that the order did not apply to " Commandos " captured within the immediate battle area. Under the provisions of thisorder, Allied " Commando " troops and other military units operating independently, lost their lives in Norway, France, Czechoslovakia and Italy. Many of them were killed on the spot, and in no case were those who were executed later in concentration camps ever given a trial of any kind. For example, an American military mission which landed behind the German front in the Balkans in January, 1945, numbering about twelve to fifteen men and wearing uniform, were taken to Mauthausen under the authority of this order and according to the affidavit of Adolf Zutte, the adjutant of the Mauthausen Concentration Camp, all of them were shot.

In March, 1944, the OKH issued the " Kugel " or " Bullet " decree, which directed that every escaped officer and NCO prisoner of war who had not been put to work, with the exception of British and American prisoners of war should on recapture be handed over to the SIPO and SD. This order was distributed by the SIPO and SD to their regional offices. These escaped officers and NCOs were to be sent to the concentration camp at Mauthausen, to. be executed upon arrival, by means of a bullet shot in the neck.

In March, 1944, fifty officers of the British Royal Air Force, who escaped from the camp at Sagan where they were confined as prisoners were shot on recapture, on the direct orders of Hitler. Their bodies were immediately cremated, and the urns containing their ashes were returned to the camp. It was not contended by the defendants that this was other than plain murder, in complete violation of international law.

When Allied airmen were forced to land in Germany, they were sometimes killed at once by the civilian population. The police were instructed not to interfere with these killings, and the Ministry of Justice was informed that no one should be prosecuted for taking part in them.

The treatment of Soviet prisoners of war was characterised by particular inhumanity. The death of so many of them was not due merely to the action of individual guards, or to the exigencies of life in the camps. It was the result of systematic plans to murder. More than a month before the German invasion of the Soviet Union, the OKW were making special plans for dealing with political representatives serving with the Soviet armed forces who might be captured. One proposal was that " political Commissars of the Army are not recognised as Prisoners of War, and are to be liquidated at the latest in the transient prisoner of war camps." The defendant Keitel gave evidence that instructions incorporating this proposal were issued to the German army.

On the 8th September, 1941, regulations for the treatment of Soviet prisoners of war in all prisoner of war camps were issued, signed by General Reinecke, the head of the prisoner of war department of the High Command. These orders stated:

" The Bolshevist soldier has therefore lost all claim to treatment as an honourable opponent, in accordance with the Geneva Convention.... The order for ruthless and energetic action must be given at the slightest indication of insubordination, especially in the case of Bolshevist fanatics.

Insubordination, active or passive resistance, must be broken immediately by force of arms (bayonets, butts and firearms) . . . Anyone carrying out the order who does not use his weapons, or does so with insufficient energy, is punishable . . . Prisoners of war attempting escape are to be fired on without previous challenge. No warning shot must ever be fired.... The use of arms against prisoners of war is as a rule legal."

The Soviet prisoners of war were left without suitable clothing. The wounded without medical care; they were starved, and in many cases left to die.

On the 17th July, 1941, the Gestapo issued an order providing for the killing of all Soviet prisoners of war who were or might be dangerous to National Socialism. The order recited:

" The mission of the Commanders of the SIPO and SD stationed in Stalags is the political investigation of all camp inmates, the elimination and further ' treatment ' (a) of all political, criminal or in some other way unbearable elements among them, (b) of those persons who could be used for the reconstruction of the occupied territories. . . Further, the commanders must make reports from the beginning to seek out among the prisoners elements which appear reliable, regardless if there are Communists concerned or not, in order to use them for Intelligence purposes inside of the camp, and if advisable, later in the occupied territories also. By use of which informers, and by use of all other existing possibilities, the discovery of all elements to be eliminated among the prisoners must proceed step by step at once . . .

"Above all, the following must be discovered: all important functionaries of State and Party, especially professional revolutionaries . . . all People's Commissars in the Red Army, leading personalities of the State . . . leading personalities of the business world, members of the Soviet Russian Intelligence , all Jews, all persons who are found to be agitators or fanatical Communists. Executions are not to be held in the camp or in the immediate vicinity of the camp . . . The prisoners are to be taken for special treatment if possible into the former Soviet Russian territory."

The affidavit of Warlimont, deputy Chief of Staff of the Wehrmacht, and the testimony of Ohlendorf, former Chief of Amt III of the RSHA, and of Lahousen, the head of one of the sections of the Abwehr, the Wehrmadbt's Intelligence Service, all indicate the thoroughness with which this order was carried out.

The affidavit of Kurt Lindown, a former Gestapo official, states:

" . . . There existed in the prisoner of war camps on the Eastern Front small screening teams' ('Einsatz commandos) headed by lower ranking members of the Secret Police (Gestapo). These teams were assigned to the camp commanders and had the job to segregate the prisoners of war who were candidates for execution according to the orders that had been given, and to report them to the office of the Secret Police."

On the 23rd October, 1941, the camp commander of the Gross Rosen concentration camp reported to Meer, chief of the Gestapo, a list of the Soviet prisoners of war who had been executed there on the previous day.

An account of the general conditions and treatment of Soviet prisoners of war during the first eight months after the German attack upon Russia was given in a letter which the defendant Rosenberg sent to the defendant Keitel on the 28th February, 1942:

" The fate of the Soviet prisoners of war in Germany is on the contrary a tragedy of the greatest extent . . . A large part of them has starved, or died because of the hazards of the weather. Thousands also died from spotted fever.

" The camp commanders have forbidden the civilian population to put food at the disposal of the prisoners, and they have rather let them starve to death.

" In many cases, when prisoners of war could no longer keep up on the march because of hunger and exhaustion, they were shot before the eyes of the horrified population, and the corpses were left.

" In numerous camps, no shelter for the prisoners of war was provided at all. They lay under the open sky during rain or snow. Even tools were not made available to dig holes or caves."

In some cases Soviet prisoners of war were branded with a special permanent mark. There was put in evidence the OKW order dated the 20th July, 1942, which laid down that:

" The brand is to take the shape of an acute angle of about 45 degrees, with the long side to be 1 cm. in length, pointing upwards and burnt on the left buttock . . . This brand is made with the aid of a lances available in any military unit. The colouring used is Chinese ink."

The carrying out of this order was the responsibility of the military authorities, though it was widely circulated by the Chief of the SIPO and the SD to German Police officials for information.

Soviet prisoners of war were also made the subject of medical experiments of the most cruel and inhuman kind. In July, 1943, experimental work was begun in preparation for a campaign of bacteriological warfare; Soviet prisoners of war were used in these medical experiments, which more often than not proved fatal. In connection with this campaign for bacteriological warfare, preparations were also made for the spreading of bacterial emulsions from planes, with the object of producing widespread failures of crops and consequent starvation. These measures were never applied, possibly because of the rapid deterioration of Germany's military position.

The argument in defence of the charge with regard to the murder and ill-treatment of Soviet prisoners of war, that the U.S.S.R. was not a party to the Geneva Convention, is quite without foundation. On the 15th September 1941 Admiral Canaris protested against the regulations for the treatment of Soviet prisoners of war signed by General Reinecke on the 8th September 1941. He then stated:

" The Geneva Convention for the treatment of prisoners of war is not binding in the relationship between Germany and the U.S.S.R. Therefore only the principles of general international law on the treatment of prisoners of war apply. Since the 18th century these have gradually been established along the lines that war captivity is neither revenge nor punishment, but solely protective custody, the only purpose of which is to prevent the prisoners of war from further participation in the war. This principle was developed in accordance with the view held by all armies that it is contrary to military tradition to kill or injure helpless people . . . The decrees for the treatment of Soviet prisoners of war enclosed are based on a fundamentally different viewpoint."

This protest, which correctly stated the legal position, was ignored. The defendant Keitel made a note on this memorandum:

" The objections arise from the military concept of chivalrous warfare. This is the destruction of an ideology. Therefore I approve and back the measures."

(B) Murder and Ill-treatment of Civilian Population

Article 6(b) of the Charter provides that " ill-treatment . . . of civilian population of or in occupied territory . . . killing of hostages . . . wanton destruction of cities, towns or villages " shall be a war crime. In the main these provisions are merely declaratory of the existing laws of war as expressed by the Hague Convention, Article 46, which stated:

"Family honour and rights, the lives of persons and private property, as well as religious convictions and practices must be respected."

The territories occupied by Germany were administered in violation of the laws of war. The evidence is quite overwhelming of a systematic rule of violence, brutality and terror. On the 7th December, 1941, Hitler issued the directive since known as the "Nacht und Nebel Erlass" (Night and Fog Decree), under which persons who committed offences against the Reich or the German forces in occupied territories, except where the death sentence was certain, were to be taken secretly to Germany and handed over to the SIPO and SD for trial or punishment in Germany. This decree was signed by the defendant Keitel. After these civilians arrived in Germany, no word of them was permitted to reach the country from which they came, or their relatives; even in cases when they died awaiting trial the families were not informed, the purpose being to create anxiety in the minds of the family of the arrested person. Hitler's purpose in issuing this decree was stated by the defendant Keitel in a covering letter, dated 12th December, 1941, to be as follows:

" Efficient and enduring intimidation can only be achieved either by capital punishment or by measures by which the relatives of the criminal and the population do not know the fate of the criminal. This aim is achieved when the criminal is transferred to Germany."

Even persons who were only suspected of opposing any of the policies of the German occupation authorities were arrested, and on arrest were interrogated by the Gestapo and the SD in the most shameful manner. On the 12th June 1942 the Chief of the SIPO and SD published, through Mueller, the Gestapo Chief, an order authorising the use of " third degree " methods of interrogation, where preliminary investigation had indicated that the person could give informationon important matters, such as subversive activities, though not for the purpose of extorting confessions of the prisoner's own crimes. This order provided:

" . . . Third degree may, under this supposition, only be employed against Communists, Marxists, Jehovah's Witnesses, saboteurs, terrorists, members of resistance movements, parachute agents, anti-social elements, Polish or Soviet Russian loafers or tramps; in all other cases my permission must first be obtained . . . Third degree can, according to circumstances, consist amongst other methods of very simple diet (bread and water), hard bunk, dark cell, deprivation of sleep, exhaustive drilling, also in flogging (for more than twenty strokes a doctor must be consulted)."

The brutal suppression of all opposition to the German occupation was not confined to severe measures against suspected members of resistance movements themselves, but was also extended to their families. On the 19th July, 1944, the Commander of the SIPO and SD in the district of Radom, in Poland, published an order, transmitted through the Higher SS and Police leaders, to the effect that in all cases of assassination or attempted assassination of Germans, or where saboteurs had destroyed vital installations not only the guilty person, but also all his or her male relatives should be shot, and female relatives over sixteen years of age put into a concentration camp.

In the summer of 1944, the Einsatz Commando of the SIPO and SD at Lusemburg caused persons to be confined at Sachsenhausen concentration camp because they were relatives of deserters, and were therefore " expected to endanger the interest of the German Reich if allowed to go free."

The practice of keeping hostages to prevent and to punish any form of civil disorder was resorted to by the Germans; an order issued by the defendant Keitel on the 16th September, 1941, spoke in terms of fifty or a hundred lives from the occupied areas of the Soviet Union for one German life taken. The order stated that " it should be remembered that a human life in unsettled countries frequently counts for nothing, and a deterrent effect can be obtained only by unusual severity." The exact number of persons killed as a result of this policy is not known, but large numbers were killed in France and the other occupied territories in the West, while in the East the slaughter was on an even more extensive scale. In addition to the killing of hostages, entire towns were destroyed in some cases, such massacres as those of Oradour-sur-Glane in France and Lidice in Czechoslovakia, both of which were described to the Tribunal in detail, are examples of the organised use of terror by the occupying forces to beat down and destroy all opposition to their rule.

One of the most notorious means of terrorising the people in occupied territories was the use of concentration camps. They were first established in Germany at the moment of the seizure of power by the Nazi Government. Their original purpose was to imprison without trial all those persons who were opposed to the Government, or who were in any way obnoxious to German authority. With the aid of a secret police force, this practice was widely extended and in course of time concentration camps became places of organised and systematic murder, where millions of people were destroyed.

In the administration of the occupied territories the concentration camps were used to destroy all opposition groups. The persons arrested by the Gestapo were as a rule sent to concentration camps. They were conveyed to the camps in many cases without any care whatever being taken for them, and great numbers died on the way. Those who arrived at the camp were subject to systematic cruelty. They were given hard physical labour, inadequate food, clothes and shelter, and were subject at all times to the rigours of a soulless regime, and the private whims of individual guards. In the report of the War Crimes Branch of the Judge Advocate's Section of the 3rd U.S. Army, under date 21st June, 1945, the conditions at the Flossenburg concentration camp were investigated, and one passage may be quoted:

" Flossenburg concentration camp can be described as a factory dealing in death. Although this camp had in view the primary object of putting to work the mass slave labour, another of its primary objects was the elimination of human lives by the methods employed in handling the prisoners. Hunger and starvation rations sadism, inadequate clothing, medical neglect, disease, beatings, hangings, freezing, forced suicides, shooting, etc., all played a major role in obtaining their object. Prisoners were murdered at random, spite killings against Jews were common, injections of poison and shooting in the neck were everyday occurrences; epidemics of typhus and spotted fever were permitted to run rampant as a means of eliminating prisoners, life in this camp meant nothing. Killing became a common thing, so common that a quick death was welcomed by the unfortunate ones."

A certain number of the concentration camps were equipped with gas chambers for the wholesale destruction of the inmates, and with furnaces for the burning of the bodies. Some of them were in fact used for the extermination of Jews as part of the " final solution " of the Jewish problem. Most of the non-Jewish inmates were used for labour, although the conditions under which they worked made labour and death almost synonymous terms. Those inmates who became ill and were unable to work were either destroyed in the gas chambers or sent to special infirmaries, where they were given entirely inadequate medical treatment, worse food if possible than the working inmates, and left to die.

The murder and ill-treatment of civilian populations reached its height in the treatment of the citizens of the Soviet Union and Poland. Some four weeks before the invasion of Russia began, special task forces of the SIPO and SD, called Einsatz Groups, were formed on the orders of Himmler for the purpose of following the German armies into Russia, combating partisans and members of Resistance Groups, and exterminating the Jews and communist leaders and other sections of the population. In the beginning, four such Einsatz Groups were formed, one operating in the Baltic States, one towards Moscow, one towards Kiev, and one operating in the south of Russia. Ohlendorf, former chief of Amt III of the RSHA, who led the fourth group, stated in his affidavit:

" When the German army invaded Russia, I was leader of Einsatzgruppe D, in the southern sector, and in the course of the year during which I was leader of the Einsatzgruppe D it liquidated approximately 90,000 men, women and children. The majority of those liquidated were Jews, but there were also among them some communist functionaries."

In an order issued by the defendant Keitel on the 23rd July, 1941, and drafted by the defendant Jodl, it was stated that:

" in view of the vast size of the occupied areas in the East the forces available for establishing security in these areas will be sufficient only if all resistance is punished, not by legal prosecution of the guilty, but by the spreading of such terror by the armed forces as is alone appropriate to eradicate every inclination to resist among the population . . . Commanders must find the means of keeping order by applying suitable draconian measures."

The evidence has shown that this order was ruthlessly carried out in the territory of the Soviet Union and in Poland. A significant illustration of the measures actually applied occurs in the document which was sent in 1943 to the defendant Rosenberg by the Reich Commissar for Eastern Territories, who wrote:

" It should be possible to avoid atrocities and to bury those who have been liquidated. To lock men, women and children into barns and set fire to them does not appear to be a suitable method of combating bands, even if it is desired to exterminate the population. This method is not worthy of the German cause, and hurts our reputation severely."

The Tribunal has before it an affidavit of one Hermann Graebe, dated 10th November, 1945, describing the immense mass murders which he witnessed. He was the manager and engineer in charge of the branch of the Solingen firm of Josef Jung in Spolbunow, Ukraine, from September, 1941, to January, 1944. He first of all described the attack upon the Jewish ghetto at Rowno:

". . . Then the electric floodlights which had been erected all round the ghetto were switched on. SS and militia details of four to six members entered or at least tried to enter the houses. Where the doors and windows were closed, and the inhabitants did not open upon the knocking, the SS men and militia broke the windows, forced the doors with beams and crowbars, and entered the dwelling. The owners were driven on to the street just as they were, regardless of whether they were dressed or whether they had been in bed.... Car after car was filled. Over it hung the screaming of women and children, the cracking of whips and rifle shots."

Graebe then described how a mass execution at Dubno, which he witnessed on the 5th October, 1942, was carried out:

". . . Now we heard shots in quick succession from behind one of the earth mounds. The people who had got off the trucks, men, women and children of all ages, had to undress upon the orders of an SS man, who carried a riding or dog whip.... Without screaming or crying, these people undressed, stood around by families, kissed each other, said farewells, and waited for the command of another SS man, who stood near the excavation, also with a whip in his hand.... At that moment the SS man at the excavation called something to his comrade. The latter counted off about 20 persons, and instructed them to walk behind the earth mound.... I walked around the mound and stood in front of a tremendous grave; closely pressed together, the people were lying on top of each other so that only their heads were visible. The excavation was already two-thirds full; I estimated that it contained about a thousand people.... Now already the next group approached, descended into the excavation, lined themselves up against the previous victims and were shot."

The foregoing crimes against the civilian population are sufficiently appalling, and yet the evidence shows that at any rate in the East, the mass murders and cruelties were not committed solely for the purpose of stamping out opposition or resistance to the German occupying forces. In Poland and the Soviet Union these crimes were part of a plan to get rid of whole native populations by expulsion and annihilation, in order that their territory could be used for colonisation by Germans. Hitler had written in " Mein Kampf " on these lines, and the plan was clearly stated by Himmler in July, 1942, when he wrote:

" It is not our task to Germanise the East in the old sense, that is to teach the people there the German language and the German law, but to see to it that only people of purely Germanic blood live in the East."

In August, 1942, the policy for the Eastern Territories as laid down by Bormann was summarised by a subordinate of Rosenberg as follows:

" The Slavs are to work for us. In so far as we do not need them, they may die. Therefore, compulsory vaccination and Germanic health services are superfluous. The fertility of the Slavs is undesirable."

It was Himmler again who stated in October, 1943:

" What happens to a Russian, a Czech, does not interest me in the slightest. What the nations can offer in the way of good blood of our type, we will take. If necessary, by kidnapping their children and raising them here with us. Whether nations live in prosperity or starve to death interests me only in so far as we need them as slaves for our Kultur, otherwise it is of no interest to me."

In Poland the intelligentsia had been marked down for extermination as early as September, 1939, and in May, 1940, the defendant Frank wrote in his diary of " taking advantage of the focusing of world interest on the Western Front, by wholesale liquidation of thousands of Poles, first leading representatives of the Polish intelligentsia." Earlier, Frank had been directed to reduce the " entire Polish economy to absolute minimum necessary for bare existence. The Poles shall be the slaves of the Greater - German World Empire." In January, 1940, he recorded in his diary that "cheap labour must be removed from the General Government by hundreds of thousands. This will hamper the native biological propagation." So successfully did the Germans carry out this policy in Poland that by the end of the war one third of the population had been killed, and the whole of the country devastated.

It was the same story in the occupied area of the Soviet Union. At the time of the launching of the German attack in June, 1941, Rosenberg told his collaborators:

" The object of feeding the German people stands this year without a doubt at the top of the list of Germany's claims on the East, and here the southern territories and the northern Caucasus will have to serve as a balance for the feeding of the German people.... A very extensive evacuation will be necessary, without any doubt, and it is sure that the future will how very hard years in store for the Russians."

Three or four weeks later Hitler discussed with Rosenberg, Goering, Keitel and others his plan for the exploitation of the Soviet population and territory, which included among other things the evacuation of the inhabitants of the Crimea and its settlement by Germans.

A somewhat similar fate was planned for Czechoslovakia by the defendant von Neurath, in August, 1940; the intelligentsia were to be "expelled," but the rest of the population was to be Germanised rather than expelled or exterminated, since there was a shortage of Germans to replace them.

In the West the population of Alsace were the victims of a German " expulsion action." Between July and December, 1940, 105,000 Alsatians were either deported from their homes or prevented from returning to them.

A captured German report dated 7th August, 1942, with regard to Alsace states that:

" The problem of race will be given first consideration, and this in such a manner that persons of racial value will be deported to Germany proper, and racially inferior persons to France."

(C) Pillage of Public and Private Property

Article 49 of the Hague Convention provides that an occupying power may levy a contribution of money from the occupied territory to pay for the needs of the army of occupation, and for the administration of the territory in question. Article 52 of the Hague Convention provides that an occupying power may make requisitions in kind only for the needs of the army of occupation, and that these requisitions shall be in proportion to the resources of the country. These Articles, together with Article 48, dealing with the expenditure of money collected in taxes, and Articles 53, 55 and 56, dealing with public property, make it clear that under the rules of war, the economy of an occupied country can only be required to bear the expenses of the occupation, and these should not be greater than ,the economy of the country can reasonably be expected to bear. Article 56 reads as follows:

" The property of municipalities, of religious, charitable, educational, artistic and scientific institutions, although belonging to the State, is to be accorded the same standing as private property. All pre-meditated seizure, destruction. or damage of such institutions historical monuments, works of art and science, is prohibited and should be prosecuted."

The evidence in this case has established, however, that the territories occupied by Germany were exploited for the German war effort in the most ruthless way, without consideration of the local economy, and in 53 consequence of a deliberate design and policy. There was in truth a systematic " plunder of public or private property ", which was criminal under Article 6 (b) of the Charter. The German occupation policy was clearly stated in a speech made by the defendant Goering on the 6th August, 1942, to the various German authorities in charge of occupied territories:

" God knows, you are not sent out there to work for the welfare of the people in your charge, but to get the utmost out of them, so that the German people can live. That is what I expect of your exertions. This everlasting concern about foreign people must cease now, once and for all. I have here before me reports on what you are expected to deliver. It is nothing at all, when I consider your territories. It makes no difference to me in this connection if you say that your people will starve."

The methods employed to exploit the resources of the occupied territories to the full varied from country to country. In some of the occupied countries in the East and the West, this exploitation was carried out within the framework of the existing economic structure. The local industries were put under German supervision, and the distribution of war materials was rigidly controlled. The industries thought to be of value to the German war effort were compelled to continue, and most of the rest were closed down altogether. Raw materials and the finished products alike were confiscated for the needs of the Germany industry. As early as the 19th October, 1939, the defendant Goering had issued a directive giving detailed instructions for the administration of the occupied territories, it provided:

" The task for the economic treatment of the various administrative regions is different, depending on whether the country is involved which will be incorporated politically into the German Reich, or whether we will deal with the Government-General, which in all probability will not be made a part of Germany. In the first mentioned territories, the . . . safeguarding of all their productive facilities and supplies must be aimed at, as well s a complete incorporation into the Greater German economic system, at the earliest possible time. On the other hand, there must be removed from the territories of the Government-General all raw materials, scrap materials, machines, etc., which are of use for the German war economy. Enterprises which are not absolutely necessary for the meagre maintenance of the naked existence of the population must be transferred to Germany, unless such transfer would require an unreasonably long period of time, and would make it more practicable to exploit those enterprises by giving them German orders, to be executed at their present location."

As a consequence of this order, agricultural products, raw materials needed by German factories, machine tools, transportation equipment, other finished products and even foreign securities and holdings of foreign exchange were all requisitioned and sent to Germany. These resources were requisitioned in a manner out of all proportion to the economic resources of those countries, and resulted in famine, inflation and an active black market. At first the German occupation authorities attempted to suppress the black market, because it was a channel of distribution keeping local products out of German hands. When attempts at suppression failed, a German purchasing agency was organised to make purchases for Germany on the black market, thus carrying out the assurance made by the defendant Goering that ,it was " necessary that all should know that if there is to be famine anywhere, it shall in no case be in Germany."

In many of the occupied countries of the East and the West, the authorities maintained the presence of paying for all the property which they seized. This elaborate presence of payment merely disguised the fact that the goods sent to Germany from these occupied countries were paid for by the occupied countries themselves, either by the device of excessive occupation costs only forced loans in return for a credit balance on a " clearing account " which was an account merely in name.

In most of the occupied countries of the East even this presence of legality was not maintained, economic exploitation became deliberate plunder. This policy was first put into effect in the administration of the Government-General in Poland. The main exploitation of the raw materials in the East was centred on agricultural products and very large amounts of food were shipped from the Government-General to Germany.

The evidence of the widespread starvation among the Polish ,people in the Government-General indicates the ruthlessness and the severity with which the policy of exploitation was carried out.

The occupation of the territories of the U.S.S.R., was characterised by premeditated and systematic looting. Before the attack on the U.S.S.R., an economic staff -Oldenburg- was organised to ensure the most efficient exploitation of Soviet territories. The German armies were to be fed out of Soviet territory, even if "many millions of people will be starved to death." An OKW directive issued before the attack said:

" To obtain the greatest possible quantity of food and crude oil for Germany- that is the main economic purpose of the campaign."

Similarly, a declaration by the defendant Rosenberg of the 20th June, 1941, had advocated the use of the produce from Southern Russia and of the Northern Caucasus to feed the German people, saying:

" We see absolutely no reason for any obligation on our part to feed also the Russian people with the products of that surplus territory. We know that this is a harsh necessity, bare of any feelings."

When the Soviet territory was occupied, this policy was put into effect; there was a large scale confiscation of agricultural supplies, with complete disregard of the needs of the inhabitants of the occupied territory.

In addition to the seizure of raw materials and manufactured articles, a wholesale seizure was made of art treasures, furniture, textiles and similar articles in all the invaded countries.

The defendant Rosenberg was designated by Hitler on the 29th January 1940, Head of the Centre for National Socialist Ideological and Educational Research, and thereafter the organisation known as the " Einsatzstab Rosenberg" conducted its operations on a very great scale. Originally designed for the establishment of a research library, it developed into a project for the seizure of cultural treasures. On the 1st March, 1942, Hitler issued a further decree, authorising Rosenberg to search libraries lodges and cultural establishments, to seize material from these establishments, as well as culture treasures owned by Jews. Similar directions were given where the ownership could not be clearly established. The decree directed the cooperation of the Wehrmacht High Command, and indicated that Rosenberg's activities in the West were to be conducted in his capacity as Reichsleiter, and in the East in his capacity as Reichsminister. Thereafter, Rosenberg's activities were extended to the occupied countries. The report of Robert Scholz, Chief of the special staff for Pictorial Art, stated:

"During the period from March, 1941, to July, 1944, the special staff for Pictorial Art brought into the Reich 29 large shipments, including 137 freight cars with 4,174 cases of art works."

The report of Scholz refers to 25 portfolios of pictures of the most valuable works of the art collection seized in the West, which portfolios were presented to the Fuehrer. Thirty-nine volumes, prepared by the Einsatzstab, contained photographs of paintings, textiles, furniture, candelabra and numerous other objects of art, and illustrated the value and magnitude of the collection which had been made. In many of the occupied countries private collections were robbed, libraries were plundered, and private houses were pillaged.

Museums, palaces and libraries in the occupied territories of the U.S.S.R. were systematically looted. Rosenberg's Einsatzstab, Ribbentrop's special " Battalion ", the Reichscommissars and representatives of the Military Command seized objects of cultural and historical value belonging to the people of the Soviet Union, which were sent to Germany. Thus, the Reichscommissar of the Ukraine removed paintings and objects of art from Kiev and Kharkov and sent them to East Prussia. Rare volumes and objects of art from the palaces of Peterhof, Tsarskeye Selo, and Pavlovsk were shipped to Germany. In his letter to Rosenberg of the 3rd October, 1941, Reichscommissar Kube stated that the value of the objects of art taken from Byelorussia ran into millions of roubles. The scale of this plundering can also be seen in the letter sent from Rosenberg's department to von Milde-Schreden in which it is stated that during the month of October, 1943, alone, about 40 box-cars loaded with objects of cultural value were transported to the Reich.

With regard to the suggestion that the purpose of the seizure of art treasures was protective and meant for their preservation, it is necessary to say a few words. On the 1st December, 1939, Himmler, as the Reich Commissioner for the " strengthening of Germanism ", issued a decree to the regional officers of the secret police in the annexed eastern territories, and to the commanders of the security service in Radom, Warsaw and Lublin. This decree contained administrative directions for carrying out the art seizure programme, and in Clause 1 it is stated:

" To strengthen Germanism in the defence of the Reich, all articles mentioned in Section 2 of this decree are hereby confiscated.... They are confiscated for the benefit of the German Reich, and are at the disposal of the Reich Commissioner for the strengthening of Germanism."

The intention to enrich Germany by the seizures, rather than to protect the seized objects, is indicated in an undated report by Dr. Hans Posse, director of the Dresden State Picture Gallery:

" I was able to gain some knowledge on the public and private collections, as well as clerical property, in Cracow and Warsaw. It is true that we cannot hope too much to enrich ourselves from the acquisition of great art works of paintings and sculptures, with the exception of the Veit-Stoss altar, and the plates of Hans von Kulnback in the Church of Maria in Cracow . . . and several other works from the national museum in Warsaw"

(D) Slave Labour Policy

Article 6 (b) of the Charter provides that the " ill-treatment ,or deportation to slave labour or for any other purpose, of civilian population of or in occupied territory" shall be a war crime. The laws relating to forced labour by the inhabitants of occupied territories are found in Article 52 of The Hague Convention, which provides:

" Requisition in kind and services shall not be demanded from municipalities or inhabitants except for the needs of the army of occupation. They shall be in proportion to the resources of the country, and of such a nature as not to involve the inhabitants in the obligation of taking part in military operations against their own country."

The policy of the German occupation authorities was in flagrant violation of the terms of this Convention. Some idea of this policy may be gathered from the statement made by Hitler in a speech on 9th November, 1941:

" The territory which now works for us contains more than 250,000,000 men, but the territory which works indirectly for us includes now more than 350,000,000. In the measure in which it concerns German territory, the domain which we have taken under our administration, it is not doubtful that we shall succeed in harnessing the very last man to this work."

The actual results achieved were not so complete as this, but the German occupation authorities did succeed in forcing many of the inhabitants of the occupied territories to work for the German war effort, and in deporting at least 5,000,000 persons to Germany to serve German industry and agriculture.

In the early stages of the war, manpower in the occupied territories was under the control of various occupation authorities, and the procedure varied from country to country. In all the occupied territories compulsory labour service was promptly instituted. Inhabitants of the occupied countries were conscripted and compelled to work in local occupations, to assist the German war economy. In many cases they were forced to work on German fortifications and military installations. As local supplies of raw materials and local industrial capacity became' inadequate to meet the German requirements, the system of deporting labourers to Germany was put into force. By the middle of April, 1940, compulsory deportation of labourers to Germany had been ordered in the Government General; and a similar procedure was followed in other eastern territories as they were occupied. A description of this compulsory deportation from Poland was given by Himmler. In an address to SS officers he recalled how in weather 40 degrees below zero they had to " haul away thousands, tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands." On a later occasion Himmler stated:

" Whether ten thousand Russian females fall down from exhaustion while digging an anti-tank ditch interests me only in so far as the anti-tank ditch for Germany is finished.... We must realise that we have 6-7 million foreigners in Germany.... They are none of them dangerous so long as we take severe measures at the merest trifles."

During the first two years of the German occupation of France, Belgium, Holland and Norway, however, an attempt was made to obtain the necessary workers on a voluntary basis. How unsuccessful this was may be seen from the report of the meeting of the Central Planning Board on the 1st March, 1944. The representative of the defendant Speer, one Koehrl, speaking of the situation in France, said:-

" During all this time a great number of Frenchmen were recruited, and voluntarily went to Germany."

He was interrupted by the defendant Sauckel:

" Not only voluntary, some were recruited forcibly."

To which Koehrl replied:

" The calling up started after the recruitment no longer yielded enough results."

To which the defendant Sauckel replied:

" Out of the five million workers who arrived in Germany, not even 200,000 came voluntarily,"

and Koehrl rejoined:-

" Let us forget for the moment whether or not some slight pressure was used. Formally, at least, they were volunteers."

Committees were set up to encourage recruiting, and a vigorous propaganda campaign was begun to induce workers to volunteer for service in Germany. This propaganda campaign included, for example, the promise that a prisoner of war would be returned for every labourer who volunteered to go to Germany. In some cases it was supplemented by withdrawing the ration cards of labourers who refused to go to Germany, or by discharging them from their jobs and denying them unemployment benefit or an opportunity to work elsewhere. In some cases workers and their families were threatened with reprisals by the police if they refused to go to Germany. It was on the 21st March, 1942, that the defendant Sauckel was appointed Plenipotentiary-General for the Utilisation of Labour, with authority over " all available manpower, including that of workers recruited abroad, and of prisoners of war."

The defendant Sauckel was directly under the defendant Goering as Commissioner of the Four Year Plan, and a Goering decree of the 27th March, 1942, transferred all his authority over manpower to Sauckel. Sauckel's instructions, too, were that foreign labour should be recruited on a voluntary basis, but also provided that " where, however, in the occupied territories the appeal for volunteers does not suffice, obligatory service and drafting must under all circumstances be resorted to. " Rules requiring labour service in Germany were published in all the occupied territories. The number of labourers to be supplied was fixed by Sauckel, and the local authorities were instructed to meet these requirements by conscription if necessary. That conscription was the rule rather than the exception is shown by the statement of Sauckel already quoted, on the 1st March, 1944.

The defendant Sauckel frequently asserted that the workers belonging to foreign nations were treated humanely, and that the conditions in which they lived were good. But whatever the intention of Sauckel may have been, and however much he may have desired that foreign labourers should be treated humanely, the evidence before the Tribunal establishes the fact that the conscription of labour was accomplished in many cases by drastic and violent methods. The " mistakes and blunders " were on a very great scale. Man-hunts took place in the streets, at motion picture houses, even at churches and at night in private houses. Houses were sometimes burnt down, and the families taken as hostages, practices which were described by the defendant Rosenberg as having their origin " in the blackest periods of the slave trade." The methods used in obtaining forced labour from the Ukraine appear from an order issued to SD officers which stated:

" It will not be possible always to refrain from using force.... When searching villages, especially when it has been necessary to burn down a village, the whole population will be put at the disposal of the Commissioner by force.... As a rule no more children will be shot.... If we limit harshmeasures through the above orders for the time being, it is only done for the following reason.... The most important thing is the recruitment of workers."

The resources and needs of the occupied countries were completely disregarded in carrying out this policy. The treatment of the labourers was governed by Sauckel's instructions of the 20th April. 1942 to the effect that:

" All the men must be fed, sheltered and treated in such a way as to exploit them to the highest possible extent, at the lowest conceivable degree of expenditure."

The evidence showed that workers destined for the Reich were sent under guard to Germany, often packed in trains without adequate heat, food, clothing or sanitary facilities. The evidence further showed that the treatment of the labourers in Germany in many cases was brutal and degrading. The evidence relating to the Krupp Works at Essen showed that punishments of the most cruel kind were inflicted on the workers. Theoretically at least the workers were paid, housed and fed by the DAF and even permitted to transfer their savings and to send mail and parcels back to their native country; but restrictive regulations took a proportion of the pay; the camps in which they were housed were insanitary; and the food was very often less than the minimum necessary to give the workers strength to do their jobs. In the case of Poles employed on farms in Germany, the employers were given authority to inflict corporal punishment and were ordered, if possible, to house them in stables, not in their own homes. They were subject to constant supervision by the Gestapo and the SS, and if they attempted to leave their jobs they were sent to correction camps or concentration camps. The concentration camps were also used to increase the supply of labour. Concentration camp commanders were ordered to work their prisoners to the limits of their physical power. During the latter stages of the war the concentration camps were so productive in certain types of work that the Gestapo was actually instructed to arrest certain classes of labourers so that they could be used in this way. Allied prisoners of war were also regarded as a possible source of labour. Pressure was exercised on non-commissioned officers to force them to consent to work, by transferring to disciplinary camps those who did not consent. Many of the prisoners of war were assigned to work directly related to military operations, in violation of Article 31 of the Geneva Convention. They were put to work in munition factories and even made to load bombers, to carry ammunition and to dig trenches, often under the most hazardous conditions. This condition applied particularly to the Soviet prisoners of war. On the 16th February, 1943, at a meeting of the Central Planning Board, at which the defendants Sauckel and Speer were present, Milch said:

" We have made a request for an order that a certain percentage of men in the Ack-Ack artillery must be Russians; 50,000 will be taken altogether. 30,000 are already employed as gunners. This is an amusing thing, that Russians must work the guns."

And on the 4th October, 1943, at Posen, Himmler, speaking of the Russian prisoners, captured in the early days of the war, said:

"At that time we did not value the mass of humanity as we value it to-day as raw material, as labour. What after all thinking in terms of generations, is not to be regretted, but is now deplorable by reason of the loss of labour, is that the prisoners - died in tens and hundreds of thousands of exhaustion and hunger."

The general policy underlying the mobilisation of slave labour was stated by Sauckel on the 20th April, 1942. He said:

" The aim of this new gigantic labour mobilisation is to use all the rich and tremendous sources conquered and secured for us by our fighting armed forces under the leadership of Adolf Hitler, for the armament of the armed forces, and also for the nutrition of the Homeland. The raw materials, as well as the fertility of the conquered territories and their human labour power, are to be used completely and conscientiously to the profit of Germany and her Allies.... All prisoners of war from the territories of the West, as well as the East, actually in Germany, must be completely incorporated into the German armament and nutrition industries.... Consequently it is an immediate necessity to use the human reserves of the conquered Soviet territory to the fullest extent. Should we not succeed in obtaining the necessary amount of labour on a voluntary basis, we must immediately institute conscription or forced labour.... The complete employment of all prisoners of war, as well as the use of a gigantic number of new foreign civilian workers, men and women, has become an indisputable necessity for the solution of the mobilisation of the labour programme in this war."

Reference should also be made to the policy which was in existence in Germany by the summer of 1940, under which all aged, insane, and incurable people, " useless eaters," were transferred to special institutions where they were killed, and their relatives informed that they had died from natural causes. The victims were not confined to German citizens, but included foreign labourers, who were no longer able to work, and were therefore useless to the German war machine. It has been estimated that at least some 275,000 people were killed in this manner in nursing homes, hospitals and asylums, which were under the jurisdiction of the defendant Frick, in his capacity as Minister of the Interior. How many foreign workers were included in this total it has been quite impossible to determine.

(E) Persecution of the Jews

The persecution of the Jews at the hands of the Nazi Government has been proved in the greatest detail before the Tribunal. It is a record of consistent and systematic inhumanity on the greatest scale.

Ohlendorf, chief of Amt III in the RSHA from 1939 to 1943, and who was in command of one of the Einsatz groups in the campaign against the Soviet Union testified as to the methods employed in the extermination of the Jews. He said that he employed firing squads to shoot the victims in order to lessen the sense of individual guilt on the part of his men; and the 90,000 men, women and children who were murdered in one year by his particular group were mostly Jews.

When the witness Bach Zelewski was asked how Ohlendorf could admit the murder of 90,000 people, he replied:

"I am of the opinion that when, for years, for decades, the doctrine is preached that the Slav race is an inferior race, and Jews not even human, then such an outcome is inevitable."

But the defendant Frank spoke the final words of this chapter of Nazi history when he testified in this court:

" We have fought against Jewry, we have fought against it for years: and we have allowed ourselves to make utterances and my own diary has become a witness against me in this connection- utterances which are terrible.... A thousand years will pass and this guilt of Germany will not be erased."

The anti-Jewish policy was formulated in Point 4 of the Party Programme which declared " Only a member of the race can be a citizen. A member of the race can only be one who is of German blood, without consideration of creed. Consequently, no Jew can be a member of the race." Other points of the programme declared that Jews should be treated as foreigners, that they should not be permitted to hold public office, that they should be expelled from the Reich if it were impossible to nourish the entire population of the State, that they should be denied any further immigration into Germany, and that they should be prohibited from publishing German newspapers. The Nazi Party preached these doctrines throughout its history. " Der Stuermer" and other publications were allowed to disseminate hatred of the Jews, and in the speeches and public declarations of the Nazi leaders, the Jews were held up to public ridicule and contempt.

With the seizure of power, the persecution of the Jews was intensified. A series of discriminatory laws were passed, which limited the offices and professions permitted to Jews; and restrictions were placed on their family life and their rights of citizenship. By the autumn of 1938, the Nazi policy towards the Jews had reached the stage where it was directed towards the complete exclusion of Jews from German life. Pogroms were organised which included the burning and demolishing of synagogues, the looting of Jewish businesses, and the arrest of prominent Jewish business men. A collective fine of one billion marks was imposed on the Jews, the seizure of Jewish assets was authorised, and the movement of Jews was restricted by regulations to certain specified districts and hours. The creation of ghettoes was carried out on an extensive scale, and by an order of the Security Police Jews were compelled to wear a yellow star to be worn on the breast and back.

It was contended for the Prosecution that certain aspects of this anti-Semitic policy were connected with the plans for aggressive war. The violent measures taken against the Jews in November, 1938, were nominally in retaliation for the killing of an official of the German Embassy in Paris. But the decision to seize Austria and Czechoslovakia had been made a year before. The imposition of a fine of one billion marks was made, and the confiscation of the financial holdings of the Jews was decreed, at a time when German armament expenditure had put the German treasury in difficulties, and when the reduction of expenditure on armaments was being considered. These steps were taken, moreover, with the approval of the defendant Goering, who had been given responsibility for economic matters of this kind, and who was the strongest advocate of an extensive rearmament programme notwithstanding the financial difficulties.

It was further said that the connection of the anti-Semitic policy with aggressive war was not limited to economic matters. The German Foreign Office circular, in an article of 25th January, 1939, enitled " Jewish question as a factor in German Foreign Policy in the year 1938", described the new phase in the Nazi anti-Semitic policy in these words:

" It is certainly no coincidence that the fateful year 1938 has brought nearer the solution of the Jewish question simultaneously with the realisation of the idea of Greater Germany, since the Jewish policy was both the basis and consequence of the events of the year 1938. The advance made by Jewish influence and the destructive Jewish spirit in politics, economy, and culture paralysed the power and the will of the German people to rise again, more perhaps even than the power policy opposition of the former enemy Allied powers of the first World War. The healing of this sickness among the people was therefore certainly one of the most important requirements for exerting the force which, in the year 1938, resulted in the joining together of Greater Germany in defiance of the world."

The Nazi persecution of Jews in Germany before the war, severe and repressive as it was, cannot compare, however, with the policy pursued during the war in the occupied territories. Originally the policy was similar to that which had been in force inside Germany. Jews were required to register, were forced to live in ghettoes, to wear the yellow star, and were used as slave labourers. In the summer of 1941, however, plans were made for the " final solution" of the Jewish question in all of Europe. This " final solution " meant the extermination of the Jews, which early in 1939 Hitler had threatened would be one of the consequences of an outbreak of war, and a special section in the Gestapo under Adolf Eichmann, as head of Section B4 of the Gestapo, was formed to carry out the policy.

The plan for exterminating the Jews was developed shortly after the attack on the Soviet Union.

Einsatzgruppen of the Security Police and SD, formed for the purpose of breaking the resistance of the population of the areas lying behind the German armies in the East, were given the duty of exterminating the Jews in those areas. The effectiveness of the work of the Einsatzgruppen is shown by the fact that in February, 1942, Heydrich was able to report that Estonia had already been cleared of Jews and that in Riga the number of Jews had been reduced from 29,500 to 2,500. Altogether the Einsatzgruppen operating in the occupied Baltic States killed over 135,000 Jews in three months.

Nor did these special units operate completely independently of the German Armed Forces. There is clear evidence that leaders of the Einsatzgruppen obtained the co-operation of Army Commanders. In one case the relations between an Einsatzgruppe and the military authorities was described at the time as being "very close, almost cordial "; in another case the smoothness of an Einsatz-commando's operation was attributed to the " understanding for this procedure " shown by the army authorities.

Units of the Security Police and SD in the occupied territories of the East, which were under civil administration, were given a similar task. The planned and systematic character of the Jewish persecutions is best illustrated by the original report of the SS Brigadier-General Stroop, who was in charge of the destruction of the ghetto in Warsaw, which took place in 1943. The Tribunal received in evidence that report, illustrated with photographs, bearing on its title page: "The Jewish Ghetto in Warsaw no longer exists." The volume records a series of reports sent by Stroop to the Higher SS and Police Fuehrer East. In April and May, 1943, in one report, Stroop wrote:

" The resistance put up by the Jews and bandits could only be suppressed by energetic actions of our troops day and night. The Reichsfuehrer SS ordered therefore on the 23rd April, 1943 the cleaning out of the ghetto with utter ruthlessness and merciless tenacity. I therefore decided to destroy and burn down the entire ghetto, without regard to the armament factories. These factories were systematically dismantled and then burnt. Jews usually left their hideouts, but frequently remained in the burning buildings, and jumped out of the windows only when the heat became unbearable. They then tried to crawl with broken bones across the street into buildings which were not afire.... Life in the sewers was not pleasant after the first week. Many times we could hear loud voices in the sewers.... Tear gas bombs were thrown into the manholes, and the Jews driven out of the sewers and captured. Countless numbers of Jews were liquidated in sewers and bunkers through blasting. The longer the resistance continued, the tougher became the members of the Waffen SS, Police and Wehrmacht, who always discharged their duties in an exemplary manner."

Stroop recorded that his action at Warsaw eliminated "a proved total of 56,065 people. To that we have to add the number of those killed through blasting, fire, etc., which cannot be counted." Grim evidence of mass murders of Jews was also presented to the Tribunal in cinematograph films depicting the communal graves of hundreds of victims which were subsequently discovered by the Allies.

These atrocities were all part and parcel of the policy inaugurated in 1941, and it is not surprising that there should be evidence that one or two German officials entered vain protests against the brutal manner in which the killings were carried out. But the methods employed never conformed to a single pattern. The massacres of Rowno and Dubno, of which the German engineer Graebe spoke, were examples of one method, the systematic extermination of Jews in concentration camps, was another Part of the " final solution " was the gathering of Jews from all German occupied Europe in concentration camps. Their physical condition was the test of life or death. All who were fit to work were used as slave labourers in the concentration camps; all who were not fit to work were destroyed in gas chambers and their bodies burnt. Certain concentration camps such as Treblinka and Auschwitz were set aside for this main purpose. With regard to Auschwitz, the Tribunal heard the evidence of Hoess, the Commandant of the camp from 1st May, 1940, to 1st December, 1943. He estimated that in the camp of Auschwitz alone in that time 2,500,000 persons were exterminated, and that a further 500,000 died from disease and starvation. Hoess described the screening for extermination by stating in evidence:

" We had two SS doctors on duty at Auschwitz to examine the incoming transports of prisoners. The prisoners would be marched by one of the doctors who would make spot decisions as they walked by. Those who were fit for work were sent into the camp. Others were sent immediately to the extermination plants. Children of tender years were invariably exterminated since by reason of their youth they were unable to work. Still another improvement we made over Treblinka was that at Treblinka the victims almost always knew that they were to be exterminated and at Auschwitz we endeavoured to fool the victims into thinking that they were to go through a delousing process. Of course, frequently they realised our true intentions and we sometimes had riots and difficulties due to that fact. Very frequently women would hide their children under their clothes, but of course when we found them we would send the children in to be exterminated."

He described the actual killing by stating:

" It took from three to fifteen minutes to kill the people in the death chamber, depending upon climatic conditions. We knew when the people were dead because their screaming stopped. We usually waited about one half-hour before we opened the doors and removed the bodies. After the bodies were removed our special commandos took off the rings and extracted the gold from the teeth of the corpses."

Beating, starvation, torture, and killing were general. The inmates were subjected to cruel experiments at Dachau in August, 1942, victims were immersed in cold water until their body temperature was reduced to 28 Centigrade, when they died immediately. Other experiments included high altitude experiments in pressure chambers, experiments to determine how long human beings could survive in freezing water, experiments with poison bullets, experiments with contagious diseases, and experiments dealing with sterilisation of men and women by X-rays and other methods.

Evidence was given of the treatment of the inmates before and after their extermination. There was testimony that the hair of women victims was cut off before they were killed, and shipped to Germany, there to be used in the manufacture of mattresses. The clothes, money and valuables of the inmates were also salvaged and sent to the appropriate agencies for disposition. After the extermination the gold teeth and fillings were taken from the heads of the corpses and sent to the Reichsbank.

After cremation the ashes were used for fertilizer, and in some instances attempts were made to utilise the fat from the bodies of the victims in the commercial manufacture of soap. Special groups travelled through Europe to find Jews and subject them to the " final solution." German missions were sent to such satellite countries as Hungary and Bulgaria, to arrange for the shipment of Jews to extermination camps and it is known that by the end of 1944, 400,000 Jews from Hungary had been murdered at Auschwitz. Evidence has also been given of the evacuation of 110,000 Jews from part of Roumania for "liquidation." Adolf Eichmann, who had been put in charge of this programme by Hitler, has estimated that the policy pursued resulted in the killing of 6,000,000 Jews, of which 4.000.000 were killed in the extermination institutions.

(F) The Law relating to War Crimes and Crimes Against Humanity

Article 6 of the Charter provides:

"(b) War crimes: Namely, violations of the laws or customs of war. Such violations shall include, but not be limited to murder, ill-treatment or deportation to slave labor or for any other purpose of civilian population of or in occupied territory, murder or ill-treatment of prisoners of war or persons on the seas, killing of hostages, plunder of public or private property, wanton destruction of cities, towns or villages, or devastation not justified by military necessity;

"(c) Crimes against, humanity: Namely, murder, extermination, enslavement, deportation, and other inhumane acts committed against any civilian population, before or during the war, or persecutions on political, racial, or religious grounds in execution of or in connection with any crime within the jurisdictionof the Tribunal, whether or not in violation of the domestic law of the country where perpetrated."

As heretofore stated, the Charter does not define as a separate crime any conspiracy except the one set out in Article 6 (a), dealing with crimes against peace.

The Tribunal is of course bound by the Charter, in the definition which it gives both of war crimes and crimes against humanity. With respect to war crimes, however, as has already been pointed out, the crimes defined by Article 6, section (b), of the Charter were already recognized as war crimes under international law. They were covered by Articles 46, 50, 52, and 56 of the Hague Convention of 1907, and Articles 2, 3, 4, 46, and 51 of the Geneva Convention of 1929. That violation of these provisions constituted crimes for which the guilty individuals were punishable is too well settled to admit of argument.

But it is argued that the Hague Convention does not apply in this case, because of the "general participation" clause in Article 2 of the Hague Convention of 1907. That clause provided:

"The provisions contained in the regulations (rules of land warfare) referred to in Article I as well as in the present convention do not apply except between contracting powers, and then only if all the belligerents are parties to the convention."

Several of the belligerents in the recent war were not parties to this convention.

In the opinion of the Tribunal it is not necessary to decide this question. The rules of land warfare expressed in the convention undoubtedly represented an advance over existing international law at the time of their adoption. But the convention expressly stated that it was an attempt "to revise the general laws and customs of war," which it thus recognized to be then existing, but by 1939 these rules laid down in the convention were recognized by all civilized nations, and were regarded as being declaratory of the laws and customs of war which are referred to in Article 6 (b) of the Charter.

A further submission was made that Germany was no longer bound by the rules of land warfare in many of the territories occupied during the war, because Germany had completely subjugated those countries and incorporated them into the German Reich, a fact which gave Germany authority to deal with the occupied countries as though they were part of Germany. In the view of the Tribunal it is unnecessary in this case to decide whether this doctrine of subjugation, dependentas it is upon military conquest, has any application where the subjugation is the result of the crime of aggressive war. The doctrine was never considered to be applicable so long as there was an army in the field attempting to restore the occupied countries to their true owners, and in this case, therefore, the doctrine could not apply to any territories occupied after the 1st September 1939. As to the war crimes committed in Bohemia and Moravia, it is a sufficient answer that these territories were never added to the Reich, but a mere protectorate was established over them.

With regard to crimes against humanity, there is no doubt whatever that political opponents were murdered in Germany before the war, and that many of them were kept in concentration camps in circumstances of great horror and cruelty. The policy of terror was certainly carried out on a vast scale, and in many cases was organized and systematic. The policy of persecution, repression, and murder of civilians in Germany before the war of 1939, who were likely to be hostile to the Government, was most ruthlessly carried out. The persecution of Jews during the same period is established beyond all doubt. To constitute crimes against humanity, the acts relied on before the outbreak of war must have been in execution of, or in connection with, any crime within the jurisdiction of the Tribunal. The Tribunal is of the opinion that revolting and horrible as many of these crimes were, it has not been satisfactorily proved that they were done in execution of, or in connection with, any such crime. The Tribunal therefore cannot make a general declaration that the acts before 1939 were crimes against humanity within the meaning of the Charter, but from the beginning of the war in 1939 war crimes were committedon a vast scale, which were also crimes against humanity; and insofar as the inhumane acts charged in the indictment, and committed after the beginning of the war, did not constitute war crimes, they were all committed in execution of, or in connection with, the aggressive war, and therefore constituted crimes against humanity.


International Criminal Court


Published online by Equipo Nizkor and Derechos Human Rights - 27 May 2002
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