[ Accueil général ] [ Homepage English ] [ Rassinier Archive ]







[ 1 ] [ 2 ] [ 3 ] [ 4 ] [ 5 ] [ 6 ] [ 7 ] [ 8 ]

The whole book in one clic



Chapter IV


Ideas about war crimes have changed considerably since 1945, with regard to the applications of the Geneva and Hague conventions to them. Indeed, the corpses of the eleven men hanged at Nuremberg were hardly cold before the universal conscience was asking itself the most sober questions about the rights of the Allies to set themselves up as judges and pronounce sentence. And since this conscience was from the beginning expressed through the voices of the most estimable people, it was quite impossible to be unaware of it. Among them figured men as universally known as Professor Gilbert Murray, the best known of British Hellenists, and the Dean of Rhodes House -- both men from Oxford; the military writer Lidell Hart; the anarchist Israeli editor Victor Gollancz; Member of the House of Commons R. R. Stokes; Lord Hankey, Secretary of the renowned Committee for the Defence of the Empire from 1912 to 1938 and member of the British Cabinet from 1920-1921; the American Judge Wennerstrum, from the Supreme Court of the State of Iowa, who had been appointed to the bench of the Nuremberg Tribunal and who left the post abruptly after a few months; Senator Taft; Lord Bishop Chichester, who intervened in the House of Lords in strong language on June 23rd, 1948; Dibelius, Bishop of Berlin, etc. Most of them had protested long before the bodies of the hanged turned cold, even before the verdict was handed down. Their opposition was known to the best informed from the beginning of 1944 when the Allies' determination to hold a trial became public knowledge, but a conspiracy of silence worked against them and their protest was not known until long after.

There were few Germans among them. The abominable press campaign unleashed against Germany had made defendants of all of them and the Germans gave the impression of bowing their heads under blows. For any honest person looking back on the press and writings of the time, there is no possible doubt: the attorneys for the defendants in the Trial of the Major War Criminals performed acts of real heroism. Limited in their defence procedure, odiously distorted by the press, their interventions and pleadings often appeared timid, and sometimes inconsistent. Nonetheless, many of their speeches will one day be considered worthy of being included in an anthology. I am thinking particularly of the pleading concerning the incompetency of the Tribunal, presented in the name of all the defence counsels, by Dr. Stahmer, counsel for Goering, at the beginning of the session of November 19th, 1945, and rejected on the 21st "on the grounds that it called into question the competence of the Tribunal, it was in contradition of Article 3 of the Charter." Article 3 stated, in fact, peremptorily that "neither [76] the Tribunal, its members nor their alternates, may be challenged by the Prosecution or by the defendants or their counsel."

I am thinking, too, of the intervention of Dr. Sauter, counsel for Ribbentrop, on the Treaty of Versailles; of Professors Exner and Jahreiss, counsels for Jodl, on breaches of international law; of Plottenrichter Kranzbuehler, counsel for Admiral Raeder, on maritime law; of Dr. Robert Servatius, counsel for Saukel, on procedure and forced labour; and of the others who, although their performance was more modest, nonetheless stood out head and shoulders above the judges and prosecutors.

In France hardly more than the two admirable books by Maurice Bardèche, Nuremberg ou la Terre Promise, and Nuremberg II ou les Faux-Monnaveurs (Nuremberg, or the Promised Land and Nuremberg H, or the Counterfeiters) are worthy of being mentioned. The French Left, in power, saw in the contents of these two books only the political opinions of the author, who openly - and very pluckily - called himself a fascist. The Left raised a barrage against the books and the first was actually, and quite scandalously, banned. The ideas of the books, presented with rare objectivity, are the same ones that in my youth - taking Bertrand Russell, Mathias Morhardt, Romain Rolland, Anatole France, Jeanne and Michel Alexandre for guides - the European socialist parties and the world Left all held, and almost put across at the end of the war of 1914-1918 and up until 1933. It would be easy to demonstate that these ideas, of ancient tradition, are really left-wing. There is much I could say on the shifting that took place when the Left, faced with the phenomenon of war, retreated to the traditional positions of the Right, while the Right resorted to those of the Left; but here the historian should cede the pen to the sociologist. So we will confine ourselves to mentioning one thing that offers useful comparisons. In 1914, too, the Left adopted the policies of the Right about war, but in 1918 it turned Left again while the Right, arrogant and impervious, remained stupidly set on dogmas of another age. Today it is the Left who are stupidly stuck on these dogmas of another age. This historic switch-back is curious to say the least.

In short, all the protests, whatever their source, and no matter which of the charges against Germany or the Germans they were concerned with, all the charges could equally well have been laid against the Allies, and therefore all of the parties concerned should have been seated in the dock. And if a trial had to be held, prosecutors and judges should only have been selected from among neutrals, who doubtless would have seated them all back to back.

Solid arguments were voiced on the subject of war crimes and crimes against humanity. First the Russians spoke concerning deportation and German concentration camps and propaganda concerning this was the touchstone of sensitivity in world opinion.

Field Marshal Goering, interrogated on March 21st, 1946 by [77] General Rudenko, the Russian prosecutor, had answered that "1,680,000 Poles and Ukrainians had been deported from territories occupied by the Soviet Union, and sent to the Far and Near East" (Report of the Proceedings, Volume IX, p. 673); he was not permitted to cite his references, nor to continue. The first Polish government in London had, meanwhile, published a paper according to which the number of Polish deportees lay between one million and 1,600,000 - 400,000 of whom perished during the voyage to the interior of Russia and among these, 77,834 children died out of 144,000 deported. It seems that this took place in February, April and June 1940, and June 1941. M. Montgomery Belgion, referring to the first Polish government in London added that according to information furnished to Miss Keren by the American Red Cross, and the Polish book The Dark Side of the Moon (London, 1943), the Russians extended the operation to the Balts: 60,940 Estonians, 60,000 Latvians, 70,000 Lithuanians.

May I add that in a small book, Le Problème de la Silésie et le Droit (The Problem of the Law and Silesia) which came out in 1958, the great French jurist Raymond de Geouffre de la Pradelle, referring to the 1947 Annual of the Central Statistics Office of Warsaw, published by the Polish government under Russian control, notes that 7,300,000 Germans were deported from Silesia to Germany by the Russians between July 1st, 1945 and January Ist; 1947, in application of an Anglo-American-Soviet convention on the transfer of populations. According to M. Jean de Pange, who made a study of this problem in the Revue des Deux Mondes of May 15th, 1952, the number of unfortunates who died during this operation, under inhuman conditions comparable in every way to those of our deportation to camps by the Germans, exceeded four million.

But evidently the Tribunal at Nuremberg was forbidden by the Charter to be apprised of that.

Against the Russians was further cited: the slaughter at Katyn for which a significant part of the world press still puts the burden of guilt on the Germans, although the Nuremberg Tribunal did not accept that, and in spite of the fact that it has now been established that they are to be charged to the Russian conscience; reprisals taken in 1944 against the Ukrainian and Polish civilian populations who had received the Germans as liberators in 1941; the treatment inflicted on German prisoners; the entry of Russian troops into all the German cities and the rape, pillage and massacre to which the civilians were subjected, etc.

In October 1944, in an "Appeal to the Red Army" which was not translated for the Nuremberg Tribunal, the Russo-chameleon writer Ilya Ehrenburg wrote:

"Kill, Kill! There are no innocent Germans, among the living, or among those yet to be born! Carry out Comrade Stalin's instructions to crush the fascist beast in his lair Shatter the pride [78] of the Germanic women with violence. Take them as lawful spoils. Kill, kill, valiant soldiers of the Red Army, in your irresistible onslaught. " (Cited by Admiral Doenitz in 10 Years and 20 Days, pp. 343-344)

The war on the Eastern front between Germans and Russians was savagely brutal, defiant of international conventions and totally dehumanised on both sides. The clash of the armies was repeated in the clash of ideologies and doctrines; although illegal in the eyes of international conventions, partisan warfare was, for example, one of the sacred dogmas of popular or national emancipation in the eyes of the Russians. The formula "eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth" is profoundly immoral. No one has the right to take justice into his own hands, especially one who recognises a higher authority which renders justice for all.

The Einsatzgruppen, the "50 to 100 hostages executed for one German soldier assassinated" (order of Keitel, September 16th, 1941), the liquidation of Russian political commissars, viewed as partisans not as soldiers, etc., must also be examined and judged as German replies to a violation of international conventions by the Russians. The fact that the Germans were present and had witnessed the Russian occupation of that part of Poland conferred to them in the German-Soviet Pact, made them able to appraise their methods of warfare, and was one of the determinants of the attitude taken in that respect by the Oberkommando der Wehrmacht (O.K.W.).

The Americans, British and French were no less disqualified as judges than the Russians and that for breaches of the laws and customs of war no less serious or no less deliberate. To the count of the first two figured the extermination of the civilian population of almost all German cities by applying what the British called "saturation bombing" and which we called "obliteration bombing" which, as the word indicates, could obliterate entire cities and their inhabitants, just as much as phosphorus bombings. At Dresden, Leipzig and Hamburg the wretches who died crushed under masses of rubble, or burned alive in monstrous conflagrations which could not be put out and who actually became screaming and inextinguishable human torches rushing for water - of which there was not enough or which was non-existent - were counted by the hundreds of thousands in a single night, in each of the three cities.

The case of the Russians was all the more curious since they had been condemned, on December 14th, 1939, as aggressors against Poland and Finland by the Assembly and Council of the League of Nations. The fact that they turned up as judges at Nuremberg shows, to say the least, an astonishing development in international law between 1939 and 1945.

The atomic bombs dropped on Nagasaki and Hiroshima which, at the time, surpassed anything that could be imagined for horror and cynicism in war crimes, were taken into consideration. Special [79] mention was also made of the bombing at sea of German submarines and naval vessels which were proceeding to the rescue of shipwrecked persons, after having given clear radio notice of their mission on international long wave radio. The most typical case was that of U-boats 156, 506 and 507 which, on September 13th, 1942, were moving (in conformity with the laws of the sea) to the rescue of the crew and passengers of the Laconia (freight ship, armed with 14 guns of which two were 150 min antiaircraft, grenades, etc. which put the ship in the prize category) which the U.156 had just torpedoed.

The record of the French is hardly any better: the Resistance and partisan war, which no clauses of The Hague protected; innumerable assassinations of German soldiers, stabbed in the back by invisible enemies; even massacres of prisoners who were protected by the Geneva Convention, such as the one that took place at Annecy (Savoy) on August 18th, 1944, and others in French camps after 1945, to such an extent that the International .Red Cross was so disturbed that it even roused President Eisenhower himself.

All these violations of the Geneva and The Hague Conventions, i.e. the written law, certainly do not excuse Germany, who did her share. I have simply made a summary inventory to show that the infringements were multilateral and to point out, first of all, that if Germany was to be judged it should not have been by those judges; second, that once having taken place, a qualified Tribunal should have used its discretionary power to demand the appearance of Russia, Britain, America and France next to Germany in the dock.

Declared inadmissible by Article 3 of the Charter because it questioned the competency of the Tribunal, which was set up on that assumption, the argument which the Nuremberg judges christened tu quoque (You, too - implying "you did it, too") was also inadmissible by virtue of Article 18, because it was necessary to proceed rapidly. "The Tribunal shall," the Article read, "a) confine the Trial strictly to a rapid (expeditious) hearing of the issues raised by the charges; b) take strict measures to prevent any action which will cause unreasonable delay, and rule out irrelevant issues and statements of any kind whatsoever."

Justice however, which requires assumptions, cannot fail to be expeditious, and being expeditious, it is no longer justice.


* * * *

If I selected the Laconia incident above all others and stated that it was typical, it is because more than any other it reveals a certain Machiavellianism in the Prosecution; in short, it was typical of that Machiavellianism.

The Laconia was a cargo ship which the Admiralty had turned into a troop transport. All other considerations apart, particularly [80] her offensive weapons, the equipment she carried for the detection of enemy submarines and the order to signal as soon as any had been detected... that alone put her, by the rules of the international conventions, in the category that could legitimately be torpedoed by the adversary. And I do not think that the right of the U.156 to torpedo her was questioned by anyone, at least not officially. A not too insistent attempt was made to rouse public opinion because of the 80 women and children on board. This was not pressed since it would have been easy to charge that their presence was an infraction of the international conventions, some- what as if on land a troop of soldiers advancing into battle had put them in front to keep the enemy from firing.

The Laconia was transporting 1,800 Italian prisoners of war who claimed, according to Admiral Doenitz (op.cit. p. 203) that "the British closed the hold doors, where they were when she was struck, and prevented them by force of arms from getting to the life-boats." You can hardly improve on that for a war crime!

What was actually argued at Nuremberg was the order which Admiral Doenitz issued, having drawn the logical conclusions from the American bombing of the rescuers who were acting in the great tradition of the sea, and the bombing of those who were shipwrecked, regardless of age or sex, who had been their allies.

"It is henceforth forbidden to attempt the rescue of persons on a torpedoed ship, or to pull men from the water to take them to small boats, to right-up turned over life boats, to provide food or water. Rescue is contrary to the most elementary principle of war, which commands the destruction of enemy ships and their crews."

The British prosecutor, Sir David Maxwell-Fyfe, did not fail to seize on this order to claim that it prescribed "the deliberate killing of ship-wrecked persons." It was all as if the British and Americans, who had driven the Germans to desist from rescue at sea, wanted to establish grounds for charging them with the consequences of the crime, magnifying it by the use of an exegesis in line with the rules of pilpoul, and keeping strictly quiet about the crime itself.

Very fortunately a courageous witness, Fleet Admiral Nimitz, Chief of Naval Operations of the United States, stated:

"On general principles, United States submarines did not rescue enemy survivors, if undue additional hazard to the submarine resulted, or the submarine would thereby be prevented from accomplishing its further mission." (Nur. Volume XVII, p. 389, session of July 2nd, 1946)

In this deposition, Admiral Nimitz furthermore took into account the order given by the American naval authorities on December 7th, 1941, to attack Japanese merchant vessels without warning, since they were "usually around."

So the charge was not held against Admiral Doenitz and therefore not against Germany by the Nuremberg Tribunal, but world [81] opinion was never informed of that by the press which, reporting the hearings, informed the world a million times over that Admiral Doenitz had ordered the deliberate massacre of the crew of torpedoed ships.

Even today a considerable part of the press continues to perform its doughty deeds with the same energy.

This kind of Machiavellianism, given free rein by the Prosecution in the presentation of the documents and facts pertaining to the Laconia, seems to have beeA the general rule throughout the trial. it is seen again in the case of the obliteration bombing, mentioned elsewhere.

But how did the British and Americans get this idea in the first place?

There are two views on this problem: the one generally held and which William L. Shirer adopts in his Rise and Fall of the Third Reich; and the other put forward by J. M. Spaight, British Air Cabinet Minister, in his Bombing Vindicated. Both are concerned only with the question of knowing who started it first, which, though morally without importance, is nonetheless very important with regard to The Hague articles, which maintain that it is not at all a matter of indifference to know whether it is a question of British and American retaliation or German retaliation.

This is what William L. Shirer says, and what he presents as the official view:

"To begin with, there was a minor navigational error by the pilots of a dozen German bombers on the night of August 23. Directed to drop their loads in aircraft factories and oil tanks on the outskirts of London, they missed their mark and dropped bombs on the centre of the capital, blowing up some homes and killing some civilians. The British thought it was deliberate and as retaliation bombed Berlin the next evening... The R.A.F. came over in greater force on the night of August 28-29, and, as I noted in my diary, 'for the first time killed Germans in the capital.' The official count was ten killed and twenty-nine wounded. "

The fact that this officially recognised navigational error was at that time interpreted as a deliberate action on the part of the Germans, and that it provoked the immediate reaction of a British laid on Berlin the following night is understandable and easily pardoned. That they returned in force a few days later, when the Germans had offered no further provocation, is less understandable.

And the fact that (on this the official contention and William L. Shirer are silent) they kept it up until they provoked the retaliatory bombardment of Coventry, Birmingham, Sheffield and Southampton - their justification for Dresden, Leipzig and cannot be understood at all, and cannot be excused.

The view of the British Cabinet Minister for the Air rings another bell and throw another light upon the subject. According to him, this system of bombardment was to have begun well before [82] August 23rd, 1940 - on May 11th, to be exact. The General Staff of the Admiralty decided on it on that day, and that very evening 18 Whitley bombers in waves dropped sheets of bombs on railway installations in the Ruhr, and unavoidably claimed an appreciable number of civilian victims. After that they were to continue insofar as they were not hindered by flak.

"Because we were doubtful about the psychological effect of propagandistic distortions of the truth that it was we who started the strategic bombing offensive, we have shrunk from giving our great decision of May 11th, 1940, the publicity (1) which it deserved. That, surely, was a mistake. It was a splendid decision. It was as heroic, as self-sacrificing, as Russia's decision to adopt her policy of "scorched earth." It gave Coventry and Birmingham, Sheffield and Southampton, the right to look Kiev and Kharkov, Stalingrad and Sebastopol in the face. Our Soviet Allies would have been less critical of our inactivity in 1942 if they had understood what we had done." (Bombing Vindicated, cited by Maurice Bardèche in Nuremberg ou la Terre Promise. Present translator took the text from J. F. P. Veale, Advance to Barbarism, p. 121.)

The Germans, however, were not aroused until bombs fell on Berlin. On August 31st and September 1st, "after a week of constant English night bombing," William L. Shirer writes, "most of the capital's dailies carried the same headline: 'Cowardly British Attack,' then 'British Air Pirates over Berlin.' "

Finally on September 4th, at the Sportspalast, in his speech at the opening of the Winterhilfe (Winter Help) campaign, Hitler roused the indignant crowd listening to him to wild enthusiasm, by declaring:

"For three months I did not answer because I believed that such madness would cease. Mr. Churchill took this for a sign of weakness. Right now we are answering night for night. When the British airforce drop two or three or four thousand kilos of bombs, we will drop in a single night 150, 200, 300 or 400,000 kilos."

Indeed, until then, except for the navigational error pointed out by William L. Shirer, the German air force had not replied. From then on came Coventry, Birmingham, Sheffield, Southampton and... London itself. One bombing led to another and in 1944, the waves of horror reached Dresden, Leipzig, Hamburg and other places, but in 1944 Germany was unable to retaliate and the blankets of bombs fell on an enemy whose shoulders were already to the ground.

Concerning the crime which, according to both William L. Shirer and J. M. Spaight, was set in motion by the General Staff of the Admiralty, and of which both sides - the judge as well as the defendant - were guilty, the Nuremberg Tribunal accepted in evidence only the German reprisals, that is, those steps ordered to [83] be taken against British and American aviators forced to land on German territory for one reason or another, caught, so to speak, in the act.

The best known of these incidents, the one that raised the greatest outcry because it was considered inhuman, was the one disclosed in a memorandum found in the papers of the O.K.W., dated May 21st, 1944, regarding a decision of Hitler to have shot without trial the crews of the British or American planes responsible for certain specific actions. (Doc. P.S. 731, Volume XXVI, pp. 275-276)

This is what was contained in that memorandum, taken from the document volume cited above:

"The Führer has decided that in special cases the following measures shall be taken with regard to British and American crews. Enemy fliers brought down are to be shot without due process of law, in the following instances:

As it was presented this memorandum became an order, with nothing to show whether it was ever executed. The press reporting the Trial surrounded this note with an air of implication about "eternally inhuman Germany," tied it in with other similar notes or extracts taken out of context from other orders termed crimes, and that was all they said when it was presented to the Tribunal on March 20th, 1946. (op. cit. Volume IX, pp. 604-605) But if we take a look at the cross-examination of Goering (same date) we find that a mention is made in the margin of Warlimont, Chief of the General Staff, deputy to the Wehrmacht operations, of Keitel, Jodl, of General Korten, etc. ... and that what was intended was a poll of the members of the General Staff of the O.K.W. on a proposed order that Hitler had in mind. And if we look at Keitel's cross-examination (op. cit. Volume X, p. 572, and Volume XI, p. 21, April 4th and 8th, 1946) we learn that it concerned "a continual exchange of ideas expressed here and there about a measure Hitler wanted, which, thank God, was not put into effect, because the necessary instructions were not transmitted, and no order from the O.K.W. was ever set down or given, to this effect."

The Tribunal was obliged to yield to the evidence. Not so the press. Even today, many after-the-event anti-Nazi propagandists who call themselves historians, continue to publish, in the news or in books, this memorandum, probably jotted down during some class, which they take for one of a series of orders effectively executed.

It is true that British and American fliers were actually lynched or killed on the spot by a crowd up in arms which rushed on them when they touched the ground. But that is something else -- a blameworthy group reaction, certainly, but very understandable.

The Prosecution wanted to have it that this group reaction had been ordered by remote control, by the directors of the Third Reich in the midst of war. And, to prove it, more documents were produced. Heading the list were the relevant notes, emanating from Warlimont, deputy to Keitel, documents P.S. 735 and P.S. 740 (op. cit. Volume XXVI, pp. 276 and 279). These documents implicated Goering and Ribbentrop in connection with a conference which supposedly took place some time before June 6th, 1944, at Kelssheim Castle, during which, together with Himmler, they decided on a joint stand in conformity with what was laid down in the memorandum of May 21st. Unfortunately this meeting at Klessheim never took place, except in Warlimont's imagination. From whom Kaltenbrunner got the information is not reported. Moreover, Ribbentrop and Kaltenbrunner were able to prove without difficulty that they did not share, any more than did Keitel, those views that seemed to have been Hitler's, concerning the treatment of British and American fliers.

As their evidence crumbled, the Prosecution - determined at all costs to score a point - did not shrink from reaching back to an order of Hess, dated March 13th, 1940, relative to instructions to be given to the civilian population on the attitude to be taken in case of enemy plane or parachute landings on Reich territory (P.S. 062, Volume XXV, p. 119). In the fourth paragraph it stated that "enemy parachutists are to be arrested immediately and rendered harmless." Justice Jackson translated "rendered harmless" as "liquidated," doubtless because it was more in the fashion at the time, and his translation went around the world and continues in use in the press.

Then came an order from Himmler dated August 10th, 1943 (Doc. R. 110, Volume XXXVIII, pp. 313-314). For the benefit of all the superior officers of the operations services of the S.S. and the police, Himmler said, "It is not the business of the police to intervene in conflicts between the German civilian population and the British or American terrorist aviators, who have had to take to the parachute." Translation by the Prosecution: "...the army received orders not to protect them from lynching by the people. The Nazi government through its propaganda and police agents, took care to urge the civil population to attack and to kill fliers crashed to earth." (Session of November 21st, 1945. Volume II, p. 147) But, in his speech, Dr. Gawlik (counsel for the S.D. after March 18th, 1946) claimed, first, that this order was addressed to the police only, not to the army, which is, after all, evident; second, that actually it was not the business of the police but of the S.D., whose job it continued to be. (Volume XXII, p. 40, session of August 27th, 1946) [85]

Then came Hitler's order, dated October 18th, 1942, re: the destruction of commandos and parachutists (Doc. P.S. 498, Volume XXVI, pp. 100-101). At least, this order was presented by the Prosecution in those terms. One has only to read it to see that "commando parachutists," not parachutists, or simple commandos are meant, those who are sent behind the lines to wage a kind of warfare rigorously forbidden by the Geneva conventions. This may be judged by the three essential points, given in as literal as possible a translation:

"Enemy not acting within Geneva convention, using liberated criminals for brutal commando work; they kill prisoners, and orders to this effect have been found. From now on we will do the same with British sabotage troops. So, I order, no pardons, even if they seem to be surrendering... " (Condensed, Tr.)

Three more paragraphs specified further that if certain of those spies or saboteurs fell into the hands of the army, they should be at once handed over to the S.D.; that this order did not apply to enemy soldiers taken prisoner in open fighting; that chiefs of units and officers guilty of negligence in its execution would be liable to court-martial.

Finally, another and complementary order of the Führer, with the same date, gave explanation to Paragraph I of the original order.

It could be held on many points that this order was in contradiction of the Geneva and Hague conventions; but if it was judicially accepted, it had also to be admitted that one violation corresponded to the other, and both should have been judged. However, by application of Article 18 of the Charter, the first violation was declared "irrelevant," so only the second was admitted. And this was given out to the public with stress on such phrases as "soldiers in uniform or out" ... (commandos were issued uniforms for use in case they were captured in action, and civilian clothes for flight, mission accomplished), "with or without arms" (once in plain clothes, the arms were discarded), and it was not mentioned that the order did not include regular troops, as it expressly stated. If I have said that this order was also in contradiction of the Geneva and Hague conventions, it is because at least in the case of civilians, captured without arms, guilt could not be established without an investigation followed by a judgement. In any case, the business of "commando parachutists" had nothing in common with that of the fliers, with which it was associated, and therein lies the Machiavellianism. It should also be added that the document was read in German to the German defendants, that the actual title "Geheime Kommandosache" which was given, underlining that they were "durch Flugzeuge angelandet oder mittels Fallsschirmen," to which the defendants could only nod, was translated into all the other languages as "commandos and parachutists," to make the association, and this, too, is not without a certain Machiavellianism.

One affair of British and American aviators -- there was one, and a true one -- that of the escapees from Luft Stalag III at Sagan (Silesia). On the night of March 24th-25th, 1944, 76 officers of the R.A.F. escaped from that camp which was allocated to prisoners of the Allied Air Army. Except for three, all were recaptured. Twenty-three did not get beyond the outskirts of the camp and were brought back during the day by the Observation Service of the Wehrmacht; the other 50 who fell into the hands of the police at various places in Germany within 48 hours were shot. First the International Red Cross, then the Protective Power -- in this case Switzerland -- were aroused, and Eden protested in the House of Commons. On June 12th, the Swiss Minister at Berlin received an official note from the German Minister of Foreign Affairs, explaining that the 50 escapees had been shot by the police "either when they resisted at the moment of their recapture, or during an attempt to escape again after their recapture." But the investigation of the International Red Cross and the Protective Power established without difficulty that that was not true, and that they had been shot on an order given to Himmler by Hitler. The order was unknown to all the defendants at the Nuremberg Trial except one - Kaltenbrunner - who had retransmitted it, after receiving it from Hitler via Himmler, to the executive echelon of the R.S.H.A., of which he was the Head. This was a patent violation of that Geneva convention which recognises the right to escape. As to whether Hitler actually issued this order, all the testimony is in agreement. That of Keitel (Volume XI, pp.. 8 ff.) and of Goering (Volume IX, pp. 380 ff.) (on whom the Prosecution wanted to put the responsibility for the matter) are particularly honest. Both showed conclusively that not only did they take no part, but that they were placed in such positions that they could do nothing to prevent it. Hitler went over Keitel's head, and Goering was informed too late. As for Kaltenbrunner and Ribbentrop, the first said that he merely transmitted an order which came from his superior, and that there were no two ways about it; the second offered an explanation which had been given him after an enquiry.

As far as I know, no exactly similar infractions in the treatment of war prisoners on the part of the British and Americans.have been brought out. I have shown that others, in no way less horrible, were noted. Those of the Russians - who signed neither The Hague nor the Geneva conventions and therefore permitted themselves every licence - were worse. Even the French are not snow white. We have seen that in one case at least (Annecy) they did not wait for the prisoners to escape before shooting them en masse.

To sum up: the documents established that in Germany the pattern was for downed fliers to be sent to prisoner of war camps unless they were categorised as terrorists. The latter were turned over to the S.D., summarily judged and sentenced to death or sent [87] to concentration camps. In this category of documents belong those like the memorandum found in the papers of the O.K.W., dated May 21st, 1944, which established that Hitler wanted, but was unable to achieve, shooting without any legal procedure. At Nuremberg, Goering maintained that it was learned from interrogation of these terrorists that their governments had forbidden them to engage in the very acts they had performed, and that they were war criminals in the fullest sense of the term. And the Allies did not act any differently. Naval Lieutenant Eyck, commander of the U.582, was condemned to death together with all the officers on board, by a British war council after being sunk and taken prisoner following his destruction by gunfire of the flotsam and shipwrecked persons of a merchant ship which he had just torpedoed. They were executed on November 30th, 1945.

These are but a few examples to demonstrate that the accusation of war crimes could be applied to the judges as well as the defendants and therefore, irrefutably, to establish the incompetency of the Tribunal in the light of International Law as it was then.

1./ This book was not published in Britain until April 1944.

[ 1 ] [ 2 ] [ 3 ] [ 4 ] [ 5 ] [ 6 ] [ 7 ] [ 8 ]

The whole book in one clic

This text has been displayed on the Net, and forwarded to you as a tool for educational purpose, further research, on a non commercial and fair use basis, by the International Secretariat of the Association des Anciens Amateurs de Recits de Guerres et d'Holocaustes (AAARGH). The E-mail of the Secretariat is < Mail can be sent at PO Box 81475, Chicago, IL 60681-0475, USA..
We see the act of displaying a written document on Internet as the equivalent to displaying it on the shelves of a public library. It costs us a modicum of labor and money. The only benefit accrues to the reader who, we surmise, thinks by himself. A reader looks for a document on the Web at his or her own risks. As for the author, there is no reason to suppose that he or she shares any responsibilty for other writings displayed on this Site. Because laws enforcing a specific censorship on some historical question apply in various countries (Germany, France, Israel, Switzerland, Canada, and others) we do not ask their permission from authors living in thoses places: they wouldn't have the freedom to consent.
We believe we are protected by the Human Rights Charter:

ARTICLE 19. <Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.>The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on December 10, 1948, in Paris.

[ Accueil général ] [ Homepage English ] [ Rassinier Archive ]

You downloaded this document from: