The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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                                                   [Page 47]


THE PRESIDENT: A motion has been filed with the Tribunal and
the Tribunal has given it consideration. In so far as it may
be a plea to the jurisdiction the Tribunal, it conflicts
with Article 3 of the Charter and will not be entertained.
In so far as it may contain other arguments which may be
open to the defendants they may be heard at a later stage.

Now, in accordance with Article 24 of the Charter, which
provides that, the indictment has been read in Court, the
defendants shall be called upon plead guilty or not guilty,
I direct the defendants to plead either guilty or not

DR. RUDOLF DIX (Counsel for defendant Schacht): May I speak
to Your Lordship for just a moment?

THE PRESIDENT: You may not speak to me in support of the
motion with I have just dealt on behalf of the Tribunal. I
have told you so far as that motion is a plea to the
jurisdiction of the Tribunal, it conflicts with Article 2 of
the Charter and will not be entertained. In so far as it
contains or may contain arguments which may be open to the
defendants, those arguments may be heard hereafter.

DR. DIX: I do not wish to speak on the subject of a motion.
As speaker for the defence I should like to broach a
technical question and voice a request to this effect on
behalf of the defence. May I do so? The defence counsel were
forbidden to talk to the defendants this morning. It is
absolutely necessary that the defence counsel should be able
to speak to the defendants before the session. It often
happens that after the session one cannot reach one's client
at night. In all probability it might prove necessary to
prepare matters overnight for the next morning which one
wants to talk over with him. According to our experience it
is always permissible for the defence counsel to speak to
the defendant the session. The question of conferring
between defence counsel and clients during sessions could be
dealt with at a later date. At present I request, on behalf
of the entire defence, that we be allowed to confer with our
clients in the courtroom itself, into which they usually are
brought at a very early hour. Otherwise we shall not be in a
position to conduct the defence in an efficient and
appropriate manner.

THE PRESIDENT: I am afraid that you cannot consult with your
clients in the courtroom except by written communication.
When you are out of the courtroom, security regulations can
be carried out and you have, so far as those security
regulations go, full opportunity to consult with your
clients. In the courtroom we must confine you to written
communications to your clients. At the end of each day's
sitting, you will have full opportunity to consult with them
in private.

DR. DIX: I shall discuss this with my colleagues of the
defence and we should like if possible to return to this

DR. RALPH THOMA (Counsel for defendant Rosenberg): May I
have the floor?

THE PRESIDENT: Will you state your name please.

DR. THOMA: Dr. Ralph Thoma. I represent the defendant
Rosenberg. Yesterday my client gave me a statement as
regards the question of guilt or innocence. I took this
statement and promised him to talk with him about it.
Neither last night nor this morning have I had an
opportunity to talk with him; and, consequently, neither I
nor my client are in a position to make a statement to-day
as to whether he is guilty or not guilty. I therefore
request an interruption of the trial so that I may speak
with my client.

                                                   [Page 48]

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Thoma, the Tribunal will be prepared to
adjourn for fifteen minutes in order that you may have an
opportunity of consulting with your clients.

DR. THOMA: Thank you. I should like to make another
statement. Some of my colleagues have just told me that they
are in the same position as I, particularly ...

THE PRESIDENT: I meant that all defence counsel should have
an opportunity of consulting with their clients; but I would
point out to the defence counsel that they have had several
weeks preparation for this trial, and that they must have
anticipated that the provisions of Article 24 would be
followed. Now we will adjourn for fifteen minutes in which
all of you may consult with your clients.

DR. THOMA: May I say something further in that respect, your
Honour ?


DR. THOMA: The defence asked whether the question of guilty
or not guilty could only be answered with "yes" or "no" or
whether a more extensive and longer statement could be made.
We have obtained information on this point only the day
before yesterday. I therefore had no opportunity to confer
at length with my client on this matter.

THE PRESIDENT: One moment. The question will have to be
answered in the words of Article 24 of the Charter, and
those words are printed in italics:

  "The tribunal shall ask each defendant whether he pleads
  guilty or not guilty."

That is what they have to do at that stage. Of course, the
defendants will have a full opportunity themselves, if they
are called as witnesses, and by their counsel, to make their
defence fully at a later stage.

(A recess was taken.)

THE PRESIDENT: I will now call upon the defendants to plead
guilty or not guilty to the charges against them. They will
proceed in turn to a point in the dock opposite to the

THE PRESIDENT: Hermann Goering.

HERMANN GOERING: Before I answer the question of the high
court whether or not I am guilty-

THE PRESIDENT: I announced that defendants were not entitled
to make a statement. You must plead guilty or not guilty.

HERRMANN GOERING: I declare myself in the sense of the
indictment not guilty.



THE PRESIDENT: That will be entered as a plea of not guilty.

THE PRESIDENT: If there is any disturbance in Court, those
who make it will have to leave the Court.

THE PRESIDENT: Joachim von Ribbentrop.

JOACHIM VON RIBBENTROP: I declare myself in the sense of the
indictment not guilty.

THE PRESIDENT: Wilhelm Keitel.

WILHELM KEITEL: I declare myself not guilty.

THE PRESIDENT: In the absence of Ernst Kaltenbrunner, the
trial will proceed against him, but he will have an
opportunity of pleading when he is sufficiently well to be
brought back into court.

THE PRESIDENT: Alfred Rosenberg.

ALFRED ROSENBERG: I declare myself in the sense of the
indictment not guilty.


HANS FRANK: I declare myself not guilty.

THE PRESIDENT: Wilhelm Frick.

WILHELM FRICK: Not guilty.

THE PRESIDENT: Julius Streicher.


                                                   [Page 49]


WALTER FUNK: I declare myself not guilty.

THE PRESIDENT: Hjalmar Schacht.

HJALMAR SCHACHT: I am not guilty in any respect.


KARL DONITZ: Not guilty.

THE PRESIDENT: Erich Raeder.

ERICH RAEDER: I declare myself not guilty.

THE PRESIDENT: Baldur von Schirach.

BALDUR VON SCHIRACH: I declare myself in the sense of the
indictment not guilty.

THE PRESIDENT: Fritz Sauckel.

FRITZ SAUCKEL: I declare myself in the sense of the
indictment, before God and the world and particularly before
my people, not guilty.


ALFRED JODL: Not guilty. What I have done or had to do, I
have a pure conscience form before God, before history and
my people.

THE PRESIDENT: Franz von Papen.

FRANZ VON PAPEN: I declare myself in no way guilty.

THE PRESIDENT: Artur Seyss-Inquart.

ARTUR SEYSS-INQUART: I declare myself not guilty.

THE PRESIDENT: Albert Speer.

ALBERT SPEER: Not guilty.

THE PRESIDENT: Constantin von Neurath.

CONSTANTIN VON NEURATH: I answer the question in the

THE PRESIDENT: Hans Fritzsche.

HANS FRITZSCHE: As regard this indictment, not guilty.

(At this point Hermann Goering arose in the prisoners' box.)

THE PRESIDENT: You are not entitled to address the Tribunal,
except through your counsel, at the present time. I will now
call upon the Chief Prosecutor for the United States of

(At this point defendant Goering stood up in the prisoners'
dock and attempted to address the Tribunal.)

MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: May it please Your Honour, the
privilege of opening the first trial in history for crimes
against the peace of the world imposes a grave
responsibility. The wrongs which we seek to condemn and
punish have been so calculated, so malignant and so
devastating, that civilisation cannot tolerate their being
ignored, because it cannot survive their being repeated.
That four great nations, flushed with victory and stung with
injury, stay the hands of vengeance and voluntarily submit
their captive enemies to the judgement of the law, is one of
the most significant tributes that Power ever has paid to

This Tribunal, while it is novel and experimental, is not
the product of abstract speculations nor is it created to
vindicate legalistic theories. This inquest represents the
practical effort of four of the most mighty of nations, with
the support of seventeen more, to utilise International Law
to meet the greatest menace of our times - aggressive war.
The common sense of mankind demands that law shall not stop
with the punishment of petty crimes by little people. It
must also reach men who possess themselves of great power
and make deliberate and concerted use of it to set in motion
evils which leave no home in the world untouched. It is a
cause of that magnitude that the United Nations will lay
before Your Honour.

In the prisoners' dock sit twenty-odd broken men. Reproached
by the humiliation of those they have led, almost as
bitterly as by the desolation of those they have attacked,
their personal capacity for evil is forever past. It is hard
now to perceive in these miserable men as captives the power
by which as Nazi leaders

                                                   [Page 50]

they once dominated much of the world and terrified most of
it. Merely as individuals their fate is of little
consequence to the world.

What makes this inquest significant is that these prisoners
represent sinister influences that will lurk in the world
long after their bodies have returned to dust. We will show
them to be living symbols of racial hatreds, of terrorism
and violence, and of the arrogance and cruelty of power.
They are symbols of fierce nationalism and of militarism, of
intrigue and war-making which embroiled Europe, generation
after generation, crushing its manhood, destroying its
homes, and impoverishing its life. They have so identified
themselves with the philosophies they conceived, and with
the forces they have directed, that tenderness to them is a
victory and an encouragement to all the evils which attached
to their names. Civilisation can afford no compromise with
the forces which would gain renewed strength if we deal
ambiguously or with the men in whom those forces now
precariously survive.

What these men stand for we will patiently and temperately
disclose. We will give you undeniable proofs of incredible
events. The catalogue of crimes will omit nothing that could
be conceived by a pathological pride, cruelty, and lust for
power. These men created in Germany, under the
"Fuehrerprinzip," a National Socialist despotism equalled
only by the dynasties of the ancient East. They took from
the German people all those dignities and freedoms that we
hold natural and inalienable rights in every human being,
The people were compensated by inflaming and gratifying
hatreds towards those who were marked as "scapegoats."
Against their opponents, including Jews, Catholics, and free
labour the Nazis directed such a campaign of arrogance,
brutality, and annihilation as the world has not witnessed
since the pre-Christian ages. They excited the German
ambition to be a "master race," which of course implies
serfdom others. They led their people on a mad gamble for
domination. They diverted social energies and resources to
the creation of what they thought to be an invincible war
machine. They overran their neighbours. To sustain the
"master race" in its war-making, they enslaved millions of
human beings and brought them into Germany, where these
hapless creatures now wander as "displaced persons." At
length, bestiality and bad faith reached such excess that
they aroused the sleeping strength of imperilled
Civilisation. Its united efforts have ground the German war
machine to fragments. But the struggle has left Europe a
liberated yet prostrate land where a demoralised society
struggles to survive. These are the fruits of the sinister
forces that sit with these defendants in the prisoners'

In justice to the nations and the men associated in this
prosecution, I must remind you of certain difficulties which
may leave their mark on this case. Never before in legal
history has an effort been made to bring within the scope of
a single litigation the developments of a decade covering a
whole continent, and involving a score of nations, countless
individuals, and innumerable events. Despite the magnitude
of the task, the world has demanded immediate action. This
demand has had to be met, though perhaps at the cost of
finished craftsmanship. In my country, established courts,
following familiar procedures, applying well-thumbed
precedents, and dealing with the legal consequences of local
and limited events, seldom commence a trial within a year of
the event in litigation. Yet less than eight months ago to-
day the courtroom in which you sit was an enemy fortress in
the hands of German S.S. troops. Less than eight months ago
nearly all our witnesses and documents were in enemy hands.
The law had not been codified, no procedures had been
established, no tribunal was in existence, no usable
courthouse stood here, none of the hundreds of tons of
official German documents had been examined, no prosecuting
staff had been assembled, nearly all of the present
defendants were at large, and the four prosecuting powers
had not yet joined in common cause to try them. I should be
the last to deny that the case may well suffer from
incomplete researches, and quite likely will not be the
example of professional work which any of the prosecuting
nations would

                                                   [Page 51]

normally wish to sponsor. It is, however, a completely
adequate case to the judgement we shall ask you to render,
and its full development we shall be obliged to leave to

Before I discuss particulars of evidence, some general
considerations which may affect the credit of this trial in
the eyes of the world should be candidly faced. There is a
dramatic disparity between the circumstances of the accusers
and of the accused that might discredit our work if we
should falter, in even minor matters, in being fair and

Unfortunately, the nature of these crimes is such that both
prosecution and judgement must be by victor nations over
vanquished foes. The world-wide scope of the aggressions
carried out by these men has left but few real neutrals.
Either the victors must judge the vanquished or we must
leave the defeated to judge themselves. After the First
World War we learned the futility of the latter course. The
former high station of these defendants, the notoriety of
their acts, and the adaptability of their conduct to provoke
retaliation make it hard to distinguish between the demand
for a just and measured retribution, and the unthinking cry
for vengeance which arises from the anguish of war. It is
our task, so far as is humanly possible, to draw the line
between the two. We must never forget that the record on
which we judge these defendants today is the record on which
history will judge us tomorrow. To pass these defendants a
poisoned chalice is to put it to our lips as well. We must
summon such detachment and intellectual integrity to our
task that this trial will commend itself to posterity as
fulfilling humanity's aspirations to do justice.

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