The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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Q. You mentioned Germany as your intellectual home. Will you
tell the Tribunal through which studies and by which
scientists you were influenced in favour of Germany?

A. In addition to my immediate artistic interest in
architecture and painting, I had since childhood pursued
historical and philosophical studies and thus, of course, I
felt compelled to read Goethe, Herder and Fichte in order to
develop intellectually along these lines. At the same time,
I was influenced by the social ideas of Charles Dickens,
Carlyle, and Emerson. I continued these studies at Riga,
and, of course, I took up Kant and Schopenhauer, and, above
all, I devoted myself to the study of the philosophy of
India and similar schools of thought. Later, of course, I
studied major European historians of the history of

                                                  [Page 380]

Burckhardt and Rhode, Ranke and Treitschke, Mominsen and
Schlieffen. Finally, in Munich, I started to study modern
biology more closely.

Q. You frequently mentioned in the course of your speeches
"the embodiment of the idea." Was this due to Goethe's

A. Yes, it is a matter of course that the idea, to see the
world as an embodiment, goes back to Goethe.

THE PRESIDENT: The Tribunal, you see, wants you to confine
yourself to your own philosophy and not to the origins of
these philosophies, in so far as you are referring to
philosophical subjects at all.


Q. How did you come to the N.S.D.A.P. and to Hitler in

A. In May, 1919, the publisher of the journal which I
mentioned was visited by a man by the name of Anton Drexler,
who introduced himself as the chairman of the newly founded
German Labour Party. He stated that he advocated ideas
similar to those expressed by this journal, and from that
time I began to have connections with a very small group of
that party, a group which had been formed in Munich. There,
in the autumn of 1919, I also met Hitler.

Q. When did you join Hitler?

A. Well, at that time I had a serious conversation with
Hitler, and on that occasion I noticed his broad view of the
entire European situation. He said that, in his opinion,
Europe was at that time going through a social and political
crisis, such as had not been experienced since the fall of
the ancient Roman Empire. He said that the seeds of unrest
were to be found everywhere in this sphere and that he was
personally striving to get a clear picture from the
viewpoint of Germany's restoration to sound conditions.
Thereupon, I listened to some of the first speeches by
Hitler which were made at small meetings of forty and fifty
people. I believed, above all, a soldier who had been at the
front and who had done his duty silently for four and a half
years had the right to speak now.

At the end of 1919, I entered the Party, not before Hitler,
as it is contended here, but later. In this original Party I
was assigned No. 625 as a member.

I did not participate in setting up the programme. However,
I was present when this programme was read publicly and
launched by Hitler on 24th February, 1920.

Q. Then you gave a justification of the Party programme and
probably you wanted to solve the problems which arose from
the social and political crisis. What did you consider was
the solution of these problems?

A. In response to different inquiries regarding the twenty-
five points of the programme I wrote a commentary at the end
of 1922, which has been read to the Tribunal in fragments.
Our entire attitude at the time may perhaps be stated
briefly as follows:

The technical revolution of the nineteenth century had
certain social and spiritual consequences. So-called
rationalism and the demand that every activity be profitable
(Rentabilitaet) dominated life and created the industrial
countries and the metropolitian cities with all their
backyards and their estrangement from nature and history.

At the turn of the century many people who were passionately
interested in their homeland and its history turned against
this one-sided movement. The revival of tradition, folk-song
and folk-lore of the past originated with the youth movement
of that time. The works of art, e.g. by Professor Schultze-
Naumburg and by some poets, were a characteristic protest
against this one-sided movement of the times, and it was
along these lines that National Socialism attempted to gain
a foothold; in full consciousness, though, that it was a
modern movement, and not a movement of retrospection. We
took ideas from the social movement of Stoecker and the
national movement of Schoenerer in Austria without taking
the entire movement as a model. I would like to add that the
name "National Socialism," I believe, originated in the
Sudetenland, and there the small German Labour

                                                  [Page 381]

Party was founded under the name of "National Socialist
German Labour Party."

Perhaps I may be permitted to state the essential idea which
guided us and the reason we called ourselves National
Socialists. I believe many terrible things have been
mentioned during these three months by the prosecution
whilst presenting its case, but nothing has been said about
National Socialism. We were, at the time, aware of the fact
that there were two hostile camps in Germany and that in
both camps millions of decent Germans were fighting each
other politically. The problem facing us was the question of
what was acceptable in both these camps from the viewpoint
of national unity and what it was that prevented the
reconciliation of these two camps. In short, at that time as
well as later, we told the proletarian side, that even if
the class-conflict had been and still was a factor in social
and political life, nevertheless as an ideological basis and
permanent device it would mean eternal disunity of the
nation. Directing a movement of social appeasement or any
kind of social conflict by an international centre, was the
second decisive obstacle to settling the social conflicts.
The call and the desire for social justice of labour as a
whole was, however, justified, worthy and necessary.
Concerning the bourgeoisie we believed we would be able to
establish that, in some cases, the reactionary caste
prejudice of privileged circles had worked to the detriment
of the people. We considered that the representation of
national interests should not be based on privileges of
certain classes but, on the contrary, on a national basis;
the demand for national unity and dignified representation
on the part of the people was the right attitude. This
resulted for Hitler in the device ...

THE PRESIDENT (interposing): Dr. Thoma, would you try to
confine the witness to the charges which are against him?
The charges against the defendants are not that they
attempted to reconstruct Germany, but that they developed
their form of reconstruction with a view to attacking races
and nations outside the Reich.

DR. THOMA: But, in my opinion, we have to devote some time
to Rosenberg's train of thought to determine the motives for
his actions, but I will now ask him this:


Q. Did you realise that these questions of socialism and the
question of labour and capital included some questions which
were international questions rather than just national? And
why did you fight against democracy, as a matter of
international struggle?

MR. DODD: Mr. President, I think this is a continuation of
the same line of examination, and I should like to say that
no one in the prosecution has made any charge against this
defendant for what he has thought. I think we are all, as a
matter of principle, opposed to prosecuting any man for what
he thinks. And I say with great respect that I feel very
confident that is the attitude of this Tribunal. Therefore,
we think it is entirely unnecessary to bring out whatever
thoughts this defendant had on these subjects, or on any
other, for that matter.

DR. THOMA: To my knowledge the defendant is also accused of
fighting democracy, and that is why I believe I should put
this question to him.

THE PRESIDENT: What is the question?

DR. THOMA: Why he was fighting democracy, why National
Socialism and he himself fought against democracy.

THE PRESIDENT: I don't think that has got anything to do
with this case. The only question is whether he used
National Socialism for the purpose of conducting

DR. THOMA: Mr, President, National Socialism as a concept
must be resolved into its constituent parts. Since the
prosecution maintains that National Socialism was a fight
against democracy, a one-sided emphasis on nationalism and a
one-sided emphasis on militarism, he must now have the
opportunity to say why National Socialism supported
militarism and whether that was actually the case.

                                                  [Page 382]

National Socialism must be analysed as a concept in order to
determine its constituent parts.

THE PRESIDENT: What National Socialism was has already been
shown to the Tribunal, and he is not disputing the fact that
there was a Fuehrer principle introduced into Germany. There
is no question about that, why it was introduced. If it was
introduced for solely internal purposes there would be no
charge in respect of that. The only charges are that
National Socialism was used for the purpose of making
aggressive war and perpetrating the other crimes of which we
have heard.

DR. THOMA: To my knowledge the charge of waging a war of
aggression was preferred because it was a war against
democracy based on nationalism and militarism.

THE PRESIDENT (interposing): Democracy outside Germany, not
in Germany.


Q. Then I would like to ask the defendant how he will answer
the charge that National Socialism preached a master-race.

A. I know that this problem is one of the nuclear points of
the Indictment, and I realise that at present, in view of
the number of terrible incidents, conclusions are
automatically drawn about the past and the reason for the
origin of the so-called racial science (Rassenkunde). I
believe, however, that it is of decisive importance in
judging this problem to know exactly what we were concerned

I have never heard the word master-race (Herrenrasse) as
often as in this courtroom. To my knowledge I did not
mention or use it at all in my writings. I looked through my
"Writings and Speeches" again and did not find this word. I
spoke of a master-race as mentioned by Homer only once, and
I found a quotation from a British author, who, in writing
about the life of Lord Kitchener, said the Englishman who
had conquered the world had proved himself as a creative
superman (Herrenmensch). Then I found the word master-race
(Herrenrasse) in a writing of the American ethnologist,
Madison Grant, and of the French ethnologist, Lapouge.

I would like to admit, however, and not only to admit, but
to emphasise that the word "superman" (Herrenmensch) came to
my attention particularly during my activity as Minister in
the East; and very unpleasantly when used by a number of
leaders of the administration in the East. Perhaps when we
come to the question of the East I may return to this
subject in detail and state what position I took in regard
to these utterances which came to my attention. In
principle, however, I was convinced that ethnology was,
after all, not an invention of the National Socialist
movement but a biological discovery, which was the
conclusion of 400 years of European research. The laws of
heredity discovered in the 1860s, and rediscovered several
decades later, enable us to gain a deeper insight into
history than many other earlier theories.

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Thoma, the defendant is going back now
into the origins of the views which he held. Surely, all we
have got to consider here is his statement in speeches and
in documents and the use to which he put those statements,
not as to whether they were 400 years old or anything of
that sort.

DR. THOMA: The defendant just spoke about the racial
problem, and I will take the opportunity to speak on the so-
called Jewish problem as the final point for this question.
I would like to ask the defendant the following question:
How was it -

GENERAL RUDENKO: Mr. President, already my colleague, Mr.
Dodd, pointed out that the prosecution has submitted to the
defendants an accusation stating in concrete terms their
crimes. I suppose that the most correct way of carrying on
the interrogation of his client on the part of Dr. Thoma
would be to pose concrete questions to the charges brought
against the defendant. I don't suppose that the Tribunal
intends to listen to a lecture on the racial theories,
National Socialism or other theories.

DR. THOMA: Mr. President, I shall deal with the individual
questions later but since the ideology and the philosophy of
the Nazis have been called criminal here,

                                                  [Page 383]

I think he should be given some opportunity to state his
views. Of course, it would be better and perhaps more
appropriate, Herr Rosenberg, if you were a little more brief
in some respects.


Q. Now I would like to ask the following question: You
believed that the so-called Jewish problem in Europe could
only be solved by removing the Jews from the European
Continent. At that time you stated it was immaterial whether
such a programme was realised in five, ten, or twenty years.
It was, after all, merely a matter of transport facilities,
and you, at the time, thought, it advisable to put this
question before an international committee. How and why did
you arrive at this opinion? I mean to say, how, in your
opinion, would the departure of the last Jew from Europe
solve the problem?

A. In order to comply with the wish of the Tribunal I do not
want to give a lengthy exposition of my views as evolved
from my study of history. I do not at all mean the study of
anti-Semitic writings but of Jewish historians themselves.

It seemed to me that after an epoch of generous emancipation
in the course of national movements of the nineteenth
century, an essential part of the Jewish nation also
remembered its own tradition and its own character and more
and more consciously segregated itself from other nations.
It was a problem which was being discussed at many
international congresses, and in particular, Buber, who was
one of the spiritual leaders of European Jewry, declared
that the Jews should return to the soil of Asia, for only
there could the roots of Jewish blood and of Jewish national
character be found.

But my attitude in the political sphere to the Jewish
question was due partly to my observations and experience of
Jews in Russia and later to my experience of them in
Germany, which especially seemed to confirm their
strangeness. I could not quite understand how, at the time
when the German soldiers returned, they were greeted by a
Jewish university professor who said that the German
soldiers had died on the field of dishonour. I could not
understand that such lack of respect could go so far. If it
had been a statement by one single individual, one could
have said that the man was crazy, but in the course of
fourteen years it became apparent that it was obviously the
expression of a definitely different and hostile tendency.

Q. Herr Rosenberg, I believe we should also discuss the fact
that opposition was partly due to the contradiction provoked
by certain National Socialist newspaper articles.

A. The statements of the opposite side, as they appeared
constantly during these fourteen years, had in part already
appeared prior to the rise of the National Socialist
movement. After all, the incidents of the "Rate-Republic" in
Munich and in Hungary took place long before the National
Socialist movement could gain influence.

Q. Herr Rosenberg, what do you have to say to the fact that
in the First World War 12,000 Jewish soldiers died at the

A. Of course I was always conscious of the fact that many
Jewish-German citizens were assimilated into the German
environment and that in the course of this development many
tragic individual cases appeared and that these, of course,
deserved consideration. But, on the whole, this did not
involve the entire social and political movement, especially
since the leading papers of the so-called democratic parties
recognised the increase of unemployment in Germany and
suggested that Germans should emigrate to the French
colonies, to the Argentine and to China. Prominent Jewish
people and the chairman of the Democratic Party suggested
three times quite openly that in view of the increase of
unemployment Germans should be deported to Africa and Asia.
After all, during those fourteen years as many Germans were
expelled from Poland as there were Jews in Germany and the
League of Nations took no effective steps against this
violation of the pact in favour of the minorities.

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