The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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As far as the extermination of national culture is
concerned, that does not seem to me a true representation
either. On the contrary, I know that the staff of my office
was very much interested in working with the representatives
of the Lithuanian folklore research, and that many themes
were written on this typical folklore work in Lithuania and
Latvia, and I cannot imagine that any arbitrary destruction
took place here. I can only remember that in the capital
city of Kauen or Kaunas, administrative officers came to me
at the time of the withdrawal and said that they had worked
in Kauen for five days, even though the city was already
under Soviet artillery fire; that, of course, many buildings
had been destroyed in the fighting. I am not able to say
anything about that from personal experience.

Now I pass to Exhibit USSR 51. In the Note of the Peoples'
Commissar for Foreign Affairs, of 6 January, 1942, the
destruction of cultural values of Lithuania, Latvia and
Esthonia is also given introductory mention. I refer to what
I have already said in reference to the documents that were
just submitted. On Page 2, column 1, it is also stated that
the Germans pillaged and murdered the peasant population
without restraint. Here too I would like to again refer to
the expositions I have just made. On Page 6, column 1, at
the beginning, it says that the Germans, in their rage
against Latvia, Lithuania and Esthonia destroyed all
national cultures, national monuments, schools and
literature. But this, as I have just stated, is not in
accordance with the facts. The Note of the Peoples'
Commissar for Foreign Affairs of 27 April, 1942, which has
been read here repeatedly and in detail, on Page 1, column
1, makes the same assertion that here the complete pillaging
of the Soviet State had been carried out. I refer to the
statements I have just made.

On Page 7 it is stated that the Germans intended and
actually executed wholesale robbery of the land given free
of charge by the Soviet Government to the collective farms
(kholkhoz) for their permanent use. I do not wish to make
any statements on this special question here. State
Secretary Riecken, whom the Tribunal has approved of as a
witness, will make his expert statements on the law for the
new agrarian movement issued to strengthen the peasant
industries in White Ruthenia and the Ukraine. As the Soviet
Prosecution withdrew the charge against me of having been a
former Czarist spy, I do not need to go into that. I also
cannot of course check in detail the various quotations
which have been submitted here. But in one case it is
possible for me to give an explanation. It is on Page 9,
column 1, at the top, where the Foreign Commissar's so-

                                                   [Page 28]

"Twelve Commandments" for the behaviour of the Germans in
the East is mentioned. There follows here a quotation which
can only be assumed to be a connected quotation from a
German directive. These twelve commandments have been
submitted by the Soviet Prosecution to the Tribunal, Exhibit
USSR 89.

It deals, as it has been established, with a directive of
the State Secretary Backe, of the beginning of June, 1941, a
directive which I have only learned of here. This apparently
connected quotation of the Foreign Commissar proves to be a
compilation of fragments of sentences which were actually
dispersed over a page and a half of the document, and these
fragments, moreover, have not been given in their proper
sequence, but in a completely different sequence from that
in the document. But I would like to call your attention to
a few changes in wording.

Under point 6 of the commandments:-

  "You must therefore" - this is directed to the
  agricultural leaders - "you must therefore carry out with
  dignity the most severe and ruthless measures that are
  necessitated by the national requirements. Lack of
  character on the part of the individual will bring about
  his recall as a matter of principle. Anyone who is
  recalled for such a reason can no longer have an
  authoritative position in the Reich."

In the quotation of the official note it says:

  "Therefore, you yourself will have to take with dignity
  the most cruel and ruthless measures that are dictated by
  German interests. Otherwise you can not have any
  responsible positions at home."

Therefore, instead of the word "severe" the word "cruel" has
been substituted. In place of "national requirements," it
says, very generally, "German interests," and in place of
the reference to a "lack of character," it is set down quite
generally that if one does not use the most cruel measures
one cannot have any responsible positions. I would not want
to identify myself otherwise in any way with these twelve
commandments, but I would like to state that on Page 3 under
point 7 it says:-

  "But be just and personally decent, and always a good

And in Part 9:-

  "Do not be Russian baiters. The Russian youth has been
  educated for Communism for two decades. Russian youth
  does not know any other education. It is therefore
  senseless to punish for the past."

I believe also that Herr Backe, who perhaps used stronger
language, did not mean to suggest extermination.

Now, I am passing to the charge by the Polish Government. It
concerns me in one point only. On Page 20, under point 5, it
is stated that the exploitation, plundering and the carrying
off of art treasures, etc., from museums and collections of
all kinds, was centralised under the office of Rosenberg in
Berlin. This is incorrect, as has been shown by the report
of State Secretary Muehlmann, which has been read here many
times and which shows that an entirely different department
was set up for the safeguarding of these works of art.
Furthermore, I read today a decree by Dr. Lammers, dated I
believe 5 June, 1942, in which the Government General was
expressly excluded.

I must, however, admit that in one case in the beginning,
the Special Staff confiscated a collector's collection of
German music and it was taken to the Reich for purposes of
research. This action was not right, and from a
correspondence with
the then Governor General Frank, which must also be here in
my file, it is shown that we had agreed that this collection
was to be returned to the Government General as a matter of
course, after a scholarly survey had been made, which I, to
be sure, requested.

The incorrectness of this charge may be seen also from the
fact that it is contended here that I had in the Rosenberg
Special Staff among the various

                                                   [Page 29]

departments also an office "East" for Poland. The
incorrectness of this statement may be seen from the fact
that the so-called "Special Purpose Staffs," which were
established for music and the plastic arts in the East, were
actually expert special purpose staffs and, besides them,
the so-called working groups had regional tasks. I could not
thus have had an office "East" for Poland and at any rate
the term "Poland" was never used in official circles - only
the term "Government General." I believe that to be a
sufficient explanation. In addition, there have been
presented a number of other general documents from Smolensk
and from other cities, which deal principally with
destruction and police measures. I cannot testify here
concerning these points.

In conclusion I would only like to refer to Document 073-PS,
which a few days ago was submitted to the witness Dr.
Lammers. This document is concerned with the transmission of
a document of the Foreign Office, in which some mistaken
information was given after it had been said that the Soviet
prisoners of war were under the command of the Reich
Minister for the Occupied Eastern Countries.

In the introduction, it can be seen that here we are
concerned exclusively with the propaganda work which
Minister Goebbels considered his province rather than that
of the Foreign Office. The Foreign Office stated that it had
complete, directive control over all prisoners of war with
the exception of spiritual and propaganda care of the Soviet
prisoners of war, which was attended to by the Minister for
the East, as these matters were not included in the Geneva
Convention. This statement, that they were not bound in this
sphere by the Geneva Convention, was based on legal opinion,
and a decree was issued from the Fuehrer's headquarters, for
the setting up of the administration in the Occupied Eastern

Q. Witness, in the course of this proceeding you have been
accused at least four times in the matter of gold dental
fillings of the prisoners in Minsk. In this connection a
document has been submitted having reference to the handling
of the Jewish question; and a further document deals
likewise with arson and Jewish action, also in the district
of Minsk. Will you please tell us what you have to say in
that connection?

A. I might perhaps give the following general answer about
the many files and reports from my office: In the course of
twelve years of my Party office and three years in the
Foreign Ministry, many reports, memoranda, carbon copies
from all sorts of divisions were delivered to my office. I
know of some of them, of some I received oral knowledge to
be entered in detail in the files, and there were others,
some important and some entirely unimportant, which I was
quite unable to take note of during these years.

As to the documents concerned, I must say, with regard to
Document 212-PS that this clearly represents a submission to
my office, which is without headings, without signature and
without any other details, and one which I never received
personally, but which, I assume, probably was delivered from
police circles to my office. Thus, with the best intentions,
I cannot state my position as to the contents of this

As far as Document 1104-PS is concerned, which deals with
the terrible incidents in the city of Slutsk, that is a
report of November, 1941, and I must say that this report
was submitted to me. This report aroused indignation in the
Foreign Ministry, and as is seen here, my permanent
representative, Gauleiter Dr. Meier, sent a copy of the
complaints of the civil administration, together with all
the criticism of the civil administration, to the police, to
the Chief of the Security Police at that time, Heydrich,
with the request for investigation. I must point out that
the police had its own jurisdiction, in which the Ministry
for the East could not interfere. But I am unable to state
here what measures Heydrich took, and as may be seen from
this, I could not

                                                   [Page 30]

assume that an order, which was attested to by the witness
here yesterday, was given to Heydrich or Himmler by the
Fuehrer. This report, and many other communications which
came to my ears, regarding shootings of saboteurs and also
of Jews, about pogroms in the Baltic States and in the
Ukraine, I regarded as features of the war. I heard that in
Kiev a large number of Jews had been shot, but that the
greater part of the Jews had left Kiev. In toto the reports,
especially the prison reports, revealed to me the terrible
harshness being used but I did not assume from this that
there was an order for the individual annihilation of the
entire Jewry concerned; and if, in our polemics, the
"extermination" of Jewry was also talked about, I must say
that this word, of course, must make a frightful impression
in view of the testimony today; but under conditions
prevailing then, it was not interpreted as an individual
extermination, an individual annihilation of millions of
Jews. Also I should like to point out that even the British
Prime Minister, in an official speech in the House of
Commons on 23 or 26 September, 1943, spoke of the complete
extermination of Prussianism and of National Socialism. I
happened to read these words from this speech. However, I
did not assume that in saying this he meant the shooting of
all Prussian officers and National Socialists.

Regarding Document 135-R, I would like to say the following:
It is dated 18 June, 1943. On 22 June, I returned from an
official visit to the Ukraine. After this official visit I
found a pile of notes about conferences. I found many
letters and, above all, I found the Fuehrer decree of the
middle of June, 1943, about which I had already heard, in
which the Fuehrer instructed me to be limited by basic
principles as far as legislation was concerned, and not to
interest myself too much with the details of the
administration of the Eastern Territories. I was dejected
when I returned from this journey and I did not read this
document. But I cannot assume that this document was not at
all mentioned to me by my office. My subordinates were
conscientious and I can assume only that in the course of
their reporting to me about many documents, they told me
that another great disagreement between the police and civil
administration was imminent, as there had been many
disagreements before of that nature, and I perhaps said,
"Please give this to Gauleiter Meier or give it to the
police officer as a liaison officer so that he can
investigate these matters. Otherwise these terrible details
would have remained in my memory. I cannot say any more in
regard to this matter than I was able to say when it was
brought up in the interrogation.

DR. THOMA : I submit to the Tribunal Exhibit Rosenberg-13, a
memorandum from Koch to Rosenberg, a complaint about
Rosenberg's criticism and justification of his policy in the
Ukraine, dated 16 March, 1943, and a letter from Rosenberg
to Reich Minister Lammers, dated 12 October, 1944, in which
he states to the Fuehrer his wish to resign. May it please
the Tribunal, regarding Rosenberg-13, memorandum
from Koch to Rosenberg ...

THE PRESIDENT: What number?

DR. THOMA: Rosenberg-13, 192-PS, Document Book number 2,
Page 14. I would like to read this to the Tribunal and to
make the following introductory remark.

THE PRESIDENT: It is a very long thing, Dr. Thoma. You do
not need to read it all surely?

DR. THOMA: I shall not read all of it, your Honour. But I
have the opportunity of presenting State Secretary Riecke as
an official of the Eastern Ministry, and that witness, when
he appears before the Tribunal will show that the best
officials whom the German Reich had were used in the Eastern
Ministry and that every individual complaint was
conscientiously checked. We can assume that in addition to
what we have heard today, many other terrible crimes have
been committed which have not come to the knowledge of the
Tribunal; but I believe that everything has been
exhaustively presented of the admittedly

                                                   [Page 31]

terrible things that happened in the East during these four
to five years. And the question now is how Gauleiter Koch
reacted to them.

THE PRESIDENT: The Tribunal is simply asking you not to read
the whole of the document, which covers many pages. That
means you can go ahead and read the essential parts of it.

DR. THOMA: Therefore, I would like to assert that each and
every complaint which was received by the Eastern Ministry
was followed up. Gauleiter Koch writes -

  "Various recent decrees of the Reich Minister for the
  Occupied Eastern Territories in which my work was
  criticized in an exceptionally severe and offensive
  manner, and which have resulted in obscuring
  interpretation of the policies as well as my legal
  position, have induced me to present this report to you,
  Herr Reich Minister, in the form of a memorandum."

And then follow remarks which show that the Eastern Ministry
investigated the complaints. He complains on 12 January,
1943, as I was informed by the Ministry, for example, that
Anna Prichno of Smygalovka, an Eastern worker, had objected
that her parents who remained in the Ukraine could not pay
their taxes. I was asked to cancel these taxes or to reduce
them by half and also to "report on my action."

On Page 13:-

  "Lately numerous single complaints from Eastern workers
  employed in the Reich have been passed on to me and on
  each single case I have been asked to give a report,
  usually on such short notice that it was impossible to
  comply with the request."

On Page 15 and 16:-

   "Hence, I found it strange," writes Gauleiter Koch, "to
   receive the decree of 22 November, 1941 stating that the
   Ukrainians were strongly permeated with German blood,
   which fact is to account for their remarkable cultural
   and scientific achievements. But when on top of this a
   secret decree of July, 1942, to which I will refer more
   closely at the end of this section, declares that very
   many points of contact exist between the German and
   Ukrainian people, one is no longer only surprised but
   astonished. This decree demands not only correct but
   amiable manners in dealing with Ukrainians."


  "In the following I would like to give a few more
  examples of lack of reserve towards Ukrainians. For
  instance, by decree of 18 June, 1942, 11 6-fb 230, I was
  informed that you were procuring a total of two to three
  million marks worth of Ukrainian schoolbooks, charged to
  my budget without even contacting me about it

THE PRESIDENT: Do you think it necessary to read all this? I
am not quite sure how far you have got because I have been
reading on.

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