The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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Last-Modified: 2000/09/15

DR. STAHMER, Continued:

The witnesses Eichborn and Oberhauser did not move into
these quarters near the site of the deed until the 20th of
this guilt can and may be charged also to his followers?

Whoever did not reject Hitler's methods, and thereby him
personally, from the very beginning as criminal, found it
difficult to recognize where the political aims

                                                  [Page 137]

set by Hitler ceased to provide justifying reasons for his
measures, and where beyond that the policy became a crime.
The dividing line in this respect was from the standpoint of
purely German legal conceptions probably considerably
different from that of other nations, or even the world. For
the latter, for example, were hardly interested in the
maintenance of the Weimar Constitution and the basic rights
granted by it to the individual German. Its violation,
therefore, up to the Second World War, never caused other
States to interfere with the German Government. On the other
hand, once the war had broken out, the Germans were forced
to put German interests above their sympathy for members of
other, especially enemy, States. Each of them believed he
was doing enough if he took care, in his sphere, that
unnecessary harshness was avoided. To revolt against orders
from the highest German authority would not only have been
completely senseless and hopeless, but, until shortly before
the bitter end, it would also have been a violation of
German legality, and thereby a punishable offence.
Reproaches for failure to revolt can, therefore, be made
only if the breach of formal legality, without consideration
of the immediate practical effect, and only for the sake of
the principle - ergo the attitude of a revolutionary - could
be defined as a legal obligation.

The consequences of such a conception are so far from the
point that they cannot be considered seriously at all,
because the hitherto existing International Law was
primarily based on the principle of unlimited sovereignty of
the State. No country has been willing to submit vital,
decisive questions to the judgement of other countries, no
matter to how great a majority or to however independent a
tribunal. And now it is argued that every individual citizen
of a sovereign State should have had not only the right, but
even the duty toward the other nations or humanity, to rebel
against the legal concept of his own country, because it
violated human rights. Such a proposition, made
retroactively, condemns itself. It would place the autonomy
of the individual above State sovereignty. Thereby the
strength of the individual person would not only be
immeasurably overestimated, but this would have to lead to
the breaking of the last ties of traditional order, to
anarchy. Goering held exactly the complete opposite view to
that of this concept of individual right. Just as others
went to war in order to fight war as such, he became a
revolutionary in order to restore honour to the concept of
loyalty. Thus, having once cast in his lot with the Fuehrer,
he stuck to him when he had already lost the latter's
confidence, yes, even after he himself had been sentenced to
death by Hitler. He has remained loyal until today, in spite
of everything, by excusing and defending Hitler again and
again before himself. To many this may appear
incomprehensible, and many may see in it more a weakness
than a strength. But this loyalty reveals his whole
personality. Goering has occasionally been described as a
late Renaissance type; and there is something in this.
Although of high intelligence, he allowed himself to be
guided in his actions less by reason than by the dictates of
his warm heart.

Such a man expresses himself of necessity in a way that is
primarily subjective. He does not look upon the people
surrounding him and upon others impassionately as factors to
be reckoned with, but he feels, above all, what effect they
have on him and how they challenge his approval or
disapproval, so that he finally makes his personal reaction
to them the basis for his overall judgement.

But still, as can be seen from the statements of the
Generaloberstabsrichter, Dr. Lehmann, he always endeavoured
to be just and to lend an ear to sensible arguments. He
always kept himself free from doctrinal prejudices. As a
soldier, he always endeavoured to do the right thing in the
individual case. His highhanded decisions as well as his
social attitude, which General Bodenschatz testified to
amongst other things, show his serious moral sense of
responsibility. His attitude towards all criminal acts
directed against the honour of women are proof of his
chivalry. But in all this he is not guided by a dogma, but
by his spontaneous common sense, ergo not the intellect, but
life. From it, he derives his ideas and the values which
determine his actions.

                                                  [Page 138]

Therefore, the Fuehrer and the oath of loyalty he had taken
to him meant everything to him and were the substance of his
life. Ambassador Henderson had judged Goering correctly,
when he wrote about him

  "He was the perfect servant of his master, and I have
  never seen greater loyalty and devotion than he
  maintained toward Hitler. He was recognized as the second
  power in the country, and always gave me to understand
  that he was Hitler's natural successor as leader. Men in
  secondary places often tend to emphasize their own
  importance. In all the open discussions in which I
  engaged with Goering, he never spoke of himself or the
  great part which he had played in the Nazi revolution;
  Hitler had done everything, all confidence was confidence
  in Hitler, every decision was Hitler's, and he himself
  was nothing."

This judgement still applies today. But his loyalty became
his disaster. For him a world had gone to rack and ruin. He
certainly recognized many a mistake of the past, but he did
not show the repentance which many would have liked to see
with him. He thereby remains loyal to himself, as well. And
this completes the picture of his character.

In a period - still threatened by chaos - in which again men
are searching for a firm foundation for life, the positive
value of such loyalty too should not be ignored.

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Seidl, I understand that you have not had
your speech translated into any of the languages. Is that

DR. SEIDL: Mr. President, I told the General Secretary
yesterday the reasons which made it impossible to have the
speech translated. However, I have given the interpreters
the text in German, and I was told that the German text
would be a big help in carrying out the translation as
quickly and as accurately as possible.

THE PRESIDENT: Well, the Tribunal has already pointed out to
you, many days ago, that it is very inconvenient to them not
to have a copy of the speech before them. If you propose to
make a speech, they will do the best they can to appreciate
it. It makes it very much more difficult and very much more
inconvenient not to have the speech translated.

DR. SEIDL: I shall see to it that the translation is made as
quickly as possible for the case of the defendant Frank.

THE PRESIDENT: Very well; go on.

DR. SEIDL: Mr. President, gentlemen of the Tribunal, when in
1918 the German Army, after more than four years of heroic
struggle, laid down its arms, this was done in confidence of
the assurances repeatedly given by President Wilson in 1918.
In his speech before Congress on 8th January, 1918, the
President of the United States of America, in fourteen
points, had demanded among other things  -

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Seidl, the Tribunal has already
intimated, as you must know, that the question of the
fourteen points, and the question of the justice of the
Treaty of Versailles, is irrelevant. They do not propose to
listen to it. You have been told that before, and many
documents have been rejected which dealt with this subject.

DR. SEIDL: Mr. President, I do not intend to comment on the
question of whether the Versailles Treaty is just or not.
The point is this: The prosecution have submitted the
Versailles Treaty in evidence. They made the Versailles
Treaty the main. point of the Indictment, especially as
concerns Count one of the Indictment.

My investigation aims at the following. First, was the
Versailles Treaty formed legally? Second -

THE PRESIDENT (interposing): I spoke only of the injustice
of the Versailles Treaty. But it is even more irrelevant to
question whether the Versailles Treaty is a legal document
or not. We do not propose to listen to your contending that
the Versailles Treaty is not a legal document. There are
plenty of matters which

                                                  [Page 139]

are of material moment for your client, which you have to
discuss before us, but that is not one of them.

DR. SEIDL: Mr. President, I cannot leave the Tribunal
ignorant of the fact that the Versailles Treaty and its
consequences, especially the causal relationship with the
seizure of power by National Socialism, form a considerable
part of my speech, and it will be -

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Seidl, I have told you that the Tribunal
will not listen to your contending either that the
Versailles Treaty was not a legal document, or that it was
in any way unjust. On those topics, we do not propose to
hear you.

DR. SEIDL: Then I must construe the attitude of the Tribunal
to mean that I will not be permitted to speak of the
consequences of the Versailles Treaty, and particularly
about the connection which these consequences had with the
rise of the National Socialist Party, and with the seizure
of power by Adolf Hitler and the co-defendants?

THE PRESIDENT: Look. The Versailles Treaty is, of course, an
historical fact, and the Tribunal cannot prevent you from
referring to it as an historical fact. But as to its justice
or as to its being a legal treaty, the treaty which Germany
signed, you will not be heard.

As you have not laid your speech before us, we do not know
what you are going to say. But we will not listen to that
sort of argument.

DR. SEIDL: Then I shall begin on Page 6 of the German
manuscript, with the second paragraph.

Thus the struggle for the revision of the peace "Diktat" of
Versailles began at the moment when it was signed. In the
programme of the National Socialist Labour Party of Adolf
Hitler, this struggle against the Versailles peace "Diktat"
and for its revision, assumed a place far surpassing all
other demands and considerations. It was the leading thought
by which the whole inner political activity of the Party was
guided, and which, after the seizure of power, was to form
the basis for all foreign political considerations and

One of the first fellow-fighters of Adolf Hitler was the
defendant Rudolf Hess. Like Hitler, he was also a front-line
soldier in the First World War. As a volunteer, he joined at
the outbreak of the war, and he had risen to an infantry
lieutenant when he was wounded in Roumania. Incapacitated
through this wound, he reported to the air corps.

After the armistice, he fought with various volunteer corps.
But in 1919, after the conclusion of the Versailles Peace
Treaty, he had to recognize that the victors did not really
desire a peace of justice and a corresponding adjustment of
interests. As could be expected, the terms of the Peace
Treaty of Versailles, and especially the burden of the
reparations on the already seriously affected German economy
had to have

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Seidl, it may be difficult for you to cut
out of your speech the various references to the topics
which I have referred to, but you must kindly try to do it.
For if you continue to refer to the topics to which I have
referred, namely the justice or the legality of the Treaty
of Versailles, the Tribunal will have to stop your speech
and go on with some of the other defendants.

DR. SEIDL: Mr. President, the subject I was just dealing
with was not a question of justice or legality, but a
question of the consequences, and referred to the
investigation of the causal connection. If the prosecution,
in weeks of presenting evidence, showed how the rise of the
National Socialist Party came about, and how the numbers of
its mandates increased -

THE PRESIDENT (interposing): Dr. Seidl, those are all facts
which the prosecution is perfectly entitled to prove. What
you are now referring to is an argument that certain clauses
of the Versailles Treaty were unjust. And that is an
argument which the Tribunal is not prepared to listen to. It
is not a statement of fact; it is an argument.

                                                  [Page 140]

DR . SEIDL: Of course, it is an argument -

THE PRESIDENT: I have said that it is an argument we are not
going to listen to. If you do not understand what I mean,
you will have to stop continuing your speech. Do you
understand that?

DR. SEIDL: Page 8, then, if you will.

When in 1925, the Party was founded anew, Rudolf Hess was
once more one of the first -

It is impossible, Mr. President, to continue my speech,
because all the following statements are concerned with the
question: What did the defendant Hess do up to the seizure
of power? And I must say and did say that the mainspring of
his activity within the Party and the German people
consisted in achieving a revision of the Versailles Treaty
and its most unbearable terms. This is the question of the
whole National Socialist movement up to 1933.

THE PRESIDENT: If you confine yourself to statements of fact
as to what the defendant Hess did, there will be no
objection to it at all. But, as I said, if you make
arguments that the Treaty of Versailles is illegal or
unjust, the Tribunal will not hear you.

DR. SEIDL: I shall continue, and I ask the President, since
I do not know the exact limits which I may not transgress,
to interrupt me if I should again touch upon a subject
which, in the opinion of the Tribunal, refers to the justice
of the Versailles Treaty and -

THE PRESIDENT (interposing): Dr. Seidl, you know perfectly
well the limits which have been laid down by the Tribunal
many weeks ago as to the question of the justice or the
injustice of the Treaty of Versailles. There have been a
great number of documents rejected on the ground that they
dealt with the justice or the injustice of the Treaty of
Versailles, and you must have known that perfectly well.

DR. SEIDL: Then I ask the Tribunal to tell me whether I am
permitted to make statements to the effect that the economic
deterioration, especially the great unemployment, resulted
from the reparation clauses of the Versailles Treaty and the
refusal of the victorious Powers of 1919 to change this
reparations policy accordingly.

THE PRESIDENT: You may certainly state what the condition of
Germany was. That is a matter of fact.

DR. SEIDL: Then I shall again begin on Page 8.

When in 1925 the Party was founded anew -

THE PRESIDENT (interposing): Dr. Seidl, the Tribunal is
perfectly familiar with this type of argument; I mean, we
are not going to lose sight of the argument. We know all
about the argument; we do not want to hear it. We think it
is entirely irrelevant.

Can you not go on to other passages of your speech which are
important for the defendant Hess? As I have said, there are
a great many matters of which evidence has been given by the
prosecution and which have been answered by the defence; and
upon those matters we desire to hear you.

DR. SEIDL: I shall then begin on Page 10, with the second
paragraph. When therefore the National Socialist Party
achieved a great victory in the Reichstag elections of 14th
September, 1930, and entered the new Reichstag with no less
than 107 delegates, that was to a large extent due to the
economic crisis of the time, to the great unemployment and
so directly to the reparation stipulations, which, contrary
to common sense or economic reason, the victorious Powers
refused to revise, in spite of urgent warnings. It is true -

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Seidl, you know that is again an
argumentative statement, that the Treaty of Versailles was
unfair and that the victorious Powers had failed

                                                  [Page 141]

to recognize the essential justice of Germany's case or
something of that sort. If you cannot adjust your speech to
what I have laid down, we shall have to ask you to recast
the whole speech.

DR. SEIDL: Then I shall turn to Page 11, second paragraph.
No, I shall turn to Page 12. When the German people in
compliance with the Peace Treaty of Versailles had disarmed,
they had a right to expect that the victorious Powers, would
also -

THE PRESIDENT: One moment, Dr. Seidl. Dr. Seidl, as you do
not appear to be capable of recasting your speech as you go
along to accord to the Tribunal's ruling, the Tribunal will
not hear you further at this stage. It will go on with the
next defendant's case. You will then have the opportunity of
recasting your speech, and you will submit your speech for
translation before it is presented, and I would explain that
this is the reason why the Tribunal does not propose to hear
you upon these matters. They are irrelevant to the issues
that the Tribunal has to try. If they were in any way
relevant to the charges which are made against the
defendants in the Indictment, the Tribunal would of course
hear them, but they are, in the considered opinion of the
Tribunal, in no way relevant to the charges upon which the
defendants are being tried, and therefore the Tribunal do
not propose to hear them. The justice of the Treaty of
Versailles has nothing to do with whether or not the war
which was made by Germany was aggressive. It has nothing to
do with the war crimes with which the defendants are
charged, and therefore it is irrelevant and for that reason
we do not propose to hear it. Now, as I say, as you are
unable apparently to recast your speech, you will be given
an opportunity of recasting it in private, and you will then
submit it for translation and you can then deliver it; and
now we will go on with the case against the defendant

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