The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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DR. KAUFFMANN, Continued:

If, therefore, the direct immediate danger to his own life
and that of his family cannot excuse him, it does diminish
his guilt, and Kaltenbrunner only means to point to this
moral and legal evaluation of his position. Thus he
emphasises a fact, historically proven, which was one of the
deeper reasons for the collapse of the Reich; for no living
man can bring liberty, peace, and welfare to a country who
himself carries chains reluctantly and has lost that freedom
which is the decisive characteristic of all human beings.

I believe Kaltenbrunner would like to be reborn and I know
that he would fight for that freedom with his life's blood.
Kaltenbrunner is guilty; but he is less guilty than he
appears in the eyes of the prosecution. As the last
representative of an ominous power of the darkest and most
anguish-laden period of the Reich's

                                                  [Page 241]

history, he will await your judgement and yet he was a man
whom one could not meet without a feeling of pathos.

THE PRESIDENT: The Tribunal will adjourn now.

(A recess was taken.)

THE PRESIDENT: Yes, Dr. Thoma.

DR. THOMA (counsel for defendant Rosenberg): May it please
the Tribunal, Mr. President, the documentary film which was
shown in this room and which was supposed to illustrate the
"Rise and Fall of National Socialism" begins with a speech
delivered by Rosenberg concerning the development of the
Party up to the taking over of power. He also describes the
Munich putsch and says that on the morning of 9th November,
1923, he saw police cars with machine-guns assembling in the
Ludwigstrasse in Munich and he knew what risks were involved
in the march to the Feldherrnhalle. Nevertheless he marched
in the first lines. Today also, my client takes the same
position in face of the Indictment formulated by the
Prosecutors of the United Nations. He does not want to be
pictured as though nobody paid any attention to his books,
his speeches and his publications. Even today he does not
want to appear as a person other than what he was once
before, a fighter for Germany's strong position in the
world, namely a German Reich in which national freedom
should be linked to social justice.

Rosenberg is a German, born in the Baltic provinces, who
learned to speak Russian as a young boy, passed his
examination in Moscow after the Technical College in Riga
moved to Moscow during the First World War, took an interest
in Russian literature and art, had Russian friends, and was
puzzled by the fact that the Russian nation, defined by
Dostoievsky as "the nation with God in its heart", was
overcome by the spirit of materialistic Marxism. He
considered it inconceivable and unjust that the right of
self determination had indeed often been promised but never
voluntarily granted to many nations of Eastern Europe which
had also been conquered by Tzarism in the 19th century.

Rosenberg became convinced that the Bolshevik revolution was
not directed against certain temporary political phenomena
only, but against the whole national tradition, against the
religious faith and against the old rural foundations of the
Eastern European nations, and generally against the idea of
personal property. At the end of 1918 he came to Germany and
saw the danger of a Bolshevistic revolution in Germany too;
he saw the whole spiritual and material civilisation of the
Occident endangered, and believed to have found his life-
work in the struggle against this danger as a follower of

It was a political struggle against fanatic and well-
organized opponents who had at their disposal international
resources and international backing and who acted according
to the principle: "Strike the Fascists wherever you can."
But as little as one can deduce from the latter slogan that
the Soviet entertained intentions of military aggression
against Fascist Italy, just as little can one say that the
struggle of the National Socialists against Bolshevism meant
a preparation for a war of aggression against the USSR.

To the defendant Rosenberg, a military conflict with the
Soviet Union, especially a war of aggression against the
latter, seemed as likely or as unlikely as to any German or
foreign politician who had read the book Mein Kampf. It is
not right to maintain that he was initiated in some way into
plans of aggression against the Soviet Union; on the
contrary, he publicly advocated proper relations with Moscow
(Document Rosenberg-7b, Page 147). Rosenberg never spoke in
favour of military intervention against the Soviet Union.
However, he did fear the entry of the Red Army into the
border States and then into Germany.

When, in August, 1939, Rosenberg learned about the
conclusion of the Non-Aggression Pact between the German
Reich and the Soviet Union - he was as little informed about
the preliminary discussions as he was about the other
foreign political measures taken by the Fuehrer - he might
have gone to see the Fuehrer

                                                  [Page 242]

and protested against it. He did not do so and he did not
object to it with a single word which the witness Goering
confirmed as being a statement of Hitler.

In the witness-box Rosenberg himself described how he was
then suddenly called to Hitler at the beginning of April,
1941, who told him that he considered a military clash with
the Soviet Union inevitable. Hitler offered two reasons for

1. The military occupation of Romanian territory, namely
Bessarabia and North Bukowina.

2. The tremendous increase of the Red Armies along the line
of demarcation and on Soviet Russian territory in general,
which had been going on for a long time.

These facts were so striking, he said, that he had already
issued the appropriate military and other orders and he said
that he would appoint Rosenberg in some way as a political
adviser. As he further stated in the witness-box, Rosenberg
found himself confronted with an accomplished fact, and the
very attempt to talk about it was cut short by the Fuehrer
with the remark that the orders had been issued and that
hardly anything could be changed in this matter. Thereupon
Rosenberg called some of his closest collaborators together
because he did not know whether the military event would
take place very soon or later on, and he made or had made
some plans concerning the treatment of political problems.
On 20th April, 1941, Rosenberg received from Hitler a
preliminary order to establish a central office to deal with
questions concerning the East and to contact the competent
highest Reich authorities with respect to these matters
(Document PS-865, Exhibit USA 143).

If this statement made by Rosenberg in itself is not
sufficient to refute the assertion made by the prosecution
according to which Rosenberg is "personally responsible for
the planning and execution of the war of aggression against
Russia" (M. Brudno, on 9th January, 1946) and was aware of
the "aggressive predatory character of the imminent war"
(General Rudenko, on 17th April, 1946); if, above all, one
does not want to admit that Rosenberg was convinced of an
imminent aggressive war waged by the Soviet Union against
Germany, then I would like to bring up four more points in
order to prove the correctness of the statements made by the

1. Rosenberg was not called to the well-known conference at
the Reich Chancellery on 5th November, 1937 ("Hoszbach
document", Document 386-PS, Exhibit USA 25) when Hitler
disclosed for the first time his intentions of waging war.
This was at the time when Rosenberg still had political
influence, or at least seemed to have it. Then, if ever, he
should have played the part of the intimate political

2. Lammers, as a witness, stated before this Tribunal that
Hitler made all important decisions quite alone; thus also
the decision concerning war against Russia.

3. Upon my question about Rosenberg's influence on Hitler's
decisions concerning foreign policy, Goering replied before
this Tribunal, on 16th March, 1946:

  "I think after the accession to power the Fuehrer did not
  once consult the Party's Office of Foreign Affairs about
  questions concerning foreign policy, and that it was
  created only as a centre for dealing with certain
  questions concerning foreign policy which came up within
  the Party. As far as I know, Rosenberg was certainly not
  consulted about political decisions after the accession
  to power."

This was also confirmed by the witness Neurath on 26th June,
1946, in this courtroom.

As my fourth argument, I would further like to refer to the
" brief report concerning the activity of the Office of
Foreign Affairs of the NSDAP" (Document 003-PS, Exhibit USA
603). Brief mention is made in it of the "Near East" in such
a harmless manner that no word can be said about it. Also,
in the confidential reports, Documents 004-PS and 007-PS,
nothing is said about any preparations against the Soviet

                                                  [Page 243]

Administration in the East.

It would be an easy, too superficial, and therefore an
unjust procedure, if one were to say:

1. The Eastern territories were occupied in a war of
aggression, and therefore anything the German administration
did there was criminal;

2. As Reich Minister for the Occupied Eastern Territories,
Rosenberg was the responsible minister and therefore he must
be punished for all crimes which have occurred there, at
least for what happened within the  scope of the
jurisdiction and authority of the administrative bodies. I
will have to demonstrate that this conception is not correct
for legal and factual reasons.

Rosenberg was the organiser and the highest authority of the
administration in the East. On 17th July, 1941, he was
appointed Reich Minister for the Occupied Eastern
Territories. According to instructions, before that time he
performed preparatory work on questions concerning Eastern
Europe by contacting the Reich agencies concerned (Document
1039-PS; Exhibit USA 146). He planned and set up his office
for dealing centrally with questions concerning Eastern
Europe (Document 1024-PS, Exhibit USA 278). He had
provisional instructions for the Reich Commissars drawn up
(Document 1030-PS, Exhibit USA 144); he delivered the speech
on his programme of 20th June, 1941 (Document 1068-PS,
Exhibit USA 143) and, above all, he took part in the Fuehrer
conference of 16th July, 1941. (Document L-221, Exhibit USA

In the presence of Rosenberg, Lammers, Keitel, and Bormann,
Hitler said at that time that the real aims of the war
against Russia should not be made known to the whole world,
that those present should understand clearly that "we will
never withdraw from the new Eastern Territories; whatever
opposition appears will be exterminated; never again must a
military power develop west of the Urals; nobody but a
German shall ever bear a weapon."

Hitler proclaimed the subjection and the exploitation of the
Eastern Territories, and in making these statements he
placed himself in opposition to what Rosenberg had told him
before - without being contradicted by Hitler - concerning
his plans for the East.

Thus Hitler probably had a programme of enslavement and
exploitation. Nothing is so natural and nothing is easier
than to say: Even before Rosenberg took over his Ministry he
knew Hitler's aims for the East; namely, to rule it, to
administer it, to exploit it. Therefore he is not only an
accomplice in a crime against peace, he is also jointly
responsible for the crimes against humanity perpetrated in
the Eastern Territories, since Rosenberg held the complete
power, the highest authority in the East.

I shall deal later, de jure and de facto, with the question
of Rosenberg's automatic responsibility in his capacity as
supreme chief of the Eastern Territories. First I would like
to consider the question of his individual responsibility.
One could deduce it from two facts:

1. Because he allegedly participated in the preparation of
the war of aggression against the Soviet Union; I have
already stated that this assertion is not correct; Rosenberg
neither ideologically nor actually participated in the
preparation of the war of aggression;

2. Because he supported Hitler's plan of conquest by making
plans, delivering speeches, and organising the
administration. When a minister or general, following the
instructions of the head of the State, elaborates plans or
takes preparatory measures of an organisational nature for
later eventualities, this activity cannot be considered as
criminal even when the interests of other countries are
affected thereby, and even when the plans, preparations and
measures are intended for war. Only when the minister or
general in question directs his activity towards things
which have to be considered as criminal according to common
sense and an international sense of decency and justice, can
he be held individually responsible. Rosenberg has
continuously proved in words and deeds that the traditional
conceptions of right were also his conceptions, and that he
was willing to stand up for

                                                  [Page 244]

them. But his position was particularly difficult since his
supreme chief finally moved beyond the limits in his ideas,
aims and intentions, and since other strong forces like
Bormann, Himmler and Gauleiter Erich Koch were also
involved, which nullified and sabotaged Rosenberg's good and
fair intentions.

Thus we witness the strange spectacle of a minister who
governs but who partly cannot understand and approve, partly
does not know at all the intentions of the head of the
State, and on the other hand that of the head of a State who
appoints a minister to take office who is certainly an old
and loyal political fellow-combatant, but with whom he has
no longer any spiritual contact whatsoever. It would be
wrong to judge such a situation without further examination
according to the democratic conceptions of the
responsibility of a minister. Rosenberg could not simply
resign, for he also felt inwardly the duty of fighting for
the point of view which appeared to him as being right and

In his speech of 20th June, 1941, Rosenberg said that it was
the duty of the Germans to consider that Germany should not
have to fight every twenty-five years for her holdings in
the East. He by no means, however, desired the extermination
of the Slavs, but the advancement of all nations of Eastern
Europe, and the advancement, not the annihilation, of their
national independence. He demanded (Document 1058-PS,
Exhibit USA 147), "friendly sentiments" towards the
Ukrainians, a guarantee of "national and cultural existence"
for the Caucasians; he emphasized that, even with a war on,
we were "not enemies of the Russian people", whose great
achievements we fully recognize. He advocated "the right of
self-determination of peoples" - one of the first points of
the whole Soviet revolution. This was his idea, tenaciously
defended till the end. The speech in question also contains
the passage which the prosecution holds against him in
particular, that the feeding of the German people during
these years will be placed at the top of German demands in
the East, and that the southern territories and North
Caucasus would have to make up the balance in feeding the
German people. Then, Rosenberg continues:

  "We do not see at all why we should be compelled to feed
  the Russian people also from these regions of surplus. We
  know that this is a bitter necessity which lies beyond
  any sentiment. Without a doubt extensive evacuation will
  be necessary, and there are very hard years ahead for the
  Russians. To what extent industries are to be kept up
  there is a question reserved for future decision."

This passage comes quite suddenly and all by itself in the
long speech. One feels distinctly that it has been squeezed
in; it is not Rosenberg's voice; Rosenberg does not proclaim
here a programme of his own, but only states facts which lie
beyond his will. In the directives of the Eastern Ministry
(Document 1056-PS) the feeding of the population, as well as
supplying it with medical necessities, is described as being
especially urgent.

On the contrary, the true Rosenberg emerges in the
conference of 16th July, 1941, when, regarding Hitler's
plans, he called attention to the university of Kiev and to
the independence and cultural advancement of the Ukraine,
and when he took a stand against the intended full power of
the police and above all against the appointment of
Gauleiter Erich Koch in the Ukraine (Document L-221).

One will say: What is the use of opposition and protests,
what is the use of secret reservations and of feigned
agreement with Hitler's intentions, Rosenberg did co-operate
all the same. Therefore he is responsible too. Later on I
will outline in detail how and to what extent Rosenberg took
part in the policy in the East - what things he did not do,
and how he opposed them, what he planned and desired himself
- in order to defend him against the grave charge of being
responsible for the alleged exploitation and enslavement of
the East. Here I would only like to point out the following:
It was in no way a hopeless task to begin by accepting even
Hitler's most passionate statements without contradiction in
the hope and with the intention of nevertheless attaining a
contrary result later on. In opposition to Hitler's
statement: "No other than a German may ever bear weapons in

                                                  [Page 245]

the East," it was not long, for example, before, on
Rosenberg's recommendation, legions of volunteers were
formed from the peoples of the East, and in opposition to
Hitler's wish, an edict of tolerance was issued at the end
of 1941 for the Churches of the East (Document 1517-PS).

If, at first, Rosenberg could achieve nothing for the
autonomy of the Eastern nations, he still adhered to his
plans for the future in this respect too. First he took care
of the urgent agrarian question. An agrarian programme was
drawn up, which it was possible to present to the Fuehrer on
15th February, 1942, and which was authorized by him in
unchanged form. It was not an instrument of exploitation,
but an act of liberal formation of the agrarian constitution
in the midst of the most terrible of wars. Right in the
middle of the war the Eastern countries not only received a
new agrarian constitution but also agricultural machines.
The witness Professor Dencker, in his affidavit, has borne
witness to the following deliveries to the occupied Soviet
territories including the former border States:

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