The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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DR. THOMA, Continued:

In the West (I refer to the testimony of the witness Robert
Scholz of 19th June, 1946, Document Ro- 41), the case was
different, but, in my opinion, here also the defendant
cannot be charged with looting and stealing works of art.
When in the summer of 1940 the inhabitants of Paris, with
the exception of the Jews, had once more returned, somebody
conceived the idea of searching the now ownerless
apartments, houses, and castles for books and libraries, and
of taking to Germany whatever of this scientific material
was of interest. From various branches of the Wehrmacht came
the report that especially in Jewish castles there were
collections of works of art which one could not guarantee
would remain intact in case of a long occupation. Thereupon,
Rosenberg made the proposal that his Einsatzstab be allowed
to direct its attention to works of art and to take them
into its custody, which was then ordered by Hitler. What did
the Einsatzstab do with these works of art? It set up an
accurate card index containing

                                                  [Page 263]

the name of the particular owner of each of the pictures,
photographed them, scientifically appraised them, repaired
them expertly in so far as was necessary, packed them
carefully and shipped them to the Bavarian castles of
Neuschwanstein and Chiemsee. Because of the danger of air
raids, they were then stored in an old Austrian mine.
Rosenberg attached great importance to keeping separate the
objects cared for by the Einsatzstab, and not to have them
mixed with the large scale purchases which Hitler made for
the proposed gallery in Linz.

Was that looting, robbery, theft? Looting is the
indiscriminate and wanton carrying off of objects in
situations of general distress and danger. Robbery is
carrying off by force. Theft is the carrying off without
force. In all cases the intent must exist to appropriate the
object illegally for oneself or somebody else. What intent
did Rosenberg have? He never denied that he and his co-
workers had hopes of the pictures remaining in Germany.
Perhaps as compensation or as security for the peace
negotiations, but his intent was only directed at
confiscating and safeguarding the objects and it has been
proved that the question of what should be done with the
confiscated items was left open until the end and no
decision was made on it. It is absolutely certain that
Rosenberg did not have the intention of appropriating the
things for himself or anybody else. If Rosenberg had been a
plunderer of works of art, he certainly would not have had
exact notations made concerning dates and place of
confiscation and names of the owners.

In addition, however, I should like also to point out that
because of the flight of their owners, the objects were
ownerless and that this as well as the question of the
legality of their acquisition by Rosenberg cannot be judged
by normal circumstances, but must be judged according to the
extraordinary circumstances of the war. If the prosecution
claims that public and private works of art were stolen at
random, I should like to reply to the statement that only
Jewish possessions, and indeed, the specified ownerless
objects were confiscated. Above all, it is not true that
State-owned property was also taken. Finally, he did not act
on his own responsibility, but acted in carrying out a
governmental order, and I want to ask that the fact be not
ignored that Rosenberg acted without any egotistical motive.
Not a single picture passed into his private possession; he
did not gain a single mark from this transaction involving
millions, and after all, all the artistic and cultural
property has been found again. I would like to thank the
French prosecution for having acknowledged this fact here

Goering supported the work of the Einsatzstab, and, as he
admits, "diverted" some objects for his own use with the
Fuehrer's approval. This disturbed Rosenberg, because the
Einsatzstab was in his name, and he declared that as a
matter of principle, he did not want to give anything even
to the museums, that his task was purely one of registration
and safeguarding. The Fuehrer should have the final decision
on these works of art. Rosenberg could not undertake
anything against Goering but he ordered his deputy Robert
Scholz at least to make an accurate inventory of what was
given to Goering, and to have the latter sign a receipt,
which he did. Thus, most certainly it cannot be proved that
Rosenberg had the intention of illegally appropriating the
works of art for himself or for somebody else. Furthermore,
Robert Scholz confirmed that Rosenberg also forbade all his
assistants to acquire any works of art or culture, even by
virtue of an official appraisal. (Document Ro. 41.)

The prosecution says that with the Rosenberg Einsatzstab, a
gang of vandals broke into the European House of Art in
order to plunder in a barbarous way. If one contemplates the
tremendous work of drawing up an inventory, of cataloguing,
of restoration, and of scientific appraisal, and if one
finally bears in mind that all these treasures were most
carefully stored away, and certainly came through the war
better than would have been the case if the German
authorities had not taken care of them, then I believe that,
objectively speaking, one can use any term but' that of

THE PRESIDENT: I think this would be a good time to break

(A recess was taken.)

                                                  [Page 264]

DR. THOMA: Rosenberg is also especially charged with looting
furniture. He allegedly ransacked the contents of 79,000
Jewish-owned homes, among them 38,000 in Paris, and took the
loot to Germany. Unquestionably, these measures were taken
for the benefit of air-raid victims; in the cities which had
been destroyed by air warfare, new homes were set up for the
homeless. It was in line with National Socialist mentality,
and must certainly be morally condemned, that the
confiscation was limited to Jewish property. The essential
question, however, is whether the confiscation was at all
legal. In all my statements I have avoided trying to excuse
a weak legal position with a state of military emergency,
and I do not wish to do it at this point either, for as an
expert on International Law states, "the state of emergency
is the lever by means of which the entire body of martial
law can be torn off its hinges." But in this case, does not
the justification of national and military necessity exist,
did not air warfare bring intense and general distress to

One might object: The distress could have been ended by
unconditional surrender. In my opinion, however, this
justification cannot be taken from the defendant by this
reference to unconditional surrender, the Reich's
abandonment of its own existence and independence and its
own vital interests. The appropriation of enemy private
property took place in application of a right of
requisitioning which was extended beyond the legal terms of
martial law and justified by the state of emergency. I
venture to assert that his procedure of confiscating
furniture, in view of the devastating effects of air warfare
against Germany, was not contradictory to "the customs among
civilised peoples," "the laws of humanity," and "the demands
of the public conscience" (Marten's clause in the preamble
of the agreement concerning the laws and customs of land
warfare; see Scholz in the aforementioned book, Page 173).

May it please the High Tribunal, I shall now pass on to the
Norway operation.

The prosecution characterises Rosenberg and Raeder as the
most energetic conspirators of the Norway operation, and
later in the same matter calls Rosenberg a "dealer in high
treason". The opinion of the prosecution and also the
supposition of the present Norwegian Government (Norwegian
report of 13th October, 1945, Document TC-56) are obviously
to the effect that the Party's Foreign Office, of which
Rosenberg was the head, and Quisling, had plotted the war
against Norway in a mutual conspiracy. I believe that of all
the charges against Rosenberg hitherto dealt with, none has
less foundation than this one. On the basis of the few
documents which have been submitted to the Tribunal, in my
opinion, the case could doubtlessly be cleared up in favour
of the defendant.

There was a "Party Foreign Office" (APA) which had the task
of informing foreign visitors about the National Socialist
movement, of referring any suggestions to the official
offices, and otherwise of functioning as a central office of
the Party for questions of foreign policy. The special
interest, and I may say the special sympathy, of the leading
men of the Party and the State was directed toward the
nordic countries. It was specifically in this direction that
the APA placed the main emphasis on the field of cultural
policy. The already existing "Nordic Society" was expanded,
the birthdays of great nordic scientists and artists were
observed in Germany, a great nordic music festival was held,
etc. The relations first took on a really political note
with the appearance of Quisling, whom Rosenberg had seen for
the first time in 1933, and who then, in 1939, that is, six
years later, looked up Rosenberg again after the convention
of the Nordic Society in Lubeck; the former spoke of the
danger of European entanglements, and expressed the fear
that Norway was in danger of being drawn into them. He then
feared above all a partitioning of his country in such a
manner that the Soviet Union would occupy the northern part
and England the southern part of Norway.

Quisling again came to Rosenberg in Berlin, in December,
1939. The latter arranged for a conference with the Fuehrer.
Hitler declared that he would by far prefer Norway to remain
completely neutral, and that he did not intend to extend the
theatre of war and involve more nations in the conflict, but
he would

                                                  [Page 265]

know how to defend himself against a further isolation of
Germany and further threats against her. In order to
counteract the increasing activity of enemy propaganda,
Quisling was promised financial support of his movement,
which was based on the Pan-Germanic idea. The military
treatment of the questions now taken up was assigned to a
special military staff; Rosenberg was to deal with the
political aspect, and he appointed his assistant Scheidt to
maintain liaison. Hagelin, a Norwegian confidential agent of
Quisling's, in January, 1940, gave Rosenberg some more
disturbing reports on the feared violation of neutrality by
the Norwegian Government, and Rosenberg passed them on to
Hitler. After the Altmark incident, Hagelin, who moved in
Norwegian Government circles, intensified his warnings. The
Allies had already begun to study the Norwegian seaports for
disembarkation and transportation possibilities; in any
case, the Norwegian Government would be satisfied with
protests on paper, and Quisling sent the message that any
delay in undertaking a counteraction would mean an
exceptional risk. Rosenberg again handed the reports
immediately to Hitler. If he had not done so, that would
have been downright treason to his country. The German
counter-blow followed on 9th April, 1940, and Rosenberg
learned about it from the radio and the newspapers like any
ordinary citizen. After his above-mentioned report, which he
made in the line of duty, Rosenberg did not participate in
either diplomatic or military preparations.

Should there still be any doubt that in the Norwegian case,
Rosenberg was only an agent who forwarded information to
Hitler, and not an instigator, conspirator or traitor, I
should like to refer to two documents. First, to Document C-
65, Rosenberg's file note concerning Quisling's visit.
Obviously, it is the information on Quisling which Hitler
had requested from Rosenberg. If Rosenberg had been on
closer terms with Quisling, he certainly would have wanted
to inform Hitler about it. Rosenberg had only heard of a
fantastic and impracticable plan of Quisling's for a coup
d'etat (occupation of important central offices in Oslo by
sudden action, supported by specially selected Norwegians
who had been trained in Germany, then having the German
fleet called in by a newly formed Norwegian government).
However, an earlier report of Quisling appeared less
fantastic to Rosenberg; according to which - names being
given - officers of the Western powers travelled through
Norway as consular officials, ascertained the depth of the
water in ports of disembarkation, and made inquiries into
the cross-sections and heights of railway tunnels.

This was the true and only reason for everything Rosenberg
did in the Norwegian matter. The second document is the
report concerning "The Political Preparation of the Norway
Operation" (Document 004-PS, GB 140), a report from
Rosenberg to Hess of 17th June, 1940. In this inter-
departmental report there is also nothing which deviates
from Rosenberg's own trustworthy statement, and which would
let him appear as an instigator of war and of high treason.
Rosenberg was not called into any political or military
discussion concerning Norway. Thus, what criminal act did
Rosenberg commit? Was it criminal that he tried "to gain
influence in Norway" - (TC-56), or that with his knowledge
the Foreign Office gave subsidies to Quisling? Finally, I
should also like to point out that later on, after the
operation had succeeded, Rosenberg was in no way entrusted
with an office or function with regard to Norway; that even
the appointment of a Reich Commissioner for Norway was
carried out without consulting him.

I shall not mention the case of the Minister Goga, which I
have brought up at length before, but I ask the High
Tribunal to consider it as having been reported on.

Now I turn to the subject: Persecution of the Church.

The prosecution maintains that Rosenberg together with
Bormann issued the orders for religious persecutions and
induced others to participate in these persecutions.
However, not a single order of that kind is known. There
were presented only writings of Bormann, partly to
Rosenberg, partly to others, from which no charges against
Rosenberg can be drawn. On the contrary, Rosenberg was
repeatedly reproached, as on one occasion when in the
presence of Hitler he

                                                  [Page 266]

praised a book by Reich Bishop Muller (Document 100-PS);
another time when Rosenberg gave Reich Bishop Muller
instructions to work out directives for thoughts regarding
religious instruction in schools (Document 098-PS); once
again when Rosenberg sponsored a strictly Christian work by
General von Rabenau.

As a witness, Rosenberg himself declared that he opposed
propaganda advocating withdrawal from the Church and never
called for State and police measures against his clerical
and scientific opponents, and particularly that he never
used the police for suppressing those who were opponents of
his book, Myth of the 20th Century. In December, 1941, as
Reich Minister for the Occupied Eastern Territories, he
issued an edict for Church toleration (Documents No. 1517-PS
and 294-PS). Rosenberg had nothing to do with arrests, the
deportation of priests, and persecution of the Church. He
had no part either in the negotiations with the Vatican over
the Concordat or in the assignment of the Protestant Reich
Bishop; neither did he take any part in measures which were
hostile to the Church, and which were later carried out by
the police. He never participated in any other
administrative or legislative anti-clerical measures.

In my opinion, it is quite impossible, for lack of
documentary evidence, to construe from what Rosenberg
thought and said about religious and philosophical matters -
which I will quote presently - that he conspired towards a
political suppression of religion by force. The only
Document (130-PS) pointing in this direction was withdrawn
by the American prosecution itself before I was obliged to
draw attention to its being a pamphlet drawn up against

His book Myth of the 20th Century, which is allegedly
written for the reshaping of creeds in the spirit of a
German Christianity, is, moreover, chiefly addressed to
those who have already broken with the Church. "No
consciously responsible German," says Rosenberg on one
occasion in it, "should suggest withdrawal from the Churches
to those who are still believing members of them" (Document
Ro. 7, Document Book I, Page 122), and once again: "Science
would never have the power to dethrone true religion" (see
the same, Page 125). His writings are not addressed to the
faithful church-goers of today in order to hinder them in
the course of their chosen spiritual life, but to those who
have already discarded their religious faith. (Document Ro.
7, Document Book I, Page 125.) In his speeches he upheld the
view that the Party is not entitled to establish norms in
metaphysical matters which deny immortality, etc. Having
been assigned to supervise ideological education, he said
explicitly in his Berlin speech of 22nd February, 1934:

  "No National Socialist is allowed to engage in religious
  discussions while wearing the uniform of his movement,"

and he declared at the same time:

  "That all well-disposed persons should strive for the
  pacification of the entire political and spiritual life
  in Germany " (Ro. 7a, Document Book I, Page 130).

That in this respect, too, things developed on different
lines is not due to the desire or influence of Rosenberg.

Moreover, I need only make a brief elusion to the fact that
it is a question of the 1,000-year-old problem of relations
between the clerical and so-called temporal powers. The
struggle of emperors, kings and popes in the Middle Ages,
the French Revolution with the shooting of priests,
Bismarck's clerical controversies, the secular legislation
of the French Republic under Combes, all those were things,
which, from the standpoint of the Church

Mr. President, may I make a brief statement by way of
explanation? I wanted to say that I have concluded this
subject, that I do not wish to concern myself with the
problem of Church persecutions any further. I have finished
with it. I am coming to the subject of ideology and general

Ideology and education have been nothing but a means of
obtaining power and consolidating that power; uniformity of
thinking has played an important part

                                                  [Page 267]

in the programme of the conspiracy; the formation of the
Wehrmacht has only been possible in conjunction with the
ideological education of the nation and Party; so says the
prosecution (Mr. Brudno, on 9th January, 1946). And
continuing its attacks against Rosenberg, the prosecution
proceeds: Rosenberg's ideas formed the foundation of the
National Socialist movement. Rosenberg's contribution in
formulating and spreading the National Socialist ideology
gave foundation to the conspiracy by shaping its
"philosophical technique".

I think that one will have to take care, in judging
Rosenberg's case, not to yield to certain primitive ways of
thinking and become a victim of them. First of all, an
exaggeration of the conception of ideology and the inexact
use of that concept. At best it was a political philosophy,
which went hand in hand with Hitler's political measures,
and which Hitler preached in his book Mein Kampf, but it was
not an ideology in an all-embracing sense. It is true that
National Socialism endeavoured to create a spiritual
philosophy and an ideology of its own, but it had by no
means reached that stage yet. Rosenberg's book Myth of the
20th Century is an attempt in that direction, being a
personal confession, without any suggestion of political
measures. Therefore, his philosophy cannot have formed the
ideological basis of National Socialism. Besides, it is
entirely unsuccessful. In addition, there is a total lack of
proof that a straight spiritual line, a clear spiritual
causal connection exists between the conceptions of
Rosenberg and the alleged and actual crimes.

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