The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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DR. THOMA, Continued:

If one goes to the trouble of looking through the book Myth
of the 20th Century, then one sees immediately that though
there is some philosophising in the National Socialist way,
it would be, however, pure fiction to affirm that there is
any dogmatic formulation of a feasible programme in this
book or that it is a foundation for the activities of the
responsible leaders of the German Reich in this World War.
Another mistake of National Socialism was perhaps the
boundless unification and simplification: people were made
uniform; thinking was made uniform; only one uniform type of
German was left. There was also alleged to be only one
National Socialist way of thinking, and only one National
Socialist ideology. But, in spite of this, as we see today,
the leaders were frequently of different opinions in
essential questions. I will recall the question of the
policy in the East. Here too, there seems to be danger of
accepting this way of thinking, of observing everything
through the spectacles of uniformity and of saying: One
idea, one philosophy, one responsibility, one crime, one
punishment. Such a simplification, apart from its primitive
nature, would surely also be a great injustice toward the
defendant Rosenberg.

Finally, when one hears how the prosecution attacks "German
Christianity", the "heathen blood myth", making much of
Rosenberg's expression "the Nordic blood is the mystery
which has superseded and overpowered the old sacraments,"
one may close one's eyes for a moment and picture oneself at
a session of the Inquisition in the Middle Ages, where they
are about to sentence Rosenberg to the stake as a heretic.
Yet nothing can be farther from the Tribunal's mind than to
harbour thoughts of intolerance, since here, in spite of all
attempts by some of the Prosecutors, it is not ideologies
but crimes which are being examined.

In the defendant Rosenberg's case, we are examining whether
by his teachings he wilfully prepared and instigated crimes.
The prosecution has produced arguments to prove this, but
has not succeeded, and I can prove the opposite merely by
pointing out Rosenberg's activities in the East. Had he been
the bearer and apostle of a criminal idea, he would have had
an opportunity, such as no criminal has ever had yet in
world history, to indulge in criminal activities. I have
stated explicitly that in his case it was just the opposite.
So when the bearer and apostle of an idea himself has the
greatest of opportunities and yet behaves morally, then his
teachings cannot be criminal and immoral either. Above all,
he cannot then be punished as a criminal on the basis of his
teachings. What criminally degenerate persons practised as
alleged National Socialism cannot be laid to the charge of
Rosenberg. Moreover, Rosenberg's speeches in three volumes,

                                                  [Page 268]

which express what he taught in the course of eight years,
bear witness to the honourable nature of his endeavours.

Thus, if we give up the false conception of uniformity: One
party, one philosophy, one ideology, one crime - we shall
have to, in view of the indisputable fact that Rosenberg
himself never pursued a policy of extermination, destruction
and enslavement in the East - we shall have to admit that
the facts of the terrible central executive orders and of
Rosenberg's philosophy are not identical, and on these
grounds alone the conclusions of the prosecution are

Karl Marx teaches that historical events and political-
social reality are conditioned by the mere casual play of
materialistic forces. Whether Marx in addition acknowledges
the independent influence of man and ideas on history is at
least doubtful. On the other hand, Rosenberg stresses
emphatically the influence and the necessity of the highest
ideas on the history of peoples. But Rosenberg does not
overlook the fact that every event in history is the result
of a totality of acting forces. The will, the passions and
the intelligence of the people involved work together to
form an historical process which cannot be calculated in
human terms. It has already been pointed out that, just as
little as Voltaire's and Rousseau's ideas can be recognized
as the causes of the French Revolution and the slogans of
"Liberty, Equality and Fraternity" be taken as the cause of
the Jacobin terror, as little as one can say that Mirabeau
and Sieze had wanted or plotted such a blood bath, so little
can one ascribe to Rosenberg the moral or even criminal
guilt for what National Socialism became during its
development through the decades. In other words, I believe
it is as unjust as it is unhistorical to ascribe today, in
retrospect, the negative aspects of National Socialism which
were connected with the terrible collapse to a plan which
had been desired from the beginning, a plan which was also
embodied in Rosenberg's ideas.

Therefore, in considering Rosenberg's work, the mistake of a
standardisation which does not correspond to reality is
added to the further mistake of mechanisation; there is
neither a mechanical man nor mechanical history. And,
finally, the construction of the Indictment is also an
absolutely negative one; it views the defendant from the
standpoint of political polemics, and is influenced by the
excitement of people in these most exciting times. I must
briefly take exception to this distortion of the defendant's
mental traits.

The spiritual state of the period after the First World War,
and even of the preceding period which gave birth to the
defendant's ideas, are known to all of us only too well: the
revolutionary effect upon man of the technical age, his
hunger and thirst for a new spirit and a new soul; liberty
was the slogan, and a "new beginning" the impulse which
directed the will of youth. Its longing and enthusiasm were
aimed at nature. The thoughts and wishes of this generation
were led into political paths by the contrast between rich
and poor, which youth considered unjust and sought to bridge
through Socialism and the fellowship of the people. In
Germany, the development along political lines was given
further impetus by the national misfortune of 1918-1919, and
the Treaty of Versailles, which was likewise felt to be
unjust. The idea of building German history through the
union of Nationalism and Socialism glowed unconsciously in
the hearts of millions as the undisputed, tremendous success
of National Socialism proves. The psychic foundation was the
desire for external and internal self-assertion, and love
for one's fellow countrymen and for people in general, who
had already had to suffer so much torment and misery in

The desire for self-expression and love for one's own people
together with the whole system of National Socialist ideas
then developed in an inexplicable manner into a furious
conflagration. The most primitive considerations of common
sense were eliminated just as in a delirium; in complete
delusion everything was risked and everything was lost.

The questions of conscience which are put to Rosenberg time
and time again are whether he could have done more for what
he thought and upheld as just and worthy, where he neglected
essential things, where he fell short of requirements,

                                                  [Page 269]

what negative symptoms, in so far as he had knowledge of
them, he should have paid more attention to. Can such
questions, which every person asks when he is crushed by
disaster, be considered as evidence for his objective guilt?
I do not think so. On 17th January, 1946, the French Chief
Prosecutor, M. de Menthon, stated the following which I

  "We are, in fact, faced by systematic criminality, which
  derives directly and of necessity from a monstrous
  doctrine put into practice with deliberate intent by the
  masters of Nazi Germany. From National Socialist
  doctrines there arises directly the immediate preparation
  of crimes against peace."

To refute this assertion I must briefly present this
doctrine. I have classified the National. Socialist ideology
- in full accord with scientific opinions - under the so-
called New Romanticism. This tendency of the time, which was
rooted. in fate and the necessities of history, had
traversed the whole civilised world since the turn of the
century as a reaction against rationalism and the technical
age. It differs from the old romanticism in that it adopts
the naturalistic and biological consideration of man and

It is borne up by a confident faith in the value and meaning
of life and the. whole of reality. It does not glorify
feeling and the intellect, but the innermost workings of man
- his heart, will, and faith. This philosophy receives its
National Socialist stamp through the emphasis which is
placed upon the mysterious importance of peoples and races
for all human experience and activity. It is in the people,
in the common possession of blood, history, and culture that
we find the real roots of strength. Only by participating in
the movements of a people and its, strength does the
individual serve himself and his generation.

Rosenberg's scientific contribution to the racial ideology
consists in his description of the rise and fall of great
historical figures, who sprang from races and peoples and
who set up definite standards in all spheres: language,
custom, art, religion, philosophy and politics. According to
Rosenberg, the efforts of the twentieth century to establish
a form for itself are a struggle for the independence of the
human personality. In Rosenberg's opinion, its essence is
the consciousness of honour. The myth of national honour is
at the same time the myth of blood and race, which produce
and support honour in its highest form. Therefore, the
struggle for honour in its highest form is also a spiritual
struggle with other systems and their maximum values. Thus,
intuition stands against intuition, will against will.

Rosenberg expresses this thought in the following manner
(Myth of the 20th Century, Introduction, Pages 1 and 2):

  "History and the task of the future no longer mean a
  struggle between classes, no longer a struggle between
  Church dogma and dogma, but the dispute between blood and
  blood, race and race people and people. And this means: A
  struggle between psychic value and psychic value."

Consequently, Rosenberg had, in any case, no ideas of
genocide as Raphael Lemkin expounds in Axis Rule in Occupied
Europe, Page 81, where he ends the above quotation after the
words "race and race, people and people", but he believed in
a struggle between psychic value and psychic value, in other
words, spiritual controversy.

I mention this spiritual current in order to explain the
peculiar fact in National Socialism that political
considerations born of the intellect often gave way before
the pathos of will and faith. In Rosenberg's case this
danger did not appear so. much since in making everything
revolve around the "soil", i.e., the Fatherland, and its
history and peasantry as the force from which springs the
essence of a race, he remains in the sphere of life's
realities. Perhaps unaware of it himself; he was,
nevertheless borne upwards by this current.

The question arises as to what effects this ideology had, on
political life.

It is clear that the emphasis on will and faith gave special
weight to political demands. After the Treaty of Versailles,
the political demands of Germany were aimed at recovering
freedom and equality among the peoples for her great but
fettered power. This had been the objective of German
statesmen, even,

                                                  [Page 270]

before Hitler. The other great powers had certain misgivings
about recognising Germany again as a great power. Rosenberg
fought to do away with these misgivings. His weapon was his
pen. The Tribunal has allowed me to present in evidence a
group of excerpts from Rosenberg's speeches and writings. I
submitted it in my Document Book 1, Volume 2. In view of the
quantity of material and of my intention to submit only the
most important matter, I depend on the Tribunal being
familiar with my document book.

In the first place, I wish to call attention to the effect
which these works had on German youth. I may recall the
witness von Schirach's testimony. I repeat verbally;

  "At conventions of youth-leaders at which he spoke once a
  year, Rosenberg chiefly chose educational, character-
  building subjects. I remember, for instance, that he
  spoke on loneliness and comradeship, personality and
  honour and so forth. At these conventions of leaders, he
  did not deliver any speeches against Jews. As far as I
  remember, he did not touch on the religious problem of
  youth either, in any case not to the best of my memory.
  Mostly I heard him talk on such subjects as I have just
  mentioned above."

The attitude of youth was actually better than before the
taking over of power. Idleness, the root of all evil, had
ceased and had been replaced by work, the fulfilment of
duty, the aiming at ideals, patriotism and the will to get
ahead. It was a fatality here, too, that through Hitler's
policy these values were used in the wrong manner.

The charges by the prosecution that Rosenberg was the
advocate of a conspiracy against peace, of racial hatred,
for the elimination of human rights, of tyranny, a rule of
horror, violence, and illegality, of a wild nationalism and
militarism, of a German master race, I could already refute
by pointing to the excerpts from the Myth of the 20th
Century which the prosecution itself has submitted as
evidence for the truth of its assertions. In reply to this,
in order to refute this assertion by the prosecution, I want
to point in particular to the following facts:

To prove Rosenberg's honest struggle for the peaceful
existence of nations side by side, I wish to refer to his
speech in Rome in November, 1932, before the Royal Academy
of Rome (printed in Blood and Honour, Document Book I, Page
150). In his speech in Rome, Rosenberg pointed to the
fateful significance of the four great powers and proclaimed
- I quote his words:

  "Therefore he who strives in earnest to create a Europe
  which shall be an organic unit with a pronounced
  multiplicity of form and not merely a crude summation,
  must acknowledge the four great nationalisms as given to
  us by fate and must, therefore, seek to give fulfilment
  to the force radiating from their core. The destruction
  of one of these centres by any power would not result in
  a 'Europe', but would bring about chaos in which the
  other centres of culture would also have to perish. In
  reverse, it is only the triumph of the radiations in
  those directions where the four great forces do not come
  into conflict with each other which would result in the
  most dynamic force of creative being and organic peace,
  not an explosive forced situation such as prevails today;
  but it would then guarantee the small nations more
  security than appears possible today in the struggle
  against elementary force."

To this line of thought, Rosenberg, as chief of the Foreign
Office of the Party, remained faithful. Unfortunately, he
could only work for it through his words, No witness could
confirm in this courtroom that Rosenberg had any influence
on actual foreign policy; whether it was directed by
Neurath, Ribbentrop, Goering or Hitler himself. Neither in
the Austrian, nor in the Czech, nor in the Polish nor in the
Russian case has his name been mentioned in connection with
the charge of participation in aggressive wars. Everywhere
he was confronted, with accomplished facts. In the war
against the Soviet Union, he received his orders only when
the war against Russia had already been declared to be an
acute possibility lie did not stir up the Norwegian
campaign, but passed on personal information in accordance
with his duty.

                                                  [Page 271]

Now, as regards Rosenberg's speeches and writings on the
problems of general foreign policy, he advocated the
Anschluss of the Austrians who had been forcibly excluded
from the Reich as a demand born of the right to self-
determination which had been proclaimed by the Allies
themselves. The revision of Versailles was a postulate of
justice against a violation of the treaty of 11th November,
1918. To advocate a German Wehrmacht was; in view of the non-
disarmament of the other powers, a defence of the solemnly
promised equality of rights.

I shall now take up the charge of racial hatred.

Rosenberg's opinions in regard to the race question were the
result of racial research of international scientists.
Rosenberg repeatedly asserts (I refer again to the opinion
stated in Document Book I, Volume 2) that the purpose of his
racial political demands was not contempt of race, but
respect for it.

  "The leading moral idea of an approach to world history
  based on the laws of heredity belongs to our times and to
  our generation, being in full accord with the true spirit
  of the modern eugenics movement in regard to patriotism,
  i.e., the upholding and expansion of the spiritually,
  morally, intellectually and physically best hereditary
  forces for our Fatherland: only in this way can we
  preserve our institutions for all future times."

These words embody the main theme of his demands, though
their originator was not Rosenberg, but Henry Fairfield
Osborn, Professor at Columbia University, who wrote them
about the work of his colleague in science, Madis Grant: The
Decline of the Great Race. This research led long before the
existence of the Third Reich to eugenic legislation in other
countries, in particular to the American immigration law of
26th May, 1924, which was aimed at a strong reduction of
immigrants from Southern and Eastern Europe while favouring
those from the north and west of Europe.

I think I do not have to say that I am not hereby defending
the murders of those mentally ill in Germany as an alleged
eugenic measure, etc. With this measure, too, Rosenberg did
not have the slightest connection.

For Rosenberg it was a question of the spiritual
strengthening and consolidation of the German nation, indeed
of the Aryan race. He would like to have his ideology
considered in that light, above all his Myth of the 20th
Century. His preaching of the significance of race in
history did not call - I stress it again - for race
contempt, but for consideration and respect of the race, and
demanded the acknowledgement of the racial idea only by the
German people, and not by other nations. He considered the
Aryan nations as the leading ones in history. And if in
doing so he underestimated the significance of other races,
as for instance tile Semitic ones, he, in his praise of
Aryan races, did not think of the German nation alone, but
of the European nations in general. I refer to his speech in
Rome of November, 1932.

I am keeping within the limits of historical truth in
pointing to the fact that anti-Judaism is not an invention
of National Socialism. For thousands of years the Jewish
question has been the minority problem of the world. It has
an irrational character which can be understood to some
extent only with regard to the Bible. Rosenberg was a
convinced anti-Semite, who in writing and speech gave
expression to his conventions and their cause. I have
already emphasized that even such different personalities as
von Papen, von Neurath and Raeder still are of the opinion
that the predominance of the Jewish element in the entire
public life had reached such proportions that a change had
to come in this respect. The concrete result of that
predominance and the fact that the Jews in Germany, when
attacked, knew how to repay in kind, sharpened the anti-
Semitic fight before the accession to power.

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