The Nazi Regime in Germany
On January 5, 1919, two months after the conclusion
of World War I and six months before
the signing of the Peace Treaties at Versailles, the German Labour Party was brought into existence. In September 1919, Adolf Hitler joined the political party and less than two years later the party's name was officially changed to National Sozialistische
Deutsche Arbeiter Partei (NSDAP), thus beginning the infamous history of the Nazi regime in Germany.
- Origins & Aims of the Nazi Party
- Consolidation of Power
- Measures of Rearmament
- Common Plan Conspiracy & Aggressive War
- Preparations for Aggression
- The Planning of Aggression
- Conferences of November 1937 & November 1939
On 5th January, 1919, not two months after the conclusion
of the Armistice which ended the first World War, and six months before
the signing of the Peace Treaties at Versailles, there came into being
in Germany a small political party called the German Labour Party.
On the 12th September, 1919, Adolf
Hitler became a member of this party, and at the first public
meeting held in Munich, on 24th February, 1920, he announced the party's
programme. That programme, which remained unaltered until the
party was dissolved in 1945, consisted of twenty-five points, of which
the following five are of particular interest on account of the light
they throw on the matters with which the Tribunal is concerned:
" Point 1. We demand the unification of all Germans in the
Greater Germany, on the basis of the right of a self-determination
Point 2. We demand equality of rights for the German people
in respect to the other nations; abrogation of the peace
treaties of Versailles and Saint Germain.
Point 3. We demand land and territory for the sustenance
of our people, and the colonisation of our surplus population.
Point 4. Only a member of the race can be a citizen. A member
of the race can only be one who is of German blood, without consideration
of creed. Consequently no Jew can be a member of the race....
Point 22. We demand abolition of the mercenary troops and
formation of a national army."
Of these aims, the one which seems to have been regarded
as the most important, and which figured in almost every public speech,
was the removal of the " disgrace " of the Armistice, and the restrictions
of the peace treaties of Versailles and Saint
Germain. In a typical speech at Munich on the 13th April, 1923, for
example, Hitler said with regard to the Treaty
" The treaty was made in order to bring twenty million Germans
to their deaths, and to ruin the German nation.... At its foundation
our movement formulated three demands.
"1. Setting aside of the Peace Treaty.
2. Unification of all Germans.
3. Land and soil to feed our nation."
The demand for the unification of all Germans in the
Greater Germany was to play a large part in the events preceding the
seizure of Austria and Czechoslovakia; the abrogation of the Treaty
of Versailles was to become a decisive motive in attempting to justify
the policy of the German Government; the demand for land was to be the
justification for the acquisition of " living space " at the expense
of other nations; the expulsion of the Jews from membership of the race
of German blood was to lead to the atrocities against the Jewish people;
and the demand for a national army was to result in measures of rearmament
on the largest possible scale, and ultimately to war. On the 29th July,
1921, the Party which had changed its name to National Sozialistische
Deutsche Arbeiter Partei (NSDAP)
was reorganised, Hitler becoming the first " Chairman ". It was in this
year that the Sturmabteilung or SA was founded, with Hitler at its head,
as a private pare-military force, which allegedly was to be used for
the purpose of protecting NSDAP leaders from attack by rival political
parties, and preserving order at NSDAP meetings, but in reality was
used for fighting political opponents on the streets. In March, 1923,
the defendant Goering was appointed head of the SA.
The procedure within the Party was governed in the
most absolute way by the leadership principle" (Fuehrerprinzip).
According to the principle, each Fuehrer has the right
to govern, administer or decree, subject to no control of any kind and
at his complete discretion, subject only to the orders he received from
This principle applied in the first instance to Hitler
himself as the Leader of the Party, and in a lesser degree to all other
party officials. All members of the Party swore an oath of " eternal
allegiance " to the Leader.
There were only two ways in which Germany could achieve
the three main aims above-mentioned, by negotiation, or by force. The
twenty-five points of the NSDAP
programme do not specifically mention the methods on which the leaders
of the party proposed to rely, but the history of the Nazi regime shows
that Hitler and his followers were only prepared to negotiate on the
terms that their demands were conceded, and that force would be used
if they were not.
On the night of the 8th November, 1923, an abortive
putsch took place in Munich. Hitler and some of his followers burst
into a meeting in the Burgerbrau Cellar, which was being addressed by
the Bavarian Prime Minister Kehr, with the intention of obtaining from
him a decision to march forthwith on Berlin. On the morning of the 9th
November, however, no Bavarian support was forthcoming, and Hitler's
demonstration was met by the armed forces of the Reichswehr and the
Police. Only a few volleys were fired; and after a dozen of his followers
had been killed, Hitler fled for his life, and the demonstration was
over. The defendants Streicher, Frick and Hess all took part in the
attempted rising. Hitler was later tried for high treason, and was convicted
and sentenced to imprisonment. The SA was outlawed. Hitler was released
from prison in 1924 and in 1925 the Schutzstaffel, or SS, was created,
nominally to act as his personal bodyguard, but in reality to terrorise
political opponents. This was also the year of the publication of "
Mein Kampf ", containing the political views and aims of Hitler, which
came to be regarded as the authentic source of Nazi doctrine.
The NSDAP, having achieved power in this way, now proceeded
to extend its hold on every phase of German life. Other political parties
were persecuted, their property and assets confiscated, and many of
their members placed in concentration camps. On 26th April, 1933, the
defendant Goering founded
in Prussia the Gestapo as a secret police, and confided to the deputy leader of the Gestapo
that its main task was to eliminate political opponents of National
Socialism and Hitler. On the 14th July, 1933, a law was passed declaring
the NSDAP to be the only political party, and making it criminal to
maintain or form any other political party.
In order to place the complete control of the machinery
of Government in the hands of the Nazi leaders, a series of laws and
decrees were passed which reduced the powers of regional and local governments
throughout Germany, transforming them into subordinate divisions of
the Government of the Reich. Representative assemblies in the Laender
were abolished and with them all local elections. The Government then
proceeded to secure control of the Civil Service. This was achieved
by a process of centralisation, and by a careful sifting of the whole
Civil Service administration. By a law of the 7th April it was provided
that officials "who were of non-Aryan descent " should be retired; and
it was also decreed that " officials who because of their previous political
activity cannot be guaranteed to exert themselves for the national state
without reservation shall be discharged." The law of the 11th April,
1933, provided for the discharge of " all Civil Servants who belong
to the Communist Party." Similarly, the Judiciary was subjected to control.
Judges were removed from the Bench for political or racial reasons.
They were spied upon and made subject to the strongest pressure to join
the Nazi Party as an alternative to being dismissed. When the Supreme
Court acquitted three of the four defendants charged with complicity
in the Reichstag fire, its jurisdiction in cases of treason was thereafter
taken away and given to a newly established " People's Court ", consisting
of two judges and five officials of the Party. Special courts were set
up to try political crimes and only party members were appointed as
judges. Persons were arrested by the SS for political reasons, and detained
in prisons and concentration camps, and the judges were without power
to intervene in any way. Pardons were granted to members of the Party
who had been sentenced by the judges for proved offences. In 1935 several
officials of the Hohenstein concentration camp were convicted of inflicting
brutal treatment upon the inmates. High Nazi officials tried to influence
the Court, and after the officials had been convicted, Hitler pardoned
them all. In 1942 " Judges' letters" were sent to all German judges
by the Government, instructing them as to the " general lines " that
they must follow.
In their determination to remove all sources of opposition,
the NSDAP leaders turned their attention to the trade unions, the churches
and the Jews. In April, 1933, Hitler ordered the late defendant Ley,
who was then staff director of the political organisation of the NSDAP,
" to take over the trade unions." Most of the trade unions of Germany
were joined together in two large federations, the " Free Trade Unions
" and the " Christian Trade Unions." Unions outside these two large
federations contained only 15 per cent. of the total union membership.
On the 21st April, 1933, Ley issued an NSDAP directive announcing a
" co-ordination action" to be carried out on the 2nd May against the
Free Trade Unions.
The directive ordered that SA and SS men were to be employed in the planned .' occupation of trade union
properties and for the taking into protective custody of personalities
who come into question." At the conclusion of the action the official
NSDAP press service reported that the National Socialist Factory Cells
Organisation had "eliminated the old leadership of Free Trade Unions"
and taken over the leadership them selves. Similarly, on the 3rd May,
1933, the NSDAP press service announced that the Christian trade unions
" have unconditionally subordinated themselves to the leadership of
Adolf Hitler." In place of the trade unions the Nazi Government set
up a German Labour Front (DAF), controlled by the NSDAP, and which,
in practice, all workers in Germany were compelled to join. The chairmen
of the unions were taken into custody and were subjected to ill-treatment,
ranging from assault and battery to murder.
In their effort to combat the influence of the Christian
churches, whose doctrines were fundamentally at variance with National
Socialist philosophy and practice, the Nazi Government proceeded more
slowly. The extreme step of banning the practice of the Christian religion
was not taken, but year by year efforts were made to limit the influence
of Christianity on the German people, since, in the words used by the
defendant Bormann to the
defendant Rosenberg in an official letter, "the Christian religion and National Socialist
doctrines are not compatible." In the month of June, 1941, the defendant
Bormann issued a secret decree on the relation of Christianity and National
Socialism. The decree stated that:
" For the first time in German history the Fuehrer consciously
and completely has the leadership in his own hand. With the Party,
its components and, attached units, the Fuehrer has created for himself
and thereby the German Reich Leadership, an instrument which makes
him independent of the Treaty.... More and more the people must be
separated from the churches and their organs, the Pastor. . . Never
again must an influence on leadership of the people be yielded to
the churches. This influence must be broken completely and finally.
Only the Reich Government and by its direction the Party, its components
and attached units, have a right to leadership of the people."
From the earliest days of the NSDAP, anti-Semitism had occupied a prominent place in National Socialist thought and propaganda.
The Jews who were considered to have no right to German citizenship,
were held to have been largely responsible for the troubles with which
the nation was afflicted following on the war of 1914-18. Furthermore,
the antipathy to the Jews was intensified by the insistence which was
laid upon the superiority of the Germanic race and blood. The second
chapter of Book 1 of " Mein
Kampf " is dedicated to what may be called the " Master Race" theory,
the doctrine of Aryan superiority over all other races, and the right
of Germans in virtue of this superiority to dominate and use other peoples
for their own ends. With the coming of the Nazis into power in 1933,
persecution of the Jews became official state policy. On the 1st April,
1933, a boycott of Jewish enterprises was approved by the Nazi Reich
Cabinet, and during the following years a series of anti-Semitic laws
were passed, restricting the activities of Jews in the Civil Service,
in the legal profession, in journalism and in the armed forces. In September,
1935, the so-called Nuremberg Laws were passed, the most important effect
of which was to deprive Jews of German citizenship. In this way the
influence of Jewish elements on the affairs of Germany was extinguished,
and one more potential source of opposition to Nazi policy was rendered
In any consideration of the crushing of opposition,
the massacre of the 30th
June, 1934, must not be forgotten. It has become known as the " Roehm
Purge " or " the blood bath ", and revealed the methods which Hitler
and his immediate associates, including the defendant Goering, were
ready to employ to strike down all opposition and consolidate their
power. On that day Roehm,
the Chief of Staff of the SA since 1931, was murdered by Hitler's orders,
and the " Old Guard " of the SA was massacred without trial and without
warning. The opportunity was taken to murder a large number of people
who at one time or another had opposed Hitler.
The ostensible ground for the murder of Roehm was that
he was plotting to overthrow Hitler, and the defendant Goering gave
evidence that knowledge of such a plot had come to his ears. Whether
this was so or not it is not necessary to determine.
On July 3rd the Cabinet approved Hitler's action and
described it as " legitimate self-defence by the State."
Shortly afterwards Hindenburg died, and Hitler became
both Reich President and Chancellor. At the Nazi-dominated plebiscite,
which followed, 38 million Germans expressed their approval, and with
the Reichswehr taking the oath of allegiance to the Fuehrer, full power
was now in Hitler's hands.
Germany had accepted the Dictatorship with all its
methods of terror, and its cynical and open denial of the rule of law.
Apart from the policy of crushing the potential opponents
of their regime, the Nazi Government took active steps to increase its
power over the German population. In the field of education, everything
was done to ensure that the youth of Germany was brought up in the atmosphere
of National Socialism and accepted National Socialist teachings. As
early as the 7th April, 1933, the law reorganising the Civil Service
had made it possible for the Nazi Government to remove all " Subversive
and unreliable teachers ", and this was followed by numerous other measures
to make sure that the schools were staffed by teachers who could be
trusted to teach their pupils the full meaning of National Socialist
creed. Apart from the influence of National Socialist teaching in the
schools, the Hitler Youth
Organisation was also relied upon by the Nazi Leaders for obtaining
fanatical support from the younger generation. The defendant von
Schirach, who had been Reich Youth Leader of the NSDAP since 1931,
was appointed Youth Leader of the German Reich in June, 1933. Soon all
the youth organisations had been either dissolved or absorbed by the
Hitler Youth, with the exception of the Catholic Youth. The Hitler Youth
was organised on strict military lines, and as early as 1933 the Wehrmacht
was cooperating in providing pre-military training for the Reich Youth.
The Nazi Government endeavoured to unite the nation
in support of their policies through the extensive use of propaganda.
A number of agencies were set up whose duty was to control and influence
the press, radio, films, publishing firms, etc., in Germany, and to
supervise entertainment and cultural and artistic activities. All these
agencies came under Goebbels' Ministry of the People's Enlightenment and Propaganda, which together
with a corresponding organisation in the NSDAP and the Reich Chamber
of Culture, was ultimately responsible for exercising this supervision.
The defendant Rosenberg played a leading part in disseminating, the
National Socialist doctrines on behalf of the Party, and the defendant Fritzsche, in conjunction
with Goebbels, performed the same task for the State.
The greatest emphasis was laid on the supreme mission
of the German people to lead and dominate by virtue of their Nordic
blood and racial purity and the ground was thus being prepared for the
acceptance of the idea of German world supremacy.
Through the effective control of the radio and the
press, the German people, during the years which followed 1933, were
subjected to the most intensive propaganda in furtherance of the regime.
Hostile criticism, indeed criticism of any kind, was forbidden, and
the severest penalties were imposed on those who indulged in it.
Independent judgment, based on freedom of thought,
was rendered quite impossible.
During the years immediately following Hitler's appointment
as Chancellor, the Nazi Government set about reorganising the economic
life of Germany, and in particular the armament industry. This was done
on a vast scale and with extreme thoroughness.
It was necessary to lay a secure financial foundation
for the building of armaments, and in April, 1936, the defendant Goering
was appointed coordinator for raw materials and foreign exchange, and
empowered to supervise all State and Party activities in these fields.
In this capacity he brought together the War Minister, the Minister
of Economics, the Reich Finance Minister, the President of the Reichsbank
and the Prussian Finance Minister to discuss problems connected with
war mobilisation, and on the 27th May, 1936, in addressing these men,
Goering opposed any financial limitation of war production and added
that " all measures are to be considered from the standpoint of an assured
waging of war." At the Party Rally in Nuremberg in 1936, Hitler announced
the establishment of the Four Year Plan and the appointment of Goering
as the Plenipotentiary in charge. Goering was already engaged in building
a strong air force and on the 8th July, 1938, he announced to a number
of leading German aircraft manufacturers that the German Air Force was
already superior in quality and quantity to the English. On the 14th
October, 1938, at another conference, Goering announced that Hitler
had instructed him to organise a gigantic armament programme, which
would make insignificant all previous achievements. He said that he
had been ordered to build as rapidly as possible an air force five times
as large as originally planned, to increase the speed of the rearmament
of the navy and army, and to concentrate on offensive weapons, principally
heavy artillery and heavy tanks. He then laid down a specific programme
designed to accomplish these ends. The extent to which rearmament had
been accomplished was stated by Hitler in his memorandum of 9th October,
1939, after the campaign in Poland. He said:
" The military application of our people's strength has
been carried through to such an extent that within a short time at
any rate it cannot be markedly improved upon by any manner of effort
. . .
" The warlike equipment of, the German people is at present
larger in quantity and better in quality for a greater number of German
divisions than in the year 1914. The weapons themselves, taking a
substantial cross-section, are more modern than in the case with any
other country in the world at this time. They have just proved their
supreme war worthiness in their victorious campaign . . . There is
no evidence available to show that any country in the world disposes
of a better total ammunition stock than the Reich . . . The A.A. artillery
is not equalled by any country in the world."
In this reorganisation of the economic life of Germany
for military purposes, the Nazi Government found the German armament
industry quite willing to cooperate, and to play its part in the rearmament
programme. In April, 1933, Gustav Krupp von Bohlen submitted to Hitler
on behalf of the Reich Association of German Industry a plan for the
reorganisation of German industry, which, he stated was characterised
by the desire to coordinate economic measures and political necessity.
In the plan itself, Krupp stated that " the turn of political events
is in line with the wishes which I myself and the board of directors
have cherished for a long time." What Krupp meant by this statement
is fully shown by the draft text of a speech which he planned to deliver
in the University of Berlin in January, 1944, though the speech was
in fact never delivered. Referring !to !the years 1919 to 1933, Krupp
wrote: "It is the one great merit of the entire German war economy that
it did not remain idle during those bad years, even though its activity
could not be brought to light, for obvious reasons. Through years of
secret work, scientific and basic groundwork was laid in order to be
ready again to work for the German armed forces at the appointed hour,
without loss of time or experience.... Only through the secret activity
of German enterprise together with the experience gained meanwhile through
production of peace time goods, was it possible after 1933 to fall into
step width the new tasks arrived at, restoring Germany's military power."
In October, 1933, Germany withdrew from the International
Disarmament Conference and League of Nations. In 1935, the Nazi Government
decided to take the first open steps to free itself from its obligations
under the Treaty of Versailles. On the 10th
March, 1935, the defendant Goering announced that Germany was building
a military air force. Six days later, on the 16th March, 1935, a law
was passed bearing the signatures, among others, of the defendants Goering,
Hess, Frank, Frick, Schacht and von Neurath, instituting compulsory
military service and fixing The establishment of the German Army at
a peace time strength of 500,000 men. In an endeavour to reassure public
opinion in other countries, the Government announced on the 21st May,
1935, that Germany would, though renouncing the disarmament clauses,
still respect the territorial limitations of the Versailles
Treaty, and would comply with the Locarno Pacts. Nevertheless, on
the very day of this announcement, the secret Reich Defence Law was
passed and its publication forbidden by Hitler. In this law, the powers
and duties of the Chancellor and other Ministers were defined, should
Germany become involved in war. It is clear from this law that by May
of 1935 Hitler and his Government had arrived at the stage in the carrying
out of their policies when it was necessary for them to have in existence
the requisite machinery for the administration and government of Germany
in the event of their policy leading to war.
At the same time that is preparation of the German
economy for war was being carried out, the German armed forces themselves
were preparing for a rebuilding of Germany's armed strength.
The Germany Navy was particularly active in this regard.
The official German Naval historians, Assmann and Gladisch, admit that
the Treaty of Versailles had only been in force for a few months before
it was violated, particularly in the construction of a new submarine
The publications of Captain Schuessler and Oberst Scherf,
both of which were sponsored by the defendant Raeder, were designed
to show the German people the nature of the Navy's effort to rearm in
defiance of the Treaty of Versailles.
The full details of these publications have been given
On the 12th May, 1934 the defendant Raeder issued the Top Secret armament plan for what was called the Third Armament
Phase. This contained the sentence:
" All theoretical and practical A-preparations are to be
drawn up with a primary view to readiness for a war without any alert
One month later, in June 1934, the defendant Raeder
had a conversation with Hitler in which Hitler instructed him to keep
secret the construction of U boats and of warships over the limit of
10,000 tons which was then being undertaken.
And on the 2nd November, 1934, the defendant Raeder
had another conversation with Hitler and the defendant Goering, in which
Hitler said that he considered it vital that the German Navy " should
be increased as planned, as no war could be carried on if the Navy was
not able to safeguard the ore imports from Scandinavia."
The large orders for building given in 1933 and 1934
are sought to be excused by, the defendant Raeder on the ground that
negotiations were in progress for an agreement between Germany and Great
Britain permitting Germany to build ships in excess of the provisions
of the Treaty of Versailles. This agreement (2), which was signed, in
1935, restricted the German Navy to a tonnage equal, to one third of
that of the British, except in respect of U-boats where 45 per cent
was agreed, subject always to the right to exceed this proportion after
first informing the British Government and giving them an opportunity
The Anglo-German Treaty followed in 1937, under which
both Powers bound themselves to notify full details of their building
programme at least four months before any action was taken.
It is admitted that these clauses were not adhered
to by Germany.
In capital vessels, for example, the displacement details
were falsified by 20 per cent., whilst in the case of U boats, the German
historians Assmann and Gladisch say:
" It's probably just in the sphere of submarine construction
Germany adhered the least to the restrictions of the German-British
The importance of these breaches of the Treaty is seen
when the motive for this re-armament s considered. In the year 1940
the defendant Raeder himself wrote:
" The Fuehrer hoped until the last moment to be able to
put off, the threatening conflict with England until 1944-5. At the
time, the Navy would have had available a fleet with a powerful U-boat
superiority, and a much more favourable ratio as regards strength
all other types of ships, particularly those designed for warfare
on the High Seas."
The Nazi Government, as already stated, announced on
the 21st May, 1935, their attention to respect the territorial limitations
of the Treaty of Versailles. On the 7th March,
1936, in defiance of that Treaty, the demilitarised zone of the Rhineland
was entered by German troops. In announcing this action to the German
Reichstag, Hitler endeavoured to justify the re-entry by references
to the recently concluded alliances between France and the Soviet Union,
and between Czechoslovakia and the Soviet Union. He also tried to meet
the hostile reaction which he no doubt expected to follow this violation
of the Treaty by saying:
" We have no territorial claims to make in Europe."
The Common Plan or Conspiracy &
The Tribunal now turns to the consideration of the
Crimes against peace charged in the Indictment. Count One of the Indictment
charges the defendants with conspiring or having a common plan to commit
crimes against peace.
Count Two of the Indictment charges the defendants
with committing specific crimes against peace by planning, preparing,
initiating, and waging wars of aggression against a number of other
States. It will be convenient to consider the question of the existence
of a common plan and the question of aggressive war together, and to
deal later in this Judgment with the question of the individual responsibility
of the defendants.
The charges in the Indictment that the defendants planned
and waged aggressive wars are charges of the utmost gravity. War is
essentially an evil thing. Its consequences are not confined to the
belligerent states alone, but affect the whole world.
To initiate a war of aggression, therefore, is not
only an international crime; it is the supreme international crime differing
only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated
evil of the whole.
The first acts of aggression referred to in the Indictment
are the seizure of Austria and Czechoslovakia and the first war of aggression
charged in the Indictment is the war against Poland begun on the 1st
Before examining that charge it is necessary to look
more closely at some of the events which preceded these acts of aggression.
The war against Poland did not come suddenly out of an otherwise clear
sky; the evidence has made it plain that this war of aggression, as
well as the seizure of Austria and Czechoslovakia, was pre-meditated
and carefully prepared, and was not undertaken until the moment was
thought opportune for it to be carried through as a definite part of
the pre-ordained scheme and plan.
For the aggressive designs of the Nazi Government were
not accidents arising out of the immediate political situation in Europe
and the world; they were a deliberate and essential part of Nazi foreign
From the beginning, the National Socialist movement
claimed that its object was to unite the German people in the consciousness
of their mission and destiny, based on inherent qualities of race, and
under the guidance of the Fuehrer.
For its achievement, two things were deemed to be essential:
the disruption of the European order as it had existed since the Treaty
of Versailles, and the creation of a Greater Germany beyond the frontiers
of 1914. This necessarily involved the seizure of foreign territories.
War was seen to be inevitable, or at the very least,
highly probable, if these purposes were to be accomplished. The German
people, therefore, with all their resources were to be organised as
a great political-military army. schooled to obey without question any
policy decreed by the State.
In "Mein Kampf"
Hitler had made this view quite plain. It must be remembered that "Mein
Kampf" was no mere private diary in which the secret thoughts of Hitler
were set down. Its contents were rather proclaimed from the house-tops.
It was used in the schools and Universities and among the Hitler
Youth, in the SS and
the SA, and among the German people generally, even down to the presentation
of an official copy to all newly married people. By the year 1945 over
61 million copies had been circulated. The general contents are well
known. Over and over again Hitler asserted his belief in the necessity
of force as the means of solving international problems, as in the following
"The soil on which we now live was not a gift bestowed
by Heaven on our forefathers. They had to conquer it by risking their
lives. So also in the future, our people will not obtain territory,
and therewith the means of existence, as a favour from any other people,
but will have to win it by the power of a triumphant sword."
"Mein Kampf" contains many such passages, and the extolling
of force as an instrument of foreign policy is openly proclaimed.
The precise objectives of this policy of force are
also set forth in detail The very first page of the book asserts that
" German-Austria must be restored to the great German Motherland," not
on economic grounds, but because " people of the same blood should be
in the same Reich."
The restoration of the German frontiers of 1914 is
declared to be wholly insufficient, and if Germany is to exist at all,
it must be as a world power with the necessary territorial magnitude.
" Mein Kampf " is quite explicit in stating where the
increased territory is to be found:
" Therefore we National Socialists have purposely drawn
a line through the line of conduct followed by pre-war Germany in foreign
policy. We put an end to the perpetual Germanic march towards the South
and West of Europe, and turn our eyes towards the lands of the East.
We finally put a stop to the colonial and trade policy of the pre-war
times, and pass over to the territorial policy of the future.
But when we speak of new territory in Europe to-day,
we must think principally of Russia and the border states subject to
" Mein Kampf " is not to be regarded as a mere literary
exercise, nor as an inflexible policy or plan incapable of modification.
lts importance lies in the unmistakable attitude of
aggression revealed throughout its pages.
Evidence from captured documents has revealed that
Hitler held four secret meetings to which the Tribunal proposes to make
special reference because of the light they shed upon the question of
the common plan and aggressive war.
These meetings took place on the 5th of November, 1937,
the 23rd of May, 1939, the 22nd of August, 1939, and the 23rd of November,
At these meetings important declarations were made
by Hitler as to his purposes, which are quite unmistakable in their
The documents which record what took place at these
meetings have been subject to some criticism at the hands of defending
Their essential authenticity is not denied, but it
is said, for example that they do not purpose to be verbatim transcripts
of the speeches they record, that the document dealing with the meeting
on the 5th November, 1937, was dated five days after the meeting had
taken place, and that the two documents dealing with the meeting of
August 22nd, 1939, differ from one another, and are unsigned.
Making the fullest allowance for criticism of this
kind, the Tribunal is of the opinion that the documents are documents
of the highest value, and that their authenticity and substantial truth
They are obviously careful records of the events they
describe, and they have been preserved as such in the archives of the
German Government, from whose custody they were captured. Such documents
could never be dismissed as inventions, nor even as inaccurate or distorted,
they plainly record events which actually took place.
of the 23rd November, 1939 and 5th November, 1937
It will perhaps be useful to deal first of all with
the meeting of the 23rd November, 1939, when Hitler called his Supreme
Commanders together. A record was made of what was said, by one of those
present. At the date of the meeting, Austria and Czechoslovakia had
been incorporated into the German Reich, Poland had been conquered by
the German armies, and the war with Great Britain and France was still
in its static phase. The moment was opportune for a review of past events.
Hitler informed the Commanders that the purpose of the Conference was
to give them an idea of the world of his thoughts, and to tell them
his decision. He thereupon reviewed his political task since 1919, and
referred to the secession of Germany from the League of Nations, the
denunciation of the Disarmament Conference, the order for re-armament,
the introduction of compulsory armed service, the occupation of the
Rhineland, the seizure of Austria, and the action against Czechoslovakia.
"One year later, Austria came; this step also was considered
doubtful. It brought about a considerable reinforcement of the Reich.
The next step was Bohemia, Moravia and Poland. This step also was
not possible to accomplish in one campaign. First of all, the western
fortification had to be finished. It was not possible to reach the
goal in one effort. It was clear to me from the first moment that
I could not be satisfied with the Sudeten German territory. That was
only a partial solution. The decision to march into Bohemia was made.
Then followed the erection of the Protectorate and with that the basis
for the action against Poland was laid, but I wasn't quite clear at
that time whether I should start first against the East and then in
the West or vice versa . . . Basically I did not organise the armed
forces in order not to strike. The decision to strike was always in
me. Earlier or later I wanted to solve the problem. Under pressure
it was decided that the East was to be attacked first."
This address, reviewing past events and re-affirming
the aggressive intentions present from the beginning, puts beyond any
question of doubt the character of the actions against Austria and Czechoslovakia,
and the war against Poland.
For they had all been accomplished according to plan,
and the nature of that plan must now be examined in a little more detail.
At the meeting of the 23rd November, 1939, Hitler was
looking back to things accomplished, at the earlier meetings now to
be considered, he was looking forward, and revealing his plans to his
confederates. The comparison is instructive.
The meeting held at the Reich Chancellery in Berlin
on the 5th November 1937, was attended by Lieut.-Colonel Hoszbach, Hitler's
personal adjutant, who compiled a long note of the proceedings, which
he dated the 10th November, 1937, and signed.
The persons present were Hitler, and the defendants
Goering, von Neurath and Raeder, in their capacities as Commander-in-Chief
of the Luftwaffe, Reich Foreign Minister and Commander-in-Chief of the
Navy respectively, General von Blomberg, Minister of War, and General
von Fritsch, the Commander-in-Chief of the Army.
Hitler began by saying that the subject of the conference
was of such high importance that in other States it would have taken
place before the Cabinet. He went on to say that the subject matter
of his speech was the result of his detailed deliberations, and of his
experience during his four and a half years of Government. He requested
that the statements he was about to make should be looked upon in the
case of his death as his last will and testament. Hitler's main theme
was the problem of living space, and he discussed various possible solutions,
only to set them aside. He then said that the seizure of living space
on the continent of Europe was therefore necessary, expressing himself
in these words:
" It is not a case of conquering people, but of conquering
agriculturally useful space. It would also be more to the purpose
to seek raw material producing territory in Europe directly adjoining
the Reich and not overseas, and this solution would have to be brought
into effect for one or two generations.... The history of all times
Roman Empire, British Empire- has proved that every space expansion
can only be effected by breaking resistance and taking risks. Even
setbacks are unavoidable: neither formerly nor to-day has space been
found without an owner; the attacker always comes up against the proprietor."
He concluded with this observation:
" The question for Germany is where the greatest possible
conquest could- be made at the lowest cost."
Nothing could indicate more plainly the aggressive
intentions of Hitler, and the events which soon followed showed the
reality of his purpose. It is impossible to accept the contention that
Hitler did not actually mean war; for after pointing out that Germany
might expect the opposition of England and France, and analysing the
strength and the weakness of those powers in particular situations,
" The German question can be solved only by way of force,
and this is never without risk.... If we place the decision to apply
force with risk at the head of the following expositions, then we
are left to reply to the questions 'when' and 'how'. In this regard
we have to decide upon three different cases."
The first of these three cases set forth a hypothetical
international situation, in which he would take action not later than
1943 to 1945, saying:
" If the Fuehrer is still living then it will be his irrevocable
decision to solve the German space problem not later than 1943 to
1945. The necessity for action before 1943 to 1945 will come under
consideration in Cases 2 and 3."
The second and third cases to which Hitler referred
show the plain intention to seize Austria and Czechoslovakia, and in
this connection Hitler said:
" For the improvement of our military-political position,
it must be our first aim in every case of entanglement by war to conquer
Czechoslovakia and Austria simultaneously in order to remove any threat
from the flanks in case of a possible advance westwards."
He further added:
" The annexation of the two states to Germany militarily
and politically would constitute a considerable relief, owing to shorter
and better frontiers, the freeing of fighting personnel for other
purposes, and the possibility of reconstituting new armies up to a
strength of about twelve divisions."
This decision to seize Austria and Czechoslovakia was
discussed in some detail, the action was to be taken as soon as a favourable
opportunity presented itself.
The military strength which Germany had been building
up since 1933 was now to be directed at the two specific countries,
Austria and Czechoslovakia.
The defendant Goering testified that he did not believe
at that time that Hitler actually meant to attack Austria and Czechoslovakia,
and that the purpose of the conference was only to put pressure on von
Fritsch to speed up the re-armament of the Army.
The defendant Raeder testified that neither he, nor
von Fritsch, nor von Blomberg, believed that Hitler actually meant war,
a conviction which the defendant Raeder claims that he held up to the
22nd August, 1939. The basis of this conviction was his hope that Hitler
would obtain a " political solution" of Germany's problems. But all
that this means, when examined, is the belief that Germany's position
would be so good, and Germany's armed might so overwhelming, that the
territory desired could be obtained without fighting for it. It must
be remembered too that Hitler's declared intention with regard to Austria
was actually carried out within a little over four months from the date
of the meeting, and within less than a year the first portion of Czechoslovakia
was absorbed, and Bohemia and Moravia a few months later. If any doubts
had existed in the minds of any of his hearers in November, 1937, after
March of 1939 there could no longer be any question that Hitler was
in deadly earnest in his decision to resort to war. The Tribunal is
satisfied that Lt.-Col. Hoszbach's account of the meeting is substantially
correct, and that those present knew that Austria and Czechoslovakia
would be annexed by Germany at the first possible opportunity.