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The Nuremberg Trials: Judgement - The Aggressive War Against the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics

On the 23rd August, 1939, Germany signed the nonaggression pact with the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.

The evidence has shown unmistakably that the Soviet Union on their part conformed to the terms of this pact; indeed the German Government itself had been assured of this by the highest German sources. Thus, the German Ambassador in Moscow informed his Government that the Soviet Union would go to war only if attacked by Germany, and this statement is recorded in the German War Diary under the date of June 6th 1941.

Nevertheless, as early as the late summer of 1940, Germany began to make preparations for an attack on the U.S.S.R., in spite of the nonaggression pact. This operation was secretly planned under the code name " Case Barbarossa ", and the former Field Marshal Paulus testified that on the 3rd September, 1940, when he joined the German General Staff, he continued developing " Case Barbarossa", which was finally completed at the beginning of November, 1940; and that even then, the German General Staff had no information that the Soviet Union was preparing for war.

On the 18th of December, 1940, Hitler issued directive No. 21, initialled by Keitel and Jodl, which called for the completion of all preparations connected with the realisation of " Case Barbarossa " by the 15th May, 1941. This directive stated:

" The German armed forces must be prepared to crush Soviet Russia in a quick campaign before the end of the war against England . . . Great caution has to be exercised that the intention of an attack will not be recognised."

Before the directive of the 18th December had been made, the defendant Goering had informed General Thomas, Chief of the Office of War Economy of the OKW, of the plan, and General Thomas made surveys of the economic possibilities of the USSR including its raw materials, its power and transport system, and its capacity to produce arms.

In accordance with these surveys, an economic staff for the Eastern territories with many military-economic units (inspectorates. Commandos, groups) was created under the supervision of the defendant Goering. In conjunction with the military command, these units were to achieve the most complete and efficient economic exploitation of the occupied territories in the interest of Germany.

The framework of the future political and economic organisation of the occupied territories was designed by the defendant Rosenberg over a period of three months, after conferences with and assistance by the defendants Keitel, Jodl, Raeder, Funk, Goering, Ribbentrop, and Frick or their representatives. It was made the subject of a most detailed report immediately after the invasion.

These plans outlined the destruction of the Soviet Union as an independent State, and its partition, the creation of so-called Reich Commissariats, and the conversion of Esthonia, Latvia, Byelorussia and other territories into German colonies.

At the same time Germany drew Hungary, Roumania and Finland into the war against the U.S.S.R. In December 1940 Hungary agreed to participate on the promise of Germany that she should have certain territories at the expense of Yugoslavia.

In May 1941 a final agreement was concluded with Antonescu, the Prime Minister of Roumania, regarding the attack on the U.S.S.R., in . which Germany promised to Romania, Bessarabia, Northern Bukovina and the right to occupy Soviet territory up to the Dnieper.

On the 22nd June, 1941, without any declaration of war, Germany invaded Soviet territory in accordance with the plans so long made.

The evidence which has been given before this Tribunal proves that Germany had the design carefully thought out, to crush the U.S.S.R. as a political and military power, so that Germany might expand to the east according to her own desire. In " Mein Kampf ", Hitler had written:

" If new territory were to be acquired in Europe, it must have been mainly at Russia's cost, and once again the new German Empire should have set out on its march along the same road as was formerly trodden by the Teutonic Knights, this time to acquire soil for the German plough by means of the German sword and thus provide the nation with its daily bread."

But there was a more immediate purpose, and in one of the memoranda of the OKW, that immediate purpose was stated to be to feed the German armies from Soviet territory in the third year of the war, even if " as a result many millions of people, as the defendant Rosenberg said, will be starved to death if we take out of the country the things necessary for us."

The final aims of the attack on the Soviet Union were formulated at a conference with Hitler on July 16, 1941, in which the defendants Goering, Keitel, Rosenberg and Bormann participated:

" There can be no talk of the creation of a military power west of the Urals, even if we should have to fight 100 years to achieve this . . . All the Baltic regions must become part of the Reich. The Crimea and adjoining regions (North of the Crimea) must likewise be incorporated into the Reich. The region of the Volga as well as the Baku district must likewise be incorporated into the Reich. The Finns want Eastern Karelia. However, in view of the large deposits of nickel, the Kola peninsula must be ceded to Germany."

It was contended for the defendants that the attack upon the U.S.S.R., was justified because the Soviet Union was contemplating an attack upon Germany and making preparations to that end. It is impossible to believe that this view was ever honestly entertained.

The plans for the economic exploitation of the U.S.S.R., for the removal of masses of the population, for the murder of Commissars and political leaders, were all part of the carefully prepared scheme launched on the 22nd June without warning of any kind, and without the shadow of legal excuse. It was plain aggression.

Sources: The Avalon Project