Was the Night of the Long Knives principally a means to obtain loyalty of the German military leadership?

Was the Night of the Long Knives principally a means to obtain loyalty of the German military leadership?

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Two History professors in my school say that Hitler had to execute the leaders of the SA principally because the generals of the German army asked him to do it: The generals were Teutonic nobility; the leaders of the SA who were pedophiles, homosexuals, criminals… in one word, scum. So the generals explicitly stated that otherwise they would not have accepted Hitler as their Führer. In other words, according to the professors, getting rid of Hitler's opposition was not the first purpose of the NLK.

However, I couldn't find sources backing up those claims, and furthermore, my professor himself disagrees. Are they correct?

The Night of the Long Knives was undertaken to pacify the GENERALS and officers of the German Army, not the soldiers.

The problem arose because Hitler's private "army," the S.A., was actually larger than the official army of 100,000 men permitted by the Versailles Treaty. So the leaders of the S.A. demanded that the less-numerous army be placed under them.

But the leaders of the regular army were all professionals. And Hitler envisioned having a much larger, multi-million man army that could be officered only by the professional army, not the "amateurs" of the S.A. Forced to choose between one and the other, Hitler supported the regular army at the expense of the leaders of his own "army."

The issues about sexual orientation, while real, took a back seat to those of "professionalism" and class.

You (or your history professors) are overly concerned with the sexual orientation and/or criminal tendencies of the SA leadership. And you make the curious assumption (or seem to) that homosexuals and paedophiles aren't to be found in the aristocracy.

Yes, the German Army, with its aristocratic leadership, wanted the SA neutered. But only because it was perceived as dangerous, anarchic and representative of the socialist wing of National Socialism. It had millions of members and was a dangerous rival to the army. The rest of the German establishment (banks, big business) felt the same way.

Once rid of the SA, Hitler and National Socialism became much more acceptable to the Army and Big Business. Which is what Hitler intended.

Anything to do with sexual orientation was window dressing.

Great question!

In this case "Tea Drinker" is more precise. According to Hans Rothfels and Theordor Eschenburg in "Dokumentation: Zur Ermordung des Generals Schleicher, 'Vierteljahrshefte fur Zeitgeschichte,' Ernst Roehm, chief of the SA, wanted to continue the Nazi Revolution. This of course was problematic to Hitler who absolutely despised "Bolshevism." Therefore, Hitler, who needed support from conservatives--or reactionaries, the opposite of revolutionaries--and industrialist, took action to eliminate the Socialists. Also, Roehm was insistent that the SA and the Reichswehr be turned into a 'people's army.' Therefore, with the potential threat of losing both the army and industrialists, Hitler acted (Sax and Kuntz, 154).

According to Dr. Grutzner, the junior barrister in the distric attorney's office who functioned as the official in charge of the judicial inquiry into deaths in 1934, stated: "… at Hitler's orders, Roehm had been arrested because of his treasonous connections to representatives of foreign power. Furthermore, it was suspected that General von Schleicher had been working with Roehm… " (Sax and Kuntz, 156). This we know today is a fabrication, and Hitler needed to eliminate any potential threat to his ascendency to Ruler of Germany.

As for those killed being accused of homosexuality and pedophila, how many people in Germany, in these tightly knit conservative circles and who are arguably religiously devout Lutherans, would have been appalled at such activity And who might condone killing these "disgusting" sexual deviants? With that, I do not find it in excess that fabricated stories of sexual deviation would be surprising at this time.

Benjamin Sax & Dieter Kuntz, "Inside Hitler's Germany: A Documentary History of Life in the Third Reich," 154-156, from Hans Rothfels and Theodor Eschenburg, eds., 'Dokumentation: Zur Ermordung des Generals Schleicher,' Vierteljahrshefte fur Zeitgeschichte, 1 (January 1953), p 85-86, 92-95. Translated by Dieter Kuntz. Repreinted by permission of R. Oldenbourg Verlag, Munich.

Primary Sources

(1) David Low, Autobiography (1956)

A pile of old copies of copies of Punch I found in the back room of a fatherly second-hand bookseller introduced me to the treasure of Charles Keene, Linley Sambourne, Randolph Caldecott and Dana Gibson. The more I poured over the intricate technical quality of these artists the more difficult did drawing appear. How impossible that one could ever become an artist! But then I came on Phil May, who combined quality with apparent facility. Once having discovered Phil May I never let him go.

(2) David Low joined the Sydney Bulletin in 1909.

The men behind the Bulletin, notably Jules Francois Archibald, a master journalist, and William Macleod, an artist with solid business ability, had made it a major policy of their paper to encourage native Australian talent. The supply of poets and writers began to flow almost immediately. That of comic artists and caricaturists had to be primed at first by a couple of importations, Livingstone Hopkins (Hop) from America, and Phil May from Britain.

The Bulletin was radical, rampant and free, with an anti-English bias and a preference for a republican form of government. No more imported governors nor doggerel national anthems, no more pompous borrowed generals, foreign titles, foreign capitalists, cheap labour, diseased immigrants, if the Bulletin could help it.

(3) In his autobiography, David Low explained how his cartoons usually took three days to draw.

I worked an eight-hour day - sometimes ten-hour - day and with evenings spent moving around seeing people, it was a busy life. Making a cartoon occupied usually about three full days, two spent in labour and one in removing the appearance of labour. Sometimes I wondered whether I was not taking too much trouble. But when I learned that the methods of Brueghel, Callot, Daumier, Gillray and the other Old Masters of Caricature had been similarly thorough, that Tenniel took two or three days to make a Punch cartoon.

(4) While working for the Sydney Bulletin in Australia, David Low got to know H. H. Champion.

Who in 1915 would have identified the mild old gentleman, editor of a tiny literary monthly, walking tremulously with the aid of two sticks in the Melbourne sunshine, with the determined young ex-artillery officer H. H. Champion of the 1880s, who introduced John Burns and Keir Hardie to political life, and who with Burns and Hyndman led a riotous mob of unemployed through London's clubland, leaving a trail of broken windows? No one, I wager. Illness, disappointment and age had long since withdrawn Champion from politics to books. But he retained an interest in justice and right. Whenever I did a cartoon which in content departed from the strictly sane view I was sure next day to run into Champion, advancing slowly down the street like a conscience. He would stop, look me in the eye, smile gently and say, "Not quite, David, do you think?" Very effective criticism, coming from that old war-horse.

(5) David Low found it difficult to adjust to life in London. Will Dyson of the The Daily Herald was one of first friends he made in England.

I had just left the warmth of a wide circle of friends in Australia to come to this desert island. The contrast was painful. "It will take you ten years to learn the English," said Will Dyson, the Australian cartoonist, whom we found crouching over a sinking fire in a large dark studio, nursing a great grief at the death of his wife.

Will, despite his sadness, was a great comfort in the cheerless winter of 1919-20. From his early Bulletin days I had been his great admirer as one of the master caricaturist-cartoonists. Will Dyson had broken up the pattern with his striking Socialist cartoons in the Herald from about 1910 onward, and had led the field during the First World War with his large war cartoons in which the monumental and the satirical had been powerfully blended.

(6) David Low was commissioned by the Daily Star to draw portraits of fifty of Britain's most distinguished men.

One of the first subjects I called on was Bernard Shaw. A solid-looking domestic showed me in. Shaw was lying on a settee, wearing fancy slippers, very pleased with himself, talking to Barry Jackson and another man about details of the production of his new play Saint Joan, but I did not pay much attention because I was more interested in our host. Peculiar high skull, jutting beard, small eyes, pinkish bulbous nose, small mouth with false-looking teeth. I walked about the room, which seemed to be well furnished with portraits of Bernard Shaw. On the table was a bust of Shaw by Rodin, not too good. All these works represented a cocky Shaw, the head standing erect on a straight spine. When the others left I hadn't been talking to him long before I began to suspect that he was really a shy man, that the cockiness was a defensive facade.

(7) Some people believed that David Low's cartoons of David Lloyd George helped to force him out of office.

David Lloyd George was the best-hated statesman of his time, as well as the best loved. The former I have good reason to know every time I made a pointed cartoon against him, it brought batches of approving letters from all the haters. Looking at Lloyd George's pink and hilarious, head thrown back, generous mouth open to its fullest extent, shouting with laughter at one of his own jokes, I thought I could see how it was that his haters hated him. He must have been poison to the old school tie brigade, coming to the House an outsider, bright, energetic, irrepressible, ruthless, mastering with ease the House of Commons procedure, applying all the Celtic tricks in the bag, with a talent for intrigue that only occasionally got away from him.

I always had the greatest difficulty in making Lloyd George sinister in a cartoon. Every time I drew him, however critical the comment, I had to be careful or he would spring off the drawing-board a lovable cherubic little chap. I found the only effective way of putting him definitely in the wrong in a cartoon was by misplacing this quality in sardonic incongruity - by surrounding the comedian with tragedy.

(8) David Low first met Winston Churchill in 1922.

As might be expected from his origins and temperament, Churchill was inwardly contemptuous of the "common man" when the "common man" sought to interfere in his (the common man's) own government but bearing with the need to appear sympathetic and compliant to the popular will. In those days, whenever I heard Churchill's dramatic periods about democracy, I felt inclined to say: "Please define." His definition, I felt, would be something like "government of the people, for the people, by benevolent and paternal ruling-class chaps like me."

Churchill was witty and easy to talk to until I said that the Australians were an independent people who could not be expected to follow Britain without question. They were, in the case of new wars, for instance, not to be taken for granted, but would follow their own judgment.

Churchill was one of the few men I have met who even in the flesh give me the impression of genius. George Bernard Shaw is another. It is amusing to know that each thinks the other is overrated.

(9) David Low, Autobiography (1956)

The spectacle of Mussolini so masterfully beating up his Liberal and Socialist opponents was one that could not fail to evoke admiration in some Anglo-Saxon breasts. A British Fascist Party grew up overnight and the Daily Mail, then Britain's biggest popular newspaper, approved it. With the zest I added the first Lord Rothermere, its proprietor, to my cast of cartoon characters. He made up well in a black shirt helping to stoke the fires of class hatred. Lord Rothermere was much incensed and complained bitterly. "Dog doesn't eat dog. It isn't done," said one of his Fleet Street men, as though he were giving me a moral adage instead of a thieves' wisecrack.

(10) David Low, Autobiography (1956)

The unending arguments about presentation, space and position in the Star became wearing. I had foreseen the possibilities of personal crisis about all this, so, as an insurance, I began to develop some footholds in quarters where I could place some better drawing: Punch, The Graphic and elsewhere.

The portraits I had been working on so long were now coming up to the final stage. I had Robert Lynd introduce me to Clifford Sharp, the editor of The New Statesman, and I offered them to him for a first publication at a small fee on condition he agreed to do them as offset plate-stamped loose supplements.

(11) In his autobiography, David Low wrote about his friendship with Sir William Joynson-Hicks.

My personal contacts with the Tory Party were slight until I became acquainted with the Home Secretary. Sir William Joynson-Hicks (Jix for short) was a spectacular success as a 'red' hunter. He was in his element rushing the police around to seize sinister documents from some branch of the then insignificant Communist Party. Most of the time it seemed to me, of all Baldwin's men, the most intolerant, narrow-minded and dictatorial of anti-democrats. Week by week, I derided his moments of triumph. A letter arrived from Jix inviting me to come along to the Home Office if ever I wanted to bring my portrait up to date. Jix's vanity and giggling goodwill were irresistible. I abhorred his politics but I liked him and he liked me. There he was at the Home Office with a heap of reproductions of my bloodhound cartoons of himself on his writing-table, obviously put there for my benefit. I met him often after that, always with enjoyment. For years we exchanged Christmas presents regularly, I a little drawing, he a box of cigars: "With best wishes from your devoted assassin, Low": "With all good wishes from your most loyal victim, Jix."

(12) Lord Beaverbrook first approached David Low to work for the Evening Standard in 1926. Although Beaverbrook offered to double his salary he refused. In 1929 Beaverbrook tried again to capture Britain's leading cartoonist.

He fixed me with a steady calculating eye and I put on my best Simple Simon look. The proposition was that I should leave The Star and draw cartoons for the Evening Standard at double my salary, whatever it was. Flabbergasted, I made refusing noises. "What do you want?" he asked. He was persistent. To close the subject I said I wished to take the advice of my friends H. G. Wells and Arnold Bennett.

Negotiations ended when I called on Lord Beaverbrook one morning at noon, finding him sitting up in bed, a plaintive figure like Camille, reading the Bible. He had promised me four half-pages a week, but I wanted precise guarantees about presentation. "Dammit, Low," said Beaverbrook. "Do you want to edit the paper, too."

The Evening Standard advertised my coming lavishly. No one took seriously the announcements that I was to express independent views. that was a novel idea, except for an occasional series of signed articles by some big name. Free and regular expression by the staff cartoonist was unheard of and incredible.

Beaverbrook did not always laugh in the right place at my cartoons, and some galled him, but in the twenty-three years of my association with his newspapers I can recall only one cartoon being left unprinted because of a disagreement over its political content - a spirited effort about the situation in Greece in 1945 which was blocked at the request of Churchill the Prime Minister in what he held to be the interests of western democracy.

(13) In his autobiography, David Low compared cartoonists such as James Gillray, Thomas Rowlandson, John Leech, John Tenniel, Richard Doyle, Leonard Raven Hill and Bernard Partridge.

Some critics of my work took the view that a satirist should defer to the finer feelings of his readers and respect widely held beliefs. I explained that whatsoever might be the duty of a satirist, it certainly could not be too reflect, confirm or pander to popular beliefs. Rather the opposite, for it was popular beliefs themselves that were frequently the aptest material for the healthiest satire.

The circumspect cartoons of John Leech and John Tenniel were a sign of the times so also were the respectful pencillings of Dicky Doyle. I took as a standard the works of Gillray, Rowlandson and company, who were generally agreed to be the old masters of caricature.

Bernard Partridge and Leonard Raven-Hill were ultra-conservative, even reactionary. Partridge, the last of the cartoonists of the Victorian grand manner. His knighthood troubled me, for I could not think that critics or commentators ostensibly of satirical temper on public affairs should accept, like other men, the insignia of trammelling loyalties.

Partridge, as the inheritor of the Tenniel tradition in Punch, specialized in cartoons dealing with national occasions, such as laying laurel wreaths on the tombs of dead statesmen, congratulating epic sportsmen, extending the helping hand in disasters, etc., in which he represented the Anglo-Saxon people by Britannia, a massive matron moulded according to the Graeco-Roman idea of beauty.

(14) David Low, Autobiography (1956)

The British Fascist Party was comparatively insignificant until Mosley took over its leadership. Mosley was young, energetic, capable and an excellent speaker. Since I had met him in 1925 he had graduated from close friendship with MacDonald to a job in the second Labour Government but he had become disgusted with the evasions over unemployment and had resigned to start a party of his own.

Unfortunately at the succeeding general election he fell ill with influenza and his party-in-embryo, deprived of his brilliant talents, was wiped out. Mosley was too ambitious to retire into obscurity. Looking around for a "vehicle" he united himself to the British Fascists, rechristened "the Blackshirts", and acquired almost automatically the encouragement of Britain's then biggest newspaper, the Daily Mail, which was more than willing to extend its admiration for the Italian original to the local imitation. That was a fateful influenza germ.

(15) David Low, Autobiography (1956)

Things got a bit mixed at times between me and the Evening Standard. On the main issues of the day, I believed it was One World, upheld the League and was for combined effort to defend peace by economic pressure and international force. Beaverbrook didn't believe it was One World, thought the League was meddlesome and that Britain should mind its own business and develop the Empire.

Cartoons and leading articles often flatly contradicted one another, scandalizing the worthy souls who saw it as a serious defect in Lord Beaverbrook that he be not one-eyed. Inevitably stories got around, when for some reason or other, a cold or a journey, I missed a cartoon, that I was undergoing "discipline." My friend Hannen Swaffer, the columnist, who had a watchful eye open for occasions when my cartoon should have appeared and didn't, was apt to draw conclusions at the top of his voice and headline his suspicions Is Low Censored?

Such vigilance would have been a useful safeguard for me had Lord Beaverbrook not been the sort of man he was. But the truth was that his attitude to my personal charter of freedom remained impeccable, and the misgivings I had had on joining his paper long had been forgotten. Often he disagreed with me profoundly and did not fail to say so. Cartoons of Hitler tripping up to glory on stairs formed by the spineless backs of democratic statesmen and Hitler demanding with menaces to know what the same democratic statesmen would give him not to kick their pants for twenty-five years, hardly fitted the Beaverbrook line, but went into the paper without a word, except after publication. There was an occasion when I drew a doubt as to whether the inclusion of Japan in the Axis did not show the Hitler-Mussolini crusade against "godless" Russia to be a fraud, and a telegram arrived from his Lordship in Canada to protest that the imputation was unfair, since Hitler had not declared himself against Christianity. But even after he visited Germany, where he succeeded in getting the Daily Express ban lifted but was told frankly that so long as he kept me as cartoonist the Evening Standard would be banned, there were no recriminations but instead a worried solicitude for my own safety. Fresh from Dr. Gobbels, and hearing of my occasional trips to Europe, Beaverbrook was full of dire warnings that to show my nose in Germany would be asking for an "accident."

(16) David Low, Autobiography (1956)

I had been told often enough that the British never had taken propaganda seriously, because they believed in themselves so much as to regard the rightness of their causes to be self-evident. Certainly, although they were fighting what was ostensibly a war of ideas, in striking contrast to the Nazis, the Russians, the French and the Americans they placed little value upon the presentation of their case to the enemy in cartoons.

(Source L) David Low, In Occupied Territory (10th July, 1942)

(15) David Low was attacked in the press as a "war-monger" because of his hostility towards Neville Chamberlain and his policy of appeasement. Margot Asquith, the wife of the former Prime Minister, Herbert Asquith, wrote to Low about his cartoons on 22nd April, 1938.

I thought your cartoon on Wednesday (20th April) in the Evening Standard both cruel and mischievous. I know the P.M. - do you? He is a man of iron courage, calm and resolution. Neville is doing the only right, wise, thing, unless you want war. Hate, threats - which you can't carry out - and suspicion do not advance peace, and if the P.M. fails we can always go back to the policy of the war-mongers - Winston Churchill and Co. I think Neville has saved the world by his courage - and so do much cleverer people than I.

(16) Anthony Rhodes, Propaganda: The Art of Persuasion: World War II (1987)

When Lord Halifax visited Germany officially in 1937, he was told that the Führer was deeply offended by Low's cartoons of him, and that the paper in which they appeared, the Evening Standard, was banned in Germany. On Halifax's return to London, he summonded Low and told him that his cartoons were impairing the prime minister's policy of appeasement. Low obligingly desisted - but only for a few months. Soon afterward Hitler marched into Austria and Low, realizing that Chamberlain and Halifax had been fooled, took up his brush again with renewed vigor.

(16) Boris Efimov, letter to David Low (17th September, 1942)

I wish to tell you, Mr. Low, with interest I and other Soviet artists have been and are now following your magnificent work, which has won for you the well-deserved fame of the best cartoonist in the world.

The future of history hangs in the balance. On one hand light, progress, democracy, life on the other darkness, corruption, barbarism, death, that is Hitlerism. I am happy, dear Mr. Low, that in this decisive hour I am with you - a great artist whose creative work I regard with admiration and from whose works I learn.

(16) Time Magazine (9th November, 1936)

Interviewed in Manhattan, British Cartoonist David Low advised U. S. cartoonists to "scrap this Uncle Sam and John Bull business. Your Uncle Sam is no more representative of the American people than my boot or my foot." More advice from the London Evening Standard's piercing satirist: "When you hold a man up as a public menace you lend him dignity. You don't destroy him at all.

"I saw an American cartoon, for instance, which was opposed to Mussolini and Hitler. The cartoonist drew them as huge, huge figures. . . Now Mussolini is a short man, and his large jaw is largely due to a fold of fat that is carefully touched out in photographs. Hitler is not an impressive figure. He has a turned up nose, good eyes, an absurd little mouth and a slightly receding chin. All the opportunities in these two men for very destructive caricature."

(16) Time Magazine (3rd July, 1939)

David Low's first published cartoon was printed in a New Zealand paper in 1902, when he was eleven years old. It represented the local authorities as lunatics because of their reluctance to remove certain trees that obstructed traffic. Ever since that time he has pictured himself as a "nuisance dedicated to sanity." His definition of sanity embraces a good many statesmen and policies: Benito Mussolini, Adolf Hitler, armament races, Nonintervention, and Prime Minister Neville (Chamberlain's political "realism." Some of the personages scared by his corrosive brush have had good reason to regret that young David did not become a bishop as his mother wished, instead of becoming the world's deadliest political cartoonist.

After free-lancing in New Zealand and Australia, David Low went to England in 1919, where he drew for the London Star until 1927, when Lord Beaverbrook hired him for his Evening Standard. There he has ever since made fun of his employer's arch-conservative opinions. This month, A Cartoon History of Our Times, the seventeenth and best collection of David Low's work, with an explanatory text by Quincy Howe (author of England Expects Every American To Do His Duty), is to be published in the U. S.* Covering the hectic years of 1932-39, most of the car toons have kept their timeliness surprisingly well. His interpretation of the "Open Door," drawn in 1934, anticipated by five years Japan's present at tempt to drive foreign interests out of China, an eventuality which the British Government at that time thought highly improbable. The drawing of the gorged wolves appeared on Dec. 2, 1938, shortly after Polish troops occupied Teschen, completing the post-Munich occupation of Czecho-Slovak territory. The Spanish dancers were drawn last February when France and Great Britain were preparing to recognize the Franco Government.

Cartoonist Low is a unique combination of a student of contemporary politics and a superb draughtsman. A passionately sincere democrat, he is also a hard worker.

He begins the day at 8 o'clock, digesting thoroughly the daily papers. Breakfast is a political meeting, with the cartoonist, his wife, and his two young daughters threshing out the news. After breakfast he walks to his roomy, book-lined studio where with much pacing and squirming and pipe-smoking, he struggles to express a complex idea in a few vivid lines and a brief, usually wry, caption. The final drawing is done rapidly with a fine brush.

How Artist Low got that way politically is not hard to explain. He recalls that he became "socially conscious" at 19, when he went from deeply socialistic New Zealand to deeply laborite Australia. But for all his savage conviction, he is still a sly humorist. The words he puts in the mouth of his most famous cartoon creation, globular, mustached Colonel Blimp, archtype of the Tory diehard, are an acid parody of Conservative thought. Sample: "Come, come, let's be fair to Franco.

Let's assume he is a great Christian gentle man, prepared to doublecross his Italian and German friends without the slightest hesitation." The bewildered little man who frequently appears with the Colonel is the cartoonist's conception of himself.Adolf Hitler he usually depicts as an in sensate madman, Benito Mussolini as a simple gangster, Francisco Franco as a malicious child, Neville Chamberlain as a confused old man.

(17) David Low, Years of Wrath (1949)

Jodl wears a poker face and moves rarely. The most pitiful figure in the company is Funk. With the earphones clamped like horns to the fat, sick face sagging into the small dumpy body, he is the perfect model for a gargoyle. In colour he is light green. The next most frightened, I should say, is Saukel. He Is the cartoonist's fat-necked, square-headed German, but on a small scale. His uneasiness is painful to see. To make up for him, at his elbow is Baldur von Schirach, the ex-pin-up boy of the Hitler Youth, still good-looking with his scornful, pitiless eye. One for the 'most perturbed person' prize is Schacht, who is worried to pieces, too, but in a more refined way. von Papen looks more than ever like the fox shifting his tiny close-set eyes about the room.

(18) David Low, Years of Wrath (1949)

Göring turns out to be about 5 feet 8 inches, still fat despite weight lost in prison jolly, you would say, until you noticed the cruel cut of his mouth vital, with periods of rumination when the countenance is sicklied over with desperate worry. Göring stands out by a mile as the boss in this company. He is a restless prisoner, leaning this way and that, flapping his pudgy little hands about, patting his hair, stroking his mouth, massaging his cheeks, resting his chin sideways on the ledge of the dock. Goring is not permitted to make speeches, but he manages to get a good deal of expression across with facial action. Nods, shakes and eye play. Hess, down to skin and bone, going bald, wild eyes set in deep-sunken cavities, he has a nervous twitch and jerky movements. If, as he now insists, he is not mad, he looks it.

(19) David Low, Years of Wrath (1949)

Ribbentrop, changed surprisingly into a meek person like a family solicitor, with disordered hair, pursed lips and large spectacles, fussing shakily with a sheaf of papers. Streicher, the obscene Jew-baiter-no loathsome ape, but another little man with another nervous twitch. He has a trick of throwing his head right back and contemplating the ceiling with an air of preoccupation with Higher Things. In prison Streicher has grown a fluff of hair over his horrible baldness and this catching the light gives him a rind of halo. Opinions might differ about the award for `nastiest person present', but I should choose unhesitatingly Frank, the butcher of Warsaw. He wears a fixed sneer and mutters. In a corner Dt3nitz sits impassive like a little acid drop.

During Hitler’s nine months in prison in 1924, he dictated most of the first volume of his autobiographical book and political manifesto, Mein Kampf ("My Struggle"), to his deputy, Rudolf Hess. 

The first volume was published in 1925, and a second volume came out in 1927. It was abridged and translated into 11 languages, selling more than five million copies by 1939. A work of propaganda and falsehoods, the book laid out Hitler&aposs plans for transforming German society into one based on race.

In the first volume, Hitler shared his Anti-Semitic, pro-Aryan worldview along with his sense of �trayal” at the outcome of World War I, calling for revenge against France and expansion eastward into Russia. 

The second volume outlined his plan to gain and maintain power. While often illogical and full of grammatical errors, Mein Kampf was provocative and subversive, making it appealing to the many Germans who felt displaced at the end of World War I.

Nazi Germany – Dictatorship

Nazi Germany under the leadership of Hitler soon became a dictatorship. A dictatorship requires one person and one party to be in control of a nation and a climate of fear – this was provided by Himmler’s SS. Personal freedom disappeared in Nazi Germany.

When Hitler was appointed chancellor on January 30th 1933, it was at the head of a coalition government. It was very clear in his mind that it would not remain this way for long. By the end of March 1933, he had acquired much greater powers than the former leading politicians of the Weimar Republic could ever have foreseen when they supported his appointment as chancellor. The death of President Hindenburg in August 1934, allowed him to combine both chancellor’s and president’s positions into one when Hitler became the Fuehrer and Reich Chancellor.

How did Germany descend so quickly into becoming a dictatorship?

When Hitler was appointed in January 1933, Germany was a democracy. Germany had fair elections nobody had their right to vote abused there were numerous political parties you could vote for etc. To pass a law, the Reichstag had to agree to it after a bill went through the normal processes of discussion, arguments etc. Within the Reichstag of January 1933, over 50% of those who held seats were against the Nazi Party. Therefore it would have been very unlikely for Hitler to have got passed into law what he wanted. Many saw Hitler as a fall-guy politician who would have to shoulder to blame if things got worse under his leadership.

Hitler had promised a general election for March 1933. This would have been, in his mind, the perfect opportunity for him to show all politicians who opposed him where the true loyalties lay in the German people. In fact, 1932 had shown Hitler that there was a possibility that support for the Nazis had peaked as their showing in the November 1932 election had shown. Anything other than a huge endorsement of Hitler and the Nazi Party would have been a disaster and a gamble which it is possible that Hitler did not want to take.

One week before the election was due to take place, the Reichstag building burned down. Hitler immediately declared that it was the signal for a communist takeover of the nation. Hitler knew that if he was to convince President Hindenburg to give him emergency powers – as stated in the Weimar Constitution – he had to play on the old president’s fear of communism. What better than to convince him that the communists were about to take over the nation by force?

A known communist – Marianus van der Lubbe – was caught near the Reichstag building immediately after the fire had started. Those that arrested him – Nazi officials – claimed that Lubbe confessed to them that the fire was a signal to other communists to start the revolution to overthrow democracy in the country. Matches were allegedly found on van der Lubbe and those who arrested him claimed that he smelt of petrol.

Hitler asked Hindenburg to grant him emergency powers in view of the ‘communist takeover’. Using the constitution, Hindenburg agreed to pass the Law for the Protection of the People and the State.

This law gave Hitler what he wanted – a ban on the Communists and Socialists taking part in an election campaign. The leaders from both parties were arrested and their newspapers were shut down. To ‘keep the peace’ and maintain law and order, the SA (the Brown Shirts) roamed the streets beating up those who openly opposed Hitler.

The election took place in March – though Hitler was convinced it would be the last. Hitler did not get the number of votes he wanted but he did get enough to get over a 50% majority in the Reichstag:

Communists 4.8 million votes
Social Democrats 7.2 million votes
Centre party 5.5 million votes
Nationalists 3.1 million votes
Other parties 1.4 million votes
Nazis 17.3 million votes

That 12 million people voted for what were effectively two outlawed parties is remarkable when the intimidation of voters is taken into account.

After the burning down of the Reichstag, politicians had nowhere to meet. The Kroll Opera House in Berlin was chosen. This was a relatively small round building – perfect for meetings. On March 23rd, elected officials were due to meet to discuss and vote on Hitler’s Enabling Law.

As politicians neared the building, they found it surrounded by SS and SA thugs who tried to ensure that only Nazi or Nationalist politicians got into the building. The vote for this law was crucial as it gave Hitler a vast amount of power. The law basically stated that any bill only needed Hitler’s signature and within 24 hours that bill would become law in Germany. With only Nazis and other right wing politicians inside the Kroll Opera House, the bill was quickly passed into law. The act gave Hitler what he wanted – dictatorial power. What he wanted would become law in Germany within 24 hours of his signature being put on paper.

On 7th April 1933, Nazi officials were put in charge of all local government in the provinces.

On May 2nd 1933, trades unions were abolished, their funds taken and their leaders put in prison. The workers were given a May Day holiday in return.

On July 14th 1933, a law was passed making it illegal to form a new political party. It also made the Nazi Party the only legal political party in Germany.

Germany became a nation of snoops. People were employed in each street, in each building complex etc. with the sole purpose of keeping an eye on others in their ‘area’ and reporting them to the authorities if they believed that something was amiss. The reputation of the Nazi police and the secret police lead by Himmler was such that no-one wished to cause offence. People kept their thoughts to themselves unless they wished to invite trouble. In this sense, Nazi Germany was a nation run on fear of the government. Hitler had created a one party state within months of being appointed chancellor.

His only remaining problem from his point of view was loyalty within his own party ranks. In June 1934, he overcame this with the Night of the Long Knives.

The Nazi Party: 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.

The Origins & Aims of the Nazi Party

On January 5, 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 September 12, 1919, Adolf Hitler became a member of this party, and at the first public meeting held in Munich, on February 24, 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 of peoples.

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 of Versailles:

" 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 July 29, 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 above.

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 November 8, 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 November 9, 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 Consolidation of Power

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 April 11, 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 April 21, 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 powerless.

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.

Measures of Rearmament

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 arm.

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 in evidence.

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 period."

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 of discussion.

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 Treaty."

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 & Aggressive War

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 September, 1939.

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 policy.

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.

Preparation for Aggression

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 quotation:

"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 her."

"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.

The Planning of Aggression

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, 1939.

At these meetings important declarations were made by Hitler as to his purposes, which are quite unmistakable in their terms.

The documents which record what took place at these meetings have been subject to some criticism at the hands of defending Counsel.

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 are established.

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.

Conferences 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. He stated:

"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, he continued:

"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."

"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.

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18 of the Many Attempts to Assassinate Adolf Hitler by the German Resistance

Wilhelm Canaris, who served as the head of Hitler&rsquos military intelligence known as the Abwehr, was a long standing member of the resistance to the Fuhrer. Wikimedia

8. The Oster Conspiracy of 1938

As evidence grew that Germany was lurching towards war over the issue of the Sudetenland with Czechoslovakia, France, and England, a group of conservative German soldiers, politicians, and diplomats hatched a plot to overthrow Hitler and the Nazi government and restore the former Kaiser Wilhelm II to the throne in a conservative parliamentary monarchy. The plot was named for its leader, Major General Hans Oster, head of the German Abwehr, the military intelligence office of the Wehrmacht. It included German military leaders Ludwig Beck, Walther von Brauchitsch, Wilhelm Canaris, and several others, and was intended to create strong opposition by the British to German occupation of Czech territory by military means. With that in mind, German diplomats involved in the plot attempted to encourage Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain to oppose Hitler.

Instead Chamberlain, fearful of war, negotiated with the German Chancellor and eventually conceded territorial gains to Germany. Rather than overthrowing and executing Hitler, the plotters found themselves faced with a Fuhrer considered by the majority of the German people as a great statesman, with German international prestige completely restored. The plotters were forced to discard their plans though several, including Canaris when he assumed the role of head of the Abwehr, continued to act as a secret resistance to Hitler and the Nazis, narrowly avoiding the Gestapo and the SS throughout most of the war. Several of the Oster Conspiracy later joined in the plans for Operation Valkyrie, an attempted coup and assassination of Hitler and leading Nazis in 1944. The irony of the Oster Conspiracy and its attempt to eliminate Hitler is that it was foiled by the British, rather than by the German secret police and security forces.

Organization [ edit | edit source ]

The SA not only instigated street violence against Jews, Communists and Socialists, it also enforced boycotts against Jewish-owned business, such as this one in Berlin on 1 April 1933.

The SA was organized throughout Germany into several large formations known as Gruppen. Within each Gruppe, there existed subordinate Brigaden and in turn existed regiment-sized Standarten. SA-Standarten operated out of every major German city and were split into even smaller units, known as Sturmbanne and Stürme.

Vehicle command flag for the Stabschef SA, 1938–1945

The command nexus for the entire SA operated out of Stuttgart and was known as the Oberste SA-Führung. The SA supreme command had many sub-offices to handle supply, finance, and recruiting. Unlike the SS, however, the SA did not have a medical corps nor did it establish itself outside of Germany, in occupied territories, once World War II had begun.

The SA also had several military training units, the largest of which was the SA-Marine which served as an auxiliary to the Kriegsmarine (German Navy) and performed search and rescue operations as well as harbor defense. Similar to the Waffen-SS wing of the SS, the SA also had an armed military wing, known as Feldherrnhalle. These formations expanded from regimental size in 1940 to a fully-fledged armored corps Panzerkorps Feldherrnhalle in 1945.

Nolte Redux

Snyder is very much a son of Nolte. For all its obfuscation, Bloodlands basically agrees that Stalin’s crimes were not only antecedent to those of Hitler but in some way causative. Where the right-wing German historian Andreas Hillgruber lauded the Wehrmacht for holding back the Red hordes even at the cost of allowing the death camps to continue functioning, Snyder defends the AK for resisting Soviet importuning to launch an armed rebellion even if it meant standing by while the Warsaw Ghetto was obliterated.

He seeks to exculpate local pogromists by portraying them as operating at German behest: “As a result of trained collaboration and local assistance, German killers had all the help that they needed in Lithuania. . . . In the weeks and months to come, Germans drove Lithuanians to killing sites around the city of Kaunas. By July 4, 1941, Lithuanian units were killing Jews under German supervision and orders.” But instead of functioning in a subordinate capacity, Lithuanian rightists began slaughtering Jews before the Wehrmacht arrived, with a savagery that even German officers found shocking.

In Kaunas, for example, the Lithuanian fascist Algirdas Klimaitis launched a pogrom on June 25, 1941, in which 1,500 Jews were killed, several synagogues destroyed, and some sixty houses burned to the ground. A German staff officer described it as the most revolting scene he had ever witnessed while a field marshal named Ritter von Leeb was moved to lodge an official protest. In Lviv, Snyder says that “Einsatzgruppe C and local militia organized a pogrom that lasted for days” beginning on July 1, 1941. But Einsatzgruppe C did not organize the pogrom. While the Nazis certainly gave their approval, the organizers were the local Banderivtsi who took charge from beginning to end. According to one recent account:

The Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists under the leadership of Stepan Bandera provided the engine of the pogrom. It set up a short-lived government in Lviv on June&nbdp30, 1941 headed by a vehement anti-Semite. It simultaneously plastered the city with leaflets that encouraged ethnic cleansing. It also formed a militia that assumed a leadership role in the pogrom. Militiamen went from apartment to apartment in Jewish neighborhoods to arrest Jewish men and women.

Bloodlands makes no mention of Jedwabne, the subject of Jan Gross’s celebrated 2001 exposé, where, on July 10, 1941, local Poles killed some 1,500 Jews by herding them into a barn that they then set ablaze. Few, if any, Germans were present in Jedwabne that day, and Gross’s account makes it clear that the townsfolk acted entirely on their own.

“In the decades since Europe’s era of mass killing came to an end,” Snyder writes, “much of the responsibility has been placed at the feet of ‘collaborators.’” But, he adds, “almost none of these people collaborated for ideological reasons, and only a small minority had political motives of any discernible sort.” Yet the pogromists in Jedwabne were fully conscious of the political dimension since they forced their victims to topple a statue of Lenin and then march about singing, “The war is because of us, the war is for us.” Because Snyder sees the Nazis and Soviets as morally indistinguishable, he wants us to believe that ideology was secondary. But in a part of Europe in which partisan units give themselves names like “Death to Fascism” (Smert’ Fashizmu) or “Death to the German Occupiers” (Smert’ Nemetskim Okkupantam), this is rather like arguing that religion was secondary in the Thirty Years’ War.

A Jewish-led group of Soviet partisans training, 1942.

So hostile is Bloodlands to the anti-Nazi resistance that it even manages to say something nasty about Herschel Grynszpan, the desperate seventeen-year-old Polish-Jewish refugee whose assassination of a German diplomat in Paris in 1938 provided the Nazis with a pretext to launch the anti-Semitic pogroms known as Kristallnacht. Grynszpan’s deed, Snyder writes, was “unfortunate in itself, and unfortunate in its timing” because it “took place on November 7, the anniversary of the Bolshevik Revolution.” But the significance of such numerology is unexplained, as is the question of why Grynszpan’s deed should be seen as unfortunate at all, rather than heroic.


The leader of the SA was known as the Oberster SA-Führer, translated as Supreme SA-Leader. The following men held this position:

In September 1930, to quell the Stennes Revolt and to try to ensure the personal loyalty of the SA to himself, Hitler assumed command of the entire organization and remained Oberster SA-Führer for the remainder of the group's existence to 1945. The day-to-day running of the SA was conducted by the Stabschef-SA (SA Chief of Staff) a position Hitler designated for Ernst Röhm. [35] After Hitler's assumption of the supreme command of the SA, it was the Stabschef-SA who was generally accepted as the Commander of the SA, acting in Hitler's name. The following personnel held the position of Stabschef-SA:

Legacy and controversy [ edit | edit source ]

The view of Speer as an unpolitical "miracle man" is challenged by Yale historian Adam Tooze. 𖐊] In his 2006 book, The Wages of Destruction, Tooze, following Gitta Sereny, argues that Speer's ideological commitment to the Nazi cause was greater than he claimed. 𖐋] Tooze further contends that an insufficiently challenged Speer "mythology" [lower-alpha 4] (partly fostered by Speer himself through politically motivated, tendentious use of statistics and other propaganda) 𖐌] had led many historians to assign Speer far more credit for the increases in armaments production than was warranted and give insufficient consideration to the "highly political" function of the so-called armaments miracle. [lower-alpha 5]

Architectural legacy [ edit | edit source ]

Little remains of Speer's personal architectural works, other than the plans and photographs. No buildings designed by Speer in the Nazi era remain in Berlin a double row of lampposts along the Strasse des 17. Juni designed by Speer still stands. 𖐍] The tribune of the Zeppelinfeld stadium in Nuremberg, though partly demolished, may also be seen. 𖐎] Speer's work may also be seen in London, where he redesigned the interior of the German Embassy to the United Kingdom, then located at 7–9 Carlton House Terrace. Since 1967, it has served as the offices of the Royal Society. His work there, stripped of its Nazi fixtures and partially covered by carpets, survives in part. 𖐏]

Another legacy was the Arbeitsstab Wiederaufbau zerstörter Städte (Working group on Reconstruction of destroyed cities), authorized by Speer in 1943 to rebuild bombed German cities to make them more livable in the age of the automobile. 𖐐] Headed by Wolters, the working group took a possible military defeat into their calculations. 𖐐] The Arbeitsstab's recommendations served as the basis of the postwar redevelopment plans in many cities, and Arbeitsstab members became prominent in the rebuilding. 𖐐]

Actions regarding the Jews [ edit | edit source ]

As General Building Inspector, Speer was responsible for the Central Department for Resettlement. 𖐑] From 1939 onward, the Department used the Nuremberg Laws to evict Jewish tenants of non-Jewish landlords in Berlin, to make way for non-Jewish tenants displaced by redevelopment or bombing. 𖐑] Eventually, 75,000 Jews were displaced by these measures. 𖐒] Speer was aware of these activities, and inquired as to their progress. 𖐓] At least one original memo from Speer so inquiring still exists, 𖐓] as does the Chronicle of the Department's activities, kept by Wolters. 𖐔]

Following his release from Spandau, Speer presented to the German Federal Archives an edited version of the Chronicle, stripped by Wolters of any mention of the Jews. 𖐕] When David Irving discovered discrepancies between the edited Chronicle and other documents, Wolters explained the situation to Speer, who responded by suggesting to Wolters that the relevant pages of the original Chronicle should "cease to exist". 𖐖] Wolters did not destroy the Chronicle, and, as his friendship with Speer deteriorated, allowed access to the original Chronicle to doctoral student Matthias Schmidt (who, after obtaining his doctorate, developed his thesis into a book, Albert Speer: The End of a Myth). 𖐗] Speer considered Wolters' actions to be a "betrayal" and a "stab in the back". 𖐘] The original Chronicle reached the Archives in 1983, after both Speer and Wolters had died. 𖐔]

Knowledge of the Holocaust [ edit | edit source ]

Speer maintained at Nuremberg and in his memoirs that he had no knowledge of the Holocaust. In Inside the Third Reich, he wrote that in mid-1944, he was told by Hanke (by then Gauleiter of Lower Silesia) that the minister should never accept an invitation to inspect a concentration camp in neighbouring Upper Silesia, as "he had seen something there which he was not permitted to describe and moreover could not describe". 𖐙] Speer later concluded that Hanke must have been speaking of Auschwitz, and blamed himself for not inquiring further of Hanke or seeking information from Himmler or Hitler:

These seconds [when Hanke told Speer this, and Speer did not inquire] were uppermost in my mind when I stated to the international court at the Nuremberg Trial that, as an important member of the leadership of the Reich, I had to share the total responsibility for all that had happened. For from that moment on I was inescapably contaminated morally from fear of discovering something which might have made me turn from my course, I had closed my eyes . Because I failed at that time, I still feel, to this day, responsible for Auschwitz in a wholly personal sense. 𖐚]

Much of the controversy over Speer's knowledge of the Holocaust has centered on his presence at the Posen Conference on 6 October 1943, at which Himmler gave a speech detailing the ongoing Holocaust to Nazi leaders. Himmler said, "The grave decision had to be taken to cause this people to vanish from the earth . In the lands we occupy, the Jewish question will be dealt with by the end of the year." 𖐛] Speer is mentioned several times in the speech, and Himmler seems to address him directly. 𖐜] In Inside the Third Reich, Speer mentions his own address to the officials (which took place earlier in the day) but does not mention Himmler's speech. 𖐝] 𖐞]

In 1971, American historian Erich Goldhagen published an article arguing that Speer was present for Himmler's speech. According to Fest in his biography of Speer, "Goldhagen's accusation certainly would have been more convincing" 𖐟] had he not placed supposed incriminating statements linking Speer with the Holocaust in quotation marks, attributed to Himmler, which were in fact invented by Goldhagen. 𖐟] In response, after considerable research in the German Federal Archives in Koblenz, Speer said he had left Posen around noon (long before Himmler's speech) in order to journey to Hitler's headquarters at Rastenburg. 𖐟] In Inside the Third Reich, published before the Goldhagen article, Speer recalled that on the evening after the conference, many Nazi officials were so drunk that they needed help boarding the special train which was to take them to a meeting with Hitler. 𖐠] One of his biographers, Dan van der Vat, suggests this necessarily implies he must have still been present at Posen then, and must have heard Himmler's speech. 𖐡] In response to Goldhagen's article, Speer had alleged that in writing Inside the Third Reich, he erred in reporting an incident that happened at another conference at Posen a year later, as happening in 1943. 𖐢]

In 2005, the Daily Telegraph reported that documents had surfaced indicating that Speer had approved the allocation of materials for the expansion of Auschwitz after two of his assistants toured the facility on a day when almost a thousand Jews were murdered. The documents supposedly bore annotations in Speer's own handwriting. Speer biographer Gitta Sereny stated that, due to his workload, Speer would not have been personally aware of such activities. 𖐣]

The debate over Speer's knowledge of, or complicity in, the Holocaust made him a symbol for people who were involved with the Nazi regime yet did not have (or claimed not to have had) an active part in the regime's atrocities. As film director Heinrich Breloer remarked, "[Speer created] a market for people who said, 'Believe me, I didn't know anything about [the Holocaust]. Just look at the Führer's friend, he didn't know about it either. ' " 𖐣]

Watch the video: Ernst Röhm shooting the communists