Nuremberg Trials

Opening Address for the United States

Robert Jackson

This document was retrieved from the archives of Nizkor. Source: Nazi Conspiracy & Aggression, Volume I, Chapter VII, Office of the United States Chief Counsel for Prosecution of Axis Criminality, United States Government Printing Office, Washington, 1946.


I will not prolong this address by detailing the steps leading to the war of aggression which began with the invasion of Poland on September 1, 1939. The further story will be unfolded to you documents including those of the German High Command itself. The plans had been laid long in advance. As early as 1935 Her appointed the defendant Schacht to the position of "Gen-

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eral Deputy for the War Economy." (2261-PS). We have the diary of General Jodl (1780-PS); the "Plan Otto," Hitler's own order for attack on Austria in case trickery failed (C- 102); the "Plan Green" which was the blueprint for attack on Czechoslovakia (88-PS); plans for the War in the West (376-PS, 375-PS); Funk's letter to Hitler dated 8/2/1939, detailing the long course of economic preparation (699-PS); Keitel's top secret mobilization order for 1939-40 prescribing secret steps to be taken during a "period of tension" during which no " 'state of war' will be publicly declared even if open war measures against the foreign enemy will be taken." This latter order (1639-A-PS) is in our possession despite a secret order issued on March 16, 1945, when Allied troops were advancing into the heart of Germany, to burn these plans. We have also Hitler's directive, dated December 18, 1940, for the "Barbarossa Contingency" outlining the strategy of the attack upon Russia (446-PS). That plan in the original bears the initials of the defendants Keitel and Jodl. They were planning the attack and planning it long in advance of the declaration of war. We have detailed information concerning "Case White," the plan for attack on Poland (C120). That attack began the war. The plan was issued by Keitel on April 3, 1939. The attack did not come until September. Steps in preparation for the attack were taken by subordinate commanders, one of whom issued an order on June 14, providing that:

"The Commander-in-Chief of the Army has ordered the working out of a plan of deployment against Poland which takes in account the demands of the political leadership for the opening of war by surprise and for quick success *********

"I declare it the duty of the Commanding Generals, the divisional commanders and the commandants to limit as much as possible the number of persons who will be informed, and to limit the extent of the information, and ask that all suitable measures be taken to prevent persons not concerned from getting information."

"The operation, in order to forestall an orderly Polish mobilization and concentration, is to be opened by surprise with forces which are for the most part armored and motorized, placed on alert in the neighborhood of the border. The initial superiority over the Polish frontier-guards and surprise that can be expected with certainty are to be main-

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tained by quickly bringing up other parts of the army as well to counteract the marching up of the Polish Army.

"If the development of the Political situation should show that a surprise at the beginning of the war is out of question, because of well advanced defense preparations on the part of the Polish Army, the Commander-in-Chief 'of the Army will order the opening of the hostilities only after the assembling of sufficient additional forces. The basis of all preparations will be to surprise the enemy." (2327-PS).

We have also the order for the invasion of England, signed by Hitler and initialed by Keitel and Jodl. It is interesting that it commences with a recognition that although the British military position is "hopeless," they show not the slightest sign of giving in (442-PS).

Not the least incriminating are the minutes of Hitler's meeting with his high advisers. As early as November 5, 1937, Hitler told defendants Goering, Raeder, and Neurath, among others, that German rearmament was practically accomplished and that he had decided to secure by force, starting with a lightning attack on Czechoslovakia and Austria, greater living space for German in Europe no later than 1943-45 and perhaps as early as 193 (386-PS). On May 23, 1939, the Fuehrer advised his staff that

"It is a question of expanding our living space in the East and of securing our food supplies *********over and above the natural fertility, thorough-going German exploitation will enormously increase the surplus."

"There is therefore no question of sparing Poland, and we are left with the decision: To attack Poland at the first suitable opportunity. We cannot expect a repetition of the Czech affair. There will be war." (L-79).

On August 22, 1939 Hitler again addressed members of the High Command, telling them when the start of military operations would be ordered. He disclosed that for propaganda purposes he would provocate a good reason. "It will make no difference he announced, "whether this reason will sound convincing or not. After all, the victor will not be asked whether he talked the truth or not. We have to proceed brutally. The stronger is always right." (1014-PS). On November 23, 1939 after the Germans had invaded Poland, Hitler made this explanation:

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"For the first time in history we have to fight on only one front, the other front is at present free. But no one can know how long that will remain so. I have doubted for a long time whether I should strike in the east and then in the west. Basically I did not organize 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 *********" (789-PS).

We know the bloody sequel. Frontier incidents were staged. Demands were made for cession of territory. When Poland refused, the German forces invaded on September 1st, 1939. Warsaw was destroyed; Poland fell. The Nazis, in accordance with plan, moved swiftly to extend their aggression throughout Europe and to gain the advantage of surprise over their unprepared neighbors. Despite repeated and solemn assurances of peaceful intentions, they invaded Denmark and Norway on April 9, 1940; Belgium, The Netherlands and Luxembourg on May 10, 1940; Yugoslavia and Greece on April 6, 1941.

As part of the Nazi preparation for aggression against Poland and her allies, Germany, on August 23, 1939 had entered into a non-aggression pact with Soviet Russia. It was only a delaying treaty intended to be kept no longer than necessary to prepare for its violation. On June 22, 1941, pursuant to long matured plans, the Nazis hurled troops into Soviet territory without any declaration of war. The entire European world was aflame.

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