Opening Address for the United States
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.
THE POLITICAL, POLICE, AND MILITARY ORGANIZATIONS
Accused before this Tribunal as criminal organizations are certain political and police organizations which the evidence will show to have been. instruments of cohesion in planning and executing the crimes I have detailed. Perhaps the worst of the movement were the Leadership Corps of the NSDAP, the Schutzstaffeln or "SS", and the Sturmabteilungen or "SA", and the subsidiary formations which these include. These were the Nazi Party leadership, espionage, and policing groups. They were the real government, above and outside of any law. Also accused as organizations are the Reich Cabinet and the Secret State Police er Gestapo, which were fixtures of the Government but animated solely by the Nazi Party.
Except for a late period when some compulsory recruiting was done in the SS, membership in all these militarized formations was voluntary. The police organizations ere recruited from ardent partisans who enlisted blindly to do the dirty work the leaders planned. The Reich Cabinet was the governmental facade for Nazi Party Government and in its member's legal as well as actual responsibility was vested for the entire program. Collectively they were responsible for the program in general, individually they were especially responsible for segments of it. The finding which we ask you to make, that these are criminal organizations will subject members to punishment to be hereafter
determined to appropriate tribunals, unless some personal defense-such as becoming a member under threat to person, to family, or inducement by false representation, or the like- be established. Every member will have a chance to be heard in the subsequent forum on his personal relation to the organization, but your finding in this trial will conclusively establish the criminal character of the organization as a whole.
We have also accused as criminal organizations the High Command and the General Staff of the German Armed Forces. We recognize that to plan warfare is the business of professional soldiers in every country. But it is one thing to plan strategic moves in the event war comes, and it is another thing to plot and intrigue to bring on that war. We will prove the leaders of the German General Staff and of the High Command to have been guilty of just that. Military men are not before you because they served their country. They are here because they mastered it, along with these others, and drove it to war. They are not here because they lost the war but because they started it. Politicians may have thought of them as soldiers, but soldiers know they were politicians. We ask that the General Staff and the High Command, as defined in the Indictment, be condemned as a criminal group whose existence and tradition constitute a standing menace to the peace of the world.
These individual defendants did not stand alone in crime and will not stand alone in punishment. Your verdict of "guilty" against these organizations will render prima facie guilty, as nearly as we can learn, thousands upon thousands of members now in custody of the United States forces and other Armies.
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