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.

As the German frontiers were expanded by war, so the campaign against the Jews expanded. The Nazi plan never was limited to extermination in Germany; always it contemplated extin-

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guishing the Jew in Europe and often in the world. In the wet, the Jews were killed and their property taken over. But the campaign achieved it zenith of savagery in the East. The Eastern Jew has suffered as no people ever suffered. Their sufferings were carefully reported to the Nazi authorities to show faithful adherence to the Nazi design. I shall refer only to enough of the evidence of these to show the extent of the Nazi design for killing Jews.

If I should recite these horrors in words of my own, you would think me intemperate and unreliable. Fortunately, we need not take the word of any witness but the Germans themselves. I invite you now to look at a few of the vast number of captured German orders and reports that will be offered in evidence, to see what a Nazi invasion meant. We will present such evidence as the report of Einsatzgruppe (Action Group) A of 10/16/1941, which boasts that in overrunning the Baltic States, "Native Anti-Semitic forces were induced to start pogroms against the Jews during the first hours after occupation *********." The report continues:

"From the beginning it was to be expected that the Jewish problem in the East could not be solved by pogroms alone. In accordance with the basic orders received, however, the cleansing activities of the Security Police had to aim at a complete annihilation of the Jews. Special detachments reinforced by selected units in Lithuania -- partisan detachments, in Latvia units of the Latvian auxiliary police -- therefore performed extensive executions both in the towns and in rural areas. The actions of the execution detachments were performed smoothly.

"The sum total of the Jews liquidated in Lithuania amounts to 71,105. During the pogroms in Kowno, 800 Jews were eliminated, in the smaller towns about 1,200 Jews.

"In Latvia, up to now a total of 30,000 Jews were executed. 500 were eliminated by pogroms in Riga." (L-180).

This is a captured report from the Commissioner of Sluzk on October 30, 1941, which describes the scene in more detail. It says:

"The first lieutenant explained that the police battalion had received the assignment to effect the liquidation of all Jews here in the town of Sluzk, within two days. Then I requested him to postpone the action one day. However, he reacted this with the remark that he had to carry out this action everywhere and in all towns and that only two days

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were allotted for Sluzk. Within these two days, the town of Sluzk had to be cleared of Jews by all means. *** ******All Jews without exception were taken out of the factories and shops and deported in spite of our agreement. It is true that part of the Jews was moved by way of the ghetto where many of them were processed and still segregated by me, but a large part was loaded directly on trucks and liquidated without further delay outside of the town. *** ******For the rest, as regards the execution of the action. I must point out to my deepest regret that the latter bordered already on sadism.

The town itself offered a picture of horror during the action. With indescribable brutality on the part of both the German police officers and particularly the Lithuanian partisans, the Jewish people, but also among them White Ruthenians, were taken out of their dwellings and herded together. Everywhere in the town shots were to be heard and in different streets the corpses of shot Jews accumulated. The White Ruthenians were in greatest distress to free themselves from the encirclement.

Regardless of the fact that the Jewish people, among whom were also tradesmen, were mistreated in a terribly barbarous way in the face of the White Ruthenian people, the White Ruthenians themselves were also worked over with rubber clubs and rifle butts. There was no question of an action against the Jews any more. It rather looked like a revolution. *********" (1104-PS).

There are reports which merely tabulate the numbers slaughtered. An example is an account of the work of Einsatzgruppen of Sipo and SD in the East, which relates that --

In Estonia, all Jews were arrested immediately upon the arrival of the Wehrmacht. Jewish men and women above the age of 16 and capable of work were drafted for forced labor. Jews were subjected to all sorts of restrictions and all Jewish property was confiscated.

All Jewish males above the age of 16 were executed, with the exception of doctors and elders. Only 500 of an original 4,500 Jews remained.

37,180 persons have been liquidated by the Sipo and SD in White Ruthenia during October.

In one town, 337 Jewish women were executed for demonstrating a "provocative attitude." In another, 380 Jews were shot for spreading vicious propaganda.

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And so the report continues, listing town after town, where hundreds upon hundreds of Jews were murdered.

In Witebsk 3,000 Jews were liquidated because of the danger of epidemics.

In Kiew, 33,771 Jews were executed on September 29 and 30 in retaliation for some fires which were set off there.

In Shitomir, 3,145 Jews "had to be shot" because, judging from experience they had to be considered as the carriers of Bolshevik propaganda.

In Cherson, 410 Jews were executed in reprisal against acts of sabotage.

In the territory east of the Djnepr, the Jewish problem was "solved" by the liquidation of 4,891 Jews and by putting the remainder into labor battalions of up to l,000 persons. (R-102)

Other accounts tell not of the slaughter so much as of the depths of degradation to which the tormentors stooped. For example, we will show the reports made to defendant Rosenberg about the army and the SS in the area under Rosenberg's jurisdiction, which recited the following:

"Details: In presence of SS man, a Jewish dentist has to break all gold teeth and fillings out of mouth of German and Russian Jews before they are executed."

Men, women and children are locked into barns and burned alive.

Peasants, women and children are shot on pretext that they are suspected of belonging to bands (R-135).

We of the Western World heard of Gas Wagons in which Jews and political opponents were asphyxiated. We could not believe it. But here we have the report of May 16, 1942 from the German SS officer, Becker, to his supervisor in Berlin which tells this story:

Gas vans in C. group can be driven to execution spot, which is generally stationed 10 to 1 kms. from main road only in dry weather. Since those to be executed become frantic if conducted to this place, such vans become immobilized in wet weather.

Gas vans in D group camouflaged as cabin trailers, but vehicles well known to authorities and civilian population which calls them "Death Vans".

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Writer of letter (Becker) ordered all men to keep as far away as possible during gassing. Unloading van has "atrocious spiritual and physical effect" on men and they should be ordered not to participate in such work (501-PS).

I shall not dwell on this subject longer than to quote one more sickening document which evidences the planned and systematic character of the Jewish persecutions. I hold a report written with Teutonic devotion to detail, illustrated with photographs to authenticate its almost incredible text, and beautifully bound in leather with the loving care bestowed on a proud work. It is the original report of the SS Brigadier General Stroop in charge of the destruction of the Warsaw Ghetto, and its title page carried the inscription, "The Jewish Ghetto in Warsaw no longer exists." It is characteristic that one of the captions explains that the photograph concerned shows the driving out of Jewish "bandits'; those whom the photograph shows being driven out are almost entirely women and little children. It contains a day-by-day account of the killings mainly carried out by the SS organisation, too long to relate, but let me quote General Stroop's summary:

"The resistance put up by the Jews and bandits could only be suppressed by energetic actions of our troops day and night. The Reichsfuehrer SS ordered, therefore on 4/23/1943 the cleaning out of the ghetto with utter ruthlessness and merciless tenacity. I, therefore, decided to destroy and burn down the entire ghetto without regard to the armament factories. These factories were systematically dis-mantled and then burned. Jews usually left their hideouts, but frequently remained in the burning buildings and jumped out of the windows only when the heat became unbearable. They then tried to crawl with broken bones across the street into buildings which were not afire. Sometimes they changed their hideouts during the night into the ruins of burned buildings. Life in the sewers was not pleasant after the first week. Many times we could hear loud voices in the sewers. SS men or policemen climbed bravely through the manholes to capture these Jews. Sometimes they stumbled over Jewish corpses; sometimes they were shot at. Tear gas bombs were thrown into the manholes and the Jews driven out of the sewers and captured. Countless numbers of Jews were liquidated in sewers and bunkers through blasting. The longer the resistance continued the tougher became the

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members of the Waffen SS police and Wehrmacht who always discharged their duties in an exemplary manner. Frequently Jews who tried to replenish their food supplies during the night or to communicate with neighboring groups were exterminated." (1 061-PS) .

This action eliminated, says the SS commander, "a proved total of 56,065. To that we have to add the number of those killed through blasting, fire, etc., which cannot be counted."

We charge that all atrocities against Jews were the manifestation and culmination of the Nazi plan to which every defendant here was a party. I know very well that some of these men did take steps to spare some particular Jew for some personal reason from the horrors that awaited the unrescued-Jew. Some protested that particular atrocities were excessive, and discredited the general policy. While a few defendants may show efforts to make specific exceptions to the policy of Jewish extermination, I have found no instance in which any defendant opposed the policy itself or sought to revoke or even modify it.

Determination to destroy the Jews was a binding force which at all times cemented the elements of this conspiracy. On many internal policies there were differences among the defendants. But there is not one of them who has not echoed the rallying cry of Naziism -- DEUTSCHLAND ERWACHE, JUDA VERRECKE! (GERMANY AWAKE, JEWRY PERISH!)

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