Part 1 of a 2 part series >>>
by Ernst Zundel
On the eve of the 50th Anniversary of the Nuremberg Trials, it is appropriate that I share with my English-speaking readerships a few reflections pertaining to those trials.
I’d like to start with a revealing and thought-provoking quote coming from none other than Nahum Goldman, long-time president of the World Jewish Congress, in a book entitled The Jewish Paradox.
Apart from my encounter with the survivors of the concentration camps after the liberation, I only returned officially to Germany in order to meet Chancellor Adenauer and open negotiations about reparations. These reparations constitute an extraordinary innovation in terms of international law.
Until then, when a country lost a war, it paid damages to the victor, but it was a matter between states, between governments. Now for the first time a nation was to give reparations either to ordinary individuals or to Israel, which did not legally exist at the time of Hitler’s crimes. All the same, I must admit that the idea did not come from me.
During the war the [World Jewish Congress] had created an Institute of Jewish Affairs in New York (its headquarters are now in London). The directors were two great Lithuanian Jewish jurists, Jacob and Nehemiah Robinson. Thanks to them, the Institute worked out two completely revolutionary ideas: the Nuremberg Tribunal and German reparations.” (The Jewish Paradox, Grosset & Dunlap, 1978, p. 122)
In the United States, the new specialty channel, Court TV, is treating the whole of the North American continent to a Special about Nuremberg – a television hatefest lasting about 15 hours in total length. Likewise, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, Radio Division, recently aired a sequel using static-distorted, crackling old short-wave newscasts from the proceedings in Nuremberg in 1946.
Once again, newsreel commentators regurgitate ad nauseam all the disgusting, lying testimony of perjurers and con artists, along with the sad “testimony” frequently tortured out of Germany’s military and political leaders.
I can only call these broadcasts “spreading of hate,” a crime in Canada under its hate laws against an identifiable ethnic group, namely the Germans.
The current German vassal state established by the Allies in post-war Germany – a state whose roots and foundations stem out of these disgusting proceedings of Allied vengeance against a vanquished German people – will not defend its own people against this avalanche of hate and lies, so I will try to do it. Be prepared for some food for thought.
It speaks to the tenor of our times that this may be the first time some of my readers may be exposed to a different historical slant on the Nuremberg Trials. We are so habituated to slander and libel that often we don’t even notice it or recognize it as such. We are so used to seeing Germany as the convenient and deserving whipping boy for all its “Nazi crimes”, we hardly ever give a thought to its creation – or its Godfathers.
Nahum Goldman writes in The Jewish Paradox, page 123:
During a meeting of the World Jewish Congress in London, a Russian Jew called Noah Baron, a wonderful man and great idealist (…) talked me into taking an active part by first of all meeting Adenauer. I was very hesitant at heart, because it was no easy matter for me to talk to the Germans again.
And in fact it was eventually my head, and not my heart, which decided me to negotiate. But I laid down a precondition before I would meet the Chancellor to open negotiations: Adenauer had to make a solemn statement to the Bundestag; he must say that although the Germany of those days was certainly not the Germany which had produced Auschwitz (…) it nevertheless inherited the Nazis’ responsibilities, and reparations were its duty; he must add that material reparations could not erase the evil done to the Jews by the Germans.”
Let’s see now how it all began – and evolved – this matter of the “Nuremberg Trials” resulting in such guilt and such enormous sums of reparations squeezed out of a defeated country, Germany, over the last 50 years.
When we think of the Nuremberg Trials, we think of Auschwitz, Bergen Belsen, Dachau – places that the Allies “liberated” and where they “found those skeletons” – yielding useful photographic backdrops to justify what was to follow ever since.
Guilt, expertly used, is a terrible weapon, a powerful tool and also a handsome cash cow. There was, in fact, a policy and program locked in place to punish Germany for alleged war time crimes, planned and implemented long before the “crimes” of Nazi Germany were “revealed” to a stunned, shuddering, horrified world via news reels and sensationalized headlines.
There exist millions of words, and tens of thousands of books, written about the Nuremberg proceedings in response to these alleged crimes – publications in all kinds of languages, all borrowing its footnotes from each other and parroting the post-war Allied propaganda.
A lie repeated six million times, however, does not become the truth by mere repetition. This essay will inspect the pre-conditions and the reasons for the lie.
The generations who have grown into adulthood since the end of the Second World War have been allowed little chance to look at the Nuremberg Trials critically.
They have not been allowed access, for instance, the information showing what some important people and personalities at the time thought about the whole disgusting process of using ex post facto laws against a virtually defenseless, militarily defeated and still militarily occupied former enemy.
According to Nahum Goldman, former president of the World Jewish Congress, even during the war, plans were being mapped out with great care and cunning – and the foundation for the lie was being laid.
Long before America agreed to feed its young men into a fratricidal war fought not for American national interests but for the interests of an alien people and a State that did not even then exist, there came into being this Institute of Jewish Affairs in New York that cooked up a devilish brew.
Writes Goldman in The Jewish Paradox, pages 122-123, addressing this question:
The Institute’s (…) idea was that Nazi Germany ought to pay after its defeat. That still required belief in the defeat, at the time when it seemed likely that the war in Europe was lost for the Allies, but like Churchill and de Gaulle, I kept my faith. I never doubted for a moment, because I knew that Hitler would never manage to moderate himself and that his excesses would draw the Allies into the conflict.
According to the Institute’s conclusions, the German reparations would first have to be paid to people who had lost their belongings through the Nazis. Further, if, as we hoped, the Jewish state was created, the Germans would pay compensation to enable the survivors to settle there. The first time this idea was expressed was during the war, in the course of a conference in Baltimore.
As we all know and are never allowed to forget, in due time Hitler lost the war. Now it was time to conduct Stalinist type show trials against the defeated German leadership. Was this merely about “punishment”? Think again!
The importance of the tribunal which sat at Nuremberg has not been reckoned at its true worth. According to international law, it was in fact impossible to punish soldiers who had been obeying orders. It was Jacob Robinson who had this extravagant, sensational idea. When he began to canvass it among the jurists of the American Supreme Court, they took him for a fool. “What did these Nazi officers do that was so unprecedented?” they asked.
“You can imagine Hitler standing trial, or maybe even Goering, but these are simple soldiers who carried out their orders and behaved as loyal soldiers.” We therefore had the utmost trouble in persuading the Allies; the British were fairly opposed, the French barely interested, and although they took part later they did not play any great part. The success came from Robinson managing to convince the Supreme Court judge, Robert Jackson. (The Jewish Paradox, p. 122)
What followed next? Total communications control and news manipulation through censorship!
The Allied powers, by virtue of having established a military government – one might as well call it a military dictatorship, in many ways more restrictive than Adolf Hitler’s state had been – had a tight grip on all channels of communications.
This fact cannot be overstated. From control and supervision of the mail service to the telegraph and telephone systems to radio stations to book, newspaper and magazine publishing houses, the Allies were fully in charge through a clever “licensing system.”
Anyone who did not toe the Allied propaganda line lost his license or had his license suspended as punishment. Journalists lost their accreditations.
Newspapers lost their already very scarce paper or printer’s ink allocations or reduced-rate postal shipping privileges. Additionally, Germany was divided into military occupation zones, which were like mini-states, issuing their own passports, food and fuel coupons as well as clothing and stationary ration cards.
If you wanted to travel in occupied Germany from one zone to another in the immediate postwar years, you had to explain to the local military authorities in a written request why you wanted to travel to another zone, whom you wanted to see, and where you intended to stay. You had to request ration coupons for the period of your absence.
There were other bureaucratic, for the Nuremberg defense team extremely inconvenient restrictions as well – some by design, some by default. Many trains didn’t run on schedule or not at all for lack of coal. Most buildings were unheated. The populace starved. The country was largely without men. There were ruins wherever you looked, misery everywhere – more misery than there had ever been during the bitterly fought war!
I find in my conversations and interviews and even during my court cases that judges, prosecutors and even defense lawyers have not the foggiest idea what life was really like for the defense teams in Nuremberg in 1946-1949.
Today’s generation, brainwashed by the high-tech razzle-dazzle of the O.J. Simpson media-feeding frenzy and image glut-out, has not a clue under what circumstances the German defense lawyers worked. Not a clue!
Furthermore, I suspect that the cynical generation of money-grubbing, self-promoting attorneys, prosecutors and judges of today don’t give a damn about what was the horrible truth and the reality then. Nonetheless, some of these things must be recorded for history’s sake.
Imagine if you told the occupation powers you wanted to go to Nuremberg to testify in defense of Rudolf Hess, Joachim von Ribbentrop, Kaltenbrunner, Göring, Streicher or military leaders like Keitel, Jodl, Dönitz, Raeder or others! If the military man to whom you applied for permission was a Jew in the uniform of Russia, France, America or England, imagine the response! Would he not think the German applicant was still a “Nazi lover” intent on additional “mischief”?
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out why many people would shy away from getting politically involved as defense witnesses or experts after having just survived a brutal war, horrendous bombing raids and the raping and plundering hordes of the self-appointed “liberators.”
Who would choose voluntarily to expose himself to arrest, beatings, torture etc. – considering the circumstances? It is remarkable that there were defense witnesses at all who came forward and tried to help those hapless prisoners in Nuremberg.
There are instances of the defense lawyers having located and convinced crucial defense witnesses to testify who were being held as prisoners in Allied prison camps, only to find them – convenient for the prosecution! – getting “lost” in transfers, “lost” long enough until the proceedings had passed the point where their testimony could have been of use to the defense.
These defense lawyers themselves worked against almost insurmountable odds. They sat in cold, wet, bombed-out basements of half-ruined houses with boarded-up windows, working in overcoats, writing with stiffened fingers, wearing hats, scarves and gloves to guard themselves against the cold and creeping dampness.
They were trying to write some text and formulate some argument so that a client, who was daily vilified in the press and on radio, in the news reels and on Armed Forces radio as a despicable monster and a criminal with no human traits, might get a semblance of a defense in those nightmarish, Kafkaesque proceedings called the Nuremberg Trials.
Those were truly desperate times for the Germans. The defense was hampered by lack of staff, space, typewriters and ribbons and even carbon paper as well as photocopying facilities and paper supplies. Remember that, in 1945, a photocopy meant exactly what it said.
A photograph had to be taken using special line-film. A negative had to be developed and dried. This negative had to be projected by means of an enlarger onto light-sensitive photographic paper in a darkroom.
It had then to be developed using chemicals not easily available and electric drum dryers using up precious electricity to dry the prints. Electricity was rationed severely to approximately two hours every day, with only so many kilowatt allowed per person.
Try to put yourself in the German defense teams’ place, when two dozen lawyers, defending a great number of different clients, were handed a 30, 50, 100 or 200 page document by the prosecution – often this was the only set of a document for all the lawyers – and you had a limited time until court day to study, analyze, weigh the charges, look for potentially exonerating witnesses, in a bombed-out country where tens of millions were homeless, freezing, and starving.
The old, still existing phone books and city directories were virtually useless, because telephone service was not yet restored in many places and private people hardly ever got a phone approved by the occupation authorities unless you were “essential” – let’s say, like a medical doctor.
Now let’s look at the defendants’ rights to get the lawyer of their choice – a sacred right in most civilized countries. What do you think that meant in those hysterical, lawless days in post-war Germany? Which lawyer could afford to side with a “Nazi monster”?
Many years later, my own lawyer was sometimes accused during my own trials in peaceful, democratic Canada for “being too closely associated” with me, the accused, by media commentators, other lawyers and even, occasionally, a judge who showed the intolerance rampant against a vilified accused by those in contemporary society who have the fate of accused people in their hands.
Imagine what courage it must have taken for those Nuremberg defense lawyers – who also were fathers of children, husbands to wives – all glad to have survived the war, all of them trying to build new careers out of the rubble of defeated, devastated Germany in 1946. It took much more than guts. It took real dedication to a principle and a love of justice few in today’s society could claim to have or hold.
Let’s say you were a lawyer of such heroic traits. The Allies, more often than not, could declare you a “Nazi” as well, putting you in the class of “criminals,” since the Nazi party was declared a “criminal organization” by the conquerors. Most of the mental elite of Germany had been members of the National Socialist Party, and almost all had gone to war and, chances were, had been severely wounded or even killed.
Those who survived, were really persona non grata. They came back from a devastating war and found themselves not only criminalized but deprived of their civic and human rights by cruel conquerors who all the while kept on prattling incessantly in their propaganda about the wonderful Allied New Order.
If, against tremendous odds, you finally found yourself screened, interrogated, and accredited as a lawyer at the Nuremberg Trials – what did you face, in fact? Let’s take a cold, hard look at this so-called International Military Tribunal. How righteous and noble that sounds! A label like that can hide many a sore. That Nuremberg sore is still running.
Here is what Nuremberg was:
It was not an “international military tribunal” at all. It was not even international in composition. The victors, instead, sat in judgment over the vanquished.
Justice Harlan Fiske Stone, who was then the Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court and Justice Jackson’s [the Chief American Prosecutor at Nuremberg] boss in that role, had this to say while speaking to a reporter for Fortune Magazine, as quoted in Harlan Fiske Stone: Pillar of the Law, Alpheus Thomas Mason, The Viking Press, p. 715:
“For your information, but not for publication as coming from me, I would like to advise you that the Supreme Court had nothing to do, either directly or indirectly, with the Nuremberg Trials, or the governmental action which authorized them. I was not advised of Justice Jackson’s participation until his appointment by the Executive was announced in the newspapers.
“So far as the Nuremberg trial is an attempt to justify the application of the power of the victor to the vanquished because the vanquished made aggressive war,” (Stone) explained, “I dislike extremely to see it dressed up with a false facade of legality. The best that can be said for it is that it is a political act of the victorious States, which may be morally right, as was the sequestration of Napoleon about 1815.
But the allies in that day did not feel it necessary to justify it by an appeal to nonexistent legal principles. As a practical matter, it seems to me that the difficulties and uncertainties of saying who is the aggressor under the conditions which produce modern war should make us hesitate to lay down for the future a principle which would always require that question to be answered by the victor.
“All wars are in fact aggressive. The real source of authority is the powers of the victors over the vanquished.
“It would not disturb me greatly (…) if that power were openly and frankly used to punish the German leaders for being a bad lot, but it disturbs me some to have it dressed up in the habiliments of the Common Law and the constitutional safeguards to those charged with crime. It looks as though we were committing ourselves to the proposition that the outcome of every war must be that the leaders of the vanquished must be executed by the victors.”
That was the reality. Judge Jackson, handling the prosecution of Nuremberg’s most important trials, was a man with presidential ambitions who needed a high profile carved out of a self-serving stage. The Nuremberg Trials were to be the launching pad for his presidential race.