(1) Hermann Goering
Repeatedly we have heard here how the worst crimes were veiled with the most secrecy. I wish to state expressly that I condemn these terrible mass murders to the utmost, and cannot understand them in the least. But I should like to state clearly once more before the High Tribunal, that I have never decreed the murder of a single individual at any time, and neither did I decree any other atrocities or tolerate them, while I had the power and the knowledge to prevent them.
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The German people placed their trust in the Fuehrer, and under his authoritarian government they had no influence on events. Without knowledge of the grave crimes which have become known today, the people, loyal, self-sacrificing, and courageous, fought and suffered through the life-and-death struggle which had broken out against their will. The German people are free of guilt.
Hermann Goering (pp. 365; 367)
(2) Rudolf Hess
I emphasize and point out that this report in Le Jour not only says "to make them speak according to orders given them," but also "to make them act according to orders given them." The latter point is of tremendous importance in connection with the actions, the hitherto inexplicable actions of the personnel in the German concentration camps, including the scientists and physicians who made these frightful and atrocious experiments on the prisoners, actions which normal human beings, especially physicians and scientists, could not possibly carry out.
But this is also of equally great significance in connection with the actions of the persons who undoubtedly gave the orders and directions for the atrocities in the concentration camps and who gave the orders for shooting prisoners of war and lynchings and other such things, up to the Fuehrer himself. I recall that the witness Field Marshal Milch testified here that he had the impression that the Fuehrer was not normal mentally during the last years, and a number of my comrades here have told me, independently of each other and without having any knowledge of what I am saying here now, that during the last years the Fuehrer's eyes and facial expression had something cruel in them, and even had a tendency towards madness.
Rudolf Hess (p. 369)
(3) Joachim von Ribbentrop
A revolution does not become more comprehensible if it is considered from the point of view of a conspiracy.
Fate made me one of the exponents of this [National-Socialist] revolution. I deplore the atrocious crimes which became known to me here and which besmirch this revolution. But I cannot measure all of them according to puritanical standards, and the less so since I have seen that even the enemy, in spite of their total victory, was neither able nor willing to prevent atrocities of the most extensive kind.
Joachin von Ribbentrop (p. 374)
(4) Wilhelm Keitel
In the course of the Trial my defense counsel submitted two fundamental questions to me, the first one already some months ago. It was: "In case of a victory, would you have refused to participate in any part of the success?"
I answered: "No, I should certainly have been proud of it." The second question was: "How would you act if you were in the same position again?"
My answer: "Then I would rather choose death than to let myself be drawn into the net of such pernicious methods."
From these two answers the High Tribunal may see my viewpoint. I believed, but I erred, and I was not in a position to prevent what ought to have been prevented.. That is my guilt.
It is tragic to have to realize that the best I had to give as a soldier, obedience and loyalty, was exploited for purposes which could not be recognized at the time, and that I did not see that there is a limit set even for a soldier's performance of his duty. That is my fate.
Wilhelm Keitel (pp. 376-77)
(5) Ernst Kaltenbrunner
Himmler, who understood in a masterly way how the SS, which for a long time had ceased to form an organizational and ideological unit, could be split up into very small groups and brought under his immediate influence, so far as it served his purpose, together with Mueller, the Chief of the Gestapo, committed the crimes which we know about today. I emphatically and vehemently state that, contrary to public opinion, I learned only about a very small fraction of the activities of these offices, which were actually under Himmler and his accomplices, and only insofar as it concerned my own special work.
In the Jewish question I was just as much deceived as other high officials. I never approved or tolerated the biological extermination of Jewry. The anti-Semitism found in Party and State laws was still to be considered in time of war as an emergency defense measure. The anti-Semitism of Hitler, as we understand it today, was barbarism.
Ernst Kaltenbrunner (pp. 377-78)
(6) Alfred Rosenberg
The thought of a physical annihilation of Slavs and Jews, that is to say, the actual murder of entire peoples, has never entered my mind and I most certainly did not advocate it in any way. I was of the opinion that the existing Jewish question would have to be solved by the creation of a minority right, by emigration, or by settling the Jews in a national territory over a ten-year period of time. The White Paper of the British Government of 24 July 1946 shows how historical developments can bring about measures which were never previously planned.
The practice of the German State Leadership in the war, as proven here during the Trial, differed completely from my ideas. To an ever-increasing degree Adolf Hitler drew persons to himself who were not my comrades, but my opponents. With reference to their pernicious deeds I must state that they were not practising the National Socialism for which millions of believing men and women had fought, but rather, shamefully misusing it. It was a degeneration which I, too, very strongly condemned.
I frankly welcome the idea that a crime of genocide is to be outlawed by international agreement and placed under the severest penalties, with the natural provision that neither now nor in the future shall genocide be permitted in any way against the German people either.
Alfred Rosenberg (p. 381)
(7) Julius Streicher
It has been established that:
(1) Mass killings were carried out exclusively upon orders by the Head of the State, Adolf Hitler, without other influence.
(2) The mass killings were carried out without the knowledge of the German people and in complete secrecy by the Reichsfuehrer SS, Heinrich Himmler.
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According to his last testament the mass killings ordered by the leader of the State, Adolf Hitler, were supposed to be a reprisal which was only brought about by the course of the war, then recognized as becoming unfavorable.
These actions of the leader of the State against the Jews can be explained by his attitude toward the Jewish question, which was thoroughly different from mine. Hitler wanted to punish the Jews because he held them responsible for unleashing the war and for the bombing of the German civilian population. It is deeply regrettable that the mass killings, which can be traced back to the personal decision of the leader of the State, Adolf Hitler, have led to a treatment of the German people which must also be considered as not humane. I repudiate the mass killings which were carried out, in the same way as they are repudiated by every decent German.
Julius Streicher (p. 385)
(8) Walter Funk
Now, horrible crimes have become known here, in which the offices under my direction were partly involved.
I learned this here in court for the first time. I did not know of these crimes, and I could not have known them.
These criminal deeds fill me, like every German, with deep shame. I have examined my conscience and memory with the utmost care, and I have told the Court frankly and honestly everything that I knew and have concealed nothing. As far as the deposits of the SS in the Reichsbank are concerned, I only acted in performance of the official duties incumbent on me as President of the Reichsbank. According to law, the acceptance of gold and foreign currency was one of the business tasks of the Reichsbank. The fact that the confiscation of these assets was taking place through the SS agencies subordinate to Himmler could not arouse any suspicion in me. The entire police system, the border control, and especially the search for foreign currency in the Reich and in all occupied areas were under Himmler, but I was equally deceived and imposed upon by Himmler.
Until the time of this Trial, I did not know and did not suspect that among the assets delivered to the Reichsbank there were enormous quantities of pearls, precious stones, jewelry, gold objects, and even spectacle frames, and--horrible to say--gold teeth. That was never reported to me, and I never noticed it either. I never saw these things. But until this Trial I also knew nothing of the fact that millions of Jews were murdered in concentration camps or by the Einsatzkommandos in the East. Never did a single person say even one word to me about these things.
The existence of extermination camps of this kind was totally unknown to me. I did not know a single one of these names. I have never set foot in a concentration camp either. I, too, assumed that some of the gold and foreign currency which was deposited in the Reichsbank came from concentration camps, and I frankly stated this fact from the beginning in all of my interrogations. But according to German law everyone was obliged to deliver these assets.
Apart from that, the kind and quantity of these shipments from the SS were never made known to me. But how was I even to suspect that the SS had acquired these assets by desecrating corpses?
If I had known of these horrible circumstances, my Reichsbank would never have accepted these assets for storage and conversion into money. I would have refused, even risking the danger that it might have cost me my head. If I had known of these crimes, Your Honors, I would not be sitting in the defendant's dock today, you may be convinced of that. In that case the grave would have been better for me than this tormented life, this life full of suspicions, slanders, and vulgar accusations.
Walter Funk (pp. 386-7)
(9) Baldur von Schirach
In this hour, when I can speak for the last time to the Military Tribunal of the four victorious powers, I should like, with a clear conscience, to confirm the following on behalf of our German youth: that it is completely innocent of the abuses and degeneration of the Hitler regime which were established during this Trial, that it never wanted this war, and that neither in peace nor in war did it participate in any crimes.
Baldur von Schirach (p. 392)
(10) Fritz Sauckel
I have been shaken to the very depths of my soul by the atrocities revealed in this Trial. In all humility and reverence, I bow before the victims and the fallen of all nations, and before the misfortune and suffering of my own people, with whom alone I must measure my fate.
Fritz Sauckel (p. 398)
(11) Hans Fritzsche
The prosecutors have expressed the horror of their nations at the atrocities which occurred. They did not expect any good from Hitler, and they are shattered by the extent of what really happened. But try for a moment to understand the indignation of those who expected good from Hitler and who then saw how their trust, their good will, and their idealism were misused. I find myself in the position of a man who has been deceived, together with many, many other Germans of whom the Prosecution says that they could have recognized all that happened from the smoke rising from the chimneys of the concentration camps, or from the mere sight of the prisoners, and so forth.
I feel that it is a great misfortune that the Prosecution has pictured these matters in such a way as if all of Germany had been a tremendous den of iniquity. It is a misfortune that the Prosecution is generalizing the extent of the crimes which are in themselves horrible enough. As against this I must say that if anyone once believed in Hitler during the years of peaceful reconstruction, he only needed to be loyal, courageous, and self-sacrificing to go on believing in him until, by the discovery of carefully hidden secrets, he could recognize the devil in him. That is the only explanation for the struggle which Germany carried on for 68 months.
* * *
It is perfectly possible, perhaps even understandable, that the storm of indignation which swept the world because of the atrocities which were committed should obliterate the borders of individual responsibility. If that happens, if collective responsibility is to, be attached even to those who were misused in good faith, Your Honors, I beg you to hold me responsible. As my defense counsel has emphasized, I do not hide behind the millions who acted in good faith and were misused. I will place myself before those for whom my good faith was once an additional guarantee of the purity of purpose of the system. But this responsibility of mine only applies to those who acted in good faith, not for those who originated, assisted in, or knew of these atrocities, beginning with murder and ending with the selection of living human beings for anatomical collections.
Between these criminals and myself there is only one connection: they merely misused me in a different way than they misused those who became their physical victims.
It may be difficult to separate German crime from German idealism. It is not impossible. If this distinction is made, much suffering will be avoided for Germany and for the world.
Hans Fritzsche (pp. 408; 409)