When is a War Criminal not a War Criminal-Scenario

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Post by David Thompson » 09 Oct 2002 01:34

After the exchange of posts with Scott, I found two other accounts of the Hitler-Horthy conversation -- that of the interpreter between Hitler and Horthy, Paul Otto Schmidt, from the IMT proceedings, vol. 10 (28 Mar 1946), pp. 202-203; and that of Joachim von Ribbontrop, from the IMT proceedings vol. 12 (2 Apr 1946), pp. 410-11.

Schmidt's account:

DR. HORN: Witness, in 1944, you were present at a conference between Horthy and Hitler at Klessheim, in which Von Ribbentrop also took part and during which the solution of the Jewish question in Hungary was discussed. What did Von Ribbentrop, say to you about this question?
SCHMIDT: During this conference there had been a certain difficulty, when Hitler insisted that Horthy should proceed more energetically in the Jewish question, and Horthy answered with some heat, "But what am I supposed to do? Shall I perhaps beat the Jews to death?" -- Whereupon there was rather a lull, and the Foreign Minister then turned to Horthy and said, "Yes, there are only two possibilities -- either that, or to intern the Jews." Afterwards he said to me -- and this was rather exceptional -- that Hitler's demands in this connection might have gone a bit too far.

von Ribbentrop's account:

THE PRESIDENT: Well, Defendant, the Tribunal would like to know whether you did, say to the Regent Horthy that Jews ought to be taken to concentration camps.
VON RIBBENTROP: I consider it possible that such may have been the case, for we had, at that time, received an order that a concentration camp was to be installed near Budapest or else that the Jews should be centralized there, and the Fuehrer had instructed me a long time before to discuss with the Hungarians a possible solution of the Jewish question. This solution should consist of two points. One was the removal of the Jews from important government positions and two, since there were so many Jews in Budapest, to centralize the Jews in certain quarters of Budapest.
THE PRESIDENT: I understand your suggestion to be that this document [Schmidt's minutes of the conversation] is inaccurate.
VON RIBBENTROP: Yes, it is not accurate. The way I should like to put it, Mr. President, is that when reading the document, it would appear from this document that I considered it possible or desirable to beat the Jews to death. That is perfectly untrue but what I did say here and what I emphasized later on could be understood to mean only that I wished something to be done in Hungary to solve the Jewish problem, so that other departments should not interfere in the matter. For the Fuehrer often spoke to me about it, very seriously indeed, saying that the Jewish problem in Hungary must be solved now ...
THE PRESIDENT: You have told us that, I think, already. What I wanted to ask you was this: Are you suggesting that Schmidt, who drew up this memorandum, invented the last few sentences, beginning with the words:
"If the Jews there did not want to work they would be shot. If they could not work they would have to perish. They had to be treated like tuberculosis bacilli with which a healthy body may become infected. This was not cruel if one remembered that innocent creatures of nature, such as hares or deer, have to be killed so that no harm is caused by them. Why should the beasts who wanted to bring us Bolshevism be shown more leniency? Nations which did not rid themselves of Jews perished. One of the most famous examples of this was the downfall of a people who once were so proud, the Persians, who now lead a pitiful existence as Armenians."
Are you suggesting that Schmidt invented those sentences or imagined them?
VON RIBBENTROP: Mr. President, I should like to add that I myself was very grieved by these words of the Fuehrer, and I did not quite understand them. But perhaps this attitude can be understood only if we remember that the Fuehrer believed that the Jews had caused this war, and that he had gradually developed a very fanatical hatred for them.
I remember too that later on, after this conference, I discussed with the interpreter Schmidt and the two gentlemen the fact that this was the first time the Fuehrer had used expressions in connection with the Jewish problem which I could no longer understand. These words were certainly not invented by Schmidt. The Fuehrer did express himself in some such way at that time. That is true.

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Post by Roberto » 09 Oct 2002 11:59

Scott Smith wrote:I didn't say he was put on trial. I said he was interviewed by the Allied authorities and probably held for some time, and I don't see why he would change his story in his memoirs.
When it helps Faith, even an interview unrelated to criminal investigation becomes and "inquisition". :lol:
Scott Smith wrote:In any case, he doesn't make a very profound point.
No, he just described how Hitler had urged him to bump off the Jews of Hungary. That's nothing, really. :aliengray
Hans wrote:Scott, do you really think that Hitler and Ribbentrop expressed just their hate towards the Jews when they told Horthy, as answer to his serious question what to do with his Jews, that "Jews must either be exterminated or put in concentration camps. There is no other possibility."
Scott Smith wrote:Yes, we know that the policy for the duration was to incarcerate the enemy-alien, the Jews, and failing that to kill them. We also know that their property was seized and that they were used for forced-labor.
Well, that's not what they talked about with Mr. Horthy. If I read the quoted sources correctly, they spoke of extermination.
Scott Smith wrote:But to then take a leap to Genocide is completely nonsequitur.
Extermination of a whole segment of the population of a country (Hungary, in this case) on account of their ethnicity is not genocide, for a true believer.

At least when ordered or urged by his beloved Führer.

Ever read the 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, Mr. Smith?

If not, it's about time:

Scott Smith wrote:To get Roberto's "qualitative" argument we need something to "energize" the matter more than mere ethnic-cleansing and ordinary massacre. Yeah, we need those gaschambers.
What Smith would need to make his point is a plausible alternative explanation, supported by evidence, as to what happened to the ca. 3 million people who disappeared from the face of the earth behind the gates of the various extermination camps.

The exact killing method hardly matters to the qualification of their killing as genocide.

What he would also need is a plausible explanation as to why the sources quoted by David, Hans and myself do not point to a policy of genocide.

His feeble mumblings about "rhetoric" are manifestly insufficient in this respect.
Hans wrote:Now wonder Goebbels stated in his diary about the Jews of the Generalgouvernement that "a fairly barbaric process is being employed - one not to be described more precisely, and of the Jews themselves, not much is left over", also called "Aktion Reinhardt" BTW.
Smith wrote:Of course it was a "fairly barbaric process employed." Goebbels was probably more honest about it than Truman and Stalin were at Potsdam when they planned the Gruesome Harvest.
Very lame, my dear true believer.

Goebbels wasn't talking about expulsion, he was clearly and expressly talking about "liquidation".

And as his other diary entries reveal that Goebbels had no qualms about referring to mass executions by shooting in Poland and the occupied territories of the Soviet Union, the "fairly barbaric process" must have been something he considered more "barbaric" than "mere" shooting.

Something so "barbaric", in his opinion, that it was "not to be described more precisely".

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Post by Andy H » 16 Oct 2002 17:43

Thank you to all who contributed to what I felt was a informative, heated, passionate, puzzling and sometimes contentious debate/thread.

:D Andy from the Shire

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