Washington (Oct. 18)
The first public session of the International War Crimes Tribunal opened in Berlin today with the presentation by the Allied prosecutors of a 35,000-word indictment, charging twenty-four top Nazi leaders and the German High Command with various crimes against humanity and placing squarely upon them the guilt for the extermination of 5,700,000 Jews in Europe since the outbreak of the war in 1939.
The Nazi persecution of the Jews runs like a thread throughout the whole 41-page indictment. The document charges that while "implementing their ‘master race’ policy, the conspirators joined in a program of relentless persecution of the Jews, designed to exterminate them. Annihilation of the Jews became an official state policy, carried out both by official action and by incitements to mob and individual violence. The conspirators openly avowed this purpose."
Quoting from the anti-Jewish speeches of Alfred Rosenberg, Robert Ley, Julius Streicher and other defendants who constantly emphasized that not a single Jew must be left alive in Europe, the indictment says:
"These avowals and incitements were typical of the declarations of the Nazi conspirators through the course of their conspiracy. The program of action against the Jews included disfranchisement, stigmatization, denial of civil rights, subjecting their persons and property to violence, deportation, enslavement, enforced labor, starvation, murder and mass extermination.
"The extent to which the conspirators succeeded in their purpose can only be estimated, but the annihilation was substantially complete in many localities of Europe," the indictment states. "Of the 9,600,000 Jews who lived in the parts of Europe under Nazi domination, it is conservatively estimated that 5,700,000 have disappeared, most of them deliberately put to death by Nazi conspirators. Only remnants of the Jewish population of Europe remain."
MASS-MURDER OF JEWS WAS "DELIBERATE AND SYSTEMATIC," ALLIED DOCUMENT SAYS
The indictment then goes on to charge the defendants and their subordinates with conducting "deliberate and systematic genocide, viz. the extermination of racial and national groups, against the civilian populations of certain occupied territories
The murder and ill-treatment of Jews and other groups of the civilian populations were carried out by divers means, the document reports. These included "shooting, hanging, gassing, starvation, gross over-crowding, systematic under-nutrition, systematic imposition of labor taks beyond the strength of those ordered to carry them out, inadequate provision of surgical and medical service, kickings, beatings, brutality and torture of all kinds, including the use of hot irons and pulling out of fingermails and the performance of experiments by means of operations and otherwise on living human subjects."
Without specifying whether or not the victims were Jewish, the indictment establishes that 4,000,000 persons – including citizens of the United States, USSR, Great Britain, Czechoslovakia, France and other countries – were exterminated at Oswiecim; 1,500,000 persons in Majdanek, about 1,000,000 in Rovno and the Rovno district, and in a number of other places. In the Ganov Camp 200,000 "peaceful citizens" were exterminated with the mass-murder being carried out "to the accompaniment of an orchestra recruited from persons interned."
SPECIFIC CASES OF MASS-KILLING OF JEWS LISTED
Listing specific cases where Jews were exterminated, the indictment reports the torturing and shooting of over 133,000 persons in the Lodz Jewish ghetto from Sept. 7,1941 to July 6, 1943. "Mass-shooting of the population," the document states, "occurred in the suburbs of the city in the Livenitz Forest. Other mass-murders of Jews listed in this indictment as crimes against humanity include:
1. The mass-shooting of 31,000 Jews in the Kamenetz-Podolsk region, including 13,000 persons brought there from Hungary.
2. The mass-extermination of 60,000 Jews at Kiev and Dniepro-Petrovsk.
3. The killing of 60,000 Jews on an island on the Dvina River, near Riga, capital of Latvia.
4. The mass-shooting of 20,000 Jews at Lutzk, in the Wolyhnian section of the Soviet Ukraine.
5. The mass annihilation of 32,000 Jews at Sarny, in the Ukraine.
6. The extermination of about 70,000 Jews in Yugoslavia.
"Thousands of Jews were gassed weekly by means of gas-wagons which broke down from overwork," the indictment reports. "As the Germans retreated before the Soviet Army, they exterminated Jews rather than allow them to be liberated. Many concentration camps and ghettos were kept up in which Jews were incarcerated and tortured, starved subjected to merciless atrocities and finally exterminated."
1,157,000,000 FRANCES FINES IMPOSED ON JEWISH COMMUNITIES IN FRANCE
The indictment charges that among other religious institutions the Nazis destroyed 532 synagogues in Eastern Europe. It establishes that collective fines totalling 1,157,179,848 franes were imposed on Jewish communities in France. It also deals with
The deportations of civilians, the indictment states, were in violation of international conventions, particularly Article 46 of the Hague regulations, 1907, the laws and Customs of War, the general principles of criminal law as derived from the criminal laws in all civilized nations, and the internal penal laws of the countries in which such crimes were committed.
The indictment also records that "in November 1938, by orders of the Chief of the Gestapo, anti-Jewish demonstrations took place all over Germany. Jewish property was destroyed, 30,000 Jews were arrested and sent to concentration camps and their property confiscated."
Special responsibility for crimes against the Jews is attributed to three of the defendants in Appendix A of the indictment which assesses individual responsiblility of all the defendants under each count. The three are: Julius Streicher, the notorious Jew-baiter; Baldur von Schirach, Hitler Youth chief, and Hans Fritsche, right-hand man of Paul Joseph Goebbels.