Nuremberg Verdicts Stress Role of 15 Nazi Defendants in Murder of 6,000,000 Jews
Menu JTA Search

Nuremberg Verdicts Stress Role of 15 Nazi Defendants in Murder of 6,000,000 Jews

Download PDF for this date

The role played by fifteen top Nazi leaders in directing and carrying out the murder of 6,000,000 Jews in Europe is cited in the twenty-two verdicts issued yesterday by the International Military Tribunal. Some of them are charged with direct participation in the extermination of the Jews, while others are accused of introducing and implementing racial legislation which deprived Jews of their social and economic rights.

The sections of the verdict which touched on Jewish matters follow:

Hermann Goering: Goering persecuted the Jews, particularly after the November 1938 riots, is not only in Germany, where he raised the billion-mark fine as stated elsewhere, but in the conquered territories as well. His own utterances then and in his testimony show this interest was primarily economic – how to get their property and how to force them out of the economic life of Europe.

As these countries fell before the German army, he extended the Reich’s Anti-Jewish laws to them; the Reichsgesetzblatt for 1939, 1940 and 1941 contains several anti-Jewish decrees signed by Goering. Although their extermination was in Himmler’s hands, Goering was far from disinterested or inactive despite his protestations in the witness box. By decree of July 31, 1941, he directed Himmler and Heydrich to bring “about a complete solution of the Jewish question in the German sphere of influence in Europe.”

Joachim von Ribbentrop: He played an important part in Hitler’s “final solution” of the Jewish question. In September, 1942, he ordered the German diplomatic, representatives accredited to various satellites to hasten the deportation of Jews to the east. On Feb. 25, 1943, Ribbentrop protested to Mussolini against Italian slowness in deporting Jews from the Italian occupation zone of France.

On April 17, 1943, he took part in a conference between Hitler and Horthy on the deportation of Jews from Hungary and informed Horthy that the “Jews must either be exterminated or taken to concentration camps.” At the same conference Hitler had likened the Jews to “tuberculosis bacilli” and said if they did not work they were to be shot.

Alfred Rosenberg: His directives (as Reich-Minister for Eastern Territories) provided for the segregation of Jews. Ultimately, in ghettos his subordinates engaged in mass killings of Jews, and his civil administrators in the east considered that cleansing the eastern occupied territories of Jews was necessary. In December, 1941, he made the suggestion to Hitler that in a case of shooting 100 hostages, Jews only be used. (The verdict also dealt with Rosenberg’s development of Nazi racial theories.)

Ernst Kaltenbrunner: (The RSHA (Security Office) played a leading part in the final solution of the Jewish question by the extermination of the Jews. A special section under the RSHA was established to supervise this program. Under its direction approximately 6,000,000 Jews were murdered of which 2,000,000 were killed by the Einsatzgruppen and other units of the Security Police.

Kaltenbrunner had been informed of the activities of these Einsatzgruppen when he was a higher SS and police leader, and they continued to function after he had become chief of the RSHA. The murder of approximately 4,000,000 Jews in concentration camps has heretofore been described. This part of the program was also under the supervision of the RSHA when Kaltenbrunner was head of that organization, and special missions of the RSHA scoured the occupied territories and various satellites, arranging for the transportation of Jews to these extermination institutions.

Kaltenbrunner was informed of these activities. A letter which he wrote on June 30, 1944, described the shipment to Vienna of 12,000 Jews for that purpose and directed that all who could not work would have to be kept in readiness for special action, which meant murder. Kaltenbrunner denied his signature to this letter, as he did on a very large number of orders to which his name was stamped or typed and in a few instances written.

Hans Fritsche: Excerpts in evidence from his speeches show definite anti-Semitism on his part. He broadcast, for example, that the war had been caused by Jews and said their fate had turned out as unpleasant as the Fuehrer predicted, but these speeches did not urge persecution or extermination of Jews. There is no evidence that he was aware of their extermination in the east. The evidence, moreover, shows that he twice attempted to have publication of the anti-Semitic Der Stuermer suppressed, though unsuccessfully.

Wilhelm Keitel: Lahousen (Nazi military sabotage chief) testified that Keitel told him on Sept. 12, 1939, while aboard Hitler’s headquarters train, that the Polish intelligentsia, nobility and Jews were to be liquidated.

Martin Bormann: Bormann was interested in the confiscation of artistic and other properties in the east. He was extremely active in the persecution of Jews, not only in Germany but in Europe.

Arthur Seyss-Inquart: Seyss-Inquart instituted a program of confiscating Jewish property. Under his regime Jews were forced to emigrate, were sent to concentration camps and were subjected to pogroms. At the end of his regime he cooperated with the security police and the SD in the deportation of Jews from Austria to eastern Europe. . . He also advocated the persecution of Jews in Poland and was involved in the action which resulted in the murder of many Polish intellectuals.

Baldur von Shirach: The Tribunal finds that von Schirach, although he did not originate the policy of deporting Jews from Vienna, participated in this deportation though he knew that the best they could hope for was a miserable existence in the ghettos of the East.

Hans Frank: He was responsible for the ghettos and the systematic brutal extermination of the Jews (in Poland.)

Wilhelm Frick: He was also in a large part responsible for legislation to suppress the trade unions, the press and the Jews.

Julius Streicher: Streicher’s incitements to murder and extermination at the time when Jews in east Europe were being killed in the most horrible conditions “clearly constituted persecution on political and racial grounds” in connection with war crimes as defined in the charter. “It constitutes a crime against humanity.”

Walther Funk: Funk did participate in the early Nazi program of economic discrimination against the Jews.

Founding Funders

The digitization of the JTA Archive would not have been possible without the generous support of the following donors:
  • The Gottesman Fund
  • Righteous Persons Foundation
  • Charles H. Revson Foundation
  • Elisa Spungen Bildner and Robert Bildner, in honor of Norma Spungen
  • George S. Blumenthal
  • Grace and Scott Offen Charitable Fund