NUREMBERG (Apr. 15)
Fourteen top Nazi officials convicted of crimes against humanity including the responsibility for the mass murder of 6,000,000 European Jews during the late war were yesterday sentenced to prison terms of four to twenty-five years by an American military tribunal. Although the charges on which they were convicted are among the highest recognized by international law, none of the defendants were sentenced to death.
In fixing responsibility for the crimes, the three-man court, which voted two to one on the convictions; declared: “If the commanders of the death camps who blindly followed orders to murder the unfortunate inmates, if those who carried out the orders for the deportation of Jews are properly tried, convicted and punished–and of that we have no question–then those who, in the comparative peace and quiet of ministerial departments, aided the campaign by drafting the necessary decrees, regulations and directives for its execution are likewise guilty.”
Speaking of the Nazi treatment of the Jews, the court said: “They were deprived of their rights of citizenship, subjected to senseless degradations, humiliations and insults, their property in many instances destroyed by party-organized mobs and finally stolen from them under the euphonious term of ‘confiscations.’ They were deported to the East to extermination camps, where they were slaughtered by the million through starvation, shooting and finally by mass extermination in the gas chambers of Auschwitz (Oswiecim) and Maidanek, where men and women, girls and youths, the tottering grandfather and the babe in arms met the same fate.
“But the Nazi government was not content with this. There were large financial gains to be derived from wholesale murder which could be, and were, used to wage Germany’s war of aggression. Currency, coins, securities, Jewelry, gold watches and spectacles, clothing from their bodies were carefully and systematically collected.”
The 14 convicted men are: Lutz Schwerin von Krosigk, former Minister of Finance; Emil Puhl, who was Reichsbank director; Walter Schellenberg, intelligence official; Hans Kehrl, industrial planner; Lieutenant General Gottlob Berger, head of the main office of Hitler’s S.S. (Elite Guard) Corps; Otto Dietrich, Nazi press chief; Richard Walther Darre, Minister of Agriculture; Hans Heinrich Lammers, chief of the Reichschancellery; Wilhelm Stuckart, state secretary in the Interior Ministry; Edmund Veesenmayer, whom the Nazis made virtual dictator of Hungary; Wilhelm Kepples, Hitler’s economics adviser; Gustav von Steengracht and Ernest Koermann, of the Foreign Ministry, and Baron Ernst von Weizaeckor, former Ambassador to the Vatican.