West German Justice and So-Called National Socialist Violent Crimes
Dr. Jur. WILHELM STÄGLICH
When I speak of so-called National Socialist (hereinafter: NS) crimes of violence, this correctly indicates my conviction that the legend of the "Final Solution of the Jewish Question" is a fiction. This is not the place to present a detail-by-detail rebuttal of this myth; others have already done so most adequately. In any case, as a jurist I do not in any way feel beholden to deliver a conclusive refutation of an allegation which has yet to be proved in the first place. The historians have from time to time admitted as much, and refer the skeptic not to any forensic or tangible evidence of exterminations by gas, but to the results of countless NS criminal trials before the West German courts The efficacy of this tactic on public opinion should not be underestimated. Today, many people are under the impression that the exterminations have been historically "proved" because the war criminal trials "proved" them by verdicts of guilt. As I will show, this was exactly the purpose of the trials right from the beginning.
Before describing in detail the activities of the German judicial system, we must examine the ways in which the. war crimes trials were brought about, and will continue to be brought about.
One of the greatest stumbling-blocks to continued NS trials was the German Criminal Code's Statute of Limitations. When the War Crimes Investigation Office first opened its doors at Ludwigsburg on I December 1958, one of their first discoveries was that the prosecution of murder was subject to a 20-year Statute of Limitations. Hence, trials of alleged war-time murders could not take place after the spring of 1965 at the latest.
This problem caused considerable sleepless nights among the German politicians in Bonn, anxious to placate "World" (i.e. Zionist) opinion and prove what dedicated Nazi-hunters they were; German constitutional rights notwithstanding. On 13 April 1965 the Bundestag (Parliament) performed its legislative and judicial conjuring trick with a new law "governing the computation of deadlines" of the Statute of Limitations. From now on, the Statute of Limitations would not be computed from the date of the actual crime itself, but from the arbitrary date of 1 January 1950! Thus, at a stroke, the deadline for trials was moved forward to 31 December 1969 - giving the inquisitors an extra four years to round up their victims. The politicians' "rationale" for this sleight-of-hand was the bald statement that no German prosecutions could take place during 1945-1949 (on account of the Allied occupation, and suspension of civil government) so therefore the clock should not start running until civil government had been restored. No mention was made of the fact that witnesses' mental clocks were still running at the regular speed during these four years, and their potential testimony getting so much more rusty and unreliable!
Nor was any weight given to the argument that, far from being safe from prosecution, "war criminals" were being ruthlessly pursued up and down Germany during these four years, during the Allied reign of terror. With the aid of ex post facto laws, the Allies tried and sentenced 50,000-60, 000 Germans for alleged crimes against humanity. In 806 cases, the Anglo-American tribunals handed down death sentences, 486 of which were carried out. We will never know how many "trials" and executions took place in the Soviet zone of occupation.
And, despite the lack of a national government, there were indeed indigenous German trials, specially set up under the Allies' infamous Control Council Law No. 10.
All this does not lack a certain irony, for one of the Allies' main accusations against the Nationalist Socialist regime was that a number of ex post facto laws had been introduced during the period of the Third Reich! Quod licet Jovi, non licet bovi! This allegation that prosecution had been 1 6 suspended" until 31 December 1949 was, therefore, nothing but a hypocritical and transparent trick.
According to Article 69, paragraph 1 of the Penal Code (StGB), the Statute of Limitations was in any case considered to be interrupted if the case could not be commenced. The fact that the legislature expressly determined the same thing for a certain time-span shows clearly enough that this was done only to manipulate the rule of law. The Federal Constitutional Court later upheld the constitutionality of the Bundestag's trickery.
By the time 1969 came around, it was found that many "war criminals" were still at large. This time the Bundestag decided to drop the sleight-of-hand approach, and go for the blatant, bull-at-the-gate tactic. The Statute of Limitations was extended from 20 years to 30 years with a "law governing the amendment of the criminal law." This extension conveniently ignored Article 103, paragraph 2 of the German Basic Law which states that a criminal act cannot be punished unless the culpability has been determined before the act was committed! In 1979, when this enabling act was also due to expire, it too was extended, again at the behest of international Zionist organizations. The Israeli ambassador to West Germany sat on the public gallery of the Bundestag during the debate to "monitor" the voting.
Needless to say, all of these ex post facto laws only applied to German alleged criminals. No Allied soldiers were ever put on trial for the legion of atrocities committed against the German people during and after the war. In addition, the German courts are forbidden from trying war criminals of Allied armies by Part 1, Article 3 of the socalled Überleitungsvertrag (Convention of the Rights and Duties of Foreign Forces in West Germany). This doublestandard exemption for war criminals of the winning side is an obvious violation of the principle of equality before the law. It is also a violation of any standard of civil rights.
We have noted that the German courts really only got going against "war criminals" in 1958. The Head of the Ludwigsburg Central Office for Prosecution of NS Criminals, Adalbert Rückerl, emphasizes in his book NS Trials that there had earlier been little enthusiasm for such trials, and it was only after the 1958 trial at Ulm of some Einsatzgruppen members that public opinion finally realized "what kind of serious crimes had not been prosecuted up until then." (The trial resulted in 10 defendants receiving long terms of imprisonment for allegedly having participated in the alleged "murder of several thousand Jews in the area of the German-Lithuanian border.") According to Rückerl's analysis, after this initial trial, the judiciary "then reacted without further delay."
This pat explanation is, however, somewhat unconvincing. The German people had had many years of lurid atrocity stories from the Allied show-trials, and far from making them more enthusiastic for even more trials, the German people were starting to become even more cynical and skeptical. It was around the same time that the swindle of the Dachau "gas chamber" first came to light, and even Dr. Martin Broszat, the head of the Institute for Contemporary History in Munich, was obliged to admit that no gassings had taken place at Dachau or any other camp in the former Reich. These admissions overnight rendered valueless the testimony, confessions, documents and proofs of gassing at the myriad of trials relating to "gassings" in the camps in Germany-proper. What, the German people asked themselves, is the difference in value between the testimonies, confessions, documents and proofs-of-gassing in the camps in Germany (now admitted bogus) and the testimonies, confessions, documents and proofs-of-gassing in the camps in Poland (still claimed to be genuine)?
The real reason, in my opinion, for the stepping-up of the German NS trials was that the myth-makers had to do something to stop the imminent collapse of their painstakingly constructed edifice. What could be more useful for this purpose than the authority of the German courts? It is significant to note that the then General Public Prosecutor of the Hesse state, Fritz Bauer, frankly described the NS trials as an "exemplary aspect of the re-education of the German people" that had been under discussion ever since 1945. The Jewish writer J.G. Burg put this even more bluntly. He wrote, with reference to these trials:
They serve, above all, the purpose of engraining in the German people a consciousness of collective guilt, so that its sons and daughters would be born already burdened with the German "Original Sin."
This also explains why whole groups of youngsters are continually conducted through the public galleries of NS show trials. As Herman Langbein, General Secretary of the Vienna Auschwitz Committee, and main-spring of the first Auschwitz Trial at Frankfurt, remarked smugly:
It is also the fact that the trials are being watched day by day by classes of school-children and other groups in the courtroom, which shows us that the importance of the trials in terms of contemporary history has been perfectly understood.
One could quote many more examples like this to underline the real purpose of the NS trials. One can only conclude that the impetus for the stepping-up on NS trials was not - as Rückerl maintains - the judiciary "reacting" to the horrors of the first case, but a reaction to the enormous pressures from political quarters, which were in turn exposed to even greater pressures from international - in particular, Jewish - circles. It is common knowledge that the World Jewish Congress has lobbied for continued NS trials, and has even "provided" many of the necessary "witnesses."
No less remarkable is the way the government went about making these new witch-hunts as effective as possible. Rückerl has the following to say on the subject:
Knowing that the Code of Criminal Procedure (which was binding on the local courts) constituted an obstacle for a thorough prosecution of these crimes, the Conference of the State Ministers and Senators of justice decided in the Fall of 1958 to create a Central Office of the State Departments of Justice for the prosecution of NS crimes.
One might read this quote a second time to better understand the significance of this decision. Here was a case where a special public prosecuting authority was created which had no legal basis whatsoever in the German Criminal Code. It was, nevertheless, invested with substantially greater power than the correctly-constituted criminal prosecuting authorities. This incident is a typical example of the contempt for the constitution, and the very law itself, on the part of those who have been assigned the role of "guardians of the law."
In the first years of its existence, the Central Office for the Prosecution of NS Crimes, headquartered in Ludwigsburg, was staffed by 7-10 public prosecutors - too few in Rückerl's opinion. In April 1965, the Conference of justice Ministers increased the prosecuting staff to 45-50. In addition to this, as many as 250 further prosecutors were engaged outside the Central Office. On top of this, there must be roughly 200 investigators working in special teams. Small wonder that the number of normal criminal prosecutions was steadily decreasing during these years!
If the Central Office must be described as standing on very shaky constitutional ground, its activities were even more so! Their special Prosecutor's Office proceeds in its investigations quite differently from normal prosecutions. Rückerl describes it thus:
Our people then set to work exploring the factual circumstances which had been drawn to our attention by the statement of a witness, a document, a quotation from a book, or which was common knowledge, but yet had not been prosecuted, as far as we could tell.
This resulted in a situation where large parts of the wartime occupied territories were subjected to a network of preliminary investigations. A number of heretofore undiscovered matters came to light in this way.
And Rückerl's assistant, Chief Public Prosecutor Manfred Blank added:
In pursuance of the Code of Criminal Procedure, the Public Prosecutor must, firstly, intervene in cases where a criminal offense has been committed in his district or where he receives information to the effect that an accused is present in his district.
In other words, "crimes" were investigated when there was no evidence at all, and the only way to facilitate such an investigation was simply to override all existing rules and regulations governing criminal investigation procedures.
Thus, all investigations of NS cases were not just carried out by an office not even provided for in our law, but also in deviation from the normal methods of preliminary investigation. One cannot accept that this deviation was necessary for the "rule of law to stand its test" as Rückerl puts it so poetically. On the contrary, the deviation was one of the greatest floutings of the rule of law ever conceivable!
In practical terms, the preliminary investigations are obliged-in the absence of any solid facts- to concentrate initially on the literature of the IMT (International Military Tribunal at Nürnberg). Additionally, there has developed a close liaison between the Central Office and numerous foreign contacts, particularly those in Israel and the Eastern Bloc, who generally help out with "documents." Of particularly "valuable assistance" are "the publications of the Jewish Historical Institute at Warsaw, and the Yad Vashem Institute in Jerusalem" according to Chief Public Prosecutor Manfred Blank.
One of the best-known foreign contacts of the Central Office is the notorious Simon Wiesenthal, who has been proved to have given false evidence on at least one occasion, concerning indemnification. J.G. Burg describes him as the "spark-plug of the Ludwigsburg Central Office." This may be a slight exaggeration, but it is quite a remarkable statement all the same: Burg himself is Jewish. Wiesenthal has boasted during a TV program that "German public prosecutors and judges had often written letters to him" asking for assistance.
Various "survivors" organizations at home and abroad also have decisive influence on the course of these investigations. For example, the International Auschwitz Committee in Vienna, represented by its General Secretary Hermann Langbein, took a decisive role in the preliminary proceedings of the first Auschwitz Trial at Frankfurt, and later on at the trial proper. In his book, The Auschwitz Trial, Langbein later treated his readers to a self-aggrandizing eulogy regarding his part in the proceedings. Among other things, he quotes in full a back-slapping letter from a Chief Public Prosecutor by the name of Wolf, in which the writer expressed "gratitude and recognition ... for the active and valuable assistance."
It follows from all of the above that the basis for the preliminary proceedings and investigations was at best highly dubious, especially as it was almost exclusively provided by those persons who had personal, political, and financial interests in promoting the anti-German atrocity lies. Rückerl refers to it as the "special knowledge in terms of contemporary history" on the part of the Central Office staff in Ludwigsburg which reflects such interests.
Along with this research into "hitherto unknown crimes" a hunt for the hitherto unknown "criminals" (i.e. former SS members, policemen, camp guards, and Einsatzgruppen members) was carried out. Even though modern police hunts are so inept that known terrorists are often detected only by accident, in the case of former SS members the country was scoured from top to bottom in this fanatical man-hunt. These people, considered to be criminals right from the start, were generally taken into close custody at once "pending investigation" and this lasted, in many cases, 5 years and longer. One can only guess at what treatment these unfortunate men and women were subjected to after their arrests. It is common knowlege that many of them did not survive imprisonment; for example, the former commandant of Auschwitz, Richard Baer. His death in custody received very little publicity-quite the opposite from other such cases. Many prisoners committed suicide. Sometimes, such as at the Sobibor Trial, it was those accused who had refused to confess who "passed away." The Jewish writer J.G. Burg comments as follows:
We hear time and time again of cases where prisoners accused of war crimes have passed away "of their own free will." It is quite obvious that there is something extremely fishy about all of this.
I do not want to be misunderstood. I am not saying necessarily that the prisoners were or are subjected to illegal treatment. But the circumstances of their "legal" treatment - particularly the prolonged remand in custody - may well be so debilitating that it completely destroys the prisoner's will. This seems to happen more readily to people of humble birth and simple education, and most of the victims of this persecution did come from such a background.
One important part in all NS trials is the role of witnesses. Indeed, they are indispensible, for as Rückerl himself admits, the "documents" may "be used only as ... background material." However, the techniques adopted by the Public Prosecutor's Office in obtaining suitable statements from witnesses in NS cases are almost unbelievable. Here again the procedure used is totally different from normal preliminary investigations and judicial inquiries. Only recently, during the Majdanek Trial (which is still in progress), a case of witness-coaching was discovered in which either the Central Office in Ludwigsburg or the Public Prosecutor's Office must have been involved in some way. This case was rightfully described as a scandal, and provoked a wide reaction among the general public. Needless to say, the people responsible for this trial failed to suffer any recognizable consequences from the scandal. This is, however, not at all surprising, for it appears that it is general practice in NS trials that the (potential) witnesses should be "helped" in preparing their proposed testimony. Laternser has proved this already, in regard to the first really big concentration camp trial: the Auschwitz Trial at Frankfurt.
We know that even the public prosecutors responsible for the judicial inquiries are developing some leanings in this direction because of a document which recently came to light. It is certainly not unique in its contents and nature. It is a letter originating from the North-Rhine/Westphalia Central Office of NS Concentration Camp Crimes, and sent to the Office of the Chief Prosecutor in Cologne. It is signed by a Public Prosecutor called Dr. Gierlich. The document, comprising 156 pages, bears the file number 24 AR 1/62 (Z) and was sent confidentially to all the witnesses of the Sachsenhausen Trial. It contains: a 12 page letter of the aforementioned Public Prosecutor to the addressee; 84 pages of biographical and personal particulars of 577 former camp staff; and a comprehensive appendix of 497 photos of SS men at the Sachsenhausen camp.
To underline the spirit in which the investigatory inquiries were conducted, let me quote a little from the Gierlich letter. The letter begins with some very definite information:
In consultation with the Sachsenhausen Committee of West Germany, I am conducting a comprehensive collective criminal trial based on the activities of the SS personnel employed in the Sachsenhausen concentration camp. Insofar as investigations have not been carried out against them in the past, you would greatly oblige me by complying with the enclosed summons and by giving me some information on your experiences as regards the subject-matter of this letter.
The reference to the "consultation with the Sachsenhausen Committee" shows where the Public Prosecutor's "knowledge" originates from; this knowledge being intended to induce the witness to sympathy toward "the subject matter of this letter," of course. Now, if one bears in mind that the overwhelming proportion of detainees in concentration camps were convicted criminals, and if one therefore assumes that the concentration camp "survivor" committees were and are manned likewise, then it should not be too way out to speak of a collaboration between German public prosecutors and criminals! It certainly happens in real criminal cases that the investigators find their confidential sources and witnesses among criminals and ex-convicts. But there is a world of difference between the two approaches. In the latter case, the criminal informants are kept at arm's length, and their information treated with some skepticism on account of its origins. In NS investigations, the criminals practically become part of the investigating team themselves!
Now let us read on with Dr. Gierlich's letter:
Perhaps you might be one of those concentration camp survivors who are very reluctant to give evidence, either because you do not wish to be reminded of those cruel events, or because you do not see the point of prosecuting such crimes after this long period of time? Nevertheless, if I urgently ask you for your support, then I am doing it because I am of the conviction that it must be possible-with the combined efforts of the survivors - to at least partially expose the terrible bloody deeds perpetrated at Sachsenhausen (and which could not be exposed until now) and to bring to justice the murderers and murderers' assistants who are living in our midst unrecognized.
It is quite obvious the Chief Prosecutor considers the atrocities, which he himself says he is supposed to expose, as already established facts. There then follows an eloquent apology for the fact that the proceedings had had to wait until 1962. Quite out of place, the recipients of the letter are given a run-down on the investigation work carried out so far:
After evaluating all the Sachsenhausen-related trials so far, plus the list of war criminals compiled by the survivors, plus the published survivor narratives, it was possible to compile a dossier on the whereabouts of many of the former SS men who were employed at the camp or were otherwise related to it in some way. These can only be a small fraction of the former guards, it is true, but they should - at any rate - include those persons who have committed crimes. Furthermore, we have compiled a dossier of witnesses which contains the names of former inmates (for all periods of the camp's operation), plus the names of those involved in almost all the block- and major-workcrews. In addition to all of this, the Sachsenhausen Survivors Committee is available to provide expert counsel in cases of doubt. It would seem, therefore, that a comprehensive final exposition of criminal offenses committed in the camp is very likely to be crowned with success, even after such a length of time, provided that the former prisoners, such as yourself, do not fail to give me their assistance.
Later on in the Gierlich letter, the potential witness is given "aides memoires" which bear little or no resemblance to the facts, nor indeed to any concept of unbiased investigatory conduct to which the Office of Public Prosecutor is legally bound. Such an outrageous procedure would be unthinkable in a normal criminal investigation of judicial inquiry.
A further unusual aspect of these NS investigations is the indiscriminate circulation of a large variety of names and photographs -with subjective commentaries or captions to make it easier for the "witnesses" to "recognize" the "criminals." Furthermore, the "survivors" are also given descriptions of the alleged "mass crimes" perpetrated in the Sachsenhausen camp. The following are excerpts from the same Gierlich letter:
I. Massacres, for example:
1. Murders when the first larger convoys of Jews arrived in the camp in 1938
Murders of conscientious objectors to military service, predominantly Jehovah's Witnesses, early in the war. (Information concerning the murder of the Jehovah's Witness August Dieckmann, who was shot dead on 15 September 1939 on the parade ground ... ) ...
5. Execution of 33 Poles on 9 November 1940.
6. Execution of Russian PoWs in the Fall of 1941; shot in the neck, in the special execution contraption in the area of the industrial yard. Who helped erect this neck-shooting contraption? Who was seen in charge of the convoys heading for these neck-shooting installations?
9. Gassing of prisoners. Who instaRed the facilities?
10. Shooting of 27 prisoners from Block 58 on 10 November 1944.
13. Selection of prisoners unable to work.
14. Medical experiments and tests with poisoned ammumtion on prisoners ...
II. Other Crimes:
2. Who killed prisoners
4. Who gave the orders or commands; who supervised; in cases where losses of life occurred, e.g.
7. Which doctors refused to give medical treatment to sick patients, who subsequently died?
8. Who consciously ordered sick patients to hard labor? Which prisoners died as a result of this severe treatment?
As can be seen, there is hardly any atrocity lie which has been left out. Even the gas chambers were included in this list, in spite of data given to the contrary by the Institute for Contemporary History in 1960. Dr. Gierlich was obviously not up-to-date with his information when he wrote this letter. In any case, the survivor addressed by the letter was called upon to make a choice (if necessary after consultation with the Survivors Committee!) as to which "crime" he intended to make a statement about, and whom he wanted to accuse of the crime. Presumably this was to avoid a duplication of effort, with all the witnesses wanting to steal the show by testifying only about the most monstrous atrocity and accusing only the most monster-like defendant.
As if this was not outrageous enough, on page 10 of the letter the recipient is even encouraged to report about "M treatment" in the camp, even though this category of crime-unlike more serious offenses-has long come under the Statute of Limitations. The reason for this suggestion was that "this may perhaps give some indication as to the frame of mind of the respective person during a killing that took place at some other time." And, since there is also a possibility that "by mentioning other circumstances, the ill treatment could be construed as attempted murder." What a wonderful tip for the potential witness, and a suggestion not to be shy in mentioning even the smallest detail! Needless to say, a charge of "ill treatment" manipulated into "attempted murder" would no longer exempt the defendant from prosecution under the Statute of Limitations.
As if in faint acknowledgement of the outlandish bias of all of this, the letter writer slips in a codicil to at least put on an appearance of fairness. He states that for reasons of objectivity it is required to also mention "such circumstances that speak in favor of members of the SS forces." But, as we have already seen this is only a matter of form, in view of Article 160, Paragraph 2 StPO (Code of Criminal Procedure). This article states that the Public Prosecutor is obliged to inquire not only into those facts whereby a person can be charged, but also into those facts whereby he could be discharged, or could contribute to a person's acquittal. However, the remainder of this strange letter does not indicate any efforts at all in this direction. The "crimes" mentioned therein are described as already firmly established. The SS men named therein-with photos attached-are referred to without elaboration as "the culprits." No attention whatever is given to the concept of an accused being innocent until found guilty. In this case, the "trial" is only to decide a question of how much guilt each accused should be attributed with.
The final sentence of the letter is one of the most important:
May I ask of you, however, not to mention anything about this letter to any of the SS people whose address you may know, as they are completely unaware of my investigations.
It is quite obvious that the secret inquisition is celebrating a merry little dance here. It is not until the "crime" has been plucked out of thin air and given form (through the adequate securing and briefing of "witnesses") that the accused is even informed of the investigation. By this time, normally, he has had it. If he does not confess at once he is taken into "close custody pending investigation," with all that that entails. It reminds one of the medieval witch trials, where the witch was thrown into the duck pond. If she drowned, she must have been innocent. If she survived, it was obviously only through witchcraft, so she was hanged or burned anyway.
It should again be emphasized that this document is certainly not the only one of its kind. One can be certain that the investigations were pursued by this or a similar method in all NS trials.
If the intention was indeed to make use of the NS trials as an aid in "Re-education" - as General Prosecutor Bauer openly admitted - then it was necessary to create the complementary judicial framework as well. This purpose could not have been achieved if every defendant had been tried under normal criminal court procedures. The background of "contemporary history" to which the investigators of these trials attached the greatest value could hardly be demonstrated in individual criminal procedures. It was for this reason that mammoth trials were organized for every single concentration camp, with the trial name corresponding to the camp name.
This was, of course, not at all possible without manipulating the jurisdiction of the courts to a certain extent. The principle laid down in constitutional law that nobody may be diverted from his court of legal jurisdiction was - to put it mildly - interpreted rather generously in this process. In legal principle, there were various courts exercising jurisdiction over most of the NS defendants; namely, either the court of their place of residence (Article 8 StPO), or the court of the place of their arrest (Article 9 StPO). However, for reasons of convenience the Criminal Code also specifies a location based on personal or factual considerations (Art. 13 in conjunction with Art. 3), the requirements of which cannot be explained in detail here. One thing is certain, however: there is no way that the staged NS trials were expedient from a legalistic standpoint-the equitable administering of justice. Indeed, as the well-known lawyer Laternser said in regard to the Auschwitz Trial, which lasted two years with 20 defendants:
It is impossible for a jury of 3 professional- and 6 lay-judges to deliberate on evidence submitted over 20 months, then decide on the verdict with the necessary conscientiousness, and then deliver the sentence, with the essential proper care and attention. What the Prosecutors and the courts are submitting to the jurors for judgement exceeds human abilities. The court was in a hopeless situation, and with it justice was also ... in immense danger .
Is it reasonable to expect the judges to base their judgement and sentence (which may well be catastrophic for the defendant) on their recollection of the detailed evidence of 350 witnesses, the first of whom had been heard 18 months beforehand? Apart from the most dramatic cases, it is very unlikely that the court would even remember the names of individual witnesses, never mind the important details of his or her testimony, or whether or not the testimony carried any legal weight. How on earth could it be possible to adjudge the credibility of a witness 18 months after hearing him? In such a situation justice-and with it every single defendant-will be in the greatest peril.
Laternser's remarks about the Auschwitz Trial are undoubtedly applicable to any other criminal trial of such a magnitude. It is obvious that his remarks apply equally to the Majdanek Trial, which has now been running for over 5 years. What Laternser did not see, or did not say, was that justice is the lowest priority in NS cases, including the Auschwitz case. The accused, in trials of this kind, are in reality only tailor's dummies serving a higher purpose.
Without examining the case files we cannot say for certain how the shifting of jurisdiction in NS trials actually came about. Presumably in many cases the proceedings were instituted in accordance with Article 13a. This article states that the Federal Court may determine the competent court in cases where a competent court does not exist or is unspecified under the criminal Code. It was on the basis of this Article that the Frankfurt Landgericht (State Court) was declared competent. And there are quite a number of indicators to show that this was no coincidence. Perhaps it was also no coincidence that the arch-Zionist Fritz Bauer was resident in Frankfurt at that time.
But on the other hand, it is debatable whether or not Article 13a was applicable in this case, because all the defendants had a place of residence within West Germany, so therefore the competent court ought to be determined as the court administering over their place of residence. It appears that this provision of the Criminal Code was deliberately twisted for different reasons. For example, we learn from Rückerl himself that at the suggestion of the Central Office, the Bundesanwalt succeeded in having the Federal Court determine Düsseldorf as the venue for the Sobibor Trial, in accordance with Article 13a. This decision effectively interrupted the Statute of Limitations, and so the survival of this enormous trial was ensured. However, neither of these actions corresponded to the meaning and intention of Article 13a.
Since we hear from the horse's mouth itself, the NS trials are part of a re-education program (Bauer and many others have said so, both explicitly and implicitly) I have no hesitation in describing these trials as "show trials." The most essential prerequisite for a show trial is a political objective of some kind. The idea is to intimidate the population or influence "public opinion" in some manner. In other words, the objectives in an NS trial have little or nothing to do with the pursuit of justice which is the objective in a normal criminal trial. These show trials are not at all unique to totalitarian countries. The Western Allies demonstrated that with their "war criminal trials" in occupied Germany just after the war. This proves that "democrats" are just as prone to show trials as communists.
It is most certainly a political objective to attempt to reeducate the German public, so that they have a "correct" conception of the history of the Third Reich era, which intention has been openly admitted. We can find admissions of this political intention in the various candid remarks of the Prosecutors and persecutors themselves, for example in Martin Broszat's foreword to Rückerl's book NS Extermination Camps Reflected in the German Criminal Trials. And in the case of the Auschwitz Trial, we have to thank the attorney Laternser for reporting many of the candid admissions of the Prosecution in his book The Other Side of the Auschwitz Trial.
Whether or not a criminal trial can be turned into a show trial depends on the judges who preside over the trials. In a normal criminal trial the judges are expected to be free of all prejudices, both critical and factual. It is further expected that all evidence be heard impartially and that it should cover only relevant matters. Finally, it must also be expected that the president conducts himself correctly and ensures that the atmosphere of the trial is free from duress.
It is in the nature of show trials that all or most of these requirements are disregarded. The trial materials available to us in regard to the Auschwitz Trial at Frankfurt, the Belzec Trial, the Sobibor Trial, the Chelmno Trial, and the two Treblinka Trials are sufficient evidence to prove that these were conducted as show trials. For all the other trials, the materials are not available, but there is no reason to believe that these trials were run any differently.
The fact that the Auschwitz Trial was a typical show trial cannot be characterized better than to quote the words of the principal defense counsel, Dr. Laternser. He states:
In the larger international criminal proceedings in which I took an active part, there was never at any time - not even before the IMT at Nürnberg - such a tense atmosphere as at the Auschwitz Trial. Those other trials were all carried out much more matter-of-factly, even though they took place shortly after the end of the war.
Nowhere could a more shattering indictment of the trials be found, for the victors' justice of the Allied war crimes trials has been condemned not just in Germany, but throughout the World, as a mere show trial.
An equally scathing condemnation of the trials was made only a few days after the opening of the Auschwitz case in Frankfurt, when a Swiss newspaper commented that the presiding judge "was obviously the best public prosecutor in the courtroom."
It is axiomatic that historical truths quite simply cannot be uncovered in such an atmosphere.
Anyone taking the trouble to monitor only one day's hearing of the current Majdanek Trial in Düsseldorf cannot fail to agree that nothing at all has changed since 1965. But of course, a cynic would ask what can be expected of judges who make themselves available for trials of this sort?
This atmosphere of bias can only but have an undermining influence on the quality of evidence; the core of the trial itself. This bias is grounded on the basic position that the extermination of the Jews is an "undebatable fact." It even appears that not only are the public prosecutors and judges falling victim to this prejudice, but unfortunately so too are most of the defense counsel. One can only speculate as to what circumstances brought this about. It is probable that the blame lies with the "re-education program" which lasted several decades, and which was uniformly conducted by the mass media. However, the allegations contained in the writs of indictment are in most cases so absolutely absurd that any sober-minded legal person would have smelled a rat right away. Therefore one cannot help but conclude that the ready acceptance of this "Holocaust" legend was largely based on pragmatism. Perhaps these people were afraid for their jobs, and this fear made them so uncritical of the court's preconceptions that it shed severe doubt on their common sense.
In spite of the prejudice throughout every phase of the trials - noticeable even on the judges' bench - the courts act in all NS trials as if the only thing to be decided is the question of the extermination of the Jews; but this is only a smokescreen. The handling of the evidence shows that no other conclusion regarding the "extermination" is allowable. Such arbitrary rules for the acceptance of evidence are, it appears, allowable under Article 261 of the Criminal Code, which provides for the judges determining evidence acceptability, not the Code itself. But where the NS trial courts do violate the rules is in regard to Article 244, paragraph 2, which states that the hearing of evidence is to be extended ex officio to all facts and all items of evidence which might have "importance for the verdict." Conversely, evidence which is totally irrelevant to the trial in question, but which props up the overall "extermination" legend is admitted into evidence willy nilly.
All of this becomes particularly clear when looking at testimony given by "experts." Experts act as assistants to the judge. Their purpose is to convey to the judge any factual knowledge which he does not have himself. This knowledge usually involves technical or medical problems.
However, in the NS trials most of the "experts" gave evidence mostly on matters of contemporary history, far exceeding the forensic and pathological guidance which might have been needed, and most definitely not contributing anything of relevance to the actual charges against the actual defendants. For example, at the Auschwitz Trial at Frankfurt, "experts" from the IHR's mirror-image in Munich, the Institute for Contemporary History, gave their opinions on subjects like: "The SS as an Instrument of Power," "The Kommissar Order and the Mass Executions of Soviet PoWs," "The Development of Nazi Concentration Camps," "Nazi Policies Toward Poland," and "The Extermination of Jews in the Third Reich." All of these experts' opinions had little or nothing to do with Auschwitz. The central question of the alleged existence of "gas chambers" was touched on only in the last "Opinion" cited. Even then, the subject was skated over with just a couple of sentences quoted from the bogus "confessions" of Auschwitz Commandant Rudolf Höss. There was simply no expert opinion at all submitted on important technical questions, such as the application and effects of Zyklon B, the technical requirements and combustion time necessary for the cremation of corpses in a crematorium, and many other such matters. In view of the often fantastic allegations made by witnesses, a responsible court should have gone into such questions methodically and in detail.
In regard to this handling of expert opinion, Laternser the defense counsel quite rightly speaks of "experts' opinions in a vacuum" and of the "lack of relevance of expert opinion in regard to the actual charges." It is obvious that these "expert opinions" were only part of the theatrical show. They were a kind of crash-course in contemporary history-from the "correct" angle of course-laid on for the benefit of the public, press, and perhaps also for the participants in the trial.
In other NS trials the procedure was identical. This can be seen by referring to Rückerl's latest book NS Extermination Camps Reflected in the German Criminal Trials. The author quite candidly admits that the "historical summary" included in the judgement (!) at the Sobibor Trial in Hagen, given on 20 December 1966, was "largely identical ... in all essential points" with that of other courts adjudicating NS trials. It is quite obvious that the same "experts" were called up again and again to give their "opinions." Even more disturbingly, the experts often incestuously base their "knowledge" and "opinions" on "expert opinion" submitted at previous NS trials.
In normal trials, a forensic expedition to the scene of the crime would yield great results. But in the case of the NS trials, trips to the former camps are organized purely for showmanship. The camps are, of course, no longer in their original condition. Laternser makes the following rather reserved comments in regard to the former Auschwitz concentration camp:
Twenty years after the event, an inspection of the locality throws up many contradictions. After such a long time the natural changes alone create an entirely different scene. Furthermore, these sites have now been at least partially turned into museums. The establishment of a museum necessitates extensive reconditioning work as well as tendentious elaborations
Inspection tours of this kind simply cannot be relevant as evidence. No doubt the taxpayer's money is wasted here, but in view of the costs associated with these anachronistic and needless trials, this is apparently of little concern.
Concerning documentary evidence submitted in the trials, many things can be pointed out. Very often the documents do not prove what they are claimed to prove; they refer to some totally different matters. Those documents which do give specific, relevant information - such as the Gerstein report, the Pery Broad report, or the Cracow report of Höss - are obviously fabricated. In spite of the impossibilities, internal contradictions, and flaws of these published accounts, no court has yet deemed it necessary to insist on the presentation of the original manuscripts, and to have their authenticity checked by qualified and independent experts. On the contrary, the courts put great store by such publications, and explicitly exclude any proper examination of the originals:
The established facts of the case are based on ... the documents that were read out in court and quoted in excerpts. These had been submitted to the court in the form of photostats or published copies, and their conformity with tLe originals is not doubted in any way.
Evidently, the courts were not allowed to harbor any doubts about the extermination of the Jews, either. judges must hang up their common sense in the cloakroom before presiding over courtroom NS trials.
This sorry state of affairs also pertains to witness testimony. Anyone with any legal experience knows that witnesses are generally the most unreliable evidence one can exhibit. For this reason, their testimony must be checked with particular care; in particular those statements which are based on hearsay. Incredibly, as Laternser reports, the President of the Auschwitz Trial openly declared during the first stage of the trial that "a high importance must be attached to hearsay evidence, exactly because such a long time elapsed since the event."
With such an attitude displayed by the judges, it is not surprising that many witnesses in the NS trials spoke nonsense, while the court swallowed every word. Or rather, they pretended that everything was believable, even though they knew in their hearts it was not. When justifying the Auschwitz sentences the judges pointed out:
The court has available to pass a verdict almost none of the Criteria which are available in a normal murder trial. We cannot obtain a detailed picture of the actual events at the time of the murder. The dead bodies of the victims are absent. Post mortem records made by the experts regarding the time and cause of death do not exist. Nor are there any traces of the murder weapon, or forensic links to the murderers. Only in rare cases has it been Possible to check the statements of witnesses to see if they hold up to physical corroboration.
These words speak for themselves. It is not news, but nevertheless it is worth noting, that there are no traces of gas chambers at Auschwitz at all (although this term was vaguely and euphemistically circumscribed by the Frankfurt court with the term "murder weapon"). The facility at Auschwitz now on display to visitors from all over the world corresponds roughly to the "gas chamber" swindle that was staged by American Jews immediately after the war, at Dachau.
The justification goes on:
Therefore, the only checking the court could do was in regard to the credibility and truthfulness of the witnesses ... and in certain cases the court has not accepted witness testimony where it was apparent that egomania or some other reason caused the witness to tell a cock and bull story.
Would that it were so, and if we were not in possession of two professional and comprehensive accounts of the Auschwitz trial, we might even have to accept this. But on examing the two opposing books on the trial, we find that there was hardly a careful scrutiny made of the witnesses' claims. Two examples will illustrate.
The first is a statement made by the former SS judge (but a "good" Reconstructed German!) Dr. Konrad Morgen, who maintained a legal practice in Frankfurt after the war. He reported to the court about his visit to the "extermination camp Birkenau" as follows:
In the giant crematorium, everything was spic and span. There was not a thing to indicate that only one night before, thousands of people had been gassed and burned. Nothing was left of these people; not even a grain of dust on the oven fixtures.
Leaving aside for the moment that in those days (1944) according to other "credible" witnesses, and even "official" reports, the "gassings and burnings" took place night and day without interruption, the question arises as to what made Morgen think things like that had happened the night before? Naturally, the court did not ask questions of that kind. One might give credit to Morgen for his imagination, but not for his veracity! By the way, when he was interrogated as a witness before the IMT tribunal, Morgen had located the fantastic "gas chamber" at the industrial area of Monowitz, which was 6 to 8 kilometers away from Birkenau. It is quite possible that the Frankfurt judges were unaware of this detail, but it would have been their duty to inform themselves of Morgen's earlier statements before giving his testimony any credence at all.
A further example of the gullibility of the Auschwitz Trial judges were the statements of the particularly garrulous Czech witness, Filip Müller. He reported, among other things, that the "Chief of the Crematorium, Moll" had "thrown a child into the boiling fat of dead bodies which had collected in the trenches around the burning-pit " He was talking about a pit in which dead bodies were incinerated and was allegedly situated next to one of Birkenau's four crematoria, and is occasionally mentioned in Auschwitzian literature. Presumably, this "witness" had encountered this physically impossible nonsense in some of the Auschwitziana. He even elaborated to make it into a duplex:
The Pits measuring 40 meters in length, 6 - 8 meters in width, and 11/2 meters in depth, had depressions at their ends, into which the human fat flowed. The prisoners had to baste the bodies in this fat so that they burned better.
It is incredible that experienced judges give credit to these obvious lies instead of discontinuing at once any hearing of such "eye-witness" accounts. Even worse, the court actually referred to this liar's statements on various occasions when justifying a sentence, particularly those of Stark, Dr. Lucas and Dr. Frank. After all this, who can have any confidence at all in the court's assurances that the veracity of the witnesses had been "checked with particular care"? One is left to remain in wonderment about the statements of those "witnesses" who were not considered credible!
Let us now take a brief look at the results achieved by the NS trials. We can assess whether or not the holding of the trials furthered the great insight into contemporary history which they were supposed to have done at the outset. First, let us look at the statement of the jury at the Sobibor Trial, at Hagen, dated 20 December 1966. The statement concerns the "walk-in extermination" programs which were supposed to be identical at each of the three camps affiliated to the "Action Reinhard" (actually a complete misuse of this term which only refers to the rules for disposal and storage of internees' belongings):
Under the pretense that they were to be "re-settled" the Jews were shipped in railroad convoys ... directly to the railroad sidings inside the camp perimeter. Under the further deception that the new arrivals had to disrobe and take a shower, they were herded, batch by batch, naked, into gas chambers camouflaged to look like shower baths. Once inside the shower baths, the doors were locked by key, and they were killed by the exhaust gases of a combustion engine outside. The gases were conducted through a specially installed piping system into the individual gas chambers. After about 20 to 30 minutes, the dead bodies were taken out of the gas chambers by a Jewish work party. Their body orifices were searched for hidden jewelry and gold teeth were broken out. Subsequently, the bodies were initally stacked in large prepared pits, and later burned directly in large fires over iron grids.
This description is, of course, nothing but the recycling of one of the oldest atrocity tales which was being circulated in the camps during the war, as Rassinier has so effectively proven. Shortly after the war, there was hardly a camp where the "shower-baths" were not supposed to be for 46 gassing" prisoners. We are unable to tell from Rückerl's synopsis of the judgement how it was that the court arrived at its "knowledge" of the facts. But we can have some idea of their attention to detail when we note that they concluded that the "Zyklon B" had been conducted into the "gas chamber" from "gas bottles!" (Zyklon was, of course, supplied from the factory in tin cans, in solid form.) Furthermore, the technical possibilities and practical problems involved in this supposed method of killing could only be addressed by a forensic or pathological expert-but none was ever called.
The alleged six "gas chambers " of Belzec had dimensions of 4 x 5 meters each, according to the judgement handed down at Munich after the Belzec Trial which lasted only four days (from 18 to 21 January 1965). In these six chambers, about 1500 people could be killed in one gassing, apparently. The judges obviously did not bother to check this calculation, for if they had, they would have discovered that each gas chamber would have had to accommodate 250 people at one time, or 12 - 13 people per square meter!
Reading all this, one wonders if the judges still have their brains turned on when they repeat unquestioningly, and in their judgements, the outlandish testimony of such "witnesses, " A typical example is to be found in the judgement after the Auschwitz Trial. On page 99 we find that:
in the case of Crematorias I through IV ... the rooms where people took their clothes off, and the rooms for gassing were underground, and the furnaces were above ground.
On the following page the court goes on to assert that in the case of Crematorias III and IV the Zyklon B "was thrown in through a small side window." How this can be done in a room that is situated underground remains a, secret known only to the court!
This contradiction is obviously generated by the diverse descriptions proffered by the different "eye-witnesses" at Auschwitz-Birkenau. Some say the alleged "gas chambers" were wholly underground. Some say that they were wholly above ground. And some say that they were half and half. Everyone is invited to make his or her own choice. The court just picked a cross-section of testimony "descriptions" out of a hat, patched them together, and passed sentence.
In conclusion, a few words should be said concerning the attitude of the defendants in these NS trials. It has been said that "not a single defendant has ever denied the extermination of the Jews". Rückerl even goes on to claim that in addition, every single one of the accused had admitted their "participation in the killing of Jewish men, women and children on an industrial scale" and that the defendants independently "provided descriptions of the functioning of the extermination apparatus in every detail." Whether or not the first allegation is correct, I do not know; but for reasons to be explained I consider this possible. Rückerl's second contention, however, is incorrect. This allegation was not backed up with proof at all.
In actual fact, during the main Auschwitz Trial, not one of the 20 defendants described "the functioning of the extermination apparatus in every detail." The overwhelming majority of the defendants, including the two adjutants of the camp commandant, had "only heard about these things." Three of the accused pretended, it is true, that they were present during individual "gassings," but these "witnesses" were unable to furnish any details of the procedure used.
Rückerl's treatment of a very few statements made by the defendants were not made during the trial itself, but several years beforehand. They are not the statements of an accused person. Rückerl claims that he introduced and evaluated only that material from the preliminary arraignment hearings which was either "not disputed or was legally established" at the main trial later. But this does not change anything at all. For example, Rückerl quotes a statement of defendant Oberhauser, which was made more than two years before the main trial and which can no longer be verified. At the main trial, Oberhauser refused to make any statement at all on the matter and thus he neither contested the evidence nor did he acknowledge it as correct. As for the facts being in the end "legally established by the court" this carries no weight at all-we have already seen what nonsense was "established" by the court presiding over the Belzec Trial.
Moreover, it is passing strange that a legal beagle like Rückerl should endeavor to support the Extermination myth with the (real or alleged) confessions of defendants. Every criminal lawyer knows that there have been numerous cases throughout criminal history where it turned out that innocent people had confessed to crimes. If Rückerl's argument is correct, then it could be asserted with similar certainty that witches did indeed exist, for the "facts" were described in thousands of witch trials, where the accused would independently "confess" and "describe in every detail" their "crimes." By no means all of these confessions came about through torture, either; many were voluntary.
However, the question does remain as to why so many of the accused accepted the general thesis of the "Extermination of the Jews" while disputing only their personal participation in it - the "cog in the machine" defense strategy. The explanation lies in the circumstances where these defendants were kept in close custody "pending investigation" for many years, and perhaps subjected to brainwashing. Finally, after the opening of the trial proper, they found themselves confronted with clearly prejudiced judges, submerged in an hysterical environment, and had to adapt as far as possible to the unchangeable conditions. Anyone would have done the same, especially if he knew himself to be deserted by everyone, including his former comrades. Indeed, as Rückerl himself points out, this "I only obeyed orders" strategy was adopted by almost all the defendants, and provided at least a chance for a milder punishment or even acquittal. To have disputed the sine qua non of the Holocaust mythology would have almost certainly enraged the court at the defendant's lack of humility, respect, and reverence for the dead.
But even the "cog" strategy was not without pitfalls, for the courts generally proceed from an assumption that the "orders" to bring about the accused's participation in the Jew-killing were illegal in the first place, and therefore ought not to have been obeyed. In addition, the courts also rejected the argument that, the accused might be at risk himself for failing to obey an order, as laid down in Articles 52 or 54 of the St GB (Criminal Code). The only benefit to the accused with this strategy is possible mitigation of sentence if it can be shown that the defendant actually took the trouble to ponder the legality of his orders before ("mistakenly") deciding they were legal, and in the second case it must be shown that the accused at least tried to extricate himself from the "Catch 22" situation where it was his life, or the victim's.
In other words, the defendants had the choice of either denying the "Extermination" and being certain of severe punishment, or acknowledging the "reality" of the "Extermination" - which the court had pre-determined anyway - and then claiming some excuse or other, and thus at least having a chance of a milder sentence.
In such a situation, any realistic defense counsel would surely have advised his client to take the route of least risk of punishment. And who would reproach these hapless victims of modern witch-burning, who like anyone else, were more concerned with their heads than with historical truth?
These latter considerations illustrate particularly well that the NS trials hinder rather than help in the search for truth about the camps. The only way the truth can ever come out would be if there was declared an amnesty for all alleged "war crimes." But this is not going to come about; no one in authority is the least bit interested in finding out the truth.
There is only one really relevant truism to come out of the NS trials: the trials are truth positive that our age-just like the Medieval Ages-is still not free of blind faith in dogma, and persecution mania for those who dare to dissent!
2. Newspapers and journals
3. Legal Materials
Source: Reprinted from The Journal of Historical Review, vol. 2, no. 3, pp. 247-281.
Published with permission of and courtesy to the Institute for Historical Review (IHR).
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