The United States of America
- vs -
OTTO OHLENDORF, HEINZ JOST, ERICH NAUMANN,: OTTO RASCH, ERWIN SCHULTZ, FRANZ SIX, PAUL: BLOBEL, WALTER BLUME, MARTIN SANDBERGER, : WILLY SEIBERT, EUGEN STEIMLE, ERNST BIBER-: STEIN, WERNER BRAUNE, WALTER HAENSCH, : Case No. 9 GUSTAV NOSSKE, ADOLF OTT, EDUARD STRAUCH, : EMIL HAUSSMAN, WOLDEMAR KLINGELHOEFER, : LOTHAR FENDLER, WALDEMAR VON RADETZKY, : FELIX RUEHL, HEINZ SCHUBERT, and MATTHIAS : GRAF, : Defendants
The acts charged in Counts I and II of the Indictment are identical in character, but the indictment draws the distinction between acts consisting of offenses against civilian populations including German nationals and nationals of other countries, and the same acts committed as violations of the laws and customs of war involving murder and ill-treatment of prisoners of war and civilian populations of countries under the occupation of Germany. Count II charges the defendants with membership in the SS, SD, and Gestapo, organizations declared criminal by the International Military Tribunal and Paragraph I(d) of Article II of Control
Council law No. 10.
At the outset it must be acknowledged that the facts with which the Tribunal must deal in this Opinion are so beyond the experience of normal man and the range of man-made phenomena that only the most complete judicial inquiry, and the most exhaustive trial, could verify and confirm them. Although the principal accusation is murder and, unhappily, man has been killing man ever since the days of Cain, the charge of purposeful homicide in this case reaches such fantastic proportions and surpasses such credible limits that believability must be bolstered with assurance a hundred times repeated.
The books have shown through the ages why man has slaughtered his brother. He has always had an excuse, criminal and ungodly though it may have been. He has killed to take his brother's property, his wife, his throne, his position; he has slain out of jealousy, revenge, passion, lust, cannibalism. He has murdered as a monarch, a slaveowner, a madman, a robber. But it was left to the twentieth century to produce so extraordinary a killing that even a new word had to be created to define it.
One of counsel has characterized this trial as the biggest murder trial in history. Certainly never before have twenty-three men been brought into court to answer to the charge of destroying over one million of their fellow-human beings. There have been other trials imputing to administrators and officials responsibility for mass murder, but in this case the defendants are not simply
If what the Prosecution maintains is true, we have here participation in a crime of such unprecedented brutality and of such inconceivable savagery that the mind rebels against its own thought image and the imagination staggers in the contemplation of a human degradation beyond the power of language to adequately portray. The crime did not exclude the immolation of women and children, heretofor regarded the special object of solicitude even on the part of an implacable and primitive foe.
The International Military Tribunal in its decision of October 1, 1946 declared that the Einsatzgruppen and the Security Police, to which the defendants belonged, were responsible for the murder of two million defenseless human beings, and the evidence presented in this case has in no way shaken this finding. No human mind can grasp the enormity of two million deaths because life, the supreme essence of consciousness and being, does not lend itself to material or even spiritual appraisement. It is so beyond finite comprehension that only its destruction offers an infinitesimal suggestion on its worth. The loss of any one person can only begin to be measures in the realization of his survivors that he is gone forever. The extermination, therefore, of two million human beings cannot be felt. Two million is but a figure. The number of deaths resulting from the activities with which these defendants have been connected and which the Prosecution has set at one million, is but an abstract number. One cannot grasp the full cumulative terror of murder one million times repeated.
It is only when this grotesque total is broken down into units capable of mental assimilation that one can understand the monstrousness of the things we are in this trial contemplating. One must visualize not one million people but only ten persons -
All mankind can share that sorrow in the painful realization that such things could happen in an age supposedly civilized and mankind may also well cherish the hope that civilization will actually redeem itself, so that, by reflection, cleansing and a real sanctification of the holiness of life, nothing even faintly resembling such a thing may happen again.
Judicial opinions are often primarily prepared for the information and guidance of the legal profession, but the Nuremberg judgments are of interest to a much larger segment of the earth's population. It would not be too much to say that the entire world itself is concerned with the adjudications being handed down in Nuremberg. Thus it is not enough in these pronouncements to cite specific laws, sections and paragraphs. The decisions must be understood in the light of the circumstances which brought them about. What is the exact nature of the facts on which the judgments are based? A Tribunal may not avert its head from the ghastly deeds whose legal import it is called upon to adjudicate. What type of reasoning or lack of reasoning was it that brought about the events which are to be here related? What type of morality or lack of it was it that for years bathed the world in blood and tears? Why is it that Germany, whose rulers thought to make it the wealthiest and the most powerful nation of all time, an empire which would overshadow the Rome of Caesar -- why is it that this Germany is now a shattered shell? Why is it that Europe, the cradle of modern civilization, is devastated and the whole world out of joint?
These Nuremberg trials answer the question, and the Einsatzgruppen trial in particular makes no little contribution to that enlightenment.
Musmanno, Michael A., U.S.N.R, Military Tribunal II, Case 9: Opinion and Judgment of the Tribunal. Nuremberg: Palace of Justice. 8 April 1948. pp. 1 - 4 (original mimeographed copy)