American Justice of U.S. Supreme Court and United States Attorney General
Robert H. Jackson, fully Robert Houghwout Jackson
American Justice of U.S. Supreme Court and United States Attorney General
Twice we have held back in the early stages of European conflict in the belief that it might be confined to a purely European affair. In the United States, we have tried to build an economy without armament, a system of government without militarism, and a society where men are not regimented for war. This purpose, we know now, can never be realized if the world periodically is to be embroiled in war. The United States cannot, generation after generation, throw its youth or its resources on to the battlefields of Europe to redress the lack of balance between Germany's strength and that of her enemies, and to keep the battles from our shores.
Under the clutch of the most intricate web of espionage and intrigue that any modern state has endured, and persecution and torture of a kind that has not been visited upon the world in many centuries, the elements of the German population which were both decent and courageous were annihilated. Those which were decent but weak were intimidated. Open resistance, which had never been more than feeble and irresolute, disappeared. But resistance, I am happy to say, always remained, although it was manifest in only some events as the abortive effort to assassinate Hitler on July 20, 1944. With resistance driven underground, the Nazi had the German State in his own hands.
Under these circumstances, except for any personal humiliation involved in admitting that I do not always understand the opinions of this Court, I see no reason why I should be consciously wrong today because I was unconsciously wrong yesterday.
War of Aggression: I will not prolong this address by detailing the steps leading to the war of aggression which began with the invasion of Poland on September 1, 1939. The further story will be unfolded to you from documents including those of the German High Command itself. The plans had been laid long in advance. As early as 1935 Hitler appointed the Defendant Schacht to the position of General Deputy for the War Economy (2261-PS). We have the diary of General Jodl (1780-PS); the "Plan Otto," Hitler's own order for attack on Austria in case trickery failed (C-102); the "Plan Green" which was the blueprint for attack on Czechoslovakia (388-PS); plans for the war in the West (375-PS, 376-PS); Funk's letter to Hitler dated August 25, 1939 detailing the long course of economic preparation (699-PS); Keitel's top-secret mobilization order for 1939-40 prescribing secret steps to be taken during a "period of tension" during which no " 'state of war' will be publicly declared even if open war measures against the foreign enemy will be taken." This letter order (1639A-PS) is in our possession despite a secret order issued on May 16, 1945, when Allied troops were advancing into the heart of Germany, to burn these plans. We have also Hitler's directive, dated December 18, 1940, for the "Barbarossa Contingency" outlining the strategy of the attack upon Russia (446-PS). That plan in the original bears the initials of the Defendants Keitel and Jodl. They were planning the attack and planning it long in advance of the declaration of war. We have detailed information concerning "Case White," the plan for attack on Poland (C-120). That attack began the war. The plan was issued by Keitel on April 3rd, 1939.
We are not final because we are infallible, but we are infallible only because we are final.
We are not unaware that we are not final because we are infallible; we know that we are infallible only because we are final.
We can afford no liberties with liberty itself.
We can have intellectual individualism and the rich cultural diversities that we owe to exceptional minds only at the price of occasional eccentricity and abnormal attitudes. When they are so harmless to others or to the State as those we deal with here, the price is not too great. But freedom to differ is not limited to things that do not matter much. That would be a mere shadow of freedom. The test of its substance is the right to differ as to things that touch the heart of the existing order.
This Tribunal, while it is novel and experimental, is not the product of abstract speculations nor is it created to vindicate legalistic theories. This inquest represents the practical effort of four of the most mighty of nations, with the support of 17 more, to utilize international law to meet the greatest menace of our times-aggressive war. The common sense of mankind demands that law shall not stop with the punishment of petty crimes by little people. It must also reach men who possess themselves of great power and make deliberate and concerted use of it to set in motion evils which. leave no home in the world untouched. It is a cause of that magnitude that the United Nations will lay before Your Honors.
We charge that all atrocities against Jews were the manifestation and culmination of the Nazi plan to which every defendant here was a party. I know very well that some of these men did take steps to spare some particular Jew for some personal reason from the horrors that awaited the unrescued Jew. Some protested that particular atrocities were excessive, and discredited the general policy. While a few defendants may show efforts to make specific exceptions to the policy of Jewish extermination, I have found no instance in which any defendant opposed the policy itself or sought to revoke or even modify it. Determination to destroy the Jews was a binding force which at all times cemented the elements of this conspiracy. On many internal policies there were differences among the defendants. But there is not one of them who has not echoed the rallying cry of nazism: "Deutschland erwache, Juda verrecke!" (Germany awake, Jewry perish!).
This war did not just happen-it was planned and prepared for over a long period of time and with no small skill and cunning. The world has perhaps never seen such a concentration and stimulation of the energies of any people as that which enabled Germany 20 years after it was defeated, disarmed, and dismembered to come so near carrying out its plan to dominate Europe. Whatever else we may say of those who were the authors of this war, they did achieve a stupendous work in organization, and our first task is to examine the means by which these defendants and their fellow conspirators prepared and incited Germany to go to war.
This was intolerable for an age that called itself civilized. Plain people with their earthy common sense, revolted at such fictions and legalisms so contrary to ethical principles and demanded checks on war immunities. Statesmen and international lawyers at first cautiously responded by adopting rules of warfare designed to make the conduct of war more civilized. The effort was to set legal limits to the violence that could be done to civilian populations and to combatants as well. The common sense of men after the first World War demanded, however, that the law's condemnation of war reach deeper, and that the law condemn not merely uncivilized ways of waging war, but also the waging in any way of uncivilized wars-wars of aggression. The world's statesmen again went only as far as they were forced to go. Their efforts were timid and cautious and often less explicit than we might have hoped. But the 1920's did outlaw aggressive war.
Those who begin coercive elimination of dissent soon find themselves exterminating dissenters. Compulsory unification of opinion achieves only the unanimity of the graveyard.
Through the police formations that are before you accused as criminal organizations, the Nazi Party leaders, aided at some point in their basic and notorious purpose by each of the individual defendants, instituted a reign of terror. These espionage and police organizations were utilized to hunt down every form of opposition and to penalize every nonconformity. These organizations early founded and administered concentration camps-Buchenwald in 1933, Dachau in 1934. But these notorious names were not alone. Concentration camps came to dot the German map and to number scores. At first they met with resistance from some Germans. We have a captured letter from Minister of Justice Grtner to Hitler which is revealing. A Gestapo official had been prosecuted for crimes committed in the camp at Hohnstein, and the Nazi Governor of Saxony had promptly asked that the proceeding be quashed.
To believe that patriotism will not flourish if patriotic ceremonies are voluntary... is to make an unflattering estimate of the appeal of our institutions to free minds.
To clumsy cruelty, scientific skill was added. "undesirables" were exterminated by infection of drugs into the bloodstream, by asphyxiation in gas chambers. They were shot with poison bullets, to study the effects. (L-103)
The validity of a doctrine does not depend on whose ox it gores.
The very purpose of a Bill of Rights was to withdraw certain subjects from the vicissitudes of political controversy to place them beyond the reach of majorities and officials and to establish them as legal principles to be applied by the courts. One?s right to life liberty and property to free speech a free press freedom of worship and assembly and other fundamental rights may not be submitted to vote they depend on the outcome of no elections.
The warfare against these elements was continuous. The battle in Germany was but a practice skirmish for the worldwide drive against them. We have in point of geography and of time two groups of Crimes against Humanity - one within Germany before and during the war, the other in occupied territory during the war. But the two are not separated in Nazi planning. They are a continuous unfolding of the Nazi plan to exterminate peoples and institutions which might serve as a focus or instrument for overturning their "new world order" at any time. We consider these crimes against humanity in this address as manifestations of the one Nazi plan and discuss them according to General Von Fritsch's classification.
Then, to cruel experiments the Nazi added obscene ones. These were not the work of underling-degenerates but of master-minds high in the Nazi conspiracy. On May 20, 1942 General Field Marshal Milch authorized SS General Wolff to go ahead at Dachau Camp with so-called "cold experiments"; and four female gypsies were supplied for the purpose. Himmler gave permission to carry or these "experiments" also in other camps. (1617-PS) At Dachau, the reports of the "doctor" in charge show that victims were immersed in cold water until their body temperature was reduced to 28 degrees centigrade (82.4 degrees Farenheit), when they all died immediately (1618-PS). This was in August 1942. But the "doctor's" technique improved. By February 1943 he was able to report that 30 persons were chilled to 21 to 29 degrees, their hands and feet frozen white, and their bodies "rewarmed" by a hot bath. But the Nazi scientific triumph was "rewarming with animal heat." The victim, all but frozen to death, was surrounded with bodies of living women until he revived and responded to his environment by having sexual intercourse. (1616-PS) Here Nazi degeneracy reached its nadir.
There are reports which merely tabulate the numbers slaughtered. An example is an account of the work of Einsatzgruppen of SIPO and SD in the East, which relates that: In Estonia, all Jews were arrested immediately upon the arrival of the Wehrmacht. Jewish men and women above the age of 16 and capable of work were drafted for forced labor. Jews were subjected to all sorts of restrictions and all Jewish property was confiscated. All Jewish males above the age of 16 were executed, with the exception of doctors and elders. Only 500 of an original 4,500 Jews remained. Thirty-seven thousand, one hundred eighty persons have been liquidated by the SIPO and SD in White Ruthenia during October. In one town, 337 Jewish women were executed for demonstrating a 'provocative attitude.' In another, 380 Jews were shot for spreading vicious propaganda.
There is no such thing as an achieved liberty: like electricity, there can be no substantial storage and it must be generated as it is enjoyed, or the lights go out.
There was a time, in fact, I think the time of the First World War, when it could not have been said that war-inciting or war making was a crime in law, however reprehensible in morals. Of course, it was, under the law of all civilized peoples, a crime for one man with his bare knuckles to assault another. How did it come that multiplying this crime by a million, and adding fire arms to bare knuckles, made it a legally innocent act?
This Court is forever adding new stories to the temples of constitutional law, and the temples have a way of collapsing when one story too many is added.
This Nazi campaign of ruthless treatment of enemy forces assumed its greatest proportions in the fight against Russia. Eventually all prisoners of war were taken out of control of the Army and put in the hands of Himmler and the SS (058-PS). In the East, the German fury spent itself. Russian prisoners were ordered to be branded. They were starved.