Mask of the doomed [70 Years After Nuremberg]

Nuremberg Palace

Tom Dodd began what would be a very long letter to his wife on 16 July 1946.  Acknowledging that it had been several days since his last letter, Tom continues, “we have been working on the final speech of the Justice and it has been close work and tiring, too.  As far as the trial goes there is really little new–the defense final arguments go on.  Today we are through with more than ten of them and we may finish all by the end of this week.” [p. 335, 7/16/1946]  Speculating on the conclusion of the trial is premature given the variables of the situation is the conclusion to be drawn from Tom’s letter as he continues to report on his activities and the overall atmosphere of the Court. Continue reading

Plausible deniability? [70 Years After Nuremberg]

Nuremberg Palace

On the 15th of July, the defense for Funk continued his summation for the Court, having begun the previous week.  Dr. Sauter, the defense counsel, stressed the point that even as President of the Reichsbank, he would have no direct knowledge of the specific deposits, either value or content, made by any depositor–regardless of the depositor’s position or status.

“Now, Gentlemen of the Tribunal, I turn to the last chapter of my appraisal of the Defendant Funk, of his motives and actions, and will now deal with the gold deliveries by the SS to the Reichsbank, and with the relation of the Defendant Funk to the concentration camp question.”  Continue reading

The main juridical and fundamental problem [70 Years after Nuremberg]

Nuremberg Palace

“The Fourth of July in Germany passes quite unnoticed. The soldiers made it a holiday — there was a ballgame this afternoon, airplanes flew overhead this morning and tonight Judge Parker is giving a party. but the court went on as usual.” p. 334 7/4/1946

Despite the completion of the direct defense and cross examination of the defendants, arguments continued to be presented regarding “the main juridical and fundamental problem of this Trial concerns war as a function forbidden by international law; the breach of peace as treason perpetrated upon the world constitution.”  And so the morning session continued on as usual on the Fourth of July 1946.

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The end cannot be too far away [70 Years after Nuremberg]

Nuremberg Palace

In the waning days of June, Dodd’s projections for the end of the defense and cross-examinations fluctuated wildly.  “Today von Neurath finished his own direct examination the British finished their cross. The Russians will consume a few hours tomorrow (for no good reason except home consumption — they do it all the time and have very much delayed the trial).” [p. 332, 6/25/1946]  The excitement of nearing the end enabled Dodd to get through unnecessary posturing before the court, only to have progress derailed yet again. Continue reading

“Not untrue, but slightly exaggerated” [70 Years after Nuremberg]

Nuremberg Palace

By mid-June the list of defendants for which the United States was the lead prosecution was getting very short, “slowly but surely we move towards the end.” [p. 352, 6/14/1946] The defense case of Seyss-Inquart began on June 11th and Dodd led the cross examination of the defendant and four witnesses on the 14th. Feeling that “it went all right,” Dodd commented in his letter to Grace that “Sir Norman Birkett, the British alternate judge, stopped me in the corridor and was most complimentary about my cross-examinations. Anyway it made me feel good.” [p, 325, 6/14/1946] The back and forth between the prosecutor and defendant reveals some of the trial difficulties of both. The prosecution had to have access to the appropriate documentation, witnesses, testimony and information to piece together a timeline several years and multiple decisions and battles in the past. The defendant had the advantage of lack of memory, missing documentation but the disadvantage of others’ recollections and too much documentation of actions, orders and activities for comfort. Further demonstrating the style and persistence for which he was recognized, below is Dodd’s cross-examination on the morning of 12 June 1946: Continue reading

Discouraged and dispirited but with purpose [70 Years after Nuremberg]

Nuremberg Palace

“Sometimes I get so discouraged I wonder if any of this is worthwhile.  Was I a fool to take on this long and difficult task while we take on this long and difficult task while others remain at home and criticize us because we try to make the waging of war not worth the risk?  Is the world so cynical, so deeply cynical as it sometimes seems to be?  I must not let myself think so.” [p. 322, 6/9/1946]

In June 1946, The Ladies Home Journal (LHJ) published an article written by Walter Lippman, who had traveled to Nuremberg and met with members of the U.S. prosecution staff.  “The meaning of Nuremberg” presented its readers with an articulate and studied description of what Justice Robert Jackson and Thomas J. Dodd were attempting to do on the world stage.

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Did Jodl know Hitler? [70 Years after Nuremberg]

Nuremberg Palace

Alfred Jodl, Chief of the Operations Staff of the Armed Forces High Command, began his defense on June 3, 1946.   Indicted on the charges of conspiracy to commit crimes against peace; planning, initiating and waging wars of aggression; war crimes and crimes against humanity, Jodl’s defense began with testimony outlining issues that distanced him from the inner circle of the Nazi Party.

[from transcript of testimony, 3 June 1946]

DR. EXNER: During the entire period of the war you were with Hitler and therefore you must really know him best. So I should like to ask you in detail about the personality of the Fuehrer, but the Court is not very fond of repetition. Therefore tell us quite briefly what particularly influenced you in Hitler’s behavior, what impressed you particularly? What were the things you disliked?

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It’s all in the details [70 Years After Nuremberg]

Nuremberg Palace

The defendant Sauckel took the stand on 28 May 1946 and reviewed for the Court his history with the party, administration responsibilities and interactions with Himmler, Hitler and others now being tried in regard to his responsibilities in Thuringia.  Technical issues had to be addressed during Sauckel’s testimony at least once, highlighting some of the difficulties of language that the trial had presented since the beginning.

THE PRESIDENT: Defendant, I do not understand the German language, but it appears to me that if you would not make pauses between each word it would make your sentences shorter; and pause at the end of the sentence. It would be much more convenient for the interpreter. I do not know whether I am right in that. That is what it looks like. You are pausing between each word, and therefore it is difficult, I imagine, to get the sense of the sentence.

SAUCKEL: I beg your pardon, Your Lordship.

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“Out-of-school education was my responsibility” [70 Years After Nuremberg]

Nuremberg Palace

The defense of Baron von Schirach began on May 23, 1946. Baldur von Schirach was indicted on charges of Crimes against Peace, War Crimes and Crimes against Humanity for his activities associated with the policies of the Nazi  government, specifically with the Nazi Youth Movement (appointed head of the Hitler Youth in 1933) and his participation in the persecution of Jews and Christians as Governor of Vienna appointed 1940).   Schirach was responsible for sending 65,000 Viennese Jews to German concentration camps. [1]

His defense before the Tribunal would highlight his “moderate” position due to his statements on the treatment of the eastern European peoples and criticism of the living conditions of Jews in the camps.  However, his September 1942 speech clearly outlined his earlier opinion that their deportation was a “contribution to European culture.”[2] Continue reading

Danger and Importance [70 Years After Nuremberg]

Nuremberg Palace

By the middle of May, the Justices were presiding over the defense, cross-examinations and review of documents associated with the cases of Doenitz, Funk, Raeder and Schirach.  Jackson was in London and Paris and Dodd was managing the now routine tasks of keeping the trial progressing.  Intermittent violence surfaced more regularly, although Dodd does not explain the justifications that may have been circulating around the city as soldiers were killed by unknown assailants.  Continue reading