Auschwitz played an important role in the Nuremberg Trial. The objective of the trial was to provide “legal proof” of the crimes of the Germans, alleged to be “unique in world history”. Especially significant are articles 19 and 21 of the London Agreement of August 1945, which created the so-called legal basis for the trials (10). According to article 19, the court was “not bound by technical rules of evidence”; article 21 stated that “the court need not require proof of facts of common knowledge, but shall take judicial notice thereof”. Just what constituted “a fact of common knowledge”, was, of course, to be decided by the court itself! Since the extermination of the Jews and the other crimes of which Germany stood accused — such as the mass murder of Polish officers at Katyn, committed by the Bolshevik butchers and blamed on the Germans, hanging German soldiers for their own crime (11) — “were facts of common knowledge”, the tedious task of producing actual proof could conveniently be dispensed with.
The innumerable trials of Nazi war criminals in the Federal German Republic were held on the same model. Ever since the 1950s, the US puppet regime in Bonn has assigned the “German” justice system the task of conjuring up the Fata Morgana of a mass murder of millions of people in gas chambers, of which not the slightest evidence remains. This was achieved in the following manner:
Before the trial began, the accused was vilified in the controlled media as a “beast in human shape”. Proof was not required, since “crime” and “criminal” were, for the most part, considered to have been established from the outset. The witnesses were allowed to lie a blue streak, since nobody was allowed to subject the former “victims of persecution” to emotional torment with sceptical questioning; the only chance for a lenient sentence for the accused lay in evading any dispute over the existence of the gas chambers and the reality of the genocide, while merely disputing one’s own participation in the killings, blaming everything on persons already dead, missing, or superiors who had already been sentenced. Anyone in a war crimes trial who disputed the basic version of events at Auschwitz (i.e., the Holocaust yarn) — a version already accepted as “proven fact” — found himself in a totally hopeless position: his stubborness only got him a tougher sentence. This is how the confessions came to be given. Anyone wishing further information should consult chapter 4 of Wilhelm Staeglich’s book Der Auschwitz-Mythos, Manfred Koehler’s article on the value of Holocaust testimonies and confessions in the Gauss anthology Grundlagen zur Zeitgeschichte, and the chapter on the trials in our book “The Holocaust Swindle”.
Many people may wonder why every post-war German government from Adenauer to Kohl has allowed these show trials to be carried on in order to incriminate their own people with fake atrocities. The reason is that the Bundesrepublik is not a sovereign state. The trials are intended to pursue definite objectives in domestic as well as foreign policy.
First, every such trial allows Bonn to prove its anti-fascistic convictions to foreign powers, thus proving the Bonn regime to be a prime ally of the USA. In addition, the trials help “re-educate” the German people. In this respect, all German governments have played a decisive role as the bootlickers and thugs of Washington. By repeatedly “proving” the unexcelled brutality of the National Socialist regime, they legitimize their own “democratic” parliamentary system, which continues to suffer from the minor defect of having being introduced solely as a result of German defeat in WW II. Dragging crowds of young people through the courtrooms to witness the trials destroys the national pride and self-respect of the young, and thus creates acceptance for Bonn policies, which provide for a complete subordination to American interests. In so doing, the trials contribute greatly to strengthening the post-war New World Order, which is based upon two dogmas: sole German guilt for WWII, and the cruelty of the National Socialist regime (unique in world history, don’t forget), a cruelty most clearly expressed in the extermination of the Jews.
The source of this "wisdom" is a chapter of some screed by Jürgen Graf, a "Revisionist" liar. Let us look at what he tells his faithful flock, item by item.
In the first paragraph, Graf repeats the well-known mantra about articles 19 and 21 of the Charter of the International Military Tribunal (Graf places these provisions in the London Agreement of August 8th 1945, which established the constitution of the International Military Tribunal and to which the Charter was attached). This nonsense has already been dealt with in my article Some misconceptions related to the Nuremberg trials …, where it was shown that
a) Articles 19 and 21 of the Charter of the IMT were no sinister or particularly "Nurembergian" provisions, but actually similar to provisions that are commonly applied in Anglo-Saxon and/or Continental European legal practice, and
b) The International Military Tribunal did not consider the crimes for which the defendants were standing trial to be "facts of common knowledge", as Graf would have it, but reached its findings of fact about these crimes like any tribunal or jury at any common criminal trial, by assessment of evidence presented before the tribunal.
As a comparison between the Nuremberg Indictment and the Nuremberg Judgment clearly shows, there are a number of allegations in the former that no longer show up in the latter. This means that the tribunal did not consider these allegations to have been proven beyond a reasonable doubt by the evidence assessed. Had the tribunal merely proclaimed the allegations in the indictment to be "facts of common knowledge", there would have been no hearing of evidence lasting over eight months, as there actually was, and the contents of indictment and judgment would be identical.
One allegation in the Indictment that didn’t show up in the judgment was the allegation that the Germans had murdered thousands of Polish POWs at Katyn. In the Indictment it was claimed under Count Three – War Crimes that
In September 1941, 11,000 Polish officers who were prisoners of war were killed in the Katyn Forest near Smolensk.
In the section of the Judgment dedicated to War Crimes and Crimes Against Humanity, however, there is not a word about Katyn. Feel free to check.
Why is that so?
Because, as mentioned in this article by Jürgen Langoswki, which is based on the writings of Nuremberg prosecutor Telford Taylor, the tribunal heard three Soviet prosecution and three German defense witnesses about these killings, and the hearing of evidence was inconclusive, meaning that it could not be established who had been responsible for this crime (an investigation conducted by the US Congress in 1951/52, also mentioned by Langowski, eventually confirmed that the Soviets had been the killers) and therefore no findings of fact regarding Katyn could be included in the judgment.
Yet Jürgen Graf would obviously have his readers believe that the Nuremberg defendants were also sentenced for the Katyn killings. This alone is enough to conclude that Jürgen Graf's ramblings are not worth further looking at. But let’s continue, not only for the fun of it but also and mainly because Graf’s nonsense is a good opportunity to provide some basic information about the handling of Nazi-era crimes by the German Federal Republic’s judicial system.
Graf claims that «Ever since the 1950s, the US puppet regime in Bonn has assigned the "German" justice system the task of conjuring up the Fata Morgana of a mass murder of millions of people in gas chambers, of which not the slightest evidence remains.». Not the slightest evidence, Jürgen? Take your head out of the sand. As to the justice system of the German Federal Republic, which is as German as you will never be:
First of all, instructions by the German government – i.e. the executive – to the German justice system are somewhat difficult because the legislative, executive and judicative powers are separate and independent of each other in the German state. Judges, according to Article 97 of the Grundgesetz, are independent (i.e. not subject to any instructions from any executive organ) and subject to law alone. And the activity of public prosecutors is also not governed by instructions received from the government, but by the principle of legality established in the section 160 of the German code of criminal procedure, the Strafprozessordnung, a law that was first issued in 1877. According to this provision, the public prosecutor's office (Staatsanwaltschaft) must, as soon as it has in some way gained knowledge of the suspicion that a crime has been committed, investigate the case in order to determine whether an indictment is to brought in.
Second, although the German justice system was thus obliged as from the date of its constitution to investigate the mass murders committed by German nationals during the Nazi era, which according to the criminal code, the Strafgesetzbuch (see English translation here), are subject to German criminal law, it took a long time to get going, as becomes apparent from the overview of the handling of NS crimes by Federal German criminal justice provided by the University of Amsterdam on its Justiz und NS-Verbrechen website. Emphases in the following quote are mine:
During the first seven years of the postwar era, approximately 740 defendants appeared before courts in 343 NS-trials. Thus, close to 40% of all those tried for Nazi homicidal crimes after the war in West Germany were tried during this early phase. During this time, the prosecuting authorities mainly focussed their attention on the category of the so-called 'tatnahen Täter', meaning those criminals at the very end of the command-line who had actually - physically - perpetrated the crimes. By contrast, the representatives of the policy making level, the so-called 'Schreibtischtäter' - i.e. the higher and top-ranking representatives of the ministerial bureaucracy, the industry, the Wehrmacht, the judiciary, the police and the NSDAP, who had generally escaped trial by the Allies - were almost totally absent in the West German prosecution statistics of these early years. In fact, only five trials were held during this time against twelve such 'desk perpetrators' (2).
Much the same applied with regard to the 18 so-called 'Euthanasia' trials held during this period. Their main target formed the perpetrators of the executionary level - doctors, nurses and (lower) administrative staff - and - rarely - representatives of the mid-level administrative apparatus. No one from the Berlin 'Euthanasia' head-office appeared in any of the Westgerman docks. Similarly, not one of the former employees of the Reichssicherheitshauptamt - the very operational heart of the mass murderous policies of the Nazi state - was indicted and tried during these years.
The majority of the trials (over 51%) conducted in these first seven years dealt with homicidal crimes committed by Germans on Germans during the final months and weeks of the war ('Endphaseverbrechen', or 'final phase crimes'). Even though, by far the most serious of the crimes of the Nazi State (both in quality and in quantity) had been committed outside Germany, only a mere 12% of the trials addressed such crimes. Trials involving the killing of against Jews numbered 19% of all court cases in this first seven-year period. Compared to later years, a relatively high number of trials (46) involved crimes of the Wehrmacht. However, the bulk of these 'Wehrmacht-trials' again concerned 'Endphaseverbrechen'. The same applied to the category of so-called 'Justizverbrechen'-trials (i.e. trials involving homicidal crimes committed by judges, public prosecutors or other judicial functionaries in the administration of justice).
This one-sided focus on the prosecution of crimes against German victims committed on German soil is generally explained by reference to the limited jurisdiction of German courts imposed upon them by Allied rules immediately after the war. For years to come, this limited jurisdiction did not allow German courts to try crimes committed against victims who had been citizens of the Allied states. Other arguments in this respect include the unfamiliarity of the German judiciary with Nazi crimes committed abroad, as well as the extraordinary difficulties associated with serious criminal investigations in foreign countries at the time. These prohibitive circumstances were indeed of importance during this first seven-year phase. However, as the available documentation clearly shows, they only form a partial explanation for the one-sidedness of the prosecution record. For, despite jurisdictional limitations, a considerable number of trials involving Allied victims did take place before German courts (3). And trying crimes committed abroad was obviously also not totally impossible for the German judiciary. Thus, trials were held during this time which dealt with homicidal crimes committed in such countries as France, Greece, Italy, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Poland, Russia and the Czech republic (4). A number of these trials concerned Jewish victims and some addressed the 'liquidation' of Jewish ghettos ('Ghettoräumungen'), such as those in Minsk, Riga, Rudki and Lemberg (5). And finally, the massacres at Treblinka (6) and Sobibor (7) formed the subject of another three trials during these years. What had happened in the East, therefore, had evidently not entirely escaped the attention of the German judiciary in the late nineteen-forties.
During the next seven years the first postwar prosecution wave petered out. Many of the trials conducted during this time were 'chance hits', or 'leftovers' from the preceding period. In contrast to the first seven years, the number of trials diminished by one-half and the number of defendants plummeted by two-thirds. Trials against 'Schreibtischtäter'[= 'desktop perpetrators' - RM] were completely absent, while the number of cases involving crimes committed abroad or against Jewish victims increased by 10%. Due, probably, to the effect of the 1954 Amnesty Law (9), the number of cases involving 'Endphaseverbrechen' now only covered 26% of all Nazi trial proceedings. The number of defendants who were acquitted or whose case was stayed rose by 10% to 58%.
So what we have here is:
- reluctant prosecution of NS crimes in the years 1945 – 1952, mainly focusing on crimes committed against German nationals during the final phase of the NS regime, and
- almost no prosecution at all in the years 1953 to 1959, and where trials were held they ended with the defendants’ acquittal in most cases.
The German justice system’s interest in prosecuting Nazi crimes and punishing the perpetrators doesn’t seem to have been very big, does it? In the years 1953 to 1959 it actually was almost non-existing.
Then things started changing a bit – not because of any instructions from "the US puppet regime in Bonn", which cared as little about these things as the US themselves (US authorities had by the mid-1950s released most of the Nazi war criminals convicted by US military tribunals, including Einsatzgruppen killers who had been sentenced to death – a fact that Graf conveniently forgot to tell his readers about), but because certain occurrences after the mid-1950s had made the German justice system and the German public aware of what enormous crimes had not been prosecuted so far. This is the explanation provided by the late German public prosecutor Adalbert Rückerl, in his 1971 book NS – Prozesse. Nach 25 Jahren Strafverfolgung: Möglichkeiten – Grenzen – Ergebnisse. The following passages are my translation from pages 20 and following of this book; emphases are mine.
In wide circles of the population there was the opinion that NS criminals who had survived the war and not managed to hide abroad had meanwhile been found and brought to justice by courts of the victorious powers or German judicial organs and de-nazification authorities. The conclusion of the de-nazification measures, the pardoning of numerous persons sentenced by the occupation tribunals, the reinstatement of many public servants, formerly suspended due to their "NS past", according to the so-called "131-Law", and probably also the efforts for a German rearmament were interpreted as indications that the chapter of prosecution of NS crimes, considered tiresome by many, was approaching its end. Many persons burdened with heavy crimes, who had not yet been found, already began to breathe relief.
But then things started changing in the mid-1950s. A chain of coincidences, favored by the careless manner of a former high SS-official, had in 1956 led to extensive investigations. These eventually led to the meanwhile well-known «Ulm Einsatzgruppen Trial». Ten defendants, among them several SS commanders, were sentenced in the summer of 1958 to long prison terms by the Ulm juror court for participation in the murder of several thousand Jews in the German-Lithuanian border region. All of a sudden the public was shown what heavy crimes had not been prosecuted so far.
Justice now reacted immediately. Recognizing that competence regulations binding for the local public prosecutor offices and courts hindered a comprehensive and systematic investigation of these crimes, the conference of ministers and senators of justice of the German federal states in the autumn of 1958 decided upon the constitution of the «Central Office of the Federal Judicial Administrations for the Investigation of National Socialist Crimes» (Zentrale Stelle der Landesjustizverwaltung zur Aufklärung nationalsozialistischer Verbrechen).
The investigations leading to the Ulm Einsatzgruppen Trial, according to this page, started because a former SS-Oberführer, who in 1941 had been director of police in the Memel region and after the war had under false name conducted a refugee camp near Ulm until being dismissed when his identity became known, had brought in an action claiming his reinstatement into public service. When the press reported about this lawsuit, one reader recognized him and remembered that this man had played a major part in shootings of Jews at the beginning of the attack on the Soviet Union. One wonders if the Federal German justice system would ever have got moving had it not been for this coincidence.
Anyway, the Central Office of the Federal Judicial Administrations for the Investigation of National Socialist Crimes did good work in the 1960s and 1970s and managed to bring a number of former members of Einsatzgruppen killing squads and extermination camps staff to trial. The work of German criminal justice authorities was expressly praised by the late German historian Martin Broszat in a foreword to the article Organisierter Massenmord in Nationalsozialistischen Vernichtungslagern by his colleagues Ino Arndt and Wolfgang Scheffler, published in Vierteljahreshefte für Zeitgeschichte 24 (1976), pages 105 ff. and in Peter Maerthesheimer / Ivo Frenzel, Im Kreuzfeuer: Der Fernsehfilm Holocaust. Eine Nation ist betroffen, Frankfurt am Main 1979, pages 167 ff. On pages 174 of the latter publication, there is the following statement of Broszat’s (my translation):
Often reprimanded for its careful judgments, pleading for the accused or for facts not being provable in case of doubt, the judiciary of the German Federal Republic, with its voluminous investigation apparatus working over many years, has especially in the area of the extermination camps often contributed more to the clarification of this National Socialist crime complex than would have been possible to historians.
Yet even at the height of its prosecution of NS crimes, the German justice system was faced with difficulties hampering more extensive prosecution, one of which came from the German legislative. The Justiz und NS-Verbrechen site refers to this as follows (emphases are mine):
As of the early nineteen-sixties, the prosecution of Nazi crimes became mainly limited to the crimes of murder ('Mord') and complicity in murder ('Beihilfe zum Mord'). The prosecution of all other homicidal crimes had by then become barred due to the German statute of limitations. With regard to the crime of murder this limitation was first extended - in 1965 and 1969 - and then finally lifted in 1979. Still, the prosecution of a great many cases of complicity in murder failed due to an alteration of the law in October 1968. (14) Many Schreibtischtäter profited from this legal revision. This is because all cases in which prosecution procedures had only started in the nineteen-sixties - such as, e.g., with regard to members of the Reichssicherheitshauptamt (15)- had to be suspended, as the indicted complicity in murder had by now come to fall under the limitation statue.(16)
In footnote 14, the legal revision that saved many desktop organizers of mass murder from prosecution is explained in more detail. Emphasis is mine:
14) Einführungsgesetz zum Ordnungswidrigkeitengesetz vom 24.Mai 1968 (BGBl. I S.503) zur Änderung des (damaligen) §50 StGB. According to this law the penalty of an accomplice who could not be shown to have acted out of base motives (niedrigen Beweggründen), such as racial hatred, himself, was to be mitigated 'in accordance with the regulations concerning the penalty for attempt'. Thus, the maximum penalty for complicity in murder in these cases is now still only 15 years, instead of a life sentence as before. This meant that the statute of limitations for crimes with a maximum penalty of a life sentence (in 1968 still 20 years) was no longer applicable to such cases of complicity in murder, but that, instead, a limitation period of still only 15 years applied.
To sum it up: the German justice system took ten years after the constitution of the German Federal Republic to get up and start systematically investigating Nazi crimes and prosecuting Nazi criminals, and might never have done so had not a former SS killer brought in an action for reinstatement into public service. And after less than ten years of systematic investigation and prosecution of Nazi crimes, a great many criminals, especially the higher-ranking "desktop perpetrators", were placed under the statute of limitations by a neat legal trick.
Does this look like a German state hell-bent on prosecuting and condemning NS-criminals, which Graf would have his readers believe in? Certainly not. It looks like Graf doesn’t know what he’s talking about at best.
On to the third paragraph of Graf’s above-quoted rambling, which Graf starts by claiming that before every one of the "innumerable" trials of Nazi war criminals in the Federal German Republic (actually, according to the Justiz und NS-Verbrechen site, there were a total of 912 trials since 1945 involving 1875 defendants accused of homicidal crimes committed during World War II in the service of National Socialism, which resulted in 14 death sentences, 150 life sentences and 842 timely sentences) was preceded by a media campaign in which the accused was vilified as a "beast in human shape".
While there may have been such reports in one or the other boulevard paper, I doubt they were a general phenomenon even during the trial that received most media coverage, the Frankfurt Auschwitz Trial between 1963 and 1965. In his book Der Auschwitz – Prozess, Hermann Langbein praised major German newspapers, especially the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung and the Frankfurter Neue Presse, for having had the strength to report about every one of the 183 days of that trial. Whoever knows the conservative German paper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, which is everything other than sensationalist, may be wondering as much as I do what Graf might be talking about.
It is also not as if all NS crimes trials before Federal German courts had received the media attention that was granted to the Ulm Einsatzgruppen Trial and the Frankfurt Auschwitz Trial. In fact these trials seem to have been exceptions to the rule, and the public interest in the prosecution of NS crimes in West Germany, awakened by the Ulm Einsatzgruppen Trial, doesn’t seem to have lasted long. In the sequence of the controversy raised by the "Holocaust" television series in West Germany in 1979, German TV stations organized a number of discussion sessions where historians were confronted with questions raised by TV spectators who had seen the series. Some of the questions raised and answers given were printed in the above-mentioned publication my Märthesheimer and Frenzel. One of the questions, "War es wirklich so schlimm?" ("Was it really that bad?") was answered by historian Wolfgang Scheffler as follows (my translation, emphasis is mine):
For more than 20 years the details in all their cruelty have been thoroughly analyzed at many places in the Federal Republic, revealing a dimension and a degree of awfulness that is generally almost beyond imagination. Unfortunately it is a fact, and this also explains a great deficiency in knowledge, that many of these trials are not taken notice of. You can almost say that the participants in these trials, including the accused, have been left in the lurch by the public. It is a part of our history that is being dealt with there, the perpetrators are also a part of our people, so we cannot say that it is none of our business. Was is really that bad? Shall we provide accounts of details that were revealed in the court rooms? Shall we tell you, for instance, how the police battalions raged? Shall we describe how, during ghetto evacuations, the sick an the old were shot in the hospitals etc. because it would have been too cumbersome to take them along? Or shall we give you details of children massacres, how they were grabbed by their feet and shot through the head? The court trials have very often shown that many things were much worse than can generally be imagined. Whoever has doubts in this respect should consult the final verdicts of independent German courts.
The above-quoted observation by a German historian suggests that many if not most NS-crimes trials before West German courts received little or no attention from the media and the German public.
Graf’s next claim is that at West German NS crimes trials proof was not required, «since "crime" and "criminal" were, for the most part, considered to have been established from the outset».
So the crimes and their perpetrators were considered facts of common knowledge like you claimed was the case at the Nuremberg trials, right, Jürgen? Nonsense. If, for instance, the mass killings at Treblinka were considered facts already established that required no further proof, then why, as shown in my article More Fun With Ugly Voice Productions (Part 1), did the court interrogate several dozen witnesses and hear expert opinions from historians, rendered under oath, in order to reach its findings of fact about the Nazi policy of exterminating the Jews and the execution of that policy at Treblinka extermination camp? Same at the Frankfurt Auschwitz Trial, from the judgment of which I translated the following passages:
2. Sources and Assessment of Proof regarding the General Findings about the Handling of the so-called RSHA - transports
The general findings about the arrival and handling of RSHA transports at the old ramp and later at the new ramp of Birkenau camp, the tasks and activities of the various SS-members in charge of ramp service, the deceit of the people destined to die about their imminent fate, the details about their killing at the various gas chambers and crematoria, the build and inner outfitting of the gas chambers and crematoria, the removal of the corpses, the tasks and activities of the SS - special detachment at the four crematoria and finally the work of the Jewish special detachment, are based on the depositions of the defendants Boger, St., Dylewski, Broad, Hofmann, Kaduk, Baretzki, Dr. L., Dr. Frank, Dr. Sc., Dr. Capesius and Klehr, insofar as they could be taken at face value, and the credible testimonies of the witnesses O., Wal., Wil., N., Schl., Hu., Dr. M., To., Lei., H., Dr. Kremer, Ch. (who had all been former SS - members at Auschwitz concentration camp) as well as the credible testimonies of the witnesses Ka., Cou., Ja., van V., Vr., K. Erich, Pa., Sw., Bac., Buk., Boe., furthermore on the handwritten notes of the first camp commandant Hoess about the "final solution of the Jewish question" and the so-called Broad report.
The defendants do not dispute that countless Jewish people were brought in RSHA - transports to Auschwitz in the years 1941-1944 for extermination, that there they were subject to the described selection procedure at the ramp and, insofar as they were not selected as able to work and taken into the camp, killed in the gas chambers in the manner described. They also do not dispute that SS - members of various units participated in this. The defendants who are charged with having participated in the extermination of these RSHA - transports only dispute - as will be described in the assessment of their deeds - that they had anything to do with the killing of these Jewish people (like for instance the defendant Mulka) or took part especially in the selection of those able to work at the ramp.[...]
So, what were the sources of the Frankfurt court's general findings related to the mass extermination of the Jews arriving at Auschwitz on RSHA transports (as opposed to their specific findings regarding the individual actions and guilt of every individual defendant taking part in the extermination activities)?
The sources were:
a) The depositions of the defendants Boger(1), St.(2), Dylewski(3), Broad(4), Hofmann(5), Kaduk(6), Baretzki(7), Dr. L.(8), Dr. Frank(9), Dr. Sc.(10), Dr. Capesius(11) and Klehr(12);
b) The testimonies of the witnesses O.(13), Wal.(14), Wil.(15), N.(16), Schl.(17), Hu.(18), Dr. M.(19), To.(20), Lei.(21), H.(22), Dr. Kremer(23), Ch.(24) (who had all been former SS - members at Auschwitz concentration camp);
c) The testimonies of witnesses Ka.(25), Cou.(26), Ja.(27), van V.(28), Vr.(29), K. Erich (30), Pa.(31), Sw.(32), Bac.(33), Buk.(34), Boe.(35);
d) Furthermore on the handwritten notes of the first camp commandant Hoess about the "final solution of the Jewish question" (36) and the so-called Broad report (37).
37 elements of evidence, thereof 35 defendants or witnesses who made depositions directly before the court.
You never really read any of these judgments, did you, Jürgen?
I hope so for you. For if you didn’t, that just makes you an ignorant, incompetent man voicing his preconceived notions. If you did, you are lying.
Next claim: «The witnesses were allowed to lie a blue streak, since nobody was allowed to subject the former “victims of persecution” to emotional torment with sceptical questioning».
Again, Graf either didn’t even look at a single judgment or trial report, or then he is lying. Let’s have a look at what the Frankfurt District Court at the 1963 – 1965 Auschwitz trial wrote in the judgment about its approach to the evidence that it based its findings of fact on. Translation and emphases are mine:
IV. Assessment of Evidence
1. General Preliminary Remark about the Assessment of Evidence
When establishing the defendants' individual participation in the murders committed at Auschwitz concentration camp, be it mass murders of individual killings, the sworn court saw itself placed before extraordinarily difficult tasks. The defendants themselves only contributed very little to clarification. Insofar as they admitted to participation, they played down the same, represented it in a distorted manner or had a number of excuses at hand.
The few available documents essentially served only for clarifying general issues, but could hardly provide information about the defendants' individual guilt.
For clarifying the crimes committed by the defendants, the court therefore depended almost exclusively on witness depositions. If already according to general experience a witness is not always a safe element of proof, this applied all the more at the present trial, because the witnesses had to testify about events lying 20 years in the past. In addition there were hardly any witnesses who had experienced the events at Auschwitz concentration camps as neutral observers. The witnesses who had been former members of the Waffen-SS at Auschwitz concentration camp were almost without exception involved in the events of the time. This led them to show a noticeable reservation in their depositions, feign memory gaps and be shy to incriminate the accused, obviously in the assumption that after incriminating statements they could themselves be incriminated by the accused. But for a few exceptions, the depositions of these witnesses therefore mostly yielded little results.
With a number of these witnesses it was even obvious that they were telling untruths.
For finding out the truth the court was thus essentially dependent on the depositions of the former inmates. Although a great number of these witnesses made a serious effort to search their memory and tell the pure truth, the court had to take into consideration that many possible sources of error could put in question the value and the truthfulness of these witness testimonies. Almost all witnesses made their observations in a state of unspeakable suffering, tormented by hunger and in constant fear for their own life. The names of the SS-members were often not known to them. In the camp at that time there was much talk about the general occurrences and about the SS-members involved in individual events. Rumors spread fast among the inmates. They often roughened and falsified certain occurrences. The names of participating SS-men were confounded.
For the witnesses it was thus extraordinarily difficult to distinguish between what they had personally experienced themselves and what had been told to them by others, be it in the camp or only later after liberation. There is no question that there was the risk of witnesses in good faith representing events as their own experience which had actually been described to them by others, or which they had read of in the numerous books and magazines about the events at Auschwitz that are available to the public. Furthermore it had to be taken into consideration that after 20 years there might appear memory gaps which the witnesses unconsciously filled in. Especially there was the risk that the witnesses in good faith projected events which they themselves had experienced at Auschwitz concentration camp onto other persons, especially the SS-members accused at this trial. The sworn court never lost sight of this risk, and in regard to all witness depositions containing concrete incriminations of a given defendant carefully examined whether there was not the possibility of a mistaken identification.
Another difficulty lay in that the witnesses - understandably so - could only rarely make exact statements about the place and time of certain events. Although it often seemed an impertinence [Zumutung] and an overburdening of the witnesses to ask them about concrete details of their experiences, about the looks of the SS-men taking part in certain occurrences and about the place and time or events, and to ask them to provide an exact description of the sites, the sworn court, in order to clarify the severe accusations leveled against the accused, nevertheless considered such procedures necessary to exclude the risk of mistaken identifications and counterfactual claims. For the court was lacking almost all the means of recognition available in a normal murder trial to make itself a true picture of the factual occurrences at the time of murder. The corpses of the victims were missing, as were autopsy protocols, expert reports about the cause and hour of death, the traces of the perpetrators, murder weapons etc. Only in rare cases was it possible to check the witnesses' depositions.
The credibility of the witnesses therefore had to be examined with especial care. Where there were the slightest doubts or the possibility of a mistaken identification could not be excluded with certainty the court did not use such witness depositions.
The defendants' attorneys again and again pointed out that the witnesses had conspired against certain defendants and agreed to unjustly incriminate them. They further claimed that the witnesses had in a non-permissible manner been influenced to make incriminating depositions against certain defendants. This the sworn court also had to keep in mind. There were no indications, however, that such conspiracies and influences had occurred. Insofar as individual witnesses made the impression that due to a certain eagerness for importance or another character feature they tended to tell fantastic tales, or that for reasons which could not be clarified they seemed to unjustly incriminate certain defendants with concrete events, the court did not use the depositions as a whole.
Does this sound as if the court had generally taken eyewitness testimonies from former camp inmates at face value? Quite the contrary, I would say: the court recognized that many, but not all witnesses made an effort to tell just the truth, and it took care not only to refrain from using such testimonies that gave the impression of storytelling, but also to spot mistakes in testimonies it considered to have been made in good faith.
Does this sound like the court had refrained from subjecting the poor witnesses to skeptical questioning, as Graf claims? Also not: the court made very clear that and why it was necessary to bore into the witnesses, hard though this might be on them, «in order to clarify the severe accusations leveled against the accused». And if the court subjected the eyewitness testimonies to close scrutiny, the defendants’ defense attorneys did this to an even greater extent. This applied especially to the defense attorney Dr. Laternser, whose interrogation tactics often enraged the spectators and were considered by incidental action representative Ormond as "a routine overburdening of the witnesses", while a radio commentator reporting on the trial thought them to have "often enough been defaming" (Langbein, as above page 849). A reporter of the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung further pointed out the passivity of the prosecution’s representatives as their witnesses were being grilled by the defendants’ attorneys. Langbein quotes this reporter's comment on page 855 of this book. My translation:
The public prosecutor’s office, of which one would expect that it is not too passive in standing by the prosecution's witnesses, is sometime so completely silent that one could think its representatives are attending the wrong trial.
The Frankfurt Auschwitz Trial was not the only one at which eyewitnesses were subject to aggressive cross-examination by the defendants’ attorneys, as is shown for the case of the Sobibor trial at Hagen by the following passages of eyewitness Thomas Toivi Blatt’s record of his conversation with one of the convicted defendants at that trial, former SS-officer Karl Frenzel (emphases are mine):
But why did he want to talk to me? I asked him outright why he agreed to speak to me. He said he wanted to apologize to me in person. He couldn't do it in the courtroom. "I don't blame you or other witnesses," he said. "And I must honestly say I was sorry for you and all those witnesses... After all those years to have to think back on all those memories and be pressured... they were pressuring and squeezing you in the court...".
This was putting it mildly. The method of the defense was primarily to discredit the testimony of the witnesses by asking them idiotic questions. In my case for example, "How tall was the tree near the barrack?" or " Was the club with which Frenzel beat your father round or not? How many centimeters?" A stranger in the courtroom would immediately have thought I was the defendant and not the victim.
Regarding the Majdanek trial before the Düsseldorf District Court between 1975 and 1981, we have the following excerpt from Tom Bower’s book Blind Eye to Murder , reproduced on the thread Majdanek on Trial. Emphases are mine.
It was only on 26 November 1975 that the trial finally started. It was originally expected to last one year. Billed as the last of the great Nazi trials, the prosecutors believed the evidence to be incontrovertible. Over one thousand survivors had been interviewed. Of those, 260 had been selected as having actually seen one of the defendants commit murder. The German courts insist that there must be an eyewitness to the act of murder. Hearsay or supposition is insufficient. Yet at the end of the first year only sixteen of the 260 witnesses had been heard. Judge Bogen was confronted by the obstructive tactics of the government-paid defence lawyers, intent on using the trial for their own purposes. He consistently refused to limit their attempts to disprove the existence of the Final Solution.
Exploiting the procedural rules which were drafted to prevent a repetition of the shotgun trials of the Third Reich, the defence lawyers embarked on a daily ritual, submitting endless challenges against the prosecution's introduction of evidence and introducing evidence designed not to clarify the issues or bolster their client's defence but to rewrite the history of the Nazi era.
Hans Mundorf, defending Braunsteiner, seized every possible opportunity during the first eighteen months to challenge the evidence that human corpses had been burnt in the crematoria. Every witness was asked whether he knew the difference between the smell of burning human and animal flesh. Veterinary doctors were called to testify that those outside the crematoria would not know the difference.
Ludwig Bock, the thirty-eight-year-old lawyer defending Lachert, went even further and called witnesses - all of them neo-Nazi historians - to disprove that there had ever been a planned Final Solution. With a conviction that goes beyond purely professional duty to a client, he insisted that no one, including animals, was gassed at Majdanek. `Even if there were gas chambers at Majdanek,' he told the author, `it doesn't mean that they were the reason for the death of a lot of people, because it is possible that the gas chambers were used to clean clothes.' Bock, who claimed that Lachert went to Majdanek as if it was just another job, `like being a cook in a kitchen,' insisted that she had no idea that anyone was being gassed or killed in the camp. That defence did not prevent him demanding, when a former inmate explained how she had been forced by a defendant to carry Zyklon B gas to the gas chambers, that the witness be charged as an accomplice to murder.
Hermann Stolting, who defended another of the accused, Hermine Bottcher, has a Nazi record of his own to explain. As a wartime prosecutor in a special court in Bromberg, Poland, he `persuaded' the court to give a series of death sentences for trivial offences like a farmer's illegal killing of six pigs. Today he unrepentantly justifies those sentences: `If both the circumstances and the law were the same today, I would do the same again." He points to his chairmanship of the German Animal Welfare Society as proof of his humanitarianism.
When the lawyers were not rewriting history, they were cruelly denigrating the survivors and their testimony. Credibility is hard to establish at the best of times, but thirty-five years after the event it is often impossible to remember the exact details which the defence lawyers always demanded. Time, date, place, the exact words, the precise movements of every person in the drama, the position of the lorry in relation to the hut - or was it a cart? - the final curse of the girl who was hanged by Lachert. `How can you be sure that the girl did not push the stool away herself?' `Did you see Lachert throw the children into the crematoria?'
So, did anyone at these trials think of sparing the witnesses the emotional torment of skeptical questioning? No, of course not. The best that can be said about Graf is that he neither knows nor cares about the reality of these trials.
If the courts had been as uncritical of eyewitness testimonies as Graf claims, one would expect all testimonies to have been accepted as accurate and the defendants to have been convicted on all counts of the indictments against them. Yet if you look at, say, the judgment at the 1st Düsseldorf Treblinka Trial or the judgment at the Frankfurt Auschwitz Trial, you will see that a considerable part of both judgments is dedicated to allegations contained in the indictments against the individual defendants that, in the court’s opinion, were not proven beyond a reasonable doubt by the respective eyewitness testimonies. You will also find there statements by the court that an eyewitness testimony was clearly false, where the court considered this to have been the case. One example hereof is the accusation against former SS-man Arthur Breitwieser of having taken part in the first gassing that took place in Block 11 at the Auschwitz main camp. The key prosecution witness incriminating Breitwieser was a former German inmate by the name of Petzold, who claimed to have observed Breitswieser’s activities from the gable window of Block 27. However, as the court established during its examination of the former camp site, it was impossible for the witness to see what he claimed to have seen from where he said he had stood on that day. The pertinent passages of the judgment at the Frankfurt Auschwitz Trial read as follows (my translation):
The witness’s claim that he had watched the occurrences on the yard between Block 10 and Block 11 from the gable window of Block 27 cannot correspond to the truth. For from the gable window of Block 27 the yard between Blocks 10 and 11 could not be seen at all. The site inspection carried out by the mandated judge on the former area of Auschwitz concentration camp turned out that, due to the wall before the yard between Block 10 and Block 11, the yard cannot be looked into from any of the windows of Block 27. The cellar windows and the stairs leading to the middle entrance of Block 11 can also not be seen from Block 27. At most one can see the upper rim of the windows of the ground-level floor of Block 11 from the inside of Block 27. The site inspection furthermore turned out that Block 27 does not even have a gable window. The witness Sm., who was an inmate at the Stammlager himself, testified that there was never a gable window in Block 27. He furthermore stated that the wall before the yard between Block 10 and Block 11 never changed, it always remained equally high. The height of Block 21 is of no relevance. For, as the site inspection also turned up, one looks past Block 21 when looking from Block 27 in the direction of Block 11. Nevertheless it is not possible to look over the wall before the yard between Blocks 10 and 11. The witness Petz must therefore have invented the description of the alleged events on the yard between Blocks 10 and 11. No findings of fact could therefore be based on his deposition.
Breitwieser was acquitted, as were two other defendants.
The result of the court’s site investigation could also confirm the credibility of eyewitness testimonies, however. This was the case in the instance referred to in the following passage I also translated from the same judgment:
The defense of the accused Dr. Frank put in question that the witness could recognize the person of the accused at all from a distance of 60 meters. The court does not share these doubts. For during the site visit on the area of the former Auschwitz concentration camp by the mandated judge it was found that one can recognize a person standing on the former ramp from a distance of 60 meters. On the day of the site visit there was even dizzy weather. The court certified itself through an experiment in the yard of the Gallushaus that one can well recognize a person’s hand – and thumb movements from a distance of 60 meters.
These examples are significant in that they show the care taken by the court to cross-check eyewitness testimonies against other evidence, including its own observations on site, whenever this was possible. This care, in turn, emphasizes the falsity of Graf’s allegations.
Graf would have us believe that «the only chance for a lenient sentence for the accused lay in evading any dispute over the existence of the gas chambers and the reality of the genocide, while merely disputing one’s own participation in the killings, blaming everything on persons already dead, missing, or superiors who had already been sentenced», and that «Anyone in a war crimes trial who disputed the basic version of events at Auschwitz (i.e., the Holocaust yarn) — a version already accepted as "proven fact" — found himself in a totally hopeless position: his stubborness only got him a tougher sentence».
Well, well, Jürgen. So the criminal justice authorities of a constitutional democratic state like the German Federal Republic are supposed to have knowingly put the poor defendants in a situation where they had to falsely incriminate themselves (by admitting that there had been mass killings by gassing, without which, of course, there would have been no participation of theirs in the killing process to be examined), and they are supposed to have knowingly sentenced innocents to sometimes long prison terms or even lifetime imprisonment. Prosecutors and judges of a constitutional democratic state are supposed to have not only violated their legal duty to find out the truth in the most flagrant and outrageous manner, they are also supposed to have incurred in criminal acts punishable under the German criminal code (Judicial perversion of justice and Prosecution of innocent persons, sections 339 and 344 – see here). And both defendants and defense attorneys are supposed to have meekly played along, instead of making a scandal on account of such outrages and seeing to it that such criminal public prosecutors and judges, perverting justice and prosecuting innocents, were kicked out of office and put on trial themselves.
Do you expect us to believe that, Jürgen?
What is more, do you expect us to believe it without having anything to show for such monstrous and far-ranging claims? For the only sources you mention are the distortions and misrepresentations of "Revisionist" liars like yourself, the late judge Stäglich (whose nonsense in his screed "Der Auschwitz Mythos" is discussed in John Zimmerman’s Holocaust Denial) and "Manfred Köhler", who is none other than "Revisionist" guru Germar "Many Names" Rudolf.
Absence of evidence to Graf’s nonsensical allegations aside, let us shortly test them against the sentences issued at the Frankfurt Auschwitz Trial and the first Düsseldorf Treblinka trial. If we follow Graf’s logic, then the defendants' willingness to admit to the mass killings by gassing at this camp should have brought the defendants some advantages; at least it should have saved them from suffering the most severe penalty provided for in the German criminal code, which is lifetime imprisonment.
Now, as can be read in one of the above-quoted excerpts from the judgment at the Frankfurt Auschwitz Trial, none of the defendants denied that mass gassing of Jews at Auschwitz were a fact. What is more, some even provided details about how the incoming transports were processed from the selection at the ramp to the gas chambers. And yet, six of the defendants (Stefan Baretzki, Emil Bednarek, Friedrich Wilhelm Boger, Franz Josef Hofmann, Oswald Kaduk and Josef Klehr) were sentenced to lifetime imprisonment. How do you explain this, Jürgen?
Same at the first Düsseldorf Treblinka trial: as mentioned in my blog article More Fun With Ugly Voice Productions (Part 1), the defendants at this trial and at other trials related to the Aktion Reinhard(t) camps testified to the existence and the operation of the gas chambers installed there for the purpose of killing people, and gave detailed descriptions of the purpose of the camps and of the murderous procedures which had been practiced there. If they were rewarded for this with leniency on the part of the court, then why were Kurt Hubert Franz, Heinrich Arthur Matthes, Willi Mentz and August Wilhelm Miete sentenced to lifetime imprisonment? How do you explain this, Jürgen?
Of course Graf cannot explain this, for there is no explanation compatible with his articles of faith. The defendants were all sentenced on the basis of nothing other than the applicable law and the evidence against them that the court found to be sufficiently conclusive to consider their deeds proven beyond a reasonable doubt.
Now to the last paragraph of Graf’s ramblings, wherein he indulges in speculations as to why Federal German criminal justice supposedly committed the outrageous, massive and criminal falsity of sentencing hundreds of innocent men for crimes they had not committed. Graf thinks that the German state, by doggedly prosecuting Nazi criminals, wanted to ingratiate itself with its supposed US masters and "re-educate" the German people into playing along with said ingratiation and the corresponding "subordination to American interests".
Of course Graf has nothing to show in support of these fantastic accusations, which alone is enough to dismiss them as a fanatic’s irrelevant public opinion.
But let us again test Graf’s hypothesis against the facts of German criminal justice’s handling of Nazi crimes: if the Federal German state intended to ingratiate itself with its US "masters" by bringing Nazi criminals to justice, then how come that
a) German criminal justice took ten years after the constitution of the German Federal Republic to start a systematic investigation and prosecution of Nazi crimes;
b) The German legislative hampered the prosecution of high-ranking NS criminals by a legislation change that placed them under the statute of limitations;
c) There were so many acquittals in such trials as, despite the factors mentioned in the previous items, did actually take place (according to the University of Amsterdam’s Justiz und NS-Verbrechen website, 912 trials since 1945 involving 1875 defendants accused of homicidal crimes committed during World War II in the service of National Socialism, resulted in 14 death sentences, 150 life sentences and 842 timely sentences, which means that 869 defendants, or 46.35 % of the total, were acquitted);
d) German justice was criticized for its "careful judgments, pleading for the accused or for facts not being provable in case of doubt", according to German historian Martin Broszat (see above quote);
and, last but not least,
e) Sentences issued against defendants found guilty of having participated in Nazi-era mass murders were often outrageously lenient?
The last of the above aspects has not been addressed in detail yet, so this will be done now.
The following I translated from pages 257/258 of the book Furchtbare Juristen, by German legal scholar Ingo Mueller. Emphases are mine:
Against the actually convicted NS-criminals the courts often issued sentences which, according to the former Hessian General Public Prosecutor Fritz Bauer, came "rather close to mocking the victims". In the early 1960s, the German coordination council of the Christian-Jewish Society observed "since some time and with increasing concern, that the sworn courts [Schwurgerichte] of the German Federal Republic are treating mass murders and violent crimes from the National Socialist era (concentration camps, ghettoes, Einsatzgruppen etc. ... differently from other murders", that the Nazi criminals were given "minimum sentences for >complicity in murder< which, in the eyes of the general public, reduced the participation in mass murder to a crime in the order of magnitude of, say, heavy theft or professional receiving of stolen goods". One or two days imprisonment for every proven murder were not a rarity at these trials, and this was by no means only due to the astronomically high numbers of victims.
Would the German state – assuming the nonsensical notion that it could dictate the judgments of its courts of justice, and that it intended to ingratiate itself with its "masters" by showing zealous prosecution of NS crimes – have permitted such outrageously lenient sentences against criminals who had been involved in Nazi mass murder, thus bringing about harsh criticism not only from German legal scholars, but also and especially from foreign states, including but not limited to the US "masters" of what Graf calls the "puppet regime in Bonn"?
Certainly not, I would say.
At the Düsseldorf Majdanek Trial, according to the above mentioned excerpt from Tom Bower’s Blind Eye to Murder, the presiding judge foresaw the outrage that the court’s extremely careful and lenient sentences against mass murderers would unleash:
When he came to read the final verdicts, Judge Bogen's hands were visibly trembling. Perhaps he was rightly anticipating the reaction of the court-room, which was filled with camp survivors, relations of those who had perished, and young Jews. The court, Bogen announced, had decided that only Braunsteiner was guilty of murder. There was, said Bogen, `insufficiently convincing evidence' against seven of the others to convict them of being more than accomplices. A ninth defendant was acquitted. To screams of `outrage' and `scandal', Bogen sentenced Braunsteiner to the mandatory life imprisonment; Lachert, alias `Bloody Brigitta,' to twelve years; Hackmann, the camp's deputy commandant, to ten years; and Laurich, the `Angel of Death', to eight years. To the disappointed prosecution lawyers Bogen justified the court's findings by insisting that the cases would have been stronger if the trial had been held `fifteen or twenty years earlier.' They did not disagree, although they were convinced that, despite the witnesses' contradictions, the evidence against Lachert and Hackmann as murderers was overwhelming. Bitterly they confide that Bogen, prematurely aged by the strain, was convinced of their guilt as murderers but was outvoted by his four fellow judges. Not surprisingly, the outcome of the eight-million-dollar trial convinced most Germans of the futility of the prosecutions.
Did the judges of the Düsseldorf District Court fail to heed instructions from the German government about how to sentence the defendants so that the world and especially Germany’s "masters" would be satisfied?
Or could it be that there were never such instructions, that the judges, whatever criticism their leniency deserves, decided on the basis of nothing other than the law and the evidence, as judges are supposed to do, and that Jürgen Graf is as wrong as can be?
I leave it to our readers to answer these questions themselves.
Update, 03.11.2022: The article was edited to soften the language addressing Graf and to repair broken links.