Liveblogging History: March 17, 1946: Robinson's MLB Debut In Daytona Beach

Liveblogging History: March 18, 1946: Hermann Goering

Goering Transcript:

THE PRESIDENT: Do the Chief prosecutors wish to cross examine?

MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: You are perhaps aware that you are the only living man who can expound to us the true purposes of the Nazi Party and the inner workings of its leadership?

GOERING: I am perfectly aware of that.

MR. JUSTICE JACKSON You, from the very beginning, together with those who were associated with you, intended to overthrow and later did overthrow, the Weimar Republic?

GOERING: That was, as far as I am concerned, my firm intention.

MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: And, upon coming to power, you immediately abolished parliamentary government in Germany?

GOERING: We found it to be no longer necessary. Also I should like to emphasize the fact that we were moreover the strongest parliamentary party, and had the majority. But you are correct when you say that parliamentary Procedure was done away with because the various parties were disbanded and forbidden.

MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: You established the Leadership Principle, which you have described as a system under which authority existed only at the top, and is passed downwards and is imposed on the people below; is that correct?

GOERING: In order to avoid any misunderstanding, I should like once more to explain the idea briefly, as I understand it. In German parliamentary procedure in the past responsibility rested with the highest officials, who were responsible for carrying out the anonymous wishes of the majorities, and it was they who exercised the authority. In the Leadership Principle we sought to reverse the direction, that is,.the authority existed at the top and passed downwards, while the responsibility began at the bottom and passed upwards.

MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: In other words, you did not believe in nd did not permit government, as we call it, by consent of the governed, in which the people, through their representatives, were the source of power and authority?

GOERING: That is not entirely correct. We repeatedly called on the people to express unequivocally and clearly what they thought of our system, only it was in a different way from that previously adopted and from the system in practice in other countries. We chose the way of a so-called plebiscite. We also took the point of view that even a government founded on the Leadership Principle could maintain itself only if it was based in some way on the confidence of the people. If it no longer had such confidence, then t would have to rule with bayonets, and the Fuehrer was always of the opinion that that was impossible in the long run-to rule against the will of the people.

MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: But you did not permit the election of those who should act with authority by the people, but they were designated from the top downward continuously, were they not?

GOERING: Quite right. The people were merely to acknowledge the authority of the Fuehrer, or, let us say, to declare themselves in agreement with the Fuehrer. If they gave the Fuehrer their confidence then it was their concern to exercise the other functions. Thus, not the individual persons were to be selected according to the will of the people, but solely the leadership itself.

MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: Now, was this Leadership Principle supported and adopted by you in Germany because you believed that no people are capable of self-government, or because you belieVed that some may be, not the German people; or that no matter whether some of us are capable of using our own system, it should not be allowed in Germany?

GOERING: I beg your pardon, I did not quite understand the question, but I could perhaps answer it as follows:

I consider the Leadership Principle necessary because the system which previously existed, and which we called parliamentary or democratic, had brought Germany to the verge of ruin. I might perhaps in this connection remind you that your own President Roosevelt, as far as I can recall-I do not want to quote it word for word-declared,

Certain peoples in Europe have forsaken democracy, not because they did not wish for democracy as such, but because democracy had brought forth men who were too weak to give their people work and bread, and to satisfy them. For this reason the peoples have abandoned this system and the men belonging to it.

There is much truth in that statement. This system had brought ruin by mismanagement and according to my own opinion, only an organization made up of a strong, clearly defined leadership hierarchy could restore order again. But, let it be understood, not against the will of the people, but only when the people, having in the course of time, and by means of a series of elections, grown stronger and stronger, had expressed their wish to entrust their destiny to the National Socialist leadership.

MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: The principles of the authoritarian government which you set up required, as I understand you, that there be tolerated no opposition by political parties which might defeat or obstruct the policy of the Nazi Party?

GOERING: You have understood this quite correctly. By that time we had lived long enough with opposition and we had had enough of it. Through opposition we had been completely ruined. It was now time to have done with it and to start building up.

MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: After you came to power, you regarded it necessary, in order to maintain power, to suppress all opposition parties?

GOERING: We found it necessary not to permit any more opposition, yes.

MR.JUSTICE JACKSON: And you also held it necessary that you should suppress all individual opposition lest it should develop intO a party of opposition?

GOERING: Insofar as opposition seriously hampered our work of building up, this opposition of individual persons was, of courSe not tolerated. Insofar as it was simply a matter of harmless talk it was considered to be of no consequence.

MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: Now, in order to make sure that You suppressed the parties, and individuals also, you found it necessary to have a secret political police to detect opposition?

GOERING: I have already stated that I considered that necessary just as previously the political police had existed, but on a firmer basis and larger scale.

MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: And upon coming to power you also considered it immediately necessary to establish concentration camps to take care of your incorrigible opponents?

GOERING: I have already stated that the reason for the concentration camps was not because it could be said, 'Here are a number of people who are opposed to us and they must be taken into protective custody.' Rather they were set up as a lightning measure against the functionaries of the Communist Party who were attacking us in the thousands, and who, since they were taken into protective custody, were not put in prison. But it was necessary, as I said, to erect a camp for themone, two, or three camps.

MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: But you are explaining, as the high authority of this system, to men who do not understand it very well, and I want to know what was necessary to run the kind of system that you set up in Germany. The concentration camp was one of the things you found immediately necessary upon coming into power, was it not? And you set them u as a matter of neceSsitY. as you saw it?

GOERING: That was faultily translated- it went too fast. But I believe I have understood the sense of your remarks. You asked me if I considered it necessary to establish concentration camps immediately in order to eliminate opposition. Is that correct?

MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: Your answer is 'yes,' I take it?

GOERING: Yes.

MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: Was it also necessary, in operating this system, that you must not have persons entitled to public trials in independent courts? And you immediately issued an order that your political police would not be subject to court review or to court orders, did you not?

GOERING: You must differentiate between the two categories; those who had committed some act of treason against the new state or those who might be proved to have committed such an act, were naturally turned over to the courts. The others, however, of whom one might expect such acts, but who had not yet committed them, were taken into protective custody, and these were the people who were taken to concentration camps. I am now speaking of what happened at the beginning. Later things changed a great deal. Likewise, if for political reasons-to answer your question- someone was taken into protective custody, that is, purely for reasons of state, this could not be reviewed or stopped by any court. Later, when some people were also taken into protective custody for nonpolitical reasons, people who had opposed the system in some other way, I once, as Prussian Prime Minister and Reich Minister of the Interior, I remember...

MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: Let's omit that. I have not asked for that. If you will just answer my question, we shall save a great deal of time. Your counsel will be permitted to bring out any explanations you want to make.

You did prohibit all court review and considered it necessary to prohibit court review of the causes for taking people into what you called protective custody?

GOERING: That I answered very clearly, but I should like to make an explanation in connection with my answer.

MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: Your counsel will see to that. Now, the concentration camps and the protective custody...

THE PRESIDENT: Mr. Justice Jackson, the Tribunal thinks the witness ought to be allowed to make what explanation he thinks right in answer to this question.

MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: The Tribunal thinks that you should be permitted to explain your answer now, and it will listen to your answers.

THE PRESIDENT: I did not mean that to apply generally to his answers. I meant it to apply to this particular answer.

GOERING: In connection with your question that these cases could not be reviewed by the court, I want to say that a decree was issued through me and Frick jointly to the effect that those who were turned over to concentration camps were to be informed after 24 hours of the reason for their being turned over, and that after 48 hours, or some short period of time, they should have the right to an attorney. But this by no means rescinded my order that a review wa not permitted by the courts of a politically necessary measure of protective custody. These people were simply to be given an opportunity of making a protest.

MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: Protective custody meant that you were taking people into custody who had not committed any crimes but who, you thought, might possibly commit a crime?

GOERING: Yes. People were arrested and taken into protective custody who had not yet committed any crime, but who could be expected to do so if they remained free, just as extensive protective measures are being taken in Germany today on a tremendous scale...

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