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June 14, 2011

Closing statement of Sir Hartley Shawcross at the Nuremberg IMT

Filed under: Buchenwald, Dachau, Holocaust — Tags: , — furtherglory @ 12:50 pm

In a trial, there is an opening statement given by both sides, then testimony given by both sides, followed by closing statements given by both the defense and the prosecution.  In the opening statement, the lawyers tell the jury what they are going to prove. In the closing statements, both sides sum up what they have actually proved.  The last thing the jury or judges hear is the closing statements; this is where the lawyers have their best chance to influence the decision in the case.

Sir Hartley Shawcross is famous for his powerful closing statement at the Nuremberg International Military Tribunal.  This quote is from his closing statement:

…. on the lowest computation 12 million men, women, and children, are done to death. Not in battle, not in passion, but in the cold, calculated, deliberate attempt to destroy nations and races, to disintegrate the traditions, the institutions, and the very existence of free and ancient states. Twelve million murders. Two-thirds of the Jews in Europe exterminated, more than 6 million of them on the killers’ own figures. Murder conducted like some mass production industry in the gas chambers and the ovens of Auschwitz, Dachau, Treblinka, Buchenwald, Mauthausen, Maidanek, and Oranienburg.

Oranienburg is a reference to the Sachsenhausen concentration camp which is located in the city of Oranienburg, near Berlin.  Maidanek is the German name for the camp that is now better known as Majdanek.   Dachau, Buchenwald and Mauthausen were liberated by American soldiers, while Auschwitz and Oranienburg were liberated by the Soviet Union. Treblinka had been abandoned before the Soviet soldiers found it.

Note that Shawcross implied that the 12 million people who were killed by the Germans were killed in OVENS, as well as in gas chambers.  The Treblinka camp did not have ovens.

Today, every school child in America can rattle off the names of the six “extermination” camps where humans were gassed:  Auschwitz, Majdanek, Treblinka, Sobibor, Belzec, and Chelmno.  Keep in mind that the prosecution’s closing statement, in any trial, represents what was proved during the testimony.  So how did the prosecution at the Nuremburg IMT prove that there were gas chambers at Dachau, Buchenwald, Mauthausen and Sachsenhausen?

With regard to the gas chambers (plural) at Dachau, the evidence presented at Nuremberg included proof of the use of Zyklon-B, as found by the American liberators.  The photo below shows the labels from the cans of Zyklon-B, found at Dachau, that were entered into evidence.

Labels from cans of Zyklon-B found at Dachau

These labels were obviously peeled off of cans of Zyklon-B that were empty, or had never been opened.  If the Americans had opened a full can of Zyklon-B, they would have seen that the poison gas was in the form of pellets the size of peas.  The American prosecutors at the Nuremberg IMT showed an American-made film about the Dachau gas chamber which claimed that the gas came though the shower heads.  The judges did not know that this would have been impossible because they were not told that the Zyklon-B was in pellets.

The defense at Nuremberg was at a loss as to how to prove that there were no homicidal gas chambers at Dachau because they had never heard of this accusation before the trial.  There was no such thing as “discovery” at the Nuremberg IMT. In other words, the prosecution was not required to tell the defense what they were planning to present at the trial. The defense was only permitted to see the documents that  the prosecution was planning to present at the trial.  All the German documents had been confiscated by the Allies; the defense did not have access to all the documents in existence, so they were at a disadvantage in proving their case.

But what about Buchenwald?  Did the Buchenwald concentration camp have a gas chamber?  Some people still believe that it did.  After all, this was proved at Nuremberg, according to the closing statement of Sir Hartley Shawcross.

On June 3, 2009, President Barack Obama said in a speech in Cairo, Egypt:

Tomorrow, I will visit Buchenwald, which was part of a network of camps where Jews were enslaved, tortured, shot and gassed to death by the Third Reich.

So how did the Allies prove the Buchenwald gas chamber at the Nuremberg IMT?  The French prosecutor submitted an official report which stated:

Everything had been provided for down to the smallest detail.  In 1944, at Buchenwald, they had even lengthened a railway line so that the deportees might be led directly to the gas chamber.  Certain [of the gas chambers] had a floor that tipped and immediately directed the bodies into the room with the crematory oven.

The claim that the Buchenwald gas chamber had a floor that tipped so that the bodies could be directed into the oven room is close to the truth.  The Buchenwald crematorium had a “chute” which was used to drop bodies into the basement morgue room.  However, the ovens were on the ground floor, and the bodies had to be brought up to the ovens on an elevator.

A Catholic priest claimed that he saw prisoners being gassed at Buchenwald. Jean-Paul Renard, a French priest who was an inmate at Buchenwald, wrote a book about his time in the camp, in which he stated this:

I saw thousands and thousands of persons going into the showers.  Instead of liquid, asphyxiating gases poured out over them.

Why did the Nazis allow a Catholic priest to witness the gassing of prisoners, when they must have known that priests are not allowed to lie?  Telling a lie of this magnitude would be a mortal sin for a Catholic.  What was a priest doing at Buchenwald anyway?  Dachau was the designated camp for priests.

In a book published in 1947, Georges Henocque, another French priest, wrote a detailed description of the inside of the gas chamber at Buchenwald, which he claimed that he had visited.  Supposedly, he had visited the gas chamber after the war.  So where is the gas chamber at Buchenwald now?

What about the Sachsenhausen camp at Oranienburg?  This camp was liberated by the Soviet Union, so their prosecutors would have given the evidence of a gas chamber there. The Commandant of Sachsenhausen confessed that he had built a gas chamber — on his own authority!  This contradicts one of the main facts of the Holocaust, which is that the gassing of the Jews was ordered by Adolf Hitler.

A little known fact is that Hitler actually visited the Sachsenhausen camp.  I saw a photo of him, taken at Sachsenhausen, which was on display at Majdanek; this proves that he was there.  Maybe Hitler gave an order to the Sachsenhausen Commandant on his visit, but the Commandant lied and said he did this on his own.

The Soviet prosecutors also gave evidence about Treblinka.  Their claim was that “steam chambers” were used at Treblinka, not “gas chambers.”  Where did they ever get this idea?

Auschwitz-Birkenau was liberated by the Soviet Union and “steam chambers” were found there in the Sauna building.  This building was closed to tourists until 2005 and for years, no one could see what a steam chamber looks like.  In October 2005, I had a chance to see the steam chambers at Auschwitz.  I doubt that the Germans transported steam chambers to Treblinka.

Steam chamber in Sauna at Birkenau

There were around 870,000 Jews killed at Treblinka.  How many “steam chambers” were used to kill that many people?  It would have taken years to burn the bodies in ovens at Treblinka, as Sir Hartley Shawcross implied in his closing statement.

Sometimes, in a trial in America, the jury is taken to the scene of the crime.  Remember the O.J. case, when the jury was taken to see O.J.’s home?  The judges in the Nuremberg IMT should have been allowed to see Auschwitz.   Auschwitz was in the Greater German Reich, and it is not that far from Nuremberg.  Students in the UK are routinely taken to Auschwitz for a day trip now.  The judges could have gone on a day trip to see what “steam chambers” look like.

The judges could have enjoyed a nice outing at Mauthausen, which is in Austria.  The town of Mauthausen is one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been to.  But no! Instead of seeing the gas chamber themselves, the judges relied on the testimony of witnesses like Lt. Col. Jack Taylor, an American, who claimed that he had been scheduled to die in the Mauthausen gas chamber four times, but he was saved by the inmates who changed the schedule four times.  What kind of a death camp has the inmates in charge of the killing schedule?

Here is another quote from the closing statement of Sir Hartley Shawcross.  This part comes right before the quote I put at the top of this post:

That these defendants participated in and are morally guilty of crimes so frightful that the imagination staggers and reels back at their very contemplation is not in doubt. Let the words of the Defendant Frank, which were repeated to you this morning, be well remembered: “Thousands of years will pass and this guilt of Germany will not be erased.” Total and totalitarian war, waged in defiance of solemn undertakings and in breach of treaties; great cities, from Coventry to Stalingrad, reduced to rubble, the countryside laid waste, and now the inevitable aftermath of war so fought-hunger and disease stalking through the world; millions of people homeless, maimed, bereaved.

And in their graves, crying out, not for vengeance but that this shall not happen again: 10 million who might be living in peace and happiness at this hour, soldiers, sailors, airmen, and civilians killed in battles that ought never to have been.

Nor was that the only or the greatest crime. In all our countries when perhaps in the heat of passion or for other motives which impair restraint some individual is killed, the murder becomes a sensation, our compassion is aroused, nor do we rest until the criminal is punished and the rule of law is vindicated.

Source of the closing statement quotes: