Do the "War Crimes" Trials Prove Extermination?
The Nuremberg Trials and the Holocaust
A common response to expressions of skepticism about the Holocaust story is to say something like "What about Nuremberg? What about the trials and all the evidence?!" This reaction is understandable because the many postwar "war crimes" trials have given explicit, authoritative judicial legitimacy to the Holocaust extermination story.
By far the most important of these was the great Nuremberg trial of 1945-1946, officially known as the International Military Tribunal (IMT). The governments of the United States, the Soviet Union, Britain and France put on trial the most prominent surviving German leaders as "Major War Criminals" for various "war crimes," "crimes against peace," and "crimes against humanity." In the words of the Tribunal's Charter, these "Nazi conspirators" carried out their crimes as part of a great "Common Plan or Conspiracy."
In addition, twelve secondary Nuremberg trials (NMT) organized by the US government alone were conducted between 1946 to 1949. Similar trials were also conducted by the British at Lüneburg and Hamburg, and by the United States at Dachau. Since then, many other Holocaust-related trials have been held in West Germany, Israel and the United States, including the highly-publicized trials in Jerusalem of Adolf Eichmann and John Demjanjuk.
Germany's wartime treatment of the Jews figured prominently in the Nuremberg trials. In their condemnation of the defendants, the Allies gave special emphasis to the alleged extermination of six million European Jews. Chief US prosecutor Robert H. Jackson, for example, declared in his opening address to the Tribunal: 
The most savage and numerous crimes planned and committed by the Nazis were those against the Jews … It is my purpose to show a plan and design, to which all Nazis were fanatically committed, to annihilate all Jewish people … The avowed purpose was the destruction of the Jewish people as a whole … The conspiracy or common plan to exterminate the Jews was … methodically and thoroughly pursued … History does not record a crime ever perpetrated against so many victims or one ever carried out with such calculated cruelty.
Robert Jackson, chief US prosecutor at the Nuremberg Tribunal, listens to the proceedings. He privately acknowledged that the Allled governments conducting the trial were guilty of the same crimes they accused the defendants of committing. In a letter to President Truman, he confided that the Allies "have done or are doing some of the very things we are prosecuting the Germans for."
Echoing these words, chief British prosecutor Sir Hartley Shawcross declared in his final address to the Tribunal: 
There is one group to which the method of annihilation was applied on a scale so immense that it is my duty to refer separately to the evidence. I mean the extermination of the Jews. If there were no other crime against these men [the defendants], this one alone, in which all of them were implicated, would suffice. History holds no parallel to these horrors.
How compelling was the evidence presented at Nuremberg to substantiate such damning words? How did the defendants respond to the charges?
While much of the specific testimony and documentation presented in these trials has been dealt with in other Journal articles, here we take a closer look at the general trustworthiness of the evidence cited at Nuremberg and elsewhere for the Holocaust extermination story. This chapter also focuses on the basic character of these trials, which have played such an important role in "legitimizing" the Holocaust story.
The Nuremberg enterprise violated ancient and fundamental principles of justice. The victorious Allies acted as prosecutor, judge and executioner of the German leaders. The charges were created especially for the occasion, and were applied only to the vanquished.  Defeated, starving, prostrate Germany was, however, in no position to oppose whatever the Allied occupation powers demanded.
As even some leading Allied figures privately acknowledged at the time, the Nuremberg trials were organized not to dispense impartial justice, but for political purposes. Sir Norman Birkett, British alternate judge at the Nuremberg Tribunal, explained in a private letter in April 1946 that "the trial is only in form a judicial process and its main importance is political." 
Robert Jackson, the chief US prosecutor and a former US Attorney General, declared that the Nuremberg Tribunal "is a continuation of the war effort of the Allied nations" against Germany. He added that the Tribunal "is not bound by the procedural and substantive refinements of our respective judicial or constitutional system … " 
Judge Iola T. Nikitchenko, who presided at the Tribunal's solemn opening session, was a vice-chairman of the supreme court of the USSR before and after his service at Nuremberg. In August 1936 he had been a judge at the infamous Moscow show trial of Zinoviev and Kamenev.  At a joint planning conference shortly before the Nuremberg Tribunal convened, Nikitchenko bluntly explained the Soviet view of the enterprise: 
We are dealing here with the chief war criminals who have already been convicted and whose conviction has been already announced by both the Moscow and Crimea [Yalta] declarations by the heads of the [Allied] governments … The whole idea is to secure quick and just punishment for the crime …
The fact that the Nazi leaders are criminals has already been established. The task of the Tribunal is only to determine the measure of guilt of each particular person and mete out the necessary punishment - the sentences.
Indicative of the largely political nature of the Nuremberg process was the important Jewish role in organizing these trials. Nahum Goldmann, one-time president of both the World Jewish Congress and the World Zionist Organization, reported in his memoir that the Nuremberg Tribunal was the brain-child of World Jewish Congress officials. Only after persistent effort were WJC officials able to persuade Allied leaders to accept the idea, he added. 
The World Jewish Congress also played an important but less obvious role in the day to day proceedings. Above all, the powerful but secretive organization made sure that Germany's persecution of the Jews was a primary focus of the trials, and that the defendants were punished for their involvement in that process. 
Two Jewish officers in the US Army - Lieutenant Colonel Murray Bernays and Colonel David "Mickey" Marcus - played key roles in the Nuremberg enterprise. In the words of historian Robert Conot, Bernays was "the guiding spirit leading the way to Nuremberg." Bernays, a successful New York attorney, persuaded US War Secretary Henry Stimson and others to accept the idea of putting the defeated German leaders on trial. 
Marcus, a fervent Zionist, became the "number three man in making American policy" in occupied Germany. As chief of the US government's War Crimes Branch in 1946 and 1947, he selected almost all of the judges, prosecutors and lawyers for the Nuremberg NMT Trials. (He later became a commander of Zionist "Haganah" military forces in Palestine.) 
US Army Colonel Murray C. Bernays persuaded War Secretary Henry Stimson and others to accept the idea of putting the defeated German leaders on trial. American historian Robert Conot called Bernays "the guiding spirit leading the way to Nuremberg."
Some of the Americans who participated in the Nuremberg trials became disillusioned with the entire business. One of the few to make public his feelings was Charles F. Wennerstrum, an Iowa Supreme Court justice who served as presiding judge in the Nuremberg trial of German generals. "If I had known seven months ago what I know today, I would never have come here," he declared immediately after sentences were pronounced. "The high ideals announced as the motives for creating these tribunals have not been evident," he added. 
Wennerstrum cautiously referred to the extensive Jewish involvement in the Nuremberg process. "The entire atmosphere here is unwholesome … Lawyers, clerks, interpreters and researchers were employed who became Americans only in recent years, whose backgrounds were imbedded in Europe's hatreds and prejudices." He criticized the one-sided handling of evidence. "Most of the evidence in the trials was documentary, selected from the large tonnage of captured records. The selection was made by the prosecution. The defense had access only to those documents which the prosecution considered material to the case." He concluded that "the trials were to have convinced the Germans of the guilt of their leaders. They convinced the Germans merely that their leaders lost the war to tough conquerors." Wennerstrum left Nuremberg "with a feeling that justice has been denied."
America's leading jurist was dismayed by the Nuremberg process. US Supreme Court Chief Justice Harlan Fiske Stone remarked with irritation: "[Chief US prosecutor] Jackson is away conducting his high-grade lynching party in Nuremberg. I don't mind what he does to the Nazis, but I hate to see the pretense that he is running a court and proceeding according to common law. This is a little too sanctimonious a fraud to meet my old-fashioned ideas." In a private letter he wrote: "… I wonder how some of those who preside at the trials would justify some of the acts of their own governments if they were placed in the status of the accused." On another occasion Stone specifically wondered "whether, under this new [Nuremberg] doctrine of international law, if we had been defeated, the victors could plausibly assert that our supplying Britain with fifty destroyers [in 1940] was an act of aggression … " 
In Congress, US Representative Lawrence H. Smith of Wisconsin declared: "The Nuremberg trials are so repugnant to the Anglo-Saxon principles of justice that we must forever be ashamed of that page in our history … The Nuremberg farce represents a revenge policy at its worst."  Another Congressman, John Rankin of Mississippi, stated: "As a representative of the American people I desire to say that what is taking place in Nuremberg, Germany, is a disgrace to the United States … A racial minority, two and a half years after the war closed, are in Nuremberg not only hanging German soldiers but trying German businessmen in the name of the United States." 
Probably the most courageous condemnation was by US Senator Robert A. Taft, widely regarded as the "conscience of the Republican party." At considerable risk to his political career, he denounced the Nuremberg enterprise in an October 1946 speech. "The trial of the vanquished by the victors cannot be impartial no matter how it is hedged about with the forms of justice," he said. Taft went on: 
About this whole judgment there is the spirit of vengeance, and vengeance is seldom justice. The hanging of the eleven men convicted will be a blot on the American record which we will long regret. In these trials we have accepted the Russian idea of the purpose of trials - government policy and not justice - with little relation to Anglo-Saxon heritage. By clothing policy in the forms of legal procedure, we many discredit the whole idea of justice in Europe for years to come.
Milton R. Konvitz, a Jewish specialist of law and public administration who taught at New York University, warned at the time that the Nuremberg Tribunal "defies many of the most basic assumptions of the judicial process." He went on: "Our policy with respect to the Nazis is consistent with neither international law nor our own State Department's policy … The Nuremberg trial constitutes a real threat to the basic conceptions of justice which it has taken mankind thousands of years to establish." 
In the years since, distinguished figures in both the United States and other countries have expressed similar views. US Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas wrote: "I thought at the time and still think that the Nuremberg trials were unprincipled. Law was created ex post facto to suit the passion and clamor of the time." 
US Rear Admiral H. Lamont Pugh, former Navy Surgeon General and Commanding Officer of the National Naval Medical Center, wrote: "I thought the trials in general bordered upon international lunacy. I thought it particularly unfortunate, inappropriate, ill-conceived and dupably injudicious that the United States should have been cast in the leading role as prosecutors and implementators of the trials of German participants or principals." 
Another indictment of the Nuremberg trial appeared more recently in the pages of the liberal New Republic: 
The whole majesty of the Western heritage of the law was used to subvert that heritage in the Nuremberg Tribunal. Weighty jurists in every Western country (but not Russia) protested against this travesty of the Western legal system. So did historians. So did merely cultured and moral men and women. If the victors were to "try" the vanquished for war crimes, then they should try themselves for often committing the same crimes. Who would try [British] Air Chief Marshal Sir Arthur Travers "Bomber" Harris, the architect of the policy of saturation bombing of German cities? But it was not only a matter of our own "war crimes." If it was right to use the apparatus of the law to punish those responsible for exceptional crimes like the Holocaust, it was wrong to use it to punish errors of judgment and statecraft such as every defeated regime seems to have committed. "We used the methods of the enemy" - and used them in peace at Nuremberg.
While the Nuremberg trials were underway, and for some time afterwards, there was quite a lot of talk about the universal validity of the new legal code established there. A new age of international justice had begun, it was claimed. Many sincerely believed that the four Allied powers would themselves abide by the Tribunal's standards. 
As it happened, none of the four powers that participated in the Tribunal ever made the slightest effort to apply the principles so solemnly and self-righteously proclaimed at Nuremberg either to their own leaders or to those of any other country.
No Soviet leader was executed for the Soviet military interventions in Hungary in 1956 or Czechoslovakia in 1968. No British leader was put on trial for the British invasion of Egypt in October 1956. President Eisenhower was not tried for his invasion of Lebanon in 1958. President Kennedy was not hanged for his ill-fated 1962 "Bay of Pigs" invasion of Cuba. President Johnson was never called to judicial account for his conduct of the war in Vietnam or his invasion of the Dominican Republic. President Nixon was not brought before a tribunal for his armed "incursion" into Cambodia.
When (North) Vietnamese officials threatened to put captured US airmen on trial in 1966, US Senator Everett Dirksen was moved to remark that the Nuremberg trials "may have been a ghastly mistake." 
A Double Standard
In conducting the Nuremberg trials, the Allied governments themselves violated international law. For one thing, their treatment of the German defendants and the military prisoners who testified violated articles 56, 58 and others of the Geneva convention of July 1929. 
Justice - as opposed to vengeance - is a standard that is applied impartially. At Nuremberg, though, standards of "justice" applied only to the vanquished. The four powers that sat in judgment were themselves guilty of many of the very crimes they accused the German leaders of committing.  Chief US prosecutor Robert Jackson privately acknowledged in a letter to President Truman that the Allies 
have done or are doing some of the very things we are prosecuting the Germans for. The French are so violating the Geneva Convention in the treatment of [German] prisoners of war that our command is taking back prisoners sent to them [for forced labor in France]. We are prosecuting plunder and our Allies are practicing it. We say aggressive war is a crime and one of our allies asserts sovereignty over the Baltic States based on no title except conquest.
In violation of the first Nuremberg count of "planning, preparation, initiating or waging a war of aggression," the Soviet Union attacked Finland in December 1939 (and was expelled from the League of Nations as a result). A few months later the Red Army invaded Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, and ruthlessly incorporated them into the Soviet Union. The postwar French government violated international law and the Nuremberg charge of "maltreatment of prisoners of war" by employing large numbers of German prisoners of war as forced laborers in France. In 1945 the United States, Britain and the Soviet Union jointly agreed to the brutal deportation of more than ten million Germans from their ancient homes in eastern and central Europe, a violation of the Nuremberg count of "deportation, and other inhumane acts committed against any civilian population." 
While Allied prosecutors charged the defendants with a "crime against peace" in planning the German invasion of Norway in 1940, the British government eventually had to admit that Britain and France were themselves guilty of the same "crime" in preparing a military invasion of Norway, code-named "Stratford," before the German move. And in August 1941, Britain and the Soviet Union jointly invaded and occupied Iran, a neutral nation. 
Given this record, it is hardly surprising that the four governments that organized the Nuremberg trial of 1945-1946 included no definition of "aggression" in the Tribunal's Charter. 
Mikhail Vozlenski, a Soviet historian who served as a translator at the Nuremberg Tribunal in 1946, later recalled that he and the other Soviet personnel felt out of place there because the alleged crimes of the German leaders were "the norm of our life" in the Soviet Union.  The Soviet role in the proceedings, which the United States fully supported, moved American diplomat and historian George F. Kennan to condemn the entire Nuremberg enterprise as a "horror" and a "mockery." 
Nuremberg's double standard was condemned at the time by the British weekly The Economist. It pointed out that whereas both Britain and France had supported the expulsion of the Soviet Union from the League of Nations in 1939 for its unprovoked attack against Finland, just six years later these same two governments were cooperating with the USSR as a respected equal at Nuremberg. "Nor should the Western world console itself that the Russians alone stand condemned at the bar of the Allies' own justice," the Economist editorial went on. It continued: 
… Among crimes against humanity stands the offence of the indiscriminate bombing of civilian populations. Can the Americans who dropped the atom bomb and the British who destroyed the cities of western Germany plead "not guilty" on this count? Crimes against humanity also include the mass expulsion of populations. Can the Anglo-Saxon leaders who at Potsdam condoned the expulsion of millions of Germans from their homes hold themselves completely innocent? … The nations sitting in judgment [at Nuremberg] have so clearly proclaimed themselves exempt from the law which they have administered.
An official with the postwar US military occupation administration in Germany commented: "What good are the high-flown morals enunciated at Nuremberg if the Americans have agreed to such things as deportation in documents which bear official signatures, and which, therefore, give the Allies the legal right to do the things which at Nuremberg they described as immoral?" 
If the Nuremberg Tribunal's standards had been applied to the victors of the Second World War, American General and supreme Allied commander in Europe Dwight Eisenhower would have been hanged. At the end of the war Eisenhower ordered that German prisoners in American military custody were no longer to be treated according to the Geneva Convention on the treatment of prisoners of war. This violation of international law removed masses of Germans from the protection of the International Red Cross (ICRC), and condemned hundreds of thousands of them to slow death by starvation and disease. 
Perhaps nothing better illustrates the essentially unfair character of the Nuremberg proceedings than the treatment of Rudolf Hess, Hitler's deputy. He was sentenced to life imprisonment even though he alone of leading figures of the countries involved in the Second World War risked his life in a dangerous but fruitless effort to conclude peace between two of the warring nations. British historian A.J.P. Taylor once succinctly summed up the injustice of the Hess case and, by implication, of the entire Nuremberg enterprise: 
Hess came to this country in 1941 as an ambassador of peace. He came with the … intention of restoring peace between Great Britain and Germany. He acted in good faith. He fell into our hands and was quite unjustly treated as a prisoner of war. After the war, we should have released him. Instead, the British government of the time delivered him for sentencing to the International Tribunal at Nuremberg … No crime has ever been proved against Hess … As far as the records show, he was never at even one of the secret discussions at which Hitler explained his war plans.
The Problem of Evidence
The victorious Allies thoroughly scoured Germany for every scrap of paper that might be used to incriminate the defeated regime. Never before or since have a nation's records been so completely ransacked. In addition to official government papers, including countless secret documents tracing Germany's wartime Jewish policy, the Allies confiscated the records of the National Socialist Party and its affiliated organizations, as well as those of numerous private business firms, institutions and individuals. The sheer quantity of paper seized is staggering. For example, the records of the German Foreign Office confiscated by US officials amounted to some 485 tons of paper. 
From this mountain of paper, US military personnel alone selected some two thousand documents considered most incriminating for use in the main Nuremberg trial. The tons of confiscated records were later shipped to the United States. It is estimated that in the US National Archives alone, more than one million pages of documents on the Third Reich's Jewish policy are on file. Many hundreds of these Nuremberg documents have since been published, most notably by the U.S. government in the 42-volume "blue series" record of the main Nuremberg trial, the 15-volume "green series" record of the "second string" Nuremberg trials, and in the 11-volume "red series." 
It is as if governments hostile to the United States were to seize the top secret files of the Pentagon and CIA, and then selectively publish the most embarrassing and incriminating documents from the vast collection.
In the years since the Nuremberg trials, historians of many different countries have carefully sifted through the German records, including countless documents that were not available to the Nuremberg prosecutors. Historians have been able to compare and cross-check the records of different ministries and agencies, as well as numerous private diaries and papers. 
And yet, out of this great mass of paper, not a single document has ever been found that confirms or even refers to an extermination program. A number of historians have commented on this remarkable "gap" in the evidence. French-Jewish historian Leon Poliakov, for example, noted in his best-known Holocaust work:
The archives of the Third Reich and the depositions and accounts of its leaders make possible a reconstruction, down to the last detail, of the origin and development of the plans for aggression, the military campaigns, and the whole array of procedures by which the Nazis intended to reshape the world to their liking. Only the campaign to exterminate the Jews, as regards its conception as well as many other essential aspects, remains shrouded in darkness.
No documents of a plan for exterminating the Jews have ever been found, he added, because "perhaps none ever existed." 
At Nuremberg, the German documents were in the custody of the Allied prosecutors, who did not permit defense attorneys to make their own selections of the material. Historian Werner Maser has pointed out that at Nuremberg "thousands of documents which seemed likely possibly to incriminate the Allies and exonerate the defendants suddenly disappeared … There is much evidence that documents were confiscated, concealed from the defense or even stolen in 1945." Other important documents suddenly "disappeared" when specifically requested by defense attorneys. Officials at the National Archives in Washington have confirmed to this writer on several occasions that the originals of numerous Nuremberg documents remain "lost" to this day. The Tribunal refused to allow in evidence several collections of German and captured foreign documents published during the war as German Foreign Office "White Books." Most of the 1,809 affidavits prepared by the Nuremberg defense have never been made public. 
Among the documents that the defense was not permitted to bring to light was the secret supplement to the German-Soviet treaty of August 23, 1939, which divided eastern Europe into German and Soviet spheres of influence. 
After the Nuremberg Tribunal pronounced its sentence, Foreign Minister von Ribbentrop pointed out some of the obstacles put up in his particular case: 
The defense had no fair chance to defend German foreign policy. Our prepared application for the submission of evidence was not allowed … Without good cause being shown, half of the 300 documents which the defense prepared were not admitted. Witnesses and affidavits were only admitted after the prosecution had been heard; most of them were rejected … Correspondence between Hitler and Chamberlain, reports by ambassadors and diplomatic minutes, etc., were rejected. Only the prosecution, not the defense, had access to German and foreign archives. The prosecution only searched for incriminating documents and their use was biased. It knowingly concealed exonerating documents and withheld them from the defense.
The Charter of the International Military Tribunal permitted the use of normally inadmissible "evidence." Article 19 specified that "The Tribunal shall not be bound by technical rules of evidence … and shall admit any evidence which it deems to have probative value." Article 21 stipulated: 
The Tribunal shall not require proof of facts of common knowledge but shall take judicial notice thereof. It shall also take judicial notice of official governmental documents and reports of the United [Allied] Nations, including acts and documents of the committees set up in the various allied countries for the investigation of war crimes, and the records and findings of military and other Tribunals of any of the United [Allied] Nations.
On the basis of these articles, the Tribunal accepted as valid the most dubious "evidence," including hearsay and unsubstantiated reports of Soviet and American "investigative" commissions. For example, the Tribunal accepted an American congressional report that "proved" gas chamber killings at Dachau, and a Polish government report (submitted by the US) that "proved" killings by steam at Treblinka.  (No reputable historian now accepts either of these stories.)
In addition, the Tribunal validated Soviet reports about Auschwitz and Majdanek (documents USSR-8 and USSR-29), which explained in detail how the Germans killed four million at Auschwitz and another one-and-a-half million at Majdanek. (These days, no reputable historian accepts either of these fantastic figures.)
German guilt for the killing of thousands of Polish officers in the Katyn forest near Smolensk was similarly confirmed by Nuremberg document USSR-54. This detailed report by yet another Soviet "investigative" commission was submitted as proof for the charge made in the joint indictment of the four Allied governments. As a Soviet prosecutor explained: "We find, in the Indictment, one of the most important criminal acts for which the major war criminals are responsible was the mass execution of Polish prisoners of war shot in the Katyn forest near Smolensk by the German fascist invaders."  (Interestingly, two of the eight members of the Soviet Katyn Commission were also members of the Soviet Auschwitz commission: Academician N. Burdenko and Metropolitan Nikolai.) It wasn't until 1990 that the Soviet government finally acknowledged that the Katyn massacre was carried out, not by a German unit, as "proven" at Nuremberg, but by the Soviet secret police. 
The Nuremberg Tribunal judges (left to right): A. F. Volchkov, the Soviet alternate; I. T. Nikitchenko, the Soviet Judge; Norman Birkett, the British alternate; Lord Geoffrey Lawrence, the British judge; Francis Biddle, the American judge; John J. Parker, the American alternate; Donnedleu de Vabres, the French judge; and Robert Falco, the French alternate. Seated in front of the judges’ bench are members of the secretariat and stenographers.
It is sometimes claimed that the evidence presented by the prosecution to the Nuremberg Tribunal was so incontrovertible that none of the defense attorneys ever disputed the authenticity or accuracy of even a single prosecution document.  This is not true. Not only did defense lawyers protest against the prosecution use of spurious documents, but some of the most important Nuremberg documents are now generally acknowledged to be fraudulent. 
For example, defense attorney Dr. Boehm protested to the Tribunal that Nuremberg document 1721-PS, which purportedly confirms attacks by stormtroopers against Jewish synagogues in November 1938, is a clumsy forgery. He went on to explain his reasons at some length. 
Several Nuremberg documents based on the purported "death bed confession" of Mauthausen commandant Franz Ziereis, are demonstrably fraudulent. (Nuremberg documents 1515-PS, 3870-PS, and NO-1973.) These documents supposedly prove systematic killings of hundreds of thousands of people by gassing and other means at Mauthausen and Hartheim. 
Almost forty years after the Tribunal handed down its verdicts, Nuremberg document USSR-378 was definitively exposed as a fraud. It is a purported record of numerous private conversations with Hitler by Hermann Rauschning, a former National Socialist official in Danzig. In brutal language, the Führer supposedly revealed his most intimate thoughts and secret plans for world conquest. Rauschning's "memoir" was published in 1939 in Britain under the title Hitler Speaks, and in the United States in 1940 as The Voice of Destruction. It was this US edition that was accepted in evidence at Nuremberg as proof of the "guiding principles of the Nazi regime."
Chief British prosecutor Sir Hartley Shawcross and his Soviet colleagues cited numerous quotations from it. Defendant Baldur von Schirach contested its authenticity, but defense attorney Pelckmann (who did not know any better) accepted this "evidence" as authentic. In 1983 Swiss historian Wolfgang Hänel established that the "memoir" is entirely fraudulent. Rauschning never had even a single private meeting with Hitler. 
Another fraudulent Nuremberg document is the so-called "Hossbach protocol" (document 386-PS), a purported record of a high-level 1937 conference at which Hitler supposedly revealed his secret plans for aggressive conquest. US Nuremberg prosecutor Sidney Alderman called it "one of the most striking and revealing of all the captured documents," and told the Tribunal that it removed any remaining doubts about the guilt of the Germans leaders for their crimes against peace. It was largely on the basis of this document that Göring was condemned to death. 
Similarly spurious is Nuremberg document L-3 (US-28), supposedly a record of a bellicose speech by Hitler to armed forces commanders on August 22, 1939. It contains a widelycited quotation attributed to Hitler, "Who talks nowadays of the extermination of the Armenians?" 
Jewish historian Lucy Dawidowicz, author of The War Against the Jews, acknowledged that "There are also Holocaust documents that are outright falsification and some that purvey myth rather than historical fact." 
Much of the evidence for the Holocaust story presented at Nuremberg and in subsequent trials has been "survivor testimony." As numerous historians have acknowledged, though, such testimony is often defective. 
Gerald Reitlinger cautioned readers of his detailed study, The Final Solution, that Holocaust evidence, including Nuremberg documents and testimony, cannot be accepted at face value: "A certain degree of reserve is necessary in handling all this material, and particularly this applies to the last section (survivor narratives) … The Eastern European Jew is a natural rhetorician, speaking in flowery similes."  French historian Jean-Claude Pressac likewise warned in his detailed book about Auschwitz that "extreme care is required with the testimony of survivors … " 
Jewish historian Hannah Arendt observed in her book Eichmann in Jerusalem that the "eyewitnesses" who testified in the 1961 trial in Jerusalem of Adolf Eichmann were only rarely able to distinguish between what actually happened to them years earlier and what they had read, heard or imagined in the meantime.  Holocaust historian Lucy Dawidowicz similarly noted that "the survivor's memory is often distorted by hate, sentimentality, and the passage of time. His perspective on external events is often skewed by the limits of his personal experience." 
French historian Germain Tillion, a specialist of the Second World War period, has warned that former camp inmates who lie are, in fact, 
very much more numerous than people generally suppose, and a subject like that of the concentration camp world - well designed, alas, to stimulate sado-masochistic imaginations - offered them an exceptional field of action. We have known numerous mentally damaged persons, half-swindlers and half fools, who exploited an imaginary deportation. We have known others of them - authentic deportees - whose sick minds strove to even go beyond the monstrosities that they had seen or that people said happened to them.
Jewish historian Samuel Gringauz, who was himself interned in the ghetto of Kaunas (Lithuania) during the war, criticized what he called the "hyperhistorical" nature of most Jewish "survivor testimony." He wrote that "most of the memoirs and reports are full of preposterous verbosity, graphomanic exaggeration, dramatic effects, overestimated self-inflation, dilettante philosophizing, would-be lyricism, unchecked rumors, bias, partisan attacks and apologies." 
Shmuel Krakowski, archives director of the Israeli government's Holocaust center, Yad Vashem, confirmed in 1986 that more than 10,000 of the 20,000 "testimonies" of Jewish "survivors" on file there are "unreliable." Many survivors, wanting "to be part of history" may have let their imaginations run away with them, Krakowski said. "Many were never in the places where they claimed to have witnessed atrocities, while others relied on second-hand information given them by friends or passing strangers." He confirmed that many of the testimonies on file at Yad Vashem were later proved to be inaccurate when locations and dates could not pass an expert historian's appraisal. 
We now know that witnesses at the main Nuremberg trial gave false testimony. Perhaps the most obvious were the three witnesses who ostensibly confirmed German guilt for the Katyn massacre of Polish officers. 
Stephen F. Pinter of St. Louis, Missouri, served as a US Army prosecuting attorney from January 1946 to July 1947 at the American trials of Germans at Dachau. Altogether, some 420 Germans were sentenced to death in these Dachau trials. In a 1960 affidavit Pinter stated that "notoriously perjured witnesses" were used to charge Germans with "false and unfounded" crimes. "Unfortunately, as a result of these miscarriages of justice, many innocent persons were convicted and some were executed." 
A tragi-comic incident during the Dachau proceedings suggests the general atmosphere. US investigator Joseph Kirschbaum brought a Jewish witness named Einstein into court to testify that the defendant, Menzel, had murdered Einstein's brother. But when the accused pointed out that the brother was, in fact, sitting in the courtroom, an embarrassed Kirschbaum scolded the witness: "How can we bring this pig to the gallows if you are so stupid as to bring your brother into court?" 
August Gross, a German who worked as a civilian employee for the U.S. Army at the Dachau trials, later declared: 
The American prosecutors paid professional incrimination witnesses, mostly former criminal concentration camp inmates, the amount of one dollar per day (at that time worth 280 marks on the black market) as well as food from a witness kitchen and witness lodging. During the recess periods between trial proceedings the US prosecuting attorneys told these witnesses what they were to say in giving testimony. The US prosecuting attorneys gave the witnesses photos of the defendants and were thereby able to easily incriminate them.
A young US Army court reporter at the Dachau trials in 1947, Joseph Halow, later recalled the unwholesome situation:
The witnesses in the concentration camp cases were virtually all of the sort we court reporters termed "professional witnesses," those who spent months in Dachau, testifying against one or another of the many accused … It was to their economic advantage to testify, and many of them made a good living doing so. As one might well imagine, the motive of the professional witnesses was also one of spite and revenge … In many instances their vengeance included relating exaggerated accounts of what they had witnessed. It also included outright lying.
In one case, testimony provided by the prosecution witnesses "appeared to raise more questions then provide answers. Some of it was obviously fabricated, or so grossly exaggerated as to render it unbelievable. There were repeated instances of mistaken identity of the same accused, and vague, uncertain statements about some of the others." Moreover, Halow reported, the US courts paid "scant attention to testimony by and for the accused." 
In the 1947 "Nordhausen-Dora" case, American defense attorney Major Leon B. Poullada protested against the general unreliability - and frequent outright lying - of prosecution witnesses in this US military trial of former concentration camp officials. 
Use of such unreliable testimony continued in "Holocaust" trials in later years. Federal district judge Norman C. Roettger, Jr., ruled in 1978 in a Florida case that all six Jewish "eyewitnesses" who had testified to direct atrocities and shootings at Treblinka by Ukrainian-born defendant Feodor Fedorenko had wrongly identified the accused after being misled by Israeli authorities. 
New York "Nazi hunter" Charles Kremer visited Israel in 1981 looking for Jews who could confirm atrocities allegedly committed by a former Ukrainian SS man living in New Jersey. But Kremer cut short his visit, bitterly disappointed by the numerous Jews who offered to provide spurious "testimony" in return for money. As the Brooklyn Jewish Press reported, "Kremer was stricken with gastronomic pains - a malady he attributes to his difficulties in dealing with hucksters who tried to use his search for their personal gain." 
One of the most blatant examples of perjury by Jewish Holocaust witnesses in recent years was in the case of a retired Chicago factory worker named Frank Walus who was charged with killing Jews in his native Poland during the war. A December 1974 letter from "Nazi hunter" Simon Wiesenthal that accused Walus of working for the Gestapo prompted the US government's legal campaign. During his trial, eleven Jews testified under oath that they personally saw Walus murder Jews, including several children. After a costly and bitterly contested four-year legal battle, Walus was finally able to prove that he had actually spent the war years as a teenager quietly working on German farms. A lengthy article copyrighted by the American Bar Association and published in 1981 in the Washington Post concluded that "… in an atmosphere of hatred and loathing verging on hysteria, the government persecuted an innocent man." 
Allied prosecutors used torture to help prove their case at Nuremberg and other postwar trials. 
Former Auschwitz commandant Rudolf Höss was tortured by British officials into signing a false and self-incriminating "confession" that has been widely cited as a key document of Holocaust extermination. His testimony before the Nuremberg Tribunal, a high point of the proceeding, was perhaps the most striking and memorable evidence presented there of a German extermination program.  Höss maintained that two and half million people had been killed in Auschwitz gas chambers, and that another 500,000 inmates had died there of other causes. No serious or reputable historian now accepts either of these fantastic figures, and other key portions of Höss' "confession" are now generally acknowledged to be untrue. 
Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn has cited the case of Jupp Aschenbrenner, a Bavarian who was tortured into signing a statement that he had worked on mobile gas chambers ("gas vans") during the war. It wasn't until several years later that he was finally able to prove that he had actually spent that time in Munich studying to become an electric welder. 
Fritz Sauckel, head of the German wartime labor mobilization program, was sentenced to death at the main Nuremberg trial. An important piece of evidence presented to the Tribunal by the US prosecution was an affidavit signed by the defendant. (Nuremberg document 3057-PS.) It turned out that Sauckel had put his signature to this self-incriminating statement, which had been presented to him by his captors in finished form, only after he was bluntly told that if he hesitated, his wife and children would be turned over to the Soviets. "I did not stop to consider, and thinking of my family, I signed the document," Sauckel later declared. 
Hans Fritzsche, another defendant in the main Nuremberg trial, was similarly forced to sign a self-damning confession while he was a prisoner of the Soviet secret police in Moscow. (Nuremberg document USSR-474.) 
Nuremberg defendant Julius Streicher, who was eventually hanged because he published a sometimes sensational anti-Jewish weekly paper, was brutally mistreated following his arrest. He was badly beaten, kicked, whipped, spat at, forced to drink saliva and burned with cigarettes. His genitals were beaten. Eyebrow and chest hair was pulled out. He was stripped and photographed. Fellow defendant Hans Frank was savagely beaten by two black GIs shortly after his arrest. August Eigruber, former Gauleiter of Upper Austria, was mutilated and castrated at the end of the war. 
Josef Kramer, former commandant of both the BergenBelsen and Auschwitz-Birkenau camps, and other defendants in the British-run "Belsen" trial, were reportedly also tortured, some of them so brutally that they begged to be put to death. 
Although most of the defendants at the main Nuremberg trial were not tortured, many other Germans were forced to sign affidavits and give testimony against their former colleagues and superiors. A simple threat to turn the subject over to the Soviets was often enough to persuade him to sign an affidavit or provide testimony needed in court. Threats against the subject's wife and children, including withdrawal of ration cards, delivery to the Soviets or imprisonment, often quickly produced the desired results. If all else failed, the subject could be placed in solitary confinement, beaten, kicked, whipped or burned until he broke down. 
The testimony of the prosecution's chief witness in the Nuremberg "Wilhelmstrasse" trial was obtained by threat of death. The American defense attorney, Warren Magee, had somehow obtained the transcript of the first pretrial interrogation of Friedrich Gaus, a former senior official in the German Foreign Office. Despite frantic protests by prosecuting attorney Robert Kempner, the judge decided to permit Magee to read from the document. During the pretrial interrogation session, Kempner told Gaus that he would be turned over to the Soviets for hanging. Tearfully pleading for mercy, Gaus begged Kempner to think of his wife and children. Kempner replied that he could save himself only by testifying in court against his former colleagues. A desperate Gaus, who had already endured four weeks in solitary confinement, agreed. When Magee finished reading from the damning transcript, Gaus sat with both hands to his face, totally devastated. 
American soldiers repeatedly beat former SS captain Konrad Morgen in an unsuccessful effort to force him to sign a perjured affidavit against Ilse Koch, a defendant in the US military's 1947 "Buchenwald" case. American officials also threatened to turn Morgen over to the Soviets if he did not sign the false statement. 
Luftwaffe General Field Marshal Erhard Milch was warned by a US Army Major to stop testifying on behalf of Hermann Göring in the main Nuremberg trial. The American officer told Milch that if he persisted, he would be charged as a war criminal himself, regardless of whether or not he was guilty.  Milch did not back down and was indeed charged. In 1947 a US Nuremberg court sentenced him to life imprisonment as a war criminal. Four years later, though, the US High Commissioner commuted his sentence to fifteen years, and a short time after that Milch was amnestied and released. 
Reports of widespread torture at the postwar American-run "war crimes" trials at Dachau leaked out, resulting in so many protests that a formal investigation was eventually carried out. A US Army Commission of inquiry consisting of Pennsylvania Judge Edward van Roden and Texas Supreme Court Judge Gordon Simpson officially confirmed the charges of gross abuse. German defendants, they found, were routinely tortured at Dachau with savage beatings, burning matches under fingernails, kicking of testicles, months of solitary confinement, and threats of family reprisals. Low ranking prisoners were assured that their "confessions" would be used only against their former superiors in the dock. Later, though, these hapless men found their own "confessions" used against them when they were tried in turn. High ranking defendants were cynically assured that by "voluntarily" accepting all responsibility themselves they would thereby protect their former subordinates from prosecution. 
One Dachau trial court reporter was so outraged at what was happening there in the name of justice that he quit his job. He testified to a US Senate subcommittee that the "most brutal" interrogators had been three German-born Jews. Although operating procedures at the Dachau trials were significantly worse than those used at Nuremberg, they give some idea of the spirit of the "justice" imposed on the vanquished Germans.
Virtually all of the US investigators who brought cases before American military courts at Dachau were "Jewish refugees from Germany" who "hated the Germans," recalled Joseph Halow, a US Army court reporter at the Dachau trials in 1947. "Many of the investigators gave vent to their hated by attempting to force confessions from the Germans by treating them brutally," including "severe beatings." 
The case of Gustav Petrat, a German who had served as a guard at the Mauthausen, was not unusual. After repeated brutal beatings by US authorities, he broke down and signed a perjured statement. He was also whipped and threatened with immediate shooting. Petrat was prevented from securing exonerating evidence, and even potential defense witnesses were beaten and threatened to keep them from testifying. After a farcical trial by a US military court at Dachau, Petrat was sentenced to death and hanged in late 1948. He was 24 years old. 
Use of torture to produce incriminating statements has not been limited to postwar Germany, of course. Such techniques have been systematically used by governments around the world. During the Korean War, American airmen held as prisoners by the Communist North Koreans made detailed statements "confessing" to their roles in waging germ warfare. Under physical and psychological torture, 38 US airmen "admitted" dropping bacteriological bombs that caused disease epidemics and claimed many Korean civilian lives. These statements were later shown to be false, and the airmen repudiated them after returning to the United States. Their phony confessions were the same kind of evidence given by Rudolf Höss and others at the Nuremberg trials. Under similar circumstances, Americans proved at least as ready to "confess" to monstrous but baseless crimes as Germans. 
One of the most important and revealing Nuremberg cases is that of Oswald Pohl, the wartime head of the vast SS agency (WVHA) that ran the German concentration camps. After his capture in 1946, he was taken to Nenndorf where British soldiers tied him to a chair and beat him unconscious. He lost two teeth in repeated beatings.  He was then transferred to Nuremberg, where American military officials intensively interrogated him for more than half a year in sessions that lasted for hours. Altogether there were about 70 such sessions. During this period he had no access to an attorney or any other help. He was never formally charged with anything, nor even told precisely why he was being interrogated.
In a statement written after he was sentenced to death at Nuremberg in November 1947 by the American military court ("Concentration Camp" Case No. 4), Pohl described his treatment.  He reported that although he was generally not physically mistreated in Nuremberg as he had been at Nenndorf, he was nevertheless subjected to the less noticeable but, as he put it, "in their own way much more brutal emotional tortures."
American interrogators (most of them Jews) accused Pohl of killing 30 million people and of condemning ten million people to death. The interrogators themselves knew very well that such accusations were lies and tricks meant to break down his resistance, Pohl declared. "Because I am not emotionally thick-skinned, these diabolical intimidations were not without effect, and the interrogators achieved what they wanted: not the truth, but rather statements that served their needs," he wrote.
Pohl was forced to sign false and self-incriminating affidavits written by prosecution officials that were later used against him in his own trial. As he recalled:
Whenever genuine documents did not correspond to what the prosecution authorities wanted or were insufficient for the guilty sentences they sought, "affidavits" were put together. The most striking feature of these remarkable trial documents is that the accused often condemned themselves in them. That is understandable only to those who have themselves experienced the technique by which such "affidavits" are obtained.
He and other defendants were "destroyed" with these affidavits, which "contain provable errors of fact regarding essential points," Pohl wrote. Among the false statements signed by Pohl was one that incriminated former Reichsbank President Walter Funk, whom the Nuremberg Tribunal eventually sentenced to life imprisonment. 
American officials also made use of false witnesses at Nuremberg, Pohl wrote:
Whenever these productions [affidavits] were not enough to produce the result sought by the prosecuting authorities, they marched out their so-called 'star witnesses,' or rather, paid witnesses … A whole string of these shady, wretched characters played their contemptible game at Nuremberg. They included high government officials, generals and intellectuals as well as prisoners, mental defectives and real hardened criminals … During the WVHA trial [of Pohl] a certain Otto appeared from a mental institution as a "star witness." His previous lifestyle would have been considered exemplary by any hardened criminal. The same is true of prosecution witness Krusial who presented the most spectacular fairy tales to the court under oath, which were naturally believed …
Pohl also protested that defense attorneys were not allowed free access to the German wartime documents, which the prosecution was able to find and use without hindrance:
For almost two years the prosecution authorities could make whatever use they wanted of the many crates of confiscated documentary and archival material they had at their disposal. But the same access right was refused to the German defendants despite their repeated efforts … This meant a tremendous or even complete paralysis and hindrance of the defense cases for the accused, for those crates also contained the exonerating material that the prosecution authorities were able to keep from being presented to the court. And that is called "proper" procedure.
Because Pohl held the rank of general in the German armed forces, his treatment by the British and Americans was illegal according to the international agreements on the treatment of prisoners of war.
"As result of the brutal physical mistreatment in Nenndorf and my treatment in Nuremberg, I was emotionally a completely broken man," he wrote. "I was 54 years old. For 33 years I had served by country without dishonor, and I was unconscious of any crime."
Pohl summed up the character of the postwar trials of German leaders:
It was obvious during the Dachau trials, and it also came out unmistakably and only poorly disguised during the Nuremberg trials, that the prosecution authorities, among whom Jews predominated, were driven by blind hatred and obvious lust for revenge. Their goal was not the search for truth but rather the annihilation of as many adversaries as possible.
To an old friend Pohl wrote: "As one of the senior SS leaders I had never expected to be left unmolested. No more, however, did I expect a death sentence. It is a sentence of retribution." 
He was hanged on June 7, 1951. In his final plea to the Nuremberg court, Pohl expressed his faith that one day blind hysteria would give way to just understanding: 
After distance and time have clarified all events and when passion has ceased and when hatred and revenge have stilled their hunger, then these many millions of decent Germans who have sacrificed their lives for their fatherland will not be denied their share of sympathy which today is being attributed to the victims of the concentration camps, although a large number of them owe their fate not to political, racial or religious characteristics, but to their criminal past.
Along with the millions of people around the world who avidly followed the Nuremberg proceedings by radio and newspaper, the defendants themselves were shocked by the evidence presented to substantiate the extermination charge. Above all, the testimony of Auschwitz commandant Rudolf Höss and Einsatzgruppen commander Otto Ohlendorf made a deep impression. Contrary to what is often claimed or insinuated, however, the Nuremberg Tribunal defendants declared that they did not know of any extermination program during the war.  These men were, in a sense, the first "Holocaust revisionists."
The main Nuremberg defendant, Hermann Göring, who had been Hitler's second-in-command and designated successor during most of the Third Reich years, vehemently denied knowing of any extermination program during the war. "The first time I learned of these terrible exterminations," he exclaimed at one point, "was right here in Nuremberg." The German policy had been to expel the Jews, not kill them, he explained, and added that, to the best of his knowledge, Hitler did not know of any extermination policy either. 
Chief Nuremberg Tribunal defendant Herman Göring, who had been Hitler's second-in-command, denied knowing of any extermination plan or program during the war. "The first time I learned of these terrible exterininations " he declared, "was right here in Nuremburg."
During a rare unguarded break between court sessions, fellow defendant Hans Fritzsche privately asked Göring about the truth of the extermination charge. The former Reichsmarschall solemnly assured Fritzsche that the accusation was not true. The Allied evidence for the charge, he insisted, was inaccurate or incomplete and totally contradicted everything he knew about the matter. In any case, Göring added, if there had been any mass killings, they certainly were not ordered by Hitler. 
General Alfred Jodl, chief of the operations staff of the Armed Forces High Command, and probably Hitler's closest military adviser, gave similar testimony to the Tribunal. Responding to a direct question about this matter, he said: 
I can only say, fully conscious of my responsibility, that I never heard, either by hint or by written or spoken words, of an extermination of Jews … I never had any private information on the extermination of the Jews. On my word, as sure as I am sitting here, I heard all these things for the first time after the end of the war.
Hans Frank, the wartime governor of German-ruled Poland, testified that during the war he had heard only rumors and foreign reports of mass killings of Jews. He asked other officials, including Hitler, about these stories and was repeatedly assured that they were false. 
Frank's testimony is particularly noteworthy because if millions of Jews had actually been exterminated in German-occupied Poland, as alleged, hardly anyone would have been in a better position to know about it. During the course of the trial, Frank was overcome by a deep sense of Christian repentance. His psychological state was such that if he had known about an extermination program, he would have said so.
At one point during the proceedings, Frank was asked by his attorney, "Did you ever take part in any way in the annihilation of Jews?" His reply reflects his emotional state at the time: 
I say yes, and the reason why I say yes is because, under the impression of these five months of the proceedings, and especially under the impression of the testimony of the witness [former Auschwitz commandant] Höss, I cannot answer to my conscience to shift the responsibility for this solely on these low-level people. I never built a Jewish extermination camp or helped to bring one into existence. But if Adolf Hitler personally shifted this terrible responsibility onto his people, than it also applies to me. After all, we carried on this struggle against Jewry for years … And therefore I have the duty to answer your question in this sense and in this context with yes. A thousand years will pass and this guilt of Germany will not be erased.
Standing among co·defendants in the dock of the Nuremberg Tribunal, Alfred Jodl inakes his final plea. Hitler's closest wartime military advis er testifled that he had "never heard, either by hint or by written or spoken words, of an extermination of Jews… I heard all these things for the first time after the end of the war."
These words, and especially the final sentence, have often been quoted to give the impression that the defendants themselves admitted their guilt and acknowledged the existence of a wartime German policy to exterminate the Jews.  Less well-known are Frank's words during his final address to the Tribunal: 
In the witness stand I said that a thousand years would not be enough to erase the guilt of our nation because of Hitler's behavior in this war. [However,] not only the behavior of our wartime enemies against our people and our soldiers, which has been carefully kept out of these proceedings, but also the enormous mass crimes of the most terrible kind against Germans, which I have only now learned about, especially in East Prussia, Silesia, Pomerania and in the Sudetenland, which have been and are still being carried out by Russians, Poles and Czechs, have now already completely canceled out any possible guilt of our people. Who will ever judge these crimes against the German people?
Ernst Kaltenbrunner, wartime head of the powerful Reich Security Main Office (RSHA), was certain that he would soon be put to death regardless of the evidence presented to the Tribunal: "The colonel in charge of the London prison that I was in has told me that I would be hanged in any case, no matter what the outcome would be. Since I am fully aware of that, all I want to do is to clear up on the fundamental things that are wrong here." In a question-and-answer exchange, Kaltenbrunner rejected the charge that he had ordered gassings: 
Q. Witness after witness, by testimony and affidavit, has said that the gas chamber killings were done on general or specific orders of Kaltenbrunner.
A. Show me one of those men or any of those orders. It is utterly impossible.
Q … Practically all of the orders came through Kaltenbrunner.
A. Entirely impossible.
The case of Albert Speer, one-time Hitler confidant and wartime Armaments Minister, deserves special mention. His Nuremberg defense strategy was unique and also rather successful because he did not hang. While maintaining that he personally knew nothing of an extermination program during the war, he nevertheless declared himself morally culpable for having worked so diligently for a regime he belatedly came to regard as evil. After serving a twenty-year sentence in Spandau prison, the "repentant Nazi" was "rehabilitated" by the mass media for his somewhat subtle but fervent condemnation of the Hitler regime. His contrite memoir, published in the US as Inside the Third Reich, was highly acclaimed and sold very profitably in Europe and America.
Until his death in 1981, Speer steadfastly insisted that he did not know of any extermination program or gassings during the war. His position was remarkable because, if a wartime policy to exterminate the Jews had actually existed, almost no one would have been in a better position to have known about it. As Reich Armaments Minister, Speer was responsible for the continental mobilization of all available resources, including critically needed Jewish workers. That millions of Jews could have been transported across Europe and killed at a wartime industrial center as important as Auschwitz, and elsewhere, without Speer's knowledge simply defies belief. 
During the Nuremberg "Wilhelmstrasse" trial, the chief of the Reich Chancellery from 1933 to 1945, Hans Lammers, was asked if he "was still of the opinion that no program for exterminating the Jews was ever set up." He answered: "Yes, I am of that opinion. At least the program never came to my attention. The program cannot have been set up." Lammers, who was Hitler's closest legal adviser, went on the explain: "I did not know of any mass killings and, of the cases I heard about, the reports were allegations, rumors … The fact that individual cases occurred here and there, the shooting of Jews in wartime in some towns or other, that I read something about that and heard something about that, that is very easily possible." 
Such testimony by the men who were most familiar with Germany's overall Jewish policy is routinely dismissed as brazen lying. But the categorical and self-consistent nature of this testimony, sometimes by men who knew that death soon awaited them, suggests a core of truth. On the other hand, to accept the Holocaust extermination story means giving greater credibility to the most fantastic and often demonstrably false testimonies by very questionable witnesses.
Other Postwar Trials
During the decades since Nuremberg, many individuals have been tried in (West) Germany and other countries for alleged wartime participation in exterminating the Jews. Rarely, if ever, has a defendant ever substantially challenged the Holocaust story. The accused invariably adopted the defense strategy successfully used by Speer at Nuremberg: He accepted the extermination story but denied or minimized his own personal involvement. To deny an extermination program in trials that were organized on the working assumption that such a program existed would have been judicial suicide.
These trials are comparable in some respects to the Soviet show trials of 1936-1938. The defendants in the well-publicized Moscow trials never denied the existence of vast criminal conspiracies involving major Soviet personalities who supposedly plotted the most horrible crimes in league with hostile foreign powers. Instead, the accused pleaded that he was not personally guilty, or that his guilt was minimal and that he had truly repented. (Remarkably, even foreign observers who should have known better, such as US Ambassador in Moscow Joseph Davies, were inclined to accept the Stalinist show trials as genuine and essentially just.) 
Comparisons have also been drawn between the "Holocaust" trials and the witchcraft trials of past centuries. Those accused of witchcraft never denied the existence or diabolical power of witches. Instead they insisted that they were not personally guilty of the charges against them. Nuremberg defendant Hans Fritzsche, who had been one of Germany's most prominent and effective wartime radio news commentators, summed up the problem: "If someone accuses me of killing someone, than I can prove the contrary. But if I am accused of being the devil, there's no way to disprove that, because it can't be done." 
One of the most important of the post-Nuremberg "Holocaust" trials was the 1963-1965 Frankfurt "Auschwitz" trial of 22 former Auschwitz SS men. The lengthy case received worldwide media coverage and assumed something of the character of a show trial.  Deciding the guilt or innocence of the defendants was "extraordinarily difficult," the judges declared in their verdict, because of the very inconclusive nature of the evidence. "We have no absolute evidence for the individual killings. We have only the witness testimonies." The judges acknowledged that "the possibilities of verifying the witness declarations were very limited." The judges further emphasized "this weakness of witness testimony" by citing the case of a Buchenwald official convicted of murdering an inmate who later turned up alive. 
This situation was embarrassingly underscored during the trial when former inmate Rudolf Kauer suddenly repudiated earlier statements about his one-time SS masters. In pre-trial interrogation he claimed to have seen defendant Wilhelm Boger brutally beat a naked Polish woman with a horse whip, ripping off one breast and flooding a room with blood. When asked to repeat his statement in court, Kauer admitted: "I lied about that. That was just a yarn going around the camp. I never saw it … " Another claim that Boger had smashed an infant's skull against a tree trunk was also not true, he confessed. Although Boger was not liked, Kauer told the court, he was actually a just SS man.
Another defendant, Klaus Dylewski, whom Kauer had called "one of the worse killers" at Auschwitz, was actually "harmless." All of his pre-trial accusations were lies, Kauer said, calmly adding: "You can punish me if you want. I am used to that." After the presiding judge admonished him several times for repudiating his earlier statements, Kauer replied: "We don't need to lose any more words. It's not worth it. What I say now is the truth." 
Former Auschwitz camp adjutant and SS Captain Robert Mulka, the main defendant in the trial, was pronounced guilty of participation in mass murder and sentenced to 14 years at hard labor, a verdict that many outsiders considered outrageously lenient. But less than four months later Mulka was quietly released, an outcome that should astonish only those not familiar with the nature of such trials. 
Very few of those who glibly refer to "all the Nuremberg evidence" as proof for the Holocaust extermination story are familiar with either the real nature of this "evidence" or the character of these trials. On closer examination, solid documentary or forensic evidence of a wartime German policy to exterminate Europe's Jews proves to be elusive. As we have seen, the evidence that has been presented consists largely of extorted confessions, spurious testimonies, and fraudulent documents. The postwar Nuremberg trials were politically motivated proceedings meant more to discredit the leaders of a defeated regime than to establish truth.
We do not need trials or "confessions" to prove that the Katyn massacre or the postwar deportation of Germans from eastern and central Europe actually took place. By comparison, the Holocaust story does not claim just a few isolated massacres, but a vast extermination program taking place across the European continent over a three-year period involving several governments and millions of people. The fact that the Holocaust story must rely so heavily on highly dubious testimony evidence and trials staged in a historically unparalleled atmosphere of hysteria, intimidation and propaganda demonstrates its inherent weakness.
Source: Reprinted from The Journal of Historical Review, vol. 12, no. 2, pp. 167-213.
Published with permission of and courtesy to the Institute for Historical Review (IHR).
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