June 15

1864 USA: Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton signs an order establishing a military burial ground, which will become Arlington National Cemetery.

1877 First African American graduate of West Point:

Henry Ossian Flipper, born a slave in Thomasville, Georgia, in 1856, is the first African American cadet to graduate from the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York. Flipper, who was never spoken to by a white cadet during his four years at West Point, was appointed a second lieutenant in the all-African American 10th Cavalry, stationed at Fort Sill in Indian Territory. . . .

In 1870, the first African American cadet, James Webster Smith, was admitted into the academy but never reached the graduation ceremonies. It was not until 1877 that Henry Ossian Flipper became the first to graduate, after enduring four years of prejudice and silence. In 1976, the first female cadets were admitted into West Point. The academy is now under the general direction and supervision of the department of the U.S. Army and has an enrollment of more than 4,000 students. [For further information, click here.]

1880 Birth: Nagano Osami: Japanese admiral who planned and ordered the attack on the U.S. naval base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, on Dec. 7, 1941, which triggered U.S. involvement in World War II. [For further information, click here.]

1882 Birth: Ion Antonescu: Future Prime Minister of Romania:

In 1937 Antonescu served as defense minister in the short-lived Goga-Cuza government. When Germany forced Romania to give large parts of its territory to the Soviet Union, Hungary, and Bulgaria in 1940, Antonescu was made prime minister. Along with Horia Sima, the head of the antisemitic fascist Iron Guard movement, Antonescu instituted the pro-German National Legionary Government. In January 1941 the Iron Guard revolted against Antonescu, who crushed the rebellion with Hitler'S help. From then on, Antonescu ruled Romania as a dictator.

Regarding his Jewish policy, Antonescu differentiated between the Jews living in pre-World War I Romania and southern Transylvania, whom he considered to be real Romanians, and those living in Bessarabia and southern Bukovina. He ordered the rural Jews of Bessarabia and Bukovina exterminated, and the urban Jews imprisoned in Ghettos and Concentration Camps. In the summer of 1941 he exiled 150,000 Bessarabian and Bukovinan Jews to Transnistria, where many died or were murdered. In the rest of Romania, the Jews were concentrated in urban centers and their property was confiscated. However, Antonescu refused to surrender them to the Nazis.

Antonescu's government toppled in August 1944 when Romania broke its ties with Germany. He was executed as a war criminal in June 1946.

1883 Germany: Health Insurance:

'Iron Chancellor,' Count Otto von Bismarck, becomes the first political leader to institute general health insurance for all his people. Note: Bismarck, no believer in socialism, enacts the relatively limited program to head off more aggressive legislation by those (almost everyone) more liberal than himself.

1888 Death: Frederick III: King of Prussia and German Emperor:

[Frederick] was born at Potsdam on the 18th of October 1831, being the eldest son of Prince William of Prussia, afterwards first German emperor, and the princess Augusta. He was carefully educated, and in 1849-1850 studied at the university of Bonn. The next years were spent in military duties and in travels, in which he was accompanied by Moltke. In 1851 he visited England on the occasion of the Great Exhibition, and in 1855 became engaged to Victoria, princess royal of Great Britain, to whom he was married in London on the 25th of January 1858. On the death of his uncle in 1861 and the accession of his father, Prince Frederick William, as he was then always called, became crown prince of Prussia. His education, the influence of his mother, and perhaps still more that of his wife's father, the Prince Consort, had made him a strong Liberal, and he was much distressed at the course of events in Prussia after the appointment of Bismarck as minister. He was urged by the Liberals to put himself into open opposition to the government; this he refused to do, but he remonstrated privately with the king.

In June 1863, however, he publicly dissociated himself from the press ordinances which had just been published. He ceased to attend meetings of the council of state, and was much away from Berlin. The opposition of the crown prince to the ministers was increased during the following year, for he was a warm friend of the prince of Augustenburg, whose claims to Schleswig-Holstein Bismarck refused to support. During the war with Denmark he had his first military experience, being attached to the staff of Marshal von Wrangel; he performed valuable service in arranging the difficulties caused by the disputes between the field marshal and the other officers, and was eventually given a control over him. After the war he continued to support the prince of Augustenburg and was strongly opposed to the war with Austria. During the campaign of 1866 he received the command of an army consisting of four army corps; he was assisted by General von Blumenthal, as chief of the staff, but took a very active part in directing the difficult operations by which his army fought its way through the mountains from Silesia to Bohemia, fighting four engagements in three days, and showed that he possessed genuine military capacity. In the decisive battle of Koeniggratz the arrival of his army in the field of battle, after a march of nearly 20 m., secured the victory. During the negotiations which ended the war he gave valuable assistance by persuading the king to accept Bismarck's policy as regards peace with Austria. From this time he was very anxious to see the king of Prussia unite the whole of Germany, with the title of emperor, and was impatient of the caution with which Bismarck proceeded. In 186g he paid a visit to Italy, and in the same year was present at the opening of the Suez Canal; on his way he visited the Holy Land.

He played a conspicuous part in the year 1870-1871, being appointed to command the armies of the Southern States, General Blumenthal again being his chief of the staff; his troops won the victory of Worth, took an important part in the battle of Sedan, and later in the siege of Paris. The popularity he won was of political service in preparing the way for the union of North and South Germany, and he was the foremost advocate of the imperial idea at the Prussian court. During the years that followed, little opportunity for political activity was open to him. He and the crown princess took a great interest in art and industry, especially in the royal museums; and the excavations conducted at Olympia and Pergamon with such great results were chiefly due to him. The crown princess was a keen advocate of the higher education of women, and it was owing to her exertions that the Victoria Lyceum at Berlin (which was named after her) was founded. In 1878, when the emperor was incapacitated by the shot of an assassin, the prince acted for some months as regent. His palace was the centre of all that was best in the literary and learned society of the capital. He publicly expressed his disapproval of the attacks on the Jews in 1878; and the coalition of Liberal parties founded in 1884 was popularly known as the "crown prince's party," but he scrupulously refrained from any act that might embarrass his father's government. For many reasons the accession of the prince was looked forward to with great hope by a large part of the nation.

Unfortunately he was attacked by cancer in the throat; he spent the winter of 1887-1888 at San Remo; in January 1888 the operation of tracheotomy had to be performed. On the death of his father, which took place on the 9th of March, he at once journeyed to Berlin; but his days were numbered, and he came to the throne only to die. In these circumstances his accession could not have the political importance which would otherwise have attached to it, though it was disfigured by a vicious outburst of party passion in which the names of the emperor and the empress were constantly misused. While the Liberals hoped the emperor would use his power for some signal declaration of policy, the adherents of Bismarck did not scruple to make bitter attacks on the empress. The emperor's most important act was a severe reprimand addressed to Herr von Puttkamer, the reactionary minister of the interior, which caused his resignation; in the distribution of honours he chose many who belonged to classes and parties hitherto excluded from court favour. A serious difference of opinion with the chancellor regarding the proposal for a marriage between Prince Alexander of Battenberg and the princess Victoria of Prussia was arranged by the intervention of Queen Victoria, who visited Berlin to see her dying son-in-law. He expired at Potsdam on the 15th of June 1888, after a reign of ninety-nine days.

1888 Accession: Kaiser Wilhelm II of Hohenzollern: Last emperor of the Second Reich:

Wilhelm, the son of Prince Frederick Wilhelm of Prussia and Victoria, daughter of Queen Victoria, was born in Berlin in 1859. He received a strict military and academic education at the Kassel Gymnasium and the University of Bonn.

In 1888 Wilhelm II became the 9th King of Prussia and the 3rd Emperor of Germany. Two years later he quarrelled and dismissed the German Chancellor, Otto Bismark. For the next few years Wilhelm, who loathed parliamentary democracy, acted as an autocratic monarch. A strong opponent of socialism, Wilhelm was a passionate supporter of German militarism and imperialism. Despite the fact he was Queen Victoria's grandson, Wilhelm pursued an anti-British foreign policy. He also gave support to South Africa during the Boer War but later unsuccessfully attempted Anglo-German reconciliation.

In 1908 Wilhelm suffered a nervous breakdown and played a less dominant role in German government for the next few years. However he continued to support German imperialism and backed Alfred von Tirpitz when he suggested building a navy to match the British Navy.

Like his chancellor, Theobald von Bethmann-Hollweg, he encouraged Austro-Hungarian aggression after the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand. Although he favoured a limited war Wilhelm was unhappy when the conflict developed into a world war.

Wilhelm was Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces during the First World War. However, the real power was now in the hands of the military, and the decision to replace Erich von Falkenhayn by Paul von Hindenburg, as Army Chief of Staff in August 1916, was taken against his wishes. His son, Prince Wilhelm, was a field commander on the Western Front throughout the war.

William was forced to abdicate on 9th November, 1918. He fled the country with the rest of his family and lived in Holland for the rest of his life. Wilhelm, who wrote two volumes of autobiography, Memoirs 1878-1918 (1922) and My Early Life (1926) died in 1941.

1898 Hawaii: The US House of representatives, despite having received a petition delivered to Washington by Queen Lili'uokalani and signed by 38,000 protesting Hawaiians, approves legislation annexing the Islands.

[See: Countdown to Infamy: Timeline to Pearl Harbor.]

1906 Birth: Leon Degrelle—French-speaking Belgian lawyer and politician—founder of Rexism:

Rexism was a Fascist political movement in the first half of the twentieth century in Belgium . . . The name derived from the Latin slogan Christus Rex, "Christ the King," which was also the title of a conservative Roman Catholic journal. The ideology of Rexism called for the moral renewal of Belgian society in conformity with the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church, by forming a corporatist society, curbing democracy and freedom of thought, and imposing Roman Catholic moral teachings by government force. The Rexist movement attracted support mostly among the Walloons, the French-speaking Belgians; it had a counterpart on the Flemish side in the Vlaamsch-Nationaal Verbond, or "VNV". It soon began to ally itself with the interests of Germany and to incorporate Nazi-style anti-Semitism into its platform after Adolf Hitler's rise to power, and got financial support from German Nazi interests.

Closely affiliated with Rexism was the Legion Wallonie, a paramilitary organization along the lines of the SS. After World War II broke out, the Legion Wallonie was eventually incorporated into the Waffen-SS.

After the fall of Nazi Germany, Degrelle fled to Generalissimo Francisco Franco's Spain. He was convicted of treason in Belgium and sentenced to death, but requests to Spain to extradite him were unavailing. Degrelle died in Paseo MarĂ­timo, Malaga in 1994.

1914 Birth: Yuri Andropov

The son of a railway worker, Andropov was a telegraph operator, film projectionist, and boatman on the Volga River before attending a technical college and, later, Petrozavodsk University. He became an organizer for the Young Communist League (Komsomol) in the Yaroslav region and joined the Communist Party in 1939. His superiors noticed his abilities, and he was made head of the Komsomol in the newly created Karelo-Finnish Autonomous Republic (1940-44).

The turning point in Andropov's career was his transfer to Moscow (1951), where he was assigned to the party's Secretariat staff, considered a training ground for promising young officials. As ambassador to Hungary (July 1954-March 1957), he played a major role in coordinating the Soviet invasion of that country. Andropov then returned to Moscow, rising rapidly through the Communist hierarchy and, in 1967, becoming head of the KGB. Andropov's policies as head of the KGB were repressive; his tenure was noted for its suppression of political dissidents.

Andropov was elected to the Politburo, and, as Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev's health declined, Andropov began to position himself for succession, resigning his KGB post in 1982. Andropov was chosen by the Communist Party Central Committee to succeed Brezhnev as general secretary on November 12, scarcely two days after Brezhnev's death. He consolidated his power by becoming chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet (president) on June 16, 1983.

Ill health overtook him by August 1983, and thereafter he was never seen again in public. He accomplished little and was succeeded by a former rival, Konstantin Chernenko. [For further information, click here.]

1915 World War I: Various:

List Regiment: Gefreiter Adolf Hitler's 16 Reserve Infantry Regiment continues to occupy a position at Fromelles—pictured above in a drawing by Hitler—which is on a level field with water channels, willow trees and willow stalks. In the distance towards the enemy lines lies an insignificant wood with barbed wire entanglements. Under the direction of their defense-minded commander, Lieutenant General Gustav Scanzoni von Lichtenfels, the regiment works ceaselessly day and night to further fortify their position at Fromelles while fighting off repeated assaults by the enemy. [For further details, Click here.]

Sir John French on the Use of Poison Gas at the Second Battle of Ypres:

I much regret that during the period under report the fighting has been characterized on the enemy's side by a cynical and barbarous disregard of the well-known usages of civilized war and a flagrant defiance of the Hague Convention. All the scientific resources of Germany have apparently been brought into play to produce a gas of so virulent and poisonous a nature that any human being brought into contact with it is first paralyzed and then meets with a lingering and agonizing death.

1916 World War I: List Regiment: Gefreiter Adolf Hitler continues to endure trench warfare in Flanders (Artois) with 3 Company, 16 Reserve Infantry Regiment. [For further details, Click here.]

1917 World War I: Various:

The US Espionage Act is passed:

Whoever harbours or conceals any person who he knows, or has reasonable grounds to believe or suspect, has committed, or is about to commit, an offence under this title shall be punished by a fine of not more than $10,000 or by imprisonment for not more than two years.

List Regiment: Gefreiter Adolf Hitler's 16th RIR remains east of Douai for a period of rest which will extend until June 24. [For further details, Click here.]

1918 World War I: Various:

Battle of the Piave River: The final Austro-Hungarian attack on the Italian Front begins. Henri Kervarec:

In the series of great offensives that the Central Powers were to launch against the troops of the Entente, the Austrian offensive against the Italian front was meant, in the mind of the German General Staff, to hold fast the Franco-British troops which had been sent into Italy after Caporetto (October, 1917), and only a part of which had been withdrawn by Marshal Foch after the offensive against the English army of March 21, 1918. The German Staff hoped also in this way to prevent the sending of Italian troops to reinforce the French front. It is what was declared by the Pan-German Taeglische Rundschau at the very beginning of the attack. "The Austrian attack, carried out over a wide front, will make this exchange of troops impossible henceforward; the Italians will now be unable to allow men to be sent into France.

List Regiment (June 1-17): The 16th RIR hold the Front at Aisne and the Marne. [For further details, Click here.]

1933 Various:

Church and Reich:

At the first public meeting of the Kreuz and Adler (Cross and Eagle) in Berlin, Franz von Papen calls for the overcoming of liberalism and characterizes the Third Reich as a "Christian counterrevolution to 1789." (THP)

War debt and reparation payments to the United States: It is announced that payments have amounted to only 8 percent of the total due. Only Finland has made full payment. Note: In 1934, the war debt agreements will totally collapse.

1934 Germany:

Moratorium for six months on German foreign payments declared by Hitler's Finance Minister, Hjalmar Schacht. He later will extend it to one year.

Meeting in Venice:

Dictators Adolf Hitler and Mussolini hold another day of discussions during their first meeting. The meeting did not go well. For some reason, Mussolini would not use his translator and he was not fluent in German. Secondly, Hitler kept quoting Mein Kampf, which bored Mussolini. It was after this meeting that Mussolini referred to Hitler as 'a silly little monkey.' Mussolini met Hitler in military uniform. Hitler, on a rare foreign venture, wore civilian dress which would have been normal for a state's leader. The impact of military uniform will not be lost on Hitler again.

1935 War with Japan: China:

Mao Tse-tung (r.) calls for a united front against Japan, but excludes Chiang Kai-shek (l).

1938 Holocaust: Operation June (Juni Aktion) sends some 1,500 German Jews to concentration camps.

1939 German Foreign Office Memorandum by Dr. Ernst Woermann, Under State Secretary:

The Bulgarian minister called on me today and told me confidentially the following: The Soviet Russian Charge, with whom he had no intimate relations, called on him yesterday without any apparent reason, and stayed with him two hours. The long conversation, of which it could not be ascertained whether it had reflected the personal opinions of Herr Astakhov or the opinions of the Soviet Government, could be summarized approximately as follows: The Soviet Union faced the present world situation with hesitation. She was vacillating between three possibilities, namely the conclusion of the pact with England and France, a further dilatory treatment of the pact negotiations, and a rapprochement with Germany. This last possibility, with which ideological considerations would not have to become involved, was closest to the desires of the Soviet Union.

In addition, there were other points, for instance that the Soviet Union did not recognize the Rumanian possession of Bessarabia. The fear of a German attack, however, either via the Baltic countries or via Rumania was an obstacle. In this connection the Charge had also referred to Mein Kampf. If Germany would declare that she would not attack the Soviet Union or that she would conclude a nonaggression pact with her, the Soviet Union would probably refrain from concluding a treaty with England.

However, the Soviet Union did not know what Germany really wanted, aside from certain very vague allusions. Several circumstances also spoke for the second possibility, namely to continue to conduct the pact negotiations with England in a dilatory manner. In this case the Soviet Union would continue to have a free hand in any conflict which might break out.

Herr Draganoff then stated that he had declared to the Soviet Russian Charge that Germany, in his opinion, could have no aggressive aims against the Soviet Union, and he pointed out that the situation had also changed with respect to other countries, since Mein Kampf had been written. He reproached Russia with the fact that she had helped Rumania to the Dobruja, for which the Charge tried to lay the blame exclusively on the Tsarist Government. At the end Herr Draganoff repeated again that he had no indications why Herr Astakhov had given him this information. He was pondering the possibility that this was probably done with the intention of having Herr Draganoff report it to us.

1940 World War II: Various:

Lithuania: Soviet troops occupy the cities of Vilna and Kaunas.

France: German forces of 7 Armee break into the Maginot Line and capture Verdun. Thirty thousand, six hundred British and Canadian troops are evacuated from Cherbourg, Brest, and St. Malo.

Manhunters:

Himmler names Oscar Dirlewanger as Obersturmfuehrer in the Waffen-SS, authorizing him to collect poachers from German prisons to serve as manhunters on Germany's eastern border. (THP)

1941 World War II: Various:

North Africa: In Libya, the British Eighth Army abandons Gazala. [See: The Mediterranean Strategy.]

German naval war staff:

On the proposal of Chief Naval Operations . . . use of arms against Russian submarines south of the northern boundary of the land warning area is permitted immediately; ruthless destruction is to be aimed at."

From a letter by Wilhelm Keitel:

To: High Command of the Navy–OKM (SKL). Offensive action against submarines south of the line Memel-southern tip of land is authorized if the boats cannot be definitely identified as Swedish during the approach by German naval forces. The reason to be given up to B-day is that our naval forces believed to be dealing with penetrating British submarines.

1942 Various:

Holocaust: Latvia: The SS in Riga orders another gassing van.

World War II: War at Sea: In the North Atlantic, U-552 sinks 5 ships of Convoy HG-84.

1943 Various:

World War II: The German raider Michel sinks two ships off the west coast of Australia.

Holocaust: The Blobel Commando begins its cover-up of atrocities:

On this day in 1943, Paul Blobel, an SS colonel, is given the assignment of coordinating the destruction of the evidence of the grossest of Nazi atrocities, the systematic extermination of European Jews.

As the summer of 1943 approached, Allied forces had begun making cracks in Axis strongholds, in the Pacific and in the Mediterranean specifically. Heinrich Himmler, leader of the SS, the elite corps of Nazi bodyguards that grew into a paramilitary terror force, began to consider the possibility of German defeat and worried that the mass murder of Jews and Soviet prisoners of war would be discovered. A plan was devised to dig up the buried dead and burn the corpses at each camp and extermination site. The man chosen to oversee this yearlong project was Paul Blobel.

Blobel certainly had some of that blood on his hands himself, as he was in charge of SS killing squads in German-occupied areas of Russia. He now drew together another kind of squad, "Special Commando Group 1,005," dedicated to this destruction of human evidence. Blobel began with "death pits" near Lvov, in Poland, and forced hundreds of Jewish slave laborers from the nearby concentration camp to dig up the corpses and burn them-but not before extracting the gold from the teeth of the victims.

1944 World War II: Various:

War against Japan: Mariana Islands in the west Pacific Ocean, invaded by American forces, beginning their successful invasion of Saipan.

The invasion surprised the Japanese, who had been expecting an attack further south. Admiral Toyoda Soemu, commander-in-chief of the Japanese Navy, saw an opportunity to use the A-Go force to attack the U.S. Navy forces around Saipan. On 15 June he gave the order to attack. But the resulting battle of the Philippine Sea was a disaster for the Imperial Japanese Navy, which lost three aircraft carriers and hundreds of planes. The garrisons of the Marianas would have no hope of resupply or reinforcement. Without resupply, the battle on Saipan was hopeless for the defenders. But the Japanese determined to fight to the last man.

Wunderwaffen: The Germans launch a mass attack of 244 V-1s against London. (Eisenhower II)

From Albert Speer's SBS interview:

One [side] believed that the V-weapons would have a decisive effect on London. Only London could be the target anyway, because the hits were so widely separated that any other city could not be attacked effectively. The deviation for the London distances was about 5 km for the V-1 and 2-3 km for the V-2. One could never compare the effects of V-1 and V-2 to a British attack on a center of a large city because of the heavy effects of the British attacks—the large tonnage dropped in a short time on a small target, the resulting fires—all of which cause much more damage. While in the case of V-2, even with occasional hits far apart, even with the same amount of explosives, the same effect would never have been reached . . . .

Its purpose was to counter the British night attacks with something similar, without the expensive bombers and practically without losses. The main reason was therefore a psychological one for the benefit of the German people. The effect of the V-weapons on London was also overestimated. We expected it to make the British population tired of war, for now and then we received reports that their morale wasn't as high as before. We expected more of a political reaction to the weapon . . . . You bombed the cement emplacements which permitted the launching anyway. These cement sites were prepared to launch the entire production. V-2s were to be produced at the rate of 20-30 units daily, 600-900 monthly, and we planned to fire about 80-100 V-2s daily. You also attacked the installations for V-2s.

[See: Wunderwaffen: Hitler's Deception and the History of Rocketry.]

1945 World War II: Various:

Japan: B-29 Superfortresses make their first raids on the Japanese mainland.

The pivotal Battle for Okinawa continues:

It was a battle of massed tanks which operated ahead of the usual infantry support, blasting the coral rocks with shell bursts and almost constant machine-gun fire. The battlefield was perfect for armored flame throwers, which poured flame into the caves and clusters of rocky crags and wooded areas, either killing the Japanese at once or forcing them into lanes of machine-gun fire. In five days flame tanks of the 713th Armored Flame Thrower Battalion directed more than 37,000 gallons of burning gasoline at the enemy. It was also a battle of infantry platoons or individual infantrymen against disorganized but desperate enemy soldiers.

Last hanging in England for rape:

On this date in 1945, the last man executed for rape in England was hanged at Shepton Mallet prison: an American serviceman, hanged by the United States military.

1946 Cold War: Baruch Plan: for the international control of atomic weapons presented by the United States to the United Nations. The failure of the plan to gain acceptance resulted in a dangerous nuclear arms race between the United States and the Soviet Union during the Cold War. [For further details, Click here]

1952 Spandau Prison: From Spandau: The Secret Diaries, by Albert Speer:

Today a notice posted on the cell door stipulated that Prisoner Number Seven [Rudolf Hess] may remain in bed every morning until half past nine if he has pain. This is an official a acknowledgment that Hess is sick. However, the sickness is not taken seriously, since the medical aide reports that he is injecting only "aqua destilla" (distilled water), a trick frequently used with hysterics. In the medical office this morning Raeder irritably tells the guards Hawker and Wagg that they were wrong to give in, that Hess ought to be handled roughly; he doesn't have any real pain at all. Doenitz is outraged when he hears this. In the washroom he says to Neurath and me, "Raeder would suffer for that in a prisoner-of-war camp. And rightly so, to my mind. That's terribly un-comradely. Hess has a right to malinger if he wants to. We ought to be supporting him. And not to upset him, we shouldn't even tell him that the sedative injection is a trick. You can never tell what he might do then." (Speer II)

1952 Anne Frank:

Diary of a Young Girl is published on this date in the United States. It contains the memoirs of Dutch-Jewish teenager Anne Frank and her time spent with her family and others in hiding during World War II. She died in Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, and many years later, her father, the only surviving member of her family, found her diary.

1977 Holocaust: From an affidavit—made at the request of the South African Board of Jewish Deputies—sworn and signed at Munich on this day by Albert Speer [Note: Speer had been released from Spandau Prison on October 1, 1966 after having served 20-years for Crimes Against Humanity.]:

Hatred of the Jews was Hitler's motor and central point perhaps even the very element which motivated him. The German people, the German greatness, the Empire, they all meant nothing to him in the last analysis. For this reason, he wished in the final sentence of his testament, to fixate us Germans, even after the apocalyptic downfall in a miserable hatred of the Jews.

I was present at the session of the Reichstag of 30th January 1939, when Hitler assured us that in case of a war, not the Germans, but the Jews would be annihilated. This dictum was pronounced with such certainty that I would not have felt permitted to question his intention to carry it through. He repeated this announcement of his intentions on 30th January 1942, in a speech I also know of: The war would not end, as the Jews imagined, by the extinction of European-Aryan peoples, but it would result in the annihilation of the Jews. This repetition of his words of 30th January 1939 was not unique. He would often remind his entourage of the importance of this dictum

When speaking of the victims of the bomb raids, particularly after the massive attacks on Hamburg in Summer 1943, he again and again reiterated that he would avenge these victims on the Jews; just as if the air-terror against the civilian population actually suited him in that it furnished him with a belated substitute motivation for a crime decided upon long ago and emanating from quite different layers of his personality. Just as if he wanted to justify his own mass murders with these remarks.

So long as Hitler had temperamental outbursts of hate, there was yet hope for a change towards more moderate directions. Therefore, it was the resoluteness and coldness which made his outbreaks against the Jews so convincing. In other areas when he announced horrifying decisions in a cold and quiet voice, those around him, and I myself knew that things had now become serious. And with just this cold superiority he declared also, when we occasionally had lunch together, that he was set to destroy the Jews in Europe.

In Summer 1944, the District Leader of Lower Silesia, Karl Hanke, paid me a visit. Hanke had distinguished himself by bravery in the Polish and French campaigns. He was certainly not an easily frightened person. Therefore it was of particular moment, when, at that time, he told me in a shocked manner, that monstrous things were happening in the concentration camps of his neighboring district, Upper Silesia. He said he was there and would never be able to forget what atrocities he had witnessed there. Admittedly, he did not mention any names, but he must have meant Auschwitz in Upper Silesia. From the agitation of this battle-hardened soldier, I could derive that something unheard of was happening, if it could cause this old party leader of Hitler's to lose his composure.

Hitler's method of work was that he gave even important commands to his confidants verbally. Also in the leader's records of my interviews with Hitler completely preserved in the German Federal Archives—there were numerous commands even in important areas which Hitler clearly gave by word of mouth only. It therefore conforms with his method of work and must not be regarded as an oversight, that a written order for the extermination of the Jews does not exist.

That the Jewish inmates of the extermination camps were murdered was established at Court (IMT), by witnesses and documentation, and in fact not seriously contested by any of the accused. Himmler's speech before the SS leaders of 4th October 1943, which clearly illustrated the happenings in the extermination camps, was not discredited as forgery by the defense, as it for instance happened with the 'Hossbach-Protokoll.'

Frank has never disputed the genuineness of his diary that by his own admission, he surrendered to the Americans on the occasion of his arrest. The diary contains remarks proving that the Jews in Poland were, except for a remainder of 100 000, quite annihilated. The accused also accepted these statements of Frank's and criticism was limited to the stupidity in handing over this incriminating diary to the 'opponents.'

Schirach confirmed in a confidential conversation already during the trial, that he was present at a speech which Himmler gave to the district leaders in Posen (on 6th October 1943), in which Himmler clearly and unambiguously announced that the projected killing of the Jews had been largely carried out. He returned to this subject, which weighed on his mind also during his imprisonment in Spandau.

In his final address to the Court, Goering spoke of the serious crimes which had been uncovered during the trial and he condemned the atrocious mass murders which he said escaped his comprehension. Streicher also condemned the mass murders of the Jews in his final address. For Fritzsche, also in his final address, the murder of five million was a horrifying warning for the future. These words of the accused support my contention that in the Nuremberg Trial the accused as well as the defense have recognized as a fact that the mass murders of the Jews had taken place.

The Nuremberg Trial stands for me still today as an attempt to break through to a better world. Still today I acknowledge as generally correct the reasons of my sentence by the International Military Tribunal. Moreover, I still today consider as just that I assume the responsibility and thus the guilt for everything that was perpetrated by way of, generally speaking, crime, after my joining the Hitler Government on the 8th February 1942. Not the individual mistakes, grave as they may be, are burdening my conscience, but my having acted in the leadership. Therefore, I for my person, have in the Nuremberg Trial, confessed to the collective responsibility and I am also maintaining this today still. I still see my main guilt in my having approved of the persecution of the Jews and of the murder of millions of them.

1994 Israel and the Vatican establish full diplomatic relations.

Edited by Levi Bookin (Copy editor)
levi.bookin@gmail.com









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