Final Report on the Evidence of Witnesses for the Defense of Organizations Alleged to be Criminal, Heard Before a Commission Appointed by the Tribunal Pursuant to Paragraph 4 o the Order of the 13th of March, 1946.
When the time limit for affidavits was reached on August 5th, the total number of collective affidavits submitted was 313,213.
The total for each organization was as follows:
The Prosecution has frequently alleged that the "whole world" knew about these crimes and so why did not the members?
This was attacked by the Defense as being entirely untrue. It is their claim that under the HITLER regime the reading of foreign, newspapers or listening to foreign broadcasts was prohibited except for a very small circle of officials of the Government. In consequence it was impossible for the average person to have knowledge of such atrocities even though they were being published all over the world.
This suppression of information by the GESTAPO and other organizations played some part in the evidence regarding the extermination of the Jews. Where it could be shown that the GESTAPO deliberately prevented information from reaching any large number of members of the population this was considered relevant. A mere statement, however, by a witness who asked the GESTAPO for information as to whether the atrocities alleged in Auschwitz were actually occurring and received a negative answer, was declared inadmissible. There appeared to be no evidence that this information was passed on to the public as a whole, nor in this particular case, did it appear to relate to the organization (the SS) for which he had sworn an affidavit.
For the same reason evidence by a witness that his own brother had been an inmate of Belsen concentration camp and told him that there were no atrocities going on, was declared irrelevant to the question of whether the atrocities were generally known to the SS. Similarly, evidence was also declared irrelevant which relates only to the guilt or innocence of a particular person.
The summary of evidence which follows will perhaps serve to illustrate further problems concerning the Order of March 13th that have arisen during the hearings.
The point made by the Commissioners was that it was not the intention that the structure of the organization as such should be given. It was intended that the details of the organization should only be described insofar as they were intended to refute the particular crimes alleged under Article 6 of the Charter.
It was, for instance, considered quite relevant to show that disciplinary action was taken against people who committed atrocities in concentration camps and what was the practice of the SS Court in dealing with these because these were crimes mentioned in the Charter.
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