'Force by law. Not law by force'

- The world's largest murder trial.
Avsnitt ur originalinspelningarna av förhören med Otto Ohlendorf inför Militärtribunal IIA i Nürnberg i oktober 1947. 'Hunger': Lyssna | Ladda hem Otto Ohlendorf frågas ut om den sk Führerordern, att alla judar, zigenare och aktiva kommunister skulle dödas. Ordern kom från Hitler via SS-chefen Himmler. Insatsgrupperna fick den i Pretzsch i Sachsen när de samlades inför anfallet på Sovjet i juni 1941. Ordern gavs av chefen för SS personalavdelning, Streckenbach. Ohlendorf korsförhörs av åklagarsidans James E. Heath. Nedan följer utskriften på engelska av korsförhöret. Prosecution Counsel James E. Heath: Now at Pretzsch, Streckenbach told you, for the first time, you say, what the Einsatzgruppen were to do? Defendant Otto Ohlendorf: Yes. Heath: He had a special order? Ohlendorf: Yes. Heath: In your direct examination you stated that the order "read as follows". Did you see the order yourself? Ohlendorf: No, I did not say it "reads as follows", I merely gave the contents, for I always said there was no written order. Heath: I misunderstood you, the transcript said, "Read as follows". So your understanding of the purposes of the Einsatzgruppen came from Streckenbach orally at Pretzsch? Ohlendorf: Yes. Heath: And you protested? Ohlendorf: Not merely myself, but as I said in the direct examination, there was a general protest. Heath: What form did your protest to Streckenbach take? Ohlendorf: I pointed out that these were missions, which could not possibly be accomplished. It is impossible to ask people to carry out such executions. Heath: Why? Ohlendorf: Well, I believe there is no doubt that there is nothing worse for people spiritually than to have to shoot defenceless populations. Heath: It may be a little bit facetious in a grim matter, there is nothing worse than to be shot either, is there? When you are defenceless? Ohlendorf: Since this is meant ironically by you, I can imagine worse things, for example to starve. Heath: It is not meant entirely ironically. I have read the whole of your testimony and I am impressed by the fact that not once have you expressed any sympathy or regret. Presiding Judge Michael A. Musmanno: Mr. Heath, I don’t think that that observation is in place. Heath: I withdraw it your Honour. Presiding Judge Musmanno: You are not to comment on the witness. Ask him questions and he is answering them. What you think about him is of no consequence. Heath: I know that your Honour, and I ask the Court’s forgiveness for having put the question. 'Systern': Lyssna | Ladda hem Ohlendorf får en fråga från den biträdanden åklagaren James A. Heath om han även skulle följa en order om att döda sin egen syster. Ohlendorf vill inte svara först. Hans advokat Rudolf Aschenauer protesterar och rättens ordförande Michael A Musmanno ingriper. Till sist svarar Ohlendorf. Nedan följer samma avsnitt ur domstolsprotokollet på engelska. Prosecution counsel James E. Heath: The Court made inquiry on which it got no response from the witness, which was, I think, the ultimate question which your Honour was putting to him, namely, if you got an order from Hitler to kill your sister, would you have acted on the order, or would you have formed a moral judgement about the nature of the order? Presiding Judge Michael A. Musmanno: The Court would not insist on the question being answered because of its very nature, but it seems to me that it is a relevant question, but the witness may or may not answer, as he sees fit. Heath: Then let me put the question to him, if your Honour please? Witness if you received an order from Adolf Hitler to kill you own flesh and blood, would you have executed that order, or not? Defendant Otto Ohlendorf: I consider this question frivolous. The question being put to me here by the prosecution, it deals with people-with life and death of people, and of millions of people who are near starvation even today, therefore, I can only state that the question is frivolous. Heath: Then I understand you say that if one person be involved in a killing order, a moral question arises, but if thousands of human beings are involved in it, you can see no moral questions; it is a matter of numbers? Ohlendorf: Mr. Prosecutor, I think you are the only one to understand my answer in this way, that it is not a matter of one single person, but from the point of departure events have happened in history which among other things have led to deeds committed in Russia, and such an historical process you want me to analyse in a moral way. I do, however, refuse moral evaluation with good reasons as outlined so far as my own conscience is concerned. I am not refusing to answer this last question because it is just one person, in order to bring morality on the basis of numbers, but because the prosecutor now addresses me personally – Heath: Then I shall not address you personally. Suppose you found your sister in Soviet Russia, and your sister were included in the category gypsy, not Jewish, and she was brought before you for slaughter because of her presence in a gypsy band; what would have been your action? She is there in the process of history, which you described? Defence counsel Rudolf Aschenauer: I object to this question and ask that this question not be admitted. I think the subject has been dealt with sufficiently so that no other questions are necessary. This is no question for cross-examination. Heath: If Your Honour please, I believe we have met the tests which he applies by putting one of his own flesh and blood in exactly the alleged historical stream in which he can form no judgement. I asked him now wheth er if he found his own flesh an d blood within the Hitler Order, in Russia, what would have been his judgement? Would it have been moral to kill his own flesh and blood, or immoral? Aschenauer: I ask for a ruling of the Tribunal upon my objection. Presiding Judge Musmanno: The question indubitably is an extraordinary one, and ordinarily would not be tolerated in any trial, outside of a trial like this, which is certainly an extraordinary and phenomenal one. We are dealing here with a charge, which to the knowledge of this Tribunal has never been presented in the history of the human race of a man who is charged with the responsibility for the snuffing out of the life of hundreds of thousands - not hundreds of thousands, but ninety thousand people. If he can be charged with anything so monstrous as that, it doesn’t seem to me so extraordinary for you to ask a question on a moral issue, if whether he were presented with an order by Hitler to dispose of his own flesh and blood, whether he would regard that as a moral issue or not. We believe this question is entirely relevant and not frivolous, and the witness will be called upon to answer it. Ohlendorf: May I please answer this question in the way it was put by the Prosecutor, and the way it was originally put. I had not finished my statement why I considered this question frivolous, when the prosecutor interrupted me. Heath: Your Honour, please, I suggest that the Court has ruled that the question is not frivolous, and calls for an answer. I urge the Court or respectfully request that the Court directs the witness to answer the question. Presiding Judge Musmanno: We are disposed to believe that the witness will answer the question so that we do not need to urge or demand. Heath: I should have added, you Honour, "or refuse to answer it, one or the other". Presiding Judge Musmanno: We are disposed to believe that he will answer it. So let’s see whether he will or not. Ohlendorf: I consider this question frivolous, because it brings a completely private matter into a military one; that is it deals with two events which have nothing to do with each other. Presiding Judge Musmanno: Witness— Heath: Your Honour— Presiding Judge Musmanno: Let’s keep in mind this situation. You are a defendant in a trial, and very serious charges have been brought against you. Your whole life and career are before this Court for scrutiny and examination. A question arises regarding an order, which you received, The order called for the execution of defenceless people. You will admit that in normal times such a proposition would be incredible, and intolerable, but you claim that the circumstances were not normal, and, therefor, what might be accepted only with terrified judgement was accepted at that time as a normal discharge of duty. It is the contention of the prosecution, that regardless of the circumstances, the killing of defenceless people involved a moral issue and that under all circumstances you should have refrained from doing what was done. Now by way of illustration he advances, suppose that you had in the discharge of this duty been confronted with the necessity of deciding whether to kill, among hundreds of unknown people, one whom you knew very well. It seems to me that that is a relevant comparison. Now, let’s direct our attention to that very question, if you will, please. Ohlendorf: If this demand would have been made to me under the same prerequisites that is within the framework of an order, which is absolutely necessary militarily, then I would have executed the order. - Heath: That’s all, Sir.
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