Document Analyst's Report

During June I analyzed the IMT prosecution documents concerning Alfred Rosenberg and four of the document books on Hermann Goering, the lead defendant. This amounted to 141 documents and 700 pages of material. As it turned out, Rosenberg and Goering form a study in contrast.

Labels (problem of): When I began work on the prosecution case against the individual defendants (the third phase of the prosecution), the first file was a presentation on "the lead defendants," meaning Goering and a few other high-ranking men, with references to a corresponding document book (identified as book DD). We have a document book with a slip of paper identifying it as concerning the "lead defendants," but it turned out to be a second copy of an early document book on the official positions of all the defendants-and not document book DD. I assumed that the document book was just not in the collection and moved on to the next set of files. However, a later review confirmed that we do have a large document book (in 5 folders) on Goering himself, and the documents cited in the presentation on the lead defendants are in this book, some of them with "DD" noted on the page. That closed the circle; we had the right document book, just under another title.

Speaking softly: Rosenberg did many things, but he was primarily a propagandist. During a meeting in December 1941, he advised Hitler "not to speak of the extermination of the Jews." He made no objection to the extermination itself. Similarly, as minister for the occupied eastern territories in 1942, he admonished German officers in the Ukraine who described (and treated) the local population as "colonials who should be whipped." Instead, he argued, German authorities "must remain silent where necessary harshness is dictated by German policy." Again he made no objection to the harsh policy, only to the public rhetoric.

Boasting of bullets: Goering, in contrast to Rosenberg, believed that aggressive words enhanced aggressive deeds. In 1934 he pointed to his creation of the Gestapo and their tactics: "each bullet which leaves the barrel of a police pistol now is my bullet. If one calls this murder, then I have murdered; I ordered all this, I back it up."

Comparing values: In November 1938, after hearing the police report that the anti-Jewish Kristallnacht actions had resulted in the death of 35 Jews and the destruction of several hundred million reichsmarks' worth of property, Goering commented, "I wished you had killed 200 Jews and not destroyed such values."

Welcoming the war: According to one German record, after Hitler presented his military commanders with his war plan in August 1939, "Goering jumped on the table. Bloodthirsty thanks and bloody promises. He danced around like a savage."

Matt Seccombe, 11 July 2019