21 Nov. 45

I cannot, of course, deny that these men are surprised that this is the law; they really are surprised that there is any such thing as law. These defendants did not rely on any law at all. Their program ignored and defied all law. That this is so will appear from many acts and statements, of which I cite but a few.

In the Führer's speech to all military commanders on November 23, 1939 he reminded them that at the moment Germany had a pact with Russia, but declared: "Agreements are to be kept only as long as they serve a certain purpose." Later in the same speech he announced: "A violation of the neutrality of Holland and Belgium will be of no importance" (789-PS). A top secret document, entitled "Warfare as a Problem of Organization," dispatched by the Chief of the High Command to all commanders on April 19, 1938 declared that "the normal rules of war towards neutrals may be considered to apply on the basis whether operation of rules will create greater advantages or disadvantages for the belligerents" (L-211). And from the files of the German Navy Staff, we have a "Memorandum on Intensified Naval War," dated October 15, 1939, which begins by stating a desire to comply with International Law. "However," it continues, "if decisive successes are expected from any measure considered as a war necessity, it must be carried through even if it is not in agreement with international law." (L-184) International law, natural law, German law, any law at all was to these men simply a propaganda device to be invoked when it helped and to be ignored when it would condemn what they wanted to do. That men may be protected in relying upon the law at the time they act is the reason we find laws of retrospective operations unjust. But these men cannot bring themselves within the reason of the rule which in some systems of jurisprudence prohibits ex post facto laws. They cannot show that they ever relied upon international law in any state or paid it the slightest regard.

The third Count of the Indictment is based on the definition of War Crimes contained in the Charter. I have outlined to you the systematic course of conduct toward civilian populations and combat forces which violates international conventions to which Germany was a party. Of the criminal nature of these acts at least, the defendants had, as we shall show, clear knowledge. Accordingly, they took pains to conceal their violations. It will appear that the Defendants Keitel and Jodl were informed by official legal advisors that the orders to brand Russian prisoners of war, to shackle British prisoners of war, and to execute commando prisoners were clear violations of international law. Nevertheless, these orders were put into effect. The same is true of orders issued for the assassination of General Giraud and General Weygand, which failed to be executed