October 16, 1946 :: Major Nazi War Criminals Executed

16 October 1946 :: Nazi War Criminals Executed by hanging after the Nuremberg Trials. Executed were:

Hans Frank, Nazi governor of the General Government of occupied Poland

Wilhelm Frick, the Nazi Interior Minister and responsible for the civil persecution within Nazi Germany and senior civilian official overseeing the concentration camps within Germany

Alfred Jodl, Nazi general who oversaw the implementation of Hitler’s military war crimes

Ernst Kaltenbrunner, SS General and Chief of the Reich Main Security Office (including Sicherheitspolizei (SIPO), Ordnungspolizei (ORPO), and Geheime Staatspolizei (GESTAPO).

Wilhelm Keitel, Nazi general who approved the implementation of Hitler’s military war crimes

Joachim von Ribbentrop, Nazi Foriegn Minister who orchestrated the take over of Austria, and the invasions of Czechoslovakia and Poland

Alfred Rosenberg, Nazi eugenicist, racial propaganda leader / agitator and governor of the Reichskommissariat Ostland in the occupied Soviet Union

Fritz Sauckel, General Plenipotentiary for [Slave] Labor

Arthur Seyss-Inquart, Head of the Reichskommissar in the Netherlands

Julius Streicher, racial propaganda leader / agitator and publisher / editor of the notorious Der Stürmer

Hermann Göring, the second in command of Nazi Germany committed suicide in his cell the previous night

Heinrich Himmler, head of the SS and responsible for the KL Concentration Camps and Nazi Death Camps, committed suicide shortly after being captured by the British on 23 May 1945

Martin Bormann, head of the Nazi Party Chancellery and Hitler’s private secretary, was sentenced to death in absentia, but was not caught and reportedly committed suicide in Berlin on 2 May 1945

World War 2 National Socialism and the Holocaust

Chapter 4: Decent into Chaos :: The Coming of the Third Reich by Richard J. Evans

Response / Thought Quotes

  • “’For thirty years the army was my pride. For it I lived, upon it I laboured, and now, after four and a half brilliant years of war with unprecedented victories, it was forced to collapse by the stab- in- the- back from the dagger of the revolutionist, at the very moment when peace was within reach!‘”
  • “No enemy has overcome you!”
  • “Moreover, the American President Woodrow Wilson had declared, in his celebrated ‘Fourteen Points’ which he wished the Allied powers to be working for, that every nation should be able to determine its own future, free from interference by others. If this applied to the Poles, the Czechs and the Yugoslavs, then surely it should apply to the Germans as well? But it did not. … The Austrians wanted union; the Germans were prepared to accept union; the principle of national self- determination demanded union. The fact that the Allies forbade union remained a constant source of bitterness in Germany and condemned the new ‘Republic of German- Austria’, as it was known, to two decades of conflict- ridden, crisis- racked existence in which few of its citizens ever came to believe in its legitimacy.”
  • “Versailles was condemned as a dictated peace, unilaterally imposed without the possibility of negotiation. The enthusiasm which so many middle- class Germans had demonstrated for war in 1914 flipped over into burning resentment at the terms of peace four years later.”
  • “On 15 November 1918 I was on the way from the hospital at Bad Nauheim to my garrison at Brandenburg. As I was limping along with the aid of my cane at the Potsdam station in Berlin, a band of uniformed men, sporting red armbands, stopped me, and demanded that I surrender my epaulettes and insignia. I raised my stick in reply; but my rebellion was soon overcome. I was thrown (down?), and only the intervention of a railroad official saved me from my humiliating position. Hate flamed in me against the November criminals from that moment. As soon as my health improved somewhat, I joined forces with the groups devoted to the overthrow of the rebellion. … I shall never forget the scene when a comrade without an arm came into the room and threw himself on his bed crying. The red rabble, which had never heard a bullet whistle, had assaulted him and torn off all his insignia and medals. We screamed with rage. For this kind of Germany we had sacrificed our blood and our health, and braved all the torments of hell and a world of enemies for years.”
  • “The First World War legitimized violence to a degree that not even Bismarck’s wars of unification in 1864-70 had been able to do. Before the war, Germans even of widely differing and bitterly opposed political beliefs had been able to discuss their differences without resorting to violence.”
  • “It was in this atmosphere of national trauma, political extremism, violent conflict and revolutionary upheaval that Nazism was born.”
  • “provided the spur to translate extreme ideas into violent action.”

Thought Questions

  • What were the consequences of defeat for Germany?
  • How did Germans react to the consequences of defeat?
  • In what ways did defeat specifically impact German nationalists and conservatives?
  • In what ways did defeat specifically impact German Social Democrats?
  • In what ways did gender impact the experience of defeat?
  • Explain and Expand: “In November 1918 most Germans expected that, since the war was being brought to an end before the Allies had set foot on German soil, the terms on which the peace would be based would be relatively equitable. … Given the extent of what Germans had expected to gain in the event of victory, it might have been expected that they would have realized what they stood to lose in the event of defeat.”
  • What were the circumstances and terms of the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk
  • What were the circumstances and terms of the Armistice of 11 November 1918 which ended the military conflict and how did it impact the eventual treaty
  • What were the circumstances and terms of the Treaty of Versailles and how did it start a political and social conflict
  • What is the “Stab in the back” myth?
  • Explain and Expand: “principal aim was to make the world safe for democracy.”
  • Explain and Expand: “As a far from incidental by- product, Ludendorff also reckoned that if the terms were not so acceptable to the German people, the burden of agreeing to them would thereby be placed on Germany’s democratic politicians rather than on the Kaiser or the army leadership. … The army simply melted away as the Armistice of 11 November was concluded, and the democratic parties were left, as Ludendorff had intended, to negotiate, if negotiate was the word, the terms of the Treaty of Versailles.”
  • In what ways did the union of Germany and German- speaking Austria impact the post war situation?
  • Explain and Expand: “The idea took root in Germany that the whole concept of war crimes, indeed the whole notion of laws of war, was a polemical invention of the victorious Allies based on mendacious propaganda about imaginary atrocities.”
  • What was the purpose of Article 231 in the treaty and how was it interpreted by the German public and misrepresented by German nationalists
  • Explain and Expand: “In many ways, the peace settlement of 1918- 19 was a brave attempt at marrying principle and pragmatism in a dramatically altered world. In other circumstances it might have stood a chance of success. But not in the circumstances of 1919, when almost any peace terms would have been condemned by German nationalists who felt they had been unjustly cheated of victory.”
  • Who were the “Pan- Germans”
  • Who was Wolfgang Kapp?
  • Explain and Expand: “What transformed the extreme nationalist scene was not the war itself, but the experience of defeat, revolution and armed conflict at the war’s end. A powerful role was played here by the myth of the ‘front generation’ of 1914- 18, soldiers bound together in a spirit of comradeship and self- sacrifice in a heroic cause which overcame all political, regional, social and religious differences.”
  • How did the experience of defeat in 1918 shape German nationalism?
  • What role did paramilitary organizations fill for German World War I veterans
  • What role did paramilitary organizations fill for German men who were too young to participate in World War I?
  • Explain and Expand: “Germany failed to make the transition from wartime back to peacetime after 1918. Instead, it remained on a continued war footing; at war with itself, and at war with the rest of the world”
  • What paramilitary organizations identified with particular political parties?
  • How did the existence and activities of paramilitary organizations impact German democracy?
  • Who were Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht
  • In what ways did the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia impact the German revolution in 1918-19
  • Explain and Expand: “These events left a permanent legacy of bitterness and hatred on the political left, made worse by another major outbreak of political violence in the spring of 1920.”
  • Explain and Expand: “shot while trying to escape”
  • Explain and Expand: “Political violence reached fresh heights in 1923, a year marked not only by the bloody suppression of an abortive Communist uprising in Hamburg but also by gun battles between rival political groups in Munich and armed clashes involving French- backed separatists in the Rhineland.”

Primary Sources

Articles and Resources

Further Reading

 

World War 2 National Socialism and the Holocaust

Chapter 4: Decent into Chaos :: The Coming of the Third Reich by Richard J. Evans

Response / Thought Quotes

  • “It was in this atmosphere of national trauma, political extremism, violent conflict and revolutionary upheaval that Nazism was born.”
  • “Given the extent of what Germans had expected to gain in the event of victory, it might have been expected that they would have realized what they stood to lose in the event of defeat.”
  • “For thirty years the army was my pride. For it I lived, upon it I laboured, and now, after four and a half brilliant years of war with unprecedented victories, it was forced to collapse by the stab- in- the- back from the dagger of the revolutionist, at the very moment when peace was within reach!”
  • “As a far from incidental by- product, Ludendorff also reckoned that if the terms were not so acceptable to the German people, the burden of agreeing to them would thereby be placed on Germany’s democratic politicians rather than on the Kaiser or the army leadership.”
  • “Versailles was condemned as a dictated peace, unilaterally imposed without the possibility of negotiation. The enthusiasm which so many middle- class Germans had demonstrated for war in 1914 flipped over into burning resentment at the terms of peace four years later.”
  • “What transformed the extreme nationalist scene was not the war itself, but the experience of defeat, revolution and armed conflict at the war’s end. A powerful role was played here by the myth of the ‘front generation’ of 1914- 18, soldiers bound together in a spirit of comradeship and self- sacrifice in a heroic cause which overcame all political, regional, social and religious differences.”
  • “On 15 November 1918 I was on the way from the hospital at Bad Nauheim to my garrison at Brandenburg. As I was limping along with the aid of my cane at the Potsdam station in Berlin, a band of uniformed men, sporting red armbands, stopped me, and demanded that I surrender my epaulettes and insignia. I raised my stick in reply; but my rebellion was soon overcome. I was thrown (down?), and only the intervention of a railroad official saved me from my humiliating position. Hate flamed in me against the November criminals from that moment. As soon as my health improved somewhat, I joined forces with the groups devoted to the overthrow of the rebellion.”
  • “I shall never forget the scene when a comrade without an arm came into the room and threw himself on his bed crying. The red rabble, which had never heard a bullet whistle, had assaulted him and torn off all his insignia and medals. We screamed with rage. For this kind of Germany we had sacrificed our blood and our health, and braved all the torments of hell and a world of enemies for years.”
  • “The Steel Helmets proclaim the battle against all softness and cowardice, which seek to weaken and destroy the consciousness of honour of the German people through renunciation of the right of defense and will to defense.”
  • “Germany failed to make the transition from wartime back to peacetime after 1918. Instead, it remained on a continued war footing; at war with itself, and at war with the rest of the world”
  • “Their affinities with the hard right became closer from the middle of the 1920s, when they took a more radical stance, banning Jews from membership despite the fact that the organization was intended to provide for all ex-front-soldiers, and there were plenty of Jewish veterans who needed its support as much as anyone else did.”
  • “Bands of uniformed men marching through the streets and clashing with each other in brutally physical encounters became a commonplace sight in the Weimar Republic, adding to the general atmosphere of violence and aggression in political life.”
  • “the ‘November criminals’ or ‘November traitors’ as they were soon dubbed, the men who had first stabbed the army in the back, then in November 1918 committed the double crime of overthrowing the Kaiser and signing the Armistice.”

Thought Questions

  • In what ways did chaos envelop Germany immediately after World War I?
  • In what ways did fascism appeal to German conservatives?
  • Explain and Expand: “In November 1918 most Germans expected that, since the war was being brought to an end before the Allies had set foot on German soil, the terms on which the peace would be based would be relatively equitable.”
  • Compare and Contrast: The Treaty of Brest-Litovsk and the Treaty of Versailles
  • Describe the military circumstances of Germany and the Central Powers at the end of World War I
  • Describe the “Stab in the Back” myth
  • Who was Richard Wagner and what was his significance to the history of Germany
  • Explain and Expand: “No enemy has overcome you!”
  • Who was Friedrich Ebert
  • What was the significance of Friedrich Ebert referencing the Entente Powers as “enemies” to German troops
  • Describe the creation of Weimar Germany
  • In what ways was making “the world safe for democracy” contradicted by elements of the Treaty of Versailles?
  • Explain and Expand: “Just as significant, and just as much of a shock, was the refusal of the victorious powers to allow the union of Germany and German- speaking Austria, which would have meant the fulfilment of the radical dreams of 1848.”
  • In what ways did Woodrow Wilson’s “Fourteen Points” impact the development of the Treaty of Versailles
  • React and Respond: “The idea took root in Germany that the whole concept of war crimes, indeed the whole notion of laws of war, was a polemical invention of the victorious Allies based on mendacious propaganda about imaginary atrocities.”
  • What was “Article 231” of the Treaty of Versailles, what was its purpose for the Allied powers and how was it interpreted by Germans
  • React and Respond: “In many ways, the peace settlement of 1918- 19 was a brave attempt at marrying principle and pragmatism in a dramatically altered world. In other circumstances it might have stood a chance of success. But not in the circumstances of 1919, when almost any peace terms would have been condemned by German nationalists who felt they had been unjustly cheated of victory.”
  • Explain and Expand: “Although the British and the Americans stationed troops in a large area of the Rhineland, it was the French, both there and in the Saar, who aroused the most resentment.”
  • Explain and Expand: “The Pan- Germans had greeted the outbreak of war in 1914 with unbounded enthusiasm, verging on ecstasy. For men like Heinrich Class, it was the fulfilment of a lifetime’s dream.”
  • How did the Prussian military class contribute to the “decent into chaos”
  • Who were Wolfgang Kapp and Alfred Hugenberg and how did they impact the Weimar Republic?
  • Describe the founding and significance of the German Fatherland Party
  • Explain and Expand: “Those who were already politically socialized into conservative and nationalist traditions found their views radicalized in the new political context of the 1920s. On the left, too, a new willingness to use violence was conditioned by the experience, real or vicarious, of the war.”
  • Describe the ‘Steel Helmets: League of Front- Soldiers’ and their significance to Weimar Germany
  • Who was Theodor Duesterberg and how did he contribute to the development of fascism in Germany
  • Explain and Expand: ““Both men therefore believed that the Steel Helmets should be ‘above politics’.”
  • Explain and Expand: “For most Germans, as for the Steel Helmets, the trauma of the First World War, and above all the shock of the unexpected defeat, refused to be healed.”
  • Explain and Expand: “Germany failed to make the transition from wartime back to peacetime after 1918. Instead, it remained on a continued war footing; at war with itself, and at war with the rest of the world”
  • What was the significance of “Military models of conduct had been widespread in German society and culture before 1914; but after the war they became all-pervasive; the language of politics was permeated by metaphors of warfare, the other party was an enemy to be smashed, and struggle, terror and violence became widely accepted as legitimate weapons in the political struggle.”
  • What was the significance of: Free Corps, Reichsbanner Black-Red-Gold, the Red Front- Fighters’ League, other “combat leagues”
  • Who were Karl Liebknecht and Rosa Luxemburg?
  • Explain and Expand: “the Free Corps, egged on by the mainstream Social Democrats, reacted with unprecedented violence and brutality.”
  • Explain and Expand: “These events left a permanent legacy of bitterness and hatred on the political left, made worse by another major outbreak of political violence in the spring of 1920.”
  • Explain and Expand: “Political violence reached fresh heights in 1923, a year marked not only by the bloody suppression of an abortive Communist uprising in Hamburg but also by gun battles between rival political groups in Munich and armed clashes involving French-backed separatists in the Rhineland.”
  • Explain and Expand: “provided the spur to translate extreme ideas into violent action.”

Primary Sources

Articles and Resources

Further Reading

 

World War 2 National Socialism and the Holocaust

Chapter 3: The Spirit Of 1914 :: The Coming of the Third Reich by Richard J. Evans

Response / Thought Quotes

  • “If only we belonged to the German Empire!”
  • “Religion’s all the same, it’s race that is to blame”
  • “‘Germandom’, ‘Slavdom’, ‘Anglo-Saxondom’ or ‘Jewdom’”
  • “Other races were outbreeding the Germans and threatening to ‘flood’ them; or, like the French, they were declining and therefore exerting a corrupting influence through their decadence.”
  • “Baptism, of course, made no difference to the fact that someone was a Jew in Gebsattel’s eyes; anyone with more than a quarter of ‘Jewish blood’ in his or her veins was to be treated as a Jew and not a German.”
  • “In the eyes of the right, Communism and Social Democracy amounted to two sides of the same coin, and the one seemed no less a threat than the other.”
  • “Sacrifice, privation, death, on a huge scale, left Germans of all political hues bitterly searching for the reason why.”

Thought Questions

  • How did the Habsburg monarchy had restructured itself in the mid 19th century?
  • Compare and Contrast: The approaches to German expansion taken by different German nationalists
  • What was the Linz Programme of 1879?
  • Explain and Expand: “Its constant harping upon the supposedly evil influence of the Jews made it easier for a cynical communal politician”
  • Explain and Expand: “Schönerer never enjoyed this kind of popular support. But where Lueger’s antisemitism, though influential, was essentially opportunistic—‘ I decide who’s a Yid’, he once famously said, when criticized for dining with influential Jews in Vienna – Schönerer’s was visceral and unyielding. He proclaimed antisemitism, indeed, ‘the greatest achievement of the century’.”
  • Compare and Contrast: Antisemitism and anti-Catholicism in German nationalism
  • Explain and Expand: “Antisemitism in Austria was far from being a separate phenomenon from its German counterpart.”
  • In what ways did the lapsing of the Anti-Socialist Law impact German domestic politics
  • Explain and Expand: “Carl Peters was a classic colonial adventurer of the late nineteenth century, whose exploits quickly became the stuff of legend. … Peters’s fertile imagination and restless spirit led him to found a variety of organizations, including a Society for German Colonization in 1884, which merged with a like-minded group in 1887 to form the German Colonial Society.”
  • Explain and Expand: “The most significant, perhaps, was the Navy League, founded in 1898 with money from the arms manufacturer Krupp”
  • In what ways did gender impact the German nationalists
  • Explain and Expand: “Many of these agitators had achieved their status by working hard to get a university degree then moving up slowly through the ranks of the less fashionable parts of the civil service. Here, too, a degree of social anxiety was an important driving force. Identification, perhaps over-identification, with the German nation gave all the leading figures in the nationalist associations, whatever their background, a sense of pride and belonging, and an object for commitment and mobilization.”
  • Explain and Expand: “Alongside the specific aims that each organization followed, and irrespective of the frequent internal rows which plagued them, the nationalist associations generally agreed that Bismarck’s work of building the German nation was woefully incomplete and urgently needed to be pushed to its conclusion.”
  • Explain and Expand: “However, at the same time as they harboured these almost limitless ambitions for German world domination, the Pan-German League and the other nationalist associations also sounded a strong note of alarm, even despondency, about Germany’s current state and future prospects.”
  • What was the significance of the relationship between German nationalists and German monarchists
  • Explain and Expand: “Like other European nations, Germany went into the First World War in an optimistic mood, fully expecting to win, most probably in a relatively short space of time.”
  • Explain and Expand: “In all the major combatant nations, there was a change of leadership in the middle years of the war, reflecting a perceived need for greater energy and ruthlessness in mobilizing the nation and its resources.”
  • What was the significance of: “Ludendorff ordered a systematic economic exploitation of the areas of France, Belgium and East- Central Europe occupied by German troops. The occupied countries’ memory of this was to cost the Germans dearly at the end of the war.”
  • Explain and Expand: “So the Bolsheviks formed a Communist International (‘Comintern’) to propagate their version of revolution in the rest of the world.”
  • In what ways was 1916 a pivotal year for Germany and Russia?
  • Explain and Expand: “It would be difficult to exaggerate the fear and terror that these events spread amongst many parts of the population in Western and Central Europe.”
  • Explain and Expand: “The legacy of the German past was a burdensome one in many respects.”
  • In what ways were “The problems bequeathed to the German political system by Bismarck and his successors were made infinitely worse by the effects of the war”
  • Affirm or Refute: “Without the war, Nazism would not have emerged as a serious political force, nor would so many Germans have sought so desperately for an authoritarian alternative to the civilian politics that seemed so signally to have failed Germany in its hour of need.”

Articles and Resources

 

World War 2 National Socialism and the Holocaust

Part 1: The Legacy of the Past, Chapter 1: German Peculiarities :: The Coming of the Third Reich by Richard J. Evans

Note: Individuals sympathetic to National Socialism or who attempt to minimize, distort or deny the crimes of National Socialism are not welcome here.

Response / Thought Quotes

  • “‘A statesman cannot create anything himself. He must wait and listen until he hears the steps of God sounding through events; then leap up and grasp the hem of his garment’.”
  • “the art of politics consisted in navigating the ship of state along the stream of time”
  • “Where some states have an army, the Prussian Army has a state.”
  • “Lenin was once said to have remarked, in a rare flash of humour, that the German Social Democrats would never launch a successful revolution in Germany because when they came to storm the railway stations they would line up in an orderly queue to buy platform tickets first.”

Thought Questions

  • Why does the author “begin” with Bismarck?
  • Describe the nature of politics and international relations as viewed by Bismarck
  • Describe the First “Holy Roman” Reich and Second German Reich
  • In what ways was the defeat of the 1848 Revolution a significant event in modern German history?
  • What is the relationship between the German states and Austria?
  • In what ways did the Prussian officer corps shape the modern German state?
  • Explain and Expand: “Military force and military action created the Reich; and in so doing they swept aside legitimate institutions, redrew state boundaries and overthrew long- established traditions, with a radicalism and a ruthlessness that cast a long shadow over the subsequent development of Germany.”
  • Explain and Expand: “Militarism in state and society was to play an important part in undermining German democracy in the 1920s and in the coming of the Third Reich.”
  • How was the modern German state influenced by their colonial experience?
  • React and Respond: “It is regrettable how false is the picture which we ourselves have created of him in the world, as the jackbooted politician of violence, in childish pleasure at the fact that someone finally brought Germany to a position of influence again. In truth, his great gift was for the highest diplomacy and moderation. He understood uniquely how to win the world’s trust, the exact opposite of today.”
  • Describe the relationship between the Catholic Church and the modern German state
  • Describe the six party German political system that developed in modern Germany prior to 1914
  • What were the consequences of the hyper-partisan internally isolationist political system?
  • What was the German Centre Party and how did it form?
  • Describe the formation of the Social Democratic Party of Germany and where they sat in the German political spectrum
  • What was the relationship between Wilhelm I and Wilhelm II?
  • Compare and Contrast: The leadership and character of Bismarck and Kaiser Wilhelm I? Wilhelm II?
  • Compare and Contrast: Modern Germany prior to 1914 and Modern Spain prior to 1914
  • Explain and Expand: “Yet in no nation in Europe other than Germany were all these conditions present at the same time and to the same extent.”
  • Explain and Expand: “Viewed nostalgically from the perspective of the early interwar years, Germany before 1914 seemed to many to have been a haven of peace, prosperity and social harmony.”
  • Explain and Expand: “These tensions found release in an increasingly vociferous nationalism, mixed in with alarmingly strident doses of racism and antisemitism, which were to leave a baleful legacy for the future.”

Articles and Resources

Further Reading