Yakov Kedmi, Social Activist (Israel):
– Actually, I get angry when people talk about history and pretend to be truth-seekers, ostensibly objective, yet avoid or cover up certain facts. Talking about the Nuremberg trials. The Nuremberg trials were a result of a single person’s will. His name was Joseph Stalin.
If it weren’t for him, these trials wouldn’t have taken place. You can think whatever you want of Stalin, but hushing up this fact is nothing but falsifying history. That’s not how history should be studied. Whatever people say. It was his idea.
For several years. He imposed his will on the entire Soviet administration and those who didn’t want the trials to take place. Because he said, “They can be killed. But they have to be tried in court.” He was the first one in the world to demand a trial for them. Not representatives of the democratic US. Not the democratic UK, let France alone.
When people talk about it and don’t mention this, it’s dishonest from an intellectual point of view. You cannot do that. Whoever the person is.
Second. The trials didn’t condemn Nazism. They condemned German Nazism. Why? And here’s something to be said about the American army. In his speech, Göring – being charged with a racial approach — said, “You’re condemning a racial approach?”
He talked about the American army. He talked about antisemitism in Europe. He talked about the way other nations are treated. They didn’t want the trials. Because they were colonial countries. They owned Africa. It was not in their interest. How could they have condemned racial discrimination?
Consider the way Belgians treated Africans! That’s why they didn’t condemn it.
And another thing happened for the same reason. Why didn’t they condemn the Wehrmacht? For a simple reason. By the way, Göring, with his masterfully written speech, won himself that poison. An American sergeant who was guarding him was impressed by that speech and developed big respect for him. And he brought him the poison.
Why wasn’t the Wehrmacht condemned? Because at that time, some German generals were sitting down with American and British generals and planning a war against the Soviet Union. They couldn’t do it. They needed them!
Who became the head of the BND, the intelligence service founded later? Gehlen? An officer of the Abwehr’s Soviet department.
– The head.
– Of the foreign eastern army.
– Not an officer, the head of the department.
– The head of the department. He was in charge of it. They needed the Wehrmacht. That’s why they couldn’t try it. That’s why they didn’t condemn it. That’s why Canada accepted the biggest number of Nazi criminals. And then America.
– Not the biggest number.
– And that’s why the US, not to mention the Pope and the Catholics… Mostly through Croatia, everyone was going to Latin America. And no one was paying any attention to it. All Nazi criminals.
The Nuremberg trials were supposed to lay the foundation of the International Court of Justice. Who was the first one to say, “We are above the International Court?” The United States of America. They didn’t need the International Court. That’s why they cannot be tried.
That’s another goal that wasn’t achieved by these trials. They only solved the problem of German Nazism. Not of the other kinds. Other Nazisms are okay. And that’s why they are okay today.
And another point. Every soldier decides for himself what is a crime against humanity. It’s his decision. Shooting at a child is a crime. So is shooting at a woman. So is shooting at an unarmed man. So is killing a prisoner of war. Those are crimes. Everyone decides for himself.
But whether he’ll be found guilty is another matter. It’s between him and his conscience. And then it’s up to court. That’s another problem that wasn’t solved in the Nuremberg trials. I know only one army where it’s like that. It’s our army.
– Following a criminal order makes you a war criminal. You cannot say, “I was ordered to.” That’s a war crime.
– You’re absolutely right. But the Israeli army took that from the Nuremberg trials.
– That’s true. But that was just for two years.
– One of the officers, who back then was a major – it happened in his area of operation – said, “Whatever. There’s no need for a trial.” What was his name?
– I don’t remember.
– I do. It was Colin Powell. He said there was no need for a trial. Back then, he and others said, “There’s no need. Why? That’s a common thing.” But the decorations weren’t stripped because of the Vietnamese, who they didn’t regard as humans, but because they said, “We died and became disabled…”
And you lost the war. Because that’s what you decided. No one in the US protested for the Vietnamese, for murdered women and kids, for burnt villages. They were afraid for their life.
– Yakov, how many Vietnamese did the Americans kill when they had to retreat? But we are digressing from the topic.
– What Vietnamese?
– Southern Vietnamese.
– Right. And how much did they pay to Northern Vietnam for the heinous destruction and the use of chemical weapons?
– I don’t think they paid anything.
– Exactly. They didn’t. That’s your answer.
– But the American society figured out the Vietnamese war. There’s Apocalypse Now and many other movies.
– You’ll like this one better. Kelly served how much? Three and a half years? But on house arrest. That’s right.
The goal of those trials was to declare the German ideology criminal, to declare aggression against other countries criminal and to define certain activities as international crimes. Like, for example, killing civilians, killing people on racial grounds, destroying cities, bombings and so on. And it’s all ended… Germany was set straight in those trials. The leaders were hung.
But what wasn’t talked about… In the West, private property is sacred. So it wasn’t confiscated from Krupp and others. The property that kept Germany going. Factories where prisoners were working.
– Confiscated partially.
– Volkswagen now remembered under pressure. It’s going to pay some small money. That didn’t happen. No decision was made about what to do with former Nazis. With former SS members. What should be done with collaborationists? Nothing. What’s the point in trying them?
Let every country decide for itself. France dealt with Petain on its own. Some were dealt with in Norway. So it was a partial solution. The key idea of those trials was to prevent similar phenomena in the future.
But a short time later, France, who was a part of those trials, started a war in Vietnam. Against Vietnam. Then the Korean war, it’s another deal. Then the US started a war in Vietnam.
So the main goal was to prevent aggression of one country against another one. Prevent bombing civilians, destroying civilians, using unconventional methods.
All of that was forgotten in just 10 years. And it continues to this day. So they just put a comma at the defeat of Nazi Germany. Nothing more. How many Nazis were convicted? 32 thousand.
Today, in the West and in my country too, much to my shame, there is Demenyk’s festival. And the man in charge of that camp, how many years did he serve? Less than 10 years, I believe. There was amnesty. He got out. He’s getting a pension from the government. Everything’s okay.
They found some guard in the US and pinned everything on him. Like it was said recently, they caught the biggest criminal. When he was 18, he was an accountant’s assistant in a concentration camp. He’s barely moving now. But we’re gonna try him to prove to the whole world that we are fighting Nazism.
They turned it into a tacky comedy which is completely irrelevant. And next to that, Nazis are walking freely. SS is a criminal organization, right? But do SS member receive pensions? They do. And not only in Germany. In the Baltic states. In all the countries they’ve been to. What country didn’t have an SS branch? They were everywhere.
So from a historical point of view, at that point in time, some things were done. But as Arkady Raikin said, “There’s something. But it’s not good enough.”