Hitler or Judah?
A Second Nuremberg Tribunal, Chapter 2
Previous chapter here
There were seventeen of us in the Löwenbräukeller, the beer-hall of the large Löwenbräu brewery, which had been hired for the first meeting of tribunal members. The auditorium, equipped for simultaneous interpretation and rented by Hugh Brentford up to the end of the December holidays, would be available only two days later.
The people who had responded to the appeal of my American friend had come from the furthest corners of the continent and had gathered spontaneously to defend a new concept of Europe. They no longer represented nations, but “countries”. This was what we required if we were going to try and reach a genuine peoples’ judgment based on natural law.
Hans Schoepf, an iron master’s secretary, said to me: “Since the end of the war, France and Germany have been officially reconciled, but we do not believe a single word of what all these men — men such as De Gaulle, Pompidou, Giscard d’Estaing, Adenauer, or Schell — tell us about a so-called reconciliation. The victors of the war have created a “good Germany,” deprived of all political freedom, and they have enslaved its great creative and hard-working peoples with a view to exploiting them. A true reconciliation between Germany and France is impossible: The historical quarrel between them is too great. My country, Alsace, cannot possibly live in freedom between these two nations which are both equally imperialistic!”
Hugh Brentford interrupted us and said: “That is quite true. On the other hand, there is no semblance of an historical quarrel between Brittany, represented here by Kadervern — 25 years of age, history teacher in Rennes — and Pomerania, from which Julius von Liebenhof — 28 years of age, an engineer with Mercedes in Stuttgart — escaped together with his family. Bretons and Pomeranians have never burnt each other’s houses, raped each other’s wives, occupied each other’s territories as Pomeranians or Bretons, but only as soldiers of the Europe of Nations on which they are going to pass judgment in the person of Hitler.
I immediately got into touch with the Scot, MacCarvil, owner of a fishery in Aberdeen and a fairly active member of a separatist group and also with a Welsh mining engineer, Joyce-Spencer. The Fleming, Karl Verschaeve, was only just within the age limit: 30 years old. He was a farmer near Hamme, with strong arms. He spoke German in a solemn, slow way, and his French was just as stern as his porcelain-blue eyes. The Lombard, Leone Brignano, was also tall and blond. He was more refined, perhaps, than the Fleming, and more subtle, and his expression was more alert, as could be expected from a man of his trade. This racing driver, a Formula 1 specialist, usually lived in Milan where he also owned a garage. I asked him: “Why is Italy not represented as a nation-state, since Mussolini could also be held responsible for the war?”
“Italy does not exist,” replied Toni Scandico, an art engraver from Siena. The Duke of Savoy, sitting on his throne in Rome, could never unite in an impossible unity people who are as diverse as the Valdotans, the Bergamese, the Piedmontese, the Venetians, the Tuscans, the Calabri, the Sicilians, etc. . . . Don’t forget that this is supposed to be a peoples’ tribunal, not a national tribunal.
Stanislas Loubski, the son of émigrés and law student in Paris, represented the Ukraine. He hoped to return one day to Kiev, whence his family came originally, and he also hoped that Moscow would make a reality of the Federal Constitution which had been granted formally to all members of the U.S.S.R. Furthermore, the young man thought this to be quite probable in the not too distant future.
I looked with interest at the Croat, Ante Kozica, head of a laboratory in a German munitions factory. And I looked with particular interest at the pocket of his jacket, because I knew that a Croatian émigré was always capable of carrying a bomb around with him! After all, this man lived, because of his work, in close proximity to the very sources of the Great Redeeming Fire; could he not one day, blow the tribunal sky high if he were not satisfied with its judgment? Well, this was a risk we just had to take.
Two members of our assembly provided an element of great originality. Desire Chanoux, a mountain guide from Courmayeur in the Val d’Aosta, and Dr. Charles Zermatten, philosopher and separatist from Valaise. Both of them hoped to proclaim the Republic of Mont-Blanc in the Europe of “countries” which was to be established at a later date. Nestling under the shadow of its giant peak, this Republic would unite the department of Upper Savoy, the Swiss Valaise and the Val d’Aosta, regions still peopled by Salacians and Burgundians, federated since time immemorial by family bonds and cemented by a common environment, giving them a common way of life.
The tribunal could not have kept abreast of fashion if it had not contained at least one woman. Kittila Saronen, a tall, well-built Finn, 28 years of age, would not be considered pretty by Western standards. But as a mother of three children and gymnastics instructress in Helsinki with “Lottas”–an organization of girls, adept in the arts of first aid and war, famous since the defensive struggle of Finland against the U.S.S.R. in 1940–she was competent to pronounce judgment according to ancient rites of creative motherhood. At the same time, she could also protect the sessions of the tribunal against all possible hooligans!
Once the president, his assessors and the public prosecutor had been elected, the jury would consist of nine members plus two deputies. Georg Krefka, a Czech with a beer import business in Tyrol, and the Castilian, Belvis Guadamur, officer-cadet from a Spanish military academy, the descendant of Visigoths who had settled in Toledo.
The advocates had been detained by professional duties and had not yet arrived in Nuremberg. Advocate Georg Kleist, of the Munich bar, had been engaged by Brentford only after considerable thought. He was sixty years old, a former member of the NSDAP, president of a military tribunal during the war, arrested by the Allies in 1945 and released after a great deal of trouble by the German de-Nazification courts. He did not even try to disguise his approval of the old regime.
However, since, by definition, counsel for the defense could hardly be expected to remain objective, it seemed difficult to choose a better advocate for Hitler’s defense than a former Hitler supporter!
And of course, nobody could defend Judah better than a Jew who was proud of being a Jew. Advocate David Hollander, considerably younger than his adversary, was greatly appreciated by the diamond trade in Rotterdam, although he was not quite so popular in Israel.
The salaries of the two advocates and their expenses would be paid by the tribunal. Our budget would depend on appeals for aid addressed to those circles who were acquainted with our enterprise and approved of it; it would depend on the personal sacrifices of every member of the jury; and, above all, it would depend on Brentford who was to be in charge of the finances and who would have to fill in all deficiencies.
The sessions would be held before a restricted public, admitted only by invitation, and with the assistance of journalists who would be chosen with a view to avoiding partisan quarrels and polemics in the press before judgment was pronounced. The sessions would take place in the winter or summer vacations.
* * *
I left the Löwenbräukeller in the company of Brentford, and we walked up the hill towards the Dürer museum, past houses which had been reconstructed in the same style, but not with the precious old timber of those which during the war had been destroyed by American incendiary bombs.
Hugh said: “Bertrand Russell’s initiative completely justifies our tribunal. Since he condemned our pilots for using napalm bombs on the Vietnamese, why has nobody ever prosecuted the pilots who bombed the inhabitants of Nuremberg?”
I objected: “Perhaps Hitler’s actions justified the raids! This must now be decided by the tribunal.”
We walked for a while in silence, then I went on: “Don’t you think that public opinion will protest about our rather poor legal qualifications?”
“Of course it will!,” he replied. “We have a history teacher, two engineers, a student, and an officer-cadet, the owner of a fishing concern and a farmer, a racing driver, an art engraver, a doctor, a laboratory head, a businessman, an iron master’s assistant, a mountain guide, and a soldier-nurse! But the first Nuremberg tribunal was based exclusively on the principle that Might is Right, the only principle which is not taught in law schools, although it represents the very source of law. Our tribunal has, therefore, no need for any legal qualifications to pronounce judgment in its turn. Our jury members are definitely men of quality, including those who work with their hands. They are disinterested parties, with a healthy dose of good common sense. I am absolutely certain they will also pass judgment according to the principle Might is Right!”
“Well, what is then the point of this completely useless tribunal?” I asked.
“Because our jurymen are unaffected by a war in which they did not take part; they are not striving for any specific national hegemony since they represent ‘small countries’ which should be willing to cooperate instead of fighting one another in a great continental alliance. And, therefore, they might just be able to define the true source of a power which deserves to be preserved. What they should in fact condemn, is the morality of the victors which was established by the first tribunal, from which we are suffering today, and which justifies, or almost justifies, the morality of Hitler, which the first tribunal thought it right to condemn. Hitler would also have sought legitimacy from the same sources as the Allied Tribunal, if he had won the war. But an assembly such as ours could help create a true peoples’ morality. The idea is to make a clean break with both Hitler and Roosevelt, both of them champions of the same morality albeit cloaked in different dialectics. It is precisely because they are ignorant of legal codes that our jurymen should be able to discover, beyond all legal formalities, the true basis of things.”
“Quite possible,” I replied, “but from now on we can do nothing but follow the debates of these gentlemen.”
“Are they all in agreement with regard to the procedure?”
“Yes. Tomorrow the assembly will elect a president, his assessors and a public prosecutor. The elections by secret ballot can be repeated later, if necessary. Everyone realizes that since we have no authority, we shall only be condemning certain principles. The most important task for this tribunal is to seek the truth and to discover, if possible, a new morality of power.”
We walked on until nightfall. Apart from the old buildings of the Palace of Justice, nothing remained there to remind the spectator of the first tribunal which had passed judgment on the war, all material traces of which had since disappeared. All traces, that is, except those ruins, covering the esplanades where the congresses of the Nazi Party had formerly taken place. They were still extraordinarily impressive and stood out in the gathering dusk like arms held aloft, demanding reparations for the losses of the pagans who had reestablished here the altars of their ancient religion. We would have to block our ears and close our eyes to avoid all possible pitfalls in the road before us.
 To avoid inculpation of any citizen of the German Federal Republic because of our second Nuremberg tribunal, the names of places and persons associated with this tribunal have been changed.
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