7 Jan. 46

less clear; the military leaders furnished Hitler with the means and the might which were necessary to his survival, to say nothing of the accomplishment of those purposes which seemed to us so ludicrously impossible in 1932 and so fearfully imminent in 1942.

I have said that the German militarists were inept as well as persistent. Helpless as Hitler would have been without them he succeeded in mastering them. The generals and the Nazis were allies in 1933. But it was not enough that the generals should be his voluntary allies; Hitler wanted them permanently and completely under his control. Devoid of political skill and principle, the generals lacked the mentality or morality to resist. On the day of the death of President Hindenburg, in August 1934, the German officers swore a new oath. Their previous oath had been to the Fatherland; now it was to a man — Adolf Hitler. Later the Nazi emblem became part of their uniform, the Nazi flag their standard. By a clever process of infiltration into key positions, Hitler seized control of the entire military machine.

We will no doubt hear the generals ask what they could have done about it. We will hear that they were helpless, and that to protect their jobs and families and lives, they had to follow Hitler's decision. No doubt this became true, but the generals were a key factor in Hitler's rise to complete power and a partner in his criminal aggressive designs. It is always difficult and dangerous to withdraw from a criminal conspiracy. Never has it been suggested that a conspirator may claim mercy on the ground that lids fellow conspirators threatened him with harm, should he withdraw from the plot.

In many respects the spectacle which the German General Staff and High Command group presents today is the most degrading of all the groups and organizations before this Court. They are the bearers of a tradition not devoid of valor and honor; but they emerge from this war stained both by criminality and ineptitude. Attracted by the militaristic and aggressive Nazi policies, the German generals found themselves drawn into adventures of a scope they had not foreseen. From crimes in which almost all of them participated willingly and approvingly were born others in which they participated partly because they were too ineffective to alter the governing Nazi policies and partly because they had to continue collaboration to save their own skins.

Having joined the partnership, the General Staff and High Command group planned and carried through manifold acts of aggression which turned Europe into a charnel house and caused the Armed Forces to be used for foul practices, foully executed, of terror, pillage, and wholesale slaughter. Let no one be heard to say that the military uniform shall be a cloak, or that they may find sanctuary