by C W Porter
The standard version of events is that the Allies examined 100,000 documents
and chose 1,000 which were introduced into evidence, and that the original
documents were then deposited in the Peace Palace at The Hague. This is rather
The documents used in evidence at Nuremberg consisted largely of "photocopies" of "copies". Many of these original documents were written entirely on plain paper without handwritten markings of any kind, by unknown persons. Occasionally, there is an illegible initial or signature of a more or less unknown person certifying the document as a 'true copy'. Sometimes there are German stamps, sometimes not. Many have been 'found' by the Russians, or 'certified authentic' by Soviet War Crimes Commissions.
Volume XXXIII, a document volume taken at random, contains 20 interrogations or affidavits, 12 photocopies, 5 unsigned copies, 5 original documents with signatures, 4 copies of printed material, 3 mimeographed copies, 3 teletypes, 1 microfilm copy, 1 copy signed by somebody else and 1 unspecified.
The Hague has few, if any, original documents. The Hague has many original postwar 'affidavits', or sworn statements, the Tribunal Commission transcripts, and much valuable defense material. They have the 'human soap', which has never been tested, and the 'original human soap recipe' (Document USSR-196), which is a forgery; but apparently no original wartime German documents.
The Hague has negative photostats of these documents, on extremely brittle paper which has been stapled. To photocopy the photostats, the staples are removed. When they are re-stapled more holes are made. Most of these documents have not been photocopied very often, and officials at The Hague say it is very unusual for anyone to ask to see them.
The National Archives in Washington (see Telford Taylor's Use of Captured German and Related Documents, A National Archive Conference) claim that the original documents are in The Hague. The Hague claims the original documents are in the National Archives.
The Stadtsarchiv Nurnberg and the Bundesarchiv Koblenz also have no original documents, and both say the original documents are in Washington. Since the originals are, in most cases, 'copies', there is often no proof that the documents in question ever existed.
Robert Jackson got the trial off to a start by quoting the following forged or otherwise worthless documents (II 120-142): 1947-PS; 1721-PS; 1014-PS; 81-PS; 212-PS; and many others.
1947-PS is a 'copy' of a 'translation' of a letter from General Fritsch to the Baroness von Schutzbar-Milchling. The Baroness later signed an affidavit stating that she never received the letter in question (XXI-381).
The falsified 'letter' from General Fritsch to the Baroness von Schutzbar-Milchling was recognized as such during the trial and is not included in the document volumes, where it should appear at XXVIII 44. Jackson was not, however, admonished by the Tribunal. (XXI 380)
The enthusiastic Americans apparently forged 15 of these 'translations', after which the original documents all disappeared (See Taylor, Captured Documents).
1721-PS is a forgery in which an SA man writes a report to himself about how he is carrying out an order which is quoted verbatim in the report. Handwritten markings on page 1 (XXI-137-141; 195-198; 425; XXII 148-150. See also Testimony Before the Commission, Fuss, 25 April, and Lucke, 7 May 1946). The National Archives have a positive photostat of 1721-PS, and The Hague has a negative photostat. The 'original' is a photocopy (XXVII 485).
1014-PS is a falsified 'Hitler Speech' written on plain paper by an unknown person. The document bears the heading 'Second Speech' although it is known that Hitler gave only one speech on that date. There are four versions of this speech, 3 of them forgeries: 1014-PS, 798-PS, L-3, and an authentic version, Ra-27 (XVII-406-408; XVIII 390-402; XXII 65). The third forgery, Document L-3, bears an FBI laboratory stamp and was never even accepted into evidence (II 286), but 250 copies of it were given to the press as authentic (II 286).
This document is quoted by A.J.P. Taylor on page 254 of The Origins of the Second World War (Fawcett Paperbacks, 2nd Edition, with Answer to his Critics) giving his source as German Foreign Policy, Series D vii, No 192 and 193.
L-3 is the source of many statements attributed to Hitler, particularly "who today remembers the fate of the Armenians?" and "our enemies are little worms, I saw them at Munich". 'Hitler' also compares himself to Genghis Khan and says he will exterminate the Poles, and kick Chamberlain in the groin in front of the photographers. The document appears to have been prepared on the same typewriter as many other Nuremberg documents, including the two other versions of the same speech. This typewriter was probably a Martin from the Triumph-Adler-Werke, Nuremberg.
81-PS is a 'certified true copy' of an unsigned letter on plain paper prepared by an unknown person. If authentic, it is the first draft of a letter never sent. This is invariably spoken of as a letter written by Rosenberg, which Rosenberg denied (XI 510-511). The document lacks signature, initial, blank journal number (a bureaucratic marking) and was not found among the papers of the person to whom it was addressed. (XVII 612).
81-PS is a 'photocopy' with a Soviet exhibit number (USSR-353, XXV 156-161).
212-PS was also prepared by an unknown person, entirely on plain paper, without any handwritten markings, date, address, or stamp (III 540, XXV 302-306; see also photocopies of negative photostats from The Hague).
This is, unfortunately, only typical. Document 386-PS, the 'Hossbach Protokoll', Hitler's supposed speech of 5 November 1938, is a certified photocopy of a microfilm copy of a re-typed 'certified true copy' prepared by an American, of a re-typed 'certified true copy' prepared by a German, of unauthenticated handwritten notes by Hossbach, of a speech by Hitler, written from memory 5 days later. This is not the worst document, but one of the best, because we know who made one of the copies. The text of 386-PS has been 'edited' (XLII 228-230).
Thus 'trial by document' works as follows: A, an unknown person, listens to alleged 'oral statements' made by B, and takes notes or prepares a document on the basis of those alleged oral statements. The document is then introduced into evidence, not against A, who made the copy, but against B, C, D, E and a host of other people, although there is nothing to connect them with the document or the alleged statements. It is casually stated as fact that 'B said', or that 'C did', or that 'D and E knew'. This is contrary to the rules of evidence of all civilised countries. Nor are the documents identified by witnesses.
The forgery of original documents was rarely resorted to at Nuremberg, because the documents were not brought to court. The "original document" - that is, the original unsigned "copy" - was kept in a safe in the Document Centre (II 195, 256-258).
Then, 2 "photocopies" of the "copy" (V 21) or 6 photocopies (II 251-253) were prepared and brought to court. All other copies were re-typed on a mimeograph using a stencil (IX 504).
In the transcript, the word "original" is used to mean "photocopy" (II 249-250, XIII 200, 508, 519; XV 43, 169, 171, 327) to distinguish the photocopies from the mimeograph copies (IV 245-246).
"Translations" of all documents were available from the beginning of the trial (II 158-161, 191, 195, 215, 249-250, 277, 415, 437) but the "original" German texts were not available until at least two months later. This applies not just to the trial briefs and indictment, etc. but to ALL DOCUMENTS. The defense received no documents in German until after January 9, 1946 (V 22-26).
Documents which appear to have been prepared on the same typewriter include Document 3803-PS, a letter from Kaltenbrunner to the Mayor of Vienna, and the cover letter from this same Mayor sending Kaltenbrunner's letter to the Tribunal (XI 345-348). This letter from Kaltenbrunner contains a false geographical term (XIV 416).
Return to ARTICLES PAGE
Return to CONTENTS PAGE