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NUREMBERG TRIALS OF WAR CRIMINALS – Part I

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HITLER AND EVA BRAUN COMMIT SUICIDE

bY JAYANTHA GUNASEKERA, PC

When the 2nd World War broke out in 1939, the Prime Minister of Great Britain was Neville Chamberlain, the President of the United States, was polio-stricken Franklin D Roosevelt, and the French President was Francois Daladier.

Hitler successfully bluffed the western leaders and Russia, by signing a Peace Agreement known as the Munich Agreement. By this the Allies were lulled into a state of complacency while Hitler was stealthily building up his war machinery. The factories of Alfred Krupp were working at breakneck speed and had the western leaders caught unawares when Hitler decided to invade Europe. After signing the Munich Agreement , Neville Chamberlain went home and was bragging about ushering peace. He was a good man, but lacked intelligence.

On Sept. 1, 1939, German armies commonly known as the Nazi, poured across the Polish frontier and converged on Warsaw, from the North, South and the West.

In 1941, the House of Commons decided that enough is enough and brought in Winston Churchill as Britain’s wartime Prime Minister. Unlike most other Prime Ministers Churchill, born in Marlborough House, was a proud man of noble birth being related to Royalty. He was very conscious of his lineage, being the son of Lord Randolph Churchill. He schooled at Eton and though he was not university educated, he possessed intelligence in great measure and is now considered the most intelligent military strategist of the 20th century.

He kept up the morale of the forces and the British people with his electrifying speeches. When Germany’s air force – Luftwaffe – attempted to blow up London, and was prevented by the courageous Royal Air Force, he thanked the RAF pilots with the stirring words, “never in the field of human conflict, has so much been owed by so many, to so few”.

When the War ended, Churchill was still the PM of the UK. President Roosevelt died and Harry Truman succeeded him. The Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces was Dwight Eisenhower. The Commander of the British Forces was Field Marshal (later Viscount) Montgomery and the Commander of the Russian Forces was Marshal Zhukov.

Hitler enlisted the assistance of 68 highly intelligent non-military persons to plan his strategy. These men were chosen for their intelligence even more than their loyalty to him. They, with their intelligent planning, nearly conquered the whole world! It is well known that war is too serious a business to be left in the hands of the Generals alone. The main countries that joined Hitler were called the Axis Powers. They were Hitler’s Germany, Emperor Hirohito’s Japan and Mussolini’s Italy. The Japanese Forces were as ruthless as the Germans.

In 1941, without any military provocation, the Japanese Air Force attacked Pearl Harbour, destroying a large number of ships belonging to the US Navy and killing thousands of Americans. They were all taken unawares. This was exactly what Sir Winston was waiting for. For all his pleadings, the US had not come out openly against the Axis Forces and it was only after the unprovoked attack on their Navy that the US joined the Allies in the war. The Japanese did not spare even Ceylon, then a colony of the UK. They dropped bombs, but thankfully could not cause much damage.

On April 29, 1945, one of the last pieces of news to reach Hitler’s bunker from the outside world came in. it was that his fellow fascist dictator and partner in aggression Mussolini, and his mistress Clara Petacci, had been caught by Italian partisans on April 27 while trying to escape to Switzerland, and executed two days later. On May Day, Benito Mussolini and his mistress were buried in a paupers plot! In such a macabre climax of degradation the man known as “Il Duce”, and fascism, passed into history.

Shortly after receiving the news of Mussolini’s end Hitler began to make final plans for his own death. He had his favourite Alsatian dog Blondi poisoned and the two other dogs in the household shot. Erik Kempka his driver who was in charge of the chancellery garage, received an order to deliver 200 liters of gasoline in jerrycans . Hitler and Eva Braun (who he had married only two days before) retired to their room in the bunker. Revolver shots were heard. The body of Hitler was found sprawled on the sofa. He had shot himself in the mouth. At his side lay Eva, who had not used her revolver. She had swallowed poison.

On May 4, 1945, the German High Command surrendered to Field Marshall Montgomery. Japanese Emperor Hirohito decreed that despite the surrender of the German Forces, the Japanese Forces should fight to the last man. These forces were as ruthless as the Germans. Peace was not to dawn though Germany had unconditionally surrendered. The US, though now in possession of the atom bomb, was not going to use it if Japan too surrendered. But because of the unprovoked attack on Pearl Harbour, they decided to drop the bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki causing hitherto unheard and unseen devastation. The pilot who dropped the bombs was Captain Tibetts who flew the “Enola Grey”. Utter misery and destruction were brought on the Japanese people due to the egoistic action of Emperor Hirohito, who also should have been tried for war crimes. Captain Tibetts died only about five years ago, aged 93.

 

24 War Criminals were indicted by the Allies. The charges were for:

Participation in a common plan or conspiracy for the accomplishment of crimes against peace; planning, initiating and waging wars of aggression and other crimes against peace; war crimes; and crimes against humanity.

 

The War Criminals charged were

1. Martin Bormann – successor to Rudolf Hess as Nazi party secy. He was sentenced to death in absentia.

2. Karl Doenitz – an admiral and initiator of the U-boat campaign, and nominated by Hitler as his successor. He was sentenced to 10 years.

3. Hans Frank – ruler of occupied Poland. Sentenced to death.

4. Wilhelm Frick – Hitler’s minister of the interior. Sentenced to death.

5. Hans Friche – popular commentator and head of Nazi propaganda. He was acquitted.

6. Walter Funk – Hitler’s minister of economics. Sentenced to life imprisonment.

7. Hermann Goering – commander of the german air force, the Luftwaffe. Sentenced to death, but cheated the hangman by biting the cyanide pill and committing suicide.

8. Rudolf Hess – Hitler’s deputy. Sentenced to life imprisonment.

9. Alfred Jodel – sentenced to death, but was posthumously exonerated by a denazification court.

10. Ernst Karltenbrunner – commander of many concentration camps. Sentenced to death.

 

NUREMBERG…

 

11. Wilhelm Keitel – sentenced to death.

12. Gustav Krupp – nazi industrialist who churned out war machinery. Was found to be medically unfit for trial.

13. Neurath – minister of foreign affairs who succeeded Ribbentrop, later protector of Bohemia. Sentenced to 15 years imprisonment.

14. Franz Von Papen – acquitted at Nuremberg but re- classified as a criminal in 1947 by a German Denazification Court.

15. Eric Raeder – life imprisonment.

16. Joachim Von Ribbentrop – nazi foreign minister. Sentenced to death.

17. Alfred Rosenberg – racial theory ideologist. Sentenced to death.

18. Fritz Sauckel – plenipotentiary of the Nazi slave program. Sentenced to death.

19. Hjalmar Schacht – pre war president of the Reichsbank. Was acquitted.

20. Baldur Von Shirach – gauliter of Vienna. Sentenced to 20 years.

21. Arthur Seyss-Inquart – gauliter of Holland. Sentenced to death.

22. Albert Speer – Hitler’s architect. Sentenced to 20 years imprisonment.

23. Julius Streicher – incited hatred and murder against Jews. Sentenced to death.

24. Robert Ley – German Labour Front. Committed suicide before trial

 

By this time many of the top Nazis were dead. Hitler himself had committed suicide. Joseph Gobbels followed Hitler the next day, by taking his life, the life of his wife and the their six children. Reinhard Heydrich had been killed by Czechoslovak agents in 1942. Herman Goering cheated the hangman by swallowing a cyanide capsule.

 

The war criminals were held in Spandau Prison. They argued that the International Military Tribunal was a Victor’s Justice and was a mock trial.

 

Judges who tried the German Judges accused of perversion of justice were:

 (Soviet main)

 (Soviet alternate)

 (British main), President of the Tribunal

 (British alternative)

 (American main)

 (American alternative)

 Professor (French main)

 (French alternative)

 

Chief prosecutors

 (United Kingdom)

 (United States)

 (Soviet Union)

 , later replaced by (France)

 

Apart from the trial of the Nazi War Criminals there were 12 other trials at Nuremberg, now occupied by the USA. These were held before US Military Courts and not before the International War Crimes Tribunal. These 12 trials were known as the Subsequent Nuremberg Trials. In one trial 16 German Judges and Jurists were indicted, for

 

Participating in a common plan or conspiracy to commit and ; war crimes through the abuse of the judicial and penal process, resulting in , , of ; crimes against humanity on the same grounds, including charges and membership in a criminal organization, the or leadership corps. But the highest ranking officials of the Nazi judicial system could not be tried.

 

Franz Gurtner, Minister of Justice since 1942 had committed suicide in 1946. Roland Freuler President of the People’s Court was killed in a bombing raid on Berlin. Gunther Volmer was killed in 1945.

Between 1941 and 1944 Germans deported millions of Jews from Germany, from occupied territories and from Axis Countries to ghettos often called Extermination Camps. There they were done to death in gas chambers. They moved these Jews by trains packing them like sardines. This continued up to the day the German forces unconditionally surrendered.

The Judge’s Trial was depicted in a movie shot in 1961, called “Judgement at Nurembrg”, with a star studded cast, starring Spencer Tracy, Burt Lancaster, Richard Widmark, Marlene Dietrich, Maximilian Schelle, Judy Garland and Montgomery Clift. These were some of the best known film stars of the era.

 

NEXT PART 2 TRIAL OF THE NAZI WAR CRIMINALS


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Islamophobia and the threat to democratic development

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There’s an ill more dangerous and pervasive than the Coronavirus that’s currently sweeping Sri Lanka. That is the fear to express one’s convictions. Across the public sector of the country in particular many persons holding high office are stringently regulating and controlling the voices of their consciences and this bodes ill for all and the country.

The corrupting impact of fear was discussed in this column a couple of weeks ago when dealing with the military coup in Myanmar. It stands to the enduring credit of ousted Myanmarese Head of Government Aung San Suu Kyi that she, perhaps for the first time in the history of modern political thought, singled out fear, and not power, as the principal cause of corruption within the individual; powerful or otherwise.

To be sure, power corrupts but the corrupting impact of fear is graver and more devastating. For instance, the fear in a person holding ministerial office or in a senior public sector official, that he would lose position and power as a result of speaking out his convictions and sincere beliefs on matters of the first importance, would lead to a country’s ills going unaddressed and uncorrected.

Besides, the individual concerned would be devaluing himself in the eyes of all irrevocably and revealing himself to be a person who would be willing to compromise his moral integrity for petty worldly gain or a ‘mess of pottage’. This happens all the while in Lankan public life. Some of those who have wielded and are wielding immense power in Sri Lanka leave very much to be desired from these standards.

It could be said that fear has prevented Sri Lanka from growing in every vital respect over the decades and has earned for itself the notoriety of being a directionless country.

All these ills and more are contained in the current controversy in Sri Lanka over the disposal of the bodies of Covid victims, for example. The Sri Lankan polity has no choice but to abide by scientific advice on this question. Since authorities of the standing of even the WHO have declared that the burial of the bodies of those dying of Covid could not prove to be injurious to the wider public, the Sri Lankan health authorities could go ahead and sanction the burying of the bodies concerned. What’s preventing the local authorities from taking this course since they claim to be on the side of science? Who or what are they fearing? This is the issue that’s crying out to be probed and answered.

Considering the need for absolute truthfulness and honesty on the part of all relevant persons and quarters in matters such as these, the latter have no choice but to resign from their positions if they are prevented from following the dictates of their consciences. If they are firmly convinced that burials could bring no harm, they are obliged to take up the position that burials should be allowed.

If any ‘higher authority’ is preventing them from allowing burials, our ministers and officials are conscience-bound to renounce their positions in protest, rather than behave compromisingly and engage in ‘double think’ and ‘double talk’. By adopting the latter course they are helping none but keeping the country in a state of chronic uncertainty, which is a handy recipe for social instabiliy and division.

In the Sri Lankan context, the failure on the part of the quarters that matter to follow scientific advice on the burials question could result in the aggravation of Islamophobia, or hatred of the practitioners of Islam, in the country. Sri Lanka could do without this latter phobia and hatred on account of its implications for national stability and development. The 30 year war against separatist forces was all about the prevention by military means of ‘nation-breaking’. The disastrous results for Sri Lanka from this war are continuing to weigh it down and are part of the international offensive against Sri Lanka in the UNHCR.

However, Islamophobia is an almost world wide phenomenon. It was greatly strengthened during Donald Trump’s presidential tenure in the US. While in office Trump resorted to the divisive ruling strategy of quite a few populist authoritarian rulers of the South. Essentially, the manoeuvre is to divide and rule by pandering to the racial prejudices of majority communities.

It has happened continually in Sri Lanka. In the initial post-independence years and for several decades after, it was a case of some populist politicians of the South whipping-up anti-Tamil sentiments. Some Tamil politicians did likewise in respect of the majority community. No doubt, both such quarters have done Sri Lanka immeasurable harm. By failing to follow scientific advice on the burial question and by not doing what is right, Sri Lanka’s current authorities are opening themselves to the charge that they are pandering to religious extremists among the majority community.

The murderous, destructive course of action adopted by some extremist sections among Muslim communities world wide, including of course Sri Lanka, has not earned the condemnation it deserves from moderate Muslims who make-up the preponderant majority in the Muslim community. It is up to moderate opinion in the latter collectivity to come out more strongly and persuasively against religious extremists in their midst. It will prove to have a cementing and unifying impact among communities.

It is not sufficiently appreciated by governments in the global South in particular that by voicing for religious and racial unity and by working consistently towards it, they would be strengthening democratic development, which is an essential condition for a country’s growth in all senses.

A ‘divided house’ is doomed to fall; this is the lesson of history. ‘National security’ cannot be had without human security and peaceful living among communities is central to the latter. There cannot be any ‘double talk’ or ‘politically correct’ opinions on this question. Truth and falsehood are the only valid categories of thought and speech.

Those in authority everywhere claiming to be democratic need to adopt a scientific outlook on this issue as well. Studies conducted on plural societies in South Asia, for example, reveal that the promotion of friendly, cordial ties among communities invariably brings about healing among estranged groups and produces social peace. This is the truth that is waiting to be acted upon.

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Pakistan’s love of Sri Lanka

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By Sanjeewa Jayaweera

It was on 3rd January 1972 that our family arrived in Karachi from Moscow. Our departure from Moscow had been delayed for a few weeks due to the military confrontation between Pakistan and India. It ended on 16th December 1971. After that, international flights were not permitted for some time.

The contrast between Moscow and Karachi was unbelievable. First and foremost, Moscow’s temperature was near minus 40 degrees centigrade, while in Karachi, it was sunny and a warm 28 degrees centigrade. However, what struck us most was the extreme warmth with which the airport authorities greeted our family. As my father was a diplomat, we were quickly ushered to the airport’s VIP Lounge. We were in transit on our way to Rawalpindi, the airport serving the capital of Islamabad.

We quickly realized that the word “we are from Sri Lanka” opened all doors just as saying “open sesame” gained entry to Aladdin’s cave! The broad smile, extreme courtesy, and genuine warmth we received from the Pakistani people were unbelievable.

This was all to do with Mrs Sirima Bandaranaike’s decision to allow Pakistani aircraft to land in Colombo to refuel on the way to Dhaka in East Pakistan during the military confrontation between Pakistan and India. It was a brave decision by Mrs Bandaranaike (Mrs B), and the successive governments and Sri Lanka people are still enjoying the fruits of it. Pakistan has been a steadfast and loyal supporter of our country. They have come to our assistance time and again in times of great need when many have turned their back on us. They have indeed been an “all-weather” friend of our country.

Getting back to 1972, I was an early beneficiary of Pakistani people’s love for Sri Lankans. I failed the entrance exam to gain entry to the only English medium school in Islamabad! However, when I met the Principal, along with my father, he said, “Sanjeewa, although you failed the entrance exam, I will this time make an exception as Sri Lankans are our dear friends.” After that, the joke around the family dinner table was that I owed my education in Pakistan to Mrs B!

At school, my brother and I were extended a warm welcome and always greeted “our good friends from Sri Lanka.” I felt when playing cricket for our college; our runs were cheered more loudly than of others.

One particular incident that I remember well was when the Embassy received a telex from the Foreign inistry. It requested that our High Commissioner seek an immediate meeting with the Prime Minister of Pakistan, Mr Zulifikar Ali Bhutto (ZB), and convey a message from Mrs B. The message requested that an urgent shipment of rice be dispatched to Sri Lanka as there would be an imminent rice shortage. As the Ambassador was not in the station, the responsibility devolved on my father.

It usually takes about a week or more to get an audience with the Prime Minister (PM) of a foreign country due to their busy schedule. However, given the urgency, my father spoke to the Foreign Ministry’s Permanent Sectary, who fortunately was our neighbour and sought an urgent appointment. My father received a call from the PM’s secretary around 10 P.M asking him to come over to the PM’s residence. My father met ZB around midnight. ZB was about to retire to bed and, as such, was in his pyjamas and gown enjoying a cigar! He had greeted my father and had asked, “Mr Jayaweera, what can we do for great friend Madam Bandaranaike?. My father conveyed the message from Colombo and quietly mentioned that there would be riots in the country if there is no rice!

ZB had immediately got the Food Commissioner of Pakistan on the line and said, “I want a shipload of rice to be in Colombo within the next 72 hours!” The Food Commissioner reverted within a few minutes, saying that nothing was available and the last export shipment had left the port only a few hours ago to another country. ZB had instructed to turn the ship around and send it to Colombo. This despite protests from the Food Commissioner about terms and conditions of the Letter of Credit prohibiting non-delivery. Sri Lanka got its delivery of rice!

The next was the visit of Mrs B to Pakistan. On arrival in Rawalpindi airport, she was given a hero’s welcome, which Pakistan had previously only offered to President Gaddafi of Libya, who financially backed Pakistan with his oil money. That day, I missed school and accompanied my parents to the airport. On our way, we witnessed thousands of people had gathered by the roadside to welcome Mrs B.

When we walked to the airport’s tarmac, thousands of people were standing in temporary stands waving Sri Lanka and Pakistan flags and chanting “Sri Lanka Pakistan Zindabad.” The noise emanating from the crowd was as loud and passionate as the cheering that the Pakistani cricket team received during a test match. It was electric!

I believe she was only the second head of state given the privilege of addressing both assemblies of Parliament. The other being Gaddafi. There was genuine affection from Mrs B amongst the people of Pakistan.

I always remember the indefatigable efforts of Mr Abdul Haffez Kardar, a cabinet minister and the President of the Pakistan Cricket Board. From around 1973 onwards, he passionately championed Sri Lanka’s cause to be admitted as a full member of the International Cricket Council (ICC) and granted test status. Every year, he would propose at the ICC’s annual meeting, but England and Australia’s veto kept us out until 1981.

I always felt that our Cricket Board made a mistake by not inviting Pakistan to play our inaugural test match. We should have appreciated Mr Kardar and Pakistan’s efforts. In 1974 the Pakistan board invited our team for a tour involving three test matches and a few first-class games. Most of those who played in our first test match was part of that tour, and no doubt gained significant exposure playing against a highly talented Pakistani team.

Several Pakistani greats were part of the Pakistan and India team that played a match soon after the Central Bank bomb in Colombo to prove that it was safe to play cricket in Colombo. It was a magnificent gesture by both Pakistan and India. Our greatest cricket triumph was in Pakistan when we won the World Cup in 1996. I am sure the players and those who watched the match on TV will remember the passionate support our team received that night from the Pakistani crowd. It was like playing at home!

I also recall reading about how the Pakistani government air freighted several Multi Barrell artillery guns and ammunition to Sri Lanka when the A rmy camp in Jaffna was under severe threat from the LTTE. This was even more important than the shipload of rice that ZB sent. This was crucial as most other countries refused to sell arms to our country during the war.

Time and again, Pakistan has steadfastly supported our country’s cause at the UNHCR. No doubt this year, too, their diplomats will work tirelessly to assist our country.

We extend a warm welcome to Mr Imran Khan, the Prime Minister of Pakistan. He is a truly inspirational individual who was undoubtedly an excellent cricketer. Since retirement from cricket, he has decided to get involved in politics, and after several years of patiently building up his support base, he won the last parliamentary elections. I hope that just as much as he galvanized Sri Lankan cricketers, his political journey would act as a catalyst for people like Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene to get involved in politics. Cricket has been called a “gentleman’s game.” Whilst politics is far from it!.

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Covid-19 health rules disregarded at entertainment venues?

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Believe me, seeing certain videos, on social media, depicting action, on the dance floor, at some of these entertainment venues, got me wondering whether this Coronavirus pandemic is REAL!

To those having a good time, at these particular venues, and, I guess, the management, as well, what the world is experiencing now doesn’t seem to be their concerned.

Obviously, such irresponsible behaviour could create more problems for those who are battling to halt the spread of Covid-19, and the new viriant of Covid, in our part of the world.

The videos, on display, on social media, show certain venues, packed to capacity – with hardly anyone wearing a mask, and social distancing…only a dream..

How can one think of social distancing while gyrating, on a dance floor, that is over crowded!

If this trend continues, it wouldn’t be a surprise if Coronavirus makes its presence felt…at such venues.

And, then, what happens to the entertainment scene, and those involved in this field, especially the musicians? No work, whatsoever!

Lots of countries have closed nightclubs, and venues, where people gather, in order to curtail the spread of this deadly virus that has already claimed the lives of thousands.

Thailand did it and the country is still having lots of restrictions, where entertainment is concerned, and that is probably the reason why Thailand has been able to control the spread of the Coronavirus.

With a population of over 69 million, they have had (so far), a little over 25,000 cases, and 83 deaths, while we, with a population of around 21 million, have over 80,000 cases, and more than 450 deaths.

I’m not saying we should do away with entertainment – totally – but we need to follow a format, connected with the ‘new normal,’ where masks and social distancing are mandatory requirements at these venues. And, dancing, I believe, should be banned, at least temporarily, as one can’t maintain the required social distance, while on the dance floor, especially after drinks.

Police spokesman DIG Ajith Rohana keeps emphasising, on TV, radio, and in the newspapers, the need to adhere to the health regulations, now in force, and that those who fail to do so would be penalised.

He has also stated that plainclothes officers would move around to apprehend such offenders.

Perhaps, he should instruct his officers to pay surprise visits to some of these entertainment venues.

He would certainly have more than a bus load of offenders to be whisked off for PCR/Rapid Antigen tests!

I need to quote what Dr. H.T. Wickremasinghe said in his article, published in The Island of Tuesday, February 16th, 2021:

“…let me conclude, while emphasising the need to continue our general public health measures, such as wearing masks, social distancing, and avoiding crowded gatherings, to reduce the risk of contact with an infected person.

“There is no science to beat common sense.”

But…do some of our folks have this thing called COMMON SENSE!

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