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Byford-Jones, W. / Berlin twilight

Book IV: end of the war criminals,   pp. 174-192 ff. PDF (6.7 MB)

Page 180

As the war criminals came into the court the commandant, Colonel
B. C. Andrus, sighed with relief. He had lived through a nightmare
right from the day the prisoners were captured, lest he should lose any of
them through suicide or external rescue efforts. He had lost one major
war criminal, despite his sleepless vigil. Andrus nodded his bespectacled
head as each prisoner came into the dock through a small door that
led from the lift that brought them down from the cells.
Alfred Rosenberg, Hans Frank and Julius Streicher were already
in the brilliantly lighted dock when I entered the court; Joachim von
Ribbentrop, looking, as someone said, as though he had been Hitler's
Foreign Secretary for a thousand years, was grey and pale; and Wilhelm
Keitel, stiff, Prussian proud, his marshal's uniform bare of insignia,
greeted Goering, dressed in dove-grey Field Marshal's dress tunic with
gold buttons but without medals; and Hess, still wearing his flying
boots, his eyes sunken in cavernous sockets overshadowed by beetling
black eyebrows, a striking foil to his jaundiced face. Wilhelm Frick and
Walter Funk followed, both insignificant looking. Hjalmar Schacht, a
little like the late W. C. Fields, but without the smile, stumbled in, peered
over his pince-nez at Baldur von Schirach, who accompanied him. The
two naval chiefs, Karl Doenitz, the Ersatzfihrer of Nazi Germany, and
Erich Raeder, both grey, clean-shaven, reticent men of the sea, wore
double-breasted blue suits. They were followed by the dignified Con-
stantin von Neurath and the withered, shrunken Franz von Papen, a
little like a monkey. Finally came Arthur Seyss-Inquart, limping on
his club foot, with Hans Fritzsche and Albert Speer. Fritz Sauckel, so
dazed he did not see the outstretched hand of Alfred Jodl, looked no
more impressive than a potman in a four-ale bar.
After they had shaken hands they looked round the court in which
they sat, with, few intervals, from autumn 1945 to the late summer of
I946, when the end came.
It was a strange scene. Imagine a cinema, capable of holding 700
people comfortably, divided by a rail guarded by G.I.s. In one half
400 red plush, tip-up numbered seats, rising in steps to the back; above,
the dress circle "for distinguished visitors", which looked down
on to
the heads of judges, prisoners, counsel, legal staffs and interpreters.
The highest seats on a dais were those of the six judges: the two French-
men, next the Americans, then the British and, nearest the door, the
Russians, the only ones in uniform. Behind them four flags.
- Opposite, facing the judges, the prisoners in two rows, the second
slightly above the first, and, at the back, seven G.I.s in white helmets,
with white gloves, belts and truncheons. Between the judges and their
prisoners, prisoners' counsel, the legal chiefs of Four Powers.
There was at times a cinema screen on the wall to complete the
illusion and, in recesses, men with all kinds of cameras and cinemato-
graphic apparatus.

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