Blind Obedience and Denial

Being there . . . . during 1945 – 46 to watch the International Military Tribunal in Nuremberg,
Germany, issue indictments, then judgments of deaths by hanging, decades of imprisonment,
and, yes, some acquittals. If reading World War II literature has often caused anguishing pain,
i.e., the amount of civilian and military deaths that America and her Allies paid on the islands of
the Pacific Seas, the cities and lands of the Far East, and on virtually the entire European
continent while struggling to eradicate the two deadliest bloodletting cancers human life has e
known – – some Allied calculations argue the price in lives was more than 60 million dead and
wounded, including two million German soldiers – – then read with relish, believing there is
nothing wrong in doing that, as American and British “ready reckoners” do their grim duty . . . .
CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY – 11 Deaths by Hanging
At 1:11am on 16 October 1946, shortly after the conclusion of the Nuremberg Trials, 10
prominent members of Hitler’s not-so-secret, but certainly sycophantic political and military
cabal began entering death from their strangulations by hanging. Hermann Goring
(Reichsmarschall) was scheduled to be first (the eleventh) but cheated the hangman by
poisoning himself the night before. Thus, Joaquin von Ribbentrop (Foreign Affairs) was the first
and Arthur Seyss-Inquart (Reichskommissar) the last. Surprisingly, Goring’ last six words were,
“I wish peace to the world.” Ribbentrop’s final four were whispered to the prison’s Lutheran
chaplain, “I’ll see you again.” Each of the others also had something to say. Between 1:30am
and 2:59 am, the other eight died of strangulation, Wilhelm Keitel (head of the OKW), Ernest
Kaltenbrunner (SS chief of the RSHA), Alfred Rosenberg (chief of the Eastern Occupied
Territories), Hans Frank (Reich Law), Julius Streicher (chief of the infamous anti-Semitic paper
Der Sturmer), Fritz Sauckel (chief Nazi slave labor), and Alfred Jodl (Keitel’s second in
command). Carried out in the gym of Nuremberg Prison, the executions required between 14
and 28 minutes. The corpses were not taken to Dachau for cremation as originally planned but
to the crematorium in Munich and the ashes scattered over the Isar River. Martin Bormann,
sentenced to death in absentia, had vanished. Years later, it was learned he had been killed by
Soviet troops, after successfully escaping from the Fuhrerbunker, while attempting to reach the
nearby subway electric railway. He and several others had plans to flee Berlin.
Reviewed and Highly Recommended by Don DeNevi
“BLIND OBEDIENCE AND DENIAL – The Nuremberg Defendants”, by Andrew Sangster. Casemate
Publishers: 2022, 284 pages, hc; $37.95. Visit,, or Email:

In perhaps the most thoroughly researched, scrutinizing, and disclosing book yet published
on the infamous 11 of the Nuremberg Trial, as well as all 23 men who stood accused, author
Andrew Sangster, who has given WWII fans such outstanding biographies on Goring, Goebbels,
and Himmler, as well as hitherto rarely explored subjects such as the history of France between
1936-46 and European Intelligence Services Before 1936, has excelled all these and others with this totally absorbing one. Andrew sets the scene by explaining the procedures, the legal
context, and the moments of hypocrisy in the Allies’ prosecution, ignoring the fact that the
Katyn Massacre was indeed a horrendous Soviet crime, and overlooking our Allied crimes of
carpet-bombing German civilians.

In addition, this new study utilizes not only the trial manuscripts, but the pre-trial
interrogations. The views of psychiatrists and psychologist, and over-heard conversations
between prisoners who never knew their guards understood and spoke German provide us avid
readers with the fullest exploration of the defendants, their state of mind, and their attitudes
toward the Third Reich, Hitler, and each other as they faced judgement by the victors of the
WWII readers will forever be appreciative of what Andrew has prepared for us and our
personal libraries. Furthermore, there is a book that will be forever valued by the recipient
upon seeing what it’s all about on Christmas Eve or morning. So apropos is the following lead-in
from his cogent, critical, and brilliant Preface. On 17 January 1946, Francois de Menthon closed
the French case at the trial of the Nazi war criminals with the following address to the Court:
“Who can say, ‘I have a clear conscience; I am without fault? To use different weights and
measures is abhorred by God . . . . If this criminality had been accidental; if Germany had been
forced into war; if war crimes had been committed only in the excitement of combat; we might
question ourselves in the light of the Scriptures. But the war was prepared and deliberated long
in advance. And, upon the very last day it would have been easy to avoid it without sacrificing
any of the legitimate interests of the German people. The atrocities were perpetrated during
the war, not under the influence of a mad passion nor of a warlike anger, and not of an
avenging resentment, but because of cold calculation, of perfectly conscious methods, of a pre-
existing doctrine.”
Dictators the world over would be wise to consider such a statement lest they, too, face the
hangman. As for you, author Andrew Sangster, thanks you for this superlative study of a much
needed, but terribly uncomfortable, study.

Leave a Comment

You have to agree to the comment policy.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.