Re Wagner

Docket NumberCase No. 165
Date03 mai 1946
CourtMilitary Court (France)
Strasbourg, French Permanent Military Tribunal2.
Case No. 165
In re Wagner and Others.

Territory — Annexation — Annexation of Occupied Territory — Purported Annexation of Alsace by Germany.

War Crimes — Punishment of Superior Orders.

Belligerent Occupation — Conscription of Civilian Inhabitants in the Army of the Occupant — Purported Annexation of Occupied Territory — Annexation of Alsace by Germany.

The facts.—The accused Wagner was Gauleiter and head of the civil government of Alsace during the occupation of that country by Germany. The other accused were German administrative and judicial officials. The accused were charged, inter alia, with the following offences: (1) the attempt, during the early years of the German occupation of Alsace, to induce Alsatian civilians to volunteer for the German Army; (2) the introduction in Alsace of labour service

and of compulsory military service; (3) the deportation and expulsion from Alsace of civilian inhabitants

The accused pleaded : (1) that they acted in obedience to superior orders1. Thus, with regard to the charge that he had expelled and deported Alsatian civilians, Wagner contended that he was acting in obedience to commands of Hitler, who had ordered the expulsion of several hundred thousand Alsatian civilians; (2) that by virtue of the armistice between France and Germany in 1940 Alsace became incorporated into German territory, and that in view of that fact the recruiting of Alsatian civilians for labour service and military service was not contrary to international law. He referred to an interview with Hitler in which the latter stated that “the territorial problem of Alsace had ceased to exist” as the province had once again become part of the German Reich. He submitted that according to reports which he had received from police and party organizations, it was apparent that the majority of Alsatian civilians were anxious to join the armed forces of Germany, but that they were deterred from enlisting as volunteers by the fear of incurring the disapproval of their compatriots. Conscription had enabled them to gratify their wish without causing them any embarrassment.

It was alleged by the prosecution that Wagner could not have believed that the recruiting of civilians for labour service and military service was lawful, for the following reasons: (1) that he must have been aware of the vehement protests raised by the French (Vichy) Government against the compulsory recruiting of Alsatian civilians...

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