The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)
Nuremberg, war crimes, crimes against humanity

The Trial of German Major War Criminals

Sitting at Nuremberg, Germany
12th March to 22nd March, 1946

Eightieth Day: Wednesday, 13th March, 1946
(Part 1 of 10)

[Page37 ]

THE PRESIDENT: The Tribunal has made an order with respect to further proceedings on the charge against Organisations and the applications of members thereof. I do not propose to read that order, but it will be posted on the defence counsel's information board, and will be communicated to them and to the prosecution.

Dr. Jahreiss, had you finished your examination?


THE PRESIDENT: Very well. Does any other of the defence counsel wish to examine the witness?



BY DR. KAUFFMANN (defence counsel for Kaltenbrunner):

Q. Witness, have you any recollection when the defendant Kaltenbrunner first came into the public eye?

A. I have no knowledge of Kaltenbrunner's becoming particularly prominent in the public eye. I heard the name Kaltenbrunner for the first time when he appeared as successor to General Canaris.

Q. Have you any recollection to the effect that he was made the Chief of the R.S.H.A. in January, 1943?

A. I may have heard of it, but I have no certain recollection of it.

Q. Kaltenbrunner states that in April, 1945, he tried to save the country of Austria from further acts of war. Have you, by chance, any recollection of that?

A. I merely heard that Kaltenbrunner was one of those persons who were working for an independent Austria, but I have no definite, accurate knowledge of the situation.

Q. Furthermore, Kaltenbrunner states that he, on the basis of an agreement with the Red Cross at Geneva, had arranged for the return of civilian internees to their homeland through the firing line. He had communicated a request to your office - not to you personally - to the effect that a gap should be created in the fighting line to let these civilian internees go home. Do you happen to remember that?

A. It is quite possible that such a request was actually submitted. I did not gain any personal knowledge of it, because I was away from my office a great deal.

Q. Witness, have you any recollection as to when concentration camps were first established in Germany?

A. Yes. It was in 1933. I remember three concentration camps, but I do not know exactly when they were established. Oranienburg, which I passed by and flew over quite frequently; Dachau, which had been discussed vehemently in the newspapers, and Weimar-Nora, Weimar, a concentration camp over which I flew quite frequently on my official trips. I have no recollection of any other concentration camps, but perhaps I may add that, as a matter of principle, I have kept aloof from rumours which were particularly rife during those periods of crisis, in order to devote myself to my own duties, which were particularly heavy.

[Page 38]

Q. Regarding the internees in the concentration camps, did you have any definite idea as to who would be brought there?

A. I had, an idea, without knowing where I got it from, which seemed plausible to me, namely, that the National Socialist Revolution would be achieved without loss of lives and that political opponents would be detained until the founding of the new State had given sufficient security for them to return to public life. That is my knowledge of the situation, from which I conclude, in order to answer your question, that these people must, for the most part, have been persons who were opposed to the National Socialist ideology.

Q. Have you ever thought what, in your conception, the treatment in these concentration camps would be like? What was your conception of the treatment of the prisoners in the camps? There may be a difference as to whether you are thinking of the earlier or later years?

A. I know nothing about the methods of treatment in the camps. During the earlier years, when I was still active in Germany, one heard rumours to the effect that treatment was normal. In the later years I was abroad, that is to say, in theatres of war outside Germany, and I was so far away that I knew nothing whatsoever of these incidents and did not seek any information on them.

Q. Is it right, therefore, to assume that, as far as the atrocities, which did actually occur, were concerned, you had no positive knowledge?

A. No, I did not have any positive knowledge, not even in March, 1945, when I became Supreme Commander in the West; even then the occurrences in the concentration camps were completely unknown to me. This I attribute to two facts. One, the personal attitude which I have expressed earlier, that on principle I only concerned myself with my own business, which in itself was sufficiently extensive, and secondly, that within the State a Police State had developed which was hermetically sealed and closed off from the rest of the world.

Q. Have you any proof that, in your officers' circles, more was known than you, according to what you have just said, knew yourself?

A. I was in very close contact with my officers and I do not believe that there can have been a large number of officers who knew more about these things. Of course, I cannot give information regarding individuals.

Q. Did you know that Hitler had decided to eliminate the Jewish people physically?

A. That is absolutely unknown to me.

Q. Did you not have frequent opportunities to discuss ideological questions with Hitler?

A. Whenever I was at Headquarters only military and similar questions concerning my theatre of war were discussed during the official part of the conversation. When I was invited to a meal, then historical matters or matters of general interest were usually discussed, but acute political problems or ideological questions never came up for discussion. I personally cannot remember any instance where Hitler influenced me or any of the other Generals, in any way whatsoever with regard to professing themselves active National Socialists.

Q. Did you believe in Hitler's personality in a sense that Hitler was determined to lead the German people to a better Germany, with consideration for personal freedom and respect for human dignity? What was your conception about that?

THE PRESIDENT: What is the relevancy of a witness's belief upon a subject of that sort? What has it got to do with any part of the case of the defendant Kaltenbrunner? The Tribunal considers these sort of questions are a waste of the Tribunal's time.

[Page 39]


Q. Is it correct that in the absolute leadership State, which existed in Germany, any opposition by a human being to an order was impossible?

A. In that form I would not deny that. One could certainly represent one's own views against another view, but if one's own views were rendered invalid by a decision, absolute obedience became necessary, and its execution was demanded and ensured, under certain circumstances, by the application of penal law. Resistance to that order, or any order, was, according to our knowledge of the personality and attitude of Adolf Hitler, out of the question and would have achieved nothing.

Q. Would not a person attempting to resist a finally issued order have to consider that he was risking his life?

A. During the later years that was an absolute certainty.

Q. Did you at any time think the war could not be won, and if so, when?

A. In 1943, one had to consider the possibility that a victorious peace could not be achieved. I emphasise expressly that one had to expect that possibility, but by observing certain organisational or operational measures, the situation might still have been reversed.

Q. Did you ever discuss this question with someone of importance -the misgivings which you may have had about the continuance of the war?

A. At various times when I discussed my own military sector, I referred to certain difficulties which might influence the outcome of the war in general; but as representative of merely one military sector, I considered myself in no way competent to judge the entire military situation, since I could not, from my limited viewpoint, judge, for example, the situation regarding production or the organisation of manpower reserves. As I said before, I refused, as an amateur, to make a statement on such matters, since my statement might, under certain circumstances, have been regarded as official, as it would have been signed by the name of Field-Marshal Kesselring.

THE PRESIDENT: Will you kindly explain to the Tribunal what relevancy the last two or three questions have to the case of Kaltenbrunner?

DR. KAUFFMANN: He was in the same position - he could not, as he says, resist an order. It would have meant the loss of his life.

THE PRESIDENT: You asked the witness whether at any time during the war he thought how long the war would last. What has that got to do with Kaltenbrunner?

DR. KAUFFMANN: The prosecution accuses several defendants of having continued the struggle in spite of the fact that they knew it was hopeless, and of having prolonged the war. That is the problem I wish to clarify in my last question.

THE PRESIDENT: I do not think it was put specifically against Kaltenbrunner. If it is your last question you may put it.


Q. If I understand you correctly, what you are trying to explain is that the leading reason for your continuing to fight was your duty towards your country?

A. That is a matter of course, though I had other objects in view as well. One was, that although the possibility of a political termination of the war was denied, at least officially, I, personally, believed in it, and that I am still convinced of it to-day may be proved by the fact that I personally, together with Obergruppenfuehrer Wolff, undertook negotiations through Switzerland with an American, in order to prepare the issue for a political discussion to that end.

DR. KAUFFMANN: Mr. President, I have no further questions.

THE PRESIDENT: Any other counsel for the defence?

[Page 40]

BY DR. PELCKMANN (counsel for the defence for the S.S.):

Q. Witness, Dr. Kauffmann asked you whether the officers corps, had any knowledge of the conditions and the establishment of concentration camps. Do you know that within the Armed Forces so-called National-Political instruction courses were held?

A. Yes, I know of that.

Q. May I ask you whether you know that during one of the Armed Forces National-Political courses of instruction, which were held from 15th to 23rd January, 1937 - and I am referring now to Document 1992A-PS concerning the establishment of concentration camps - Himmler, the S.S.- Fuehrer, in the presence of the assembled officers, made a speech more or less to this effect:

"Naturally, we make a difference between inmates who may be there for a few months for educational purposes, and those who will be there for a long time."
I omit a few sentences, and come to the ones which I consider important:
"The order begins by insisting that these people live in clean barracks. This can, in fact, only be achieved by us Germans, for there is hardly any other nation which would act as humanely as we do. Linen is frequently changed. The people are instructed to wash twice a day, and the use of tooth-brushes is advised, a thing which is sometimes unknown to them."
Do you know of the Armed Forces having been instructed in this way, which, as we know to-day, does not correspond to conditions as they really were?

A.. As I said earlier, we did not concern ourselves with such questions at all, and this lecture by Himmler is unknown to me.

DR. PELCKMANN: Unknown! Thank you.

THE PRESIDENT: Does any other defence counsel wish to ask any questions? Then the prosecution may cross-examine.


Q. You understand, Witness, do you not, in giving your testimony, as to the definition of the High Command and the General Staff, as that definition is included in the Indictment, that you are accused as a member of that group.

A. I understand.

Q. And that you are testifying here virtually as one of the defendants?

A. I understand.

Q. You have spoken of the establishment in Germany of a Police State by the National Socialist Party, and I want to ask you whether it is not a fact that the Police State rested on two institutions, very largely, first, the secret State police, and secondly, the concentration camps?

A. The control by the police is an established fact. The concentration camp was, in my opinion, a final means to that end.

Q. Both the secret police and the concentration camp were established by Hermann Goering, is that not a fact known to you?

A. The secret State police was created by Hermann Goering. Whether it was formed by Himmler -

Q. Your lectures will be reserved for your own counsel, and I shall ask to have you so instructed. Just answer my questions. Was not the concentration camp also established by Hermann Goering?

A. I do not know.

Q. You do not know that. Did you favour the Police State?

A. I considered it as abnormal according to German conceptions that a State had been formed within a State, thus keeping certain things away from public knowledge.

[Page 41]

Q. Did you ever do anything or can you point to anything that you did in public life to prevent that abnormal condition coming to Germany?

A. I cannot remember anything, except that during conversations with my superiors I may have brought the point up for discussion. But I emphasise expressly that in general I confined myself to my own sphere and my own tasks.

Q. Do you want this Tribunal to understand that you never knew that there was a campaign by this State to persecute the Jews in Germany? Is that the way you want your testimony to be understood?

A. Persecution of the Jews was not known to me.

Q. Is it not a fact that Jewish officers were excluded from your army and from your command?

A. Jewish officers did not exist.

Q. Is it not a fact that certain officers of your army, certain officers of the Luftwaffe, took steps to Aryanise themselves in order to escape the effect of Goering's decrees? Did you know about that?

A. I heard rumours to that effect.

Q. Aryanising, where the father was suspected of Jewish ancestry, consisted in showing that the normal father was not the actual father, did it not?

A. I admit that. Naturally there are other cases as well.

Q. Yes. It might be that the mother was suspected of Jewish ancestry?

A. In exceptional cases certain facts were overlooked.

Q. Yes. Did you know anything about the Jewish riots - anti- Jewish riots of 9th and 10th November in Germany in 1938?

A. Are you talking about the action "Mirror" ("Spiegelsache")? I am not sure which day you are talking about.

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