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

Eighty-Fourth Day: Monday, 18th March, 1946
(Part 3 of 9)

[DR. BOEHM continues his direct examination of HERMANN WILHELM GORING]

[Page 179]

Q. In the Prussian police system, and in the police system of the other States, were only S.A. members used, or was it rather that all Germans who at that time volunteered to enter the police service were examined and according to the results of this examination were then used or not used?

A. There was a purging of the police according to our ideas, that is, an investigation was made to see which elements were so strongly bound to the Party of the opponents, that is, to hostile Parties, that their use no longer seemed possible. These people were eliminated. But that was a very small percentage in comparison with the actual total number of police. They were replaced; and municipal police, in particular, who wore uniforms, were increased. Voluntary applications for this came from all sides. Of course, members of our organisations were in part favoured; but a number of people were also taken who were not in these organisations, and those who came from the organisations had to take test of aptitude for the police services. Many of them did not pass the test and were not taken. That is how it was as long as I was concerned with the police. What happened later I cannot tell you exactly.

[Page 180]

Q. Is it correct that the S.A. after 1934, besides training for sports, was used mainly for emergencies, to line the route on the occasion of marches, to shovel snow, to clean up bomb damage, and so forth?

A. After 1934 the importance of the S.A. declined tremendously. This is understandable, for their chief task no longer existed, after the taking over of power. They were used to the widest extent in the activities just mentioned by you. Then during the war they had pre-military duties, and after the war they were to be the chief collecting point for the former military clubs, so that they would then be brought together in the S.A. as veterans' associations. That was the intention, in order to give the S.A. a further sphere of activities.

Q. Do you know that the Steel Helmets, by virtue of an agreement between the Fuehrer and Seldte, were taken into the S.A. reserves in a body?

A. Yes.

Q. Is it correct that after 1933, like the "Steel Helmets," the riding-clubs of that time were also taken into the S.A. by means of the so-called co-ordination?

A. I believe that is correct.

Q. Was the S.A. leadership and its members before or after 1933 at any time informed of the results of Cabinet consultations, or of the decisions taken by the Cabinet?

A. I have already said in my general remarks just bow the leadership of the S.A. should be regarded. No, of course not.

Q. The Indictment asserts, in connection with the presentation of the charge of aggressive war and the participation of the S.A. in such a war, that the S.A. took part in this preparation, in that before the war it annually trained about 25,000 officers in special schools. You must surely have known something about that.

A. The training of officers of the Armed Forces was carried out solely in the Armed Forces' own military schools, and I could never understand how the S.A. could be in a position technically and as regards organisation to train officers for the Armed Forces. In addition, it seems to me that the training of 25,000 officers a year is far in excess of the number of officers needed for the Armed Forces. It would have been very nice if we had had so many, but this number, at all events for several years, is just as incorrect as the statement that the S.A. had to train officers. The training of officers was done by the Armed Forces entirely and exclusively.

Q. But men do seem to have been trained. Do you know where these men were trained and for what purpose? Do you know anything about Fuehrer Schools?

A. Yes, there were Fuehrer Schools for every organisation. Every organisation had its schools where it taught and trained those who in its own cadres were to have some sort of leading position. I can only imagine that the prosecution was perhaps confused, or perhaps wanted to say that some of the S.A. leaders had received a certain preliminary pre- military training in the reading of maps or something similar. That, however, is beyond the scope of my knowledge.

Q. May I ask you to explain the relation of the "Feldherrnhalle" to the S,A. or the Armed Forces? Was there a formation or a regiment by the name of "Feldherrnhalle"? What was particular about this?

A. After the S.S. had been allowed several formations (Standarten) by the Fuehrer as armed units and these actually represented military formations, as, for instance, the "Leibstandarte," Grossdeutschland" and others, the S.A. leadership requested to be granted at least one unit which - it might arm with rifles and small arms - as a parade unit, I might say - and this unit was called "Feldherrnhalle." Lutze, the then S.A. leader, suggested to the Fuehrer that I should be made the head of this unit. It is a position of honour to be the head of a regiment or a "Standarte." When I saw this unit for the first time - I

[Page 181]

believe in a body at a Party rally at Nuremberg - it pleased me immensely because it had only outstanding, especially selected young men.

Really I thanked the S.A. rather badly for this special honour, for after seeing this excellent unit I dissolved it a few weeks later and took it over in a body into the Luftwaffe and made of it my first Paratroop regiment. So, after a brief existence, this unit became simply an Armed Forces formation, a regiment of the Air Force. Because of this procedure, which was unpleasant for the S.A., it was quite some time, I believe, before the S.A. leader Lutze decided to form a similar unit with the name of "Feldherrnhalle," and he kept this unit very much smaller; it did sentry duty for the supreme S.A. leadership, and he did not make me the head of this unit a second time.

Q. According to my information, information I personally received from S.A. Gruppenfuehrer and ObergruppenFuehrer and other information which I obtained myself through reading, the "Feldherrnhalle" was not armed until it passed into the Air Force. Is that correct?

A. No, that is not correct. I think, but I cannot say so under oath with certainty, they received rifles shortly before, but only rifles. But as I said before, I do not know exactly.

In this connection, as the prosecutor has referred to this point, I should like to emphasise that this regiment was already provided for as a Paratroop regiment in "Case Green." After "Case Green" had been peacefully settled, that is, after the Sudetenland question had been solved peacefully and long after the occupation of the Sudetenland, I made this regiment bale out and land there, as originally intended, but purely for purposes of practice and manoeuvres. This was the landing at Freudenthal which the prosecution has mentioned. By this time they were already in blue uniforms when they landed and were therefore already a regiment of the Air Force. Merely as a matter of courtesy I had invited the S.A. leader Lutze to watch this demonstration.

Q. In this war did the S.A. ever play a strategic or tactical role in connection with the deployment of forces?

A. No; the S.A. as such was never used in combat within the Armed Forces as the S.A. or as an S.A. unit, either tactically or otherwise. It may be that toward the end there were certain S.A. units in the Volkssturm.

Q. Is it correct that the S.A. as a body co-operated with the Armed Forces in the occupation of Austria, the Sudetenland and the Czech State?

A. In the case of Austria, the Austrian S.A., which was there on the spot, did not take part in the occupation for it had been called up in a few places there as auxiliary police. The actual so-called Austrian Legion, which was in the Reich, was at my express command and at the express wish of Seyss-Inquart held back for a long time and was not allowed to go home until after the absolute consolidation of the Austrian situation. It did come from Austria originally. How far units of the S.A. marched into the Sudetenland after the zone was given over to Germany I do not know. I heard that there were also Sudeten Germans involved here who had had to flee prior to that time and who were now returning. In connection with the occupation of the rest of the Czechoslovakian State, I cannot possibly imagine that closed S.A. formations played any part in the entry of our troops.

Q. Could the members of the S.A. possibly have known that, according to the intention of the S.A. leadership, they would or could be used for the carrying out of punishable acts?

A. I did not quite get the substance of that question.

Q. Could the members of the S.A. have known that, according to the intention of the S.A. leadership, they might possibly be used to commit crimes?

A. Crimes, never.

Q. Now, I have a last question, but I believe that in a certain sense you have already answered it. Did the members of the S.A. know, or could they

[Page 182]

know or ought they to have known, the aims and purposes of the S.A. at any time, so that they could recognise the intention of the S.A. leadership, or of the staff leadership, to commit Crimes against Peace, War Crimes and Crimes against Humanity as stated in the Indictment?

A. I have already answered this.

THE PRESIDENT: The Tribunal will adjourn for ten minutes.

(A recess was taken.)

DR. BOEHM: Mr. President, I should like to ask you to permit me to put one more basic question, namely, the question of honorary leadership.

Q. There were honorary leaders in the S.A.; for instance, the Obergruppenfuehrer, Gruppenfuehrer, Brigadefuehrer, Standartenfuehrer and Sturmfuehrer. Witness, I should like you to explain to me what the significance of the honorary leader in the organisation of the S.A. was, as far as the training of the S.A. and the issuing of orders to the S.A. were concerned - what kind of influence he might have had.

A. The honorary leaders of the S.A. were appointed for all sorts of reasons and motives. They had an exclusively representative function, that is to say, they took part in Party ceremonies wearing the S.A. uniform. They were by no means active members of the S.A. and were not informed of any internal activities of the S.A. or of operations and other tasks. Their function was purely decorative.

DR. MERKEL (counsel for the Secret State Police):

Q. Witness, can one say that the Gestapo in the year 1933, when it was created by you, was a National Socialist combat unit, or was it rather a State organisation such as, for example, the criminal police or other State and Reich authorities?

A. I have already emphasised that this was a purely State organisation built around the already existing political police force which was merely being reorganised and brought into line with the new State principles. At this time it had not even the slightest connection with the Party. The Party had no influence or authority to give orders or directives of any sort; it was exclusively a State institution. The members who were in it already, or who came into it, were at this time officials with all the rights and duties of such.

Q. To your knowledge, did the position change in any way between the time the State police was taken over by Himmler and 1945?

A. Until 1934 it was exactly as I described it. Then with the further expansion, the S.S. element did certainly become stronger and perhaps more people from this sector were brought in, but even these - at that time they all had to pass an examination - became and remained officials. I heard later that nothing changed as far as this official character was concerned, but gradually in the course of the years all officials, whether they wanted to or not, had, I believe, to take on some rank in the S.S., so that a Gestapo official, who perhaps until the year 1939 or 1940 had had nothing to do with the S.S., and whose employment dated from the old days - that is, he had been a police official of the Weimer Republic - was automatically given some rank or other in the S.S. But he remained an official, that is, the Gestapo was an apparatus for officials in the German Police Force.

Q. Do you know whether it is true that after the seizure of power Himmler, in his capacity as Police President of Munich, was at the same time the Head of the political police and the criminal police in Bavaria?

A. As far as I know and as I have already explained, Himmler was first of all Police President of Munich; very shortly afterwards - it may perhaps have been one or two weeks - he called himself Police Commander of Bavaria, and then in the course of one and one-half months - it all took place very quickly

[Page 183]

he became - what he called himself I do not know exactly - in fact the Supreme Police Chief of all German provinces and free cities, with the exception of Prussia.

Q. You said before that the officials of the Gestapo were taken into the S.S. Did this happen voluntarily, or was there some coercion on the part of the administrative offices to make these officials part of the S.S.?

A. I believe - I heard this only from individual officials whom I had known before - that they had to do this. They were not taken into the S.S., but they received an official rank in the S.S. It was probably Himmler's idea that the S.S. and the police, both of which were under his leadership, should be amalgamated. How he contemplated that and how it worked out in detail I cannot say. Therefore, I may perhaps have stated some things incorrectly here, but I did it to the best of my knowledge.

Q. You said before that the 1933 officials from the political police existing at that time were taken into the State police. Was this done on the basis of a voluntary application by these officials or were they commanded or transferred in individual cases without their concurrence?

A. You are not correct when you say that the officials of the political police of the previous State were simply incorporated into the Gestapo; on the contrary, in this sector the weeding out was very drastic, because up till then - it was a political police force - it contained representatives of those Parties which were hostile and opposed to us. They had to be removed. Consequently new people came in, especially as the numbers were considerably increased. These new officials were taken from the other police departments, from the criminal police and elsewhere; and, as I have already stated, were in some cases brought in from outside as new recruits, and our people were naturally given special consideration. To what extent normal transfers took place - whether Herr Muller was transferred from the criminal police to the Secret State Police and whether he was asked about this - that I do not really know. I believe not. I left that to the Head of the Secret State Police. After I had set up the general directives, I could not be bothered with every single official in the Criminal Police H.Q.

Q. Do you know Obergruppenfuehrer Muller, the Chief of Division IV in the Reich Main Security Office?

A. I knew him.

Q. Did you know that he and his immediate associates came from the Bavarian Political Police, as it existed before 1933?

A. I did not know that; I only knew that he came from Bavaria.

Q. Do you know that the Secret State Police did not take part in the disturbances on 9th November, 1938?

A. It has always been my conviction that they did not take part in them. I saw a document here which instructed them not to intervene. I do not believe that they took part.

Q. If I understood you correctly, you said recently that on this 9th of November, after your return to Berlin, you at once called up the Chief of the Gestapo. Did you make this call only because you wanted more precise information, or did you make it because you thought the Gestapo had taken an active part in these disturbances, had organised them and carried them out?

A. If I had been convinced that the Gestapo had instigated these disturbances I would certainly not have asked them for information. I gave the order to my collaborators through the police - in this case through the Gestapo, because they had the necessary connections - or to the criminal police - it was all the same to me. I could address myself only to the Chief of Police, who was Heydrich, and say that I wanted a report quickly on what had happened. A report which merely stated the facts.

Q. Is it correct that when you gave up your position as Chief of the Police to Himmler you made the statement that it was unworthy of a German official to

[Page 184]

ill-treat prisoners, and that you would not fail to deal most severely with any officials who were guilty of such acts?

A. The speech I made on this occasion is known and it contains such passages.

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