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

The Trial of German Major War Criminals

Sitting at Nuremberg, Germany
4th April to 15th April, 1946

One Hundred and Fifth Day: Thursday, 11th April, 1946
(Part 3 of 10)

[DR. KAUFFMANN continues his direct examination of Ernst Kaltenbrunner]

[Page 245]


Q. Then, in September, 1938, you were promoted to S.S. Gruppenfuehrer; is that correct ?

A. Yes. After the ensuing Anschluss I had to take over the leadership of the General S.S. in Austria, namely the S.S. Main Sector Danube. At that time I had been promoted Brigade Leader without going through the lower ranks of S.S. leaders, and I think it was in September that I was appointed Gruppenfuehrer, so that my rank was co-ordinated with that of all the other Main S.S. Sector Leaders in the entire Reich.

Q. Will you continue regarding your further activities in the S.S.? Were you in 1941 appointed Senior S.S. and Police Leader in Austria ?

A. In March, 1938, I became a member of the Austrian Government; I had to take over the position of State Secretary for Security in Austria, under the Ministry of the Interior. That Austrian Government was dissolved in 1941; consequently, the Office of State Secretary for Security was also dissolved, and in order to retain me at the same salary level, I was appointed Senior S.S. and Police Leader, I think, in July, 41.

Q. And on 30th January, 1943, you were appointed Chief of the Security Police and the S.D., that is, of the so-called Reich Main Security Office (R.S.H.A.). How did that appointment come about; did you have connections with Himmler; what was said between you and Himmler on the occasion of your appointment?

A. I must first describe briefly my activities from 1941 to 1943, so as to make it clear why I was called to Berlin.

The prosecution charges that I had already been leader of the Security Police in Austria. In that respect the prosecution is mistaken.

The State Police and the Criminal Police as well as the Security Service in Austria were directed centrally from Berlin and were completely removed from the power of the then responsible Minister, Seyss-Inquart, and his deputy, Kaltenbrunner. My duties as Senior S.S. and Police Leader in Austria - unlike the activity of the same men in the Reich - were therefore limited merely to the task of representing or leading the General S.S., which in no way took up all my time.

During these two years I therefore followed out my intentions concerning political activity and developed a rather large political intelligence service radiating from Austria toward the South-east. I did that because, in the first place, I regretted that the Reich did not make use of the political and economic resources of Austria, and because the Reich, with incredible short-sightedness, did not visualise Austria's tremendous power as an intermediary with the South-east. Thus, my reports met with increased interest in Berlin, and since Himmler was continuously reproached by Hitler that his intelligence service, which was run by Heydrich in the Reich, did not furnish adequate reports on political results, Himmler, eight months after

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Heydrich's death, felt obliged to look for a man who could free him from Hitler's reproaches that he had no intelligence service worth mentioning.

Q. And what did you discuss with Himmler?

A. In December, 1942, he ordered me to come to Berchtesgaden, where he resided at the time because the Fuehrer's headquarters were in the neighbourhood, at the Obersalzberg. He told me first of Hitler's reproaches and demanded that I create a central intelligence service in the Reich. We had a lengthy discussion on this subject with reference to my reports of the previous years. He was then of the opinion that the best solution would be for me to take over the Reich Main Security Office (R.S.H.A.) as a transition basis for the creation of such an intelligence service. I refused to do that, giving as my reason that I had maintained a watching and critical attitude in Austria towards the overall development in the Reich, especially the inner political development. I explained to Himmler in detail why the Germans in Austria were disappointed and where I saw dangers that the same Austrians, who four years ago had turned with enthusiasm to the Reich, would become tired of it. I have -

Q. May I interrupt you for just one moment? It is correct, of course, that you were made the Chief of the Reich Main Security Office. Are you trying to say that you did not take over the executive powers?

A. I'm coming to that immediately. But, I must now describe that first conference with Himmler; the second one took place two weeks later. On that occasion I was given the order; I am referring to the first order.

But I should like to state here and now - and this runs like a red thread through my entire career to the last days of the war - that even then I explained to Himmler on which essential points I disagreed with National Socialism as to the home policy of the Reich, the foreign policy, the ideology, and the violations of law by the Government itself. I declared to him specifically that the administration in the Reich was too centralised; that Austria was violently criticising that centralised system, particularly since a federal status had been granted to other countries, such a Bavaria. I told him that the creation of a new German criminal law, in the form suggested, was wrong, and that German criminal law was casuistic. The Austrian criminal law, based on a tradition of more than one hundred years, had proved to be the best and had also been recognised abroad. I explained to him that the concepts of protective custody and of concentration camps were not approved of in Austria, but that every man in Austria wanted to be tried before a court of law. I explained to him that anti-Semitism in Austria had developed in a completely different way and also required a different handling. No one in Austria, I said, had ever thought of going beyond the reasonable and humane limits of anti- Semitism as laid down in the Party programme. I also said that there was hardly any understanding in Austria for the fact that the Nuremberg Laws went beyond the Party programme in this respect.

In Austria, since 1934, there had been a peaceful, regulated policy to allow the Jews to emigrate. Any personal or physical persecution of Jews was completely unnecessary. I am referring to a document, which is somewhere in the court records. It is a report from the Chief of Police in Vienna, dated, I think, December, 1939, which proves in accordance with statistics that between 1934 and 1939, I think, of a total of 200,000 Jews more than half had emigrated to foreign countries. Those were the problems which I discussed at that time -

Q. (interrupting): And what did Himmler tell you?

A. (continuing) . . . and I told Himmler at that time that he knew very well that not only had I had no training in police matters at all, but that all my activity up to then had been in the field of political intelligence work, and that therefore, when taking over the R.S.H.A., not only did I refuse to have anything to do with such executive offices, as the Gestapo and the criminal police, but that my task, to which he was appointing me, namely to set up and cultivate an intelligence service, would in fact be impeded were I to agree. I also said that I was not only extremely

[Page 247]

different from Heydrich personally, but that also material differences existed in so far as Heydrich was an expert in police matters, whereas I was not, and that the policy with which he, Himmler, and Heydrich had already discredited the Reich could not be carried on by me. My name, my honour and my family were too sacred to me for that.

He reassured me in this respect by saying, "You know that in June, 1942, Heydrich was assassinated and that I myself since his death" - and this was about six or seven months after Heydrich's death - "I have been handling his entire office. This is to continue in so far that I" - this means Himmler - "will retain the executive offices for myself in the future. I have well-trained experts, Muller and Nebe, at my disposal for this purpose. You will not have to concern yourself with it. You take over Amt III and Amt VI, as the transition basis for your intelligence service." I told him at that time that an intelligence service could not be built up on the S.D. alone; that an intelligence service which, until that time, had been so narrow-minded because of Heydrich, and which had been forced more and more into executive work was, a priori, capable of providing the necessary personnel.

Secondly, I told him an intelligence service ought to be smaller, and in particular I considered it madness to have political and military intelligence separated from each other. No country in the whole world, except Germany and France, has adopted a two-division set-up for an intelligence service. I therefore demanded from him that he first procure a Fuehrer order on the strength of which the intelligence system of the Armed Forces, which rested in the O.K.W., counter-intelligence office (Amt Abwehr), should be united with the S.D. and should be given a new body of personnel, which ought to be selected and carefully screened.

Q. I am interrupting you for a moment. Can you tell me in one sentence whether that unification which you just mentioned took place?

A. Yes, it did.

Q. With Amt VI?

A. Yes.

Q. And then another question -

A. (continuing): The union was achieved by an order of Hitler dated 14th or 15th February, 1944.

Q. Now, another question: After what you have just explained, did Himmler relieve you of the executive tasks and was it made known to your section chiefs within the R.S.H.A., etc., that you had been so relieved? Did this become apparent outside the office; if so, how?

A. After this conference with Himmler in December, 1942, he discharged me because I did not want to take over the R.S.H.A. under those conditions which he had offered to me, namely, that the executive departments should be managed by himself as previously. He was so angry with me that he did not give me his hand and made me aware of his indignation in various other ways during the subsequent weeks. Towards the middle of January, 1943 - the 16th or 18th - I was ordered by telegram to report to headquarters, which in the meantime had been transferred to East Prussia. I assumed that I was to get a post at the front because I had asked him for such a post. I went to headquarters with full kit because I thought I had finally to expect the same fate that had been that of my brothers and of my other male relatives. But I was wrong. He told me: "I have talked to the Fuehrer and he believes that the centralisation and reorganisation of the intelligence service is the right thing to do. He will initiate the necessary negotiations with the Armed Forces, and you will have to organise and build up this intelligence service. I, together with Muller and Nebe, will still have direct charge of the executive offices." If you ask me now whether this limitation must have become apparent at once outside the office, I have to answer that it was not publicised. Therefore, formally the prosecution is right in saying: "As far as the outside world in [sic] concerned, you never drew a demarcation line." To that charge I can only reply that I believed I could rely on the words of my then superior. He

[Page 248]

had stated it to me in the presence of Nebe and Muller and had given them the personal order to communicate with him directly and to report to him and receive the orders from him directly just as it had been done for the eight months since Heydrich's death.

I am stating here emphatically that the special assignments which had been given to Heydrich - such as, for instance, the assignment with regard to the final solution of the Jewish problem - were not known to me at the time and were not taken over by me. Nominally I was the chief of the R.S.H.A. As such I considered the intelligence service and the reorganisation of this intelligence service my proper sphere, as I have said before. The directives were given by Himmler, but in State Police and Criminal Police matters, things were often done, as I found out very much later, in the name of the Chief of the R.S.H.A., i.e. in my name, without my knowing of or seeing these orders when they were issued.

The chiefs of the Gestapo office and the Criminal Police office sometimes carried out these orders from Himmler, as I said, signing my name as Chief of the R.S.H.A. and, as I probably might have to state in detail later, they so continued routine habits which prevailed during Heydrich's time, who united all executive powers in his hand and who could delegate the respective powers to Muller and Nebe. But I never had those powers from the beginning, and therefore I could never delegate any partial powers. Perhaps I ought to supplement the declaration of my responsibility in this respect by saying that possibly I did not take the necessary measures to make it clear that no order of the State Police or the Criminal Police should bear my name. That I did not concern myself with that sufficiently is Himmler's fault, but perhaps mine too.

Q. I draw your attention to the testimony given by Ohlendorf, Chief of Amt III, on 3rd January, 1946, here in Court. I am putting this testimony to you briefly, and will you please make your comment?

This testimony refers to the question of the executive power. The witness Ohlendorf said, in reply to my question:

"If you ask the question whether Kaltenbrunner could bring about executive actions I must answer in the affirmative. If you then name Muller and Himmler, to the exclusion of Kaltenbrunner, then I must point out that according to the organisation of the R.S.H.A. Muller was subordinate to Kaltenbrunner, and consequently orders from Himmler to Muller were also orders to Kaltenbrunner, and Muller was obliged to inform Kaltenbrunner of them."
And then he goes on to say:
"I can say that I know absolutely that - I refer to the expression that often came up, namely 'to the last washerwoman' - Himmler reserved the final decision for himself. As to whether or not Kaltenbrunner had any authority at all in this regard I can make no statement."
I am asking you now: Are the essential points of Ohlendorf's testimony correct?

A. It needs clarification. He is right in so far as nothing in the construction or rather organisation of the R.S.H.A. had changed since Heydrich's time. Therefore he could immediately assume that there was an official channel - Himmler-Kaltenbrunner-Muller. But during the conferences, i.e. when Himmler gave orders, it was specifically not the case. And to the other remark that Himmler reserved for himself the decision "to the last washerwoman," that proves that the situation actually had changed in so far as, contrary to Heydrich's time, the medium between Himmler and Muller - and this was I - was not active, so that orders from Himmler went immediately to Muller.

Q. I am now coming to the individual charges preferred by the prosecution and first submit to you a document for your statement. It is the document L-38, Exhibit USA 517. It is now KR-3. This deals with the charge preferred against Kaltenbrunner....

[Page 249]

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Kauffmann, has this already got an exhibit number? You don't want to give it another exhibit number.

DR. KAUFFMANN: Very well. If it is not necessary. I shall be glad to drop that.


Q. The question here is, first whether alt signed orders for protective custody bore your name either in facsimile or typewritten; and the second question is whether you gave such orders, that means whether these orders are authentic; and further, in case both these questions are to be answered in the negative, whether you had knowledge of these orders. Please will you comment on this document.

A. I must say that not once in my whole life did I ever see or sign a single protective custody order. During the interrogations before the trial a number of protective custody orders which bear my name were put before me when I was being questioned. Everyone of these protective custody orders had this signature, i.e. my name, either typewritten or in teletype, and I think in one or two cases it was a facsimile.

Q. You will admit that naturally this statement of yours isn't very credible. It is a monstrosity that the office chief should not know that such orders were signed with his name. How do you explain this fact, a fact which appears from the documents which bear your signature?

A. I had not finished my explanation. I stated that this signature "Kaltenbrunner" on protective custody orders can only have come about through the fact that the office chief, Muller, signed the name of the Chief of the R.S.H.A. on these protective custody orders, as he had done during Heydrich's time when he was allowed to do so, and that in addition he allocated to his sections, the protective custody sections, the right to do the same thing. Quite obviously he continued to do so during my time, because otherwise these orders could not have been put before me now, But he never informed me of this and he never had authority from me to do it. On the contrary, this was out of the question, even superfluous, because he was immediately under Himmler and he had authority from Himmler, so that he just as well might have written "Himmler" or "By order of Himmler" or "For Himmler." I admit that this remains a fact about which the Tribunal will not believe me, but nevertheless it was so and Himmler never gave me any reason to define my attitude in this respect, since he had told me that I was not to carry out these executive tasks.

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