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 4 of 10)

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

[Page 249 ]

Q. This means you are trying to say that the use of your signature was in fact a misuse?

A. Muller did not have authority to use it.

Q. Was it known to you that protective custody was possible at all, that it was admissible and that it has been carried out very often?

A. I discussed the concept 'protective custody' with Himmler as early as 1942. But I think even before that, on two occasions, I had correspondence about this concept, once with him and once with Thierack; I consider that protective custody, as it was handled in the German Reich, was only in a small number of cases a necessity in the interests of the State, or rather a measure which was justified by the war. Apart from that, I had declared myself against, and protested against this concept and against the application of any protective custody as a matter of principle, and have often used profound legal historical arguments in support of my opposition. On several occasions, I had reported on that subject to Himmler and also to Hitler. In a meeting of public prosecutors, I think it was in 1944, I publicly voiced my views against it, since I have always been of the opinion that a man's liberty must be counted among his highest privileges and that only a judgement of a court, firmly rooted in a constitution, should be allowed to infringe on that liberty or to deprive him of it.

Q. I am now discussing with you the reasons stated in such orders for protective custody. The following among others were given as reasons: activities hostile to

[Page 250]

the Reich; spreading of atrocity rumours; assault; refusal to work; religious propaganda.

Please, will you express your views on the reasons for these protective custody orders? Are they to be approved of?

A. No. I consider these reasons for protective custody to be wrong. I think I had better explain in detail. My attitude is due to the fact that all the offences which have been enumerated here might just as well have been dealt with by due process of law in the State courts. For that reason, I consider protective custody to be wrong if ordered for the reasons mentioned.

Q. So that, if I understand you rightly I can summarise your attitude as follows: You want to say that you had no knowledge of the protective custody orders; that you had no authority to issue them and that you did not sign them, but since these protective custody orders were issued within the Amt IV, you ought to have had knowledge of them. Is this summary correct or is it not?

A. It is correct.

Q. We now come to another charge preferred against you. The prosecution claims that you were the brain behind or accomplice in the crimes committed when you, as the Chief of the Security Police and the S.D., had civilians murdered and ill-treated by the so-called "Einsatzgruppen" (Einsatz groups). I am going to quote a few sentences from the testimony given by the witness Ohlendorf here in this court- room on 3rd January, 1946 - Ohlendorf's testimony incriminates you. I wish to have your comment on it. Ohlendorf says with reference to the Einsatzgruppen:

"After his entry into service Kaltenbrunner had to concern himself with these questions and consequently must have known the background of the Einsatzgruppen which were under his authority."
He goes on to say with reference to the valuables taken away from the executed persons, that these had been sent to the Reich Ministry of Finance or to the R.S.H.A. and he finally states that the officer personnel for these groups were recruited from the leading personnel of the State Police and only in a small percentage from the S.D.

What do you have to say in answer to the question whether or not you knew of the existence and the significance of these groups?

A. I had no idea of the existence of these Einsatz groups or commandos as described by Ohlendorf. Later on I heard that they existed, but this was many months later. With regard to this point I want to say the following. It is known to the Tribunal from Ohlendorf's testimony and from the decrees of Hitler and Himmler which have been discussed here, that orders for the killing of people had been given. These groups had never been reorganised during the time when I was in office. They had been active up to that time but were dissolved before I took over the office, or else had been put under different commands. I don't know whether the witness Ohlendorf has stated here just when he returned from his Einsatz group.

Q. 1942.

A. That is before I came into office. The Einsatz commandos must later on have come under the charge of the Senior S.S. and Police Leaders in the occupied territories, or, what is even more probable, under the charge of the chief of the anti-partisan units. I cannot answer your question precisely, since I had, owing to my being imprisoned for one year, no possibility at my disposal for re-examining the organisational scheme. I think you also asked me whether it is known to me that valuables, which had been taken away from executed persons, had been sent to my office or the Reich Ministry of Finance. I know nothing of such shipments but I do know that Himmler had given an order to everybody - not only to the Security Police but also to other organisations in the occupied territories, be it the Municipal Police or the anti-partisan units, or those sections of the Armed

[Page 251]

Forces which were under his command - that all such property was to be surrendered to the Reich Ministry of Finance.

Q. Were these Einsatz groups due to an order from Hitler or to an order from the R.S.H.A.?

A. They could only have been due to an order from Hitler.

Q. You just said that in the course of time you heard about the existence and significance of these groups. Can you say exactly on which date you gained that knowledge?

A. I assume that this was at the time when I had my first audience with Hitler or it may have been on the following day when I reported to Himmler in November, 1943.

Q. 1943?

A. Yes.

Q. If you had knowledge at that time of the Einsatz groups and their significance then the question arises what your, attitude about them was and, in case you condemned them, what you did to have them abolished? Did you have a possibility to do so or did you not?

A. I said before that an Einsatz commando was never set up under my direction or orders. The existence and the previous activities of such commandos became known to me late in the fall of 1943 and I knew that I would have to resist this misuse of the men who were under the R.S.H.A. I think on 13th September, 1943, I saw Hitler, on the occasion of a visit of Mussolini, who had just been liberated. However, my attempt to talk to him failed, because of this State visit. Consequently, in November - after Himmler had put it off repeatedly - I had to go again to Headquarters to report officially on my activities up to that time. And on that occasion I talked to the Fuehrer about what I had learned concerning the Einsatz commandos and also I had the first opportunity to approach him about the entire Jewish problem, and about the orders given by him and by Himmler against the Jews which had also become known to me at that time. However, I would like to make a detailed statement on this subject, if you will go through that problem in detail with me. I should like to add that the Einsatz commandos no longer came into the picture so far as I was concerned, because the entire personnel was transferred to the anti- partisan units, I believe on exactly the same day that I entered my office in Berlin. I can remember distinctly that von dem Bach-Zelewski was appointed Chief of the anti- guerrilla campaign on 30th January, 1943. This may also be the reason for the fact that I did not see any reports from the Einsatz commandos themselves.

Q. I am now turning to Document L-51, Exhibit USA 521. This is an extremely incriminating document, on which I want to have your comment.

Zutter is the adjutant of the camp commander of Mauthausen. He reports regarding a ...

A. Is this photostat copy the same?

Q. Yes, it is the same.

He is reporting regarding an execution order, referring to twelve or fifteen American parachutists who were captured in 1945.

Will you please look through the document and state to the Tribunal whether you issued this order, and whether you had authority to do so?

A. Yes. You discussed this same document with me only yesterday. Therefore it is known to me. I declare that this incident and this order never did come to my knowledge until this document was put before me, or until its presentation by the interrogator.

Q. Do you know Ziereis?

A. As I have already said once, I have never had authority to sign on my own initiative a so-called order for execution, that is to say a death sentence. Apart from Hitler, nobody in the whole Reich had such authority except Himmler and the Reich Minister of Justice.

[Page 252]

Q. With regard to this point, I wish to mention that the prosecution has also presented execution orders which bore the signature of Muller. Do you want to say something about that?

A. If an execution order had Muller's signature, Muller can have signed it only on the strength of an order from Himmler, or on the strength of a sentence submitted by a court.

Q. One would suggest that if Muller had authority to issue execution orders, then you ought to have had such authority to a much higher degree? Is that right?

A. No, that is not so, because Himmler never gave me such power; also the set-up of the chain of command - the State police remained under Himmler after Heydrich's death even after I took office - would have contradicted that.

Q. The incident referred to in this document is of such importance, particularly since foreign parachutists are involved, that one must suppose that it was known in the high offices in Berlin, that means also in the R.S.H.A. Did you receive no knowledge of the matter afterwards?

A. I wish to state definitely that the incident did not come to my knowledge.

THE PRESIDENT: Have you finished with Document L-51?

DR. KAUFFMANN: No, I am still concerned with Document L-51, but I have nearly done with it.

THE PRESIDENT: Well, ought you not to refer him to the particular incident which is mentioned towards the end of the document, where it says "Concerning the American military mission which landed behind the German front in the Slovakian or Hungarian area in January, 1945"? It goes on, then, to say that the, I think it was Adjutant, of the Camp said: "Now Kaltenbrunner has given the permission for the execution. This letter was secret and had the signature, 'signed, Kaltenbrunner."'

I think you should put that to him.

DR. KAUFFMANN: Yes, certainly. He knows the document, I believe he knows every single word of it - but I will put it to him again.


It says here:

"I estimate the number of those persons captured to have been twelve to fifteen. They were wearing a uniform which was either American or Canadian, brown-green in colour, and a beret. Eight to ten days after their arrival, the order for their execution was received by means of a radio message, or a teletype. Standartenfuehrer Ziereis - that is the Camp Commandant - came to see me in my office and said: 'Now, Kaltenbrunner has approved of the execution.' The letter was secret, and had the signature, 'signed, Kaltenbrunner.'

These men were then shot and their valuables were given to me by Oberscharfuehrer Niedermeyer."

Would you, very briefly, go into this?

A. It is completely out of the question that this incident could ever have been brought to my knowledge, or that it happened with my sanction. This is not only plainly a crime against the laws of warfare, but it is in particular an action which would and indeed was bound to produce the most serious foreign political consequences.

Certainly, in such a proceeding it is out of the question that either Muller, or even I myself, as his superior, could have taken action. In such a case thorough discussions must definitely have taken place previously between Himmler himself and the Fuehrer.

It is to be assumed, furthermore, that, quite definitely, some one - maybe the competent section for International Law - would have been consulted on the subject first, and that such an action, of course, would have been decreed either

[Page 253]

by the Fuehrer or by Himmler. In any case, it would need an order from one of these two persons. However, even that is unknown to me.

If, therefore, this man Zutter relates here that the order bore my signature, then this can only have been an order which, as I have described before, bore my name falsely since I never had authority to issue an order for execution. Therefore, the signature should have been "Himmler" or, "by Himmler's order, Muller."

Q. So that you attribute this signature to a misuse?

A. No, I believe that it does not concern my signature at all here, but that Ziereis should have said "Himmler." It cannot be assumed that Miller would have signed his or my name in such a way.

Q. We are now coming to another subject. I am referring now to Document 1063-B, Exhibit USA 492, which is a letter from the R.S.H.A., dated 26th July, 1943. It has the signature, "Signed, Dr. Kaltenbrunner," and the letter is addressed to all Senior S.S. and Police-Leaders. It refers to the establishment of correctional labour camps (Arbeitserziehungslager).

Will you please look through the letter? The prosecution charges you with the establishment of correctional labour camps. Please explain what your attitude really was, and state whether that letter originated from you.

A. With regard to this point I have to make the following statement. I conclude from the fact that my name is typewritten that this order had not been shown to me before it went out. Otherwise, I would have signed it in handwriting.

Q. Do you know of a Himmler order?

A. As far as I can remember, I learned of it only later on.

Q. What is a correctional labour camp? Is it identical with a concentration camp?

A. No, correctional labour camps were camps in which men were put - either Germans, who had dodged the compulsory labour service in spite of repeated reminders, or foreign workers who had left their place of work without permission, and had been arrested; or workers who were caught during round-ups on trains, railway stations and roads, and who had no permanent labour contract. Confinement to such correctional labour camps covered a period of fourteen to fifty-six days.

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