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 Sixth Day: Friday, 12th April, 1946
(Part 1 of 12)

[Page 278]

DR. KAUFFMANN (counsel for defendant Kaltenbrunner): Mr. President, yesterday the case of Sagan was mentioned by the defendant, but regarding his own participation he made only a few statements. The prosecution is assuming that he was an immediate participant even before the flyers had been shot. The two witnesses, Westhoff and Wielen, in my opinion, produced evidence in favour of the defendant, and I am now asking the Tribunal to tell me whether the defendant may have permission to speak in detail regarding the manner in which he was actively concerned in the affair, or whether the Tribunal is satisfied with the treatment he has given this problem.

THE PRESIDENT: The Tribunal thinks that if the defendant has knowledge of the facts connected with it, he had better give them. He needn't give them in any greater detail than is necessary, but in view of the evidence of the witness Wielen, I think he ought to deal with it.




Q. You stated yesterday that you heard about the case Sagan for the first time after the event had taken place. Do you maintain that position today?

A. Yes.

Q. In what manner did you become acquainted with the case Sagan later on, and what did you do about it?

A. I was never officially informed of it, but roughly six weeks after the event I received knowledge of it. At the time these flyers escaped and at the time the orders were given - Hitler-Muller-Nebe, I imagine, or possibly Himmler- Fegelein-Nebe - I'm not sure, I was not present in Berlin but was in Hungary and, after a number of calls, finally finished up in a visit to Minister Speer in Dahlem. On the 2nd or 3rd April I returned to Berlin. Up to that time, no one had informed me of it. The first time I heard of the affair was when the Foreign Office made representations, or rather, demanded from Nebe and Muller that the case should be clarified so that they could answer a note which, I believe, had been sent to the Foreign Office by the Protecting Power.

The description of the witness General Westhoff is, in my opinion, misleading. I think he said something about mentioning the case Sagan approximately four weeks after the shooting, during another conversation with me. I think that it was at least six weeks afterwards. It should be possible to ascertain when the Foreign Office made that inquiry. Then it would be possible to ascertain the exact date.

Q. Later on; when you talked to Muller and Nebe, what was decided upon as a camouflage for this matter and what was thought of?

A. No camouflage was decided on nor discussed in our office, but when Muller and Nebe said that they would have to reply to the Foreign Office's inquiry and in that connection informed me of that dreadful order for the first time, I asked them who had given that order, and they replied "Himmler." I told them that they ought to get in touch with him immediately and ask him how the case should be

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dealt with further. I refused to have any connection with it. It had been unknown to me until that time, and I considered it a dirty affair.

Q. But was it not mentioned in that connection that it would be said that the flyers had lost their lives through bombs or that they had been shot whilst trying to escape? What do you know in that respect? The witness Schellenberg has stated that there were such conversations.

A. Such words may have been said, yes. It has been described here how the large-scale searches were handled, and in connection with these manhunts, there were shootings. Even Germans were shot in those circumstances. An S.S. Oberfuehrer in the Alsatian territory was shot when he passed a road block which had been erected for a manhunt and refused to stop. Two or three of the flyers were killed by bombs, as I was told. I think that was along the Baltic coast in Kiel or Stettin, and I understand that two Criminal Police officials also lost their lives in this unfortunate affair. Their widows received pensions subsequently. That is something that ought to be ascertainable. In this connection bombing and losses through bombing were certainly mentioned, but a camouflage of the whole affair was not discussed in our office; in any case the answer was prepared by Muller, Nebe and Himmler in Himmler's headquarters. I know that immediately after the inquiry from the Foreign Office the two left by air for Himmler's headquarters.

Q. Are you trying to say then that the statement according to which these flyers had lost their lives by bombs, or been shot whilst escaping, did not originate from you?

A. No, certainly not; it did not originate from me.

Q. With reference to the church policy of Department IV, the prosecution is accusing you of the following: So-called "Bible students," or Jehovah's Witnesses, had often been sentenced to death only because they, on the strength of their inner convictions, refused to serve in the war in any way. My question to you is this: Do you know of this state of affairs; what part did you take in it?

A. German law used as a basis for proceedings against this sect of Jehovah's Witnesses was the "Law for the Protection of the Defence Strength of the German Nation." Under this law anyone who was interfering with German armed strength by refusing to serve in the forces could be punished by detention or death. According to this law, military, as well as civilian courts, pronounced even the death sentences against these Jehovah's Witnesses. Death sentences, of course, were not pronounced by the Secret State Police.

In this connection an unjust harshness against people of this belief, such as members of Jehovah's Witnesses, was repeatedly mentioned.

I approached the Party Chancellery and the Ministry of Justice, and Himmler and Hitler during my reports, and pointed the facts out to them, and during several conferences with Thierack I demanded that this type of handling under the law should cease. As a result, two things were done immediately. On the occasion of the first conference, after Thierack had made an inquiry at Bormann's office and Hitler's office, the latter of whom he evidently did not see personally, a directive was at once issued to the Public Prosecutor's office stating that sentences which had already been pronounced were to be annulled.

During a further conference another step was taken, which was that the public prosecutors in general were given instructions not to demand the death sentence any longer.

The third step was that Jehovah's Witnesses were no longer brought before the court.

I consider it to be the definite result of my personally mentioning this to Thierack - who later discussed it with Hitler himself - that this handling of the law against these sects was completely done away with.

Q. I am now submitting Document 1063....

A. May I supplement my statement by saying the following: These developments

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and this alteration of German law became known abroad at that time. I remember quite well, for instance, that a very well-known Swedish medical officer thanked me personally and stated that this deed had been well received in Sweden.

THE PRESIDENT: This really is an unnecessary detail about what happened with some Swedish person outside of Germany, as to what he thought of his actions.



Q. I am now coming to Document 1063-PS, Exhibit USA 219. This is a directive from the Chief of the Security Police, dated 17th December, 1942. It is a secret letter, and it is addressed to all commanders of the Security Police and S.D.; and it goes, for information reasons, to Pohl, to the Higher S.S. and Police Leaders and the Inspectors of Concentration Camps. It is a directive according to which at least 35,000 persons capable of work are to be delivered to concentration camps by the end of January, 1943, at the latest. The letter is signed by Muller.

I am asking you, do you know of this letter, or do you know of any such affair at all?

A. I neither know the letter, nor do I know about the affair.

THE PRESIDENT: Will you give us the number again?

DR. KAUFFMANN: Document 1063-PS, Exhibit USA 219.


A. From the date of the letter, it becomes apparent that this was written before I came into office. It was not made known to me afterwards either. The signature is "Muller," who acted on Himmler's behalf, as is shown from line 2. It is a typical case, which proves how unlimited Muller's authority was and the extent of his authority, if he could issue a decree like this.

I gather from the whole content of this letter - it refers to a date at the end of January, 1943 - that it is impossible that this affair had been reported to me.

Q. The prosecution holds you responsible in the following connection: There was an agreement between the former Minister of Justice Thierack, and Himmler, dated 18th September, 1942, according to which. Jews, Poles, and so forth, were to be subjected to penal police proceedings instead of being dealt with by ordinary law courts. I ask you:

Did you know of this agreement, and, if so, what attempt did you make so as to reinstate ordinary law proceedings so far as that was possible?

A. Such an agreement between Thierack and Himmler is not known to me. As you said, it was made in the autumn Of 1942, I believe. But I worked hard and constantly to bring it about that all police courts should be done away with in favour of proper law proceedings, and submitted proposals to that effect. I am legally trained, and for that reason I have more respect for the courts than Himmler. This was one of the main reasons why we never understood each other, and it was one of the main reasons for differences which cropped up even during our first discussions in 1942.

I can't understand Thierack either, making such an agreement with Himmler, because later on, as I know myself, he repeatedly spoke against the police-court system.

Q. I now come to the question whether you had knowledge of the destruction of the Ghetto at Warsaw, which was carried out in 1943. A report is available on this from the S.S. and Police Leader in Warsaw, whose name was Strobe. The report is addressed to the General of the Police Kruger, and refers to the so-called solution of the Jewish problem in Galicia.

Now I ask you:

When did you hear of this solution of the Jewish problem in Galicia, and did you exhaust every possible means to prevent that solution?

A. First of all, in this connection, I must state that I perhaps did not know enough about the tremendous instrument of power which Himmler had created by putting under his direct command the Higher S.S. and Police Leaders in the

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occupied territories. For Higher S.S. and Police Leaders - in this connection for instance, in the Government General, Kruger - were in charge of the S.S. and Police Leaders, Strobe in this case. No department in the Reich was informed of or participated in any action, neither before nor afterwards, which went from Himmler through Kruger to Strobe. Certainly, Berlin did not know anything of such an order in advance.

Afterwards - though I can't tell you how long afterwards - they wrote and talked regarding the Warsaw Ghetto both in this country and abroad. Serious accusations were made in foreign countries.

Yesterday, I started to state here that in this connection I had delivered to Himmler the first file documents which I had in my possession on his measures and policies. I did that after reporting to the Fuehrer in November, 1943. On that occasion I certainly talked to him about Warsaw too, since it was one of the things he and his "final solution" were being accused of abroad.

Q. I want to put a question here: How did the date of that report compare with the actual date of the action against the Jews in Galicia?

A. I can't remember when that action was. My reports first to Hitler and a day later to Himmler were in November, 1943.

Q. I now come to a document which has already been mentioned by the prosecution - L53, Exhibit USA 291. The prosecution holds the defendant, as Chief of the Security Police and S.D., responsible for the cleansing - as it is put - at Security Police and S.D. camps and concentration camps. This document is a letter from the commander of the Security Police and S.D. at Radom, dated 21st June, 1944, according to which the commander of the Security Police and S.D. in the Government General had ordered that all the prisons which are mentioned must be cleansed and that their inmates must be liquidated. Look at this document, sender and signature, and then make a statement in this connection particularly regarding the question whether you knew of these events.

A. I draw your attention to what I have just said. This channel of command falls into the jurisdiction of the Higher S.S. and Police Leader for an occupied territory. The channel for orders - Himmler, Higher S.S. and Police Leader, his expert, his senior officers, their commanders of the Security Police - that channel has nothing whatever to do with the centralised channel of orders coming from Berlin.

Q. In other words, you want to say that these Higher S.S. and Police Leaders were immediately subordinate to Himmler?

A. Yes, indeed.

Q. Do you also want to say that you as Chief of the R.S.H.A. had no possibility of interfering with orders and directives from such Higher S.S. and Police Leaders?

A. It was out of the question, for they were immediately subordinate to Himmler.

There was another way for opposing such men, as is obvious from the interrogation of the defendant Frank. Repeatedly I have of course received information over the radio about wrong doings and crimes committed through these channels of orders.

For instance, Kruger in the Government General was most violently attacked by me. It was due to me too that Kruger was removed from his position in Cracow, a fact which must be contained in Frank's diary.

Q. I now turn to another document - 1573-PS, Exhibit USA 498. The prosecution is holding the defendant as, Chief of the R.S.H.A. responsible that, under alteration of existing methods, slave labourers had been used in the armament industry. This document before us is a secret order, which once again is signed by Muller. It is addressed to all police service departments. The date is 18th June, 1941. The order refers to measures against emigrants from Russian territories and civilian workers. It states that for the prevention of their return or any interference on their part the persons concerned will be arrested if the occasion arises. Until further notice these people may not change their place of residence

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unless they have the permission of the Security Police, and leaving their place of work without permission would be punished with arrest.

Were such events known to you?

A. No. I can still only point out that this is an order from Muller which appeared one and a half years before my appointment. Muller, taking orders from Hitler directly and enjoying tremendous power and authority, saw no reason to inform me of this even later on.

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