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 4 of 12)

[Page 290]

BY DR. MERKEL (counsel for the Gestapo):

I have some questions to put to the witness.

Q. Witness, the indictment contends that the Secret State Police in the years 1943-5 had about forty to fifty thousand members. What can you remember about this?

A. I believe that this figure is slightly too high.

Q. How high do you estimate the figure was?

A . I would rather assume thirty-five to forty thousand.

Q. How many Gestapo officials were active in the occupied countries, approximately?

A. That I can't tell you even approximately, but I believe I have heard a figure, for example, for the occupied region in France, of eight hundred.

Q. Do you know to whom these officials in the occupied countries were subordinate?

A. In the occupied countries, to the commander of the Security Police. He again was subordinate to the Higher S.S. and Police Leader.

Q. Do you know at all whether in the offices of the commanders of the Sipo and S.D., Kripo officials, that is, officials of the Criminal Police, were carrying out tasks of a highly political nature?

A. That is possible.

Q. What approximately was the number of the Gestapo officials used in the East in the special action groups A-G?

A. I do not know.

Q. Can you tell me whether these officials when assigned to the special action groups were outside the authority of the State Police, and were acting as a special body in the special action groups engaged in tasks with which the State Police itself had no more to do?

A. I believe one can assume that. Their salaries were paid from that department as usual, but they were given other powers and authority.

Q. Approximately how were the members of the State Police organised? What proportion was there of officials who had purely administrative functions?

A. At least 20 per cent.

Q. And officials with purely Security Police functions?

A. The same percentage. The greater part consisted of the subordinate personnel, that is, the technical personnel -

Q. This is what I intended to ask you.

The technicians, radio men, teletypists, drivers and office personnel, what proportion did they represent?

A. The first two groups represent 20 per cent each, and the remaining 60 per cent consisted of two groups Of 30 per cent each, the technical auxiliary forces and the office personnel.

Q. Tell me in one brief sentence the aims and tasks of the State Police.

A. They have been explained here repeatedly. The State Police had for its main function, as in every other country, the arrangements for protection of the State from any attack coming from within.

Q. The prosecution contends that the membership in the State Police was voluntary. What can you say to that?

[Page 291]

A. I believe that contention can in no way be maintained nor proved. The official staff which was possibly in existence in 1933 could only be made up of officials who had already been police officials at that time.

Q. In what way did they come to the State Police?

A. They were ordered.

Q. Ordered or transferred?

A. There was a State Police in existence prior to that time; to be sure, it was then not called the State Police but the Political Police Department.

Q. Then the personnel of the State Police was later on apparently increased just like the personnel of every other State office in conformity with the principles of the German Government Employers' Law?

A. Absolutely yes.

Q. Did the Fuehrer decree No. 1 regarding secrecy apply to the service in the R.S.H.A.? That no one was to know more about a matter than absolutely necessary for his job? Did this rule apply in the office of the Gestapo?

A. This decree applied not only to the Wehrmacht but also to the entire internal executive power for all administrative offices, and it was posted in every office throughout the Reich. So, of course, we in the Police were especially strict in observing this order.

Q. Do you know anything about the 1st October, 1944, decree, according to which the entire Customs and Border Protection, which had been under the Reich Finance Office until that time, was transferred to the Amt IV, that is, Gestapo, of the R.S.H.A.?

A. The Customs and Border Protection was transferred to Himmler and taken out of the sphere of the Reich Finance Ministry - I believe in September - on the order of Hitler in the autumn of 1944.

Q. Do you know what personnel was involved in that transfer?

A. In the beginning the Customs and Border Protection comprised 50,000 people. At this time I think there must have been at least 10,000 people less, because recruiting by the Wehrmacht had taken place several times, and the younger men were put into the fighting forces.

Q. Can you sum up in one sentence the function of the Customs and Border Protection?

A. As the name implies, the Customs and Border Protection had to guarantee the financial sovereignty of the Reich through border security measures.

Q. Can one say at all that these estimated 40,000 employees joined the Gestapo voluntarily?

A. No, by order.

Q. The border police (Grenzpolizei) is different to the Customs and Border Protection (Zollgrenzschutz). Do you know that already in 1935 it formed part of the State Police?

A. Yes. Muller was General Border Inspector of the Reich.

Q. Sum up in one sentence the tasks of the Border Police.

A. The Border Police checked passports at the borders, the airports, roads highways. It was entrusted with the entire normal border control.

Q. Was this task different from what it was in the years before 1933; had anything changed?

A. No.

Q. Did it vary from the tasks of the Border Police in other countries?

A. No, it was the same.

Q. What was the relationship of the members of the State Police to the officials and employees of the S.S.? Did they mostly enter the S.S. voluntarily or was it on the basis of an order?

A. Voluntary enlistments must have been comparatively few. I know that later Himmler, as far as promotions were concerned, was a little more hesitant if the

[Page 292]

official did not belong to the S.S., so that for that reason enlistments occurred, if not from inner conviction, from a desire to be promoted.

Q. Thus, the larger part of them joined because of...

A. Yes, it was all based on Himmler's promotional system.

Q. Did the members of the State Police, particularly the officials, have any possibility of leaving their posts when they wanted to?

A. No.

Q. A large part of the State Police were so-called "Notdienstverpflichtete" (those required to serve in the emergency service). Will you very briefly explain the term to the Tribunal?

A. That is not true of those who had executive standing. As far as the other personnel were concerned, there were more of that kind among them, especially as the war continued, because losses ran very high, of course, in all branches of the police and Wehrmacht. Thus toward the end, the personnel could be kept up only by recruiting it from the "Notdienst." That is in many cases true of the technical and office personnel.

Q. Did those required to serve in the emergency service join the State Police voluntarily?

A. They had nothing to say in the matter. The labour offices put them into the "Notdienst" wherever the Government ordered it.

Q. What happened to the members of the State Police who committed excesses or other misdemeanours?

A. The same rules were followed which applied to all organisations subordinate to Himmler. They had their own S.S. and police court. I may characterise this system briefly by stating that the sentences were much more severe than in a civil court.

Q.A certain man has asserted that for the offence of taking away a few unimportant things from a prisoner, he had to serve a long period in the penitentiary. Was that the ordinarily normal and just punishment?

A. Yes.

Q. Do you know who was taken to the S.S. concentration camp Danzig-Matzgau?

A. Anyone who had been sentenced to imprisonment by S.S. and police courts was put into that concentration camp, which was called a S.S. punishment camp rather than a concentration camp.

Q. Could a Gestapo member, especially of a higher rank, visit a concentration camp?

A. Only with the express approval of Pohl or Glucks.

Q. Is that also true of the higher S.S. and police leaders, for the camps which were under your jurisdiction?

A. I could not say that with certainty. In any case, I assume they also applied or had to apply to make these visits.

Q. Do you know the so-called "More severe measures of interrogation"? Are these in force in other countries?

A. I was President of the International Criminal Police Commission and in this capacity I had the opportunity at a session to speak about this matter in the autumn of 1943. From this conference and also from my reading of the foreign Press over a number of years I gathered that the police system of each State makes use of more severe measures of interrogation.

Q. Could a State Police official ...?

THE PRESIDENT: What happened at some international police commission does not seem to be relevant to anything in this case.

DR. MERKEL: I only wanted to question him as to whether these more severe measures of interrogation were in existence not only in Germany but also in other States.

THE PRESIDENT: We are not concerned with that.

[Page 293]

DR. MERKEL: However, the more severe measures of interrogation are used as an incriminating statement in the Indictment of the State Police, Mr. President.

Q. Could a State Police officer, when executing a protective custody order of limited duration, consider corporal punishment or even the putting to death of the prisoner upon his commitment into the camp?

A. Emphatically no, when a custody of limited duration was concerned.

Q. Did the so-called Haftprilfungsverfahren (investigation proceedings) apply also to the inmates of the concentration camps?

A. Every case of protective custody underwent investigation; in time of war twice, in time of peace, of course, more often.

Q. One last problem:

A. ... but this investigation was not just a matter of the State Police. It had to be made by the camp commandant, who had to report on the behaviour of the internee. This report had to be given in turn to the Inspector of the Concentration Camps. Then the State Police had to decide on the matter.

Q. The prosecution had a great deal to say about ill- treatment and torture during the questionings which took place in occupied Western countries, especially France, Holland, Belgium, Norway, and has brought evidence to that effect. Were there any instructions from the R.S.H.A. to use torture?

A. No, certainly not.

Q. How do you explain the fact of this ill-treatment?

A. I have heard nothing about this ill-treatment with which the State Police is charged. In my opinion it can only have occurred in cases of individual excesses. A decree to that effect certainly was never issued.

Q. Do you know that in the occupied countries, members of the resistance party and criminal elements masqueraded as members of the German State Police in order to facilitate their tasks?

A. That has been repeatedly stated, but I also do not remember any such thing nor have I seen any records to that effect.

DR. MERKEL: Thank you, Mr. President, I have no further questions.

BY DR. HAENSEL (counsel for the S.S.):

Q. Witness, in the year 1932 you joined the Austrian S.S., according to your testimony.

A. Yes.

Q. Was there a difference between the Austrian S.S. and the German S.S., or was it a unified group?

A. There was a certain organisational similarity, which took effect only after the Anschluss. Up to the time of the Anschluss, the S.S. in Austria could hardly be differentiated from the Party or from the S.A. itself.

Q. Give the strength of the Austrian S.S. to which you belonged; first of all, before the Austrian Anschluss in 1938 and then at the time when you joined. Give approximate figures of its growth.

A. I believe that at the time of the Austrian Anschluss, the maximum membership was perhaps 7,500.

Q. Did there exist a group in Austria to play the role of a fifth column? Is "fifth column" a concept at all as far as you are concerned?

A. Yes, "fifth column" became a concept to me through the statements of the enemy, but to term the Austrian S.S. a fifth column is entirely wrong. The Austrian S.S. never had the task of being an intelligence unit or a sabotage unit or anything like that.

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