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

The Trial of German Major War Criminals

Sitting at Nuremberg, Germany
16th April to 1st May, 1946

One-Hundred-and-Thirteenth Day: Wednesday, 24th April, 1946
(Part 6 of 9)

[DR. PANNENBECKER continues his direct examination of Hans Bernd Gisevius]

[Page 208]

Q. Under whom was the political police at that time and which was the superior authority?

A. The political police was under one Rudolf Diels. He too came from the old Prussian political police. He was a professional civil servant and one might have expected him still to retain the ideas of law and decency, but in a brutal and cynical way he set his mind on making the new rulers forget his political past as a democrat and on ingratiating himself with his superior, the Prussian Minister President and Minister of the Interior, Goering. It was he who created the Gestapo office. He suggested to Goering the issuance of the first decree for making this office independent. It was Diels who let the S.A. and the S.S. into this office. He legalised the actions of these civil commandos. But soon it became evident to me that such a bourgeois renegade could not do so much wrong entirely by himself; some very important person must be backing him; and very soon I also saw that somebody was taking a daily interest in everything that happened in this office.

Reports were written, telephone inquiries were received. Diels rendered reports several times daily, and it was the Prussian Minister of the Interior,

[Page 209]

Goering, who considered this Secret State Police as his special preserve. During those months nothing happened in this office that was not known or ordered by Goering personally. I want to stress this, because in the course of the years the public formed a different idea of Goering when he gradually retired from his official functions. At that time, it wasn't the Goering who finally floundered in the morass of Karin Hall. At that time he still looked after everything personally and had not yet begun to busy himself with the building of Karin Hall, or to don all sorts of uniforms or decorations. It was still a Goering in civilian clothes who was the real Chief of this office, who inspired it, and who attached importance to being the Iron Goering.

Q. Witness, I believe you can describe some points more concisely. As to what you said just now, do you know this from your own experience or where did you get it from?

A. I heard and saw it myself and I also learned much from a gentleman who, at that time, was also a member of the Secret State Police and whose information will play an important part in the course of my statements.

At that time a criminal expert had been called into the Secret State Police, probably the best known expert of the Prussian Police, Oberregierungsrat Nebe. Nebe was a National Socialist. He had been in opposition to the former Prussian police and had joined the National Socialist Party. He was a man who sincerely believed in the purity and genuineness of the National Socialist aims. Thus I saw for myself how this man found out on the spot what was actually going on and how he changed his views.

I can also state here - and it is important to know this - the reasons why Nebe became a strong opponent of the system, and later suffered death by hanging. In August, 1933, Nebe was ordered by the defendant Goering to murder Gregor Strasser, formerly a leading member of the National Socialist Party, by means of a car or hunting accident. Nebe was so shocked at this order that he refused to carry it out and made an inquiry at the Reich Chancellery. The answer from the Reich Chancellery was that the Fuehrer knew nothing of this order. Thereupon Nebe was summoned to Goering, who reproached him most bitterly for having made an inquiry. Nevertheless, when he finished these reproaches he considered it advisable to promote him, because he thought he would thereby silence him.

The second thing which happened at that time and which is also very important was that the defendant Goering gave the political police so-called blank warrants for murder. At that time there were not only so-called amnesty laws which gave amnesty for atrocities, but there was also a special law according to which investigations already initiated by police authorities and by the public prosecution could be quashed, but only on condition that, in these special cases, the Reich Chancellor or Goering personally signed the pertinent order. Goering made use of this law by giving blank warrants to the Chief of the Gestapo, and to use these all one had to do was to fill in the names of those who were to be murdered. Nebe was so shocked by this, that from that moment on he did his duty in the fight against the Gestapo. At our request he remained in the criminal police, because we needed one man at least who could keep us informed about police conditions in case our desire to see its overthrow should materialise.

Q. Witness, what did you do yourself when you saw all these things?

A. I, for my part, tried to contact those bourgeois circles which through my connections were open to me. I went to various ministries: to the Prussian Ministry of the Interior, to State Secretary Grauert, and several ministerial directors and counsellors. I went to the Reich Ministry of the Interior, to the Ministry of Justice, to the Foreign Office, and the Ministry of War. I spoke repeatedly to the Chief of the Army, Colonel General von Hammerstein. Among all the connections I formed at that time there was yet another, who is particularly important for my testimony. At that time I met in the newly

[Page 210]

founded Intelligence Department of the O.K.W., a Major Oster. I gave him all the material which had accumulated up to that time. We started a collection, which we continued until 20 July, of all documents which we could get hold of; and Oster is the man who from then on, in the Ministry of War, never failed to inform every officer he could contact officially or privately. In the course of time, through the influence of Admiral Canaris, Oster became Chief Intelligence of the Staff. When he met his death by hanging he was a general. But I consider it my duty to testify here, in view of all this man did, of his unforgettable fight against the Gestapo and against all the crimes which were committed against humanity and peace, that amongst the inflated German field marshals and generals there was one real German general.

Q. How did the work of the Gestapo develop according to your observations?

A. At that time conditions in Germany were still such that in many ministries there were still people who kept their eyes open. There was still opposition in the bourgeois ministries, there was the Reich President von Hindenburg, and so it was that at the end of October, 1933, the defendant Goering was forced to dismiss Diels, the Chief of the State Police. At the same time a purge commission was set up in order to re-organise thoroughly that institution. According to the ministerial decree, Nebe and I were members of that commission. But that purge commission never met. The defendant Goering found ways and means to thwart this measure. He appointed as chief to succeed Diels a still worse Nazi, named Hinkler, who some time before had been acquitted in a trial because of irresponsibility; and Hinkler acted in such a way that before thirty days had passed he was dismissed, and now the defendant Goering could bring back his Diels to the office.

Q. Do you know anything of the events which led to the Prussian law of 30 November, 1933, by which the functions of the Gestapo were separated from the office of the Minister of the Interior and transferred to the Minister President's office?

A. That was just the moment of which I am speaking. Goering realised that it would not serve his purpose if other ministries were too much concerned in his Secret State Police. Though he was Prussian Minister of the Interior himself, he was disturbed by the fact that the police department of the Prussian Ministry of the Interior could look into the affairs of his private domain, and he therefore separated the Secret State Police from the remaining police and placed it under his personal direction, thereby excluding all other police authorities. From the point of view of a proper police system this was nonsense, because you cannot run a political police properly if you separate it from the criminal police and the uniformed police. But Goering knew why he did not want any other police authority to look into the affairs of the Secret State Police.

Q. Witness, did you remain in the police service yourself?

A. On that day when Goering carried out his little "Coup d'etat" - I can't think of a better expression for it - by assigning to himself a State Police of his own, this Secret State Police issued a warrant for my arrest. I had expected this and had gone into hiding. The next morning I went to the Chief of the police department of the Prussian Ministry of the Interior, Ministerial Director Daluege, who was a high S.S. general, and said that it was really not quite in order to issue a warrant for my arrest.

A criminal commissar of the Secret State Police came to arrest me in the room of the Chief of the Prussian police. Daluege was kind enough to allow me to escape through a back door to State Secretary Grauert, and Grauert intervened with Goering. As always, in cases of this kind, Goering was very surprised and ordered a thorough investigation. That was the usual expression when no further action was to be taken. After that I was no longer accepted in the Secret State Police, but I was sent as an observer to the Reichstag fire trial at Leipzig, which was just drawing to an end. During these last days of November

[Page 211]

I was able to get some insight into this obscure affair and, having already tried, together with Nebe, to investigate this crime, I was able to add to my knowledge there.

I assume that I shall still be questioned about that point and, therefore, I shall now confine myself to the statement that, if necessary, I am prepared to refresh defendant Goering's memory concerning his complicity in and his joint knowledge of this first "coup d'etat" and the murder of the accomplices.

Q. On 1 May, 1934, Frick became Prussian Minister of the Interior. Did you get in touch with Frick himself or his ministry?

A. Yes. Immediately after the Reichstag fire trial was over, that is, at the end of 1933, I was dismissed from the police service and transferred to a Landrat office in East Prussia. I complained, however, to State Secretary Grauert, of this obvious demotion. As he and Ministerial Director Daluege knew of my quarrel with the Secret State Police, they got me into the Ministry of the Interior and assigned to me the task of collecting all these reports which were still being incorrectly addressed to the Ministry of the Interior, and forwarding them to the Prussian Minister President in charge of the Secret State Police, who dealt with these matters.

As soon as Goering found out about this he repeatedly protested against my presence in the Ministry, but the Minister of the Interior stood firm and was successful in keeping me in that post.

When Frick came I did not get in touch with him immediately, as I was only a subordinate official. But I assume the defendant Frick knew about my activity and my views, because I was now encouraged to continue collecting all those requests for help which were wrongly addressed to the Ministry of the Interior, and a large number of these reports I submitted through official channels to Daluege, Grauert, and Frick. There was, however, the difficulty that Goering in his capacity of Minister President of Prussia had prohibited Frick, as his Minister of the Interior, to take cognisance of such reports. Frick was supposed to forward them to the Gestapo without comment. I saw no reason for not submitting them to Frick all the same and as Frick was also Reich Minister of the Interior, and in this capacity could give directives to the provinces, and, therefore, also to Goering, Frick took cognisance of these reports in the Reich Ministry of the Interior, and allowed me to forward them to Goering with the request for a report. Goering protested repeatedly, and I know this resulted in heated disputes between him and Frick.

Q. Is anything known to you about the fact that at that time the Reich Minister of the Interior issued certain directives to restrict protective custody?

A. It is correct that at that time quite a number of such directives were issued, but the very fact that a great number of such directives were issued, goes to suggest that generally they were not complied with by subordinate authorities.

The Reich Minister of the Interior was a minister with no personal executive power and I will never forget how it impressed me as a civil servant, whilst in training in the Secret State Police, that we officials were instructed in principle not to answer any inquiries from the Reich Minister of the Interior. Of course, at intervals the Reich Minister of the Interior sent a reminder. The efficiency of a Gestapo official was judged by the number of such reminders he could show his chief Diels, as a proof that he did not pay any attention to such matters.

Q. On 30 June, 1934, the so-called Roehm putsch took place. Can you give a short description of the conditions prevailing before this putsch?

A. First I have to say that there never was a Roehm putsch. On 30 June there was only a Goering-Himmler putsch. I am in a position to give some information about that dark chapter, because I dealt with and followed up this case in the police department of the Ministry of the Interior, and because the radiograms sent during these days by Goering and Himmler to the police authorities of the Reich came into my hands. The last of these radiograms

[Page 212]

reads: "By order of Goering all documents relating to 30 June will be burned immediately."

At that time I took the liberty of putting these papers into my iron safe, and to this day I do not know whether or not they survived the attempts by Kaltenbrunner to get them. I still hope to recover these papers and, if I do, I can prove that throughout the whole of 30 June not a single shot was fired by the S.A. The S.A. did not revolt, but by this I do not wish to utter a single word of excuse for their leaders. On 30 June not one of the S.A. leaders died who did not deserve death a hundred times, but after a regular trial.

The situation on that 30 June was that of a civil war; on one side were the S.A. headed by Roehm, and on the other side Goering and Himmler. It had been seen to that the S.A., several days before 30 June, were sent on leave. The S.A. leaders had purposely been called by Hitler for a conference at Wiessee on that day, and it is not usual that people who want to march for a "coup d'etat" travel by sleeping car to a conference. To their surprise they were seized at the station and at once driven off to execution.

The so-called Munich putsch took place as follows. The Munich S.A. did not come into it at all, and at one hour's driving distance from Munich the so-called traitors, Roehm and Heines, died completely ignorant of the fact that, according to the description given by Hitler and Goering the night before, a putsch bad allegedly taken place in Munich.

I was able to observe the putsch in Berlin very closely. It took place without anything being known about it by the public, and without any participation of the S.A. We in the police office were unaware of it. However, it is true that four days before 30 June one of the alleged ringleaders, Berlin S.A. Obergruppenfuehrer Karl Ernst, came to Ministerial Director Daluege looking very concerned and said there were rumours going round in Berlin that the S.A. were contemplating a putsch. He asked for an interview with Minister of the Interior Frick, so that he, Ernst, could assure him that there was no such intention.

Daluege sent me with this message to the defendant Frick, and I arranged for this strange conversation where an S.A. leader assured the Minister of the Interior that he did not intend to stage a putsch.

Ernst then set out on a trip to Madeira. On 30 June he was taken from the steamer and sent to Berlin for execution. I saw him arrive at the Tempelhof airport. This struck me as particularly interesting, because a few hours before I had read the official report about his execution in the newspapers.

That, then, was the so-called S.A. and Roehm putsch, and since I do not want to withhold anything, I must add that I was present when on 30 June the defendant Goering informed the Press of this event. On this occasion Goering made the cold-blooded remark that he had for days been waiting for a code word which he had arranged with Hitler. He had then struck of course with lightning speed and had also extended the scope of his mission. This extension caused the death of a large number of innocent people. To mention only a few - there were the Generals Schleicher - who was killed together with his wife - and von Bredow, Ministerial Director Klausner, Edgar Jung and many others.

Q. Witness, you were in the Ministry of the Interior yourself at that time. How did Frick hear about these measures, and was he himself in any way involved in the quelling of this so-called putsch?

A. I was present when at about half-past nine Daluege came back after seeing Goering. He looked pale, for he had just been told what had happened. Daluege and I went to Grauert and we drove to the Reich Minister of the Interior Frick. Frick rushed out of the room - it may have been about 10 o'clock-in order to drive to Goering to find out what had happened in the meantime, only to be told by the latter that he, as Police Minister of the Reich, should go home now and not worry about what was still going to happen.

[Page 213]

In fact, Frick did go home, and during those two dramatic days he did not enter the Ministry.

Once during this time Daluege drove over with me to see him. For the rest, it was given to me, the youngest official of the Reich Ministry of the Interior, to inform the Reich Minister of the Interior on that bloody Saturday and Sunday of the atrocious things which in the meantime had happened in Germany.

Q. Witness, you just told us of an instruction Frick had received not to worry about these things. Who gave him this instruction?

A. As far as I know, Goering gave or conveyed to him an instruction by Hitler. I do not know whether there was a written instruction. Neither do I know whether Frick had asked about it. I should think that Frick, on that day, considered it would not be wise to ask too many awkward questions.

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