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 7 of 9)

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

[Page 213]

Q. After these things had been concluded did Frick in any way attempt to smooth matters over?

A. To answer this question correctly, I have to say first that on Saturday, 30 June, we at the Ministry of the Interior knew very little about what had happened. On Sunday, 1 July, we learned much more, and beyond doubt Frick, after these bloody days had passed, had on the whole a clear idea what had happened. Also during these days, he made no secret of his indignation at the murder and unlawful arrests which apparently had taken place. In order to stick to the truth, I have to answer your question by saying that the first reaction of the defendant Frick, which I knew about, was that he put his name to that Reich Law in which the Reich Ministers declared the events of 30 June to be lawful. This law had an unprecedented psychological effect on the further developments in Germany, and it has its place in the history of German terror. Apart from this, many things happened in the Third Reich which an ordinary mortal could not understand, but which were well understood in the circles of ministers and State secretaries. I have to admit that after signing that law the defendant Frick made a serious attempt to remedy at least the most obvious abuses. Maybe he had thought it was up to other ministers in the Reich Cabinet to open their mouths first. I am thinking here of Reich War Minister yon Blomberg, two of whose generals who were shot, and who, in spite of that, signed this law. I intentionally mention Blomberg's name here and ask to be permitted to pause here to tell the Tribunal about an incident which occurred this morning. I was in the room of the defendants' counsel and was speaking to Dr. Dix. Dr. Dix was interrupted by Dr. Stahmer, counsel for Goering. I heard what Dr. Stahmer told Dr. Dix.

DR. STAHMER: May I ask whether a personal conversation which I had with Dr. Dix has anything to do with the taking of evidence?

THE WITNESS: I am not speaking -

THE PRESIDENT: (Interposing) Don't go on with your evidence whilst the objection is being made.

Yes, Dr. Stahmer.

THE WITNESS: I didn't understand you.

DR. STAHMER: I do not know whether it is in order when giving evidence to reveal a conversation which I had with Dr. Dix in counsels' room.

THE WITNESS: May I say something to that?

THE PRESIDENT: Will you kindly keep silent.

THE WITNESS: May I finish my statement?

THE PRESIDENT: Keep silence, sit.

DR. STAHMER: This morning, in the room of the defence counsel, I had a personal conversation with Dr. Dix concerning the Blomberg case. That conversation was not intended to be heard by the witness. I do not know the witness; as far as I remember I didn't even see him, and I don't know whether

[Page 214]

it is in order, that a witness, when giving evidence, should make public such a conversation.

MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: This incident has been reported to me and I think it is important that this Tribunal know the influence brought to bear, the threats that were made against this witness in the courthouse while waiting to testify here, threats that is, not only against him, but against the defendant Schacht. Now, the affair was reported to me. I think it is important that this Tribunal should know it. I think it is important that it should come out. I should have attempted to bring it out on cross examination if it had not been told, and I think that the witness should be permitted to tell it. These other parties have had great latitude here. This witness has been subjected to threats, as I understand it, which were uttered in his presence, whether they were intended for him or not, and I ask that this Tribunal allow Dr. Gisevius, who is the one representative of democratic forces in Germany, to take this stand and tell his story.

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Stahmer, the Tribunal would like to hear first of all anything further you have to say upon the matter. They will then hear what Dr. Dix has to say if he wishes to say anything, and they will then hear whether the witness himself wishes to say anything in answer.

DR. STAHMER: I have no qualms about telling the Tribunal exactly what I said. Last night, I discussed the case with the defendant Goering and told him that the witness Gisevius -

THE PRESIDENT: (Interposing) We don't want to hear any communications which you had with the defendant Goering, other than those you choose to make in support of your objection to this evidence that has been given.

DR. STAHMER: Yes, Mr. President, but I must say briefly: Goering told me that it was of no interest to him if the witness Gisevius did incriminate him but he did not wish that Blomberg, who died recently - and I assumed it was only the question of Blomberg's marriage - he, Goering, did not want these facts concerning the marriage of Blomberg to be discussed here in public. If that could not be prevented, then of course Goering, for his part - and it is only a question of Schacht, because Schacht, as he had told me, wanted to speak about these things - would not spare Schacht.

That is what I told Dr. Dix this morning, and I am sure Dr. Dix will confirm that and if I may add -

THE PRESIDENT: We will hear you in a moment, Dr. Dix.

DR. STAHMER: I said - and I was not referring to Schacht, to the witness or to anybody else present - I said, for reasons of professional etiquette, that I would like to inform Dr. Dix. That is what I said and what I did. In any case I did not even know that the witness Gisevius was present at that moment. At any rate, it was not intended for him. Moreover, I was speaking to Dr. Dix aside.

THE PRESIDENT: So that I may understand what you are saying, you say you had told Dr. Dix the substance of the conversation you had had with the defendant Goering, and said that Goering would withdraw his objection to the facts being given if the defendant Schacht wanted them to be given. Is that right?

DR. STAHMER: No, I only said that Goering didn't care what was said about himself; he merely wanted the deceased Blomberg to be spared and he didn't want things concerning Blomberg's marriage to be discussed. If Schacht did not prevent that - I was only speaking of Schacht - then he, Goering for his part, would have no consideration for Schacht, would no longer have any consideration for Schacht. That is what I told Dr. Dix for reasons of personal etiquette.

THE PRESIDENT: Wait, wait, I can't hear you. (Pause.) Yes.

DR. STAHMER: As I said, that is what I told Dr. Dix, and that finished the

[Page 215]

conversation, and I made it quite clear to Dr. Dix that I only told him that as one colleague to another.

THE PRESIDENT: Yes. That is all you wish to say?


DR. DIX: I remember the facts, as I believe, correctly and reliably as follows: This morning I was in the room of the defence counsel speaking to the witness Dr. Gisevius. I believe my colleague, Professor Kraus, was also taking part in the conversation. Then my colleague Stahmer approached me and said he would like to speak to me. I replied that at the moment I was having an important and urgent conversation with Gisevius, and asked whether it couldn't wait. Stahmer said no, and that he must speak to me at once. I then took him aside, probably five or six paces from the group with whom I had been speaking. My colleague Stahmer told me the following: It is quite possible - I don't remember the actual words he used - that he started by saying that he was telling me that for professional reasons, as one colleague to another. If he says so now, I am sure that it is so. Anyhow I don't remember it any more. He said to me "Listen, Goering has an idea that Gisevius will attack him as much as he can, but if he attacks the dead Blomberg then Goering will disclose everything against Schacht and he knows lots of things about Schacht which may not be pleasant for him. He, Goering, had been very reticent in his testimony but if anything should be said against the dead Blomberg, then he would have to reveal things against Schacht."

That was what he meant - that he would bring things up against Schacht. That was the conversation. I cannot say with absolute certainty whether my colleague told me I should call Gisevius' attention to that. If he says he did not say so, then it is certainly true and I believe him, but I could only interpret that information to mean that I should notify Gisevius of this development threatened by Goering. I therefore thought, and hadn't the slightest doubt, that I was voicing Goering's intention, or was acting as Dr. Stahmer wished, and that that was the purpose of the whole thing. What else could be the reason for Dr. Stahmer telling me at that moment, immediately before my discussion with Gisevius, while I was in conversation with Gisevius, that he could not wait, that I must break off my conversation; why then should he inform me, unless he meant that the mischief hinted at and threatened by Goering might possibly be avoided; in other words, that the witness Gisevius, on whom everything depended, should think twice before making his statement. I hadn't the slightest doubt that what Stahmer meant by his words to me was that I should convey it to Gisevius. As I said, even if Stahmer had not asked me - and he was certainly speaking the truth when he said he did not ask me to take action - I would have replied, if I had been questioned before he made this statement, and that probably with an equally good conscience, that he had asked me to pass it on to Gisevius. But, no - no - I will not maintain that he actually used those words. Anyway, it is absolutely certain that this conversation did take place, and it was in the firm belief that I was acting as Dr. Stahmer and Goering intended, that I went straight to Gisevius. He was standing only five or six steps away from me, or even nearer. I think I understood him to say when I addressed him that he had heard parts of it. I don't know whether I understood him correctly. I then informed him of the gist of this conversation. That is what happened early this morning.

DR. STAHMER: May I still say the following: It goes without saying that I neither asked Dr. Dix to pass it on to Gisevius, nor did I count upon his doing so, but I surmised that Gisevius would be examined this morning and that Dr. Dix would question the witness concerning the circumstances of Blomberg's marriage. That is what I had been told previously, namely, that Dr. Dix intended to put this question to the witness. Therefore, I called Dr. Dix' attention to it, assuming that he would abstain from such a question concerning

[Page 216]

Blomberg's marriage. That was not intended for the witness in any way and I know definitely that I said to Dr. Dix that I was telling him this merely as one colleague to another, and he thanked me for it. He said: "Thank you very much." At any rate if he had told me: "I am going to tell the witness," I would have said immediately: "Good God, that is only information intended for you personally." Indeed, I am somewhat surprised that Dr. Dix has in this manner abused the confidence which I put in him.

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Stahmer, we have heard the facts and we do not think we need hear anything more about it beyond considering the question as to whether the witness is to go on with his evidence.


Q. Witness, has the explanation which has been given by Dr. Stahmer and Dr. Dix sufficiently covered the matters with which you were proposing to deal with reference to Field Marshal von Blomberg? Is there anything further that you need say about it?

A. I beg your pardon. I believe I did not quite understand the question.

Concerning Blomberg, I do not now want to say anything further, but I intended to make it clear, the first time Blomberg's name was mentioned, that the whole thing gave me the feeling that I was being submitted to pressure. I was standing so near that I could not help hearing what Dr. Stahmer said, and the manner in which Dr. Dix told me about it - for I had heard at least half of it - could not be understood in any other way than to mean that Dr. Dix, in a very loyal manner, instructed me as a witness for the defendant Schacht, to be rather reticent in my testimony on a point which I consider very important. That point will come up later and has nothing whatsoever to do with the marriage of Herr von Blomberg. It has to do with the part which the defendant Goering played in a certain matter, and I know quite well why Goering does not want me to speak about it. To my thinking, it is the most rotten thing Goering ever did, and he is just using the cloak of chivalry by pretending that he wants to protect a dead man, whereas he really wants to prevent me from testifying in full on an important point, that is the Fritsch crisis.

THE PRESIDENT: The Tribunal will hear the evidence then, whatever evidence you wish the witness to give.

THE WITNESS: I beg your pardon. What I have to say in connection with the Blomberg case is finished. I merely wanted to protest at the first opportunity mentioned.

THE PRESIDENT: Well then, counsel will continue his examination and you will give such evidence as is relevant when you are examined or cross-examined by Dr. Dix on behalf of the defendant Schacht.


Q. Witness, after the events of 30 June, 1934, had the position of the Gestapo become so strong that no measures against it had any chance of succeeding?

A. I must answer this in the negative. The Secret State Police doubtlessly gained in power after 30 June, but because of the many excesses committed on that day, the opposition in the various ministries against the Secret State Police had become so strong that, in the event of a collective action, the majority of ministers could have used the events of 30 June to eliminate the Secret State Police. I personally made repeated efforts in that direction. With the knowledge of the defendant Frick I went to see the Minister of Justice, Guertner, and implored him repeatedly to use the large number of illegal murders as a reason for action against the Secret State Police. I personally went to von Reichenau also, who was Chief of the Armed Forces Office at that time, and urged him in the same direction. I know that my friend Oster brought the files concerning this matter to the knowledge of Blomberg, and I wish to testify here that in spite of the excesses of 30 June it would have been quite possible at that time to return to law and order.

[Page 217]

Q. After that, what did the Reich Minister of the Interior do-that is, what did Frick do - to get the Secret State Police to steer a legal course?

A. We started a struggle against the Secret State Police and tried at least to prevent Himmler from getting into the Reich Ministry of the Interior. Shortly before Goering had vacated the Ministry of the Interior to Frick, he had made Himmler Chief of the Secret State Police in Prussia. Himmler, starting from that basis of power, had attempted to assume the police power in the other States of the Reich (Laender). Frick tried to prevent that by taking the stand that he, as Reich Minister of the Interior, had an equal voice in appointing police functionaries in the Reich. At the same time, we tried to prevent an increase in the numbers of the Secret State Police by systematically refusing all requests by the Gestapo to increase its body of officials. Unfortunately Himmler here also, as always, found ways and means to overcome this. He went to the Finance Ministers of the individual States and told them that he needed funds for the guard troops of the concentration camps, the so-called Death Head Units, and he drew up a schedule, according to which five S.S. men were needed to guard one prisoner. With these funds Himmler financed his Secret State Police, since of course he could decide how many men he wanted to imprison.

In other ways also, we in the Reich Ministry of the Interior attempted by all possible means to block the way of the Gestapo, but unfortunately the numerous requests we sent to the Gestapo went unanswered. Again it was Goering who forbade Himmler to answer, and who covered Himmler when he refused to give any information in reply to our inquiries.

Finally a last effort was made during my term of office in the Reich Ministry of the Interior. We tried to cripple the Secret State Police at least to some extent by introducing into protective custody the right of review and complaint. If we had achieved the right of review of all cases of protective custody, we would also have been able to get an insight into the individual actions of the Gestapo.

A law was formulated, and this law was first submitted to the Ministerial Council of Prussia, the largest of the States. Again it was the defendant Goering who, by all available means, opposed the passing of such a law. A very stormy cabinet meeting on the matter, ended by my being asked to leave the Ministry of the Interior.

Q. Witness, I have shown you a memorandum -

THE PRESIDENT: This will be a convenient time to break off.

(A recess was taken.)

THE PRESIDENT: Mr. Justice Jackson, the Tribunal wish me to say that it anticipates that you will put any questions which you think necessary with reference to the alleged intimidation of the witness when you come to cross-examine.

MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: Yes, Sir; thank you.

[ Previous | Index | Next ]

Home ·  Site Map ·  What's New? ·  Search Nizkor

© The Nizkor Project, 1991-2012

This site is intended for educational purposes to teach about the Holocaust and to combat hatred. Any statements or excerpts found on this site are for educational purposes only.

As part of these educational purposes, Nizkor may include on this website materials, such as excerpts from the writings of racists and antisemites. Far from approving these writings, Nizkor condemns them and provides them so that its readers can learn the nature and extent of hate and antisemitic discourse. Nizkor urges the readers of these pages to condemn racist and hate speech in all of its forms and manifestations.