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

The Trial of German Major War Criminals

Sitting at Nuremberg, Germany
2nd July to 15th July 1946

One Hundred and Seventy-Fourth Day: Tuesday, 9th July, 1946
(Part 6 of 11)

[Page 227]

DR. KAUFFMANN, Continued:

M. de Menthon has tried to make an intellectual analysis of National Socialism. He speaks of the "sin against the spirit", and sees the deeper causes of this system in estrangement from Christianity.

I wish to add a few words. Hitler was not a meteor, the fall of which was incalculable and unpredictable. He was the exponent of an ideology which was in the last degree atheistic and materialistic.

There is every reason to reflect that, although National Socialism is eliminated through the complete defeat of Germany and although the world is now as all nations proclaim free from the German threat, there has been no decisive change for the better.No peace has filled our hearts, no rest has come to any corner of human existence. It is true that the collapse of a powerful State with all its physical and spiritual forces will be felt a long time, just as the sea is stirred into motion when a large stone is thrown into the calm water. But something much more is happening at present in Europe and in the world - something quite different from the mere ebbing away of such a wave of events.

To maintain the metaphor, the waves rise anew from the deep; they are fed by mysterious forces which constantly emerge anew. They are those restless ideas, aiming at the disaster of nations, of which I spoke. And nothing can disprove the truth of my words when I maintain that victor and vanquished alike live in the midst of a crisis which disturbs the consciences of individuals and of nations like

[Page 228]

a monstrous and apparently inevitable nightmare and which causes us to look beyond the punishment of guilty individuals towards those ways and means which can spare humanity an even greater catastrophe.

In his Confessions of a Revolutionary, the clear-sighted Socialist Proudhon wrote the memorable words: "Every great political problem contains within itself a theological one." He coined this phrase one hundred years ago. It is most timely that the American General MacArthur, at the signing of the Japanese surrender agreement, is said to have repeated the essential meaning of these profound words by saying: "If we do not create a better and greater system, death will be at our door. The problem is, fundamentally speaking, a religious one".

History is determined by changes in religious values. They constitute the strongest motive power in the cultural progress of humanity. Permit me to show you in a few bold strokes the intellectual and historical forebears of National Socialism.

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Kauffmann, it is one o'clock, and I must say that the last two pages which you have read seem to me to have absolutely nothing to do with crimes against humanity or with any case with which we have got to deal. I suggest to you that the next pages, headed "Renaissance, Subjectivism, French Revolution, Liberalism, National Socialism" are equally completely unlikely to have any influence at all upon the minds of the Tribunal.

The Tribunal will now adjourn.

(A recess was taken until 1400 hours.)

DR. KAUFFMANN: Mr. President, I am going to leave out the section headed "Renaissance, Subjectivism, French Revolution, Liberalism, National Socialism." The gist of those remarks can be summarised in two or three sentences and I merely beg you to take cognizance of them. I have pointed out that the cause of all these disastrous movements is the spiritual attitude which Jacques Maritain described as anthropocentric humanism.

I then continue on Page 13 of the German copy.

In the midst of this whole spiritual situation stands the figure of the defendant Dr. Kaltenbrunner. The fatherland was already bleeding from a thousand wounds dealt at its sensitive soul and its gigantic power. Is this man guilty? He has pleaded not guilty and guilty in the same breath. Let us see which is the truth.

As I have already emphasized, up to the year 1943 Kaltenbrunner was, in comparison with the other defendants at this trial, hardly known in Germany; at any rate he had hardly any associations with either the German public or the high officials of the regime. In those days when the military, economic and political fate of the German people was already swinging with great velocity towards the abyss, hate and abhorrence of the executive powers were at their peak, the more so as the paralysing sensation of the hopelessness of any resistance against the terror of the regime began to disappear, for people had then finally turned away from the legend of invincibility preached by propaganda. Up to that point Kaltenbrunner had led a retired life and, in spite of the Austrian Anschluss, his record was clear of offences against International Law. I should like to say here that he was an Austrian - I might almost say, a bona fide Austrian. Suddenly, so to speak, and not on account of any special aptitude, much less through any efforts of his own, he was drawn into the net of the greatest accomplice of the greatest murderer. Not of his own free will; on the contrary, he repeatedly attempted to resist and to have himself transferred to the fighting front.

I can well understand that I might be told that I should, in view of the sea of blood and tears, refrain from illuminating the physiognomy of this man's soul and character. But deep in my heart - and I beg you not to misunderstand me - while exercising my profession as counsel, even of such a man, I am moved by the universal thesis of the great Augustine which is hardly intelligible to the present generation: "Hate error, but love man." Love? Indeed, in so far as it should pervade justice; because justice without this virtue becomes simple revenge,

[Page 229]

which the prosecution explicitly disavows. Therefore, for the sake of justice, .I must show you that Kaltenbrunner is not the type of man repeatedly described by the prosecution, namely the "little Himmler", his "confidant", the "second Heydrich".

I do not believe that he is the ice-cold being whom the witness Gisevius described in such unfavourable terms, although only from hearsay. The defendant Jodl has testified before you that Kaltenbrunner was not among those of Hitler's confidants who always gathered around him after the daily situation conferences in the Fuehrer's headquarters. The witness Dr. Mildner, on the basis of direct observation, made the following statement, which was not shaken by the prosecution:

"From my own observation I can confirm: I know the defendant Kaltenbrunner personally. His private life was irreproachable. In my opinion he was promoted from Higher SS and Police Leader to Chief of the Security Police and of the SD because Himmler, after the death of his principal Heydrich in June, 1942, did not want any man near him or under him who might have endangered his own position. The defendant Kaltenbrunner was no doubt the least dangerous man for Himmler. Kaltenbrunner had no ambition to bring his influence to bear through special deeds and ultimately to push Himmler aside. He was not hungry for power. It is wrong to call him the "little Himmler."
The witnesses Eberstein, Waneck and Dr. Hoettl have expressed themselves in a similar manner.

And yet this man took over the office of the RSHA, indeed, he took it over to the fullest extent despite his agreement with Himmler. I know that today this man suffers a great deal when thinking of the catastrophe that has overtaken his people and from the uneasiness of his conscience; nothing is more understandable than that Dr. Kaltenbrunner, knowingly or unknowingly, can no longer face the fact that he actually was in charge of an office under the burden of which the very stones would have cried out if that had been possible. The personality and character of this man must be judged differently from the way the prosecution has judged it.

For the psychologist the question arises how a man, with, let us say, normal civic virtues, could take under his control an office which became the very symbol of human slavery in the 20th century as far as Germany is concerned. There may nevertheless be two reasons for his taking over this office:

One is based on the fact that Dr. Kaltenbrunner, although closely connected with the political and cultural interests of his Austrian homeland, supported National Socialism in its larger sense. Because, before he turned into the side path with his secrets, he marched with thousands and hundred of thousands of other Germans, who desired nothing else than delivery from the unstable conditions prevailing at that time, on that wide road into which the eyes of the entire world had insight. For example, he was without a doubt a disciple of anti-Semitism but only as regards the necessity of putting an end to the flooding of the German race with alien elements: but he condemned just as emphatically the mad crime of the physical annihilation of the Jewish race, as Dr. Hoettl definitely assured us.

Certainly Kaltenbrunner also found his ideas reflected in Hitler's personality as long as it did not, little by little, give expression to its absolutely misanthropic and therefore un-German nature. Also he approved in principle, as he himself admitted during his interrogation, measures which implied more or less severe compulsion, for example, the organization of labour training camps. For this reason no sensible person will want to question the fact that he deemed the establishment of concentration camps fundamentally quite proper, at least as a provisional measure during the war, as had been the case for a long time on the other side of the German border.

The establishment of concentration camps, or whatever one wishes to call those places at the mention of which the listener involuntarily is reminded of the words of

[Page 230]

Dante, is unfortunately not unknown in many States. History knows of them in South Africa some decades ago, in Russia, England and America during this war, for the admission among others, of persons who for reasons of conscience objected to military service. In Bavaria, in the land in which the Tribunal at present sits, this sort of camp is also known; also known is the so-called "automatic" arrest category for certain groups of Germans. Under the heading: "Political Principles" in item B-5 of the text of the mutual declaration of the three leading statesmen on the Potsdam Conference of 17th July, 1945, is the statement that, among others, all persons who are a threat to the occupation or its aims shall be arrested or interned.

The necessity of camps of this sort is thereby recognized - I myself hate these institutions of human slavery - but I state openly that these institutions lie on the road which, when followed to the end, can and does bring suffering to persons holding different views to those desired by the State. By this the crimes in the German concentration camps are not in the least to be belittled.

As far as Kaltenbrunner is concerned, this man's character and his attitude, apparent since 1943, according to my conviction and as can be affirmed by many witnesses, is basically that of a National Socialist leader who noted only with repugnance the general trend of the continually growing wave of terror and enslavement in Germany.

For this reason I deem it important to point to the statement of the witness Eigruber to the effect that the claim of the prosecution that Kaltenbrunner established Mauthausen is wrong.

The second reason lies in the subject of the two conversations with Himmler, about which Kaltenbrunner testified. According to them Kaltenbrunner was prepared to take over the offices of the Domestic and Foreign Intelligence Service in the RSHA with the promise of Himmler that he would be allowed to expand this service into a central agency, with the aim of absorbing the Political Intelligence Service and joining it with the hitherto military one of Admiral Canaris. No doubt it is true, as the witnesses Waneck, Dr. Hoettl, Dr. Mildner and Ohlendorf and also the defendant himself have testified, that Himmler, with Kaltenbrunner's wish in mind, after the murder of Heydrich, intervened in the executive realm so that nothing of any importance took place in any executive field in Germany without Himmler having the final word and thus issuing the decisive order.

The witness Waneck confirmed the subject of those two conversations of Kaltenbrunner with Himmler in the following words, which I shall quote because of their importance:

"When material problems arose Kaltenbrunner frequently remarked that he had come to an understanding with Himmler to work rather in the field of the Foreign Political Intelligence Service and that Himmler himself wanted to exert more influence in executive functions. To my knowledge Himmler agreed to these adjustments, all the more so since he believed that he could depend on Kaltenbrunner's political instinct in foreign affairs, as was apparent from various remarks made by Himmler."
Various witnesses have testified that Kaltenbrunner predominantly and from inward conviction actually dedicated himself to the Domestic and Foreign Intelligence Service and more and more approached the influence on domestic and foreign politics he was hoping for. I call attention again to Waneck and Dr. Hoettl, and then also to the defendants Jodl, Seyss-Inquart and Fritzsche. Dr. Hoettl testified:
"In my opinion Kaltenbrunner never was completely master of the large Reich Security Office and, from lack of interest in police and executive problems, occupied himself far more with the Intelligence Service and with exerting influence on policy as a whole. This he considered his real domain."
From the testimony by General Jodl I am stressing the following sentences:
"Before Kaltenbrunner took over the Intelligence Service from Canaris he sent to me, from time to time, very good reports from the South-eastern

[Page 231]

territory, through which I first noticed his experience in the Intelligence Service... I had the impression that this man knew his business; I now received constant reports from Kaltenbrunner, just as from Canaris earlier; not only the actual reports from agents but from time to time he sent to me, I might almost say, a political survey on the basis of his individual reports from agents. I noticed these condensed reports on the entire political situation abroad especially because they revealed, with a frankness and sobriety never possible under Canaris, the seriousness of our entire military position."
The results therefore, which I must deduce from the evidence, are as follows:

Kaltenbrunner, on the basis of the separation of the Intelligence Service from the executive police function in the Reich Security Office as desired by him, actually held a position the main interest of which was the Intelligence Service and its continuous development. I add: This Intelligence Service covered more than Europe: it went from the North Cape to Crete and Africa, from Stalingrad, Leningrad to the Pyrenees. Kaltenbrunner was the most zealous of all those who in Germany tried to get the pulse of the enemy nations.

That was the life work of this man as he himself wished it to be for the duration of the war. He lived in modest circumstances and it is the truth when I say that he steps off the stage of political life just as poor as when he ascended it. The witness Waneck once quoted a statement by Kaltenbrunner which is characteristic of him, that he, Kaltenbrunner, would retire completely from office after the war and return to the land as a farmer.

Only with deep regret will the spectator see that under the pressure of political and military events this man did not observe the limitations desired by himself. His obedience to Hitler and, therefore, also to Himmler made him submit to the apparent necessity, in the years 1943-45, of guaranteeing the stability of conditions inside Germany through police compulsion. Thereby he became involved in guilt: for it is clear that he might count on a milder judgement on his guilt before the conscience of the world only if he could have produced evidence that he actually undertook a sharp separation from Section IV of the Secret State Police, rightly called demoniacal; if he had in no way participated in the ideas and methods which, I believe, eventually led to the institution of this whole trial. I cannot deny that he did not undertake this separation. Nothing is clearly proved in this direction, even his own testimony speaks against him. Thus his statement at the beginning of his examination before the Tribunal may be explained, which I should like to define as the thesis of his guilt:

"Question: You realize that a very special accusation has been brought against you. The prosecution accuses you of crimes against the peace as well as of your role of an intellectual principal or of a participator in committing crimes against humanity and against the rules of war. Finally the prosecution has connected your name with the terrorism of the Gestapo and with the cruelties in the concentration camps. I now ask you: Do you assume the responsibility for these points of accusation in such manner as they are outlined and familiar to you?"
And Kaltenbrunner answers:
"First of all I should like to state to the Court that I am fully aware of the serious nature of the accusations brought against me. I know that the hatred of the world is directed against me, since I am the only one here to answer to the world and to the Court, because a Himmler, a Muller, a Pohl are no longer alive .... I want to state at the very beginning that I assume the responsibility for every wrong which, from the time of my appointment as chief of the Reich Security Office, was committed within the jurisdiction of that office as far as it occurred under my actual command, and I thus knew or should have known of these occurrences."

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