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

The Trial of German Major War Criminals

Sitting at Nuremberg, Germany
9th August to 21st August 1946

One Hundred and Ninety-Ninth Day: Friday, 9th August, 1946
(Part 4 of 11)

[Page 14]

DR. PELCKMANN: Quite right, your Lordship, but the prosecution also raised the questions just now, and in such a way that the witness had no chance to give an exact reply.

THE PRESIDENT: It is not necessary to argue the point. Do you not think that you can make your re-examination shorter, in view of the fact that the evidence was all given before the Commission and the Tribunal has this before it?

DR. PELCKMANN: Yes, my Lord.


Q. What percentage of members, or rather of collaborators and of those who were charged with the research projects for the "Ahnenerbe," belonged to the SS?

[Wolfram Sievers] A. About one half.

Q. Were the rest Party members?

A. That was not a condition.

Q. Then were there collaborators who were non-political?

A. There were even some who were rejected by the Party and by the State for political reasons.

Q. Was Professor Seibt, a Norwegian, one of the members who worked there?

A. Yes, Professor Seibt received a research commission from the "Ahnenerbe," after I had effected his release from a concentration camp.

Q. I have before me the original of your diary, parts of which were quoted to you in your cross-examination. 330 pages of this diary deal with the period about which you were questioned. The extracts, the parts which were presented to you, number only three pages. In view of this comparison, can you say that the matters which were discussed constitute only a very small fraction of the work carried on by the "Ahnenerbe"? Please be very brief.

A. Yes, I can confirm that, and I am waiting to make my statement in this connection. I did not preserve my notes for the purpose of concealing things which should be truthfully clarified in the general interests of all.

Q. Witness, if fragments of this diary are presented to you as they were presented to you in your cross-examination, are you in a position to give exhaustive and correct explanations without going into the context and into the whole diary?

A. This is quite impossible because the size of the diary shows the considerable scope of my main work, and the comparative insignificance of the parts discussed here. And considering the period of time over which these matters extend, it is simply impossible to reconstruct them out of their context and to make complete and truthful statements on them. In my previous interrogations I again and again pointed this out, and asked for my secret notes and data so that I could give comprehensive accounts. For I myself, in view of my political attitude,

[Page 15]

was eager to uncover the wrongs done, and to aid in punishing them. But my requests were always in vain and my written application of 20th December remained unanswered. Relevant evidence has thus been passed over.

Q. That is sufficient, witness. I should like to mention just one example of the completely wrong picture which can result if the witness is limited to fragments of his diary. This is the entry on Page 103, Friday, 14th April, 1300 hours. "Station Rascher: Stage of work, future work, orders for provisional carrying on - Dr. Ploetner initiated." The sentences which follow are not included in the extract. Now, witness, would you read those sentences and comment on them? Does this entry show, as the prosecution maintains, that Dr. Ploetner continued Rascher's work?

A. The entry shows clearly that Dr. Ploetner did not continue Dr. Rascher's experiments on human beings. On the basis of these notes I could now develop a comprehensive picture, but the time at my disposal is too short.

Q. Please make your comments.

A. In a dramatic way Dr. Ploetner described -

THE PRESIDENT: We do not want drama, we want the entry.

DR. PELCKMANN: Unfortunately, I cannot read it, my Lord, because there is only one copy of the document.

THE PRESIDENT: Has not the witness got the document before him? Why cannot he read it, then?

THE WITNESS: Yes, I will read it.

"Hauptscharfuehrer Dr. Ploetner initiated .... Most important task: Polygal tests." That was the coagulating agent.
DR. PELCKMANN: Please give your comments when you have read the entry.

THE WITNESS: Order for carrying on of work - Putzengruber. Policesergeant Nett reports that production of Polygal at Schlachters is assured for three months. Feix reports on production experience and first results at Schlachters. In Schlachters the accounting system is to be set up by Gau economic adviser. Purchase of machines."

DR. PELCKMANN: That means then that Dr. Ploetner was initiated?

THE WITNESS: Initiated into all the administrative and economic matters connected with the manufacture of Polygal.

DR. PELCKMANN: Now you were going to describe what happened at that time.

THE WITNESS: Yes Dr. Rascher had begun the development of Polygal, but the medicament did not come up to expectations. Dr. Ploetner who -

THE PRESIDENT: The question that you put to him was: "Does not this entry show that Dr. Ploetner did not continue the investigations of Dr. Rasher?" How does the entry show it? He did not tell us how the entry shows it.

DR PELCKMANN: Your Lordship, I did not, as far as I remember, put the question in that way. I wanted to learn something quite different from this witness. May I please clarify this point after the witness has read these remarks and his memory has been refreshed?

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Pelckmann, in my recollection and in the recollection of the other members of the Tribunal the question you put was: "Does not this entry in your diary show that Dr. Ploetner did not carry out the work of Dr. Rasher?" That was the question which you put. And we want an answer to it and no other answer.

DR. PELCKMANN: Then I did not express myself correctly, your Lordship.

[Page 16]


Q. I wanted to know. if now, after reading this entry, your memory was refreshed as to the happenings at that time?

A. Yes.

Q. Then please describe them.

A. The activities of the institute -

THE PRESIDENT: Wait a minute. Dr. Pelckmann, in the first place you realize, or you should realize, that the object of re-examination is to make clear or to contradict anything which has been put in cross-examination, and that is the only purpose of re-examination. In the second place, the Tribunal does not assume, from the fact that the witness has been cross-examined to show that certain brutal and illegal experiments were made by this institution, that the institution did nothing else, and we do not propose to sit here for a prolonged time to hear everything else that this institution did. The only object of your redirect examination should be to contradict the fact that illegal experiments were made, or to clear up any doubts which may arise upon those illegal experiments; not to show us that they did other things.


Q. Witness, were further inhuman experiments carried out after Rascher's arrest, as far as you know?

A. No.

Q. No?

A. No. Dr. Ploetner, as I have already testified, expressly refused to carry them out.

Q. Did you, after that time, hear of any other inhuman experiments?

A. No, not in connection with the Institute of Scientific Research for Military Purposes, of which I had inner knowledge.

Q. You say that you had inner knowledge of the Institute of Scientific Research for Military Purposes. What personalities of the SS had insight into these experiments?

A. Only those who had been charged with these matters by Himmler personally, and there were very few

Q. How many approximately? Five or ten more or less do not matter.

A. At a high estimate, ten to twenty.

Q. Were these directives classified "secret" or "top secret"? Did they fall into the category "Secret Military Matter" or "Secret Reich Matter"?

A. Yes, they fell into these two top secret categories.

Q. Can you therefore from your own knowledge say whether you consider it possible that the mass of the SS men knew about these things?

A. It is quite impossible that they knew or could have known about these things.

Q. Do you recall that Freiherr yon Eberstein was quite indignant when he learned of Rascher's experiments and horrified that anything like that could; happen? Have you any personal recollection of that?

A. Yes; I remember that because I had to report to him personally in this matter. He was extremely angry during this conversation and mentioned things which he had heard in connection with the arrest of Rascher, and which shocked me, too, very deeply. In his excitement he began to accuse me and was then very astonished to hear that Himmler alone had been in closest personal connection with Rascher and that all instructions had come directly from Himmler.

Q. That is sufficient. Thank you.

THE PRESIDENT: Now, can you conclude your ... the observation you want to make in five minutes?

THE WITNESS: Yes, not longer.

[Page 17]

THE PRESIDENT: Very well, go on, then.

THE WITNESS: In the cross-examination I was accused of having naturally had no personal misgivings whatsoever regarding these experiments on human beings. I must contradict this emphatically. My conflict of conscience was very great and I was not appeased by the assurances which, as I mentioned earlier, I had received from Himmler. I therefore spoke with the leader of our secret organization, and we came to the conclusion that further resistance would, in the first place, have cost me my head, since an open demonstration would have been the only choice left to us. Secondly, moreover, the people affected by the experiments would not in any way have been protected or helped thereby. These experiments would have been carried through one way or another in any event.

But wherever possible I did secretly what no other person would have done, or dared to do. I prevented, through silent sabotage, whatever could possibly be prevented. My repeated offers to elaborate on this point with the help of my secret data, and records, which go into several hundred pages, as Dr. Pelckmann has shown, were in vain. Even now, time does not permit me to give a more comprehensive picture of the background of events and of the events themselves. I personally rejected these experiments and did not support them. I played a role similar to that of a syndic at a university, who must be at the disposal of all professors and heads of institutes, alike in all financial, economic and administrative affairs. Therefore, I repudiate doubts cast on my credibility and my personal attitude. The documents submitted show exactly what I said about these matters in my interrogations before the Commission, which Dr. Pelckmann again mentioned just now. If, concerning my alleged illegal activities, my credibility is put in doubt, then the leader of the secret organization, Dr. Hilscher, who is now in Nuremberg, is at the Tribunal's disposal in this matter. Thank you.

THE PRESIDENT: The Tribunal will adjourn.

(A recess was taken.)

MR. ELWYN JONES: Your Lordship, I have three brief documents to put in on the SS case. The first is Document 4043-PS, which I hand in on behalf of the Polish Delegation. It will be Exhibit GB 592. It sets out the names of the 846 Polish priests and monks of the Polish clergy murdered at Dachau concentration camp.

THE PRESIDENT: Is that a State report or what??

MR. ELWYN JONES: It is an affidavit by a Polish priest, attaching the names of the priests to his statements; the names appeared in a Polish publication, a Polish newspaper.

I see that it is a statement on oath by the undersigned Roman Catholic priest, which is as follows. I am wrong in saying that it is a statement on oath; but it does attach a list of the priests from a publication of the section "Press and Culture" which was published in the Catholic weekly, Polska Prodena. If the Tribunal is uneasy about the document, I shall not press it. I am asked by the Polish Delegation to submit it.

If your Lordship pleases, Document 007, which will be Exhibit GB 592, in place of the last document, that is an order from Himmler to the Higher SS and Police Chief, Ukraine, Kiev, dated 7th September, 1943. It reads:

"Dear Pruetzmann, General of the Infantry Stapf has special orders with regard to the Donetz area. Get in touch with him immediately. I order you to co-operate as much as you can. The aim to be achieved is that when areas in the Ukraine are evacuated, not a human being, not a single head of cattle, not a hundredweight of cereals and not a railway line remain behind; that not a house remains standing; that not a mine is available which is not destroyed for years to come; that there is not a well which is not poisoned.

[Page 18]

The enemy must really find completely burnt and destroyed land. Discuss these things with Stapf straight away and do your absolute best. Heil Hitler. Yours, Himmler."
There is a note attached to it: "SS Obergruppenfuehrer Berger has received the copy with the request that the Reich Minister for the East be informed." There are copies to the Chief of the Regular Police, Chief of the Security Police and SD, SS Obergruppenfuehrer Berger; Chief of the partisan- combating units, copies sent with a request that they be noted.

Finally, Document 022 refers to instructions of Himmler.

THE PRESIDENT: Who was the Reich Minister at the time?

MR. ELWYN JONES: As I understand it, my Lord, it was Rosenberg.

Then, finally, there is Document 022, which will be Exhibit GB 593. That is an instruction of Himmler dated 10th July, 1943, to the chiefs of units for combating partisans, the Higher SS and Police Chiefs in the Ukraine, Higher SS and Police Chiefs in Russia, Central Sector.

The first paragraph:

"The Fuehrer has decided that the whole population has to be evacuated from partisan-ridden territories of the Northern Ukraine and of the Central Russian sector.

2. The whole male population fit for work will be directed to the Reich Commissar for the Employment of Labour according to regulations which are yet to be laid down, but under the conditions of PWs.

3. The female population will be directed to the Reich Commissar for the Employment of Labour for work in the Reich.

4. Part of the female population and all children who have no parents will be sent to our reception camps.

5. The evacuated territories are to be taken over and run by the Higher SS and Police Chiefs, as much as possible in accordance with an arrangement still to be made with the Reich Minister of Food and with the Minister for the Occupied Eastern Territories. They are to be planted partly with Kok-Sagys, and as far as possible agricultural use is to be made of them. The camps for children are to be established on the edge of these territories in order that the children may be available as labour for the cultivation of Kok-Sagys, and for agriculture. Final proposals are to be submitted to me as soon as possible. (Signed) H. Himmler."

There are the names of Berger and Backe below.

DR. PELCKMANN: Your Lordship, may I put a formal -

THE PRESIDENT: Just one minute ... Yes, Dr. Pelckmann.

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