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

Two Hundred and Second Day: Tuesday, 13th August, 1946
(Part 4 of 10)

[DR. BOEHM continues his direct examination of Werner August Max Schaefer]

[Page 130]

Q. Can you tell me who, from the beginning, furnished the guards at Dachau?

A. As far as I know, Dachau was an SS camp entirely. The SA was never active in Dachau.

[Page 131]

DR. BOEHM: Mr. President, for the present I have no more questions to put to this witness.



Q. Witness, you probably know it already, but if you do not, you may take it from me that in the last eight months this Tribunal has heard a great deal of evidence about concentration camps. Do you deny, now, that even in 1933 concentration camps were regarded throughout Germany with terror?

A. I did not quite understand the question.

Q. I will state it again. Do you deny that even in 1933 concentration camps were regarded by people throughout Germany with terror?

A. Anyone who is arrested naturally feels horrified, for the loss of freedom alone compels him to have a feeling of that sort. But there was no reason, at that time, to be horrified by the thought of being interned in a concentration camp.

Q. You have spoken, this morning, about the Reichstag deputy, Herr Gerhard Seger. He wrote a book on the Oranienburg concentration camp. I am not going to talk on that book, but do you remember that the title of it was A Nation Terrorized? Do you remember that title?

A. No.

Q. Do you consider that that was a reasonable title to give a book on Oranienburg?

A. No.

Q. Would it have been a reasonable title to give about the concentration camps at Wuppertal or Hohenstein?

A. I cannot make any statements in that respect. I never knew Wuppertal, and as far as Hohenstein is concerned I only, know that the severest measures were taken there when abuses were discovered. Later I learned that the leading men of the concentration camp Hohenstein were sentenced to long terms of penal servitude and imprisonment.

Q. You know, too, those severe penalties were reduced in the most serious cases to about half the sentence? Do you not know that?

A. No. That is unknown to me.

Q. You know that the number of people who were sentenced in Hohenstein was twenty-five and that the official report about it said that they were not all those who took part in the excesses, but only the most prominent ones? Did you know that?

A. I do not know the particulars. I know only that at that time very severe and strict measures were taken.

Q. And did you know at that time about the atrocities which were going on in Wuppertal and in Hohenstein? You knew about it at that time, did you not?

A. No.

Q. You knew that those camps, or at any rate you know now that those camps were run by the SA? Is that right?

A. No. I did not know that either.

Q. You did not know they were run by the SA?

A. No. I did not know that.

Q. Witness, I want you to look at a document - which is 787- PS, my Lord, in Book 16A, at Page 16. That is a letter written by Dr. Guertner, the Reich Minister of Justice, to Hitler, and he describes at the beginning of the letter the maltreatment of prisoners in Hohenstein, including torture by a drip apparatus. If you look towards the end of the letter - I should think it is about ten lines from the end - you will see they are talking about the principal SA offender, one Vogl - he says: "By his actions he supported the convicted SA leaders and men in their deeds."

That shows that Hohenstein atrocities were done by SA men, does it not?

[Page 132]

A. I am afraid that in one brief minute I cannot read through a document five pages long. I should like to say that I learned only afterwards that severe measures were taken against the SA leaders and against the SA men who had perpetrated crimes in Hohenstein. I should also like to point out that it was the Minister of Justice, Dr. Guertner himself, who took me over into his Strafvollzug as an SA leader known to him personally. That shows that he did not regard as general the matters which in this letter he is reporting to the Fuehrer as an isolated case. These are isolated cases, and the criminals concerned in them received their due punishment.

Q. Witness, if you say you do not know what went on in Hohenstein and Wuppertal at that time, let me ask you this: You knew Guertner fairly well, did you not? .

A. Yes.

Q. You knew Kerrl fairly well, did you not?

A. Yes.

Q. Kerrl was Lutze's uncle, was he not?

A. (No response.)

Q. Was Kerrl not Lutze's uncle?

A. I know that he was a relative of Lutze, what relation I do not know.

Q. And he was a very fervent Nazi, too, was he not - Kerrl?

A. Oh, yes.

Q. Did you not talk with him about these concentration camps, these other concentration camps? You were the commandant of the first concentration camp at Oranienburg. Did you not talk to him about the others that were springing up, the other concentration camps?

A. No.

Q. Did you talk to Guertner about them?

A. There was no reason for that, either.

I should like to explain in this connection that it was the Prussian Minister of Justice, Kerrl, who, after numerous visits to Oranienburg, selected me, on the basis of the fact that Oranienburg appeared to be under a decent and orderly command, to be commandant of the penitentiaries.

Q. We will come to that in a minute. I am suggesting to you now that it was just because of the interest that Kerrl took in you that he did in fact later appoint you to your position with the Strafgefangenenlager. It was just because of that I am suggesting that you might have talked the whole problem out with him. Did you or did you not?

A. Only in so far as it concerned the camp Oranienburg.

Q. I see.

A. I remember -

Q. Did you talk to Count Helldorf, the Police President, about the general problem of concentration camps?

A. Also only in so far as it concerned Oranienburg, and in that case, extensively.

Q. I see. Now you say that none of these terrors and atrocities went on in Oranienburg; is that right?

A. Yes.

Q. Now, I have here an affidavit which Rudolf Diehls has sworn this morning since you started your evidence, and I will read a little of it to you, and you can tell me if it is true or not.

MAJOR J. HARCOURT BARRINGTON: My Lord, this is Document 976; It becomes GB 595.


Q. Rudolf Diehls says:

"I received from various individuals complaints about ill- treatment by SA men in concentration camps. I learned that SA guards had badly ill

[Page 133]

treated the following persons in the concentration camp Oranienburg: Herr Ebert, son of the former Reichsprasident; Ernst Heilmann, the leader of the Prussian Social Democrats; the Reichstag Prasident Paul Loewe and the Oberpraesident Lukaschek."
Then he goes on to say: "I myself gained confirmation of these ill-treatments on the occasion of an inspection tour through the camp Oranienburg. At that time the commandant was SA leader Schaefer. For a short time, conditions improved after my interference; then they deteriorated again. I myself did not succeed in removing Schaefer, since he was backed by the SA leadership."

Is that true or is it not? Did your men ill-treat Herr Ebert, Herr Heilmann, Paul Loewe, and Lukaschek? Did they ill-treat them or did they not?

A. May I be permitted to give the following explanation on this point -

Q. Say yes or no.

A. That I cannot do.

Q. Kindly give an explanation.

A. I cannot give an explanation in this form. Herr Loewe was never an inmate of Oranienburg; Herr Lukaschek, to my knowledge, also never was an inmate at Oranienburg. Herr Diehls is definitely mistaken in these cases. It is true, however, that the son of the Reichsprasident Ebert was an inmate, and it is also true that Herr Heilmann was an inmate there. But I should like to explain that both of those gentlemen, Ebert as well as Heilmann, were maltreated by other inmates after their arrival, and I personally saw to it that they were taken away from the group of inmates who had maltreated them.

Ebert himself was released very soon, after a few weeks of internment. He and Heilmann never complained to me personally. I learned of their ill-treatment at the hands of other inmates from a third party and I took steps immediately to prevent such things from happening again.

Q. You said before the Commission, witness, that it was your endeavour in the Oranienburg concentration camp to try to give the inmates a life consistent with human dignity. Do you remember saying that to the Commissioner, "a life consistent with human dignity"? And is that the kind of life you gave to Ebert and Heilmann?

A. (No response.)

Q. I presume the answer is yes, is it not?

A. I cannot answer this question so simply, either. I did not say that for Heilmann and Ebert I brought about conditions consistent with human dignity, but I remember clearly saying just now that I saw to it that they were not subjected to further maltreatment at the hands of other inmates.

Q. I did not ask you what you said just now; I asked you what you said before the Commission. And you said before the Commission that you endeavoured to give the inmates a "life consistent with human dignity," did you not?

A. Yes, of course.

Q. Do you remember saying it or not?

A. Yes.

Q. Did you give Heilmann and Ebert a life consistent with human dignity?

A. Yes.

Q. You did?

A. I never withheld from them anything consistent with human dignity. Of course, they led a life like that of any other inmate in a camp of that sort -

Q. Yes, but you said -

A. A. And it is surely quite understandable -

Q. You know that this was supposed to be a camp for prominent persons in considerable numbers, according to your own evidence, and you said that you

[Page 134]

wanted to give them all a life of human dignity. But let us not waste any time on this. Let me show you your own book.

MAJOR J. HARCOURT BARRINGTON: My Lord, this is Document 2824- PS, and it is Exhibit USA 423. That is the book written by the witness, entitled Oranienburg Concentration Camps, published in 1934


Q. I want you to look first of all, witness, at Page 123.

A. Yes, I have the page.

Q. Now, that is a page where you wrote in rather a sarcastic vein about the people who came into the camps. Do you see the very short passage where you say - and I think this sums up perhaps your whole attitude as to the object of your camp: "The moment had at last come when our old SA men could refresh the memory of some of these provocateurs who had been especially in the foreground politically." Do you see that?

A. (No response.)

Q. Well, the translation may not be exactly as it comes in your book; but do you see the passage? It is marked between brackets.

A. Yes, I have found this passage.

Q. Well, what do you mean by your old SA men refreshing the memories of some of these provocateurs? I thought you said just now that it was the other inmates of the concentration camps who refreshed their memory. It is your own SA men, is it not, who refreshed the memory of Ebert and Heilmann?

A. I would like to -

Q. Well, you wrote it, you know. Let me refresh your memory a bit. Turn to Page 173.

MAJOR J. HARCOURT BARRINGTON: My Lord, I am sorry that these, passages have not been translated. I only had them looked up this morning.

THE PRESIDENT: You ought to let him answer the other question you put to him on Page 123.

MAJOR J. HARCOURT BARRINGTON: I beg your Lordship's pardon. I did not realize he wanted to say something.


Q. Witness, you wanted to say something about the passage on Page 123. Do you?

A. Yes, yes. This sentence is taken out of its context. To understand this sentence clearly, one would have to read the whole paragraph. The way in which it is taken out of its context - and please understand me correctly - in your sense, in the sense of the prosecution -

Q. Well, give the Tribunal briefly the sense of the context. Tell us what the sense of the context is.

A. I cannot, of course, explain the whole context, since you only read this one sentence to me. But I should like to say one thing, that when I spoke of human dignity, I did not mean it in an ambiguous but in the perfectly obvious sense; this sentence, taken out of its context, does not prove the opposite.

Q. Well, I will leave that passage then. Will you now turn to Page -

THE PRESIDENT: What do you mean? What is the context? What is the context from which it is torn? What do you mean by "refreshing their memories"?

A. If it please the High Tribunal, may I perhaps for my own information quickly re - read the context. I no longer have my book so completely in mind, and to answer this question I must first read through these lines; then I can give the answer which your Lordship desires.

THE PRESIDENT: You are saying, are you not, you do not know what you mean by "refreshing their memories"?

[Page 135]

A. Yes.

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