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 5 of 10)

[MAJOR J. HARCOURT BARRINGTON continues his cross examination of Werner August Max Schaefer]

[Page 135]

MAJOR J. HARCOURT BARRINGTON: Let me help you a little by referring you to another passage not very far away from that. Just turn to Page 25, and you will see the following passage in between brackets there:

"Rarely have I seen such marvellous educators as my old SA men, some of whom were themselves of proletarian origin and took on with extraordinary devotion these Communist swashbucklers who acted in a particularly insolent manner." Is not refreshing the memory of the provocateurs the same thing really as the education - the marvellous education which your old SA men gave to them? What is the education, if you do not know what you mean by "refreshing their memories"? What did you mean by "marvellous educators"?

A. I understand your meaning. You expect me to admit that maltreatment actually did take place. I think I understood you correctly, but I should like to state -

THE PRESIDENT: Answer the question, please. The question is: What did you mean by the education that you last spoke of?

A. I mean an education through personal example, not an education through maltreatment or similar misdeeds.


Look back again to Page 123, and you will see another passage in brackets, commencing "To conceal ... ," Page 123. Have you got it?

A. Yes.

Q. "To conceal the fact that some of the prisoners had not been treated too gently would be stupid as well as completely impossible to understand; impossible to understand in so far as such treatment was in accordance with an urgent necessity." What was the urgent necessity for not treating the prisoners too gently? Are you going to say it was purely disciplinary treatment? It is on the same page as the first bracketed passage I read, you know; from the same page as "refreshing their memory." Well, I will leave that passage and turn now to Page 173.

A. May I reply to this? I wrote quite freely and openly about these matters in this book, and I do not wish to deny that there were a very few isolated cases in which it became necessary to treat inmates who acted in a certain way, to treat such inmates accordingly. I have no reason to conceal now, and I did not conceal in my book, that certain uncompromising rowdies - I have no other name for them - had of course to be disciplined.

Q. You were writing your book in some spirit of exultation to a Nazified Germany in 1934, were you not? Turn to Page 173 -

A. I should like to say something on this point too -

THE PRESIDENT: The Tribunal would like to know how you did treat them. You said in certain cases inmates had to be treated accordingly. "Accordingly" meaning, I suppose, not too gently, is that what you meant?

A. My Lord, the question can be simply answered in this way: If an inmate believed - and there were such cases - that he could impose his own will by means of brutality, then it was my duty to call his attention emphatically to the fact that at that moment he did not have the right to do so.

Q. Tell the Tribunal what it was - be brief, but tell the Tribunal what it was that you had particularly against Ebert and Heilmann. What was your complaint against them that needed treatment?

A. Ebert and Heilmann did not receive any special treatment, in that sense, and we had no reason whatever for treating them in any special way. They did not receive any special treatment, as I said, but -

Q. Go on.

A. Both of them were treated in a normal fashion, and they cannot claim that they received any other treatment. At any rate, I know of none.

Q. Let us see what the normal fashion was. Turn to Page 173. Have you got Page 173? Read the part in brackets.

[Page 136]

A. Yes.

I will read the translation: "And then next day, in fatigue dress, Ebert with a shovel and Heilmann with a broom, ready for work in the forecourt of the camp. Nothing was as beneficial to the other prisoners in the camp as the sight of their prominent personages going to work the same way as themselves. They were put on a par with them." That is what you call the same treatment, the normal treatment, was it?

A. Every inmate of the camp received fatigue clothing for work to save his own clothing. Each one received trousers and a coat, and we did not and could not make an exception in the case of Ebert and Heilmann. Moreover, as far as I remember today, both of them asked to participate in manual labour, a request which was granted them.

Q. You know, I suppose, that Heilmann eventually died a cripple in a concentration camp, do you not?

A. No, I do not know that.

Q. You and your SA men created and operated Oranienburg as a result of orders issued originally by Goering, did you not, as Minister of the Interior for Prussia? That is where your orders came from, through SA channels?

A. Yes.

Q. And you have told the Tribunal that the SA who were looking after the camp under you were put under the orders of the police, and that they, in fact, became deputy policemen for the purpose. Is that your evidence?

A. Yes.

Q. Tell me this. Why do you suppose that Goering chose SA men to do this job? Was it because the ordinary police would not do it?

A. No. A little while ago I explained that the police forces at our disposal were not sufficient to ensure a revolution without bloodshed, which the Fuehrer had demanded in his order, and for this purpose, therefore, the Prussian Ministry of the Interior used the selected SA men as auxiliary police.

Q. Supposing that the ordinary police had been sufficient, are you telling the Tribunal that if the ordinary police had run these concentration camps at Oranienburg, Wuppertal and Hohenstein, are you telling the Tribunal that these excesses would have occurred if the ordinary police had run them? Would you have had even these isolated incidents that you talk about if the ordinary police had run them?

A. There were police officials in Oranienburg from the first day of the camp's existence. I do not know how it was at Wuppertal, but I should like to say that no SA man or SA leader participated in any isolated acts of outrage on the strength of an order, but he did so on his own initiative. His action was not covered by any order, and he was not protected from being punished.

Q. I suggest to you, witness, that the SA were chosen to run Oranienburg for the very simple reason that the SA alone could be relied on by the movement to run it on sufficiently brutal lines. Do you agree, or do you not?

A. No, I cannot agree with you.

Q. If you have forgotten what Goering thought about the ordinary police at that time, let me read you a short passage from a speech he made on 3rd March, 1933, which must have been just about the same time that he gave the order to establish the Oranienburg camp.

MAJOR J. HARCOURT BARRINGTON: My Lord, it is Document 1856- PS; it is in Document Book 16A at Page 28 and it is Exhibit USA 437.

Q. (continuing.) Now this is what Goering said just at the time that he was ordering Oranienburg to be started by you. He said:

"Fellow Germans, my measures will not be crippled by any judicial thinking. My measures will not be crippled by any bureaucracy. Here I do not have to give justice; my mission is only to destroy and exterminate,

[Page 137]

nothing more. This struggle will be a struggle against chaos and I shall not conduct it with the power of any police; a bourgeois State might have done that. Certainly I shall use the power of the State and the police to the utmost, my dear Communists, so do not draw any false conclusions. But the struggle to the death, in which my fist will grasp your necks, I shall lead with those down there - those are the Brown Shirts."
Did you hear or read that speech at that time? It doesn't look as if Goering thought much of the ordinary police when he ordered Oranienburg to be started, does it?

Are you telling the Tribunal that after that speech Goering, intended to create a camp which would be mild and humane and just, as you tried to describe in you; evidence?

A. I do not know this speech, but I see that it is said to have been delivered on 3rd March 1933,

At that time the camp Oranienburg was not in existence; it was not then about to be set up and it had not been planned.

It came into existence the same month.

A. At the end of March, yes.

Now, witness, I put it to you that the truth about Oranienburg is this, in a sentence:

When you first established Oranienburg concentration camp it was an ordinary brutal, SA concentration camp, but that late in the summer, 1933, you decided to use it as a show camp to demonstrate to foreign countries how mild and just the concentration camp system was. Is that right or wrong?

A. No, that is not correct; it is not correct in any way. I could today call as witnesses here the first inmates of the camp Oranienburg, who were living there at the time I was commandant; I could call them to testify that I would not have been a party to creating a model camp only for the sake of outward appearances. A decent direction of a camp of that sort was an utmost necessity for me, and I should like to add also that this was not merely a question of common sense, but also in harmony with my natural feelings.

And may I add this:

I went through the political struggle in Germany, which was very bitter, and I well knew that by creating martyrs one does not strengthen one's own cause. It is logical, therefore, that I could never be interested in the creation of martyrs, and I was not interested in it.

Q. Now, did you not write your book as part of this idea of having a show camp to convince foreigners? Is that not part of the idea of your book? It was written to convince foreigners anyway, was it not? You said so to the Commission, you know.

A. Quite true, quite true! But may I complete this explanation? I said at that time exactly what I am saying now.

I wrote this book deliberately to refute the lying reports - and I cannot call them anything else - which had appeared about this camp abroad, to refute them as a matter of duty. That, in my opinion, was a right which I was entitled to exercise.

Q. Who commissioned you to write this book? Was it Goering? Did Goering, suggest that you should write this book?

A. I can say frankly that no one commissioned me to write this book, but -

Q. Did you consult Goering?

A. No. I think that Herr Goering is probably seeing me for the very first time today; and I am seeing him for the first time at this distance. We never discussed these matters.

Q. Did you consult the Prussian Ministry of Justice when you wrote your book?

[Page 138]

A. No. I have already stated quite clearly that I did not discuss this book with a third party in; any way, but that I wrote it because an enormous number of adverse newspaper reports were sent to me, and because I myself thought it necessary to vindicate the camp Oranienburg. I considered it to be my duty.

Q. Now, tell me about these newspaper, reports. Were they adverse criticisms of Oranienburg only, or of other camps? Was Oranienburg the only one they criticized? Perhaps it was.

A. These articles? I did not hear the translation of the first part of your question.

Q. You told us that you had received many articles of the Press which were adverse and which required refuting. Were they adverse to Oranienburg only, or other camps?

A. Naturally I could only reply to the articles which dealt with Oranienburg; I did not concern myself with other camps.

Q. I did not ask you that. Were there any other articles about other camps? Did you see any articles about other camps?

A. I do not recall any. I received only articles which concerned Oranienburg.

Q. Who sent them to you then? Goering?

A. They came from all sorts of people, from various classes of the population and also from foreigners who were interested in bringing their Press to my attention.

Q. Well, now, one of the articles was written in The Times newspaper, the English paper, was it not? And you reproduced it in your book. That article was very adverse to Oranienburg.

MAJOR J. HARCOURT BARRINGTON: My Lord, there are extracts from that article in Document Book 16A, at Page 35, and it is Document 2824-A-PS.

Q. (continuing.) I just want to point out to you two or three short extracts, because I am going to suggest to you that they were perfectly true - they are on Page 110 in your book, I think:

"We got to Oranienburg concentration camp. We had to stand at attention for over three hours. Anyone who tried to sit down was beaten. Each of us got a small mug of coffee and a piece of black bread, our first food that day."
Then, a bit farther on:
"Prominent prisoners were beaten more often than the others, but everyone got his full share of blows."
And a little farther on:
"They also sometimes rubbed black shoe polish all over the bodies of the prisoners and checked up next day to see if it had all been washed off."
And farther on again:
"Most of the prisoners were not allowed to mention the blows they had received, but every night we could hear their cries. Those who were released had to sign two papers, a white one which stated that the treatment in the camp was good, and a blue one."
Now that article also mentioned, among the well-known prisoners, a Dr. Levy. Is that correct? Do you remember Dr. Levy?

A. Yes.

Q. And in your book, after publishing this Times article, you published a letter from Dr. Levy to The Times on 25th September, 1933 - that was about six days after the article - in which Dr. Levy denied that there were any atrocities at Oranienburg. Can you find that letter?

A. Yes.

Q. That letter of Dr. Levy's was written in Potsdam, was it not? It says "Potsdam" underneath the envelope.

A. Yes, I can see that in the book it says "Potsdam," 25th September. But may I explain something in this connection?

[Page 139]

This article, from which you read extracts just now, refers to boys of the social welfare organization of the Jewish community in Berlin, who were taken to Oranienburg at the time. These boys were criminal elements of which the Jewish community had rid itself by paying the necessary amount of money to put them in a special educational home. It is absolutely incorrect -

Q. What has that got to do with Dr. Levy? I said, was Dr. Levy's letter written from Potsdam? Are you telling the Tribunal that that letter was written voluntarily, or did you get it out of him by threats? You could have got it out of him by threats easily, could you not? You could, could you not?

A. May I ask you to listen to the end of my explanation. I am coming to Dr. Levy now. It was Dr. Levy - and I can give this assurance here quite openly and publicly - who at that time personally asked to see me and requested that these boys of the Jewish social welfare, who were misbehaving themselves, be segregated. Dr. Levy was a well-known defence lawyer who was at that time interned in Oranienburg. He was released again soon after his arrival. I personally remember that Dr. Levy, when he left Oranienburg, said good-bye to me in a very cordial manner. I am not at all of the opinion that he was forced at Potsdam to write this article or this letter to me which then appeared in The Times. On the contrary, I would assume that Dr. Levy put "Potsdam" on top of the letter in order to make it distinctive, because the name Levy was not a rare name in Germany at that time. Perhaps in that way he wished to make it clear that the defence lawyer Dr. Levy from Potsdam was the author of the letter. I cannot think of any other explanation and I am quite sure that it would be possible, even today, to question Dr. Levy. At that time he was in the prime of life. I am sure he is still alive today, and it must be possible to summon him and hear him on this question. But I would never believe that Dr. Levy would allow himself to be forced to write an article of that sort. But supposing that he was forced, who forced The Times to print a report which was not in agreement with its opinion?

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