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 Third Day: Wednesday, 14th August, 1946
(Part 1 of 6)

[Page 162]




Q. Witness, yesterday we left off in your examination with the manner in which the Jewish question was handled by the SA. Now I should like to ask you how the participation of members of the SA in actions against the Jews in November, 1938, can be explained?

A. I would like to call your attention to the fact that my microphone is not working.

Q. Can you hear now?

A. Yes.

Q. In your testimony yesterday, we left off with the manner in which the Jewish question was handled within the SA and now I should like to ask you how the participation of the members of the SA in actions against the Jews in November of 1938 can be explained?

A. The participation of SA members in this action consisted of irresponsible deeds by individuals which were in gross contradiction to the directive of Staff Chief Lutze's executives. Staff Chief Lutze was in Munich in the old city hall. There, in connection with the speech made by Dr. Goebbels, he immediately assigned the chief of the administrative office, Obergruppenfuehrer Matthes, to go to the Hotel Reinhof, where a part of the SA leaders present had already retired, in order to give these SA leaders strict orders not to participate in any action against the Jews. About an hour later, when he received the news that the synagogue in Munich had been set on fire, Lutze, in my presence, al, this order to the SA leaders who were still present in the Munich city ball, and said that it was to be passed along to all units immediately. This was actually done, as is confirmed by the fact that in many places no actions were carried out at all, and numerous SA men confirm under oath that they received this order.

Q. Then how did it come about that, in spite of it, members of the SA participated in the destruction of Jewish establishments?

A. As was ascertained afterwards, isolated individuals let themselves be misled by agencies which were undoubtedly under the influence of Dr. Goebbels. As an actual fact, compared with the strength of the SA, relatively few real members of the SA participated in this action, although public opinion later blamed the SA for the whole of it. And here again it so happened that everyone in a brown shirt was considered an SA man. That the SA was in no way the sponsor of this action may also be seen from the fact that, as I have read in the Press in the last few months, in individual trials, for example, in Bamberg, Stuttgart, and, I believe, in Hof, people were convicted who had destroyed synagogues and who did not belong to the SA. The fact also that in many places SA men made themselves available, upon instructions from the leadership for protecting Jewish installations against plundering by shady elements, etc., created the popular impression that the SA had committed these misdeeds. In any event, Staff Chief Lutze, one or two days later, gave voice to his indignation to Dr. Goebbels about the action itself, about

[Page 163]

the unjustified accusation against the SA, and strongly condemned the irresponsible way in, which the SA men had been incited to these misdeeds. Soon after, he issued an order that in the future SA men were not to place themselves at the disposal of other agencies for any tasks or actions unless he himself had given express approval. Staff Chief Lutze punished the guilty ones whom he discovered and, if the case warranted it, they were turned over to the regular courts for judgement.

Q. Well, had things been different up to that time when Lutze took this particular line? Was the political leadership in a position to use SA members for its own purposes?

A. The political leadership had only the authority to use the SA for certain tasks, and these tasks were the following: Participation in Gau and Kreis roll calls; demands for the use of the SA in cases of disaster, also for propaganda purposes; for collection drives for the Winter Relief work, for collecting clothing and the like. These were the usual demands which the political leadership made on the SA in the course of the year. So far as I know, at no time did the political leadership make any other demands of an illegal nature to the SA. But Lutze issued this order to prevent those offices which were under Dr. Goebbels influence from leading SA men astray in the future.

Q. Fine. But now the prosecution has submitted a document in this trial, numbered 1721-PS. This is a report from Brigade 50 to Group Kurpfalz. I should first like to show this document to you and then I should like to ask you whether you made any official inquiries about this matter.

A. We made official inquiries after the action. No actions and misdeeds, such as are indicated in the report, were communicated to us from the area of Group Kurpfalz. Moreover, I consider it quite out of the question that these matters which are reproduced here are in accord with the facts.

Q. Now I must put a number of questions to you which would have been superfluous if the witnesses Lucke and Fuss could have been interrogated in this Court. Lucke is the person who made this report and Fuss is the one to whom it is supposed to have been sent.

Is it customary in the SA, when making reports of action taken, to repeat in such reports the order for such action?

A. In my entire activity as chief of the main office of the higher SA leadership and as permanent deputy of the Chief of Staff of the SA, I never observed that in reports of action taken the original orders were repeated verbatim as allegedly occurred here in this report. Moreover, I should like to say that the leader of this group, who was Obergruppenfuehrer Fuss, at the time he allegedly gave this order which is repeated here, was in Munich in the old city hall, and later in the Hotel Reinhof. He received this prohibition from Staff Chief Lutze and transmitted it to his group by telephone in the presence of Obergruppenfuehrer Matthes. When Fuss returned to Mannheim, as I know, he convinced himself of the fact that this order had been transmitted and that in accordance with his instructions SA men had been furnished to guard Jewish installations.

Moreover, the head of the leadership division of this Group Kurpfalz, a certain SA leader by the name of Zimmerman, confirms that the Gruppenfuehrer gave the order to do exactly the opposite of that which is contained in this document as a group order, and that he, too, saw SA men acting as guards for Jewish establishments; and SA men of this group, in internment camps, who headed units in this group, testify that they never received an order like the one which is here alleged to have been given by the group.

Q. Was it customary in SA phraseology to say "Jewish synagogues"?

A. No, there was no expression like that. If one spoke of Jewish churches one said "synagogues." The concept "Jewish" was therefore included, just as when you speak of a mosque the concept "Mohammedan" is inseparable

[Page 164]

from it. In the same way in our terminology, if you speak of synagogues, you do not say "Jewish synagogues," but you just say "synagogues."

Q. And in the order there is mention of an "Aryan population." Was that possible or was it customary in this connection?

A. This, too, is completely pointless. If this order had been given, one would not have said "adjoining houses which are inhabited by Aryan people," but one would undoubtedly have said "those houses which are inhabited by Germans or persons of German blood," but "Aryan people" would never have been used in this connection.

Q. Does it sound probable or credible that in the year 1938, at a time when the National Socialist power was consolidated 100 per cent, an order should be given that riots and plundering were to be prevented?

A. This speaks quite clearly against the authenticity of the report submitted here. To mention an occasion for plundering and riots in such a connection would have been quite inexplicable, and, moreover, there was no reason at all for alleging that here.

Q. Would it have been possible that the Group, in an order to the Brigade, might have ordered that a report of action taken be sent to the Brigade Leader?

A. That would have been quite senseless. The Brigade could not send a report of action taken to itself.

Q. But that is expressed in the report or rather in the repetition of the report.

A. Yes, and that would speak against the authenticity of this report which is reproduced here.

Q. And for that reason what would you gather from the way in which the order is set up?

A. I conclude from it, to put it briefly, that this order was never given, and that the man who invented it had no idea of the language used in commands by the SA.

Q. Was it customary and in accord with the transmission of order in the SA that they were not transmitted through official channels, but that matters were handled in the way stated here, according to which the Standartenfuehrer would have been alerted, and according to which they would have been given very exact instructions, and that in this connection a report would have been given when they started to carry out the order?

A. Quite apart from the fact that a report of action taken would never have been made in the form presented here, it was customary with us for orders to be transmitted through official channels; then they began to carry them out. It is absolutely pointless to emphasize especially, or to report, that the execution of the order has begun, because every order prescribes the conditions for its own execution in advance. A report would have to be given only if certain difficulties were encountered in executing the order.

Q. And what do you conclude from the improbable, and in part impossible, style of this photostat of 11th November, 1938, as a whole?

A. I believe I have stated already that this document here itself speaks against its authenticity, and that we are dealing with a forgery. When I look at this document more closely, I arrive at the conclusion that even chronologically the execution -

THE PRESIDENT (Interposing): Could you give me the number of the document?

DR. BOEHM: It is 1721-PS.

THE PRESIDENT: Do you not think we have heard enough about it now? We have heard considerable argument that it is not authentic.

DR. BOEHM: Mr. President, the point is that since the two witnesses who would have been competent in this matter could not be brought here, the matter must be clarified in such a way that there is no doubt about this forgery. For if

[Page 165]

this report of action taken were true and correct, the SA would be deeply incriminated by it.

THE PRESIDENT: I know that, but the witness has been telling us that for the last ten minutes.


Q. In connection with Document 1721-PS, an order of the supreme SA leadership was submitted as a document under the same number, an order which is signed by you and which says:

"In connection with the actions against the Jews originating among the people, valuable objects had to be safeguarded here and there by the offices of the Party and its branches for the protection of German public property. I order that such objects be turned over without delay to the nearest office of the Secret State Police and receipts be given therefor.

If, in connection with these actions, the offices of the Party and their branches should become aware, or have been aware, of thefts which unfortunately may have occurred, a report is to be submitted without delay to the nearest police station. The same procedure is to be observed upon the appearance of suspicious objects. The offices of the police are to be aided to the fullest possible extent in the performance of their duties."

Because of this order, you are accused of having known that the objects which are mentioned herein were to be turned over to a certain place from which they were never to return to their legal owners.

Now, I ask you: What was the origin of this order? Could one or can one gather from the contents of this order, which emphasises that the offices of the police are to be aided as much as possible in carrying out their assignment, that it was your intention not to return stolen property to Jews?

A. I already became acquainted with this order which was just read to me, in the preliminary interrogations before the Commission. According to my memory, it dates from 29th November. At that time, on the 29th November, I knew definitely that Adolf Hitler, but above all, Hermann Goering, Rudolf Hess, and also Lutze, condemned this action of November, 1938, very severely. The order which bears my signature is not contested by me. It is a copy of a directive of the office of the Fuehrer's deputy, Rudolf Hess, and therefore is traceable to him. Since I knew that Rudolf Hess himself, as a truly right-thinking person, condemned this action very strongly, I had to assume from his order that its purpose was to restore the stolen property to its original owners, namely the Jews. Any other assumption was entirely out of the question for me, and it was also obvious to me that this property was to be given up to the police offices immediately as trustees, for the police represented the guardians of law and order, at least in my eyes, and not offices which were called upon to withhold or steal other people's property from them.

Q. Now I should like to turn to a different subject. The witness Schellenberg has alleged that in 1943 and 1944 the SA leadership tried to take over not only the guarding of concentration camps, but also of work camps and prisoner-of- war camps. What have you to say to that?

A. May I ask in what year that was supposed to have been?

Q. In 1943 and 1944.

A. In the year 1943, from May to August, I was chief of the SA as the deputy of the Chief of Staff. During this period, as before, I never tried to get tasks into the hands of the SA which were incumbent on other agencies and the Reichsfuehrer SS, and especially not tasks of a police nature. I neither aspired to take over tasks of this sort, nor did I have negotiations carried out for this purpose. Moreover, after I learned of this charge against the SA from the Indictment during my imprisonment, I discussed this matter with Herr Schellenberg. Herr Schellenberg told me that the transcript of his testimony must rest on a misunderstanding. He

[Page 166]

had meant to refer to conversations of the SA with the Reich Leadership of the SS about questions of municipal and country guards. Conversations of that nature are not disputed by me. They dealt with the apportionment of time in service, so that on a legal basis there would be no conflict when members of the SA, who were obliged to serve in the municipal and country guard, had to perform SA service at the same time. And so this adjustment of time was the reason for these conversations. The SA had absolutely nothing to do with taking over the guarding of concentration camps or, later, the guarding of prisoner-of-war camps and work camps. Nor did I ever learn that individual SA men were legally conscripted for tasks of that nature.

Q. Please comment on the question of how the SA stood toward the Church.

A. On the Church question, the SA left the individual complete freedom of choice. Staff-Chief Roehm was a Church member. Moreover, I recall that in 1934 he issued an order to the SA in which he prohibited SA men from taking sides in any Church controversies, for the reason that this might possibly disturb the solidarity of the SA. I personally was always a member of the Protestant Church, and am still a member today. As deputy of the Chief of Staff I was a church member also. The great majority of the SA men were Church members. Many members of the SA - in any case, not just individual members - were active in Church councils even up to the end, a fact well known to us and one which we never tried to prevent. Staff Chief Lutze issued an order everywhere that SA duty was not to be performed when religious services were being held.

[ 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.