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 Eighth Day: Wednesday, 21st August, 1946
(Part 2 of 8)

[Page 316]

THE PRESIDENT: Now, why do you not tell us which the affidavits are, that what we want you to do. You are telling us now, and referring to some statement I made in January, that you have got affidavits made from each camp. Well, what are the affidavits? It is quite easy to tell us what the groups are, is it not?

DR. PELCKMANN: These groups, Mr. President, I mentioned yesterday. I only wanted -

THE PRESIDENT: If you mentioned them yesterday, why do you go back to them today?

DR. PELCKMANN: In order to stress the importance of Affidavit 68, which I am about to explain. It is an affidavit of a commandant of a concentration camp. I can understand that, in view of the prevailing attitude, the general feeling of the Tribunal will be one of distrust toward this commandant. But, nevertheless, ask that this very detailed affidavit be read. It deals with organisational questions which are significant in respect to the question: "Who is responsible for crimes and ill- treatment of inmates in concentration camps, and who could know a them?"

For example, this affidavit explains the position of WVHA, Amtsgruppe D. I ask you to pay attention to the fact that this office must not be confused with the RSHA. Confusion has already occurred in summing up the testimony of witnesses before the Tribunal I should like to explain how important it is to examine the question of the organization of the concentration camp system with aid of this Document 68. But the other parts of this affidavit are also important.

[Page 317]

The other important affidavits are 64 and 69. They are testimonies of SS judges who, just like the witness Morgen, had participated in the investigations against concentration camp criminals. From the witness Morgen himself there are Affidavits 65, 66 and 67.

THE PRESIDENT: Why does he make three affidavits on one day?

DR. PELCKMANN: I did not understand your Lordship.

THE PRESIDENT: I said, why does he make three affidavits on one day? Why not make one affidavit?

DR. PELCKMANN: During these days work piled up with examinations before the Commission and interrogations of witnesses. The witness Morgen arrived quite at the end. I had to see to it that the affidavits were presented as quickly as possible. For that reason -

THE PRESIDENT: Very well. Go on.

DR. PELCKMANN: It is only a technical reason, your Lordship. These concentration camp investigations were, in my opinion, of great importance and very elucidating for the Tribunal in judging the concentration camp system in general and determining the responsibility of the rest of the SS. Therefore, I ask that the affidavits of these two judges be added and closely examined. I will deal with them in my speech.

Finally, I ask the Tribunal to note the whole of Affidavit 70, which has been translated completely and which comprises many pages. There is neither a French nor an English translation as yet. This affidavit gives a cross-section from a camp with 2,800 SS inmates, and these inmates include members of the various offices, members of most of the Standarten of the General SS from all parts of Germany and members of about 30 divisions, Oberkommandos, and replacement units of the Waffen SS. In addition, this affidavit is a good cross-section of the members at various times which, according to the Tribunal's decision of 14th January, should be a decisive factor. The highest ranks are not represented there; it is the so-called "little man" who is represented.

From a similar point of view, and because this evidence of affidavits affects the great mass of the SS, I ask the Tribunal for a proper consideration and evaluation of the 136,000 affidavits of which I have made a digest. For the evaluation of the credibility of these affidavits, the fact is important that they were taken down at a very early date without juridical or any other explanations. The SS members commented only on one or another point which interested them most. The fact that certain points are not mentioned in these affidavits is understandable, because the ordinary SS man naturally had only a limited view and was not able to judge on many subjects. As a result they could not write anything on these points.

Justice Jackson stated that the numerous affidavits of SS members were evidence only of their interest in their personal fate. But this digest is to refute that. The individual's range of view is generally limited, and since he cannot testify to more than he knows, these affidavits, through the sum of the individual viewpoints, assume a great value which is important for me as defence counsel of the mass of the SS and not of their highest leaders. They give a clear picture of the impressions made on the masses by the teachings, the statements and speeches of the leaders, and what actions resulted therefrom.

Only this picture, only this cross-section, shows to what extent one can speak of collective criminality in the SS, if it is at all possible to say so juridically. These statements are also important for the question of conspiracy.

I may point out that this digest has not yet been translated. This digest consists of various groups. First, may I briefly touch upon Group I. It deals with the motives of volunteering for the SS, distinction being made between joining the General SS and volunteering for the Waffen SS before 1933 and after 1933. Of

[Page 318]

12,749 affidavits, 12,671 say that the motives were idealism and patriotism alone for joining before 1933; 78 affidavits give various other motives, transfer from other units, for example. Sometimes cavalry units were transferred into the SS cavalry, and so forth. The

As for joining the Waffen SS there are only a few affidavits. Of 488 men, 406 say that the Waffen SS was a select, young troop. Others say that they had to fulfil their military duties in any case and that they preferred the Waffen SS. Many indicate that the Waffen SS considered itself a fourth branch of the Wehrmacht. Many others indicate that they were racial Germans and as I proved yesterday with the aid of documents, racial Germans could perform their military service only in the Waffen SS. Some reported to the Waffen SS because they wanted to be in the police service after the war.

I have made a digest of Group II as to the question of legal compulsion for joining the General SS and drafting into the Waffen SS. Sixty-seven affidavits say that the assimilation into the police resulted in their obtaining a service rank in the General SS.

The rest of the other affidavits are made by students, tutors and university teachers, or members of the postal guard, the Reich Food Estate, Civil Service employees, and Reich War Victims Care. Also honorary leaders are in this group.

Concerning the drafting into the Waffen SS, there are 4,042 statements. 1,806 racial Germans and 1,826 from other parts of the Wehrmacht or from the police were compulsorily transferred to the Waffen SS.

The question of membership in the General SS among Waffen SS members is of interest. According to these statistics there were 246 Waffen SS members who were drafted into the Waffen SS by the Wehrbezirkskommando, the district command of the normal Wehrmacht. Only one-fifth of them belonged to the General SS.

Of further significance is the following: As early as 1939 Wehrbezirkskommandos were drafting men for the Waffen SS. The witness Brill has also spoken on this subject. And Wehrbezirkskommandos drafted men to guard concentration camps by drafting them into the Waffen SS.

Further, members of the Reich labour service were taken over forcibly into the Waffen SS. The concentration camp guards were supplied by the Labour Office; through so-called emergency service obligation the Labour Office obtained the men for concentration camp guards, and there they were taken over forcibly into the Waffen SS. Some minor points are the forcible transfer of postal officials for the aid of the German Reich Post service at the front and for the SS field post.

Group III includes in its first subsection all the affidavits dealing with the knowledge which the SS members had of the intentions of their leaders -

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Pelckmann, are you still dealing with Group I?

DR. PELCKMANN: No, your Lordship, I am on Group III. Group II -

THE PRESIDENT: Where did Group II begin?

DR. PELCKMANN: Group II began with the legal compulsion to join the General SS -

THE PRESIDENT: You did not say so. As far as the translation came through to me, I have taken down all the numbers you have given, and I thought they were all in Group I.

DR. PELCKMANN: I beg your pardon. I thought I said it. Perhaps it did not get through.

THE PRESIDENT: Now you have got to Group III, have you?

[Page 319]

DR. PELCKMANN: Yes. It deals with the training which the SS members received. 55,303 SS members state that in. this training they had no indication of criminal aims. It was training for character, for decency, for comradeship, and exemplary conduct of life. It is noteworthy that none of the SS men in connection with the training mentions Hitler's book Mein Kampf. Statistics will prove that the mass of SS men did not read this book at all.

Two hundred and eighty-nine affidavits deal with the evaluation of the racial doctrine. Of these, 233 do not consider it conducive to racial hatred, to the desire to destroy other races, or to create a master race. They see therein only a demand for a separation of the races from one another. Fifty-seven affidavits see in the doctrine the purpose of selecting the best among the people. Various affidavits say that the racial doctrine included respect for other peoples. The problem of training for colonisation and Germanisation is not mentioned in any affidavit.

Many affidavits deal with the question of whether the General SS were trained as political soldiers; 20,010 affidavits are available on this subject and 15,461 ascribe no military character to the General SS. They give, for example, the following reasons:

They never had any military training in the General SS. The ranks of the General SS were not recognized in the Wehrmacht. There were no arms, or so-called tactical exercises. Tactical discussions were forbidden. Shooting was done only with small calibre guns. There were not many guns.

In 1,053 affidavits there is confirmation of the testimony of various witnesses here that, during the war, service in the General SS no longer occurred save in exceptional cases.

On the question of psychological preparation for war, 3,304 affidavits say that their authors did not think of war and did not believe in war. Various affidavits say that at the Junker-schools an anti-war feeling and spirit was encouraged by educational means. And in the Verfugungstruppe, the so- called field service, a more intense military service was instituted only when general military service was introduced.

One hundred and twenty-seven affidavits confirm that the General SS did not demand any special obedience. That is, no oath which, according to its form, would bind the individual to any greater extent than in the Wehrmacht or in the Civil Service.

There are 2,674 affidavits dealing with the training of SS men. In 3,138 affidavits it is asserted that crimes against humanity were not known to them and were certainly not committed.

The second subsection of Group III is to make clear what the members recognized as the actual aim of the organization. It is a question of ascertaining whether there was a contradiction between the theoretical training and the real actions of the leaders. Six hundred and eighty-eight affidavits deal with the question of whether power in Germany was to be achieved through suppression of political opponents. On the question of whether the SS members recognized the destruction of Jewry as an aim of the leaders, 1,593 out of 1,637 affidavits which mention this problem state that the Jewish problem was not to be solved by killing, or by the so-called "final solution," and that they had no knowledge of these intentions of the leaders. They point out that the SS members were forbidden to undertake individual acts against Jews. As evidence, numerous members refer to the fact that many condemnations to death or to severe sentences were passed because of crimes against Jewish persons or Jewish property.

Another question was whether the SS members believed that the actual aim of the leaders was to rule Europe through war. There are 12,596 affidavits which say that neither statements of the SS leaders nor statements of Hitler made plain that the conquest of Europe was an aim of the SS.

[Page 320]

Group IV, the next, seems to me quite important. It includes affidavits on the question of the participation of the SS members in the crimes asserted in the Indictment.

The first question deals with participation in the concentration camp system, and 2,866 affidavits deal with this subject. They are mostly from guards, a few from former concentration camp inmates and a few from kitchen and workshop personnel. They deal with the treatment of the inmates and with the conduct of the guards. They only show, of course, how the guards saw the concentration camp conditions and the life of the inmates from their point of view. They cover almost all concentration camps and labour camps. They give a unified picture of the impossibility of obtaining an insight into the true conditions, even for people working near the camps. They give a unified picture of the degree of ignorance of the conditions in the camp and also the reasons for this, namely, the order for extreme secrecy. Of these affidavits, 2,385 say that instructions were constantly given about the conduct of the guards, and examples are given of punishment for disobedience of these rules, especially for ill-treatment. Significant is the statement in many affidavits that the relationship between the guards and the command personnel was not only cool but even tense.

Prisoners themselves, whose affidavits are presented, state that a great part of the responsibility for the conditions belongs to the internee-Kapos, who were often, criminals. The question of the participation of SS members in so-called mass exterminations in extermination camps, which are to be distinguished from the concentration camps, is not mentioned at all in the affidavits. We have heard from various witnesses that these camps had a routine of their own, and only a few SS men or men in SS uniforms were stationed there.

Now, I come to another point. A cross-section through all well-known divisions of the Waffen SS is given by 8,242 affidavits, and on the question of illegal treatment of prisoners of war 4,306 testify to constant instruction on correct conduct before each action. Numerous affidavits give examples of especially good treatment of prisoners of war.

There are 13,613 affidavits dealing with the question of treatment of the civilian population in the occupied territories contrary to International Law. There were no orders to this effect; instructions about correct conduct were given constantly. The majority of SS members can report only of good relations with the civilian population in the occupied territories. There is no mention in any affidavit of the participation of the SS in resettlement or in deportation for slave labour. A few statements say that labour commitment was not an affair of the SS. Only a very few affidavits touch upon biological experiments. They come from men who had to do with concentration camps. These few say that they had heard that the prisoners volunteered for experiments. In all, 1,271 affidavits deal with the so- called Roehm Putsch. The General SS did not participate in these events; parts of them had been told to stand by but were not armed and not employed. To 9th November, 1938, 4,407 affidavits emanate from various units of the SS, Oberabschnitte, Abschnitte and Standarten of the SS in almost all cities of Germany and all districts. It is said with special emphasis that the SS did not participate in these excesses.

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Pelckmann, I suppose what you are doing is reading out your summary of these 136,000 affidavits; is that right?



DR. PELCKMANN: Your Lordship -

THE PRESIDENT: I asked you whether you were reading it out verbatim.

DR. PELCKMANN: As soon as the translation -

[Page 321]

THE PRESIDENT: That is not an answer to my question. I asked you whether you were reading it out verbatim.

DR. PELCKMANN: No, I am only giving a resume, your Lordship.

THE PRESIDENT: Well, I think we had better adjourn now.

(A recess was taken.)

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