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

The Trial of German Major War Criminals

Two Hundred and Fourteenth Day: Thursday, 29th August, 1946
(Part 11 of 14)

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[MR DODD, Continued]


The evidence clearly establishes that the five organizations in question are groups or organizations as we interpret these terms in the Charter - that is, each is an aggregation of persons associated in an identifiable relationship having a collective general purpose.

That the Politische Leiter were an identifiable aggregate, had a common purpose, and functioned as a group, is clear. Ample evidence as to the structure and functions of the Leadership Corps of the Party is to be found in Nazi publications - the Organization Book of the NSDAP; Der Hoheitstrager, the official magazine of the Leadership Corps; in the chart of the Leadership Corps, and a chart of the Party itself. This group, some 600,000 strong, had special uniforms, carried special membership cards and enjoyed countless special privileges. The term "Politische Leiter" is not one we have invented for the purpose of giving an appearance of cohesion to a number of unrelated individuals performing similar but uncoordinated functions in the Party. The Organization Book of the Party itself deals with all these Party workers as a unit under the designation "Politische Leiter." It shows the hierarchical structure in which they were organized and the manner in which directives were passed down automatically through the chain of command to the lowest level and were carried into effect by all members of the group. It shows further that in the functioning of this corps the leadership principle reached perfection. All Party workers were bound by identical oaths to unconditional obedience to the Fuehrer and to all leaders appointed by him. At each level, regular and frequent conferences were held, and the higher and lower levels met together periodically for discussions of policy. The Leadership Corps constituted a perfect pyramid in which every stone at every level was necessary to maintain the whole structure. It had one single, common purpose - the maintenance of the organization and ideology of the Nazi Party.

The Indictment defines the "Reichsregierung" (Reich Cabinet) as consisting of three classes of persons: (1) members of the ordinary cabinet after 30th January, 1933; (2) members of the Council of Ministers for the Defence of they Reich; and (3) members of the Secret Cabinet Council. These three class together make up the group of forty-eight members which we are prosecuting under the designation "Reichsregierung." Each of these, taken by itself, constitutes an identifiable aggregate working toward a common end. The ordinary cabinet of any government is as clear an example of a group as could be found. The ordinary cabinet of the Nazi Reich did not differ in that respect from similar institutions in

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other governments. It met frequently as a cabinet in the early days of the Nazi regime, and when meetings thereafter became uncommon, it continued to function as a group, in passing on decrees and laws through the procedure of circulating drafts of proposed enactments to all its members. An example of this procedure is before the Tribunal in the form of a memorandum from the defendant Frick to the Chief of the Reich Chancellery. The same cohesion and unified function is found in the Council of Ministers for the Defence of the Reich, which was established in 1939. Like the ordinary cabinet, its members consulted together in actual meetings, as shown by the minutes of such meetings in September, October, and November, 1939, and, like the ordinary cabinet, it also functioned by using the circulation procedure, a typical instance of which is the letter from Dr. Lammers, 17th September, 1939, to members of the Council of Ministers for the Defence of the Reich. The Secret Cabinet Council, an advisory body on foreign policy, consisting of eight members, was an identifiable unified aggregation, as appears from the decree which created it. The inclusion of these three classes under the single designation "Reichsregierung" is not an attempt to create an artificial relationship among three separate and independent entities. Actually, the three were collectively as much a group as each was independently, for the Council of Ministers for the Defence of the Reich and the Secret Cabinet Council were really committees formed out of the ordinary cabinet. The decrees creating these two committees demonstrate that the entire personnel was composed of individuals who were in the ordinary cabinet. Not only in the personnel, but in action, functions, and purpose as well, the ordinary cabinet and its committees were unified. Members of the ordinary cabinet who were not members of these committees were nevertheless present at meetings of the Council of Ministers, as shown by minutes of such meetings, and, under the circulation procedure, received drafts of decrees prepared by that Council. This aggregation - the cabinet and committees formed of some of its members - had a single collective purpose, that of governing the Reich in such a fashion as to carry out the schemes of the Nazi conspirators.

The SA, which was created in 1920, is one of the simplest examples of the type of group or association contemplated by the provisions of the Charter. It was defined by a German law as a component of the Party, having its own legal personality, and it was characterized by the Nazi Party Organization Book as a distinct entity. It had an identifiable membership of from 1,500,000 to 2,000,000, bound together by common standards, wearing a common and distinctive uniform, having common aims and objectives, and carrying on common activities. The general purpose of the SA, to which the whole membership was devoted, was stated in the Organization Book of the Party, "to be the bearer of National Socialist armed will," and, according to the same Party manual, a member had to withdraw if he no longer agreed with the SA views or was not in a position to fulfil completely the duties imposed upon him as a member of the SA.

Like the SA, the SS was beyond question a unified organization. It was established by German law as a component of the Party having its own legal personality. It was described in the Organization Book of the Party as a "homogeneous firmly welded fighting force ... bound by ideological oaths." It had a clearly identifiable membership which rose to about 600,000 towards the end of the war, composed of persons who met the same basic uniform standards of race ideology. Despite its many functions and activities, and its numerous departments and offices and branches, it was an integrated and unified organization and it was according to Himmler's tirade to the SS Gruppenfuehrer on 4th October, 1943: "One block, one body, one organization." It had, of course, its own uniform, and enjoyed special privileges, while pursuing the general purposes of the Nazi conspirators running all the way from localised bullying through political, racial and religious barbarities to the waging of wars of aggression, and the most violent and revolting Crimes Against Humanity.

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From its earliest days, the Nazis always regarded that portion of the police forces called the "Gestapo," or Secret State Police, as a separate group, a clearly identifiable aggregate performing a common function. The very purpose of Goering's decree of 26th April, 1933, establishing the Gestapo in Prussia, was to create in that province a single body of secret political police, separated from the other Prussian police forces, an independent force having its own particular task, on which he could entirely rely. The same motives led to the establishment of similar identifiable groups of secret political police in other German provinces. The steps by which these groups were all consolidated into a single secret political police force for the whole Reich are fully detailed in the decrees and laws which have been cited to the Tribunal. When the RSHA, the Reich Main Security Office, was created in 1939, the Gestapo was not dispersed, but became a distinct department of that central office, as shown by the chart of RSHA introduced in evidence, and by the testimony of the witnesses Ohlendorf and Schellenberg. They easily estimated the number of persons in the Gestapo at from 30,000 to 40,000.

Throughout these proceedings, the Gestapo and the SD have been considered together, due to the fact that the criminal enterprises with which each is chargeable were supported, to a greater or lesser degree, by both. The Indictment charges the Gestapo with criminality as a separate and independent group or organization. The Indictment includes the SD, by special reference, as a part of the SS, since it originated as part of the SS and always retained its character as a Party organization, as distinguished from the Gestapo which was a State organization. The SD, of course, had its own organization, an independent Headquarters with posts established throughout the Reich and in occupied territories and with agents in every country abroad. It had a membership of from 3,000 to 4,000 professionals assisted by thousands of honorary informers, known as V-men, and by spies in other lands, but we do not include honorary informers who were not members of the SS, nor do we include members of the Abwehr who were transferred to the SD toward the end of the war, excepting in so far as such Abwehr members also belonged to the SS.

If we ask where the ubiquitous SD man is to be found, the answer is not at all difficult, although some of the testimony and arguments may have been confusing to the Tribunal. Until 1939, the SD man was always to be found in the head office of the SD of the Reichsfuehrer SS or in the various regional offices of the SD throughout the Reich. During that period, the SD was repeatedly identified as a department of the SS in SS organization charts and plans, and by laws and decrees issued by the Government. During this period the SD was the political intelligence agency of the SS, the Party, and the State, and it provided secret political information to the executive departments of the State and Party, particularly to the Gestapo. After 1939, the SD man is to be found in Offices III and VI of the RSHA and in the various regional SD offices within Germany, in the occupied territories, and in the Einsatz Groups of the Security Police and the SD in areas close behind the front.

In the course of the argument, some confusion has also arisen over the characterization of the RSHA, WVHA, Department Eichmann and Einsatz Groups. The RSHA was a department of the SS, and substantially all of its personnel belonged to the SS. It was under the command of the SS Obergruppenfuehrer Kaltenbrunner. In addition to the SD, which was always an SS formation, it included the Gestapo and the Reich Criminal Police, both of which were State agencies. For this reason the RSHA was also carried as a department of the Reich Minister of the Interior. The WVHA was another strictly SS department. The WVHA was under the leadership of SS Obergruppenfuehrer Pohl, who was charged with the administration of concentration camps and the exploitation of the labour of the inmates. There was no Department Eichmann as such. Eichmann was simply the head of the department of the Gestapo which was charged with matters

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pertaining to the Churches and to the Jews. It was this department of the Gestapo which had primary executive responsibility for the rounding up of the Jews of Europe and the committing of them to concentration camps. The Eichmann department within the Gestapo was no more independent of the Gestapo than any other department under Muller. The Einsatz Groups of the Security Police and SD - and it is very important that the full title be held in mind at all times - were the offices of the Security Police and SD operating in the field behind the armies. When police control had been sufficiently established in newly occupied territory, the mobile Einsatz Groups were eliminated, and they became regional offices under the commanders of the Security Police and the SD in occupied territories. The Einsatz Groups were a part of the office of the Security Police and SD, the RSHA, and as such were a part of the SS, limited only by the fact that some personnel assigned to the groups were not SS members. In 1939, the main offices of the SD and the Gestapo were consolidated in the RSHA, but the SD at all times preserved its independent identity.

Surely the prosecution has met the requirements of group proof as to these organizations, not only by the standards which it has imposed upon itself but as well by every ordinary rule of reason and experience.


Membership in the Leadership Corps was indisputably voluntary. No one was compelled to join the NSDAP, much less to become one of the leaders of the Nazi Party. We do not doubt that many joined the Leadership Corps for business, social or other selfish reasons. These are the commonplace motives for cheap political prestige, but they cannot and do not amount to legal compulsion.

No one was drafted into the Reich Cabinet. Moreover, some of its members resigned when they found themselves in conflict with its aims and objectives. Schlegelberger left because of the infringement of the independence of the judiciary; Schmitt resigned because he was convinced that Hitler's course was the way to war; Eltz von Rubenach resigned because of Hitler's policies against the Christian Churches. A place in the Cabinet circle with its titles and tinsel was the high ambition of most of the Nazis. Competition for these places was fierce, and any present effort to fend off a declaration of criminality against this group with a pretence of membership by force is ludicrous.

So free of compulsion was membership in the SA that the Party Organization Book, as late as 1943, urged SA men to withdraw from the organization if they felt they were unable to agree with the aims and ideology and to fulfil all the duties imposed upon them. Party members were not forced into the SA lists. The controls and the discipline imposed on SA members within the framework of the organization have nothing to do with the voluntary character of the membership itself. The willing submission of the SA man to the SA command is not the same thing as compulsory and involuntary entry into the organization.

Applicants for the SS not only were volunteers, but in addition they had to meet the strictest standards of selection, as is illustrated in the SS Soldiers' Manual, and by Himmler's insistence on free and voluntary applications for membership as set out in his letter of 1943 to Kaltenbrunner. The SS characterized itself as an elite and select corps, advertised that it carefully weeded out every applicant who did not conform to its racial, biological and ideological standards, and made it plain to everyone that unusual qualifications were required for membership. Such in fact was Himmler's boast to the Wehrmacht, "Should I succeed in selecting from the German people for the organization as many as possible who possess this desired blood, and in teaching them military discipline and the understanding of the value of blood and the entire ideology resulting from it, then it would be possible actually to create such an elite organization as should successfully hold its own in all cases of emergency." The elite were required to establish Nordic descent. In the case of an officer applicant as far back as the year 1750,

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and for regular applicants to the year 1800. In addition unusual physical standards of height and odd requirements of Nordic appearance were set up, and the political and ideological background of every elite candidate was carefully scrutinized. It is highly significant that we have proof of insistence on racial and ideological qualifications as late as 1943, even in the Waffen SS. It has been argued that because some men were conscripted into the Waffen SS in the last desperate stages of the war, the organization as a whole was not a voluntary one. Those who were actually forced into divisions of the Waffen SS may have an adequate defence in subsequent hearings, but we insist that compulsion born of a frantic effort to stave off defeat in the closing hours of the war does not change the essentially voluntary aspect of the membership as a whole. Whatever pressure may have been exerted to expand the membership of this organization, it originated and remained basically voluntary and selective.

The SD as a part of the SS was composed of SS men with special qualifications. The deeds of this organization best explain the nature of these special qualifications, for the record in this case in replete with horrible tales of their doings. The SD man was simply a surcharged SS man. If the membership of the SS was basically and fundamentally voluntary, then it follows automatically that the SD membership was likewise voluntary.

The Gestapo was at all times a State organization, a branch of the Government similar in all usual respects to other branches of the Government. In considering the voluntary character of its membership, all other considerations are secondary to this basic determination of the Gestapo as an agency of State. If membership in the Gestapo was compulsory, membership in the Order Police, and in the Department of Safety, and in the Department of Finance must have been compulsory. When the Gestapo was created, following the seizure of power, it is true that many members of the previously existing political police system of the various Lander were transferred to it. But they were under no legal compulsion to join. As the Gestapo affiant Losse stated, "If they had refused, they would have had to reckon with a dismissal from the service without pension, so that unemployment would have threatened them." The witness Schellenberg stated that new members of the Gestapo were taken on a voluntary basis. Any one of them could have resigned and sought employment in other branches of the Government. The witness Hoffman, in testifying before the Commission, stated that he applied for a job in three branches of the Government, of which the Gestapo was one. The Gestapo accepted his application and in that way he became a member of the organization. There was nothing to prevent a Gestapo official from resigning his position if the aims and activities and methods of the organization became repugnant to him. The witness Tesmer testified before the Commission that if an officer refused to carry out a criminal order he probably would be removed from his employment. Even after the war began, when all Government officials were more or less frozen in their positions, members of the Gestapo were able to resign. The witness Tesmer himself resigned from the Gestapo during the war, and the witness Straub testified that a person could resign his position in the Gestapo at the risk of going to the front on active military service. Surely this was not compulsion in any legal sense. The sacrifices which members of the political police might face upon resignation, such as loss of seniority and forfeiture of pension rights, may have seemed decisive to those who remained in the Gestapo, but such considerations could under no circumstances be construed as legal compulsions justifying continued membership in an organization of such notorious criminality. There may be particular instances where some members of the army secret field police were later transferred from the military to the Gestapo. In such instances, these individuals may have gained, on the basis of military orders, a personal defence to the crimes committed by the Gestapo during the period of their membership. But such special instances, justifiable in subsequent proceedings, can in no way affect the basic character of

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the Gestapo as a single department of the Government, with no greater degree of compulsion to join and no greater legal restraint from resigning than any other department of the State.

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