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

The Trial of German Major War Criminals

Two Hundred and Fifteenth Day: Friday, 30th August, 1946
(Part 9 of 15)

[Page 348]

[GENERAL R. A. RUDENKO, Continued]

It appears that, outside of a small section of the "Totenkopf," not one of the units or sections of the SS had any connection with the police and the concentration

[Page 349]

camps, any more than with the police activities conducted by Hitler, Himmler, Heydrich and Kaltenbrunner, or for that matter with the other grave crimes committed by the Hitlerites. As a result, in the opinion of the defence, the only participants in the crimes perpetrated by these executioners were the Gestapo members Muller and Eichmann and the chief of the "D" administration of the SS, Pohl.

It results therefore that these seven persons murdered and tortured over 10,000,000 people.

Among the perjured false witnesses already known to the Tribunal, such witnesses for the defence of the SS as the former Supreme Fuehrer of the SS and Police of the Oberabschnitt in Munich, the SS Obergruppenfuehrer Baron von Eberstein, General of the SS Troops Hauser, the chief of SS recruiting section, Brill, or the SS Judges Reinecke and Morgen, should by all rights take one of the first places, if not the very first place, for the shamelessness of the lies to which they resorted in their attempts to justify the SS and its members.

However, even lies have their limits.

Carried to their utmost limits they not only failed to help the criminals but served to expose them completely.

And it seems to me that the Tribunal must have duly appreciated the testimony of Judge Morgen of the SS Reserve, who describes one of the most brutal SS concentration camps, Buchenwald, as practically a sanatorium for the internees, abounding with good food and playgrounds, with easy work in the open air and a large library.

In complete contradiction to the stupid lies of the "witnesses" for the defence of the SS are the documents which thoroughly expose this criminal organization. These lies are also contradicted by the irrefutable logic of facts - facts of the very grave crimes of which the organizers and perpetrators were members of all chief detachments and organizations of the SS.

At the beginning of the war the SS organization consisted of the following main detachments:

1. The so-called "General SS" (Allegemeine SS), where the SS members received general training before being assigned to the SS troops or to one or the other of the police organizations. The "General SS" served as a reservoir from which reinforcements were drawn for the completion of special organizations of German Fascism - such as the Secret State Police (the Gestapo) Security Police (SD), the administration of the concentration camps ("Group D") and others.

2. The SS troops, whom the defence and the defendants have so persistently tried to represent as "units of the guard" of the former German Army, were by no means so very remote from all police activities. The SS troops included among other units those institutions whose criminal character not even the defence for the SS dared to challenge. These were the camp commands of the SS troops, who effected the mass extermination of the peaceful citizens and prisoners of war in the concentration camps. It was the "Waffen SS," which also included the SS police regiments, that in substance composed the units responsible for the destruction of inhabited centres and villages, and that perpetrated innumerable crimes in the temporarily occupied territories of the Soviet Union and countries of Eastern Europe.

3. The machinery of the SS included the SS economic administration in charge of the concentration camps, the administration for the consolidation of the German nation, which put into practice the infamous doctrines of "racialism," and all the Hitlerite police organizations, among which were such agencies as the Einsatzgruppen and Sonderkommandos.

It is hardly worth disputing the assertions of the defence that the relation of the SS to the police was "purely external" and to be explained simply by Himmler's "personal union."

[Page 350]

It is known what importance Himmler attached to the fact that all police officials had to be members of the "General SS," which served as the reservoir and life force of the entire SS police system of German Fascism. Amongst other evidence submitted to the Tribunal there is a letter from Himmler to Kaltenbrunner dated 24th April, 1943, in which he speaks of "the orders of the enrolment of the Sipo officials (Security Police) into SS membership in cases where the 'applicant is eligible both racially and ideologically, if he can provide guarantees as to the number of children, the health of his relations, and proof that he personally is not sick and is not a degenerate.'"

To this dishonourable "Black Corps" of German Fascism was given a special role in the realization of the Fascist criminal plans.

These degenerates, dressed in SS uniform and devoid of any idea of human morality, were not only assured of immunity in their crimes, but they were daily imbued with the idea that they were the "most valuable class" racially, who would lay the foundation of the future Greater German Empire.

This they were repeatedly told by Himmler and by the Reichsleiter and Gauleiter who had been raised by Himmler to the highest ranks in the SS, and according to the appreciation of their activities by the "SS Reichsfuehrer" were promoted in the hierarchy of the SS.

Ribbentrop, Minister for Foreign Affairs in Fascist Germany, not only was unashamed of being compared, as a member of SS, to the murderer Pohl or to robber and executioner Globotschnik, but he was actually exceedingly proud of it.

"I shall always consider it an especial honour to belong to this proud corps of the Fuehrer, the corps which is of decisive importance in the future of our Greater German Empire," wrote Ribbentrop in his letter to Himmler, when he was promoted from Gruppenfuehrer to Obergruppenfuehrer of the SS.

Thus one and the same SS system united the commandant of Treblinka, Unterscharfuehrer Kurt Franz; the inventor of the "death-vans," Untersturmfuehrer Becker; the SS experimenter on live persons, Dr. Rascher, and the Reich Minister and SS Obergruppenfuehrer Ribbentrop.

At a conference of the SS Gruppenfuehrer in Poznan, in his speech on the unity of the SS and the police, Himmler stated:

"I am always doing something towards this end, a band is constantly being drawn around these sections of the whole to cause them to grow together. Alas, if these bands were ever loosened, then everything - you may be sure of this - would sink back into the old insignificance in one generation, and in a short space of time .... I think that we are responsible for it to Germany, for the German Reich needs the SS organization. She needs it at least for the next few centuries."
In concluding his speech, he said:
" ... When the war is won, then, as I have already told you, our work will start.

... the most copious breeding should be from this racial super-stratum of the Germanic people. In twenty to thirty years we must really be able to present the whole of Europe with its leading class. If the SS, together with the farmers, and we together with our friend Backe then run the colony in the East on a grand scale, without any restraint, without any question about any kind of tradition but with nerve and revolutionary impetus, we shall in twenty years push the national boundary (Volkstumsgrenze) 500 kilometres eastwards ....

. ..We shall impose our laws on the East. We will charge ahead and push our way forward little by little to the Urals."

It is impossible to enumerate in a short statement the gravest crimes committed by the members of the SS. Nor is it necessary, since the evidence submitted to the Tribunal is too recent and vivid in our minds.

[Page 351]

I shall dwell briefly upon some questions, dealing with the responsibility of separate SS groups in connection with the objections raised by the defence counsel.


No matter to which of the special SS organizations an SS member belonged, he was first and foremost a member of the "General SS." His expulsion from such membership signified loss of position and all the privileges related thereto.

In this connection I shall read one of the documents submitted by the Soviet prosecution on the subject of the Hitlerites' criminal acts against Soviet prisoners of war.

In this case we have documents of the investigations conducted by the SS officials in relation to an "incident," as it is called in these documents, which occurred during the performance of a "special treatment" operation.

The Tribunal well knows the significance of this last term. In this particular case, a certain SS Hauptsturmfuehrer Kallbach, who investigated the so-called "educational labour camp" for Soviet prisoners of war in Berdichev, decided to put to death seventy-eight Soviet prisoners whose condition is described in records of the interrogation by the commander of the camp, SS Sturmbannfuehrer Knopp, as follows: "They were very seriously wounded. Some were without legs, some without arms and others had lost at least one of their extremities. Only a few had no injured limbs, but these were so crippled as a result of other kinds of wounds that they were unable to work." The fact that the Soviet prisoners of war could not be utilized for work was the only reason for their murder. The execution of the sentence was entrusted to three SS men, SS Unterscharfuehrer Paal, SS Rottenfuehrer Hesselbach and SS Sturmfuehrer Volprecht. These three SS men are characterized in the evidence as follows:

" ... I know that the three above-mentioned persons, whom I assigned to shoot the prisoners of war, had participated in mass executions of many thousands of people in Kiev. The local administration, ever since my arrival, had given them the task of shooting many hundreds of persons."
It so happened, however, that when twenty-eight of the prisoners were being transported to the place of execution they put up an heroic resistance against the executioners, killed two of them and managed to escape.

It was in connection with this that the investigation was ordered. The commander of the SS detachments in Berdichev was prosecuted, not for his orders to murder seventy-eight sick and innocent people but for allowing any possibility for escape.

I have quoted this document not simply to remind you of one of the countless episodes of SS brutality on the territory temporarily occupied by the SS but to quote an extremely characteristic wording of a warning against false evidence resorted to prior to the interrogation by investigators from SS.

It states:

" ... I have been notified of the substance of the forthcoming interrogation. It has been pointed out to me that false evidence on my part will result in punishment and expulsion from the SS."
Upon entering the "General SS" the future member of this criminal organization took an oath, which included the following words:
" ... I take an oath before you, Adolf Hitler, Fuehrer and Reichskanzler, to obey unto death you and all those whom you have appointed to command me."
And no matter where the SS man was in service, whether he was murdering people in Treblinka and Auschwitz or torturing them during interrogations in the torture-chambers of the Gestapo, he first and foremost continued to be himself - a stupid, ruthless member of the "General SS" who knew only two duties -

[Page 352]

blind obedience to the "Fuehrer and Reichskanzler" and unconditional enforcement of all criminal orders.


The organization of the SS troops originated in the so- called "Leibstandarte," Hitler's bodyguard, and the "Death's Head" Division, which was mostly active in the concentration camps.

In war time the SS troops included, among other units and formations, the so-called "Camp Commands" which directly carried out the extermination of millions of people and rendered effective the regime of exhaustion of the inmates prior to extermination, as well as the police divisions and units.

This simple enumeration of the units composing the Waffen SS fully testifies to their criminal character.

The Soviet prosecution has submitted in evidence the sentence of the Military Tribunal of the Fourth Ukrainian Front and a report of the Extraordinary State Commission, concerning the atrocities of the German Fascist invaders in Kharkov and in the Kharkov area, from which it is evident that the units of the SS - particularly the SS Division of Adolf Hitler, under the leadership of Obergruppenfuehrer Dietrich, and the SS Division "Totenkopf" (Death's Head) under the leadership of Obergruppenfuehrer SS Simon, are responsible for the extermination of more than 20,000 peaceful citizens of Kharkov, for the shooting and burning alive of prisoners of war.

In Kiev alone, during the period of German occupation, over 195,000 peaceful citizens were tortured to death, shot and poisoned in the death vans; most of them were exterminated by the units of the SS, for which - according to the reports of the Extraordinary State Commission - the former chief of the SS troops in Southern Russia and in the Ukraine, Major- General Troenfeld, SS Lieutenant-General Juttner, and other commanders of the SS troops are responsible.

In the city of Rovno and in the Rovno district the Germans exterminated 102,000 persons. Among many others, a soldier of the Fourth Squadron of the Seventeenth SS Cavalry Division, Adolf Mitzke, testified how the SS men carried out these crimes; on the order of the commander of the regiment Adolf Mitzke, together with the other soldiers of his regiment, shot down the peaceful citizens (there were women among them) and set the villages on fire.

In the official Note of the Minister for Foreign Affairs of the USSR, W. M. Molotov, dated 27th April, 1942, a description of atrocities committed by the SS Cavalry Brigade in the Region of Toropets is reported. I quote:

"In January, 1942, when Red Army troops smashed the German SS Cavalry Brigade in the district of Toropets, among the captured documents was found the report of the 1st Cavalry Regiment of the above-mentioned brigade, on the 'pacification' of the Starobinsk District in Bielorussia. The commander of the regiment reports that in addition to the 259 prisoners of war shot by a detachment of his regiment, 6,504 peaceful inhabitants were executed. The report states that the detachment operated in accordance with regimental order No. 42, of 27th July, 1941. The commander of the 2nd Regiment of the same brigade, von Mahill, states in his 'Report on the Conduct of the Pacification Operations in the District of the Pripet Marshes from 27th July to 11th August, 1941': 'We drove the women and children into a swamp, but this did not have the necessary effect, as the swamp was not deep enough for them to drown. At a depth of 1 metre it was possible, in most cases, to reach firm ground (possibly sand).' In the same headquarters, telegram No. 37 was found, sent by the Standartenfuehrer, commander of the SS Cavalry Brigade, to a mounted detachment of the above-mentioned 2nd Cavalry Regiment, dated 2nd August, 1941, which announces

[Page 353]

that the Reichsfuehrer of the SS and Police Himmler considers the number of peaceful inhabitants who are being exterminated as 'too negligible,' and points out that 'it is necessary to act radically,' that 'the commanders of the formations are too lenient in their conduct of operations,' and orders that the number of persons shot be reported daily."
The entire criminal activity of the SS units in the territory of Yugoslavia, Poland and other temporarily occupied countries of Eastern Europe, followed the same pattern.

I now wish to remind the Tribunal of the numerous documents presented to the Tribunal by the Soviet and British prosecutions illustrating the crimes committed in the territory of Yugoslavia by the SS Division "Prinz Eugen."

I particularly wish to remind the Tribunal of Communication No. 9 of the Yugoslav State Commission, on the atrocities perpetrated by the aforesaid SS division. This communication described how the SS soldiers - members of the Waffen SS who called themselves "The German Guard" - burned alive the population of entire villages, including women and children. I shall also remind you of the deposition given by SS Major- General August Schmidthuber describing how, on the order of the commander of the First Battalion SS Kaasarer, peaceful citizens were locked up in a church in Krivaya Reka, and then the church building was blown up.

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