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 11 of 15)

[Page 357]

[GENERAL R. A. RUDENKO, Continued]

In this connection it would not be out of place to remind the Tribunal of a brief excerpt from an article published in the journal of the Storm Troopers, Der SA Mann, of the 6th January, 1934:

" ... the SA man, following the will of the Fuehrer, stands as guarantor of the National Socialist revolution before the gates of power, and will remain standing there for all time. For gigantic missions still await fulfillment which would be unthinkable without the presence and the active co-operation of the SA.

What has been accomplished up till now, the taking over of the power in the State and the ejection of those elements which are responsible for the pernicious developments of the post-war years as bearers of Marxism, Liberalism and Capitalism are only the preliminaries, the springboard for the real aims of National Socialism."

And during the entire subsequent development of Hitlerism, the SA men were a loyal weapon in the hands of the criminal Hitlerite clique.

During the war, by a special directive, the members of the SA were charged with the guarding of prisoners of war and of the "workers from the East," and they permitted no weakening of the savage regime for the extermination of human

[Page 358]

beings established for them. Members of the SA acted as guards in several labour camps.

The SA was one of the most criminal mass organizations of the Hitlerite Party.

The criminal activities of its members, with the exception of the "Union of Veterans" and persons involved in the sports societies of the SA, is fully proved by the court proceedings.

The shock units of the German Fascist Party, whose activities form the greater part of the crimes of the Hitler regime, should undoubtedly be recognized by the Tribunal as a criminal organization.


The Gestapo was founded by defendant Goering on 26th April, 1933, at the time when he was Prime Minister of Prussia. During the early period of its existence it was directed by him in person.

Gradually, however, Reichsfuehrer of the SS Heinrich Himmler centred all direction of the political police of the Federal territories in his own hands. The law of 10th February, 1936, declared the Gestapo a "special police" organization for the entire Reich. By his decree of 17th July, 1936, Hitler appointed Himmler as Chief of the German Police, thus legitimizing the "personal union" which had already largely been achieved by the SS and the police.

In harmony with this principle of "personal union" Himmler, by his very first decree on the structure of the German Police, dated 25th June, 1936, appointed Reinhardt Heydrich as Chief of the Sipo (Security Police) which already included within the same system both the Gestapo and the Criminal Police. Heydrich's' successor, after his death, was the defendant Kaltenbrunner.

A rearrangement of the central security organizations took place in 1939, in consequence of the consolidation of the leading role of the SD in the general security plan of the Nazi State, and for further unification of the police under a single leadership. This resulted in the fusion of the "Chief SS Security Administration" with "Chief Administration of the Security Police" in one single SS semi- government, semi-party organization - the "Reich Security Head Office," i.e., the RSHA.

Thus the Secret State Police, then briefly known as the "Gestapo," and up to then existing as part of the "Chief Administration of the Sipo," became Section IV of the RSHA.


The tasks of the Gestapo, in the general system of the security organizations of the Third Reich, were clearly outlined by the same Heydrich in an article published in the German periodical The German Police. While defining the role of the SD as that of political intelligence within both the Nazi Party and the Nazi State, whose task included the study and analysis of the political atmosphere and of the political trends and tendencies both inside and outside the bounds of the Reich, for the purpose of informing the Nazi leadership, he considered that the task of the Secret State Police lay in the definite revealing and rendering harmless of such political elements within the Nazi regime as were both hostile and unreliable.

The entire Gestapo, with its system of central, regional, penal and other special branches and formations, was geared to the accomplishment of this cardinal point of its programme.

The fulfillment of this task demanded the most careful individual selection of Gestapo personnel. These were selected from among the most experienced cadres of the general police and of the administration, who were already proved to be the fanatical adherents of the Hitlerite regime, and also from among the staff employees of the SD. The latter were usually given supervisory positions in the Gestapo.

[Page 359]

The affidavit submitted by the former chief of Section IV of the RSHA, Walter Schellenberg, declares that 75 per cent of Gestapo officials were also members of the SS. They had either been members of the SS prior to entering the Gestapo or else they became members as they began their service in this punitive and terroristic organization.

The number of Gestapo employees in the period 1943 to 1945 amounted to forty to fifty thousand. Such a staff, to quote Fouche, allowed the Gestapo "to have eyes to see everywhere and hands to seize anyone."

The criminal activities of the Gestapo did not confine themselves exclusively to the territory of the Reich.

During the period of preparation for aggression it was the Gestapo that received the task, jointly with the SD of organizing one of the first operational groups, the "Einsatzgruppen," intended to function in the territory of the Czechoslovak Republic.

With the opening of hostilities and in conformity with a plan already prepared and approved, the Gestapo placed at the disposal of the armed forces a certain percentage of its experienced workers to organize the so-called "Secret Field Police," the GFP. The GFP units in the Army combined the functions of both the Gestapo and the Sipo in the Reich, and were also endowed with far-reaching police and punitive rights, directed against the civilian population and the guerrilla fighters in theatres of military operations.

From the very beginning of its existence the Gestapo had wide powers in connection with extra-legal measures of reprisal directed against elements "threatening" the Nazi State or the Nazi Party.

One of the main types of reprisal used against such elements was the utilization of the right of "preventive arrest" and "preventive custody" which the Gestapo used widely both in the territory of the Reich and in the areas later annexed or occupied by Germany.

The places of preventive arrest were the widely-known and notoriously gloomy German concentration camps. Confinement in a concentration camp could take place on the strength of a simple written directive from the Chief of the Security Police and the SD, Heydrich, whose place was later taken by Kaltenbrunner, or by order of the Chief of Section IV of the RSHA, Muller. In many cases the order for confinement in a concentration camp was issued personally by the Reichsfuehrer of the SS, who was simultaneously Chief of the German Police - Heinrich Himmler.

Never did the victim of preventive arrest know for just how long he would be condemned to torture and suffering - the length of confinement depended entirely on the arbitrary decision of the Gestapo. Even when the Gestapo knew the length of time during which it planned to keep the man in prison, it was still strictly forbidden to disclose this either to the prisoner or to his kin.

These concentration camps were the prototype of the extermination camps which materialized in the subsequent period of aggressive operations, and which generations to come are bound to remember with horror, namely, the camps of Maidanek, Auschwitz, Treblinka and many others.

As the punitive executive organization of the Nazi State, the Gestapo was in close connection with the Nazi Party.

In the appendix to the decree of the Reich and Prussian Cabinet Minister, dated 20th September, 1936, it is stated without any ambiguity that "the special functions of the Security Police demand the closest and fullest mutual understanding and collaboration ... also with the Gauleiter of the NSDAP..." In studying the decree of 14th December, 1938, concerning the collaboration of the Party organizations with the Gestapo, it is easy to see that there existed the closest contact among the various organizations of the Fascist conspirators, more particularly between the Gestapo and the Party Leadership. Defendants Hess and

[Page 360]

Bormann were always careful to maintain close contact between the Party and the Gestapo.


As I have already stated, together with other criminal Fascist organizations, the Gestapo actively participated in preparing plans for the seizure of territory belonging to other States.

The list of 4,000 Yugoslav citizens, compiled in 1938 and seized in May, 1945, in the Gestapo quarters at Maribor, testifies beyond doubt to the participation of the Gestapo, on its own lines, for the preparation of the invasion of Yugoslavia. We also see from the testimony of the Yugoslav Quisling, Dragomir Jovanovich, a former chief of the Serbian Police during the German occupation, that leading circles of the Fascist conspirators had planned the Gestapo organizations for Yugoslavia beforehand. In accordance with a preconceived plan the police posts were distributed among the German residents in Yugoslavia.

Prior to the seizure of Czechoslovakia by the Fascists, the chief security branches of the Reich planned the development of the functions of the SD and the Gestapo in the territory of this country.

The report of the Czechoslovak Government establishes yet another form of participation of the Gestapo organizations in the preparation for aggression. The Reich Security Main Office also landed in Czechoslovakia their agents for assassination or for kidnapping and carrying off to Germany of anti-Fascists.

The facts of the participation in and elaboration of aggressive plans by the Gestapo are also confirmed by a series of documents which show that long before the treacherous attack on the USSR, the Hitlerite assassins compiled lists, and investigation files, and had collected information regarding leaders of government organizations and social workers, who according to their plans were doomed to annihilation. For instance, together with the SD and the Criminal Police, the Gestapo prepared for these criminal purposes the "Special Intelligence Guide for the USSR," "The German Intelligence Guide," "Lists of Persons whose Residence must be Determined," and other similar intelligence investigation files and lists of persons.

The criminal activities of the Gestapo in the preparation and realization of plans far aggression both within the Reich itself and in the Western States have already been dealt with by my respected colleagues. For that reason I shall proceed to the subject of the Gestapo crimes in the territories of the USSR, Yugoslavia, Poland and Czechoslovakia, temporarily occupied by the Hitlerites.


The crimes which the Hitlerites had committed with the help of the executive police organizations in the temporarily occupied territories of Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia and Poland have many features in common.

The various Gestapo organizations represented the executive machinery which served to realize the majority of these crimes.

The very first mass "action" for the annihilating of the Polish intelligentsia, the so-called "Operation AB," was conceived by Frank, approved by Hitler, and directly perpetrated by the Gestapo. It was the agents of the Gestapo who, with the aid of several SS units and under the direction of the SS and Police Chief for Poland, Obergruppenfuehrer Kruger, as well as Brigadefuehrer Strechenbach, exterminated several thousand Polish intellectuals in the execution of this savage mass operation.

In accordance with Frank's decree of 9th October, 1943, "Standgerichte" (Summary Courts) of evil fame, created "to suppress attacks on German construction in the Government General," also included agents of the Secret Police, i.e., the Gestapo.

[Page 361]

Again it was the Gestapo in Poland which put into effect as far back as January, 1941, the terrible reprisal against the clergy which resulted in the murder of some 700 and the imprisonment of 3,000.

As is thoroughly proved by the documents submitted by the Soviet prosecution, the Gestapo established on Polish territory special mass extermination centres for the Jewish population.

In contrast to extermination camps such as Maidanek and Auschwitz, which were under the jurisdiction of the Administrative and Supply Command of the SS, the secret extermination camp in Chelmno, where over 340,000 Jews were done away with in the death vans, was both founded by and directly subordinate to the Gestapo and was known as "Sonderkommando Kulmhof."

This Gestapo Sonderkommando was under the supervision of Braunfisch, Gestapo Chief of the city of Lodz.

It was also the Gestapo which founded Treblinka, prototype of all subsequent extermination camps.

Eichmann's "Essay" for the extermination of the Jews in Europe by special extermination camps created for the purpose by Section "D" of the SS originated in the Gestapo where Eichmann worked as a direct subordinate of the Gestapo Chief Muller.

It was the Gestapo that was responsible for the annihilation of 3,200,000 Jews in Poland, 112,000 in Czechoslovakia and 65,000 in Yugoslavia.

It was the Gestapo that introduced and practised, in the occupied territories of Eastern Europe, the criminal system of hostages and the principle of collective responsibility, thus arbitrarily and constantly widening the circle of persons liable to reprisals. For instance, it was the Gestapo that, together with defendant Frank, issued the notorious decree of mass reprisals with regard to the "families of saboteurs," the decree which stated that "not only should the saboteurs seized be executed on the spot but also that all male relatives of the offenders should be shot immediately and all female relatives over 16 years of age be confined in concentration camps."

What went on in Poland does not typify the Gestapo behaviour in Poland alone, but applies in the same degree to Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia.

200,000 persons passed through the Gestapo prison in Brno, Czechoslovakia, during the period of occupation alone. Only 50,000 of these were freed, and the others were killed or sent to a lingering death in the concentration camp.

The order of 9th March, 1942, gave the Gestapo the right to apply both "preventive confinement" and "protective custody."

Thousands of Czech patriots, particularly doctors, teachers, lawyers and clergy et alia, were arrested even prior to the war. In addition, lists were compiled in each region of persons liable to be arrested as hostages at the first sign "of disturbance of the social order or security." Karl Hans Frank, addressing "leaders of the movement for national unity," announced in 1940 that 2,000 Czech hostages - then in concentration camps - would be shot unless the Czech leaders signed a declaration of fealty.

After the attempt on Heydrich's life many of these hostages were executed.

In 1939 the Gestapo called together factory directors and warehouse supervisors of the various Czech industrial concerns. They were made to sign the following statement: "I am cognizant of the fact that I shall be shot immediately if the plant stops work without a justifiable cause."

Schoolteachers in Czechoslovakia similarly had to sign declarations rendering themselves responsible for the loyalty of their pupils.

It was the Gestapo which was responsible for that crime unparalleled in its cruelty - of the annihilation of the village of Lidice and of its population.

The Gestapo terror in Yugoslavia assumed a particularly vicious character.

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