The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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Last-Modified: 2000/01/05

Q. By a decree of 17th July, 1941, the defendant Rosenberg
was appointed Reich Minister for the Occupied Eastern
Territories. Would you please tell the Tribunal very briefly
by means of what decrees his authority in the East was

A. I can do that very briefly by repeating what I said
before. The same limitations which applied to the Governor
General also apply to him, these limitations which I have
just listed, but I have to add one thing more to that. The
position of Reich Minister Rosenberg was made particularly
difficult through the fact that the difference of opinion
which existed between him and Minister Goebbels in the field
of propaganda was especially detrimental for him. For in the
Fuehrer's opinion Rosenberg was to decide on the Eastern
policy and Goebbels was to decide

                                                  [Page 122]

on the propaganda, and these two things couldn't always be
co-ordinated. There were strong differences of opinion
between Rosenberg and Goebbels which could be settled only
after lengthy negotiations. But the practical result was
always slight, because the difference of opinion, which had
scarcely been settled, arose again without delay in the next
few weeks. There was also another limitation which is
different from the case of the Governor General, that is,
that Rosenberg had two Reich Commissars for the Occupied
Eastern Territories, Reich Commissar Lohse and Reich
Commissar Koch.

Q. I am coming to that later.

Can you remember that before the 17th July, 1941, decree
there had been a conference with the Fuehrer, on the day
before, on 16th July, during which, right from the
beginning, Rosenberg complained that his ministry was to
have no police powers and that all police powers were to be
transferred to Himmler?

A. Herr Rosenberg was, of course, not quite in agreement
with the vesting of police powers in Himmler. He did object
to that but without success. Police matters in other
occupied territories had been ruled upon in the same way as
in this case. The Fuehrer would not depart from his views.

Q. In the general instructions to the Reich Commissars there
is a passage where it says that the Higher S.S. and Police
Chief is directly subordinate to the Reich Commissar
himself. Did this mean that the Police Chief could also give
orders to the Reich Commissar in technical matters?

A. Normally, no; Himmler had reserved technical instructions
for himself. The higher S.S. and Police Chief was obliged to
get in touch with the Reich Commissar and, of course, to
take into consideration the latter's political instructions,
but not the technical ones.

Q. Not the technical ones? Please tell the Tribunal, but
also quite briefly, what Rosenberg's political concepts were
from the beginning until the end with reference to the
treatment of the Eastern populations?

A. In my opinion he always wanted to pursue a moderate
policy. Beyond a doubt he was opposed to a policy of
extermination and a policy of deportation, as was often
advocated. He made efforts to create order in the field of
agriculture by means of his agrarian policy, likewise to
create order in the field of education, church matters,
universities, schools and so forth. But he had little
success, since one of the two Reich Commissars, namely Koch,
in the Ukraine, opposed Rosenberg's measures, or rather
simply disregarded Rosenberg's orders in respect to these

Q. I am thinking about the large political conceptions. Did
he ever mention to you that he had the idea of leading the
Eastern peoples to a certain autonomy and of allowing them
such an autonomy?

A. Yes, I can answer that in the affirmative.

Q. Did he also mention to you that he intended that
sovereign right should be extended to the Occupied Eastern

A. Whether he said it in just that form, that I cannot
recollect. At any rate he was in favour of establishing a
certain independence for the Eastern peoples.

Q. That is to say, "Autonomy." And was it for this reason
that he was so deeply interested in tending to the cultural
life of these Eastern peoples?

A. Yes. He was particularly interested in that. I know that
because he also took an interest in the school system, the
church and the universities.

Q. Was that possibly the main cause of the conflict which he
had with Commissar Koch?

A. That and many other things. Koch was above all a strong
opponent of the agrarian policy. That agrarian policy which
Rosenberg considered especially favourable in the interest
of his aims was sabotaged by Koch.

Q. Can you mention any other fields in which Koch made
difficulties for the, Minister for the Eastern Territories?

A. I can't at the moment recollect any.

                                                  [Page 123]

Q. Do you know that there was a final row between the two
when you were given the order, in collaboration with
Bormann, to conduct negotiations between the two, and that
Rosenberg refused and demanded that the matter be brought
before the Fuehrer?

A. The differences of opinion between Rosenberg and Koch
were very numerous. They filled volumes and volumes of
files. The Fuehrer had given the order that Bormann and I
should investigate these matters. Many weeks of
investigation ensued; and after the investigation I must
say, there was never a decision made by the Fuehrer. The
Fuehrer always postponed making a decision on these matters.
On one occasion - perhaps that is the case which you, Dr.
Thoma, are thinking of - the difference of opinion was again
particularly keen. The Fuehrer then sent for Rosenberg and
Koch, but there was no settlement of these differences of
opinion, again no agreement was reached. Instead of a real
settlement, the unwise decision was made that those two
gentlemen should meet once every month and co-operate. That
was naturally, in the first place, an unbearable situation
for Rosenberg, that he, as the minister in charge, should in
every instance have to come to an agreement with the Reich
Commissar subordinate to himself: in the second place, it
could hardly be carried out in practice. Firstly, the two
gentlemen met, at most, no more than once or twice, and then
when they did meet, no agreement could be reached, and in
the long run the Fuehrer thought that Koch was in the right.

Q. How could it be seen that Koch was considered right?

A. Because the Fuehrer reached no decision in regard to the
complaints made by Rosenberg which, in my opinion, were
justified. Thus the things accomplished by Koch remained.

Q. Defendant Rosenberg says that the result was that Hitler
gave him the order to confine himself basically to the
administration of the Eastern Territories. Is that right?

A. That was approximately the Fuehrer's order.

Q. What form did Rosenberg's relationship to the Fuehrer
take and when was Rosenberg's last report to the Fuehrer?

A. As far as I know Rosenberg visited the Fuehrer at the end
of 1943 for the last time; and even before that he had
always had considerable difficulties in getting to see the
Fuehrer. He wasn't very often successful.

Q. Did this tense situation have the result that Rosenberg
offered his resignation in the autumn of 1940?

A. Yes, it wasn't actually an application for resignation,
since the Fuehrer had prohibited such applications, but he
did say that, if he could no longer conduct affairs to the
Fuehrer's satisfaction, he would like to be removed from
office. Thus, in the end, it amounted to an application for

Q. Can you tell the Tribunal to what extent Rosenberg had
influence and popularity among the population in the
Occupied Eastern Territories? Is it correct, for example,
that a number of church leaders in the Occupied Territories
sent telegrams of thanks to him because of his tolerant
attitude and because he allowed them to practise their
religion freely?

A. I know of that only superficially, from personal
statements made to me by Rosenberg. He may have once told me
something like that.

Q. I have another question. It has repeatedly come to light
during this trial that Hitler's military entourage
considered him a military genius. What was the situation in
the administrative sphere? Hitler was above all the highest
legislator, the highest chief of Government and head of
State. Did his administrative entourage encourage him in the
belief that all his decisions were correct and that he was
doing something extraordinary, or who did confirm him in
this belief?

A. In this sphere, too, the Fuehrer had an extraordinarily
quick power of perception and almost always a correct
evaluation of affairs. He was in a position to make frequent
use of the large-scale policy which he alone had to
determine for

                                                  [Page 124]

legislation and administration. It was then the task of the
gentlemen who were to carry this out; above all, the
ministers - I too to a certain extent - to carry out in an
appropriate fashion those suggestions and basic thoughts
which he had formulated. If any objections did arise in this
connection, the Fuehrer was for the most part willing to
listen to them, as long as they did not concern the
principle of the matter. He was thus ready to listen to
questions of severity, mitigation or greater stringency, if
necessary, or to questions of formulation and construction,
but not if a basic tendency was being attacked. Then one had
great difficulties with him.

Q. And as far as individual problems were concerned, did he
personally make the pertinent decisions about everything or
was he hampered in any way by his purpose, by certain aims
which he had in mind?

A. Very little was reported to him. Normally, in the last
years I made official reports every six or eight weeks; in
other words six or eight times a year or perhaps, at the
most, ten times. On these occasions problems could not be
discussed. Generally speaking, the Fuehrer left the
administration to his ministers ...

THE PRESIDENT: We have heard it over and over again about


Q. I have only one more question. Did you know anything
regarding the fact that Hitler had decided to solve the
Jewish question by the final solution, i.e. by the
annihilation of the Jews?

A. Yes, I know a great deal about that. The final solution
of the Jewish question became known to me for the first time
in 1942. That is when I heard that the Fuehrer supposedly,
through Goering, had given an order to the S.S.
Obergruppenfuehrer Heydrich to achieve a final solution of
the Jewish question. I did not know the exact contents of
that order and consequently, since this did not come within
my jurisdiction, I first of all did not concern myself with
it, but then when I wanted to know something I, of course,
had to contact Himmler. I asked him what was really meant by
the idea of the final solution of the Jewish question.
Himmler replied that he had received the order from the
Fuehrer to bring about the final solution of the Jewish
problem, or rather Heydrich and his successor had that
order, and that the main point of the order was that the
Jews were to be evacuated from Germany. With that statement
I was satisfied for the time and waited for further
developments, since I assumed that I would now in some way -
I really had no jurisdiction here - obtain some information
from Heydrich or his successor, Kaltenbrunner.

Since nothing did come, I wanted to inform myself about this
and back in 1942 I announced a report to the Fuehrer,
whereupon the Fuehrer told me that it was true that he had
given Himmler the order for evacuation but that he did not
want any further discussion about this Jewish question
during the war. In the meantime or shortly afterwards - this
was already at the beginning of 1943 - the R.S.H.A. sent out
invitations to attend a meeting on the subject "Final
Solution of the Jewish Question." I had previously sent out
an order to my officials that I was not defining my attitude
to this matter, since I wanted to present it to the Fuehrer.
I merely ordered that if invitations to a meeting were sent
out one of my officials should attend as a so-called
"listening post." A meeting actually did take place
afterwards to discuss this question, but with no results.
Minutes were taken and the various departments were supposed
to express their attitude. When I received these minutes I
found that they contained nothing vital. For a second, time
I forbade taking a definite attitude. I myself refused to
take a stand and I remember it very well indeed, because I
received a letter which first of all was signed by some
unimportant man who, as far as I was concerned, had no right
to sign. He asked me why I had not yet taken a stand.
Secondly, the tone of the inquiry was very unfriendly; he
said that everybody had expressed an opinion except me. I
ordered that the reply be made that I refused to define my
views since I wished first to discuss the matter with the

                                                  [Page 125]

In the meantime I once more turned to Herr Himmler. He was
of the opinion that it was necessary to discuss this
question since a number of problems would have to be solved,
particularly since the intention of achieving a final
solution of the Jewish question would probably extend to
persons of mixed blood, first grade, and would also extend
to the so-called "privileged" marriages, that is to say,
marriages where only one party was Aryan whereas the other
party was Jewish. The Fuehrer stated once more that he did
not wish to have a report on it but that he had no
objections to consultation on these problems. That some
evacuations had taken place in the meantime had become known
to me. At that time, at any rate, not the slightest thing
was known about the killing of Jews. If individual cases
came up, I always addressed myself to Himmler and he was
always very willing to settle these individual cases.

Finally, however, in 1943, rumours cropped up that Jews were
being killed. I had no jurisdiction in this field; it was
merely that I occasionally received complaints and on the
basis of these complaints I investigated the rumours. But,
as far as I could tell, at any rate, these rumours always
proved to be only rumours. Every one said he had heard it
from somebody else and nobody wanted to make a definite
statement. I am, in fact, of the opinion that these rumours
were based mostly on foreign broadcasts and that the people
just did not want to say where they had got the information.

That caused me once more to undertake an investigation of
this matter. First of all, since I for my part could not
initiate investigations of matters under Himmler's
jurisdiction, I addressed myself to Himmler once again.
Himmler denied any legal killings and told me, with
reference to the order from the Fuehrer, that it was his
duty to evacuate the Jews and that during such evacuations,
which also involved old and sick people, of course, there
were cases of death, there were accidents, there were
attacks by enemy aircraft. He added too, that there were
revolts, which, of course, he had to suppress severely and
with bloodshed, as a warning. For the rest, he said that
these people were being accommodated in camps in the East.
He brought out a lot of pictures and albums and showed me
the work that was being done in these camps by the Jews and
how they worked for the war needs - the shoemakers' shops,
tailors' shops and so forth. He told me:

  "This is the order of the Fuehrer; if you believe that
  you have to take action against it then tell the Fuehrer
  and tell me the names of the people who have made these
  reports to you."

Of course, I could not tell him the names, first of all
because they did not want to be named, and secondly, they
only knew these things from hearsay, so that, as I said, I
could not have given him any definite material at all.

Nevertheless, I once again reported this matter to the
Fuehrer and on this occasion he gave me exactly the same
reply which I had been given by Himmler. He said:

  "I shall later on decide where these Jews will be taken
  and in the meantime they are being cared for there."

Then he said the same thing Himmler had said, which created
in me the impression that Himmler had told the Fuehrer that
Lammers would come and probably report to him something
about this.

But that final solution of the Jewish problem was
nevertheless in my portfolio and I was determined to bring
it up once again with the Fuehrer. I succeeded in doing so
on the occasion of some particularly crass cases in
connection with this question, cases which were such that
the Fuehrer had to let me talk to him about it. By way of
example I should mention ...

THE PRESIDENT: One moment, please ...

DR. THOMA: Mr. President, I myself should like to ask the
witness to speak more

                                                  [Page 126]

briefly. In my opinion the witness is trying to describe how
the entire, final solution of the Jewish problem was carried
out in secret and with deception being practised by Hitler's
entire entourage, and that is why I ask that the witness be
allowed to finish his statement since this is a very
decisive point in the discussion. But, Witness, please be
quite brief. I am now putting this question to you. Did
Himmler ever tell you that the final solution of the Jewish
problem would take place through the extermination of the

A. That was never mentioned. He talked only about

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