The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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Last-Modified: 2000/01/10


DR. LATERNSER: The author of this writing can only be
ascertained if we find out what the first line means,
because the second line is only the document file number,
which is to be seen from the first two letters, "AZ," which
means "Aktenzeichen," and in this letter reference seems to
be made to a letter from the Economic and Armaments Office.

That is all I have to say in regard to this.

SIR DAVID MAXWELL FYFE: I don't know if your Lordship wants
any further information. It seems to me quite clear. That
is, it is from the file of the department I mentioned, the

THE PRESIDENT: Yes. You mean, it goes back to the same

SIR DAVID MAXWELL FYFE: The same letters, yes.

THE PRESIDENT: It has just been explained to me that what
Dr. Laternser was saying is that the letters "AZ i.K.
32/510" only mean that it is from the file of that

SIR DAVID MAXWELL FYFE: Yes, my Lord. Then, to find the
office whose file it is, you get "Wi Rue" again, which is
the Wirtschaftsrustungsamt, which is the Economy and
Armaments Office, and it is the Armaments Department NO. 3.


Sir David, the Tribunal thought that the best way would be
to put this witness in the box and then to leave him to
counsel for the prosecution and the defence.

SIR DAVID MAXWELL FYFE: If your Lordship pleases, my friend,
Mr. Roberts, is going to deal with this witness, and, my
Lord, he has selected from the statements quite short
passages which will be read.


MAX WIELEN, a witness, took the stand and testified as


Q. Witness, will you stand up please?

A. Yes, certainly.

Q. What is your name?

A. Max Wielen.

Q. Your full name?

A. Max Wielen.

Q. Will you repeat this oath after me?

I swear by God, the Almighty and Omniscient, that I speak
the pure truth and will withhold and add nothing.

(The witness repeated the oath.)

THE PRESIDENT: You may sit down.



Q. Max Wielen, you made two statements in London, through
Colonel Hinchley Cook.

                                                  [Page 215]

A. Yes.

Q. And are these photostats of the two statements - the
first one dated 26th August, 1945, and the second dated 6th
September, 1945?

(The documents were submitted to the witness.)

Are those the photostats of your true statements? Do you
identify them? Do you see your signature at the end of each?

A. Yes.

Q. And in those two statements did you tell the truth?

A. Yes, I told the truth.

MR. ROBERTS: My Lord, perhaps I should now read some
passages so that they may go into the record.

Q. If you take the first statement first, the statement
begins with your names and the positions which you have held
in the S.S. and in the Criminal Police. That is right, is it

A. Yes.

Q. And now, will you just follow the beginning of this

A. Of which declaration, 6th September?

Q. I said the first one.

A. The first one? I see.

Q. Just follow it while I read. I will read the whole of the
first page:

"Oberregierungsrat and Kriminalrat, S.S.
Obersturmbannfuehrer ...

A. Oberregierungsrat and Kriminalrat of the Criminal Police,
not of the S.S. ...

Q. I don't want you to read it, just listen to me.

  "... formerly officer in charge of the Criminal Police at
  In answer to the question as to whether I know anything
  about the shooting of English prisoners of war, Air Force
  officers of the prison camp at Sagan, I have to state
  that I know about this matter and wish to make the
  following statement without reserve.
  The shooting took place on the express personal orders of
  the former Fuehrer, Adolf Hitler, and was carried out by
  officials of the Gestapo.
  The head of the State police office at Breslau at that
  time was Oberregierungsrat S.S.
  Obersturmbannfuehrer Dr. Scharpwinkel. His immediate
  superiors were the chief of the Sipo, S.S.-
  Obergruppenfuehrer Dr. Kaltenbrunner, and the chief of
  Amt IV of the Reich Security Main Office, S.S.
  Gruppenfuehrer Muller. I am unable to give the names of
  the other heads of offices of the Gestapo who carried out
  shootings in their districts.
  I insert here a small chart showing the organisation of
  the Security Police."

I now go to the bottom of Page 2 in the English copy, and it
is at the bottom of Page 3 in the German copy, which the
witness has in his hands.

  "In the course of time" - and he is talking about Stalag
  Luft 3 - "ninety-nine escape tunnels had been dug. All of
  them had been discovered by the military. The hundredth
  tunnel, dug in March, 1944, proved successful to the
  extent that eighty officers were able to escape.
  After sending a telephone message to this effect from the
  camp headquarters to the Criminal Police I gave orders
  for the manhunt (Fahndung), in accordance with the
  instructions laid down for such an emergency and at Dr.
  Absalon's suggestion, taking account of the time lag, a
  large-scale manhunt (Gross-fahndung) was ordered.
  Moreover, the officer in charge of the Reich Criminal
  Police Office had to be informed, and he approved and
  confirmed the order for full-scale alarm (Grossalarm).
  Gradually the search, which was carried out in all parts
  of Germany, led to the recapture of practically all the
  escaped English officers, with the exception of three, I
  believe. Most of them were recaptured while still in
  Silesia. A few had got as far as Kiel, Strassbourg, and
  the Allgau.
                                                  [Page 216]
  During one of these days at noon I received telegraphic
  instructions from General Nebe to proceed at once to
  Berlin to be informed of a secret order. When I arrived
  in Berlin that evening, I saw General Nebe in his office
  in Werdenscher Markt 5-7. I gave him a short, concise
  report on the whole matter and the way things stood at
  the moment. He then showed me a teletype order, signed by
  Dr. Kaltenbrunner, in which it was stated that, on the
  express personal order of the Fuehrer, over half of the
  officers who had escaped from Sagan were to be shot after
  their recapture. The chief of Department 4,
  Gruppenfuehrer Muller, had received a similar order and
  would give instructions to the State Police. Military
  offices had been informed.
  General Nebe himself appeared shocked at this order. He
  was very distressed. I was afterwards told that for
  nights on end he had not gone to bed but had slept on a
  bench in his office.
  I too was appalled at the horrible measures intended and
  was opposed to their execution. I said that it was
  against the laws of war; that it was bound to lead to
  reprisals against our own officers who were prisoners of
  war in English camps, and that I certainly refused to
  take any responsibility. General Nebe replied that in
  this particular case I indeed took no responsibility
  whatever upon myself because the State Police would act
  completely independently, and that, ultimately, there
  could be no protest against an order by the Fuehrer.
  I want to point out that when I first refused I acted on
  impulse and feeling, knowing well that I could not hope
  to prevail, in view of the conditions that had recently
  arisen within the Security Police.
  Nebe then added that I on my part was, of course, under
  an obligation to preserve absolute secrecy and that I had
  been shown the original order so that I should not make
  any difficulties with regard to competence vis-a-vis the
  State Police. My own duties as regards the transport of
  some of the prisoners would be transferred to the
  In this connection I want to state that up to then the
  transporting of prisoners to the camp had been the
  responsibility of the Criminal Police; either they had to
  take them to the camp themselves or they had to hold them
  until they were fetched by the camp staff. I also declare
  that Dr. Schultze was present at the discussion with
  General Nebe. He nodded his head in agreement when I
  raised my objection; otherwise he took no part.
  On my return to Breslau I learned from Dr. Scharpwinkel
  that the Gestapo had been duly informed by Gruppenfuehrer
  Muller. I was not apprised of the actual instructions. I
  also don't know whether a similar order was issued to
  every head of State Police offices or whether orders were
  only given in individual cases to those in whose areas
  arrests had been made and executions were to be carried
  According to instructions the police in the districts
  where arrests had been made had to inform the Reich
  Criminal Police Office by telegram or teletype that
  officer prisoners of war had been taken into custody. The
  Criminal Police Office in Breslau was also to be
  How this shooting was carried out I do not know, but I
  presume, that after the State Police had collected the
  officers concerned from the prisons, they were shot in
  some remote spot - in forests and the like - with service
  pistols of the State Police.
  In answer to the question whether the officers were
  possibly beaten to death, I state that I do not believe
  this, because the Fuehrer's order specifically mentioned
  The State Police had, as I learned from Dr. Scharpwinkel,
  in accordance with instructions received from R.S.H.A.,
  Department IV, described the shooting as if it had
  occurred in transit for the purpose of self-defence or to
  prevent escape.
  Later the Criminal Police Office at Breslau received a
  letter from R.S.H.A.,
                                                  [Page 217]
  Department V, which was to be communicated to the camp
  commandant with the request that its text should be made
  known to the English officer prisoners of war in order to
  frighten them. The letter explained that the shooting had
  been carried out for the above-mentioned reason. The text
  of the letter was communicated to Colonel Lindeiner or
  one of the camp staff's officers.
  As regards the selection of officers to be shot, a list
  had been prepared by the camp authorities at the request
  of Department V in which those officers who were regarded
  as disturbing elements, plotters, and ringleaders had
  been specifically mentioned. The selection was made
  either by the commandant or by one of his officers.
  Thereupon the shooting of officers mentioned by name was
  ordered by Department IV and the corresponding command
  sent to the State Police of the districts concerned."

I omit the next paragraph and I go to the bottom of the
English copy, Page 4; at the bottom of the witness's copy,
Page 7. Witness, would you turn to Page 7, please? You will
find the passage marked in pencil at the bottom of Page 7.
Have you got the page? I carefully numbered the pages.

A. There is nothing marked in this.

Q. I know, but if you turn over the page you will get
something which is marked.

A. Nothing is
marked on Page 7, but on Page 8.

Q. You will find something marked at the very bottom of Page
7. At any rate, just follow these words - follow these
words, will you? "to revert to the shooting."

A. Yes, I have found it now.

  Q. "Approximately forty English officers who had not been
  arrested by the State Police but by the Criminal Police
  had meanwhile been taken back to camp."

When you said that - you just answer this question, witness
- you said approximately forty officers - you didn't know
the actual numbers, did you?

A. The number is not correct. It was not forty. I didn't
know at that time.

Q. That's right, because it isn't the correct number. I
think fifty.

A. I made a mistake at that time.

Q. That's right.

  "They had come to no harm whatsoever and I rather assume
  that... "

A. Fifteen additional were brought back.

Q. Yes, yes. I just want you now to listen to it, if you
will be kind enough.

   "I must assume that treatment was perfectly correct. It
   was impossible to avoid putting, them into police
   prisons due to the general conditions then prevailing.
   I do not know who interrogated the officers in the
   police prisons. I assume this was done by the local
   police authorities, as an interrogation must necessarily
   follow every notification of arrest. I do not know the
   names of the officials of the State Police or the local
   police who co-operated in this matter. Dr. Absalon will
   be able to supply the answer to this question."

I go on to the paragraph beginning "The urns," if your
Lordship pleases:

   "The urns containing the ashes of the officers who had
   been shot were transmitted from the various State Police
   offices to the Criminal Police. Which crematorium had
   been used by the State Police I am unable to say. The
   urns were handed over to the camp commandant by the
   order of R.S.H.A. for military burial. By means of the
   return of the urns through the Kripo, the fact that the
   State Police were connected with the matter was to be

Then I miss the next paragraph. Then I read one sentence,
the next line:

   "I do not know why five officers were interrogated in

                                                  [Page 218]

And then, my Lord, I turn to Page 6. And witness, would you
go to the bottom of your Page 10? The bottom of your Page 10
- you just turn over the page in the ordinary way. My Lord,
I take the middle paragraph. Just two paragraphs out of Page

  "In the general way it may be of interest that, even
  before my departure for Berlin, Criminal Commissioner Dr.
  Absalon had told me that he had heard in camp Sagan - he
  was told this in a very secretive way - that shootings
  were to take place as a warning. From this may be deduced
  the fact that the camp had already been informed through
  military channels of the order to shoot before it was
  issued to Dr. Kaltenbrunner.
  It would be useful to ascertain what Goering knows about
  the whole affair, because the Fuehrer must surely have
  informed him of the order since it concerned a camp of
  the Luftwaffe."

My Lord, that is all of that statement that I think I need
to read. My Lord, I am anxious to avoid reading as much of
the second statement as I possibly can, because there is a
good deal of repetition. Will you take the second statement
now, witness? That one, I am afraid, has not been marked.
The third paragraph, my Lord, the third and fourth
paragraphs on the first page of the statement:

  "As to when the State Police had begun with the shootings
  I am not in a position to say, but I imagine it happened
  when only very few prisoners were still at large and
  their capture could no longer be reckoned with. As
  regards the lapse of time between the order for the all-
  out manhunt (Gross-falmdung) and being shown the orders
  for the shootings, I can only say that this was a matter
  of a few days. I can no longer recall exact dates. I do
  know for certain, however, that no shootings had taken
  place anywhere at the time when the order was shown to

Then perhaps I could read the last paragraph but one on that

   "Before the last mass escape I had heard nothing about
   the prospect of more drastic measures to be taken
   against the prisoners. I heard of it only after the
   final escape but before I had been shown in Berlin the
   order for the shootings. It was then that Dr. Absalon
   had told me that he had heard in camp Sagan - from whom
   I do not know, although I believe it was Colonel
   Lindeiner - that in the future shootings would take
   place. When this particular order was shown to me in
   Berlin it appeared to me to be merely a proof that the
   military were behind this brutal measure or at least had
   knowledge of it before the R.S.H.A. As regards the
   expression 'more than half' in the Kaltenbrunner orders
   - that is how the wording is fixed in my mind; however,
   it is quite possible that a specific number was given
   and that I, in quickly glancing through the order,
   interpreted it thus in my mind, that 'that is more than

My Lord, perhaps I might read - omitting the first several
paragraphs which are really repetitions - a paragraph just a
little more than half-way down the page; it begins:

   "I do not know how the Gestapo took over from the local
   police prisons those officers who were to be shot. It
   is, however, possible that the Gestapo got in touch with
   the local offices of the Kripo.
   In Lower Silesia, the firing squads were detailed by the
   head of the State Police, Dr. Scharpwinkel, or by his
   orders. I never heard who belonged to these squads."

Then the last paragraph on that page:

   "I declare in answer to the question as to why the Kripo
   did not carry out the shootings, that in the execution
   of its duties the Kripo felt bound by the
                                                  [Page 219]
   provisions of the criminal law (Strafgesetzordnung) and
   Reich Criminal Code (Reichsstrafgesetzbuch), and that
   their personnel were trained in accordance with these
   standards. On the other hand, during the war, the State
   Police, incited by Himmler, had become less scrupulous.
   They carried out executions on the orders of the
   R.S.H.A. or with the approval of that department
   whenever required. That is the reason why German
   citizens' general detestation of the State Police did
   not extend to the Kripo. The urns were obviously
   returned to the Kripo for the sole reason that the
   intervention of the State Police should not become
   publicly known; i.e. the English officers in camp should
   not become aware of it."

My Lord, I think that is all I need read.

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