The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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Last-Modified: 2000/01/10

Q. Do you differentiate between the smaller camps and the
regular concentration camps, and if so, why?

A. The difference is very obvious for the following reason:
Any internee who worked in armament industries worked in the
same enterprise, in the same factory as every other German
or foreign worker. The difference was merely that the German
worker at the conclusion of his working hours, at the end of
the day, returned to his family, whereas the internee of the
labour camp had to return to the camp.

Q. You are accused of establishing the concentration camp
Mauthausen, and of visiting this camp repeatedly. The
witness Hoellriegel, who testified here, said he had seen
you in this camp. He also claims to have seen you inspecting
the gas chambers while they were in operation. There is an
affidavit of Zutter, who has already been mentioned today
and who claims to have seen you at the concentration camp
Mauthausen. From this the prosecution concludes that you,
too, must have known exactly about these sub-human
conditions. I am asking you now, is this evidence correct or
incorrect? When did you inspect these camps and what
observations did you make?

A. The evidence is incorrect. I did not establish any
concentration camps in Austria, where I was until 1943. I
did not establish a single concentration camp in the Reich
from 1943 onwards. Every concentration camp in the Reich as
I know today, and as has been proved with certainty, was
established on orders of Himmler to Pohl; this applies also
- and I wish to emphasise this - to the Mauthausen camp. Not
only were Austrian authorities excluded from establishing
the Mauthausen camp, but they were unpleasantly surprised
because neither was the conception of a concentration camp
in that sense known in Austria, nor was there a necessity
for establishing concentration camps anywhere in Austria.

Q. And now, in Germany, in the Reich proper.

                                                  [Page 266]

A. What do you mean by that?

Q. I am asking regarding your knowledge of conditions there.

A. I heard gradually more and more about conditions in
concentration camps by way of the Intelligence Service
within the Reich. Naturally, I was bound to hear about these

Q. Did you not, as testified by Hoellriegel, see the gas
chambers in operation?

A. Never, neither while they were operating nor at any other
time did I see any gas chambers.

THE PRESIDENT: You are going too fast. Make pauses between
your questions and answers and don't speak too fast. He said
that he had gradually, by way of Intelligence, heard of the
concentration camps in the Reich. Is that right?



Q. You heard gradually about conditions in the concentration
camps, that is what you said, isn't it?

A. Yes.

Q. Do you recall my last question?

A. No.

Q. Whether you saw the gas chambers in operation?

A. Yes, I already answered that I never saw a gas chamber,
either in operation or at any other time. I did not know
that they existed at Mauthausen and testimony to that effect
is entirely wrong. I never set foot in the detention camp at
Mauthausen. I was at Mauthausen, but in the labour camp, not
in the detention camp, that is the concentration camp
proper. The total complex of Mauthausen, as I remember it
today, extends over an area of six kilometres. Within this
area there is a space of perhaps four and a half or five
kilometres of labour camps. There are the largest granite
quarries in Austria, and they were owned by the city of

Q. A picture has been shown in which you appear together
with Himmler and Ziereis.

A. I was just coming to that. The quarries belonged to the
city of Vienna, The city of Vienna had a vital interest in
not being excluded from the deliveries of granite which they
used for paving the streets. Now according to a Reich law,
as I learned later, this large quarry was expropriated from
the city of Vienna by the W.V.H.A., Pohl, and the city of
Vienna was excluded from the supply of granite for a
considerable time; I was asked to approach Himmler on the
matter. It happened that Himmler was visiting and inspecting
Southern Germany and decided to visit Austria and Mauthausen
and asked me to see him there. In that way, it came about
that I was with Himmler at this quarry, Whether or not I was
photographed at that time, I don't know. I have not seen the
picture and I cannot say whether I am in it. I might add
something. Neither at this time nor at any other time did
Himmler ever take me into a concentration camp or suggested
that I should visit one; as I learned later, he had certain
reason for not doing so. I would not have attended such an
inspection for I knew very well that as far as I was
concerned, he would, as he did with others whom he had
invited on such visits, show me "Potemkin villages" and not
conditions as they actually were; and, except for a handful
of men in the W.V.H.A., no one else was allowed to see how
things really were in concentration camps.

Q. Did you belong to this group, this "handful of men" whom
you spoke about?

A. No, I did not. This handful of men were Himmler, Pohl,
Muller and Glucks, and the camp commanders.

Q. As far as Camp Mauthausen is concerned, there is a
document on which we would like to have your views. It is
Document 1650-PS, which has already been submitted, dated
4th March, 1944, and is the so-called "Kugel Erlass" (Bullet
Decree). It deals with the Camp III:

  "Measures against recaptured prisoners of war, officers
  and non-commissioned officers, with the exception of
  British and American prisoners of war."

                                                  [Page 267]

The contents of this document are known to the Tribunal. I
do not believe that I need read it. The defendant
Kaltenbrunner is to make a statement as to whether these
facts became known to him.

THE PRESIDENT: I didn't hear the reference to it, the

DR. KAUFFMANN: 1650-PS, Exhibit USA 246.

THE PRESIDENT: Perhaps that would be a good time to break
off for ten minutes.

(A recess was taken.)

THE MARSHAL: May it please the Tribunal, a report is made
that the defendant Goering is absent from this session of
the Court.


Q. Have you Document 1650-PS, and have you read it?

A. Yes, I have read it.

Q. This, as emphasised, is the famous "Bullet Decree." When
did you hear of this?

A. I did not know the actual decree; this must have been a
decree issued long before I came into office. Neither had I
seen this teletype copy of the document given to me here.

Q. I am drawing your attention to the signature, which reads

A. Actually, he was entitled to sign such a decree if it did
in fact exist. But I would like to add that when I was
making my report to headquarters, I heard Fegelein, who was
liaison officer during 1944-5 between Himmler and Hitler,
mention this "Bullet Decree." This expression was completely
unknown to me and I asked him to tell me what it referred
to. He replied that this was a Fuehrer order and that he
knew no more than that, except that he had heard that this
was a special type of prisoner of war.

I was not satisfied with that reply, and so, on the same
day, I sent a teletype message to Himmler in which I asked
him to look into an order of the Fuehrer which was called
"Bullet Decree." At that time I did not know either that the
State Police was concerned with the "Bullet Decree."

Then a few days later, Muller came to see me on Himmler's
behalf, and gave me a decree to read which, however, came
not from Hitler, but from Himmler, in which Himmler stated
that he was transmitting this to me as a verbal order of the
Fuehrer. Referring to this, I replied to Himmler that I
noticed in this Fuehrer decree that the most elementary
principles of the Geneva Convention were violated, although
this had been going on since long before I had assumed
office and there had been other violations following that. I
asked him to intervene with the Fuehrer, and I attached to
this letter the draft of a letter from Himmler to Hitler in
which Himmler asked the Fuehrer: (a) to cancel that decree,
and (b), in any case, to relieve the subordinate departments
of the burden on their conscience.

Q. What was the result?

A. The result was positive. Although the "Bullet Decree" and
a number of other equally depressing orders were not
repealed it was positive, in so far as in February, 1945,
Hitler permitted me, for the first time, to get in touch
with the International Red Cross, an action which had been
strictly prohibited before.

Q. This action with reference to the Red Cross was initiated
by you. Did it include the inspection of concentration

A. In that connection I must answer "yes" and "no," for it
coincided with the request made by the Red Cross and its
president Burckhardt, for immediate and direct contact. I
would like to say the two attempts coincided.

But please don't misunderstand me. Apart from that, there
were, of course, numerous attempts - I would almost like to
say, behind Hitler's back - to get in contact with the Red
Cross, in which connection I call attention, for instance,
to the continuous contact the Foreign Office had with them.

Q. If I understand you correctly, you want to cite the
request to Burckhardt, to visit the concentration camps, as
an exonerating circumstance for yourself.

                                                  [Page 268]

A. Yes, of course, but I should like to talk about that
later in greater detail, because it is premature at this

Q. The prosecution has stated that during the time you were
in office two concentration camps had been newly
established, Lublin and Herzogenbusch. Did you hear anything
about that ? Who could have ordered the establishing of
these two camps?

A. I do not know the date when these two camps were set up.
The one in Lublin, and the other one in Herzogenbusch, were
subordinate to W.V.H.A. and the Higher Police and S.S.
Fuehrer of the occupied countries in which they were
situated, so that the W.V.H.A. in Berlin had nothing to do
with them.

Q. Now, will you please answer this question with "yes" or

Had the concentration camp at Auschwitz been known to you as

A. No, I didn't know about it until November, of 1943.

Q. Were you, at the same time as you learned of it, informed
of its significance, namely, that it was exclusively an
extermination camp for Jews handed over by Eichmann?

A. No, it couldn't have been known to anybody as such, for
the question put to Himmler, "why was such a large camp
being installed there?" was always answered by him "because
of the proximity of the large armament works." And I think
he mentioned then Witkowitz and others.

At any rate - and I think this must be emphasised - there
was such a complete secrecy regarding what went on in
Auschwitz, that the negative answer given by not only the
defendants but anyone else who might be asked by the
Americans "Do you know about it?" has to be believed.

Q. The most atrocious excesses are connected with this camp
in Auschwitz. This concentration camp was under the
spiritual leadership of the infamous Eichmann. Now I am
asking you: When did you get acquainted with Eichmann?

A. I became acquainted with Eichmann in my home town, Linz.
The prosecution has stated - and today the attempt was made
to establish this from an affidavit - that I was a  friend,
or at least a close acquaintance, of Eichmann. I would like
to make the following statement on this with particular
reference to my oath. I have a different conception of a
close acquaintance or even a friendship.

I learned of Eichmann's existence in Linz, because his
father, as director of an electrical construction company at
Linz, consulted my father as a lawyer, and thus they knew
each other; and because, he, the son of the father, attended
the same school as my brothers.

Therefore, the statement of Hoettl, that I had met Eichmann
in an S.S. platoon at Linz, is wrong, because when I joined
the S.S. Eichmann had already fled to Germany, as I learned

Secondly, the prosecution states that I met the same
Eichmann for the first time in 1932 and for the second time
in February or March, 1945. Therefore, I did not see him for
thirteen years and after that last meeting I never saw him

On the basis of these two personal meetings, one must
conclude that I was neither a friend of his nor closely
acquainted with him. It is true that on that second occasion
he accosted me and said, "Obergruppenfuehrer Eichmann is my
name; I come from Linz too." I said, "Pleased to meet you.
How are things at home?" But there was no official contact.

Q. Witness Lammers stated yesterday that at the R.S.H.A. a
conference took place regarding the so-called "final
solution." Did you know about it?

A. No. I think that the witness Lammers, and another
witness, too, stated that Eichmann, possibly under my name,
had called a meeting at the R.S.H.A. in Berlin during
February or March, 1943, a so-called discussion with
department chiefs. To this I must say that while I nominally
began my services in Berlin on 30th January, actually, until
May, I was not in Berlin except for a few official visits,
but in Vienna, where I was enlarging my Intelligence Service
in order to transfer it eventually to Berlin.

                                                  [Page 269]

Q. One further question to that. When did you hear for the
first time that the camp at Auschwitz was an extermination

A. Himmler told me that in 1944, in February or March, or
rather, he didn't tell me, he admitted it.

Q. What was your attitude upon learning this?

A. I did not hear the question.

Q. What attitude did you adopt when you heard about it?

A. I had no knowledge of Hitler's order to Heydrich
regarding the final solution of the Jewish problem at the
time I took up my office. In the summer of 1943 I gathered
from the foreign Press and through the enemy radio -

THE PRESIDENT: This isn't an answer to your question. You
asked him what he did when he found out that Auschwitz was a
concentration camp. He is now making a long speech about
Heydrich. You asked for his attitude, I suppose you meant
what he did, when he first heard that Auschwitz was an
extermination camp, in February or March, 1944. He is now
telling us a long story about something having to do with

Q. Please try to give me a direct answer to that question.
What was your attitude after you heard about that? Answer
quite briefly and very concisely, please.

A. Immediately after receiving knowledge of this fact, I
fought, just as I had done previously, not only against the
final solution, but also against this type of treatment of
the Jewish problem, For that reason I wanted to explain how
through my Intelligence Service I became acquainted with the
whole Jewish problem, and what I did about it.


Q. We still don't know what you did -


Q. What did you do? I am asking you for the last time.

A. In order to explain what I did I must explain how I
reacted, just as I have to tell you what I heard about it.

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