The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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Q. Just explain to us your reactions.

A. First I protested to Hitler, and the next day to Himmler.
I did not only draw their attention to my personal attitude
and my completely different conception, which I had brought
over from Austria, and to my humanitarian qualms, but
immediately, from the first day, I concluded almost every
one of my situation reports right to the very end by saying
that there was no hostile power that would negotiate with a
Reich which had burdened itself with this guilt. Those were
the reports I put to Himmler and Hitler, particularly
pointing out also that the Intelligence sector would have to
create the atmosphere for discussions with the enemy.

Q. When did the Jewish persecution end?

A. October, 1944.

Q. Do you want to say that this was due to your

A. I am firmly convinced that this was chiefly due to my
intervention, although a number of others also worked toward
the same end. But I do not think that there was anyone else
who kept dinning it into Himmler's ears every time he met
him, or that there was anyone else who would have spoken so
openly and frankly and with such self-abnegation to Hitler
as I did.

Q. Was that instruction to Eichmann an instruction which
came from Hitler and Himmler to the R.S.H.A. and then to
Eichmann, or was it a strictly personal order outside the
competence of the R.S.H.A.?

A. Naturally I can only reconstruct the situation today,
since I wasn't there when these orders were issued; but I
have reason to assume that the channels for this order were:
Hitler, Heydrich, Eichmann: and that Himmler, shortly after
Heydrich's death, kept on working with Eichmann, and
probably very often even excluded Muller.

Q. The witness Wisliceny, who was examined here - and this I
am going to put to you - stated on 3rd January that the
final solution was in fact carried out

                                                  [Page 270]

between April, 1942 and October, 1944. Wisliceny referred to
a personal order from Himmler and stated further that
Eichmann was personally charged with the task. But he goes
on to say, "The extermination of Jews continued under
Kaltenbrunner without any reduction or alleviation. Reports
made by Eichmann to that effect were sent at regular
intervals to Kaltenbrunner through Muller." In 1944 Eichmann
personally called, it states, on Kaltenbrunner, and
Wisliceny affirms having seen Kaltenbrunner's signature on
such reports to Himmler. That was Wisliceny's testimony. Now
my question: Is this testimony true in its essential points?

A. The testimony is wrong, but I can clarify it. Wisliceny
may have seen my signature once, not on a report to Himmler
which I had received from Eichmann and Muller, but on a
letter which I wrote to Himmler, a copy of which I passed on
to Muller and Eichmann for their information and in which I
referred to my last report - verbal report - to Himmler,
regarding the Jewish question. It was on this occasion that,
for the first time, I heard of Eichmann's activity in that
respect, and, in order to make it clear to Eichmann that I
did not want to be associated with that activity, I
instructed Muller to give this man a copy of the letter to
Himmler. In that letter I asked Himmler to define his
attitude so that, since the Fuehrer again had ordered me to
report to him, I could give him a full report on Himmler's
activities and obtain an early decision.

Q. The witness Hoettl has stated in an affidavit that he had
heard from Eichmann that a total number of four to five
million Jewish persons had been exterminated, about two
million of them in Auschwitz. Have you heard any such

A. I have never heard such figures. But I approached Himmler
on that subject and asked him whether he had any idea of the
number of these crimes. The reason I put that question to
him was that he would realise the extent of the catastrophe
which was bound to follow. He replied to me that he had no
figures. I don't believe it. I believe he had them.

Q. Do you want to assume a responsibility in this connection
or do you want to deny it?

A. I must deny it completely, because I hope to be able to
prove through Burckhardt that there was nobody who took
greater risks on this question, in fighting for a different

Q. I am now referring to Document R-135, Exhibit USA 289. It
is a letter from the Reich Commissar for Riga, and is dated
18th June, 1943. It refers to an action against the Jews at
the prison in Minsk. It is a letter from the commandant of
the prison, addressed to the general commissar for
Byelorussia at Minsk. Please, will you make a statement on
that document?

A. I can see from both the signature and the name of the
addressee that this letter could not have come to my
knowledge, nor had I knowledge of its contents. Presumably
these events, about which the person is reporting in June,
1943, occurred before I came into office.

Q. Now, I am coming to Document 473, Exhibit USA 542. It is
a letter from the Chief of the Security Police and the S.D.,
dated 4th December, 1944. From this also the prosecution
concludes the defendant Kaltenbrunner's great
responsibility. It deals with the combating of criminality
among the Polish and Soviet civilian workers. As means for
their punishment, the letter states, the Criminal Police
have at their disposal police detention and transfer to a
concentration camp of all asocial or dangerous prisoners.
The document has the signature, "Dr. Kaltenbrunner." What
are your views on that?

A. I have no recollection that I have ever signed any such

Q. Do you deny having signed this letter at all; or, to be
more precise, do you know anything about the matter?

A. No.

Q. I now submit Document 1276-PS, Exhibit USA 525. The
prosecution has referred to this document. It follows
Hitler's order, dated 18th October, 1942.

                                                  [Page 271]

According to this, parachutists and sabotage troops are to
be exterminated, and commandos to be surrendered to the S.D.
In a letter with the signature "Muller," dated 17th June,
1944, addressed to the Supreme Command, it says that
parachutists in British uniform were to be treated in
accordance with Hitler's order. I am now asking you if you
know of this document signed by Muller, dated 17th June,
1944, and if you had any knowledge at all of the matter
contained in it?

A. I had no knowledge of the matter or of this document. But
I should like to say the following in this connection: I
received knowledge of this order of Hitler and of his basic
attitude to this question later. I think it was at the
Fuehrer's Headquarters in February, 1945 and there, before
witnesses, I publicly stated not only that I was personally
opposed to such treatment of soldiers and prisoners but also
that I would refuse to carry out any such order from Hitler.
I think another defendant here is calling a witness by the
name of Koller, and I request that you ask this witness, who
was at that time the Chief of Staff of the Air Force, how I
expressed it - I believe it was in Hitler's presence - and
what was my attitude regarding that question, which came to
my knowledge for the first time in 1945. I could do no more
than I did before this man, the most mighty and all powerful
man Germany ever had, who had declared: "He who does not
obey my orders, no matter who the commander, will be shot."
I could do no more than I did in his presence - say to the
Chief of Staff of the Air Force and other officers: "I will
not obey such an order."

Q. I now come to Document 2990-PS, Exhibit USA 526. This is
an affidavit from the witness Schellenberg. According to it,
in 1944 a meeting took place between Kaltenbrunner and
Muller. Kaltenbrunner is supposed to have stated that
actions of the populations against terrorist flyers must not
be interfered with, that, on the contrary, the hostile
attitude of the population must be encouraged. I shall quote
a few sentences from the examination of the witness
Schellenberg on 3rd January, 1946, where he says:

  "In 1944 on some other occasion during a conference I
  heard fragments of a conversation between Kaltenbrunner
  and Muller. The following remark remains clearly in my
  recollection: 'All departments of the Security Police and
  the Sipo must be informed that actions on the part of the
  population against British and American terror flyers
  must not be interfered with, on the contrary, the hostile
  attitude of the population must be encouraged.'"

Did you know Schellenberg?

A. Regarding Schellenberg I must say ...

Q. In a few sentences please.

A.  . . . with reference to his reliability in the matter of
this document, that he was a protege of Heydrich's and when
I took office he was in charge of ...

THE PRESIDENT: He wants to know whether you knew
Schellenberg. That is a question you can answer.

The question was, "Did you know Schellenberg?" And he goes
off into a long speech without answering the question.

Q. Did you know Schellenberg? "Yes" or "No."

A. Yes, of course. He was the Chief of Department VI.

Q. My next questions: What was the relationship between you
and the Chief of Department VI? Do you regard his statement
as true or not?

A. That statement is not true, and I should like to give you
the reason so that the Tribunal can estimate its value.
Schellenberg was Himmler's most intimate friend. By
Himmler's order, he remained with him to the last day. He is
the man who, on Himmler's behalf, established contact with
the Swedish Count Bernadotte. He was the man who, at the
very last minute, through M. Muehse in Switzerland,
established a connection which was used to permit a very
small number of Jewish prisoners to go to Switzerland, the
purpose of which was to create quickly a favourable
impression for Himmler and Schellenberg abroad. He

                                                  [Page 272]

is the man who, together with another friend of Himmler,
started an action to make an agreement with an organisation
of Rabbis in the United States whereby they were to get him
favourable reports in some of the larger newspapers in
America. I have criticised Himmler for these tricks and
complained and discredited them with Hitler, stating that it
was demeaning to the cause and the Reich that in so
important a matter these methods should be used by Himmler
and Schellenberg. I said the only correct way would be to
establish contact with the International Red Cross
immediately. Consequently, I prejudiced Himmler before
President Burckhardt, and forced him to adopt a different
attitude and to ask Burckhardt personally to visit these

Q. But I put a completely different question.

A. Yes, but I had to say this so that you can see how
disappointed Schellenberg and Himmler were about what I was
doing and why he now is interested in accusing me, as he has
done in the affidavit, of breaking my word on international

Q. In other words, you want to say that Schellenberg was in
opposition to you and against you, and is implicating you

A. Yes.

Q. Now, then, in this document of Schellenberg the event
with reference to these fifty flyers is mentioned and
Schellenberg states that you, together with Muller and Nebe,
had a conference, and that all three of you were trying to
find an excuse for keeping the actual truth of these events
from the public. I am asking you, when did you first hear of
the shooting of these fifty flyers?

A. That is the "Case Sagan."

Q. When did you hear of it? It is a simple question, please.

A. The first time that case became known to me was about six
weeks after it happened.

Q. My next question: Do you want to say that you were not
involved in the shooting in any way, that, on the contrary,
you were only much later able to investigate the matter?

A. Yes, that is what I want to say.

Q. Do you also mean to say that the conference with
Schellenberg dealt exclusively with the later attempt to
conceal the truth of the matter?

A. It can only have referred to that.

Q. I am coming to Document 835-PS, Exhibit USA 527. This
document also is held against the defendant by the
prosecution. It is the so-called "Nacht und Nebel Decree" -
the "Night and Fog Decree," which is an order from Hitler
dated 7th December, 1941. Is the expression "Night and Fog
Decree" familiar to you? When did you hear of it for the
first time?

A. The first time I heard of it was in June, 1945, in

Q. This document which I have submitted to you, is a letter
from the O.K.W. dated 2nd September, 1944, addressed to the
German Armistice Commission. It is signed by Dr. Lehmann,
and in it is stated:

  "According to the decree all non-German civilians in
  occupied territories who have endangered the security and
  preparedness of the occupying forces by means of terror
  or sabotage or in any other way, are to be handed over to
  the Security Police and the S.D."

In the case of so important a matter, it appears improbable
that the matter and the "Night and Fog Decree" were not
known to you.

A. I had no knowledge and I beg to be given permission to
clarify the situation. May I first of all say that no
document shows better proof than this of the fact that an
executive function is wrongfully attributed to the S.D. It
says here on line four:

  " - have endangered ... or in any other way, are to be
  handed over to the Security Police and the S.D."

                                                  [Page 273]

First of all, it is altogether nonsensical to state that one
and the same matter should be handed over to two different
authorities; either it was the Security Police or the S.D.

But this error in the use of the German language found its
way in the Fuehrer decree because Heydrich, as Chief of the
Security Police and S.D., was referred to in short as Chief
of S.D. only, but it is an absolute mistake. Whereby, God
knows, I am not trying to exonerate the S.D. from other
things which it may perhaps have committed, but I want to
make it clear that it is wrong to conclude from this that it
had executive powers.

Q. Yes, but it is not only the question of the S.D., but
also of the Security Police.

A. Yes, and to that I want to say the following. This
Fuehrer decree of the year 1941 was not known to me. I am
asking you to put yourself in my position. At the beginning
of 1943 I came to Berlin. With the exception of a few
official visits I commenced my activity in May, 1943. In the
fourth year of the war the decrees and orders within the
Reich and also in the executive sector amounted to
thousands, and were accumulating on the desks and the
cabinets of the civil servants. It was absolutely impossible
for any man even to read them all within a year, and it was
quite impossible for me to know of the existence of all
these orders even had I considered it my duty to do so. But
it was not my duty at all. Then I am asking you to consider
the following fact.

The beginning of my activity was officially February, 1943.
On 2nd February Stalingrad was surrendered and the largest
military catastrophe -

THE PRESIDENT: This is a long speech in answer to a question
as to whether he had seen this letter. He says he did not
see the letter. Then he makes this long speech.


Q. I am now putting this question to you. When did you
realise what significance this "Nacht und Nebel (Night and
Fog) Decree" had and what it meant regarding the treatment
of persons it affected? Please give a precise answer.

A. Dr. Kauffmann, the existence of the decree was unknown to
me. Had I known that this matter would be held against me
here, then I would have been able to nominate a witness in
captivity in London who can prove that even in London I had
no idea that it existed. We have talked about that in the

Q. The net result, therefore, is that you did not know?

A. Yes, I was absolutely ignorant regarding that decree.

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