The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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Q. Were you acquainted with S.S. Colonel Ziereis, the same
person we have just been speaking of?

A. Yes.

Q. And were you acquainted with Kurt Becher or Becker, a
former colonel in the S.S.?

A. No.

Q. I ask to have the defendant shown Document 3762-PS, which
will become Exhibit USA 798.

A. You asked, Sir, whether I knew Colonel Becker, and I
answered "No," but the man is Kurt Becher.

Q. That's all the better. You do know him then, do you?

A. I know him, yes.

Q. Very good.

THE PRESIDENT: Colonel Amen, have these documents been
translated into all languages?

COLONEL AMEN: I believe they have, every one of them, yes.
No, I am told that not all of them have; some of them have.
This one is in English and German, your Lordship. We did not
have time to get them translated into the Russian and
French, although it is now in process.

THE PRESIDENT: Yes, then it will be done?

COLONEL AMEN: Yes, sir, it is being done, yes.


BY THE DEFENDANT: May I reply to it?

THE PRESIDENT: In order that the record should be properly
complete, the Tribunal would like the prosecution to state
when the translation has been done, so that the matter
should be thoroughly in order.

COLONEL AMEN: Precisely.

Q. Defendant, we will now read this document together:

  "I, Kurt Becher, formerly a colonel in the S.S., born
  12th September, 1090, at Hamburg, declare the following
  under oath:
  Between the middle of September and the middle of
  October, 1944, I caused the Reichsfuehrer S.S. Himmler to
  issue the following order, which I received in two
  originals, one each for S.S. Generals Kaltenbrunner and
  Pohl, and a copy for myself:
  By this order, which becomes immediately operative, I
  forbid any liquidation of Jews and order that on the
  contrary, care should be given to weak and sick persons.
  I hold you (and here Kaltenbrunner and Pohl were meant)
  personally responsible even if this order should not be
  strictly adhered to by the subordinate offices.
  I personally took Pohl's copy to him and left the copy
  for Kaltenbrunner at his office in Berlin. In my opinion
  Kaltenbrunner and Pohl bear the responsibility after this
  date for any further killings of Jewish prisoners.
  When visiting Mauthausen Concentration Camp on 27th
  April, 1945, at 9.00 a.m. I was told, in the strictest
  secrecy by the camp commandant, S.S. Colonel Ziereis,
  that 'Kaltenbrunner gave me the order that at least a
  thousand persons have still to die at Mauthausen each
  The facts mentioned above are true. This declaration is
  made by me volun-

                                                  [Page 307]
  tarily and without coercion. I have read it through,
  signed it, and confirmed the statement with my oath.'

Is that true or false, defendant?

A. In part it is correct and in part it is not. I shall
explain it sentence by sentence.

Q. No. Suppose you simply tell us what you claim to be
false, because we must get on with this.

A. I quite believe that you want to save time, but this is a
question of establishing my guilt or my innocence and to do
that I must be given an opportunity to make a statement in
detail. Otherwise neither you nor the Tribunal would know
the truth, And that is what we want here, isn't it? I am
glad that this witness Becher was found and that this
statement is available, because it proves, firstly, that in
September or October, 1944, Himmler was forced to issue this
order, that same Himmler, about whom it has been established
that since 1939 or 1940 he has committed the crime of
killing Jews on the largest scale.

And now we must find out why in September or October Himmler
had given such an order. Before I had seen this document I
stated yesterday and today that this order was issued by
Hitler through my intervention, and obviously this order
from Himmler is based on another order which he received
from Hitler.

Secondly, it is clear to me that Himmler gave such an order
to Pohl as the person responsible for the concentration
camps in which Jews were kept and that he gave the
information to me as the person who had opposed him in this
case. Where Becher is concerned, I should like to go into
the question a little further.

Through this man Becher Himmler committed some of the worst
possible crimes, crimes which have been exposed here.
Through Becher and the Joint Committee in Hungary and
Switzerland he released Jews in exchange, first, for war
equipment, then, secondly, for raw material and thirdly, for
foreign currency. I heard about this through the
Intelligence Service and immediately attempted to stop it -
not through Himmler, because there I would have failed, but
through Hitler; - at the moment any personal credit Himmler
might still have had with Hitler was at an end - for this
action might have damaged the reputation of the Reich abroad
in the most serious manner.

At the same time my efforts in connection with Burckhardt
had been going on, and now you understand why the witness
Schellenberg stated that Himmler had said to him: "I am
alarmed now. Kaltenbrunner has got me under his thumb. This
means that Kaltenbrunner has completely exposed the things I
was doing in Hungary and has told Hitler about it."

This order was an attempt to camouflage the matter and to
get out of the whole thing by pretending that the
responsibility rested on Kaltenbrunner and Pohl. According
to this document the responsibility rested on Himmler and
Pohl, but, Kaltenbrunner had to be included and be told
about it because otherwise he might bring the subject up
with Hitler any day. That was the intention of the document.

This witness Becher is now in Nuremberg. Will you allow me
to confront him here? I am quite able to prove to the world
with the help of this witness that, starting with the
transfer of the so-called Weiss AG. in Hungary up to that
day, Himmler, Pohl and Becher, and the two committees in
Hungary and Switzerland, were running this business. And I
can prove how I fought against it.

There is yet another accusation in this document, that on
27th April I am supposed to have given a strictly secret
order to Ziereis that a thousand Jews had to be destroyed in
Mauthausen every day. I ask you to have the witness Hoettl,
who is also held here, called in immediately, so that I may
ask him on what day I dictated and sent by courier to
Mauthausen the order that the entire camp, with all its
inmates, be surrendered to the enemy. The witness will then
confirm to you that this order was given several days before
27th April and that I could not have given orders to the
contrary on the 27th.

                                                  [Page 308]

I ask you, sir, not to take me unawares and manoeuvre me
into a position where I might go to pieces. I shall not go
to pieces. I swear to you that I am determined to establish
the truth.

Q. Defendant, you have heard evidence at this trial with
respect to the meaning of the phrase "special treatment,"
have you not? Have you heard that in this court-room?

A. The expression has been used by my interrogators several
times every day.

Q. You know what it means?

A. It can only be assumed, although I cannot give an
accurate explanation, that this was a death sentence, not
imposed by a public court but by an order of Himmler.

Q. Well, I believe the defendant Keitel testified that it
was a matter of common knowledge. Have you not at all times
known what was meant by special treatment? "Yes" or "No,"

A. Yes. I have told you - an order from Himmler. I am
referring to Hitler's order of 1941, therefore also an order
from Himmler - that executions should be carried out without
legal procedure.

Q. Did you ever discuss with Gruppenfuehrer Muller of Amt IV
the application of "special treatment" to certain
individuals? "Yes" or "No," please.

A. No; I know that the witness Schellenberg said -

Q. I ask to have the defendant shown Document 3839-PS, which
will become Exhibit USA 799. By the way, were you acquainted
with Joseph Spacil?

THE PRESIDENT: Answer the question.

Q. Were you acquainted with Joseph Spacil?

A. Spasp? No.

Q. He is the person who makes the affidavit now before you.

A. The name which is mentioned here is Joseph Spacil, and
that man I know, yes.

Q. Now, will you look at the centre of the first page, a
paragraph commencing "In regard to special treatment." Have
you the place?

A. Not yet, no. In order to understand the document I shall
have to read all of it.

Q. Well, if you have to read all these documents, defendant,
we would never get through, because the first part has
nothing to do with the part which I am interested in or with

A. I beg your pardon, sir, I am sure that you are interested
in expediting this procedure, and as defendants, we are just
as anxious not to delay the proceedings; but it is necessary
for my defence that I should at least be allowed to read a
document on which I have to make a statement.

Q. But, defendant, your lawyer is receiving copies of all
these documents, and I am sure that whatever is there which
should be brought out on your behalf he will see to it that
it will be brought out at the proper time, which will be
after I finish asking you these questions. Isn't that

A. No, that is not enough for me. I must know at any rate
what is contained in that document, since you are asking me
to make a statement on it now.

Q. Well, go ahead and read it then.

THE PRESIDENT: Defendant, not only your own counsel will
look after your interests, but the Tribunal will look after
your interests, and you must answer the question, please.

A. Yes.

Q. Very well. Now let's read along the centre of the page,
commencing with:

  "in regard to 'special treatment' I have the following
  At the meetings of the section heads, Gruppenfuehrer
  Muller frequently consulted Kaltenbrunner as to whether
  this or that case should be 'specially treated' or if
  'special treatment' was to be considered. The following
  is an example of how the conversation went:

                                                  [Page 309]
  Muller: 'Case A, please, "special treatment" or not?'
  Kaltenbrunner: 'Yes, or submit it to the Reichsfuehrer S.
  S. for decision.'
  Muller: 'Obergruppenfuehrer, no answer has arrived from
  the Reichsfuehrer S.S. in regard to "special treatment"
  for Case A.'
  Kaltenbrunner: 'Ask for one.'
  Or Muller would hand a paper to Kaltenbrunner and ask for
  instructions, as described above.
  When such a conversation between Muller and Kaltenbrunner
  took place, only the initials were mentioned, so that the
  persons present at the table never knew who was

And then the last two paragraphs:

  "Both Muller and Kaltenbrunner, when certain cases were
  brought up in my presence, proposed 'special treatment,'
  or submission to the Reichsfuehrer S.S. for approval of
  'special treatment.' I estimate that in approximately 50
  per cent of the cases 'special treatment' was approved."

Are the contents of that affidavit true or false, defendant?

A. The contents, when given the interpretation you are
giving to the document, are not correct. You will see
immediately that the tragic expression "special treatment"
here becomes rather humorous. Do you know the Winzerstube in
Godesberg, or the Walsertraum in the Walsertal, and their
relation to the term "special treatment"? The Walsertraum is
the smartest and most fashionable Alpine hotel of the whole
German Reich, and the Winzerstube is a very famous hotel in
Godesberg in which many international meetings were held.
Especially qualified and distinguished personalities - I
would mention M. Poncet and M. Herriot and many more - were
accommodated there. They had three times the normal
diplomatic ration, which is nine times the ration of the
ordinary German during the war. They were daily given a
bottle of champagne. They were allowed to correspond freely
with their families in France and to receive parcels. These
detainees were allowed to receive visits on several
occasions, their wishes and requirements were cared for
wherever they were. That is what is meant here by "special

I can only state here that it may well be that Muller may
have talked about this to me, since I was extremely anxious
from the point of view of foreign policy and intelligence
that the Reich should follow my suggestion and treat foreign
persons in a more humane manner. It is in this connection
that Muller may have spoken to me, but Winzerstube and
Godesberg, the final achievement of this "special
treatment," were the places where honourable political
detainees were accommodated and received preferential

Q. Did you have frequent meetings with your section heads,
including Muller, as indicated in this document?

A. I stated yesterday and today that, of course, I met
Muller when we were lunching together, which we had to do
because all our thirty-eight buildings in Berlin had been
destroyed or damaged by bombs, but I did not talk to him
about matters concerning Department IV.

This document makes it clear that these were matters of
extreme interest to me as Chief of Intelligence.

May I ask you not to leave this document just yet? It must
be put on record before this Tribunal that these two
establishments were used for the preferential and improved
treatment which I, as a German, had advocated. That is of
importance to me for my defence, and I am asking you - I
shall ask you through my counsel - to make detailed
inquiries about these two hotels, and I also request that
you ask M. Poncet, as the leading French detainee, about the
treatment he received there. He had such a good time there
that he gave French lessons to

                                                  [Page 310]

the wife of a criminal investigation official, and taught
her French when they went for walks for hours without being

Q. Defendant, did you or did you not issue instructions to
Muller, as Section Chief IV, as to whether certain
individuals who were in confinement at Berlin should be
transported to Southern Germany or be shot? And for your
assistance, I will suggest to you that it was in February,
1945, when the Russian Armies were closing in on Berlin.
"Yes" or "No," if you can.

A. The Russian Army was not very near to Berlin in February,
1945. I think military officials would be able to give you
more precise information as to where the fighting was going
on at the time. I do not believe that the evacuation of any
camps to the South was proposed at that time.

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