The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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Q. Then may I ask whose attempt it was? In this case it is
evidently an attempt by Hitler for he signed this decree.
Krueger was evidently more powerful than Hitler?

A. That question is not quite clear to me. You mean that
Krueger acted contrary to the decree of the Fuehrer? Of
course he did, but that has nothing to do with power. The
decree was considered by Himmler as a tremendous concession
made to me. I want to refer to a memorandum of the summer of
1942, I think, shortly after the decree of the Fuehrer came
into force.

THE PRESIDENT: The Tribunal will adjourn now.

(A recess was taken until 14.00 hours.)


Q. Tell us, defendant, who was the actual leader of the
National Socialist Party policy in the Government General?

A. I hear nothing at all.

Q. I have the following question to put to you: After 6 May,
1940, in the Government General ...

A. 6 May?

Q. Yes, 6 May, 1940, after the Nazi Organisation had been
completed in the Government General, who was appointed its

A. I was.

                                                  [Page 122]

Q. Thus the leadership of the administration of the National
Socialist Party and of the police was concentrated in your
hands. Therefore you were responsible for the administration
of the police and the political life in the Government

A. Before I answer that question, I must protest when you
say that I had control of the police.

Q. I believe that that is the only way one could interpret
the Fuehrer's orders and the other documents which I have
put to you.

A. No doubt, if one disregards the actual facts and the
realities of the situation.

Q. Well, then, let's pass on to another group of questions.
You heard of the existence of Maidanek only in 1944, isn't
that so?

A. In 1944 the name Maidanek was brought to my knowledge
officially for the first time by the Press Chief Maschner.

Q. I will now ask that you be shown a document which was
presented by your defence Counsel and which was compiled by
you and which is a report addressed to Hitler, dated June,
1943. I will read into the record one excerpt, and I wish to
remind you that this is dated 7 June, 1943:-

  "As a proof of the degree of lack of confidence shown the
  German leadership, I enclose a characteristic excerpt
  from the report of the chief of the Security Police and
  of the S.D. in the Government General - "

A. Just a moment. The wrong passage has been shown me. I
have the passage here on Page 35 of the German text, and it
is differently worded.

Q. Have you found the place now?

A. Yes. But you started with a different sentence. The
sentence here starts "A considerable part of the Polish
intelligentsia" -

THE PRESIDENT: Which page is it?

COLONEL SMIRNOV: Page 35 of the German text, last paragraph.

A. It starts here with the words "A considerable portion

Q. All right. Then I will continue:-

  "As a proof of the degree of lack of confidence shown the
  German leadership I enclose" - these are your own words,
  this passage comes somewhat higher up in the quotation -
  "a characteristic excerpt from the report of the Chief of
  the Security Police and of the S.D. in the Government
  General for the period from 1-31 May, 1943, concerning
  the propaganda possibilities resulting from Katyn."

A. That is not here. Would you be good enough to show me the

Q. No, it is there; it comes somewhat earlier in your text.

A. I think it has been omitted from my text.

Q. I begin now at that part which you find lower down at the
bottom. Follow the text:-

  "A large part of the Polish intelligentsia however would
  not let itself be influenced by the news from Katyn and
  held against Germany alleged similar crimes, especially

I omit the next sentence and I continue:-

  "Among that portion of the working classes which is not
  communistically inclined, this is scarcely denied; at the
  same time it is pointed out that the attitude of Germany
  towards the Poles is not any better."

Please note the next sentence:-

  "There are concentration camps at Auschwitz and Maidanek
  where likewise the mass murder of Poles was carried out

How can one reconcile this part of your report which
mentions Auschwitz and Maidanek, where mass murder took
place, with your statement that you heard of Maidanek only
at the end of 1944? Well, your report is dated June, 1943;
you mention there both Maidanek and Auschwitz.

A. With reference to Maidanek we were talking about the
extermination of

                                                  [Page 123]

Jews. The extermination of Jews in Maidanek became known to
me during the summer of 1944. Up to now the word Maidanek
has always been mentioned in connection with extermination
of Jews.

Q. Consequently, we can understand you - I take the text
submitted to you as an initial point - that in May, 1943,
you heard of the mass murder of Poles in Maidanek and in
1944 you heard of the mass murder of Jews?

A. I beg your pardon? I learnt about the extermination of
the Jews at Maidanek in 1944 from official documents handed
to me.

Q. And you heard of the mass killings of the Poles in 1943?

A. That is contained in my memorandum, and these are the
facts as I put them before the Fuehrer.

Q. I will ask that the following document be shown to you.
Do you know this document, are you acquainted with it?

A. It is a decree dated 2 October, 1943. I assume that the
wording agrees with the text of the original decree.

Q. Yes, in full agreement with the original text. In any
case your defence counsel can follow the text and will be
able to verify it. I have to ask you one question. What do
you think of this law signed by you?

A. Yes, it is here.

Q. You were President of the Reich Academy of Law. From the
standpoint of the most elementary standards of law what do
you think of this law signed by you?

THE PRESIDENT: Have you got the number of it?

COLONEL SMIRNOV: It is Exhibit USSR-335, Mr. President.

THE WITNESS: This is the general wording for a drumhead
court martial decree. It provides that the proceedings
should be headed by a judge, that a document should be drawn
up and that the proceedings should be recorded in writing.
Apart from that, I had the power to give pardons so that
every sentence had to be submitted to me.

Q. I would like you to tell us how this court for drumhead
court martial proceedings was composed, who the members of
this court were. Would you please pay attention to paragraph
3, point 1 of paragraph 3?

A. The Security Police, yes.

Q. You were telling us of your hostile attitude to the S.D.
Why, then did you give the S.D. the right to exert
oppression on the Polish population?

A. Because that was the only way by which I could exert any
influence on the sentences. If I had not published this
decree, then there would have been no possibility of control
and the police would simply have acted blindly.

Q. You spoke of the right of amnesty which was entrusted to
you. Would you please note paragraph 6 of this law. I remind
you that, according to the text, the verdict of this
drumhead court martial by the S.D. was to be put into effect
immediately. I remind you again that there was only one
possible verdict, death. How could you change it if the
condemned person was to be shot or hanged immediately after
the verdict?

A. The sentence would nevertheless have to come before me.

Q. Yes, but this sentence had to be carried out immediately.

A. That is the general instruction which I had issued in
connection with the power given me to grant reprieve, and
the committee which dealt with reprieves was continuously
sitting. Files were sent in -

Q. Since you have spoken of the right to reprieve, I will
put to you another question. Do you remember the A.B.

A. Yes.

Q. Do you remember that this action signified the execution
of thousands of Polish intellectuals?

A. No.

Q. Then what did it signify?

                                                  [Page 124]

A. It came within the framework of the general action of
appeasement and it was my plan to eliminate, by means of a
properly regulated procedure, arbitrary actions on the part
of the police. This was the meaning of that action.

Q. I do not understand very well what you mean. How did you
treat persons who were subjected to the A.B. Action, what
happened to them?

A. This meeting really only dealt with the question of

Q. I ask you what happened to them later?

A. They were arrested and taken into safe custody.

Q. And then?

A. Then they were subjected to the proceedings which had
been established. At least, that is what I intended.

Q. Was this left to the police exclusively?

A. The police were in charge.

Q. In other words, the police took over the extermination of
these people after they had been arrested, is that so?

A. Yes.

Q. Well, then tell us, please, why you did not exercise your
power of reprieve while they were carrying out this inhuman

A. I did make use of it.

Q. I will put before you your statement, dated 30 May, 1940.
You certainly remember this meeting with the police on 30
May, 1940, when you gave final instructions to the police
before carrying out this action?

A. No.

Q. You stated the following:-
  "Any attempt on the part of the legal institutions to
  intervene in the operation A.B., undertaken as a police
  measure, should be considered treason towards German

Do you remember this statement?

A. I do not remember it, but you must take into account all
the circumstances which spread over several weeks. You must
consider the statement in its entirety and not seize upon
one single sentence. This concerns a development which went
on for weeks and months and in the course of which the
reprieve committee was established by me for the first time.
That was my way of protesting against arbitrary actions, and
introducing legal justice in all these proceedings. That is
a development extending over many weeks, which you cannot,
in my opinion, summarise in one sentence.

Q. I am speaking of words which in my opinion can have only
one meaning for a jurist. You wrote:-

  "The reprieve committee which is part of my office, is
  not concerned with this action. The operation A.B. will
  be carried out exclusively by Police and S.S. Chief
  Krueger and his organisation. This is a penal measure
  which exists outside the scope of a normal legal, trial."

That is to say you renounced your right of pardon?

A. At that particular moment, but if you follow the further
development of the operation A.B. during the following
weeks, then you will see that this never became effective.
That was an intention, a bad intention which, thank God, I
gave up in time. Perhaps my defence counsel will be able to
say a few words on the subject later.

Q. One single question interests me. Did you renounce your
right of pardon while carrying out this operation or not?

A. No.

Q. Well then, how can you account for your words, this one

  "The reprieve committee is not concerned with these

How should we interpret these words?

A. This is not a decree, it is not an edict, it is not the
final ruling on the matter. It is a remark which was made on
the spur of the moment and was
                                                  [Page 125]

then negotiated on for days. But one must recognise the
final stage of the development and not merely the various
motives as they came up during the development.

Q. Yes, I understand that very well, defendant. But I would
like to ask you, was this statement made during a conference
with the police and did you instruct the police in that

A. Not during that meeting. I assume it came up in some
other connection. Here we discussed only this one action.
After all, I also had to talk to State Secretary Buehler.

Q. Well, all right. While discussing with the police the
A.B. operation you stated that the results of this action
would not concern the reprieve committee which was
subordinated to you, is that right?

A. That sentence is contained in the diary, but it is not
the final result but rather an intermediate stage.

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