The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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Q. Witness, I should like to talk about the efforts which
were made by the Ministry of the Interior to stop the
arbitrary methods of the Gestapo, particularly with
reference to the concentration camps. I therefore ask you to
look at a memorandum which originates from the Reich and
Prussian Ministry of the Interior. It is Document 775-PS,
which I submitted this morning, when I presented the
evidence for Frick, as Exhibit Frick-9. It is number 34 in
the document book.

Q. Witness, do you know that memorandum?

A. No, I don't. It appears that this memorandum was drawn up
after I had left the Ministry of the Interior. I gather that
this is so from the fact that in this memorandum the Reich
Minister of the Interior appears already to have

                                                  [Page 218]

given up the fight, since he writes that, as a matter of
principle, it should be made clear who bears the
responsibility, and, if necessary, the responsibility for
all the consequences must now - and I quote-:

  "be borne by the Reichsfuehrer S.S. who, in fact, has
  already claimed for himself the leadership of the
  political police in the Reich."

At the time when I was at the Reich Ministry of the Interior
we tried particularly to prevent Himmler taking over the
political police. This is evidently a memorandum written
about six months later, when the terror had become still
more rife. The facts which are quoted here are known to me.

Q. Can you say anything about the Puendor case and the
Esterwegen, Oldenburg case?

A. The Esterwegen case can be described quite briefly. It is
one of many. So far as I can recollect, an S.A. or local
group leader was arrested by the Gestapo because he got
excited about the conditions in the Papenbruck concentration
camp. This was not the first time, either. I don't know why
the defendant Frick picked on this particular case. At any
rate, one day Daluege showed me one of those customary hand-
written slips sent by Frick to Himmler. Frick had written in
the margin in large green letters, and had told Himmler that
an S.A.-man or local group leader or whatever he was, had
been arrested illegally, that this man must be released at
once and that if Himmler did that sort of thing once again,
he Frick, would institute criminal proceedings against
Himmler for deprivation of liberty.

I remember this story very well, because it was somewhat
peculiar, considering the police conditions which existed at
the time, that Himmler should be threatened by Frick with
criminal proceedings, and Daluege made some sneering remarks
to me regarding Frick's action. That is the one case.

THE PRESIDENT: What was the date?

THE WITNESS: This must have happened in the spring of 1935,
I should say in March or April.


Q. Witness, do you know how Himmler reacted to that threat
of criminal proceedings?

A. Yes; there was another case of the same kind. That was
the Puender case which was mentioned just now. He reacted
similarly to both, and therefore it might be better if I
first describe the Puender case in this connection. This
concerned a Berlin lawyer of high standing who was legal
adviser to the Swedish Embassy. The widow of the Ministerial
Director Klausner, who had been murdered on 30 June,
approached Puender, as she wanted to sue the life insurance
companies for payment of her annuity. But since Klausner had
allegedly committed suicide on that day, no director of any
insurance company dared pay the money to the widow;
consequently the attorney had to sue. But the Nazis had made
a law according to which all such awkward cases - awkward
for the Nazis-were not to be tried in court. They were to be
taken to a so-called board of referees (Spruchkammer) in the
Reich Ministry of the Interior. If I am not mistaken, this
law was called "Law for the Settlement of Civilian Claims" -
they were never at a loss for fine sounding names and
formulas at that time. This law forced the attorney to
submit his claim to the court first. He was apprehensive. He
went to the Ministry of the Interior and told the State
Secretary: "If I comply with the law and sue, I shall be
arrested." The State Secretary in the Ministry of the
Interior forced him to sue. Thereupon the very wise attorney
went to the Ministry of Justice and told the State Secretary
Freisler that he did not want to sue, since he would
certainly be arrested by the Gestapo. The State' Secretary
in the Ministry of Justice informed him that he would have
to sue, whatever happened, but that nothing

                                                  [Page 219]

would happen, since the courts had been instructed to pass
such cases on without comment to the board of referees in
the Ministry of the Interior. Thereupon the attorney sued
and the Gestapo promptly arrested him for defamation because
he had stated that the Ministerial Director Klausner had not
met his death by suicide. This was for us a classical
example of what we had come to in Germany as far as
protective custody was concerned.

I had taken the liberty of selecting this case from among
hundreds, or I should say thousands of similar cases and of
suggesting to Frick that this matter should be brought to
the notice not only of Goering but this time of Hitler as
well. Then I sat down and drafted a letter or a report from
Frick to Hitler, which also went to the Ministry of Justice.
There were more than five pages and I discussed from every
angle the facts concerning Ministerial Director Klausner's
suicide, and the ensuing law suit. This report to Hitler
concluded with Frick's remark, that the time had now come to
have the problem of protective custody settled by the Reich
and by lawful means.

And now I answer your question regarding what happened. You
see, it roughly coincided with Frick's letter to Himmler
regarding deprivation of freedom. Himmler took these two
letters to a meeting of Reich Leaders (Reichsleiter), i.e.,
the so-called ministers of the movement, and he put the
question to them, whether it was proper to allow one
Reichsleader, that is Frick, to write such letters to
another Reichsleader, that is, to Himmler. These worthy
gentlemen answered this question in the negative and
reprimanded Frick. Then Himmler went to the meeting of the
Prussian cabinet, where the protective custody law, which I
mentioned, was being discussed.

Perhaps I may draw your attention to the fact that at that
time it was a rare thing for Himmler to be allowed to attend
a meeting of Prussian ministers. There was a time in Germany
- and it was quite a long period - when Himmler was not the
powerful man which he afterwards became because the
bourgeois ministers and the generals were cowards and gave
way to him. Thus, it was a rare thing for Himmler to be
allowed to attend a meeting of the Prussian Ministerial
Council at all. This particular meeting ended by my being
discharged from the Ministry of the Interior.

Q. Witness, I should like to quote to you two sentences from
the memorandum which I have just shown to you, that is,
Document 775-PS, and ask you to tell me whether the facts
are stated correctly. I quote:-

  "In this connection, I draw your attention to the case of
  the lawyer Puender, who was taken into protective custody
  together with his colleagues only because, after making
  enquiry at the Reich Ministry of the Interior and our
  ministry, he had filed a suit, which he was forced to do
  by a Reich Law."

A. Yes, that is correct.

Q. And then the other sentence. I quote:-

  "I only mention here the case of a teacher and
  Kreisleiter in Esterwegen, who was kept in protective
  custody for eight days because - "

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Pannenbecker, where is that sentence
which you have just read?

DR. PANNENBECKER: In the Document Book Frick, under No. 34,
second sentence.

THE PRESIDENT: Which page?

DR. PANNENBECKER: In my document book it is Page 80.

THE INTERPRETER: It is Page 70, my Lord, in the book the
translator has.

THE PRESIDENT: Are you speaking of paragraph 3 on Page 70?

DR. PANNENBECKER: No. Mr. President, I have just discovered
that this particular sentence in the document has not been
translated. Perhaps I may read one more sentence which
obviously has been translated. It can be found in paragraph
3 of the same document.

                                                  [Page 220]

  "I only mention here the case of a teacher and
  Kreisleiter in Esterwegen, who was kept in protective
  custody for eight days because, as it turned out
  afterwards, he had sent a correct report to his district
  councillor (Landrat) on cases of ill-treatment by the

A. Yes, that corresponds to the facts.

Q. Witness, did you personally have any support from Frick
for your own protection?

A. Yes. At that time, of course, I was such a suspect in the
eyes of the Secret State Police that all sorts of evil
designs were being made against me. Frick gave an order,
therefore, that I should be protected in my apartment by the
local police. A direct telephone from my apartment to the
police station was installed, so that I had only to pick up
the receiver and at any rate could inform somebody in case
of surprise visitors. Furthermore, the Gestapo used their
usual methods against me by accusing me of criminal acts.
Apparently the files were taken to Hitler in the Reich
Chancellery, but Frick intervened and it was soon discovered
that this was a namesake of mine. Frick said quite openly,
on an ordinary telephone, that these fellows, as he put it,
had once more lied to the Fuehrer. This was the signal for
the Gestapo who were, of course, listening in to this
telephone call, that they could no longer use these methods.

Then we advanced one step further through Heydrich. He was
so kind as to inform me by telephone that I probably had
forgotten that he could pursue his personal and political
opponents even to their graves. I made an official report of
that threat to Frick, and Frick, either personally or
through Daluege, intervened with Heydrich, and no doubt he
thereby rendered me a considerable service, for Heydrich
never liked it very much when his murderous intentions were
talked about openly.

Q. Witness, would at least a minister of the Reich have no
cause for alarm about his own personal safety if he tried to
fight against the terror of the Gestapo and Himmler?

A. If you ask me that now, I must say that Schacht was the
only one who was put into a concentration camp. But it is
true that we all asked ourselves just how long it would take
for a Reichminister to be sent to a concentration camp. As
regards Frick, he told me confidentially, as far back as
1934, that the Reich Governor of Bavaria had given him
reliable information, according to which he was to be
murdered while taking a holiday in the country in Bavaria;
and he asked me whether I could find out any details. At
that time I went with my friend Nebe to Bavaria by car, and
we made a secret investigation which did at any rate,
disclose that such plans had been discussed. But, as I said,
Frick survived.

DR. PANNENBECKER: I have no further questions.

DR. DIX: (Counsel for defendant Schacht): May I ask you to
decide on the following question. I, too, have called
Gisevius as a witness, and therefore the problem which I am
putting refers to the present and not to some subsequent
time. This is, therefore, not a subsequent question which I
am putting, but I am examining him as my witness. I am of
the opinion that it is right and expedient that I now follow
up the examination of my colleague Pannenbecker, and that my
other colleagues, who also want to put questions, follow the
two of us. I ask the Tribunal to decide on this question.

THE PRESIDENT: Are you the only defendants' counsel who
asked for this witness to be called on behalf of your

DR. DIX: I called him.

THE PRESIDENT: Yes, I know, but are you the only defendants'
counsel who asked to call him?

DR. DIX: I believe, Sir, I am the only one who has called

THE PRESIDENT: Very well, Dr. Dix, you may examine him next.

                                                  [Page 221]


Q. Dr. Gisevius, Dr. Pannenbecker has already mentioned that
you have published a book entitled "To the Bitter End." I
have submitted quotations from that book to the Tribunal as
evidence, and they have, therefore, been accepted as
documentary evidence by the Tribunal. For this reason I now
ask you: Are the contents of that book historically true and
did you write it only from memory or is it based on notes
which you made at the time?

A. I can say here to the best of my knowledge and with a
clear conscience that the contents of the book are
historically true. In Germany I always made notes as far as
it was possible. I have already said here that my dead
friend Oster had, in the Ministry, a considerable collection
of documents, to which I had access at all times. I have not
written about any important matter which contains reference
to friends from my opposition group, without having
consulted them many times about it. Further, since 1938, I
have been in Switzerland, first as a visitor and later on
for professional reasons, and there I was able to continue
my notes undisturbed. The volume which has been submitted to
the Tribunal was practically completed in 1941 and had
already been shown to several friends of mine abroad in

THE PRESIDENT: If he says that the book is true, that is


Q. Since when have you known the defendant Schacht?

A. I have known the defendant Schacht since the end of 1934.

Q. On what occasion and in what circumstances did you meet

A. I met him when I worked in the Reich Ministry of the
Interior and collected material against the Gestapo. I was
consulted by various parties, who either feared or had
already had trouble with the Gestapo. Thus one day Schacht,
who was then Minister for Economy, sent to me a man whom he
trusted - to be precise his plenipotentiary, Herbert Goring,
- to ask me whether I would help Schacht. He, Schacht, had
for some time felt that he was being watched by Himmler and
the Gestapo and lately had had good reason to suspect that
an informer, or at least a microphone, had been installed in
his own house. I was asked whether I could help in this
case. I said I could. I got a microphone expert from the
Reich Post Administration, and the following morning I
visited Schacht's ministerial apartment. We went with the
microphone expert from room to room and we did not have to
search very long. It had been fixed very crudely by the
Gestapo. They had mounted the microphone only too visibly
and, moreover, they had engaged a domestic servant to spy on
Schacht; she had a listening device attached to the house
telephone installed in her own bedroom. That was easy to
discover and so we were able to unmask the whole thing. It
was on that occasion that I first spoke with Schacht.

Q. And what was the subject of your conversation? Did you,
as early as that, speak about political matters?

A. We spoke about the material and the somewhat peculiar
situation which had brought us together. Schacht knew that I
was very active in opposing the Gestapo and I, for my part,
was aware that Schacht was known for his utterances against
the S.S. and the Gestapo on numberless occasions. Many
middle-class people in Germany placed their hopes in him, as
the only strong minister who could protect them if need be.
Particularly the industrialists and businessmen, who were
very important at the time, hoped for and often obtained his
support, so that it was quite natural that I immediately,
during that first conversation, told him everything that was
worrying me.

The main problem at that time was the removal of the Gestapo
and the removal of the Nazi regime. Therefore, our
conversation was highly political, and Schacht listened to
everything with an open mind which made it possible for me
to tell him everything.

Q. And what did he say?

                                                  [Page 222]

A. I told Schacht that we were inevitably drifting towards
radicalism and that it was doubtful whether, the way things
were going, we wouldn't have inflation and, that being so,
whether it would not be better if he himself would bring
about that inflation, since that would enable him to know
beforehand the exact date of such a crisis and, together
with the generals and anti-radical ministers, to make timely
arrangements to meet the situation when it became really
serious. I told him, "You should bring about that inflation,
you yourself will then be able to determine the course of
events, instead of allowing others to take things out of
your hands." He replied, "Look here, that's just the
difference which separates us: You want the crash and I do
not want it."

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