The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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Q. But notwithstanding the estimate he made of those men as
dangerous persons, did he not thereafter appoint them both
in his Ministry of Interior?

A. Well, of course, they were actually appointed by Hitler.
However, I can only say that when I took leave of Frick at
the time I left the Ministry of Interior in May, 1935, Frick
told me that the eternal scandal which was attached to me
had taught him from now on to take only Party members in his
Ministry, and as far as possible those who had the Golden
Party Emblem. He said that it was possible that in the
course of events he might even be forced to allow Himmler
into his Ministry but in no case would he accept the
murderer Heydrich. Those were the last words I exchanged
with Frick.

Q. Both were put in charge of matters that were under his
legal control, were they not?

A. Yes, they became members of the Reich Ministry of the
Interior and Frick remained their superior.


Q. Did you say that those were the last words which you
exchanged with the defendant Frick?

A. Yes. That was in 1935 and I have not met him or talked to
him since.


Q. Now, after 1934 Frick was the Minister in charge of the
running and controlling of concentration camps, was he not,
Dr. Gisevius?

A. In my opinion the Reich Minister of the Interior was
responsible from the beginning for all police matters in the
Reich and therefore also for the concentration camps, and I
do not believe that one can say he had that responsibility
only after 1934.

Q. Well, I am willing to accept your amendment to my
question. I ask that you be shown Document 3751-PS, which
has not yet been offered in evidence.

(Witness handed document.)

Now, this purports to be a communication from Dr. Guertner,
the Minister of Justice, to Reich and Prussian Minister of
the Interior. That would be from your friend Dr. Guertner to
Frick, would it not?

A. I believe I heard you say "friend," Guertner, during the
time he acted as Minister, did not conduct himself in such a
way that I could call him my friend.

Q. Well then, tell us about Guertner. Tell us about
Guertner's position in this situation, because we have a
communication here, apparently from him.

A. Guertner?

Q. Yes.

A. At, that time Guertner without doubt, made many attempts
to uncover the cruelty in the camps and to initiate criminal
procedure. In individual cases Guertner did make many
attempts, but after 30 June he signed the law which
legalised all these dreadful things, and also in other
respects Guertner never obtained the logical results of his
views. But this document which you submit

                                                  [Page 267]

to me was such an attempt by Guertner and the decent
officials in the Ministry of Justice to bring the question
of the Gestapo terror to discussion. As far as I recollect
this is one of the letters which we discussed unofficially
beforehand, which was written in order to provoke

Q. I now desire to read some parts of this into the record.
It becomes Exhibit USA 828. I will offer it as such. Will
you kindly follow the German text and see if I am quoting

  "My dear Reichsminister:
  Enclosed you will find a copy of a report of the
  Inspector of the Secret State Police, dated 28 March,
  This report gives me the opportunity to state my
  fundamental attitude toward the question of corrective
  treatment of internees. The numerous instances of ill-
  treatment which have come to the knowledge of the
  Ministry of Justice point to three different reasons for
  such ill-treatment:-
  1. Beating as a disciplinary punishment in concentration
  2. Ill-treatment, mostly of political internees, in order
  to make them talk.
  3. Ill-treatment of internees arising out of sheer
  wantonness: or for sadistic motives."

I think I will not take the Tribunal's time to read his
comment on number one or number two.

About number three - you will find in the German text:-

  "The experience of the first revolutionary years has
  shown that the persons who are charged to administer the
  beatings generally lose their sense of the purpose and
  meaning of their action after a short time, and permit
  themselves to be governed by personal feelings of revenge
  or sadistic tendencies. Thus, members of the guard detail
  of the former concentration camp at Bredow near Stettin
  completely stripped a prostitute who had an argument with
  one of them, and beat her with whips and cowhides in such
  a fashion that the woman two months later still showed
  two open and infected wounds.
  In the concentration camp at Kemna near Wupperthal,
  prisoners were locked up in a narrow clothing locker and
  were then tortured by blowing in cigarette smoke,
  upsetting the locker, etc. In some cases the prisoners
  were first given salt herring to eat, in order to produce
  an especially strong and torturing thirst.
  In the Hehenstein concentration camp in Saxony, prisoners
  had to stand under a dripping apparatus especially
  constructed for this purpose until the drops of water
  which fell down in even intervals caused seriously
  infected wounds on their scalps.
  In a concentration camp in Hamburg four prisoners were
  lashed in the form of a cross to a grating for days, once
  without interruption for three days and nights, once for
  five days and nights, and fed so meagrely with dry bread
  that they almost died of hunger.
  These few examples show a degree of cruelty which is such
  an insult to every German sensibility, that it is
  impossible to consider any extenuating circumstances.
  In conclusion, I should like to present my opinion about
  these three points to you, my dear Herr Reich Minister,
  in your capacity as cabinet member in charge of the
  establishment of protective custody and the camps for
  protective custody."

                                                  [Page 268]

And he goes on to make certain recommendations for action by
the Minister.

I do not know whether the Tribunal cares to have more of
this read.

Q. Was any improvement in conditions noted after the receipt
of that communication by Frick?

A. The letter was received at the time I left the Ministry
of the Interior. I should like to say only one thing
concerning this letter. What is described therein is really
only a fraction of what we knew. I helped to prepare this
letter, in that I spoke to the officials concerned in the
Ministry of Justice. The Minister of Justice could only
bring up those matters which had by chance become known
legally through some penal measure. But there can be no
doubt that this communication was used as a motive for a
very bold letter from Heydrich to Goering, dated 28 March,
1935, in which he disputed the right of the Minister of
Justice to prosecute in cases of mistreatment. The letter,
therefore, does not add anything new to my descriptions and
no doubt you have all been convinced that these conditions
which started at that time never ceased but become worse as
time went on.

Q. Now, there came a time when Heydrich was assassinated in
Prague, did there not?

A. Yes, some very brave Czechs were able to do what we
unfortunately could not achieve. That will always be to
their glory.

Q. Now, I suppose the Czechs, and perhaps you too, expected
that the assassination of Heydrich would result in some
improvement in this condition?

A. We asked ourselves, we, Canaris, Oster, Nebe and the
others of the group, whether it was at all possible that an
even worse man could be found to succeed such a monster as
Heydrich; and we really did think that the Gestapo terror
would now subside and that perhaps we would have a certain
amount of honesty and integrity or that at least the
cruelties might be reduced.

Q. And then came Kaltenbrunner. Did you notice any
improvement after the appointment of Kaltenbrunner? Tell us
about that.

A. Kaltenbrunner came and things become worse from day to
day. Once more we learned that perhaps the impulsive actions
of a murderer like Heydrich were not as bad as the cold,
legal logic of a lawyer who took over the administration of
such a dangerous instrument as the Gestapo.

Q. Can you tell us whether Kaltenbrunner took an even more
sadistic attitude than Himmler and Schellenberg had done?
Were you informed about that?

A. Yes. I know that Heydrich, in a certain sense, had
something like a bad conscience when he committed his
crimes. At any rate, he did not like it if, in the circles
of the Gestapo, these things were discussed openly. Nebe,
who, as Chief of the Criminal Police, had the same rank as
the Chief of the Gestapo, Muller, always told me that
Heydrich took care to conceal his crimes.

Upon the entry of Kaltenbrunner into that organisation, this
practice ceased. All these things were now openly discussed
among the department chiefs of the Gestapo. Of course, the
war had started and these gentlemen lunched together, and
Nebe often came to me completely exhausted from such
luncheons, so that he had a nervous breakdown. On two
occasions Nebe had to be sent on sick leave for lengthy
periods because he simply could not stand the open cynicism
with which mass murder, and the technique of mass murder,
were discussed.

I remind you only of the gruesome chapter of the
installation of the first gas chamber, which was discussed
in detail in this circle, as were the experiments as to how
one could most quickly and most efficiently remove the Jews.
These were the most horrible descriptions I have ever heard
in my life, since of course,

                                                  [Page 269]

it is so much worse when you hear them from some one who is
still under the direct impression of such discussions, and
who because of this is almost at the point of collapsing
physically and mentally, than when you hear of it from
documents. Nebe became so ill, that actually as early as 20
July he had a persecution mania and became a human wreck as
the result of everything he had gone through.

Q. Was it the custom to have daily luncheon conferences of
the chiefs of the Main Security Office, those who happened
to be in town?

A. Daily conferences; everything was discussed at luncheon.
This was of particular importance to us, because we heard
details of the methods used by the Gestapo in the fight
against our group.

To prove my statements, I can report that, for instance, the
order issued for the arrest of Goerdeler on 17 July was
decided upon during such a luncheon conference, and Nebe
warned us at once. That is the reason why Goerdeler was able
to escape at least for a while, and why we were able to
learn to what extent the Gestapo knew of our plot.

Q. And who were the regular attendants at those luncheon

A. Kaltenbrunner presided. Then there were Gestapo Leader
Muller, Schellenberg, Ohlendorf, and Nebe.

Q. And do you know whether, at those meetings, the new kinds
of torture and the technique of killing by gas, and other
measures in the concentration camps, were discussed?

A. Yes. They were discussed in great detail, and sometimes I
received the description only a few minutes later.

Q. Now, what was the situation with reference to the
information of the Foreign Office about the conduct of the
Gestapo? Will you tell us what was done to inform the
Foreign Office from time to time of the crimes that the
Gestapo were committing?

A. The Foreign Office, particularly during the earlier
years, was continually kept informed, since nearly every day
some foreigner was half beaten to death or robbed. Then came
the diplomatic missions, with their complaints, and these
complaints were sent to the Ministry of the Interior by the
Foreign Ministry. All this went through my office, and
sometimes I had four or five such notes a day from the
Foreign Office regarding perpetrations and excesses of the
Gestapo, and I can testify that in the course of the years
there were no crimes of the Gestapo which were not set forth
in these notes.

Q. Did you make certain reports to the Foreign Office which
were so dispatched that you are reasonably certain they
would reach Neurath?

A. Ribbentrop was not yet the Foreign Minister at that time

Q. No, Neurath.

A. I very often discussed these matters personally with the
advisers of the Foreign Office, because they were of a very
particular nature, and they were most indignant. I
asked them repeatedly to put these matters before the
Minister through the official channels. In addition, I gave
as much material as I could to one of the closest
collaborators of the Foreign Minister, the Chief of Records,
Ambassador von Buelow-Schwandte, and, according to the
information I received from Buelow-Schwandte, he very often
submitted that material to Neurath.

Q. Now, were certain of the collaborators close
collaborators of von Papen? Was von Papen subject to action
by the Gestapo?

A. To start with, the entire group around von Papen was
continuously under surveillance by the Gestapo because in
the earlier years there was the impression

                                                  [Page 270]
among wide masses of the people that von Papen was a special
spokesman for decency and right. A large group collected
around von Papen, and, of course, that was most carefully
watched by the Gestapo. Since the complaints which von Papen
received by the score were carefully filed in his office,
and since no doubt von Papen quite often took these papers
either to Goering or to the Hindenburg palace, the closest
collaborators of von Papen were, of course, suspected by the
Gestapo; and so, on 30 June, 1934, Oberregierungsrat von
Bose, the closest assistant of von Papen, was shot dead in
the doorway of von Papen's office. The two other assistants
of von Papen were imprisoned and the man who wrote von
Papen's radio speeches, Edgar Jung, was arrested weeks
before 30 June, and on the morning of 1 July, he was found
murdered in a ditch along the highway near Oranienburg.

Q. Did von Papen continue in office after that?

A. I have never heard that he resigned, and I know that very
soon after the Austrian Chancellor Dollfuss was murdered he
was sent to Vienna as Hitler's Ambassador.

Q. Did he ever make any protests that you know of?

A. I personally heard of none at the time, although, of
course, we were extremely keen to hear which minister would
protest. However, no letter from Papen arrived at the
Ministry of the Interior.

Q. Were some of his collaborators murdered after the
Anschluss in Austria?

A. On the day of the Anschluss, when the S.S. entered
Austria, von Papen's closest collaborator, Legation
Councillor Freiherr von Ketteler, was kidnapped by the
Gestapo. We looked for him for weeks, until three or four
weeks later his body was washed up on the banks of the

Q. After that, did Papen continue to serve as a part of the
Hitler Government, and accept further offices from Hitler's

A. He was no longer a member of the Government at the time.
Immediately after the march into Austria von Papen was
disposed of as Ambassador. However, it didn't take long
before he continued his activities as ambassador at Ankara.

MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: Does the Tribunal desire to rise at this point?

THE PRESIDENT: You would like a little more time, wouldn't
you, with this witness?

MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: It will take a little more time, your

THE PRESIDENT: Yes. We will adjourn now.(The Tribunal
adjourned until Friday, 26 April, 1946, at 10.00 hours.)

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