The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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Last-Modified: 2000/09/15

DR. KAUFFMANN, Continued:

I should like to draw your attention to a few words stated
by the defendant Seyss-Inquart on two points. He mentioned
that Kaltenbrunner advocated the complete autonomy of the
Polish State as well as the re-introduction of the
independence of both Christian Churches, and I might add
that Dr. Hoettl testified that Kaltenbrunner defended his
activity very energetically and met with most bitter
resistance by Bormann. It was not only in this field that
Kaltenbrunner tried to realize his humane intentions.
Therefore, it seems to me to be of significance also to
point out his efforts to make Austrian Gauleiter understand
that any resistance against the troops of the Western powers
would be senseless, and that in view of this, irresponsible
orders for resistance were not to be issued. This was
confirmed by the witness Waneck. The prosecution held
Kaltenbrunner responsible for the evacuation and planned
destruction of certain concentration camps. I believe the
attempt to prove this may not only be considered as
unsuccessful, but that the contrary has been proved. Upon
the question addressed to Dr. Hoettl, whether Kaltenbrunner
had instructed the commandant of the concentration camp
Mauthausen to surrender the camp to the advancing troops,
Dr. Hoettl answered:

  "It is correct that Kaltenbrunner issued such an order.
  He dictated it in my presence for transmission to the
  camp commandant."

As a supplement Kaltenbrunner, during his personal
examination, declared very logically: If camp Mauthausen,
filled with criminals, was not evacuated, an order to
evacuate Dachau would have been devoid of any basis by
reason of its - compared with Mauthausen - harmless inmates.
According to the testimony of Freiherr von Eberstein, the
destruction of the concentration camp Dachau with its two
secondary camps was the heartfelt wish of the then Gauleiter
of Munich, Giessler.

Finally the witness Waneck confirmed the fact that such an
order of Kaltenbrunner had not become known to him; whereas,
owing to his position with Kaltenbrunner he would certainly
have known, had such an order been issued or even

Who actually issued these orders can no longer be
established with certainty. The witness Hoess, in his
examination, mentioned an order of evacuation by Himmler as
well as directly by Hitler.

In this connection it seems appropriate to me to refer to
Kaltenbrunner's participation in the sad case of Sagan as
charged by the prosecution. With reference to his statement,
confirmed by the examination of the witness Wielen, it
appears to

                                                  [Page 237]

me to be a proven fact that this matter came to
Kaltenbrunner's attention for the first time only several
weeks later, after the conclusion of this tragedy.

It also appears doubtful to me whether the so-called
Einsatzgruppen introduced on the basis of Hitler's
"Commissar Order" of 1941 were still in existence and
functioning after the appointment of Kaltenbrunner. Some
facts speak for it, others against it. Kaltenbrunner denied
the existence of these groups during his term as chief of
the Reich Security Office. I do not want to lose myself in
details but I should like to draw the attention of the
Tribunal to these doubts. The same applies, for example, to
the so-called "Kugel" decree. Document 1650-PS confirms that
it was not Kaltenbrunner but Muller, the infamous Chief of
Amt IV, who issued the instructions involved, while Document
3844-PS mentions personal signatures of the defendant. It
appears to me that the first document deserves preference.
May I finally draw your attention to those documents which
are of less value as evidence because they are based upon
indirect observation. I believe that the Tribunal possesses
sufficient experience in evaluating evidence so that I need
not argue about this any further.

I have thus far voluntarily conceded the negative so that I
may be the more, justified in emphasizing the positive in
Kaltenbrunner's personality. How far, however, shall I be
justified in stating that Kaltenbrunner had actually
insufficient knowledge of many war crimes and crimes against
humanity which were committed with some kind of
participation of Section IV in the course of the last two,
years of the war? Would such a defence offer the prospect of
essentially exculpating the Chief of the Reich Security

Dr. Kaltenbrunner admitted during his examination that it
was only very late, in some cases as late as 1944 or 1945,
that he obtained knowledge of orders, instructions and
directives, despite their much earlier origin - in some
instances even several years before he took office.

And here I add that I wish to emphasize particularly at this
point that these orders, which are contrary to international
morals and humanity, all go back to a time during which Dr.
Kaltenbrunner was still in Austria.

I will not at this moment try to prove in detail all these
statements of Kaltenbrunner's. The prosecution is interested
exclusively in whether such orders, decrees, directives,
etc., were also executed during the period of time in which
the defendant was in office as head of the Reich Security
Office. It is also often very difficult for the defence
counsel to follow the defendant in the secret channels of
his knowledge or his ignorance. Perhaps the defence counsel
also sometimes lacks, the necessary scope for a free and
just judgement, in view of the hecatombs of victims spread
out across a whole continent, and he is unfair to his
client. Thus he leaves the nature of the defendant's
character to the later judgement of history, for a defence
counsel is not infallible when it comes to drawing a picture
of the soul of his own client.

During his examination before the Tribunal Kaltenbrunner
once explained the difficult position he was in when he took
over his office on 1st February, 1943, and I hope that
nobody will misjudge this situation. The Reich was still
fighting and even in 1943 was still dangerous for any
adversary colliding with it. But it was already a fight for
a goal obviously far away and out of reach. Whoever tries to
hold back the spokes of the wheels of a vehicle rolling into
an abyss at top speed will perish all too easily. Coupled
with these conditions, from which there was no way of
escaping, there was a state of stagnation, caused by nervous
insecurity in all areas of private and public life.
Kaltenbrunner said with regard to this situation:

  "I beg you to put yourself into my situation. I came to
  Berlin in the beginning of February, 1943. I began my
  work in May, 1943, except for a few visits of
  instruction. In the fourth year of the war the orders and
  decrees of the Reich in the executive sector had piled up
  by the thousand on the tables and in the filing cabinets
  of the civil service. It was quite impossible for a human
  being to read through them all, even in the course of a
  year, Even if

                                                  [Page 238]

  I had felt it to be my duty, I could never possibly have
  made myself acquainted with all these orders."

In connection with this I remind you respectfully that
according to the evidence given by the witness Dr. Hoettl
and others, the RSHA in Berlin had 3,000 employees of all
categories when Kaltenbrunner was in office, and that
according to the statement of the same witness,
Kaltenbrunner never dominated this office completely.

Nobody will be able to deny the justification of the
question whether it was not Kaltenbrunner's duty to have
himself informed in the shortest possible time at least
about the most essential proceedings in all the departments
of the Reich Security Office and whether he would not then
very soon, anyway, have obtained knowledge of, for example,
Himmler's and Eichmann's Jewish operation and many other
serious terrorist measures. I may remind you that
Kaltenbrunner declared repeatedly and emphatically, in
answering my questions before this Tribunal, that he
protested regularly every time he heard of such occurrences,
addressing himself to Himmler and even to Hitler, but that
he had but little success and that only after a long while.
The defendant, for example, traces back the cessation of the
extermination of Jews, by an order of Hitler in October,
1944, to his personal initiative. However difficult it may
be to judge whether the power and influence of a single
person would have been sufficient to bring about the
suspension of a programme of the extermination of a race,
already in its final phase, I believe I may say without
being incorrect that many tens of thousands of Jews owe it
to this man that they escaped the hell of Auschwitz and
still see the light of the sun. From the statements of Dr.
Bachmann and Dr. Meyer of the International Red Cross, it
appears that Kaltenbrunner asked the International Red Cross
to organize relief-shipments to a large Jewish non-political
camp at Unskirchen near Wels.

Wanek has characterised Kaltenbrunner's attitude towards the
question of Himmler's Jewish policy as follows. He says:

  "In the daily haste of our joint work and discussions on
  foreign policy, we did not touch the problem of Jewish
  policy any more. At the time Kaltenbrunner came into
  office this question was already so far advanced that
  Kaltenbrunner could not have had any influence on it. If
  Kaltenbrunner expressed himself at all on the subject, it
  was to the effect that mistakes had been made here that
  could never be made good."

This witness then finally confirmed the fact that this
operation was conducted independently through a direct
channel of command from Himmler to Eichmann, and said that
the position of Eichmann, which already had been a
dominating one when Heydrich was still alive, had
strengthened steadily, so that eventually he would have
acted completely independently in the entire Jewish sphere.

And here I add that, according to the statement of Hoess,
the only man left alive who is familiar with this question,
it is a proven fact that only about two to three hundred
people knew of that dreadful order of Himmler's which was
given during a conference which lasted for ten or fifteen
minutes, on the basis of which more than four million people
were exterminated. And I add that a large nation of eighty
million had learned little or probably nothing about these
things, which happened in the south-east of the Reich during
the war. Professor Burckhardt states that Kaltenbrunner,
when discussing the Jewish question, declared:

  "It is the greatest nonsense; all the Jews should be
  released, that is my personal opinion."

But in spite of all this, the fundamental question is raised
on the question of guilt: May a high official, the head of
an influential office, whose subordinates in a far-reaching
hierarchy continuously commit crimes against humanity and
against the rules of International Law, assume such an
office at all or remain in such an office, although he
condemns these crimes? Or is it perhaps a different case if
this man has the intention of doing all that is humanly
possible to break the chain of crimes and thereby finally to
become a benefactor of humanity? The last question is
generally to be answered in the affirmative. It is to be
appraised solely from the standpoint of the highest ethical

                                                  [Page 239]

My further thought in this connection is the following: He
who invokes such an intention is free of guilt if, from the
first day of his taking over such an office, he not only
refuses all active participation in the direct commission
of injustice, but even searches for and uses every
conceivable possibility of eliminating unjust orders and
their execution, by his continual resistance and

The defendant himself has also sensed and clearly
recognized all these things. On account of the importance
of the question I should like to refer to his

  "Question: I ask you whether there was a possibility that
  you might have brought about a change after having
  gradually learned the conditions in the Secret State
  Police and in the concentration camps, etc. If this
  possibility existed, will you then say that an
  alleviation, i.e. an improvement, was brought about in
  the conditions in these fields due to your remaining in

Kaltenbrunner says:

  "I repeatedly applied for service at the front. But the
  most burning question which I had to decide for myself
  was whether the conditions would be thereby improved,
  alleviated or changed. Or whether it was my duty to do
  everything possible in my office to change all the
  conditions that had here been so severely criticized? As
  my repeated demands to be sent to the front were refused,
  all I could do, therefor, was to make a personal attempt
  to change a system, the ideological and legal foundations
  of which I could no longer change, a system which has
  been portrayed by all the orders presented here from the
  period before I was in office; I could only try to
  moderate these methods at first, with the hope of one day
  eliminating them for good.
  "Question: And so, did you consider it consistent with
  your conscience to remain in spite of this?

  "Answer: In view of the possibility of constantly using
  my influence on Hitler, Himmler and other people, I could
  not in my opinion reconcile it with my conscience to give
  up this position. I considered it my duty to take a
  personal stand against injustice."

As you see the defendant refers to his conscience and you
have to decide whether this conscience, taking into
consideration duty towards one's own country but also
towards the community of mankind, has failed or not. The
duty which I have just mentioned, to resist the orders of
evil, exists in itself for every human being, regardless of
his position. This duty is expressly affirmed by
Kaltenbrunner also. He who holds a State office must, if he
is not to be held guilty, in the first place be able to
prove that, as soon as he knew of it, he contributed toward
abolishing the gigantic injustice which occurred in Europe.
Has Dr. Kaltenbrunner presented sufficient proofs? The
answer to this question I leave to your judgement. But one
thing I should like to express as my opinion: This man was
no conspirator; rather he was exclusively a person acting
under orders and under compulsion. Himmler's order was,
despite all argument, for the Reich Security Office to be
taken over by Kaltenbrunner whether he was agreeable or not.
Is it right that an order should change the fundamental
aspect of the problem? This question is of the highest
importance. According to the Charter of this Tribunal one
cannot plead higher orders for the purpose of avoiding
punishment. The reason given for this by the American Chief
Prosecutor is the presumed knowledge, on the part of the
higher leaders, of the crimes or their background. Like a
red thread the fact runs through this trial that hardly one
high official, in whatever position of public life he may
have been, was put into office without the order of the
highest representative of official authority; for in the
last three years of the war the inevitable destiny of the
Reich, already clearly to be seen, meant for the holder of a
high office the renunciation of that part of life which many
people say makes life worth living. Even for the duration of
the war, orders held the office-holder fast in his position
as with iron fetters. There is also no doubt that he who
refused to obey an order, especially in the last years of
the war, had to fear his own death, and possibly also the
extinction of his family.

                                                  [Page 240]

From whatever side we approach the problem of orders in
Germany after 1943, the appeal to the above-mentioned state
of compulsion ought not to be denied to a defendant, because
that principle of compulsion which exists also in the German
criminal code, and which no doubt exists in the criminal
codes of all civilised nations, is based on the freedom of
the individual being necessary for the affirmation of any

If the perpetrator is no longer free to act, because another
person deprives him of this liberty through direct immediate
danger to his life, then, on principle, he is not guilty. I
do not want at this instant to examine whether in the German
world of reality of the last years such a direct immediate
danger for one's own life always existed; an encroachment
upon the freedom of the man receiving orders existed to a
smaller or larger extent without any doubt. It seems certain
to me that Himmler would have interpreted a refusal of
Kaltenbrunner to take over the ,direction of the Reich
Security Office as sabotage and would, as a necessary
conclusion, have eliminated him.

Hitler, according to the revelations at this trial, was one
of the greatest lawbreakers that world history has ever
known. Many even admit it a duty to kill such a monster, so
as to guarantee to millions of human beings the right of
freedom and life. At this trial the most different points of
view with regard to the "Putsch", especially the killing of
the tyrant, have been proffered by witnesses and defendants.
I cannot recognize the duty, but the right is certainly not
contestable. If the oppression of human freedom occurs by
means of an order which is clearly unjust, because
misanthropic, the scales in the now ensuing conflict between
obedience and freedom of conscience will be weighted on the
side of the latter. Also the so-called oath of allegiance
could not justify a different point of view because, as
everybody feels, the obligation to allegiance presupposes
duties of both partners so that he who treads under foot the
obligation to respect human conscience in the person of his
subordinates loses, at the same moment, the right to expect
obedience. The tortured conscience is freed and breaks the
ties which the oath had created. Perhaps some persons will
not agree with my point of view on this problem and will
point out the necessity of a state of order in the community
and the wholesomeness of obedience especially in the
interest of this orderly state, or they will point at the
prudence of those in command and at the impossibility of
understanding and evaluating all such orders as well as the
person in command can; they will point to patriotism and
many other points of view. And although all that may be
correct, it remains an absolute duty to resist an order, the
purpose of which, clearly recognizable by a subordinate, is
the realization of evil and which obviously violates the
sound sentiments which aim at humanity and peace among
people and individuals. The phrase "In the fight of a nation
with life or death in the balance there is no question of
legality" is an incorrect thesis not thought out to the end,
no matter who expresses it.

Even immediate danger to the life of the person receiving
the order could not induce me to change my conviction. Dr.
Kaltenbrunner would not deny that he who stands, at the head
of an office of great importance to the community is obliged
to sacrifice even his life under the above-mentioned

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