The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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Last-Modified: 1999/11/12

Q. And in what lines did this apply?

A. These reports applied to all spheres which
might have interested the political police. The
police, therefore, were not in a position to
investigate these cases and to check whether they
actually existed. A special information service
was only created where organized groups were
suspected of carrying out their activities such
as the illegal Communist Party or for espionage
of enemy intelligence. In these cases they tried
to,firid these groups and to expose them through
agents or by some other means.

Q. If the Gestapo did not have its own
information services, how did arrests and other
measures come about against people who had made
subversive political statements or the like?

A. It is not the case, as it often has been and
still is being asserted, that the Gestapo was a
net of spies and information agencies which kept
track of the entire people. With the few
officials, who were always busy, anything like
that could not be carried out. Single reports
dealing with subversive political statements came
to the police from outside and were not sought
for, for ninety per cent. of these cases could
not be dealt with anyway.

Q. Please speak a little slower. Was there a
special class of Gestapo officials which was
completely different from the other classes of

A. No. The officials of the secret police
belonged to the same categories as the
corresponding officials of other police
Q. What categories of officials were there in the

A. First of all, a big distinction must be made
between administrative officials and executive

Q. How did these categories differ?

A. They were differentiated through their tasks,
through their legal status, and through their

Q. To what extent did the legal status differ?

A. The administrative officials were subordinate
to the Reich civil service laws and to the
general civil service law. But for executive
officials there was a special law created within
the framework of the police civil service law.

                                       [Page 145]

Q. How did they differ in training?

A. The administrative officials were trained
according to their position as higher or lower or
medium administrative officials, in keeping with
the procedure set up in the general and internal
administrative agencies and in the police
administrative agencies, headquarters,
directorates and so forth. The executive
officials, on the other hand, were trained only
in the so-called "Fuehrerschools," of the
security police and in the agencies of the Secret
State Police and the criminal police.

Q. What tasks did the administrative officials in
the Gestapo have?

A. The same tasks as may be found in all other
administrative agencies -- especially police
agencies. That is, dealing with personnel
records, with internal economic matters
concerning the budget, supplies, and also dealing
with legal problems, such as in my department,
e.g., German passport laws or the police laws
concerning foreigners.

Q. Could the administrative officials look into
and control the activities of the executive

A. Only if there was an administrative official
appointed to keep a card index of an executive
agency. For the rest they were neither concerned
with the handling of records nor did they carry
out sentences.

Q. Could they receive knowledge about the
executive tasks in any other way?

A. No. That was almost impossible, for each
official was bound to keep the matters which he
dealt with secret, which anyway was an old custom
of the police, that individual cases being dealt
with were not discussed.

Q. Did the administrative officials join the
Gestapo voluntarily?

A. No. Administrative officials were transferred
from other internal administrative agencies or
from other police agencies to the Secret State

Q. Did all executive officials of the Gestapo
carry out the same activities?

A. No. Each one carried out the tasks dealt with
by the department to which he had been assigned.

Q. What departments were there?

A. Beside the political police, strictly
speaking, there were the defence police and the
border police; later the defensive part of the
military counter-intelligence (Abwehr) and the
Customs Frontier Service were incorporated into
the Gestapo so that they became also an integral
part of it later on.

Q. Were the special tasks of the various
departments dealt with by the Gi~tapo after 1933
for the first time?

A. No. Even before 1933 this was done. They were
mainly carried out by the same officials who were
later on taken over into the Gestapo, the
officials who had been active in the so-called
central police agencies and in the offices of the
border police.

Q. You mentioned the counter-intelligence
(Abwehr) police as a part of the Gestapo. What
were the tasks of the Abwehr police?

A. The criminal investigation of treason cases,
and all of these cases, without exception, were
handed over to the courts for sentence.

Q. And you mentioned the border police, also.
What were their tasks?

A. The border police were active at the border,
checking passports. They checked the so-called
small border traffic. They gave legal assistance
to the neighbouring foreign police, by
supervising deportations, repressing
international traffic in narcotics and carrying
out searches for crirpinals and goods at the

Q. What were the tasks of the so-called military
counter-intelligence, which was also a part of
the Gestapo?

A. As I have already said, the defensive part of
the military counterintelligence, which was
assigned to the Gestapo during the war, had the
task of gaining information about the enemy
intelligence service which was directed against
Germany and of rendering it harmless through
their reconnaissance.

Q. A further part of the Gestapo was the
so-called "Zollgrenzschutz" (Border and Custom
Protection). What were its tasks?

                                       [Page 146]

' A. The Customs and Border Police, before and
after they were assigned and incorporated into
the Gestapo, had the task of patrolling the
so-called " green border, " that is, all the
border, where there were no crossings. In these
border towns and crossings where no border police
were stationed they took over their tasks.

Q. Beyond the executive and the administrative
officials, were there other categories of Gestapo

A. Yes; there were technical officials, and
beyond that there were a large number of people,
employees who worked in the offices and on the
technical staffs.

Q. What percentage of the entire personnel was
made up of these employees?

A. Depending on the particular year, this
percentage varied from thirty-five to forty-five
per cent.

Q. Did the employees know what tasks were carried
out by the executive members?

A. As far as the people, for instance typists and
clerical staff, were needed in the preparation of
specifications, they only learned of the action
affecting their work without being told of the
incidents or reasons connected with it.

Q. Did the Gestapo pay especially large salaries
to its employees?

A. No; the salaries were in accordance with the
various civil service wage laws and tariffs, and
they were so small that it was hard to replace
officials and employees.

Q. And where did you get your replacements for
the Gestapo?

A. According to the lam,, ninety per cent. of the
candidates for the executive and administrative
services had to be taken from regular police
candidates who wanted to make police work their
life work. Only perhaps ten per cent. of the new
officials, according to the law, could be taken
from other sources, professions, etc.

Q. Did the candidates from the regular police
work for the Gestapo of their own will or not?

A. The members of the regular police had their
names put down on a list at Potsdam, and without
their being asked they were assigned either to
the Secret State Police or to the criminal

Q. How were the candidates for the executive
positions trained?

A. These candidates were trained in the so-called
Fuehrer school, which was a school for experts of
the Security Police. The training courses, to a
large extent, were the same for the criminal
police as for the Gestapo, and they received
practical training in the various offices and
agencies as well.

Q. Were the officials who were in office
indoctrinated and influenced politically?

A. No. It may well have been a plan of Himmier in
1939 or so for the Rasse and Siedlungs Hauptamt
(The Mainoffice for Race and Settlement of the
SS) to undertake a unified political training
programme for all the agencies and departments,
subordinate to Himmler. As long as I was in
office, that is, until 1940, this was not done,

Q. Were not the officials of the Gestapo to carry
through their tasks according to political views?

A. No; it would have been most undesirable if a
minor law official, such as a criminal police
assistant, used political judgment in the course
of his duty and took his own political decisions.
The executive official was to act only according
to the general official directives and the orders
of the superiors without interfering in politics
himself in any way.

Q. And what means the co-ordination of the
Gestapo officials with the SS?

A. That meant---

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Merkel, are you summarizing
the evidence that has been given before the
Commission? I ask that because, you see, we do
not want

                                       [Page 147]

to have it all over again. We have ourselves a
written summary. We have the evidence taken
before the Commission, and all we want you to do
is to bring out the really important points and
to call the witnesses before us so that we may
see them and form our opinion of their credit and
hear them cross-examined in so far as it is
necessary. We do not want to go through all the
evidence over again that has been given before
the Commission.

DR. MERKEL: Yes, indeed, Mr. President; and for
that very reason I asked at the outset for only
two witnesses. I directed the examination of this
witness in such a way that now an essential
summary will be given by the witness of those
points which he has already been questioned on.

MR. DODD: Mr. President, I think we have gone
into much more detail than we went into before
the Commission, into matters that have been
inquired about here before the Tribunal. I think
counsel may be under some kind of a
misunderstanding, because before he started his
examination I asked him about how long he thought
he would be. I thought he was being whimsical
when he told me between four and a half and five
hours, as he took only two hours or so before the
Commission. I fear that if he has in mind a
four-and-a-half or five-hour examination when he
took only two or two and a half hours before the
Commission, then he must be under a
misunderstanding as to what is in the minds of
the Tribunal.

THE PRESIDENT: 1 hope, Dr. Merkel, I have made it
quite clear what we want. You have only got two
witnesses. We shall no doubt read the evidence
before the Commission of these two witnesses. We
want to see the witnesses in order to see what
credit is to be attached to their evidence, and
we want to give you the opportunity of bringing
out any particularly important points. We do not
want you to go through the whole thing over

DR. MERKEL: Yes, indeed, Mr. President.


Q. What is meant by the co-ordination of the
Gestapo officials with the SS?

A. That meant that the official, because he was
an official of the Gestapo, was taken over into
the SS and received SS rank commensurate with his

Q. Was only the Gestapo to be co-ordinated?

A. No, the officials of the criminal police were
to be co-ordinated as well.

Q. When.and how did the Reichsicherheitshauptamt,
the Reich Main Security Office, originate?

A. The Reich Main Security Office was first
created in September, 1939, when the then chief
of the Security Police, Heydrich, in exploiting
the situation caused by the war, merged the
various departments into one. Up to that time,
the Reich Ministry of the Interior and the SS,
too, had opposed this unifying move.

Q. Did the concentration camps fall under the
jurisdiction of the Gestapo?

A. No.

Q. Were there not any legal directions in this

A. In a Prussian decree, dealing with the
execution of the police decree of 1936,
concerning the Prussian Gestapo there was a
sentence to the effect that the Secret State
Police system was to administer the concentration
camps. That was one of the aims of the then Chief
of the Gestapo office, Heydrich. Himmler,
however, never carried out this decree, for he
wanted the same situation to prevail as before,
that is, that the inspector of the concentration
camps remained directly subordinate to him.

Q. Did the officials of the Gestapo have to
assume that in the concentration camps the health
and life of the inmates were being endangered?

A. I can only speak for the time up to the war,
and I remember that during that time the
officials of the Secret State Police did not
think that..the life and health of the inmates
were being endangered in the concentration camps.

                                       [Page 148]

officials were constantly occupied both with the
inmates' families, who were looked after by the
Secret State Police, and with released internees,
for whom work was procured, so that they were in
a position to obtain an overall picture of the
experiences and life of the internees in the
concentration camps.

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