The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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[DR. BOEHM, Continued]

The transfer took place as follows: On 27th April,
1933, the entire Stahlhelm was placed under Hitler's
orders by the leader of the organization, Seldte. On
21st June, 1933, the Junior Stahlhelm (Jungstahlhelm)
and on the 4th July, 1933, the entire Stahlhelm, were
subordinated to the Supreme SA Leadership by Hitler's
own orders. According to the decree of 4th July, 1933,
the Jungstahlhelm and the Sports Units, later called
Military Stahlhelm (Wehrstahlhelm) that is, Stahlhelm
members up to the age of 35 years, were included in the
active SA (Exhibits 1-7). The transfer of the original
Stahlhelm, that is, members of the ages of 36 to 45
years, was effected, as mentioned before, on 25th
January, 1934. This transfer and inclusion, both in the
case of the Wehrstahlhelm and the original Stahlhelm,
took place without the member being asked, partly by
announcing the orders at roll calls, partly by
transferring the membership lists of the SA. This is
proved by the affidavits which I have submitted and the
testimony of Von Waldenfels, Hauffe and Gruss.

The decrees issued by Hitler after the 1st December,
1933 (the law regarding the unity of State and Party),
are without doubt to be regarded as legal decrees. The
preceding orders and instructions have, practically
speaking, a similar character and were sanctioned by
the law of the 1st December, 1933, as well as by later
decrees and executive orders.

The transfer of the Stahlhelm did not take place
without friction. In the case of many members coercion
was used. Many elements in the organization did not
agree with the subordination of the Stahlhelm, or with
the co-operation of the

                                             [Page 232]

Stahlhelm in the seizure of power. Duesterberg, who
must be regarded as the head of the opposition to
Seldte's policy, objected in particular. This attitude
resulted in his arrest, as well as in the numerous
arrests of Stahlhelm members which were made by the
State Police in the spring of 1933, especially in
Brunswick.

Members of the Stahlhelm who did not obey the order for
the transfer were forced into service by State agencies
and occasionally punished. (Testimony of Hauffe and Von
Waldenfels).

Just as the SA disintegrated because of the events
before and after 1933 through the influx of people with
the most widely different aims, so this also happened
in the case of the Stahlhelm because of the events of
the year 1933, which had such serious and dreadful
consequences for the German people. The Stahlhelm
disintegrated. For some of its members it had been of
importance that at the time of the transfer they had
been expressly assured of a certain amount of
independence under their own leaders and retention of
their old uniforms, as well as the further connection
with the Stahlhelmbund. This is shown by nearly all
documents, affidavits and testimonies. When these
assurances were not kept, the opposition group's
resistance against Seldte increased. On the part of the
National Socialist leaders of the State this group was
considered politically unreliable and reactionary.

This also is confirmed by affidavits and the testimony
of witnesses, and especially emphasized by the
newspaper reports submitted, which represent only a
small portion of many similar reports. Evidence:
Exhibits 32, 33, 35, 36, 37, 39, 40, 48, 51, 53, 54,
55. The National Socialist paper Rheinfront, for 27th
July, 1933. stated: "The Stahlhelm was never National
Socialist at heart." In another paper of 30th July,
1935, it said: "It is certain that the Stahlhelm was
always to be found with the opponents of the movement."
Another newspaper of 18th August, 1935, described the
Stahlhelm as "a hot-bed of hostile and reactionary
forces."

It should be noted that the majority of the members of
the Stahlhelm transferred to the SA remained members of
the Stahlhelmbund or the later so-called NSD Stahlhelm
Veterans' League (Frontkampferbundes). According to the
decrees of 14th July, 1933, and 27th January, 1934
(Exhibits Nos. 8 and 18), Stahlhelmers transferred to
the SA were expressly permitted this dual membership.
In conclusion, your attention is drawn to Exhibit No.
21. According to this the Press Department of the
Supreme SA Leadership announced on 25th April, 1934:

  "Members of the former Stahlhelmbund, who have
  already been incorporated into SA Reserve 1, are not
  at present permitted to resign from SA Reserve 1."

A large number of the members of the Stahlhelm
represented a body within the SA, united by common
ideals, who regarded the events of the time with the
greatest distrust. Opposed to them was a group of
Stahlhelm members and former Stahlhelm leaders, headed
by Labour Minister Seldte, who approved the national
revolution and provided the SA with sixty high-ranking
SA leaders, but who naturally condemned abuses and
excesses of authority in the severest possible manner.
Two spokesmen of both those Stahlhelm groups have been
heard before this Tribunal, namely, the witnesses Gruss
and Juettner. One of these witnesses was a member of
the SA, the other was not an SA member. One of them, as
a Stahlhelm leader, acknowledges his membership in the
SA, which he knew intimately, the other remained
outside the SA and was opposed to it. The latter is the
exponent of that wing of the Stahlhelm which toyed with
ideas of opposition until the end of the Third Reich.

It can be said without doubt that the Stahlhelm
represents an element of opposition to the so-called
"Old Fighters" of the SA. The above-mentioned exhibits,
affidavits and testimonies are irrefutable proof of
this.

Upon joining the SA the Stahlhelm members brought with
them their own Stahlhelm ideology, which differs in
essential points from National Socialism. Politically
speaking the majority of them rejected the totalitarian
claims of any

                                             [Page 233]

political party, and the Fuehrer principle. As before,
they remained in constant touch with their old Bund
which, until its dissolution in 1935, continued to
exist under the name of the NSDFB (Stahlhelm). Even
after it was dissolved they formed strong, close-knit
groups among themselves and held comradely meetings
over almost all Germany. In many of those groups the
hope of a political revolution continued to live on for
a long time.

As in other parts of the SA, former opponents of
National Socialism, particularly Marxists, found a
reception in the ranks of the Stahlhelm. So in
Brunswick, for example, the Reichsbanner joined the
Stahlhelm (D-947).

The insufficient camouflaging of the activities of the
Reichsbanner resulted in its being dissolved.

Those members transferred from the Stahlhelm to the SA,
like SA members, repudiated all crimes such as those
mentioned in Article 6. As ex-servicemen they
repudiated war, particularly aggressive war.

In connection with the incorporation of the Stahlhelm
it must be taken into consideration that it took place
at a time when there were internal disputes and
weakening in the SA, when the work of the SA had
already been completed through the seizure of power,
and not at the time when Hugenberg, Schacht and Hitler
were forming the so-called Harzburg Front. The
completion of this enrolment in the SA took place at a
time when the SA was totally without significance.

May I finally remark, with reference to the subject of
the Stahlhelm, that by virtue of coercion, that is, of
an order, about 500,000 members of the Wehrstahlhelm,
and about 500,000 members of the Kernstahlhelm were
transferred. There remained a further half-million
Stahlhelm members over 45 years of age who did not join
the SA at all because an order for this transfer was
lacking. Only in very few districts, indeed, were these
older age groups also transferred to the SA because of
the infringement of orders by subordinate SA
authorities.

Another group occupying a special position in the SA is
the Mounted SA (Reiter SA). The testimony has very
clearly shown that during the entire period of its
existence the Mounted SA possessed a far-reaching
organizational independence. The aims, duties and
activities of the Mounted SA were not political, but
were limited to equestrian sports and the care and
breeding of horses.

In the course of detailed testimony before the
Commission, the prosecution did not succeed in proving
that the Mounted SA had participated in any crimes
against peace or humanity.

In view of the clear evidence in favour of the Mounted
SA, I shall limit myself to presenting the essential
points to the Tribunal in summarized form.

The charge that the SA co-operated in the seizure of
power by the NSDAP does not in any way concern the
Mounted SA, because the Mounted SA was not created
until after the seizure of power. The Mounted SA did
not grow out of Adolf Hitler's storm troops, but out of
the hundreds of so-called rural riding associations,
which existed all over Germany until 1933 as entirely
unpolitical sport and breeding associations. The
incorporation of these rural riding associations into
the SA after the seizure of power as part of the so-
called "co-ordination" (Gleichschaltung) did not take
place voluntarily. It was carried out by official
decree against the opposition of most members of these
associations. This official decree was the result of
negotiations between the chief of the rural riding
associations and the Chief of Staff of the SA, Roehm,
which were initiated by the Reich Ministry of the
Interior in the summer of 1933. Those riding
associations which resisted the decree were threatened
with dissolution and those which continued to resist
were, as a matter of fact, dissolved.

Since those associations constituted an agricultural
necessity, most of them obeyed the decree under the
pressure of circumstances.

Even after the incorporation of the Mounted SA into the
SA, it retained its independent character as an
organization until the very end. The former riding
associations, which now called themselves SA Mounted
Companies (Reitersturme),


                                             [Page 234]

were headed by the so-called Reich Inspector for Riding
and Driving (Reit- and Fahrwesen), Litzmann, in Berlin.

With respect to the size and composition of Mounted SA,
the testimony has shown that it had approximately
200,000 members. Eighty to ninety per cent of them were
farmers who owned horses. After the seizure of power,
the Mounted SA was joined by the riding clubs then
established in many cities, which up to their [sic] had
likewise led an entirely unpolitical existence, devoted
only to sports.

The activity of the Mounted SA was in keeping with its
athletic and breeding tasks. Service consisted in
riding and driving and in training in those branches of
knowledge pertaining to horses. The leading activity of
the city units was the organization of hunts and
tournaments, just as is done by riding clubs everywhere
in the world. As a rule, they did not ride in uniform,
but in civilian clothes. The wives and children of the
members took part in the riding. In rural areas their
activity was mainly limited to instructing the farmers
about all important matters concerning horses,
especially driving and the treatment of sick horses.
For these reasons, the members of the Mounted SA
everywhere in Germany considered themselves primarily
as horsemen, and not as SA men.

The Mounted SA deliberately refrained from giving any
political support. It neither disseminated any
political propaganda nor gave any political training.
It never was a political fighting unit.

The decisive factor in the selection and promotion of
leaders in the Mounted SA was not political activity,
but solely riding ability and unblemished character.

The testimony has clearly shown that the Mounted SA in
no way participated in any crimes against humanity.
Neither did it ever co-operate in the excesses against
the Churches, the Jews, the labour unions, foreign
labourers, or prisoners of war. On the contrary,
members of the Mounted SA frequently intervened in
favour of persons who were politically persecuted.

As the presentation of evidence has shown, any anti-
Semitic attitude was completely alien to the Mounted
SA. The NS Riding Corps was always well disposed toward
the Church. It is a significant fact that the non-Aryan
Fuldauer, as is shown by his affidavit (No. 20), was a
co-founder of the Riding Corps at Wiehl, in the
Rhineland, and that he was a leading member of the
Mounted SA there for a fairly long time after the
seizure of power.

Since the Mounted SA stood aloof from the Party, in
many areas of Germany, it even became a haven for the
politically persecuted. Numerous Freemasons and non-
Aryans were members of the Mounted SA, and tried to
cover themselves by pointing out their membership in a
National Socialist organization. Under these
circumstances it is not surprising that the NSDAP, as
has been shown by the presentation of evidence,
regarded the NS Riding Corps with the utmost suspicion.
Members of the Mounted SA were refused membership in
the NSDAP because their activity in the Mounted SA did
not give proof of their political reliability.

Moreover, the presentation of evidence has clearly
shown that the Mounted SA did not participate in a
crime against peace.

According to the claims of the prosecution Hitler is
supposed to have given the Mounted SA the task of
securing the horsemen among the new generation for the
German armed forces. Here the prosecution based its
case mainly on certain propaganda articles by an
unknown author which appeared in the periodical Der SA
Fuehrer. All the witnesses who have testified
concerning the Mounted SA have reported that the
contents of these editorials were in open contradiction
to the actual conditions. It has been repeatedly
established in this trial that the Party Leadership
permitted itself to be guided solely by a
propagandistic viewpoint. The prosecution has not
succeeded in adducing even one actual case where the
Mounted SA in the more than ten years of its existence
ever planned or ordered any activity which could be
regarded as a preparation for, or support of, a war of
aggression.

                                             [Page 235]

The highest officer of the German cavalry in the time
prior to the outbreak of World War II, the well-known
Colonel-General Guderian, has taken an unequivocal
stand on this question. I quote:

  "There was no military collaboration between the
  German Wehrmacht and the NS Riding Corps, either in
  a tactical or a strategical respect. The cavalry of
  the Wehrmacht trained the next generation of
  horsemen itself and did not apply for the
  collaboration of the NS Riding Corps. Relations with
  the NS Riding Corps along these lines were neither
  sought for nor maintained on the part of the
  Wehrmacht ...."

In connection with this, Colonel-General Guderian gives
the following convincing reasons:

  "Whereas eighteen cavalry regiments were still in
  existence in 1935, only one cavalry brigade was
  available at the outbreak of war, which in the
  course of the war was later increased to a cavalry
  division. The Armoured Command had taken the place
  of the cavalry, as is obvious from the fact that 40
  per cent of the tank officers came from former
  cavalry regiments. In view of this development, an
  incorporation of units of the Mounted SA into the
  Wehrmacht was not planned, nor did it ever take
  place."

Moreover, within the Mounted SA itself no training of
any kind for military tasks was practised. At no time
and in no part of Germany were cavalry manoeuvres like
those in the Wehrmacht cavalry ever carried out by the
Mounted SA. Rather was their activity limited to the
breeding of horses, which was important for the
farmers, and the kind of equestrian sports which are
practised in all countries of the world.

Nor can the charge be maintained by pointing to the so-
called Riding Certificate. According to its text, the
Riding Certificate gave its owner the right to be
allowed to serve with a mounted unit in the Army. This
Riding Certificate, however, could be earned by any
sportsman, even if he was not a member of the NS Riding
Corps. This corresponded to the understandable desire
of every keen horseman to be assigned to a mounted unit
in the case of his conscription in the Army, just as an
enthusiastic mountain-climber or skier prefers to do
his military service in the mountain-units. In
practice, however, this desire was considered by the
Wehrmacht only on the rarest occasions, because after
1933 the Wehrmacht had almost completely disbanded the
cavalry. Thus, most of the holders of Riding
Certificates were in reality assigned to infantry or
motorized units when they joined the Wehrmacht.

Furthermore, the goal of every member of the Mounted SA
in his sports activity was not to acquire the Riding
Certificate, but to obtain the Riding Badge, which was
worn with pride by every rider. This badge has been
submitted to the Tribunal in its original form and is
probably the only badge of an NS unit without the
swastika.

A militaristic spirit was not fostered in the Mounted
SA. The majority of the Mounted SA were farmers. It is
well known that the farmer is by nature no friend of
war. The urban units of the Mounted SA, however,
maintained close international relations with all
countries that engaged in riding sports until the
outbreak of war.

Numerous foreigners, some of them in official
positions, were constant guests of the Mounted SA. At
the outbreak of war general consternation reigned.

As regards the character of the General SA, the members
of the Mounted SA were of the opinion that the SA, to
which, indeed, the Mounted SA was not attached until
after 1933, had no criminal character. In so far as
excesses occurred within the General SA, the members of
the Mounted SA must have perceived that these excesses
by individuals were not in accordance with the
programme of the SA, and they heard with satisfaction
that the SA Leadership disavowed these things and tried
to avoid repetitions.

                                             [Page 236]

It might also be pointed out that not one of the chief
defendants was ever in any kind of relationship with
the Mounted SA. No member of the Mounted SA played a
leading political part during the National Socialist
regime.

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