The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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DR. KAUFFMANN, Continued:

Thus the duty of the defence is automatically delineated by
asking the questions:

1.  What did Kaltenbrunner do, good and evil, after his
appointment as chief of the Reich Security Office on 1st
February, 1943?

                                                  [Page 232]

2. To what extent can it justly be said that in the
essential points he did not possess sufficient knowledge
about all the crimes against humanity and against the rules
of war?

3. To what extent can his guilt be established from the
viewpoint that he should have known about the serious crimes
against International Law in which Section (Amt) IV of the
Reich Security Office (Secret State Police) was directly or
indirectly involved?

(1) What has Kaltenbrunner done?

In this connection I am passing over the accusation brought
against him by the prosecution for his participation in the
events surrounding the occupation of Austria and
Czechoslovakia, for no matter with what energy he followed
his goal to see his Austrian homeland incorporated into the
German Reich, and used the SS forces under his command for
the realization of this end, this aim cannot have been a
criminal one according to the world's conscience. Just as
little could one reach a verdict of criminal guilt, because
of the forcible means employed at that time to accomplish
the annexation of Austria, which was historically fitting
and desired by millions. Kaltenbrunner was still much too
insignificant a man for that. Economic distress - Anschluss
movement - National Socialism: That was the course followed
by the majority of the Austrian people, not the National-
Socialist ideology; for Hitler himself was, from the
standpoint of Austrianism, a spiritual and political
renegade. Yet the Austrian Anschluss movement was a people's
movement before National Socialism had reached any
importance in Germany. Austria wanted to protest herself
against the Versailles and St. Germain ruling which forbade
the Anschluss by holding a plebiscite in each "Land". After
ninety per cent had voted in Tyrol and Salzburg, the
victorious powers threatened to discontinue the shipment of
food supplies. Hitler's seizure of power, paralysed the
desire for Anschluss among those not of the Party, but the
distress in Austria became still more acute and isolated the
Dollfuss-Schuschnigg regime. The incorporation into the
economic sphere of Greater Germany, where the removal of
mass-unemployment seemed to be the source of hope, appeared
to the greatly distressed Austrian people as the only way
out. The wave of enthusiasm which on 12th-13th March, 1938,
went through all Austria was real. To try to deny this today
would be to falsify history. The Anschluss, and not the
Dollfuss-Schuschnigg Government, was based on democracy.

Just as little can one, I believe, according to the reasons
mentioned above, reach a verdict of guilt for Kaltenbrunner
because of his alleged activity in the question of
Czechoslovakia. In my opinion, the question of guilt and
expiation becomes vital only for the time after 1st
February, 1943. The indignation of the German people over
one of the most infamous terroristic measures, the
imposition of protective custody, had already become immense
before this date. Is it correct to say that Kaltenbrunner
himself, of whom many orders for protective custody bearing
his signature are in evidence before the Tribunal, inwardly
abhorred this type of suppression of human liberties?

May I refer to just a few sentences from his interrogations?

  Question: "Did you know that protective custody was at
  all permissible and was used frequently?"

  Answer: "As I have stated, I discussed the idea of
  'Protective Custody' with Himmler as early as in 1942.
  But I believe that even before this time I had
  corresponded quite extensively on this subject with him,
  as well as once also with Thierack. I consider protective
  custody, as applied in Germany, only in a smaller number
  of cases, a necessity of State, or better, a measure such
  as is justified by war. For the rest I often voiced my
  opinion, well founded in legal history, against this
  conception and against the application of protective
  custody in principle. I had several discussions about it
  with Himmler and with Hitler also. I publicly took my
  stand against it at a meeting of public prosecutors, I
  think in 1944, because I have always been of the opinion
  that a man's freedom is one of his highest possessions
  and only the.

                                                  [Page 233]

  lawful sentence of a regular court of justice founded on
  the constitution may limit or take away this freedom."

Here the same man expresses the right principles, the
observance of which would have spared the German people and
the world from untold suffering, and the non-observance of
which constitutes his guilt, for, in spite of his right
principles, he suited his actions to the so-called necessity
of State. He thereby, against his own will and knowledge,
became subject to the principle of hatred, which sooner or
later will always shake or shatter the foundations of the
strongest State.

"Right is what benefits the people," Hitler had proclaimed.
I well know that Kaltenbrunner today deeply regrets having
adhered too long to that false maxim without putting up
sufficient resistance.

Although the prosecution has not been able to produce even
one single original signature of Kaltenbrunner in connection
with orders for protective custody, and I do not think it
incredible when Kaltenbrunner deposes that he himself never
put into effect such an order for protective custody by his
signature; nevertheless, in view of the tragic results due
to so many of these orders, I do not need to say even one
word as to whether he is entirely blameless or is much less
to blame because these orders had perhaps been signed
without his knowledge. The question, of course, then arises
immediately: how could such an occurrence be possible in, it
is true, an extraordinarily large office? Be that as it may:
in affairs of such depth and such tragic outcome one's
feelings are inclined to make hardly any distinction between
knowledge and ignorance due to negligence, because one wants
to hold everyone occupying a post in an office responsible
for what happens there. This recognition is also the meaning
of Kaltenbrunner's statement, cited above, regarding his
fundamental responsibility. Where the happiness and fate of
living men are involved it is impossible to hide behind the
pretext of ignorance in order to avoid punishment, at best
for the purpose of mitigation of sentence. The defendant
knows this too. Orders for protective custody were the
ominous harbingers of the concentration camp. I am not
giving away a secret when I say that the responsibility for
issuing orders for protective custody includes the beginning
of responsibility for the fate of those held in the
concentration camps. I could never admit that Dr.
Kaltenbrunner may have known of the excesses suffered by the
thousands who languished in the camps; for as soon as the
gates of the concentration camps were closed, there began
the exclusive influence of the other office, the frequently
mentioned Central Department for Economy and Administration.
Instead of referring to many statements of witnesses
regarding this point, I refer to the one of the witness Dr.
Hoettl who, when asked about subordination in rank, replied:

  "The concentration camps were exclusively under the
  command of the SS Central Office for Economy and
  Administration, hence not under the RSHA and, therefore,
  not under Kaltenbrunner. In this sphere he had no
  authority of command and no competency."

Other witnesses have said that of necessity Kaltenbrunner
should have had knowledge of the sad conditions in the
concentration camps, but there is no doubt that the
commandants of the concentration camps themselves
deliberately concealed, criminal excesses of the guards even
from their superiors. It is furthermore a fact that the
conditions found by the Allies upon their arrival were
almost exclusively the results of the catastrophic military
and economic situation during the last weeks of the war and
which the world mistakenly identified with general
conditions in former times as well. The above statement is
fully verified by the statements of the camp commandant of
Auschwitz, Hoess, who, because of his later activity in the
Concentration Camp Department of the Central Office for
Economy and Administration, had an accurate over all
picture. For Hoess, there was no inward reason whatsoever to
give false testimony. A person like him, who sent millions
of men to their deaths, comes no longer under the authority
of human judges and considerations. Hoess stated:

                                                  [Page 234]

  "The so-called ill-treatment and tortures in the
  concentration camps were not, as assumed, a policy. They
  were rather excesses of individual leaders, sub-leaders,
  and men who laid violent hands upon the inmates."

These elements themselves were, according to the statement
of Hoess, taken to task for that. I believe I need not go
into any more details of how, according to various
witnesses, visitors in the concentration camps were
impressed and surprised by the good conditions, cleanliness
and order, and how, therefore, no suspicion was aroused as
to special sufferings of the inmates. But it would be worse
than bad taste if I contested the fact that a chief of the
Intelligence Service, if only on the basis of foreign news
of atrocities, should not have felt a responsibility, in the
interest of humanity, to clear up any doubts arising along
that line.

This lack of knowledge seems to be confirmed by the
statement of Dr. Meyer of the International Red Cross, for
permission to allow International Red Cross to visit the
Jewish Camp at Theresienstadt and to allow food and medical
supplies to be sent in, coming from Kaltenbrunner, seems to
be proof of the bad conditions in the camps during the last
months of the war; nobody, however, would allow neutral or
foreign observers to have insight into the camps if it had
been known that crimes against humanity were, so to speak,
part of the daily camps' schedule, as is asserted by the

In no case, therefore, do I come to the conclusion that
Kaltenbrunner had full knowledge of the so-called
"conditions" in the concentration camps, yet I do conclude
that it was his duty to investigate the fate of those who
were imprisoned. Kaltenbrunner might have found out then
that a considerable number of the inmates were sent to the
camps because they were criminals, a much smaller portion
were there because of their political or ideological
viewpoints or because of their race; but that he then would
have found out about those primitive offences against
humanity, about those excesses and all the distress of these
people, that I do contest in agreement with Kaltenbrunner.

The way to arrive at the truth was immensely complicated in
Germany, and even the Chief of the RSHA found nearly
insurmountable obstacles in the hierarchy of jurisdiction
and authority of other offices and persons. The improvement
of the sad lot of the internees was, after 1943, a problem
which could have been solved only through the dissolution of
such camps. A Germany of the last twelve years without any
concentration camps would, however, have been a Utopia. On
the whole, Kaltenbrunner was but a small wheel of this

Above I spoke about the subject of the orders for protective
custody and of their effect. Dr. Kaltenbrunner has affirmed
the necessity for labour training camps, owing to - as
stated by him during his examination - the conditions then
prevailing in the Reich, to the shortcomings of the labour
market, and to other reasons. And if I am not mistaken, no
convincing proof was submitted of ill-treatment and
cruelties in such camps. The reason may well lie in the fact
that these camps were in some respects only related to, but
not on equal footing with, concentration camps.

With all the available means of evidence, Kaltenbrunner has
opposed the accusation of having confirmed orders of
execution with his signature. The witnesses Hoess and Zutter
stated that they saw such orders in isolated cases. The
prosecution, however, does not seem to me to have proved
that any such orders were issued without judicial sentence
or without reasons justifying the death penalty, with the
exception of a particularly serious case reported from
hearsay by the witness Zutter, adjutant of the camp
commandant of Mauthausen. According to him, a teletype
signed by Kaltenbrunner is said to have authorized the
execution of parachutists in the spring of 1945. An original
signature by Kaltenbrunner is entirely lacking. I add that
Kaltenbrunner has contested having any knowledge or
information about this matter. I think I may safely claim
that lie did not sign any such orders concerning life and
death, because he was not authorized to do so. Dr. Hoettl as
a witness stated:

                                                  [Page 235]

  "No, Kaltenbrunner did not issue such orders and could
  not, in my opinion, give such orders (for killing Jews)
  on his own initiative."

And Waneck explicitly asserted the following:

  "It is known to me that Himmler personally decided over
  life and death and other punishment of inmates of
  concentration camps."

Thus the exclusive authority of Himmler in this sad sphere
may be considered proved. It would however be presumptuous
if I were to deny the guilt of Kaltenbrunner completely on
this point. If such orders were carried out against members
of foreign powers, for example, based on the so-called
"Commando Order" of Hitler of 18th October, 1942, then there
arises the question of the responsibility of that person
whose signature was affixed to these orders, because the
misuse of his name by subordinates was possible. It is
certain that Kaltenbrunner exerted not the least influence
in originating the "Commando Order". It can, however, hardly
be doubted that this decree in itself constituted a
violation of International Law. The development of the
Second World War into a total war inevitably created an
abundance of new stratagems. In so far as bona fide soldiers
were employed in their execution, a motive of bitterness,
humanly quite understandable - and I am now speaking about
the conduct of the commando troops concerned in violation of
the laws of warfare - and other things, could not justify
the order. Fortunately but very few people fell victim to
this order of Hitler, as the defendant Jodl has testified.

Perhaps one would ask me whether it is my duty or whether I
am only permitted to reiterate such points of incrimination,
as I have just done, since this seems to be the task of the
prosecution. To this I should reply: if the defence is so
liberal as to admit the negative side of a personality, it
surely is apt to be heard more readily when it approaches
the Tribunal with the request to appraise the positive side
in its full significance. However, is there a positive side
at all in the case before us? I believe that I may answer
that question in the affirmative. I have already pointed out
several facts which are connected with the time of the
assumption of office by Kaltenbrunner. During his short two
years of activity this man has made himself a bearer of
decidedly happy and humane ideas. I wish to remind you of
his attitude toward the lynch order of Hitler with respect
to shot-down enemy aviators. , The witness, General of the
Air Force (Fliegergeneral) Koller, described the decent
conduct of Kaltenbrunner which led to a total sabotage of
this order. After first describing the contents of Hitler's
order and Hitler's threat pronounced during the discussion
of the situation at that time, namely, that any saboteur of
this order should himself be shot, Koller goes on to repeat
the assertions of Kaltenbrunner. Permit me to quote a few
sentences from his statements. Koller says that
Kaltenbrunner said:

  "The tasks of the SD are continuously given a wrong
  interpretation. Such matters are not the concern of the
  SD. Moreover, no German soldier will do what the Fuehrer
  demands. He does not kill prisoners, and if a few fanatic
  partisans of Herr Bormann try to do so, the German
  soldier will interfere .... Furthermore, I myself will do
  nothing in this matter .... "

Koller and Kaltenbrunner, therefore, were fully agreed on
that matter. This positive action of Kaltenbrunner,
important for the judgement of the actual nature of his
personality, does not stand alone. Dr. Hoettl confirmed the
fact that in questions of the future fate of Germany,
Kaltenbrunner went, if not beyond, at least up to the
borderline of high treason. This witness, for example,
confirms that Kaltenbrunner in March, 1944, caused Hitler to
moderate the plans concerning the Hungarian question and
succeeded in preventing the entry of Romanian units into
Hungary, that with his support also the planned Hungarian
National Socialist Government was not set up for a long

Dr. Hoettl then says:

  "Since 1943 I told Kaltenbrunner that Germany must
  attempt to end the war by a peace at any price. I
  informed him of my connections with an American authority
  in Lisbon. I also informed him that I had taken up new

                                                  [Page 236]

  contacts with an American authority abroad by way of the
  Austrian resistance movement. He declared that he was
  prepared to go to Switzerland with me and there to take
  up personally negotiations with the American
  representative, in order to prevent further useless

The depositions of the witness Dr. Neubacher are on the same
lines. But over and beyond that this witness testified to an
important positive humane action of Kaltenbrunner. Upon
being questioned whether Kaltenbrunner had assisted the
witness in moderating, as much as possible, the terror
policies in Serbia; Dr: Neubacher answered - and I quote:

  "Yes, in this field I owe much to the assistance of
  Kaltenbrunner. The German police agencies in Serbia knew
  of me and of Kaltenbrunner that he, in his capacity as
  Chief of the Foreign Intelligence Service,
  uncompromisingly supported my policies in the South-
  eastern territory. Thereby I succeeded in exerting
  influence on the police offices. Kaltenbrunner's
  assistance was of value in my efforts to abolish the then
  prevailing system of collective responsibility and
  reprisals with the aid of prudent officers."

I further mention the relief work of the Geneva Red Cross,
which is due to the initiative of Kaltenbrunner. The
activity of the defendant with respect to this was portrayed
by the witnesses Professor Burckhardt, Dr. Bachmann and Dr.
Meyer. As a consequence many thousands were able to exchange
their captivity for liberty.

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