The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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Archive/File: imt/tgmwc/tgmwc-20/tgmwc-20-191.09
Last-Modified: 1999/11/12

PRESIDENT: What is the next organization we will deal with?

DR. MERKEL (on behalf of the Secret State Police-the GESTAPO)

Mr. President, may it please the Tribunal, first
of all I should like to submit documentary proof.
For the first one I am submitting my two document
books, Document Book i, containing Nos. I to 31,
and Document Book 2, Containing Nos. 32 to 62.

                                       [Page 141]

Mr. President, shall I give my opinion on the
individual documents now or only after the
conclusion of the hearing of witnesses?

THE PRESIDENT: When it is convenient to you.

DR. MERKEL: I should prefer to do it after the
hearing of witnesses.


DR: MERKEL: First of all, I would like to submit
a list of thirteen witnesses who nave been heard
before the Commission. Furthermore, I should like
to submit a German copy of these thirteen records
and would ask you first of all to accept them as
evidence. I will then deal with the argumentation
myself at the conclusion of the hearing of
witnesses. Finally I should like to submit a list
of the names and a summary of the affidavits
given to the Commission, numbered i to 85, which
I should also like to offer in evidence.

The three records of the Commission sessions, in
which these affidavits were discussed, I shall
submit later as soon as I have them.

Further, I have still about fifteen hundred
affidavits to submit, which I would like to hand
over in one collective affidavit. As the summary
has not yet been quite completed, I should like
to ask permission to submit this after the
conclusion of the hearing of witnesses.

With the permission of the Tribunal, I should
like to call the witness Dr. Best.

THE PRESIDENT: Bring in the witness.

DR. KARI, RUDOLF WERNER BEST, witness, took the
stand and testified as follows:


Q. Will you state your full name?

A. Dr. Karl Rudolf Werner Best.

Q. Will you repeat this oath after me:

I swear by God, the Almighty and Omniscient, that
I will speak the pure truth and will wiMold and
add nothing.

(The witness repeated the oath.)

                               DIRECT EXAMIN.ATION
                          of the witness Dr. Karl Best


Q. Witness, please describe your professional

A. I am a jurist and a professional civil
servant. I have been a judge since the beginning
of 1929 and since 1933 I have been an
administrative official, and since 1942 I have
been a diplomat.

Q. When and how did you join the Gestapo?

A. From 1st January, 1935, onward as
Oberregierungsrat and departmental chief
(Abteilungsleiter) for administration and law, I
was employed in the Gestapo in Berlin from 1936,
in the Reich Ministry for the Interior and in the
Special Department of the Security Police, until
1940. From 1940 and until 1942 I was a military
administrative official, and since 1942 Reich
Plenipotentiary in Denmark.

Q. Was the Gestapo a union of people?

A. No.

Q. What was the Gestapo?

A. The Gestapo was a multiplicity of State

Q. However, the prosecution seems to consider the
Gestapo as a union of people joined together
voluntarily in order to realize certain aims;
what have you to say about it?

Witness, you must always leave a slight pause
between question and answer.

                                       [Page 142]

A. An organization has members. The officials of
the Secret State Police were officials employed
by the State, and they occupied a public
position. An organization sets its own aims. The
officials of the Secret State Police received
their orders from the State and from the State

Q. Did the Gestapo belong in any way to the NSDAP
or to the National Socialist organization?

A. No, the officials of the Gestapo were purely
and simply State officials.

Q. Witness, please speak a little more slowly.
Otherwise, the interpreters cannot keep up.

A. Very well.

Q. Was there a uniform Secret State Police set up
in January, 1933, throughout the territory of the
German Reich?
A. No. In the individual German States, political
police systems were set up which were created by
the various State governments concerned.

Q. Were these police systems entirely new?

A. No, they were brought about through the
regrouping and reorganization of the political
police systems which already existed.

Q. In what way did this take place?

A. Through the orders or decrees of the State
governments concerned.

Q. For what reasons were these new authorities
created by the State governments?

A. I can state from my own personal experience
that in the State of llesse a State police system
was created, as the authority of the police had
been shaken by the events that occurred before
1933, and the authority of these officials had to
be restored once more, through a new kind of
political police, especially in relation to the
members of the National Socialist movement. I
assume that this motive also carried weight in
other German States.

Q. Were these new authorities issued with new

A. No. No, they were issued with the same duties
as the political police had been given in the

Q. What were these duties

A. In the first place, the prosecution for
political crimes, that is to say, for actions
which were actually political or with a political
motive which were in violation of the criminal
law, and in the second place, the taking of
police measures as a precaution against such

Q. What do you understand by "Precautionary
police preventive measures "?

A. Precautionary police preventive measures are
those which influence groups of perpetrators or
individual perpetrators in such. a way that they
do not undertake the feared criminal act.

Q. When and how did Himmler become political
police chief of the German States

A. Between March of 1933 and March of 1934
Himniler gradually came to an agreement with the
governments of the various German States
regarding his appointment as political Chief of
Police of each individual State in Germany.

Q. Did Himmler's power arise from his police work
or from his political work on the whole?

A. He had never had anything to do with the
police, and he also never went into the matter of
police ideas and methods.

Q. Were the authorities and the officials of the
various political police responsible for
Himmler's coming to power?

A. No, they were notified of the appointment as a
fait eccompli.

Q. When and how were the political police systems
of the various German States formed into a
uniform German Secret State Police?

A. After Himmler's appointment in 1936 as Chief
of the German Police in the Reich Ministry of the
Interior, the political police systems of the

                                       [Page 143]

German States were formed into a uniform Secret
State Police, by means of several orders and
decrees issued by the Reich Ministry of the

Q. Did the NSDAP establish a political police
anywhere in the German Reich?

A. No, nowhere.

Q. Was there anywhere an establishment or an
organization of the Party taken over by the Staie
as a political police system?

A. No, nowhere.

Q. Were the political police posts of the German
States occupied by Party members in 1933?

A. No, those posts were occupied by former
police. Only a few officials were newly taken on
at that time.

Q. Were the leading officials members of the

A. That varied in the various States. There were
even officials who had formerly held quite
different views and belonged to other parties.

Q. Can you give an example of this?

A. There are several well-known examples. It is
well known that Herr DiehIs, the Chief of the
Prussian Secret State Police, had formerly held
other political opinions.

The closest colleagues of Himmler and Heydrich
from Munich, who were taken with him to theoffice
of the Secret State Police in Berlin -- such as
Mueller, who later was head of (Dept.) Amt IV;
Huber, Fresch, Beck -- they were formerly
adherents of the Bavarian People's Party, and
even the Chief of my small Hessian State Police
Office was a former Democrat and Freemason, whom
I considered quite suitable for this post.

Q. Why, then, did these officials continue in the
police service under National Socialist rule?

A. For a German official it was a matter of
course to keep on serving the State, even though
the Government changed -- as long as he was in a
position to do so.

Q. Were these officials removed and later on
replaced by National Socialists?

A. No, these gentlemen had mostly a very
successful career and obtained good posts.

Q. How did the additional recruiting of personnel
for the political police take place in the years
that followed?

A.officials from the German police agencies were
transferred to the offices of the political
police. In the course of time new candidates were
also enlisted and were trained to become
officials according to the general rules which
were applicable for the appointment and the
training of officials.

Q. Were people taken on from the Party, from the
SS and the SA?

A. Only in a relatively small way, as service in
these police agencies brought in very little in
wages and therefore was not very much sought

Q. Did the officials volunteer to enter the
political police?

A. The officials were transferred from one office
to another.

Q. Did the officials have to comply with these

A. Yes, according to civil service laws they were
bound to do so.

Q. What would have been the consequence of a

A. Disciplinary action, with the result that they
would have been dismissed from office, with the
loss of their acquired rights; for instance,
their right to a pension.

Q. Do you know of any such refusal?

A. No, I have not heard of any.

Q. Was the political police completely separated
from the general administrative set-up of the

A. No, on all levels there was a close liaison
with the general interior administration. The
chiefs of the State police agencies were at the
same time the political experts of the district
presidents. The inspectors of security police

                                       [Page 144]

were personaily responsible to the district
presidents or to their Ministers of the Interior
and had to comply with their instructions.

Q. Besides the Gestapo authorities were there
still other authorities also carrying out
political police duties?

A. Yes, the district and local police authorities
also carried out police duties.

0. In what way?

A. The district and local police authorities, the
Landraete (the ~hief magistrates of the
district), that is to say the gendarmerie, and
the municipal police administration carried out
these duties, either on the basis of information
which came in to them, or they carried out the
orders of the competent political police, that is
to say the State police authorities.

Q. What part of the entire political police work
did the district and local police agencies carry

A. As far as volume is concerned, the district
and local police authorities handled the major
part of the individual State police cases as the
State police offices only sent out their
officials for their own information in special
cases; above all, in cases of treason and high

Q. Did the district and local police agencies
also receive the general decrees issued by the
State secret police?

A. Yes, they received these decrees unless they
were excluded in some cases by special request.

Q. From what point of view did the officials of
the political police take up certain cases?

A. Almost without exception on the basis of
reports which were sent in from private persons
or other agencies outside the police.

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