The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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Q. This is the order given by Himmler or by Hitler about the
future tasks of the SS. I cannot show it to you, because it
is in English. But I shall quote the following from it:

                                                  [Page 330]

  "The Greater German Reich, in its final form, will not
  within its boundaries contain only racial. units which
  are from the beginning well disposed to the Reich, but in
  our Reich of the future, police troops will be in
  possession of the necessary authority only if - "

Please describe this order, on the basis of what you know of
it, and tell us to whom and to what period of time these
statements actually refer.

A. This order was only a verbal one. It was transmitted to
the military commands apparently in order to assuage their
misgivings about the expansion of the Waffen SS. It refers
only to the future. It speaks of the Greater German Reich as
the Reich of the future. But naturally what in particular
Hitler meant by this, is beyond my knowledge.

Q. This directive seems to indicate that the Waffen SS was
to receive police tasks in the future. Was that the basic
principle of the Waffen SS during the war?

A. No. I must deny that. Perhaps Hitler at the time thought
of something like the military boundary which used to exist
in Austria; the men worked there, and in emergencies formed
the border defence unit.

Q. In your questioning by the Russian Prosecutor, among a
list of alleged crimes committed by Waffen SS units, one
particular unit was mentioned, and you were asked whether
you knew its commander, General Steiner. You answered yes to
that question?

A. Yes.

Q. I want to read an affidavit, one of the affidavits which
I shall submit later on. This is SS Affidavit No. 1, which
shows what strict views this Lieutenant-General Steiner had
on the discipline of his troops. I quote from the middle of
this affidavit, signed by Walter Kallweit:

  "Our attention had been called to an alleged spy.
  We tried to open the door of the neighbouring house, but
  we were unsuccessful. Thereupon we broke a window,
  entered the house, and investigated it. thoroughly,
  without, however, finding a Soviet spy. Since we were
  forced to realize that we had made a mistake, we left the
  house by the way in which we had entered it, and
  regretted very much having broken a window pane.
  Two hours later, two Oberscharfuehrers of the Field
  Police Force of the divisional staff 'Wiking' arrested
  us. On our way to the divisional court, we asked the
  policemen for the reason of our arrest. They replied that
  the Ukrainian woman owner of the house which we had
  searched had complained to the divisional staff on
  account of the broken window pane, and that the commander
  of the division, General Steiner, had decreed an
  immediate strict investigation of this case before the
  Divisional Court, and Ernst Gugl and I were interrogated
  singly by a judge holding the rank of Hauptsturmfuehrer.
  The judge told me that an order of the day of General
  Steiner had instructed members of the SS Division
  'Wiking' that it was their duty to behave decently
  towards the Ukrainian civilian population. My comrade
  Gugl and I had violated this order, since without
  permission or instruction, we had forced our way into a
  Ukrainian home by destroying a window pane."

I omit a few sentences.

  "After the case had thus been cleared up, the judicial
  officer drew up a record of the interrogation and charged
  me with taking it to General Steiner's ordinance officer,
  Hauptsturmfuehrer von Schalburg, who commented on the
  report, as follows; these were his words:
  'It is well that your behaviour was clean; otherwise you
  could have counted on severe punishment. General Steiner
  charged me with reporting to him personally the result of
  the investigation, and I am happy that I do not have to
  give him bad reports about his 'Wiking' men. Tell all
  your comrades, the 'Wiking' division is fighting
  chivalrously and cleanly.' "

                                                  [Page 331]

Q. After hearing this example, witness, can you confirm
firstly, that this was the basic attitude of General Steiner
and of his troops, and secondly, that it was the basic
attitude of the Waffen SS, both at the front and in the rear

A. Steiner was one of the first commanders under me who
helped to build up the fighting units. I know his strict
views where others are concerned. Whether it was necessary
to have judicial proceedings on account of a window pane may
be doubtful. But as a basic principle, this view was held by
the old leaders of the fighting units right from the
beginning of the Waffen SS.

DR. PELCKMANN: I am sorry, Mr. President, there are so many
documents, I am just searching for a last one which I wanted
to make the subject of my re-examination.

Of the numerous affidavits submitted by the British
prosecution, one was deposed by Dr. Stanislaw Piotrowski, on
29th July, 1946, here in Nuremberg. May I request that this
witness be called for cross-examination before the Tribunal.
It is obvious that the witness is present here and no reason
therefore exists why we should be satisfied with an

THE PRESIDENT: What is the number of the document?

DR. PELCKMANN: No. D-939, your Lordship.

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Pelckmann, had you not better finish with
the witness first and then make your motion afterwards, if
you want to make a motion about cross-examination?

DR. PELCKMANN: I have no further questions to put to this
witness, Mr. President.

THE PRESIDENT: The witness can retire.

DR. PELCKMANN: I am sorry, Mr. President, I made a mistake.
It is not Dr. Piotrowski; it is Israel Eisenberg. That is
the name of the witness.

THE PRESIDENT: D-939? Is it?


M. FUSTER: Mr. President, might I ask a question to make one
point clear?

THE PRESIDENT: Well, it is very inconvenient to do it at
this late stage. Why did you not do it before?

M . FUSTER: It is not very important, my Lord. I will
withdraw it.

THE PRESIDENT: Very well. The Tribunal will adjourn now.

(A recess was taken.)

THE PRESIDENT: Mr. Elwyn Jones, the Tribunal understands
that the witness, who is -

MR. ELWYN JONES: Israel Eisenberg.

THE PRESIDENT: Yes. Is he present in Nuremberg?

MR. ELWYN JONES: He is now in Stuttgart, my Lord, and is
available to be called if the Tribunal thinks it is

THE PRESIDENT: Well, the Tribunal thinks, unless there is
some particular objection, in view of the nature of the
evidence, that possibly he ought to be called for cross-

MR. ELWYN JONES: The prosecution has no objection to make at
all, provided that we have additional time to get the
witness here.

THE PRESIDENT: Well, then, will you have him brought here as
soon as possible?

MR. ELWYN JONES: Yes, your Lordship.

THE PRESIDENT: Yes, Dr. Pelckmann.

                                                  [Page 332]

DR. PELCKMANN: I shall now call the witness Reinecke.

GUENTHER REINECKE, a witness, took the stand and testified
as follows:


Q. Will you state your full name, please?

A. Guenther Reinecke.

Q. Will you repeat this oath after me?

I swear by God - it is usual to hold your hand up when you
are sworn - the Almighty and Omniscient, that I will speak
the truth and will withhold and add nothing.

(The witness repeated the oath.)

THE PRESIDENT: The witness may sit down.



Witness, what positions did you hold in the SS?

A. I was an SS Oberfuehrer, Chief of Department in the Amt
"SS Courts," and Chief Judge of the Supreme SS and Police

Q. Did you have legal training?

A. I had my legal training at the universities of Innsbruck
and Munich. In 1931 I passed my first State examination and
in 1934 I passed the second State examination which entitled
me to occupy the position of a judge. In 1933 I became
Doctor of Law at Munich.

Q. Did you or the other SS judges have any special training
at all in special schools?

A. Neither I nor the other SS judges had special training at
special schools. The SS judges came from positions in the
legal profession and before the war were high-ranking legal
personalities, public prosecutors or lawyers, or some of
their were during the war transferred from courts of the
Wehrmacht to courts of the SS.

Q. Did you, on the strength of your activities, gain insight
into the construction and work of the units and groups which
were headed by Himmler, and which one generally describes as
the SS?

A. Yes. For nearly ten years I worked in the legal system of
the SS. In that sphere I had to deal extensively with the
development, the construction and the activity of the entire
SS, the chief of which was Himmler. From that angle I gained
very considerable insight and from that angle I can give my
testimony here.

Q. According to the prosecution, the SS infiltrated into the
entire life of the State. In this connection, the
prosecution referred to the numerous offices and powerful
positions which the so-called Reichsfuehrer SS Himmler
occupied. It is true that the actions of the Reichsfuehrer
SS meant, generally speaking, the actions of the SS?

A. No. Heinrich Himmler united in himself a number of
powerful positions in the Party and the State, and finally
the armed forces. He was Reichsfuehrer SS, Chief of the
German Police, Reich Minister of the Interior -

Q. Please speak more slowly, witness, these are difficult

A.  - He was Reich Commissioner for the Strengthening of
German Nationalism, Chief of the Reserves of the armed
forces, Chief of the Office for Prisoners of War, and
finally, supreme commander of two army groups. All of these
positions had nothing to do with his post as Reichsfuehrer
SS. His nomination to these positions of power took place on
orders from above, and for reasons which can be traced back
to his person, but not to the fact that he was Reichsfuehrer
SS. Any connection between the SS acid these positions of
power which Himmler held does not exist.

In particular, certain powerful positions which Himmler held
are emphasized in the Indictment as indicating that the SS
was acting through his person. These

                                                  [Page 333]

were his positions as Reichsfuehrer SS, Chief of the German
Police, Reich Commissioner for the Strengthening of German
Nationalism, and Chief of the Office for Prisoners of War.

Q. Do the tasks involved in these four positions form part
of the activities of the organization of the SS?

A. No, activities of the organization of the SS are those in
which Himmler, in his capacity as Reichsfuehrer SS, is
acting in connection with the SS: As Chief of the German
Police, he had been given a task which lay entirely in the
sphere of the State. His commission for the Strengthening of
German Nationalism was entirely a matter of the Reich. And
his position as Chief of the Office for Prisoners of War was
entirely a task connected with the armed forces.

Q. The wording of former German decrees which transferred
these tasks to Himmler always referred to him as
Reichsfuehrer SS. What was the reason for that?

A. That is correct. Reichsfuehrer SS was the first position
held by Himmler at the beginning of his career. It is
typical of the usage of language in the National Socialist
Reich not to refer to a person by name, but by the title of
his position. That usage can be found in numerous decrees,
but it refers only to the person and not the organization
with which the person's title may be connected. Many laws of
economic political content have references, to give an
example, to Hermann Goering as Reichsmarschall, but that did
not mean that the German air force was active in an economic-
political sphere.

Q. You have just mentioned organizations - plural - of the
SS. As you know, your testimony before the Commission is
already in the hands of the Tribunal, and in that testimony
you said that one had to distinguish between five different
independent spheres of activity which the prosecution
wrongly combined under the heading "SS"; they are: General
SS, Waffen SS, SD, police, and the concentration camps
organization. Will you explain your statement that these
were independent organizations? Will you start with the
Allgemeine SS - the General SS?

A. The General SS was a formation of a political party and
nothing else. It remained a formation of a political party
until 1939, when it disappeared at the beginning of the war.
At that time, 70 per cent of the members of the General SS
changed over to military service, mostly in the Wehrmacht, a
smaller percentage in the Waffen SS. But even the remainder
were almost all drafted into the armed forces in the course
of the following war years, so that the General SS
practically disappeared during the war. At no time did the
General SS receive tasks of the State, and it was never
active in the execution of such tasks. Its members were and
remained civilians who only wore uniforms when on duty -
namely, twice weekly, quite often on Sundays - their duty
consisted of standing guard during Party meetings of sport
and of training.

Q. It is alleged by the prosecution that the General SS was
the backbone of the entire SS, consisting of General SS,
Waffen SS, police and concentration camps service. Is that

A. No, that is not correct, and it is in contradiction to
the historical development of the General SS. Nor was the
General SS a reserve from which the other organizations
which were mentioned drew their replacements. The General SS
had either very loose or no connections at all with the
other organizations named.

Q. Furthermore, the prosecution stated that the General SS
had not only infiltrated into the organizations of the
State, but into the apparatus of the State, as such; is that

A. No, that again is not correct. It is correct - that is
true - that high-ranking persons in the General SS were
promoted to positions in the State, such as the positions of
the Presidents of Police. It is also correct that such
persons came to occupy economic positions, directors of
industries and so on. These are nevertheless appointments
connected with the individuals nominated, but not with the

                                                  [Page 334]

organization to which they belonged. Might I draw attention
to the fact that particularly the positions of Police
Presidents were, during the first years after 1933, mostly
not at all occupied by members of the SS, but by members of
the SA, But on the contrary, in the course of time, a
development in the opposite direction is to be noted, in so.
far as the General SS was infiltrated by persons and
organizations completely alien to the character of the SS.
Himmler appointed people in positions in the State and
economy to be honorary members of the SS without their being
connected with the SS in any way. In 1936, for instance, the
so-called "Kyffhauser Union," a union of soldiers, was taken
over into the SS by Himmler, but it had never before at any
time had anything to do with the SS and it never became an
organic entity of the General SS. The same applied in 1938.
In that year, Himmler suddenly awarded honorary ranks both
to the Regular Police and to the Security Police; both were
given uniforms of the SS, though they were entirely separate
organizations with tasks quite different from those of the
General SS.

Q. Were these persons whom Himmler awarded ranks in the
General SS the so-called honorary leaders?

A. Yes, those were the honorary leaders of the SS, to whom I
referred just now.

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