The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Shofar FTP Archive File: imt/tgmwc//tgmwc-06/tgmwc-06-51.13

Archive/File: imt/tgmwc/tgmwc-06/tgmwc-06-51.13
Last-Modified: 1998/05/01

                                                             [Page 95]
But these extraordinary crimes involve in the most incredible way
other persons responsible besides Himmler himself. The Danish police
were able to arrest Guenther Pancke, who exercised the functions of
Chief of Police in Denmark from November, 1943.

The inquiry was established by the Court of first Instance in
Copenhagen and is in the Danish report. It contains an account of the
interrogation of Guenther Pancke on 25th August, 1945.

It is necessary for me to read to the Tribunal an extract from this
document, which involves several of the defendants.

THE PRESIDENT:  You are going to read some new document, are you not?

M. FAURE: It is the same document, Mr. President. It is the official
Danish report, which includes all the documents and particularly the
original  of the Copenhagen Court. But I pointed out just now, this
bulky Danish report was handed to you the other day as Exhibit RF 901,
and I apologise for asking for it to be handed to you again. We have
only a limited number.

THE PRESIDENT: Yes, you were referring just now to a letter from
Himmler thanking these murders. That is on Page 11, is it not?

M. FAURE: It is Appendix 14 of the Danish report and there is a copy
of it under Page 11 of my brief.

THE PRESIDENT: What are you going to offer after that?

M. FAURE: I submit Appendix 7 of the Danish report. This is Guenther
Pancke's interrogation; and you will find on Page 12 a copy of the
extract which I would like to submit. The whole of the Danish document
has already been offered in evidence so that these are parts documents
already submitted.

I quote:

     "On 30th December, 1943, Pancke and Best were present at a
     meeting at the Fuehrer's H.Q. attended by Hitler, Himmler,
     Kaltenbrunner, General von Hannecken, Keitel, Jodl, Schmundt and
     others. This agrees with Best's diary for 30th December, 1943.
     There is a copy of this. A representative of the German Foreign
     Office also attended; but Pancke does not remember his name nor
     whether the person in question made a speech. During the first
     part of the meeting, Hitler was in a very bad temper, and
     everything led one to believe that the information that he had
     obtained concerning the situation in Denmark was rather
I should like to omit the following page, which is not indispensable,
and go on to Page 14 of my brief. In the passage which I am omitting,
the witness Pancke reports that he and Dr. Best advised that saboteurs
be fought in a legal way. He also points out on Page 14 that Hitler --
I quote his actual words -- "was strongly opposed to the proposals of
Pancke and Best, declaring there could be absolutely no question of
judging saboteurs before a court."

He then said that such methods would lead to those condemned being
considered as heroes.

I resume the quotation on Page 15, Line 3:

     "There was only one way of dealing with saboteurs, namely, to
     kill them -- preferably, at the moment when the crime was
     committed, otherwise, on arrest.
     Both of them received strict orders from Hitler personally to
     start `compensatory' murders. Pancke replied that it was very
     difficult and dangerous to shoot people on arrest, as they could
     not be sure when the arrest was made if the person arrested was
     really a saboteur. Hitler demanded compensatory murders in the
     proportion of at least five to one. In other words: Five Danes
     were to die for every German killed."
The rest of the document shows that General Hannecken made a report on
the military situation. I shall read this paragraph -- Page 16 of my

                                                             [Page 97]
     "Moreover, General Keitel took part in the conversation, but he
     confined himself to a proposal to reduce food rations in Denmark
     to the same level as rations in Germany. This proposal was
     rejected by all the three representatives in Denmark. As a
     result, the meeting ended with Hitler's express order to Pancke
     to start compensatory murders and counter-sabotage. After this
     meeting, Pancke had a conversation alone with Himmler, who told
     him that he, Pancke, had now been told by the Fuehrer, himself
     how to act, and that he thought that he could rely on Pancke to
     execute the order which he had received. It seemed that up to now
     he had executed only Himmler's orders. Pancke knows that Best had
     a conversation with Ribbentrop immediately after the meeting, but
     does not remember the result."
The document then shows that these compensatory murders were carried
out, not in the proportion of five to one, but in the proportion of
one for one. It shows that reports on these compensatory murders were
sent to Berlin.

I read on Page 18 of my brief, second paragraph:

     "Pancke explained that in his opinion these murders were decreed
     deliberately by the supreme authority in Germany as being
     necessary for the protection of Germans stationed in Denmark, and
     Danes working for Germany, and so Pancke had to obey the order.
     Bovensiepen stated the facts and made suggestions when subjects
     of importance were raised. Pancke does not know whether
     Bovensiepen selected his own subjects in every case, or whether
     in certain cases the subjects were selected by his subalterns;
     but he, too, said that he was subjected to strong pressure from
     the military side, especially from General von Hannecken,
     although General von Hannecken was at first opposed to terror
     reprisals. Later, still more pressure was exercised by General
     Lindemann. When soldiers were killed or damage was caused to
     military objectives, Pancke was immediately asked what steps he
     had taken and what they were to report to G.H.Q. -- i.e., to
     Hitler himself -- from a military point of view. Pancke had to
     give a satisfactory reply; and he also had to take action."
I end my quotation here. Pancke then explains how these terror groups
were organised.

I must now say that the Danish police were also able to arrest Dr.
Best, the German Plenipotentiary, and make an inventory of his papers.
Among them they found Dr. Best's private diary. This diary has one
page dated 30th December, 1943, which agrees with the information
given in the preceding testimony about the meeting held on that day in
the Fuehrer's house -- see Page 21;

     "Lunch with Adolf Hitler, Himmler, Dr. Kaltenbrunner, S.S.
     Obergruppenfuehrer Pancke, S.S. Gruppenfuehrer, Field-Marshal
     Keitel, General Jodl, General von Hannecken, Lt.-General
     Schmundt, Brigadefuehrer Scherff. Lunch and discussions on the
     Danish question lasted from 14.00 to 16.30 hours."
Dr. Best was naturally interrogated on the subject.

From official Danish documents, extracts from which are found on Page
23 of my brief, it appears that Dr. Best corroborated the note in his
diary dated 30th December which I have just cited. With regard to the
fundamental questions concerned, here, at the bottom of Page 23, is
what Dr. Best says:

     "Pancke does not remember if Hitler, who spoke at considerable
     length, said anything about compensatory murders being carried
     out in the proportion of five to one. Himmler and Kaltenbrunner
     agreed with Hitler. The rest of those present apparently
     expressed no opinion."
The names given by Best agree with Pancke's list.

     "The Ministry of Foreign Affairs was not represented, so that
     Sonnleitner did not attend the conference. After the conference,
     Best had a conversation alone with Ribbentrop, to whom he
     explained what had taken place.
                                                             [Page 98]
     Ribbentrop shared his opinion that some protest should be made
     against such methods, but that, after all, nothing could be
It is proved, therefore, that the defendants Kaltenbrunner, Keitel and
Jodl were present at a meeting of departments where it was decided
that murder, pure and simple, should be organised in Denmark. The
witnesses certainly do not say that the defendants Keitel and Jodl
showed any enthusiasm for this proposal, but it is established that
they were present and that they were present in the exercise of their
functions, along with their subordinate, the Military Commander of
Denmark. This is a question of responsibility for several hundred
murders abominable in themselves but undoubtedly constituting only a
small part of the crimes implied by the prosecution and carried out on
millions of victims. I think, however, that it is important to learn
that the military and diplomatic leaders knew and accepted the
systematic organisation of acts of banditry and murders committed by
professional killers who fled when they had committed their crimes.

The document which I have just cited are the last of the series which
I wanted to present to the Tribunal. I shall not follow them up by
commentary. I think that there is so much monotony, but at the same
time so many shades of variety in the innumerable crimes committed by
the Nazis, that the human mind finds it difficult to grasp their whole
extent. Each of these crimes has in itself all the intensity of horror
and reflects the distorted values of the doctrine underlying them. If
it be true that life has any meaning whatsoever, if there is around
and within us anything else than "sound and fury," such a doctrine
must be condemned, together with the men who originated and
implemented it.

Home ·  Site Map ·  What's New? ·  Search Nizkor

© The Nizkor Project, 1991-2012

This site is intended for educational purposes to teach about the Holocaust and to combat hatred. Any statements or excerpts found on this site are for educational purposes only.

As part of these educational purposes, Nizkor may include on this website materials, such as excerpts from the writings of racists and antisemites. Far from approving these writings, Nizkor condemns them and provides them so that its readers can learn the nature and extent of hate and antisemitic discourse. Nizkor urges the readers of these pages to condemn racist and hate speech in all of its forms and manifestations.