The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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Q. He talked only about evacuation?

A. Yes, only about evacuation.

Q. When did you hear that these five million Jews had been

A. I heard of that here a while ago.

Q. In other words the matter was completely secret and only
very few persons knew of it?

A. I am sure that Himmler arranged it so that no one learned
anything about it, and that he formed his commandos in such
a way that nobody knew anything about them. Of course, there
must be a large number of people who must have known
something about it.

Q. Can you tell me what people must have known something
about it, apart from those who actually carried out these
exterminations? Who, apart from those people, must have
known something about it?

A. Well, to start with Himmler must have passed his order on
to other people; and there must have been certain leading
officials, and the leading officials under them who took
charge of the commandos and who kept everything completely

DR. THOMA: No further questions.

THE PRESIDENT: We will adjourn now.

(A recess was taken.)

BY DR. PANNENBECKER (counsel for defendant Frick):

Q. Witness, you have already talked about a number of
questions which are also of importance for the defence of
defendant Frick, since he was a member of the Reich Cabinet.
Can you tell me on the strength of what position, or what
position you had, that you are enabled to give these
answers? I rep I eat, can you tell me what your position was
within the Reich Cabinet which enables you to answer these

A. You mean my own?

Q. Yes.

A. I was State Secretary in the Reich Chancellery and I was
the intermediary between the Fuehrer and the Reich
Ministers, with two exceptions: the Fuehrer either had
direct communication with these gentlemen or the men in
question had a way prescribed to approach the Fuehrer other
than through me. There were a number of things which didn't
go through my hands, but which the ministers submitted to
the Fuehrer directly. These were all matters of high policy,
particularly of high foreign policy. Only in 1937, on the
occasion of certain changes in the Cabinet, did I receive
the title "Reich Minister," but my tasks did not change. In
particular, I also had no departments.

Q. Can you tell me when the very last meeting of the Reich
Cabinet took place?

A. The Reich Cabinet met for the last time in November,
1937. To be sure, in 1938, at the beginning of February,
there was one more so-called "information conference" of the
ministers, during which the Fuehrer announced the change
which had been made in the Cabinet involving Herr von
Blomberg and Herr von Neurath. The last Cabinet meeting in
which actual consultation took place, namely in regard to
the draft of a penal code, took place in November, 1937.

Q. Can you tell me anything about any attempts after that
date to get the ministers together?

                                                  [Page 127]

A. After that date I continuously attempted to effect a
concentration of the Reich Cabinet, a reactivation, I might
say. This was continuously refused by the Fuehrer. I had
even prepared a draft for a decree according to which
ministers should at least come together to consult with each
other once or twice a month under the chairmanship of Reich
Marshal Goering, or, if he were prevented from attending,
with me as acting chairman. The ministers were to come
together and hear informational reports. That was turned
down by the Fuehrer. Nevertheless, the ministers had an
urgent desire to meet. My next suggestion was that I invite
the ministers once or twice a month to a social evening, a
beer party, so that we could get together and talk. To that
the Fuehrer replied: "Herr Lammers, this isn't your concern;
it's my concern. The next time I go to Berlin, I'll do

THE PRESIDENT: What are all these details about beer
drinking? If they did not meet and he applied to the
Fuehrer, asking them to meet, and they never did, that is
sufficient. What is the good of going into detail?


Is it correct, therefore, to say that the Reich Ministers
had to work on their own in their departments, in their
special field of activity, and that a Reich Cabinet as such,
which decided questions of policy and was informed and held
discussions, did not exist any more at all?

A. Actually the ministers were nothing but the highest
administrative chiefs of their departments. They could no
longer act in the Cabinet of the Reich Government as
political ministers. I tried to describe that earlier. No
more meetings took place; conferences were even forbidden.
So, how could it have been possible for them to exchange

Q. Do you know anything about a statement of Hitler that he
considered the Cabinet a defeatist club, which he did not
want to see any more?

A. In connection with my attempts to reactivate the Reich
Cabinet through certain meetings, the Fuehrer told me that
this would have to be stopped since an atmosphere might
arise which he wouldn't like. He didn't use the word
"defeatist club" in my presence, but Reichsleiter Bormann
told me that he said: "The Ministers are not to meet; they
might become a defeatist club."

Q. It has been stated here frequently that a Reich Minister
of his own free will couldn't resign. Do you know anything
about Frick making an attempt to resign his post as Reich

A. In spite of this prohibition by the Fuehrer, Frick
repeatedly stated his wish to be relieved of his office if
he no longer enjoyed the Fuehrer's full confidence and if
the Fuehrer wouldn't receive him any more. He told me that
frequently; but I cannot recall a written application for
resignation. Frick's wishes to resign were always passed on
to the Fuehrer by me, although the Fuehrer always rejected
such communications very bluntly.

Q. In August, 1943, Frick left his post as Reich Minister of
the Interior. Do you know any details of what he himself
said in that connection?

A. At that time Herr Frick himself told me, "I am happy to
leave my post as Minister of the Interior, but please see to
it that the Fuehrer does not make me Reich Protector of
Bohemia and Moravia, as he intends to do. I don't want that
office. I want to retire." And I told that to the Fuehrer.

The Fuehrer ordered Frick to come to headquarters. Before
Frick went in to see the Fuehrer alone, he told me that he
did not, under any circumstances, want to accept the
position of Reich Protector, but when he came back from the
Fuehrer he had, nevertheless, changed his mind and had
accepted the office. If I am right, this must have been in
August, 1943.

Q. Frick's position as General Plenipotentiary for Reich
Administration is also one of the points in the accusation
against him. Do you know anything about the appointment to
that office?

A. As Plenipotentiary for Administration he had the task of
co-ordinating other

                                                  [Page 128]

ministries. The following were co-ordinated: the Ministry of
the Interior, the Ministry of Justice, the Ministry of
Education, the Ministry of Churches, and the National Office
for Regional Planning. He co-ordinated them under his
administration and represented them, so to speak, in the
Ministerial Council for Reich Defence, which came into being
in 1939 with the outbreak of the war.

Can you tell me on the basis of what regulations Frick was
appointed General Plenipotentiary for the Reich
Administration? There are two Reich Defence Laws, one for
1935 and one for 1938.

A. The Reich Defence Law of 1935 I can no longer remember.
The draft of the Reich Defence Law of 1938, which was not
published, allots to the Reich General Plenipotentiary for
Administration a number of tasks which, however, were never
passed on to him. He had merely the task of co-ordinating
the various departments, which I have just mentioned. At any
rate he never exercised actual powers as General
Plenipotentiary for the Reich Administration to the extent
to which they were allotted him in the Reich Defence Law.

Q. In this connection one also talks of the powers of a so-
called "Three-Man Board." This consisted of General
Plenipotentiary for Reich Administration, Frick, General
Plenipotentiary for Economy, Schacht - later Funk - and the
Chief of the High Command. Can you tell me what powers these
three exercised?

A. The expression "Three-Man Board" is first of all quite
false. It is not a concept in constitutional law, but merely
a term of convenience, a newspaper expression, a term used
by reporters. These three people, the General
Plenipotentiary for Administration, the General
Plenipotentiary for Economy, and the Chief of the High
Command each had the power to issue decrees, but they were
obliged to have the consent of the other two, that is, with
the agreement of the others. Any one could give orders in
his own field. A meeting of this committee, this so-called
"Three-Man Board," never took place. The decrees issued by
it are very few, insignificant and quite unimportant. For
instance, I can remember that this committee ruled on the
question of reducing the numbers of judges in the
disciplinary chambers; that is in civil service matters. In
all there were six to eight decrees at the most, but
altogether quite unimportant.

Q. In addition there was later on the Ministerial Council
for Reich Defence. Can you compare these two groups, those
three and the Ministerial Council for Reich Defence?

A. Do you mean the "Three-Man Board" and the Ministerial

Q. Yes.

A. First of all, after the Ministerial Council for Reich
Defence was established, it was my principle to do away with
the "Three-Man Board" wherever possible, since it was not at
all necessary. The Ministerial Council for the Reich Defence
had the task of issuing decrees with legal effect but it
actually had nothing to do with the defence of the Reich.
Military matters were never discussed in this Ministerial
Council for Reich Defence, nor did it handle any foreign
policy or propaganda. In the main it issued decrees which
had the effect of laws. Meetings took place only until
December, 1939, and after that the members communicated with
each other by writing, for the purpose of issuing decrees.
Political debates never took place.

Q. A Central Office was founded in the Ministry of the
Interior for the occupied territories. This Central Office
has been cited by the prosecution as evidence of the fact
that Frick had considerable administrative powers, and hence
responsibility for the occupied territories. Are you able to
say anything about that?

A. The Central Office had in the main two tasks. One was
taking care of the civil servants, the other was assisting
in the issuing of laws and decrees in occupied territories.
Such an office was necessary because the occupied
territories required personnel and because the Reich
Commissioners in the occupied territories were directly
under the Fuehrer's command. Written communications went in
part through me, If one had decided to settle personnel
problems within this frame -

                                                  [Page 129]

work, then I would have had to do it. But I had no
instrument for it; I had only a staff of twelve and I had no
organisation in the country; I had no executive officials in
those countries. Therefore the Minister of the Interior was
brought in, since he bad the whole civil service
organisation at his disposal.

Q. You just said that the Central Office gave some
assistance in issuing decrees for the occupied territories.
Was it possible for the Central Office to issue a decree
for, let us say, Norway?

A. For what?

Q. To issue a decree for some occupied territory, for
instance, Norway.

A. No, not of itself, perhaps after the Reich Commissioner
had agreed.

Q. Was it at all customary for the Central Office at any
time to issue a decree for a certain occupied territory?

A. To my knowledge that has never happened. I do not know of
a single case where the Central Office issued a decree.

Q. A decree by the Reich Minister of the Interior has been
cited which ruled on the question of citizenship, also with
reference to occupied territories.

A. Yes, about German citizenship probably.

Q. Yes?

A. Yes, but that was certainly an internal German matter.

Q. Did the Central Office have any right to issue
instructions to the German Plenipotentiary in the occupied
territory, say the Commissioner for Norway?

A. No, it had no such right at all.

Q. Or did it have a right to issue instructions to lower
offices, German offices of the occupied territories

A. No, it did not have the right to give instructions.

Q. The prosecution has further stated that the Central
Office also had the right to issue instructions in those
territories for which it had not been specifically
appointed. Is there any legal provision or any practical
case where the Central Office interfered with jurisdiction
in the occupied territories?

A. No case is known to me.

Q. Is it then correct to say that the chiefs of the civil
administration in the occupied territories were always
directly subordinate to Hitler, as the Fuehrer, no matter
what their official designation was?

A. In the occupied territories the Reich Commissioners or
the so-called chiefs of the civil administration were
directly subordinate to the Fuehrer.

Q. Did Frick, as Minister of the Interior, have the power to
issue orders, for the occupied territories, since the German
police were active in these territories?

A. No, the police authority in occupied territories was
vested solely in Himmler, who was to act in agreement with
the Reich Commissioners. The Minister of the Interior had
nothing to do with the police in occupied territories.

Q. Does it not follow that this matter came within the
Minister of the Interior's jurisdiction, seeing that Himmler
was subordinate to the Ministry of the Interior?

A. There would have been at most the power to issue orders
for Germany, but not for the occupied territories, and to
what extent there was this power for Germany itself is also

Q. I shall come to that later in detail. Can you tell me
what powers the Minister of the Interior had in the police
field during that time when the police were still under the
jurisdiction of the provinces, Prussia, etc., that is, from
1933 to 1936?

A. Well, his powers were in any case very limited, but I
cannot tell you the details.

Q. Did the Reich have the right of supervision?

A. Yes, the old right, as it was formerly - the Reich had
only the ultimate supervision.

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