The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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Last-Modified: 2000/01/10


Q. Then, in September, 1938, you were promoted to S.S.
Gruppenfuehrer; is that correct ?

A. Yes. After the ensuing Anschluss I had to take over the
leadership of the General S.S. in Austria, namely the S.S.
Main Sector Danube. At that time I had been promoted Brigade
Leader without going through the lower ranks of S.S.
leaders, and I think it was in September that I was
appointed Gruppenfuehrer, so that my rank was co-ordinated
with that of all the other Main S.S. Sector Leaders in the
entire Reich.

Q. Will you continue regarding your further activities in
the S.S.? Were you in 1941 appointed Senior S.S. and Police
Leader in Austria ?

A. In March, 1938, I became a member of the Austrian
Government; I had to take over the position of State
Secretary for Security in Austria, under the Ministry of the
Interior. That Austrian Government was dissolved in 1941;
consequently, the Office of State Secretary for Security was
also dissolved, and in order to retain me at the same salary
level, I was appointed Senior S.S. and Police Leader, I
think, in July, 41.

Q. And on 30th January, 1943, you were appointed Chief of
the Security Police and the S.D., that is, of the so-called
Reich Main Security Office (R.S.H.A.). How did that
appointment come about; did you have connections with
Himmler; what was said between you and Himmler on the
of your appointment?

A. I must first describe briefly my activities from 1941 to
1943, so as to make it clear why I was called to Berlin.

The prosecution charges that I had already been leader of
the Security
Police in Austria. In that respect the prosecution is

The State Police and the Criminal Police as well as the
Security Service in Austria were directed centrally from
Berlin and were completely removed from the power of the
then responsible Minister, Seyss-Inquart, and his deputy,
Kaltenbrunner. My duties as Senior S.S. and Police Leader in
Austria - unlike the activity of the same men in the Reich -
were therefore limited merely to the task of representing or
leading the General S.S., which in no way took up all my

During these two years I therefore followed out my
intentions concerning political activity and developed a
rather large political intelligence service radiating from
Austria toward the South-east. I did that because, in the
first place, I regretted that the Reich did not make use of
the political and economic resources of Austria, and because
the Reich, with incredible short-sightedness, did not
visualise Austria's tremendous power as an intermediary with
the South-east. Thus, my reports met with increased interest
in Berlin, and since Himmler was continuously reproached by
Hitler that his intelligence service, which was run by
Heydrich in the Reich, did not furnish adequate reports on
political results, Himmler, eight months after

                                                  [Page 246]

Heydrich's death, felt obliged to look for a man who could
free him from Hitler's reproaches that he had no
intelligence service worth mentioning.

Q. And what did you discuss with Himmler?

A. In December, 1942, he ordered me to come to
Berchtesgaden, where he resided at the time because the
Fuehrer's headquarters were in the neighbourhood, at the
Obersalzberg. He told me first of Hitler's reproaches and
demanded that I create a central intelligence service in the
Reich. We had a lengthy discussion on this subject with
reference to my reports of the previous years. He was then
of the opinion that the best solution would be for me to
take over the Reich Main Security Office (R.S.H.A.) as a
transition basis for the creation of such an intelligence
service. I refused to do that, giving as my reason that I
had maintained a watching and critical attitude in Austria
towards the overall development in the Reich, especially the
inner political development. I explained to Himmler in
detail why the Germans in Austria were disappointed and
where I saw dangers that the same Austrians, who four years
ago had turned with enthusiasm to the Reich, would become
tired of it. I have -

Q. May I interrupt you for just one moment? It is correct,
of course, that you were made the Chief of the Reich Main
Security Office. Are you trying to say that you did not take
over the executive powers?

A. I'm coming to that immediately. But, I must now describe
that first conference with Himmler; the second one took
place two weeks later. On that occasion I was given the
order; I am referring to the first order.

But I should like to state here and now - and this runs like
a red thread through my entire career to the last days of
the war - that even then I explained to Himmler on which
essential points I disagreed with National Socialism as to
the home policy of the Reich, the foreign policy, the
ideology, and the violations of law by the Government
itself. I declared to him specifically that the
administration in the Reich was too centralised; that
Austria was violently criticising that
centralised system, particularly since a federal status had
been granted to other countries, such a Bavaria. I told him
that the creation of a new German criminal law, in the form
suggested, was wrong, and that German criminal law was
casuistic. The Austrian criminal law, based on a tradition
of more than one hundred years, had proved to be the best
and had also been recognised abroad. I explained to him that
the concepts of protective custody and of concentration
camps were not approved of in Austria, but that every man in
Austria wanted to be tried before a court of law. I
explained to him that anti-Semitism in Austria had developed
in a completely different way and also required a different
handling. No one in Austria, I said, had ever thought of
going beyond the reasonable and humane limits of anti-
Semitism as laid down in the Party programme. I also said
that there was hardly any understanding in Austria for the
fact that the Nuremberg Laws went beyond the Party programme
in this respect.

In Austria, since 1934, there had been a peaceful, regulated
policy to allow the Jews to emigrate. Any personal or
physical persecution of Jews was completely unnecessary. I
am referring to a document, which is somewhere in the court
records. It is a report from the Chief of Police in Vienna,
dated, I think, December, 1939, which proves in accordance
with statistics that between 1934 and 1939, I think, of a
total of 200,000 Jews more than half had emigrated to
foreign countries. Those were the problems which I discussed
at that time -

Q. (interrupting): And what did Himmler tell you?

A. (continuing) . . . and I told Himmler at that time that
he knew very well that not only had I had no training in
police matters at all, but that all my activity up to then
had been in the field of political intelligence work, and
that therefore, when taking over the R.S.H.A., not only did
I refuse to have anything to do with such executive offices,
as the Gestapo and the criminal police, but that my task, to
which he was appointing me, namely to set up and cultivate
an intelligence service, would in fact be impeded were I to
agree. I also said that I was not only extremely

                                                  [Page 247]

different from Heydrich personally, but that also material
differences existed in so far as Heydrich was an expert in
police matters, whereas I was not, and that the policy with
which he, Himmler, and Heydrich had already discredited the
Reich could not be carried on by me. My name, my honour and
my family were too sacred to me for that.

He reassured me in this respect by saying, "You know that in
June, 1942, Heydrich was assassinated and that I myself
since his death" - and this was about six or seven months
after Heydrich's death - "I have been handling his entire
office. This is to continue in so far that I" - this means
Himmler - "will retain the executive offices for myself in
the future. I have well-trained experts, Muller and Nebe, at
my disposal for this purpose. You will not have to concern
yourself with it. You take over Amt III and Amt VI, as the
transition basis for your intelligence service." I told him
at that time that an intelligence service could not be built
up on the S.D. alone; that an intelligence service which,
until that time, had been so narrow-minded because of
Heydrich, and which had been forced more and more into
executive work was, a priori, capable of providing the
necessary personnel.

Secondly, I told him an intelligence service ought to be
smaller, and in particular I considered it madness to have
political and military intelligence separated from each
other. No country in the whole world, except Germany and
France, has adopted a two-division set-up for an
intelligence service. I therefore demanded from him that he
first procure a Fuehrer order on the strength of which the
intelligence system of the Armed Forces, which rested in the
O.K.W., counter-intelligence office (Amt Abwehr), should be
united with the S.D. and should be given a new body of
personnel, which ought to be selected and carefully

Q. I am interrupting you for a moment. Can you tell me in
one sentence whether that unification which you just
mentioned took place?

A. Yes, it did.

Q. With Amt VI?

A. Yes.

Q. And then another question -

A. (continuing): The union was achieved by an order of
Hitler dated 14th or 15th February, 1944.

Q. Now, another question: After what you have just
explained, did Himmler relieve you of the executive tasks
and was it made known to your section chiefs within the
R.S.H.A., etc., that you had been so relieved? Did this
become apparent outside the office; if so, how?

A. After this conference with Himmler in December, 1942, he
discharged me because I did not want to take over the
R.S.H.A. under those conditions which he had offered to me,
namely, that the executive departments should be managed by
himself as previously. He was so angry with me that he did
not give me his hand and made me aware of his indignation in
various other ways during the subsequent weeks. Towards the
middle of January, 1943 - the 16th or 18th - I was ordered
by telegram to report to headquarters, which in the meantime
had been transferred to East Prussia. I assumed that I was
to get a post at the front because I had asked him for such
a post. I went to headquarters with full kit because I
thought I had finally to expect the same fate that had been
that of my brothers and of my other male relatives. But I
was wrong. He told me: "I have talked to the Fuehrer and he
believes that the centralisation and reorganisation of the
intelligence service is the right thing to do. He will
initiate the necessary negotiations with the Armed Forces,
and you will have to organise and build up this intelligence
service. I, together with Muller and Nebe, will still have
direct charge of the executive offices." If you ask me now
whether this limitation must have become apparent at once
outside the office, I have to answer that it was not
publicised. Therefore, formally the prosecution is right in
saying: "As far as the outside world in [sic] concerned, you
never drew a demarcation line." To that charge I can only
reply that I believed I could rely on the words of my then
superior. He

                                                  [Page 248]

had stated it to me in the presence of Nebe and Muller and
had given them the personal order to communicate with him
directly and to report to him and receive the orders from
him directly just as it had been done for the eight months
since Heydrich's death.

I am stating here emphatically that the special assignments
which had been given to Heydrich - such as, for instance,
the assignment with regard to the final solution of the
Jewish problem - were not known to me at the time and were
not taken over by me. Nominally I was the chief of the
R.S.H.A. As such I considered the intelligence
service and the reorganisation of this intelligence service
my proper sphere, as I have said before. The directives were
given by Himmler, but in State Police and Criminal Police
matters, things were often done, as I found out very much
later, in the name of the Chief of the R.S.H.A., i.e. in my
name, without my knowing of or seeing these orders when they
were issued.

The chiefs of the Gestapo office and the Criminal Police
office sometimes carried out these orders from Himmler, as I
said, signing my name as Chief of the R.S.H.A. and, as I
probably might have to state in detail later, they so
continued routine habits which prevailed during Heydrich's
time, who united all executive powers in his hand and who
could delegate the respective powers to Muller and Nebe. But
I never had those powers from the beginning, and therefore I
could never delegate any partial powers. Perhaps I ought to
supplement the declaration of my responsibility in this
respect by saying that possibly I did not take the necessary
measures to make it clear that no order of the State Police
or the Criminal Police should bear my name. That I did not
concern myself with that sufficiently is Himmler's fault,
but perhaps mine too.

Q. I draw your attention to the testimony given by
Ohlendorf, Chief of Amt III, on 3rd January, 1946, here in
Court. I am putting this testimony to you briefly, and will
you please make your comment?

This testimony refers to the question of the executive
power. The witness Ohlendorf said, in reply to my question:

  "If you ask the question whether Kaltenbrunner could
  bring about executive actions I must answer in the
  affirmative. If you then name Muller and Himmler, to the
  exclusion of Kaltenbrunner, then I must point out that
  according to the organisation of the R.S.H.A. Muller was
  subordinate to Kaltenbrunner, and consequently orders
  from Himmler to Muller were also orders to Kaltenbrunner,
  and Muller was obliged to inform Kaltenbrunner of them."

And then he goes on to say:

  "I can say that I know absolutely that - I refer to the
  expression that often came up, namely 'to the last
  washerwoman' - Himmler reserved the final decision for
  himself. As to whether or not Kaltenbrunner had any
  authority at all in this regard I can make no statement."

I am asking you now: Are the essential points of Ohlendorf's
testimony correct?

A. It needs clarification. He is right in so far as nothing
in the construction or rather organisation of the R.S.H.A.
had changed since Heydrich's time. Therefore he could
immediately assume that there was an official channel -
Himmler-Kaltenbrunner-Muller. But during the conferences,
i.e. when Himmler gave orders, it was specifically not the
case. And to the other remark that Himmler reserved for
himself the decision "to the last washerwoman," that proves
that the situation actually had changed in so far as,
contrary to Heydrich's time, the medium between Himmler and
Muller - and this was I - was not active, so that orders
from Himmler went immediately to Muller.

Q. I am now coming to the individual charges preferred by
the prosecution and first submit to you a document for your
statement. It is the document L-38, Exhibit USA 517. It is
now KR-3. This deals with the charge preferred against

                                                  [Page 249]

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Kauffmann, has this already got an
exhibit number? You don't want to give it
another exhibit number.

DR. KAUFFMANN: Very well. If it is not necessary. I shall be
glad to drop that.


Q. The question here is, first whether alt signed orders for
protective custody bore your name either in facsimile or
typewritten; and the second question is whether you gave
such orders, that means whether these orders are authentic;
and further, in case both these questions are to be answered
in the negative, whether you had knowledge of these orders.
Please will you comment on this document.

A. I must say that not once in my whole life did I ever see
or sign a single protective custody order. During the
interrogations before the trial a number of protective
custody orders which bear my name were put before me when I
was being questioned. Everyone of these protective custody
orders had this signature, i.e. my name, either typewritten
or in teletype, and I think in one or two cases it was a

Q. You will admit that naturally this statement of yours
isn't very credible. It is a monstrosity that the office
chief should not know that such orders were signed with his
name. How do you explain this fact, a fact which appears
from the documents which bear your signature?

A. I had not finished my explanation. I stated that this
signature "Kaltenbrunner" on protective custody orders can
only have come about through the fact that the office chief,
Muller, signed the name of the Chief of the R.S.H.A. on
these protective custody orders, as he had done during
Heydrich's time when he was allowed to do so, and that in
addition he allocated to his sections, the protective
custody sections, the right to do the same thing. Quite
obviously he continued to do so during my time, because
otherwise these orders could not have been put before me
now, But he never informed me of this and he never had
authority from me to do it. On the contrary, this was out of
the question, even superfluous, because he was immediately
under Himmler and he had authority from Himmler, so that he
just as well might have written "Himmler" or "By order of
Himmler" or "For Himmler." I admit that this remains a fact
about which the Tribunal will not believe me, but
nevertheless it was so and Himmler never gave me any reason
to define my attitude in this respect, since he had told me
that I was not to carry out these executive tasks.

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