The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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Last-Modified: 2000/01/20

DR. THOMA: Mr. President, I wanted to bring to an end
questions relating to the Eastern Ministry by submitting an
affidavit from Professor Dr. Dencker on the employment of
agricultural machinery in the Ukraine; Document Rosenberg-35
has already been granted me by the Tribunal. This affidavit
concerns the following ...

THE PRESIDENT: (Interposing) Have you finished your
examination now?

DR. THOMA: I have finished the questions relating to the
Ministry for Eastern Affairs. I have only a few more brief

THE PRESIDENT: The Tribunal has seen this affidavit recently
so there is no need to read it.

Now, if you will, give us the exhibit number.

DR. THOMA: Rosenberg-35. This deals with machinery which had
a value of 180 millions, and was delivered to the Ukraine -
agricultural machinery.


Q. Witness, were you a member of the S.A. or the S.S.?

A. No, I belonged neither to the S.A. nor the S.S.

Q. So you have never worn an S.S. uniform?

A. No.

Q. Did you know anything about concentration camps?

A. Yes. This question, of course, has been put to everybody
and the fact that concentration camps existed became known
to me in 1933. But although this may appear a repetition, I
must nevertheless state that I knew by name only two
concentration camps, Oranienburg and Dachau. When these
institutions were explained to me, I was informed, among
other things, that in one concentration camp there were
eight hundred Communist workers, whose sentences averaged
four years imprisonment of various degrees. In spite of the
fact that this involved a complete revolution in ideas (even
though it had legal basis, it was still something
revolutionary), I considered it understandable that
protective custody for a period of time should be decreed
for those who were politically hostile to the new State. But
at the same time I saw and heard how our toughest opponents,
against whom no charges of a criminal nature were made, were
treated so generously that, for example, our strongest
opponent, the Prussian Minister Severing was retired with
full ministerial pension, and I considered this very
attitude as National Socialist. Thus I had to assume that
these arrangements were politically and nationally
necessary, and I was thoroughly convinced of this.

Q. Did you participate in the evacuation of the Jews from

A. I should perhaps add one thing: I visited no real
concentration camp, neither Dachau nor any other one. I once
questioned Himmler - it was in 1938 - about the
concentration camps and told him that one saw in the foreign
Press all sorts of reports of alleged atrocities which were
being committed in them. Himmler said to me: "Why don't You
come to Dachau and take a look at things for yourself? We
have a swimming pool there, we have sanitary installations -
irreproachable - no objections can be raised."

I did not visit this camp because if something actually
improper had been going on, then Himmler would probably not
have shown it to me. On the other hand, for reasons of good
taste I did not want to go simply to observe

                                                   [Page 37]

people who had been deprived of their liberty. But I thought
that such a talk with Himmler made him aware that such
rumours were spreading.

A second time, later on - I cannot say, however, whether it
was before or after the outbreak of the war - Himmler
himself spoke to me about the matter of the so-called "Bible
students" (Bibelforscher), that is, about a matter which has
also been submitted by the prosecution as a religious
persecution. Himmler only told me that it was certainly
impossible to put up with refusal to serve in the Armed
Forces considering the condition the Reich was in, that it
would have incalculable consequences, and he went on to say
that he had often talked personally to these detainees in
order to understand them and possibly convince them. That,
he said, was impossible, however, because they replied to
all questions with quotations ... quotations from the Bible
which they had learned by heart, so that nothing was to be
done with them. From that statement of Himmler I gathered
that, since he was telling me such a story, he couldn't
possibly want to plan or carry out shooting actions against
these "Bible students".

An American chaplain has very kindly given me in my cell a
church paper from Columbus. I gather from that that the
United States, too, arrested Jehovah's Witnesses during the
war and that until December, 1945, 11,000 of them were still
detained in camps. I presume that under such conditions,
every State would take similar actions against nationals who
refused to do war service in some form or other; and that
was my attitude too : I could not consider Himmler wrong in
this connection.

Q. Could you intervene in the case of Pastor Niemoeller?

A. Yes. When the case of Pastor Niemoeller was being tried
in Germany, I sent one of my staff to the trial because I
was interested in it both from an official and a human point
of view. This official - his name was Dr. Ziegler - made a
report to me from which I concluded that this arraignment
was based partly on misunderstandings on the part of the
authorities, and furthermore that Pastor Niemoeller was not
as seriously incriminated as I had assumed. I then submitted
that report to the deputy of the Fuehrer, Rudolf Hess, and I
asked him whether he could not give this case consideration,
and after some time, when I was with the Fuehrer once, I
brought the conversation around to this subject, and stated
that I thought this whole trial and the subsequent handling
of the case most unfortunate. The Fuehrer told me: "I have
asked only one binding statement from Niemoeller, that he,
as a clergyman, will not make belligerent utterances against
the State. He has refused to give that and hence I cannot
set him free. Apart from that, I have ordered that he should
receive the most decent treatment possible, that he, being a
heavy smoker, should receive the best cigars, and that he
have the means for carrying on all learned studies, if he
wants to do this."

I do not know on what reports the Fuehrer based this
statement, but as far as I was concerned it was clear that I
was not in a position to intervene any further in this

Q. We come now to the last question but one:

Is it true that after the seizure of power, you made a
certain self-examination of your attitude towards the Jewish
question which led to a modification of the views you
expressed before the seizure as to policy to be adopted with
regard to Jews?

A. I will not deny that during that time of struggle up to
1933, I too had used very strong words journalistically, and
that many hard words and suggestions appeared in that
connection. After seizure of power I thought - and I
believed with reason that the Fuehrer thought so too - that
now one could renounce this method, and that a certain
parity and a chivalrous treatment of this question was to be
established. Under "parity" I understood the following and I
stated it in a public address on 28 July, 1933, and also at
the Party rally in

                                                   [Page 38]

September, 1933, publicly over all the broadcasting systems:
that it was not possible, for example, that the hospital
system in Berlin should have eighty per cent. Jewish doctors
when thirty per cent. was their parity. I stated further at
the Party rally that the Reich Government, in connection
with all these parity measures and beyond that, was making
exception in cases of members of Jewish families who had
lost a relative, father or son, during the last war; and I
used the expression that we would now have to make efforts
to solve the Jewish problem in a chivalrous way. That it
turned out otherwise is a tragic story, and I must state
that the activities following in connection with the
migration and emigration to many countries abroad increased
the aggravation of the situation; then things occurred which
were regrettable and I must say robbed me of the inner
strength to continue petitioning the Fuehrer for the method
I favoured. As I said, what was stated here in the secret
police document, recently mentioned and made known here, and
what has been testified to here recently, I considered
simply humanly impossible and I would not have believed it
even if Heinrich Himmler himself had related it to me. There
are things which, even to me, appear beyond the humanly
possible, and this is one of them.

DR. THOMA: I have one last question, In connection with this
question I should like to submit Document Rosenberg-15, 3761-
PS. This is contained in the document book, but it has not
yet been submitted to the Tribunal as an exhibit. It
contains a letter from Rosenberg to Hitler, written in 1924,
containing the request that he should not be nominated as a
candidate for the Reichstag.


Q. Witness, you have taken part in all phases of the
development of National Socialism from its beginning to its
dreadful end. You have participated in its meteoric rise and
its dreadful descent, and you know well that everything
centred in this one person. Will you inform the Tribunal
what you did yourself and how much you were able to
accomplish to avert having all the power centred in this one
single person and what you did to have the effect in every
way alleviated? I am showing you first this document given
to you, and then Document 047, which has also already been
submitted to the Tribunal under the Exhibit number USA-725.

(The documents were submitted to the witness.)

A. I did actually serve this National Socialist movement
from its very inception and I was completely loyal to a man
whom I admired during these long years of struggle, because
I saw with what personal devotion and passion this former
German soldier worked for his people. As far as I personally
am concerned, this letter refers to an epoch ...

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Thoma, exactly what is your question to
the witness? We don't want him to make a speech. We only
want to know what question you are putting to him.


Q. What suggestions did you make, and did you publicly
advocate these suggestions, that limitations be put on the
Fuehrer's power?

A. I must say that at that time I advocated-and this in full
agreement with Adolf Hitler, and I advocated in my book,
"Myth of the 20th Century," the view that the leadership
principle did not consist of one head but that both the
Fuehrer and those he led had a joint duty to perform.
Further, that this conception "leadership principle" should
be understood to mean the establishment of a senate, or, as
I described it, a council, which would have a correcting and
advisory function.

That point of view was emphasised by the Fuehrer himself
when he had a senate hall built in the Brown House in Munich
with sixty-one seats, because he

                                                   [Page 39]

himself considered it necessary. Then I again advocated this
policy in a speech in 1934, but ...

THE PRESIDENT: The Tribunal doesn't think this is in answer
to the question as to what he did to limit the Fuehrer's
power. We want to know what he did, if anything, to limit
the Fuehrer's power.

DR. THOMA: In a public meeting he pointed out that ... I
draw your attention to Document Book 1, Volume 2-on Page 118

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Thoma, I didn't want you to point it out
to me, I wanted the witness to point that out to the


Q. In that case, will you concentrate on those two speeches
which you made at that time.

A. I can quote the speeches, but they are not a direct
answer to the question either. They signify that I stated
that the National Socialist State must not breed a caste
which reigns over the German nation and that the Fuehrer of
a nation must not be a tyrant. However, I did not see in
Adolf Hitler a tyrant, but, like many millions of National
Socialists, I trusted him personally on the strength of the
experience of fourteen years of hard struggle. I did not
want to limit his personal complete powers, conscious though
I was that this was a personal exception for Adolf Hitler,
and that this was not a National Socialist conception, and
also not the leadership principle as we understood it, and
was a new order for the Reich.

I served Adolf Hitler loyally, and what the Party may have
done during those years - that was supported by me too. And
the ill effects, due to the wrong masters, were branded by
me, in the middle of the war, in speeches before political
leaders, when I stated that this concentration of power as
it existed at that moment, during that war, could only be a
phenomenon of the war and could not be, regarded as the
National Socialist conception of a State. It might be
comfortable for many, it might be comfortable for 200,000
people, but to carry it on would mean the death of the
individuality of seventy million. I said that in the
presence of the Higher S.S. Leaders and other organisation
leaders or Gauleiter. I got in touch with the administration
of the Hitler Youth, together with my staff, fully conscious
that after the war a reform would have to be carried out
here in the Party, so that the old ideas of our movement,
for which I too had fought, would be re-established.
However, that has not been possible any more; fate has
finished the movement.

Q. Witness, can you state a concrete fact which indicates
that the Party, from the beginning, did not plan to take
over power alone but intended to collaborate with other

A. That, of course, is a historical development of fourteen
years. With reference to my letter to Hitler in 1924, I
would like to say, that at the end of 1923, after the
collapse of the so-called Hitler Putsch, when the then
representatives of the Party either were arrested or had
emigrated to Austria, and when I remained in Munich with a
few others, I advocated that a new development must take
place and that the Party should prove itself in a
parliamentary contest.

The Fuehrer, who was then in prison at Landsberg, turned
that suggestion down. My collaborators and I continued to
try to influence him, however, whereupon the Fuehrer wrote
me a long letter, which is also in the files, in which he
once more developed his reasons for not wanting to go into
my suggestion. Later on, nevertheless, he agreed.

And here in this letter I asked him (he later agreed) not to
nominate me as Reichstag candidate, as I did not think it
wise to become a member of the German Parliament because I
considered that I had been in Germany for too short a time
to push myself forward in that way after so few years of

DR. THOMA: I have no further questions.

                                                   [Page 40]

THE PRESIDENT: Do any of the defendants' Counsel want to ask
any questions?

DR. SERVATIUS: (Attorney for the defendant Sauckel.)


Q. Witness, in September and October, 1942, you received
various reports regarding unbearable conditions in
connection with the recruiting of workers in the occupied
Eastern Territories. Did you investigate to find out whether
the statements contained in these reports were the truth?

A. These allegations, which were received by the Ministry
for Eastern Affairs, were investigated continually by my
main department of "Labour and Social Policy" as the years
went on, and I have asked the Tribunal to hear as a witness
here the official, Dr. Beil, who always had charge of this
question. This request has been granted by the Tribunal, but
I now hear that Dr. Beil is ill and that he can only give a
report of his experiences by a written statement. From my
knowledge I can say the following:

These matters were reported to me frequently by Dr. Beil and
the so-called Central Department for People of Eastern
Nationalities. I transmitted them to Sauckel. Then they were
always sent to the Reich Commissioner for the Ukraine or
some other administrative officials, with remarks and an
investigation report. Some proved to be true and some untrue
and exaggerated, and, I believe, the General Plenipotentiary
Sauckel, even made the complaints received from me an
occasion for his own intervention, as did the German Labour
Front, responsible as it was for the welfare of all foreign
workers in Germany. There were constant negotiations with
the head of this Labour Front and the Ministry for Eastern
Affairs made requests continuously, until eventually, at the
end of 1944, Dr. Ley, as the chief of this welfare
department, felt he could inform me that after considerable
difficulties really workable and good conditions had been
achieved. Even then, I replied to him that, though I was
very pleased to hear this, yet I was still receiving reports
of things going wrong. The active execution of the work was
by the members of my ministry, together with executives of
the German Labour Front, who went to inspect a number of
labour camps so as to investigate the complaints and then
have them adjusted by the Labour Front.

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