The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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Q. And what was the relation of the Chiefs of Staff to the
Leadership Corps of the SA? Were the latter kept informed of
everything that was planned and intended to be achieved?

A. At the Fuehrer leaders' meetings and at training courses
in the SA schools, the Chiefs of Staff kept their Leadership
Corps informed as to their aims and tasks, especially about
the educational tasks of the SA. At the leaders' meetings
there was always an open discussion.

Q. What do you know of the Leadership Corps before and after
the death of Roehm?

A. I know the leadership of the SA, its aims and the SA
leaders, especially the higher SA leaders, very well. Far be
it from me to gloss over anything. A small fraction of SA
leaders who had turned out to be mere lansquenets were
eliminated. Even those SA leaders have in the past, during
the First World War as brave soldiers and later as members
of the Free Corps under the Government of Ebert-Noske,
deserved well of their country. Their attitude and their way
of life, however, were in contradiction to the principles of
the SA, therefore, they had to leave. But the rest, that is
the bulk of the SA Leadership Corps, were decent and clean,
and irreproachable as to their sense of justice and duty.

Q. Tell us about the professional Leadership Corps.

A. Of the active leaders, the Obergruppenfuehrer and the
Gruppenfuehrer, I know their history, their way of life and
their political and ethical attitude. Apart from the
insignificant few who had to leave, these SA leaders were
irreproachable. Not one of them had a police record, not one
of them was what one might call a failure, all of them had a
civil profession before they were taken into the Leadership
Corps of the SA. Their way of life was simple and modest.
They received, however, in relation to comparable positions
of civil servants or business men, extremely low salaries.
All incomes from other sources were charged against them,
there was no one in the SA who could have more than one
source of income; not one could enrich himself personally
because of his position, and only he could make a "splash"
in society who had means of his own. Of the Gruppenfuehrer
and the Obergruppenfuehrer who in 1939 were active in the SA
leadership corps or with the SA Gruppen, half of them lost
their lives in the war. They gave their lives in the belief
that they were fighting for a just cause. They were
patriots, and they committed no wrong or ungodly acts. And
even today I pride myself on having belonged to such an
upright leadership corps.

Q. Were the SA leaders paid?

A. Up to 1939 there were no paid SA leaders. Only the
leaders of the so-called Untergruppen (the lower Gruppen),
of which there was one in each Gau, received a remuneration
of about three hundred marks a month. After 1933 a wage
scale was established. In 1940 there was a small increase in
pay. The highest basic salary for an Obergruppenfuehrer was
twelve hundred marks a month. From Scharfuehrer up to
Obersturmbannfuehrer inclusive, all SA leaders, with the
exception of the auxiliary personnel, were honorary workers.
Of the entire Leadership Corps roughly two per cent were
paid, including the semi-official leaders.

Q How was the SA Leadership Corps organized?

A. In the SA we differentiated between:
  SA leaders,
  SA administrative leaders,
  SA medical leaders.

The SA leaders formed the leadership staffs and led the
units. The SA administrative leaders handled the budget,
financial matters and the audit. They formed, together with
the administrative leaders of the other branches and of the

                                                  [Page 158]

Party, a special leadership body and had to follow the
directives of the Reich Treasurer. The medical leaders were
physicians and druggists; they were charged with the medical
care of the SA.

Administrative, as well as medical, leaders had no influence
whatsoever on the running of the SA, and they had no right
to run it. Besides, the SA had leaders for special purposes,
the so-called ZV leaders and honorary leaders, some of whom
ire among the main defendants here.

Q. Was not one of the main defendants an honorary leader?

A. Yes, I believe several of them were honorary leaders such
as Goering, Frank, Sauckel, won Schirach, Streicher, and, I
think, Hess and Bormann.

I might add in this connection that the honorary leaders
were not at all informed about the business affairs of the
SA. They had neither the opportunity nor the authority to
exert any influence on training, leadership, or use of the
SA. They had merely the right to wear the SA uniform and, at
meetings and festivities, to take their positions in the
ranks of the SA leadership. Even Hermann Goering  -  who in
1923 headed the SA temporarily when it numbered but a few
thousand men -  no longer exerted any influence on the SA
after that time, nor did he even have the time to do that.
His nomination as chief of the "Standarte Feldherrnhalle"
was only a formal honour similar to the honours that were
extended in the days of the Kaiser to military leaders of
merit or members - even feminine members  - of reigning

Herr Frank was appointed leader of the SA for the former
Government General by the Chief of Staff, Lutze. That, too,
was and remained only a formal honour, because the
administration itself was carried out by a special
administrative staff under Brigade Leader Peltz, and later
Kuehnmund. He did not receive any orders concerning the
administration of the SA in that region from the staff
chief. Such orders went to the administrative staff, who in
turn were responsible to the supreme SA leadership.

The leaders for special purposes whom I have mentioned could
temporarily be called in for duty if they were willing. They
were advisory duties, for example on legal and social

Q. Of what types of people did the SA in general consist?

A. From the beginning, the SA was made up of former soldiers
of the First World War, that is, soldiers and young
idealists who loved their country above all. The SA was not,
as the witness Gisevius asserted, a mob of criminals or
gangsters but rather, as Sinclair Lewis is said to have
written, pure idealists. Many clergymen, many students of
theology, belonged to the SA as active members, some until
the very end.

Each and every SA man will be able to confirm that never at
any time were criminal actions demanded of him, and that the
SA leadership never pursued criminal aims.

Q. Are you in a position to give us figures with respect to
those members of the SA who came into conflict with existing

A. In some of the internment camps where thousands of former
SA members from all parts of the Reich are interned,
investigations have been made and the resultant information
can very well form a basis on which to judge the entire SA.
It was found that of the SA men interned, not even one per
cent  -  to be exact .65 per cent - had previously been
punished as criminals. As opposed to that are the findings
of the Reich Bureau of Statistics with a figure of 1.67 per
cent of the entire population of the former Reich who had
been punished as criminals before.

Q. But how can you explain, then, that in the years 1933 and
1934, for example, excesses and abuses were committed by
members of the SA such as are asserted in the Indictment?

A. These excesses cannot and should not be excused. They are
excesses such as occur in every revolutionary movement, for
example, such as the German

                                                  [Page 159]

revolution in 1918, or similar incidents in the past in
other countries. These excesses were revolutionary actions
of dissatisfied political fighters.

Q. Are there not perhaps still other explanations for these

A. One can give a whole series of circumstances which do not
excuse such excesses, but perhaps might explain them. Here
are two examples:

1. Before 1933, especially under the Government of
Schleicher, the police took especially strong measures, and
biased measures, against the SA. The result was a distrust
of the police. Conditions were such that in the year 1933
riots and civil war threatened in the interior of the
country. Thus it is quite understandable, even though not
excusable, that many a man felt that he rather than the
police, who were considered unreliable, was responsible for
the protection of his new State and in that way let himself
become involved in excesses.

2. Before 1933 a campaign of wild hatred against the SA was
conducted. Almost all other political parties participated
in this campaign of hate. There were demands to commit
violence, posters with the slogan, "Beat the Fascists where
you find them." Groups were organized which shouted in
chorus, "Down with the SA"; chicaneries were practised on SA
members at their places of work, on the children of SA
members at school; there were boycotts of businesses whose
owners were SA members, and there were attacks on individual
SA men and also on Stahlhelmer. For example, in my home
district of Halle, where I was at that time, forty-three
Stahlhelmer and SA men were slain.

All these circumstances caused a certain anger and
indignation which were understandable, and so many a man
believed himself entitled to square old accounts with
political opponents after 1933.

As a third reason or circumstance which led to these
excesses, I must emphasize the fact that after 1933 there
was a rush of people to join the SA. The fundamental decency
of all these individuals could of course not be determined
and, as is proved, dark elements and provocateurs sneaked in
with the intention of damaging the reputation of the SA. The
excesses, therefore, were not just the final note of the
political conflict before 1933 but rather, in many cases,
they were committed by just such provocateurs. The
organization, as such, is not guilty of that. It renounced
the evildoers, and the leadership strongly condemned such
cases when they were reported to them.

Q. Now tell us, what did the SA leadership do in order to
prevent such excesses as occurred throughout the year 1933?

A. The SA leadership in Prussia worked together with the
Prussian Minister for the Interior and his deputies in order
to prevent such excesses. Chief of Staff Roehm made people
available for the auxiliary police and selected men from the
SA for the Feldjaeger Corps, which was first established in
Prussia and proved itself exceptionally satisfactory.

Secondly, the SA leadership, in order to gain and justify
confidence, assiduously strove to cleanse its own ranks of
provocateurs. Those dismissed from the police and auxiliary
police were at the same time removed from the SA. Anyone who
was proved guilty of any excesses was punished. The SA
leadership of its own accord further set up an SA patrol
service in order to watch the deportment of its men in the
streets and in public life. And finally, it was always the
main concern of the SA leadership to have the many
unemployed put to work, to take them off the streets and put
them in proper jobs. The numerous social measures of the SA
leadership, such as, for example, the many institutions for
professional re-conversion, the projects for the cultivation
of swamps and similar things, were directed toward the same

Q. Was the number of the excesses or misdeeds that took
place, and for which SA members were responsible, a large

A. In comparison with the strength of the SA, these misdeeds
that were ascertained were infinitesimally small, and in
addition to that, another point should not be forgotten, the
SA was blamed for all these excesses, for at that time

                                                  [Page 160]

everyone in a brown shirt was taken for an SA man,
regardless of whether he was a member of the SA or not.
Naturally, all that was bound to present to the world a
distorted picture of the SA. It was bound to create
prejudices detrimental to the SA because the SA was blamed
for many excesses in which SA members did not in the
slightest degree participate.

Q. Is it known to you that steps were taken to quash
proceedings before civil courts against SA men for such

A. As far as I know, such steps to quash legal proceedings
before civil courts were not undertaken by the SA
leadership. On the occasion of a general amnesty the SA
leadership naturally demanded the pardoning of its own
members too.

Q. After the action against the Jews in November of 1938,
the Supreme Party Court, however, opposed the conviction of
SA members who had participated in the shooting of Jews. Did
you know about this request?

A. I did not know of this request, but have heard about it
here whilst in custody.

Q. And what is your opinion about it?

A. If I remember correctly, the Supreme Party Court demanded
that first of all the man who was responsible for this
action be called to account.

Q. Do you consider this attitude of the Supreme Party Court

A. I agree with this demand wholeheartedly. It is to be
regretted that the Supreme Party Court did not prevail. But
the demand that men who had shot others should go scot free,
i.e., not be sentenced by regular courts, cannot be
justified under any conditions.

Q. Well, was such a demand ever made by the SA leadership or
by members of the SA?

A. The guiding principle of the SA leadership, especially as
regards these actions of November, 1938, was that those who
had been found guilty were to be punished, not only by the
SA but also by the regular courts. As far as the Chief of
Staff Lutze learned of such cases he always, to my
knowledge, advocated such procedure and initiated the
necessary steps. The SA even had an agreement with the
judicial authorities that if an SA man committed a misdeed
and was to be brought before a court, the SA leadership
would be notified, so that it could suspend this man from
service at once and, as the case might be, could prohibit
him from wearing the SA uniform and even punish him on its
own initiative. This principle was favoured and applied in
the action of November, 1938, by Chief of Staff Lutze.

Q. What was the opinion and the attitude of the SA on the
Jewish question?

A. The SA demanded that the influence of the Jews in
national affairs, in the economy and cultural life, be
reduced in accordance with their position as a minority in

Q. And what was the reason for this demand or this attitude?

     A. This demand, which was not only that of the SA,
     arose in Germany because after the First World War, in
     1918 and 1919, great numbers of Jewish people emigrated
     from Poland to Germany and entered into the economic
     and other spheres of life, where they gained
     considerable influence in an undesirable manner.
     Through numerous judicial proceedings it had become
     well known that their profiteering and disintegrating
     influence caused much ill-will and resulted in an
     increasing hostility. Even Jews who had lived in
     Germany for a long time and societies of German
     citizens of the Jewish faith opposed these forces in a
     decided manner. So one can readily see that the demand
     of the SA was well grounded.

Q. Did the SA incite active violence against the Jews?

A. No, in no way. Never did Staff Chiefs Roehm, Lutze,
Scheppmann make the Jewish question the topic of their
speeches or directives in that respect, that is to say a
subject for incitement to violence. The concept of a so-
called "master race" was never fostered in the SA; that
would have been quite contrary to reason, for the SA
received its replacements from all strata. The extermination
of a people because of its type was never given any support
by the SA, and actions

                                                  [Page 161]

of violence against Jews were not favoured by the SA. Quite
the contrary, the leadership always objected most strongly
to actions of that kind.

THE PRESIDENT: Perhaps that will be a convenient time to
break off. How long do you think you are going to be with
this witness?

DR. BOEHM: Mr. President, I believe I will need another hour
to interrogate the witness, perhaps an hour and a half to
examine him.

THE PRESIDENT: The Tribunal will adjourn.

(The Tribunal adjourned until 14th August, 1946, at 1000 hours.)

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