The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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Last-Modified: 2000/12/18

THE PRESIDENT: Now, why do you not tell us which the
affidavits are, that what we want you to do. You are telling
us now, and referring to some statement I made in January,
that you have got affidavits made from each camp. Well, what
are the affidavits? It is quite easy to tell us what the
groups are, is it not?

DR. PELCKMANN: These groups, Mr. President, I mentioned
yesterday. I only wanted -

THE PRESIDENT: If you mentioned them yesterday, why do you
go back to them today?

DR. PELCKMANN: In order to stress the importance of
Affidavit 68, which I am about to explain. It is an
affidavit of a commandant of a concentration camp. I can
understand that, in view of the prevailing attitude, the
general feeling of the Tribunal will be one of distrust
toward this commandant. But, nevertheless, ask that this
very detailed affidavit be read. It deals with
organisational questions which are significant in respect to
the question: "Who is responsible for crimes and ill-
treatment of inmates in concentration camps, and who could
know a them?"

For example, this affidavit explains the position of WVHA,
Amtsgruppe D. I ask you to pay attention to the fact that
this office must not be confused with the RSHA. Confusion
has already occurred in summing up the testimony of
witnesses before the Tribunal I should like to explain how
important it is to examine the question of the organization
of the concentration camp system with aid of this Document
68. But the other parts of this affidavit are also
important.

                                                  [Page 317]

The other important affidavits are 64 and 69. They are
testimonies of SS judges who, just like the witness Morgen,
had participated in the investigations against concentration
camp criminals. From the witness Morgen himself there are
Affidavits 65, 66 and 67.

THE PRESIDENT: Why does he make three affidavits on one day?

DR. PELCKMANN: I did not understand your Lordship.

THE PRESIDENT: I said, why does he make three affidavits on
one day? Why not make one affidavit?

DR. PELCKMANN: During these days work piled up with
examinations before the Commission and interrogations of
witnesses. The witness Morgen arrived quite at the end. I
had to see to it that the affidavits were presented as
quickly as possible. For that reason -

THE PRESIDENT: Very well. Go on.

DR. PELCKMANN: It is only a technical reason, your Lordship.
These concentration camp investigations were, in my opinion,
of great importance and very elucidating for the Tribunal in
judging the concentration camp system in general and
determining the responsibility of the rest of the SS.
Therefore, I ask that the affidavits of these two judges be
added and closely examined. I will deal with them in my
speech.

Finally, I ask the Tribunal to note the whole of Affidavit
70, which has been translated completely and which comprises
many pages. There is neither a French nor an English
translation as yet. This affidavit gives a cross-section
from a camp with 2,800 SS inmates, and these inmates include
members of the various offices, members of most of the
Standarten of the General SS from all parts of Germany and
members of about 30 divisions, Oberkommandos, and
replacement units of the Waffen SS. In addition, this
affidavit is a good cross-section of the members at various
times which, according to the Tribunal's decision of 14th
January, should be a decisive factor. The highest ranks are
not represented there; it is the so-called "little man" who
is represented.

From a similar point of view, and because this evidence of
affidavits affects the great mass of the SS, I ask the
Tribunal for a proper consideration and evaluation of the
136,000 affidavits of which I have made a digest. For the
evaluation of the credibility of these affidavits, the fact
is important that they were taken down at a very early date
without juridical or any other explanations. The SS members
commented only on one or another point which interested them
most. The fact that certain points are not mentioned in
these affidavits is understandable, because the ordinary SS
man naturally had only a limited view and was not able to
judge on many subjects. As a result they could not write
anything on these points.

Justice Jackson stated that the numerous affidavits of SS
members were evidence only of their interest in their
personal fate. But this digest is to refute that. The
individual's range of view is generally limited, and since
he cannot testify to more than he knows, these affidavits,
through the sum of the individual viewpoints, assume a great
value which is important for me as defence counsel of the
mass of the SS and not of their highest leaders. They give a
clear picture of the impressions made on the masses by the
teachings, the statements and speeches of the leaders, and
what actions resulted therefrom.

Only this picture, only this cross-section, shows to what
extent one can speak of collective criminality in the SS, if
it is at all possible to say so juridically. These
statements are also important for the question of
conspiracy.

I may point out that this digest has not yet been
translated. This digest consists of various groups. First,
may I briefly touch upon Group I. It deals with the motives
of volunteering for the SS, distinction being made between
joining the General SS and volunteering for the Waffen SS
before 1933 and after 1933. Of

                                                  [Page 318]

12,749 affidavits, 12,671 say that the motives were
idealism and patriotism alone for joining before 1933; 78
affidavits give various other motives, transfer from other
units, for example. Sometimes cavalry units were
transferred into the SS cavalry, and so forth. The

As for joining the Waffen SS there are only a few
affidavits. Of 488 men, 406 say that the Waffen SS was a
select, young troop. Others say that they had to fulfil
their military duties in any case and that they preferred
the Waffen SS. Many indicate that the Waffen SS considered
itself a fourth branch of the Wehrmacht. Many others
indicate that they were racial Germans and as I proved
yesterday with the aid of documents, racial Germans could
perform their military service only in the Waffen SS. Some
reported to the Waffen SS because they wanted to be in the
police service after the war.

I have made a digest of Group II as to the question of
legal compulsion for joining the General SS and drafting
into the Waffen SS. Sixty-seven affidavits say that the
assimilation into the police resulted in their obtaining a
service rank in the General SS.

The rest of the other affidavits are made by students,
tutors and university teachers, or members of the postal
guard, the Reich Food Estate, Civil Service employees, and
Reich War Victims Care. Also honorary leaders are in this
group.

Concerning the drafting into the Waffen SS, there are 4,042
statements. 1,806 racial Germans and 1,826 from other parts
of the Wehrmacht or from the police were compulsorily
transferred to the Waffen SS.

The question of membership in the General SS among Waffen
SS members is of interest. According to these statistics
there were 246 Waffen SS members who were drafted into the
Waffen SS by the Wehrbezirkskommando, the district command
of the normal Wehrmacht. Only one-fifth of them belonged to
the General SS.

Of further significance is the following: As early as 1939
Wehrbezirkskommandos were drafting men for the Waffen SS.
The witness Brill has also spoken on this subject. And
Wehrbezirkskommandos drafted men to guard concentration
camps by drafting them into the Waffen SS.

Further, members of the Reich labour service were taken over
forcibly into the                                 the Civil
Service.
Waffen SS. The concentration camp guards were supplied by
the Labour Office; through so-called emergency service
obligation the Labour Office obtained the men for
concentration camp guards, and there they were taken over
forcibly into the Waffen SS. Some minor points are the
forcible transfer of postal officials for the aid of the
German Reich Post service at the front and for the SS field
post.

Group III includes in its first subsection all the
affidavits dealing with the knowledge which the SS members
had of the intentions of their leaders -

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Pelckmann, are you still dealing with
Group I?

DR. PELCKMANN: No, your Lordship, I am on Group III. Group
II -

THE PRESIDENT: Where did Group II begin?

DR. PELCKMANN: Group II began with the legal compulsion to
join the General SS -

THE PRESIDENT: You did not say so. As far as the translation
came through to me, I have taken down all the numbers you
have given, and I thought they were all in Group I.

DR. PELCKMANN: I beg your pardon. I thought I said it.
Perhaps it did not get through.

THE PRESIDENT: Now you have got to Group III, have you?

                                                  [Page 319]

DR. PELCKMANN: Yes. It deals with the training which the SS
members received. 55,303 SS members state that in. this
training they had no indication of criminal aims. It was
training for character, for decency, for comradeship, and
exemplary conduct of life. It is noteworthy that none of
the SS men in connection with the training mentions
Hitler's book Mein Kampf. Statistics will prove that the
mass of SS men did not read this book at all.

Two hundred and eighty-nine affidavits deal with the
evaluation of the racial doctrine. Of these, 233 do not
consider it conducive to racial hatred, to the desire to
destroy other races, or to create a master race. They see
therein only a demand for a separation of the races from one
another. Fifty-seven affidavits see in the doctrine the
purpose of selecting the best among the people. Various
affidavits say that the racial doctrine included respect for
other peoples. The problem of training for colonisation and
Germanisation is not mentioned in any affidavit.

Many affidavits deal with the question of whether the
General SS were trained as political soldiers; 20,010
affidavits are available on this subject and 15,461 ascribe
no military character to the General SS. They give, for
example, the following reasons:

They never had any military training in the General SS. The
ranks of the General SS were not recognized in the
Wehrmacht. There were no arms, or so-called tactical
exercises. Tactical discussions were forbidden. Shooting was
done only with small calibre guns. There were not many guns.

In 1,053 affidavits there is confirmation of the testimony
of various witnesses here that, during the war, service in
the General SS no longer occurred save in exceptional cases.

On the question of psychological preparation for war, 3,304
affidavits say that their authors did not think of war and
did not believe in war. Various affidavits say that at the
Junker-schools an anti-war feeling and spirit was encouraged
by educational means. And in the Verfugungstruppe, the so-
called field service, a more intense military service was
instituted only when general military service was
introduced.

One hundred and twenty-seven affidavits confirm that the
General SS did not demand any special obedience. That is, no
oath which, according to its form, would bind the individual
to any greater extent than in the Wehrmacht or in the Civil
Service.

There are 2,674 affidavits dealing with the training of SS
men. In 3,138 affidavits it is asserted that crimes against
humanity were not known to them and were certainly not
committed.

The second subsection of Group III is to make clear what the
members recognized as the actual aim of the organization. It
is a question of ascertaining whether there was a
contradiction between the theoretical training and the real
actions of the leaders. Six hundred and eighty-eight
affidavits deal with the question of whether power in
Germany was to be achieved through suppression of political
opponents. On the question of whether the SS members
recognized the destruction of Jewry as an aim of the
leaders, 1,593 out of 1,637 affidavits which mention this
problem state that the Jewish problem was not to be solved
by killing, or by the so-called "final solution," and that
they had no knowledge of these intentions of the leaders.
They point out that the SS members were forbidden to
undertake individual acts against Jews. As evidence,
numerous members refer to the fact that many condemnations
to death or to severe sentences were passed because of
crimes against Jewish persons or Jewish property.

Another question was whether the SS members believed that
the actual aim of the leaders was to rule Europe through
war. There are 12,596 affidavits which say that neither
statements of the SS leaders nor statements of Hitler made
plain that the conquest of Europe was an aim of the SS.

                                                  [Page 320]

Group IV, the next, seems to me quite important. It includes
affidavits on the question of the participation of the SS
members in the crimes asserted in the Indictment.

The first question deals with participation in the
concentration camp system, and 2,866 affidavits deal with
this subject. They are mostly from guards, a few from former
concentration camp inmates and a few from kitchen and
workshop personnel. They deal with the treatment of the
inmates and with the conduct of the guards. They only show,
of course, how the guards saw the concentration camp
conditions and the life of the inmates from their point of
view. They cover almost all concentration camps and labour
camps. They give a unified picture of the impossibility of
obtaining an insight into the true conditions, even for
people working near the camps. They give a unified picture
of the degree of ignorance of the conditions in the camp and
also the reasons for this, namely, the order for extreme
secrecy. Of these affidavits, 2,385 say that instructions
were constantly given about the conduct of the guards, and
examples are given of punishment for disobedience of these
rules, especially for ill-treatment. Significant is the
statement in many affidavits that the relationship between
the guards and the command personnel was not only cool but
even tense.

Prisoners themselves, whose affidavits are presented, state
that a great part of the responsibility for the conditions
belongs to the internee-Kapos, who were often, criminals.
The question of the participation of SS members in so-called
mass exterminations in extermination camps, which are to be
distinguished from the concentration camps, is not mentioned
at all in the affidavits. We have heard from various
witnesses that these camps had a routine of their own, and
only a few SS men or men in SS uniforms were stationed
there.

Now, I come to another point. A cross-section through all
well-known divisions of the Waffen SS is given by 8,242
affidavits, and on the question of illegal treatment of
prisoners of war 4,306 testify to constant instruction on
correct conduct before each action. Numerous affidavits give
examples of especially good treatment of prisoners of war.

There are 13,613 affidavits dealing with the question of
treatment of the civilian population in the occupied
territories contrary to International Law. There were no
orders to this effect; instructions about correct conduct
were given constantly. The majority of SS members can report
only of good relations with the civilian population in the
occupied territories. There is no mention in any affidavit
of the participation of the SS in resettlement or in
deportation for slave labour. A few statements say that
labour commitment was not an affair of the SS. Only a very
few affidavits touch upon biological experiments. They come
from men who had to do with concentration camps. These few
say that they had heard that the prisoners volunteered for
experiments. In all, 1,271 affidavits deal with the so-
called Roehm Putsch. The General SS did not participate in
these events; parts of them had been told to stand by but
were not armed and not employed. To 9th November, 1938,
4,407 affidavits emanate from various units of the SS,
Oberabschnitte, Abschnitte and Standarten of the SS in
almost all cities of Germany and all districts. It is said
with special emphasis that the SS did not participate in
these excesses.

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Pelckmann, I suppose what you are doing
is reading out your summary of these 136,000 affidavits; is
that right?

DR. PELCKMANN: Yes.

THE PRESIDENT: Verbatim?

DR. PELCKMANN: Your Lordship -

THE PRESIDENT: I asked you whether you were reading it out
verbatim.

DR. PELCKMANN: As soon as the translation -

                                                  [Page 321]

THE PRESIDENT: That is not an answer to my question. I asked
you whether you were reading it out verbatim.

DR. PELCKMANN: No, I am only giving a resume, your Lordship.

THE PRESIDENT: Well, I think we had better adjourn now.

(A recess was taken.)


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