The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Shofar FTP Archive File: imt/tgmwc/tgmwc-20/tgmwc-20-193.05

Archive/File: imt/tgmwc/tgmwc-20/tgmwc-20-193.05
Last-Modified: 2000/11/05

THE PRESIDENT: The witness can retire. Dr. Gawlik, your next

DR. GAWLIK: With the permission of the Tribunal, I call as
the next witness Dr. Roessner.

DR. HANS ROESSNER, a witness, took the stand and testified
as follows:


Q. Will you state your name, please?

A. Hans Roessner.

Q. Will you repeat this oath after me:

I swear by God, the Almighty and Omniscient, that I will
speak the pure truth and will withhold and add nothing.

(The witness repeated the oath.)

THE PRESIDENT: You may sit down.

DIRECT EXAMINATION of the witness Hans Roessner


Q. When were you born?

A. 1910, in Dresden.

Q. Please describe briefly your professional career.

A. After the customary schooling, I graduated in 1930, then
studied the German language and literature, German history
and Protestant theology. From 1936 on I was assistant at the
University of Bonn. From 1939 to 1940 military service. In
1940 deferred for the University of Bonn and emergency
service in the Reichssicherheitshauptamt, Amt III.

Q. Since when have you been a Party member?

A. Since 1937.

Q. What office did you have in the Reich Security Main

A. I was an expert (Referent), later section chief in Group

Q. Are you well acquainted with the tasks, methods and aims
of Group IIIC?

A. Yes, I am.

Q. Please wait a little before you answer. In addition, do
you also know of the tasks, methods and aims of Amt III?

A. Yes, I also know these, because they were fundamentally
the same as those of Group IIIC.

Q. What were the tasks and aims of Amt III since 1939?

A. Amt III was a domestic German information service. It had
set its aims and tasks to a great extent itself and worked
independently in the domestic German sphere of life; that is
to say it took up important questions of domestic German
life in various fields, such as economics, culture,
administration, law and others as far

                                                  [Page 216]

as information service was concerned and in particular
attempted to collect and sum up criticism on the part of the
population regarding mistakes, faulty developments,
measures, etc., and to report on them.

Q. Please give a few examples by way of explanation.

A. For example, every week and sometimes daily, Amt III
reported on the opinion of the population on German
propaganda to the agencies concerned. Beyond that, in 1943
for example, Amt III, through its reports, prevented the
closing of German universities in spite of Germany's total
war effort.

Q. The prosecution has submitted, on Page 11 of the English
Trial Brief, that Amt III had to carry out police
investigations in all phases of German life. Did Amt III
have to carry out police investigations?

A. Never did Amt III as long as it existed have any police

Q. Did the SD, Amt III, have the practical task and the
fundamental aim of giving information through its
information centre on actual and possible opponents of the
Nazi movement? This refers to Page 17 of the Trial Brief.

A. No. Amt III was basically not an information service on
opponents, but on the German domestic life.

Q. What was the purpose of the information service reports
of Amt III? In particular, was the main object to support
the leaders of the Party and State as partners of a
conspiracy and to, keep them in power?

A. No. Amt III never had such a task and did not set up such
a task for itself. The task of the information service of
Amt III was to furnish an extensive and objective picture of
the domestic problems of German internal life and to present
them in an open and direct manner.

Q. Did the members of Amt III know that the leaders of the
Party and the State were participating in a secret plan for
the purpose of committing crimes against peace, war crimes
and crimes against humanity?

A. To my knowledge, the members of Amt III did not know
anything about this. All the material collected by Amt III
is evidence to the contrary.

Q. Can you answer this question for the members and honorary
members of the subordinate agencies?

A. Yes.

Q. Did the dose collaborators of the chief of Amt III know
of such a conspiracy?

A. No. Not even the closest collaborators knew anything
about this.

Q. On what is your knowledge based for your answers to the
last few questions?

A. I often participated in internal Gruppenleiter
conferences with the chief of Amt III.

Q. Were the tasks and aims of the Domestic Information
Service known to all workers even in the subordinate

A. Yes, the tasks and aims were known to the workers and
honorary workers of the subordinate agencies. They were
continually announced in the individual meetings, lectures,

Q. On what is your knowledge based by reason of which you
have answered my last question?

A. On numerous individual conferences and meetings where I
myself announced the aims and tasks of Amt III.

Q. In the reports made on a situation, were the, names of
the persons mentioned?

A. No, not usually, since the SD was not interested in the
names of individual persons, but in typical examples of
questions regarding the different spheres of life.

Q. In giving personnel data, was the aim being pursued, to
bring persons into influential State positions who would not
oppose the execution of a plan for committing war crimes,
crimes against peace and crimes against humanity?

A. No, Amt III did not have any such aims. Such data and
reports of the SD were kept separate from the reports on the
general situation. The SD;

                                                  [Page 217]

Amt III, gave personnel data, but did not have permission to
pass judgement on people. That was the sole task of the
Hoheitstrager of the Party.

Q. What was the purpose of giving out information on
personnel data by the SD?

A. This was to supplement the political judgement and purely
specialized judgement of the individual Party offices and
departments and present if possible a total picture of the
personality, character, professional ability, political
attitude and personal way of living independent of any
departmental point of view or of any power or political

Q. The prosecution describes the task of the SD as follows:
the task consisted in taking necessary steps to destroy the
opposition or to make it harmless. Does this correspond with
the actual facts and ideological aims of Amt III since 1939?

A. No, by no means. I have already emphasized the fact that
Amt III was not an intelligence service for gathering news
about opponents.

Q. When did Amt III give up this task?

A. Amt III never had this task.

Q. The prosecution further submitted that the SD had an
extensive spy net that would spy on the German people in
their daily work, in the streets and even in the sacred
precincts of the Church. This is on Page 66 of the English
trial brief. Did the SD conduct such an extensive spy
network as described?

A. During the whole period of its existence, Amt III never
worked with spies or a spy network in the domestic German
sphere of life. The spy network would have contradicted all
the basic aims of this internal German information service.

Q. Did the SD for its tasks use only regular officials?

A. No, they were by far in the minority. The work of the
internal SD was dependent upon the big staff of honorary
workers from all parts of the country and all professions.

Q. Can you give any figures?

A. I cannot give accurate figures, but in the last few years
we estimated the honorary workers at some 10,000. They
worked on a completely voluntary basis and a large part
worked on their own initiative for the internal SD.

Q. From what point of view were the confidential agents
chosen for the information service for internal German
spheres of life?

A. Such confidential agents had to offer proof that, free
from selfish interests, they would give clear and objective
information on questions relating to their professional
spheres or to the population amongst whom they lived and on
other concerns and worries and statements of criticism of
the population with which they came into contact. In
addition, they had to be persons of decent character.

Q. Did these agents have to be members of the Party?

A. No, by no means. It was even desired to have as large as
possible a percentage of non-Party members amongst these
agents of the SD so as to get a complete and independent
picture of the total situation within Germany through them.

Q. Did the agents have to be members of the SS?

A. No, the percentage of members of the SS amongst these
agents was, according to my estimate, still less than that
of Party members.

Q. What were the tasks of these confidential agents?

A. The tasks varied. In Amt III we had agents who were to
give general information on the frame of mind, attitude and
opinions of the population on urgent questions during the
course of the war years. Then we had another type of agent
who gave information on their professional cares and worries
and on questions relating to the specialist fields into
which they had insight.

Q. What was the task of the SD Arbeitskreise?

A. In the so-called SD Arbeitskreise the agents of the
subordinate agencies were called together for free and frank
conferences. In these Arbeitskreise questions and problems
concerning technical matters and measures of the Party

                                                  [Page 218]

and State agencies were discussed with absolute sincerity
and frankness. The results of these discussions and
criticism were summarised and then sent to Amt III in
Berlin. The main prerequisite was absolute objectivity and
absolute frankness and criticism.

Q. Did the agents or the Arbeitskreise work under any
special cloak of secrecy? This question refers to the Trial
Brief, Page 16.

A. I do not know what you mean by the expression, "cloak of
secrecy." I can answer that these agents never acted under
any special personal secrecy and these Arbeitskreise, which
I just mentioned, had no special obligation for secrecy.
They were publicly known as such.

Q. Were there, apart from those employed, other agents of
the SD?

A. Yes. In the last few years of our work there were more
and more representatives of the various professions and
walks of life, who on their own initiative came with some
worry, criticism, or some positive suggestion to the SD, in
order, on the basis of a personal confidence in the SD, to
be able to turn over their worries to it.

Q. Now, I show you prosecution Documents PS-1650, D-569 and
PS-1514. They deal with the Kugel decree concerning the
treatment of Russian prisoners of war and the turning over
of prisoners of war to the Gestapo. It is the first point of
the Indictment VI (c) against the SD.

Was the SD Amt III competent for executing this decree?

A. No, the SD was not competent because Amt III, from the
beginning, had no executive power.

Q. Can you give any further explanation of the individual

A. The documents all refer to the Secret State Police, the
Gestapo. One document merely mentions the chief of Amt III.
The document of the Wehrmacht also refers to the Gestapo.

Q. Was the SD, the Domestic Information Service, used to
carry out these decrees?

A. No, this would have been in opposition to its tasks.

Q. Did the SD, the Domestic Information Service, participate
in the deportation of citizens of the occupied territories
for forced labour?

A. No, this was an executive task for which the SD, Amt III,
was not competent.

Q. Did the SD have the power to inflict punishment on forced
labourers? This question refers to Page 1941 of the English

A. No, this also would have been an executive task.

Q. Did the SD, through its reports, contribute to

A. No, quite on the contrary. Amt III repeatedly showed up
the negative effects of such measures.

Q. Did the SD have any control over the forced labourers
brought into the Reich?

A. No, this control would also have been an executive task
which Amt III did not have.

Q. Now, I show you Document PS-205. This is a memorandum on
the general principles for the treatment of foreigners
employed in the Reich. Did the SD have any part in the
drafting of this memorandum?

A. Yes, to my knowledge the SD, Amt III, had a part in the
drawing up of this memorandum. It made its material
available in setting up directives for a positive treatment
of foreign workers. This material, which was used in this
memorandum, corresponded moreover to the basic principles of
the domestic SD in the treatment of national questions in
the European area.

Q. What is your knowledge based on as to the drawing up of
this memorandum?

A. Part of the material comes from Group IIIC, in which I
myself was section chief.

                                                  [Page 219]

Q. Did the SD, Amt III, have the right to make
confiscations? This question refers to the part of the
Indictment VI (k) of the Trial Brief.

A. No, the SD had no right to confiscate. This also would
have been an executive task.

Q. Did the SD Domestic Information Service participate in
the confiscation and distribution of public and private

A. No.

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