The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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Last-Modified: 2000/11/08

Q. But could you not easily have removed these obstacles by
reporting them; for instance, to Himmler? Pohl, as far as I
know, was directly subordinate to Himmler so that Himmler
could have given him the necessary orders?

A. Oh, no, this man Pohl did not proceed as clumsily as
that. Outwardly he pretended to welcome and with all means
support the investigating work of the head office "SS
Courts." And that was how he represented the matter to
Himmler after we had drawn Himmler's attention to Pohl's
somewhat doubtful role. In reality, Pohl sabotaged with all
the means of his tremendously powerful position the
investigations we were making and worked hand in glove with
the detainees and the criminal commandants, as was clearly
proved by reliable evidence.

In 1941, to mention one outstanding example, when our first
investigation in the Buchenwald concentration camp failed,
as I have described, Pohl wrote a letter to the camp
commandant Koch, which I have read myself, and which
contained the following:

  "I shall use all the power of my position to protect you
  if some unemployed lawyer should again stretch out his
  greedy hangman's hands towards your innocent, blameless

That is how Pohl always worked, because he was not only
caught in the death machinery of the concentration camps,
but in the same manner involved in other affairs and became
one of the most corrupt persons in the whole Reich. Of that
we found evidence towards the end of the war; evidence which
we obtained through the many proceedings against
organizations which he headed in private business. As head
of that criminal clique, he actually tried to destroy the
system of confidence men among the detainees, which he knew
might endanger his own person. One of our confidence
detainees in the camp of Sachsenhausen, his name was Rothe,
was locked up at his command, and Pohl tried by false
pretences to obtain an order from the RHSA, or rather the
Reich Criminal Police Department, to have the man hanged:
publicly before all the detainees of the camp, so as to
intimidate them and at the same time make the investigation
work of the legal system impossible. One of our
investigating officers heard of this in time and was able to
prevent it at the last moment.

                                                  [Page 349]

Q. More slowly, please, witness, much more slowly. These are
important statements, and the translation is not simple.

A. That was how this criminal Pohl worked. The most
important support for his fight against the legal system was
the Fuehrer Order No. 1, regarding secrecy, which was posted
in every office of the SS and police. According to that
order, matters which had to be kept secret could only be
communicated to the persons immediately concerned, and even
those could be told only as much as they absolutely had to
know, and even then, only in the period in which they were
actively concerned with the particular matters involved.

Everything in the concentration camps was secret; only with
special passes and authority was it possible to enter them.
The work done by the detainees was secret, supposedly
because "V" weapons were being produced. The life led by the
detainees was secret, supposedly for reasons of counter-
intelligence. Correspondence on concentration camps was a
"Secret Reich Matter," and for that reason not available at
all. For years Pohl could easily withdraw to the other side
of this screen of close secrecy, and he surrendered to the
advancing investigation of the legal system only step by
step, whenever, on the basis of individual revelations, he
was systematically cornered.

Q. Then, witness, do you believe that with the results you
have just described, you came near to discovering the real
extent of the crimes, as it - and this we now know from the
proceedings here - as it actually existed?

A. As I know it today, no. And the reason for that is that
the legal system of the SS and police dealt with all these
crimes as individual crimes, and the system of criminality
which has now been revealed could not be penetrated for a
number of years. When towards the end of 1944 the legal
system succeeded, on the strength of the evidence in these
individual cases, in cornering the criminal Pohl and also
Grawitz, and Muller from the Gestapo, who was covering up
many of the crimes, it was then for the first time that
these men spoke of "orders from above." The investigations
which the legal system then commenced along a new line
collapsed together with the German war machine.

Q. Did you then towards the end of 1944 come near to
discovering the actual extent of the crimes, the mass

A. It was clear at the end of 1944 that orders from above
had to exist, but that mass exterminations of a tremendous
extent were being carried out, that was not recognizable
even then.

Q. According to the outcome of the investigations you have
just described, who was responsible for the crimes which
were revealed?

A. Of the highest ranking, Pohl, next to him the former
Reich Medical Officer of the SS and Police, Grawitz, and
next to him the Chief of the Gestapo, Muller. Apart from
these, commandants of concentration camps, members of the
commandants' staffs, medical officers in concentration
camps, and, to a considerable extent, criminal detainees in
the concentration camps.

Q. Would it therefore be correct to say that, without
distinction, all members of the groups of persons which you
have just mentioned participated in the crimes?

A. No, that is not correct. The investigations which we
carried out proved clearly that certain camps were perfectly
in order, that not every commandant was a criminal, and that
many members of the commandants' staffs and many medical
officers knew nothing about the crimes, that most of all the
guards in the concentration camps had nothing whatever to do
with the crimes, because they themselves were unable to gain
knowledge of the real happenings within concentration camps.

Q. Earlier you spoke of the commandant of the concentration
camp of Buchenwald, Koch. His case has already been
mentioned in the course of these proceedings, and the
prosecution at that time alleged, on the basis of testimony
given by the detainee Blaha, that Koch had been sentenced
for embezzlement and for the murder of three persons whose
existence was inconvenient to him. The prosecution

                                                  [Page 350]

described the case in a way which gave the impression that
at that time the SS Court had simply ignored the numerous
other cases of killings. Is that correct, as far as you

A. No, that is not correct. The proceedings against Koch
were based on a charge of corruption, and on that charge he
was sentenced to death. The actual contents of the findings
against Koch, that is, the reason for the death sentence
imposed on him, was the system of murder in many instances,
a system which Koch invented and pursued. This type of
findings had to be chosen, because there was evidence of so
many crimes which Koch had committed in the distant past,
and of which the traces had meanwhile been eliminated, that
if it had been possible at all, it would have taken long
months and years to clear up such individual cases. It was
for that reason that, using the shortest possible means of
proof to put a stop to Koch's activities at once, these
three cases were taken up as being typical, but he was, in
fact, sentenced for the system of murder in the Buchenwald
concentration camp.

DR. PELCKMANN: The testimony of this witness on these events
is supported by the Affidavits SS 64, 65, 66, 67, 68 and 69.
No, not 68, I listed that by mistake; not 68, but 64 to 67,
and 69. These affidavits were deposed by the investigating
judge, Dr. Morgen, who was to have appeared here as a
witness. Unfortunately, he only arrived at the beginning of
July, just before the hearings before the Commission were
completed, and I was not able to prepare him for his
examination in time. I have submitted his affidavit,
however, and the High Tribunal will be able to judge whether
it might possibly be necessary to hear Dr. Morgen in person,
since his testimony concerns the most important matters.


What was Himmler's attitude with regard to these

A. When the crimes were discovered at Buchenwald, at the end
of 1943 Himmler was given a report on the matter at once,
and he was throughout kept informed of the progress of the
investigations. Himmler displayed very considerable
activity, and he himself ordered that the investigations
were to be carried out in the strictest manner. Only with
his authority was it possible at all to pass through the
gates of the concentration camps. Then in the middle of 1944
he suddenly issued an order to the contrary. As appointing
authority, he ordered that the proceedings against Koch
should mark the end of all judicial investigations in
concentration camps. Koch had been sentenced to death and
was to be hanged publicly before the assembled detainees.
Pohl was to direct the execution personally, and was to
address the guards who would attend in an appropriate
manner. The remaining perpetrators were to report their
crimes voluntarily, and in the event of such a voluntary
report, he, Himmler, might possibly pardon or reprieve them.
Anyone who failed to report his crimes could only expect the
court's sentence of death. The chief of the head office "SS
Courts" protested against this order from Himmler. He did
not, however, obtain a final decision from Himmler, though
Himmler tolerated the future proceedings. The head office
"SS Courts" at that time intentionally delayed the
completion of the case against Koch so as to have an
opportunity of extending the investigating activities to
other camps, and that was actually achieved. The
investigating commissions of the Reich Criminal Police
Department, which had already been withdrawn as a result of
Himmler's order, resumed their activities, and from the
autumn of 1944 the investigations were continued on a broad
basis. Authoritative powers, which were necessary in view of
Pohl's continuing resistance, were issued by the personal
judge of the Reichsfuehrer, and could not be ignored even by

DR. PELCKMANN: The details of this dramatic exchange between
Pohl, Himmler and the SS legal system are also described in
Dr. Morgen's affidavits Nos. 65 to 67.

                                                  [Page 351]

Q. Did you, witness, in the course of these investigations,
find measures or orders from Himmler or Hitler for the
biological extermination of Jewry?

A. No. We neither saw such orders at any time, nor did we
succeed, in the course of our investigations, in getting
hold of them or in gaining knowledge of them in any other
way. Such monstrous Orders we could not imagine. Himmler had
always shown us only an ideal face: cleanliness, decency,
fight against crime at all costs. At the end of 1943, on the
occasion of a conference, he confirmed these principles to
me personally and in detail. That a system of mass
extermination could exist was an idea which, under the
circumstances, no one could possibly imagine. We found
horrifying conditions in the concentration camps, and we
learned many things which shocked us, but that idea was
never in our minds. Names like Hoess and Eichmann did come
up during our investigations and proceedings were, in fact,
instituted against both, but at the end of the war they were
still in their initial stages. But Hoess and Eichmann were
to us names like Brown or Jones. No one could possibly guess
that behind these men the henchmen of a dreadful system of
extermination were hiding. Even when, at the end of 1944 and
the beginning of 1945, we came near to establishing the
actual cause of the crimes committed in concentration camps,
namely, that crimes were being carried out by order, this
line of defence of Pohl, Muller and Grawitz still appeared
incredible, because if there really had been orders from
above, carried out by these three persons, then it should
have been easy for them to go to Himmler and to demand the
exclusion of the legal system from these matters.

And so we ourselves, in spite of these painfully achieved
results of the investigations, had no clear judicial
evidence that mass exterminations on a large scale, not to
mention the biological extermination of Jewry, had been
carried out, and we continued, as before, to investigate the
crimes from the point of view that they were individual
perpetrations, although we knew that they had been carried
out to an alarming extent and in alarmingly large numbers.

Q. There exists a pamphlet called SS in Dachau, issued by
the American CIC, by a Colonel Quinn. Unfortunately, I
cannot submit it to the Tribunal at this time, because I had
to return it. But it is in the library and is generally
known. It contains testimony given by an anonymous inmate
and signed -

THE PRESIDENT: You should have taken a copy of the document.
You cannot testify or tell us what the document is if you
cannot produce it. The fact that it had to go back to the
library is no reason why you do not have it. There would
have been no objection to your bringing a copy of it.

DR. PELCKMANN: May I try to bring a copy after the recess,
Mr. President?

THE PRESIDENT: Yes, if you would like to.

DR. PELCKMANN: It contains a statement by an anonymous -

THE PRESIDENT: Well, we do not want to know what it
contains. We do not accept from you what it contains.

DR. PELCKMANN: In that case, I shall postpone this question.


Q. Witness, evidence has been submitted to this Tribunal
that in the gas chambers at Auschwitz and other places
millions of Jews were murdered. You, however, discovered in
your investigations that individual persons and a small
circle of persons committed the crimes which you described.
Is it possible, as far as you know, that this comparatively
small circle of persons is also responsible for the
extermination of these millions?

A. Investigations of the head office "SS Courts,"
particularly the final stages of the investigations just
before the end of the war, show that individual persons and
a small circle of persons are also exclusively responsible
for these things. Otherwise, these outrageous things could
not possibly have escaped the attention of the legal system
for so long.

                                                  [Page 352]

Q. Did you, in your conversations with Dr. Morgen, gather
any further information which might support this assertion?

A. Dr. Morgen was a judge before me, who, during the whole
period, was attached to the Reich Criminal Police Department
in order to carry out investigations of the concentration
camps from there. Dr. Morgen has extensive knowledge. I
know, today, that he himself talked with those responsible
for these mass exterminations, and he gained a clear insight
into all these matters. He can prove that the origin of the
exterminations of the Jews is not to be found in the SS, but
in the Chancellery of the Fuehrer.

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Pelckmann, I understood from you that you
put - that you were putting in two affidavits from Dr.
Morgen, is that right?

DR. PELCKMANN: Three, Mr. President.

THE PRESIDENT: Well, three - five, if you like, but this
witness cannot tell us what Dr. Morgen says. Dr. Morgen must
speak for himself from his affidavits.

DR. PELCKMANN: In that case, perhaps I may return to this,
when I submit the affidavits.


Q. It is alleged by the prosecution that these acts could
not have been perpetrations of individuals, but that the
logical application of the Party programme regarding the
Jewish question had to lead to these crimes at Auschwitz.
What can you say to that from your own knowledge and
experience of the fight against, these crimes?

A. I have already said that Himmler always showed the SS
only his ideal side, and these principles which he showed
the SS were considered by the SS as principles of the Party
programme. Hitler's order for the biological extermination
of Jewry, as I know it today, is an absolute -

THE PRESIDENT: He said that over and over again about
Himmler showing his ideal side to the SS. He said it before,
you know. He should not have to say it more than once.

DR. PELCKMANN: May I ask him, Mr. President, what his
attitude is on the allegation of the prosecution that the
extermination of Jews in Auschwitz was considered by members
of the SS as a logical outcome of the principles which the
SS had learned.

THE PRESIDENT: How can he give evidence about that? He can
tell us what he saw and what he did. He has not told us yet
whether he has ever been in the concentration camps.

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