The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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BY DR. STAHMER:Q. Did you take part in laying down the Party

A. No. The Party Programme had been compiled and announced
when I heard about the movement for the first time, and when
I declared my intention of joining.
Q. What is your attitude toward these points of the Party
Programme?A. On the whole, positive. It is a matter of
course that there is hardly any politically minded man who
acknowledges and agrees with every point of the programme of
a political Party.

Q. In addition to these generally known points of the Party
Programme were there other aims which were kept secret?

A. No.

Q. Were these aims to be achieved by every means, even by
illegal means?

A. Of course they were to be achieved by every means. The
conception "illegal" should, perhaps, be clarified. If I aim
at a revolution, then it is an illegal action for the State
then in existence. If I am successful, then it becomes a
fact and thereby legal. Until 1923 and the events of 9th
November, I and all of us had the view that we would achieve
our aim, even, if necessary, in a revolutionary manner.
After this proved a failure, the Fuehrer, after his return
from the fortress, decided that we should in the future
proceed legally by means of a political fight, as the other
Parties had done, and he prohibited any illegal action in
order to avoid any setback in the activity of the Party.

Q. When and with what aims was the S.S. created?

A. The S.S. was created while I was abroad; I think it was
in 1926 or 1927. Its purpose, as far as I remember, was to
form, first of all, within the movement a specially picked
body as a protection for the person of the Fuehrer.
Originally it was extremely small.

Q. Did you at any time belong to the S. S.?

A. I never belonged to the S.S. in any way, at any time,
neither actively nor passively.

Q. The assumption that you were a General in the S.S. is,
therefore, incorrect?

A. Yes, absolutely incorrect.

Q. What did you understand by the expression "master race"?

A. I myself did not understand anything by that expression.
In none of my speeches, in none of my writings, will you
find it. It is my view that, if you are a master, you do not
have to emphasise it.

Q. What do you understand by "living space"?

A. That conception is a very controversial one. I can fully
understand that Powers - I refer only to the four signatory
Powers - who call more than three-quarters of the world
their own explain this concept differently. But for us,
where 144 people live in one square kilometre, the words
"living space" meant the proper relation between a
population and its nourishment, its growth and its standard
of living.

Q. A concept which is always arising is that of "accession
to power."

                                                   [Page 82]

A. I should like to call "accession to power" a terminus
technicus. We might just as well have used another phrase,
but this one actually expresses as clearly as possible what
actually did occur, that is to say, that we got hold of

Q. What is your attitude to the leadership principle?

A. I upheld this principle and I still uphold it positively
and consciously. One must not make the mistake of forgetting
that the political structure in different countries has
different origins, different developments. Something, which
suits one country extremely well would, perhaps, fail
completely in, another. Germany, through the long centuries
of the monarchy, has always had a leadership principle.
Democracy appeared in Germany at a time when Germany was
very badly off and had reached rock-bottom. I explained
yesterday the total lack of unity that existed in Germany:
the number of Parties, continuous disquiet caused by
elections. In that connection a complete distortion of the
concepts of authority and responsibility had arisen, and,
indeed, had moved in the opposite direction. The authority
was with the masses and responsibility was with the leader,
instead of the opposite. I am of the opinion that for
Germany, particularly at that moment of its lowest existence
when it was necessary that all forces be welded together in
a positive fashion, the leadership principle, that is,
authority from above and responsibility from below, was the
only possibility. Naturally I realise the fact that here,
too, a principle that of itself is thoroughly sound can lead
to extremes. I should like to mention, some parallels: The
position of the Catholic Church rests now, as before, on the
clear leadership principle of its hierarchy. And I think I
can also say that, Russia, too, could not, without the
leadership principle, have survived the great burden which
was imposed on her by this war.

Q. The measures for strengthening your power which you
described yesterday, did they take place in full agreement
with Reichspresident von Hindenburg?

A. As long as the Reichspresident was alive, and therefore
active, they naturally did take place in agreement with him,
and as far as his assent was constitutionally necessary, as
in paragraph 48, that assent was also given.

Q. Was the National Socialist Government recognised by
foreign Powers?

A. Our Government was recognised from the first day of its
existence and remained recognised until the end, that is,
except where hostilities caused diplomatic connections with
separate States to be severed.
Q. Did diplomatic representatives of foreign countries visit
your Party rallies in Nuremberg?

A. The diplomatic representatives were invited to the Party
rallies, these being the greatest event and the greatest
demonstration of the movement; and they all attended, even
if not all of them attended every year. But one I remember
very well.Q. Up to what year did they attend?A. Until the
last Party rally, 1938.

Q. To what extent after the accession to power was the
property of political opponents confiscated?

A. Laws were issued which decreed confiscation of the
property of people hostile to the State, that is, property
of parties we declared to be hostile to the State. The Party
property of the Communist Party and of associated units -
the property of the Social Democratic Party was confiscated
- but not, and I want to emphasise that, the private
property of the members or even of the leaders of these
Parties. On the contrary, a number of leading Social
Democrats who had been Ministers or civil servants were
still paid their full pension. In fact, later on it was

Q. How do you explain the actions against the trade unions?
How do you explain the actions against free workers'

                                                   [Page 83]
A. First of all, the trade unions: The important point about
trade unions in Germany is that they were very closely
connected with the Social Democratic Party, and also, to an
increasing extent, with the Communist Party, because of the
influence and the activity of the latter. They were in fact,
if not in form, organs - indeed, very active organs of these
Parties. I am not referring to the masses of the members of
the trade unions, but to the leadership group of the trade
unions. In addition there was also a smaller Christian trade
union, an organ of the Centre Party.These trade unions,
because of their leaders and the close connection of these
leaders with those Parties which we regarded as our
opponents, were so much in sympathy with our opponents that
they did not in any way fit into our new State. Consequently
the organisation of trade unions was dissolved, and for the
workers the organisation of the German Labour Front was
created. This did not result in the destruction of the
liberty of the German worker, in my opinion; on the
contrary, I am convinced that we were the ones to give the
German worker real freedom, for above all we made his right
to work secure, and laid particular stress on his position
in the State.We did, of course, do away with two things
which perhaps must be regarded as two characteristics of a
freedom which I do not understand: strike on one side and
lock-out on the other. These could not be consistent with
the right to work nor with the duties which every citizen
has towards the greatness of his nation. These two
disquieting elements, which also contributed to the great
number of unemployed, we removed and replaced with an
enormous labour programme.Creation of work was another
essential point. Our social programme has also been adopted
by others, though under a different name.I do not propose to
elaborate on this social programme.

But it was for the first time that the worker got the right
to a holiday, and a paid holiday at that. Great recreation
centres were created for the workers. Enormous sums were
invested in new housing projects for them. Their whole
living standard was raised. Up to then he had been used and
exploited; he had hardly any property of his own because,
during years of unemployment, he had had to sell everything
or pawn it. Thus, without going into detail, I should like
to say in conclusion that we did not destroy free workers
but rather we liberated the worker from the misery of
unemployment.Q. You talked about the Roehm revolt yesterday.
Who was Roehm and of what did the revolt consist?

A. Roehm since 1931 had been the Chief-of-Staff of the S.A.,
that is to say, he was responsible for the S.A. to the
Fuehrer, who was himself the highest S.A. leader, and he led
it in the Fuehrer's name.The main controversy between Roehm
and us was that Roehm, like his predecessor Pfeffer, wanted
a revolution, whereas the Fuehrer, as I said earlier, had
ordered lawfully conducted elections, in which a final
victory could be expected.After the accession to power Roehm
desired, under all circumstances, to get into his hands the
Reich Defence Ministry. The Fuehrer refused that point-
blank, since he did not wish the Armed Forces in any way to
be run on political lines, or to have any political
influence brought to bear on them.The contrast between the
Armed Forces and the Roehm group - I do not mean between the
Armed Forces and the S.A., since there was none - was merely
in regard to the leadership group, which called itself at
that time the S.A. leadership and which actually was that.
Roehm wanted to remove the greater number of the Generals
and higher officers who had been members of the German Armed
Forces all this time, since it was his view that these
officers did not offer a guarantee for the new State,
because, as he expressed it, their
                                                   [Page 84]

backbone had been broken in the course of the years and they
were no longer capable of being active elements of the new
National Socialist State.The Fuehrer, and I also, had an
exactly opposite point of view on the subject.

Secondly, the aims of the Roehm-minded people, as I should
like to call them, were directed in a different direction,
towards revolutionary methods, and they were opposed to what
we called reaction. They definitely desired to adopt a more
Leftist attitude. They were also sharply opposed to the
Church and also very strongly to the Jews. They did, at any
rate, so far as a certain clique is concerned, want to gain
their ends by revolutionary methods. It is well known that
Roehm placed all his own people in leading positions in the
S.A., and removed the decent elements.If plots occurred at
that time they always involved the same persons, first of
all the Berlin S.A. Leader Ernst, secondly the Breslau
Leader Heines, the Munich and Stettin Leaders, etc. A few
weeks before the Roehm Putsch a low-ranking S.A. leader
confided in me that he had heard that an action against the
Fuehrer and his corps was being planned, in order that the
Third Reich could most expeditiously be replaced by the
final Fourth Reich, an expression which these people used.I
myself was urged and begged not only to place outside my
house guards from a police regiment, but also to appoint an
S.A. guard of honour. I had agreed and later on I heard from
the commander of these troops that the purpose of that guard
of honour was to arrest me at a given moment.I knew Roehm
very well. I had him brought to me. I put to him openly the
things which I had heard. I reminded him of our mutual fight
and I asked him unconditionally to keep faith with the
Fuehrer. He raised the same arguments as I have just
mentioned, but he assured me that, of course, he was not
thinking of undertaking anything against the Fuehrer.
Shortly afterwards I received further news to the effect
that he had close connections with those circles that were
strongly opposed to us. There was, for instance, the group
around the former Reich Chancellor Schleicher. There was the
group around Gregor Strasser, the former member of the
Reichstag and organisational leader of the Party, who had
been excluded from the Party. These were groups which had
belonged to the former trade unions and were rather Leftist-
minded. I felt it my duty to consult the Fuehrer on this
subject. I was astonished when he told me that he, too,
already knew about these things and considered them a great
threat. He said that he wished, however, to await further
developments and watch them carefully.The next event
occurred just as the witness Koerner described it here and
therefore I can omit it. I was given the order to proceed
immediately against those men of the Roehm group in Northern
Germany. It was decided that some of them were to be
arrested. In the course of the day the Fuehrer ordered the
execution of the S.A. leader of Pomerania, Ernst, and two or
three others. He himself went to Bavaria, where the last
meeting of a number of Roehm leaders was taking place, and
personally arrested Roehm and these people in Wiessee.At
that time this matter presented a real threat since a few
S.A. units, through the use of false passwords, had already
been armed and called up. At one spot only a very short
fight ensued and two S.A. leaders were shot. I ordered the
police, which in Prussia was then under Himmler and
Heydrich, to make the arrests. When the headquarters of the
S.A. leader Ernst in Berlin were searched we found in the
cellars of these headquarters more tommy guns than the whole
Prussian Police had in its possession.After the Fuehrer had
ordered, on the strength of the events which had been met
with at Wiessee, who should be shot in view of the national
state of emergency, the order for the execution of Ernst,
Heidebrecht and some of the other Roehm collaborators was
issued. There was no order to shoot the other
                                                   [Page 85]
people who had been arrested. In the course of the arrest of
the former Reich Chancellor Schleicher, it happened that
both he and his wife were killed. An investigation of this
event took place and it was found that when Schleicher was
arrested, according to the statements of the two witnesses,
he reached for a pistol, possibly in order to kill himself,
whereupon the two men raised their pistols and Mrs.
Schleicher threw herself upon one of them to hold him,
causing his revolver to go off.

We deeply regretted that event.

In the course of that evening I heard that other people had
been shot as well, even some people who had nothing at all
to do with this Roehm revolt. The Fuehrer came to Berlin
that same evening. I learned this later that evening or
night, and went to him at noon the next day, and asked him
to issue an order immediately that any further execution
was, under any circumstances, forbidden by him, although two
other people who were very much involved and who had been
ordered to be executed were still alive. These people were,
in fact, left alive. I asked him to do that because I was
worried that the matter would get out of hand as, in fact,
it had already done to some extent, and I told the Fuehrer
that under no circumstances should there be any further

As a consequence this order was given by the Fuehrer in my
presence, and it was communicated at once to all officers.
The action was then announced in the Reichstag, and it was
approved by the Reichstag and the Reichspresident as an
action called for by the national state of emergency. It was
regretted that, as in all such incidents, there were a
number of blunders.

The number of victims has been greatly exaggerated. As far
as I can remember exactly to-day, there were about seventy-
two people, the majority of whom were executed in Southern

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