The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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Q. Did you know about the development of the attitude of the
Party and the State toward the Church, in the course of

A. Certainly. But as my final remark on the Roehm Putsch I
should like to emphasise that I assume full responsibility
for the actions taken against those people - Ernst,
Heidebrecht and several others - by the order of the
Fuehrer, which I executed or passed on, and that, even to-
day, I am of the opinion that I acted absolutely correctly
and from a sense of duty. That was confirmed by the
Reichspresident, but no such confirmation was necessary to
convince me that here I had averted what was a great danger
for the State.

On the attitude towards the Church: The Fuehrer's attitude
was a generous one, at first extremely so. I should not like
to say that it was positive in the sense that he himself was
a positive or convinced adherent of any one confession, but
it was generous and positive in the sense that he recognised
the necessity of the Church. Although he himself was a
Catholic, he wished that the Protestant Church should have a
stronger position in Germany, since Germany was two-thirds

The Protestant Church, however, was divided into provincial
Churches; there were various small differences which the
dogmatists took very seriously, for which reason they once
in the past, as we know, fought against each other for 30
years; but these differences did not seem so important to
us. There were the Reformed, the United and the pure
Lutherans - I myself am not an expert in this field.

Constitutionally, as Prussian Prime Minister, I was, to be
sure, in a certain sense the highest dignitary of the
Prussian Church, but I did not concern myself with these
matters very much.

The Fuehrer wanted to achieve the unification of the
Protestant and Evangelical Churches by appointing a
Reichsbishop, so that there would be a high Protestant
Church dignitary as well as a high Catholic Church
dignitary. To begin with, he left the choice to the
Evangelical Churches, but they could not come to an

                                                   [Page 86]

agreement. Finally they produced one name, the very one
which did not suit us. Then a man, who had the Fuehrer's
confidence to a higher degree than any of the other
provincial bishops was appointed Reichsbishop.

As regards the Catholic Church, the Fuehrer ordered a
concordat to be concluded by Herr von Papen. Shortly before
that was done I visited the Pope myself. I had numerous
connections with the higher Catholic clergy because of my
Catholic mother; and thus - I am myself a Protestant - I had
a view of both camps.

One thing, of course, the Fuehrer and all of us, I too,
stood for: to remove politics from the Church in as far as
possible. I did not consider it right - and that I should
like to say quite openly - that one day the priest in the
church should humbly concern himself with the spiritual
welfare of his flock and then on the following  day make a
more or less belligerent speech in the Parliament.

This separation was planned by us - that is to say, the
clergy were to concentrate on their own sphere and refrain
from getting involved in political matters. Because we had
in Germany political Parties with strong Church leanings, a
considerable muddle had arisen, and that is the explanation
of the fact that, because of this political opposition that
originally played its role on the political level in the
Parliament and in election campaigns, there arose in certain
of our people an antagonistic attitude toward the Church.

For one must not forget that such election fights,
discussions and speeches often took place, before the
elections, between political representatives of our Party
and clergymen who represented those political Parties which
were more closely bound to the Church.

Because of this situation and a certain animosity, it is
understandable that a more rabid faction - if I may use that
expression in this connection - did not forget this fight
and now, for its part, carried it over to a false level. But
the Fuehrer's attitude was that the Churches should be given
the chance to exist and develop. It is logical that, in a
movement and a Party which gradually had absorbed more or
less the greatest part of the German nation, and which now
in its active political aspect had also absorbed the
politically active persons of Germany, not all the members
would be of the same attitude in every regard, despite the
leadership principle. The speed, the method, the attitude
can be different; and in such large movements, even if they
are ever so authoritatively led, certain groups form in
response to certain problems. If I were to name the group
which still saw in the Church, if not a political danger, at
least an undesirable institution, then I should mention
above all two people: Himmler on one side and Bormann,
particularly later, and much more completely than Himmler,
on the other.

Himmler's motives were less of a political and more of a
confused mystical nature. Bormann's aims were much more
clear-cut. It was clear, too, that from the large group of
Gauleiters, one or another might be more keenly interested
in this fight against the Church. Thus there were a number
of Gaue where everything was in good order as far as the
Church was concerned, and there were a few others where
there was a keen fight against the Church.

I did interfere personally on frequent occasions. First of
all, in order to demonstrate my attitude and to create
order, I called in to the Prussian State Council, as men in
whom I had special confidence, a high Protestant and a high
Catholic clergyman.

I myself am not what you might call a church-goer, but I
have gone now and then, and have always consciously belonged
to the Church and have always had those functions over which
the Church presides - marriage, christening, burial -
carried out in my house by the Church.

My intention thereby was to show those weak-willed persons
who, in the midst of this fight of opinions, did not know
what they should do that, if the

                                                   [Page 87]

second man in the State goes to church, is married by the
Church, has his child christened and confirmed by the
Church, then they can do the same. From the number of
letters which I received as a result, I can see that I did
the right thing.

But as time went by, in other spheres as well as this, the
situation became more critical. During the early years of
the war I spoke to the Fuehrer about it once more and told
him that the main thing now was that every German should do
his duty and every soldier go to his death bravely if need
be. If, in that connection, his religious belief is a help
and a support to him, whether he belongs to this or that
denomination, it can be only an advantage, and any
disturbance in this connection could conceivably affect his
power of endurance. The Fuehrer agreed absolutely. In the
Air Force I deliberately had no regular chaplain, because I
was of the opinion that every member of the Air Force should
go to the clergyman in whom he had the most confidence.

This was repeatedly told the soldiers and officers. But the
Church itself I told that it would be good if we had a clear
division of duties. You should pray in church and not drill
there; in the barracks you should drill and not pray. In
that manner, from the very beginning, I kept the Air Force
free from any religious disturbances and I ensured complete
liberty of conscience for everyone.

The situation became rapidly more critical - and I cannot
really give the reasons for this - especially in the last
two or three years of the war. This may have been due to the
fact that, in some of the occupied territories -
particularly in the Polish territory and also in the Czech
territory - the clergymen were strong nationalist
representatives and this led again to clashes on a political
level which were then naturally carried over to a religious
level. I do not know whether this was one of the reasons,
but I consider it probable. On the whole I should like to
say that the Fuehrer himself was not opposed to the Church,
in fact, he told me on one occasion that there are certain
things in respect to which even as a leader one cannot
entirely have his way, even if they are still undecided and
in need of reform, and that he believed that at the time
much was being thought and said about the reorganisation of
the Church. He said that he did not consider himself
destined to be a church reformer and that he did not wish
that any of his political leaders should win laurels in this

Q. Now, in the course of years, a large number of clergymen,
both from Germany and especially from the occupied
territories - you yourself mentioned Poland and
Czechoslovakia - were taken to concentration camps. Do you
know anything about that?

A. I knew that in Germany, to begin with, a number of
clergymen were taken to concentration camps. The case of
Niemoeller was common knowledge. I do not wish to go into it
in detail, because it is well known. A number of other
clergymen were sent to concentration camps, but not until
the later years, when the fight became more critical,
because they made political speeches in the pulpit and
criticised measures of the State or the Party; and, if this
criticism was too severe, the police intervened.

I told Himmler on one occasion that I did not think it was
clever to arrest clergymen, that as long as they talked only
in church they should say what they wanted; but that if they
made political speeches outside the Church then he could
proceed against them, just as he would in connection with
any other people who made speeches hostile to the State.
Several clergymen who went very far in their criticism were
not arrested. As far as the arrest of clergymen from
occupied territories is concerned, I heard about it; and I
said earlier that this did not occur so much on the
religious level, just because they were clergymen, but that
it occurred because they were at the same time nationalist -
from their point of view - and consequently often involved
in actions hostile to the occupying forces.

                                                   [Page 88]

Q. The Party Programme included two points dealing with the
question of the Jews. What was your basic attitude towards
this question?

A. This question, which has been so strongly emphasised in
the Indictment, forces me under all circumstances to make
certain statements.

After Germany's collapse in 1918 Jewry became very powerful
in that country in all sectors of life, but particularly in
the political and economic fields. The men came back from
the front with nothing to look forward to, and found a large
number of Jewish elements who had come in during the war
from Poland and the East, in high positions, particularly
economic positions. It is known that, as a result of the war
and during demobilisation, there were great possibilities
for doing business. Then came inflation and deflation, and
enormous shifts and transfers took place in property and

There were many Jews who did not show the necessary
restraint and who more and more became public figures, so
that they actually invited certain comparisons, because of
what they represented and the positions they controlled, in
contrast to the German people in general. In addition there
was the fact that those Parties especially, which were
avoided by nationalistically minded people, had a Jewish
leadership, which was out of proportion, numerically, to the
total number of Jews.

That did not apply only to Germany, but also to Austria,
which we have always considered a part of Germany. There the
entire Social Democratic leadership was almost exclusively
in Jewish hands. They played a very considerable part in
politics, particularly in the Left-wing Parties, and they
also became very prominent in the Press.

At that time there were continuous attacks against
everything national - national concepts and national ideals.
I draw attention to all the magazines and articles which
dragged through the mud things which were holy to us; I
likewise call attention to the distortion which was
practised in the field of art in this direction; to plays
which dragged the fighting at the front through the mud -
flung mud at the ideal of the brave soldier. In fact, I
could submit an enormous pile of such articles, books, and
so forth. But this would lead too far afield and I am not
too well informed on the subject. All this led to a defence
movement, by no means created anew by National Socialism but
already in existence, which was strong during the war and
which became even stronger after the war, when the influence
of Jewry had such effects.

In addition, in the cultural and intellectual sphere many
things which were not in accordance with German feeling came
to be expressed. Here, too, there was a great split. In
addition there was the fact that in economy, if one
overlooks the Western industry, there was an almost
exclusive domination on the part of Jewry, and, indeed,
consisting of those elements which were most sharply opposed
by the old-established Jewish families.

When the movement, then, drafted its programme, which was
the work of a few simple people - as far as I know, not even
Adolf Hitler himself took part in it, at least not yet as a
leader - this programme took up that point which, at that
time, was a strong defensive point amongst large sections of
the German people. Shortly before that there had been the
Workers' and Soldiers' Council Republic (Raete-Republik) in
Munchen and the murder of hostages. Here, too, the leaders
were for the most part Jews. One must understand that
therefore a programme created in Munich by simple people
quite naturally took this up as a defence point. News also
came of the Workers' and Soldiers' Council Republic (Raete-
Republik) in Hungary - again consisting mainly of Jews. All
this had made a very strong impression. When the programme
became known, the Party - which was at that time extremely
small - was at first not taken seriously and was laughed at.
But then, from the very beginning, a concentrated attack on
the part of the entire Jewish Press or the Jewish-influenced
Press began against the movement. Everywhere Jewry was in

                                                   [Page 89]

lead in the fight against National Socialism, whether in the
Press, in politics, in cultural life by making National
Socialism contemptible and ridiculous, or in the economic
sphere. Whoever was a National Socialist did not get a
position: the National Socialist business-man could not get
supplies or advertisements. This state of affairs resulted
in a strong defensive attitude on the part of the Party and
led from the very beginning to an intensification of the
fight, such as had not originally been the intention of the
programme. For the programme desired, above all, one thing
very clearly: that Germany should be led by Germans. It was
desired that the leadership, especially the political
shaping of the fate of the German people, should be in the
hands of German persons who could raise the spirit of the
German people again as could no other persons. Therefore the
main point was, at first, merely to exclude Jewry from the
leadership of the State.

Later on, the cultural field was also included because of
the very strong fight which had developed in this field in
particular between Jewry on the one side and National
Socialism on the other.

I believe that if, in this connection, many a hard word
which was said by us against Jews and Jewry were to be
brought forward, I should still be in a position to produce
magazines, books, newspapers and speeches in which the
expressions and insults coming from the other side were
equally violent. All that obviously led to intensity of

Shortly after the accession to power countless exceptions
were made. Jews who had taken part in the World War and who
had been decorated were treated differently and shown
consideration; they remained unaffected by measures
excluding Jews from Civil Service.

As I have said, the chief aim was, first, the exclusion from
the political sphere, then from the cultural sphere.

The Nuremberg Laws were intended to bring about a clear
separation of races and, in particular, to do away with the
concept of a person of mixed blood in the future, since the
concept of the half-Jew or the quarter-Jew led to continuous
distinctions and confusion. Here, too, I wish to emphasise
that I personally had frequent discussions with the Fuehrer
regarding the concept of persons of mixed blood and that I
pointed out to him that, once such Jews were clearly
separated, it would be impossible to have still another
category between the two which constituted an unclarified
section of the German people, standing on the same level as
the other Germans. I suggested to him that he, by a generous
act, do away with the concept of the person of mixed blood
and place these people on the same footing as the other
Germans. The Fuehrer was greatly interested in this
suggestion and was all for adopting it. In this direction he
had, in fact, given certain preparatory orders. Then came
more troubled times, as far as foreign policy was concerned;
the Sudeten crisis, the occupation of the rest of
Czechoslovakia, and afterward the Polish crisis; and the
question of persons of mixed blood faded into the
background. At the beginning of the war the Fuehrer told me
that he was prepared to solve this matter in a positive,
generous fashion, but only after the war.

The Nuremberg Laws were to exclude, for the future, that
concept of persons of mixed blood by means of a clear
separation of races. Consequently it was provided, in the
penal regulations of the Nuremberg Laws, that never the
woman but always the man should be punishable, no matter
whether he were German or Jewish. The German woman or the
Jewess should not be punished. Then quieter times came, and
the Fuehrer always was of the opinion that for the time
being Jews should remain in economic, though not in leading
and prominent, positions, until a controlled emigration, at
first gradual, then intensified, should solve this problem.
In spite of continuous disturbances and difficulties in the
economic field, the Jews on the whole remained unmolested in
their economic positions.

                                                   [Page 90]

The extraordinary intensification which set in later did not
really do so until after the events of 1938, and then to a
still greater extent in the war years. But here, again,
there was naturally one group more radical than the others,
a group to which the Jewish Question was more significantly
in the foreground than it was for other groups of the
movement. In the same way, as I should like to emphasise at
this point, the concept of National Socialism as a
philosophy of life was differently understood; by one person
psychologically and philosophically, by another mystically,
by a third practically and politically. This was also true
of the different points of the programme. For one person
certain points were more in the foreground, for another
person less so. One person would see the main point of the
programme in the part directed against Versailles and toward
a free and strong Germany; another person, perhaps would
consider the Jewish Question the main point.

THE PRESIDENT: Would that be a convenient time to break off?
Dr. Stahmer, can you inform the Tribunal how much longer you
think the defendant Goering's examination will last?

DR. STAHMER: I think that we shall finish in the course of
to-morrow morning.

THE PRESIDENT: That is a very long time.

DR. STAHMER: I shall do my best to shorten it.

(A recess was taken.)

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