The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Shofar FTP Archive File: imt/tgmwc/tgmwc-09//tgmwc-09-84.04

Archive/File: imt/tgmwc/tgmwc-09/tgmwc-09-84.04
Last-Modified: 1999/12/9

Q. Do you know that there was an order from the Reich Main
Security Office, that was issued after your resignation,
which forbade any official or employee of the State police,
under threat of the most severe punishment, to beat
prisoners or ill-treat them?

A. It is possible, I no longer know what orders were issued
after my

Q. Putting this question in the negative, is it known to you
that there never was an order to manhandle prisoners or
torture them, either at the time when you were Chief of the
Secret State Police or later?

A. I can only say with absolute certainty that I did not
issue or permit any such order. I no longer know what was or
was not issued in this connection at a later date or in
provinces other than Prussia.

Q. Do you know anything to the effect that, contrary to
these orders, such acts regularly took place in the Gestapo,
or rather, if such an act did take place, did it have to do
only with individual cases or individual excesses?

A. At the time when I was still directly connected with the
Gestapo such excesses did, as I have openly stated, take
place. In order to punish them, one naturally had to find
out about them. Punishments were administered. The officials
knew that if they did such things they ran the risk of being
punished. A large number of them were punished. I cannot say
what the practice was later.

DR. MERKEL: I have no more questions.

DR. BABEL (counsel for the S.S. and S.D.):

Q. Witness, did the same conditions apply for the
appointment of honorary leaders in the S.S. as in the S.A.?

A. Yes, I believe so.

Q. Are you familiar with the directives or other regulations
regarding the appointment of honorary leaders?

A. No.

Q. Was it possible to refuse the appointment?

A. Yes, I believe so.

Q. Do you know what the reasons were for the expansion of
the Waffen S.S. after the year 1939 into a large permanent

A. The first divisions of the Waffen S.S., which consisted
of the best specially selected human material, fought with
outstanding bravery in combat. Consequently the Fuehrer
gladly agreed to Himmler's suggestion that still more
divisions be set up. The Army and also the Air Force did
make some protest, and quite rightly, because this creaming
off of the best voluntary material meant that men of this
type, who would have made equally good officers, were partly
lost to the Army and the Air Force, and therefore they
opposed this expansion. Also, in the beginning, the Fuehrer
was not very keen to have armed formations of any
appreciable size outside the ranks of the Wehrmacht, but he
gave way more and more. When replacement difficulties became
even more acute as the war went on, Himmler more or less
deceived the Fuehrer with the statement that he was in a
position to provide a large number of S.S. divisions, that
this would create a greater attraction for recruiting, and
so on. This, of course, was welcome news to the Fuehrer
since he needed troops badly. But, in point of fact, already
at that time Himmler was using altogether different methods
which had not much in common with purely voluntary
recruiting, and he created first of all on paper a number of
new S.S. divisions and cadres. At that time he had not the
men for this. He then told the Fuehrer, "I have transferred
my best Unterfuehrer from the other S.S. divisions to these
new ones." For this and other reasons replacements in men
did not flow in and the Army and the Air

                                                  [Page 185]

Force, especially the Air Force, were those who bore the
brunt of this. I now had to help to fill these S.S.
divisions with men from the ground staffs and from the anti-
aircraft batteries. This aroused much dissatisfaction among
the men in the Air Force because none of them wanted to
volunteer for these formations. But in the end the Fuehrer
ordered that men be taken from the reserve units of the Army
and, as far as I remember, from naval reserves also. I can
speak only for that contingent which was taken from the Air
Force by coercion and by command; I should estimate, without
reference to official records, that there were at least
about 50,000 men and officers. Then, because this aroused
such strong feeling, I arranged that all men from the Air
Force, who were to be used for land fighting, should no
longer go in the future to the S.S. but to the new Parachute
divisions which were to be formed. The Fuehrer agreed,
because in the last phase of the war the Parachute divisions
proved to be the most valued and the most distinguished in
the whole Wehrmacht, and superior to the S.S. in fighting
spirit and power of resistance. From then on no further
contingents of the Air Force were incorporated into the S.S.
and, as far as I know, no more S.S. divisions were created.

DR. BABEL: I have no further questions.

DR. LATERNSER (Counsel for the General Staff and the

Q. Witness, what was the attitude of the General Staff of
the Army towards the possibility of being involved in a war
with other Powers?

A. Their attitude was, if I may say so, purely professional
- that is to say, the General Staff had to study
theoretically and practically all the possibilities and
contingencies in a state of war. Its attitude toward its own
tasks and conceptions was - I must say this openly - a very
reticent and timid one for a General Staff. This is probably
to be attributed to the fact that most of the General Staff
officers had come from the Reichswehr. The tenor of thought
in this small Reichswehr during the last decade and a half
was such that they could hardly imagine that a military
clash might come, and consequently a much more pacific
attitude than is normally the case with soldiers was to be
found among the General Staff of the Army.

Q. Do you know Generals or Admirals who urged and incited

A. No.

DR. LATERNSER: I have no further questions.

THE PRESIDENT: Do the Chief Prosecutors wish to cross-



Q. You are perhaps aware that you are the only living man
who can expound to us the true purposes of the Nazi Party
and the inner workings of its leadership?

A. I am perfectly aware of that.

Q. You, from the very beginning, together with those who
were associated with you, intended to overthrow, and later
did overthrow, the Weimer Republic?

A. That was, as far as I am concerned, my firm intention.

Q. And, upon coming to power, you immediately abolished
parliamentary government in Germany?

A. We found it to be no longer necessary. Also I should like
to emphasise the fact that we were, moreover, the strongest
Parliamentary Party, and had the majority. But you are
correct when you say that parliamentary procedure was done
away with, because the various Parties were disbanded and

Q. You established the leadership principle, which you have
described as a system under which authority existed only at
the top, and is passed downwards and is imposed on the
people below; is that correct?

                                                  [Page 186]

A. In order to avoid any misunderstanding, I should like
once more to explain the idea briefly, as I understand it.
In German parliamentary procedure in the past the
responsibility rested with the highest officials, who were
responsible for carrying out the anonymous wishes of the
majorities, and it was they who exercised the authority. In
the leadership principle we sought to reverse the direction,
that is, the authority existed at the top and passed
downwards, while the responsibility began at the bottom and
passed upwards.

Q. In other words, you did not believe in and did not permit
government, as we call it, by consent of the governed, in
which the people, through their representatives, were the
source of power and authority?

A. That is not entirely correct. We repeatedly called on the
people to express unequivocally and clearly what they
thought of our system, only it was in a different way from
that previously adopted and from the system in practice in
other countries. We chose the way of a so-called plebiscite.
We also took the point of view that, of course, even a
Government founded on the leadership principle could
maintain itself only if it was based in some way on the
confidence of the people. If it no longer had such
confidence, then it would have to rule with bayonets, and
the Fuehrer was always of the opinion that that was
impossible in the long run - to rule against the will of the

Q. But you did not permit the election of those who should
act with authority by the people, but they were designated
from the top downward continuously, were they not?

A. Right. The people were merely to acknowledge the
authority of the Fuehrer, or, let us say, to declare
themselves in agreement with the Fuehrer. If they gave the
Fuehrer their confidence, then it was up to them to exercise
the other functions. Thus, not the individual persons were
to be selected according to the will of the people, but
solely the leadership itself.

Q. Now, was this leadership principle supported and adopted
by you in Germany because you believed that no people are
capable of self-government, or because you believed that
some may be, but not the German people, or that no matter
whether some of us are capable of using our own system, it
should not be allowed in Germany?

A. I beg your pardon, I did not quite understand the
question, but I could perhaps answer it as follows:

I consider the leadership principle necessary because the
system which previously existed, and which we called
parliamentary or democratic, had brought Germany to the
verge of ruin. I might perhaps in this connection remind you
that your own President Roosevelt, as far as I can recall -
I do not want to quote it word for word - declared, "Certain
people in Europe have forsaken democracy not because they
did not wish for democracy as such but because democracy had
brought forth men who were too weak to give their people
work and bread and to satisfy them. For this reason the
peoples have abandoned this system and the men belonging to
it." There is much truth in that statement. This system had
brought ruin by mismanagement, and according to my own
opinion only an organisation made up of a strong, clearly
defined leadership hierarchy could restore order again. But,
let it be understood, not against the will of the people,
but only when the people, having in the course of time and
by means of a series of elections grown stronger and
stronger, had expressed their wish to entrust their destiny
to the National Socialist leadership.

Q. The principles of the authoritarian Government which you
set up required, as I understand you, that there be
tolerated no opposition by political Parties which might
defeat or obstruct the policy of the Nazi Party?

A. You have understood this quite correctly. By that time we
had lived long enough with opposition and we had had enough
of it. Through opposition we had been completely ruined. It
was now time to have done with it and to start building up.

                                                  [Page 187]

Q. After you came to power, you regarded it necessary, in
order to maintain power, to suppress all opposition Parties?

A. We found it necessary not to permit any more opposition,

Q. And you also held it necessary that you should suppress
all individual opposition lest it should develop into a
Party of opposition?

A. In so far as opposition seriously hampered our work of
building up, this opposition of individual persons was, of
course, not tolerated. In so far as it was simply a matter
of harmless talk, it was considered to be of no consequence.

Q. Now, in order to make sure that you suppressed the
Parties, and individuals also, you found it necessary to
have a secret political police to detect opposition?

A. I have already stated that I considered that necessary,
similar to the former political police, but on a firmer
basis and larger scale.

Q. And upon coming to power you also considered it
immediately necessary to establish concentration camps to
take care of your incorrigible opponents?

A. I have already stated that the reason for the
concentration camps was not because it could be said, "Here
are a number of people who are opposed to us and they must
be taken into protective custody." Rather they were set up
as an emergency measure against the functionaries of the
Communist Party who were attacking us in their thousands and
who, since they were taken into protective custody, were not
put in prison. But it was necessary, as I said, to erect
camps for them - two or three camps.

Q. But you are explaining, as the high authority of this
system, to men who do not understand it very well; and I
want to know what was necessary to run the kind of system
that you set up in Germany. The concentration camp was one
of the things you found immediately necessary upon coming
into power, was it not? And you set them up as a matter of
necessity, as you saw it?

A. That was faultily translated - it went too fast. But I
believe I have understood the sense of your remarks. You
asked me if I considered it necessary to establish
concentration camps immediately in order to eliminate
opposition. Is that correct?

Q. Your answer is "yes," I take it?

A. Yes.

Q. Was it also necessary, in operating this system, to
deprive persons of the right to public trials in independent
courts? And you immediately issued an order that your
political police would not be subject to court review or to
court orders, did you not?

A. You must differentiate between the two categories; those
who had committed some act of treason against the new State
were naturally turned over to the courts. The others,
however, of whom one might expect such acts, but who had not
yet committed them, were taken into protective custody and
these were the people who were taken to concentration camps.
I am now speaking of what happened at the beginning. Later,
things changed a great deal. Likewise, if for political
reasons - to answer your question - someone was taken into
protective custody, that is, purely for reasons of State,
this could not be reviewed or stopped by any court. Later,
when some people were also taken into protective custody for
non-political reasons, people who had opposed the system in
some other way - I once as Prussian Minister President and
Reich Minister of the Interior - I remember -

Q. Let us omit that. I have not asked for that. If you will
just answer my question we shall save a great deal of time.
Your counsel will be permitted to bring out any explanations
you want to make.

You did prohibit all court review, and considered it
necessary to prohibit court review of the causes for taking
people into what you called "protective custody"?

A. That I answered very clearly, but I should like to make
an explanation in connection with my answer.

                                                  [Page 188]
MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: Your counsel will see to that. Now, the
concentration camps and the protective custody . . .

THE PRESIDENT: Mr. Justice Jackson, the Tribunal thinks the
witness ought to be allowed to make what explanation he
thinks right in answer to this question.

MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: The Tribunal thinks that you should be
permitted to explain your answers now, and it will listen to
your answers.

THE PRESIDENT: I did not mean that to apply generally to his
answers. I meant it to apply to this particular answer.

THE WITNESS: In connection with your question that these
cases could not be reviewed by the court, I want to say that
a decree was issued, through me and Frick jointly, to the
effect that those who were turned over to concentration
camps were to be informed after twenty-four hours of the
reason for their being turned over, and that after forty-
eight hours, or some short period of time, they should have
the right to an attorney. But this by no means rescinded my
order that a review was not permitted by the courts of a
politically necessary measure of protective custody. These
people were simply to be given an opportunity of making a

Home ·  Site Map ·  What's New? ·  Search Nizkor

© The Nizkor Project, 1991-2012

This site is intended for educational purposes to teach about the Holocaust and to combat hatred. Any statements or excerpts found on this site are for educational purposes only.

As part of these educational purposes, Nizkor may include on this website materials, such as excerpts from the writings of racists and antisemites. Far from approving these writings, Nizkor condemns them and provides them so that its readers can learn the nature and extent of hate and antisemitic discourse. Nizkor urges the readers of these pages to condemn racist and hate speech in all of its forms and manifestations.