The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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Last-Modified: 1999/12/9

Q. Can you tell us what position he held in the German Army?

A. He was Chief of the General Staff of the Army, and I
repeatedly pointed out to the Fuehrer, after the war
started, that he would finally have to find a chief who knew
something about such matters.

                                                  [Page 197]

Q. Now, the Roehm purge you have left a little indefinite.
What was it that Roehm did, that he was shot? What acts did
he commit?

A. Roehm planned to overthrow the Government, and it was
intended to kill the Fuehrer also. He wanted to follow it up
by a revolution, directed in the first place against the
Army, the Officers' Corps - those groups which he considered
to be reactionary.

Q. And you had evidence of that fact?

A. We had sufficient evidence of that fact.

Q. But he was never tried in any court where he would have a
chance to tell his story as you are telling yours, was he?

A. That is correct. He wanted to bring about a putsch and
therefore the Fuehrer considered it right that this thing
should be nipped in the bud - not by a court procedure, but
by smashing the revolt immediately.

Q. Were the names of the people who were killed in that
purge, following the arrest of Roehm, ever published?

A. Some of the names, yes; but not all of them, I believe.

Q. Who actually killed Roehm? Do you know?

A. I do not know who personally carried out this action.

Q. To what organisation was the order given?

A. That I do not know either, because the shooting of Roehm
was decreed by the Fuehrer and not by me, since I was the
competent authority in North Germany.

Q. And who took into custody those who were destined for
concentration camps, and how many were there?

A. The police carried out the arrest of those who were,
first of all, to be interrogated, those who were not so
seriously incriminated and of whom it was not known whether
they were incriminated or not. A number of these people were
released very soon, others not until somewhat later. Just
how many were arrested in this connection I cannot tell you.
The arrests were made by the police.

Q. The Gestapo, you mean?

A. I assume so.

Q. And if Milch testified that he saw seven or eight hundred
in Dachau in 1935, there must have been a very much larger
number arrested, since you say many were released. Do you
know the number that were arrested?

A. I state again, I do not know exactly how many were
arrested because the necessary arrests, or the arrest of
those who were considered as having a part in this, did not
go through me. My action ended, so to speak, on the date
when the revolt was smashed. I understood Milch a little
differently and I sent a note to my counsel in order that it
be made clear, through a question, whether Milch meant by
these seven hundred people those concerned with the Roehm
Putsch or whether he meant to say that he saw altogether
seven hundred arrested persons there. That is the way I
understood it. But to clarify this statement we should have
to question Milch again, for I believe this number of five,
six, or seven hundred, to be far too high for the total
number of people arrested in connection with the Roehm

Q. Among those who were killed were von Schleicher and his
wife. He was one of your political opponents, was he not?

A. That is right.

Q. And also Erich Klausner, who had been Chief of the
Catholic Action of Germany?

A. Klausner was likewise among those who were shot.
Actually, it was Klausner's case which caused me, as I
stated recently, to ask the Fuehrer to give immediate orders
to cease any further action, since, in my opinion, Klausner
was quite wrongfully shot.

Q. And Strasser, who had been the former Number Two man to
Hitler and had disagreed with him in December, 1932.
Strasser was killed, was he not?

                                                  [Page 198]

A. Of Strasser it cannot be said that he was Number Two man
after Hitler. He played an extremely important role within
the Party before the taking over of power, but he was banned
from the Party already before the taking over of power.
Strasser participated in this revolt and he was also shot.

Q. And when it got down to a point where there were only two
left on the list yet to be killed, you intervened and asked
to have it stopped; is that correct?

A. No, that is not entirely correct. I made it fairly clear
and should like to repeat briefly: not when there were only
two left on the list did I intervene; I intervened when I
saw that many were shot who were not concerned with this
matter. And when I did so, two persons were left who had
taken a very active part, and the Fuehrer himself had
ordered that they be shot. The Fuehrer was particularly
furious with one of the them, the chief instigator of the
action. What I wanted to make clear was that I said to the
Fuehrer, "It is better that you renounce the idea of having
these two executed, and put an end to the whole thing
immediately." That is what I meant.

Q. What date was that? Did you fix the time?

A. Yes, I can give you a definite time. As far as I recall,
the decisive day was Saturday; on Saturday evening between 6
and 7 the Fuehrer arrived by plane from Munich. My request
to stop the action was made on Sunday, some time between 2
and 3 in the afternoon.

Q. And what happened to the two men who were left on the
list - were they ever brought to trial?

A. No. One, as far as I remember, was taken to a
concentration camp, and, the other was for the time being
placed under a sort of house arrest, if I remember

Q. Now, going back to the time when you met Hitler; you said
that he was a man who had a serious and definite aim, that
he was not content with the defeat of Germany and with the
Versailles Treaty; do you recall that?

A. I am very sorry, the translation was rather defective and
I cannot understand it. Please repeat.

Q. When you met Hitler, as I understand your testimony, you
found a man with a serious and definite aim, in that he was
not content with the defeat of Germany in the previous war
and was not content with the Versailles Treaty.

A. I believe you did not quite understand me correctly here,
for I did not put it that way at all. I stated that it had
struck me that Hitler had very definite views of the
impotency of protest; secondly, that he was of the opinion
that Germany must be freed from the Dictate of Versailles.
It was not only Adolf Hitler; every German, every patriotic
German had the same feelings, and I, being an ardent
patriot, bitterly felt the shame of the Dictate of
Versailles, and I associated myself with the man, of whom I
felt that he perceived most clearly the consequences of this
dictate, and that probably he was the man who would find the
ways and means to set it aside. All the other talk in the
Party about Versailles was, pardon the expression, mere

Q. So, as I understand you, from the very beginning,
publicly and notoriously, it was the postulate of the Nazi
Party that the Versailles Treaty must be set aside, and that
protest was impotent for that purpose?

A. From the beginning it was the aim of Adolf Hitler and his
movement to free Germany from the oppressive fetters of
Versailles, that is, not from the whole Treaty of Versailles
but from those terms which were strangling Germany's future.

Q. And to do it by war, if necessary?

A. We did not debate about that at all at the time. We
debated only about the basic condition, that Germany should
acquire another political structure which alone would enable
her to raise objections to this dictate, this one-sided
dictate - everybody always called it a Peace, whereas we
Germans always called it a Dictate - and not merely
objections, but such objections as would have to, receive

                                                  [Page 199]

Q. That was the means; the means was the reorganisation of
the German State, but your aim was to get rid of what you
call the "Dictate of Versailles"?

A. The liberation from those terms of the Dictate of
Versailles which in the long run would make German life
impossible, that was the aim and the intention. But by that
we did not go as far as to say, "We want to wage war on our
enemies and be victorious." Rather, the aim was to suit the
methods to the political events. Those were the basic

Q. And it was for that end that you and all the other
persons who became members of the Nazi Party gave to Hitler
all power to make decisions for them, and agreed in their
oath of office to give him obedience?

A. Again I have several questions put to me. Question one:
The fight against the Dictate of Versailles was the most
decisive factor in my joining the Party. For others,
perhaps, other points of the programme or of the ideology,
which perhaps seemed more important, may have been more
decisive. Giving the Fuehrer absolute powers was not a basic
condition for getting rid of Versailles, but for putting
into practice our conception of the leadership principle. To
give him our oath before he became the head of State was,
under the conditions then existing, a matter of course for
those who considered themselves close members of his
leadership corps. I do not know, and I cannot tell exactly,
just how the oath was given before the assumption of power.
I can only tell you what I myself did. After a certain
period of time, when I had acquired more insight into the
Fuehrer's personality, I gave him my hand and said: "I unite
my fate with yours, for better or for worse; I dedicate
myself to you in good times and in bad, even unto death." I
really meant it - and still do.

Q. If you would answer three or four questions for me "Yes"
or "No," then I would be quite willing to let you give your
entire version of this thing. In the first place, you wanted
a strong German State to overcome the conditions of

A. We wanted a strong State anyhow, regardless of
Versailles; but in order to get rid of Versailles the State
had, first of all, to be strong, for a weak State never
makes itself heard; that we knew from experience.

Q. And the Fuehrer principle you adopted because you thought
it would serve the ends of a strong State?

A. Correct.

Q. And this aim, which was one of the aims of the Nazi
Party, to modify the conditions of Versailles was a public
and notorious aim in which the people generally joined - it
was one of your best means of getting people to join with
you, was it not?

A. The Dictate of Versailles was such that every German, in
my opinion, could not help being in favour of its
modification, and there is no doubt that this was a very
strong inducement for joining the movement.

Q. Now, a number of the men who took part in this movement
are not here; and - for the record - there is no doubt in
your mind, is there, that Adolf Hitler is dead?

A. I believe there can be no doubt about that.

Q. And the same is true of Goebbels?

A. Goebbels, I have no doubt about that, for I heard from
someone whom I trust completely that he saw Goebbels dead.

Q. And you have no doubt of the death of Himmler, have you?

A. I am not certain of that, but I believe that you can be
certain, since you know it much better than I, as he died a
prisoner of yours. I was not there.

Q. You have no doubt of the death of Heydrich, have you?

A. I am absolutely certain about that.

Q. And probably of Bormann?

A. I am not absolutely certain of this. I have no proof. I
do not know, but I assume so.

                                                  [Page 200]

Q. And those are the chief persons in your testimony who
have been mentioned as being responsible - Hitler for
everything, Goebbels for inciting riots against the Jews,
Himmler, who deceived Hitler, and Bormann, who misled him
about his will?

A. The influence exerted on the Fuehrer varied at different
times. The chief influence on the Fuehrer, at least up till
the end of 1941 or the beginning of 1942, if one can speak
of influence at all, was exerted by me. From then until 1943
my influence gradually decreased, after which it rapidly
dwindled. All in all, I do not believe anyone had anything
like the influence on the Fuehrer that I had. Next to me, or
apart from me, if one can speak of influence at all,
Goebbels, with whom the Fuehrer was together quite a good
deal, exerted an influence in a certain direction from the
very beginning. This influence wavered for a time and was
very slight, and then increased greatly in the last years of
the war.

Before the taking over of power and during the years
immediately following the seizure of power, Hess had a
certain influence, but only in regard to his special sphere.
Then in the course of the years Himmler increased his
influence. From the end of 1944 on, this influence decreased
rapidly. The most decisive influence on the Fuehrer during
the war, and especially from about 1942 on, after Hess went
out in 1941 and a year had elapsed, was exerted by Herr
Bormann. The latter had, at the end, disastrously strong
influence. That was possible only because the Fuehrer was
filled with profound mistrust after 20th July, and because
Bormann was with him constantly and presented and described
to him all matters. In broad outline these are the persons
who had influence at one time or another.

Q. You took over a special Intelligence organisation in 1933
which was devoted to monitoring the telephone conversations
of public officials and others inside and outside of
Germany, did you not?

A. I have explained that I had formed a technical
organisation which, as you said, monitored the conversations
of important foreigners to and from foreign countries -
telegrams and wireless communications which were transmitted
not only from Germany to foreign countries but also from one
foreign country to the other through the ether and which
were intercepted. It also intercepted telephone
conversations made within Germany by (1) all important
foreigners, (2) important firms at times and (3) persons Who
for any reason of a political or police nature were to be

In order to prevent any abuse on the part of the police,
this office had to obtain my personal permission wherever I
was to listen to telephone conversations. Despite this there
could, of course, be uncontrolled tapping of wires at the
same time, just as that is technically possible everywhere

Q. You kept the results of those reports to yourself, did
you not?

A. No, the procedure was: Those reports in which the Foreign
Office was interested were released to the Foreign Office.
Those reports which were important to the Fuehrer went to
the Fuehrer. Those reports which were important to the
military went to the Minister for War or to the Air Ministry
or the Ministry of Economy. I or my deputy decided whether a
report was important for this or that office. There was a
man there whose job and responsibility it was to see that
these secret reports were submitted only to the chief. I
could, of course, order at any time that this or that report
should be exclusively for my knowledge and not be handed on.
That was always possible.

Q. You had a good deal of difficulty with other police
authorities who wanted to get possession of that
organisation, did you not?

A. That is correct. The police did strive to get this
instrument into their hands. But they did not get it from
me, and perhaps they kept a watch of their own here and
there. But the decisive control, which had to be directed
through the Ministry of Postal Services, could technically
be ordered only by me.

                                                  [Page 201]

Q. You have listened to the evidence of the prosecution
against all the defendants in this case, have you not?

A. Yes.

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