The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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Last-Modified: 1999/12/6

DR. STAHMER: I have no more questions.

THE PRESIDENT: The witness may retire.

DR. STAHMER: As next witness, I call State Secretary Paul
Koerner.

Witness PAUL KOERNER took the stand and testified as
follows:

BY THE PRESIDENT:

Q. Is your name Paul Koerner?

A. Yes.

Q. Will you repeat this oath after me:

I swear by God the Almighty and Omniscient that I will speak
the pure truth, and will withhold and add nothing.

(The witness repeated the oath.)

THE PRESIDENT: You may sit down if you wish.

DIRECT EXAMINATION BY DR. STAHMER:

Q. Witness, which official post did you hold before the
capitulation?

A. I was State Secretary in the Prussian State Ministry.

Q. In this capacity were you one of the Reichsmarschall's
close collaborators?

A. Yes.

Q. When did you first meet the Reichsmarschall?

A. In 1926.

Q. When were you selected by him to collaborate?

A. At the end of 1939.

Q. In what capacity?

A. I became his secretary.

Q. When were you taken over by the Civil Service?

A. In April, 1933. I am sorry; the previous date was 1931.

THE PRESIDENT: The translator said the previous date was
1931; which date was 1931?

DR. STAHMER: In 1931 he first came into contact with Goering
and became his private secretary. In 1933 he entered the
Civil Service.

BY DR. STAHMER:

Q. Which office was given to you?

A. I became State Secretary in the Prussian State Ministry.

Q. What do you know about the institution of the Secret
State Police, the Gestapo?

A. In the first months after the seizure of power, the
Secret State Police evolved from the Political Police
Department 1-A. Basically, the Political Police Department
remained, it was only reorganised under the name Secret
State Police.

Q. What was its range of activities?

A. Its main task was to watch the enemies of the State.

Q. Did you know about the establishment of concentration
camps?

A. I know that at that time concentration camps were
established.

Q. What purposes did they serve?

                                                   [Page 10]

A. They were supposed to receive enemies of the State.

Q. What do you mean by "receive"?

A. Elements hostile to the State, mainly Communists, were to
be concentrated in these camps.

Q. And, what was to be done with them there?

A. They were to be taken into protective custody, and, as
far as I remember, they were also to be re-educated, so that
later on they could be incorporated into the community of
the people.

Q. Do you know anything of the treatment meted out to the
inmates?

A. As far as I know, the treatment was always good.

Q. Did you ever hear anything about unauthorised
concentration camps?

A. Yes; in 1933, in various places, unauthorised
concentration camps were established.

Q. By whom?

A. I remember that one was established in Breslau by S.A.
Gruppenfuehrer Heines; and one in Stettin. Whether there
were any others, I do not know.

Q. In Stettin? Who was it in Stettin?

A. I think it was Karpfenstein, but I cannot say for
certain.

Q. And what became of these camps?

A. When the Reichsmarschall heard about it he had them
dissolved because they were established without his
permission.

Q. What was the Reichsmarschall's attitude when he heard of
complaints?

A. Oh, he always followed them up immediately.

Q. Do you know of any ease where he took specially strong
measures?

A. Yes, I can remember the case of Thaelmann.

Q. What happened in this case?

A. It had come to the Reichsmarschall's knowledge that
Thaelmann had not been treated in the way the
Reichsmarschall wished. He immediately followed the matter
up and had Thaelmann brought to him.

Q. Who was Thaelmann?

A. Thaelmann was one of the leaders of the Communist Party
and a Communist member of the Reichstag.

Q. And how did the Reichsmarschall speak to Thaelmann?

A. He had him brought into his office and asked him to tell
him exactly why he had made a complaint.

Q. And then.

A. Thaelmann was very reticent at first, because he feared a
trap. When the Reichsmarschall spoke to him in a humane
manner, he realised that he could speak freely. He told the
Reichsmarschall that on several occasions he had not been
treated properly. The Reichsmarschall promised him immediate
redress and gave the necessary instructions. Also he asked
Thaelmann to notify him immediately if it happened again. In
addition he ordered that any complaints made by Thaelmann
should be passed on to him.

Q. Do you know how long the Reichsmarschall was in charge of
the Gestapo and the concentration camps?

A. Until the spring of 1934; I believe it was March or
April.

Q. Under whom did they come then?

A. By order of the Fuehrer, they came under the control of
Reichsfuehrer Himmler.

Q. What do you know about the events in connection with the
Roehm revolt on 30th June, 1934?

A. That a Roehm revolt was planned I heard when I was with
the Reichsmarschall in Essen, where we attended the wedding
of Gauleiter Terboven. During the wedding festivities
Himmler arrived and reported to the Fuehrer. Later the
Fuehrer drew the Reichsmarschall aside and told him in
confidence of Roehm's designs.

                                                   [Page 11]

Q. Do you also know what be told him?

A. I can only say that what Himmler told the Fuehrer was
also brought to Goering's knowledge.

Q. Do you not know any further details?

A. No, I do not know any further details, but I think that
is sufficient.

Q. What instructions did Goering receive?

A. The Fuehrer instructed Goering to return to Berlin
immediately after the wedding festivities, and went himself
to Southern Germany to investigate these reports personally.

Q. When was this wedding?

A. As far as I remember, it was two days before the Roehm
putsch.

Q. Do you know whether, on the day after the Roehm putsch,
the Reichsmarschall was with Hitler?

A. No. The Reichsmarschall was in Berlin. We returned to
Berlin the same evening.

Q. On the day after the Roehm putsch, of 30th June, i.e., on
1st of July?

A. The Reichsmarschall was in Berlin.

Q. Do you know whether there was a conversation between him
and Hitler?

A. Yes. I remember that the Reichsmarschall drove to the
Reich. Chancellery to report several things to the Fuehrer.
In particular, the Reichsmarschall had heard that on this
occasion also innocent people might have, or rather had,
fallen victims. Therefore, he wanted to ask the Fuehrer to
stop the whole action immediately.

Q. Was that done?

A. Yes, that was done.

Q. In what way?

A. After the report of the Reichsmarschall, the Fuehrer
himself issued an order that no further unauthorised actions
should take place, that the action was over, and if any
guilty people were still found they would be brought before
the ordinary courts, which would decide whether or not they
should be proceeded against.

Q. Do you know whether the Reichsmarschall had anything to
do with the action against the Jews during the night of 9th
November, 1938?

A. No, the Reichsmarschall had definitely nothing to do with
it and had no inkling of it.

Q. How do you know?

A. Because I was with the Reichsmarschall on 9th November in
Munich - he was always there on that day. The same evening
we went to Berlin. Had the Reichsmarschall known anything
about it, he would certainly have told me or those who were
with him. He had no inkling.

Q. When did he find out about it?

A. Shortly before he arrived in Berlin or at the Anhalter
Station in Berlin.

Q. Through whom?

A. Through his adjutant.

Q. And how did he take this news?

A. He was furious when he received this report, because he
was strongly opposed to the whole action.

Q. And what did he do about it?

A. He got in touch with the Fuehrer immediately, in order to
demand that this action be stopped at once.

Q. What were your tasks within the framework of the Four-
Year Plan.

A. I was Chief of the Office of the Four-Year Plan.

Q. What were your tasks?

A. The management and supervision.

Q. How did the Four-Year Plan come about? When and how did
it start?

                                                   [Page 12]

A. The official Four-Year Plan was announced in October,
1936, but its origin goes back to the food crisis of 1935.
In the autumn of 1935 the Reichsmarschall received the order
from the Fuehrer ...

THE PRESIDENT: Witness, try not to go quite so fast. It is
very difficult to get the translation.

THE WITNESS: Yes, Sir.

A. (continuing): In the autumn of 1935, the Reichsmarschall
received the order from the Fuehrer to secure food for the
German people, since the food situation was serious because
of the bad harvests of 1934 and 1935. At the time we were
short of at least 2,000,000 tons of bread, grain, and
several hundred thousand tons of fat, which had to be
procured by some means or other.

The Reichsmarschall solved this problem satisfactorily, and
this led the Fuehrer to ask him for suggestions as to how
the entire German economy could be made proof against
crises. These suggestions were worked out in the first half
of 1936 and by midsummer were submitted to the Fuehrer.

These suggestions gave the Fuehrer the idea of a Four-Year
Plan, which he announced on Party Day, 1936. On 18th
October, 1936, the Fuehrer issued a decree appointing the
Reichsmarschall Trustee of the Four-Year Plan.

Q. What were the aims of the Four-Year Plan?

A. As I said before, to make German economy proof against
crises. The main tasks were to increase German exports as
much as possible, and to cover any deficits as far as
possible, particularly in the agricultural sphere, by
increased production.

Q. Did the Four-Year Plan also serve rearmament?

A. Of course, it also served the rebuilding of the German
Wehrmacht indirectly.

Q. Did the Four-Year Plan also provide for employment of
labour?

A. Yes. The Four-Year Plan provided for the appointment of a
General Plenipotentiary for the Employment of Labour. The
former President of the Reich Labour Office, President
Syrup, was appointed General Plenipotentiary.

Q. When was he appointed?

A. That was at the beginning of the Four-Year Plan, in the
autumn of 1936.

Q. What were his particular tasks?

A. He had to regulate the employment of labour and thus put
an end to the great muddle on the labour market.

Q. How long did Syrup remain in office?

A. Syrup left in the spring of 1942 for reasons of health.

Q. Who became his successor?

A. His successor was Gauleiter Sauckel.

Q. Who appointed Sauckel?

A. Sauckel was appointed by the Fuehrer.

Q. And what was his job?

A. His main job as General Plenipotentiary for the
Employment of Labour was to regulate labour.


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