_________. Trials of War Criminals Before the Nuernberg Military Tribunals. (Popularly known as the Green Series.) U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, 1950. Volume V, pp. 664-668. The lines of seven asterices are in the original. EXTRACTS FROM TESTIMONY OF DEFENDANT POHL ^1 EXAMINATION * * * * * * * Presiding Judge Toms: But what about the intentional extermination program? That was started long before the collapse of the German defense, ^2 or don't you know anything about that either? Defendant Pohl: Mr. President, I do not know what extermination program you are referring to. I do know that the transfer of the camps further into the Reich and that the placing of these masses within the Reich were based on an extermination program. Q. I am talking about the intentional extermination of the old, the sick, and the Jews; whether they were able-bodied or not; by shooting, by hanging, and by gassing, especially at Auschwitz. Didn't you know anything about the extermination at Auschwitz? A. Of course I had knowledge of it. The whole extermination program, which was directed against the Jews, was an action which was channeled through the RSHA and for which Eichmann organized transports of Jews who came to Auschwitz and were exterminated by Hoess. That program had nothing to do with the concentration camps as such, and the existing concentration camps were actually misused in this respect. The documents and the reports for this program, as far as I am informed, did not even go through the Inspectorate of Concentration Camps. This was all carried out in a very small circle. Q. But on a very large scale? A. Well, I had the first authentic figures after the war. At that time I did not have any idea at all that this number extended to millions. The whole program of the extermination of the Jews was dealt with by Amt IV of the RSHA, and the organizer of the transports was a certain man named Eichmann who sent these transports to Auschwitz, and there these transports were exterminated by Hoess, who in this case did not act as camp commander but as commissioner of Himmler or the Reich Government. Q. Were you in charge of the concentration camps while this program was being carried out by RSHA? A. I do not know when this program started. Q. Well, no matter when it started, was it being carried on at any time while you were in charge of concentration camps? A. Whether in the year 1942 or 1943 this extermination was still carried out I don't know. I don't know how long it lasted. Q. Well, it is your contention they just borrowed the concentration camps to carry out the extermination program? A. That is my opinion, yes. Q. Just one second. In order to carry out the extermination program they had to build gas chambers at the concentration camps? A. Yes. But I did not have any gas chambers constructed. I did not give any order whatsoever that gas chambers should be established. Q. Well, were they constructed while you were in charge? A. I do not know exactly in what years the gas chambers at Auschwitz were erected. Q. Well, no matter when they were erected, were they there and operating while you were in charge? A. As long as Jews were exterminated the gas chambers were working and operating. Q. And was that while you were in charge of concentration camps? A. I cannot say that, because I have visited Auschwitz only once in 1944 and perhaps twice in 1943. At that time I did not see that Jews were being exterminated. I, therefore, do not know how long this program was underway. Q. Did you see any gas chambers when you were there? A. I have seen the gas chambers as buildings in the distance, yes. Q. You knew they were there. A. Yes. I knew that. Q. What did you think they were being used for? A. I knew that Jews were being exterminated and that the gas chambers were being used for that purpose. Q. And when you saw them and knew that Jews were being exterminated, you were in charge of that concentration camp? A. Yes. The gas chambers were standing there until the last day. They were standing there also when the concentration camps were subordinate to me. They were not destroyed previously. Q. Nor afterwards. They continued to be operated after you were put in charge? A. As far as the extermination of the Jews was carried on, yes, but I do not know how long this continued. Q. Well, it continued as long as you were in charge. A. I do not know how long it was continued. I do not know when the last Jews were exterminated. Q. Well, you are trying to evade it, perhaps not intentionally. At any rate, after you became chief of the concentration camps, the gas chambers at Auschwitz and elsewhere continued to work? A. I assume that, yes, naturally. Q. Did you ever do anything to find out why people were being gassed to death, or did you ever protest against that program? A. On two occasions I discussed with Himmler the entire Jewish extermination program. The first time it was approximately in the spring of 1943. At that time I had discovered, on my trips to Oranienburg, that the Jews whom I always used to meet when they came out of the Schering Works in the afternoon in large numbers, and who worked there as laborers, suddenly did not appear any more. The streets were empty. This attracted my attention so much that I pointed out this fact to Himmler during my next discussion, and I asked him why the Jews had been taken away from there and he told me, "Well, all the Jews from Berlin are now being sent to Theresienstadt." I considered this statement to be true at the time. I discussed this matter the second time with Himmler after the speech at Poznan. That was in October 1943. That was the first time, at Poznan. He told the SS Leaders that the Jews were to be exterminated. This was the first official notification which came to my knowledge. After this speech I talked to Obergruppenfuehrer Schmidt, von Herff, and other comrades, and we discussed the thing over the table. Their concepts of this speech and their opinions were not uniform at all. To the contrary, we were rather surprised about the way in which the Jewish question was now to be solved in such a brutal manner. For this reason, on the occasion of our next meeting, I again talked to Himmler about this, because I had been assigned the labor allocations. On that occasion I told him that I still considered it stupid now, at the time when all the labor was so valuable to us, that I considered it madness to exterminate these people now. He became very angry, then he pressed his lips together and told me, "Well, that is none of your business. You do not know anything about this, and furthermore, you are too soft." Then he went to the adjoining room. He left me standing there, and approximately after 5 minutes he returned, and then he dismissed me by saying, "I have nothing further for you." Besides this I had no discussion with him about that. Q. Your objection to the extermination program was that it was interfering with your labor supply? A. As I have already stated, I probably would have never even been able to talk to Himmler if I had started any other way. I was fundamentally opposed to the entire question, because the solution to the Jewish question, if it was necessary, in this form seemed to be most inappropriate. Q. But the only objection that you expressed to Himmler was that his program was killing off a lot of your valuable workers. A. With this argument I tried to bring about a discussion, and I have already stated there was no other argument with which I could have started an argument with him at all, but even this method failed. Q. You didn't try the argument that this was wholesale murder? A. I did not use this argument, which was clear to me, because this would have caused him much less to have started a discussion with me. I had to bring him into a situation which would throw him into a discussion, but even this method failed. Q. Did it occur to you that it was wholesale murder? A. Of course I considered this mass murder, and I still consider it that today. Q. But you went right back to the concentration camps and continued to administer them? A. These gas chambers were only at Auschwitz. I did not see any other extermination facilities at other camps. Q. Didn't you see the one at Dachau? A. No. I never saw it. Q. Have you never seen it? A. No. Not one at Dachau. I never saw it. * * * * * * * DIRECT EXAMINATION Dr. Seidl (counsel for defendant Pohl): I shall now proceed to the discussion of the documents which the prosecution introduced in evidence with regard to the question of the extermination of the Jews. In other words, I shall turn to those documents contained in document books 18 and 19. Witness, you joined the National Socialist Party very early, didn't you? What was your opinion concerning the Jewish question yourself to which the Party program takes up some position, and what is your opinion on the solution of this question? Defendant Pohl: When I joined the Party neither Jewish questions nor other racial questions moved me to join the Party, and as I have stated on the first day of my examination already, it was my interest in the social sphere of the life of the German laborers that moved me to join the Party. Apart from that, only defense questions played a part in that because I was a soldier. At the moment I joined the Party I did not deal with the Jewish question, nor did I deal with any other racial questions, and only after that I learned more facts about it through literature and other publications. With regard to the Jewish question, as I personally had no opportunity to gather experience of my own, I had no actual opinion on that. Therefore, I saw no necessity for the solution of the Jewish question from my own experience. That was the reason why I didn't deal with that question, neither politically nor propagandistically. Q. The prosecution introduced as Prosecution Exhibit 457 an excerpt from the sentence of the International Military Tribunal which deals with the persecution of the Jews, in document book 18, on page 1 in both the English and the German texts. This is document NO-2610, * and I ask you, Witness, when were you for the first time aware of Hitler's measures, the aim of which was the extermination of the Jews? A. Measures, having heard of measures? Well, after all we all went through those things in Germany. That is, the measures that were taken by the Reich Government, it was published in the press. Q. Witness, I have to interrupt you. Those are not the measures that were aimed at the extermination of the Jews, and what I want to know from you is when you first found out, or gained knowledge of the fact, or rather, the measures as they are contained in the judgment of the International Military Tribunal. A. The first official news I received of an extermination program of the Reich Government I had through Himmler's speech in Poznan early in October 1943. That was the first time when I offically heard about the extermination program. Q. And you reacted to this speech in the manner in which you already described yesterday, or the day before yesterday, to this Tribunal? A. Yes. Q. That is, by speaking with Himmler? A. Yes. At least I tried to speak with Himmler about it. * * * * * * * 1. Complete testimony is recorded in mimeographed transcript, 16, 19-23, 27-29 May; 2, 3 June; and 25 August 1947; pp. 1253-2040, 6759-6786. 2. The testimony immediately preceding this question is reported in the section on "Concentration Camp System," p. 348. The reference in the question is to Pohl's statement that conditions in concentration camps had deteriorated in the last phase of the war. * "Persecution of the Jews" appearing in the judgment of the International Military Tribunal is reproduced in this document. See Trial of Major War Criminals, vol. I, _op. cit. supra_, pp. 247-253.
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