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_________.  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.



   *    *    *    *    *    *    *

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

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

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

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

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.

   *    *    *    *    *    *    *


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

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

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,

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.

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