The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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  3. Other possibilities, such as poisoning of food or
  drink, have been considered but have been discarded again
  as too unsafe.
  Provisions for the completion of the subsequent work in
  accordance with plans, such as report, post-mortem
  documentation, and burial, have been made.
  Convoy leader and drivers are to be supplied by the RSHA
  and will appear in army uniform and with pay-books
  delivered to them.
  Concerning the notice for the Press, contact has been
  established with Geheimrat Wagner of the Foreign Office.
  Wagner reports that the Reich Foreign Minister expects to
  speak with the Reichsfuehrer about this matter.
  In the opinion of the Reich Foreign Minister, this action
  must be co-ordinated in every respect.
  In the meantime, it has been learned that the name of the
  man in question has been mentioned in the course of
  various long-distance calls between Fuehrer Headquarters
  and the Chief of PW Matters; therefore, the Chief of PW
  Matters now proposes the use of another man with the same
  qualifications. I agree with this and propose that the
  choice be left to the Chief of Prisoners-of-War Matters."


Q. Now, by whom is this letter signed, Dr. Best?

A. At the foot there are the typewritten words: "Signed Dr.

Q. Signed Dr. Kaltenbrunner. Now, we will pass to the last
document, 4051-PS. This is a report on a telephone
conversation which carries us to 12th January, 1945, and it
says that - repeats that: "A French prisoner-of-war general
is going to die an unnatural death by being shot in flight,
or by poisoning. Subsequent matters, such as reports, post-
mortem examination, documentation and burial have been taken
care of as planned." It says that: "The Reich" Foreign
Minister's instruction states that 'the matter is to be
discussed with Ambassador Albrecht in order to determine
exactly what legal rights the protecting power could claim
in this matter in order to make our plans accordingly.'"

Now, who is Ambassador Albrecht?

A. He was the head of the juridical department in the
Foreign Office.

Q. Now, did you know, Dr. Best, that General Mesne, a
Frenchman, was killed on this road at about this time?

A. I knew nothing about this matter, for at that time I was
active in Denmark and heard nothing about matters of this

LT.-COMMANDER HARRIS: That concludes my cross-examination,
if the Tribunal please. However, I have two documents which
the French Delegation ask to be submitted. These are both
documents signed by or on behalf of this

                                                  [Page 161]

defendant, Dr. Best, and with your permission, sir, I will
offer them in evidence now as on behalf of the French

The first is Document F-967. This relates to the deporting
of Jews and Communists from France, and states that they
have to hold up these deportations for a while because of
lack of transportation.


Q. I ask you to identify your signature on that document if
you will, Dr. Best, please?

A. Yes.

LT. COMMANDER HARRIS: That will become Exhibit USA 916.

THE PRESIDENT: I did not hear the number.


The next is Document F-972, which is also a document
relating to the fight against Communists in France, and I
ask that the witness identify that as coming from him and
having been signed on his behalf.

A. Yes.

LT.-COMMANDER HARRIS: That becomes Exhibit USA 917.

If the Tribunal please, I am informed that we have just
discovered a new document which is of the utmost importance
but which has not yet been in any way processed, and we
would like the permission of the Tribunal to submit this
document later on in the course of the proceedings if and as
it is ready for submission.

THE PRESIDENT: Can it not be got ready today?

MR. DODD: Mr. President, I think it may be. It was just
handed to me in a hand-written translation. It was
discovered in the Document Centre in Berlin and I think it
is of such a nature that the Tribunal should know about it.
I will try to have it translated before the close of the
session today, but I think it is the kind of thing that
should not escape the attention of the Tribunal.

THE PRESIDENT: Yes. Well, perhaps you will make further
application when you have got the document ready.


THE PRESIDENT: Do you wish to re-examine?

DR. MERKEL: First of all, two brief questions relating to
the questions of the defence for the SD.



Q. Who was at the head of the Intelligence Service after
Canaris was dismissed?

A. I, as an outsider, learned that at that time the
Intelligence Service of the Wehrmacht, which in the past had
been led as a whole by Canaris, was divided up into various
offices of the Chief of the Security Police. The defensive
branch was turned over to Office 4, the so-called Gestapo
branch: a further part to Branch 6, Foreign Intelligence
Service; and then, finally, the office Mil was set up as
something new.

Q. Did Himmler head the entire Security Police, especially
after Heydrich's death?

A. Here also I can only state, as an outsider, that I
learned that Himmler, after Heydrich's death, took over the
leadership of the Security Police.

Q. One question relating to Denmark. What was the
organisational difference between the Gestapo in the Reich
itself and the Security Police units which were deployed
beyond the boundaries of the Reich?

                                                  [Page 162]

A. Within the Reich there were established State agencies of
the Gestapo having a scope of tasks laid down in laws,
decrees, orders and regulations. In the occupied areas there
were task forces composed of members of the Gestapo, the
Criminal Police, the SD, and numerous other auxiliaries,
whose scope of activities was not the same and was not
already delineated, but varied according to instructions of
the Centre Office, in, Berlin and partially according to the
directives received from Higher SS and Police Leaders, Reich
Commissioners, and so forth.

Q. For how long have you known the witness Naujocks?

A. I believe that I met him some time before I left my job
with the Security Police, but I saw him very seldom and had
no personal connections with him at all.

Q. Do you know that Naujocks, about six months before the
end, of the war, deserted to the Americans?

A. I was told about that here.

Q. The murders, as described by Naujocks, were they murders
by the Gestapo?

A. No. The Gestapo proper, that is the Executive Branch of
the Commander of the Security Police, did not carry out
these deeds. Rather, they were carried out by special forces
who were directly responsible to the Higher Police and SS

Q. Were the executions of Russian prisoners of war in German
concentration camps known generally to the public?

A. No. At any rate, I can say that despite my prominent
position it is only now, in the course of this trial, that I
have learned of these matters.

Q. Does, the recommendation of your book by the Reich
Minister of the Interior mean that the book received an
official character?

A. I do not believe so, for without doubt, in the same
office and in the same way numerous books were recommended,
books which in no way were published by a State agency or
published on behalf of that agency.

DR. MERKEL: Your Honour, I have no further questions.

DR. LATERNSER: Mr. President, I should like to clarify a
question which has arisen during the cross-examination.

THE PRESIDENT: Yes, Dr. Laternser.


Q. Witness, you were shown Document R-178. On Page 26 of
this document, in the centre of the page, you will find that
the Reich Commissioner for Defence in the defence areas
(Wehrkreis) agreed with the selection of the Russian
prisoners of war and their murder. Then the prosecutor asked
you just who this Reich Commissioner for Defence was at the
time and you said that you did not know. Now I should like
to ask you, who usually was the Commissioner for Reich
Defence. Was not that the Gauleiter?

A. Sometimes it was the Gauleiter and sometimes, if I
remember correctly, it was a senior official, Oberpresident
or someone of that kind - the ministers of the various

Q. The Commissioners for Reich Defence, therefore, were not
military officers, purely military agencies under the OKH,
is that right?

A. No. As far as I remember the construction at that time,
the answer is no.

DR. LATERNSER: Thank you very much. I have no further

THE PRESIDENT: The witness can retire.

DR. MERKEL: I have another witness, and perhaps, for the
sake of a continuous interrogation, it would be better to
have our recess now, your Honour.


(A recess was taken.)

                                                  [Page 163]

DR. MERKEL: With the permission of the Tribunal, I call the
witness Karl Heinz Hoffmann.

THE PRESIDENT: Will you state your full name, please?

THE WITNESS: Karl Heinz Hoffmann.

THE PRESIDENT: 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.



Q. When and how did you come to the Secret State Police?

A. After I passed the senior juridical State examination in
the year 1937, I applied to three administrative offices for
a job. The first offer of employment I received was from the
State Police, and I accepted it. After one year on trial at
the State Police office in Coblenz, I was appointed Deputy
of the Chief, and Government Political Adviser. A year
later, in 1939, I was transferred, in the same capacity, to
Dusseldorf. There I was appointed to the position of Reich
Defence Adviser to the Inspector. Then when the Security
Police were put to work in Holland I went there as a leading
administrative executive. In September, 1940, I was
transferred to the Reich Ministry of the Interior, Gestapo
office, and there I was put in charge of the Department for
Western European occupied territories. In September, 1943, I
was sent to the BDS, Denmark, in charge of Department IV.

Q. You say that you were with two State police offices. That
was Coblenz and Dusseldorf as Deputy Chief?

A. Yes.

Q. What was the relation of these Gestapo offices to the
internal administration?

A. The chief was political expert -

DR. MERKEL: Witness, between my question and your answer,
you have to make a short pause.

WITNESS: The chief was political expert to the
Regierungsprasident (President of the Government) and
Leitstelleniter (chief of the office) of the Oberpresident.
In towns and districts in which there were no branch offices
of the State Police, its lower levels were represented by
the Kreis - and the local police officials, and the
Gendarmerie. Approximately 80 per cent of all matters came
from these police offices.

Q. Could the NSDAP issue any directives to the State Police?

A. According to existing laws they could not. Only in places
where the Gauleiter held also the position of Oberpresident
or Reichsstatthalter (Governor) it was possible.

Q. How was it in practice? How did it work out?

A. In practice, the medium and lower offices tried to
interfere. But the police rejected that, and it occurred
mostly when Party members were involved in proceedings.

Q. Was it not the task of the Gestapo to further the
ideological aims of the Party?

A. No. The tasks of the State Police were purely counter-
intelligence against attacks directed against the State, and
that within the legal provisions and regulations.

Q. The basic tendency and work of the Gestapo, therefore,
was it aggressive or purely defensive?

                                                  [Page 164]

A. It was defensive and, not aggressive. That could be seen,
first of all, from the following fact: When, in 1944, the
duties of the counter-intelligence offices were transferred
to police and SD offices, the State Police received only the
purely counter-intelligence tasks, whereas active espionage
and sabotage were transferred to Amt Mil, or Amt VI
(Department VI).

Q. Did officials of the Gestapo generally have any special
advantages, for instance, owing to their having had an
opportunity to acquire articles which had been confiscated
by the Gestapo and put to auction?

A. It had been prohibited by a decree that officials of the
State Police could acquire articles which had been
confiscated and put to auction. In the same way, the
officials had no opportunity to participate in the
aryanization of business establishments in any way, and the
immediate acquisition of Jewish property was also prohibited
for them.

Q. You took part as a leading administrative official when
the Sipo entered Holland, dial you not? Was there any
special training of the employees for that purpose?

A. No. There had been no mobilization measures taken, such
as the procurement of interpreters or the increase of the
number of officials by any additional assistants. Also, the
regulations about pay and other economic regulations were
not clear and we were not prepared to cover such tasks.

Q. Did the Gestapo take part in a conspiracy the purpose of
which was the planning, preparing and waging of aggressive

A. I have to deny that. As adviser for defence to the
Inspector of Wehrkreis (district) VI who was the head of six
State Police offices, I had no previous knowledge of an
aggressive war being prepared. When Norway and Denmark were
occupied, I learned the news from the newspapers. As deputy
leader of the Gestapo office in Dusseldorf, I did not have
any previous knowledge of the date set for the offensive in
the West. The morning of that day I heard of it by radio and
the newspapers. When the campaign against Russia was
started, I was an expert in the Gestapo office. Several days
later, it may have been three or four days, we were informed
of the beginning of the offensive. Before that we had no
idea whatsoever about such plans, that is to say, not any
more than any German could have gathered from the political

Q. What was in principle the composition of the personnel of
a State Police office in Germany?

A. The Gestapo office at Coblenz, the personnel of which I
have reconstructed in my mind, consisted of about forty-five
to fifty agents in the criminal department who were mostly
taken from the Security Police and Criminal Police, or else
from the old I-A; and in addition, about fifteen to twenty
administrative and technical officials; apart from that,
clerks and assistants, bringing the estimated total for the
entire office to about one hundred persons.

Q. Was the employment of all these people on a voluntary
basis in general or not?

A. On the whole, they were employees who had entered the
police before 1933 and had been detailed or transferred to
the State Police. According to my recollection, there were
at the most 10 to 15 per cent of them who had entered the
organization voluntarily after 1933.

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