The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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Last-Modified: 2000/11/05

LT.-COMMANDER HARRIS: May it please the Tribunal, we would
like to offer, merely as a supplement to our last exhibit, a
new document which has just come to our hands, which is
Document 4054-PS and becomes Exhibit USA 921. The only
significance of this document is that it shows that the SD
was running agents in Los Angeles, California, shortly
before the outbreak of war between the United States and

THE PRESIDENT: You have got a copy of this, Dr. Gawlik? Have
you got a copy of it?


THE PRESIDENT: Do you wish to re-examine?

DR. GAWLIK: I have no questions.

THE PRESIDENT: The witness can retire. And I think that
finishes your evidence, Dr. Gawlik - that is all of your
evidence, is it not? That is all of your evidence, is it
not? Wait a minute. You have no more witnesses, have you?

DR. GAWLIK: I have no more witnesses, Mr. President.

                                                  [Page 232]

THE PRESIDENT: In what order is it that the counsel for the
organizations wish to proceed now?

DR. KUBUSCHOK (counsel for the Reich Government): It is
prescribed that the witnesses for the Reich Government will
be examined now.


DR. KUBUSCHOK: I call the witness Dr. Franz Schlegelberger
to the stand.

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

THE WITNESS: Franz Schlegelberger.

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.)




Q. Witness, from what year on were you employed in the
Ministry of Justice?

A. To begin with, I was judge in courts of first and second
instances, and from 1918 I was first an assistant and then a
"Geheimrat" (privy councillor) in the ministry.

Q. When did you become State Secretary?

A. In 1931.

Q. At what time, after the death of the Reich Justice
Minister Guertner, did you carry on the affairs of the
Ministry of Justice?

A. From January, 1941, to August, 1942.

Q. Were you a member of the Party?

A. I was originally not a member of the Party and I never
requested admission into the Party. To my great surprise, on
the 30th of January, 1938, I received a letter from the
chief of the Fuehrer's Chancellery that the Fuehrer had
authorized my admission into the Party. Of course I could
not reject this letter, and I should like to call myself an
involuntary member of the Party.

Q. Were you in very close personal contact with Minister
Guertner, so that you were constantly kept informed by him
of all questions, not only of the Ministry of Justice but
also of all general Government questions?

A. Yes.

Q. Was Guertner already Minister of Justice in the Papen

A. Yes.

Q. Was Guertner previously Minister of justice in the
province of Bavaria?

A. Yes.

Q. Did the activity of the entire Government which met for
cabinet sessions in the first period of the Hitler Cabinet -
I mean the time up to the decree of the Enabling Act -
differ from previous practice?

A. No, the business was thoroughly discussed and conflicting
opinions were debated.

Q. Did this change after the Enabling Act was issued?

A. Yes. The March elections and the adoption of the Enabling
Act by the Reichstag had greatly strengthened Hitler's
position. At first Hitler was quite reserved, modest with
yon Hindenburg, or perhaps even embarrassed. Now he was
filled with the thought that he was the executor of the
popular will. Perhaps that can be explained by the fact that
Hitler had directed all his activities to winning over the
masses; that he now saw success; that he believed he had
judged the will of the people correctly; that he considered
himself the personification of the people's will; and that
he wanted to execute its authority.

                                                  [Page 233]

Q. Did the combining of the position of the Reich Chancellor
with that of the Reich President, in August, 1934 - in
addition to the general legal effects - have any influence
on the position and functions of the Cabinet?

A. Yes; I see in this law the last step in the concentration
of all power in the person of Hitler, and I therefore judge
this law as important, particularly because it was generally
approved by the decision of the people.

Q. Was this development also expressed in the law of the
16th of October, 1934, in regard to the oath of allegiance
for the ministers - was the duty of obedience towards the
Fuehrer and Reich Chancellor established for the ministers?

A. Yes, and this law meant that the ministers, like other
officials, were now bound by instructions.

Q. Did the ministers now have the possibility to resign on
their own wish?

A. No.

Q. Did later laws further reduce the activity of the

A. Yes. I am thinking of the law on the Four-Year Plan and
on the Ministerial Council for the Defence of the Reich.

Q. Were considerable parts of the governmental activity de-
centralised and assigned to special offices? I am thinking
of the appointment of Gauleiter, Reich Commissioners, Chiefs
of civil administration?

A. Yes; the Gauleiter were appointed "Reichsstatthalter"
(Reich Governors) and Reich Defence Commissioners. The
"General Plenipotentiary for Administration" was created,
and the "General Plenipotentiary for Economy and for Labour

Q. Through the law on the unity of the Party and State, of
theist of December, 1934 did co-operation between Party and
State agencies arise in practice, or how did conditions
develop in fact?

A. Whoever had believed in this co-operation was soon
severely disappointed. From the very beginning severe
contrasts were shown between the State offices and the Party
offices and I can say from my own experience that an
extraordinarily large part of the work became necessary
because State agencies had to overcome the influence of the
Party offices.

Q. For what purposes and under what conditions was the
Enabling Act submitted to the Reichstag in March, 1933?

A. The Enabling Act, which is called the "Law to relieve the
distress of People and Reich," was issued because the
cumbersome machinery of the Reichstag worked too slowly and
laws had to be created speedily. It had been expected that
only a temporary solution would be found with the Enabling
Act and for that reason it was limited to four years; later
it was repeatedly extended.

Q. For what reasons were special courts established and what
special circumstances were there in this procedure?

A. Special courts were already established during the
Bruning Cabinet in 1931, temporarily, and now they were
created again because in this way they wanted to deal
quickly with things which needed special expedition. This
could be achieved only with legal means eliminated, but in
order to avoid unjust procedure and unjust sentences, a
number of checks were established. (1) The resumption of
closed legal procedure in favour of the defendant was made
easier; (2) The plea of invalidity, to the Reich Court was
granted, which meant that the Reich Court could quash a
sentence and substitute another; (3) A special appeal to the
Reich Court was instituted by means of which a completely
new trial could be started. Finally, an official defence was

I may emphasize that the special courts and the legal
devices which I have mentioned were as much in favour of, as
against, the defendants, that these special courts were
regular judicial courts and not exceptional courts, and that
they were each conducted by three professional judges.

Q. What have you to say regarding the law of the 3rd of
July, 1934, by which the measures of Hitler, taken on the
30th of June, 1934, were legalised?

                                                  [Page 234]

A. According to Hitler's statement and according to the
wording of the law, this concerned exclusively the SA men
who, according to Hitler's statement, which was credible at
the time, had intended a revolt. To that extent, the law was
absolutely justifiable because revolt meant a state of
emergency in the sense of the term generally recognized in
Germany. It was different in the case of those victims of
the occurrence who were not among the members of the revolt.
Hitler stated moreover that it was to that extent that cases
should be prosecuted by law. A number of trials were started
that ended in severe sentences. In a number of cases,
however, Hitler used his legal right of veto. For example,
in the cases of Klaussner and Edgar Jung, and as a result of
the veto in these cases, a trial was no longer possible.

Q. Did you and the Reich Minister of Justice Guertner know
of the "Nuremberg laws" before the decision was made at the
Reich Party Rally?

A. No. I had already left the Reich Party Rally and learned
of these laws, on my journey, through the newspapers or
radio. The Reich Minister of Justice, Dr. Guertner, as I
know for certain from him, himself, was not informed
beforehand of the intention to issue these laws.

Q. What was the purpose of taking over the Department of
Justice by the Reich?

A. This was primarily in the general tendency of
centralisation but, in addition, the Reich Ministry of
Justice carried out this measure with the greatest energy.
The provincial ministries of justice everywhere had National
Socialist ministers and probably State Secretaries, and this
caused a number of embarrassing situations. The taking over
of the Department of Justice by the Reich had the effect
that now it came into the hands of a Minister of justice and
his State Secretary who were not National Socialists.

Q. What was the relationship between the Party agencies and
the Ministry of Justice?

A. As a result of the transfer of the Department of Justice
to the Reich, strong efforts were soon made by the Party to
exert influence on the Ministry of Justice first by way of
personal politics. The legal situation was such that
according to an order of the Fuehrer, the Party had to be
heard before a judge, or a high legal official. The Party
did not limit itself to commenting on the Ministry of
Justice's candidate, but vigorously put forward candidates
of its own. As soon as the Minister, and later I myself,
became convinced that the Party wanted to have an unsuitable
man in the position, we opposed him and we kept the position
open. Later it was filled by a different man who was more
suitable, at least in our opinion.

Repeatedly, we observed that in civil trials Party agencies
approached the judges and tried to persuade them that in the
public interest this or that decision was necessary. In
order to spare the judges this painful discussion, at the
suggestion of the Minister of Justice the law on the co-
operation of the State Prosecutor in civil cases was issued,
according to which the judge to whom such an announcement
was made could tell the Party agency: "Apply to the
prosecuting authority, it is competent to work for the
public interest."

I recall further a case in which the then Gauleiter Adolf
Wagner told me in Munich that he was going to appear
uninvited at a civil trial and make a speech in order to
convince the court that this Party member had Party rights
in a civil trial. On behalf of the Reich Minister of
Justice, I then visited the defendant Hess and asked him to
prevent the appearance of Gauleiter Wagner, and this wish
was granted.

Another means to influence justice was to criticise
sentences of judges that they did not like. This criticism
was made by the SS newspaper Schwarzes Korps.

THE PRESIDENT: Wait a minute. How does this evidence bear on
the Reich Cabinet?

                                                  [Page 235]

DR. KUBUSCHOK: The witness is particularly familiar with
conditions in the Ministry of Justice, from his own
activities. I am limiting myself to a few very significant
cases in which the situation in the Ministry is explained. I
have no more questions on this point and I believe the
witness is almost finished with his answer.


A. The Schwarzes Korps repeatedly promised to stop the
criticism, but did not keep their promises. The Ministry of
Justice utilised every opportunity in conferences with the
Presidents of the Provincial Appellate Courts and the
Provincial Prosecutors to tell them to point out to the
justices that they were independent and should reject every
attempt at intimidation and report all difficult cases to
the Minister.

Q. In cases of ill-treatment and excesses in concentration
camps which became known to you, did the Ministry of Justice
take steps to intervene?

A. According to my information the Minister of justice
intervened in cases of which he was aware. As early as 1933
he employed two lawyers in the Ministry of Justice for the
express purpose of investigating on the spot all cases which
were reported, and to follow them up with great energy.
Prosecution ensued and in many cases sentence was passed.
Since 1939 and the introduction of the special jurisdiction
of the SS, these matters were withdrawn from the competence
of the Ministry of Justice.

Q. What were the personal relations of the Ministers to

A. I believe one must make a distinction between Hitler's
relations to the Party Ministers and the non-Party
Ministers. If they did not belong to the Party, he was
distant; he did not trust them. Even with the Ministers who
were of the Party the relationship, as I saw it, varied
greatly. I believe, for example, that Ministers Rust and
Darre were not nearly as close to him as Goering and
Goebbels. But Party Ministers, too, Hitler did not always
trust. This is already indicated by the fact that, as far as
I know, there were even Party Ministers who for years were
not admitted to report personally to the Fuehrer.

Q. Was Hitler's circle of close confidants from ministries
comparatively small?

A. Yes, very small. To my knowledge it was limited to a few

Q. Did Hitler take measures to prevent co-operation of the
members of the Cabinet or even personal contact between

A. Hitler's point of view was that frequent meetings of the
Cabinet members were undesirable. From 1938 on he firmly
prevented all attempts to return to the form of Cabinet
meetings, even expressly prohibited unofficial meetings such
as a "beer evening."

Q. Did you and Minister of Justice Guertner, before the
outbreak of the war or before the beginning of any of the
later hostile actions, know anything about Hitler's plans?

A. No. I may remark that I had the intention in the late
summer of 1939 to take a cure in Marienbad. For that reason,
as the situation was tense, I asked the Minister of Justice
what he thought about it, and he said, " Go right ahead. I
consider it out of the question that there will be any
hostilities." Then I went to Marienbad, and returned only at
the beginning of September when the war broke out.

DR. KUBUSCHOK: I have finished the examination.

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