The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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Last-Modified: 2000/11/08

DR. PELCKMANN: Is it agreeable to you, Mr. President, if I
do not call the next witness until two o'clock?

THE PRESIDENT: No, call the witness.

DR. PELCKMANN: I should like to call the witness Brill.

ROBERT BRILL, called as a witness, testified as follows:


Q. Will you state your full name, please?

A. Robert Brill.

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.



Q. Witness, what activity did you carry out which put you in
a position to testify here about the affairs of the SS?

A. For twelve years I was with the Waffen SS. In 1933 I
started my service as a private in the Leibstandarte. I was
made an officer and then for four years, with interruptions
due to my service at the front, I was in the Erganzungs Amt
(Training Centre) of the Waffen SS. At the end of the war I
was orderly officer in an SS Panzer Division.

Q. What does that mean, "Erganzungs Amt" of the Waffen SS?

A. The Erganzungs Amt of the Waffen SS concerned itself with
the enrolment and examination of recruits for the Waffen SS
as well as with the military supervision of the members of
the Waffen SS. I was the head of a main department in the
Erganzungs Amt and, as such, I dealt with the calling up and
military supervision. However, I had sufficient insight into
other departments of the Waffen SS so that I can testify
here before this Tribunal.

Q. Is it correct to say that you could watch the development
as far as figures are concerned in the Waffen SS?

A. Yes.

Q. And now tell the Tribunal as exactly as possible, and pay
special attention to the question, were they volunteers or
were they drafted into the Waffen SS?

A. The Waffen SS originated from the SS Verfugungstruppe
(Emergency Troops). The Leibstandarte was made up of several
hundred men. This had been set up in 1933 as a guard and
representative group for the Reich Chancellery.

                                                  [Page 282]

Owing to the expansion of these representative tasks and
guard duties, the Verfugungstruppe in the years 1934 to 1939
was made up of volunteers from all the levels of the German
population. At the beginning of the war the Verfugungstruppe
had about 18,000 men. Service in the Verfugungstruppe was
military service. In addition to that, there was in
existence on the 1st September, 1939, the Death's Head Unit
which hid about 8,000 men. To these two units were added
about another 36,000 men between the autumn of 1939 and the
spring of 1940. These men had been drafted as an additional
force for the police as a result of emergency service
measures. These 36,000 men together with the
Verfugungstruppe and the Death's Head Units made up the
Waffen SS.

A directive of the High Command of the Wehrmacht in the
spring of 1940, which appeared later in December, 1940, as
an army service regulation, dealt with the military
supervision, composition and recruiting of the Waffen SS. By
the beginning of 1940 we had 100,000 men in the Waffen SS.
There were 36,000 who had been drafted and 64,000

THE PRESIDENT: We will recess now.

(A recess was taken until 1400 hours.)



BY DR. PELCKMANN (for the SS):

Witness, you had just said that at the beginning of 1940 the
Waffen SS had 100,000 men, 64,000 volunteers and 36,000
draftees. Will you continue about the development?

A. In the same year, 1940, we had 50,000 more recruits for
the Waffen SS; 2,000 to 3,000 were drafted and the others
were volunteers. In 1941 we received 70,000 men, 3,000
drafted, the rest volunteers. In 1942, 30,000 men were

THE PRESIDENT: Would it not be quicker and just as accurate
to take all these figures as they have been given before the
Commission? Presumably they are all in writing in the
evidence given before the Commission. It is not necessary to
repeat a series of figures of this sort for us. You could
pass on to something which would be less statistical.

DR. PELCKMANN: Very well.

Q. From the comparative figures of the draftees and the
volunteers, one could say on the basis of your testimony
that 40 to 50 per cent of those called to the Waffen SS were
drafted forcibly. In your opinion, was this percentage the
same at the end of the war?

A. No, by no means. At the end of the war we had about
550,000 men in the Waffen SS. Up to October, 1944, there
were 320,000 known casualties including dead, missing, and
seriously wounded. Considering that the majority of the dead
were our volunteers - I know this from carefully compiled
reports on casualties - it results from this that at the end
of the war there were more draftees in the Waffen SS than

Q. The Tribunal will be interested in knowing where you have
received such accurate knowledge.

A. For four years I worked on this material. I prepared
statistics and made reports so that I have retained these
figures in mind very accurately. In my office in Berlin I
handled card indexes, etc. They were there when I left in
January, 1945.

Q. Particularly for the years 1943 and 1944 have you made it
clear how many men were drafted into the Waffen SS.
Statistics for the earlier years, 1940, 1941 and 1942, have
not been compiled by the Commissions. Perhaps you could give
us examples of how non-volunteers were taken into the Waffen
SS at such an early period.

                                                  [Page 283]

A. Yes. I have already mentioned the 36,000 men who were
drafted by emergency decrees. In addition, in 1940 we
drafted men from the police to set up our Field Gendarmerie.
We drafted men from the Reichspost to secure our Army mail.
We drafted the civilian employees of the SS-Verfugungstruppe
(Emergency Troops) in 1941. We frequently drafted personnel
for our cavalry units from the army. I recall further that
about 800 army men were drafted into the Waffen SS in the
summer of 1941. Doctors and technicians also were drafted in
1940 and 1941 - in addition, resettled persons who had
become subject to military duty. Yes, even with the
resettlement details (Umsiedlungskommandos) we drafted men
who did not report voluntarily. In 1942 we deviated
considerably from the volunteer basis. About 15,000 racial
Germans were drafted into our division "Prinz Eugen," about
10,000 men were drafted from the police and the army for the
police division, and 2,000 men of the Reichspost who were
with the army as so-called front auxiliaries were drafted
into the Waffen SS. They were civilian post-office employees
with the army.

Q. Can you recall the transfer, on Hitler's order, of whole
formations of the Luftwaffe?

A. Yes, that was particularly in 1944. Also in 1943 units of
the Luftwaffe were taken over. I recall, for example, an
agreement of Reichsmarschall Goering with our commander,
Sepp Dietrich, of March, 1943, when 3,000 men of the
Luftwaffe were transferred. In 1944 many men were
transferred from the army as well.

Q. And now, to go back to the volunteers, can you tell us
anything about the motives for volunteering?

A. Yes. In my office I saw thousands of requests for
admission. I can say that up to 1939 the enthusiasm for the
SS, for its decent and proper conduct, was the main reason
for volunteering, but in addition there were many volunteers
for professional reasons.

Q. And how was it after the beginning of the war?

A. After the beginning of the war, the main reason for
volunteering was that the men wanted to do their military
service in a clean, modern, elite formation. Professional
reasons also played a part in volunteering. Very few came to
the Waffen SS for political reasons after the beginning of
the war: I also know that part of the volunteers were
recruited by over-enthusiastic recruiters from the Hitler
Youth or the Reich Labour Service. Formally they were
volunteers but actually they were under a certain moral
pressure. I know this from the letters of complaint which
reached the Erganzungsamt.

Q. Letters from whom?

A. Letters from the parents of these men.

How old were these boys?

They were mostly seventeen. They had volunteered, but their
parents did not want them to; influenced by recruiting
speeches they had reported against their parents' wishes.

Q. Could a volunteer have recalled his application? Could he
have left the Waffen SS? Could he have left, say, because he
learned of some crimes, such as are alleged by the

A. No, that would not have been possible. If the man once
volunteered, there was no way out. Since he was drafted with
an order from the Wehrmacht and to avoid punishment he had
to report; once he had reported to the troops he was under
military law and could not leave the Waffen SS.

Q. Did you receive complaints in this connection? Were there
complaints that these volunteers were used for any sorts of

A. Yes, we did receive complaints, but they were primarily
complaints from draftees who thought that the Waffen SS was
given especially arduous duties and had exceptionally heavy
casualties. For this reason, they wanted to go home again.
It also happened that parents were afraid for their boys and
also sent letters to us

                                                  [Page 284]

complaining that, the boys were drafted at seventeen on the
basis of a Fuehrer order, without the approval of their
parents, and asking that they should come back. We paid no
attention to these complaints.

Q. As a Member of the Erganzungsamt no doubt you know
something about the process of selection for the Waffen SS;
for example, whether purely political reasons were primary
for the acceptance of a volunteer or of a draftee.

A. I took part in inspections in the Leibstandarte and later
directed them myself. I can say that we were interested only
in healthy young men. We did not ask whether a man's father
had a Communistic attitude or whether he and his parents
were deeply religious. We were interested only in young men
of firm character. We accepted a young man who had not been
in the SA or the General SS much more readily into the
Waffen SS than an older Party member who had a physical
disability. We wanted young, clean soldiers. Of course
later, in the case of those who were drafted and
transferred, the selection was no longer so strict.

Q. For these inspections, did you have any secret
instructions concerning the selection?

A. No. Our inductions always took place in public places. I
remember that even before the war we held public inductions
for the Waffen SS in Danzig, which was still under Polish
authority. The manner of making our selections was not kept
secret either. Anyone could see it in the recruiting
pamphlets, which were published by the million.

Q. Did members of foreign countries serve in the Waffen SS
besides Reich German soldiers?

A. Yes. Our good racial Germans should be especially
mentioned. They formed the majority of these alien soldiers.
The Reich had reached agreements and State treaties with the
countries that these people were to do their military
service in the Waffen SS. From the Germanic countries we
took almost exclusively volunteers for our "Wiking" division
and for the other Germanic units.

In 1943 - and still more in 1944 - we also set up alien
units. Most of these people were volunteers, but many of
them were drafted on the basis of the laws of their own
countries. Among them, people of completely different
racial, religious, and psychological backgrounds came into
the ranks of the Waffen SS, and they were allowed to retain
their own characteristics.

Q. Please give a brief survey of how great the number of
such foreigners was, since it is important for the
accusation that supposedly a unified ideological unit had
been set up here.

A. I can give this set-up from the end of 1933 to the end of

Q. You mean 1944, do you not?

A. Certainly, 1944. I beg your pardon. Up to the end of 1944
we had drafted 410,000 Reich Germans, 300,000 racial
Germans, 150,000 foreigners, and about 50,000 Germanic
soldiers in the Waffen SS.

Q. I add a question of the President to the previous
witness, von Eberstein. You surely know the relationship of
the General SS to the inductions into the Waffen SS. For
example, was a Fuehrer of the General SS taken into the
Waffen SS while keeping the same rank?

A. One cannot speak of a transfer in a military sense. The
General SS was a voluntary organization. The Waffen SS was
considered a component part of the Wehrmacht. Up to 1942 a
member of the General SS, if he felt drawn to the Waffen SS,
first had to volunteer. Only after 1942 could we take the
men without their volunteering and this only on account of
the difficulty in getting replacements. I would emphasize
that it was quite possible for a man of the General SS to
have volunteered prior to 1942 and to have been rejected
because of physical disability. After 1942, of course, we no
longer rejected members of the General SS, but it was also
quite possible that a member of the General SS could do his
military service in other sections of the Wehrmacht, and I
estimate that the majority of the General SS was taken into
the Wehrmacht at the beginning

                                                  [Page 285]

of the war. A Fuehrer of the General SS, unless he already
had military rank in the Wehrmacht, was taken into the
Waffen SS as a common soldier. On the other hand, officers
of the Wehrmacht were taken into the Waffen SS with
equivalent rank.

Q. Then would you conclude, witness, that activity in the
General SS was in no way evaluated as pre-military training,
because a member of the General SS had to do military
service in the Waffen SS or the Wehrmacht from the beginning
just as a non-member did?

A. Yes, of course. That is the case.

Q. Is it true that in Germany the Waffen SS was considered
as the fourth branch of the Wehrmacht and not, as the
prosecution says, a Nazi troop?

A. Yes. That can be emphasized. Regarding my sphere that can
certainly be said. Only the selection was carried out
according to SS directives, while acceptance for the Waffen
SS depended on the approval of the Wehrbezirkskommando.
Induction into the Waffen SS took place with the induction
order of the Wehrmacht. The volunteer contingents of the
Waffen SS were prescribed by the High Command of the
Wehrmacht, and forcible inductions always followed on the
basis of the orders of the High Command of the Wehrmacht.
One can also say that we had no connection whatever with the
Party, for the Party gave us no orders.

The few Party members who were in the Waffen SS paid no
Party dues for the period of their service. They did not
receive awards of the Party. The whole replacement and
supervision of the Waffen SS was effected according to
regulations of the High Command of the army, as specified in
the Army Service Regulation 8115. Since service in the
Waffen SS and in the army were practically on the same
footing we finally carried out in the autumn of 1944 the
long-sought merger of the SS replacement offices with the
army recruiting offices.

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