The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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Last-Modified: 2000/11/08

The first paragraph of this letter reads:

  "The latest application for production of evidence from
  the Public Prosecutor, Munich II, shows what far-fetched
  means are employed in order to saddle the concentration
  camp of Dachau with allegedly perpetrated crimes."

In the second paragraph of the letter regret is expressed
that the two dead men were able by their suicide to escape
impending punishment for smuggling letters. The third
paragraph refers to the confiscation and reads:

  "After the two corpses had been dissected, according to
  law, and had been released, the commandant's staff had no
  further interest in the preservation of the instruments
  with which they had hanged themselves. The commandant's
  staff are not among those objectionable Kulturmenschen
  (cultured people) who preserve such articles as
  souvenirs, as was done in America recently in the
  Dillinger case."

The letter is signed on behalf of the camp commandant by SS
Obersturmbannfuehrer Lippert.

Then there is a request by the Public Prosecutor for action.

In the next letter there is a reference to this letter from
the camp commandant of Dachau which shows that the request
of the Oberstaatsanwalt arose from the impartial observation
of his official duty, and then the file closes with this

  "Munich, 27th September, 1934, Public Prosecution. Letter
  from the Oberstaatsanwalt to the Generalstaatsanwalt at
  the Court of Appeals, Munich.
  Subject: Death of the prisoners in protective custody
  Wilhelm Franz and Dr. Katz in the concentration camp
  I have stopped the proceedings, as the investigations
  have not produced sufficient grounds for the assumption
  of outside guilt in the deaths of the two prisoners in
  protective custody."


Q. Well, now, witness, I have taken some time to read that
document. That is a characteristic illustration of the fact
that the SA and SS abominations in the camps were protected
by the highest authorities of the Third Reich, is that not

A. This document is from the year 1933, at a time when the
concentration camp Dachau was not manned exclusively by SS
men. The document indicates that the Prosecutor of the
District Court in Munich suspected that some persons in
protective custody had been murdered.

Q. Are you suggesting that conditions improved after the SS
men took complete charge of running of the camps?

A. This document contains individual cases of the year 1933.
But conclusions on the general conditions in concentration
camps, particularly in the following years, cannot be drawn
from the document.

                                                  [Page 362]

Q. Did you know that the Waffen SS was making quite a
profitable business out of killing people in concentration
camps? Did you know that?

A. No.

Q. I want you to look at the Document D-960, which will be
Exhibit GB 568. It is a very short document. It is headed:

  "Waffen SS, Natzweiler Concentration Camp, Commandant's
  Office - 24th March, 1943, Concentration Camp Natzweiler.
  Bill to the Security Police and SD Strassburg.
  For the twenty prisoners executed and cremated in this
  concentration camp, costs amounting to 127 Reichsmark, 5
  pfennige arose. The commandant's office of the Natzweiler
  Concentration Camp requests the early dispatch of the
  above-mentioned sum."

The tariff for killing was very low in Natzweiler, was it
not, six marks 38 pfennige for each dead man? Did you know
that money was paid to the funds of SS for activities of
that kind?

A. No. And as I understand it, this document does not show
that at all. The concentration camp commandant here uses the
stamp "Waffen SS," but in this connection I must refer to
what I said yesterday, that the term "Waffen SS" is
misleading in so far as the concentration camp system was an
independent institution of the police. This document seems
to support my statement, since it shows that this horrible
bill here was sent to the Security Police, that is, again to
an executive organ. The Waffen SS -

Q. Just a moment. Assuming that the Security Police paid
this bill, where would the money have gone to? It would have
gone back to Natzweiler. What would have happened to it?
Would it have been credited to the funds of the, Waffen SS
or not?

A. The commandant's offices of the concentration camps,
including Natzweiler, settled their bills with the Reich and
not with the Waffen SS. I cannot say how this money was used
and for what purposes it was spent, because

Q. Do you know - you have no knowledge of the financial
arrangements of these camps with the Waffen SS, have you? If
you have not, that suffices me for the moment.

A. No, no, from my activity in the head office "SS Courts" I
know a little also about the economic control of the
concentration camps, and as to this point, I know that the
commandants' offices of concentration camps settled their
accounts directly with the agencies of the German Reich and
had no connection at all with other treasuries or agencies
of the Waffen SS as such.

Q. As you please. Now you said in your testimony that the
guards in concentration camps had not committed crimes, that
whoever else was responsible, Pohl and one or two others,
certainly it was not the SS guards. Were you serious when
you said that, witness?

A. In order to avoid misunderstanding, I should like to make
it clear here that when I spoke of guards I meant only those
persons who guarded a concentration camp from the outside,
in contrast to those members of the concentration camp
guards who were employed inside the camp and on the
commandant's staff and who, guarded the internal
installations of the camp.

Q. But - but both those categories of guards were SS men,
were they not?

A. As I have already said, they belonged to the so-called
nominal Waffen SS without having anything to do with its

Q. Well, I shall - I shall return to that point in a moment.

First of all, I want you to look at Document D-924, which
will give you a picture of the -  humanity and ethical
attitude of SS guards. I am using a phrase which you used
yourself regarding the SS. That is Exhibit GB 570, my Lord.
It is a report, this time from a Dutch source, of the
evacuation of the Rehmsdorff camp to Theresienstadt.

                                                  [Page 363]

The first page is a statement by Peter Langhorst, who says:

  "I am an ex-political prisoner and I have been detained
  in various prisons and concentration camps, finally in
  the Rehmsdorff camp.
  At the approach of the Allied armies, this camp was
  evacuated and the prisoners, about 2,900 men, were
  transported from Rehmsdorff to Theresienstadt.
  Most of these prisoners were Czechs, Poles, Russians, and
  Hungarian Jews. There were only a few Dutchmen among
  Of these prisoners, only some 500 men actually reached
  Theresienstadt; the others were simply killed off during
  the transport by the so-called 'shot in the neck.'
  The corpses were thrown into mass graves which were
  filled up afterwards."

Then - I need not trouble you with the rest of the
statement, but you see a further statement with regard to
that matter by Baron von Lamsweered of Amsterdam, who was on
this transport, who says at the end of the second paragraph:

  "On the 12th of November, 1944, I was imprisoned in the
  concentration camp Rehmsdorff, where I stayed until my
  escape on 20th April, 1945. At the approach of the Allied
  forces, the camp at Rehmsdorff was evacuated in great
  haste and the political prisoners of this camp were
  transported to the camp Theresienstadt.
  At first the prisoners were transported by train in goods
  vans. We arrived by train at Marienbad, where, for causes
  I do not know, we had a delay of about one week. The vans
  with the prisoners were kept standing at the station. In
  the course of that week, Allied bombers attacked the
  Marienbad station and in the confusion some 1,000
  prisoners escaped into the surrounding woods. Naturally
  the entire local service (the SS, Volkssturm, and
  Hitlerjugend) was set to work to recapture the escaped
  prisoners, and practically all prisoners, who of course
  wore their camp clothes and could easily be recognized,
  were recaptured. These prisoners, about a thousand men,
  were led back in groups to Marienbad station and there
  they were killed by the SS guards by a shot in the neck.
  As both engines of the train had been wrecked during the
  air attack, the prisoners had to walk all the way from
  Marienbad to Theresienstadt. Many among them were unable
  to go so far, and fell down along the road, totally
  exhausted; without exception, these prisoners were
  murdered by the guards by a shot in the neck. That
  evening their bodies were removed by lorry and buried in
  mass graves in the woods."

And he says he thinks that he could point out where it was.

  "I am fully prepared to assist in tracing them. When the
  transport started, I heard the SS guards saying that the
  total number of prisoners amounted to 2,775. Only some of
  these prisoners have reached Theresienstadt. The others
  were murdered during the transport. Near Lobositz, about
  seven kilometres from Theresienstadt, I myself escaped.
  The leader of the transport was the SS Oberscharfuehrer
  Schmidt, one of the henchmen of Buchenwald, who also
  there behaved in a most scandalous way towards the
  prisoners, and who was known to be a sadist."

Do you still say that the SS guards portrayed the
characteristics of decency?

A. I should like to emphasize that I did not say that the SS
guards had the characteristics of SS members. I said that
our investigations showed that the actual crimes in the
concentration camps were committed by members of the
commandanturen and that we found no evidence that the guards
had any part in them and -

Q. Then let me show you - let me show you another document,
the Document D-959, it will be Exhibit GB 571, which is a
report to the Ministry of the Interior of the Czechoslovak
Republic. I want you to turn to Page 3 of the

                                                  [Page 364]

report: "Crimes committed by the members of the Allgemeine
SS and the Waffen  SS."

The crimes committed by the members of the SS troops against
the Czechoslovak and foreign citizens on the territory of
the Czechoslovak Republic -

THE PRESIDENT: Mr. Elwyn Jones, is it not rather late to put
in documents of this sort which are general reports by the
governments of Allied countries? The case has been already
fully made by the prosecution and to put in a new document
of this sort, which is only a report of an Allied country,
seems to the Tribunal to be an unusual course to take.

MR. ELWYN JONES: With great respect, my Lord, I submit that
the prosecution is entitled to put in documents of this kind
in rebuttal of the sort of testimony that this witness is
giving. The conception that a witness should solemnly say
that SS guards committed no atrocities was one which
certainly did not occur ever to the prosecution, and in face
of testimony of that kind I submit that the prosecution is
well entitled to put in documents which do not deal with
individual cases, as might possibly be objectionable to the
Tribunal, but with the whole mass of testimony. I submit
that until the very last moment the prosecution is entitled
to put in such documents, regrettable though it is, perhaps,
that they have not been put in before, but I do submit that
the prosecution is entitled to put them in. If your Lordship
pleases, if I might add a further comment to your Lordship's
inquiry: the defence have, after all, produced over a
hundred thousand affidavits and I do submit that in these
circumstances, in view of that mountain of evidence, it is
only right that there should rest upon the record the
authority of statements submitted on behalf of the

THE PRESIDENT: What is your submission, with reference to
the construction of Article 21, concerning this document?

MR. ELWYN JONES: If your Lordship pleases, I submit that the
terms of Article 21 make it mandatory upon the Tribunal to
accept reports of this kind by governments, which are
submitted by the prosecution.

THE PRESIDENT: Which are the special words to which you

MR. ELWYN JONES: The Tribunal - The second sentence, "The
Tribunal shall also take judicial notice of official
governmental documents and reports of United Nations,
including the acts and documents of the committees set up in
the various Allied countries for the investigation of war
crimes and the records and findings of military or other
Tribunals of any of the United Nations." Now this document,
my Lord, is - it has a certificate from the Czechoslovak
Minister of the Interior on the face of it, certifying that
it is a State Document, within the meaning of Article 21,
and it bears the signature of the Minister of the Interior
himself, so that I submit that quite clearly within the
terms of Article 21 it is properly admissible and that the
Tribunal should accept it.

THE PRESIDENT: Was there any committee or commission which
drew up this document?

MR. ELWYN JONES: It is a report of the Czechoslovak Ministry
of the Interior itself; it is a report of the State

THE PRESIDENT: Report to whom?

MR. ELWYN JONES: Furthermore, my Lord, my learned friend,
Mr. Griffith-Jones, draws my attention to Article 19 of the

  "The Tribunal shall not be bound by technical rules of
  evidence. It shall, adopt and apply to the greatest
  possible extent expeditious and non-technical procedure
  and shall admit any evidence that it deems to have
  probative value."

I do submit that even if you were to find, and I find it
hard to think that you would, that this is not a document
within the meaning of Article 21, it is admissible under
Article 19.

                                                  [Page 365]

THE PRESIDENT: Yes. Now, do you want to say anything, Dr.

DR. PELCKMANN: I believe, your Lordship, the decision of the
Tribunal on this document should be the same as that on the
two documents which we attempted in vain to introduce
yesterday. Whether this document falls under Article 21, I
cannot judge; the Tribunal will decide that. But I refer to
the other point of view which your Lordship has already
mentioned. It is very late to submit these documents now.
Article 21 must be interpreted to mean only that such
documents can be submitted during the presentation of the
case of the prosecution. The prosecution's case is now
closed and documents can only he introduced by submitting
them to a witness; but since there may be hundreds, perhaps
thousands of these cases, the defence must be given an
opportunity to comment on them. It is not a question of
testing the credibility of the witness, but it is actually a
question of new evidence being presented by the prosecution
and the defence must have an opportunity of answering it. I
do not believe that this is the intention of Article 21,
otherwise the trial would be extended indefinitely.

THE PRESIDENT: The Tribunal will adjourn and we will sit
again at two o'clock.

(A recess was taken until 1400 hours.)

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