The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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Last-Modified: 2000/11/08


Q. Witness, I shall once again have the document shown to

(Witness was handed document.)

Was the SD responsible for dealing with this letter?

A. That question must be answered with no. It is apparent
from its heading that the letter is addressed to the
Security Police and SD at Strasbourg. As to the SD, that is
a misleading description, as it is merely a usual form of
speech which has no connection with the organization of the
SD, and it results from the chief of the RSHA calling
himself "Chief of Security Police and the SD."

DR. GAWLIK: I have no further questions.


Q. Witness, I want to ask you a few questions about the
investigation of the camps. You said your investigation
began in 1943. What time in the year 1943 did your
investigation begin of the concentration camps?

                                                  [Page 374]

A. Your Lordship, that was during the second half of 1943,
as far as I can recollect, either in June or July.

Q. It lasted for a little under two years until the end of
the war, I suppose.

A. Yes.

Q. How many camps did you investigate?

A. It began in Buchenwald camp and thereafter investigating
commissions were sent to every camp which had attracted

Q. Witness, listen very carefully and answer the questions.
All I asked you was how many camps did you investigate?

A. The total investigations were carried out in seven to ten
camps, but I cannot give you the exact figure at the moment.
It varied from one time to another.

Q. You mean seven to ten in all, altogether seven to ten?

A. Yes, that is what I meant.

Q. Did that include labour training camps also?

A. By the seven to ten camps I mean the "Stammlager" (parent
camps), that is the concentration camps themselves, and from
there the investigation spread from the parent camp where
the commission was stationed to the labour camp.

Q. And that included Auschwitz and Dachau?

A. In both these concentration camps there were
investigation commissions.

Q. And Treblinka?

A. Not in Treblinka, your Lordship.

Q. Did you investigate any camps outside Germany?

A. Yes, for instance, we had a commission in the
concentration camp of Herzogenbosch in Holland and there
proceedings were instituted against a camp commandant, which
ended in a long term of imprisonment.

Q. How many investigators were you using at any one time?

A. The total of investigating officials may have varied from
thirty to fifty people, the majority of whom were not taken
from the legal system but were experts from the RSHA and
from the Criminal Police Department.

Q. Now, how many cases did you recommend for court action?

A. Proceedings which ended with a sentence amounted to two
hundred up to the end of the war, that is to say, two
hundred sentences were passed which were actually carried

Q. Again I did not ask you that, witness; I said, how many
cases did you recommend for action. You made
recommendations, did you not?

A. Altogether 800 cases, 800 proceedings were brought about
through the investigations.

Q. Where did you send your reports? Did you send them
directly to the Courts?

A. When the investigation was completed and when the case
was ready for prosecution, the reports from the
investigating commissions went, together with the judge's
order to prosecute, to the Court itself, which would then
hold the actual trial and pronounce sentence.

Q. And where did copies of the reports go? Did a copy go to
the Minister of the Interior?

A. No, that I consider out of the question.

Q. You mean the Minister of the Interior was not concerned
with any of this?

A. We are here concerned with criminal proceedings against
members of the SS which, therefore, came under the penal
jurisdiction of the SS and, as far as that is concerned, the
Ministry of the Interior was not involved.

Q. You mean you were only investigating cases that involved
the SS?

A. All cases were investigated which concerned the camps and
these cases referred to SS members and also police members,
that is to say, members of the Security Police, and they,
for the purpose of being tried, were brought before the

                                                  [Page 375]

Q. Well, now, you have not told us what conditions you found
in the camps. You said they were very bad. What were they;
what was going on in the camps?

A. We discovered through our investigations that in the
camps there was to some extent a regular system of killing.

Q. And as a result of discovering that there was a regular
system of killing, you thought there must be an order to
that effect, although you never found it, is that right?

A. Yes, your Lordship. The fact that an order from above was
in existence became known to us at the end of 1944.

Q. Now, why did you think that there was a regular system of
killing? Was it because there were so many killings?

A. For the reason that there were so many cases, and also
because it was possible to detect a system of co-operation
of the concentration camp commandants.

Q. That is right. And how many of those seven to ten camps,
how many commandants were involved in these killings?

A. In practice the situation was such that practically every
commandant was brought under investigation, and criminal
proceedings were taken against a total of five commandants.

Q. Five, five out of how many?

A. Altogether there were twelve commandants of concentration
camps because there were twelve large concentration camps,
the so-called "Stamm" (parent) concentration camps.

Q. So out of twelve investigated you started proceedings
against five, is that right?

A. Yes, that is so.

Q. Now, you said you thought that the killings must be on a
large scale. Did you find any evidence of any of the gas
chambers which added to your belief that it might be a large-
scale operation? You found some evidence of gas chambers?

A. The first case in which a gas chamber appeared was the
case of Auschwitz. That is the case, your Lordship, that I
have just mentioned here, with reference to the detainee
Eleanora Hodis.

Q. When was it that you got a report that a gas chamber was
being used in Auschwitz? When?

A. That was at the end of October or the beginning of
November, 1944.

Q. Did you get figures of the numbers of persons who had
died in these concentration camps? Did you find out how many
persons had died in the different camps? Did you get

A. No, your Lordship, about that we received no information.
We had to collect and look for all the material ourselves,
but we had no survey.


Q. Can you remember the names of the five whom you
prosecuted, the five commandants?

A. They were the commandant of Buchenwald, Koch; the
commandant at Lublin, whose name I cannot remember at the
moment, and the commandant of the Herzogenbosch camp, whose
name I have just remembered, a certain Gruenwald.

Further investigations were carried out against the
commandant of Oranienburg, Loritz, and also against Keindel,
the later commandant. The proceedings against him were
discontinued, however, because proof was furnished that at
the tune when Keindel was camp commandant no killings had

Q. Did you prosecute Hoess? H-o-e-s-s?

A. At the end of 1944 we started proceedings against Hoess,
based on the testimony of the detainee in protective custody
who has just been mentioned.

Q. What crime did you charge Hoess with?

                                                  [Page 376]

A. May I please make this matter clear? Proceedings against
Hoess had not advanced sufficiently to serve an indictment
against him. It was still in the process of preliminary
investigation. Material had to be collected first.

Well, you must have arrived at some decision about Hoess,
surely. You must have known what crimes you were
investigating. What were the crimes you were investigating
against Hoess?

A. In the case of Hoess the crime of murder of unknown
persons and unknown  numbers of persons detained in the
concentration camp at Auschwitz.

Q. Did you say that you never heard of the facts which were
stated in Document EC-168, the document in which Himmler
said that the number of deaths in the concentration camps
must be reduced?

A. I had never seen that document before. The first time
that I saw it was when it was submitted by defence counsel
here, but in the course of investigations, my judges had
confirmed to me that instructions of that type had passed
through the camps and were actually observed.

Q. The document, you remember, said that out of 136,000
persons in concentration camps, 70,000 had died.

A. I do not know at the moment which document you are
referring to.

Q. EC-168 is the document, and I wanted to know whether in
the course of your investigations you found, you ascertained
those facts, namely that 70,000 out of 136,000 had died?

A. No, such facts were not ascertained.

DR. PELCKMANN: I have no question, your Lordship, but I
should like to be permitted to make a suggestion.

This witness until the end of the war was only the deputy
chief of the head office of the SS judicial department. The
chief was a certain Herr Breithaupt who has since died. In
the first place, the heads of the commissions reported to
this departmental chief, and the SS judges who carried out
the investigations in the camps are still alive, and the
answer to all these questions which your Lordship and Mr.
Biddle have put can be given in detail by the witness

If I may be permitted another suggestion -

THE PRESIDENT: But you have got some more witnesses to call,
have you not? You have some more witnesses to call, have you

DR. PELCKMANN: During the entire trial I have attempted to
make the witness Hinderfeld as superfluous as possible. I
have succeeded in putting the questions intended for witness
Hinderfeld to the other witnesses I have called. If the
Tribunal -

THE PRESIDENT: Well, Dr. Pelckmann. I do not understand what
the object
of this speech is.

The witness has been examined, cross-examined and re-
examined, and examined, by the Tribunal. Now he can retire
and you can go on with your case.

DR. PELCKMANN: He can retire?

THE PRESIDENT: Yes, the witness can retire and the Tribunal
will adjourn.

(A recess was taken.)

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Pelckmann, I am told that I may have
misunderstood what you were saying to me just before the
Tribunal adjourned and that you were; asking whether you
might be allowed to call some other witness in place of one
of the witnesses you had already applied for. Is that so?


THE PRESIDENT: Well, whom is it you want to call?

                                                  [Page 377]

DR. PELCKMANN: Since I know the wish of the Tribunal to
shorten the proceedings, I had endeavoured to ask the other
witnesses the questions which I had intended for the fifth
witness. I believe I succeeded in this, but from the
interest that the Tribunal took in the question of the
investigation of concentration camps, I saw that it might be
very expedient, and I must say that it would be in the
interest of the defence, if the judge, Dr. Morgen, mentioned
by the witness Reinecke, might be examined briefly on these
matters. I would be in a position to examine this witness
immediately, and would no longer require the witness
Hinderfeld, who was to be examined.

THE PRESIDENT: You want to examine Dr. Morgen and to give up
one of the other witnesses, is that right?


THE PRESIDENT: Yes. Very well, the Tribunal - he has been
called before the Commission, I suppose, has he not?

DR. PELCKMANN: No, your Lordship. There are affidavits from
him. May I explain briefly why I could not examine him
before the Commission? On the first of July the witness
arrived here in Nuremberg after I had searched for him for a
long time. Up to that time the witness was in Dachau without
my being able to find out about it. On the 1st of July I was
very busy with the last examinations before the Commission;
for example, the witness Eberstein, and the witness Reinecke
I examined only on the 5th and 6th of July before the
Commission, so that I could not prepare the testimony of
this witness. As a result, I was only able, after the end of
the activity of the Commission, to prepare affidavits with
him. These are, I believe, Affidavits 65 and 67, but these
affidavits do not show matters as clearly as if I were to
examine him now, your Lordship, and I respectfully submit
that perhaps not I but the Tribunal might examine him if the
rules allow this.

THE PRESIDENT: Who is the witness you are intending to
dispense with?

DR. PELCKMANN: Hinderfeld.

THE PRESIDENT: Mr. Elwyn Jones, what view do the prosecution
take of this application?

MR. ELWYN JONES: I suggest, my Lord, that it is - that it
might be possible for a fuller affidavit to be taken by this
witness and that might possibly meet the case. But in view
of the fact that the defence are abandoning one witness, I
would not press that view, but I do respectfully suggest
that, in view of the time that has been taken on this
organization, an affidavit might be appropriate,
particularly as Dr. Pelckmann is dealing with matters-
dealing with that part of the case in which the Tribunal is
especially interested.

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