The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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SIR DAVID MAXWELL FYFE: Very well, my Lord.

The ghetto of Schaulen, south of Riga, was in charge of the
SA; 700 to 800 men were there, recognizable by their brown
uniforms and swastika armlets.

  "In August, 1941, the SA surrounded the whole ghetto and
  numbers of them went into the houses and took out children
  and old men and put them into lorries and drove them away.
  I saw all this myself. It was done exclusively by SA. I
  saw them take children by the hair and throw them into the
  lorries. I did not see what happened to them, but a
  Lithuanian told me afterwards that they had been driven 20
  km. away and shot. He said he had seen the SA make them
  undress, and shoot them with automatic pistols."

The SA guarded the ghetto of Kaunas, where 10,500 Jews were
shot in the dreadful "action" of 28th October, 1941. So also
did they guard the labour camps of Sakraw, Mechtal,
Markstedt, Klettendorf, Lanbielaw, Faulbruck, Reichenbach
and Anaberg, in Upper Silesia, where Poles, Frenchmen,
Belgians, Dutch and Greeks slaved and died through ill-
treatment and malnutrition, and where "the methods of the SA
by no means lagged behind those of the SS."

There can be no doubt of the veracity of those Jews who
underwent three years of nightmare in the ghettoes and
labour camps in the East. Not only are the conditions they
describe confirmed again and again from other sources and
from the Germans' own documents, but even the identification
of a particular SA man they mention is corroborated. Leib
Kibart gave you the name of the District Commissioner in
whose courtyard the Jews from the Schaulen ghetto were daily
cursed and beaten by their SA guards. He told you he was
called Gewecke and that he was a member of the SA. We have
the signature of Gewecke on one of his own letters dated 8th
September, 1941, complaining that the SS were interfering in
his arrangements for the "orderly confiscation of Jewish
property." The letter heading on that document is "the
Regional Commissar in Schaulen."

                                                  [Page 280]

Nor was it only in guarding duties that the SA were
employed. They were forming Einsatz Commandos of their own,
and units of the SA were sharing in the bloody work of
annihilating the partisans. The Regional Commander of the
Security Police and SD in Cracow, in writing to the
defendant Frank, tells of the work of a special SA Einsatz
Commando which was formed for the purpose of collecting
workers from the civilian population.

The General Commissar for White Ruthenia reported in June,
1943, that "by order of the Chief of anti-partisan troops SS
Obergruppenfuehrer von dem Bach, units of the
Wehrmannschaften have also participated in the operation. SA
Standartenfuehrer Kunze was in command of the
Wehrmannschaften." That action to which the General
Commissar referred was the terrible "Operation Cottbus,"
which you will remember, and of which the General Commissar
reported "the political effect upon the peaceful population
is simply dreadful in view of the many shootings of women
and children."

The SA had been organized in the Government General in 1941.
Speaking in December, 1943, Frank said:

  "When two and a half years ago I gave orders for the SA to
  be formed, I was guided by a thought which today remains
  with me more emphatically than ever. I strove to ensure
  ... that an emergency reserve of absolutely unshakable
  National Socialists should, under all circumstances, exist
  in the Government General. It is quite clear that this
  emergency reserve of pronounced National Socialist
  fighters can only be the SA .... Here, as an SA comrade
  with my SA comrades I can, within the framework of the SA,
  truly cultivate what has to do with the Volk, in a way
  which I cannot do in the political existence of the area,
  where I have to take numerous things into account and have
  to have a whip in my hand without interruption, like a
  lion-tamer in a lion's cage, in order to keep the bandits
  in check. That is a point of view which a Gauleiter in the
  Reich never need take into account .... It (the SA) has
  for the first time been employed here in a new area with
  new methods and tasks which, however, have been solved
  owing to the very-fact that the SA is here the same as it
  was in the period of struggle in the Reich."

Meanwhile at home in the Reich the SA were taking over "the
functions which had previously been entrusted only to the SS
and Sipo and Army, for instance, the guarding of prisoners-
of-war camps, supervision of forced labourers in Germany and
occupied territories. This co-operation of the SA was
planned and arranged by high officers in Berlin as early as
the middle of 1943."

In Styria the camp of Frauenberg was being operated as a
labour camp for habitual drunkards, delinquents and
shirkers. Three hundred inmates worked in the neighbouring
stone quarries and on road construction. SA men provided the
guards. Can we picture the conditions in which these
shirkers and delinquents lived - or died?

Violence and murder and mastery of the streets during the
years of struggle. Illegal arrest, unauthorized
concentration camps, unbelievable sadism during the years of
triumph, 1933 and 1934. Ruthless suppression and brutal
persecution of Jews and Christians and of every opposition,
coupled with warlike and aggressive training during the
years from 1934 until the outbreak of war. After that, more,
concentration camps, more sadism, more suppression and
persecution, this time of the allegedly racially inferior
peoples they had conquered; and violence and murder - but
not, as it had been in the distant days of 1923, of
individuals: now it was of whole peoples. It is the same
pattern running through the years. Can your decision free
these men again to terrorize the peoples of Germany and

I do not conceive it to be necessary to deal at any length
with the evidence against the SS. You are already too well
aware of the character of this organization

                                                  [Page 281]

and of the activities of its members. The letters SS appear
in connection with almost every one of the crimes, great and
small, of which you have now heard daily over the course of
almost 10 months. It may all be summarized, even if
understated, in the words of their leader Himmler:

  "I know there are some people in Germany who become sick
  when they see these black coats. We understand the reason
  and do not expect that we shall be loved by too many."

I would therefore address you upon only one or two
particular points that have arisen and to which the
prosecution attach particular importance.


The history of its development may be stated in a few words.
Created originally as an elite bodyguard for the protection
of Hitler himself, together with the SA it formed a private
Nazi army, and the basis of what was to become the vital
instrument in the conspiracy to wage aggressive war. Its
value as a thoroughly reliable "instrument of the Fuehrer"
was demonstrated in June, 1934, when it performed the
function of executioner in the blood purge which accompanied
the murder of the SA leader Roehm.

  "It appalled everyone," said Himmler later, "and yet
  everyone was certain that he would do it again if such
  orders were issued and if it was necessary."

The willingness of the SS to do it again was to be
exemplified a millionfold in the ensuing years.

Until January, 1933, the SS consisted of a single unit.
There were no special branches and, apart from their common
role with the SA, and their special position as Hitler's
bodyguard, they had no other particular tasks. After the
Nazi Party had come to power, however, and particularly
after 1934, its members increased and its organization
expanded and became more complex. New units were created,
such as the SS Totenkopf Verbande, the task of which was,
and continued to be, the guarding of concentration camps. A
few selected units were given arms and, in effect, became
Himmler's private army, known as the SS Verfugungstruppe. At
the same time certain functions became the specialty of
other groups which, while not having a separate
organizational status, came to be designated as separate
branches; for instance, the SD who were the intelligence
service of the SS and who were later to work in such close
co-operation with the Gestapo. Although it became customary
to distinguish between the several branches and formations
of the SS by name, in terms of administration and command
they were parts of the one SS, all under command of the
Reichsfuehrer SS and all administered and controlled through
the various main offices of the SS Supreme Command.

At the outbreak of war the majority of the Allgemeine SS,
the great mass of the SS membership which had remained
unarmed, were drafted into the Wehrmacht. New recruits were
enrolled in the Verfugungstruppe, which was expanded to form
the fighting divisions of the SS, and it was these fighting
divisions which, in about 1940, came to be known as the
Waffen SS.

The Tribunal has seen, from the report of the SS Statistical
Institute, how the SS had developed by 30th June, 1944. By
then it had a total membership of 794,941. The Allgemeine SS
- the original nucleus of the SS - had declined in
importance during the war because more than half of its
200,000 members had been called up to the Wehrmacht, the
Labour Service or other special Nazi agencies. The remaining
594,443 belonged to the Waffen SS. The Tribunal has seen how
368,654 of the Waffen SS men were in field units. About
160,000 were in reinforcement, training and reserve units.
26,544 were in other units and offices directly subordinate
to the Operational H.Q. of the SS High Command. 39,415 were
in the SS Main Offices.

                                                  [Page 282]

It is particularly significant to see how those 39,415 men
of the Waffen SS were distributed. {INSERT LINK HERE-
WAFFENSS} Witnesses have told you that the Waffen SS had
nothing to do with the concentration camps. But no less than
24,000 of them were in the WVHA, the offices which organized
and were responsible for the administration and personnel of
the concentration camps. That 24,000 did not include the
Totenkopf SS which provided the guards. Waffen SS men also
provided the manpower of the various Nazi genocide
organizations operating within and on behalf of the SS - the
Racial and Settlement Main Offices, the Office of the Reich
Commissar for the Consolidation of German Folkdom, the
Central Office for Persons of German Race, the Personal
Staff of Himmler, including Sievers's infamous Ahnenerbe.


It is said of the Waffen SS that it was in effect a purely
military organization, the character of which was no
different from any unit of the Wehrmacht. On the evidence
this is not so. It is true that the Waffen SS was the combat
arm of the SS. But, although its fighting formations came
under command of the Army for operational purposes, always
they remained an integral part of the SS. Indeed, the Hitler
order regarding the function of the SS on mobilization
provided that if placed under the command of the Army it
"remains a unit of the NSDAP politically." Recruiting,
training, promotions, administration and supply of the
Waffen SS throughout the war remained the function of the
Supreme Command of the SS. It was recruited through the SS
Main Office. It was organized, administered and supplied
through the SS Operational Office, which was the seat of its
command headquarters. Members of the Waffen SS were subject
to the jurisdiction of the SS Main Legal Office. Like all
other formations of the SS, the Waffen SS was subject to
Himmler's jurisdiction as Reichsfuehrer SS. It was in theory
and in practice as much an integral part of the SS
organization as any other branch of the SS. You will
remember the evidence that von Rundstedt gave while speaking
of the brutal destruction of Oradour-sur-Glane:

  "The troop units of the SS were subordinate only to
  Himmler. I had no disciplinary power nor judicial power
  over them. I could not give them leaves nor issue awards.
  I was responsible only for the technical employment of
  those divisions, much as I might use an Italian, Hungarian
  or Slovakian division."

These then were the broad outlines of the SS, this all
purposeful "State within the State" as General Detzel
described it. The defence now seeks to divide this all-
embracing unity of the SS into various totally separate
components, united only in the person of Himmler. He and
three or four of his subordinates are alone made responsible
for the millionfold crimes that were committed. But this
contention violates both truth and sense. We are dealing in
this trial not with the murder of ten men here, or twenty
there. In this indictment is charged not

                                                  [Page 283]

only the murder of millions but a demoniac plan of genocide,
of the murder of whole nations, peoples and races. The SS
was the chosen instrument for this plan which out-Heroded
Herod. This plan could only be executed by the use of the
whole of the SS, of every branch of the SS working in unison
and in cooperation with every other. The evidence given in
this trial has shown that the crimes of the Nazi
conspirators could not have been executed in an improvised
way by sporadic criminal acts. They were carefully planned,
prepared and put into action through the SS and other
criminal organizations. The men of the SS were particularly
qualified for the planning of crime. Physically trained and
selected, they were politically indoctrinated in Nazism, and
were committed to blind obedience to the commands of Hitler
and Himmler and the rest of the Nazi leaders. "Orders must
be sacred," said Himmler. Not only was membership voluntary
during the first sixteen years of the existence of the SS
from 1925 on: it was subject to most careful selection in an
endeavour to produce what the SS called a "male racial
elite," a "superstratum," a "band of definitely Nordic
German men." SS men had to be fanatical Nazis of "Aryan"


Much emphasis has been made by the defence that during the
course of the war the voluntary basis of the recruitment was
replaced by compulsory drafting. The witness Brill gave
evidence that "at the end of the war there were more
draftees in the Waffen SS than volunteers." It may be
helpful to the Tribunal if I very shortly discuss the
evidence of that witness. While it is not questioned that at
some stage during the war considerable numbers of men were
arbitrarily drafted into the Waffen SS, the date when this
practice commenced and the extent to which it was carried,
as they have been given by the witness Brill, are both

He told you that the first 36,000 were conscripted between
the autumn of 1939 and the spring of 1940. To say that that
36,000 were compulsorily drafted into the SS is deliberately
misleading. When he was cross-examined before the
Commissioner upon a similar statement he admitted that that
36,000 were already members of the Allgemeine SS which they
had voluntarily joined. They were not conscripted: they were
simply posted from one part of the SS to another. Figures of
the subsequent conscripts which he gave were as follows:
During 1942, 30,000; during 1943, 100,000, and during 1944,
210,000, making a total of 340,000. Even on these figures he
is far short of justifying his statement that by the end of
the war there were more conscripts than volunteers. He gave
the grand total of the Waffen SS as 910,000 - a figure which
included its strength in 1940 and all subsequent
reinforcements both voluntary and compulsory; 340,000
amounts to only just over one-third of that total.

On the question of the date at which recruits were first
conscripted into the SS there is considerable evidence to
refute this witness. In February, 1940, Hess was instructing
the Party offices to assist in the voluntary recruitment for
the SS.

                                                  [Page 284]

In the decrees which he issued there was no suggestion of
compulsory drafting. In April, 1942, a recruiting pamphlet
was emphasizing the voluntary basis of the Waffen SS in
these words:

  "The youth of the National Socialist Reich knows that he
  must himself initiate proceedings in order to complete his
  military service in the Waffen SS. That so many young
  Germans have volunteered for the Waffen SS is a living
  testimonial to the confidence of today's young generation
  in the Waffen SS, its spirit, and above all, its

The Soldier's Friend, a pocket diary for the German armed
forces, published in 1943, the year in which Brill would
have you believe that 100,000 men were conscripted without
choice, was describing the members of the SS as hopeful
young men who had "voluntarily decided to join the ranks of
the Waffen SS." It stated:

  "Everyone has acquainted himself with the comprehensive
  manual for the Waffen SS. The principal points are as
  follows: (1) Service in the Armed Forces SS counts as
  military service. Only volunteers are accepted."

In April of the same year Himmler was directing
Kaltenbrunner on the admission of Sipo officials into the

  "I wish to clarify again: I want an admission only if the
  following conditions are fulfilled: (1) If the man applies
  freely and voluntarily."

The Organization Book for 1943 explains that the Waffen SS,
by admitting volunteers for the duration of the war, makes
it possible for those volunteers to fight in the battle for
the evolution of the National Socialist idea. I am entitled
also to make this comment upon Brill's evidence. You will
remember that I have already referred you to the statements
which this witness made upon the activities of the SS
Division Leibstandarte, statements which must, in my
respectful submission, be regarded as perjured testimony. In
view of the suspect nature of his evidence and of the
evidence there is to contradict it, it is my submission that
whatever may have been the extent of compulsory service in
the SS it was very much less and came into being at a very
much later date than he contends.

But whatever the truth of this matter may be it is our
submission that the fact that a number of men were
compulsorily enrolled ought not to and cannot afford this
organization a defence. The instances of crime committed by
the SS during the war are so widespread, so constant and so
vast that you are compelled to infer that the vast majority
of its members, whether in the first place they joined
voluntarily or otherwise, readily accepted the tradition of
the SS and themselves became willing parties to its criminal
activities. May I consider in outline some only of the
evidence upon which that conclusion must be drawn?

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