The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Twenty-Sixth Day: Thursday, 3rd January, 1946
(Part 7 of 15)



Since when have you known Kaltenbrunner?

A. May I address a request to the Tribunal? May I sit down?

Q. Yes.

THE WITNESS: I saw Kaltenbrunner for the first time on a trip from Berlin to Himmler's headquarters at the time when Kaltenbrunner was to be appointed Chief of the Sipo and S.D. Previously to that I simply knew the fact of his existence.


Q. Did you come into personal contact with Kaltenbrunner through private or official conversations after he had become Chief of the R.S.H.A.?

A. Yes, of course.

Q. Do you know his attitude, as for example, on the Jewish question?

A. I am not familiar with any particular attitude of Kaltenbrunner's.

[Page 262]

Q. How about the question of the Church?

A. The question of the church -- he deplored the anti-church course taken by Germany. We agreed that an understanding should be reached with the Church.

Q. Do you know what his thoughts were on the liquidation of civilian prisoners, parachute troops, and so on?

A. No.

Q. Do you know that Kaltenbrunner made special efforts to make use of the S.D., in order to supply the Fuehrerstab with the criticism it otherwise lacked?

A. Yes, that was the duty of the S.D. and he also gave this task his official support.

Q. A little bit more slowly.

A. It was the duty of the S.D. even before Kaltenbrunner came and he supported and officially approved the direction of this work.

Q. Do you know, either directly or indirectly, that Kaltenbrunner had no authority to give executive orders, for example, that he had no authority to put people into concentration camps or to take them from concentration camps, that all these things were handled exclusively by Himmler and Mueller?

A. I believe this question is too general for me to be able to answer correctly. The question will have to be broken down, I believe.

If you ask the question whether Kaltenbrunner could bring about executive actions, I must answer in the affirmative. If you then name Himmler and Mueller to the exclusion of Kaltenbrunner, then I must point out that according to the organisation of the R.S.H.A. Mueller was a subordinate of Kaltenbrunner, and consequently orders from Himmler to Mueller were also orders to Kaltenbrunner and Mueller was obliged to inform Kaltenbrunner of them.

On the other hand, it is certain that, particularly in regard to the concentration camps, the final decision regarding entry into or departure from was determined by Himmler. I can say that I know absolutely that -- I refer to the expression that often came up, namely, "to the last washerwoman" -- Himmler reserved the final decision for himself. As to whether Kaltenbrunner had no authority at all in this regard, I can make no statement.

Q. Have you personally seen the original orders and original signatures of Kaltenbrunner's that ordered the liquidation of sabotage troops and so on?

A. No.

Q. Do you know, either directly or indirectly, that after Heydrich's death a change, which to be sure was not a formal change, took place and that another milder course was taken by Kaltenbrunner?

A. I could not answer that question concretely.

Q. I withdraw the question. Here is another question. Did Kaltenbrunner know that you were an Einsatz Leader in the East?

A. Yes.

Q. Who gave you this command?

A. Heydrich gave it to me.

Q. Heydrich gave it to you? That was before this time?

A. Yes, of course.

DR. KAUFFMANN: I have no further questions at this time.

[Page 263]


Q. Witness Ohlendorf, can you answer up to what date the Einsatzgruppe under your command was operating?

A. The staff of the Einsatzgruppe went to the Caucasus and was then led back. As far as I can remember, a Combat Command (Kampfkommando) was formed out of it under the name "Bierkamp" which was used in fighting the Partisans. Then the Einsatzgruppe was entirely disbanded, Bierkamp went into the Government General and took a large number of his men with him.

Q. What was your occupation after Bierkamp left?

A. I think I can say that the Einsatzgruppe ceased to exist after the retreat from the Caucasus. It took over tasks similar in the Wehrmacht under the immediate command of the Commander of the Ukraine and particularly under the command of the Higher S.S. and Police Leaders.

Q. In other words, you merely entered a different circle of activity, under a different leadership, and that is all there was to it. Such functions as were performed by the Einsatzgruppe in the past continued to be carried out in the new circle?

A. No, it actually became a Combat Unit.

Q. What does that mean? Against whom were the military activities directed?

A. Within the scope of the operations which were directed against the Partisan movement.

Q. Or can you say more particularly what this group was actually doing?

A. After the retreat?

Q. When you say that the function of this group had changed when it conducted operations against the Partisans.

A. I have no concrete experiences myself. It was probably used, I believe, for reconnaissance against the Partisans and also was actually used as a military fighting unit.

Q. But did it carry out any executions?

A. I cannot make any definite statement about that as regards this period of time, for it now entered into territories in which that sort of activity no longer came into question.

Q. In your testimony you said that the Einsatz Group had the object of annihilation of the Jews and the commissars; is that correct?

A. Yes.

Q. And in what category did you consider the children? For what reason were the children massacred?

A. The order was that the Jewish population should be liquidated in its entirety.

Q. Including the children?

A. Yes.

Q. Were all the Jewish children murdered?

A. Yes.

Q. But the children of those whom you considered as belonging to the category of commissars, were they also destroyed?

A. I am do not know that the families of Soviet commissars were ever inquired after.

[Page 264]

Q. Were you sending anywhere the reports of those executions which the group carried out?

A. The reports on the executions were regularly submitted to the R.S.H.A..

Q. No; did you personally send any reports with reference to the annihilation of thousands of people effected by you? You, personally, did you submit any report?

A. Yes, the reports came from the Einsatzkommandos who carried out the actions, to the Einsatzgruppe, and the Einsatzgruppe informed the R.S.H.A.

Q. Where to?

A. They went to the Chief of the Sipo personally.

Q. Personally.

A. Yes, personally.

Q. What was the name of this police officer? Can you give his name?

A. At the time, Heydrich.

Q. After Heydrich?

A. I did not mention any time, but that was the standing order.

Q. I am asking of you whether you continued to submit reports after Heydrich left or not?

A. After Heydrich's death I was no longer in the Einsatz, but the order, of course, continued in effect.

Q. Have you any information whether the reports were continued after Heydrich left or were discontinued?

A. Yes, they were continued.

Q. Was the order concerning the annihilation of the Soviet people in conformity with the policy of the German Government or the Nazi Party or was it against it?

Do you understand the question?

A. Yes. One must distinguish. The order for the liquidation came from the Fuehrer of the Reich and it was to be carried out by the Reichsfuehrer S.S. Himmler.

Q. But was it in conformity with the policy which was conducted by the Nazi Party and the German Government, or was it contrary to it?

A. Politics expresses itself in activity, in so far it was thus a policy that was determined by the Fuehrer. If you ask whether this activity was in conformity with the idea of National Socialism, then I should deny that.

Q. I am talking about the practice.


Q. I understood you to say that objects of value were taken from the Jewish victims by the Jewish Council of Elders.

A. Yes.

Q. Did the Jewish Council of Elders settle who were to be killed?

A. No.

Q. How did they know who was to be killed?

A. The Jewish Council of Elders determined who were Jews and registered them individually.

Q. And when they registered them did they take their valuables from them?

A. That was done in various ways. As far as I remember, the Council of Elders was given the order to collect valuables at the same time.

[Page 265]

Q. So that the Jewish Council of Elders would not know whether or not they were to be killed?

A. That is true.

THE PRESIDENT: We will adjourn now until five minutes past two.

(A recess was taken until 1405 hours.)

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