The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Twenty-Sixth Day: Thursday, 3rd January, 1946
(Part 9 of 15)

[Page 268]

DR. RUDOLF MERKEL (Counsel for the Gestapo):

Q. Witness, do you know that in April 1933 the Gestapo was created in Prussia?

A. I do not know the month, but I do know the year.

Q. Do you know what was the purpose of creating this institution?

A. To fight political opponents potentially dangerous to the State.

Q. Do you know how this institution, which was intended originally for Prussia only, was extended to the rest of the Reich?

A. Either in 1933 or in 1934, the institution of the Political Police was created in all of the States (Laender). These political police agencies were officially subordinated, in 1934, as far as I remember, to the Reichsfuehrer S.S. as Political Police Chief of the States. The Prussian Secret State Police Office represented the first central headquarters. After the creation of the "Main Office Security Police" the command tasks were delegated by Himmler to Heydrich who carried them out through the "Main Office Security Police."

Q. Who created and instituted the Gestapo in the individual States?

A. I cannot give you an answer to this question.

Q. Do you know whether before 1933, in the area which then constituted the Reich, there had existed a similar institution, a political police force?

A. Yes, that existed, as far as I remember, at Police headquarters, Berlin, for instance, and I believe it was Department IA. At any rate political police organisations did exist.

Q. Do you know anything about the sphere of activities of this organisation which existed before 1933?

A. Yes. They were the same; at any rate their activities were fundamentally the same.

Q. Do you know anything about the recruiting of the Gestapo personnel, which, on the whole, was a new institution and consequently not constituted merely by transfer of personnel already in existence.

A. When I got acquainted with the State Police it was certainly true that the nucleus of expert personnel had been taken from the Criminal Police, and the majority of the leading men in the State Police Offices, i.e., in the regional offices of the State police, had risen from the ranks of the Department of the Interior, possibly also from the State Police Administrations, and that they had, in part, even been detailed from this Department of the Interior civil. The same was also true for the experts within Amt IV, i.e., the Gestapo.

Q. You say the majority of the officials were detailed?

A. I did not say the majority were detailed, but I said "in part."

Q. Detailed in part! Could any of these members of the Gestapo possibly resist being taken over into the Gestapo if they did not wish it, or could they not?

A. I would not affirm that a definite resistance was possible. Some of them might have succeeded, by cunning, in avoiding it had they not wanted to go. But if one was detailed to such an office from the Department of the Interior, then, as an official, one simply had to obey. As an official he had to....

[Page 269]

Q. The members of the Gestapo evidently consisted almost exclusively, or exclusively, of officials? Do you know anything about that?

A. That probably was no longer the case during the war. But as a rule it should be assumed that they were officials in as far as the experts were concerned. Some of them, of course, while in training, were not yet officials, and others again were merely employees, especially in the Auxiliary Forces.

Q. Can you tell me the approximate number of the members of the Gestapo towards the end of the war?

A. I estimate the total organisation of the Gestapo, including the regional offices and the Occupied Territories, at about 30,000.

Q. There was therefore within the Gestapo, a considerable percentage of officials who were merely administrative officials and had nothing to do with executive powers?

A. Yes, of course.

Q. And what was the percentage of these administrative officials who performed purely administrative functions?

A. We must, in the first instance, take into consideration that this number included the auxiliaries, as well as the women, and I cannot, offhand, immediately give you any figures. But it is certain that a proportion of one expert to three or four persons not employed in an executive capacity could not be considered excessive.

Q. Do you know anything about who was responsible for the direction and administration of the concentration camps?

A. It was Obergruppenfuehrer Pohl.

Q. Did the Gestapo have anything to do with the leadership and with the administration of the concentration camps or not?

A. According to my knowledge, no.

Q. Therefore, no members of the Gestapo were active, or in any way involved in the measures carried out in the concentration camps?

A. As far as I could judge, from a distance, only investigating officials of the State Police were active in the concentration camps.

Q. Did the Gestapo in any way participate in the mass executions undertaken by your Einsatzgruppe, which you described this morning?

A. Only as much as every other person present in the Einsatzgruppe.

DR. MERKEL: I ask the Tribunal to give me the opportunity of questioning this witness again after the return of the defendant Kaltenbrunner, since I am obliged to rely exclusively on information received from Kaltenbrunner.

THE PRESIDENT: I think that the Tribunal will be prepared to allow you to put further questions at a later stage.

DR. MERKEL: Thank you.

BY DR. EXNER (Counsel for the General Staff and the O.K.W.):

Q. Witness, you mentioned the negotiations which took place in the O.K.W., which later led to an agreement between O.K.W. and O.K.H. on the one side, and the Main Security Office of the Reich (R.S.H.A.) on the other. I am interested in this point: Can you state that during the negotiations on this agreement there was any mention made regarding the extermination and the killing of Jews?

A. I cannot say anything concrete on this particular subject, but I do not believe it.

Q. You do not believe it?

A. No.

[Page 270]

Q. In addition, you have told us that the Commander-in-Chief of the 11th Army knew about the liquidations, and I should like to ask you first of all: Do you know anything regarding the Commanders-in-Chief of the other armies?

A. In general, they must have been informed, through the speech of the Fuehrer, before the beginning of the Russian campaign.

Q. That is a conclusion that you have drawn?

A. No, it is not a conclusion that I have drawn; it is merely a report on the contents of the speech which, according to Himmler's statement, Hitler had made to the Commanders-in-Chief.

Q. Now, you have spoken about directives given by the Commander-in-Chief of the 11th Army. What kind of directives were they?

A. I once spoke about the Commander-in-Chief in the case of Nikolaiev, i.e., that the order given at that time, for the liquidations to take place 200 kilometers away from the headquarters of the Army. On the second occasion, I did not speak about the Commander-in-Chief of the Army, but about the High Command of the Army at Simferopol, because I cannot say, with any certainty, who had requested the competent Einsatzkommando at Simferopol to speed up the liquidation.

Q. That is the very question I should like to put to you: With whom in the 11th Army did you negotiate at that time?

A. I did not personally negotiate at all with anyone on this subject, since I was not the person directly concerned with these matters; but the High Command of the Army negotiated with the competent local Einsatzkommando either through the responsible army office, which at all times was in touch with the Einsatzkommandos, namely the I-C or the I-CAO, or else through the staff of the O.Q.

Q. Who gave you directives for the march?

A. The directives for the march came, as a rule, from the Chief of Staff.

Q. From the Chief of Staff? The Commander-in-Chief of the Army at the time referred to was von Manstein. Was there ever an order in this case signed by von Manstein?

A. I cannot remember any such order, but when the march was discussed there were oral consultations with von Manstein, the Chief of Staff and myself.

Q. When discussing the march?

A. Yes.

Q. You said that the Army was opposed to these liquidations. Can you state how this became evident?

A. Not the Army, but the Leaders were secretly opposed to the liquidations.

Q. Yes. But I mean, how did you recognise that fact?

A. By our conversations. Not only the leaders of the Army but also most of those who had to carry them out were opposed to the liquidations.

DR. EXNER: I thank you.

BY PROFESSOR KRAUS (Counsel for defendant Schacht):

Q. Were you acquainted with the personal records kept in your department on Reichsbank President Schacht?

A. No.

[Page 271]

Q. Do you know why, after the 20th July, 1944, the former Reichsbank President Schacht was arrested and interned in a concentration camp?

A. Probably the occasion of the 20th of July was also favorable for a possible conviction of Reichsbank President Schacht, who was known to be inimical to the Party, whilst by means of witnesses or other methods he could be prosecuted in connection with the events of the 20th of July.

Q. Then defendant Schacht was known to your people as being inimical to the Party?

A. Yes, at least since the year 1937 or 1938.

Q. Since the year 1937 or 1938? And you also suspected him of participating in "putsches"?

A. Personally I did not suspect this, because I was not concerned with these matters at all; He was mainly under suspicion mainly because of his well-known enmity. But, as far as I know, this suspicion was never confirmed.

Q. Can you tell me, who caused Schacht to be arrested?

A. That I cannot say.

Q. Then you do not know whether the arrest was ordered by the Fuehrer, by Himmler or by some subordinate authority.

A. I consider it impossible that it should emanate from any subordinate authority.

Q. Then you assume that it had been ordered by the Fuehrer?

A. At least by Himmler.

BY DR. STAHMER (Counsel for defendant Goering):

Q. Witness, if I have understood you correctly, you said that at the beginning of 1933, after the seizure of power by Hitler, the Gestapo was created in Prussia; but before that time there had already existed in Prussia an organisation with similar tasks; for instance at the Police Headquarters in Berlin with Department IA; only this organisation was opposed to National Socialism, whereas now the contrary is true. But you also had the task of keeping political opponents under observation and possibly of arresting them, thus protecting the State from these political opponents.

A. Yes.

Q. You said further that in 1933, after the seizure of power, a political police with identical tasks was also instituted in all the other States (Laender).

A. Yes, in the year 1933-1934.

Q. This political police, which existed in the various States was then centralised in 1934 and its direction handed over to Himmler?

A. It was not at first centralised, but Himmler did become Chief of Police of all the States.

Q. Now one more question. Did the Prussian Gestapo play a leading role, as far as the other States were concerned, as early as 1933 or only after Himmler took over the leadership in 1934?

A. I do not believe that the Prussian State Police, which after all was under the leadership of Reichsmarshal Goering, became, at that time, the competent authority for the other States as well.

BY DR. KRANZBUEHLER (Counsel for defendant Doenitz):

I am speaking as the representative of the counsel for defendant Grand Admiral Raeder.

[Page 272]

Q. Witness, you just mentioned a speech of the Fuehrer before the Commanders-in-Chief, in which the he is supposed to have instructed the Commanders-in-Chief regarding the liquidation of Jews. Which conference do you mean by that?

A. A conference took place, shortly before the Russian campaign, with the Commanders-in-Chief of the Army Groups and the Armies, at the Fuehrer's quarters.

Q. Were the of the Commanders-in-Chief of the divisions of the Armed Forces absent?

A. I do not know that.

Q. Were you yourself present at this conference?

A. No. I have recounted this conference on the basis of a conversation I had with Himmler.

Q. Did this conversation with Himmler take place in a large circle of people or was it a private conversation?

A. It was a private conversation.

Q. Did you have the impression that Himmler stated facts, or do you consider it possible that he wished to encourage you in your difficult task?

A. No. The conversation took place much later and did not spring from such motives, but from resentment at the attitude of certain generals of the Armed Forces; Himmler wanted to say that these generals of the Armed Forces could not disassociate themselves from the events that had taken place, as they were just as responsible as all the rest.

Q. And when did this conversation with Himmler take place?

A. In May, 1945, at Flensburg.


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