The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)
Nuremberg, war crimes, crimes against humanity

The Trial of German Major War Criminals

Sitting at Nuremberg, Germany
12th March to 22nd March, 1946

Seventy-Ninth Day: Tuesday, 12th March, 1946
(Part 3 of 9)

[Page 9]

DR. STAHMER: I have no more questions.

THE PRESIDENT: The witness may retire.

DR. STAHMER: As next witness, I call State Secretary Paul Koerner.

Witness PAUL KOERNER took the stand and testified as follows:


Q. Is your name Paul Koerner?

A. Yes.

Q. Will you repeat this oath after me:

I swear by God the Almighty and Omniscient that I will speak the pure truth, and will withhold and add nothing.

(The witness repeated the oath.)

THE PRESIDENT: You may sit down if you wish.


Q. Witness, which official post did you hold before the capitulation?

A. I was State Secretary in the Prussian State Ministry.

Q. In this capacity were you one of the Reichsmarschall's close collaborators?

A. Yes.

Q. When did you first meet the Reichsmarschall?

A. In 1926.

Q. When were you selected by him to collaborate?

A. At the end of 1939.

Q. In what capacity?

A. I became his secretary.

Q. When were you taken over by the Civil Service?

A. In April, 1933. I am sorry; the previous date was 1931.

THE PRESIDENT: The translator said the previous date was 1931; which date was 1931?

DR. STAHMER: In 1931 he first came into contact with Goering and became his private secretary. In 1933 he entered the Civil Service.


Q. Which office was given to you?

A. I became State Secretary in the Prussian State Ministry.

Q. What do you know about the institution of the Secret State Police, the Gestapo?

A. In the first months after the seizure of power, the Secret State Police evolved from the Political Police Department 1-A. Basically, the Political Police Department remained, it was only reorganised under the name Secret State Police.

Q. What was its range of activities?

A. Its main task was to watch the enemies of the State.

Q. Did you know about the establishment of concentration camps?

A. I know that at that time concentration camps were established.

Q. What purposes did they serve?

[Page 10]

A. They were supposed to receive enemies of the State.

Q. What do you mean by "receive"?

A. Elements hostile to the State, mainly Communists, were to be concentrated in these camps.

Q. And, what was to be done with them there?

A. They were to be taken into protective custody, and, as far as I remember, they were also to be re-educated, so that later on they could be incorporated into the community of the people.

Q. Do you know anything of the treatment meted out to the inmates?

A. As far as I know, the treatment was always good.

Q. Did you ever hear anything about unauthorised concentration camps?

A. Yes; in 1933, in various places, unauthorised concentration camps were established.

Q. By whom?

A. I remember that one was established in Breslau by S.A. Gruppenfuehrer Heines; and one in Stettin. Whether there were any others, I do not know.

Q. In Stettin? Who was it in Stettin?

A. I think it was Karpfenstein, but I cannot say for certain.

Q. And what became of these camps?

A. When the Reichsmarschall heard about it he had them dissolved because they were established without his permission.

Q. What was the Reichsmarschall's attitude when he heard of complaints?

A. Oh, he always followed them up immediately.

Q. Do you know of any ease where he took specially strong measures?

A. Yes, I can remember the case of Thaelmann.

Q. What happened in this case?

A. It had come to the Reichsmarschall's knowledge that Thaelmann had not been treated in the way the Reichsmarschall wished. He immediately followed the matter up and had Thaelmann brought to him.

Q. Who was Thaelmann?

A. Thaelmann was one of the leaders of the Communist Party and a Communist member of the Reichstag.

Q. And how did the Reichsmarschall speak to Thaelmann?

A. He had him brought into his office and asked him to tell him exactly why he had made a complaint.

Q. And then.

A. Thaelmann was very reticent at first, because he feared a trap. When the Reichsmarschall spoke to him in a humane manner, he realised that he could speak freely. He told the Reichsmarschall that on several occasions he had not been treated properly. The Reichsmarschall promised him immediate redress and gave the necessary instructions. Also he asked Thaelmann to notify him immediately if it happened again. In addition he ordered that any complaints made by Thaelmann should be passed on to him.

Q. Do you know how long the Reichsmarschall was in charge of the Gestapo and the concentration camps?

A. Until the spring of 1934; I believe it was March or April.

Q. Under whom did they come then?

A. By order of the Fuehrer, they came under the control of Reichsfuehrer Himmler.

Q. What do you know about the events in connection with the Roehm revolt on 30th June, 1934?

A. That a Roehm revolt was planned I heard when I was with the Reichsmarschall in Essen, where we attended the wedding of Gauleiter Terboven. During the wedding festivities Himmler arrived and reported to the Fuehrer. Later the Fuehrer drew the Reichsmarschall aside and told him in confidence of Roehm's designs.

[Page 11]

Q. Do you also know what be told him?

A. I can only say that what Himmler told the Fuehrer was also brought to Goering's knowledge.

Q. Do you not know any further details?

A. No, I do not know any further details, but I think that is sufficient.

Q. What instructions did Goering receive?

A. The Fuehrer instructed Goering to return to Berlin immediately after the wedding festivities, and went himself to Southern Germany to investigate these reports personally.

Q. When was this wedding?

A. As far as I remember, it was two days before the Roehm putsch.

Q. Do you know whether, on the day after the Roehm putsch, the Reichsmarschall was with Hitler?

A. No. The Reichsmarschall was in Berlin. We returned to Berlin the same evening.

Q. On the day after the Roehm putsch, of 30th June, i.e., on 1st of July?

A. The Reichsmarschall was in Berlin.

Q. Do you know whether there was a conversation between him and Hitler?

A. Yes. I remember that the Reichsmarschall drove to the Reich. Chancellery to report several things to the Fuehrer. In particular, the Reichsmarschall had heard that on this occasion also innocent people might have, or rather had, fallen victims. Therefore, he wanted to ask the Fuehrer to stop the whole action immediately.

Q. Was that done?

A. Yes, that was done.

Q. In what way?

A. After the report of the Reichsmarschall, the Fuehrer himself issued an order that no further unauthorised actions should take place, that the action was over, and if any guilty people were still found they would be brought before the ordinary courts, which would decide whether or not they should be proceeded against.

Q. Do you know whether the Reichsmarschall had anything to do with the action against the Jews during the night of 9th November, 1938?

A. No, the Reichsmarschall had definitely nothing to do with it and had no inkling of it.

Q. How do you know?

A. Because I was with the Reichsmarschall on 9th November in Munich - he was always there on that day. The same evening we went to Berlin. Had the Reichsmarschall known anything about it, he would certainly have told me or those who were with him. He had no inkling.

Q. When did he find out about it?

A. Shortly before he arrived in Berlin or at the Anhalter Station in Berlin.

Q. Through whom?

A. Through his adjutant.

Q. And how did he take this news?

A. He was furious when he received this report, because he was strongly opposed to the whole action.

Q. And what did he do about it?

A. He got in touch with the Fuehrer immediately, in order to demand that this action be stopped at once.

Q. What were your tasks within the framework of the Four- Year Plan.

A. I was Chief of the Office of the Four-Year Plan.

Q. What were your tasks?

A. The management and supervision.

Q. How did the Four-Year Plan come about? When and how did it start?

[Page 12]

A. The official Four-Year Plan was announced in October, 1936, but its origin goes back to the food crisis of 1935. In the autumn of 1935 the Reichsmarschall received the order from the Fuehrer ...

THE PRESIDENT: Witness, try not to go quite so fast. It is very difficult to get the translation.


A. (continuing): In the autumn of 1935, the Reichsmarschall received the order from the Fuehrer to secure food for the German people, since the food situation was serious because of the bad harvests of 1934 and 1935. At the time we were short of at least 2,000,000 tons of bread, grain, and several hundred thousand tons of fat, which had to be procured by some means or other.

The Reichsmarschall solved this problem satisfactorily, and this led the Fuehrer to ask him for suggestions as to how the entire German economy could be made proof against crises. These suggestions were worked out in the first half of 1936 and by midsummer were submitted to the Fuehrer.

These suggestions gave the Fuehrer the idea of a Four-Year Plan, which he announced on Party Day, 1936. On 18th October, 1936, the Fuehrer issued a decree appointing the Reichsmarschall Trustee of the Four-Year Plan.

Q. What were the aims of the Four-Year Plan?

A. As I said before, to make German economy proof against crises. The main tasks were to increase German exports as much as possible, and to cover any deficits as far as possible, particularly in the agricultural sphere, by increased production.

Q. Did the Four-Year Plan also serve rearmament?

A. Of course, it also served the rebuilding of the German Wehrmacht indirectly.

Q. Did the Four-Year Plan also provide for employment of labour?

A. Yes. The Four-Year Plan provided for the appointment of a General Plenipotentiary for the Employment of Labour. The former President of the Reich Labour Office, President Syrup, was appointed General Plenipotentiary.

Q. When was he appointed?

A. That was at the beginning of the Four-Year Plan, in the autumn of 1936.

Q. What were his particular tasks?

A. He had to regulate the employment of labour and thus put an end to the great muddle on the labour market.

Q. How long did Syrup remain in office?

A. Syrup left in the spring of 1942 for reasons of health.

Q. Who became his successor?

A. His successor was Gauleiter Sauckel.

Q. Who appointed Sauckel?

A. Sauckel was appointed by the Fuehrer.

Q. And what was his job?

A. His main job as General Plenipotentiary for the Employment of Labour was to regulate labour.

[ Previous | Index | Next ]

Home ·  Site Map ·  What's New? ·  Search Nizkor

© The Nizkor Project, 1991-2012

This site is intended for educational purposes to teach about the Holocaust and to combat hatred. Any statements or excerpts found on this site are for educational purposes only.

As part of these educational purposes, Nizkor may include on this website materials, such as excerpts from the writings of racists and antisemites. Far from approving these writings, Nizkor condemns them and provides them so that its readers can learn the nature and extent of hate and antisemitic discourse. Nizkor urges the readers of these pages to condemn racist and hate speech in all of its forms and manifestations.