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

Eighty-Seventh Day: Thursday, 21st March, 1946
(Part 5 of 10)

[SIR DAVID MAXWELL FYFE continues his cross examination of HERMANN WILHELM GORING]

[Page 306]

Q. I would just like you to look at a document which has not got a number, but it is the Fuehrer's ideas about the Waffen S.S., and to see if you agree. It is D-665, and it will be Exhibit GB 280. It is a document from the High Command of the Army, General Staff of the Army, "Statements of the Fuehrer re Future State Military Police," and the covering letter of the document says, "After the Fuehrer's ideas on the Waffen S.S. had been passed on, doubts arose as to whether it was intended that they should be given wider distribution." If you will pass to the documents, perhaps you will follow it while I read it. I do not think it has been introduced before:

"On 6th August, 1940, when the order for the organisation of the Leibstandarte Adolf Hitler - Adolf Hitler Bodyguard - was issued, the Fuehrer stated the principles regarding the necessity for the Waffen S.S. as summed up below:

The Greater German Reich in its final form will include within its frontiers, only those national groups which from the very beginning will be well disposed towards the Reich. It is therefore necessary to maintain outside the Reich proper a State military police capable in any situation of representing and imposing the authority of the Reich within.

This task can be carried out only by a State police composed of men of best German blood and wholeheartedly pledged to the ideology on which the Greater German Reich is founded. Only such a formation will resist subversive influences even in critical times. Such a formation, proud of its purity, will never fraternise with the proletariat and with the underworld which undermines the fundamental idea. In our future Greater German Reich, a police corps will have the necessary authority over the other members of the community only if it is trained along military lines. Our people are so military-minded as a result of glorious achievements in war

[Page 307]

and training by the National Socialist Party that a 'sock- knitting' police, as in 1848, or a bureaucratic police, as in 1918, would no longer have any authority.

It is therefore necessary that this State police proves its worth and sacrifices its blood at the front, in closed formations, in the same way as every unit of the Armed Forces. Having returned home, after having proved themselves in the field in the ranks of the Army, the units of the Waffen S.S. will possess the authority to execute their tasks as State police.

This employment of the Waffen S.S. for internal purposes is just as much in the interests of the Wehrmacht itself. We must never again allow the conscripted German Wehrmacht to be used against its fellow-countrymen, weapon in hand, in critical situations at home. Such action is the beginning of the end. A State which has to resort to such methods is no longer in a position to use its Armed Forces against an enemy from without, and thereby gives itself up.

There are deplorable examples of this in our history. In future, the Wehrmacht is to be used solely against the foreign enemies of the Reich.

In order to ensure that the men in the units of the Waffen S.S. are always of a high quality, the recruitment into the units must be limited. The Fuehrer's idea of this limitation is that the units of the Waffen S.S. should generally not exceed 5 to 10 per cent. of the peacetime strength of the Army."

Do you agree with that? Is that a correct description of the purpose of the Waffen S.S.?

A. I am absolutely convinced that he did say that, but that does not contradict my statement.

Q. Now, I just want you, while we are on the S.S., to look at a note which is Document 729-D and will be Exhibit GB 281. It is on the conversation between you and the Duce in the Palazzo Venezia on 23rd October, 1942. At that time you were still in good favour with the Fuehrer and still retained your power; is that right?

I will read it: It is Page 35, paragraph 1:

"The Reichsmarschall then described Germany's method in fighting the Partisans. To begin with, all livestock and foodstuffs were taken away from the areas concerned so as to deny the Partisans all sources of supply."
A. Just a second, please. Where is this?

Q. It is Page 35, paragraph 1, but I will find it for you if you have any difficulty. I think it is marked, and it begins "The Reichsmarschall -" Can you find it?

A. Yes, indeed.

Q. I will start again if I may:

"The Reichsmarschall then described Germany's method in fighting the Partisans. To begin with, all livestock and foodstuffs were taken away from the areas concerned, so as to deny the Partisans all sources of supply. Men and women were taken away to labour camps, the children to children's camps, and the villages burnt down. It was by the use of these methods that the railways in the vast wooded areas of Bialowiza had been safeguarded. Whenever attacks occurred, the entire male population of the villages were lined up on one side and the women on the other. The women were told that all the men would be shot unless they (the women) pointed out which men did not belong to the village. In order to save their men, the women always pointed out the non-residents. Germany had found that, generally speaking, it was not easy to get soldiers to carry out such measures. Members of the Party discharged this task much more harshly

[Page 308]

and efficiently. For the same reason, armies trained ideologically, such as the German (or the Russian), fought better than others. The S.S., the nucleus of the old Party fighters, who have personal ties with the Fuehrer and form a special elite, confirm this principle."
Now, is that a correct description?

A. Yes, certainly.

Q. This expresses correctly your views on how war against Partisans should be carried out?

A. I have transmitted this.

Just one second, please. May I ask what the number of this document is, please ?

Q. Yes, I will give it again, D-729, and it becomes Exhibit GB 291.

Now, I just want you to help me on one other matter on these Organisations. You will remember that in answer, I think, to Dr. Servatius, you made some remarks about the Leadership Corps. Do you remember that? I just want you to have them in mind.

A. Yes.

Q. Now, will you look at the document which will be presented to you, Document D-728, Exhibit GB 282. This is a document from the Office of the Gau Leadership for Hessen- Nassau. I am sorry; there is a reference to an order of the Party Chancellery dated 10th February, 1945, and its subject is "Action by the Party to be Taken for Keeping the German Population in Check until the End of the War." It is signed by Sprenger, Gauleiter and Commissar for Reich Defence.

A. The date is 15th March, 1945, is that right?

Q. I am grateful to you. I knew it was just after 10th March. I have not got it in my copy, but if you say so I will accept it.

A. 1945.

Q. Yes.

"I request the Kreisleiters to discuss the following with the Ortsgruppenleiters at the next official discussion, and at the same time draw attention to the need for secrecy and drastic methods.

(1) Every German must be subjected to a strict investigation as to his political reliability and firmness of purpose.

(2) If in the course of this investigation weaklings are found, i.e., people who perhaps think or might think that we are losing the war, or that the best thing would be to stop fighting, etc., these people are to be reinspired, and imbued with new faith in Adolf Hitler.

(3) If people are found who spread the rumour that we have lost the war or are about to lose it, this is to be countered with all available means. The Kreisleiters will have these people reported to them and will ask the Gestapo to arrest them, if the nature of the rumour warrants this.

I consider an occasional arrest or the transfer of some people to concentration camps to be the best method for the elimination of such rumourmongers.

(4) The Ortsgruppenleiter must in any circumstances keep all Germans in check and see to it that all of them keep a stiff upper lip to the end because, if courage fails and hatred of the enemy abates on the home front, we shall lose the war.

(5) It is clear to me that our enemies will also be able to cross the Rhine and enter our Gau, but they will not conquer the whole of Greater Germany and above all not National Socialism.

(6) The Kreisleiters are given strict and secret orders to withdraw, on the approach of the enemy, to the centre of Greater Germany. All files,

[Page 308]

especially the secret ones, are to be destroyed without trace. The secret files about post-war reconstruction, purges among Party members, administration, extension, installations and deterrent tasks in the concentration camps, about the extermination of some families, etc., must be destroyed at all costs. These files must under no circumstances fall into the hands of the enemy, since they are, after all, secret Fuehrer orders. I also order that people who on the approach of the enemy do not defend themselves, or attempt to flee, be shot down ruthlessly, or, if expedient, be hanged to deter the population."
Now, the other page is to the Kreisleiters, the county leaders, and is a discussion about measures to be carried out. The first deals with the people who have tuberculosis and heart diseases, and prevention of producing families. I am not going to read that in full.

The second paragraph deals with the work and jobs for Party members. But I would like you to look at 3 and 4:

"(3) Gerichtlichkeiten (legal proceedings). No Party member may be brought before a court. In case of criminal proceedings, these are to be conducted by the Kreisleitung. Party members are to be got off in all circumstances, even if they are guilty. The reputation of the Party must in no circumstances be harmed publicly, as the Party is and remains the model. It is always the Non- Party members who are to be accused. Foreigners must always be given the impression of a solid Party which can never be split and whose leadership corps and Party members are unity itself.

(4) Food supply. The Fuehrer has again stressed that the special weekly food ration cards are to be used in strict secrecy and that the supplies are always to be bought at different places. In future the cards will be distributed by the Gauleiter.

There will shortly be an increase in rations for Party leaders, namely:

Meat, approximately 1,250 grammes, and fat, approximately 500 grammes.

Ortsgruppenleiters who are not self-supporting may also apply to the Kreisleitung. I again point out the need for strict secrecy."

DR. STAHMER (counsel for defendant Goering): I must object to the use of this document, since I cannot recognise that it is genuine. I have not yet seen the original, and the doubts as to its being genuine are due to the fact that expressions are used which are most unusual in the German language.

THE WITNESS: I was going to raise the same objection. It is not an original, for it says at the top, "copy," and there is no original signature, but only the typewritten words "Sprenger, Gauleiter" at the bottom.

DR. STAHMER: For instance, the expression "Gerichtlichkeiten" is used. This is an expression completely unusual and unknown in the German language, and I cannot imagine that an official document originating from a Gauleiter could contain such a word.

THE WITNESS: I can draw your attention to yet another point showing that this is evidently not an original document. If there had been an increase in meat or fat rations, I would have heard something about it. Not a single word of these two documents is known to me. It does not bear a rubber stamp either, the whole thing is typewritten, including the signatures. Therefore, I cannot accept this document.

SIR DAVID MAXWELL FYFE: This is a file copy which, to the best of my knowledge, was captured at the office of the Gau Leader. It was sent to us by the British Army of the Rhine. I shall make inquiries about it, but it purports to be a file copy and I have put the original document which we have, which is a file copy, to the witness.

(A short pause.)

[Page 310]

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Stahmer, I have the original document in my hands now, together with the certificate of an officer of the British Army stating that the document was delivered to him in the above capacity in the ordinary course of official business, as the original of a document found in German records of files captured by military forces under the command of the Supreme Commander. Under these circumstances it is in exactly the same position as an the other captured documents. The defence, of course, can bring any evidence which it thinks right, to criticise the authenticity of the document. The document stands on exactly the same footing as the other captured documents, subject to any criticism to support which you may be able to bring evidence.


Q. Witness, I want you to deal with the sentence in paragraph 6, "the administration, enlargement, installations and deterrent tasks in the concentration camps must be destroyed at all costs, Also the extermination of some families, etc. These files must under no circumstances fall into the hands of the enemy, since they are, after all, secret orders by the Fuehrer."

Now, this paragraph is certainly directed to all administrative levels down to the Kreisleiters, county leaders of the Nazi Party, and it assumes they knew all about the running of concentration camps. Are you telling the Tribunal that you, who up to 1943 were the second man in the Reich, knew nothing about concentration camps?

A. First of all, I want to say once more that I do not accept this document and that its whole wording is unknown to me and that this paragraph appears unusual to me. I did not know anything about what took place and the methods used in the concentration camps later, when I was no longer in charge.

Q. Let me remind you of the evidence that has been given before this Court, that as far as Auschwitz alone is concerned, 4,000,000 people were exterminated. Do you remember that?

A. This I have heard as a statement here, but I consider it in no way proved - that figure, I mean.

Q. If you do not consider it proved, let me remind you of the affidavit of Hoettl, who was Deputy Group Leader of the Foreign Section, of the Security Section of Amt IV of the R.S.H.A. He says that approximately 4,000,000 Jews were killed in the concentration camps, while an additional 2,000,000 met death in other ways. Assume that these figures - one is a Russian figure, the other a German - assume they are even 50 per cent. correct, assume it was 2,000,000 and 1,000,000, are you telling this Tribunal that a Minister with your power in the Reich could remain ignorant that that was going on?

A. This I maintain, and the reason for this is that these things were kept secret from me. I might add that, in my opinion, not even the Fuehrer knew the extent of what was going on.

This is also explained by the fact that Himmler kept all these matters very secret. We were never given figures or any other details.

Q. But, witness, had you not access to the foreign Press, the Press Department in your Ministry, to foreign broadcasts? You see, there is evidence that altogether, when you take the Jews and other people, something like 10,000,000 people have been done to death in cold blood, apart from those killed in battle. Something like 10,000,000 people. Do you say that you never saw or heard from the foreign Press, in broadcasts, that this was going on?

A. First of all, the figure 10,000,000 is not established in any way. Secondly, throughout the war I did not read the foreign Press, because I considered it nothing but propaganda. Thirdly, though I had the right to listen to foreign broadcasts I never did so, simply because I did not want to listen to propaganda. Neither did I listen to home propaganda.

Only during the last four days of the war did I - and this I could prove - listen to a foreign broadcasting station for the first time.

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