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

The Trial of German Major War Criminals

Sitting at Nuremberg, Germany
23rd March to 3rd April, 1946

Ninety-Second Day: Wednesday, 27th March, 1946
(Part 6 of 10)

[GENERAL ZORYA continues his cross examination of ADOLF VON STEENGRACHT]

[Page 106]

Q. Do you know who were the candidates for honorary membership in this Congress?

A. Probably there were many, Ribbentrop among others, as far as I still remember today.

Q. Who else from among the defendants was present at the Congress?

A. I really cannot say. As far as I remember, Rosenberg and a large number of other leading personalities; but I cannot recall their names any longer. But naturally there are documents on the subject, so that they can be ascertained without trouble.

Q. Did Ribbentrop attempt in any form whatsoever to protest against the inclusion of his name in the roster of honorary members of this Congress?

A. So far as I can recall he took over this post very unwillingly but I do not believe that he really intended to take any active part in this matter.

Q. If I have understood you correctly, you have recently testified to the fact that relations between Ribbentrop and Himmler were unfriendly.

A. Yes, relations were bad between them.

Q. But can you state if any contact existed between Ribbentrop and Himmler

[Page 107]

in their work, if they maintained this contact in any one particular sphere or branch of their work?

A. As a matter of fact, there was no working contact as would have been considered right in a well-organised State. Of course, now and then there were matters somewhere that concerned both of these men, and to that extent they did have contact, yes.

Q. What was the nature of this contact and what, exactly, did it represent?

A. It really only amounted to this: that Ribbentrop and Himmler saw each other every few months. Besides that, we had a liaison man in the Foreign Office for the Reichsfuehrer S.S., Himmler.

Q. Then how does all this fit in with the hostility which, as you have just mentioned, existed between Himmler and Ribbentrop?

A. I presume you are referring to the second question I answered. In every normal State it was the case that the ministers saw each other at least once a year and exchanged opinions. This, however, did not take place, since, as we have already heard today, at some length, the fields of jurisdiction overlapped to a great extent and the activity of one man touched very closely on the activity of the other. Therefore some connection had to be established whether one wanted it or not.

Q. Do I understand you to say that Himmler and Ribbentrop never even met?

A. They met perhaps once every three months, or it might have been every four months, and they usually only met if by chance they were both visiting Hitler at the same time.

Q. There were no special meetings, no business contact between them at all?

A. Actually not.

Q. I should like you to familiarise yourself with Exhibit USSR 120, which has already been submitted as evidence to the Tribunal.

You will see that this is an agreement between Himmler and Ribbentrop regarding the organisation of intelligence work. Are you familiar with this agreement?

A. Yes, certainly.

Q. The contact between Himmler and Ribbentrop was evidently closer than you wished to describe.

A. I do not consider, Mr. Prosecutor, that I attempted to give you any impression other than the one that actually existed. This agreement refers to Hitler's order of 12th February, 1944. On the basis of this order Himmler took charge of all activity abroad without the participation of the Foreign Office, and, after he had become the successor to Canaris, through this order he secured a predominant position abroad. If the Foreign Office in one way or another had not tried to contact this organisation then the Foreign Office would have had no influence at all even in foreign countries. We had to fight vigorously over this document, for on the basis of it Himmler was obliged for the first time to communicate to us the information that he received from abroad. Otherwise he received these reports without telling us about them. That was the reason why we reached this working agreement. But so far as I recall, it was not put into practice at all, because Hitler's order was issued on 12th February, 1944, and we had not agreed until February, 1945. Then it gradually came about. That must be approximately the date. At any rate it took quite a while.

Q. You say that this agreement never became valid?

A. I did not say that. An agreement becomes effective at the moment at which it is signed. But it was not put into practice or hardly put into practice.

Q. I think we shall have to content ourselves with your reply and pass over to some other questions. Did you ever come into contact with Kaltenbrunner?

A. Did I come into contact with Kaltenbrunner? Yes.

Q. On what questions?

A. On precisely those questions which for example the Nuncio directed to me,

[Page 108]

and about people who, because of the "Nacht und Nebel" ("Night and Fog") law, had been transported from abroad and about whom we could give no information, I often went privately to Kaltenbrunner and pointed out to him that this order was inhuman. As a favour Kaltenbrunner then frequently gave me information, and I, contrary to the orders, transmitted this information abroad because I considered humaneness to be right. Those were the main points of contact which I had with Kaltenbrunner.

Q. Did you, in particular, have any conversation with him on the subject of the Danish Policemen interned by the Gestapo in a concentration camp without any concrete charges being presented against them? Please reply to this question by saying "yes" or "no."

A. Yes.

Q. During one interrogation, an interrogation conducted by an American interrogator, you stated that although these policemen were eventually sent back to Denmark, they were very badly treated.

A. Yes.

Q. What did this ill-treatment consist of?

A. I discovered at that time, I believe through the Danish Ambassador, that 1,600 Danish policemen -

Q. I must ask you to be brief. What did the ill-treatment consist of which was meted out to the Danish policemen who were interned in a concentration camp without any concrete charges being presented against them?

A. These policemen were transported from Denmark. When I learned of it, I went to Kaltenbrunner on the same day and asked him under any circumstances to treat these people as civilian internees or as prisoners of war.

Q. I beg your pardon, but you are not answering my question. What did the ill-treatment of the Danish policemen consist of?

A. I assume that you want to know if Kaltenbrunner is personally responsible for this and this I would have to contradict. I am -

THE PRESIDENT: Will you answer the question? It was repeated. You must understand what the question is: What was the bad treatment? Either you know or you do not know. If you know, you can say so.

THE WITNESS: So far as I can remember, ten per cent. of these prisoners died.

MAJOR-GENERAL ZORYA: Is that all you can say in reply to the question?

A. Regarding details of the ill-treatment, I was informed by Denmark that the people were not allowed to keep their uniforms and had to wear concentration camp clothes, that this concentration camp clothing was too thin and the people frequently died of inflammation of the lungs, and also that the food was insufficient. I did not discover any more at the time. They were also flogged.

Q. Witness, please tell us: did you ever hear of the activities of the defendant Sauckel?

A. I came into touch with Sauckel's activities only in so far as we objected that so many people from abroad were brought into Germany by force.

Q. Do you perhaps remember a conference at which both you and Sauckel were present? You have already mentioned this fact in the course of your interrogation prior to the opening of the current trial.

A. Yes.

Q. Do you perhaps remember you testified in the course of this interrogation: "But the measures adopted for recruiting people in Russia and similar countries are beyond description."

A. In the session I ... I did not understand the question.

Q. You stated, during the interrogation of 28th September, 1945, I am quoting verbatim: " But the measures adopted for recruiting people in Russia and similar countries are beyond description." Do you remember your testimony?

A. I confirm that statement.

Q. Then you confirm it? Will you kindly enumerate, if only in brief, what

[Page 109]

precisely were the indescribable measures adopted by the defendant Sauckel in Russia and other countries?

A. I know of only one case that was reported to me at the time. It concerned the fact that in a certain sector people were invited to a theatrical performance and the theatre was surrounded, and the people who were inside were brought to Germany for forced labour.

Q. I have no further questions to ask.

COLONEL POKROVSKY: I request permission to ask one more question, or rather, to have one more question elucidated.

THE PRESIDENT: Colonel Pokrovsky, the Tribunal has already indicated that it wishes the cross-examination to be cut down as far as possible, and it really cannot hear more than one counsel on behalf of each of the four countries. I am afraid we cannot hear any further cross-examination from you.

COLONEL POKROVSKY: The question is not a new one. The witness has not answered a question which was repeated four times.

THE PRESIDENT: It is a new counsel though.

COLONEL POKROVSKY: No. The Soviet Prosecutor asked who of the defendants influenced the foreign policy of Germany. The witness replied: "The Armed Forces." I wished to -

THE PRESIDENT: I am sorry, Colonel Pokrovsky, but I have given you the Tribunal's ruling. We cannot hear more than one counsel. I hope, as I say, that the prosecutors will make their examination as short as possible.

M. FAURE: This witness having been already interrogated at considerable length, I wish only to ask a very short question.


Q. Witness, I should like you to confirm precisely what you have already declared that the Embassy of Germany in Paris was under the authority of Ribbentrop and depended only on him; is that correct?

A. I did not understand that question in German.

Q. Is it correct from your declaration, and from what you know, that the German Embassy in Paris was under the authority of Ribbentrop and that it depended only on him?

A. Yes.

Q. Does it mean that every important measure taken by the Embassy would have to be known by the defendant Ribbentrop?

A. Yes.

M. FAURE: I should like simply to have this point elucidated in view of the interrogatory of the witness, and I have no further questions to ask.

THE PRESIDENT: The Tribunal will adjourn until 2.00 o'clock.

(The Tribunal adjourned until 14.00 hours.)

DR. KAUFFMANN (counsel for defendant Kaltenbrunner): Mr. President, I request permission to ask one question which I could not ask before. The Russian Prosecutor asked whether the witness had discussed the question of the Danish policemen with Kaltenbrunner. In this connection it remained entirely unanswered how Kaltenbrunner himself behaved. I simply want to ask this one question.

THE PRESIDENT: Yes, Dr. Kauffmann.

(Examination of Adolf von Steengracht - resumed.)


Q. Witness, would you please tell the Tribunal how Kaltenbrunner behaved when you discussed with him the question of the Danish police who were inhumanly treated; how Kaltenbrunner behaved in this connection; what he did?

A. The question is perhaps not quite correct, when you say "who were inhumanly treated," for they could not yet have been dealt with. They had just been turned over to the concentration camp. So the moment I found out about

[Page 110]

it I went to Kaltenbrunner and told him that it was impossible for these people to be put into a concentration camp. They had to be treated either as prisoners of war or as civilian internees.

Kaltenbrunner listened to this and said he was also of that opinion, and in my presence gave the order that these people should be transferred from the concentration camp to a prisoner-of-war camp. I therefore assumed that the matter was thereby settled and then found out after 14 days that they were still in the concentration camp. I appealed to Kaltenbrunner in earnest. Kaltenbrunner said he could find no explanation for it. I could not find any either, since the order to transfer these people had been given in my presence. We subsequently carried on many negotiations regarding this matter. I had the impression that other influences were at work there, and that Kaltenbrunner could not carry it through.

Q. Was he against this inhuman treatment?

A. He always told me that he was in favour of their being put in a prisoner-of-war camp. That was naturally a substantial improvement.

DR. KAUFFMANN: No further questions.

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Horn, do you wish to re-examine this witness?

DR. HORN: I have no further questions to put to the witness.


Q. Was Ribbentrop in favour of violating the Treaty of Versailles or was he opposed to that?

A. I should like to say -

Q. Could you say "yes" or "no" and then explain later?

A. He wanted a modification.

Q. Was Ribbentrop in favour of the re-occupation of the Rhineland?

A. At that time I did not know Ribbentrop and consequently cannot answer this question.

Q. Was Ribbentrop opposed to rearmament?

A. I cannot answer this question either because I did not yet know him at that time. I saw him for the first time in the year 1936.

Q. Was he in favour of the Anschluss?

A. That I assume.

[ 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.