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

The Trial of German Major War Criminals

Sitting at Nuremberg, Germany
4th April to 15th April, 1946

One Hundred and Second Day: Monday, 8th April, 1946
(Part 9 of 11)

[DR. THOMA continues his direct examination of Hans Heinrich Lammers]

[Page 126]

Q. He talked only about evacuation?

A. Yes, only about evacuation.

Q. When did you hear that these five million Jews had been exterminated?

A. I heard of that here a while ago.

Q. In other words the matter was completely secret and only very few persons knew of it?

A. I am sure that Himmler arranged it so that no one learned anything about it, and that he formed his commandos in such a way that nobody knew anything about them. Of course, there must be a large number of people who must have known something about it.

Q. Can you tell me what people must have known something about it, apart from those who actually carried out these exterminations? Who, apart from those people, must have known something about it?

A. Well, to start with Himmler must have passed his order on to other people; and there must have been certain leading officials, and the leading officials under them who took charge of the commandos and who kept everything completely secret.

DR. THOMA: No further questions.

THE PRESIDENT: We will adjourn now.

(A recess was taken.)

BY DR. PANNENBECKER (counsel for defendant Frick):

Q. Witness, you have already talked about a number of questions which are also of importance for the defence of defendant Frick, since he was a member of the Reich Cabinet. Can you tell me on the strength of what position, or what position you had, that you are enabled to give these answers? I rep I eat, can you tell me what your position was within the Reich Cabinet which enables you to answer these questions?

A. You mean my own?

Q. Yes.

A. I was State Secretary in the Reich Chancellery and I was the intermediary between the Fuehrer and the Reich Ministers, with two exceptions: the Fuehrer either had direct communication with these gentlemen or the men in question had a way prescribed to approach the Fuehrer other than through me. There were a number of things which didn't go through my hands, but which the ministers submitted to the Fuehrer directly. These were all matters of high policy, particularly of high foreign policy. Only in 1937, on the occasion of certain changes in the Cabinet, did I receive the title "Reich Minister," but my tasks did not change. In particular, I also had no departments.

Q. Can you tell me when the very last meeting of the Reich Cabinet took place?

A. The Reich Cabinet met for the last time in November, 1937. To be sure, in 1938, at the beginning of February, there was one more so-called "information conference" of the ministers, during which the Fuehrer announced the change which had been made in the Cabinet involving Herr von Blomberg and Herr von Neurath. The last Cabinet meeting in which actual consultation took place, namely in regard to the draft of a penal code, took place in November, 1937.

Q. Can you tell me anything about any attempts after that date to get the ministers together?

[Page 127]

A. After that date I continuously attempted to effect a concentration of the Reich Cabinet, a reactivation, I might say. This was continuously refused by the Fuehrer. I had even prepared a draft for a decree according to which ministers should at least come together to consult with each other once or twice a month under the chairmanship of Reich Marshal Goering, or, if he were prevented from attending, with me as acting chairman. The ministers were to come together and hear informational reports. That was turned down by the Fuehrer. Nevertheless, the ministers had an urgent desire to meet. My next suggestion was that I invite the ministers once or twice a month to a social evening, a beer party, so that we could get together and talk. To that the Fuehrer replied: "Herr Lammers, this isn't your concern; it's my concern. The next time I go to Berlin, I'll do that."

THE PRESIDENT: What are all these details about beer drinking? If they did not meet and he applied to the Fuehrer, asking them to meet, and they never did, that is sufficient. What is the good of going into detail?


Is it correct, therefore, to say that the Reich Ministers had to work on their own in their departments, in their special field of activity, and that a Reich Cabinet as such, which decided questions of policy and was informed and held discussions, did not exist any more at all?

A. Actually the ministers were nothing but the highest administrative chiefs of their departments. They could no longer act in the Cabinet of the Reich Government as political ministers. I tried to describe that earlier. No more meetings took place; conferences were even forbidden. So, how could it have been possible for them to exchange views?

Q. Do you know anything about a statement of Hitler that he considered the Cabinet a defeatist club, which he did not want to see any more?

A. In connection with my attempts to reactivate the Reich Cabinet through certain meetings, the Fuehrer told me that this would have to be stopped since an atmosphere might arise which he wouldn't like. He didn't use the word "defeatist club" in my presence, but Reichsleiter Bormann told me that he said: "The Ministers are not to meet; they might become a defeatist club."

Q. It has been stated here frequently that a Reich Minister of his own free will couldn't resign. Do you know anything about Frick making an attempt to resign his post as Reich Minister?

A. In spite of this prohibition by the Fuehrer, Frick repeatedly stated his wish to be relieved of his office if he no longer enjoyed the Fuehrer's full confidence and if the Fuehrer wouldn't receive him any more. He told me that frequently; but I cannot recall a written application for resignation. Frick's wishes to resign were always passed on to the Fuehrer by me, although the Fuehrer always rejected such communications very bluntly.

Q. In August, 1943, Frick left his post as Reich Minister of the Interior. Do you know any details of what he himself said in that connection?

A. At that time Herr Frick himself told me, "I am happy to leave my post as Minister of the Interior, but please see to it that the Fuehrer does not make me Reich Protector of Bohemia and Moravia, as he intends to do. I don't want that office. I want to retire." And I told that to the Fuehrer.

The Fuehrer ordered Frick to come to headquarters. Before Frick went in to see the Fuehrer alone, he told me that he did not, under any circumstances, want to accept the position of Reich Protector, but when he came back from the Fuehrer he had, nevertheless, changed his mind and had accepted the office. If I am right, this must have been in August, 1943.

Q. Frick's position as General Plenipotentiary for Reich Administration is also one of the points in the accusation against him. Do you know anything about the appointment to that office?

A. As Plenipotentiary for Administration he had the task of co-ordinating other

[Page 128]

ministries. The following were co-ordinated: the Ministry of the Interior, the Ministry of Justice, the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Churches, and the National Office for Regional Planning. He co-ordinated them under his administration and represented them, so to speak, in the Ministerial Council for Reich Defence, which came into being in 1939 with the outbreak of the war.

Can you tell me on the basis of what regulations Frick was appointed General Plenipotentiary for the Reich Administration? There are two Reich Defence Laws, one for 1935 and one for 1938.

A. The Reich Defence Law of 1935 I can no longer remember. The draft of the Reich Defence Law of 1938, which was not published, allots to the Reich General Plenipotentiary for Administration a number of tasks which, however, were never passed on to him. He had merely the task of co-ordinating the various departments, which I have just mentioned. At any rate he never exercised actual powers as General Plenipotentiary for the Reich Administration to the extent to which they were allotted him in the Reich Defence Law.

Q. In this connection one also talks of the powers of a so- called "Three-Man Board." This consisted of General Plenipotentiary for Reich Administration, Frick, General Plenipotentiary for Economy, Schacht - later Funk - and the Chief of the High Command. Can you tell me what powers these three exercised?

A. The expression "Three-Man Board" is first of all quite false. It is not a concept in constitutional law, but merely a term of convenience, a newspaper expression, a term used by reporters. These three people, the General Plenipotentiary for Administration, the General Plenipotentiary for Economy, and the Chief of the High Command each had the power to issue decrees, but they were obliged to have the consent of the other two, that is, with the agreement of the others. Any one could give orders in his own field. A meeting of this committee, this so-called "Three-Man Board," never took place. The decrees issued by it are very few, insignificant and quite unimportant. For instance, I can remember that this committee ruled on the question of reducing the numbers of judges in the disciplinary chambers; that is in civil service matters. In all there were six to eight decrees at the most, but altogether quite unimportant.

Q. In addition there was later on the Ministerial Council for Reich Defence. Can you compare these two groups, those three and the Ministerial Council for Reich Defence?

A. Do you mean the "Three-Man Board" and the Ministerial Council?

Q. Yes.

A. First of all, after the Ministerial Council for Reich Defence was established, it was my principle to do away with the "Three-Man Board" wherever possible, since it was not at all necessary. The Ministerial Council for the Reich Defence had the task of issuing decrees with legal effect but it actually had nothing to do with the defence of the Reich. Military matters were never discussed in this Ministerial Council for Reich Defence, nor did it handle any foreign policy or propaganda. In the main it issued decrees which had the effect of laws. Meetings took place only until December, 1939, and after that the members communicated with each other by writing, for the purpose of issuing decrees. Political debates never took place.

Q. A Central Office was founded in the Ministry of the Interior for the occupied territories. This Central Office has been cited by the prosecution as evidence of the fact that Frick had considerable administrative powers, and hence responsibility for the occupied territories. Are you able to say anything about that?

A. The Central Office had in the main two tasks. One was taking care of the civil servants, the other was assisting in the issuing of laws and decrees in occupied territories. Such an office was necessary because the occupied territories required personnel and because the Reich Commissioners in the occupied territories were directly under the Fuehrer's command. Written communications went in part through me, If one had decided to settle personnel problems within this frame -

[Page 129]

work, then I would have had to do it. But I had no instrument for it; I had only a staff of twelve and I had no organisation in the country; I had no executive officials in those countries. Therefore the Minister of the Interior was brought in, since he bad the whole civil service organisation at his disposal.

Q. You just said that the Central Office gave some assistance in issuing decrees for the occupied territories. Was it possible for the Central Office to issue a decree for, let us say, Norway?

A. For what?

Q. To issue a decree for some occupied territory, for instance, Norway.

A. No, not of itself, perhaps after the Reich Commissioner had agreed.

Q. Was it at all customary for the Central Office at any time to issue a decree for a certain occupied territory?

A. To my knowledge that has never happened. I do not know of a single case where the Central Office issued a decree.

Q. A decree by the Reich Minister of the Interior has been cited which ruled on the question of citizenship, also with reference to occupied territories.

A. Yes, about German citizenship probably.

Q. Yes?

A. Yes, but that was certainly an internal German matter.

Q. Did the Central Office have any right to issue instructions to the German Plenipotentiary in the occupied territory, say the Commissioner for Norway?

A. No, it had no such right at all.

Q. Or did it have a right to issue instructions to lower offices, German offices of the occupied territories themselves?

A. No, it did not have the right to give instructions.

Q. The prosecution has further stated that the Central Office also had the right to issue instructions in those territories for which it had not been specifically appointed. Is there any legal provision or any practical case where the Central Office interfered with jurisdiction in the occupied territories?

A. No case is known to me.

Q. Is it then correct to say that the chiefs of the civil administration in the occupied territories were always directly subordinate to Hitler, as the Fuehrer, no matter what their official designation was?

A. In the occupied territories the Reich Commissioners or the so-called chiefs of the civil administration were directly subordinate to the Fuehrer.

Q. Did Frick, as Minister of the Interior, have the power to issue orders, for the occupied territories, since the German police were active in these territories?

A. No, the police authority in occupied territories was vested solely in Himmler, who was to act in agreement with the Reich Commissioners. The Minister of the Interior had nothing to do with the police in occupied territories.

Q. Does it not follow that this matter came within the Minister of the Interior's jurisdiction, seeing that Himmler was subordinate to the Ministry of the Interior?

A. There would have been at most the power to issue orders for Germany, but not for the occupied territories, and to what extent there was this power for Germany itself is also problematic.

Q. I shall come to that later in detail. Can you tell me what powers the Minister of the Interior had in the police field during that time when the police were still under the jurisdiction of the provinces, Prussia, etc., that is, from 1933 to 1936?

A. Well, his powers were in any case very limited, but I cannot tell you the details.

Q. Did the Reich have the right of supervision?

A. Yes, the old right, as it was formerly - the Reich had only the ultimate supervision.

[ 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.