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 Third Day: Tuesday, 9th April, 1946
(Part 8 of 12)

[MAJOR ELWYN JONES continues his cross examination of Hans Heinrich Lammers]

[Page 168]

Q. It is very difficult to follow these embarrassing parts of the document, you know.

A. Yes, I have found the place.

Q. I will read the last sentence, in order to refresh your memory as to these murders.

"Hundreds of people in Zuman and its vicinity were shot down with the aid of an entire police company because they had Communist sympathies. None of the Ukrainians believed this and the Germans were also puzzled by this argument because, even if this was done for the security of the country, it would at the same time have been necessary to execute elements infected by Communism in other regions. On the contrary, it was stated all over the country, and in no uncertain terms, that those men were ruth-

[Page 169]

lessly shot down without trial simply because the projected evacuation was too expensive and could not possibly be carried out in the short time at their disposal; and because, in any case, there was not enough space available at the new spot where the evacuees were to be settled."
Do you mean to say that after reading that report you did not know that Koch was a murderer?

A. On receiving that report I did everything in my power. The report was immediately submitted to the Fuehrer and if it is true I admit it was murder; but I do not remember this report just now. If he killed these people, he is a murderer, but I am not Herr Koch's judge.

Rosenberg complained very bitterly about this matter and it was immediately passed on to the Fuehrer.

Q. Rosenberg continued in office with this man as one of his commissars, did he not?

A. The Fuehrer asked Bormann and myself to decide; and Bormann tried to console Rosenberg. Rosenberg tried to resign repeatedly but was not able to do so.

Q. I want to turn to another territory so that you can give further information to the Court as to the conditions in the occupied territories, because what I am putting to you generally, you see, is that the battles that were going on there were battles between ruthless men struggling for power, and that there was totally absent from this scene of Nazi control any person who was pressing for human decency, pressing for human pity. You were not pressing for either of those things, were you?

A. I did not hear; what would I not initiate? There are continual disturbances on this channel. Will you please repeat the question?

Q. You, in the situation in which you found yourself, were not acting on the side of human decency in this regime, were you?

A. I was always on the side of human decency and pity. I have always supported such things. I have saved the lives of perhaps one to two hundred thousand Jews.

Q. All you did was to forward annihilation reports to the Hammers and Barman's and Hitless, was that not so?

A. I never transmitted annihilation orders.

Q. There is one matter which went through your hands relating to the defendant Keitel and the ruthless policy that Terboven was carrying out against the Norwegian people. I draw your attention to the document -

A. I only asked Herr Keitel to define his position and I expressed to the Fuehrer my objections to the shooting of hostages. My subordinates can vouch for that.

Q. I just want to draw your attention to Document 871-PS, which will be Exhibit GB 322, which is a letter from Keitel to yourself and is related to the report by Terboven in Document 870-PS, which my learned friend Sir David Maxwell Fyfe put in in connection with the defendant Keitel.

Now, you will see, that that letter, 871-PS, is a letter from Keitel to yourself and, it says in the first paragraph:

"In connection with the problem of checking sabotage in Norway I agree with the view of the Reich Commissar for occupied Norwegian territory to the extent that I expect results from reprisals only if they are carried out ruthlessly and if Reich Commissar Terboven is authorised to have the offenders shot."
A. I submitted that to the Fuehrer expressing at the same time my views on the shooting of hostages; and my representations to the Fuehrer were successful.

Q. You were successful in what respect?

A. The Fuehrer in a discussion, in which Terboven participated, expressly stated that the shooting of hostages was not to take place on the scale he and some others wanted. Hostages were to be taken only from the offenders' intimate circle.

[Page 170]

Q. So the effect of your intervention was that the murders did not take place on the scale that Terboven wanted to commit them?

A. Yes. Terboven wanted hostages shot on a large scale but the Fuehrer did not approve of that and I objected to the shooting of hostages. The gentlemen of the Reich Chancellery know that and can vouch for it.

Q. And as a result

A. Yes, it is true that I received this letter. Matters took the following course. First I received Terboven's request and then I wrote to Field Marshal Keitel and told him that I intended to submit Terboven's request to the Fuehrer - I asked him to comment on it. Then the teletype came from Keitel and the request was submitted to the Fuehrer.

Terboven's request was watered down. The Fuehrer took the position that the most important thing was to apprehend the miscreants, and hostages were to be taken only in case of necessity. There was no mention of shooting them.

Q. Witness, you know perfectly well that over all the territory where Nazi power ruled hostages were taken, fathers and mothers were killed for the actions of their sons against the Nazi regime. Are you saying you do not know that?

A. No, I did not know that for I was not responsible for supervising the people of the occupied territories, and I have never been there myself.

Q. But you were receiving regular reports from there and you were the link between the ministers of the occupied territories and Hitler. Just a minute - you were the link between the - now will you please listen to my question?

You were the link between the ministers of the occupied territories and Hitler, were you not?

A. Not in all cases. A great many of them went through Bormann, especially Terboven. My subordinates in the Chancellery can vouch for that. Terboven constantly avoided sending his reports through me and sent them through Bormann.

Q. You were working hand in hand -

A. Of course some of them went through me.

Q. You were working hand in glove with Bormann, you know, were you not?

A. Yes, I had to work with him.

Q. You had to work with him? You were the head of the Reich Chancellery.

A. In order to submit proposals to the Fuehrer I had to work through Bormann. I had to work in close connection with him in order to have the sanction of the Party in countless instances where the sanction of the Party was prescribed, and for that reason I was forced to work closely with Bormann.

Q. Did you find it distasteful to work with Bormann?

A. I did not find it distasteful, It was my duty to work with him.

Q. Of course I am suggesting to you, you see, that the power which you and Bormann exercised was very great.

A. Yes; it was also exercised in a very one-sided manner; for Bormann could see the Fuehrer every day and I could only see him once in six or eight weeks. Bormann passed on to me the Fuehrer's decision and had personal interviews with the Fuehrer, but I did not.

Q. You were seeking to the very end to maintain your collaboration with Bormann, were you not?

A. I had to work with Bormann; that was the only way in which certain things could be brought to the Fuehrer's notice at all. During these last eight months of the Fuehrer's regime I had no interviews with him and I could only accomplish through Bormann the things which I did accomplish.

Q. You wrote to Bormann, you remember, as late as 1st January, 1945, a letter, Document D-753, Exhibit GB 323.

A. Yes, I remember. The letter contains - I can tell you that from memory without reading it - my complaints about the fact that I was no longer admitted to the Fuehrer's presence and said that this state of affairs could not go on any longer.

[Page 171]

Q. And you say in that letter in the last paragraph but one:
"For our former harmonious co-operation has for a long time been a thorn in the flesh of various persons who would like to play us off one against the other."
That is the last paragraph but one of your letter, right at the end of it.

A. Where is the place?

Q. The last paragraph but one of your letter, the last sentence but two.

A. The sentence before the last.

Q. The one before ...

A. "In conclusion I would like to say-" is that the paragraph you mean?

Q. The sentence before that.

"For our former harmonious co-operation - "
A. Yes, but I would like to add that at the end I repeated my wish for our cordial personal relations and I repeat that it was a New Year's letter, and when I write to someone wishing him luck for the New Year, I cannot write that things went badly the year before; so in order to maintain cordial relations I say that everything went well.

Q. You were not seeking to shift responsibility in this matter to Bormann. You were the link between the occupied territories and Hitler?

A. I was; but not exclusively, only for matters of secondary importance. The Reich Commissars were directly responsible to the Fuehrer.

Q. I want to ask you some questions now, not about terror which existed in the territory that Germany conquered but about the terror in Germany itself. You have testified as to the defendant Frick that, as Minister of the Interior, he was in effect a man without power, a man of straw. That is the rough meaning of your evidence, isn't it?

A. I said that he had no influence on the police.

Q. Did you not know that appeals against arrests in concentration camps went to Frick?

A. Yes, many cases were referred to Frick.

Q. Do you know whether he exercised his power in any substantial way for the victims who were in those camps? Did you not hear my question?

A. I cannot hear it all; I can hear about half of what you say. Other voices keep on interfering on my channel. Perhaps I had better take the earphones off.

Q. No, put them on. Just try again, just put them on, will you? Put your earphones on, will you, and just try patiently, you see, a little patience.

Is it not a fact that Frick was the person to whom petitions for release from concentration camps went?

A. Frick received such petitions, of course; but a great many petitions of that kind came to me too; and I took care of them. I treated them as petitions to the Fuehrer. They were given careful attention and I frequently secured the release of certain people in this way.

Q. But what did Frick do in his capacity as having authority in these matters?

A. Frick often passed on such complaints to me to be reported to the Fuehrer. It is impossible for me to know what he did with all the other complaints.

Q. I want you to listen to an affidavit by a Dr. Sidney Mendel, a Doctor of Law, which is Document 3601-PS, Exhibit GB 324.

He says, that he is a Doctor of Law and that until the end of 1938 he was a member of the Berlin Bar and admitted as an attorney-at-law of the German courts. His legal residence is now 88520 Elmhurst Avenue, Elmhurst, State of New York.

In his capacity as attorney he handled numerous concentration camp cases during the years 1933-8. He remembers distinctly that in the years 1934-5, with regard to several cases, he approached Frick's Reich Ministry of the Interior as the

[Page 172]

agency superior to the Gestapo for the release of concentration camp inmates. Frick's Ministry had special control functions over concentration camps.

The deponent further states that he informed the Ministry about illegal arrests, beatings, tortures, mistreatment of inmates, but the Ministry declined to release and upheld the decisions of the Gestapo.

That was Frick's attitude towards these matters, wasn't it?

A. I really do not know what steps Frick took with regard to complaints received. You will have to ask Dr. Frick.

Q. But you have testified on his behalf, you see, on behalf of Frick. If you now say you know nothing about him, then I shall not trouble you further with the case of the defendant Frick; but you gave evidence for him, you know.

A. I could only speak generally on his attitude to the police but I cannot possibly know what steps he took in regard to letters which he received.

Q. You said that in the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia Frick again was a man without power. That was the effect of your evidence, wasn't it?

A. I said then that he was mainly decorative. That does not mean that he received no petitions nor requests. But I do not know what he thought fit to do.

Q. You say he was a decorative personality. That is a matter of taste. But one of his functions, at any rate, was that he was the person to decide whether death sentences in his territory were carried out or not. That's not a small matter for the human beings in the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia, you know.

A. Yes, please cancel the word "decorative." I mean, more decorative than active, like the head of a State, for instance, who usually deals with certain matters only. Frick was in that position. He was the head of the German organisation and had authority to remit sentences. That was a very important matter, of course; I do not doubt it.

Q. You know perfectly well, witness, that it was within Frick's power to reprieve the death sentences that were being carried out in the territory of Bohemia and Moravia, don't you?

A. Yes, certainly that was in his power; there is no doubt about it.

Q. And I suggest to you that Frick neither exercised clemency nor was influenced by moderation, but, on the contrary, enforced brutal action against the victims of Nazi administration in that unfortunate part of Europe.

A. Frick was empowered to use his own judgement in the matter of remitting sentences. I do not know on what principle he based his actions.

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