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 Fifth Day: Thursday, 11th April, 1946
(Part 2 of 10)

[DR. KAUFFMANN continues]

[Page 241]

Answer: No, I never heard about anything of the kind from Kaltenbrunner, although I was with him a great deal. As far as I can remember, however, Himmler issued an order of this kind.

Question 9: Did Kaltenbrunner issue orders that Jews were to be killed?

Answer: No, he never issued such orders, and, in my opinion, he could not issue such orders on his own authority. He was opposed, I am sure, to Hitler and Himmler on this question, that is, the physical extermination of European Jewry.

Question 10: What church policy did Kaltenbrunner pursue?

Answer: As adviser on Vatican matters, I often had the opportunity of speaking to him officially on this subject. He immediately supported my suggestion, made to Hitler in the spring of 1943, that a change in church policy should be effected so that the Vatican could be won over as a peace negotiator. Kaltenbrunner had no success with Hitler, as Himmler opposed him violently. Baron von Weizsaecker, German Ambassador to the Holy See with whom I discussed the matter, failed likewise in his efforts, the result of which was that Bormann had an eye kept on him.

Question 11: Did Kaltenbrunner intervene in foreign policy in the interest of peace?

Answer: Yes. In the Hungarian question, for example. When in March, 1944, the German troops occupied Hungary, he succeeded in persuading Hitler to be moderate and to prevent Rumanian and Slovak units from marching in as planned. Due to his support, I was able to prevent for another six months a National Socialist Government from being formed in Hungary as planned."

(A recess was taken.)

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Kauffmann, are you going to call the defendant?

DR. KAUFFMANN (counsel for defendant Kaltenbrunner): Mr. President, I have committed a small oversight. I did not read Page 5 of my document book, questions 12 and 13 of the affidavit, which I inadvertently did not read. I wish to apologise and ask your permission to do so.


DR. KAUFFMANN: I continue on Page 5, continuing the 11th question.

"Kaltenbrunner wanted the old Austria-Hungary to be re- established on a federative basis. Since 1943 I had told Kaltenbrunner that Germany must endeavour to end the war by peace at any price. I had informed him about my connection with an American office in Lisbon. I also informed Kaltenbrunner that I had recently made a contact with an American office in a neutral country through the Austrian resistance movement. He also declared his willingness to travel to Switzerland with me and start the personal negotiations with an American representative in order to avoid further senseless bloodshed. Question 12: Do you know that Kaltenbrunner instructed the Comman-

[Page 242]

-dant of Mauthausen Concentration Camp to hand over the Camp to the approaching troops?

Answer: It is correct that Kaltenbrunner did give such an order. He dictated it in my presence, to be forwarded to the Camp Commandant.

Question 13: Can you say something briefly about Kaltenbrunner's personality?

Answer: Kaltenbrunner was completely unlike Himmler or Heydrich. He was therefore by conviction strongly opposed to both of them. He was appointed Chief of the R.S.H.A., in my opinion, because Himmler did not want to run the risk of having a rival like Heydrich. It would be wrong to call him 'little Himmler.' In my opinion, he was never in complete control of the large office of the R.S.H.A., and being very little interested in police and executive tasks, he occupied himself preponderantly with the intelligence service and with exerting influence on the overall policy. This he regarded as his particular sphere."

This is followed by signature, date and certification.

THE PRESIDENT: Have you any more documents?


THE PRESIDENT: Now you wish to call the defendant?


(Defendant ERNST KALTENBRUNNER took the stand.)


Q. Will you state your full name, please?

A. Ernst Kaltenbrunner.

Q. 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, so help me God."

(The witness repeated the oath.)

THE PRESIDENT: You may sit down.


Q. During the last two years of the war, since 1943, you have been the Chief of the Security Police and the Security Service and the Chief of the Reich Main Security Office, the R.S.H.A. You are aware, of course, that you are under extremely serious charges. The prosecution charges you with having committed Crimes against Peace, and with having intellectually aided and abetted or participated in War Crimes and Crimes against Humanity, and finally, the prosecution connects your name with the Gestapo terror and the atrocities of the concentration camps. I now ask you: Do you assume responsibility for the counts charged as outlined and which are known to you?

A. In the first place, I should like to state to the Tribunal that I am fully aware of the serious character of the charges against me. I know the hatred of the world is directed against me, and that I particularly, since Himmler, Muller and Pohl are no longer alive, must here alone give an account to the world and the Tribunal. I realise that I shall have to tell the truth in this court -room in order to enable the Tribunal and the world to recognise fully and understand what has been going on in Germany during this war, and to judge it with fairness.

In 1943 - that is to say, two years before the unhappy end of this war, I was appointed to a certain office. I will give details about that later on.

First and foremost, I would like to state that I assume responsibility for every wrong that was committed within the scope of this office since I was appointed Chief of the R.S.H.A. and as far as it happened under my actual control, which means that I knew about it or had to know about it.

[Page 243]

May I ask permission for my defence counsel to put questions to me so as to direct my line of thought?

Q. Will you briefly describe in rough outlines your career until you entered public life, and Austrian politics, that is until about 1934.

A. I was born in 1903. My father and my grandfather were lawyers of repute. For the rest I am a descendant of farmers and scythemakers. My mother comes from a simple family. She was adopted by the Belgian Ambassador to Rumania and lived there for twenty-five years. During my childhood, which I spent in the open country with a family which took very good care of me, I was given on the one hand the best education and, on the other hand, became familiar with the life of the simple people. I attended secondary school, high school (Realgymnasium), graduated and, in 1923, went to the Institute in Graz. First I studied chemico-technical sciences at the Institute of Technology and later on, when my father returned from the war seriously ill and when the possibility arose that I might have to take over his law practice, I studied law. I completed these studies with the degree of Doctor of Law and Political Economy in 1926.

I had a hard time. I had to earn my own living and the expenses for my studies, had to work while I studied (Werkstudent) and for two years I worked as a coal miner during the night shift; and I have to thank my fate that thus I got to know the German workman better than people usually do.

Q. Would you be slightly more brief? Please get as quickly as possible to the period after 1934.

A. After leaving the Institute I had to complete seven or eight years work as a candidate for the bar examination in accordance with the Austrian law: I spent one year of this time in Court as assistant and the rest of the time in lawyers' offices in Salzburg and Linz.

Q. I am interrupting you for one moment with a question. Is it correct that in 1932 you became a member of the Party?

A. I became a member of the Party in 1932 after I had belonged for several years to the Non-Partisan Movement for the Protection of the Austrian Homeland.

Q. Did you join the S.S. in that same year?

A. I think it was at the end of 1932 or maybe at the beginning of 1933.

Q. Is it correct that even before 1933, as maintained by the prosecution, you were public speaker and legal adviser of an S.S. sector in the Gau?

A. That statement requires clarification. It is true that I made speeches in my own home province, the Gau Upper Austria, at National Socialist meetings, but chiefly, or rather exclusively, to promote the Anschluss movement. I was a legal adviser just as any other lawyer to any party who, at that period of economic emergency, was willing to give legal information and advice gratis for some hours at the end of the day to the needy who, in this case, were National Socialists.

Q. Is it true that later, in 1934, the Dollfuss Government had you arrested and that you, together with other leading National Socialists, were sent to the Kaisersteinbruch concentration camp? What was the cause for that?

A. That is correct. I think that with regard to this point I must briefly describe the political situation in Austria at the time.

The Government was in the hands of a group of men who had very few followers among the people. There were two different groups which did not participate in the Government; the first being the left group, i.e. the Social Democrats and Austro-Marxists, and the second being the National Socialists, which was a much smaller group. The Government, at that time, put not only the National Socialists into their detention camps but also Social Democrats and Communists, in order to eliminate any political strife originating from meetings or demonstrations. Approximately 1,800 of those National Socialists were arrested, I among them.

Q. Did you have another conflict with the Government and were you later subjected to a trial for conspiracy and eventually discharged from the custody under which you had been placed?

[Page 244]

Give in a few sentences the reasons for this procedure.

A. This was considerably later. I was arrested in May, 1935. I should say first of all that in the meantime the National Socialist attempt at revolt had taken place in Austria in July, 1934. This attempt at revolt, which unfortunately also included the murder of Dollfuss, was defeated and avenged by most severe measures against a large number of National Socialists. One particularly severe measure was the law by which many thousands of National Socialists lost their jobs or professional licence. Some form of appeasement or pacification was clearly necessary; some alleviation of the government policy. That was effected mostly by two men: Langot, the then Deputy President of Upper Austria; and Reinthaler, a farmer and engineer. That appeasement action started at the end of 1934 in September or October, and I was invited to join in it.

Q. Will you please, if possible, go on to the 1938 period?

A. I was in no way implicated in this attempted revolt of July, 1934, and that is why I was invited to join in that appeasement action. The Government itself demanded that certain men should maintain connections with the Party leaders, with the S.A., S.S. and all organisations of the then forbidden movement. With the knowledge and consent of the Government and the proper police departments, I took up the connection with the S.S.

In May, 1935, I was arrested, suspected of establishing an illegal connection with the S.S. and of being engaged in high treason activity. I remained in custody for six months and was arraigned before the Military Tribunal in Wels on a charge of high treason. I was, however, acquitted of this crime since the Government itself admitted that this assignment had been granted to me with their knowledge. I was merely given a minor sentence for conspiracy, and this was deemed to have been already served by my custody.

Q. How did you participate in the Austrian revolution which occurred in March, 1938, and how did the S.S. participate?

A. Shortly after my activities in connection with the appeasement action initiated by Langot and Reinthaler, I got in touch first with circles of the Anschluss Movement Clubs; and second, with those circles whose aim it was to improve conditions in Austria peacefully by an evolutionary movement and development, and, on the, other hand, to enlarge the Anschluss movement so as to win over the Government itself to that idea.

In 1937 and 1938 I attempted to come into closer personal contact with the later Minister Seyss-Inquart and I completely adopted his political policy.

Q. Are you of the opinion that the plebiscite in Austria in April, 1938, corresponded with the wish of the nation?

A. The plebiscite of 10th April, 1938, was completely in accordance with the will of the Austrian population. The result of 99.73 per cent for Anschluss to the German Reich was perfectly genuine.

Q. On the occasion of the Anschluss is it right that you were promoted to S.S. Brigadefuehrer and leader of an S.S. sector?

A. Yes, but first I would like to add the following about the Anschluss.

The prosecution is completely incorrect in stating and thinking that National Socialism in Austria at that time could in any way be compared with the development which had already taken place in Germany. The development of Austrian National Socialism was completely different. The starting point was the abnormal depression in that country. There followed the Anschluss movement, and finally National Socialism made the Anschluss come true. This course, from economic depression via Anschluss movement to National Socialism, was the road of nearly all National Socialists and the Ideology of the Party programme of the time was in no way responsible.

I believe that it must be taken for granted and that it is my duty to state that the Anschluss movement in Austria was backed by the people. The fact that the plebiscite in the various provinces, like the Tyrol or Salzburg, had already in

[Page 245]

previous years, I believe from 1925 to 1928, a result of over go per cent in favour of the Anschluss should now be taken into consideration.

Back in 1928, the National Council of Austria and the Austrian Federal Council signed the decree of the National Council of the year 1918 which said that both these assemblies had resolved to join the Reich and would not swerve from that resolution.

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Kauffmann, I do not think you need go into such detail as to the reasons for their being in favour of the Anschluss.

Will you try to confine the witness to less detail and get on to the material period?

DR. KAUFFMANN: I thought that the defendant was being held responsible for his participation in the Austrian revolution. Therefore I wanted to have at least a few sentences said about that before this Tribunal but I am now prepared to change the subject.

THE PRESIDENT: The witness was giving us the figures in particular plebiscites long before the Anschluss, and that seems to be quite irrelevant detail.

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