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 8 of 10)

[DR. KAUFFMANN continues his direct examination of Ernst Kaltenbrunner]

[Page 265]

Q. Do you differentiate between the smaller camps and the regular concentration camps, and if so, why?

A. The difference is very obvious for the following reason: Any internee who worked in armament industries worked in the same enterprise, in the same factory as every other German or foreign worker. The difference was merely that the German worker at the conclusion of his working hours, at the end of the day, returned to his family, whereas the internee of the labour camp had to return to the camp.

Q. You are accused of establishing the concentration camp Mauthausen, and of visiting this camp repeatedly. The witness Hoellriegel, who testified here, said he had seen you in this camp. He also claims to have seen you inspecting the gas chambers while they were in operation. There is an affidavit of Zutter, who has already been mentioned today and who claims to have seen you at the concentration camp Mauthausen. From this the prosecution concludes that you, too, must have known exactly about these sub-human conditions. I am asking you now, is this evidence correct or incorrect? When did you inspect these camps and what observations did you make?

A. The evidence is incorrect. I did not establish any concentration camps in Austria, where I was until 1943. I did not establish a single concentration camp in the Reich from 1943 onwards. Every concentration camp in the Reich as I know today, and as has been proved with certainty, was established on orders of Himmler to Pohl; this applies also - and I wish to emphasise this - to the Mauthausen camp. Not only were Austrian authorities excluded from establishing the Mauthausen camp, but they were unpleasantly surprised because neither was the conception of a concentration camp in that sense known in Austria, nor was there a necessity for establishing concentration camps anywhere in Austria.

Q. And now, in Germany, in the Reich proper.

[Page 266]

A. What do you mean by that?

Q. I am asking regarding your knowledge of conditions there.

A. I heard gradually more and more about conditions in concentration camps by way of the Intelligence Service within the Reich. Naturally, I was bound to hear about these things.

Q. Did you not, as testified by Hoellriegel, see the gas chambers in operation?

A. Never, neither while they were operating nor at any other time did I see any gas chambers.

THE PRESIDENT: You are going too fast. Make pauses between your questions and answers and don't speak too fast. He said that he had gradually, by way of Intelligence, heard of the concentration camps in the Reich. Is that right?



Q. You heard gradually about conditions in the concentration camps, that is what you said, isn't it?

A. Yes.

Q. Do you recall my last question?

A. No.

Q. Whether you saw the gas chambers in operation?

A. Yes, I already answered that I never saw a gas chamber, either in operation or at any other time. I did not know that they existed at Mauthausen and testimony to that effect is entirely wrong. I never set foot in the detention camp at Mauthausen. I was at Mauthausen, but in the labour camp, not in the detention camp, that is the concentration camp proper. The total complex of Mauthausen, as I remember it today, extends over an area of six kilometres. Within this area there is a space of perhaps four and a half or five kilometres of labour camps. There are the largest granite quarries in Austria, and they were owned by the city of Vienna.

Q. A picture has been shown in which you appear together with Himmler and Ziereis.

A. I was just coming to that. The quarries belonged to the city of Vienna, The city of Vienna had a vital interest in not being excluded from the deliveries of granite which they used for paving the streets. Now according to a Reich law, as I learned later, this large quarry was expropriated from the city of Vienna by the W.V.H.A., Pohl, and the city of Vienna was excluded from the supply of granite for a considerable time; I was asked to approach Himmler on the matter. It happened that Himmler was visiting and inspecting Southern Germany and decided to visit Austria and Mauthausen and asked me to see him there. In that way, it came about that I was with Himmler at this quarry, Whether or not I was photographed at that time, I don't know. I have not seen the picture and I cannot say whether I am in it. I might add something. Neither at this time nor at any other time did Himmler ever take me into a concentration camp or suggested that I should visit one; as I learned later, he had certain reason for not doing so. I would not have attended such an inspection for I knew very well that as far as I was concerned, he would, as he did with others whom he had invited on such visits, show me "Potemkin villages" and not conditions as they actually were; and, except for a handful of men in the W.V.H.A., no one else was allowed to see how things really were in concentration camps.

Q. Did you belong to this group, this "handful of men" whom you spoke about?

A. No, I did not. This handful of men were Himmler, Pohl, Muller and Glucks, and the camp commanders.

Q. As far as Camp Mauthausen is concerned, there is a document on which we would like to have your views. It is Document 1650-PS, which has already been submitted, dated 4th March, 1944, and is the so-called "Kugel Erlass" (Bullet Decree). It deals with the Camp III:

"Measures against recaptured prisoners of war, officers and non-commissioned officers, with the exception of British and American prisoners of war."

[Page 267]

The contents of this document are known to the Tribunal. I do not believe that I need read it. The defendant Kaltenbrunner is to make a statement as to whether these facts became known to him.

THE PRESIDENT: I didn't hear the reference to it, the number.

DR. KAUFFMANN: 1650-PS, Exhibit USA 246.

THE PRESIDENT: Perhaps that would be a good time to break off for ten minutes.

(A recess was taken.)

THE MARSHAL: May it please the Tribunal, a report is made that the defendant Goering is absent from this session of the Court.


Q. Have you Document 1650-PS, and have you read it?

A. Yes, I have read it.

Q. This, as emphasised, is the famous "Bullet Decree." When did you hear of this?

A. I did not know the actual decree; this must have been a decree issued long before I came into office. Neither had I seen this teletype copy of the document given to me here.

Q. I am drawing your attention to the signature, which reads "Muller."

A. Actually, he was entitled to sign such a decree if it did in fact exist. But I would like to add that when I was making my report to headquarters, I heard Fegelein, who was liaison officer during 1944-5 between Himmler and Hitler, mention this "Bullet Decree." This expression was completely unknown to me and I asked him to tell me what it referred to. He replied that this was a Fuehrer order and that he knew no more than that, except that he had heard that this was a special type of prisoner of war.

I was not satisfied with that reply, and so, on the same day, I sent a teletype message to Himmler in which I asked him to look into an order of the Fuehrer which was called "Bullet Decree." At that time I did not know either that the State Police was concerned with the "Bullet Decree."

Then a few days later, Muller came to see me on Himmler's behalf, and gave me a decree to read which, however, came not from Hitler, but from Himmler, in which Himmler stated that he was transmitting this to me as a verbal order of the Fuehrer. Referring to this, I replied to Himmler that I noticed in this Fuehrer decree that the most elementary principles of the Geneva Convention were violated, although this had been going on since long before I had assumed office and there had been other violations following that. I asked him to intervene with the Fuehrer, and I attached to this letter the draft of a letter from Himmler to Hitler in which Himmler asked the Fuehrer: (a) to cancel that decree, and (b), in any case, to relieve the subordinate departments of the burden on their conscience.

Q. What was the result?

A. The result was positive. Although the "Bullet Decree" and a number of other equally depressing orders were not repealed it was positive, in so far as in February, 1945, Hitler permitted me, for the first time, to get in touch with the International Red Cross, an action which had been strictly prohibited before.

Q. This action with reference to the Red Cross was initiated by you. Did it include the inspection of concentration camps?

A. In that connection I must answer "yes" and "no," for it coincided with the request made by the Red Cross and its president Burckhardt, for immediate and direct contact. I would like to say the two attempts coincided.

But please don't misunderstand me. Apart from that, there were, of course, numerous attempts - I would almost like to say, behind Hitler's back - to get in contact with the Red Cross, in which connection I call attention, for instance, to the continuous contact the Foreign Office had with them.

Q. If I understand you correctly, you want to cite the request to Burckhardt, to visit the concentration camps, as an exonerating circumstance for yourself.

[Page 268]

A. Yes, of course, but I should like to talk about that later in greater detail, because it is premature at this stage.

Q. The prosecution has stated that during the time you were in office two concentration camps had been newly established, Lublin and Herzogenbusch. Did you hear anything about that ? Who could have ordered the establishing of these two camps?

A. I do not know the date when these two camps were set up. The one in Lublin, and the other one in Herzogenbusch, were subordinate to W.V.H.A. and the Higher Police and S.S. Fuehrer of the occupied countries in which they were situated, so that the W.V.H.A. in Berlin had nothing to do with them.

Q. Now, will you please answer this question with "yes" or "no"?

Had the concentration camp at Auschwitz been known to you as such?

A. No, I didn't know about it until November, of 1943.

Q. Were you, at the same time as you learned of it, informed of its significance, namely, that it was exclusively an extermination camp for Jews handed over by Eichmann?

A. No, it couldn't have been known to anybody as such, for the question put to Himmler, "why was such a large camp being installed there?" was always answered by him "because of the proximity of the large armament works." And I think he mentioned then Witkowitz and others.

At any rate - and I think this must be emphasised - there was such a complete secrecy regarding what went on in Auschwitz, that the negative answer given by not only the defendants but anyone else who might be asked by the Americans "Do you know about it?" has to be believed.

Q. The most atrocious excesses are connected with this camp in Auschwitz. This concentration camp was under the spiritual leadership of the infamous Eichmann. Now I am asking you: When did you get acquainted with Eichmann?

A. I became acquainted with Eichmann in my home town, Linz. The prosecution has stated - and today the attempt was made to establish this from an affidavit - that I was a friend, or at least a close acquaintance, of Eichmann. I would like to make the following statement on this with particular reference to my oath. I have a different conception of a close acquaintance or even a friendship.

I learned of Eichmann's existence in Linz, because his father, as director of an electrical construction company at Linz, consulted my father as a lawyer, and thus they knew each other; and because, he, the son of the father, attended the same school as my brothers.

Therefore, the statement of Hoettl, that I had met Eichmann in an S.S. platoon at Linz, is wrong, because when I joined the S.S. Eichmann had already fled to Germany, as I learned later.

Secondly, the prosecution states that I met the same Eichmann for the first time in 1932 and for the second time in February or March, 1945. Therefore, I did not see him for thirteen years and after that last meeting I never saw him again.

On the basis of these two personal meetings, one must conclude that I was neither a friend of his nor closely acquainted with him. It is true that on that second occasion he accosted me and said, "Obergruppenfuehrer Eichmann is my name; I come from Linz too." I said, "Pleased to meet you. How are things at home?" But there was no official contact.

Q. Witness Lammers stated yesterday that at the R.S.H.A. a conference took place regarding the so-called "final solution." Did you know about it?

A. No. I think that the witness Lammers, and another witness, too, stated that Eichmann, possibly under my name, had called a meeting at the R.S.H.A. in Berlin during February or March, 1943, a so-called discussion with department chiefs. To this I must say that while I nominally began my services in Berlin on 30th January, actually, until May, I was not in Berlin except for a few official visits, but in Vienna, where I was enlarging my Intelligence Service in order to transfer it eventually to Berlin.

[Page 269]

Q. One further question to that. When did you hear for the first time that the camp at Auschwitz was an extermination camp?

A. Himmler told me that in 1944, in February or March, or rather, he didn't tell me, he admitted it.

Q. What was your attitude upon learning this?

A. I did not hear the question.

Q. What attitude did you adopt when you heard about it?

A. I had no knowledge of Hitler's order to Heydrich regarding the final solution of the Jewish problem at the time I took up my office. In the summer of 1943 I gathered from the foreign Press and through the enemy radio -

THE PRESIDENT: This isn't an answer to your question. You asked him what he did when he found out that Auschwitz was a concentration camp. He is now making a long speech about Heydrich. You asked for his attitude, I suppose you meant what he did, when he first heard that Auschwitz was an extermination camp, in February or March, 1944. He is now telling us a long story about something having to do with Heydrich.

Q. Please try to give me a direct answer to that question. What was your attitude after you heard about that? Answer quite briefly and very concisely, please.

A. Immediately after receiving knowledge of this fact, I fought, just as I had done previously, not only against the final solution, but also against this type of treatment of the Jewish problem, For that reason I wanted to explain how through my Intelligence Service I became acquainted with the whole Jewish problem, and what I did about it.


Q. We still don't know what you did -


Q. What did you do? I am asking you for the last time.

A. In order to explain what I did I must explain how I reacted, just as I have to tell you what I heard about it.

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