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 9 of 10)

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

[Page 269]

Q. Just explain to us your reactions.

A. First I protested to Hitler, and the next day to Himmler. I did not only draw their attention to my personal attitude and my completely different conception, which I had brought over from Austria, and to my humanitarian qualms, but immediately, from the first day, I concluded almost every one of my situation reports right to the very end by saying that there was no hostile power that would negotiate with a Reich which had burdened itself with this guilt. Those were the reports I put to Himmler and Hitler, particularly pointing out also that the Intelligence sector would have to create the atmosphere for discussions with the enemy.

Q. When did the Jewish persecution end?

A. October, 1944.

Q. Do you want to say that this was due to your intervention?

A. I am firmly convinced that this was chiefly due to my intervention, although a number of others also worked toward the same end. But I do not think that there was anyone else who kept dinning it into Himmler's ears every time he met him, or that there was anyone else who would have spoken so openly and frankly and with such self-abnegation to Hitler as I did.

Q. Was that instruction to Eichmann an instruction which came from Hitler and Himmler to the R.S.H.A. and then to Eichmann, or was it a strictly personal order outside the competence of the R.S.H.A.?

A. Naturally I can only reconstruct the situation today, since I wasn't there when these orders were issued; but I have reason to assume that the channels for this order were: Hitler, Heydrich, Eichmann: and that Himmler, shortly after Heydrich's death, kept on working with Eichmann, and probably very often even excluded Muller.

Q. The witness Wisliceny, who was examined here - and this I am going to put to you - stated on 3rd January that the final solution was in fact carried out

[Page 270]

between April, 1942 and October, 1944. Wisliceny referred to a personal order from Himmler and stated further that Eichmann was personally charged with the task. But he goes on to say, "The extermination of Jews continued under Kaltenbrunner without any reduction or alleviation. Reports made by Eichmann to that effect were sent at regular intervals to Kaltenbrunner through Muller." In 1944 Eichmann personally called, it states, on Kaltenbrunner, and Wisliceny affirms having seen Kaltenbrunner's signature on such reports to Himmler. That was Wisliceny's testimony. Now my question: Is this testimony true in its essential points?

A. The testimony is wrong, but I can clarify it. Wisliceny may have seen my signature once, not on a report to Himmler which I had received from Eichmann and Muller, but on a letter which I wrote to Himmler, a copy of which I passed on to Muller and Eichmann for their information and in which I referred to my last report - verbal report - to Himmler, regarding the Jewish question. It was on this occasion that, for the first time, I heard of Eichmann's activity in that respect, and, in order to make it clear to Eichmann that I did not want to be associated with that activity, I instructed Muller to give this man a copy of the letter to Himmler. In that letter I asked Himmler to define his attitude so that, since the Fuehrer again had ordered me to report to him, I could give him a full report on Himmler's activities and obtain an early decision.

Q. The witness Hoettl has stated in an affidavit that he had heard from Eichmann that a total number of four to five million Jewish persons had been exterminated, about two million of them in Auschwitz. Have you heard any such figures?

A. I have never heard such figures. But I approached Himmler on that subject and asked him whether he had any idea of the number of these crimes. The reason I put that question to him was that he would realise the extent of the catastrophe which was bound to follow. He replied to me that he had no figures. I don't believe it. I believe he had them.

Q. Do you want to assume a responsibility in this connection or do you want to deny it?

A. I must deny it completely, because I hope to be able to prove through Burckhardt that there was nobody who took greater risks on this question, in fighting for a different solution.

Q. I am now referring to Document R-135, Exhibit USA 289. It is a letter from the Reich Commissar for Riga, and is dated 18th June, 1943. It refers to an action against the Jews at the prison in Minsk. It is a letter from the commandant of the prison, addressed to the general commissar for Byelorussia at Minsk. Please, will you make a statement on that document?

A. I can see from both the signature and the name of the addressee that this letter could not have come to my knowledge, nor had I knowledge of its contents. Presumably these events, about which the person is reporting in June, 1943, occurred before I came into office.

Q. Now, I am coming to Document 473, Exhibit USA 542. It is a letter from the Chief of the Security Police and the S.D., dated 4th December, 1944. From this also the prosecution concludes the defendant Kaltenbrunner's great responsibility. It deals with the combating of criminality among the Polish and Soviet civilian workers. As means for their punishment, the letter states, the Criminal Police have at their disposal police detention and transfer to a concentration camp of all asocial or dangerous prisoners. The document has the signature, "Dr. Kaltenbrunner." What are your views on that?

A. I have no recollection that I have ever signed any such decree.

Q. Do you deny having signed this letter at all; or, to be more precise, do you know anything about the matter?

A. No.

Q. I now submit Document 1276-PS, Exhibit USA 525. The prosecution has referred to this document. It follows Hitler's order, dated 18th October, 1942.

[Page 271]

According to this, parachutists and sabotage troops are to be exterminated, and commandos to be surrendered to the S.D. In a letter with the signature "Muller," dated 17th June, 1944, addressed to the Supreme Command, it says that parachutists in British uniform were to be treated in accordance with Hitler's order. I am now asking you if you know of this document signed by Muller, dated 17th June, 1944, and if you had any knowledge at all of the matter contained in it?

A. I had no knowledge of the matter or of this document. But I should like to say the following in this connection: I received knowledge of this order of Hitler and of his basic attitude to this question later. I think it was at the Fuehrer's Headquarters in February, 1945 and there, before witnesses, I publicly stated not only that I was personally opposed to such treatment of soldiers and prisoners but also that I would refuse to carry out any such order from Hitler. I think another defendant here is calling a witness by the name of Koller, and I request that you ask this witness, who was at that time the Chief of Staff of the Air Force, how I expressed it - I believe it was in Hitler's presence - and what was my attitude regarding that question, which came to my knowledge for the first time in 1945. I could do no more than I did before this man, the most mighty and all powerful man Germany ever had, who had declared: "He who does not obey my orders, no matter who the commander, will be shot." I could do no more than I did in his presence - say to the Chief of Staff of the Air Force and other officers: "I will not obey such an order."

Q. I now come to Document 2990-PS, Exhibit USA 526. This is an affidavit from the witness Schellenberg. According to it, in 1944 a meeting took place between Kaltenbrunner and Muller. Kaltenbrunner is supposed to have stated that actions of the populations against terrorist flyers must not be interfered with, that, on the contrary, the hostile attitude of the population must be encouraged. I shall quote a few sentences from the examination of the witness Schellenberg on 3rd January, 1946, where he says:

"In 1944 on some other occasion during a conference I heard fragments of a conversation between Kaltenbrunner and Muller. The following remark remains clearly in my recollection: 'All departments of the Security Police and the Sipo must be informed that actions on the part of the population against British and American terror flyers must not be interfered with, on the contrary, the hostile attitude of the population must be encouraged.'"
Did you know Schellenberg?

A. Regarding Schellenberg I must say ...

Q. In a few sentences please.

A. . . . with reference to his reliability in the matter of this document, that he was a protege of Heydrich's and when I took office he was in charge of ...

THE PRESIDENT: He wants to know whether you knew Schellenberg. That is a question you can answer.

The question was, "Did you know Schellenberg?" And he goes off into a long speech without answering the question.

Q. Did you know Schellenberg? "Yes" or "No."

A. Yes, of course. He was the Chief of Department VI.

Q. My next questions: What was the relationship between you and the Chief of Department VI? Do you regard his statement as true or not?

A. That statement is not true, and I should like to give you the reason so that the Tribunal can estimate its value. Schellenberg was Himmler's most intimate friend. By Himmler's order, he remained with him to the last day. He is the man who, on Himmler's behalf, established contact with the Swedish Count Bernadotte. He was the man who, at the very last minute, through M. Muehse in Switzerland, established a connection which was used to permit a very small number of Jewish prisoners to go to Switzerland, the purpose of which was to create quickly a favourable impression for Himmler and Schellenberg abroad. He

[Page 272]

is the man who, together with another friend of Himmler, started an action to make an agreement with an organisation of Rabbis in the United States whereby they were to get him favourable reports in some of the larger newspapers in America. I have criticised Himmler for these tricks and complained and discredited them with Hitler, stating that it was demeaning to the cause and the Reich that in so important a matter these methods should be used by Himmler and Schellenberg. I said the only correct way would be to establish contact with the International Red Cross immediately. Consequently, I prejudiced Himmler before President Burckhardt, and forced him to adopt a different attitude and to ask Burckhardt personally to visit these camps.

Q. But I put a completely different question.

A. Yes, but I had to say this so that you can see how disappointed Schellenberg and Himmler were about what I was doing and why he now is interested in accusing me, as he has done in the affidavit, of breaking my word on international matters.

Q. In other words, you want to say that Schellenberg was in opposition to you and against you, and is implicating you unjustly.

A. Yes.

Q. Now, then, in this document of Schellenberg the event with reference to these fifty flyers is mentioned and Schellenberg states that you, together with Muller and Nebe, had a conference, and that all three of you were trying to find an excuse for keeping the actual truth of these events from the public. I am asking you, when did you first hear of the shooting of these fifty flyers?

A. That is the "Case Sagan."

Q. When did you hear of it? It is a simple question, please.

A. The first time that case became known to me was about six weeks after it happened.

Q. My next question: Do you want to say that you were not involved in the shooting in any way, that, on the contrary, you were only much later able to investigate the matter?

A. Yes, that is what I want to say.

Q. Do you also mean to say that the conference with Schellenberg dealt exclusively with the later attempt to conceal the truth of the matter?

A. It can only have referred to that.

Q. I am coming to Document 835-PS, Exhibit USA 527. This document also is held against the defendant by the prosecution. It is the so-called "Nacht und Nebel Decree" - the "Night and Fog Decree," which is an order from Hitler dated 7th December, 1941. Is the expression "Night and Fog Decree" familiar to you? When did you hear of it for the first time?

A. The first time I heard of it was in June, 1945, in London.

Q. This document which I have submitted to you, is a letter from the O.K.W. dated 2nd September, 1944, addressed to the German Armistice Commission. It is signed by Dr. Lehmann, and in it is stated:

"According to the decree all non-German civilians in occupied territories who have endangered the security and preparedness of the occupying forces by means of terror or sabotage or in any other way, are to be handed over to the Security Police and the S.D."
In the case of so important a matter, it appears improbable that the matter and the "Night and Fog Decree" were not known to you.

A. I had no knowledge and I beg to be given permission to clarify the situation. May I first of all say that no document shows better proof than this of the fact that an executive function is wrongfully attributed to the S.D. It says here on line four:

" - have endangered ... or in any other way, are to be handed over to the Security Police and the S.D."

[Page 273]

First of all, it is altogether nonsensical to state that one and the same matter should be handed over to two different authorities; either it was the Security Police or the S.D.

But this error in the use of the German language found its way in the Fuehrer decree because Heydrich, as Chief of the Security Police and S.D., was referred to in short as Chief of S.D. only, but it is an absolute mistake. Whereby, God knows, I am not trying to exonerate the S.D. from other things which it may perhaps have committed, but I want to make it clear that it is wrong to conclude from this that it had executive powers.

Q. Yes, but it is not only the question of the S.D., but also of the Security Police.

A. Yes, and to that I want to say the following. This Fuehrer decree of the year 1941 was not known to me. I am asking you to put yourself in my position. At the beginning of 1943 I came to Berlin. With the exception of a few official visits I commenced my activity in May, 1943. In the fourth year of the war the decrees and orders within the Reich and also in the executive sector amounted to thousands, and were accumulating on the desks and the cabinets of the civil servants. It was absolutely impossible for any man even to read them all within a year, and it was quite impossible for me to know of the existence of all these orders even had I considered it my duty to do so. But it was not my duty at all. Then I am asking you to consider the following fact.

The beginning of my activity was officially February, 1943. On 2nd February Stalingrad was surrendered and the largest military catastrophe -

THE PRESIDENT: This is a long speech in answer to a question as to whether he had seen this letter. He says he did not see the letter. Then he makes this long speech.


Q. I am now putting this question to you. When did you realise what significance this "Nacht und Nebel (Night and Fog) Decree" had and what it meant regarding the treatment of persons it affected? Please give a precise answer.

A. Dr. Kauffmann, the existence of the decree was unknown to me. Had I known that this matter would be held against me here, then I would have been able to nominate a witness in captivity in London who can prove that even in London I had no idea that it existed. We have talked about that in the cell.

Q. The net result, therefore, is that you did not know?

A. Yes, I was absolutely ignorant regarding that decree.

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