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 10 of 10)

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

[Page 273 ]

Q. I now come to Document 526-PS, Exhibit USA 502, which has been used by the prosecution.

(Witness is handed document.)

This refers to the landing of an enemy cutter in Norway on 30th March, 1943. That report contains a sentence:

"Fuehrer order carried out by S.D."?
The signature on that document is lacking. It is dated 10th May, 1943. It is a secret command matter and the heading is "Note." Please, will you make a statement regarding that sentence:
"Fuehrer order carried out by S.D."?
A. The execution of such a Fuehrer order is unknown to me. I want to point out that this note is obviously one made by a military department regarding an event which took place shortly after I had come into office but at a time before I had come to Berlin. I could not have had knowledge of it at all.

Q. It says at the end of the document:

"Armed Forces report dated 6th April, 1943."
It states further as follows:
"In Northern Norway an enemy ship carrying sabotage troops was forced to fight when approaching the coast and was destroyed."

[Page 274]

Do you know anything about the connection of this army report - as far as you knew of it at all - with the actual decree?

A. No. Of course I read daily practically every incoming army report. But from its composition I am unable to determine any participation of any military agency within my sphere.

Q. I now turn to the next document, which has been held against the defendant by the prosecution, L-37, Exhibit USA 506. This is the so-called "responsibility of relatives," that is to say, it refers to crimes committed against relatives of the guilty persons. This document refers to a letter from the commander of the Security Police to the S.D. at Radom, dated 19th July, 1944, according to which male relatives of saboteurs are to be shot and female relatives to be sent to concentration camps.

What is your explanation to the Tribunal with reference to that document and the whole matter?

The report commences with the words:

"The Higher S.S. and Police Leader East has - "and so on and so forth, and then " - ordered" or "issued the following order."
The Higher Police Leader East is a department, which, as a department in an occupied territory, is directly under the jurisdiction of the Reichsleader S.S. and not under any central department in Berlin. Therefore I could not have had knowledge of that order. The police leaders in occupied territories were immediately subordinate to Himmler.

Q. I now come to the next accusation of the prosecution. It concerns the concentration camp at Dachau. A document exists which has the number 3462-PS, it is Exhibit USA 528. It is a statement by the Gaustabsamtleiter Gerdes.

The prosecution accuses the defendant of contemplating the wiping out of the concentration camp at Dachau and its adjoining camps at Muehldorf and Landsberg by bombs or poison. I shall read a few sentences from that document. They are on Page 2 of the German text, near the end of the page.

"In December, 1944, or January, 1945, I was in the office of Gauleiter Giesler in Munich, Ludwig Street 28, and had the opportunity of learning about a secret order from Kaltenbrunner. Gauleiter Giesler received that order in my presence through a courier and, after I had been given permission to read it, it was destroyed in accordance with the remark on the document: 'To be destroyed after cognisance has been taken.' The order, which was signed by Kaltenbrunner, was worded roughly as follows:

'In agreement with the Reichsleader S.S. I have instructed all higher police departments that every German who participates in the future in the persecution and destruction of enemy airmen will remain unpunished.'

Gielger told me that Kaltenbrunner was in constant contact with him since he was considerably worried over the attitude of foreign workers and particularly the inmates of the concentration camps at Dachau, Muhldorf and Landsberg, which were in the path of the approaching Allied Armies.

On a Tuesday in the middle of April, 1945, I had a telephone call from the Gauleiter ordering me to keep myself available for a night conference. In the course of our conversation that evening Gauleiter Giesler disclosed the fact to me that Obergruppenfuehrer Kaltenbrunner had given him instructions, in accordance with an order from the Fuehrer, that there should be made an immediate plan regarding the liquidation of the concentration camp at Dachau and the two Jewish work camps at Muhldorf and Landsberg. The instructions stated that these two Jewish work camps at Landsberg and Muhldorf were to be destroyed by the German Air Force, since the sites of those two camps had lately and repeatedly been affected by hostile bombing attacks. The action was given the camouflage name 'Cloud A-1.'"

[Page 275]

A. May I say something to that?

Q. First please, do you know Gerdes?

A. I do not know Gerdes and I have never seen him.

Q. Do you know Giesler?

A. The last time I saw Giesler was in 1942, in September.

Q. Was an order of Hitler in existence regarding the destruction of concentration camps?

A. No.

Q. Will you give a reasonable explanation regarding this document?

A. To give a reasonable explanation for that document is almost humanly impossible, because from A to Z it is an invention and a fake. I brand this document a complete and utter lie coming from Gerdes, and I can only refer you to the deposition supporting my statement by the Higher S.S. and Police Leader who was the sole competent authority in Bavaria, Count Eberstein, who himself calls Gerdes's statement completely incredible. I would like to refute these accusations in detail as follows:

He says:

"On a Tuesday, in the middle of April, 1945, I received a call from the Gauleiter to be available for a night conference. He disclosed that he had received an instruction from Kaltenbrunner, in accordance with an order of the Fuehrer," and so on.
Nobody knew better in the Reich who was responsible for concentration camps, and how he had to give an order, than Hitler. He would never have given me such an order and he could not have given it to me because I was, on Hitler's personal instructions, in Austria from 28th March until 15th April. As to the time from 10th April until 8th May, when I was captured, including the few days when I was in Berlin, I can state exactly just where I had been and what I had done, so that the question of giving an order in this connection is impossible. And, anyway, it must have happened earlier, if the witness is talking about the middle of April, which would mean that I would have had to talk to Hitler about this before the middle of April, since otherwise Gerdes couldn't have been asked to be available for a night conference at that time.

The existence of a Jewish concentration camp in Dachau was completely unknown to me, and I am asking you to recognise the absurdity of my sponsoring in April of 1945 such an order, when I had tried as recently as the previous month to start discussions with the President of the International Red Cross, Burckhardt, regarding the release and help to be given to all Jews, and when I had made every effort to arrange for him to look after the Jewish camps in person - efforts which were successful.

Q. Did you have any possibility at all of exerting influence on the German Air Force in this respect?

A. I could not have given the Air Force orders - I could only have asked the Chief of the Air Force to give them. In any case, of course, Cloud A-1 would have been turned down, because you must realise that, at this time, when everyone knew that the war had come to an end, the Air Force wouldn't have lent its hand to a terrible crime.

Q. And now, with the permission of the Tribunal, and because it is a terrible accusation, I am quoting a few more sentences from this document, because the prosecution, too, has read these sentences into the record. The document goes on to say:

" I was aware that I would never carry this order out." - This is Gerdes talking - "Since the action 'Cloud A-1' was supposed to have been carried out already couriers from Kaltenbrunner kept arriving, and I was supposed to have discussed the details of the Muhldorf and Landsberg action with the two district leaders (Kreisleiter) concerned. The couriers, who in most

[Page 276]

cases were S.S. officers, mostly S.S. Untersturmfuehrers, made me read and initial brief and sharp orders. I was threatened with severe punishment, even execution, in case of disobedience. I could always excuse the failure to carry out the plan because of bad flying weather or lack of petrol or lack of bombs.

Therefore, Kaltenbrunner ordered that the Jews should be marched from Landsberg to Dachau, so that they would be included in the extermination which was going on in Dachau, whereas the action at Muhldorf was to be carried out by the Gestapo. For the concentration camp Dachau Kaltenbrunner ordered the action 'Cloud Fire' which stipulated that the inmates of the concentration camps at Dachau, with the exception of the Aryan members of the Western Powers, were to be liquidated with poison.

Gauleiter Giesler received that order directly from Kaltenbrunner and in my presence he discussed with the Health Officer, Dr. Harfeld, the procurement of the necessary amount of poison. Dr. Harfeld promised that the necessary quantity, in accordance with the order, would be obtained, and he received instructions to wait my further orders. Since I wished to prevent this action from being carried out in any event, I gave no further instructions to Dr. Harfeld. The inmates of the camp at Landsberg had hardly arrived at Dachau when a courier from Kaltenbrunner brought the order for the action 'Cloud Fire' to be carried out. I prevented the execution of the two actions, 'Cloud A- 1' and 'Cloud Fire,' by telling Giesler that the front line was too near and to convey that reason to Kaltenbrunner.

Kaltenbrunner gave written instructions to Dachau that all detainees who were members of the Western European Powers were to be loaded on lorries and transported to Switzerland, whereas the remaining inmates were to be marched afoot into the Oetztal territory (Tyrol), where their final liquidation was to be carried out in one way or the other."

Perhaps you can explain in a few words and without going into detail whether or not this document contains the truth.

A. This document is completely untrue.

Q. It is completely untrue?

A. But, Doctor, I must have an opportunity to define my views. I must be given an opportunity to clarify the details.

Q. You have already defined your attitude. If you have to say anything important in addition to that, you can state it now.

A. The following appears to be important to me: According to his statement, I must have had dozens of couriers during my stay in Austria. I had two persons only with me: my driver and my administrative adjutant. The latter's name was Scheitler, and he had nothing to do with Intelligence and Police. There were just the three of us, and so I had no means of dispatching so many couriers. Secondly, as far as Bavaria was concerned, there was no need for me to carry out any preparations, not even under pressure from Himmler. Why? Because, as far as Bavaria is concerned, plenipotentiary powers were given to Obergruppenfuehrer Berger on the same day as I was given plenipotentiary powers for Austria. So that there was no reason for me to take such action. Thirdly, I couldn't even have had in mind such insane orders regarding a concentration camp when, at the same time, I was ordering exactly the opposite. I'm thinking of Mauthausen. I had given an order to Mauthausen that the camp was to be completely handed over to the enemy. If you can put yourself in Himmler's place, then this would have been completely wrong, since the real criminals were in Mauthausen, whereas the people in Dachau had nothing or little against them. So that, even if you thought as Himmler - that the exact opposite would have been necessary - from that point of view, too, it is completely insane to accuse me of any such action.

Q. Finally, the prosecution holds you responsible for the fact that you, as Chief of the Security Police and the S.D., tolerated the persecution of the Church, particu-

[Page 277]

larly the Catholic Church, by the Gestapo. I recall to you in this connection that the Department B-2 of Amt IV was concerned with education and Catholic confessional questions; and Department I of Amt IV with political Catholicism. Do you know anything regarding the fact that within that department there was a two-fold policy regarding the churches, a policy with a so-called "immediate goal" and a "distant goal"? By "immediate goal" was meant that the churches would not be allowed to regain a single inch of ground; "distant goal" signified the final destruction of the churches in Germany at the end of the war. What do you know about these aims?

A. All I can say to these theoretical statements is that they were completely unknown to me. The church policy of the Reich, as I had to recognise in 1943, was different. In 1943, it was Hitler's policy to maintain a covert truce with the churches, for the duration of the war at any rate; that is, to refrain as much as possible from attacks and only to proceed against individual misdemeanours by the clergy if express authorisation had been forthcoming.

Q. May I interrupt you? I am asking you: Did you in the spring of 1943 ...

A. Yes, I want to come to that.

Q. . . . did you undertake anything with Hitler, and what was the result?

A. Well, I just wanted again to give you a picture of the state of affairs which I found. In spite of Hitler's policy, I found that Bormann was actively continuing the fight against the churches. Therefore as early as March, I wrote to Hitler, and later verbally requested a full clarification of the church policy. I asked him to alter it with a view to effecting a rapprochement. Above all I wanted to bring about a different policy toward the Vatican.

Q. I don't think there is any need for you to go into too much detail.

A. But I was blocked; first of all, Himmler opposed the idea to Hitler, and, secondly, I met with the strongest resistance from Bormann, who even went so far as to undermine completely the reputation of the German representative to the Vatican, Weizsaecker, by sending a man to shadow him.

Q. That's enough about that.

DR. KAUFFMANN: Mr. President, do you want me to go on? It is now five o'clock.

THE PRESIDENT: If you can finish in a short time, we would like you to go on. How long are you going to be?

DR. KAUFFMANN: I would say it would take me about another hour, since I must discuss those documents which have been submitted by the prosecution.

THE PRESIDENT: Before we adjourn, I will say that the Tribunal will sit on Saturday in open session until one o'clock.

(The Tribunal adjourned until 12th April, 1946, at 10.00 hours.)

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