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 Sixth Day: Friday, 12th April, 1946
(Part 3 of 12)

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

[Page 286]

Q. Did you come to an agreement, and within the confines of this agreement was any help really given and in what manner?

A. Yes, considerable help was given. An agreement was reached, according to which all foreign civilian detainees, with the help of the Red Cross, were to be taken from all camps in the Reich and released to their home countries. But in the first place by granting Burckhardt's request during these discussions I achieved the aim that the leading departments of the Reich would be involved to such an extent that they could no longer detach themselves from this agreement and that, I think, was my greatest success with Burckhardt.

Q. Is it true that to get about 3,000 French and Belgian detainees through the front line at that time you got in touch with General Kesselring at his headquarters?

A. I sent a wireless message to the headquarters asking that as soon as an American and British agreement to this was come to, the Germans also should allow such internees to go through the fighting lines.

Q. That is enough.

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Kauffmann, he said 12th March, but he did not give the year.

DR. KAUFFMANN: I do not understand - yes, 12th March.




Q. What is the total number of people who, due to your intervention, reached their homeland?

A. You must differentiate here between two different periods. The first period is before the personal meeting on 12th March and the other after that.

Q. In my opinion you can give me a brief answer to that question. The period of time does not matter.

A. At least 6,000 civilian detainees coming from France and Belgium and all the Eastern European States including the Balkan States were included in these talks. At least 14,000 Jewish detainees were handed over to the Red Cross in the town of Gungkirchen for their immediate care. This applies to the whole camp of Theresienstadt.

Q. And is it finally correct - please answer very briefly either in the affirmative or in the negative, that because of your intervention at Constance on Bodensee a special liaison department with the Red Cross was installed for the purpose of facilitating and carrying out this programme further?

A. A liaison department with the Red Cross was established in Lindau and at Constance.

[Page 287]

Q. That is enough.

The prosecution holds you responsible for a wireless message you are supposed to have sent to Fegelein in which it says: "Please report to the Reichsfuehrer that all measures regarding Jews, political and concentration camp internees in the Protectorate, have been carried out by me personally today."

I ask you: Did you send such a wireless?

A. It did not get sent because the technical connection was not re-established.

THE PRESIDENT: What is the number?

DR. KAUFFMANN: Mr. President, I did not mention a number. It was not presented in Court but it is contained in the trial brief on Page 14.

THE PRESIDENT: I think it is 519-PS. It was presented to the Court.

A. (continued): The wireless message was planned - the text probably was written by the adjutant who was accompanying me. I did not write it personally and, as I said, it could not be sent.

On 19th April, 1945, I had been given authority to act independently in accordance with the discussions with Burckhardt with reference to foreign civilian detainees and regarding the entering of all camps by the Red Cross. On that occasion I stated in Hitler's and Himmler's presence that my route would go through. Prague to Linz and Innsbruck and that I would pass by Theresienstadt. I said that there were not only Jewish detainees there who were to be looked after by the Red Cross but also Czechoslovak political detainees. I suggested that their release should also be carried out. That is the explanation for that wireless message. But not until 19th April at six o'clock in the evening was I given full power in the matter.

Q. But the prosecution might assume from that statement, and rightly so, that you might have had jurisdiction over concentration camp questions. Is that so? Please answer this question with "yes" or "no":

Is it true that the powers you have mentioned as being given to you on 19th April, 1945, were the first powers you ever had in that connection?

A. Yes. I would not have needed a renewed authority at all if I had had it up to that time.

Q. In a speech Himmler made on 3rd October, 1943, at Posen which he delivered to the Higher S.S. and Police Leaders you are called Heydrich's successor. The prosecution considers that this is a confirmation of the entire executive power and extraordinary authority which you had.

Does this formal expression, which was certainly used in this connection, do justice to the situation or not?

A. No, I protest strongly - I have done so during all the interrogations - against being called Heydrich's successor. If in my absence Himmler referred to me as such, or if such a notice or announcement was published earlier in the Press, coming from him, then this was done without my knowledge and without my wish, and the Press notice to that effect resulted in a violent reaction to Himmler on my part. The day which you mentioned here I was ill in Berlin with an inflamed artery, and therefore did not join this discussion.

One could not possibly compare my powers and authority with Himmler's. I want to say quite briefly now that to the very last day of my activity I was paid 1,820 RM, which is the salary of a general of the police, and that Heydrich's income from his office was more than 30,000 RM, not because he was paid for a higher rank but in recognition of his completely different position. Any comparison is out of the question.

Q. Now, my next question. Is it correct that Himmler was frightened of Heydrich because, from his point of view, Heydrich had been given too much authority, and that for that reason he thought that by calling on you he had found the very man who would be completely safe for him, Himmler? In this connection the prosecution has drawn a parallel between you and Heydrich, and, as I have already just said, has described you as the second Heydrich.

[Page 288]

A. The relationship between Himmler and Heydrich can be characterised shortly as follows: Heydrich was by far the more intelligent of the two. He was first of all an unusually docile and obedient ...

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Kauffmann, we do not want to know anything about Heydrich's intelligence. The witness has said over and over again that he was not his successor.


Q. In that case I will repeat the question which I put earlier, and which is the following:

Did Himmler, by calling on you, think he had found a man who was completely safe for him, Himmler?

A. He was determined never again to allocate to any man as much executive power as Heydrich had enjoyed. The moment Heydrich was dead, Himmler took over the entire department and never let the executive powers out of his hands again. He had learned, in the person of Heydrich, how dangerous the Chief of the Security Police could become. He didn't want to run that risk a second time.

Q. In other words, what you want to say, finally, is that after Heydrich died, Himmler wanted to and did retain the whole executive powers in his hands?

A. Yes.

Q. Now, another question. You stated yesterday that it was only later on that you learned of the conception of the so- called "final solution." In effect, such instructions went from Himmler to Heydrich and to Eichmann as early as 1941, or 1942. Is it true that you frequently met Himmler? Were you a friend of his?

A. It is utterly wrong to call the relationship between Himmler and myself friendship. Just like every other official, I was treated by him in an extremely cool and reserved manner. He wasn't a man who could enter into personal relationship with anyone.

Q. It is natural for me to assume, if I put myself in the position of the prosecution, that you must have had knowledge of the "final solution" if you met Himmler frequently. I therefore ask you again: Didn't Himmler at some time put to you clearly what this "final solution" was?

A. No. I said yesterday that, on the basis of all documents which accumulated during the summer and autumn of 1943, including reports from enemy broadcasts and foreign reports, I came to the conviction that the statement regarding the destruction of Jews was true, and that, thus convinced, I immediately went to see Hitler, and the next day Himmler, and complained to both of them saying that I would not for one single minute support any such action. Beginning with that moment -

Q. Yes, well, you said so yesterday. You needn't repeat it again.

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Kauffmann, he told us that before and you told us that you would finish in an hour; you have now been nearly an hour and a half.

DR. KAUFFMANN: I have only two or three questions.


Q. The trial brief of the prosecution contains a statement of Schellenberg, and it runs as follows:

"What am I going to do with Kaltenbrunner? He would have me completely under his thumb in that case."
This is stated by Schellenberg in an affidavit, and it is supposed to have been said by Himmler. Please, will you give a very brief statement regarding the fact whether you would consider such a statement by Himmler at all probable?

A. I don't consider such a statement probable. If he did say it, then it can only have been in connection with -

THE PRESIDENT: The Tribunal does not think that is a permissible question to put to the witness.

DR. KAUFFMANN: In the trial brief a document of this kind has been presented

[Page 289]

and charged against you but, if the President does not wish that question, I shall be glad to withdraw it. I

THE PRESIDENT: It seems to be merely a matter of argument, and you cannot criticise this affidavit, if the affidavit is in evidence.


Q. I now come to the last question. I ask you whether it would have been possible for you, after you gradually became aware of conditions within the Gestapo and concentration camps, etc., to have brought about a change? If that was the case, can you say that by staying on in your position you achieved any alleviation in this sphere and an improvement of conditions?

A. I repeatedly applied to be sent to the front, but the most burning question which I personally had to decide was: "Will conditions be thus improved or alleviated? Will anything be changed? Or is it my duty in my capacity to do what is necessary to change all these painful conditions?"

Upon repeated refusals to my request to be posted to the front, I had no other alternative than to try myself to alter a system, the ideological and legal basis of which could in reality not be altered by me, as had been proved by all the orders issued before my time and offered in evidence here. All that I could do was to try to modify these methods, hoping that they would eventually be abolished altogether.

Q. Did your conscience permit you to remain in office?

A. When I considered the possibility of exerting more and more influence on Hitler and Himmler and other persons, my conscience would not allow me to leave my position. I thought it my duty personally to take a stand against wrong.

DR. KAUFFMANN: Mr. President, I have no further question.

THE PRESIDENT: The Tribunal will adjourn.

(A recess was taken.)

THE PRESIDENT: Do any of the defendants' counsel wish to ask any question of the defendant?

BY DR. DIX (counsel for defendant Schacht):

Q. Do you know, witness, that Schacht, before he was taken into custody by the Allied Forces, had been in a concentration camp?

A. Yes.

Q. How long have you known that?

A. Since his wife wrote me a letter, and I think that she requested me to present a petition so that she might get her husband out.

Q. And about when was that?

A. I believe it was around Christmas, 1944.

Q. Do you know or have you any idea at whose suggestion Schacht was interned in a concentration camp?

A. I believe that on the very same day I sent this letter from Schacht's wife by courier to the office of the Adjutant to Hitler, and received word through Fegelein or one of Hitler's adjutants that Hitler was to be consulted in this matter. Some time later I learned that Schacht had been interned on Hitler's order because he was suspected of working together with Goerdeler or in any case was one of the instigators of the high treason plot and the attempted assassination of Hitler on 20th July, 1944.

Q. I have a letter I received a short time ago, written by a former concentration camp inmate, who was told by Obersturmbannfuehrer Stawitzky ... Do you know him?

A. No.

Q. He was the last commandant of the concentration camp at Flossenburg. In this letter I am told that this Stawitzky had told him that he had been ordered to murder Schacht along with the other prominent internees like Canaris. Do you know anything about such an order for the murder of Schacht?

[Page 290]

A. No.

Q. Do you consider it possible that Stawitzky might have decided on such a step through his own authority?

A. No.

Q. If I interpret your answer correctly, such an instruction could have come only from the highest level, that is, either from Hitler or Himmler.

A. Yes, you may assume that. As far as Schacht is concerned, it could only have been an order from Hitler himself.

DR. DIX: Thank you.

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