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 6 of 12)

[COLONEL AMEN continues his cross examination of Ernst Kaltenbrunner]

[Page 297]

Q. I am calling your attention to two paragraphs. We have already covered 2, and now we will read 4:
"To my knowledge no chief of office or any of the officials of the R.S.H.A. authorised to sign had the right to sign in any fundamental affairs of particular political significance without consent of the Chief of the Security Police - not even during his temporary absence. From my own experience I can furthermore declare that particularly the chief of Amt IV, Muller, was very cautious in signing documents concerning questions of a general nature and in some cases of greater importance, and that he put aside events of such nature in most cases for the return of the Chief of the Security Police, whereby, alas, often much time was lost.

Signed: Kurt Lindow."

A. Yes. I would like to make two statements: First, this assertion is completely contrary to the testimony of several witnesses who spoke of the extraordinary authority and independence exercised by Muller and testified to it.

Second, Lindow's statements are applicable to that period of time in which Heydrich was active - that is, the time between 1938 and 1940, in which Lindow could observe the procedure, but not to the period in which Himmler gave direct orders to Muller. That was Himmler's prerogative, for my tasks were of such scope that it was almost impossible for one man to handle the work that I did.

Q. I don't want to spend too much time on it now, defendant, but the paragraphs

[Page 298]

which I read you conform to the testimony of Ohlendorf before this Tribunal, do they not?

A. The testimony as given by Ohlendorf was shown to me yesterday by my counsel, but his testimony leads us clearly to see that any executive order, even for protective custody - and he used the term "down to the last washerwoman" - needed Himmler's signature, and that the latter could delegate this authority only to Muller. He did add, however, he did not know whether my authority suffered any such restrictions and whether perhaps I might not have had such powers, but he could not state that with certainty. And the rest of his testimony contradicts the assumption that I had such broad authority.

Q. We all know what Ohlendorf's testimony was. I merely want to ask you if you accept it. You told us in the course of interrogatories that you had the most contact with Ohlendorf and that you would trust him to tell the truth before any of your other associates, is that not correct?

A. I do not recall the last statement. The first statement, that he was one of my chief collaborators, is justified and is proved by the fact that he was chief of the intelligence within Germany, which became a part of my Intelligence Service. All domestic political reports - reports about all German spheres of life - I received mostly from this Amt III, in addition to the news from the other departments which I organised myself.

Q. Shortly after Easter, 1934, you were under arrest in the Kaisersteinbruch detention camp?

A. What year did you say, please?

Q. Thirty-four.

A. Yes; from 14th January until the beginning of May.

Q. Did you ever, in company with other S.S. functionaries, make an inspection of the Mauthausen camp?

A. With other S.S. officials, no. To my recollection I went there alone and had to report to Himmler there, who, as I stated yesterday, was conducting an inspection tour through Southern Germany.

Q. And you only went in the quarry? Right?

A. Yes.

Q. Were you acquainted with Karwinski, the State Secretary in the Dollfuss and Schuschnigg Cabinets from September, 1933, to October, 1935 - Karwinski?

A. I saw Karwinski once. I believe he visited us in the Kaisersteinbruch detention camp at the time of our hunger strike. Otherwise I never saw him. It might be that one of his representatives visited us. That I can't say.

Q. I ask that the defendant be shown Document 3843-PS, which will be Exhibit USA 794. I would like to say to the Tribunal that there is rather objectionable language in this exhibit but I do feel that in view of the charges against the defendant, it is my duty to read it. If you will turn to Page 3, defendant.

A. On Page 3 there are just a few lines. May I read the entire document first, please?

Q. It would take much too much time, defendant. I am only interested in the paragraph which is on Page 3 of the English text, and begins "Shortly after Easter." Have you got it?

A. Yes,

Q. "Shortly after Easter, 1934, I received the news that the prisoners in the Kaisersteinbruch detention camp had gone on hunger strike. Thereupon I went there myself, in order to learn the situation. While comparative calm and discipline prevailed in most of the barracks, one barrack was very disorderly. I noticed that one tall man seemed to be the leader of the resistance. This was Kaltenbrunner, at that time a candidate for attorney-at- law, who was under arrest because of his illegal activity in Austria. While all the other

[Page 299]

barracks gave up, their hunger strike after a talk which I held with representatives of the prisoners, the one under Kaltenbrunner persisted in the strike. I saw Kaltenbrunner again in the Mauthausen camp, when I was severely ill and lying on rotten straw with many hundred other seriously ill persons, many of them dying. The prisoners, suffering from hunger-oedemata and from the most serious intestinal sicknesses, were lying in unheated barracks in the dead of winter. The most primitive sanitary arrangements were lacking. The latrines and the washrooms were unusable for months. The severely ill persons had to relieve themselves on little marmalade buckets. The soiled straw was not renewed for weeks, so that a stinking liquid was formed, in which worms and maggots crawled around. There was no medical attention or medicines. Conditions were such that ten to twenty persons died every night. Kaltenbrunner walked through the barracks with a brilliant suite of high S.S. functionaries, saw everything, must have seen everything. We were under the illusion that these inhuman conditions would now be changed, but they apparently met with Kaltenbrunner's approval, for nothing happened thereafter."
Is that true or false, defendant?

A. I can refute this document, evidently presented in order to surprise me, in every point.

Q. I ask you - first, I ask you to state whether it is true or false?

A. It is not true and I can refute each detail.

Q. Make it as brief as possible.

A. It is not possible to me to take less time in refuting it, Mr. Prosecutor, than you took in reading it. I have to refute each word which is incriminating me. Here Karwinski maintains ...

Q. Just a moment. Perhaps you will wait until I have read to you two more exhibits I have along the same line. Then perhaps you can make your explanation of all three at the same time. Is that satisfactory to you?

A. As you wish.

Q. I ask that the defendant be shown Document 3845-PS, which will become Exhibit USA 795. You have already denied, I believe, having visited or gone through the crematorium at Mauthausen, correct?

A. Yes.

Q. Do you know Tiefenbacher, Albert Tiefenbacher?

A. No.

Q. If you have the document you will note that he was at Mauthausen concentration camp from 1938 until 1st May, 1945, and that he was employed in the crematorium at Mauthausen for three years as carrier of dead bodies. You note that?

A. Yes.

Q. Now, passing to the lower half of the first page, you will find the question:

"Do you remember Eigruber?
Answer: Eigruber and Kaltenbrunner were from Linz.
Question: Did you ever see them in Mauthausen?
Answer: I saw Kaltenbrunner very often.
Question: How many times?
Answer: He came from time to time and went through the crematorium.
Question: About how many times?
Answer: Three or four times.
Question: On any occasion when he came through, did you hear him say anything to anybody?
Answer: When Kaltenbrunner arrived most prisoners had to disappear, only certain people were introduced to him."

[Page 300]

Is that true or false?

A. That is completely incorrect.

Q. Now I will show you the third document and then you can make a brief explanation. I ask that the defendant be shown. Document 3846-PS which will become Exhibit USA 796.

I might ask you, witness, do you remember ever having witnessed a demonstration of three different kinds of executions at Mauthausen at the same time? Three different kinds of executions?

A. No, that is not true.

Q. Are you acquainted with Johann Kanduth who makes this affidavit?

A. No.

Q. You will note, from the affidavit, that he lived in Linz; that he was an inmate of the concentration camp at Mauthausen from 21st March, 1939, until 5th May, 1945; that besides the work in the kitchen, he also worked in the crematorium from 9th May, and he worked the heating for the cremation of the bodies. Now, if you will turn to the second page, at the top.

"Question: Have you ever seen Kaltenbrunner at Mauthausen on a visit at any time?
Answer: Yes.
Question: Do you remember when it was?
Answer: In 1942 and 1943.
Question: Can you give it more exactly, maybe the month?
Answer: I don't know the date.
Question: Do you remember only this one visit in the year 1942 or 1943?
Answer: I remember that Kaltenbrunner was there three times.
Question: What year?
Answer: Between 1942 and 1943.
Question: Tell us, in short, what did you think about these visits of Kaltenbrunner which you described? That is: what did you see, what did you do, and when did you see that he was or was not present at such executions?
Answer: Kaltenbrunner was accompanied by Eigruber,
Schulz, Ziereis, Bachmaier, Streitwieser and some other people. Kaltenbrunner went laughing into the gas chamber. Then the people were brought from the bunker to be executed and then all three kinds of executions - hanging, shooting in the back of the neck, and gassing - were demonstrated. After the dust had disappeared, we had to take away the bodies.
Question: When did you see the three different kinds of executions? Were those just demonstrations or regular executions?
Answer: I do not know if they were regular executions, or just demonstrations. During these executions, besides Kaltenbrunner, the bunkerleaders, Hauptscharfuehrer Seidel and Duessen, were also present. The last-named then led the people downstairs.
Question: Do you know whether these executions were announced for this day or if they were just demonstrations or if the executions were staged just for pleasure of the visitors?
Answer: Yes, these executions were announced for this day.
Question: How do you know that they were set for this day? Did somebody tell you about these announced executions?
Answer: Hauptscharfuehrer Roth, the leader of the crematorium, always had me called to his room and said to me: 'Kaltenbrunner will come tomorrow and we have to prepare everything for the executions in his presence.' Then we were obliged to heat and to clean the stoves."
A. May I answer?

Q. Is that true or false, defendant?

[Page 301]

A. Under my oath, I wish to state solemnly that not a single word of these statements is true. I might start with the first document.

Q. Could you note, defendant, that none of these affidavits were taken in Nuremberg, but that they all appeared to have been taken outside Nuremberg in connection with an entirely different proceeding or investigation. Did you note that?

A. No, but it is irrelevant as far as the testimony itself is concerned. May I now start to talk about this document?

Q. Yes, go ahead.

A. The Witness Karwinski mentions having seen me in the year 1934 in connection with the hunger strike in the detention camp Kaisersteinbruch. He singles out the barracks in which disorders were taking place at which a tall man, meaning myself, was present. According to him, I was interned there because of my illegal activity. As far as these statements are concerned, up to now, they are completely wrong.

First of all, I was not interned there because of National Socialist activities. The sentence we had received in writing, which must have been known to Karwinski, who was then Austrian State Secretary, stated literally that we were arrested "to prevent" us from performing National Socialist activities. So there was no prohibited activity at this time charged against me. Then, further, when Karwinski came, the hunger strike was in its ninth day. We had not -

Q. May I interrupt you just a moment, defendant. I am perfectly satisfied if you testify that these statements are false. If you are satisfied, I am perfectly satisfied with that answer. I do not need an explanation of all of these paragraphs when we have no way of verifying what you say.

A. Mr. Prosecutor, I cannot be satisfied if the High Tribunal and the world is presented with testimony and documents which are pages long and which you contend are the truth, and which incriminate me in the gravest manner. I must certainly have the opportunity to answer with more than "yes" or "no." I cannot simply just like some callous criminal only -

THE PRESIDENT: You'd better let him go on. We do not want to argue about it. Go on, make your comments on the document.

THE WITNESS: Karwinski arrived on the eighth day of the hunger strike. He did not come into the barracks in which we were, but we were brought on stretchers into the administrative building of this Austrian detention camp. None of us were even able to walk any more. And for this fact, there are many more witnesses - 490 internees who had been confined in these barracks with me. Karwinski talked with us in this administration building and stated that if the hunger strike were to stop the Government would be willing to consider a release of all internees. We had been interned without having committed any offence at all, and the Government had already given their promise three times to release us, but had never kept that promise.

Therefore, we requested a written statement from Karwinski, either signed by him or signed by the Federal Chancellor. We wanted this statement so that we could believe the promise, then we would end the strike. He refused. The hunger strike went on and we were taken to a hospital in Vienna. On the eleventh day the hunger strike was stopped because even water was refused to us that day. These were the facts and not that we created disorder.

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