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 Seventh Day: Saturday, 13th April, 1946
(Part 1 of 5)

[Page 327]




Q. Defendant, as I recall it, you have testified that you had no knowledge of the Hitler Commando Order of 8th October, 1942, until some time in 1945. Is that not correct?

A. I do not think that I said so. I believe that concerns the order -

Q. Well, that was your testimony yesterday, according to the record, that you had no knowledge of the Hitler Commando Order of 8th October, 1942 until some time in the year 1945. Is that not correct? Is that not now your position?

A. I do not believe that I made such an answer. The order is -

Q. Well, what is the fact? When did you first have knowledge of the Hitler Commando Order of 8th October, 1942?

I am speaking of the order of 18th October, 1942, not 8th. When did you first have knowledge of that? A. I cannot tell you that exactly now.

Q. All right.A. In any case, this order, if I had it read out to me, would probably be the same one which appeared in a Wehrmacht Report or in the Press.Q. All right. And you have also denied the testimony of your own witness, Mildner, concerning the existence of a decree issued in July or August, 1944, under which the Security Police were to execute members of Allied commando groups after questioning them. That is correct, is it not?

A. I was never asked about that.

Q. Well, I beg your pardon, but never mind any way. I will show you Document 535-PS, which will become Exhibit USA 807, and before anything else, I want to ask you whether it is your own signature, in your own handwriting, that appears at the bottom of that document.

(The document was submitted to the witness.)

A. Yes. That is my signature.

Q. Oh, it is your signature, is it?

A. Yes.

Q. You admit that? Is that right?

A. That is my signature, yes.

Q. Now, when you were interrogated before this trial you denied that that was your signature, didn't you?

A. No, I do not believe so.

Q. Well, I will read you your testimony on that point, to see whether that helps you to remember whether you denied it or not.

"Answer: From that it can only be seen that the Wehrmacht intended to write a letter to me; whether rightly or wrongly, and whether I was to write it, is very questionable. In any case, the Wehrmacht wanted to get in touch with the Gestapo, as can be seen from this letter, and I am convinced that

[Page 328]

an officer of the Gestapo, mentioned at the beginning of the letter, is the one who wrote this Document 535-PS - since he signed his name on it.

Question: Well, this is the letter that you know nothing about, but that, nevertheless, established just how you accomplished your desires by writing to the Supreme Command of the Armed Forces. That is very clear.

Answer: But I deny that I wrote this letter.

Question: Just now you didn't know about it, but now you deny it?

Answer: I not only did not know about the Hitler Order, I also knew nothing about this letter.

Question: But you acknowledged your signature?

Answer: I did not say that it is my signature. I only said it resembles my signature; and I also said it is possible that it is only a facsimile. I cannot recall a letter of such content which was written by me.

Question: Would it be any more convincing to you if you saw the original letter, signed in ink?

Answer: It would certainly be more convincing, but it still would not prove that I signed in ink."

Q. Did you make those answers to those questions, defendant?

A. Naturally, I don't remember whether I made those answers literally. But, I would like to make the following remarks to you: Questions concerning my signature have naturally always been put to me hundreds of times during interrogations and especially to confuse me. Today I believe is the first time I have seen this document - I immediately declared: "Yes, this is my signature." I certainly know my own signature, I can recognise it. However, you have also shown me signatures which were not mine.

In addition, you can see from the date of the letter, 23rd January, 1945, that it is correct that I learned about it in 1945 as you stated. I couldn't have the faintest notion of a Hitler order issued in the year 1942. And, if in your interrogation, which you just read to me, I stated that I did not write this letter, then this is confirmed by the very figure which appears on top where you read IV-A-2-a and a figure which obviously indicates that the letter was written in a section which was in charge of these matters.

That is what I mean when I say that I did not write this letter. That it may have been submitted to me for my signature among thousands of other papers which I might have had to look into in the course of the day I cannot, of course, deny. But from this you cannot draw the conclusion that I undoubtedly knew about the matter. You cannot imagine the extent of the official functions I took over in complete ignorance of Police background, not with instructions to carry out Police functions, but to organise and direct the vast intelligence service.

THE PRESIDENT: Answer questions and don't make speeches.

Q. Defendant, isn't the signature on that document before you, No- 535-PS, Exhibit USA 807, precisely the same and identical with your signature as it appears on Document 3803- PS, Exhibit USA 802? Just look at the two signatures, and tell the Tribunal if they are not identical.

A. No, I never signed in that way. I always signed: Dr. K., as on this document, even in informal letters.

Q. How about the handwriting? Does that look the same to you, defendant, or does it look different?

A. Yes, certainly there is a kind of resemblance, but I think it has happened to every person in this court-room that repeatedly in his absence one of his assistants signed a particularly urgent letter using his name.

THE PRESIDENT: Colonel Amen, the Tribunal will be able to see the signatures and judge for themselves.

COLONEL AMEN: Very good, sir.

Q. Now, do you have the document before you - 535-PS?

[Page 329]

A. Yes.

Q. You will note that that emanates from IVA-2-a, as appears in the upper corner under Chief of the Security Police and of the S.D.

A. Yes, and at the beginning you said the letter was written by me.

Q. That it is addressed to the High Command of the Armed Forces - right?

A. Yes.

Q. And that it refers to the Fuehrer Order of 18th October, 1942, as well as to the other Fuehrer orders referred to in the testimony of Mildner, namely, the Fuehrer Orders of 18th August, 1944, and 30th July, 1944 - correct?

A. I didn't know that Mildner testified on this point. Such a statement is not known to me nor has it been submitted to me. But, I believe, it proves -

Q. All right. Do you note that this document refers to the Fuehrer decrees of 18th October, 1942, 18th August, 1944 and 30th July, 1944? Yes or no, please.

A. Yes. It says so here.

Q. So that on 23rd January, 1945, when you wrote this letter, you obviously, had knowledge of those decrees - right? I mean -

A. That is incorrect inasmuch as, in my opinion, the most important item in this letter is contained in the sixth, fifth and fourth lines from the end; here it says that in accordance with the Geneva Convention there cannot be claimed any privileges for prisoners of war. If, then, under the pressure of work this letter was submitted to me, it is evident that my eyes would first fall on the spot where I had to sign and also on the last lines. Here -

THE PRESIDENT: Defendant, that is not an answer to the question. The question was whether you knew the orders of the 18th October, 1942, of 30th July, 1944, and 18th August, 1944., when you wrote this letter. Did you know?

A. No, I did not know of these orders, Mr. President.

Q. All right -

A. But please, would you let me defend myself on this point? It was clear to me that this dealt with the treatment of agents to whom the provisions of the Geneva Convention for prisoners of war are not applicable; and you cannot deny a power at war the right to let its security police take in hand those men who do not come under the regulations of the Geneva War Convention. That is the perfect right of any power at war. There were also German agents who were engaged in hostile activity in England and other countries.

THE PRESIDENT: Defendant, you are not here to argue your case now; you are here to answer questions.


Defendant, you testified, did you not, that you first acquired knowledge of the case of the British flyers who escaped from Stalag Group 3 in March, 1944, some six weeks after the escape occurred; is that not correct?

A. Yes, now I assume it was about six weeks afterwards; at any rate, it was at the time when, in consequence of the speech in the British House of Commons, the Foreign Office demanded information about the case. The department chiefs turned to me and I in my turn sent them to Himmler.

Q. But when you were interrogated about this matter before the trial you testified as follows, did you not?

"Question: You remember the case of the eighty British flyers who escaped from Stalag Luft 3 that took place in March, 1944?

Answer: That case is unknown to me.

Question: General Westhoff attempted to find out from the Gestapo what had happened to these men?

Answer: If he negotiated with the Gestapo, he did not negotiate with me.

Question: What do you say about the general practice, that escaped prisoners were turned over to the Gestapo?

Answer: Such cases are not known to me."

[Page 330]

Did you make those answers - yes or no?

A. It is possible that I did, but I wish to point out to you that naturally I was completely confused by the manner in which these questions were put. I never really heard of eighty escaped airmen. Here, too, mention was only made of fifty.

Q. For your information, eighty escaped and fifty were killed.

A. And in addition, General Westhoff stated here that he did not discuss the Sagan case with me but that he tried to obtain information from the State Police, that he spoke to me about the transfer of prisoner-of-war affairs to Himmler, who was the Commander of the Reserve Army, and that Sagan was referred to on this occasion.

Q. Now, defendant, you testified that you had no knowledge whatever of the fact that Einsatz groups of the Security Police and S.D. Were operating in U.S.S.R. until long after you had become Chief of the R.S.H.A. in January, 1943, is that not correct?

A. Yes.

Q. And you still say that that is correct?

A. Yes.

Q. You deny that you ever knew that these Einsatz groups carried out the extermination of Jews in the U.S.S.R. until long after you had become Chief of the R.S.H.A.?

A. I only discovered this during the arguments I had with Himmler and Hitler, I believe late in 1943, probably in November.

Q. And you admit, I take it, that you were a higher S.S. and police leader in Austria in 1942 - right?

A. Yes.

Q. And Schirach was a Reich Defence Commissioner in Vienna at that time, was he not?

A. I don't know when he was appointed, but I must point out that the higher S.S. and police leaders received those powers with which they finally were invested, in three different stages. In 1941, when I became higher S.S. and police leader, the authority of such a leader was considerably less than it was at the end of the war.

Q. Now, if the Tribunal please, I have a document which arrived by aeroplane yesterday of which there is only one original copy and which therefore we have not been able to get translated, so I have arranged, if it is satisfactory to the Tribunal, for the interpreter to read the excerpts from that original document, which was taken from Schirach's personal files in Vienna, and then submit the original document to the Tribunal and have it processed just as quickly as we are able to do so. Or perhaps the Tribunal would like to see the document first. It is an original document.

THE PRESIDENT: You will read it so that it will go through into German?

COLONEL AMEN: Yes, your Lordship.


COLONEL AMEN: This is Document 3876-PS. It is a report issued by Heydrich to all the higher S.S. and police leaders and Reich defence commissioners on the activities of the Einsatz groups in the U.S.S.R. during the month of January, 1942, and on the distribution list appears the name of this defendant. Will you read the US 808?

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