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 Eighth Day: Monday, 15th April, 1946
(Part 3 of 10)

[DR. MERKEL continues his direct examination of Rudolf Franz Ferdinand Hoess]

[Page 355]

Q. Please, will you emphasise, therefore, that the Gestapo as such had nothing to do with the administration of the camps or the accommodation, feeding and treatment of the detainees, but that this was exclusively a matter for the Economic and Administrative Head Office?

A. Yes, that is quite correct.

Q. How do you explain it then that you, nevertheless, discussed different questions concerning concentration camps with Muller?

A. The R.S.H.A., or Amt IV, had the executive power for the directing of all detainees into camps, division into the camp grades, 1, 2, 3, and furthermore, the punishments which were to be carried out by the R.S.H.A.

Executions, the accommodation of special detainees, and all questions which might ensue therefrom were also taken care of by the R.S.H.A. or the Amt IV.

Q. When was this Economic and Administrative Head Office created?

A. The Economic and Administrative Head Office existed since 1933 under various names. The Inspectorate of concentration camps was, however, only subordinated to this Economic and Administrative Head Office since the year 1941.

Q. Then these concentration camps were from the very beginning under the control of this Economic and Administrative Head Office, that is to say, the S.S. and not the State Police?

A. Yes.

Q. You mentioned the name of Dr. Rascher a while ago. Do you know this doctor personally?

A. Yes.

Q. Do you know that Dr. Rascher before beginning his work in Dachau had become a member of the S.S.?

A. No, I know nothing about that. I only know that when I saw him he was in the uniform of an air force medical officer. Later he was supposed to have been taken over into the S.S., but I didn't see him again.

Q. I have no further questions. Thank you very much.

DR. BABEL (Dr. Babel, counsel for the S.S.):


Q. Witness, at the beginning of your examination you stated that when you, as ordered, visited the Reichsfuehrer S.S. Himmler, he told you that the carrying out of this order of the Fuehrer was to be left to the S.S. and that it had been instructed accordingly. What is to be understood under this general title S.S.?

A. According to the explanations of the Reichsfuehrer, this could only mean the men guarding the concentration camps. According to the nature of the order only concentration camp crews and not the Waffen S.S. could be concerned with the carrying out of this task.

Q. How many members of the S.S. were there in concentration. camps, and which units did they belong to?

A. Toward the end of the war there were approximately 35,000 S.S. men and, in my estimation, approximately 10,000 men from the Army, Air Force, and the Navy, employed at the labour camps for guard duties.

Q. What were the tasks of these guards? As far as I know, the tasks varied. First, there was the actual guarding and then there was a certain amount of administrative work in the actual compounds.

A. Yes, that is correct.

[Page 356]

Q. How many guards were there in the inner compounds for, let us say, 1,000 detainees ?

A. You can't estimate it in that way. According to my observations 10 per cent of the total number of guarding personnel were used for interior purposes, that is to say, administration and supervision of detainees within the compounds, including the medical personnel of the camp.

Q. So that 90 per cent were therefore used for the exterior guarding, that is to say, for watching the camp from watch towers and for accompanying the detainees on work assignments.

A. Yes.

Q. Did you make any observations as to whether there was any ill-treatment of prisoners to a greater or lesser degree on the part of those guards, or whether the ill-treatment was mostly to be traced back to the so-called Kapos?

A. If any ill-treatment of detainees by guards occurred - I myself have never observed any - then this was possible only to a very small degree since all officers in charge of the camps took care that as few S.S. men as possible had immediate contact with the inmates, because in the course of the years the guard personnel had deteriorated to such an extent that the former standards could no longer be maintained.

We had thousands of guards who could hardly speak German, who came from all leading countries of the world as volunteers and joined these units; or we had older men, between 50 and 60, who lacked all interest in their work, so that a camp commandant had to take care continuously that these men fulfilled even the lowest requirements of their duties. Furthermore, it is obvious that there were elements among them who would ill-treat detainees, but this ill- treatment was never tolerated.

Furthermore, it was impossible to have these masses of people working or when in the camp directed by S.S. men, so that everywhere detainees had to be engaged to give instructions to the other detainees and set them to work, and who almost exclusively had the administration of the inner camp in their own hands. Of course, a great deal of ill-treatment occurred which couldn't be avoided because at night there was hardly any member of the S.S. in the camps. Only in specific cases were S.S. men allowed to enter the camp, so that the detainees were more or less exposed to the detainee supervisors.

Q. You have already mentioned regulations which existed for the guards, but there was also a standing order in all the camps. In this camp order there were laid down the punishments for detainees who violated the camp rules. What punishments were these?

A. First of all, transfer to a "penal company" (Strafkompanie), that is to say, harder work, and their accommodation restricted; next, detention in the cell block, detention in a dark cell; and in very serious cases, chaining or strapping. Punishment by "strapping" (anbinden) was prohibited in the year 1942 or 1943, I can't say exactly when, by the Reichsfuehrer. Then there was the punishment of standing to attention during a long period at the entrance to the camp (Strafstehen), and finally punishment by beating.

However, this punishment by beating could not be decreed by any commandant independently. He could only apply for it. In the case of men, the decision came from the Inspector of Concentration Camps, Gruppenfuehrer Schmidt, and where women were concerned, the Reichsfuehrer reserved the decision exclusively for himself.

Q. It may also be known to you that members of the S.S., too, had two penal camps which sometimes were called concentration camps, namely, Dachau and at Danzig-Matzgau.

A. That's right.

Q. Were the existing camp regulations and the treatment for members of the S.S. who were accommodated in such camps different from the regulations relative to the other concentration camps?

[Page 357]

A. Yes, these two detention camps were not under the Inspectorate for Concentration Camps, but they were under an S.S. police court. I myself have neither inspected nor seen either of these two camps.

Q. So that you know nothing about the standing orders relating to those camps?

A. I know nothing about them.

DR. BABEL: I have no further questions to the witness.

THE PRESIDENT: The Tribunal will adjourn for ten minutes.

(A recess was taken.)

DR. KARL HAENSEL: I have a question that I would like to ask the High Tribunal. A second defence has been requested for the S.S. Is it permitted that several questions be put by the second defence counsel?

THE PRESIDENT: The Tribunal ruled, a long time ago, that only one counsel could be heard.


BY DR. KRANZBUHLER (counsel for defendant Donitz):

Q. Witness, you just mentioned that members of the Navy were engaged in the guarding of concentration camps.

A. Yes.

Q. Were these concentration camps, or were they labour camps?

A. They were labour camps.

Q. Were labour camps auxiliary camps of the armament industries?

A. Yes, if they were not in the actual factories themselves, they were used as auxiliary camps.

Q. I have been informed that soldiers who were to be engaged for guard duty at labour camps were placed under the S.S.

A. That is only partially correct. A part of these men - I do not recall the figures - was taken over into the S.S. A part was returned to the original unit, or exchanged. Exchanges were continually taking place.


COLONEL AMEN: If the Tribunal please, first I would like to submit, on behalf of our British Allies, a series of exhibits pertaining to the Waffen S.S., without reading them. It is merely statistical information with respect to the number of Waffen S.S. guards used at the concentration camps.

I ask that the witness be shown Documents D-745-a-b, D-746-a- b, D-747, D-748, D-749-b, and D-750, one of them being a statement of this witness.

(The documents were submitted to the witness.)


Q. Witness, you made the statement D-749-b which has been handed to you?

A. Yes.

Q. And you are familiar with the contents of the others?

A. Yes.

Q. And you testify that those figures are true and correct?

A. Yes.

Q. Very good.

COLONEL AMEN: These will become Exhibit USA 810.

Q. (continuing): Witness, from time to time did any high Nazi officials or functionaries visit the camp at Mauthausen or Dachau while you were there?

A. Yes.

Q. Will you state the names of such persons to the Tribunal please?

A. I remember that in 1935 all the Gauleiters inspected Dachau under the leadership of Reichsfuehrer Himmler. I don't remember the individual names.

Q. Do you recall any of the ministers having visited either of those camps while you were there?

A. Do you mean by this the inspection tour of 1935?

Q. At any time while you were at either of those concentration camps.

[Page 358]

A. In 1935 Minister Frick was at Sachsenhausen with the Regierungspraesident.

Q. Do you recall any other ministers who were there at any time?

A. Not at Sachsenhausen, but at Auschwitz, the Minister of Justice.

Q. Who was he?

A. Thierack.

Q. And who else? Do you recall any others?

A. Yes, but I don't remember the names for the moment.

Q. Well, who?

A. I have already stated that in the record, but at the moment I can't recall the names.

Q. All right. You have testified that many of the execution orders were signed by Muller. Is that correct?

A. Yes.

Q. Is it not a fact that all of those execution orders which you testified were signed by - ?

DR. STEINBAUER (counsel for defendant Seyss-Inquart):

Pardon me, Mr. President, documents have been submitted and the witness is being questioned about the contents. The defence is not in a position to follow the prosecution because we do not know the contents of these documents. I request that we receive copies of the same.

THE PRESIDENT: Haven't copies of these documents been handed to the defendants?

COLONEL AMEN: Yes, so I understood. We have copies here. However, five German copies have been distributed.

THE PRESIDENT: Well, the matter can be looked into.


Q. Witness, I was asking you about those execution orders which you testify were signed by Muller. Do you understand?

A. Yes.

Q. Is it not a fact that all of those execution orders which you testify were signed by Muller were also signed by order of, or as representative of, the Chief of the R.S.H.A., Kaltenbrunner?

A. Yes. That was on the copies that I had in the original after I had been employed at Oranienburg - it said, underneath "I. V. Muller." "In Vertretung Muller." ("As representative, Muller.)

Q. in other words, Muller was merely signing as the representative of the Chief of the R.S.H.A., Kaltenbrunner? Is that not correct?

A. I must assume so.

Q. And, of course, you knew that Muller was a subordinate of the Chief of the R.S.H.A., Kaltenbrunner.

A. Yes.

Q. Witness, you made an affidavit, did you not, at the request of the prosecution?

A. Yes.

COLONEL AMEN: I ask that the witness be shown Document 3868- PS, which will become Exhibit USA 819.

(A document was submitted to the witness.)

Q. You signed that affidavit voluntarily, witness?

A. Yes.

Q. And the affidavit is true in all respects?

A. Yes.

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