The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)
Nuremberg, war crimes, crimes against humanity

The Trial of German Major War Criminals

Sitting at Nuremberg, Germany
16th April to 1st May, 1946

One-Hundred-and-Sixteenth Day: Monday, 29th April, 1946
(Part 11 of 12)

[DR. MARX continues his direct examination of Fritz Herrwerth]

[Page 348]

THE WITNESS: Yes, yes, I will try my best.

A. (Continuing) The then S.A. Obergruppenfuehrer von Obernitz came into the Gau headquarters and told me he had to speak to Herr Streicher very urgently, and I answered him that Herr Streicher had already gone to bed. Then he said: "Then I must wake him," and he told me he would assume the responsibility; it was an important affair. Herr von Obernitz went to Streicher's apartment in my car. Herr Streicher's bedroom is above my apartment. I had the keys and, of course, I could get in at any time.

On the way to the apartment that night I noticed that many S.A. men were in the streets. I asked Herr von Obernitz the reason for that. He told me that that night something was going to happen; the Jewish homes were to be destroyed. He did not say anything further to me.

I accompanied Herr von Obernitz all the way to the bed of Herr Streicher. Herr von Obernitz then reported to Streicher about what was happening that night. I cannot recall the details very well any more, but I believe that he said that that night the Jewish homes were to be destroyed. Herr Streicher was, if I may say so, surprised. He had not known anything about it. He said to Herr von Obernitz, and I remember that very clearly: "That is wrong. One does not solve the Jewish question that way. Do what you have been ordered. I shall have no part in it. If anything should occur so that you need me, then you can come for me." I can also mention that thereupon Herr von Obernitz

[Page 349]

said that Hitler had declared the S.A. should be allowed to have a fling as retribution for what had occurred in Paris in connection with Herr von Rath. Streicher stayed in bed and did not go out during that night.

Q. Did von Obernitz mention anything about the fact that the synagogues were to be set on fire?

A. I believe so, yes. But, as far as I remember, Streicher refused to do that, too, because the synagogue, as far as I know, was burned down by the regular fire department, and upon orders from Herr von Obernitz.

Q. How do you know that?

A. I was there.

Q. Did you watch it?

A. Yes, I was at the synagogue during that night.

Q. And how could one assume that the regular fire department started the fire?

A. How that could be assumed I do not know, but I saw it. The regular fire department started the fire.

Q. Were you there in time to see how the fire was started or did you arrive when the building was already on fire?

A. The building was not yet on fire, but the fire department was there already.

Q. Is that right?

A. I can say nothing else.

Q. Did Herr Streicher at that time mention anything about the fact that he was afraid of a new wave of excitement on the part of the world Press if the synagogues were burned. Did he say that that is why he refused to do it?

A. I believe so, yes, but I could not say definitely; but, if I remember correctly, they spoke about that.

Q. Did Obernitz say from whom he had received the order?

A. He only repeated what Hitler had said - the S.A. should be allowed to have a fling.

Q. Is it correct that you, Witness, told your wife during the same night about that conversation between Obernitz and Streicher?

A. I believe I did not speak about the conversation but, when I walked down from the second floor to the ground floor through my apartment, I told my wife that I would probably be a little late because that night that action was going to be started. I told her briefly what was happening but nothing about the conversation.

Q. Then, later you were at the Pleickershof when Streicher had been forced to retire there or had retired?

A. Yes.

Q. Do you remember an incident where later Frau Streicher spoke about the incidents at Magdeburg which had occurred there the same night?

A. No, I know nothing of that.

Q. Did you not tell the then Frau Merkel that she should not talk about these incidents because Streicher always got very excited about them?

A. I can recall that Streicher once said that he had been right in his opinion, for not long after, that night he received information, I don't know through whom, that, for instance, the glass for the window panes had to be bought from Holland again. Streicher said then that that was the first confirmation of the correctness of the opinion he had expressed at that time.

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Marx, just one moment.

Sir David, would it be convenient to you and the counsel for the defendant von Schirach if we discussed the question about the documents at 9.30 tomorrow morning?

SIR DAVID MAXWELL FYFE: My Lord, I will find out. Yes, counsel for von Schirach says that he thinks it is all right.

THE PRESIDENT: Very well, 9.30 tomorrow morning.

[Page 350]


Q. What observations did you make during your stay at Pleickershof about the attitude of Streicher with regard to the, Jewish question? What was that about the "Israelitisches Wochenblatt?"

A. Well, what do you want to know about the "Israelitisches Wochenblatt?" Streicher received it.

Q. Did he receive it regularly?

A. Yes, I believe I can say that quite certainly. I saw large bundles of the "Israelitisches Wochenblatt." They came continuously.

Q. Herr Streicher said that during the first years of the war he had great difficulty in getting that paper and the police did not release it easily.

A. Yes, that can very well be. For I do not know, after all, what year they were. I just saw them and it is difficult for me to tell now what date these papers were.

Q. Yes, you said there were large bundles of them.

A. Yes, on and off, but there were other newspapers too. There were always so many newspapers lying about, and among them I saw here and there the "Israelitisches Wochenblatt." I mean to say that it would not be possible for me to say how many there were.

Q. All right. Did Streicher speak at times about his knowledge of happenings in the East or of happenings in concentration camps in the East?

A. Well, Streicher did not know anything at all about it. Thus he could not say anything about it. At least that's my conviction.

Q. Did you, then, ever speak to him about it?

A. Not that I know of; I didn't know anything about it myself.

Q. Did you ever come to know of a letter in which Streicher was reproached by Reichsfuehrer S.S. Himmler because he treated the French prisoners too well? Did you understand me?

A. Yes, I understood, but I have to think about it. I know quite well that Streicher once mentioned something about the treatment of prisoners. I know that the Frenchmen were treated very well, but whether the cause for that was a letter from Himmler, I don't know.

Q. No, no. The cause for the good treatment, you mean?

A. No, the cause for Streicher's speaking about it. Streicher spoke about reproaches against the good treatment of the Frenchmen; but I don't know whether the fact that he spoke about it, was due to a letter from Himmler. But I do not believe that there was a single Frenchman who could complain in any way about the treatment.

Q. You were no longer present when the Frenchmen left?

A. No.

Q. Do you know about an incident when the publisher Fink came into the garden of Streicher's home and admitted to having lied to the police in an affair concerning shares?

A. The question must be put in detail, for I do not know all about it, only part of it. I know that the then Director Fink stood in tears before Streicher, that he wailed, that he accused himself, saying that he was a rascal and a traitor. But why I don't know. For Streicher then walked further into the garden with him, and I only saw that Herr Fink wept, and again heard how he accused himself.

Q. Do you know that Streicher at certain intervals brought people from the S.P.D. and the K.P.D. (Social Democratic Party and Communist Party) from the Dachau concentration camp?

A. Yes.

Q. How many do you suppose there were?

A. I do not know. It was every year around Christmas-time. I estimate that there were about 100 to 150 men every year. They came from Dachau.

[Page 351]

Herr Streicher had dinner prepared for them in a separate room, in the Hotel Deutscher Hof, and I believe that used to be the family reunion - that is to say, the prisoners rejoined the members of their family. Streicher also saw to it that the prisoners who were then released found work, and he intervened personally for them.

Q. Did he also find work for one or other of these released persons?

A. Yes.

Q. What do you know about that?

A. I remember that three men, I believe, came into the Marx motorcycle factory. Streicher at that time told the Plenipotentiary for the German Labour Front to find positions for these people, as far as I remember.

Q. What was the attitude of Streicher when he found out that members of the Party had acquired cars and villas of Jewish property at very low prices?

A. I can still remember when Herr Streicher returned from Berlin. I don't know how much Streicher knew at that time about these purchases, but, at any rate, when Streicher returned from Berlin where Goering had expressed his views about these low-priced purchases of buildings, Streicher, having just arrived at the Nuremberg railway station, said - and I heard it myself - that these purchases had to be nullified at once.

Besides, I know only about one case in which a Party member had dealings with the purchase of a house. I do not know whether there were more of them.

Q. Do you know whether Streicher was under surveillance by the Gestapo while on his farm and that there was a prohibition against visiting him there?

A. In answering the first question, I cannot say for certain that criminal agents were there. I cannot affirm categorically that Herr Streicher was under observation, but it could be safely assumed. I know of a woman who even stated that she had been photographed in the forest when she came from the railway station to the farm. And what was the second question?

Q. Whether people were prohibited from visiting him.

A. Yes. I met various members of the Party within the city and whoever I asked said to me, "Impossible to get out there, impossible to get out there." And if I asked, who had issued the prohibition order then no one would talk about it, but, as one heard it, here and there, this prohibition order was said to have been issued by the Deputy of the Fuehrer, Hess.

Q. Do you know anything about the fact that Streicher, when he found out that acts of violence against Jews or other political adversaries were intended, stopped them immediately?

A. Yes. At least, on the basis of his statements. He always said that that was wrong.

Q. Do you know of any case where he took measures against somebody who had been a party to such acts of violence? If you do not know it, say you do not know.

A. Very well, at this moment I cannot recall any case.

Q. Do you know anything about the affair concerning the Marx Works shares?

A. Yes. I know about that case through statements made by Streicher at that time. I was not a witness to these events myself, but Herr Streicher once related to me what had happened. Shall I describe it briefly?

Q. Yes, but very briefly, please.

A. Streicher was in a Turkish bath at the time when the director Fink, and his adjutant, Koenig, came and offered to sell the shares to Streicher. Streicher said, "What kind of shares are they?" The answer was, "They are shares of the Marx Works." He said, "How many?" The answer was "One hundred thousand Marks' worth." Then Streicher said, "What do the shares cost?" He was told "5,000 Marks." Streicher asked, "Why are these

[Page 352]

shares so cheap?" Finally Fink said, I believe, "Because they are Jewish shares."

Whoever knows Herr Streicher as I do knows that Streicher has never taken anything from a Jew. He protested very emphatically against the fact that such an offer had been made to him at all.

That seemed to settle the matter for the time being, and then suddenly Gauleiter Streicher had the idea that with that money he could possibly construct the third Gau building. He mentioned that to the gentlemen as they left, and they decided to buy the shares. Streicher forbade them to use Party money. They did not know what to do. Streicher said he would advance the 5,000 Marks.

That settled the case, but I had another experience later regarding this matter. It was about one and a half years after that negotiation that Streicher had had in Munich, when he was dismissed. At that time the wife of N.S.K.K. Obergruppenfuehrer Zuehlen came to me and asked whether I already knew that the criminal police were in Nuremberg concerning the Streicher case. I said no to Frau Zuehlen and added: "If they want to find out something why don't they come out to the farm to Herr Streicher himself? He will give them all the necessary information."

After about two or three weeks, I met the director of "Der Sturmer," Fischer, successor to Herr Fink. He told me - but I would like to mention first that the shares, together with the 5,000 Marks, were confiscated by Streicher. The then director Fischer told me that on that same day he had received a phone call from the trustee association, and that the trustee association had reported to Fischer that they had transferred to the account of "Der Sturmer" the 5,000 Marks which Streicher at that time had advanced for the purchase of the shares.

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Marx, don't you think he is going into rather too much detail about this?

DR. MARX: Yes.

THE WITNESS: Yes, I will make it shorter.

The man from the trustee association said that the 5,000 Marks were released because the innocence of Streicher had been proved in this matter.

Q. You witnessed the Supreme Party Court session at that time?

A. Yes.

Q. What did Fink say at that time? Did he not accuse himself again of having made false statements?

A. I was not present when Fink was questioned.

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