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

The Trial of German Major War Criminals

Sitting at Nuremberg, Germany
14th May to 24th May, 1946

One Hundred and Thirty-Eighth Day: Friday, 24th May, 1946
(Part 11 of 11)

[Page 404]

THE PRESIDENT: I am sorry. I am not hearing.

THE WITNESS [Baldur von Schirach]: - that I got definite information that in Warthegau -

THE PRESIDENT: Would you repeat that? The last thing I have got is, he said he put questions to all sorts of persons that he could find.

MR. DODD: All right! Thank you, Mr. President.


Q. Had you found out, then, from many persons about exterminations in the East?

A. I could not obtain any really definite information.

Q. All right.

A. Most people had no information. I only received positive - that is, detailed - information by way of the Warthegau.

Q. Now, as a matter of fact, you got regular reports about the extermination of the Jews, did you not?

A. These -

Q. (Interposing) Written reports, I mean.

A. These reports, two of which have been submitted in this court, were sent to the Reich Defence Commissar for the attention of the expert in question. This expert passed the copies on to the inspector - I believe - or the commander of the regular police.

I have looked at the copy which was submitted here in Kaltenbrunner's case but I had never seen it before.

Q. You mean you did not know that it was arriving in your office?

A. I have never seen this text before.

Q. All right.

A. My office was the Central Office; it was not the office of the Reich Defence Commissar. The affairs of the Reich Defence Commissar were officially in charge of the Administrative District President, whose personal adviser took care of routine matters. My mail was delivered at the central office.

Q. You were the Reich Defence Commissar for that district, were you not?

A. Yes.

Q. This was an SS report of a highly confidential nature, was it not? They were not just peddling this all over Germany?

A. I do not know how many copies of this were sent out, I cannot say.

Q. And you got the sixty-seventh copy?

A. And these copies, as I gathered from the original, which I saw, were not sent to me, but to the competent adviser, a Herr Fischer.

Q. And who was Herr Fischer?

A. I have already told you this morning that I have no idea who this Herr Fischer was. I assume that he was the expert attached to the Administrative District President, the expert on defence matters.

Q. Now, I am going to show you some documents from your own files.

MR. DODD: We do not have a full translation, Mr. President, because some of this we located too late.


Q. But I think you will readily recognize this original is from your files. And in there you will find - and I will direct your attention to the page - something that I think will recall to your mind who Dr. Fischer is.

[Page 405]

Now on page, I think it is Page 29, you will find the names of persons submitted to serve on the Reich Defence Committee; and you will find the name of Fischer, together with General Stulpnagel, Major-General Gauzia, Dr. Forster - do you find that? This was your own Reich Defence Council which you attended from time to time, and members of which you met frequently. And I will show you documents on that, if you care to deny it.

A. Just a moment, please. Will you please repeat the page to me?

Q. Page 29; it is a memorandum dated the 28th of September, 1940.

A. I have it now.

Q. Do you find the name of Dr. Fischer? You have found Dr. Fischer's name as one of those suggested on your defence council? His is the last name, by the way, and his signature. He is the one that suggested the others to you.

THE PRESIDENT: Mr. Dodd, will you go a little bit more slowly?

MR. DODD: Yes.

A. His name is the twentieth name on the list: "Regierungsrat Dr. Fischer Expert for Reich Defence Matters" - in other words, expert attached to the Administrative District President. I have probably seen him at some meeting or other. I take it that he kept the minutes. However, I must admit that I have no personal recollection of this gentleman. I cannot attach any person to that name; but it is clear to me now that lie was the gentleman who took charge of incoming mail for the Reich Defence Commissar and probably kept the minutes as well.


Q. All right.

A. In view of his junior status - he is only a Regierungsrat - he probably did not perform any other functions.

Q. On Page 31 of that same file you will find another reference to him, and your initials are on the paper this time. It is the membership list of the Reich Defence Committee. There are twenty persons on there, and the last name is Fischer's. And at the bottom of the page are your initials, apparently approving the list. Do you see that?

A. Yes; I had to initial this list.

Q. And you approved the membership, did you not?

A. I cannot swear that I would not recognize Dr. Fischer again if I were confronted with him. He seems to have been the official who kept the minutes. However, among the large circle of people who attended meetings of this kind, I apparently did not notice him particularly. Only very few Reich defence meetings of this sort actually took place. What seems to me the decisive point is that he did not report to me personally but to the Administrative District President.

O. How could you fail to meet him? You met regularly in 1940 with this Reich Defence Committee. We have some documents here, and I will be glad to show them to you, showing exactly what you said before that Committee.

A. Yes, as I said, he probably kept the minutes of the meetings.

Q. Well, surely, then, you saw him certainly on some occasions, between 1940, the date of these files, and 1942, the date of the SS reports on the exterminations. He apparently was with you for two years before the first report that we have, which is dated 1942, and he was one of twenty on your Council.

A. I think I should describe the exact composition of this Reich Defence Committee. There were the leading commanding Generals of the Army and the Luftwaffe; there were various Gauleiter; there were the people mentioned here; there was Dr. Putt, the representative of the Economic Management Staff and all the others who are listed here. In this large circle of people whom I had to welcome, there was an official who kept the minutes and who was one of many officials in my office. These meetings, as you have probably ascertained, took place very infrequently. Dr. Fischer did not report to me currently, nor did he.

[Page 406]

submit to me the minutes of these sessions; the Administrative District President reported to me.

Q. Do you think that Heinrich Himmler or Reinhart Heydrich were sending these reports about the exterminations in the East to unimportant people all over Germany?

A. If these reports had been meant for me, they would have been sent to me directly. Moreover, I said today that I do not dispute having been informed of the shooting of Jews in the East, but at a later period. I mentioned that in connection with the war. However, the reports themselves were not in my hands. If these reports had been before me, they would have had a certain notation, which I would recognize immediately.

Q. Well, let us see. Of course they are addressed to you, for the attention of Fischer.

But I am going to move on a little bit. Now I am going to tell you that you got weekly reports. You have not seen these. What do you say to that?

A. Weekly reports?

Q. Yes.

A. I received innumerable weekly reports from every possible office.

Q. No, I am talking about one kind of report. I am talking about the reports from Heydrich and Himmler.

A. I do not know what you mean.

Q. Well, you had better take a look. We have fifty-five of them, for fifty-five weeks. They are all here, and they run consecutively, and Dr. Fischer is not involved in these. And each one bears the stamp of your office as having received it, and the date that it was received.

They tell, by the way - and you can look at them - what was happening to the Jews in the East.

A. All these - probably - I cannot look at them all just now. These reports went from the Chief of the Security Police to the Office of the Reich Defence Commissar. They were not, as I can tell from the first document, initialled by myself, but bear the initials of the Administrative District President. I did not receive these reports; otherwise my initial would have to be there.

Q. Dr. Dellbruegge was the man who received them, according to the note, and he was your chief assistant. Incidentally, I think we ought to make this clear to the Tribunal, both of your chief assistants were SS Brigadefuehrers, were they not?

A. I should in any case have stated that Dr. Dellbruegge was one of Himmler's confidants; but I believe -

Q. And he was your chief assistant, that is the point I am making. And so was your other chief assistant, also an SS Brigadefuehrer.

A. I believe that this statement proves the opposite of what you want to prove against me.

Q. Well, I am going to go on with these weekly reports in a minute, but there is one thing I do want to ask you.

Were you pretty friendly with Heydrich?

A. I knew Heydrich, and while he was Reich Protector in Prague he extended an invitation to me as President of the South-eastern Europe Society to hold a meeting there which I accepted. However, I did not have close personal contact with Heydrich.

Q. Did you think he was a good public servant at the time that he was terrorising Czechoslovakia?

A. I had the impression that Heydrich, as he said himself during my stay in Prague, wanted to carry out a policy of conciliation, especially in regard to Czech workers. I did not see in him an exponent of a policy of terror. Of course, I have no practical knowledge of the incidents which took place in Czechoslovakia. I made only this one visit, or possibly, one further visit.

[Page 407]

O. You sent a telegram to "Dear Martin Bormann," when Heydrich was assassinated; do you remember that - the man who was, I understand, not in your good books in 1942? Do you remember when Heydrich was assassinated by some Czech patriots in Prague?

A. Yes.

Q. Do you remember what you did when you heard about it?

A. No, I do rot remember exactly.

Q. Perhaps if I read you this telegram you will remember it:

"To Reichsleiter Bormann, Berlin, Party Chancellery; Express. Urgent. Immediate attention.

Dear Martin Bormann:

I request that the following be submitted to the Fuehrer:

Knowing the Czech population and its attitude in Vienna as well as in the Protectorate, I would draw your attention to the following

The enemy powers and the British cliques around Benesch have for a long time felt bitter about the co-operation generally found among the Czech workers and their contribution to the German war economy. They are seeking for a means to play off the Czech population and the Reich against each other. The attack on Heydrich was undoubtedly planned in London. The British arms of the assailant suggest parachuted agents. London hopes by means of this murder to induce the Reich to take extreme measures with the aim of bringing about a resistance movement among Czech workers. In order to prevent the world from thinking that the population of the Protectorate is in opposition to Hitler, these acts must immediately be branded as of British authorship. A sudden and violent air attack on a British cultural town would be most effective and the world would have learned of this through the headline 'Revenge for Heydrich.' That alone should induce Churchill to desist immediately from the procedure begun in Prague of stirring up revolt. The Reich replies to the attack at Prague by a counter-attack on world public opinion.

It is suggested that the following information be given the Press tomorrow regarding the attempt on Heydrich's life."

And then you go on to say that it was the work of British agents and that it originated in Britain. You sign it, "Heil Hitler, Dein Schirach."

Do you remember sending that telegram to Bormann?

A. I have just been listening to the English translation. I should like to see the German original, please.

Q. Very well.

THE PRESIDENT: Mr. Dodd, you read, I thought, a British "coastal" town, did you not?

MR. DODD: No, "cultural," I meant to say, Mr. President.

THE PRESIDENT: Yes, that is what I have got.

MR . DODD: Yes, it is "cultural."


Q. Incidentally, I call your attention, witness, to the word "cultural." You have expressed such a great interest in culture.

THE PRESIDENT: Would it be all right to break off now, or do you want to go on?

MR. DODD: I had hoped I could finish. I will not be many minutes, but I do have one or two rather important documents that I would like to put to the witness.

[Page 408]

Mr. President, if we recess, may I ask that the witness be not allowed to talk to his counsel overnight? I think it is only right, when a witness is under cross-examination, that he should not have conversations with his counsel.

THE WITNESS: I should like to say to this document -

DR. SAUTER: Mr. President, I should like to have this question clarified as to whether as defence counsel I am entitled to talk with my client or not. Mr. Dodd forbade me to talk to my client some time ago; and, of course, I acquiesced. But, if I am told that I must not speak to my client until the end of the cross-examination, and the cross-examination is to be continued on Monday, that means that I cannot speak with my client tomorrow or the day after. But, in order to carry on his defence, I must have an opportunity of discussing with my client all the points raised here today.

MR. DODD: Mr. President, I will withdraw my request. I really forgot we were going over until Monday. I do think it is the ordinary rule, but I do think it might present some difficulty for the counsel here.

I want to be fair with the Tribunal. During the recess Dr. Sauter approached the witness-stand and I did tell him then that I did not think he should talk to his client during the recess while he was under cross-examination.

THE PRESIDENT: Well, it is the British rule, but I think in the circumstances we had better let Dr. Sauter -

MR. DODD: I quite agree. I forgot we were not continuing tomorrow and I do not want to interfere with his consultation over the week-end.

(The Tribunal adjourned until 27th May, 1946, at 1000 hours.)

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