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

The Trial of German Major War Criminals

Sitting at Nuremberg, Germany
7th June to 19th June 1946

One Hundred and Fifty-Eighth Day: Wednesday, 19th June, 1946
(Part 6 of 11)

[Page 371]

SIR DAVID MAXWELL FYFE: My Lord, it is on Page 89, and it is at the end of Page 65 of the German version, defendant.

You see, this is after, I think, the Gestapo had won the internecine struggle and got possession of the body of Herr von Tschirschky, and just toward the end - my Lord, it is the middle of Page 89 - he is told the other police are following the Gestapo, and he says:

"We went to the Gestapo building in the Prince Albrechtsstrasse and through a courtyard to a back entrance. There was another exchange of words between the two groups of criminal police. I again joined in this debate and suggested, as a way of clearing up the misunderstanding, that a man from each of the groups should see some higher authority in the building and let him decide what should be done. There would still be three criminal police officials and four SS men available to guard myself and the other two gentlemen. This course was adopted; and eventually they came back and explained that the misunderstanding was now cleared up and we could be taken away. Whereupon we were taken by three SS men, not accompanied by the criminal police officials, on a lengthy trip through the building into the basement. There we were handed over without comment and were ordered by the SS men on duty there to go and sit on a bench against the wall, in the passage. We were then forbidden to talk to each other. I spent a few hours like this sitting on the bench. It would make too long a story to give further details of the events which took place during this time. I will therefore restrict myself to the case of the shooting of a well-known personality who was publicly stated to have committed suicide.

The person in question was brought in under the escort of three SS men and led past us into a cell running parallel to our corridor. The leader of the detachment was an SS Hauptsturmfuehrer, short, dark, and carrying an army pistol in his hand. I heard the command 'Guard the door.' The door leading from our corridor into the other one was shut. Five shots were fired, and, immediately after the shots, the Hauptsturmfuehrer came out of the door with the still smoking pistol in his hand, muttering under his breath, 'That swine is settled.' Feverish excitement reigned all around; cries and shrieks of terror were heard from the cells. One of the SS men on duty, a comparative youngster, was so excited that he apparently lost all consciousness of the entire situation and informed me, illustrating his remarks with his fingers, that the person concerned had been liquidated by means of three shots in the temple and two in the back of the head."


Q. You had a pretty good idea of SS and Gestapo methods after Herr von Tschirschky had given you that report, had you not?

[Franz von Papen] A. Yes, and you can also see that this report -

[Page 372]

Q. Tell us, before we leave that elevating extract which I have just read, who writhe well-known person who was supposed to have committed suicide and who was shot with three shots in the temple and two in the back of the head. Who was it?

A. I cannot tell you. I do not know.

Q. Do you mean to say that Herr von Tschirschky was on your staff for several months afterwards and he never told you who this was?

A. I do not recall, Sir David, that he discussed this matter with me; and in any case I may have forgotten it. In any event one of the best-known personalities.

Q. Just pause. You say you might have forgotten. Do you mean that dreadful occurrences like this were so familiar to you that you cannot remember the account of the actual shooting of a supposed suicide who was a prominent person?

Have another think. Cannot you tell the Tribunal who this unfortunate man was?

A. If I remembered that, I would willingly tell you. I have no reason to conceal the information.

Q. Well now, just let the Tribunal see how you passed this on to Hitler. You believed, did you not, that Herr von Tschirschky was telling the truth? You said so. You believed he was telling the truth, did you not?

A. Yes.

Q. Well now, will you look at Page -

SIR DAVID MAXWELL FYFE: My Lord, it is Page 86 of the English version and, defendant, it is 58 of the German book, Page 58.

THE PRESIDENT: Sir David, are you going to investigate the facts as to what happened to the man who made this report?

SIR DAVID MAXWELL FYFE: My Lord, yes, I will clear that up. I am so sorry.


Q. Defendant, just before we come to what happened when he made the report, Herr von Tschirschky himself was - I think he went to a concentration camp and had his head shaved, and then eventually, after a certain period, he was released and rejoined your service and was in your service up until February of 1935. Is not that so, defendant?

A. Yes, that is quite correct.

SIR DAVID MAXWELL FYFE: I am sorry, my Lord. That takes up the story until we come to February 1935. He is then asked to report to the Gestapo and then this correspondence takes place.


Q. Now, you see that in your letter to Hitler of 5th February, which is Document 684-D, Exhibit GB 510, you say:

"As already reported yesterday by telegram, I have passed on to Herr von Tschirschky the order of 2nd instant, repeating the demand that he appear on the date fixed by the Gestapo, 5th February.

He then stated to me officially that he would not comply with this order as he was convinced that he would be killed in one way or another. He will give all his reasons for this refusal in a report which I will submit as soon as I receive it.

Yesterday I finally relieved Herr von Tschirschky, whom I had already suspended for the duration of the proceedings, of his post. It goes without saying that I shall break off all connections of an official nature as soon as the files, etc., have been handed over tomorrow."

Then you say you telegraphed the defendant von Neurath and you had given Herr von Tschirschky sick leave. Then just look at the last paragraph.

[Page 373]

"After I had repeatedly asked that Herr von Tschirschky be given a chance to clear himself before a regular judge of the charges laid against him, I am naturally exceedingly sorry that the affair is now ending thus. I left nothing undone to induce Herr von Tschirschky to take the course indicated to him of submitting to interrogation by the Gestapo."
Defendant, is that right, that you left nothing undone to get this man on your staff sent to his death, to be murdered by the Gestapo?

A. I think it would be fair, Sir David, to call the attention of the High Tribunal to the other letters which show that I asked Hitler not only once, but repeatedly, to have the matter of Tschirschky investigated by means of a regular trial.

Q. That is quite true and it was referred to in that letter.

A. Yes, of course, but please let me finish -

Q. Yes.

A. When this proposal was turned down and the Fuehrer would not agree to have a regular trial, he - Hitler - let me know that he would use his personal influence, and that he would assume personal responsibility that nothing would happen to Herr von Tschirschky if he was investigated by the Gestapo. You will also find that in these letters. The Fuehrer promised him exceptional immunity if he would allow himself to be interrogated by the Gestapo. Therefore, after the suggestion for a regular trial had been turned down and Hitler had promised that nothing would happen to Herr von Tschirschky, I asked him to submit to the investigation, as the charges made against him had to be cleared up somehow. But I believe -

Q. Would you turn back to your letter of 31st January, which you will find -

THE PRESIDENT: Sir David, I think you should read the whole of this letter with which you have just been dealing, the 5th of February, at some stage.

SIR DAVID MAXWELL FYFE: My Lord, I will. My Lord, I do not want to omit anything, but I am, of course, trying to shorten the matter, but I will read anything your Lordship wants.

THE PRESIDENT: The Tribunal ought to be in possession of the whole letter. You stopped at the word "courier," in the middle with reference to reporting.

SIR DAVID MAXWELL FYFE: Yes, my Lord. With reference to reporting his dismissal to the Austrian Government:

"With regard to reporting his dismissal to the Austrian Government, I am afraid that if I dismiss him abruptly tomorrow, the matter will become the theme of public discussion. I think this scandal should be avoided and have therefore given Herr von Tschirschky sick leave in the meantime, as far as the public is concerned. I shall report his dismissal later.

I shall return to the Tschirschky affair and its connections with other current Gestapo questions in Vienna later, in a detailed report."

My Lord, I am grateful.

THE PRESIDENT: You left off after the word "Gestapo" in the next paragraph.

SIR DAVID MAXWELL FYFE: Yes, I will read the whole thing again. "After I had repeatedly asked - "

THE PRESIDENT: No, you had read that down to "Gestapo," but you did not go on with the rest.


"But if he persists in his resolve to avoid this interrogation, even though he knows that this means social and material ruin for himself and his family, and as he has given me his word that he will do nothing while an emigre which would be harmful to the Fuehrer and to the country, I can only add my wish that everything should be avoided which could turn this affair into an. open scandal."
I am grateful, my Lord.

[Page 374]


Q. Now, defendant, you had already said to Hitler on the 31st January, which was five days before that - Page 84, my Lord, and the foot of Page 55 and the beginning of 56 of the German book:

"Herr von Tschirschky, whom I have incidentally for the time being relieved of his duties; has now learned from several sources, which he - and I myself as well, unfortunately - regard as authentic, that some persons belonging to the Gestapo have for some considerable time been planning to liquidate him."
SIR DAVID MAXWELL FYFE: My Lord, that will be Document 683-D, Exhibit GB 511.


Q. You believed that it was authentic on 31st January that the Gestapo wished to liquidate him. On 5th February, in the part that the Tribunal just asked me to read, you say that it will be the ruin of his social and material position and of his family, but if the thing is kept quiet, your wish is that everything should be done to avoid a scandal.

Now, defendant -

A. My wish was first of all that everything possible should be done to have the matter cleared by means of a public trial.

Q. That was your first wish, but you very soon gave that up.

A. Just a moment, please. After Hitler had refused to agree to my wish, and after he had determined that von Tschirschky would enjoy the personal protection of himself during the investigation by the Gestapo - that is, if the head of the State says "I will be responsible for the fact that nothing will happen to Herr von Tschirschky," then, naturally, you will allow that the only course of action open to me is to say to Herr von Tschirschky, "Take this course and let them interrogate you; for after all you have to clear yourself of the suspicion resting on you."

Q. Defendant, let me remind you that there is not a word in your letter of 5th February about any promise from Hitler to give an indemnity to Herr von Tschirschky. All that you are saying is that he will disappear into disgrace. There is nothing in any other letter either.

A. Yes. It is in one of Tschirschky's reports. I cannot find it at the moment.

Q. Well, if you can find anything about an indemnity, I can only tell you that I have not been able to find it in any of your letters.

A. But it is there.

THE PRESIDENT: Perhaps the defendant could look for this document at the recess, at one o'clock.

SIR DAVID MAXWELL FYFE: Yes, very well. My Lord, if there is such a document, I am very sorry; I do not know about it.

Yes, my Lord; I am sorry. I think I have got the reference. On Page 91, my Lord. It is not in the defendant's letter, but there is a reference in Herr von Tschirschky's report. On Page 91, my Lord. It says: "In conclusion, as to the reason why I feel myself under no obligation either to appear before the Gestapo or to return to the Reich at all, in spite of the extraordinary protection promised me by the Fuehrer and Chancellor, I make the following declaration:

During the period of my activities in Berlin, information had already frequently reached me to the effect that there existed in the Reich a terror organization which had sworn an oath of mutual allegiance in life and death. It is expressly pointed out to men who are or may be accepted into this brotherhood that they are under an obligation to submit to the secret court, and that they are in duty bound, when carrying out their tasks, to feel that they belong in a high degree to the brotherhood, and only in a smaller degree to Adolf Hitler. I could not have believed this monstrous thing, had I not

[Page 375]

been informed of it about six months previously by a man in the Reich - I wish to stress this particularly - who is not opposed to the Third Reich, but quite the opposite, a man who, in his innermost convictions, believes in Adolf Hitler's mission, a Reich. German and a National Socialist of many years' standing, who himself at one time was asked to join this brotherhood, but who was able cleverly to withdraw from it. This man has assured me of his willingness publicly to announce the names which he mentioned to me of members of this brotherhood, or to swear an affidavit to this effect in case these people should be already dead. He must only be assured that this terrorist brotherhood is no longer active, especially as there are persons belonging to this brotherhood who are among those most trusted by the Fuehrer and Reich Chancellor."
I am sorry; I knew there was nothing in the letters from the defendant, but I had forgotten that there was this passage in the report of Tschirschky.


Q. Now, that was von Tschirschky. You told us that Baron von Ketteler was murdered at the end of your time in Vienna. You remember Baron von Ketteler's father was murdered, if my memory is right, and that caused the German expedition against the Boxers in China. That is the family the gentleman belonged to, is it not?

A. Yes.

Q. Now, the effect of this, the murder of von Ketteler, on you after the experience with von Tschirschky was that you were ready to take new employment under the Nazi Government in Turkey.

There is just one other point that I want to put to you.

A. May I add just a few remarks on this point? I told the Tribunal -

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