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

The Trial of German Major War Criminals

Sitting at Nuremberg, Germany
20th June to 1st July 1946

One Hundred and Sixty-Seventh Day: Saturday, 29th June, 1946
(Part 3 of 4)

[DR. FRITZ continues his direct examination of Hans Fritzsche]

[Page 316]

Q. How did you think that this possible exchange of prisoners was going to affect the question of whether 40,000 English and American and Russian flyers would be killed as a reprisal?

A. It appeared to me that at a time when we had the opportunity of effecting an exchange of prisoners of war, a proposal for an action contrary to humanity and international laws should be suppressed; that is if there was talk about an exchange of prisoners of war, the idea of a gigantic shooting of prisoners had to move into the background.

I can add briefly that I told Dr. Goebbels about it and it was discussed in the evening with Hitler, according to reports which I had from two different sources. By some remarkable chance the offer itself arrived through official channels only a few days after the settlement of this exciting incident.

BY THE TRIBUNAL (Judge Biddle):

Q. Can you hear now? I am asking you, when you heard about Hitler's order, not with respect to these prisoners, but with respect to the flyers who had landed? When did you first hear of that?

[Page 317]

You said that in the autumn Goebbels had sent abroad some propaganda with respect to that order. Did you know about it then?

A. Yes.

Q. In the autumn of 1944, you knew about that order?

A. No.

Q. When did you?

A. I cannot say exactly, but in the autumn of 1944 I did not know of this order; I have to be extremely careful since I am under oath. I believe I only heard of the order here in this court-room, but that is confused in my memory with the campaign of Dr. Goebbels which I have just described. I cannot clearly -

Q. Surely in that meeting in February that order was discussed when they were discussing the killing of 40,000 prisoners, was it not?

A. No, on that occasion not at all.

Q. You had no doubt that Hitler wished to have those prisoners killed, did you?

A. No, at the time when Dr. Goebbels related the plan, I believed that Hitler wished to carry through this action.

Q. Then the answer is "no."

Now, you had no doubt that Goebbels wanted them killed, did you?

A. The 40,000 in Dresden?

Q. Yes.

A. In general, yes.

Q. Yes.

A. Yes, I had no doubt that Goebbels also approved it

Q. And which other of the leaders wished them killed? It was apparently discussed a good deal; who else in the Government was in favour of this policy?

A. I cannot say with certainty whether Bormann was in favour of it; he was the only other person concerned. I do know, however, that von Ribbentrop, through Ambassador Ruehle, made an attempt to dissuade Hitler from this step. He opposed Hitler's plan.

Q. Ribbentrop was working on this particular problem of killing the prisoners? I am not clear about that. Did Ribbentrop know about it?

A. At that time I told Ambassador Ruehle about this affair and asked him to inform Ribbentrop and to enlist his aid. A day or two later, Ruehle told me - we had frequent excited telephone conversations on this matter - that Ribbentrop -

Q. I do not need the details. The answer is that the Foreign Office knew, even if Ribbentrop may not have known personally. Is that right?

A. Ribbentrop was informed personally.

Q. That is all I want to know.

A. Yes.

Q. Do you know what attitude Bormann took in this matter?

A. According to the accounts that I heard, he at first supported Hitler's plan to shoot these 40,000; but afterwards, under the influence of Goebbels and Naumann, he took the opposite view and co-operated in dissuading Hitler from his intention.

Q. Were they only consulted in the matter as far as the commanders of the Wehrmacht were concerned?

A. I know nothing about that.

Q. It is suggested that I should also ask you this. Do you know what attitude Ribbentrop took on the shooting of these prisoners?

A. Yes. After Ambassador Ruehle's report to him, he used his influence to prevent the execution of Hitler's plan, in what way, I do not know.

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Fritz, do you wish to ask the defendant any question?

DR. FRITZ: No, Mr. President.

[Page 318]

THE PRESIDENT: Do the prosecution wish to ask any questions arising out of the questions that the Tribunal has asked?

GENERAL RUDENKO: No, Mr. President.

THE PRESIDENT: Then the defendant can return to the dock.

DR. FRITZ: Mr. President, this brings me to the end of the evidence in the case of the defendant Fritzsche.

THE PRESIDENT: Are you offering in evidence all the documents in your two document books, each one of them?


THE PRESIDENT: Are they marked with exhibit numbers?

DR. FRITZ: Yes, I submitted all the originals.


Have you got two Exhibits I, Exhibit I in one book and Exhibit I in the other book?

DR. FRITZ: No, there are no Fritzsche exhibits at all in my Document Book I, Mr. President.

THE PRESIDENT: Oh! I see. Very well. Well, that concludes the case of Fritzsche?

DR. FRITZ: Yes, Mr. President.

THE PRESIDENT: The Tribunal will adjourn now.

(A recess was taken.)

DR. BERGOLD (counsel for the defendant Bormann): May it please the Tribunal, first of all I want to say that I can also dispense with the witness Dr. Kloepfer as he worked in close contact with Bormann only after 1942, and he cannot testify on most of the documents on which the prosecution bases its case; and since he only directed the Constitutional Law Department in the Party Chancellery.

Mr. President, I want to begin my case by making a very brief basic statement. The defendant Bormann is absent; his associates, generally speaking, are not at my disposal either. For that reason, I can only attempt, on the basis of the documents presented by the prosecution, to submit some little evidence to prove that the defendant did not play the large, legendary part which is now, after the collapse, attributed to him. As a lawyer, it has always been much against my will to build something out of nothing and I beg the High Tribunal to take this into consideration when weighing my evidence, which must therefore be extremely small in quantity. It is not negligence on my part that I present so little, but it is the inability to find anything positive from the available documents without the assistance of the defendant.

First of all, then, I come to the question of whether the case against Bormann can be tried at all. I have offered evidence to show that it is extremely probable that the defendant Bormann died on the 1st of May 1945, during an attempted escape from the Reich Chancellery. As my first witness who could testify to this, I named Else Krueger, and my application for her was granted by the Tribunal. In my application of the 26th of June, I stated that I would waive the examining of this witness if the High Tribunal would permit me to submit instead an affidavit containing her testimony. I have not yet received an answer to this application; but I presume, since I heard from Dr. Kempner that the prosecution will agree to this, that the High Tribunal also will not raise any objection.

THE PRESIDENT: I thought the application was withdrawn with reference to the witness Krueger.

[Page 319]

DR. BERGOLD: I stated that I would dispense with the witness provided that I could submit her affidavit. There appears to be a misunderstanding. The prosecution informed me that it had no objection.

MR. DODD: We have said we had no objection, Mr. President, to the use of the affidavit since he was waiving the calling of the witness.

DR. BERGOLD: I submit the affidavit as Bormann No. 12.

Then, I named three other witnesses who would testify that Bormann had died.

Firstly the witness Kempka who for many years was Hitler's chauffeur, and who was present when the attempted escape from the Reich Chancellery failed. This witness is not here. According to information which I have, he was interned at the camp at Freising in December, 1945, in the hands of the American authorities, but unfortunately he has not yet been produced.

I also named the witness Rattenhuber who was also present when Bormann died and who, according to the information which I have, is said to be in the hands of the USSR.

The woman witness, Christians, who had been granted me, could not be located. She was interned in the camp at Oberursel; from there she was given leave of which she took advantage to vanish. Apart from the affidavit of the witness Krueger, therefore, I have no proof for my statement that Bormann is dead. I regret very much indeed that I am not in a position to present clear evidence on this point and that the members of the prosecution were not able to give me more support, for in this way the legend will be considerably strengthened. Indeed, false Martin Bormanns have already made their appearance and are sending me letters which are signed Martin Bormann, but which cannot possibly have been written by him. I believe that a service would have been rendered to the German nation, to the Allies and to the world generally if I had been in a position to furnish this proof for which I had asked.

I come now to my documents.

THE PRESIDENT: Well, the Tribunal would like to hear this affidavit of Krueger read.

DR. BERGOLD: The text is as follows:

"Fraulein Else Krueger, born 9th February, 1915, at Hamburg-Altona; secretary; at present residing at Hamburg 39, Hansenweg 1. From approximately the end of 1942, I was one of several secretaries of the defendant Martin Bormann; there were, roughly, thirty to forty secretaries, I can no longer give accurate figures and names. I occupied this position until the end and even after Hitler's death.

On the 1st of May, 1945, I saw and talked to Bormann in the bunker of the Reich Chancellery, for the last time, but I was then no longer working for him since at that time he was writing his own orders and wireless messages by hand. All I had to do in those days in the bunker of the Reich Chancellery was to prepare myself mentally for my death.

The last words he spoke to me, when he met me accidentally in the bunker, were: 'Well, then, farewell. There is not much sense in it now, but I will try to get through; very probably I shall not succeed.' These, approximately, were his last words, I can no longer recollect the exact wording.

Later, in the course of the evening when, as I thought, the Russians had reached a spot very close to the shelter of the Reich Chancellery, I, together with a group of about twenty people, mostly soldiers, fled from the shelter through subterranean passages, then through an exit in one of the walls of the Chancellery, across the Wilhelmsplatz into the entrance of the underground station Kaiserhof. From there, we fled through more subterranean passages to the Friedrichstrasse, and then through a number of streets, debris of houses and so on; I can no longer remember the exact details on account of the confusion and excitement of those days. Eventually, in the course of

[Page 320]

the following morning, we reached another shelter, I can no longer recollect where it was; it might have been the shelter at Humboldthain."
THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Bergold, does not the affidavit deal with the defendant Bormann at all.

DR. BERGOLD: Oh, yes, I am now coming to that.

"After some time, the SS Gruppenfuehrer Rattenhuber appeared there quite suddenly. He had been severely wounded in the leg and was put on a camp bed. Other people asked him where he had come from, and he said in my presence that he, together with Bormann and others, had fled by car through the Friedrichstrasse. Presumably everybody was dead; there had been masses of bodies. I gathered from his statement that he believed Bormann was dead. This also appeared probable to me because, according to stories I heard from some soldiers whom I did not know, all people who had left the shelter after us had been under strong Russian fire and hundreds of dead were said to have been left behind on the Weidendammer Bridge."
I omit one unimportant sentence.
"I remember reading afterwards in a British paper that Hitler's driver for many years, Kempka, made a statement somewhere that Bormann, with whom apparently he fled, was dead."
That is all I am able to submit, Mr. President; the real witnesses have, unfortunately, not been found.

I now come to the documents. In order to shorten my evidence, may I refer to the document book which I have submitted. All these documents contain orders of Bormann which were collected and have appeared in a body of laws called "Orders of the Deputy of the Fuehrer."

I request that the Tribunal take judicial notice of these official orders. I shall bring up the legal argument arising from these documents in my final speech.

I merely want to refer now briefly to Order No. 23/36; it is the order under figure 8.

THE PRESIDENT: Do you mean PS?

DR. BERGOLD: No, it is Order No. 8 in my document book, Mr. President. I particularly want to draw the Tribunal's attention to it without quoting from it.

I now turn to the document book submitted by the prosecution, and I should like to read a short passage from 098-PS, on Page 4, the second paragraph at the top.

THE PRESIDENT: Did you say 098-PS?

DR. BERGOLD: Yes, 098-PS, Bormann's letter dated 22nd February, 1940, and addressed to Reichsleiter Alfred Rosenberg.


DR. BERGOLD: Page 4. It is the letter in which Bormann inveighs against the Churches. Nevertheless, he writes as follows, Page 4:

"With regard to religious instruction in schools it seems to me that the existing conditions need not be changed. No National Socialist teacher, according to the clear-cut directives of the Deputy of the Fuehrer, must be accused in any way, if he is prepared to teach the Christian religion in the schools."
I omit one sentence.
"In the circular of the Deputy of the Fuehrer No. 3/39, of 4th January, 1939, it is expressly stated that teachers of religion are not by any means to make their own choice of biblical material for religious instruction, but are obliged to give instruction in all- the biblical material. They are to abstain from any interpreting, analysing or paraphrasing of this directive; attempts of this sort have been made several times by certain Church groups." - this is a reference to the so-called "German Christians."

[Page 321]

I then quote from Document 113-PS, Document Book of the prosecution. It is Order No. 104/38, I quote:
"The neutrality of the Party with respect to the Churches, which has been emphasized from the beginning, demands that any possible friction be avoided. Clergymen, as political leaders, or as leaders or section leaders in the Party and its affiliated organizations, do not dispose of the required freedom of decision in their dual capacity, as has been shown by experience; moreover, there is the danger that on account of their Church office they will involve the movement in the Church struggle on their side. The deputy of the Fuehrer has therefore ordered: 1. Clergymen holding positions in the Party are to be immediately relieved of their Party functions."
I then quote from Document 099-PS, in which Bormann, in a letter of 19th January, 1940, addressed to the Reich Minister of Finance, criticises the low contributions of the Church towards the war. I quote from the second paragraph:
"The assessment of so low a contribution has surprised me. I gather from numerous reports that the political communities have to raise so high a war contribution that the completion of their own tasks, which are often very important, as for instance their work in public welfare, is in jeopardy."
I omit one sentence.
"I understand that the assessment of so low a contribution is partly explained by the fact that only those Churches of the old Reich which are entitled to raise taxes are called upon to make their contribution to the war, whereas the sections of the Protestant and Catholic Church, which are entitled to demand Church dues in Austria and the Sudetenland, are exempted."
I omit the rest of the sentence.
"This differentiation in the treatment of individual sections of the Churches and Church organizations is, in my opinion, quite unjustified."
I then quote from Document 117-PS, a letter from Bormann to Rosenberg, dated 28th January, 1939. I quote from the second paragraph:
"The Party has repeatedly in recent years had to explain its attitude on the plan for a State Church or for some other measure establishing closer connection between the State and the Church. The Party has always emphatically rejected such plans for two reasons. Firstly, a connection between the State and the Church, as the organization of a religious community which does not in all fields aim at the practical application of National Socialist principles, would not fulfil the ideological demands of National Socialism. Secondly, purely practical and political considerations speak against such an outward connection."
I then refer to Document L-22, which deals with a conference in the Fuehrer's headquarters on the 16th of July, 1941, at which Hitler, Rosenberg, Lammers, Keitel, Goering and Bormann were present.

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