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

The Trial of German Major War Criminals

Sitting at Nuremberg, Germany
2nd July to 15th July 1946

One Hundred and Seventy-Fourth Day: Tuesday, 9th July, 1946
(Part 7 of 11)

[Page 231]

DR. KAUFFMANN, Continued:

Thus the duty of the defence is automatically delineated by asking the questions:

1. What did Kaltenbrunner do, good and evil, after his appointment as chief of the Reich Security Office on 1st February, 1943?

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2. To what extent can it justly be said that in the essential points he did not possess sufficient knowledge about all the crimes against humanity and against the rules of war?

3. To what extent can his guilt be established from the viewpoint that he should have known about the serious crimes against International Law in which Section (Amt) IV of the Reich Security Office (Secret State Police) was directly or indirectly involved?

(1) What has Kaltenbrunner done?

In this connection I am passing over the accusation brought against him by the prosecution for his participation in the events surrounding the occupation of Austria and Czechoslovakia, for no matter with what energy he followed his goal to see his Austrian homeland incorporated into the German Reich, and used the SS forces under his command for the realization of this end, this aim cannot have been a criminal one according to the world's conscience. Just as little could one reach a verdict of criminal guilt, because of the forcible means employed at that time to accomplish the annexation of Austria, which was historically fitting and desired by millions. Kaltenbrunner was still much too insignificant a man for that. Economic distress - Anschluss movement - National Socialism: That was the course followed by the majority of the Austrian people, not the National- Socialist ideology; for Hitler himself was, from the standpoint of Austrianism, a spiritual and political renegade. Yet the Austrian Anschluss movement was a people's movement before National Socialism had reached any importance in Germany. Austria wanted to protest herself against the Versailles and St. Germain ruling which forbade the Anschluss by holding a plebiscite in each "Land". After ninety per cent had voted in Tyrol and Salzburg, the victorious powers threatened to discontinue the shipment of food supplies. Hitler's seizure of power, paralysed the desire for Anschluss among those not of the Party, but the distress in Austria became still more acute and isolated the Dollfuss-Schuschnigg regime. The incorporation into the economic sphere of Greater Germany, where the removal of mass-unemployment seemed to be the source of hope, appeared to the greatly distressed Austrian people as the only way out. The wave of enthusiasm which on 12th-13th March, 1938, went through all Austria was real. To try to deny this today would be to falsify history. The Anschluss, and not the Dollfuss-Schuschnigg Government, was based on democracy.

Just as little can one, I believe, according to the reasons mentioned above, reach a verdict of guilt for Kaltenbrunner because of his alleged activity in the question of Czechoslovakia. In my opinion, the question of guilt and expiation becomes vital only for the time after 1st February, 1943. The indignation of the German people over one of the most infamous terroristic measures, the imposition of protective custody, had already become immense before this date. Is it correct to say that Kaltenbrunner himself, of whom many orders for protective custody bearing his signature are in evidence before the Tribunal, inwardly abhorred this type of suppression of human liberties?

May I refer to just a few sentences from his interrogations?

Question: "Did you know that protective custody was at all permissible and was used frequently?"

Answer: "As I have stated, I discussed the idea of 'Protective Custody' with Himmler as early as in 1942. But I believe that even before this time I had corresponded quite extensively on this subject with him, as well as once also with Thierack. I consider protective custody, as applied in Germany, only in a smaller number of cases, a necessity of State, or better, a measure such as is justified by war. For the rest I often voiced my opinion, well founded in legal history, against this conception and against the application of protective custody in principle. I had several discussions about it with Himmler and with Hitler also. I publicly took my stand against it at a meeting of public prosecutors, I think in 1944, because I have always been of the opinion that a man's freedom is one of his highest possessions and only the

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lawful sentence of a regular court of justice founded on the constitution may limit or take away this freedom."
Here the same man expresses the right principles, the observance of which would have spared the German people and the world from untold suffering, and the non-observance of which constitutes his guilt, for, in spite of his right principles, he suited his actions to the so-called necessity of State. He thereby, against his own will and knowledge, became subject to the principle of hatred, which sooner or later will always shake or shatter the foundations of the strongest State.

"Right is what benefits the people," Hitler had proclaimed. I well know that Kaltenbrunner today deeply regrets having adhered too long to that false maxim without putting up sufficient resistance.

Although the prosecution has not been able to produce even one single original signature of Kaltenbrunner in connection with orders for protective custody, and I do not think it incredible when Kaltenbrunner deposes that he himself never put into effect such an order for protective custody by his signature; nevertheless, in view of the tragic results due to so many of these orders, I do not need to say even one word as to whether he is entirely blameless or is much less to blame because these orders had perhaps been signed without his knowledge. The question, of course, then arises immediately: how could such an occurrence be possible in, it is true, an extraordinarily large office? Be that as it may: in affairs of such depth and such tragic outcome one's feelings are inclined to make hardly any distinction between knowledge and ignorance due to negligence, because one wants to hold everyone occupying a post in an office responsible for what happens there. This recognition is also the meaning of Kaltenbrunner's statement, cited above, regarding his fundamental responsibility. Where the happiness and fate of living men are involved it is impossible to hide behind the pretext of ignorance in order to avoid punishment, at best for the purpose of mitigation of sentence. The defendant knows this too. Orders for protective custody were the ominous harbingers of the concentration camp. I am not giving away a secret when I say that the responsibility for issuing orders for protective custody includes the beginning of responsibility for the fate of those held in the concentration camps. I could never admit that Dr. Kaltenbrunner may have known of the excesses suffered by the thousands who languished in the camps; for as soon as the gates of the concentration camps were closed, there began the exclusive influence of the other office, the frequently mentioned Central Department for Economy and Administration. Instead of referring to many statements of witnesses regarding this point, I refer to the one of the witness Dr. Hoettl who, when asked about subordination in rank, replied:

"The concentration camps were exclusively under the command of the SS Central Office for Economy and Administration, hence not under the RSHA and, therefore, not under Kaltenbrunner. In this sphere he had no authority of command and no competency."
Other witnesses have said that of necessity Kaltenbrunner should have had knowledge of the sad conditions in the concentration camps, but there is no doubt that the commandants of the concentration camps themselves deliberately concealed, criminal excesses of the guards even from their superiors. It is furthermore a fact that the conditions found by the Allies upon their arrival were almost exclusively the results of the catastrophic military and economic situation during the last weeks of the war and which the world mistakenly identified with general conditions in former times as well. The above statement is fully verified by the statements of the camp commandant of Auschwitz, Hoess, who, because of his later activity in the Concentration Camp Department of the Central Office for Economy and Administration, had an accurate over all picture. For Hoess, there was no inward reason whatsoever to give false testimony. A person like him, who sent millions of men to their deaths, comes no longer under the authority of human judges and considerations. Hoess stated:

[Page 234]

"The so-called ill-treatment and tortures in the concentration camps were not, as assumed, a policy. They were rather excesses of individual leaders, sub-leaders, and men who laid violent hands upon the inmates."
These elements themselves were, according to the statement of Hoess, taken to task for that. I believe I need not go into any more details of how, according to various witnesses, visitors in the concentration camps were impressed and surprised by the good conditions, cleanliness and order, and how, therefore, no suspicion was aroused as to special sufferings of the inmates. But it would be worse than bad taste if I contested the fact that a chief of the Intelligence Service, if only on the basis of foreign news of atrocities, should not have felt a responsibility, in the interest of humanity, to clear up any doubts arising along that line.

This lack of knowledge seems to be confirmed by the statement of Dr. Meyer of the International Red Cross, for permission to allow International Red Cross to visit the Jewish Camp at Theresienstadt and to allow food and medical supplies to be sent in, coming from Kaltenbrunner, seems to be proof of the bad conditions in the camps during the last months of the war; nobody, however, would allow neutral or foreign observers to have insight into the camps if it had been known that crimes against humanity were, so to speak, part of the daily camps' schedule, as is asserted by the prosecution.

In no case, therefore, do I come to the conclusion that Kaltenbrunner had full knowledge of the so-called "conditions" in the concentration camps, yet I do conclude that it was his duty to investigate the fate of those who were imprisoned. Kaltenbrunner might have found out then that a considerable number of the inmates were sent to the camps because they were criminals, a much smaller portion were there because of their political or ideological viewpoints or because of their race; but that he then would have found out about those primitive offences against humanity, about those excesses and all the distress of these people, that I do contest in agreement with Kaltenbrunner.

The way to arrive at the truth was immensely complicated in Germany, and even the Chief of the RSHA found nearly insurmountable obstacles in the hierarchy of jurisdiction and authority of other offices and persons. The improvement of the sad lot of the internees was, after 1943, a problem which could have been solved only through the dissolution of such camps. A Germany of the last twelve years without any concentration camps would, however, have been a Utopia. On the whole, Kaltenbrunner was but a small wheel of this machinery.

Above I spoke about the subject of the orders for protective custody and of their effect. Dr. Kaltenbrunner has affirmed the necessity for labour training camps, owing to - as stated by him during his examination - the conditions then prevailing in the Reich, to the shortcomings of the labour market, and to other reasons. And if I am not mistaken, no convincing proof was submitted of ill-treatment and cruelties in such camps. The reason may well lie in the fact that these camps were in some respects only related to, but not on equal footing with, concentration camps.

With all the available means of evidence, Kaltenbrunner has opposed the accusation of having confirmed orders of execution with his signature. The witnesses Hoess and Zutter stated that they saw such orders in isolated cases. The prosecution, however, does not seem to me to have proved that any such orders were issued without judicial sentence or without reasons justifying the death penalty, with the exception of a particularly serious case reported from hearsay by the witness Zutter, adjutant of the camp commandant of Mauthausen. According to him, a teletype signed by Kaltenbrunner is said to have authorized the execution of parachutists in the spring of 1945. An original signature by Kaltenbrunner is entirely lacking. I add that Kaltenbrunner has contested having any knowledge or information about this matter. I think I may safely claim that lie did not sign any such orders concerning life and death, because he was not authorized to do so. Dr. Hoettl as a witness stated:

[Page 235]

"No, Kaltenbrunner did not issue such orders and could not, in my opinion, give such orders (for killing Jews) on his own initiative."
And Waneck explicitly asserted the following:
"It is known to me that Himmler personally decided over life and death and other punishment of inmates of concentration camps."
Thus the exclusive authority of Himmler in this sad sphere may be considered proved. It would however be presumptuous if I were to deny the guilt of Kaltenbrunner completely on this point. If such orders were carried out against members of foreign powers, for example, based on the so-called "Commando Order" of Hitler of 18th October, 1942, then there arises the question of the responsibility of that person whose signature was affixed to these orders, because the misuse of his name by subordinates was possible. It is certain that Kaltenbrunner exerted not the least influence in originating the "Commando Order". It can, however, hardly be doubted that this decree in itself constituted a violation of International Law. The development of the Second World War into a total war inevitably created an abundance of new stratagems. In so far as bona fide soldiers were employed in their execution, a motive of bitterness, humanly quite understandable - and I am now speaking about the conduct of the commando troops concerned in violation of the laws of warfare - and other things, could not justify the order. Fortunately but very few people fell victim to this order of Hitler, as the defendant Jodl has testified.

Perhaps one would ask me whether it is my duty or whether I am only permitted to reiterate such points of incrimination, as I have just done, since this seems to be the task of the prosecution. To this I should reply: if the defence is so liberal as to admit the negative side of a personality, it surely is apt to be heard more readily when it approaches the Tribunal with the request to appraise the positive side in its full significance. However, is there a positive side at all in the case before us? I believe that I may answer that question in the affirmative. I have already pointed out several facts which are connected with the time of the assumption of office by Kaltenbrunner. During his short two years of activity this man has made himself a bearer of decidedly happy and humane ideas. I wish to remind you of his attitude toward the lynch order of Hitler with respect to shot-down enemy aviators. , The witness, General of the Air Force (Fliegergeneral) Koller, described the decent conduct of Kaltenbrunner which led to a total sabotage of this order. After first describing the contents of Hitler's order and Hitler's threat pronounced during the discussion of the situation at that time, namely, that any saboteur of this order should himself be shot, Koller goes on to repeat the assertions of Kaltenbrunner. Permit me to quote a few sentences from his statements. Koller says that Kaltenbrunner said:

"The tasks of the SD are continuously given a wrong interpretation. Such matters are not the concern of the SD. Moreover, no German soldier will do what the Fuehrer demands. He does not kill prisoners, and if a few fanatic partisans of Herr Bormann try to do so, the German soldier will interfere .... Furthermore, I myself will do nothing in this matter .... "
Koller and Kaltenbrunner, therefore, were fully agreed on that matter. This positive action of Kaltenbrunner, important for the judgement of the actual nature of his personality, does not stand alone. Dr. Hoettl confirmed the fact that in questions of the future fate of Germany, Kaltenbrunner went, if not beyond, at least up to the borderline of high treason. This witness, for example, confirms that Kaltenbrunner in March, 1944, caused Hitler to moderate the plans concerning the Hungarian question and succeeded in preventing the entry of Romanian units into Hungary, that with his support also the planned Hungarian National Socialist Government was not set up for a long time.

Dr. Hoettl then says:

"Since 1943 I told Kaltenbrunner that Germany must attempt to end the war by a peace at any price. I informed him of my connections with an American authority in Lisbon. I also informed him that I had taken up new

[Page 236]

contacts with an American authority abroad by way of the Austrian resistance movement. He declared that he was prepared to go to Switzerland with me and there to take up personally negotiations with the American representative, in order to prevent further useless bloodshed."
The depositions of the witness Dr. Neubacher are on the same lines. But over and beyond that this witness testified to an important positive humane action of Kaltenbrunner. Upon being questioned whether Kaltenbrunner had assisted the witness in moderating, as much as possible, the terror policies in Serbia; Dr: Neubacher answered - and I quote:
"Yes, in this field I owe much to the assistance of Kaltenbrunner. The German police agencies in Serbia knew of me and of Kaltenbrunner that he, in his capacity as Chief of the Foreign Intelligence Service, uncompromisingly supported my policies in the South- eastern territory. Thereby I succeeded in exerting influence on the police offices. Kaltenbrunner's assistance was of value in my efforts to abolish the then prevailing system of collective responsibility and reprisals with the aid of prudent officers."
I further mention the relief work of the Geneva Red Cross, which is due to the initiative of Kaltenbrunner. The activity of the defendant with respect to this was portrayed by the witnesses Professor Burckhardt, Dr. Bachmann and Dr. Meyer. As a consequence many thousands were able to exchange their captivity for liberty.

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