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

The Trial of German Major War Criminals

Sitting at Nuremberg, Germany
29th July to 8th August 1946

One Hundred and Ninetieth Day: Tuesday, 30th July, 1946
(Part 11 of 11)

[Page 104]

THE PRESIDENT: Will you call your next witness, Dr. Servatius?

DR. SERVATIUS: With the approval of the Tribunal, I shall call the witness Kreisleiter Willi Meyer-Wendebom.

WILLI MEYER-WENDEBORN, a witness, took the stand and testified as follows -


Q. Will you state your full name?

A. Willi Meyer-Wendeborn.

Q. Will you repeat this oath after me:

I swear by God, the Almighty and Omniscient, that I will speak the pure truth and will withhold and add nothing.

(The witness repeated the oath.)


[Page 105]



Q. Witness, when were you born?

A. 24th of June, 1891.

Q. You were a Kreisleiter in Cloppenburg (Oldenburg) in Gau Weser-Ems for twelve years, from 1934-1945. On repeated occasions you acted temporarily as head of the neighbouring Kreis Vechta; before that time you were an Ortsgruppenleiter for about a year and a half; is that correct?

A. I was in Cloppenburg for eleven years.

Q. That was from 1934 until when?

A. From 1934 to 1945.

Q. Did you have knowledge of conditions in the administration of other districts beyond your own?

A. Yes, as Ortsgruppenleiter, and later as Kreisleiter, I was in a position to gain information since I repeatedly met the political leaders and the Kreisleiter.

Q. Were you, as Kreisleiter, paid a salary or were you an honorary official?

A. During the first half I was an honorary official, later I received a salary.

Q. What other political leaders in the Kreisleitung received a salary?

A. The Kreis executive, the propaganda director, the training director, and the head of the financial department.

Q. Did the paid political leaders in the Kreis receive special secret instructions?

A. No. Never.

Q. Did they have a better insight into conditions?

A. They saw and heard more than the others.

Q. Of what persons did the Kreisleitung consist?

A. Firstly, the main or leadership offices; these were; organization, propaganda, training and personnel. Secondly, the social and technical offices, such as the Kreis peasant leader, the Obmann of the DAF, the head of the NSV, the head of the office for educators, and the head of the office for civil servants.

Q. Did the members of the Kreisleitung when appointed become members of a corps of political leaders?

A. An appointment as a member of the corps of political leaders did not exist. When a party member was appointed to an office, he became a political leader.

Q. Do you know of an order of Hess forbidding the use of the designation "political organization" or "corps of political leaders"?

A. The designation "political organization" was forbidden by the then deputy of the Fuehrer.

Q. As Kreisleiter, you held conferences in the Kreisleitung. Who took part in these conferences?

A. There were two kinds of conferences: one, among a narrow circle, the Kreis staff, and the second, among a larger circle, in which State and community representatives and others who wished to bring up special matters took part.

Q. Were the subjects of the conference purely economic, or were political questions also discussed?

A. Primarily social questions affecting the inhabitants of the Kreis were discussed. At the end of the conference I usually gave a brief account of events in the past few weeks.

Q. Were not topical political questions discussed and instructions issued which might have had a reference to the removal of obstacles in the way of waging a war of aggression; for example, instructions on the Jewish question, the Church question, the trade union question, and the arrest of political opponents?

A. I did not have to give special instructions. We were strictly forbidden to carry on our own politics. We never heard anything about preparations, for war. When any measures had to be taken against political opponents, it was the affair of the State.

[Page 106]

Q. What instructions were given on the Jewish question and what was their aim?

A. As regards the Jewish question, which did not have great significance in our country Kreis, we were concerned primarily with the basic objective, namely the reduction of Jewish influence to a percentage of Jews corresponding to their total strength in Germany.

Q. What directions on the Church question did you issue in your capacity as Kreisleiter, and what was their aim?

A. The fight against the Church was forbidden. on principle. There was no need to give any instructions on that subject, for my men were all Catholic and had remained members of the Church.

Q. What about the anti-Jewish actions on 9th and 10th November, 1938? What instructions were given at that time?

A. I received no instructions, and was faced with the accomplished fact. In agreement with the Landrat, I immediately freed Jews who had been arrested, and subsequently I received instructions from my Gauleiter not to allow political leaders or Party members to take part in these things in any way. That is all that happened in our district.

Q. What instructions were given on the question of the trade unions, and what was their aim?

A. The measures of Reichsleiter Dr. Robert Ley on the first or second of May were a complete surprise to us. We ourselves, as political leaders, had nothing to do with them and no instructions were issued.

Q. What instructions did you as Kreisleiter give with regard to political opponents?

A. The treatment of political opponents was primarily the task of the State authorities. If I suspected anyone of being an opponent, I always took the opportunity of having a discussion with him, and as a result it was not necessary to take more than a few measures.

Q. Was there not, in fact, such a close relationship between the State Police and the Kreisleitung that, in practice, the Kreisleiter could at any time arbitrarily order the arrest of political opponents?

A. That would have been a good thing. When I repeatedly suggested that to the Gauleiter, at the time Karl Roever, I was told that these were measures of the State which did not concern us as political leaders.

Q. Witness, you misunderstood me. My question was, did your close con nections with the State Police enable you to order arrests?

A. No, I could not order arrests. I had no close connections with the State Police, and I never had occasion or opportunity to have anybody arrested.

Q. Was not a card index of opponents kept on orders of the superior Party offices?

A. We never kept such a card index, either in the Kreis or in Ortsgruppe.

Q. Did the Gestapo keep such a card index, and did you assist in keeping it?

A. I cannot tell you. I was never told about it, I do not know. In any case, I certainly did not assist in keeping it.

Q. Did you not, as Kreisleiter, ask for general reports on the feeling and political views of the inhabitants who were listed in a local card index, and were these not reports of spies?

A. There was no local card index in my Kreis. It was intended to set up one, but that was never done. I never asked for spy reports, I would never have received them, but I did ask for reports on the feeling of the people with regard to measures taken by the State and the Party.

Q. And what was the purpose of these reports?

A. We wanted to know what effect the new laws and directives would have on the mass of the people.

Q. How did you receive your instructions from the Gauleiter?

[Page 107]

A. I received my instructions in writing, and also orally.

Q. Did the Kreisleiter take part in conferences with the Gauleiter, and who was present at such conferences?

A. We did not always take part; we were there only when something of special interest to our own Kreis was being discussed. At the conferences of the Gaulcitung, the heads of the Gau offices and the consultants took part.

Q. What was discussed at these conferences? Were they similar to the Kreisleiter conferences which you mentioned earlier?

A. They were roughly similar, but on a larger scale, ranging over the whole of the Gau.

Q. How did you instruct the Ortsgruppenleiter? Was that done on the basis of the Gau and Kreis conferences, or was the information which was passed on to them somewhat changed, that is, false?

A. After conferences with the Gauleiter, I regularly passed on to my men what I had heard there, and I passed it on in the form in which I had heard it from my Gauleiter.

Q. How did you co-operate with the SA? Was the SA represented in the Kreisleitung?

A. I left it to the discretion of the SA to take part in our conferences. The local leader came occasionally and listened to what we were discussing.

Q. Could you give orders to the SA or request its aid?

A. I could not give any orders to the SA. I could only, through its superior officers, ask for its aid in any propaganda measures, collections, employment assistance and so on.

Q. What sort of co-operation existed between you and the General SS? Was it represented in the Kreisleitung?

A. We had no local SS Fuehrer. The SS itself did not ask to be represented in the Kreisleitung.

Q. Did you have any insight into the measures which the SS took with regard to protective custody and concentration camps?

A. No, I had no insight into that.

Q. Did you ever attempt to obtain such insight?

A. Yes. It was about 1935, but I did not succeed in obtaining it. I was refused a visit to a concentration camp, which I did not want to visit to see atrocities, but because it was new to me.

Q. And what reason were you given for the refusal

A. I was told to get permission through the RSHA. I asked the Gauleitung to do that because I was not permitted to contact the RSHA personally. The Gauleitung then advised against it, because it would be very complicated.

Q. Do you know whether the RSHA was the competent authority?

A. No, I do not know.

Q. Did you in your Kreis receive or issue instructions with regard to the lynching of airmen who had made forced landings?

A. We had many forced landings. I never issued and was never told to issue any instructions on this subject.

Q. But you surely know the Bormann letter and other documents which deal with this matter. Did you, as Kreisleiter, not learn of these?

A. I did not receive the Bormann letter, but I heard the speech of the Reich Propaganda Minister on the radio.

Q. And then what happened in your Kreis? Was any action taken in the spirit of Goebbels's statements?

A. We continued to act according to the general rules of warfare, and the men who landed were always treated very well. The population regarded that, as natural.

Q. Did you receive or issue instructions ordering bad treatment of prisoners of war or foreign workers, or did you permit such treatment?

[Page 108]

A. I could not issue instructions for prisoners of war, only the Welirmacht could do that. But I carefully saw to it that foreign workers in the district were well treated. And if a beating or some such incident occasionally occurred, I immediately had the workers removed through the Labouroffice, and the people for whom they had been working were deliberately left without help for some weeks.

Q. Instructions about unjust treatment of these foreign workers did not reach you?

A. No. On the contrary, I was asked to see to it that they were well treated.

Q. Was the attitude of the political leaders in your Kreis with regard to the political problems of the day which we mentioned earlier an exceptional one, or was that also the attitude outside your Kreis, as far as you could judge? Was it a general attitude?

A. Before the war, I had the feeling that that attitude was general. Also during the war and then while I was in the Fallingbosten Camp and helped to obtain affidavits, I was able to convince myself finally that what I am saying here was generally true for those thousands.

Q. You checked and collected these affidavits?

A. Yes.

Q. Did you not reject unfavourable ones?

A. No, I never did that: there were no unfavourable ones.

Q. Then how do you explain the incidents which actually happened, for example, in connection with the Church question and the Jewish question?

A. We never knew of the extent of these things; we heard very little. It did happen that one man or another, who had not forgotten some experience from the period of the struggle to power, misunderstood some instructions and wanted to do stupid things. But in general we did not experience such incidents, and knew nothing about them.

Q. Then none came to your knowledge?

A. No.

Q. Did not the attitude of the SS, and particularly the refusal to give you permission to visit a concentration camp, cause many misgivings? You heard rumours about these concentration camps, did you not?

A. I did not consider this refusal to let me visit a concentration camp as an attempt to conceal crimes, but in view of the character of the SS, I assumed that it was a form of self-glorification, and that the SS thought, " These camps are in our charge and are not the affair of the political leaders."

Q. Did you approve the methods of the Party in every way?

A. No, I did not always approve, and I discussed this matter with my old-time Gauleiter.

Q. Did you have serious objections?

A. No, my objections were not serious objections, but after this Jewish affair in November I had to point out the effect which it would have abroad. I had heard that men in high positions did not at all approve, and that gave me courage to voice my own misgivings.,

Q. Did you ever consider whether you should continue in office or resign?

A. If I had resigned, I would not have improved matters, but only aggravated them; for I had been in the Kreis for twenty years and my successor could not have known my men so well; as it was, I could recognize mistakes in time and correct them.

THE PRESIDENT: Is that all you want to ask?

DR. SERVATIUS: I wanted to put one or two more questions in the morning.

THE PRESIDENT: Well, the Tribunal will adjourn.

(The Tribunal adjourned until 1000 hours, 31st July, 1946)

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