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 Ninety-Second Day: Thursday, 1st August, 1946
(Part 1 of 11)

[Page 152]

DR. GAWLIK (counsel for SD): Mr. President, may I be permitted to put three questions to the witness Best?

THE PRESIDENT: What special reason is there why you want to put questions to him?

DR. GAWLIK: I wanted to put these questions to Dr. Spengler, a witness who has been granted me but who has not arrived, and for that reason I would like to put the three questions to Dr. Best instead.

THE PRESIDENT: Well, for that special reason we will permit you to put the questions but it is not to be regarded as a general rule.




Q. I should like to show you a copy of the decree of 11th November, 1938. I should like to refer to Page 4 of the German Trial Brief, dealing with the Gestapo and SD. In this decree it says:

"The Security Service of the Reichsfuehrer SS, as information service for Party and State, has to fulfil important tasks, particularly for the support of the Security Police."
Now, I should like to ask you, did you participate in the making of this decree?

A. Yes.

Q. Does this decree correctly represent the actual relationship between the Security Police and the SD?

A. In those years there were experiments constantly going on with the SD so that the scope of the tasks set up for the SD changed frequently. At that time, when the decree mentioned was issued, the chief of both the Security Police and the SD, Heydrich, was interested in having the SD gain an insight into the activity of the offices and agencies of the State. The exact wording of this decree was chosen in order to justify that aim sufficiently. In truth the scope of tasks to be put to the SD, whose model was to be the great foreign Intelligence Service, especially the British Intelligence Service, developed in such a manner that the SD was not to be an auxiliary branch of the police but rather a purely political information organ of the State leadership, for the latter's own control of its political activities.

DR. GAWLIK: I have no further questions, Mr. President.

THE PRESIDENT: Does the prosecution want to cross-examine?



Q. Dr. Best, you realize that you are one of two witnesses who have been called, out of possibly hundreds, to represent the Gestapo before this Tribunal? Do you not?

[Page 153]

A. Yes.

Q. And you realize that your credibility is very important, do you not?

A. Yes.

Q. You understand as a jurist of long standing the significance of the oath that you have taken?

A. Yes.

Q. You stated yesterday, I believe, that your publication, the German Police, was a purely private book and had no official status? Is that correct?

A. I said that it was my purely private work which originated without any contact with my superiors and without their knowledge. My chiefs - at that time Heydrich and Himmler - only knew of this work when the completed book was put before them.

Q. The question is whether this book of yours was or was not an official publication in any respect. Was it or was it not?

A. No, it was not an official publication.

Q. I ask that the witness be shown the Ministerial-Blatt of 1941, Page 119.

Now, you will notice that published in the Ministerial-Blatt for 1941 is a circular of the Reich Ministry of the Interior referring to your book and you will note that it states that "the book is for offices and officials of police, State, Party, and municipal administrations. This book represents a reference work which can also serve as an award for worthy officials. It is recommended that this book be acquired especially also by the libraries", and then the distribution is to various supreme Reich authorities. You see that there, do you not, Dr. Best?

A. Yes, indeed, and I can say the following in that connection: This recommendation was published some time after the appearance of the book, without moreover my having prior knowledge of it, and it is not to be considered more valuable than any recommendation of other books which had already been published and which subsequently were recognized as good and usable. I should like to emphasize again that before the publication of this book I had not talked in any way with my superiors, nor with the agency which later published this recommendation.

Q. Now I want to invite your attention to your book, Dr. Best, and particularly Page 86 of it.

You testified yesterday concerning the development of the Gestapo from the pre-existing political police. You say in your book as follows:

"In order to build up an independent and powerful political police force, the like of which had not hitherto existed in Germany, regular officials of the former police force, on the one hand, and members of the SS on the other hand, were brought in. With the uncompromising fighting spirit of the SS the new organizations took up the struggle against enemies of the State for the safeguarding of the National Socialist leadership and order."
That is the correct statement of how the Gestapo came into being, is it not, Dr. Best?

A. To that I should like to say that the number of men newly taken into the SS ... in the political police forces was very small at first. I said yesterday that a certain number of employees were newly employed. Then later, from the candidates who applied for the regular career of the Secret State Police, further members of the SS were added, so that the picture given in my book is completely correct, but the ratio in figures is not mentioned. I can say again today that the number of the regular officials - those old officials previously taken over as well as the candidates from the Protection Police - was greater than the number taken in from the SS.

Q. All right. You said yesterday that you opposed the use of torture by the Gestapo in connection with interrogations and that you called Heydrich to account about that matter, did you not?

A. Yes, indeed.

[Page 154]

Q. And you called Heydrich to account, as your superior?

A. Yes.

Q. But you did not prohibit Heydrich from continuing his practice of using torture in interrogations, did you?

A. I was not in a position to prevent my superior from carrying out measures he had ordered or planned. In addition to that, I had nothing to do with the executive side in the Secret, State Police, for I was an administrative official and, consequently, had no authority if Heydrich decreed measures like that or approved of them. I can only say that in the small branch of the Counter-Intelligence which I headed as a Commissioner for some time, I prevented the use of this method.

Q. I want to pass briefly to your experiences in Denmark, Dr. Best, and by way of preliminary I wish to refresh your memory as to the testimony which you gave before the Commission on 8th July, 1946. This appears on Page 2412 of the English transcript:

"Question: Have you met Naujocks?

Answer: Naujocks was in Copenhagen once.

Question: And what was his task in Denmark?

Answer: He did not give me any details. I only know that he asked me to provide a connection for him with the Research Office in Copenhagen.

Question: Anyway, you have no idea why Naujocks was in Copenhagen, have you?

Answer: I imagine that he was in Denmark on matters pertaining to intelligence duties.

Question: And if he were to state and even to testify that he discussed the matter with you, you would say it was only a lie?

Answer: I would say that I could not recall it and that in my memory he remains an intelligence service man."

Now, you were asked those questions and you gave those answers before the Commission, did you not, Dr. Best?

A. Yes.

Q. Yes. And when you gave those answers you knew that you were telling a deliberate falsehood under oath, did you not, Dr. Best?

Now, you can answer that question yes or no, and then explain it if you like.

A. In the meantime - a report from Danish officials -

THE PRESIDENT: One minute. Wait. Answer the question. Do you or do you not know whether you were telling the truth then?

A. My statement was not correct. In the meantime I had seen the Naujocks report and then I was able to recollect exactly that he in a general way had told me about his mission. Even today I do not recall details, however.


Q. Well, now, just so that you will remember that interrogation that you had with Dr. Kalki of the Danish Delegation two days later, on 10th July, 1946, I am going to ask that you be shown the written statement which you corrected in your own handwriting and signed with your own signature. Now, I invite your attention to the first paragraph, Dr. Best, in which you state as follows:

"Now that I know that Naujocks has testified as to his connection with the terrorist activities in Denmark, I am ready to testify further on this subject. If I did not testify about this earlier, it was because I did not know whether Naujocks had been captured and had confessed regarding these things. It was contrary to my feelings to drag him into this thing before the facts were known to me."
You gave that statement, did you not, Dr. Best, and that is your signature on there?

A. Yes.

[Page 155]

Q. Now, Dr. Best, you know very well when Naujocks came to you in January of 1944 that there was planned to be carried out by the Gestapo terroristic measures against the people of Denmark, because you attended the conference at Hitler's headquarters on 30th December, 1943, at which that plan was worked out, didn't you?

A. Yes.

Q. At that conference there were present, in addition to yourself, Pancke, the Higher SS and Police Leader for Denmark; General von Hannecken, the military governor for Denmark; Hitler, Himmler, the defendant Kaltenbrunner, the defendant Keitel, the defendant Jodl, and Schmundt. You reported these names in your own diary, did you not?

A. Yes.

Q. And you knew that at that meeting it was agreed that in order to counteract murders and sabotage against German interests in Denmark - that the Gestapo was to go up to Denmark and to carry out ruthless murders and to blow up homes and buildings as a countermeasure, did you not?

A. It is not correct that an agreement was reached, but rather that Hitler gave orders in spite of my opposition and also Pancke's to these plans.

Q. Yes. Hitler gave the order to Himmler, who gave it to Kaltenbrunner, who gave it to Muller, who sent the Gestapo into action, and you knew that those murders and that this wilful destruction of property was carried out in Denmark as a result thereof, did you not?

A. This general fact was known to me, yes.

Q. Yes, and you knew that these were carried out, because you protested about some of them. For example, you remember when these thugs blew up a street car in Odense, killing and injuring the passengers in it, do you not?

A. In the period following, again and again for various reasons I protested against the use of this method; appropriate reports or telegrams -

THE PRESIDENT: You have not answered the question. The question was, did you know that the street car had been blown up.

THE WITNESS: I do not accurately recall the individual cases, and therefore I do not recall for what special reason I made my protests. But I do know that I protested in very many cases.


Q. Now Dr. Best, I know that you have a very short memory, but I would have thought that you could have remembered some of the events that you recited on 10th July, 1946. If you will look at your statement there that you gave to Dr. Kalki, you will find the following: "I used on such an occasion the blowing up of a street car in Odense, for instance." Do you not see that there, Dr. Best? The statement that you gave on the 10th -

A. Where do I find that, please?

Q. You will find that on - about the middle of the document.

A. Wait just a minute. That is a wrong translation. I said the blowing up of a "Strassenzug" in Odense. That meant that along this street several houses were blown up simultaneously. It was not a car, but a row of houses.

Q. Now, Dr. Best, you also remember the murder of four doctors in Odense, against which you protested because these doctors had been pointed out to you by National Socialist circles as being German sympathisers, do you not?

A. Yes, and apart from that, that was not the only reason. I called attention to the increased senselessness of these measures, for I had found out that some of these physicians were friendly to Germany.

Q. Yes, and that was a terrible thing for the Gestapo to murder German sympathisers in Denmark, was it not? There were so few. Now, to whom did you make your protests against this murderous activity of the Gestapo?

[Page 156]

A. My protest always went to the Foreign Office, which was the ministry over me.

Q. Yes, your protests went to the defendant Ribbentrop, did they not?

THE PRESIDENT: Commander Harris, have we got a reference to any document which records the meeting of 30th December, 1943?

LT.-COMMANDER WHITNEY HARRIS: Yes, Sir. This is in evidence through the official Government report of the, Danish Delegation, Exhibit RF 901.





Q. Now yesterday, Dr. Best, you testified that you learned that the Einsatzkommando of the Security Police and SD in Denmark was opposed to the Kugel Erlass, did you not?

A. Yes.

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