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 8 of 11)

[Page 181]

[COLONEL KAREV] If it is possible, I would like to request the Tribunal to permit me also to quote several other USSR exhibits referring to the activity of the Gestapo. These documents have been submitted in connection with other questions; later they were taken into consideration in connection with the Gestapo. May I read them to the Tribunal?

THE PRESIDENT: These are not documents which have already been put in evidence, are they?

COLONEL KAREV: No, Mr. President; these documents have been presented and accepted by the Tribunal, not in connection with the activity of the Gestapo but with regard to other questions; therefore, excerpts contained in these documents which have been read before may be omitted, as it seems to me.

THE PRESIDENT: The Tribunal thinks that the appropriate time for you to deal with these documents will be when the case is argued on behalf of the prosecution, if they are documents which have already been put in evidence.

COLONEL KAREV: They will; thank you, your Honour.

THE PRESIDENT: Now, the witness may retire. Have you had all your witnesses?

DR. MERKEL: Yes, Mr. President. If I understood your Lordship correctly, the presentation of documentary evidence is to take place after all the witnesses of all the organizations have been heard.

THE PRESIDENT: Yes, the object of that being that all the documents can then be dealt with together, as some of the documents are not yet available; so we will go on with the next organization.

DR. MERKEL: I should like to ask just one more thing. In my submission of documents, may I refer to the documents which have only now been brought forth by the prosecution and possibly introduce evidence to refute them. This concerns the documents which have been introduced today for the first time.

THE PRESIDENT: When you say "refute" you mean criticise the documents and argue upon them, I suppose.

DR. MERKEL: To argue upon them and possibly introduce contradictory evidence against the new documents which were submitted today by means of new affidavits of one kind or another.

THE PRESIDENT: The time for you to "refute," as you say, or to argue upon the documents which have been put in today by the prosecution will be when you make your final argument. At the end of the oral evidence for all the commissions, all the organizations will offer their documentary evidence and comment upon it shortly, and then they will have time within which they may argue the whole case and at that time you will be able to argue and "refute," as you put it, the documents which have been put in today.

DR. MERKEL: Thank you.

THE PRESIDENT: Now I call upon counsel for the SD. Will you please call your witnesses now?

[Page 182]

DR. GAWLIK: I have interrogated seven witnesses before the Commission. I have not the complete transcript yet and will hand it in later. With the approval of the Tribunal I shall call the witness Hoeppner.

ROLF-HEINZ HOEPPNER, a witness, took the stand and testified as follows:


Q. Will you state your full name?

A. Rolf-Heinz Hoeppner.

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.)

THE PRESIDENT: You may sit down.



Q. First, I shall put a few preliminary questions in order to prove that the witness has the necessary knowledge to answer questions on the subject. When were you born?

A. On 24th February, 1910.

Q. Since when have you been a member of the SD?

A. Since the beginning of 1934.

Q. What activity did you carry on before then?

A. Before that I studied and performed pre-legal service.

Q. What law examination did you pass?

A. I passed the first and second State legal examinations.

Q. What ... what was your position in the SD?

A. First I was an honorary assistant and adviser in an Oberabschnitt, later Stabsfuehrer in a Leitabschnitt, then Abschnittsfuehrer and finally Gruppenleiter in the Reich Main Security Office.

Q. Of what group were you the head?

A. I directed Group III-A, law administration and communal life.

Q. In what other spheres of duty did you work in the SD?

A. In the beginning, during my honorary activity, I worked on Press matters. Later on personnel and organisational questions, and as Stabsfuehrer and Abschnittsfuehrer I was responsible for the entire sphere of duty of the Security Service in my area.

Q. Now I shall turn to my first topic. I want to prove that the SD as an intelligence organization and the SS formation as SD were completely different organizations. What does the abbreviation SD mean?

A. The SD means Sicherheitsdienst, Security Service.

Q. What different meanings did the word have?

A. The word Sicherheitsdienst has two completely different meanings. First, it means the special SS formation, SD, and second, the Security Service as an intelligence service.

Q. Was the Foreign Intelligence Service also characterised as SD?

A. Yes, it was also characterised as SD, and, indeed, as Foreign SD.

Q. Was Office VII known as SD also?

A. Yes.

Q. What was the activity of Office VII?

A. Office VII occupied itself with questions on archives and library matters, and as far as I know it had a number of special scientific duties.

Q. Was the SD as an SS formation completely different from the SD Domestic Intelligence Service, and the SD Foreign Intelligence Service?

A. Yes.

Q. To whom was the special SD formation of the SS subordinate?

[Page 183]

A. The special SD formation of the SS was subordinate to the chief of the Security Police and the SD.

Q. Who belonged to this special formation?

A. This special formation consisted of, first, the members of the Intelligence Branch of the Security Service, who came from the general SS. Secondly, there belonged to this special formation those who after they worked in this intelligence service were taken into Office VII, and thirdly, there belonged to this special formation the SS members of the Security Police, i.e. the State Police and the Criminal Police, and fourthly and finally, the members of formations who had a certain working connection with the Security Police.

Q. Were there other persons as well who belonged to this special formation and were not active with the Security Police or the SD?

A. Yes, by that I meant the fourth group which I just spoke of, who were taken into the SS as customs frontier guards.

Q. Did this combination of persons have any kind of common task?

A. No. The situation with respect to this combination of persons was merely that they were first registered in the SD Main Office and later, after the Main Reich Security Office was founded in September, 1939, in Office I of this Main Reich Security Office.

THE PRESIDENT: The light keeps coming on. Will you try to pause between question and answer?

Q. Now, I come to the second topic: the relationship of the Domestic Intelligence Service, Office III, to the Foreign Intelligence Service, Office. VI, and to Office VII. Did Offices III, VI and VII represent different organizations, or one unified organization of the SD?

A. They represented different organizations. I might give the reasons for that in a few words. First, the spheres of duty of these three offices were completely different. Office III was concerned with the Domestic Intelligence Service, Office VI with the Intelligence Service abroad, and Office VII with questions regarding libraries and archives. Secondly, the organization was completely different. In Office III, Domestic Intelligence Service, the chief value of the organization lay primarily in the regional office (Aussenstelle) and in the sector (Abschnitt). The method of work was therefore decentralised. Perhaps I might give the reasons for that in a few words: Office VI, Foreign Intelligence Service, involved a strong centralisation of duties. Office VII had nothing but a central office.

Q. Was there any discernible connection between these Offices III, VI, and VII, with a general common purpose?

A. No. The aims of these offices were far too varied for that. The members of these offices had hardly any connection with each other.

Q. Now I come to the third topic, the development of the SD until the establishment of the Main Reich Security Office, particularly dealing with the questions as to whether during this time it was one of the duties of the SD to work with others on a Common Plan or Conspiracy. When was the SD Domestic Intelligence Service established?

A. The SD was established in 1931-1932.

Q. During the period after its formation up to the end of the war did the SD have the same duties, the same purpose and the same activities?

A. One could not say that by any means. The duties and objectives varied even - varied very much according to the political alignment. While the Security Service had the task of helping the general SS up to about 1933 or the beginning of 1934, there was no longer any reason for this task after the parties with which the National Socialist Party had competed were dissolved, and therefore there was no longer a legal opposition party, and the combating, that is, observation, or repelling of an illegal opponent became the task of the Gestapo.

[Page 184]

Q. What different periods of time are there to be distinguished, from its formation until the end of the war?

A. I just mentioned one period of time, the one from 1931 to about 1933-34. The second period of time began in 1934. As an event, or perhaps better, as a document of particular importance, I should like to begin with the order of the Fuehrer's deputy which the Security Service -

Q. Witness, first of all just give us the various periods of time; I will then question you briefly about specific periods.

A. The first period of time was from 1931 to 1934, the second was from the middle of 1934 to the formation of the Main Reich Security Office, and the third comprises the period from the establishment of the Main Reich Security Office to the end of the war.

What was the purpose ... what were the purpose, the duties and the activity of the SD in the period from 1931 to 1934?

A. The task of the Security Service from 1931 to 1934 was that of a semi-military formation (Gliederung) of the Party, namely, that of assisting the SS in its task of guarding the Fuehrer and protecting public meetings, by supplying the SS with as much information as possible from its intelligence service in rival, opposition parties as to what measures were being planned by other parties, and so whether speakers were going to be attacked, whether any meetings might be in danger, and so forth.

Q. At this time had the SD already been built up into a powerful, professionally well-trained espionage system by its leader Heydrich?

Mr. President, in this connection I should like to refer to the trial brief against the SS, Page 8b of the English text - 8b at the top, lines 1 and 2.

Please answer the question.

A. I have to base my answer to this question on what I myself saw along these lines when I entered the Security Service in the beginning of 1934 and on what I learned from my comrades then and later about the preceding period. Before 30th January, 1933, the Security Service represented a very small establishment which had hardly more than 20 or 30 regular members and not many more honorary members.

Q. You spoke of 20-30 regular members - for what area?

A. For the area of the entire German Reich.

Q. Were there other members - honorary members?

A. The number of honorary members was not much greater.

Q. Did the members of the SD make a general agreement among themselves to participate in crimes against peace, war crimes and crimes against humanity?

A. No. If you can speak of any agreement at all - since they hardly knew each other - they merely had the intention to help the Party which was legally contending for power by defending it against rival, opposition parties.

Q. During the years 1933 and 1934 did the members of the Security Service pursue the aim of supporting any persons whatsoever who had undertaken a general and common plan to commit crimes against peace, war crimes, or crimes against humanity?

A. No.

Q. During the years 1931 to 1934, did the members of the SD know anything at all about such a plan?

A. I believe the case of the members of the SD was not very different from that of the overwhelming majority of the German people. Nothing was known.

Q. Now I come to the second phase.

What were the aim and task of the SD during the period of time from 1934 until the creation of the Main Reich Security Office in the year 1939?

A. After a legal opposition party was no longer in existence, so that there were merely illegal political opponents, the combating of whom, as I have already mentioned, was the task of the State Police which had been evolved from the

[Page 185]

political police division, the task of the Security Service had to change. First, it changed in this way, that other ideological and political forms and other ideological groups -

Q. Witness, can you perhaps state the tasks and aims more briefly?

A. Well, to name a few examples, Freemasons; Marxists, Jews, so that these groups would be classified in a more scientific and statistical way and so that the Party would have material for training and other tasks.

That was the ultimate meaning of the Party's order for it to become the sole political intelligence and counter- intelligence service, on about July, 1934; something which, by the way; never did happen, since there continued to be an enormous number of information services and sources of information up to the end.

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