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 10 of 11)

[COLONEL SMIRNOV continues his cross examination of Rolf-Heinz Hoeppner]

[Page 189]

Q. More slowly.

A. ... and that officials who worked in it could not, because of that work, be prosecuted for breaking their oath of silence, as had happened repeatedly up to then. At that time the agreement was made dependent on the fact that any State task could be mentioned. As, first of all, the Security Service hardly appeared in the public eye at that time, 1938, and then because work in the field of public life had not yet been officially recognized by the Party and so could not be mentioned in the decree, Heydrich quoted the support of the Security Police, because no one outside could check that.

Q. Did the SD have the task of watching the members of the Gestapo?

A. No.

Q. Can we conclude from the fact that inspectors of the Security Police and SD were established that there was a connection between these two organizations?

A. No, the inspectors only had a certain power of supervision over the organization in particular cases. All directives, task assignments and so forth came from Berlin.

Q. What was the relation between the Departments III and the offices of the commanders, that is, the commanders of the Security Police and the SD?

A. I do not quite understand that question. Relation to whom?

Q. To the Security Police.

A. The Departments III of the offices of the commanders were departments just as Departments IV. They worked on Security Service tasks, whereas Departments IV worked on State Police tasks. They were departments of the offices of the commanders and not parts or establishments of Office III of the Main Reich Security Office any more than the Departments IV were establishments of Office IV of the Main Reich Security Office.

[Page 190]

Q. Now I come to a short discussion of the individual war crimes with which the SD is charged. First, the Einsatzgruppen.

I refer to VI-A among the facts offered in evidence in the trial brief.

Were the Einsatzgruppen and Einsatzkommandos which were used in the East a part of the SD?

A. No, these Einsatzgruppen and Einsatzkommandos were establishments of an entirely original kind.

Q. Was the organization of the domestic SD used for the activities of the Einsatzgruppen and Einsatzkommandos? That is something important.

A. That question, in the way it has been put, must be answered by No. It is not true that any parts of that organization were transferred to the Einsatzgruppen. If individual members of the SD entered the Einsatzgruppen or Einsatzkommandos, then it is comparable to military induction. Just as a civil servant who is drafted is assigned different tasks, or at least can be assigned them, this was likewise the case with the SD. If the Einsatzgruppen had to perform Security Service tasks, such as making reports, the directives came to the Einsatzgruppen from Office III (Amt 3).

Q. Did the members of the SD and its subordinate offices obtain any knowledge about mass shootings and other crimes - war crimes or crimes against humanity through the reports from the East, or reports from the Einsatzgruppen?

A. Such reports from Einsatzgruppen were never forwarded to the subordinate offices in the Reich, so that the members of these offices could not have any knowledge of these incidents, either.

Q. Was the SD responsible for the establishment, arrangement, guarding and administration of concentration camps?

A. No.

Q. Could you give me any reasons for that answer?

A. There are no reasons for it. The Security Service never had anything to do with these matters because it lacked jurisdiction there.

Q. Did the SD establish any concentration camps?

A. No.

Q. Did the SD organize any concentration camps?

A. No.

Q. Was the organization of the SD used for the guarding of concentration camps?

A. No.

Q. Did the SD have authority over the transfer and treatment of concentration camp inmates?

A. No.

Q. Did the Domestic Intelligence Service receive an order from Himmler not to intervene in the case of clashes between Germans and English and American flyers?

A. No, the Security Service could not have had any order, because it had no police functions and there could have been absolutely no question of any intervention.

Q. Did the Domestic Intelligence Service set up summary courts martial in order to pass judgement on persons in special and shortened proceedings?

This question refers to Item VI-H of the trial brief.

A. Holding summary courts martial was not one of the functions of the SD at all, and so neither were courts martial of this kind because drat again would have been an executive measure which had nothing to do with the Security Service.

Q. Did the Domestic Intelligence Service Office III only execute people in concentration camps or keep them prisoners because of crimes which allegedly had been committed by their relatives? This question refers to Item VI-J of the trial brief.

A. The Security Service had nothing to do with that.

[Page 191]

Q. Did the SD hold any "third-degree" interrogations? This question refers to Item VI-L.

A. The Security Service did not carry out any interrogations at all, consequently not any with the third degree.

Q. Will you briefly describe the aims, tasks, activities, and methods of the Group III-A of the Main Reich Security Office of which you were in charge at times?

A. It was the task of Group III-A to observe the effects of legislation, administration of justice, and administrative measures on the German people, and compile these observations in the form of reports and make them accessible to executive offices. It was furthermore the tasks of Group III-A, and in particular Department III-A-4, to give the executive offices a continuous picture of the general mood and attitude of the German population in regular reports.

Q. Was membership in the SD voluntary, or the result of some legal decree?

A. That question cannot be answered by yes or no. I might take my own group as an example. In my group, at the end, I had rather over 60 employees. About 75 per cent. of these worked there on the basis of legal decrees. For instance, all my four chiefs of departments had been transferred to the Security Service, ordered there on emergency service or detailed there. I believe that for the entire Security Service one could estimate that about 50 to 60 per cent. were working there on the basis of a legal decree. That comparatively high number results from the fact that, firstly, at the beginning of the war a large number of regular workers had been inducted; secondly, that the scope of the work had been increased in extent, and that therefore men and in part women auxiliary workers had to be sent for service in the occupied territories, and that thirdly, the entire work of the Security Service grew during the war, and the personnel had to render compulsory emergency service and so on, according to the legal measures that had been passed for this purpose.

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

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


MAJOR MURRAY: If the Tribunal please, Major Murray cross- examining for the United States Chief Prosecutor.


Q. Witness, when did you become chief of Office III-A in the RSHA?

A. In July, 1944.

Q. Who was the chief at that time and for some time prior thereto?

A. Office III had only one chief, and that was the then Gruppenfuehrer Ohlendorf.

Q. At times you substituted for Ohlendorf, did you not?

A. I believe the entire question did not come through. I heard only "at times you substitute."

Q. At various times during your career, you took Ohlendorf's place as chief, did you not?

A. No. When I was in that office, Ohlendorf was always there. Moreover, there was no general deputy for him. When he was away on business the chiefs of the various groups represented him for their own territories. But during the period while h was in Berlin, that happened very rarely.

Q. Do you know Dr. Wilhelm Hoettl; who was a member of Office 6, RSHA?

A. May I ask for the name again, please? I did not understand the name.

Q. Perhaps I do not pronounce it properly. Dr. Wilhelm Hoettl, spelled H-o-e-t-t-l.

A. Hoettl? I met him here for absolutely the first time.

[Page 192]

Q. You do know that he held a responsible position in the SD, now that you have met him here?

A. No, I have not spoken to Hoettl here, either.

MAJOR MURRAY: With the permission of the Tribunal, I should like to read briefly from the affidavit of Dr. Wilhelm Hoettl, Document 2614 PS, dealing with the activities of the SD. This will be Exhibit USA 918. Dr. Hoettl executed this affidavit on 5th November, 1945. I quote:

"It was the task of the SD to inform its chief, Himmler, and through him the Nazi regime about all matters within Germany, the occupied territories, and the other foreign countries. This task was carried out in Germany, by Department III - Information Service for Germany proper - and abroad by Department VI - Foreign Information Service."
Omitting a few lines:
"For the task in Germany proper Department III had organized a large net of informers who operated from the various regional offices of the SD. This organization consisted of many hundreds of professional SD members who were assisted by thousands of honorary SD members and informers. These informers and honorary collaborators of the SD were placed in all fields of business, education, State and party administration. Frequently they performed their duties secretly in their organizations. This information service reported on the morale of the German people, on all the important events in the State, as well as an individuals."

Q. Do you consider that a fair statement of the task of the SD?

THE PRESIDENT: Answer the question, please. Witness, answer the question:

Do you consider it a fair statement of the work of the SD? No, you need not go on reading the rest of the document. Answer the question.

A. It is a mixture of truths and untruths. I feel that the way and manner in which the Court ... in which this report judges the Security Service is somewhat superficial. It does not give the impression, according to this document, that Hoettl worked in the Domestic Security Service very long.

Q. You know, do you not, witness, that your chief, Ohlendorf, was in 1941 and 1942 the head of Einsatzgruppe D in Southern Russia? You were informed of that, were you not?

A. Yes, indeed.

Q. You knew also, did you not, that these Einsatzgruppen were made up from members of the SD and of the Gestapo and of the Criminal Police?

A. I knew that members of these organizations were detailed there for special service.

Q. You knew that they were commanded by SD members, did you not?

A. The Einsatzgruppen and Kommandos were commanded by members of widely different organizations, by members of the State Police, Criminal Police, and also the Security Police. I myself, moreover, was never on special service.

MAJOR MURRAY: I would like to refer, if the Tribunal please, to the affidavit of Ohlendorf. This is Document 2620-PS, to become Exhibit USA 919. This affidavit has not been used in evidence before. This affidavit of Ohlendorf which is very brief states:

"The Einsatzgruppen and the Einsatzkommandos were commanded by personnel of the Gestapo, the SD, and the Criminal Police. Additional men were detailed from the regular police."
And dropping down a few lines: "Usually the smaller units were led by members - "

THE WITNESS: May I interrupt you? Excuse me, please.

[Page 193]

It does not say here in the document that they were led by members of the regular police. It says only that "additional personnel was provided by the regular police."


Q. Yes, I omitted that. A few lines farther on: "Usually the smaller units were led by members of the SD, the Gestapo, or the Criminal Police." So that actually members of the SD were leading these Einsatzgruppen in the East, were they not?

A. The affidavit states that members of the Security Service as well as the State Police and the Criminal Police were in charge of units of this kind.

Q. Now, as a matter of fact, the Einsatzgruppen officers wore SD uniforms in the performance of their tasks, did they not?

A. Excuse me. I only understood a few words. The Einsatzgruppen wore these uniforms?

Q. The Einsatzgruppen officers wore the uniform of the SD while performing their duties in the East, is that true?

A. All members of the Einsatzgruppen wore field-grey uniforms and wore the SD insignia on the sleeve. That was one of the main reasons for the many misunderstandings which occurred, because members of the Security Police also wore this SD insignia. That was the case with the special SS formation of the SD which was mentioned right at the beginning of today's examination. And because beyond that even those members of the Einsatzgruppen and Einsatzkommandos wore uniforms who were not SS members at all and so who, in peace time, had never worn a uniform in Germany proper. They were sent into special service as so- called uniformed personnel and received a service rank corresponding to their civil service grade.

Q. In any event, many members of the Einsatzgruppen were members of the SD and many of those officers wore the uniform of the SD while killing these people in the Eastern territories; is that not true?

A. I do not quite understand the meaning of the question. There were very few people from the SD detailed to these Einsatzgruppen or Einsatzkommandos, at least from the three branches mentioned, and during their entire period of service these men and leaders wore the uniform with the SD on the sleeve.

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