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-Third Day: Friday, 2nd August, 1946
(Part 5 of 10)

[Page 215]

THE PRESIDENT: The witness can retire. Dr. Gawlik, your next witness.

DR. GAWLIK: With the permission of the Tribunal, I call as the next witness Dr. Roessner.

DR. HANS ROESSNER, a witness, took the stand and testified as follows:


Q. Will you state your name, please?

A. Hans Roessner.

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.

DIRECT EXAMINATION of the witness Hans Roessner


Q. When were you born?

A. 1910, in Dresden.

Q. Please describe briefly your professional career.

A. After the customary schooling, I graduated in 1930, then studied the German language and literature, German history and Protestant theology. From 1936 on I was assistant at the University of Bonn. From 1939 to 1940 military service. In 1940 deferred for the University of Bonn and emergency service in the Reichssicherheitshauptamt, Amt III.

Q. Since when have you been a Party member?

A. Since 1937.

Q. What office did you have in the Reich Security Main Office?

A. I was an expert (Referent), later section chief in Group IIIC, Amt III.

Q. Are you well acquainted with the tasks, methods and aims of Group IIIC?

A. Yes, I am.

Q. Please wait a little before you answer. In addition, do you also know of the tasks, methods and aims of Amt III?

A. Yes, I also know these, because they were fundamentally the same as those of Group IIIC.

Q. What were the tasks and aims of Amt III since 1939?

A. Amt III was a domestic German information service. It had set its aims and tasks to a great extent itself and worked independently in the domestic German sphere of life; that is to say it took up important questions of domestic German life in various fields, such as economics, culture, administration, law and others as far

[Page 216]

as information service was concerned and in particular attempted to collect and sum up criticism on the part of the population regarding mistakes, faulty developments, measures, etc., and to report on them.

Q. Please give a few examples by way of explanation.

A. For example, every week and sometimes daily, Amt III reported on the opinion of the population on German propaganda to the agencies concerned. Beyond that, in 1943 for example, Amt III, through its reports, prevented the closing of German universities in spite of Germany's total war effort.

Q. The prosecution has submitted, on Page 11 of the English Trial Brief, that Amt III had to carry out police investigations in all phases of German life. Did Amt III have to carry out police investigations?

A. Never did Amt III as long as it existed have any police tasks.

Q. Did the SD, Amt III, have the practical task and the fundamental aim of giving information through its information centre on actual and possible opponents of the Nazi movement? This refers to Page 17 of the Trial Brief.

A. No. Amt III was basically not an information service on opponents, but on the German domestic life.

Q. What was the purpose of the information service reports of Amt III? In particular, was the main object to support the leaders of the Party and State as partners of a conspiracy and to, keep them in power?

A. No. Amt III never had such a task and did not set up such a task for itself. The task of the information service of Amt III was to furnish an extensive and objective picture of the domestic problems of German internal life and to present them in an open and direct manner.

Q. Did the members of Amt III know that the leaders of the Party and the State were participating in a secret plan for the purpose of committing crimes against peace, war crimes and crimes against humanity?

A. To my knowledge, the members of Amt III did not know anything about this. All the material collected by Amt III is evidence to the contrary.

Q. Can you answer this question for the members and honorary members of the subordinate agencies?

A. Yes.

Q. Did the dose collaborators of the chief of Amt III know of such a conspiracy?

A. No. Not even the closest collaborators knew anything about this.

Q. On what is your knowledge based for your answers to the last few questions?

A. I often participated in internal Gruppenleiter conferences with the chief of Amt III.

Q. Were the tasks and aims of the Domestic Information Service known to all workers even in the subordinate agencies?

A. Yes, the tasks and aims were known to the workers and honorary workers of the subordinate agencies. They were continually announced in the individual meetings, lectures, etc.

Q. On what is your knowledge based by reason of which you have answered my last question?

A. On numerous individual conferences and meetings where I myself announced the aims and tasks of Amt III.

Q. In the reports made on a situation, were the, names of the persons mentioned?

A. No, not usually, since the SD was not interested in the names of individual persons, but in typical examples of questions regarding the different spheres of life.

Q. In giving personnel data, was the aim being pursued, to bring persons into influential State positions who would not oppose the execution of a plan for committing war crimes, crimes against peace and crimes against humanity?

A. No, Amt III did not have any such aims. Such data and reports of the SD were kept separate from the reports on the general situation. The SD;

[Page 217]

Amt III, gave personnel data, but did not have permission to pass judgement on people. That was the sole task of the Hoheitstrager of the Party.

Q. What was the purpose of giving out information on personnel data by the SD?

A. This was to supplement the political judgement and purely specialized judgement of the individual Party offices and departments and present if possible a total picture of the personality, character, professional ability, political attitude and personal way of living independent of any departmental point of view or of any power or political interests.

Q. The prosecution describes the task of the SD as follows: the task consisted in taking necessary steps to destroy the opposition or to make it harmless. Does this correspond with the actual facts and ideological aims of Amt III since 1939?

A. No, by no means. I have already emphasized the fact that Amt III was not an intelligence service for gathering news about opponents.

Q. When did Amt III give up this task?

A. Amt III never had this task.

Q. The prosecution further submitted that the SD had an extensive spy net that would spy on the German people in their daily work, in the streets and even in the sacred precincts of the Church. This is on Page 66 of the English trial brief. Did the SD conduct such an extensive spy network as described?

A. During the whole period of its existence, Amt III never worked with spies or a spy network in the domestic German sphere of life. The spy network would have contradicted all the basic aims of this internal German information service.

Q. Did the SD for its tasks use only regular officials?

A. No, they were by far in the minority. The work of the internal SD was dependent upon the big staff of honorary workers from all parts of the country and all professions.

Q. Can you give any figures?

A. I cannot give accurate figures, but in the last few years we estimated the honorary workers at some 10,000. They worked on a completely voluntary basis and a large part worked on their own initiative for the internal SD.

Q. From what point of view were the confidential agents chosen for the information service for internal German spheres of life?

A. Such confidential agents had to offer proof that, free from selfish interests, they would give clear and objective information on questions relating to their professional spheres or to the population amongst whom they lived and on other concerns and worries and statements of criticism of the population with which they came into contact. In addition, they had to be persons of decent character.

Q. Did these agents have to be members of the Party?

A. No, by no means. It was even desired to have as large as possible a percentage of non-Party members amongst these agents of the SD so as to get a complete and independent picture of the total situation within Germany through them.

Q. Did the agents have to be members of the SS?

A. No, the percentage of members of the SS amongst these agents was, according to my estimate, still less than that of Party members.

Q. What were the tasks of these confidential agents?

A. The tasks varied. In Amt III we had agents who were to give general information on the frame of mind, attitude and opinions of the population on urgent questions during the course of the war years. Then we had another type of agent who gave information on their professional cares and worries and on questions relating to the specialist fields into which they had insight.

Q. What was the task of the SD Arbeitskreise?

A. In the so-called SD Arbeitskreise the agents of the subordinate agencies were called together for free and frank conferences. In these Arbeitskreise questions and problems concerning technical matters and measures of the Party

[Page 218]

and State agencies were discussed with absolute sincerity and frankness. The results of these discussions and criticism were summarised and then sent to Amt III in Berlin. The main prerequisite was absolute objectivity and absolute frankness and criticism.

Q. Did the agents or the Arbeitskreise work under any special cloak of secrecy? This question refers to the Trial Brief, Page 16.

A. I do not know what you mean by the expression, "cloak of secrecy." I can answer that these agents never acted under any special personal secrecy and these Arbeitskreise, which I just mentioned, had no special obligation for secrecy. They were publicly known as such.

Q. Were there, apart from those employed, other agents of the SD?

A. Yes. In the last few years of our work there were more and more representatives of the various professions and walks of life, who on their own initiative came with some worry, criticism, or some positive suggestion to the SD, in order, on the basis of a personal confidence in the SD, to be able to turn over their worries to it.

Q. Now, I show you prosecution Documents PS-1650, D-569 and PS-1514. They deal with the Kugel decree concerning the treatment of Russian prisoners of war and the turning over of prisoners of war to the Gestapo. It is the first point of the Indictment VI (c) against the SD.

Was the SD Amt III competent for executing this decree?

A. No, the SD was not competent because Amt III, from the beginning, had no executive power.

Q. Can you give any further explanation of the individual documents?

A. The documents all refer to the Secret State Police, the Gestapo. One document merely mentions the chief of Amt III. The document of the Wehrmacht also refers to the Gestapo.

Q. Was the SD, the Domestic Information Service, used to carry out these decrees?

A. No, this would have been in opposition to its tasks.

Q. Did the SD, the Domestic Information Service, participate in the deportation of citizens of the occupied territories for forced labour?

A. No, this was an executive task for which the SD, Amt III, was not competent.

Q. Did the SD have the power to inflict punishment on forced labourers? This question refers to Page 1941 of the English transcript.

A. No, this also would have been an executive task.

Q. Did the SD, through its reports, contribute to deportations?

A. No, quite on the contrary. Amt III repeatedly showed up the negative effects of such measures.

Q. Did the SD have any control over the forced labourers brought into the Reich?

A. No, this control would also have been an executive task which Amt III did not have.

Q. Now, I show you Document PS-205. This is a memorandum on the general principles for the treatment of foreigners employed in the Reich. Did the SD have any part in the drafting of this memorandum?

A. Yes, to my knowledge the SD, Amt III, had a part in the drawing up of this memorandum. It made its material available in setting up directives for a positive treatment of foreign workers. This material, which was used in this memorandum, corresponded moreover to the basic principles of the domestic SD in the treatment of national questions in the European area.

Q. What is your knowledge based on as to the drawing up of this memorandum?

A. Part of the material comes from Group IIIC, in which I myself was section chief.

[Page 219]

Q. Did the SD, Amt III, have the right to make confiscations? This question refers to the part of the Indictment VI (k) of the Trial Brief.

A. No, the SD had no right to confiscate. This also would have been an executive task.

Q. Did the SD Domestic Information Service participate in the confiscation and distribution of public and private property?

A. No.

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