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-Sixth Day: Tuesday, 6th August, 1946
(Part 9 of 10)

[DR. PELCKMANN continues his direct examination of Guenther Reinecke]

[Page 334]

Q. Was it typical of the honorary leaders that they never did duty in the SS?

A. Yes, you are quite right. The honorary leaders were awarded ranks and with them the right to wear the uniform merely because they already occupied some position of importance. But they themselves had never done a single day's duty in the General SS and even after their nomination they would have no contact at all with the members of the SS. That is what was generally understood by the title "honorary leader of the SS."

Q. Would it be correct to include - to mention a few names - the defendants Hess, Ribbentrop, Neurath, Sauckel among such honorary leaders who had no official duty in connection with the General SS?

A. All the persons whom you have mentioned were typical honorary leaders n the SS, as I have described them.

Q. Did they have the power to issue orders?

A. When they were appointed to be honorary leaders they only received the right to wear the uniform, as I have said. Their nomination did not give them power to issue orders.

Q. Now, I want to deal with the Waffen SS. Can you give any information on the Waffen SS?

A. The Waffen SS, from the beginning, was a self-contained independent organization, which it remained until the end of the war. The Waffen SS grew out of the so-called Special Disposal Groups. They were still loosely connected with the General SS, because from the General SS recruits, if they volunteered, were transferred to the Special Disposal Groups. At the same time, the SS Special Disposal Groups were joined by German citizens through other organizations of the Party and other German citizens who were not connected with the Part at all. During the later development of the Waffen SS, these connections, which had always been loose, gradually disappeared entirely. The Waffen SS became an independent organization, which is also shown by the fact that, for example, members of the General SS and members of the Party who were serving in the Waffen SS found that their membership of the General SS or of the Party lapsed for that period. It is typical of the independence of the Waffen SS that even the highest leader in the General SS did not by any means join the Waffen SS with the same rank which he held in the General SS, but that in the Waffen SS he was treated exactly as any other citizen; in other words, he had to begin as a recruit. The difference and the proof for my assertion that the Waffen SS was an independent organization are also evident from the fact that in the case of civil proceedings against members of the General SS, the NSDAP would appear on

[Page 335]

their behalf, whereas in civil proceedings against members of the Waffen SS organization, the German Reich would prosecute.

Q. Was there any connection between the General SS and the Waffen SS on one side and the SD on the other?

A. No, no connection whatever existed. The Security Service developed into an intelligence organization which became an independent organization not later than 1934; as such, it had nothing whatsoever to do with the General SS and the Waffen SS, except that Himmler was their joint chief.

Q. What was the relationship between the Waffen SS or the General SS and the police?

A. I believe that one must certainly exclude the Waffen SS. The Waffen SS had a definite military character and its activities were military; that is to say it was at the front during the entire war. Any connection with the police could not possibly therefore have been established. But the General SS, too, had no direct organisational contact with the police. The police was an organization of the State, and had State executive powers. The appointments, for example, of high-ranking officers of the General SS to the posts of Higher SS and Police Leader, again, do not point to any organic connection between the two organizations. The Higher SS and Police Leader had in that particular position, no power to issue orders to the General SS unless he was at the same time the head of an Oberabschnitt of the General SS. On the other hand, he had no real power to issue orders to the police, either. Members of the police have in fact, to stress the outward difference also, never at any time worn SS uniform. Something similar applies to the relationship between the General SS and the Waffen SS on one side and the Security Police on the other. As I have already stated, in 1938 the Security Police quite suddenly received ranks in the SS and the right to wear the SS uniform. That, however, does not indicate that there was any organisational connection with the General SS. The Security Police received State executive powers, the Chief of the General SS, on the other hand, never had such executive powers. He could not order arrests or confiscations, nor could he carry out any other executive function. It was noticeable that at the beginning of the war and during the war, the Security Police, wearing SS uniform, moved outwardly, more and more into the foreground. This was the time when the members -

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Pelckmann, is it possible that this evidence could have been given at greater length before the Commission? Did you hear what I said?

DR. PELCKMANN: Yes, Mr. President.

THE PRESIDENT: Do you not think you could shorten it?

DR. PELCKMANN: Yes, Mr. President. The witness has already come to the end of that particular part of his testimony.

THE PRESIDENT: You have been asked over and over again to shorten the evidence and you seem to me to be making no effort to do it.

DR. PELCKMANN: I thought it necessary to clear up the question of the Higher SS and Police Leaders with particular care, because it is extremely intricate even for us Germans.


Q. What was the connection in the occupied territories between the Higher SS and Police Leaders and the General SS?

A. There was absolutely no connection at all, because in the occupied territories the General SS did not even exist. The General SS was an institution for German citizens and for that reason it did not exist in the occupied territories. The Higher SS and the Police Leaders in the occupied territories fulfilled police functions only; they had no connections or ties with the General SS and could not have had such connections for the reasons which I have described.

Q. Why did the General SS not exist in the occupied territories?

[Page 336]

A. As I have just said, the General SS was a formation of a political party, in which only German citizens were accepted. For that reason the General SS could not exist in the occupied territories.

Q. Is it correct, then, to say that acts or even crimes of the Higher SS and Police Leaders in the occupied territories could not incriminate the General SS at all?

A. That is absolutely correct.

Q. I should now like to take up the discussion of a document. I gave you the document during the recess, witness, and perhaps you would be good enough to state the number of it to the High Tribunal. It is the document which was put to the witness von Eberstein yesterday.

A. It is Document 4024-PS, and is the correspondence between the Higher SS and Police Leader in the Operational Zone Adriatic Coast, Globocnik, and Heinrich Himmler and Oswald Pohl.

Q. Is it possible for you to ascertain from the document in which capacity the author of these letters, Globocnik, was acting? Was he acting in his capacity as Higher SS and Police Leader in Trieste or was he acting as Higher SS and Police Leader in Lublin, as far as you can remember?

A. The document shows quite clearly that Globocnik, in this case, was acting as SS and Police Leader in Lublin and not as Higher SS and Police Leader, Adriatic Coast. This is actually contained in the document itself. I myself know from my own activity that at the end of 1943 or at the beginning of 1944, Globocnik was relieved of his post as SS and Police Leader in Lublin, and was given the post of Higher SS and Police Leader, Adriatic Coast. The date of the document, therefore, appears to be wrong. It is 5th January, 1943, but that must be an error; it should read 1944, as the letterhead shows.

Q. Do the activities described by Globocnik in this document implicate the General SS; that is to say, did Globocnik carry out the activities which he is describing in the capacity of leader of the General SS?

A. It is obvious from the document that Globocnik was acting in his capacity as SS and Police Leader, and we are here concerned with a secret special task, the so-called "Action Reinhard." He is acting solely as police executive. Any connection between this activity and the organization of the General SS, or even any of its members, does not exist in any way.

Q. Are you drawing your conclusion, that this was a special order directly from Himmler, partly from the fact that the report is addressed to Himmler directly, and does not go first, as it should have done, to the Higher SS and Police Leader at Krakow, Krueger?

A. That is quite true, but it is also apparent from other passages in this correspondence. The expression "special task" is clearly used in the correspondence; furthermore, the correspondence is headed "Secret Reich Matter," and it also mentions that only four copies of this "Secret Reich Matter" are in existence and that the document sent by Globocnik to Himmler is the original.

Q. You are still reading from Document 4024?

A. Yes, that is the document I am reading.

Q. Would you look to the top of Page 3? I think that indicates quite clearly who was dealing with those matters, and on whose authority Globocnik was acting.

A. Page 3 of this document shows that the "Action Reinhard" was divided into four parts: (A) resettlement, (B) use of labour, (C) use of materials, (D) seizure of hidden values and real estate. It also shows that Globocnik was communicating with Oswald Pohl personally, as well as with Himmler, on this matter. Pohl was Chief of the SS Economy and Administration Central Department, which -

THE PRESIDENT: What is the point of all this evidence? We have the documents before us.

[Page 337]

DR. PELCKMANN: This document was shown yesterday to the Higher SS and Police Leader in the Reich, von Eberstein, in order to prove through Globocnik's action-and Globocnik's letterhead also reads "Higher SS and Police Leader," though he was active abroad - that the Higher SS and Police Leaders committed crimes, and further to prove that the General SS was also implicated in these crimes, because, according to the view of the prosecution, which I am trying to prove wrong, the Higher SS and Police Leaders were simultaneously acting on behalf of the General SS. This witness, Reinicke, since he was a high judge and thus able to have knowledge of the entire organization of the SS, is in a position to state whether this view, this assertion, of the prosecution is correct -

THE PRESIDENT: Surely he can say so then without spending all this time on this document. If he wanted to say whether Globocnik was acting on behalf of the SS, or was not, why does he not say so and get done with it?

Q. After seeing the document, and judging it on the basis of your knowledge of the organizations of the SS, would you say that Globocnik was acting on behalf of the Waffen SS or on its order, or on behalf of the General SS or on its order?

A. The contents of the document show clearly that Globocnik was neither acting on behalf of the General SS nor on its order, nor on behalf of the Waffen SS. The document shows clearly that it was a "special task" given to Globocnik by Himmler personally, a task which had nothing to do with either of these two organizations.

Q. Of the various groups which you mentioned earlier, groups which are regarded by the prosecution as a single organization, we have not yet dealt with the system of the concentration camps. How did the concentration camp system fit into the SS and was there an organic tie between the concentration camp system and the SS?

A. An organic tie did not exist. The concentration camp system had a police character corresponding to its purpose. The administration of the concentration camp system was therefore a task of the Reich, and Himmler was entrusted with this task in 1933 or 1934. At that time, he created a special organization for guarding the concentration camps, and this organization was known as "Totenkopf organization," or "Totenkopf Units." That organization, too, did not grow out of the General SS and never had any organic connection with it later. The first guards of the concentration camps were only to a very limited extent former members of the General SS. They also included members of the SA and of other Party organizations, members of the Party, and people who belonged to no party, but who, in view of the conditions of that time, were unemployed and required work and food, and a new sphere of activity. From these initial stages, the "Totenkopf Units" developed independently, and their members were given training similar to that of the police. In 1939, they joined the Waffen SS organization, which was at that time being formed. The task of guarding concentration camps was then turned over mainly to such persons who could not serve at the front. A small number of members of the General SS, who were unable to serve at the front, members of the SA, too, members of the Kyffhauser Union and thousands of members of the armed forces were then assigned to guard duty at the concentration camps.

Q. You said that, in 1939, the Totenkopf Units joined the Waffen SS. I shall have to ask you about this specially, because during the examination of the last witness, Totenkopf Units and Totenkopf Divisions had obviously been confused. What is the exact designation of these two units? What is meant by them?

A. The Totenkopf Units were the guard units in the concentration camps until the beginning of the war. At that time they were transferred to various parts of the Waffen SS. The Totenkopf Division had nothing whatever to do with the Totenkopf Units. The Totenkopf Division was a division of the Waffen SS,

[Page 338]

which was formed in the first years of the war and was used at the front as a complete division.

Q. You just said that the Totenkopf Units were in 1939 transferred to the Waffen SS. Did they, after they were transferred to the Waffen SS, still have something to do with the guarding of concentration camps?

A. After their transfer to the Waffen SS, they had no longer anything to do with the guarding of concentration camps; they were assigned to the various divisions of the Waffen SS soldiers.

Q. It has been alleged by the prosecution that the unification of the SS as an organization was brought about by establishing a common command, and in that connection the prosecution referred to the twelve head offices of the Reichsfuehrer SS and the Chief of the German Police, depicted on the organisational chart which the prosecution submitted. Were these twelve head offices leading organs of the SS?

A. No, they were not leading organs of the SS.

Q. In order to shorten the proceedings, I shall ask you now about the head offices and their connection with the SS. Were the head office, Regular Police, and the RSHA command posts of the General SS or the Waffen SS?

A. No. The head office, Regular Police, was the headquarters of the German Police and the head office, Security Police, was the headquarters of the Security Police. Both were departments of interior administration, and were organic parts of the Ministry of the Interior. At no time did they have the authority to issue orders to the General SS or to the Waffen SS.

Q. Were the State head office of the Reich Commissioner for the Strengthening of German Nationalism and the so-called Central Department for Germans Abroad, were they command posts of the General SS or Waffen SS?

A. No. Both of these head offices were authorities of the Reich and discharged only tasks of the Reich. Their members were civil servants, and certainly not soldiers of the Waffen SS or officials of any part of the General SS. Neither of these head offices had the authority to issue orders to the General SS or the Waffen SS.

Q. In brief, were the remaining eight head offices command posts of the General SS or Waffen SS?

A. Of the remaining eight offices, one must exclude two, namely, the "Unit head office Heissmeier" and the head office "Personal Staff." The "Unit head office Heissmeier" had nothing at all to do with the SS, but it was an office headed by Heissmeier and belonging to the Reich Ministry of Education. The head office "Personal Staff" was also not a command post, but it was Himmler's Adjutant's office, the collecting point of the various sections which were subordinate to Himmler personally, or which were carrying out his personal orders, but which had nothing to do with the organizations of the General SS and the Waffen SS as such. These sections included, for example, the so-called "Lebensborn" society and the so-called "Ahnenerbe." The Reich medical officer, Grawitz, was also connected with this head office and carried out biological experiments, acting on Himmler's personal orders and without the co-operation of the organizations.

Q. Further details are, I think, unnecessary. I have one last question with regard to the organizations. Did the remaining six head offices represent a unified supreme command of the SS?

A. No, these six head offices were not a unified SS command either. They were six departments working side by side with equal rights, and dealing with particular subjects; they were in a position to give orders without having to be unified in the hands of a single person.

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