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-Seventh Day: Wednesday, 7th August, 1946
(Part 7 of 10)

[Page 369]

DR. SEIDL: I shall then quote under No. 12 a note for the files:
"Concerning Dachau concentration camp.

I. Memorandum.

The proposal of the State Minister of the Interior to quash the inquiry now pending at the public prosecution office at the Provincial Court, Munich II, into the deaths of the prisoners Handschuh, Frantz and Katz, who were in protective custody, was the subject of a discussion during the meeting of the Council of Ministers on 5th December, 1933. As a result, the State Minister of justice communicated the following to the undersigned officials:

The criminal proceedings regarding the happenings in the Dachau concentration camp are to be continued with all determination. The facts are to be cleared up with the utmost speed. If necessary, the provincial police are to be brought in to assist. Any attempts to hush up the case must be opposed by all available means.

The Oberstaatsanwalt (Public Prosecutor) at the Provincial Court, Munich II, was instructed, in accordance with the decision of the Council of Ministers, to continue the proceedings immediately with all energy, and to bring about the clearing up of the incidents as soon as possible. He will apply for preliminary Court investigations and see to their being completed rapidly - in the case of Frantz and Katz immediately, and in the case of Handschuh after the arrival of the documents from the Political Police, who have been requested to return them. He (the Public Prosecutor) has been instructed to keep the State Ministry of Justice informed about the course of the proceedings and to produce the files with an attached report about the result of the preliminary investigation once this is completed, stating also what further action is intended. The Public Prosecutor at the Oberlandesgericht (Court of Appeal) in Munich has been notified and instructed that he also, for his part, is to pay particular attention to the proceedings. The preliminary investigations will probably be conducted by Landgerichtsrat (Provincial Court Counsellor) Kissner, competent for the district of Dachau.

The liaison officer with the Political Party, I. Staatsanwalt (First Public Prosecutor) Dr. Stepp, was instructed, according to orders, to communicate the decision of the Council of Ministers to the commanding officer of the Political Police, Himmler, and to the chief of the Bavarian Political Police."

DR. SEIDL: Thank you, Mr. President.

BY DR. PELCKMANN (for the SS):

Witness, once again I shall come back to the document which has just been read out by my colleague Seidl. When this document was put to you, you pointed out that this was an instruction concerning an affair which took place very early in 1933. During your interrogation you, yourself, said that in the course of your investigation in later years you discovered that murders had been hushed up by means of false reports on the facts being sent in. For that reason I would like to ask you once more: Is it correct that you, in the course of your

[Page 370]

investigation in later years, and as soon as you discovered cases of concealment, fought against such procedure with all determination?

[Guenther Reinecke] A. That was precisely one of our main activities. We were fighting against those cases of hushing-up which cropped up in the course of proceedings which were being carried out. Repeatedly, in many different camps, we were able to ascertain by our commissions that such cases of concealment did exist, and in those cases we at once called the guilty party to account.

Q. And in your SS legal system, in 1933, could you fight against such type of crimes?

A. The legal system of the SS, that is to say a system of criminal justice, did not exist then. Responsibility for carrying out such criminal proceedings lay with the criminal prosecution department of the general legal system, and this becomes apparent from this document. It was their task to bring to judgement the guilty men responsible in such cases.

Q. A report, a document has been put before you, D-924, Exhibit GB 570, which refers to the horrible shooting of deportees, carried out by the escorting troops. You defined your attitude toward them. I noticed that you could not quite have completed your statement, because I believe that you wanted to say something more concerning your personal impressions. Would you like to do that now?

A. Yes. I wanted to say that here we are concerned with a convoy of prisoners and the accompanying troops; what I said about guards was only with reference to those guards in camps, that is to say those sentries who were posted on watchtowers, and others outside and around the camp carrying out guard duty, and who, after having completed their guard duty, returned to their billets; men, therefore, who had nothing to do with the internal arrangements of the camps. In case of doubt, such transports were carried out by members of the commandant's staff.

Q. From the document containing the statistics regarding the strength of the SS on the 30th of June, 1934, and I regret that the document number is not visible on my copy, I should like to put to you the figure of 794,000 members of the SS. Witness Brill told us yesterday of higher figures, approximately 900,000 to a million in 1944. Since witness Brill is no longer present, I should like to ask you, if you are sufficiently informed, whether the difference may be attributed to the fact that the figure mentioned by witness Brill also included the dead, those who had been killed, and therefore the figure given by witness Brill was not an incorrect statement on his part.

A. I have the knowledge necessary to answer the question because, working in the legal system, I constantly had to have information concerning the strength of the SS. I know that the statement by witness Brill corresponds to the facts. It is a fact, as stated by defence counsel, that the figure given by witness Brill includes the losses suffered by the Waffen SS. The figures contained in this document must be increased by the number of killed in the course of the war, both of men and leaders either low-ranking or senior, of the Waffen SS, in order to draw your conclusions regarding the real strength of the Waffen SS.

Q. On Page 28 of the same document you have the numbers in the various offices. The final total is 39,415 members of the SS. Do you still have the document before you, witness?

A. No, unfortunately, I have not.

(The document was handed to the witness.)

Q. You said that the figure representing the SS Economic and Administrative Department, which was responsible for the administration of the entire concentration camp system, was 24,051 persons. Does this mean persons who were carrying out purely clerical work? Were there in fact 24,051 clerical workers in that department? Or what does that figure mean?

A. The SS Economic and Administrative Department was a much inflated organization which particularly, as its name indicates, had at its disposal a large)

[Page 371]

organization of firms and industries. All the members of such industries were formally attached to the Administrative Economic Department, and in order to classify them "uk," that means to relieve them from compulsory service in the armed forces, they were, as a matter of form, assigned to the Waffen SS.

Q. As I understood you earlier, you also said that the guards should be counted into that figure?

A. I had not finished my answer to that question. The guards in the concentration camps and the entire personnel in concentration camps were also counted in the Economic and Administrative Department, division "D," as concerns personnel and organization, and thus they were exclusively under the jurisdiction of Pohl as the Chief of the Administrative and Economic Department. I assume that the figure of those guards is included in the figure of 24,051.

Q. Please would you look at the figure of 987 of the SS attached to the "Reich Commissioner for the Strengthening of German Nationalism," or "Consolidation of German Folkdom," Central Department for Racial Germans. That is merely an example, but were these 987 men the only employees of that department?

A. I know from my own experience as SS judge that the department called "Reich Commissioner for the Strengthening of German Nationalism" or "Consolidation of German Folkdom" had at its disposal thousands of people who, as I said yesterday, were civil servants and were in no way connected with the SS. That figure of 987 members of the SS can be explained just as all the other figures can be explained. They became members of the SS for the same reason, that of being unfit for active service, and they had to be assigned to an armed unit performing military duties in order not to be called up. Those persons had no real connection with the SS organization in any case, but it was merely the technical reasons which I have described which led to their being taken over by the SS.

Q. Well, then, these statistics which are before us show approximately 800,000 members of the SS. Is it correct, witness, that as against that the statistics show that the concentration camp system employed only about 25,000 members of the SS?

A. In June, 1944, which is the date of this document, that is the correct proportion of men employed in concentration camps in comparison to the total strength of the SS which is clearly evident from this document.

DR. PELCKMANN: May I now submit to your Lordship the document which I unfortunately did not have at my disposal this morning.


Q. Witness, I will show it to you. Would you mind having a look at it? You know this document?

A. Yes, that document became known to me during the last twelve months.

Q. On Page 46 of that document there appears the testimony of a detainee who is referred to by the initials "E. H." It gives the impression that the testimony was given before American interrogating authorities and it reveals -

THE PRESIDENT (Interposing): Is this document in evidence?

DR. PELCKMANN: Your Lordship, it is not in my document book. I am merely putting it to the witness, but as your Lordship desired to see the book, I submitted it to the Tribunal.

THE PRESIDENT: Yes, but - Well, what is the book? I do not know what it is. What is it? Where does it come from?

DR. PELCKMANN: I beg to be permitted to ask the witness just one question with reference to this.

THE PRESIDENT: No, no, you may not do that until you have told me where the book comes from. Where does the book come from?

[Page 372]

DR. PELCKMANN: It comes from the library here. I just got it from the library. It is an official publication -


DR. PELCKMANN: - of a Colonel Quinn. On Page 46 there is the testimony of this detainee, and it would give the impression that that testimony had been given before interrogating authorities of the American Army.


Q. Can you say anything with reference to that testimony, which describes atrocious conditions and crimes?

A. Yes, I can give you information on that subject. This testimony is -

THE PRESIDENT: But, Dr. Pelckmann, the document is not yet in evidence, unless you offer it. Now, if you offer it, it is different. But you are carefully trying to contradict it. What is the good of contradicting a document which is not in evidence? We have never seen it.

DR. PELCKMANN: If your Lordship would hear the witness, then you would discover that I am not trying to contradict the document.

THE PRESIDENT: Do you want to offer the document in evidence then?

DR. PELCKMANN: First of all, I should like to put it to the witness and then if I get your permission I should very much like to offer it in evidence.

THE PRESIDENT: Well, then, you offer it in evidence and you are relying upon the document, are you? Are you relying upon it or are you not?

DR. PELCKMANN: As far as I can quote from Page 46, yes.

THE PRESIDENT: If you want to put it in for the purpose of relying on Page 46, you can do that.

DR. PELCKMANN: And the following - the following pages - the entire testimony signed "E. H."



Q. Witness, you understood my question?

A. Yes.

Q. Please will you answer it?

A. This testimony by "E. H." is the testimony of a female detainee, Eleanora Hodis from Auschwitz, and was made in the late autumn of 1944, under oath, before an SS judge. An investigating commission of the SS Judicial Department had instituted proceedings against Grabner, head of the Political Department at Auschwitz, and various other participants, for the murder of detainees, and these people were indicted for murder in 2,000 cases.

As always, considerable difficulties were put in the way of clearing up the situation. The female detainee, Eleanora Hodis, declared herself willing to assist; the investigating commission of the SS Court with her testimony, provided judges would guarantee her life. That guarantee was given, and it was possible to get Hodis out of Auschwitz and transfer her to Munich. In Munich, at the date indicated, she gave her testimony, with those gruesome details which were to form the basis of proceedings instituted against Hoess and many other people However, because of the collapse (of Germany) the proceedings could not be carried through.

Q. Is it correct, therefore, witness, that the conditions which are described here existed in the concentration camp of Dachau as it would appear -

A. No.

Q. - by being included in this book, because, after all, this book deals with the concentration camp of Dachau?

[Page 373]

A. No, that is not correct. The testimony given by the witness Hodis refers exclusively to the atrocious and gruesome conditions at Auschwitz, and has nothing whatever to do with the camp of Dachau.

DR. PELCKMANN: Finally, your Lordship, I merely beg to be allowed to refer to Document D-959 which has been submitted by the British Delegation.

When discussing the question -

THE PRESIDENT: Give that document you just put in some number.

DR. PELCKMANN: The document "SS Dachau" -

THE PRESIDENT: You can give it a number afterwards. Do not delay now.

DR. PELCKMANN: I will merely look up the number of documents I have submitted up to now and then I will give them numbers.

When the prosecution defined their attitude regarding the admissibility of that document, they said that it was regretted that the document could be submitted only so very late. In other words, as we all know, it ought to have been submitted during the presentation of evidence. At this stage, with reference to the hundreds of statements regarding the activity of the Waffen SS in Czechoslovakia, I cannot now define my attitude, and I, too, regret that the document arrived so very late. However, as it has now been admitted and as the Tribunal is taking judicial notice of it, I think I ought to have the possibility of referring to the details which are brought up in support of the case for the prosecution - its value cannot be assessed otherwise - so as to have the opportunity to define my attitude. For that purpose I should like to have a certain amount of time.

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Pelckmann, the Tribunal thinks that you must go on with your case and that you cannot be given further time. The Tribunal has said that they are bound to take judicial notice of the document under Article 21, and this witness has told us he had never heard of the incidents - two incidents, I think - to which counsel drew his attention.

DR. PELCKMANN: I am afraid I did not understand the translation of the last part of what you said, Mr. President.

THE PRESIDENT: I said that you must go on with your case and that the Tribunal had admitted that document under Article 21, and that with reference to the two incidents to which counsel for the prosecution referred, this witness has said that he has never heard of them.

DR. PELCKMANN: I have no further questions to this witness.

DR. GAWLIK (counsel for the SD): With reference to the Document D-96o, submitted during cross-examination, I have a few questions to put to the witness.

THE PRESIDENT: Which document? Which document?

DR. GAWLIK: D-960, Exhibit No. 569.

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