The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)
Nuremberg, war crimes, crimes against humanity

The Trial of German Major War Criminals

Sitting at Nuremberg, Germany
9th August to 21st August 1946

One Hundred and Ninety-Ninth Day: Friday, 9th August, 1946
(Part 2 of 11)

[MR. ELWYN JONES continues his cross examination of Wolfram Sievers]

[Page 5]

Q. Why did you go to the Political Department about it?

A. Because I had been in Vorarlberg together with Rascher and Pacholegg and I was accused of aiding Pacholegg to escape. All the circumstances of the arrest at the time when the Rascher affair was suddenly uncovered were at issue.

Q. You must have been extremely anxious when Pacholegg escaped; he knew a lot of the facts about your work, did he not? You must have been most anxious to secure his recapture.

A. I was mainly anxious about myself, for it is not hard to imagine what would have happened to me, since Pacholegg knew much - if it had been proved that I had favoured his escape, as was being asserted.

Q. If you look at the entry for 23rd May, you will see that you had a conference with the Reichsarzt SS Grawitz, Poppendieck and Ploetner. Then you had "Division as to the work of Dr. Schilling." Then, in the afternoon, you had a two-hour conference with Ploetner. That was about these experiments to make sea-water drinkable, was it not?

A. No, this concerns Ploetner's desire to discontinue his work with Schilling. Ploetner complained bitterly about the type of work carried on by Schillin and said that he could no longer work with him. Ploetner had been ordered there as a Waffen SS doctor.

Q. You yourself must have been feeling pangs of conscience at this time about the use of inmates, because your military situation was rather delicate, was it not?

A. Not only at that late date, but much earlier too. In view of the documents which are being submitted now and the accusations which are raised against me personally in that connection I am forced to make a personal confession, a fundamental statement, and I should like to ask the Tribunal for permission to do so now.

THE PRESIDENT: The Tribunal thinks that you may say anything you wish in that regard.

MR. ELWYN JONES: I would like to say, my Lord, that I have a number of other matters to put to this witness. If he cares

THE PRESIDENT: You can put them to him first.

MR. ELWYN JONES: If he cares to reserve his statement to the end, he can do so, but it might be more convenient to the Tribunal if he makes his confession now.

THE PRESIDENT: Let him make it now, then.

[Page 6]

MR. ELWYN JONES: If your Lordship pleases. Then will you make your confession to the Tribunal?

THE WITNESS: Before the Commission on 27th June I had to make factual statements in direct answer to the questions put to me, and I was repeatedly asked to be brief. I therefore had to limit myself to a statement of the relevant facts and to disregard my own person and my personal attitude to these questions. I note that in consequence my credibility has been doubted and it has been said that I personally participated in these incriminating experiments and did not wish to tell the truth. In view of this, I must, in my own defence, say the following:

I entered the Party as well as the SS as a leading member of a secret organization of the resistance movement and on its orders. Indeed, this position in the "Ahnenerbe" afforded us special opportunities of working illegally against the Nazi system -


Q. Witness, when you say "resistance movement," I did not quite understand you. What is the "resistance movement" that you were leading?

A. The secret organization led by Dr. Hilscher, who in connection with events of 20th July was arrested and kept imprisoned by the Gestapo for a long time. I repeatedly protested against the experiments with the result that finally Himmler issued an order, also included in these documents, that resistance against these experiments would be regarded as high treason, and would therefore be punishable by death. Among other things, he told me that no one would ask me to carry out the experiments personally, and that he himself would have the full responsibility for them. Besides - as I myself read later - he said that such experiments on human beings had taken place repeatedly as part of medical research and were necessary, as was proved by the famous experiments on human beings carried out in 1900 by Dieth and later by Golderger in America. Nevertheless my conflict of conscience -

MR. ELWYN JONES: If your Lordship pleases, I do not know whether the Tribunal wants to hear more of this material. It seems to me to be more an avoidance than a confession and I have numerous matters that I desire to put to this witness.

THE PRESIDENT: Mr. Elwyn Jones, the Tribunal thinks you better go on with your cross-examination. If the witness wants to add something at the end he may do so.


Q. Now, just look back again at your diary. On 27th June you had a conference with SS Stabsfuehrer Dr. Brandt and SS Hauptsturmfuehrer Berg on the "creating of a scientific research station in a concentration camp. Information about conference with SS Obergruppenfuehrer Pohl." That was 27th June, 1944, you know. On 25th July you had a conference with SS Stabsfuehrer Maurer, Oranienburg, about "the use of inmates for scientific purposes." That was when you were leading the resistance movement. On 26th July "SS Hauptsturmfuehrer Dr. Fischer by phone. Order in accordance with conference with SS Stabsfuehrer Maurer, dated 25th July, 1944, to visit, as fast as possible, all concentration camps, in order to fix finally the persons."

In October - 21st October you were having another conference. "Research procedure - SS Sturmbannfuehrer Prof. Dr. Hirth. Reviewed release of Staff Surgeon Dr. Wimmer for duty and removal of the chemist, SS Obersturmfuehrer Martinek."

On 23rd October you were having a conference with Poppendieck. On that day you record in your diary, "Taking over of biological research by SS Stabsfuehrer Dr. Ploetner in Dachau."

[Page 7]

Witness, do you remember your experiments on the quickness of coagulation of blood?

A. No.

Q. Did you take part in any such experiments?

A. I never participated in these experiments, because I am not a research man. But I remember this work very well. Dr. Ploetner, as I said, refused to carry out experiments on human beings. The means of quickening the coagulation of blood -

Q. I am sorry to interrupt you, but I would like you to say what you personally knew about these experiments. What was the form of them, for instance?

A. Experiments for quickening the coagulation of blood were conducted in the University Clinic of Innsbruck by Prof. Breitner, and in the University Clinic of Vienna by Professor Denk.

Q. What happened was that bullets were fired into prisoners, into concentration camp detainees. That was the form of the experiments, was it not?

A. This experiment was carried out by Rascher and not by Dr. Ploetner, and it came to light only after Rascher's arrest.

Q. I am not concerned with who carried them out. You knew the form they took, and that was that bullets were fired into detainees of concentration camps and then efforts were made to stop the flow of blood, that was the form of the experiments, is that not true?

A. That only came to light after Rascher's arrest. Before that he had asserted that these experiments, among others, were carried out at the hospital in Schwabing.

Q. Just look at Document 065, Page 8 of the English Document Book. That will become Exhibit GB 583, and it is an affidavit of Oswald Pohl, the head of WVHA. I want you to look at paragraph 4, Page 11 of the German Document Book, paragraph 4, in which he gives some testimony about you. I want to read only part of paragraph 4.

"Sievers came to find out from me about the possibilities for the manufacture of medicine. I mentioned the Deutsche Heilmittel GmbH in Prague which belonged to the German plants, managed by Oberfuehrer Baier, of my staff. I recommended Sievers to go to him. The medicine was manufactured later in Schlachters (Black Forest). Sievers told me the following: The 'Ahnenerbe,' of which he was the manager, had developed in Dachau a medicine which quickly brought coagulation of blood. It was enormously important for our Army because it prevented continual bleeding. It was the result of experiments in Dachau during which a prisoner was fired upon. A prisoner in Dachau played an important part in the discovery of this medicine."
Now, those facts are true, are they not?

A. Yes, but the account is quite incomplete. When this discussion took place Rascher had already long ago been arrested, and it was known that he himself had carried out this experiment. Since it was Dr. Ploetner who had perfected this medicine, I told Pohl about the experiments in detail and submitted him the expert opinion of Professor Breitner and Professor Denck from Vienna. The picture presented in this document is completely misleading.

Q. Witness, Rascher is dead. It is convenient to cast all the blame on to him, is it not?

A. I am concerned with clarifying the facts and I can only say what is true and what I know exactly.

Q. Did you have anything to do with the experiments into the cause of contagious jaundice?

A. No, I do not know anything about them.

Q. I want you to look at Document 010 Page 4 of the English Document Book, my Lord, Exhibit GB 584. That is a letter, as you see, from Grawitz to

[Page 8]

Himmler. It is dated 1st June, 1943, and headed "'Top Secret.' Subject: Investigation into the cause of contagious jaundice."

THE PRESIDENT: What is the signature?


Q. That is the signature of Grawitz, is it not, the Reich Doctor SS and Police?

A. Yes.

Q. "Reichsfuehrer: The Fuehrer's Commissioner-General, SS Brigadefuehrer Professor Dr. Brandt ..." - pausing there for a moment - he was the Reich Commissioner for Health and Sanitation, was he not?

A. Yes.

Q. "The Fuehrer's Commissioner-General called on me with the request that I should assist him by placing prisoners at his disposal for research work into the cause of contagious jaundice, which he was furthering considerably.

The work has been carried out up to now by a medical captain, Dr. Dohmen, within the framework of the Research Institute of the Army Medical Inspectorate, with the participation of the Robert Koch Institute. It has up to now led to the conclusion, in agreement with the results of other German research workers, that contagious jaundice is not carried by bacteria but by a virus. In order to increase our knowledge, which is based up to now only on vaccination experiments from men to animals, the reverse way is now necessary, namely, the vaccination of the cultivated virus into humans. One must reckon on cases of death.

The therapeutic and, above all, the prophylactic results are naturally largely dependent on this last experimental step. Eight prisoners condemned to death would be required, if possible of fairly young age, within the y prisoners' hospital of Sachsenhausen concentration camp. I respectfully ask for a decision, Reichsfuehrer, as to:

1. Whether I may start the experiments in the prescribed form;

2. Whether the experiments may be carried out in the Sachsenhausen prisoners' hospital by medical captain Dr. Dohmen himself.

Although Herr Dohmen does not belong to the SS (he is an SA leader and a Party member), I would recommend this as an exception in the interests of the continuity of the series of experiments and thus of the accuracy of the results.

The practical importance of the question raised for our own troops, especially in Southern Russia, is shown by the fact that this illness has been very widespread in the past years, both amongst us in the Waffen SS and the police and in the Army, so that companies have been reduced by 60 per cent for periods of up to six weeks."

And then there follows some more comment about the illness, and that is signed by Grawitz. Grawitz was the vice- president of the German Red Cross, was he not? A. Yes.

Q. I want to turn to Document 011 on Page 5 of the English Document Book - Exhibit GB 585. That is the reply of Himmler to the letter of Grawitz. It is dated 16th June, 1943. "Subject: Research into the cause of infectious jaundice," and Himmler says:

"I give permission for 8 criminals condemned to death in Auschwitz (8 Jews of the Polish resistance movement who have been condemned to death) to be used for the experiments.

I agree to Dr. Dolmen carrying out these experiments at Sachsenhausen.

Like you, I am of the opinion that a real combating of infectious jaundice would be of untold value."

And then it is signed by Himmler with a note at the bottom:

[Page 9]

"SS Obergruppenfuehrer Pohl, Berlin. Copy sent with a request that note be taken."
Those experiments into the cause of contagious jaundice were done for the Waffen SS and for the Army, were they not?

A. I am hearing of these things for the first time today. I know nothing about them and I cannot see what connection I can have with them.

Q. If you please, I want you to deal next with your experiments in spotted fever vaccine. Perhaps you may be a little more familiar with the nature of those experiments. Have you any knowledge of those? Professor Haagen might give you a clue.

A. Yes, Professor Haagen did carry out vaccinations against spotted fever at Natzweiler, at the request of the camp where this disease had broken out.

Q. Who delegated Haagen for this work?

A. He was not delegated at all. He was the hygienist at the University of Strassburg.

Q. But I asked you who delegated him for this work and not what his qualifications were for it.

A. As far as I recall, these experiments were carried through by Haagen on order of the Medical Inspectorate of the Wehrmacht and of the Luftwaffe.

[ Previous | Index | Next ]

Home ·  Site Map ·  What's New? ·  Search Nizkor

© The Nizkor Project, 1991-2012

This site is intended for educational purposes to teach about the Holocaust and to combat hatred. Any statements or excerpts found on this site are for educational purposes only.

As part of these educational purposes, Nizkor may include on this website materials, such as excerpts from the writings of racists and antisemites. Far from approving these writings, Nizkor condemns them and provides them so that its readers can learn the nature and extent of hate and antisemitic discourse. Nizkor urges the readers of these pages to condemn racist and hate speech in all of its forms and manifestations.