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

Two Hundred and Second Day: Tuesday, 13th August, 1946
(Part 2 of 10)

[DR. BOEHM continues his direct examination of Werner August Max Schaefer]

[Page 122]

Q. Is it true that Diehls's position became untenable as a result of constant conflict with the SA? He says so in his affidavit for the Gestapo; but he says that he must also admit that he was the Regierungsprasident of Hanover and Cologne.

A. I know nothing about this alleged deterioration of relations between Diehls and the supreme SA command. I do not think that what he says is correct because, a few year s later, I found him to be on very close terms with the then Chief of Staff Lutze; that was in connection with a journey to the Ems district. He was then obviously on very friendly terms with the Chief of Staff Lutze, and the fact that he was Regierungsprasident in Cologne, and especially the fact that he was later Regierungsprasident under the Chief of Staff Lutze who was Oberpraesident in Hanover, really contradicts this assertion that he had disputes with the SA.

Q. Did, as Diehls says, the SA generally confiscate property of peaceful citizens? In his affidavit for the SA, on the other hand, he says that the staff of Ernst and the intelligence section set up by him participated primarily in the revolutionary activity.

A. Of the looting of so-called peaceful citizens by the SA I know nothing. If some cases did occur, which probably cannot be denied, I should like to say that the generalisation of such individual instances is at considerable variance with the truth. It is quite unjustifiable to generalise these individual cases which undoubtedly occurred. One must not forget that it was possible to pose as a member of the SA. I may point out, for example, that the brown shirt, which the SA man had to buy himself, could be purchased in all the appropriate stores in Berlin and throughout the whole Reich. I learned personally of a number of cases in which obscure elements who did not belong to the SA or to the movement - and that fact was established later in court proceedings - welcomed the opportunity of committing illegal actions under the protection of the Party uniform. For this reason, the sale of the Party uniform was finally put under legal restriction.

Q. You know that Diehls was Gestapo chief in 1933 and 1934; and if one reads his statement that the SA took property away from peaceful citizens, the obvious question arises whether he is not trying to attribute a Gestapo practice to the SA.

A. I must say that this assertion of Diehls surprises me greatly, because, as I have said, he was at that time on very friendly terms with the leaders of the SA. I cannot understand how he came to make this assertion.

Q. He then speaks about forty thousand prisoners in concentration camps, in about forty illegal camps: Can you say how many concentration camps actually existed at that time?

[Page 123]

A. I have no statistics on this point, but I should like to scrutinize this figure of forty thousand internees, and particularly the number of forty camps which Diehls mentions. During 1933 Oranienburg soon became the only camp for political opponents from Berlin and the whole province of Brandenburg. A few transit camps which had existed up till then were dissolved. There could not have been many prisoners in them, because they were transferred to me at Oranienburg; they were a very small number of prisoners.

If one considers that at the time when this figure of 40,000 applies, Oranienburg did not even have a thousand internees, that this camp was instituted for a district of over six million people, and that Berlin was the centre of the political opponents of the NSDAP and therefore had an extraordinarily large proportion of active political opponents, then I can hardly imagine that the number of 40,000 internees is correct. I must say that the figure of 40,000 is absolutely new to me, and I never heard anything about it, not even from Dr. Diehls with whom I was on friendly terms; I should have known of this figure if it had ever been mentioned.

Q. Diehls speaks of approximately 40,000 prisoners. Could you give an approximate figure which might be more correct?

A. This is extremely difficult to do, but the Christmas amnesty ordered by Minister President Goering at that time - and I should like to emphasize particularly that this amnesty was carried out on a very generous scale - gives a fair idea of the possible number. Five thousand internees - I well recall this figure - were released from the camps at that time. Oranienburg, for instance, which as I said was the only recognized and State-controlled camp for Berlin and Brandenburg, reduced the number of its inmates to just over 100; over twothirds of the camp inmates were released at that time.

Q. You were commandant in Oranienburg?

A. Yes.

Q. From when to when?

A. From March, 1933, to March, 1934.

Q. This camp was guarded by SA men?

A. Yes.

Q. From when to when?

A. From March, 1933, to June or July, 1934, I believe.

Q. And under whose orders were these men?

A. These SA men were members of the auxiliary police. As such they were under my direct orders as commandant.

Q. And to whom were you subordinate as camp commandant?

A. As camp commandant I was subordinate to the Regierungsprasident competent for Oranienburg, who was located in Potsdam, Police President Count Helldorf, and, of course, ultimately to the Prussian Minister of the Interior.

Q. And what influence did the then Fuehrer of the Gruppe Berlin-Brandenburg have on the concentration camp Oranienburg?

A. The Fuehrer of the Gruppe Berlin-Brandenburg had no influence on the camp itself. He had no influence on the conduct or the general administration of the concentration camp.

Q. Could one assume that individual actions carried out by him resulted in terror measures by the SA?

A. I did not hear of any.

Q. Do you know the number of persons interned in the so- called unauthorised transit camps, who were released before Christmas, 1933?

A. No, I do not know the number, but I may say that there were only a small number of such camps and a small number of internees in them. I already explained that only a few internees were transferred to me, to Oranienburg, the only camp in existence then. A large part had already been released at that time.

Q. Is there any reason for believing that at that time there were 50,000 internees in the rest of Germany?

[Page 124]

A. No, there is no reason for believing that, and I must say that in relation to the figure of internees in Prussia; which I gave before, the number of 50,000 is absolutely incredible. Prussia was geographically the largest part of Germany, and if there were comparatively few internees in Prussia I cannot imagine that there could have been 50,000 in the rest of the Reich. This figure is new to me.

Q. What do you know about co-operation with the Gestapo in its early beginning?

A. At its beginning, the Gestapo had only loose connections with Oranienburg. It had only official connections arising from the relation of the political police to the auxiliary police, the SA. In the course of the year, the Gestapo sent persons whom it had arrested to the camp and released them again at the direction of the Prussian Minister President, after their cases had been examined.

Q. Were there difficulties between the concentration camp Oranienburg and the Gestapo in Berlin?

A. Originally no, but later, through an incident, difficulties arose. On one occasion the Gestapo in Berlin sent two internees to the camp in a severely maltreated condition. On the next day, I went to see Standartenfuehrer Schutzwechsler, who was my superior, and asked him to go with me and protest to the Gestapo in the Prinz Albrecht Strasse, and to demand an explanation of the matter, which I intended to make the subject of a report to the Prussian Ministry of the Interior.

I was promised that this explanation would be forthcoming and on the next day I was called up on the telephone by Standartenfuehrer Schutzwechsler, who told me that he had just learned that the concentration camp Oranienburg was to be dissolved immediately. He asked me to come to Berlin at once, he wanted to go with me to the Prussian Ministry of the Interior to investigate why the dissolution of the camp had been ordered so suddenly.

We went to the Prussian Ministry of the Interior together and learned to our great astonishment that, after our protest on the previous day at the Prinz Albrecht Strasse, the Prussian Ministry of the Interior had been called up and informed that cases of maltreatment had occurred, and that it had become necessary to dissolve Oranienburg. The suggestion of the Prinz Albrecht Strasse was that all the prisoners in Oranienburg should be put into the new camps built by the SS in the Ems district. A train for their transport had already arrived at Oranienburg.

When I told State Secretary Grauert of the circumstances and explained to him what had induced me to protest at the Prinz Albrecht Strasse on the previous day, he promised me at once to have these circumstances investigated thoroughly, and he did so immediately. In my presence he told Ministerialdirigent Fischer to conduct an investigation of the affair. Fischer was known as a thoroughly correct and reliable old official, and Fischer then actually found that the circumstances were as I had described them to Grauert. It was established clearly that these cases of maltreatment with which Oranienburg had been charged had occurred in the Gestapo in Berlin. Thereupon it was decided not to dissolve the camp.

Q. Do you know of cases in which the Gestapo had to penetrate by force into SA camps to liberate prisoners?

A. No. I did not hear of such cases.

Q. You did not have such cases in Oranienburg?

A. No, no.

Q. Did the Gestapo have decisive influence on the release of internees? Or who, in your opinion, was responsible for the releases which took place in the course of time?

A. Various authorities were responsible for the release of prisoners, such as the competent Regierungsprasidenten and Landrate who, as a result of incessant protests on the part of the relatives of internees, were well acquainted with their circumstances. Then the camp authorities, and I, as commandant of the camp, had an important part in the release of internees. After investigation in some of the cases, I made suggestions for the immediate release of prisoners, but I must

[Page 125]

say that, above all, it was Minister President Goering himself who at the time showed the greatest interest in seeing to it that the Oranienburg camp should not , be crowded with prisoners, and that as many as possible should be released. I must emphasize that at this point. I recall a Christmas speech of Diehls, which he made to the prisoners on the occasion of their release, and in which he said that Minister President Goering had urged that at Christmas very extensive release of prisoners should take place.

THE PRESIDENT (Interposing): Dr. Boehm, the Tribunal is not trying this witness. It is trying the criminality of the SA. This is far too detailed about the release of prisoners. He seems not to have got farther than 1933 up to the present.


Q. I should like to ask only one more question in this connection: how many people still remained in the camp after the releases at Christmas, 1933?

A. Just over 100.

Q. Did you ever have any personal differences with Dr. Diehls?

A. No, not at all. On the contrary, when, in 1934, I wrote a book about Oranienburg, he immediately, on his own initiative, offered to write an introduction for it, and I know that he always praised the camp.

Q. Are you familiar with the testimony of Ministerialdirektor Hans Fritzsche?

A. In part, yes.

Q. Is it true, as he says, that the first commandant of Oranienburg, who was there from March, 1933, to 1934, was executed? You were the first commandant, were you not?

A. Yes. His statement is best refuted by the fact that I am now sitting here. Of course the statement is not true.

Q. The journalist Stolzenberg who was allegedly interned in Oranienburg reports that an official investigation took place in Oranienburg. Is that correct?

A. I recall only two such official investigations, one relating to the case of the Gestapo which I mentioned before, and the other to the Seger case.

Q. What were the results of the investigations?

A. As I already said, in the case of the Gestapo, it was established that the cases of maltreatment with which we had been charged had actually occurred in the Gestapo in Berlin: and in the Seger case, it was proved beyond doubt that Seger had made statements contrary to the truth.

Q. Is it true that tortures did take place, of which, as Fritzsche says, he learned from individuals in the Gestapo or the Press Office of the Reichsfuehrer SS?

A. I myself was greatly opposed to maltreatment and torture, and my guards knew my attitude well, and also did the inmates of the camp.

Q. Is it true, as Fritzsche says, that 30th June, 1934, constituted a purge to the extent that Gauleiter and SA Fuehrer who had misused their powers were removed?

A. In connection with the concentration camps, I cannot share this opinion.

Q. The former Reichstag delegate of the SPD, Seger, of Dessau wrote a book on Oranienburg. Do you know it?

A. Yes. Seger himself sent me this book.

Q. Do you know that Seger submitted this book to the Ministry of justice for the investigation of the complaints which he made?

A. I know that too.

Q. And what did the Ministry of Justice do?

A. The Prosecutor competent for the locality of Seger's former residence questioned me in great detail. A thorough investigation was carried out, with the result that, as far as I can recall, the Reichsgericht (Supreme Court) in Leipzig stopped the proceedings.

Q. Do you know that Seger accused you of murder?

A. Yes, I know that.

[Page 126]

Q. Was this matter cleared up beyond doubt?

A. Seger accused me of being responsible for the shooting and killing of two internees. . This case was cleared up beyond all doubt, so satisfactorily that, when this book was on my instructions read to the internees in the camp, one of the persons who, as Seger alleged, had been shot suddenly stood up and reported that he was alive and well, while the other one was with his family, having been released; a clear refutation, therefore, by the two men themselves who were said to have been shot.

The statement of fact as given by Seger must, therefore, plainly be called a lie?

A. Quite.

Q. Is it correct, as you say in your book, that the prisoners could exercise their right of voting by secret ballot, on the basis of the Weimar Constitution?

A. That is also true. The prisoners took part in the plebiscite on the continued participation of Germany in the League of Nations, and it was conducted under the legal rules, as laid down in the Weimar Constitution.

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Boehm, I have already pointed out to you that we think you might get on to something a little more important. We are still dealing with 1933 or the beginning of 1934, regarding the Camp Oranienburg.

DR. BOEHM: Mr. President, the SA is charged only with the Camp Oranienburg, and actually the SA guarded Oranienburg only from March, 1933 to March, 1934. It is therefore not possible to talk of any other period.

THE PRESIDENT: That we understand. This witness tells us that the camp was administered in a perfectly satisfactory and proper manner, and we do not desire details of every day during 1933 and 1934.

DR. BOEHM: Since I expect the book of Seger to be submitted in cross-examination, perhaps the Tribunal will be interested that its title was -

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Boehm, if it is submitted in cross- examination, the witness will then be able to answer questions which are put upon the book. It is not necessary for you to anticipate possible cross-examination.

DR. BOEHM: Very well, Mr. President. May I continue? Is Seger's assertion true that Gauleiter Loeber of Dessau, furious on account of Seger's escape, came to you in Oranienburg and struck you?

WITNESS SCHAEFER: No, that is not true. I never saw Gauleiter Loeber. I never knew him. Loeber was never in Oranienburg. I never met him on any other occasion, and there was therefore never any altercation between us.

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