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 3 of 10)

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

[Page 126]

Q. You said that the false reports on Oranienburg which were spread abroad were intended to poison relations between the nations. Can you support this view with facts?

A. Yes. Whenever articles appeared abroad on Oranienburg, for instance, I received an enormous number of threatening and offensive letters, which unfortunately showed that the completely false reports which appeared on Oranienburg had the result that perfect strangers, whom I did not know and who did not know me, now felt obliged, not only with regard to me, but also with regard to the SA men under my command, and unfortunately also the whole German nation -

THE PRESIDENT: What you are speaking of now - when did these articles appear, and when did you receive threatening letters?

THE WITNESS: 1933, 1934.

THE PRESIDENT: Those appeared then, and you received those letters then.


[Page 127]


Q. Under whose orders were the guards at the concentration camp Oranienburg?

A. They were under my orders as SA Fuehrer.

Q. And to whom was Oranienburg itself subordinate?

A. As I have already said, it was under the Regierungsprasident, and under the superior office of the Regierungsprasident, the Prussian Ministry of the Interior. The SA was called upon for service within the SA auxiliary police to a very small extent. Communications from the State, in this case, the Prussian Ministry of the Interior, went to the SA Gruppe, from the SA Gruppe to the SA Brigade and Standarte. My superior SA Fuehrer was at the same time an auxiliary policeman, and through these channels the orders from above reached me. I was subject to a double command: for discipline, I was under the SA, and for measures of State, I was directly subordinate to the State.

Q. You told the Commission that you received the order for the establishment of this camp from the competent SA Standarte.

A. Yes.

Q. How is that possible?

A. That is in accordance with the channels I have just described: the State, SA Gruppe, Standarten Fuehrer, as the man responsible for the use of the auxiliary police, and so, through him, from the State, I received the order to establish the camp.

Q. What persons were brought to the Oranienburg camp?

A. Mainly, of course, active opponents were sent to the Oranienburg camp. Then there were elements of the movement and the SA who, through their undisciplined conduct, had made their confinement necessary. For this purpose there was a special camp section in Oranienburg. But at that time informers, acting for their own personal advantage, denouncing political opponents to further their own interests, were also imprisoned there. And then there was a small group of people who, although they did sympathise with the NSDAP, could have caused difficulties with foreign powers by their ex-territoriality. Among those was the leader of the Russian National Socialists in Berlin, who had to be held in Oranienburg because he was causing political difficulties. He had to be removed from public life for a short time.

Q. Is it right to say that the groups you have just mentioned might have caused an uprising of some sort against the existing government?

A. Yes, that was proved by the weapons which we found in a well-kept condition.

THE PRESIDENT: We have had this already today, about the confiscation of weapons.

DR. BOEHM: No, Mr. President.

THE PRESIDENT: I have written it down myself. I heard it.

DR. BOEHM: I certainly do not want to have it repeated, Mr. President. It is plain that excesses happen in times of revolution. Did excesses also take place on the part of members of the SA and the NSDAP?

A. That cannot and should not be denied.

Q. How do you explain such excesses?

A. It was, in the first place, a group of political hot- heads, who, in the midst of the revolution went far beyond the goal set for them; but as I have already said clearly, there were also obscure elements which, uncontrolled, because they came from the outside, had gained admittance into the SA and the Party. For these elements, of course, the seizure of power was the best opportunity for committing excesses. However, may I emphasize that we on our part did everything possible to take strenuous action against perpetrators of excesses which

[Page 128]

were reported to us. The Party had formed its own field- police corps for this purpose, which, as was well known, carried out their task without consideration for persons or position.

Q. What was the basis for arrests and confinement in concentration camps?

A. An order for protective custody had in all cases to be issued first.

Q. Who issued this order?

A. The political police, or the Kreis police authority, issued this order.

Q. To what work were the people in the concentration camps assigned?

A. They were used for tasks in the concentration camp itself, in the administration, and then also for agricultural work.

Q. Did you, as the commandant, receive complaints from prisoners about improper treatment

A. I personally did not receive any complaints.

Q. But when it became known that improper conditions actually existed, did you do anything about them?

A. Through my constant contact with the internees - I stayed in the camp very frequently and for long periods - I occasionally learned of improper conditions. I can give the assurance here that I did everything possible to remove such conditions as soon as I had learned of them.

Q. Did any executions take place during the time in which this camp was guarded by the SA?

A. No.

Q. Were there any instruments for the torture or the extermination of human beings in this camp while you were commandant?

A. No.

Q. Who was in charge of guarding the camp after you?

A. After me the SA continued to guard it for a few months, about two months, and then the SS took over.

Q. And what can you, as the first commandant of the camp, say about that change-over?

A. The camp was taken over not because of any inadequacies or improper conditions, but because after 30th June it became the task of the SS to control these concentration camps. The Reichsfuehrer SS Himmler took over the concentration camps and administered them with his men. The SA therefore had nothing at all to do with the concentration camps after 1934.

Q. I want to ask now, did you have occasion to punish any of the camp guards for any excesses which they committed?

A. Of course, excesses were punished. If they appeared to be of a serious nature, I was obliged to report them to the superior authority - the State. I had to make such reports about three Sturmbannfuehrer who were assigned to me. These three men were immediately removed from their positions and were put on trial.

Q. Did you yourself inflict punishments, and if so what punishments?

THE PRESIDENT: Was this not gone into before the Commission?

DR. BOEHM: In part, Mr. President.

THE PRESIDENT: You are dealing with the case of three officers at the moment. Either it was gone into before the Commission or it was not.

DR. BOEHM: It was mentioned before the Commission, Mr. President. But I wanted now to add the question whether SA men, not only these three officers, but SA men were punished and dismissed.

THE PRESIDENT: Then you can pass on from the three officers.


Q. Is it true that, in addition to these officers of whom you spoke before the Commission, SA men were also dismissed in this connection?

[Page 129]

A. Yes.

Q. Is it true that because of the orderly direction of the camp Oranienburg you became Head of the Office of the Ministry of Justice for the Execution of Court Sentences?

A. In 1934 I was taken over by the Prussian Ministry of Justice. I was not appointed Chief of the Reich Strafvollzug, but I became commander of the Ems installations, the biggest organization within the Strafvollzug. Then in the course of the year I became director of a penitentiary, and thereafter remained in the Strafvollzug.

Q. In this connection it may be necessary to clarify what you understand by "SA auxiliary police"?

A. The SA auxiliary police was, as the name says, an auxiliary organ of the police. In order that the revolution might be carried through without bloodshed, as ordered, it was of course necessary that there should be closer supervision. Since the police forces available were not adequate, the State made use of a comparatively small number of SA men who had a particularly good police record, and whose lives had been without reproach. Old and experienced police officials initiated them into their duties, and then together with the police they carried out their services within the limits of the general police duties. But this was only a temporary measure.

Q. What did you, as commandant of camp Oranienburg, consider to be your task?

A. It was my task primarily to direct the camp in a clear and correct way. In addition I had to supervise the measures which were taken against the internees.

SIR DAVID MAXWELL FYFE: My Lord, I interfere with the greatest possible reluctance with Dr. Boehm's examination, but I cannot think that he had appreciated the instruction which your Lordship has repeated to defence counsel on several occasions during the last week.

My Lord, this witness gave evidence before the Commission, which I have in front of me. This morning Dr. Boehm is going into these matters in far greater detail than they were gone into before the Commission. As I understood the order of the Tribunal, it was that counsel should not repeat what was gone into before the Commission, but should select the important points and deal with them and give your Lordship and the Tribunal an opportunity for judging the witness and seeing his merit and capabilities.

My Lord, I do ask, very respectfully, that some limit should be put on this very extended examination in controversion of the Tribunal's ruling.

THE PRESIDENT: Now, Dr. Boehm, unless you observe the orders of the Tribunal in this matter the Tribunal will have to stop the examination of this witness. You must consider that.

The Tribunal will now adjourn, in the hope that after the adjournment you will observe the orders. Otherwise, as I say, we will stop the examination of this witness.

(A recess was taken.)

DR. BOEHM: Mr. President, I intend to observe the order of the High Tribunal that witnesses are to be heard upon topics which were not discussed before the Commission. But the questionnaire submitted to the witness had to be extended somewhat to include the Seger case, details of which we heard only quite recently, and to include questions on the affidavit of the witness Diehls on which this witness had to give his views. At the time when this witness was heard before the Commission, both the questionnaire and the affidavit deposed by Diehls were still unknown.

THE PRESIDENT: There was no objection about his being examined about the affidavit. That was not dealt with in the Commission before. We do not want you to go over all the details which were gone over before the Commission.

[Page 130]

DR. BOEHM: I have only about ten more questions to put to the witness, Mr. President. I shall ask the witness to be as brief as possible.


Q. When you were commandant of Oranienburg, was there any supervision over the camp on the part of the State?

A. Yes. The camp of Oranienburg was supervised by the Regierungsprasident at Potsdam, by the Police President Count Helldorf and by high officials of the Prussian Ministry of the Interior.

Q. Did the Kreis police authority have any right of supervision?

A. Yes, the Landrat of the Kreis Barnim.

Q. Did all these authorities actually carry out controls and checks?

A. Frequent checks, and very thorough ones, did take place.

Q. Did foreigners and other prominent personalities have an opportunity of visiting camp Oranienburg and of talking with the inmates?

A. Visits of that kind were made at Oranienburg by considerable numbers of representatives of the foreign Press, the German Press and of private citizens from abroad, who were politically interested. They had an opportunity of talking with the prisoners quite freely inside the camp and at their places of work.

Q. Is it correct that on the occasion of one of these visits you were told: "Now you are going to show us only what we are permitted to see and all the rest will remain concealed from us"?

A. That is correct. That was put to me and I thereupon saw to it that these visitors to the camp would be able to go wherever they pleased. There was nothing to hide, nothing to be concealed in Oranienburg. The visitors themselves had an opportunity of forming their own judgement.

Q. Please tell us, briefly, about the food of the internees in this camp.

A. The food for the inmates was good. Proof of that was the fact that the inmates always increased in weight. Everything necessary and required was done to allow the inmates to live under humanly dignified conditions. They even had their own canteen where their daily needs could be met.

Q. Now, just a few questions about the penal camps in the Emsland. Why were these camps established?

A. In 1933 the penal institutions of Germany were overcrowded, the prime reason being the country's great social distress at that time. It was the special wish of the Minister President Goering that inmates should take part in the large cultivation projects in the Ems district. The SS was charged with setting up a number of large camps so that the inmates could be collected there and do the cultivating. But the generous Christmas amnesty of the Minister President made this task problematical, and the offer to use these camps for criminal prisoners was accepted and carried into effect by the then Prussian Minister of Justice Kerrl.

Q. Did the supreme SA command have jurisdiction over the camps in the Emsland?

A. No, they were State camps, subordinate only to the Reich Ministry of Justice.

Q. You already mentioned that these camps were filled with criminals who were put to work there.

A. Yes.

Q. Now I should like to put a final question to you. How many SA men were used in the concentration camp at Oranienburg as guards and as employees of the German Police?

A. When the camp was first erected, approximately thirty to forty; at the time when it had most inmates, approximately ninety.

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