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 6 of 10)

[MAJOR J. HARCOURT BARRINGTON continues his cross examination of Werner August Max Schaefer]

[Page 139]

Q. I am not going to argue with you about that. My suggestion is perfectly clear, that Dr. Levy's letter was a transparent attempt on your part to refute The Times article, which you knew to be true. We will not argue that any more. You evidently disagree. But you will agree to this, will you not, that Dr. Seger seems to have agreed with The Times article in his book, does he not? In his book, A Nation Terrorized, he seems to be very much of the same idea as The Times' article? Look at another letter in your book now -

A. May I give you an answer to that too. The book written by Seger is not called, A Nation Terrorized, but it is called Oranienburg. And I should like to say this at once, Herr Seger committed perjury knowingly when, at the beginning of his book, he used the form of oath customary in German courts. His statements were definitely refuted in every case.

Q. I understand what your position is on that and I am sure the Tribunal does too, but just look at one more letter in your book before I finish. Turn to Page 241. Have you got it? Now there towards the bottom of the page is a letter from an inmate which you published in much the same way as Dr. Levy's letter, I suggest, to show how good conditions were. And you see over the page, on Page 242, he says in this letter: "Dear Mr. Schaefer: The days at Oranienburg will always be among the best memories of my life." Do you see that passage? "The days at Oranienburg will always be among the best memories of my life."

A. Yes.

Q. Do you not think that that is too good to be true, or do you support that today?

A. May I say the following: It is true, quite true. I admit that this letter was written in a mood of exuberance and joy at being free again. But I do not doubt that the author of the letter quite truthfully meant what he wrote to me. One should hear him personally on this matter.

[Page 140]

Q. He may have had the best intentions, but why should he say that the days in a concentration camp, where he was deprived of his liberty, were among the best memories of his life? Can any man be -

A. Perhaps I might be permitted to say that before the concentration camps existed, there were men - and I among them - who stood in line in front of the unemployment agencies and who suffered very great misery, men who in the concentration camp had enough to eat for the first time after a long period of want. That I should like to make quite clear.

Q. They had enough to eat, and you remember you told the Commissioner that you had them weighed and they all gained in weight. If you will look at the last two pages of your book I think you will see that you published there a table or a list of the weights of the prisoners, showing how much they had gained while they were in the camp. Have you got that?

MAJOR J. HARCOURT BARRINGTON: My Lord, that is Document 2924- B. It is on Page 32, I think - immediately after The Times article.


Q. Now that is a list, is it not, which shows the name of the prisoner, or his Christian name and the initials of his surname, and the weight on a certain date and then, after a certain period, what he had gained. Well, now, I am going to suggest to you that those weights are so fantastic that they cannot possibly be true. Just look down, and you will see that you have had some of them printed in bolder type than the others. Look at Hermann H. from Wriezen. Have you got it?

A. Yes.

Q. On 26th June he weighed 54 kilogrammes; on 6th September he weighed 68. That is an increase of 14 kilogrammes or 22 English stones in two and a half months. And look down farther; you will see Erich L., who gained 15 kilogrammes in six months. And farther down, Paul S., who gained 15 kilogrammes in four months; and if you look over the page you will see Fritz T., who started at 55 kilogrammes and very nearly gained half his own weight in three months, 19 kilogrammes in three months; that is 3 English stones in three months. Do you not think those are rather fantastic figures, impossible to believe? Well, I will put it another way to you; I will make another suggestion; see if you will accept this explanation. If The Times article was true about the poor food and conditions and if my suggestion is right that you afterwards decided to have a show camp and to improve the conditions, is not this list of weights quite consistent with the prisoners having first of all lost weight under the bad conditions and then gained it again rapidly when you improved conditions? Do you like that explanation? I am not saying it is right, but that is another explanation; or are you maintaining that these figures are correct?

A. Yes.

Q. I notice that you do not include Dr. Levy's weight; and you do not include Dr. Seger's weight, do you? Perhaps they lost weight. Did they?

A. Perhaps they maintained their weight. This is only a list of weights, only an extract from the list of weight increases. You are assuming right from the beginning that these are fantastic figures. I would like to emphasize that I stand by whatever is set down in this book, and that this list which is reproduced here is accurate and correct, and I would like to suggest to you that you ask a medical man what is the possible extent of gaining weight by a man who, because of years and years of unemployment, has been exhausted and run down when he once again enters a nutritional phase in which he receives daily regular meals and the quantity of food to which he is entitled. I am not a medical man, but I believe that without hesitation a physician will confirm to you that, within four months, a man can gain the amount of weight shown in the lists. In May of this year, I myself lost 50 pounds through insufficient food in the camp. In the course of -

[Page 141]

Q. Well, I suppose then that these men must have been very disappointed when they were given the generous Christmas amnesty, were they not?

A. About Christmas, 1933, conditions in Germany had already changed essentially. I believe I may say that things were considerably better than in the year before.

MAJOR J. HARCOURT BARRINGTON: That is all the questions I have, Mr. President.

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Boehm, have you any questions to ask the witness?



Q. Witness, was Hohenstein a Prussian camp?

A. No, Hohenstein, as far as I know - I hope I am not mistaken in my geography - is in Saxony.

Q. Was Wuppertal a camp of the State?

A. That I do not know.

Q. Do you know that Vogl, who was mentioned earlier, was an official of the Gestapo for the Land of Saxony?

A. No. I heard this name for the first time today. I do not know it.

Q. Do you know that in his application he requested the quashing of the proceedings not in his capacity as a member of the SA but in his capacity as an official of the Gestapo?

A. I gathered from this letter which I had just now for a few minutes that he did this in his capacity as an official.

Q. Do you know that the SA suffered 300 casualties in killed and 40,000 in wounded during the struggle for power?

A. The figure of dead is known to me. The exact figure of those wounded I do not know. I know only that there were far more than 10,000 wounded.

Q. Is it not perhaps possible, after all, that many a member of the SA thought of the 300 killed and the 40,000 wounded comrades at the time when political opponents were taken into the camp Oranienburg?

A. That cannot be denied, but no one is justified in drawing any conclusions from this fact as to possible reprisals or acts of retaliation which, from the beginning, were prohibited by the decree of the Fuehrer; one, however, has to realize that the seizure of power occurred at a time when political tension was at its highest.

Q. Did anybody commission or order you to write the book Oranienburg?

A. No. As I have already said, I received no commission and no order for it.

DR. BOEHM: Mr. President, I have no further question to put to this witness.

THE PRESIDENT: The Tribunal will adjourn.

(A recess was taken until 1400 hours.)

THE PRESIDENT: The witness can retire, Dr. Boehm.

DR. BOEHM: Mr. President, as next witness, I should like to examine the witness Gruss. He is the witness who is to be questioned concerning the people who went over from the Stahlhelm to the SA.

THE PRESIDENT: Would you state your full name, please?

THE WITNESS: Theodor Gruss.

THE PRESIDENT: Will you repeat this oath after me.

I swear by God, the Almighty and Omniscient, that I will speak the pure truth and will withhold and add nothing.

(The witness repeated the oath.)

THE PRESIDENT: You may sit down.

[Page 142]



Witness, how old are you?

A. 64 years old.

Q. Were you a member of the Party?

A. No.

Q. Or any of its branches?

A. No.

Q. Were you a soldier?

A. Yes, in the First World War.

Q. What was your rank?

A. Gefreiter (Corporal).

Q. And what was your rank in the Stahlhelm?

A. I was the Bundeskammerer (treasurer) of the Stahlhelm.

Q. From when to when were you in the Stahlhelm?

A. From 1919 until it was dissolved in 1935.

Q. What was your task after the dissolution of the Stahlhelm in November, l935?

A . I had to carry out the liquidation of the Stahlhelm.

Q. And how long did that take?

A. Until 1939.

Q. How was the transfer of the Stahlhelm to the SA carried out?

A. At the end of April, 1933, the First Bundesfuehrer, Reich Minister Franz Seldte, removed the Second Bundesfuehrer, Duesterberg, from his post in violation of the Bundes statute and took over dictatorial command of the Stahlhelm. One day later, Seldte, in a radio speech, declared his entry into the Party and he placed the Stahlhelm under Hitler. In June 1933, Hitler, in an agreement with Seldte, issued an order according to which:

1. The Stahlhelm Youth, the so-called Scharnhorst Bund, had to be incorporated into the Hitler Youth.

2. The young Stahlhelmer and the sport units were placed under the supreme SA leadership.

3. The rest of the Stahlhelm remained under the leadership of Seldte.

A few weeks later, in July, 1933, a new order came from Hitler. He ordered that now the entire Stahlhelm was to be placed under the supreme SA leadership and directed that the young Stahlhelmer and the sport units were to be reorganised in view of their incorporation into the SA. On 4th July, 1933, the leadership of the Stahlhelm undertook reorganisation of the Bund and established:

1. The Wehrstahlhelm. It was made up of the Youth Stahlhelm, the sport units, and all Stahlhelmer up to the age of thirty- five.

2. The rest of the Stahlhelm (Kern-Stahlhelm) was made up of all members over thirty-five years of age.

Then the Wehrstahlhelm were incorporated into the SA as separate formations with their own leaders, the field-grey uniforms and the Stahlhelm flags. This incorporation was completed around the end of October, 1933.

At the beginning of November, another order was issued by Hitler according to which the SA Reserves I and II were to be set up. The SA Reserve I was to be made up of units of the Stahlhelm, by the men from thirty-six to forty-five years of age. The SA Reserve II was to include the older age groups, that is, men over forty-six. But it never played any role, and was just registered in the lists.

On the other hand the units of the Stahlhelm were set up to form the SA Reserve I and were transferred to the SA, again with their own leaders, as separate units and in the Stahlhelm uniforms. This operation was completed by the end of January, 1934. I believe it was on 24th January when Chief of Staff Roehm reported to Hitler that the entire Stahlhelm had been incorporated into the SA.

[Page 143]
Just as before the Wehrstahlhelm was placed under the SA groups, the SA Reserve I was now also placed under the command of the SA groups, which meant in both cases -

THE PRESIDENT: Is this not all set out in detail in the Commission evidence?

DR. BOEHM: No, Mr. President. The examination of this witness by the Commission was not conducted in the way the examinations are generally carried out. This witness was only very briefly examined by the Commission because his state of health was very poor at that time, and there is no getting away from the fact that this witness must be examined more fully before the Tribunal.

THE PRESIDENT: The only topic he is dealing with is the merger of the Stahlhelm in the SA in 1933, is it not? That is the only evidence he is giving and surely that is adequately dealt with in the Commission evidence.

DR. BOEHM: Yes, Mr. President.

THE PRESIDENT: Is there anything else that you want to get from him?


THE PRESIDENT: What is it? Yon are not getting it at present, you are getting the way in which the Stahlhelm was merged in the SA.

DR. BOEHM: Mr. President, the members of the Stahlhelm consider it very important that it be presented to the Tribunal how they were transferred into the SA; that they were transferred by way of orders and that, as they assert, they in no wise volunteered for the SA, and I believe, in this connection, I may -

THE PRESIDENT: I quite understand that, but you are not telling me, are you, that that was not stated in the evidence in the Commission, that they were taken over compulsorily by the SA.

DR. BOEHM: Yes, but I desire the individual events as they actually occurred to be presented here to the Tribunal.

THE PRESIDENT: Well, we have got the summary of the evidence before us and it seems to me that the evidence he is giving now is the same as the evidence he gave then.

DR. BOEHM: It is true that a great part of the evidence given was the same, Mr. President, but he had just finished his testimony in this connection and I would have come to the next question anyhow.

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