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-Second Day: Tuesday, 13th August, 1946
(Part 8 of 10)

[DR. BOEHM continues his direct examination of Theodor Gruss]

[Page 148]

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Boehm, if this is intended to show that this witness knew the circumstances about the Stahlhelm, surely you can leave that to re-examination if it is challenged. Why should you anticipate that they will challenge this witness that he does not know anything about the Stahlhelm? Presumably he does. Until it is challenged, you can leave it to re-examination.

DR. BOEHM: I shall ask my last or last but one question.


Q. Do you know, witness, that transferred Stahlhelmer participated in crimes which were charged against the SA; for example, the persecution of the Jews?

A. No, I know nothing about that, but I would have known about it if it were true. It would have been a quite noteworthy fact if it had been established that Stahlhelmer had participated in the persecution of Jews. I refer to the statements which I made about the non-existence of an anti- Semitic tendency in the Stahlhelm.

Q. Did you observe that the antagonistic attitude of the Stahlhelmer in the SA was general or were there indications that considerable parts of the Stahlhelmer gradually changed their opinion?

A. This antagonistic attitude of the Stahlhelmer, in the case of the great majority, remained unchanged until the end. Well, I should go so far as to say that the longer the Third Reich lasted, the stronger this opposition became among the Stahlhelmer. I do not believe that there were many Stahlhelmer who abandoned their opposition during the course of the years. Of course, there are always some such cases among a large number of people, but they were only exceptional cases.

DR. BOEHM: Mr. President, I have no more questions to put to this witness at the moment.

BY DR. GAWLIK (counsel for the SD):

Q. Witness, do you know whether the Stahlhelmer who were in opposition were watched by the SD?

A. I know nothing about their being watched by the SD. I always heard that only the Gestapo and the local police watched the Stahlhelmer.

Q. Duesterberg's son made an affidavit, "Stahlhelm No. 4," stating that the Stahlhelmer who were in opposition had been watched by the SD. Are these statements then, with regard to the SD, incorrect?

A. I am of the opinion that Duesterberg's son must have been mistaken in this case. I myself never heard that the SD persecuted or watched the Stahlhelm.

Q. Thank you.



Q. Witness, you have spoken about. the radical and extremist tendencies of the SA?

A. Yes.

[Page 149]

Q. You mean, do you not, that they were terrorists and gangsters?

A. When I said here radical and extremist tendencies, I meant those groups of people in the SA who already at that time had severely damaged the reputation of the SA. But they were only groups; by that I mean that it was not the whole SA, but only parts of it.

Q. There were groups in every town in Germany, were there not?

A. I cannot say whether they were in every town in Germany, but there were no doubt such groups in many cities.

Q. You are saying, are you not, that the Stahlhelmer were forced to join the SA throughout Germany?

A. Yes.

Q. That was done by threats by the local SA leaders who took them over, is that not right? That is what you are saying?

A. Yes.

Q. Can there be any doubt that those threats and those arrests you spoke about were ordered by the SA Leadership?

A. According to my judgement, these threats, arrests, and everything connected with them, were initiated by the SA Leadership. Of course, in view of the large number concerned, it may have happened that also the Party or other formations of the Third Reich participated, but in the main this pressure was exercised by the SA itself.

Q. And you have spoken of the boycott of a man who was dismissed from the SA. Are you saying that that was the case all over Germany, if a man was dismissed he was boycotted?

A. At any rate, in those cases of which I knew, and there were very many, such a boycott was carried out. I know for example of such a boycott in a small town. Then the conditions were entirely

Q. I do not want instances. And you say that a man would not be able to join the army. That can only have been, can it not, that the SA Leadership communicated his name to the army as having been dismissed?

A. It is possible that the SA gave these names to the Army, but I do not know exactly. I only know one thing - that the Stahlhelmer who wanted to join the Army, for example former officers, were not accepted if their papers showed that they had been dismissed from the SA.

Q. I just want to ask you one or two more questions about the SA. Do you know Minister Severing?

A. Like every other German, I know Minister Severing from the time when he was a minister. I do not know him personally.

Q. Do you know of him as a man of integrity?

A. I personally consider Severing a man of integrity.

Q. Will you listen to his description of the SA in the early days, before the seizure of power.

A. I do not know this description.

Q. "Wherever the SA was able to exercise its terror unhindered it did so in e following manner: They had indoor battles against people who thought differently. Those were not the ordinary little brawls between political opponents during elections; that was organized terror."
Is that a fair description of the SA during the years before the seizure of power?

A. I believe that on the whole Severing describes it correctly.

Q. Do you know the witness Gisevius?

A. No, I do not know him.

Q. In his book he characterised the SA as a private army of the Nazi organization, and in his evidence upheld this view and confirmed the following statement from his book:

"Whoever had not entirely made up his mind had it made up for him unequivocally by the SA. Their methods were primitive, therefore all the

[Page 150]

more effective. For instance, one, learned the new Hitler salute very quickly when, on the pavements beside every SA marching column, a few stalwart SA men went along giving pedestrians a crack on the head if they failed to perform the correct gesture at least three steps in front of the SA flag; and these Storm Troopers acted the same way in all things."
Again I ask you, is that a correct description of the behaviour of the SA as you knew it?

A. Well, to that I must say I am not really competent to pass judgement on the SA of the early period. My observations were made from 1933 on; I might say I had to make them officially because I was Bundeskammerer of the Stahlhelm. But before that time I was a bank director and not so greatly interested in the SA. But I will admit that -

Q. Well, then, I will put to you, one more, my last question.

THE PRESIDENT: Are these statements in evidence?

COLONEL PHILLIMORE: Yes, my Lord. The first statement I put is from Minister Severing's evidence. The second statement is from Gisevius's evidence, Part 12, Page 276.

THE PRESIDENT: The nature of this witness's evidence has been that the Stahlhelmer were incorporated into the SA by force. He has not said anything about the SA being an orderly or properly run organization.

COLONEL PHILLIMORE: My Lord, he has spoken of their radical and extremist tendencies and by inference one can assume that he was speaking of the SA.

THE PRESIDENT: Do you mean that is what he said about the SA?

COLONEL PHILLIMORE: Yes, one can give it no other meaning.

THE PRESIDENT: If he said that about the SA, that is not giving evidence on behalf of the SA as an organization, and you are not entitled to challenge him about that. If he had been giving evidence saying that the SA was a perfectly well- behaved organization, then this cross-examination might be relevant; but if he has not said that I do not quite see how the cross-examination is relevant.

COLONEL PHILLIMORE: My Lord, witness after witness has appeared for the SA before the Commission.

THE PRESIDENT: Yes, but not this witness on this aspect of the matter. Let us deal with this witness. This witness has said nothing before us which shows that the SA was an orderly or well-behaved organization.

COLONEL PHILLIMORE: My Lord, but he has said that the SA was a most disorderly organization. It is my submission on cross- examination that I cannot be asked to refrain from continuing to follow on that evidence, unless your Lordship feels it is a waste of time of the Tribunal. In my submission it is of great importance when you have to judge the evidence of a large number of these witnesses for the SA who have appeared before the Commission. Your Lordship, it will be very short. I want to quote one further statement about the period after 1933. It is by the witness Gisevius, Part 12, Page 277.


Q. "The SA organized huge raids. The SA searched houses. The SA confiscated property. The SA cross-examined people. The SA put people in jail. In short, the SA appointed themselves permanent auxiliary police. Woe unto anyone who got into their clutches .... From this time dates the 'Bunkers,' those dreaded private prisons of which every SA storm troop had to have at least one. ` Taking away became the inalienable right of the SA. The efficiency of a Standartenfuehrer was measured by the number of arrests he had made and the good reputation of an SA man was based on the effectiveness with which he 'educated' his prisoners."

[Page 151]

Is that a fair description of the activities of the SA in the months immediately following the seizure of power?

A. Well, I must say that most of what the author says came to my ears daily at that time in Berlin. But remember that this concerns the SA which was under the Chief of Staff Roehm and that later the SA was subjected to a purge. I believe that the SA later -

Q. Yes, but I will come to that in a minute. But that is a fair description of what was happening in Berlin in the early months of 1933? And, if you had to make a report about this, can you say whether that is a fair description of what was happening in every town in Germany?

A. I should like to say that, in my opinion, Herr Gisevius did not exaggerate. There is a good deal of truth in what he says.

Q. Now, I want to ask you about the Jews. You have said that the Stahlhelm members were not anti-Semitic. Was it because the SA was anti-Semitic in its outlook - was that one of the reasons why you say Stahlhelm members did not like joining it?

A. No, it is rather like this: The Stahlhelm training - the moderate democratic concept of the Stahlhelm - excluded any anti-Semitic propaganda, because anti-Semitic propaganda would have been radicalism and such radicalism did not exist with the vast majority of Stahlhelmer.

Q. Do you know the witness Hauffer? He gave evidence before the Commission.

A. Yes, I know Hauffer. He was in Dresden formerly.

Q. He said this in his evidence: "We disapproved completely of the Party's policy against the Jews." Was that right?

A. Yes.

Q. And the Party's policy was the policy of the SA and the SA leadership, was it not?

A. Yes, that is true.

Q. Now with regard to the joining of the Stahlhelm, the incorporation of the Stahlhelm in 1933. It is not true to say that all Stahlhelm members were compelled to join the SA is it?

A. I said before that certain age groups of the Stahlhelm had to join and these age groups were transferred as a whole and without exception.

Q. In the case of anyone over thirty-five he could have stayed out, could he not?

A. Yes, if they had been asked beforehand, but those who were not asked were given orders and had to join.

Q. You know the witness Waldenfels who appeared before the Commission? Do you know him, a senior civil servant?

A. Yes.

Q. He refused to join and he retained his post right up to the war, is that not correct?

A. That is correct, but that is just as in my case. Waldenfels was above the age of those who were incorporated into the SA.

Q. Well, he was under forty-five at the time, was he not?

A. Whether he was under forty-five at the time, I do not know, but he is an elderly man, and therefore I assume that he was not affected by the transfer.

Q. He is an elderly man now. He was born on 10th August, 1889, according to his evidence. The witness Juettner has said, you know, that even if pressure was put on a man to join, there was nothing whatever to stop him withdrawing. Now I know you say he would be boycotted, but in fact, the number in the SA fell, did it not, from 41 million to 12 million between 1934 and 1939?

A. I have heard of that.

Q. Was that not because people were withdrawing?

[Page 152]

A. No. As far as I remember, the reason was this. First of all, after 30th June, 1934, all followers of the Chief of Staff Rohm were removed from the SA, and there were very many of them. I cannot give a figure, but at all events there were very many. Then, furthermore, hundreds of thousands of SA men were released from the SA, not to return to private life, but as far as I recall to be assigned to other branches of the Party. Only very few of the Stahlhelmer were affected by this release. I know that very well, because Stahlhelmer came frequently to me and said that they hoped to be able to get out of the SA now, but after some time they came back to me and said it was not possible since the Stahlhelm had to remain in the SA so that it could be controlled better.

Q. Once they were in the SA did these members of the Stahlhelm obey orders and perform the same actions as anybody else in the SA?

A. They had no other choice if they did not want to expose themselves to the serious difficulties which I have described. But it is a fact that often Stahlhelmer did refuse to obey orders to commit acts for which they would not take the responsibility.

COLONEL PHILLIMORE: I have no further question.

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Boehm, have you any re-examination?



Q. Witness, in 1933, when the Stahlhelm were incorporated into the SA, can you give me the approximate numbers of the Stahlhelm and the approximate numbers of the SA?

A. I can only give the approximate strength of the Stahlhelm. I would estimate it at about one million - that is, those people who were incorporated into the SA from the Stahlhelm. I do not know the strength of the SA.

Q. Do you know approximately how many Stahlhelmer there were in the SA on 1st September, on or about 1st September, 1939?

A. No, I cannot say that.

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