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 Sixth Day: Monday, 19th August, 1946
(Part 4 of 4)

[Page 268]


From number 30 I shall read the following, on the first page under the heading "Organization and Composition of the Gestapo in Bielefeld," second sentence:

"When this Gestapo office was founded, in 1934, about eight criminal investigation officials and two police administration officials of the Bielefeld State Police, and about five criminal investigation officials from branch offices were transferred to the Bielefeld Gestapo. The transfer was made without previously obtaining the consent of the officials."
Then, from Page 3 of the same affidavit, I beg to be allowed to quote one example of the composition of a fairly large Gestapo office.

[Page 269]

"Organization and composition of the Gestapo in Bruenn. In the spring of 1944 the personnel comprised about 800 persons, distributed approximately as follows: administrative officials, about 35; executive officials, about 280; drivers, employees, about 110; frontier police officials, about 65; criminal investigation employees, for instance interpreters, about 90; prison supervision personnel, about 80; female office personnel, about 90; other auxiliaries, about 50."
And then the second paragraph after that:
"When the Gestapo office in Bruenn was created, about 400 officials were transferred from offices in the Reich proper, without their consent having been secured, to Bruenn or to the branch offices connected with Bruenn. More than half of the personnel consisted of emergency service conscripts or was doing compulsory service."
From Affidavit 31, I shall read on Page 2, at the beginning:
"At the end of 1944 the Gestapo consisted of approximately the following: Administrative officials, 3,000; executive officials, 15,500; employees and workmen, including 9,000 called up for emergency service, 13,500. Grand total, 32,000. These members of the Gestapo may be considered to be the permanent ones in so far as they made up the normal staff. In addition to these persons, there were the following groups: Detached from the Waffen SS, 3,500; taken over from the Secret Field Police, 5,500; taken over from the military counter- intelligence of the OKW, 5,000; personnel of the former military mail censorship, 7,500; members of the customs- frontier guard, 45,000."
Then I come to Affidavit 34, where I shall read from the first page, under the heading "Professional career," the last quotation:
"1st April, 1933, transfer, that is, order to join the Gestapo Department of Berlin. I received at that time a letter reading as follows:

'By virtue of the authority vested in me by the Reich Minister of the Interior, you are hereby transferred as of to the Gestapo office.'

I had nothing to say in the matter of this transfer. The attempt of my superior in the Police Presidency to save me from this transfer failed."

I now beg to be permitted, in connection with the relationship of the Gestapo to the Frontier Police, to read the following from Affidavit 22; this is on Page 2 of the German original:
"The members of the Frontier Police were taken over from the Frontier Police, which already existed in Bavaria before 1933, into the Frontier Police of the Gestapo. Later on, after the annexation of Austria, the Austrian Frontier Police were added as well. The incorporation of the Frontier Police officials in the Gestapo was not voluntary either in Bavaria or in Austria. On the contrary, the officials were transferred as a group when Control of the Gestapo was transferred to the Reich or when the annexation of Austria took place."
I omit the following sentence.
"The officials could not object against their transfer to the Gestapo on grounds of the, instructions concerning the rights of officials. They had to agree to this transfer."
Then the second paragraph farther on:
"The tasks of the Frontier Police consisted mainly in the supervision of the traffic of persons across the frontier, the carrying out of police instructions with regard to passports, and in the supervision of the traffic of goods in connection with the customs authorities. Political tasks, like those of the Gestapo in a stricter sense, were not the business of the Frontier Police."
I omit the next sentence and go on to quote:
"I know from my own experience that the tasks of the Frontier Police and also its activity did not change after 1933."

[Page 270]

Then the last paragraph:
"I must also draw attention to the fact that the same tasks as those of the Frontier Police were performed at many small frontier passages by members of the Reich finance administration and the customs administration. In this the customs officials were bound by exactly the same instructions as members of the Frontier Police."
Numbers 23, 24, 35 and 39 deal with the question of secrecy.
"No department within the State Police knew anything about orders issued by any other department. Even private conversation was forbidden. Considering the strict secrecy, only the few persons of the Reich Security Main Office who were immediately concerned therewith knew of the individual measures."
From 35 I read the following; and this is on Page 8 of the original, the second paragraph:
"The centre of gravity of the factual discussions lay in the personal conferences between the department chief and group chief or their deputies on the one hand, and, as until now, between the department chief and his department heads on the other."
Then the beginning of the following paragraph:
"In view of this form of personal collaboration it follows that only the persons actually and directly taking part in a matter were informed about it, the more so as, due to the directives which had been issued, the principles of secrecy were strictly observed in Department IV."
Then the beginning of the next paragraph:
"Still a further fact must be given decisive consideration in this connection. In the course of the war up to September, 1944 - but particularly in the course of the air raids - Department IV in Berlin was decentralised to an increasing degree and spread to various quarters of the city."
Then also on Page 12 of the affidavit, the second paragraph in the German text:
"In view of the practice of absolute secrecy and isolation of information prevailing in all fields, it should be clear of itself that a problem which had as little to do with general tasks and activities as the physical extermination of Jews was, if that is possible, kept even more strictly secret. All plans and measures in connection therewith must of necessity have been discussed only in the closest circle of persons directly involved, for all other members of Department IV never received knowledge of it."
And then the beginning of the next paragraph:
"The same must have been the case with regard to knowledge about the reports concerning mass shootings in the East, as quoted by the prosecution. It is not known in detail who could have had knowledge of such reports besides the Reichsfuehrer SS and some individual department chiefs. If this knowledge should, at the most, have extended even to the immediately competent group chiefs and specialists, it is still far from being the case, as asserted by the prosecution, that the bulk of the personnel in Department IV, or even in the Reich Security Main Office or in the offices throughout the Reich, were informed."
From Affidavit 39 I read the following from Page 3 of the original:
"Upon my assuming office in the Reich Security Main Office in August, 1941, Muller declared to me that in his sphere of activity he placed great value upon observing the stipulations for secrecy and that he would proceed without pity, with the severest measures, against violations thereof."
And then the last sentence of the same paragraph -

THE PRESIDENT: We have heard about this secrecy over and over again, not only in your affidavits but throughout the trial. Surely it is not necessary to read the paragraphs of these affidavits about secrecy.

[Page 271]

We quite understand that everybody alleges that.

DR. MERKEL: Gestapo Affidavit 25 contains an opinion about Exhibit USA 219. It deals with the transfer of 35,000 prisoners capable of work into armament plants attached to concentration camps.

The affidavit originates from a sub-department chief (Stellenleiter) of the Gestapo and I shall quote from the third sentence of the third paragraph:

"In another case, the order by the Chief of the Security Police and the SD of 17th December, 1942, according to which at least 35,000 persons capable of working were to be transported to concentration camps to work in the armament plants there, was not carried out by many Gestapo offices. These persons were to be recruited from the prisoners of the labour training camps of the Gestapo offices. This was incompatible with the customs followed until then, and by many office chiefs known to me was interpreted as an arbitrary measure. At conferences in the Reich Security Main Office I learnt that the office was unable to fulfil the request of the Reichsfuehrer SS to provide prisoners, because the Gestapo leaders did not provide prisoners from their labour training camps, avoiding doing so by means of pretexts."
The summary of Affidavit 36 states that in the spring of 1944 the bulk of the members of the department of foreign intelligence (Amt Ausland Abwehr) in the OKW were forcibly transferred into the Security Police.

Affidavit 40 states that the order for the evacuation of Jews from Hessen in 1942 came directly from the Chief of the Security Police and not from Department IV of the Reich Security Main Office. Commitment for work in the East was given as the reason for the evacuation.

Affidavits 42, and to some extent 91, deal with the decree that the crucifixes should be removed from schools. From Affidavit 42 I shall read the second sentence on the first page:

"Approximately in 1942, as I remember, Gauleiter Adolf Wagner, in his capacity of Bavarian Minister of Culture, ordered that the crucifixes were to be removed from all Bavarian schools."
I omit the following sentence:
"Enforcement (of this ruling) met with the greatest difficulties due to the attitude of the population, so that the departments of the Party which were dealing with the carrying out of that order called upon the district officials (Landrate) and the district police offices for assistance. Since the affair had a political character, the district officials approached the State Police department in Nuremberg with the request for advice or assistance. As an expert for Church matters, I stated to the first district official approaching me that the Gestapo in Nuremberg would not help with this decree unless they were forced to it directly and that he would not receive any assistance from the State Police for the carrying out of the order. Even in the case of further instructions to the political officials, the State Police would not take any action."
I omit the following sentence.
"I then reported the matter to the police chief, who entirely and without reserve shared my point of view. In agreement with him, I then informed the remaining district officials concerned, by telephone, to the effect that they should act accordingly."
Affidavit 43 says that, upon objections raised by the competent commander of the Security Police, the intention of the district official to turn the Protestant church in Welum into a cinema was thwarted.

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Merkel, you heard what I said to Dr. Servatius, did you not?

DR. MERKEL: Yes, Mr. President.

[Page 272]

THE PRESIDENT: Is not the state of affairs exactly the same in your case, that all these affidavits have been summarised in the transcript before the Commission, which we have got before us in writing, and therefore what you are doing is simply cumulative?

DR. MERKEL: I had merely thought that in order to support these summaries in the record, short extracts from these affidavits -

THE PRESIDENT: It is no use telling me what you merely thought. You heard what I said to Dr. Servatius, that the Tribunal did not want to hear the same thing over again which appears in the transcript of the proceedings before the Commissioners. It was all gone into perfectly clearly with Dr. Servatius, and it was explained to him, in your hearing, that we cannot carry all these things in our minds and that it is useless to go over them twice unless there is some matter of very great importance. which you want to draw our attention to before you make your final speech; and I said that before and I do not want to have to say it again.

DR. MERKEL: In that case, if I may, I shall refer to the summaries of the transcripts of the Commission, that is to the following numbers up to 91, and then I shall assume that the Tribunal will take cognizance of the contents of these summaries. I then have left only a collective affidavit. If the Tribunal wishes me to do so, I can read the summary contained in that affidavit; as far as I know, that has not been translated. There are six pages of this summary of 1,276 individual affidavits which do not appear in the Commission report.

THE PRESIDENT: Yes, go on.

DR. MERKEL: Regarding the question of membership being compulsory, 665 affidavits are available. They state that when the Gestapo was created, the requirements for personnel were for the most part met from the existing Political Police. Regarding forced membership of persons doing compulsory service, there are 127 affidavits which deal with the same subject.

Seven hundred and eighty-five affidavits state that they had no knowledge of the crimes of which the Gestapo is being accused.

Thirty-nine affidavits treat with the difference in organization between the Gestapo in the Reich and the Security Police in occupied territories.

One hundred and ninety-five affidavits state that the writers had no knowledge of inhuman treatment and atrocities in the concentration camps. A few officials who had visited concentration camps on conducted tours could not notice any irregularities there. Also released detainees did not speak about concentration camps in a critical manner.

One hundred and thirty-three affidavits state that no participation or supervision of the excesses of 9th and 10th November had taken place.

Sixty-seven affidavits state that the looting of private or State property was expressly forbidden to members of the Gestapo.

One hundred and thirty-five affidavits state that a large number of Gestapo members knew nothing about the existence of the Special Purpose Groups or of atrocities committed by them.

Two hundred and eighteen affidavits state that the "Kugel" (Bullet) decree was unknown to the majority of the Gestapo officials and that recaptured prisoners of war were turned over to Wehrmacht offices.

One hundred and sixty-eight affidavits state that enemy parachutists were turned over to the Air Force by the of evidence by means of documents and affidavits.

[Page 273]

LT.-COMMANDER HARRIS: May it please the Tribunal, I have just two short comments to make concerning documents which were presented here as to which I think he was in error, and I respectfully request the Tribunal to turn to his Gestapo Exhibit No. 33.


LT.-COMMANDER HARRIS: Dr. Merkel has cited this document as evidence that the executions in concentration camps were ordered by the WVHA, but I would respectfully invite the attention of the Tribunal to the sentence in the centre on the first page and I quote: "For this measure, permission of the Chief of the Security Police must be obtained."

THE PRESIDENT: Commander Harris, the Tribunal thinks that this is a matter which can be dealt with in argument and not at this stage.


THE PRESIDENT: Now, the Tribunal will hear the case of the SD. Is counsel for the SD not present?

DR. STAHMER: He is being fetched and will be here any moment.

THE PRESIDENT: Marshal, have you made any effort to get - to obtain the presence of this counsel? Have you communicated with him?

THE MARSHAL: We got in touch with his office, and we are looking for the defence counsel now.

THE PRESIDENT: The Tribunal will adjourn now until tomorrow morning at ten o'clock.

(The Tribunal adjourned until 20th August, 1946, at 1000 hours.)

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