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 Seventh Day: Tuesday, 20th August, 1946
(Part 3 of 9)

[SIR DAVID MAXWELL FYFE continues his cross examination of Hermann Wilhelm Göring]

[Page 282]

A. Yes, that is just what I wanted to find out. This decree has nothing whatsoever to do with experiments. It begins with the following - I shall translate it freely, I do not know the language too well.
"A planned co-ordination is necessary for the personnel and material in the field of health and in the whole Medical Inspectorate. I therefore decree as follows ... "
The decree created the post of the Chief of the Medical Department - I no longer know the exact title - in order to solve the shortage of medical officers and of medical supplies - that is especially emphasized here - and, of course, if necessary to carry out joint research work.

What we did in the field of research, especially during the war, is, of course, quite clear. Since the Army was providing the bulk of the medical officers and was receiving the largest amount of medicines and material, the Sanitary Inspector was put at the head of the department. Since the Air Force was the second largest branch of the Wehrmacht the Luftwaffe Chief of Staff was chosen. That is quite understandable.

Q. The point that I am putting to you, and I think you have gathered it, is that on 28th July, 1942, there was this additional interest in medical matters and research which made Hitler assemble this co-ordinating staff. Now, I want you just to remember how that interest in medical matters was shown in your service. A month later, on 31st August, 1942, your second man, Milch, was writing to Himmler. My Lord, this is Document 343-PS, Exhibit USA 463.

"Dear Herr Himmler: I thank you very much for your letter of 25th August. I have read with great interest the reports of Dr. Rascher and Dr. Romberg. I am informed about the current experiments. I shall ask the

[Page 283]

two gentlemen to give a lecture, combined with the showing of films, to my men in the near future."
Now, assume that Milch is telling the truth for the purpose of this question, and that that letter was put in front of him by the head of your medical department for his signature, assume that if you like, there is no reason to suppose that the head of your medical department was telling lies in the letter he put before Milch; no reason to assume that that letter is untrue and if, in your service, lectures were given on these experiments with films to the men, are you still telling the Tribunal that you, as the head of the service, knew nothing about these experiments for your service that were going on?

A. I am telling the Tribunal only the truth. Firstly, this letter need not by any means have been submitted to Milch by the Sanitary Inspectorate just because it was a direct letter between Himmler and Milch. Secondly, while he was in the witness stand here, Milch -

Q. Excuse me for interrupting you. I am only quoting Milch's evidence. I was asking you to assume for the moment that Milch's evidence is true. It was suggested to Milch that his evidence was not true and the truth was that you said it was his own letter. I am asking you to assume that Milch is telling the truth; this is the letter put before him by the sanitary department. That is why I put it that way. Now, continue your answer.

A. I am afraid I did not understand you quite clearly. Did you read me a letter from Field-Marshal Milch or did you read the testimony which Milch gave here. The translation did not make that quite clear.

Q. I read to you a quotation from a letter of Field-Marshal Milch to Himmler. And I informed you, in case you did not remember, that Field-Marshal Milch - that that letter was put in front of him by your medical department and that he signed it blindly. That was Milch's evidence. I asked you to assume that Milch was telling the truth. I mean for the moment. I am asking you, as head of your service, if these experiments were the subject of lectures and films shown to your own men serving under your command? Are you still telling the Tribunal that you knew nothing about them?

A. I said quite clearly and plainly that I myself knew nothing about them. I did not say that Field-Marshal Milch had made an untruthful statement. After all he must know whether the letter was submitted to him by the Inspectorate or not; as far as I recall his testimony here on the witness stand, he cleared up this matter completely and emphasized that he made no report whatever to me about the details of these experiments.

But, Sir David, may I once more direct your attention to this decree. I have meanwhile glanced through the whole of it. It has nothing at all to do with these experiments but, as I said earlier, Part one deals with the medical departments of the three Wehrmacht branches and Part two deals with the relation of the Army and civil medical welfare systems from a purely organisational and administrative point of view.

Q. Witness, I just passed the decree, you know. I want your answer. Do you say that you did not know that lectures and films were shown to the men under your command, dealing with these experiments? I just want your answer quite clearly - yes or no. Did you or did you not know?

A. No, I knew nothing about that. May I ask you once more to take into consideration that the Ministry was an administration of its own, whereas I, at headquarters, dealt rather with strategic and tactical matters. I would have objected to such experiments - certainly; even though the Russian prosecution. I believe, at one time twisted the facts, I adhere to what I said. In 1934 I strictly forbade experiments and tortures to be carried out on living animals; please do not suggest that I would have permitted them to be carried out on human beings.

[Page 284]

Q. It is not for me to comment. Plenty of people have standards with regard to animals which they do not apply to fellow men. But that is a matter of comment and I do not wish to pursue it.

Now, in November, 1942 - you referred to it in giving your evidence - Dr. Rascher was transferred from the Air Force to the SS. Before he was transferred, Himmler wrote to Milch on that subject after describing the experiments on the behaviour of the human organism at great heights, in prolonged cooling and similar problems. I quote Himmler's words, which are of vital importance to the Air Force in particular:

"These researches which deal with the behaviour of the human organism at great heights, as well as with manifestations caused by prolonged cooling of the human body in cold water, and similar problems which are of vital importance to the Air Force in particular."
Then he says:
"Unfortunately you had no time recently when Dr. Rascher wanted to report on the experiments at the Ministry for Air. I had put great hopes in that report because I believe that in this way the difficulties based mainly on religious objections which opposed Dr. Rascher's experiments, for which I have assumed responsibility, could be eliminated. The difficulties are still the same now as before. In these Christian medical circles the standpoint is being taken that it goes without saying that a young German aviator should be allowed to risk his life, but that the life of a criminal who is not drafted into military service is too sacred for this purpose and one should not burden oneself with this guilt."
Then Himmler goes on to say - in view of the importance to the Air Force and also to the Waffen SS, "However, in this connection, I suggest that with the liaison between you and Wolff," that is, Milch and Wolff, "a non-Christian physician should be charged who would, at the same time, be informed of the results."

Are you saying, defendant, that you never heard, although Hitler had heard, that Christian medical circles were protesting against these experiments?

A. I think you mean Himmler, not Hitler.

Q. Himmler, I am sorry. Although Himmler knew, you say you did not know that Christian medical circles were apparently, according to this letter, publicly and insistently protesting against these experiments? Did you not know that?

A. No, and they did not protest publicly. But I am very grateful to you for having brought up this letter which I no longer remembered among the many documents which have been submitted to me. It underlines clearly and unmistakably what I said before, and I am happy that by the Christian medical officers who are mentioned here the Inspectorate of my Luftwaffe is apparently meant, because only the Inspectorate could raise protests. And that is also the reason why this Rascher had apparently to leave the Air Force as his collaboration with the Inspectorate no longer satisfied Herr Himmler; and therefore he transferred him to the SS. That emphasises exactly what I said.

Q. I want you - again, I want you to apply your mind to this. You and Himmler were still on good terms in 1942, were you not?

A. Until the end, Himmler always adopted a very polite attitude towards me. He had no choice.

Q. You were more than that. Within a few days of this letter you sent him an attache-case of crocodile leather, a box of cigars, and a notebook for Christmas. This means that you were on good terms with Himmler at this time. Do you mean to say that you never heard, that Himmler never said to you, that Milch never told you, that your medical officer never said to you, that these experiments were being carried on and were causing protest in Christian medical circles? Did everyone conspire, defendant, to keep you in ignorance of every matter that might be embarrassing to you? Now, is that the answer?

[Page 285]

A. The experiments and knowledge of them have nothing to do with the crocodile attache-case and the notebook. These are Christmas presents in return for a present which Himmler always gave me for Christmas on behalf of the SS, and I always wanted to respond to this gesture. Secondly, no attempts were made to hide anything from me intentionally, but the various spheres of activity were divided; there were important matters, very important matters, and matters which were treated by certain departments, and the Medical Inspectorate was one of them. It was impossible to bring everything to my knowledge.

Apart from that, I wish to emphasize again that I never heard of a public protest by Christian circles or doctors in Germany against such experiments during the war and such a protest would not, in fact, have been possible.

THE PRESIDENT: Have you any questions to put, Dr. Stahmer?

DR. STAHMER: I have no further questions.

THE PRESIDENT: The defendant can return to the dock.


DR. GAWLIK (for the SD): Your Lordship, may I first of all apologise for my failure to be ready for the submission of my documents yesterday. I regret that this resulted in a delay of the proceedings, but the defence counsel of the organizations were informed that the sequence for the submission of documents would be different from that of the examination of witnesses, and the sequence of which we were informed was the following: Political Leaders, Gestapo, SS, and SD. I therefore assumed that I would follow the SS with the submission of documents. I ask the Tribunal to take into consideration that I am at present preparing my final speech and that I am therefore not able to participate in all the sessions.

THE PRESIDENT: Are you saying that you are not able now to participate in the session?

DR. GAWLIK: Now I am ready, your Lordship.

THE PRESIDENT: I do not know how any such misunderstanding as you indicate can have occurred, because no order was given by the Tribunal that there would be any alteration of the order, and counsel for the defendants and the defendant organizations must understand that they must be here when their case is called on, and the Tribunal cannot be kept waiting as it was yesterday. This is the first occasion on which it has happened, and the Tribunal hopes it will not happen again.

DR. GAWLIK: Your Lordship, it is a notice dated 1st August which is posted on the blackboard in the counsel's room.

THE PRESIDENT: Just what does it say?

DR. GAWLIK: It says that for the examination of witnesses, the sequence was altered and the SD witnesses were heard before the SS witnesses, but that for the submission of documents and the final speeches the old sequence will be followed, and then the sequence is quoted: Political Leaders, Gestapo, SS and SD.

THE PRESIDENT: The Tribunal will inquire into that matter.

DR. GAWLIK: First of all, may I submit the records with regard to the witnesses I have examined. I shall now begin with the submission of affidavits. On account of the pressure of work in the Translating Division, only some of the affidavits have so far been translated. I request that those affidavits -

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Gawlik, as you were not present the other day, perhaps I had better tell you what the Tribunal's wishes were and are with reference to these affidavits.

[Page 286]

A large number of these affidavits, if not all, have been summarised and the summaries set out in the transcript before the Commissioners, and, therefore, for you to give a summary again of these affidavits merely creates on the transcript of the Tribunal a repetition of the summary which is already in the transcript before the Commissioners. The Tribunal does not desire that. Therefore, if you will confine yourself to commenting on or summarising the affidavits which have not been summarised before the Commissioners, that is all that is necessary, subject, of course, to offering them in evidence.

Is that clear? I was not suggesting that you should bring before us affidavits which have not been brought before the Commissioners, but I was merely telling you that we do not want to have a repetition of summaries, which were put before the Commissioners and which are set out in the transcript before the Commissioners.

DR. GAWLIK: That was not my intention, your Lordship. I have only asked for some of these affidavits to be translated, and I was going to submit only those completely translated; but of those which I wanted to submit I have received only a part fully translated. Therefore I cannot at this moment submit the translation of all the affidavits I propose to use, and so I request that I may submit some of them later.

THE PRESIDENT: Very well. Before you begin, this will be a convenient time to break off.

DR. GAWLIK: Very well.

(A recess was taken.)

DR. GAWLIK: I shall present my affidavits in order of the points of the Indictment, as they appear in the Trial Brief against the Gestapo and SD; that, I believe, would be of aid to the Tribunal. This order will not agree with the sequence of the numbers, but I believe that can be taken into account, because this method will enable the Tribunal to see that I have endeavoured not to present cumulative evidence.

First, I come to the point of conspiracy, to the tasks, aims and activities of the SD from its foundation to the establishment of the RSHA. On this point I submitted Affidavit SD-27 by Dr. Albert; a summary appears in the transcript of 23rd July, 1946.

The next affidavit refers to the assertion of the prosecution that it was a task of the SD to obtain secret information on actual and possible opponents of the Nazis. The reference is the Trial Brief against the Gestapo and SD, statement of evidence IIIb, Page 77 of the English version. In this connection I submitted Affidavit SD-28 by Dr. Albert; the summary of the contents is also shown in the records of the Commission, on the 23rd July, 1946.

Then on this point also I now submit Affidavit SD No. 1, by Ferdinand Sackmann.


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