The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)
Nuremberg, war crimes, crimes against humanity

The Trial of German Major War Criminals

Two Hundred and Fourteenth Day: Thursday, 29th August, 1946
(Part 6 of 14)

[Page 269]


We believe that a just and practical distinction may be drawn between these two classes. In July and August of 1935 the assurance which had been held out to the Stahlhelm, that they would retain their independent status side by side with their membership of the SA, was broken. The organization of the Stahlhelm was finally dissolved; their uniforms, their meetings and all their previous activities were prohibited. From that time the Stahlhelm members who remained in the SA were indistinguishable from the rest of that body. They had joined the SA in 1933 knowing, as one of their own witnesses has declared, the criminal nature of the policies and activities of the SA. Now, in 1935, they could have had no illusion that by remaining members they would not be expected to support that policy and participate in those activities. None who remained members after that date can absolve themselves from a major responsibility for the crimes committed by the SA and by the Nazi Government, of which the SA was one of the essential bulwarks. We therefore respectfully recommend for your consideration whether all these members of the Stahlhelm who resigned or were ejected from the SA prior to 31st December, 1935, might also be excluded. We submit that those who remained are rightly included in the criminal organization of the SA.

You will appreciate the effect of these exclusions upon the number of SA members involved in these proceedings.

The exclusion of the 1,500,000 Kyffhauserbund and 500,000 Kern Stahlhelm alone reduces Juettner's total to 2,500,000, and that takes no account of the other exclusions which the prosecution have suggested.

Lastly, I would say a word in respect of the Reiterkorps. I have already submitted that there is no legal basis for suggesting that their membership was involuntary. The prosecution recognizes, however, that in so far as the Reiterkorps retained its separate organization of riding clubs, its own identity and its own leaders, you may find that it is in a somewhat special position when you are considering the criminal responsibility of the SA. It is, of course, open to the Tribunal to give effect to that special position of the Reiterkorps if it so desires. You will remember that its membership totaled 200,000.


Upon one further point which has been raised by the defence I ought, perhaps, to say a word. It has been urged that the weekly paper the SA Mann, upon which the prosecution have drawn for a small part of their evidence against this organization, is inaccurate, and does not truly represent either the policy or the activities of the SA. You have heard the evidence for and against this proposition. I need only remind you that the paper was published by the official Nazi publishing house, the Eher Company, which published also Mein Kampf, the organization books, the orders and decrees of the Nazi Government and all other official Nazi publications. It carries under its title the description:

"The official organ of the Supreme SA Leadership."
Its editor, writing to Rosenberg, describes it, without contradiction, as the "combat publication and official organ of the Supreme Party Leadership," with a circulation of 750,000. Lutze himself recommends it in his annual training directive for 1939 as one of the official "aids to the preparation and carrying out of training." I submit to you that in the face of that evidence the testimony of witnesses for the defence upon this matter ought not to be accepted.

Will you consider the whole of the literature you have seen in connection with this organization? It is all the same - all about war, about lawless violence, about racial hatred. There is not one word on the ordinary matters of decent living, of the interests and activities and the ways of life of ordinary decent, civilized, peaceful citizens - the things which fill the newspapers and literature of decent, law-abiding, peaceful countries. Compare the literature of the SA with that of any organization or society in any other country in Europe. The SA, the organization which prided itself upon its responsibility of educating and training the manhood of

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Germany, spoke only of militarism, of arrogance, of bullying and of hatred. What need for this if their purpose was what they say?


I turn to consider the evidence upon which we base our submission that this organization was criminal. The aims of the SA were the aims of the Nazi Party itself. Training in the SA is described in the Organization Book as:

"Education training according to the doctrines and aims of the Fuehrer as they are set forth in Mein Kampf and in the Party programme for all phases of our lives and our National Socialist ideology. "
Lutze, Chief of the SA, speaking to the Diplomatic Corps and foreign Press in 1936, told them:
"When I state in the beginning that the obligations of the SA are those of the Party, and vice versa, I only mean that the SA considers the Party's programme as its own as well. The SA cannot be independent of the National Socialist movement but can only exist as a part of it. In the framework of the Party the SA represents its protective troops, its fighting shock troops, to which belong the most active members of the movement, politically speaking. The tasks of the SA are those of the Party, and vice versa. They are therefore of an internal political nature."

In the interests of time I do not propose to dwell upon the evidence of how this organization performed its role as "the protective troops" and "the fight shock troops" of the Party. All this may well be said already to be a matter of historical fact. In the words of the Indictment, the SA "was developed by Nazi conspirators, before their accession to power, into a vast private army, and utilized for the purpose of creating disorder and terrorizing and eliminating political opponents." It is said that the violent and criminal activity of its members, if indeed any such activity existed at all, was purely defensive - forced upon it order to protect its members and their Party Leaders from the violence of the Communist and other political parties. It is for you to judge the value of that evidence. In doing so, you will have it in mind that all the documentary evidence upon this question which has been submitted to you in the defence document book, is of Nazi origin and authorship. You may think that that description of the SA as a defensive organization is wholly inconsistent with the evidence you had from the witness Severing, from Gisevius (14.) and in the affidavit you have had from the American Consul, Geist. (15.)

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Severing told you:
"The observation of the so-called armed organizations during the years of my office was one of my most important tasks. The toughest organization of all these turned out to be the SA. They were the rowdy battalion, and with the arrogance with which they sang their songs they forced themselves into the streets. They cleared the streets for themselves where there was no opposition for them .... Wherever the SA could exercise their terror unhindered they acted in such a manner .... Those were not ordinary little fights between political fighters during election fights. That was organized terror."
The Stahlhelm witness, Gruss, confirmed the evidence that Severing gave:
"I believe," he said, "that, on the whole, Severing describes it correctly."
It is my submission that the evidence of SA criminality during the years 1933-34, from the coming into power of the Nazi Government until the Roehm purge, is as well established and may be dealt with shortly. The same violence, the same disregard for the law and for the rights and privileges of all but themselves, continued. It is sufficient to remind you of what Gisevius said:
"The SA organized huge raids. The SA searched houses, the SA confiscated property, the SA cross-examined people. The SA put people into jail. In short, the SA appointed themselves auxiliary police, and paid no attention to any of the customs from the period of the liberal system .... Woe to anyone who got into their clutches! From this time dates the 'bunker,' that dreaded private prison, of which every SA stormtroop 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. Brawls could no longer be staged in the fight for power, yet the fight went on; only the blows were now struck in the full enjoyment of power."
Gisevius went on to describe in more detail the illegal arrests of political opponents by members of the SA, the prisons they established and the treatment meted out to their victims:
"It was the bestiality tolerated during the first months that later encouraged the sadistic murders in the concentration camps."
Having heard Schaefer, first commandant of Oranienburg, cross-examined, have you the slightest doubt that atrocities were committed by SA men in that camp? You have the evidence of the witness Joel that the SA established a concentration camp at Wuppertal on the initiative of the local SA commander. At Hohnstein and at Bredow also SA guards were torturing and murdering their prisoners. You will remember the letter written in June, 1935, from the Ministry of Justice to Hitler himself:
"In the camp, serious maltreatment of the prisoners has been going on at least since the summer of 1933. The prisoners were not only, as in the protective custody camps at Bredow, near Stettin, beaten into a state of unconsciousness for no reason with whips and other weapons, but were also tortured in other ways."
Comment is unnecessary, except to emphasize that sadism and illegal arrests of this kind were being practised and carried out by SA men throughout the Reich:
"Within six weeks of the Nazis coming to power in January, 1933, the German newspapers were quoting official sources for the statement that 18,000 Communists had been imprisoned, whilst 10,000 prisoners in the jails of Prussia included many Socialists and intellectuals."
Sollmann, Social Democrat member of the Reichstag, was being taken to the Brown House in Cologne to be "tortured, beaten and kicked for several hours." In Nuremberg a man called Pfbaumer was being beaten on the soles of his feet until he died. In Munich the former editor of the newspaper, the Lower Bavarian

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Peasant, Dr. Alois Schlogel, had his house wrecked and was himself ill-treated. These are only a few of the incidents of this kind which the Prime Minister of Bavaria describes when he says:
"Of their total number throughout Germany there can be no count."
This was no political revolution. This was no self- protection from Communist opposition. These men were the servants of the Government, with the sure knowledge that all Government agencies - the Press, the law and the police - were under orders to condone and to assist. They ran no risks; their victims had no court nor protection to which they could appeal.

This was nothing but sheer sadism, criminal brutality, encouraged by the Party and the SA leadership. You have the evidence of Geist:

"I personally can verify that the police had been instructed not to interfere .... These officers told me that they and all the other police officers had received definite instructions not to interfere with the SA, the SS or the Hitler Youth."
Goering, speaking on 3rd March, 1933, described the role that the SA were to perform from then on. He declared that the Communists would be suppressed by the Brown Shirts. The police would not be used as in a bourgeois democracy:
"I do not have to give justice, my aim is only to destroy and exterminate, nothing more .... The struggle to the death, in which my fist will grasp your necks, I shall lead with those down there - those are the Brown Shirts."
Let me deal in rather greater detail with the activities of the SA during those years after 1934. It has been suggested that following the Roehm purge the SA diminished both in numbers and in importance, and that the criminal activities of its members ceased. That its numbers were reduced is unquestionable - I have indicated the evidence of the reasons why. That it waned in importance is also true, to the extent that official favour was bestowed more and more upon the SS for reasons that are well known. Nevertheless, the SA both in the eyes, of its own leaders, its members, and of the Nazi Party authorities, remained politically and militarily an important and vital force.

By June, 1934, the political opponents of the Nazi Party had been suppressed or incarcerated. Little wonder then that we have less evidence of those incidents of "mastery of the streets" which filled the history of Germany during previous years. But the aims of the organization remained the same - fanatical support of the policy of the Nazi Government: the suppression of such opposition as remained, particularly the Churches and the Jews, and, in addition, intensive preparation for aggressive war.

Already the SA and the SS had been employed in the action to dissolve the Trade Unions; (16.) the Church and the Jews remained an ever-present problem. I have already referred to the Nazi Party's policy of suppression of all Church influence and I would remind you of the part the SA were playing in this fight during the years after 1934. You remember the incident in Freising Church in February, 1935, when the Kreisleiterin instructed all her Nazi women to accompany SA Storm Troopers to attend the service in Freising Church. It was SA men who arranged for the bell to ring during the Cardinal's service. It was SA men who afterwards led Hans Heidl out into a field at night and beat him unmercifully for his resentment at the interference with the service. You remember the story:

"The leader took a handkerchief from his pocket and tied it over my mouth. He then pressed me to the ground and held me while the two others started beating me. They gave me about 15 to 20 heavy blows, from the seat down to the ankle of the left foot. The gag became loose and I screamed

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loudly. They then let go of me and helped me up. I was given strict instructions not to tell anybody about this incident if I wanted to keep my business. They then gave me a kick, and said: 'Now run home in a trot, you black brother.' "
Are you impressed with the defence that that was only an isolated incident? When you consider the evidence of wholesale and widespread acts of violence which had characterized the SA in the eyes of all Germany and the world during the years of Nazi struggle, can you doubt that similar incidents were taking place throughout Germany in 1935 and afterwards, whenever the occasion presented itself? Does the very nature of an organization such as this change within a few months? If the nature and aims of the SA had changed, why should the SA Mann have been publishing in 1937 and 1938 articles decrying the Church, such as:
"My dear Franciscans,"

"The Black Balance - Political Catholicism,"

"The Church wants to dictate to the State,"

"Unmasked Political Catholicism" and

"Does the Vatican want War?"

If the violent manners of the SA had been converted during these years, why should the official organ of its supreme leadership have been recounting stories of its early battles? Their titles tell their tale:
"We subdue the Red Terror."

"Nightly street battles on the Czech border."

"Street battle in Chemnitz."

"SA against sub-humanity."

"For the Superiority of the Street."

"Company 88 receives its Baptism of Fire."

"The SA breaks the Red Terror."

"Bloody Sunday in Berlin."

And that description of "9th November, 1923, in Nuremberg" when, during the course of the disturbances, someone shouted, "The Jewish place will be stormed! Out with the Jews!" (17.)

The part the SA played in the ever-increasing persecution of the Jews dissolves any doubt there may be of the continuing criminality of that organization during the years after 1934. Of the boycott in April, 1933, Goebbels had written in his biography:

"1st April, 1933

All Jewish stores are closed. At their entrances SA sentries are standing."

It was only an example of how, throughout all Germany, the SA provided the Nazi Government with a means of putting its policy into effect. The instructions issued by Streicher and his committee had directed:
"The SA and the SS are instructed to warn the population, by means of pickets, from entering Jewish enterprises once the boycott has started."

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