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

The Trial of German Major War Criminals

Two Hundred and Fifteenth Day: Friday, 30th August, 1946
(Part 10 of 15)

[Page 353]

[GENERAL R. A. RUDENKO, Continued]

I refer the Tribunal to the well-known statement of the officers of that same division, concerning the mass shooting of hostages and murdering of prisoners of war.

A top secret directive of Himmler's was read into the record before the Tribunal - showing that SS units were instructed to annihilate thousands of inhabited localities, towns and villages in the temporarily occupied regions of the Soviet Union. In this directive Himmler wrote as follows:

"The aim to be achieved is that when areas in the Ukraine are evacuated, not a human being, not a single head of cattle, not a hundredweight of grain and not a railway line remain behind; that not a house remain standing, not a mine is available which is not destroyed for years to come, that there is not a well which is not poisoned. The enemy must really find completely burnt and ravished land."
In carrying out the criminal orders of the SS Reichsfuehrer (Himmler's order of 10th July, 1943), the Waffen SS deported into slavery in Germany the populations of entire regions, driving the Ukrainian and Russian children into special concentration camps.

The so-called Waffen SS were the specially selected SS units, composed in the main of volunteers, as well as of members of the General SS, called upon to carry out the criminal plans of Hitler and his clique.

The attempts of the defence counsel and of the defendants themselves to describe them as the "German Guard," remote from all police functions, who had never stained their hands with innocent blood, are in contradiction to the ruthless and irrefutable facts of reality. Nevertheless, we do not deny that among the soldiers of the Waffen SS were some who had been compelled to serve. The question of the degree of responsibility of any particular person is a question of competence for the National Tribunals. However, the SS troops as a whole are an essential part of the system, and the SS organization is, therefore, undoubtedly criminal.

(A recess was taken.)

MR. DODD: Mr. President, I am prepared to make a report on the attitude of the prosecution concerning the application of the defendant Seyss-Inquart to submit an affidavit. We are all in agreement in opposing the affidavit of Seyss- Inquart. It is really argumentative as we read it. We have had it translated, and it does not raise anything new, and it does express the defendant's attitude

[Page 354]

toward a number of documents that were in evidence, some as early as last January, and there are various comments in it about evidence and so on. But it seems improper to us that at this stage of the trial the defendant should make such an offer. His counsel made his argument, and indeed, he will have another opportunity himself to address the Tribunal. None of these matters in our opinion, are proper, nor should they be admitted by the Tribunal at this time. Now there is one matter raised in this affidavit, the matter of two documents 3640-PS and 3645-PS, of which the defendant Seyss- Inquart says they were not introduced in evidence. Although they were referred to by the French Prosecutor M. Dubost, and that is so. And of course, M. Dubost and M. de Ribes and those other gentlemen of the French prosecution with us agree that it was inadvertent, and that they should not have been there. And we have no objection to so stating to the Court, we wanted to state - we want the Court to understand that these two documents are not - were not actually admitted in evidence; and of course, we should not have referred to them in our argument. But other than that one matter which is raised, we see nothing that would be helpful to the Tribunal.

THE PRESIDENT: Is it in German?

MR. DODD: Yes, yes, your Honour, it is in German. Our translation is not complete. It was done by one of our people hurriedly and is in outline form and for my own information. I can go through it paragraph by paragraph if Tribunal would like me to.


MR. DODD: It is ... no, it is not. My outline is one page and a little more than a half. The affidavit itself is six pages. Our analysis of it is a page and a half.

THE PRESIDENT: Mr. Dodd, if the only objection to the affidavit is that it is argumentative, is that really a very serious objection when there are so many documents?

MR. DODD: Well, no, sir, I expect it is not. Our objection is just what I have stated, and no more than that. I do not want to press it too much. If the Tribunal feels it would be better to have it in and have it translated, there is nothing on the affidavit that we need make any reply to. I feel perfectly sure of that, and I do not think it is worth pressing, really.

THE PRESIDENT: Well, the Tribunal thinks that in the circumstances, it will be better to allow the affidavit to be offered in evidence. And the Tribunal notes that 3640-PS and 3645-PS have not been offered in evidence. therefore we should ...

MR. DODD: Yes, Mr. President, 3640-PS and 3645-PS were not offered in evidence.

THE PRESIDENT: And we shall therefore disregard any reference to them.

MR. DODD: Yes, sir, I would also like to inform the Tribunal concerning our attitude about the letter of Dr. Laternser's. We have no objection to this letter at all. We are all in agreement about it.

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much. Mr. Dodd said they had objection to the letter. It will be -

DR. LATERNSER: Mr. President, there is a small paragraph in this letter that I should like very much to read into the record, two sentences of it.

THE PRESIDENT: Well, if the letter is in evidence, it is not necessary to take up time by reading it into the record. The prosecution have agreed that the letter may be treated as part of the evidence of the record.

[Page 355]

DR. LATERNSER: But since the witness Schreiber has given his testimony, I nevertheless consider it important that one very brief paragraph consisting of two sentences should be read into the record if possible.

THE PRESIDENT: Well, wait a minute. No, Dr. Laternser, the letter will be admitted as part of the evidence of the record. We do not desire that further time should be taken up on the matter.

DR. LATERNSER: Mr. President, with reference to this subject I today received another exhibit - during the recess - but, of course, I do not know if the Tribunal is willing to accept it in evidence, and in order to complete this subject of the evidence, may I beg the Tribunal to allow me to present it? It is a question of a document in which it can be seen that in the case of one of the Allied nations also bacterial warfare as a defensive and offensive weapon had been developed, and that four thousand people were occupied with it. I should merely like to present it for that one reason so as to be able to submit a fact to the Tribunal which would be of importance for the proper judgment of this particular subject.

THE PRESIDENT: No, that falls within the principle which we have decided over and over again that such evidence is not admissible.

DR. LATERNSER: But since we are here concerned with a new subject, Mr. President -

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Laternser. The Tribunal is perfectly well aware of the argument which you have presented to us that any investigations which were taken in bacterial warfare were made solely for defensive purposes. That argument is perfectly clear, and any other argument based upon allegations as to what the Allied Nations may have done is irrelevant.

GENERAL RUDENKO: On 4th October, 1943, in a speech addressed to the SS Gruppenfuehrer in Poznan, Himmler stated:

"We want a complete unity with the Party and all its organizations. It is very fortunate that we are completely united with the SA. The new Chief of Staff, Schepmann, considers his most essential task that of creating peace and accord among the old Party groups."
Thus, the creator of those SS who, in 1934, liquidated the leaders of the SA Putsch, in 1943 confirmed the full unity of the SS with the SA and emphasized the importance of this Hitlerite criminal organization for the general conspiracy.

During the entire process of the development of the Hitlerite Party and of the Hitlerite State, the SA was the criminal organization to which the ringleaders of German Fascism attached special importance, considering it one of the main weapons for terrorizing and fooling their own people and for preparing aggression against other nations.

There is no point in arguing with the defence counsel of the SA about the part played by this criminal organization in the common plan of the Fascist conspiracy.

Essentially, the pleading of the counsel for the defence Boehm was, generally speaking, devoid of any legal argumentation that would render it worthy of attention. This was a statement made from the viewpoint of the convinced Nazi, repeating, in a number of cases, the worst instances of Hitlerite propaganda, which the counsel for the defence had carefully extracted from the Press of the SA.

The "Sturmabteilungen" or SA were the first striking force in the hands of the conspirators, the first mass and military organization founded by them.

They were organized by Hitler in 1921, with the full support of the Reichswehr, which was hoping for revenge.

The nucleus of the SA was composed of men like Streicher and Roehm, "rabid" anti-Semites, chauvinists, supporters of the idea of the conquest of "Lebensraum," Army officers who had been left idle and soldiers of the defeated Kaiser's army.

The shock units consisted of the more reactionary elements in search of revenge. To the SA also came adventurers, lured by the decorative side of this criminal

[Page 356]

organization and seeing in it a possibility of participating in pogroms and plunder.

From the very beginning, the SA was a strictly voluntary organization. This principle stayed in force during the entire process of development of the shock units.

From the Munich Putsch in 1923 until the seizure of power by the Hitlerites in 1933, the SA remained a lethal weapon in the hands of the Hitlerite Fascist clique, securing for it the "mastery of the streets" and the elimination of political opponents.

With the SS, the shock units were an integral part of the Hitlerite Party. This fact was officially declared in the decree of March, 1935 (Reichsgesetzblatt, 1935, Part I, Page 502) and the same was to be found in the organizational charter of the Hitlerite Party (Page 352).

In his pamphlet The SA, SA Sturmfuehrer Bauer wrote:

"The public would never have learned of the stirring speeches and propaganda of our small faction in the Reichstag, or of the aspirations aims of the Party, if it had not heard the steps of the marching SA units their battle songs."
But the "steps of the marching SA and their battle songs " were not the only things heard by the German public. Rather, it perceived the blows of rubber truncheons, the shots fired at political opponents and the pogroms in the workmen's quarters. For the chief Fascist conspirators, the basic value of the SA was precisely their function as a weapon for pogroms and terror.

During the period of struggle for power, and after, the shock units were first of all a weapon of rough violence, a means for eliminating and exterminating their political opponents.

This situation was very frankly described by Goebbels in a speech delivered in 1935. He stated on that occasion:

"The internal political opponents did not disappear by means of some unknown secret reason. No, they disappeared because our movement had at its disposal the strongest weapon in the country, and this strongest weapon was the SA units."
The Tribunal will remember the evidence given by the witness Gisevius of the terror applied by the shock units in the streets of German towns, of the pogrom-makers in SA uniforms who beat, killed, scoffed at all human dignity and transformed the headquarters of the SA into torture houses.

It is true that when the Hitlerites came to power yet another terroristic organization was formed which became the principal executor of their plan, and together with the SA formed the reserve of that immense police machinery which was created by German Fascism. This was the SS. The Brownshirts surrounding Hitler had to stand somewhat aside and give place to the head of Hitlerite Party organization - the "Schwarze Korps" of the SS.

Goering's official biographer speaks of the wide use of the SS as a reserve of the political police. He notes that when forming the Gestapo, Goering included in the personnel of this organization - one of the most dangerous criminal organizations of German Fascism - many members of the SA, "they being the most reliable, from a political point of view."

Evidence has already been presented to the Tribunal showing that together with the SS, members of the SA, after the Fascists' rise to power, formed detachments for guarding concentration camps.

Describing the concentration camp of Oranienburg, the SA Sturmbannfuehrer Schaefer states:

"The most tested and daring members of the SA were chosen for work in the camp, that is, they were the constant guards of the camp. In this way we formed a staff of experienced guards, who were always ready for action."

[Page 357]

It seems unnecessary for me to dwell on the treatment of the prisoners in these camps or on the line of conduct adopted by the men of the shock units, in their role of executioners.

The men of the shock units directly carried out the first anti-Semitic pogroms. This is proved, among other documents, by the original reports of the commanders of units and detachments of the SA, submitted by the prosecution. Together with the SS, the SA were formed in the same spirit of bestial anti-Semitism, which ended by the establishment of the camps in Treblinka and Chelmno.

However, when analyzing the criminal character of the SA organization, we must not omit another of its important functions in the general plan of development of the Hitlerite conspiracy.

The SA was that organization under cover of which the mass training of the military personnel for the Wehrmacht was carried out. This personnel was later on called upon to put into practice the Hitlerite plans of aggression.

These criminal activities were carried out with a maximum of secrecy against the outer world.

"In addition to my instructions ... dated 11th July, 1933, I find cause to ask all SA authorities to exercise the greatest caution with regard to any publicity given to the SA service, not only in the Press but also in the information and news sheets of the individual SA units. Only during the last few days, the Reich Ministry of the Interior, at the request of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs, has given strict instructions to all Reich authorities, according to which the most severe control is to be exercised on all publications which might give other countries an opening to construe German infringements of the terms of the Versailles Treaty."
This secret order of the Chief of Staff of the SA fully refutes the assertion of the defence relative to the "peaceful character" of the shock units and the "purely sporting" character of their activities.

The actual organizational structure of the Storm Troops, with their brigades and regiments, was of a purely military nature. From the time of their creation - under the guidance of the most reactionary officers of the Reichswehr, who had joined the Hitlerites - the SA units began the preparation of cadres for a future war.

Later, after the seizure of power by the Hitlerites, the SA became a weapon of mass military training, and officers of the Wehrmacht, in SA uniforms, carried out in these units a purely military training of the Storm Troopers.

The leaders of the SA well understood the position occupied by them in the realization of the Hitlerite plans of aggression after the seizure of power.

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