The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

The Testimony of Herbert Kappler (Part 2 of 2)

I did this, being sure that through the Italian police the news would get out, and thus the Jews would be able to escape. I remember that at the preparatory stage Dannecker came to to me one day very happy and told me that he already had all the information he required. He showed me a box containing many envelopes and told me that each squad received a well-defined task to carry out, in specific streets and buildings. He also said that he already had all names and addresses of the Jews. I remember that he pulled an envelope out of the box to prove to me the efficiency of his organization, and he showed me the contents of the envelope. I remember that in it there were listed the addresses of localities far apart from one another, which meant that this squad had to go from one end of the town to the other, in order to carry out its mission.

I also remember that Dannecker at first requested of the Italian police that its men remain within the German military barracks and be forbidden to leave, in order to prevent any leakage of information about the operation. I could not object to this, but a few days later I put an end to the confinement to barracks of the Italian policemen with the excuse of a shortage of food rations. In this way I managed to break the secrecy on which Dannecker was insisting. Following the round-up, I learned that the Jews were on a train and that they would be leaving without any food rations. I rushed to the Italian Ministry of the Interior and informed Prefect Testa, who was in charge of the provisioning service. Prefect Testa promised that he would provide supplies for them.

I am now looking at a photocopy of a telex sent by Sergeant Richnow to General Wolff. This memorandum contains the full text of the radio message sent from my office to Department VI/E, which is the office of the police commander dealing with foreign affairs.

The radio message contained in this letter does bear my signature, but I did not draft it, since, as I have already explained, the operation against the Jews was organized and carried out by Captain Dannecker. The fact that this radio message carries my signature may be explained if one takes into account the organizational functioning of police offices, under which every order and every communication originating in my office had to bear my signature. For that reason, I am not familiar with most of the details concerning the content of this radio message. I learned about some of the details in the course of my own trial, more precisely as to the place to which the Jews were taken after the round-up.

I remember that, during his stay in Rome, Dannecker lived in a hotel, but I cannot remember the name of the hotel. More precisely, I already gave this information to the examining judge in the course of my trial. The judge told me that, upon investigation, the information had been verified, and also told me the name of the hotel at which Dannecker had stayed. On that occasion I also found out Dannecker's first name - Theodor.

The photocopy of the telex mentioned above is attached to this file.

Additional questions from the memorandum from the District Court of Jerusalem of 20 June 1961, were put to the witness.

Questions submitted by the Attorney General of the State of Israel:

I already replied to the additional question of the Attorney General, when I responded to Question No. 9 posed to me by the Defence Attorney of the Accused.

The additional questions from the Defence Attorney of the Accused:

(1): I reject the version that the orders for the operations against the Jews of Rome were given by General Wolff. As for the telegram sent on 17 October 1943 from my office, I repeat: That telegram was sent not to General Wolff but to Department VI/E, since radio-telegraph communication from the transmitter in my office was possible, at that time, only with the radio station of that Department. In fact, Department VI/E was the communications centre of the Head Office for Reich Security.

As for the rest, I refer to what I stated when I answered Question No. 9 put to me by Counsel for the Accused.

(2): I am unable to respond to this question, because I heard the name Adolf Eichmann only after the year 1945; I learned this name from the press. I reject the possibility that mail and orders concerning Jews which reached my office bore the signature of Eichmann. I am certain of what I am saying, because I had occasion to send proposals and counter- proposals to all those who had sent me instructions and reminders concerning the Jewish Question. Therefore, I would certainly remember the name Eichmann, if I had had any previous knowledge of it.

(3): I have already answered this question. General Harster was head of the Security Police in Italy.

At this point the questions of the Attorney General of the State of Israel were put to the witness.

(1): I have never belonged to the Security Service. The Security Service was a party organization, and its task was to provide information for the Party. If necessary, this information was passed on to the police unit concerned. To be exact, one of the offices under my command, or rather, two offices under my command, did have tasks of collecting such information, and they were actually composed of personnel which belonged to the Security Service.

(2): I started my career with the Order Police, and later I transferred to that unit which eventually became the Security Police. In January or February 1939 I was assigned to the Embassy in Rome as Police Attache.

(3): My official title was Police Attache.

(4): My responsibilities were to explore the organizational structure of the Italian police, to exchange information pertaining to international Communism, or rather to international Communist organizations, to provide information in cases of political and military espionage which might interest Italy and Germany, to co-operate with the consular authorities and to aid German citizens in all that concerned matters regarding the police.

(5): I have already replied to this. On September 8, the German Embassy was closed down, and in practice I ceased to belong to it. I have already said, in response to questions put to me by the Defence, that I presented myself to General Kesselring and was posted by him in the manner which I have already described.

(6): My responsibilities as Kommandeur of Rome were confined largely to securing the rear of the Fourteenth Corps, which was engaged in an effort to stop the advance of the enemy armed forces which had landed at Salerno, then at Anzio. Generally, the Kommandeur was subordinate to the Befehlshaber , but when a police headquarters was located in an area of military operations, it was usually placed, for operational purposes, under the orders of the troops operating there. I had direct relations with all military commanders, and once a week I had to report in person to Kesselring. He told me once on the telephone - and that was during the night of the landing at Anzio - that I would be personally responsible to him with my head for the security of the city of Rome. Other, minor, responsibilities included providing intelligence on what was happening behind the enemy lines. These, in fact, were tasks of espionage and sabotage for the benefit of the fighting forces. In fact, my responsibilities were strictly connected with the conduct of military operations.

(7): When I was Police Attache at the Rome Embassy, I used to receive, by diplomatic mail, communications sent to me directly, with all sorts of requests concerning police matters from various central authorities which required particular information. These requests might arrive from the Ministry of the Interior or from any office dealing especially with police matters. I seem to remember that, during the period in which I was attached to the Embassy, I did not receive any requests to supply information or give reports about the Jewish Question. I do remember, however, that people from the political office of the Embassy asked me about my opinion concerning the Jewish Question in Italy. The matter was brought up for discussion in the presence of the entire Embassy staff, and we all agreed that there was no room for a Jewish Question in Italy (without wanting in any way, or being able in any way, to discuss the Jewish Question as it presented itself in Germany).

(8): I deny that the Ambassador gave me specific instructions concerning my duties as Police Attache. He could not have been competent to do so. He could only have prevented me from carrying out any of my tasks which were considered not to conform to the rules of diplomacy. On the other hand, it is possible that at times there were differences of opinion between myself and the Ambassador about some specific questions. In fact, it was my duty to report to him about all my activities and to submit to him copies of all my reports. As a matter of practice, I sometimes reported to him about my activities after having reported about them to Berlin, and sometimes I gave him advance notice. It was a matter of trust.

(9): As Police Attache, I was part of the administrative structure of the senior staff of the Head of the Security Police Services. As for my position in the hierarchy, I was subordinate to all and to nobody, because all central offices, as I have indicated, were able to turn to me to obtain police information or to transmit through me requests to the Italian police. I did not have any executive position, and therefore nobody was able to charge me with carrying out concrete operational activities. To sum up: I was a Police Attache with information and liaison duties.

(10): I have already replied to this. After 8 September, my duties were radically changed, as I have explained above.

(11): I have already replied to this. I heard about Eichmann only in 1945 and later.

(12): In Italy, there were several Kommandeure, but in Rome there was no Kommandeur, but rather an Aussenstelle (Field Office), and I was placed at the head of it. As I said, this Aussenstelle in fact carried out the duties of the commander, and probably in Rome it was not replaced with a commander, because Rome was in an area of military operations. In fact, in all of Italy there was a Kommandeur in Milan and Bolzano, and Aussenstellen in Rome and other cities. All these offices were subordinate to the Befehlshaber of Verona.

(13): I do not know whether at the Verona police headquarters - which was the central headquarters of police in Italy - there existed a Specialist Officer for Jewish Affairs.

(14): See previous reply.

(15): In the winter of 1943-44, a circular arrived with instructions to set up a special office to deal with the Jewish Question. I replied at that time that the precarious conditions in Rome and the seriousness of the task I had to fulfil (securing the rear of the army), as well as the shortage of manpower at my disposal (only thirty men) prevented me from implementing the contents of this circular. Therefore, there was never a Specialist Officer for Jewish Affairs in my office.

(16-17): See answer No. 15.

(18): No one instructed me to ask the Jews of Rome to provide fifty kilograms of gold. This was my last attempt to prevent the round-up which Dannecker was about to carry out. I remember that it really was a last attempt, which I made when Dannecker's arrival in Rome proved to me that the round-up was going to be carried out very soon, and if something new and decisive was not found, the round-up would be carried out relentlessly. To this day I am convinced that, had it not been for a series of unfortunate mishaps, and especially if Kaltenbrunner had been in Berlin at that time, when I reported about this initiative of mine, and when I actually sent the gold, then the whole round-up might have been prevented.

(19-20): I do not remember exactly on which day I received the gold from the Jews. On the other hand, I do remember that I sent it to Berlin two days later, through a major from Berlin, whose name I do not now remember.

(20): I know that the gold reached its destination, but my accompanying letter, which was addressed to the Head of the Security Police, Kaltenbrunner, was not delivered, because the addressee was not in Berlin. He received it a fortnight later, and by then the round-up was already a fact. I sent the gold to Kaltenbrunner, because at that time our espionage services did not have sufficient funds, and there was urgent need to provide them with additional means, so that they could continue with their tasks. Therefore, I did not ask the Jews to hand over jewelry, but only gold bars or hard currency with an equivalent value, so that this could provide the necessary means for the espionage services. I demanded the gold or the currency as a voluntary contribution. I turned to Kaltenbrunner because he was, up to that moment, not a party to any of the discussions among us as to whether it was opportune to carry out the round-up in Rome, and also because he was particularly interested in the intelligence services. I wanted him to understand that, by arresting or deporting the Jews, we would be blocking the possibility of getting useful information by utilizing the existing relations between Jewish circles of Rome and those of neutral or enemy countries.

This idea of mine may have been foolish or naive, but my intention was exactly to prevent the round-up and the deportations.

(21): As I have said, I do not know from whom I received the order to deport the Jews of Rome. The deportations were intended to be to Germany, and not to Northern Italy.

(22): As far as I know, nobody determined the number of Jews to be deported. Dannecker tried to seize all of them.

(23): I have already replied to this in answer to Question No. 5 of the Defence.

(24): I do not remember whether the order specified what would be the fate in store for the deported Jews. It may be that the order said they would be used in concentration camps as a labour force, but it may also be that this was just the impression which I got when I read the order.

(25): I never knew that the deported Jews were to be directed to a different destination from that specified in the original order (i.e., to Germany).

(26): I have already replied to this: The operation was organized and carried out by Dannecker.

(27): Dannecker, as far as I can remember, told me that 1,007 persons had been arrested. He gave me that information, so that I could arrange for food for these Jews. Let me be more precise: Actually, I myself asked Dannecker how many persons were to be deported, in order to provide them with the necessary food rations. This was in accordance with what I have already explained above, in my reply to Question No. 5 from Counsel of the Accused. I do not know where the Jews were deported to.

(28): I do not know who was authorized to determine the destination of the deportees.

(29): It is true that in the period between the great round- up of 17 October 1943 and June 1944, additional arrests of Jews were made. This was in accordance with the circular that I have already mentioned above, and which provided, inter alia for the institution of a Specialist Officer on Jewish Affairs. This circular also stated that the Italian authorities had also authorized the arrests, and what is more, they gave orders to the police and the Party authorities, and also to civilians, for the arrest of all Jews who could be found. In accordance with this circular, arrests were carried out, and those arrested had to be handed over to German police stations. In fact, I believe that the Jews arrested after the round-up were brought to Regina Coeli, where there were separate wings at the disposal of the German command. Those arrested were placed in the charge of my office, and from time to time they had to be sent to Northern Italy.

To be more precise, I gave categorical orders to my men, who numbered seventy-five altogether (including drivers and communication personnel), not to waste even a single minute in hunting for Jews.

(30): The operations against the Jews which took place after the round-up of 17 October were authorized by the circular which I mentioned above, and which, as I have noted, provided for the arrest of the Jews by the Italian police, by civilians and whoever wished to help in their capture. I received this circular through the normal office channels, but I do not remember who signed it. This circular referred to Italy only, and it made it quite clear that there were agreements in force between the two governments. I remember that the Questore (head of police) of Rome, whom I summoned to my office in order to ask what concern of his it was, and what right he had to engage in the hunt for Jews, thus also violating extraterritorial areas, replied that he could do nothing, because these were the orders which he had received. Following this conversation, I consulted Kesselring, and on his behalf I forbade the Police Chief of Rome to violate the extraterritorial rights of the Vatican under any circumstances.

(31): In the period between October 1943 and June 1944, I did not arrange any transports of Jews in the direction of Northern Italy. I do not know whether transports of this kind were carried out by the Italian police. In that period, in order to prevent searches for citizens in cinemas and in the streets of Rome by military personnel, I reached agreements with the military commanders who were at the front and required manpower for various kinds of jobs, that they would henceforth have to avoid carrying out searches. I provided them with the manpower they needed, which I would take from the Regina Coeli prison and from the prison of Via Tasso, on the pretext that those persons had been charged with minor crimes and had not yet been put on trial. The persons who were thus used by the military commanders received food, in the course of their work, through those commanders themselves. The commanders also saw to it, at the end, that they be released without being taken back to prison. There was no provision in our agreements by which those commanders had to return those people. Many detainees regained their freedom in this way. Among the people who were handed over in this way were Jewish citizens as well, who had been captured and detained before because of their being Jews.

(32): I do not remember having known Messrs. Ullman and Gassner as members of the Security Service. I cannot exclude the possibility that persons bearing those names did serve under my command. Yet I think that there were no such persons. At any rate, I do exclude the possibility that I knew officers by those names, or that there were under my command non-commissioned officers with some responsibility by these names.

(33): The organization and structure of the peripheral offices was similar, in miniature, to the basic structure of the central offices. There was the First Section, which dealt with legal affairs. However, at offices of minor importance, such as mine, such a Section did not exist. There did exist a Section No. 2, which dealt with manpower and administration. There was also a Section No. 3, which dealt with providing general information and with intelligence about the morale of the population on this side of the lines. This Section included officials subordinate to the Security Service. Section No. 4 dealt with the Political Police - that is to say, the fight against the resistance movement and its concrete and active manifestations. About thirty men were assigned to this Section. The Fifth Section was not set up in Rome at all, contrary to what had been planned in another circular from Central Headquarters. It had to deal with the Judicial Police - that is to say, with offences which were not political but general. The Sixth Section concerned the provision of information from behind the lines and sabotage operations. Only two persons were assigned to my secretariat.

Read, confirmed and signed:


Signature and seal of the representative of the Prosecutor General's Office: Leopold Baumgartner

Two more signatures, illegible.

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