ERICH VON DEM BACH-ZELEWSKI
29 May 1961
The Competent Court of Justice, Nuremberg-Fuerth
Re: Request for Legal Assistance
The main hearing in the criminal proceedings against the
Accused Adolf Eichmann is at present taking place in this
In the context of this main hearing, I request you to extend
legal assistance to this Court by the examination on oath of
the following witness:
Erich von dem Bach-Zelewski, in custody in Nuremberg_Fuerth.
The witness is to be examined as to the following
allegations of the Accused:
(1) that the Operations Units of the Security Police
and the Security Service were not subject to the
(2) that the Accused, as a Specialist Officer in the
Head Office for Reich Security, was unable to influence
the activities of the Operations Units;
(3) that the Accused was not able to give instructions
to Higher SS and Police Leaders by virtue of his
To complete the testimony of the witness, I would request
that the witness also be asked the following questions which
were drawn up by Counsel for the Accused:
(1) What was your last rank in the SS and the Waffen-
(2) What official positions did you hold during the
last World War?
(3) Are you familiar with the activity of the so-called
Operations Units (Einsatzgruppen)?
(4) Where did you obtain this knowledge?
(5) To whom were the Operations Units subordinate?
(6) What was the assignment of the Operations Units?
(7) Who gave the Operations Units the order to
exterminate Jews, Gypsies and political commissars?
(8) Who initiated these orders?
(9) As a Section Head (Section IVB4) in the Head Office
for Reich Security, was the Accused able to influence
these extermination orders?
(10) How large was the circle of those who received the
activity reports of the Operations Units for
(11) Does the fact that the Accused’s Section received
such reports mean that the Accused possessed powers
regarding the activities of the Operations Units?
(12) Were the Higher SS and Police Leaders subordinate
to Reichsfuehrer-SS Himmler himself?
(13) Did they outrank the Senior Commanders of the
Security Police and the Security Service?
(14) Were the Higher SS and Police Leaders subordinate
to the Head Office for Reich Security?
(15) Did Higher SS and Police Leaders receive orders
from the Head Office for Reich Security through the
intermediary of the Accused’s Section?
I would also request that the witness be asked the following
additional questions which were drawn up by the Attorney
(1) What were the powers of a Higher SS and Police
Leader with regard to Security Police and Security
(2) Did a Higher SS and Police Leader have direct
authority over Senior Commanders of the Security Police
and the Security Service, Commanders of the Security
Police and their offices?
(3) Are you familiar with the duties of the IVB4
Sections attached to the office of the Senior Commander
of the Security Police and the Security Service?
(4) Who were the Senior Commanders of the Security
Police and the Security Service and the Commanders of
the Security Police in Lublin in the years 1939-1944?
(5) Did these commanders receive instructions from the
Head Office for Reich Security?
(6) If so, were such instructions, orders or directives
the business of the Higher SS and Police Leaders?
(7) What can you say about the manner of reporting by
the Leaders of the Operations Units to the Head Office
for Reich Security?
(8) Are you aware that the Accused regularly received
situation reports from the Operations Units in the
Eastern Occupied Territories?
(9) If so, what was the purpose of such reporting?
(10) Were you acquainted with an SS Fuehrer
(11) If so, what do you know of his collaboration with
(12) Did you meet the Accused when orders were issued
to the Leaders of the Operations Units in Berlin in
(13) What did you know at the time about the area of
activity and special duties of the Accused?
(14) What was the role of the Accused in laying down
directives and orders for the Leaders of the Operations
(15) When, and in what area, did Operations Units or
Operations Commandos in the Eastern Occupied
Territories organize themselves as Departments
belonging to the Senior Commander of the Security
Police and the Security Service, and of the Commander
of the Security Police?
(16) Were such Departments in direct contact with the
Head Office for Reich Security?
(17) If so, which was the Department in the Head Office
for Reich Security in charge of Jewish Affairs?
(18) Do you remember the Accused in this connection?
(19) Are you aware of visits by the Accused to the area
of operations of the Operations Units?
(20) If so, when and where?
(21) What do you know about the Accused’s special
position and any special assignment?
(22) Did you know of receipt of direct orders from the
Accused through the Commander of the Security Police or
I would request you to summon to the examination of the
witness the representative of the Attorney General of the
State of Israel, c/o H.E. Ambassador Dr. F.E. Shinnar,
Israel Mission, Cologne, as well as Counsel for the Accused,
Advocate Dr. R. Servatius, Hohenzollernring 14, Cologne, and
to afford them, on their part, the opportunity to ask the
witness any questions which might arise from his answers.
There is no objection on the part of this Court to the
aforementioned representatives of the parties obtaining
copies of the record of the examination.
Please forward the original of the record of the examination
to this Court,
(-) Moshe Landau
President of the Trial Court
Record taken at a Closed Session of the Court of First
Nuremberg, 25 May 1961
Dr. Knorr, Judge of First Instance
Ms. Achatzy, Court Official
In the matter of an Israeli request for legal assistance,
in the criminal proceedings against Adolf Eichmann for
murder, the following appeared today at the hearing for
Advocate Dieter Wechtenbruch, who produced a sub-power of
attorney from Advocate Dr. Servatius;
Mr. Erwin S. Shimron, who produced a power of attorney from
the Attorney General of the State of Israel.
Beginning of the examination: 10.10 a.m.
The witness whose name appears below.
The latter was instructed on the significance of the oath
and the penalties for giving deliberately false unsworn
evidence, and he was furthermore instructed, in accordance
with Section 55 of the German Code of Criminal Procedure,
that he may refuse to provide information on questions by
answering which he would lay himself open to the risk of
von dem Bach-Zelewski, Erich, married, General of the Waffen-
SS and Police, residing at Roth bei Nuernberg, Weinweg 20,
currently in custody in another matter in the Nuremberg
Remand Prison, 62 years old, German national, not related
and not connected by marriage to the Accused, Eichmann.
On the matter in question:
Until the end of the War I was not familiar with the
organization of the Head Office for Reich Security. I also
did not knowingly make the acquaintance of Eichmann in
person. However, it is possible that he knows me and saw me
once in Budapest, but he did not speak to me. I would know
if he had. I have no information about Adolf Eichmann’s
powers to give orders.
I do not know whether Eichmann was a Specialist Officer in
the Head Office for Reich Security, nor can I say or judge
whether he was able to influence the activities of the
Operations Units. Until the beginning of this trial, I
always assumed, on the basis of what I was told by
Ohlendorf, with whom I shared a cell for a considerable time
at Nuremberg, that the name Eichmann was fictitious.
At the beginning of the Russian campaign, I served over a
period of several months as Higher SS and Police Leader in
Central Russia. At this time I never received an
instruction from Eichmann, neither did I receive any
instructions whatsoever from the Head Office for Reich
I would like to emphasize that I was Higher SS and Police
Leader in the theatre of operations, and not in the area of
civil administration. There were also Higher SS and Police
Leaders in the area of civil administration, but I do not
know to whom they were subordinate. Whether they received
instructions from the Head Office for Reich Security, and
more particularly from Eichmann, is something I do not know.
At which point the witness was asked the questions drawn up
by Counsel for the Accused. On these he stated:
(051): My last rank was SS Obergruppenfuehrer and General of
the Waffen-SS and Police.
(052): From the outbreak of the War in 1939 until June 1941,
I was Higher SS and Police Leader for Silesia, as well as
Leader of the SS Main District South-East. My headquarters
were in Breslau. At this time I was not subordinate to the
Head Office for Reich Security. From June 1941 onwards,
from the beginning of the Russian campaign, I was Higher SS
and Police Leader, Central Russia, under the Senior
Commander of the Central Russia Military Area behind the
lines, General von Schenckendorff. It was from this
position that, on 23 October 1942, by order of the
Reichsfuehrer-SS, Himmler, I was appointed Plenipotentiary
of the Reichsfuehrer-SS for combatting banditry.
On 21 June 1943, I was appointed, by order of the
Reichsfuehrer-SS, Head of the Units for Combatting
Partisans. This assignment involved the planning and
operational command of all of the military operations to
combat partisan activity in Europe. This activity was
interrupted several times by service on the front in the
East and the West, and continued until 1945.
(053 to 6): Because of my position, I received information
about the activity of the Operations Units. Where these
Operations Units carried out military duties, such as
intercepting enemy news, within my Section, just like other
parts of the Wehrmacht, I worked together with the
At that time I also heard of illegal activity on the part of
these Operations Units. I believe that all generals in the
East knew about this. By illegal activity, I mean shootings
by the Operations Units, which took place without any basis
in law. I was not informed as to the complete extent of
this activity. Only after the end of the War did I become
aware of that. I should also like to stress that both the
Generals and I did not approve of this illegal activity and
were critical of it.
As far as I know, for supply purposes the Operations Units
were subordinate to the Army Groups or Armies. From
conversations I had with Nebe and his successor Naumann,
when I met them in Russia – both of whom led Operations
Units – I got to know that they received their operational
orders directly from the Head Office for Reich Security. I
do not know any details as to how the orders were
transmitted, nor do I know any details about the actual
orders. At the time I understood the assignment of the
Operations Units to be the liquidation of underground
movements and the extermination of Jews.