Session No. 36
25 Iyar 5721 (11 May 1961)
Presiding Judge: I declare the thirty-sixth Session of the
State Attorney Bach: Your Honours, yesterday we saw what
happened in Denmark from the Danish and from the Jewish
points of view. Now we shall show what it looked like from
the German side in general, and especially in the eyes of
the Accused. I shall first submit a document relating to
the period before the August 1943 crisis. It is Prosecution
document No. 1584. The Danish consulate has approached the
Gestapo with a request to find out whether there are Jews of
Danish nationality in Oldenburg, and if so, what are their
addresses. Hunsche, one of the assistants of the Accused,
informs the Foreign Ministry that there are no Jews there.
He asks to communicate this to the Danish legation and to
request it to refrain in future from addressing such
questions to the German police, which is in any case already
Presiding Judge: This document is marked T/578.
State Attorney Bach: The next document is Prosecution
document No. 1074. This relates to the period after August
1943. It is a note by an official in the Foreign Ministry
saying that the Minister in Copenhagen has informed him by
telephone that the new Commander of the Security Police and
the SD, Standartenfuehrer Dr. Mildner, who arrived in
Copenhagen a few days earlier, has expressed himself as
being against the deportation of the Jews from Denmark and
that, with permission from Dr. Best, he has approached the
Reichsfuehrer about this matter.
Presiding Judge: Is that the German Minister in Denmark?
Who is Grundherr whose signature appears here?
State Attorney Bach: Grundherr was Director of the
Scandinavian Department in the Foreign Ministry. We shall
see later what were the motives both of Best and of Mildner;
apparently they did not want to spoil the good relations
between Germany and Denmark.
Presiding Judge: This document is marked T/579.
State Attorney Bach: Our next document is No. 39. Von
Thadden informs the Accused that the Plenipotentiary of the
Reich in Denmark has informed the Foreign Ministry by
telegram that the Commander of the German Forces in Denmark
has refused to put the Secret Military Police and the Field
Gendarmerie at the disposal of the German Security Police
for the operation against the Jews. The reason given for
the refusal is that the participation of such Wehrmacht
forces in the operation against the Jews is forbidden by the
OKW (Oberkommando der Wehrmacht – High Command of the Armed
Forces). The Representative of the Reich had made it clear
that, without the help of the Secret Military Police and the
Military Police, the action against the Jews in Jutland and
Fuenen could not be carried through, since all the forces of
the German Order Police were needed to assist the German
Security Police in Copenhagen. He was therefore asking that
steps be taken to have the OKW order cancelled. The Foreign
Ministry, on its part, suggested that the matter be followed
up also at his (Eichmann’s) end.
Presiding Judge: The document is marked T/580.
State Attorney Bach: Now, as you remember, the operation
began on 1 October, during the night of 1-2 October. I now
submit to you a telegram sent by Dr. Best on 1 October at
19.30, after he had received a letter from the Danish King.
With the permission of the Court, I shall read this
telegram, which Best sent “for the Reich Foreign Minister
He says that the King has just transmitted to him – on 1
October 1943 – a letter dated the same day and reading as
“Excellency, Although the executive power has passed to
the German Wehrmacht in accordance with the
communication transmitted to me by the Commander of the
German troops in Denmark on 29 August last, I am
nevertheless anxious – having learned of a plan
according to which Germany is said to intend taking
measures against the Jews in Denmark – to stress to
you, not only because of humanitarian concern for the
citizens of my country, but also because of fear of the
far-reaching effects on the future relations between
Germany and Denmark, that special measures against a
group of people who have enjoyed full civic rights in
Denmark for more than 100 years could have the gravest
consequences. Christian X.”
And Dr. Best adds:
“This step by the King was caused by rumours of an
impending operation against the Jews which began
immediately after the imposition of the state of
emergency, and which intensified to the point of panic
after 15 September, when the commander of the German
troops informed the Delegate Head of the Danish Foreign
Ministry that the state of emergency would be
maintained until further notice…. From our side
everything possible has been done in order to
camouflage the impending operation, especially in the
face of official and unofficial enquiries (e.g. through
my telegraphic reply to Director Svenningen that I
shall ask for instructions from my superiors regarding
the denial requested by him about the rumours
concerning the Jews). Nevertheless, the panic caused
by these rumours will make the operation more
difficult, since many Jews will not be staying in their
own homes. The operation starts today at 21.00 hours.”
Presiding Judge: The document is marked T/581.
State Attorney Bach: The next document is our No. 758,
which was shown to the Accused and numbered T/37(232). It
is a report by Dr. Best after the implementation of the
operation. “The evacuation of the Jews from the Greater
Copenhagen urban area was completed without incident.
Information from Jutland and from the Isle of Fuenen has not
yet been received because of difficulties in telephonic
communications. In the Greater Copenhagen area 202 Jews
were seized, among them Chief Rabbi Friediger. The
steamship ‘Wartheland’ left Copenhagen at 10 o’clock today
and will arrive…”
Presiding Judge: Mr. Bach, we are again beginning to read
out the documents.
State Attorney Bach: I have two or three documents here,
and they sum up this whole chapter.
Presiding Judge: But we are reading them ourselves. It is
not that these documents are not before us. You carry on as
if we had not said anything.
State Attorney Bach: I think Your Honours can see that I
present the most basic facts.
Presiding Judge: This depends on what is your intention. If
it is to bring this document to the knowledge of the Court –
the document is before the Court. Now you can point to this
or that place: “I direct your attention here or there.” And
after all, attention must be paid to remarks by the Court.
State Attorney Bach: In that case, I wish to draw the
attention of the Court to the fact that the people who
carried out the operation and accompanied the transport all
belonged to the unit of the Accused, that is SS-
Hauptsturmfuehrer Kryschak and others, men whom we shall
later meet as personal representatives of the Accused.
Presiding Judge: This document is marked T/582.
State Attorney Bach: Prosecution document No. 756 is signed
by Hencke, an official in the German Foreign Ministry. Here
Best is informed that the Head Office for Reich Security has
raised the question why the operation against the Jews did
not succeed; rumour has it that so few Jews were arrested
because it was not agreed to break down the doors of the
homes of Jews who did not open up of their own free will.
He asks for an explanation. I also draw your attention to
the remark in the margin of this document that the
information comes from the Head Office for Reich Security.
Presiding Judge: This document is marked T/583.
State Attorney Bach: I refer to this document chiefly
because of my request to accept in evidence an additional
document, No. 816, which was also shown to the Accused and
was marked T/37(255). It is another sworn statement by
Eberhard von Thadden, this time in connection with the
Danish chapter. I ask the Court to accept this statement
together with the other statements by von Thadden which we
have already submitted. As a matter of fact, we already
touched on this statement in the questionnaire which we have
submitted to the Court.
Presiding Judge: By both sides?
State Attorney Bach: No, by our side. Because, for the
time being, this was not yet before the Court. But of
course, it is always possible to ask the witness questions
about the present statement, too. Here von Thadden
describes the attempts by Best and Mildner to prevent the
operation, and on this point the statement receives full
corroboration in documents which I have already brought to
your attention and which confirm that Best tried to prevent
the operation because of certain political considerations.
And von Thadden says further that, immediately after the
failure, there was a very angry reaction from the Head
Office for Reich Security, and he was told by Guenther that
Eichmann was asking for the head of the saboteur who was
responsible for the doors not being broken down.
Presiding Judge: But before we deal with the contents in
greater detail, we have here a question concerning the
submission of the document.
State Attorney Bach: I think I have to explain the
relevance of the document before I ask the Court to depart
from the rules of evidence. Here von Thadden explains the
document I submitted before, the document signed by Hencke.
Von Thadden says that they wanted to warn Best that an
investigation against him was likely because of Eichmann’s
efforts. “Be on your guard.” The document I submitted to
you separately supports the view that Best really attempted
to alleviate matters, and there really was a complaint by
the Head Office for Reich Security, and an attempt was
really made to warn Best that he should give a plausible
explanation for his actions. For an understanding also of
those documents which I have already submitted, it seems
very important to me that this statement be accepted. In
any case, we have agreed to have this witness interrogated
in Germany, and he can, of course, be questioned in
connection with this statement, too. The statement was
shown to the Accused, and he gave his reaction. I ask you
to accept it, too, as evidence.
Presiding Judge: We have limited the oral examination to
matters arising from the questions asked in the
State Attorney Bach: I think, Your Honours, that in the
cross-examination Counsel for the Defence was in any case
not limited to these questions, and he did also ask
questions not connected with the questionnaire.
Presiding Judge: You have received a copy of the letter of
request from this Court, have you not?
State Attorney Bach: I have to admit that I have not seen
Presiding Judge: But you did include questions on this
matter in the questionnaire?
State Attorney Bach: Yes, Your Honour. And in view of
this, I should like to request you also to give leave to
Counsel for the Defence to examine the witness.
Presiding Judge: In the meantime this has already been sent
State Attorney Bach: It may perhaps be possible to send an
additional letter on this point. In order to demonstrate
the importance of this matter, I might call your attention
to a passage in the statement of the Accused which relates
to Best’s activities, and even to his present attitude
towards the action taken by Dr. Best. This is why we attach
importance to that whole chapter. If the Court will allow
me, I shall draw its attention to pages 251 and 252 in the
statement of the Accused. Referring to the Danish chapter,
“Well, this must have been an order from Himmler, which
met at first with the greatest difficulties in the
Foreign Ministry; afterwards it must have been worked
out somehow ‘high up,’ as the technical expressions
were referred to on such matters. But the whole thing
came up against new difficulties, namely from the Reich
Plenipotentiary, SS-Gruppenfuehrer Dr. Best. I
remember this exactly because, at the time, I was
surprised and I said: ‘But, Dr. Best was once Head of
Bureau in the Head Office for Reich Security, and at
that time he gave a long lecture about the tasks and
aims of the police. To be sure, that was already years
ago.’ And then I said to myself, well, well, now he is
in Denmark and now he is against the measures of his
chief. And I was secretly surprised how people at
first, how shall I put it – bootlicking – how they
practice ‘bootlicking’ until they have reached their
appropriate rank, and once they have reached their
appropriate rank, they become autocratic.”
Judge Raveh: Will there be more statements by von Thadden?
We have to know, after all, where we stand concerning a
State Attorney Bach: No, Your Honour, this is the last
statement by von Thadden which we shall submit.
Dr. Servatius: I think this affidavit should not be
admitted. According to the rule of best evidence, oral
evidence should be adduced in this case. The witness can be
interrogated in Germany, and the Prosecution may ask there
all the questions which seem important to it. But the oral
evidence cannot be supplemented by the earlier written
I have further objections against this statement by Herr von
Thadden because this is, after all, a Defence document for
Steengracht who was one of the accused at Nuremberg. If you
look through the document, you will discover that as much as
possible is taken off that accused, and more blame is thrown
onto the other side.
State Attorney Bach: Permit me to make just two remarks
concerning the two points made by Counsel for the Defence.
As for the second point, it touches, of course, on the
weight of the evidence, not its admissibility, especially
as, in this case, I pointed out that there is additional
independent corroboration of this statement by von Thadden
in other items of evidence. And as for the first point, His
Honour, the Presiding Judge, has explained to me that the
examination, as it stands at present, is restricted to the
other documents submitted, so that, in the ordinary course,
there will be no possibility to interrogate von Thadden on
this point. If, therefore, this matter is to arise at all –
and we attach importance to it not only in connection with
Denmark, but in the wider context – it is necessary for the
Court to accept this statement as evidence and to enable
both sides to interrogate the witness also on this point.
Presiding Judge: Mr. Bach, is this the statement of 16 April
1948, before the attorney von der Trenck in Defence of
Gustav Steengracht von Moyland?
State Attorney Bach: Yes.
Presiding Judge: And the accused is Gustav Steengracht von
State Attorney Bach: Yes, Your Honour.
Presiding Judge: Was this at the trial against Weizsaecker
State Attorney Bach: Yes, Your Honour. It was for the
defence of Steengracht.
Decision No. 21
We accept the additional statement by von Thadden on the
basis of what was stated in Decision No. 11 concerning his
first statement. The Attorney General included this matter
among his questions to von Thadden for his examination
before a German Court, and thus the way is open also for
Counsel for the Defence to interrogate the witness there on
Mr. Bach, if you have more documentation, written
declarations, or other material relating to those witnesses
who will be examined abroad, we should like you to let us
know about it in concentrated form within a day or two, so
that we shall not receive such information bit by bit, as we
State Attorney Bach: I should also like to ask for guidance
from the Court, if possible, about other witnesses whose
statements we have not yet submitted, but whom we may have
to ask for affidavits as part of the case for the
Prosecution. Does the Court wish us to submit their names
already now, or shall we wait until we get to those
Presiding Judge: You will have to give advance information
concerning all such affidavits from witnesses still living,
since otherwise, if you do it at a later stage, this will
interfere with the course of the proceedings.
State Attorney Bach: That is what I thought.
Presiding Judge: We notified you, did we not, that, if there
will be interrogations abroad, we should like to receive the
transcripts here by the end of the hearing of the evidence,
and you may have to submit similar advance information to
the Court as soon as possible, if you have such affidavits.
State Attorney Bach: I shall do my best to submit this
information with regard to all the witnesses with whom this
question could arise, at the beginning of next week.
Presiding Judge: You will also have to supply some details,
in order to enable the Court to deal with it if necessary.