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

The Trial of German Major War Criminals

Sitting at Nuremberg, Germany
29th July to 8th August 1946

One Hundred and Ninety-First Day: Wednesday, 31st July, 1946
(Part 1 of 11)

[Page 109]




Q. Witness, did you consider the Blockleiter and the Zellenleiter as "Hoheitstraeger," head officials?

A. No.

Q. Do you not know that in the organization book of the Party, the Blockleiter and the Zellenleiter are defined as "Hoheitstraeger"?

A. I read that, but I was never able to follow it because the organization book started with assumptions which were not given.

Q. What do you understand under the term "Hoheitstrager"?

A. The Hoheitstraeger is the leading representative of the movement in his district. He is entitled to give orders to his subordinate political leaders and Party members. Moreover, his official and private behaviour must at all times be such that non-Party members and State officials will respect him and will listen to him without any legal obligation to do so.

Q. You spoke of the rights which the political leaders have. Did the Blockleiter and Zellenleiter also have these rights?

A. No, they did not have them and did not want them.

Q. Had the Blockleiter and Zellenleiter any authority to call on the SA and the SS?

A. No, they were powerless to do so.

Q. Then it is true that the Blockleiter and the Zellenleiter were only assistants to the Ortsgruppenleiter and had no powers of their own?

A. The Blockleiter and the Zellenleiter were the non-commissioned officer corps of the Ortsgruppenleiter.

D R. SERVATIUS: I have no more questions to put to this witness.

LT.-COL. GRIFFITH-JONES: I have some certain new documents, two or three pages, in connection with other matters. If the Tribunal wishes it I could present these documents perhaps quickly in the way the Tribunal indicated to Sir David, or I could put it in the form of cross-examination. Whatever the Tribunal thinks most convenient.

THE PRESIDENT: Colonel Griffith-Jones, if it does not interfere with your case or cross-examination, perhaps it would be better to put the documents in, simply indicating the page or subject.

LT.-COL. GRIFFITH-JONES: That will be done.

THE PRESIDENT: If there is anything particular with this witness you may have...

LT.-COL. GRIFFITH-JONES: The first matter with which I was intending to deal is the action taken by the Leadership Corps in connection with elections, and I would refer the Tribunal to Document D-43, which will become Exhibit GB 540. I understand the Tribunal has copies of that document. That is a

[Page 110]

letter from the NSDAP district Memel, dated 26th May, 1936, and addressed to Kreisleiter and Organizationsleiter. It is from the NSDAP Memel District, and translated from the German. It refers to the Reichstag elections of 29th March, 1936, and stated that in pursuance of an inquiry from the Reich Minister of the Interior, Party member Dr. Frick, a report is to be made on any civil servants who did not record their votes on 29th March, 1936. "As far as such cases are known within your Ortsgruppe or your Stuetzpunkt, you will report these names by 3rd June, at the latest, of 1936." The expression, "Stuetzpunkt section," this is a smaller organization than an Ortsgruppe and was eventually abolished, but in 1936 still existed.
"You will report them to me by name at the latest by the 3rd of June of this year. The information will have to be correct under all circumstances."
Then the last paragraph, my Lord.
"This circular has to be destroyed immediately after the matter is settled."
My Lord, the next document is Document D-897, which becomes Exhibit GB 541, and that is a document in connection with the plebiscite of 1938.

The first point I make on that is that it shows that the activity referred to in the letter I have just mentioned was not an isolated case.

My Lord, the second point upon this document is that it shows the close co-operation between the Security Police and the political leaders.

On Page 1 of that document appears a special order, dated 4th April, 1938, from the Security Service of the Reichsfuehrer SS at Erfurt, which is in Thuringia, the Gau of which Sauckel was Gauleiter. It is a "top secret," "strictly confidential," addressed to all heads of sections and to Stuetzpunkfleiter.

"Stuetzpunkfleiter are to report not later than 1800 hours on 7th April, 1938, all persons in their district about whom it is safe to assume (with 100 per cent probability) that they will vote 'No' at the impending plebiscite. (Do not forget the International Jehovah's Witnesses.)

Heads of Sections are to support the Stuetzpunkfleiter locally as much as possible in this matter.

This matter is also to be carried out in closest collaboration with the Ortsgruppenleiter of the Party. The Ortsgruppenleiter will be instructed by the Aussenstellenleiter (head of the branch office) personally after 1800 hours on 5th April, 1938."

I think I can omit the next paragraph and then go on:
"The tremendous responsibility which the StuetzpunktIeiter have, in particular with regard to this report, is stressed once more. The Stuetzpunkfleiter must have no doubts as to the possible consequences for the persons contained in their report. Very special attention must be given as to whether the persons who impart such information to the Stuetzpunktleiter and from whom the Stuetzpunkfleiter make their inquiries are not motivated by personal reasons; even political leaders are not excepted from this.

The confidential nature of this order is again emphasized.

The order is to be minutely memorized and thereafter destroyed immediately. Every Stuetzpunktleiter is personally responsible to me for the complete destruction of this order."

The reasons for the necessity for accuracy appear from the following documents. On Page 2 there are set out certain sections of the population about whom jnquiries have got to be made and who have to be particularly watched. It will be seen in the first paragraph:
"Increased attention is to be devoted to participation in and the results of the plebiscite on 10th April, 1938, particularly in small towns and villages. It must, above all, be ascertained whether the opponents are to be found in Marxist and other circles of opposing ideologies."

[Page 111]

Then under the heading " Catholicism " I draw the attention of the Tribunal to No. 2.
"Was any attitude expressed during church services and similar meetings?"
THE PRESIDENT: The Tribunal will adjourn.

(A recess was taken.)

THE PRESIDENT: The Tribunal will, if it is convenient to the officers of the Court, not have any further recess before one o'clock.

LT-COL. GRIFFITH-JONES: My Lord, I had reached paragraph No. 2 under "Catholicism" on the second page of Document D-897. "Was any attitude expressed during church services and similar meetings?" Perhaps I might be allowed to ask one question of the witness upon that.



Q. Witness, when the Ortsgruppenleiter is charged with making the report on these matters, would it be the Block- and Zellenleiter that he would ask for information as to what was expressed in the various church services throughout his Ortsgruppe?

A. No.

Q. Would you tell the Tribunal who it would be, if it would not be the Zellenleiter?

A. The Ortsgruppenleiter himself would have asked for this confidential information, if it had been inquired for at all.

Q. Do you think the Ortsgruppenleiter would be able to attend every church service in his Ortsgruppe himself? Do you think that is physically possible for any Ortsgruppenleiter?

A. No, they would not have been able to do that, but for such information they would always have had special men from whom they would have obtained advice and information.

Q. Those special men who provided them with advice and information are the Zellen- and Blockleiter, are they not?

A. No, they are not.

LT.-COL. GRIFFITH-JONES: Very well. Well, we will leave that. The next heading is "Protestantism." I again draw attention to Paragraph 2 under that heading, "Was any attitude expressed about the Anschluss or the plebiscite during services?" And the next paragraph, "What comment did the Church Press make?" And again No. 5, "Were the bells of all religious communities rung on the evening of 9th April, 1938, following the Fuehrer's speech in Vienna?"


Q. Witness, would it be the Block- and Zellenleiter who would report whether the church bells were rung on that evening in their districts?

A. They would have been able to say that, for if they had been rung, the Block- and Zellenleiter would have heard them.

LT.-COL. GRIFFITH-JONES: I turn to the next page of the document, the next to the ultimate paragraph: "It is suggested that the election officials be contacted in a suitable manner where necessary. The exertion of any kind of pressure must, however, be desisted from."

I turn to the next page, Page 3 of the English translation, which is a report from the branch office of the Security Service of Weissensee dated 25th April, and we begin to see how the instructions regarding the election were carried out.

"Prior to the election, Party Member Paul Friesche from Weissensee, Thuringia, completed a register of all persons suspected of voting 'No. ' On the election day every person included on this list received from a specially

[Page 112]

selected official a voting paper which was marked with a number imprinted by means of a ribbonless typewriter."
Then it describes how the procedure worked.

The next page, approached from the middle of the first paragraph:

"The election officials did not throw the envelope into the voting box immediately, but tried to push it under the paper end which is situated on the voting box to cover the slit, so as to be able to open the envelope later at an opportune moment."
The next document, the next page, another report from another branch of the Security Service:
"To all Ortsgruppenleiter of the NSDAP of the Kreis of Erfurt- Weissensee:

On their appearance in your Ortsgruppen area for the purpose of carrying out their voting duty, the under-mentioned persons are to be specially watched and the Kreisleitung of Erfurt (SDoffice) is to be notified immediately."

There are many names; and lastly:
"By order of the Kreisleiter, this matter is to be strictly confidential."
On the next page there is another report about a Jehovah's Witness, Robert Siering, and his wife, "who appeared in a voting centre on Sunday morning and deposited their vote after both had been advised of their duty to vote by the police in Griefstedt and had been threatened with the removal of their child in case of non-participation."

My Lord, the next document, still on the same subject, is D-902, which will become Exhibit GB 542. On the first page of that exhibit we have a report sent to the Erfurt Branch Office of the Security Service, marked confidential. It is not clear who it is signed by. It is dated 7th April, 1938, and reads as follows:

"After thorough and most careful examination in the area of the Ortsgruppe of Melchendorf and in the closest co-operation with the Ortsgruppenleiter, we have come to the following conclusion:

The following persons will, with 100 per cent probability, vote ' No' at the forthcoming plebiscite."

Then, after setting out the names, it gives what they call " explanations " in the case of each.

1. Wilhelm. Messing (taken into protective custody in 1933 because of illegal activity for the Communist Party . . . ) and so on.

2. Waiter Messing (also taken into protective custody in 1933 for slandering the SA)."

I do not think I need bother with anything further on that page.

I draw the attention of the Tribunal to the last three paragraphs on the next page:

"Guenther Hartung, 113 Johannesstrasse, Wallstrasse entrance, must be reported as being an enemy of the State and opposed to the plebiscite.

Hartung must be described as a morally totally degenerate man and it is necessary to lock him up in spite of his advanced age (70 years).

Amongst other things, he referred to the German troops on their entry into Austria as loafers. Sufficient witnesses as to Hartung are available."

My Lord, on the next page, another report in connection with the plebiscite, I draw the attention of the Tribunal to the penultimate paragraph:
"The wife of the 100 per cent Jew Bielschowski, who was dragged along just before closing time of the plebiscite, voted 'No,' as can be proved."
Now, turn to some pages ahead, Page 7 of the English translation, which describes how the votes were screened in another area by a ribbonless typewriter and then again on Page 9 of the translation, another report:

[Page 113]

"The labourer Otto Wiegand . . . was requested four times to record his vote on the day of the election and finally only voted under application of force."
And the next report on the same page:
"The married woman Frieda Schriener . . . did not vote in spite of being repeatedly invited to do so. The above is a fanatic member of the former International Association of Jehovah's Witnesses.

The husband, who has the same opinions and who was recently involved in criminal proceedings because of them, recorded his vote. To be sure, this was probably only through fear of renewed arrest."

My Lord, the other portion of that document that I referred to is on Page 11, where there is shown an extract from the local newspaper recording the united German vote, which has been obtained by the Security Service with co-operation of the Leadership Corps in the way in which we have seen.

My Lord, again to emphasize that these were not isolated cases, I would refer the Tribunal to a document which has already been put in, and it will be found. on Page 91 of the small document book that Sir David handed to the Tribunal yesterday, Page 91 of that book, Pages 118 and 119 of the German. It is Document R-42, Exhibit USA 481. That, it will be seen, is a report again from the Security Service, but this time in Coblenz. I read the second paragraph:

"The high percentage of 'No' votes and invalid votes in nearly all cases is due to the religious attitude of the population, whether they be Catholics or Protestants...." "The district manager," My Lord, that in the original is the "Kreisgeschaeftsfuehrer," who is one of the staff officers of the Kreisleiter "the Kreisgeschaeftsfuehrer of the Kreis conclave gave the assurance that it was mostly women who voted 'No,' or invalidly. As became known here, a supervisory control was ordered at several of the--"

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