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 2 of 11)

[Page 113]

THE PRESIDENT: Colonel Griffith-Jones, this is already in evidence, is it not?

LT.-COL. GRIFFITH-JONES: Yes, this is in evidence.

THE PRESIDENT: I do not think you need go into it.

LT.-COL. GRIFFITH-JONES: I am much obliged. I only drew the attention of the Tribunal to it.

One further document which is also in evidence will be found at Page 55 of that same document book, at Pages 55 and then 54, the documents being PS-849, which is Exhibit USA 354, and 848, Exhibit USA 353. The two documents together describe how the Party -

THE PRESIDENT: Colonel Griffith-Jones, I do not think you ought to comment upon documents which are already in evidence unless they are documents which the witness can throw light upon.

LT.-COL. GRIFFITH-JONES: It is a little difficult to make the point which I would have made in cross-examining the witness on these documents if I only confine myself to the new ones without drawing the attention of the Tribunal to other documents which relate to the same matter.

THE PRESIDENT: If they are not new documents and you want to cross- examine the witness about them, you can put them to the witness.

LT.-COL. GRIFFITH-JONES: Very well, sir. I will leave that particular subject now.

The other subject on which I had intended to cross-examine this witness is, euthanasia, or mercy killing, and the part the political leaders played in those matters. My Lord, this is a new document, D-906, which becomes Exhibit GB 543.

[Page 114]

I would refer first of all to the second of the three documents which are printed on the first page of that exhibit, No. 2, Martin Bormann, 24th September, 1940, a letter from the National Socialist German Workers' Party, the Fuehrer's deputy:
"To the Gauleitung of Franconia, for the attention of Kreisleiter Zimmermann:

Your letter of 13th September, 1940, was given to me by Party member Hoffniann. The Commission which was working at Neuendettelsaus is under the control of Reichsleiter Bouhler.

The text of the notifications of relatives is being variously worded, as was once more assured yesterday; naturally, however, it can happen that sometimes two families living close to each other receive similarly worded letters.

It is natural that the representatives of Christian ideology speak against the Commission's measures; it must be equally taken for granted that all Partyoffices support, as far as necessary, the work of the Commission."

Then I go back to No. 1 on that page. "Gaustabaintsleiter " (Franconia) Sellmer-that was another staff officer of the Gau staff. Handwritten note, 1st October, 1940.
"Justice. Visit from Party member Blankenberg, Berlin. Action begins in the near future. So far hardly any mishaps have occurred. 30,000 dispatched. Further 100,000 to 120,000 are waiting. The circle of those who are initiated is to be kept very small. If necessary the Kreisleiter is to be notified in good time."
Then it goes on, "The Fuehrer gave the order; the decree is ready. At present only clear cases, that is 100 per cent ones, are being settled. Later an expansion will take place. From now on, notification will be given in a . . ." it is not clear here from the print. And then at the end of the document, "Kreisleiter Sellmer must be informed."

I go to No. 3, which is a situation report by the Kreisleitung of Erlangen dated 26th November, 1940, dealing with the elimination of mental patients.

"On orders from the Ministry of the Interior, signed Schulz or Schultze, a commission consisting among others of a North German doctor and a number of students appeared some time ago in the local sanatorium and nursing home."
And then it describes how he examined the patients who were to be transferred to another institution on orders from the Reich Defence Commissar and "that a Berlin transport company was to carry out the transfer and the head of the institution was to follow the directives of this company, which was in possession of the list of names." In this way three transports with a total numberof 370 patients were in the meantime transferred to Sonnenstein near Pirna and to the Linz district. It goes on, "a further transport is to leave in January of next year. The head of the institution ..." And then it goes on for a few lines, and starts again:
"Strangely enough various relatives received notification after the transportation that their patients had died. In some cases pneumonia and in others an infectious disease was given as the cause of death.

At the same time the relatives were further informed that it had been necessary to cremate the body and that, if they were interested, they.could have the clothing of the deceased sent to them. The registry office of Erlangen was also informed by the institution of the various cases of death, and again either pneumonia or an infectious disease was given as the cause-illnesses which had no connection with the previous medical history, so that it is to be assumed that false indications were given. The population is terribly disturbed about the transfer of patients, because they connect it with the cases of death which are becoming known in rapid succession. They speak partly openly, partly secretly, about an elimination of patients for which there exists no kind of justification. In these war times such unrest among

[Page 115]

the population has a doubly unfavourable effect. Moreover, the events described above give the Church and religious circles cause to revive their attitude against National Socialism."
THE PRESIDENT: Under which part of Article 6 of the Charter does this come?

LT.-COL. GRIFFITH-JONES: It would come under " Crimes Against Humanity," with respect to -

THE PRESIDENT: Are they connected with war?

LT-COL. GRIFFITH-JONES: In respect, yes, because the purpose of this extermination of old people was to rid the Reich of unproductive elements. My Lord, I cannot for the moment give you the exact reference where that appears, but it does appear upon one of the documents. That is a handwritten addition to that document in the handwriting of the . . . I beg your pardon, it is an original extract of the situation report from the Kreisleitung of Erlangen.

The next document, my Lord, need not be dealt with at length. The point is that a Kreisleiter is again involved and that it was general knowledge that there were mistakes in the notification of deaths, for instance, one family receiving two urns for one patient.

No. 5 on the next page is much the same. I draw the Tribunal's attention to the middle of the large paragraph, toward the end. "The doctor also informed me that it was well known that the Commission consisted of one SS doctor and several subordinate doctors."

My Lord, the next document is on Page 10, No. 12, where we have a protest, or rather, an inquiry about the death of a relative. It is from a Mrs. Marie Kehr, and I mention that because it is also referring to another document, PS-1969. No, it is a new document. It will become GB 544, PS-1969. I would ask you to look at the second page of that document where you have a letter from the Reich Minister of the Interior to the Gaustabamtsleiter in Nuremberg. He forwards Mrs. Kehr's letter and the importance of that document is at the bottom.

"In Ink. Ortsgruppenleiter Party Member Popp is of the opinion that one can inform Mrs. Kehr. She is calm and circumspect."
The document also bears the stamp of the Kreisleiter who has been informed.

My Lord, if I might return quite briefly to the document we were looking at, D-906, Page 6 of that document. The Ortsgruppenleiter in Absberg is writing about incidents which occurred on the occasion of the latest removal of mentally defective persons from an institution in that town-a sanatorium in that town. He writes to the Kreisleiter and refers to a report of an incident which took place and I can only emphasize that there was public knowledge of what was happening.

And then again on Page 8 another Kreisleiter, this time in Weissenburg, Bavaria, writes about the same disturbances and you see that that goes to the Gau Staff Officer in Nuremberg.

The next document, No. 11, is from a Kreisleiter in Ansbach, and he is writing about the removal of patients from yet another sanatorium in another town, and on the top of the following page the Ortsgruppenleiter is involved. "Ortsgruppenleiter Retischel is furthermore of the opinion that he should speak about the removal of the inmates, if possible at the next meeting of Party members, in order to give the facts and above all to disperse the rumours that have arisen that the inmates would very soon be put out of the way, done away with, or poisoned."

Then at the bottom you see another handwritten note. "The Organizationsleiter," that is, the political leader on the staff of the Hoheitstraeger "is to be informed."

My Lord, that concludes the evidence that I was going to ask this witness about. There is one general matter which perhaps the Tribunal will allow me to ask a few questions about.

[Page 116]


Q., Well, perhaps first of all I might ask you this on that evidence, witness. In view of the documents that you have seen, did you yourself ever have. any knowledge of this so-called mercy killing that was going on?

A. Once I heard a rumour that somewhere in southern Germany mental patients were being done away with. Thereupon, as was my duty, I immediately inquired of my Gauleiter and after a short time I received the information that this was not true and that in the future I was not to make such inquiries, which were senseless as I ought to be able to see.

Q. Why did you not have to make such inquiries?

A. Because I had heard such rumours from the population.

Q. Did you know that colleagues of yours in the Corps of Political Leaders were co-operating in that system of murder?

A. No, I never knew or suspected that.

Q. Now let me ask you about one other matter. You told the Tribunal yesterday that there was no Corps of Political Leaders, is that right?

A. Yes.

Q. That is not correct, is it? They were recognized officially as the Corps of Political Leaders, were they not?

A. The Corps of Political Leaders was spoken of with the intention of teaching people better manners on their appearance in public, and for that reason officer and student corps were pointed out as examples. . There was no official Corps of Political Leaders and there could not be any such corps because the men changed constantly and had to come from all parts of the population.

Q. They were called a Corps of Political Leaders because on becoming a political leader you became a member of that corps, is not that the position?

A. Since there was no real Corps of Political Leaders, when one was appointed one could not become a member of it.

Q. And the political leaders are referred to as a Corps of Political Leaders in the official organization book of the NSDAP, are they not?

A. I am convinced that you can refer to them as such. You have the book. Upon the oath that I have taken I again want to say that I have not had time until now to read this book carefully because my actual tasks were more important than reading about this wishful dream. For I cannot call it by any other name.

LT.-COL. GRIFFITH-JONES: I have no further questions.



Q. I have a question on Document D-897, the first one that was submitted; a letter from the Reich Security Service, Subsidiary Branch Erfurt, signed by an officer of the Branchoffice. It is addressed to all consultants and Stuetzpunktleiter (base or operational point leaders). The Prosecutor said that the Stuetzpunkt, which is here referred to, is a Party agency. Is this opinion correct if you read that the letter is addressed to all consultants and Stuetzpunkleiter and is a letter of the SS?

A. I noticed that immediately, too, and I would have mentioned it myself. It can only be a Stuetzpunktleiter of the SD, for at that time within the political leadership there were no more Stuetzpunkte but only Ortsgruppen. Moreover, farther on this letter expressly mentions the Ortsgruppenleiter.

Q. Yes. It says there: "This matter is also to be carried out in close cooperation with the Ortsgruppenleiter of the Party" Is this letter addressed to a subordinate Party agency from a subordinate SS agency?

A. At the moment I have not the letter here, but I recall that it was addressed to the subordinate offices of the branch agency and states that they should contact the Ortsgruppenleiter. I noticed that the Ortsgruppenleiter was to be informed

[Page 117]

only one day before, while those who received the letter were informed two days beforehand and given the necessary information.

Q. Please speak more slowly. The interpreter cannot keep up with you.

A. The confidence in the Party cannot have been very great then.

Q. Was the Ortsgruppenleiter here informed through the customary channels of the Party or were the higher Party agencies skipped?

A. In this case the information was not passed on in the official way; for it should have been done through the higher Party agency.

Q. Therefore I can draw the conclusion then that it is possible that the higher Party agencies knew nothing of this action of the lower SS agency?

A. Absolutely.

DR. SERVATIUS I have no more questions to put to the witness.

THE PRESIDENT The witness can retire.

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